fiction by George Djuric

Insides Spilling Out

Driven to the margin of error
Driven to the edge of control
Driven to the margin of terror
Driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole

It’s my turn to drive
But it’s my turn to drive

– “Driven” by Rush

The doctors in a mental institution were thinking of releasing a certain schizophrenic patient. They decided to give him a test under a lie detector. One of the questions they asked him was, ‘Are you Napoleon?’ He replied, ‘No.’ The machine showed that he was lying!

According to Foucault’s Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique, in the mid-seventeenth century, in the midst of the age of reason, madness began to be conceived of as unreason and the mad, previously consigned to society’s margins, were now separated from society and confined, along with prostitutes, vagrants, blasphemers, orphans and the like, in newly created institutions all over Europe.

During World War II, Jews, Gypsies, Communists and homosexuals weren’t the only groups designated for liquidation in wartime Europe. Hitler had a long list of people he considered undesirable enough to murder. In accordance with the Furher’s wishes, Nazis had also singled out Poland’s Boy Scouts as a dangerous, criminal organization whose nationalists had to be done away with.

Growing at the rate of eight inches per annum, bamboo is both elucidating and lethal weapon. I wouldn’t get close to anybody waving a six-foot stick like a madman; but that’s a personal preference. On the other hand, just touching bamboo texture is contagious: I can imagine all the faces I’d smash, avec plaisir, once getting the grip of its smooth surface.

A child born today in this world stands much greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university. This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.

‘I am coming,’ he whispered, gazing at the sky. He rushed to the familiar spot near the doorstep. The flower, a dark little patch with folded petals, stood out clearly in the dewy grass. He pulled out the plant, crushed it, squashed it, and clutching it in his hand, returned to his room the way he had come.

Silambam is a bamboo-based Dravidian martial art from Tamil Nadu in south India, but also practiced by the Tamil community of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. In one-on-one combat an expert would just slide his stick to opponents wrist many times during combat. The opponent may not notice this in the heat of battle, until he feels a sudden pain in the wrist and throws the stick by reflex, without knowing what hit him.

Rounding up Scouts and shooting them in the street was common practice when the Germans occupied Poland in 1939, so then 19-year-old Piechowski decided to make a break for it and flee to France. Unfortunately, his flight didn’t last long. He was captured at the Hungarian border, and a few months later, was a prisoner at Auschwitz.

In the meantime, I was a culprit of my bamboo obsession, delusionally negating any analogy to the martial mastery of kendo. First and foremost, kendo is a safe imitation of sword fighting, thus forgetting the obvious: the very definition of art is not to save lives, it is to excel itself regardless of casualties. In a vicious bamboo fight you are more than welcome to erase your opponent’s personality, as long as you can get to it and as long as it exists – fewer fighters standing, higher the art. When Borges died in Geneva in 1986, there wasn’t a single bamboo fighter in sight.

A delusion, by the way, is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological and may arise from distorted ways people have of explaining life to themselves. Folie à deux (or shared psychosis) is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief are transmitted from one individual to another. This syndrome is most commonly diagnosed when the two or more individuals live in proximity and may be socially or physically isolated or have little interaction with other people. A perfect picture of two kendo masters fighting for the pedestal of prowess under the influence of ‘Earthquake’ (or Tremblement de Terre), a Toulouse-Lautrec’s cocktail invention.

As Piechowski recalled in an interview with the Guardian last year, it was when Eugeniusz Bendera, a car mechanic from Czortków, Ukraine, approached Piechowsky with some alarming news that he, along with fellow Poles Stanislaw Gustaw Jaster and Józef Lempart, was about to be executed. Not wasting time, four men sprang into action. First, they had to get out of the camp’s high security sector, through the gate bearing the now infamous black iron-formed inscription, Arbeit Macht Frei — Work Sets You Free.

In retrospect, this might explain my perennial aversion toward work, since one of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. I’d rather take my bamboo stick and go whistling in the woods than arduously practice kendo. I’d rather arduously practice kendo than study for college credits in the environment where the professor was narcissistic and students were average handicap eyeing lucrative tenures: not willing to let it bleed in the name of Athena.

Bendera, who worked in the camp’s garage, fetched the car, Commandant Rudolf Höss’ Steyr 220. He had picked the fastest car in the camp’s fleet, a powerful Austrian machine reserved for Höss’ quick trips to Berlin, so that they could outrun potential pursuers.

A common bond among writers exists with the sympathy they express for patients in lunatic asylums, a phenomenon reflected by the conflicts between the patients and the state as well as the government and the medical profession. The patient arrives at the asylum, sleep deprived, clothes shredded, agitated, and restrained in a straitjacket. This is not his first occasion to be escorted by the guards and police to the hospital and despite his struggle, he manages to find humor in his predicament: ‘In the name of His Imperial Majesty, the Sovereign Emperor Peter the First, I herewith proclaim an inspection of this Lunatic Asylum!’

‘Wake up, you buggers!’ Piechowski screamed at the young guard in German. ‘Open up or I’ll open you up!’ Terrified, the guard scrambled to raise the barrier, allowing the powerful motor to pass through and drive away.

At the age of 33, in 1888, Garshin committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of his apartment building, and died five days later at a Red Cross hospital. The ‘Scarlet Flower’ is rightly considered to be the gem of his creation. This story about a scarlet poppy and the crazed hero who entered into single combat with all the world’s evil is told with real affection and a profound knowledge of the human heart.

It is the second part of Piechowski’s high-pitched shout that does it for me: when the intestines start spilling out in the open, then I should finally as well as graphically determine if I’ve ever had any guts in me. When I was five, then six and seven, every December my father Milan, grandfather Gligor, uncle Bernie, and Père Zeke would drag out a three-hundred-pound hog in the middle of the yard, jump on him and cut his throat; to slice his belly open an hour later, after removing skin hair with a razor and hot water. At that point I’d join and help, wolfing fresh made sausages later in the afternoon. However, it took me years to soothe the imprint of hog’s primal screech, framed by the cloudy winter morning and the cold so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered.

 

Author Bio:

 

George Djuric is a former rally racing champion, master chess player, taxi driver, street fighter, student of anti-psychiatry and philosophy, broker with Morgan Stanley… and a writer all the way. Published a critically acclaimed collection of short stories that altered Yugoslav literary scene – ‘The Metaphysical Stories’ – was dubbed Borges of the Balkans, as well as reborn Babel. Djuric infiltrates flashes from his vivid past into fictional alchemy for the salient taste of the 21st century; ‘I’ll go to the end of the world to promote something that took forty years of brewing in the barrel with my name on it.’

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a poem by John Grey

Spotted

 

A real spotlight emerges here,
and eyes, that work in progress,
and lives press, edge against edge.
and return with news of hearts.
as far as that spotlight, stops here,
but intercept each other.
clear and solid in less forceful ways,
cloud lines float across our hearing,
cocoons empty out,
countermanding instructions from their planet
curiously uninvolving.
fingers step out of anonymity,
flesh knows firsthand the warmth of satellites
gather away from their peers on stage,
illustrate what we are not reading.
impervious to our weather patterns.
In superior isobars,
in the shadow of champagne.
intelligence and foolishness exchange gifts.
into decorous, perfumed oceans
into the audience of ourselves,
like things brought by rivers,
mill about the moods,
of those who do not meet
on stage,
poets, deposited in the dark
the hidden workshop of the table.
the moth, the butterfly,
the real event is motionless,
the vast world emptied into a glass
the world does not reach
their rain, their breaks for sun,
these others move about
three steps down from stages,
to single out and interpret.
to the rattle of paper,
where things make themselves
where words depart like ships
wild and animated,
with better meanings

 

 

Author Bio:

John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the horror anthology, “What Fears Become”with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Osiris.

 

a poem by Stuart Barnes

Icarus Dreams East

 

Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya,
Brylcreem, you’ll look so debonair.
Brylcreem, the gals will all pursue ya,
They’ll love to run their fingers through your hair.

from ‘Brylcreem – A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!’

 

Please, Dad, manufacture two pairs of wings
from the Brylcreem you once dabbed through black hair
(in photographs you seem so debonair!
all the girls pursued you) and the fringes
of those wild Black Swans you slaughtered with Pop
so we might slip this phrenic labyrinth,
couple over Cathay’s jade, tiered paddies,
intone among Singapore’s opulence.

Promise you’ll not devour Mount Everest,
rip up, at tubers, Sri Lanka’s bluest
water lilies, obliterate Vishnu’s
chiliad names. Promise, and I’ll never
be enchanted by Amaterasu,
the Edenic pour of Turkmenistan.

 

 

Author Bio:

Stuart Barnes’ poetry is published in various online and print journals and newspapers incl. Qarrtsiluni, Mascara Literary Review, Overland, The Warwick Review and The Weekend Australian Review. An essay – ‘Robert Smith: More Than Meets The Lancôme Eye’ – appears in the current issue of VLAK: Contemporary Poetics & the Arts. His first accepted short story – ‘Mother and Son’, about his coming out – can be read at Verity La (http://verityla.com/mother-and-son-stuart-barnes/). He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Sorry for the delay!

Dear Busk readers, writers, and lovers:

I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts recently and my lack of urgency in reading submissions and processing submissions.  This past fall and winter have been quite a busy time for me, having gone through the crucible that is the MFA application process (I’m guessing many of you are in the same boat).

Alas, the process is over.  The only task left now is the waiting.  Thus, in my new found abundance of time I will be fervently reading, responding to and posting submissions.

Busk is back baby and I sincerely promise to continue busking my butt.

– Blake

a poem by Ali Znaidi

Haven 

Locked in between
two little stones,
a sheet of paper
was serenely slumbering,
while whispering to the wind:
“What a bliss to be locked in
this haven,
& not between
two delinquent merciless hands!”

 

Author Bio:

Ali Znaidi lives in Redeyef, Tunisia where he teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations. His work has appeared in The Bamboo ForestThe Camel Saloonphantom kangarooBoySlutThe Rusty NailYes,Poetry, Shot Glass Journalthe fib reviewInk Sweat and TearsMad SwirlEskimo Pie, & other ezines. He also writes flash fiction for the Six Sentence Social Network—http://sixsentences.ning.com/profile/AliZnaidi.

a poem by David Greaves

Vertebrae

once was: sitting at a window, moths pressing against the glass, their thumbprint undersides like something intimate/something obscene, the valley a blacked-out fissure, a shrug

or: remembering a city gone fishtank, sprawling Devonian, pilgrimages to the walls watching scars pale through coil and fluke, from india rubber onto bone, tracing shine, would it ever be enough

or: the inevitability of feathers, rattling quills, blooded feet, did they flute alike in the dawn, if I have to ask

or: luck of the warm blood every time virus rears its monolithic back

or: hearing that the double helix was a dice roll, that the whispers passed across the strands could be picked up and heard and repeated and framed xeno-nucleic, could sound something new

or: was it delusion in the jump cut, will we slow ourselves before the mantle cracks to rest

or: sitting at the same window and a moth on the outside sill dead in a cluster of itself, dry legs, tangled wings, mouthparts to the air and for a second I thought the valley seen from this angle could almost have been an embrace, and for a second I thought protein scrawled out the nowhere name of time

 

Author Bio:

David Greaves is a 22-year-old writer whose work has appeared in the ‘Verge’ 2011 fiction anthology and the ‘From Glasgow To Saturn’ journal. His prose-poetry pamphlet, ‘Hinged’, was released by the New Fire Tree Press in 2011. He is originally from the North but his accent needs work.

Two Poems by Kristen McHenry

Theme

After: “Now, Discover your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

 

Oasis

You sense the famine in empty veins of leaves. Bone-birds summon you from frozen wires. Your restless need for banquets may not be logical but you understand the hollow tuck in their downy gloss of wings. You carry smoke and bells with grace. When faced with complex factors, you draw down mica and paint spirals on all locked gates in sight. Your friends call you ghost orchid, amethyst, cleric of water wheels and bright fat plums. Some are puzzled by your sprawl of bread and lilacs, but still consume your bounty. It’s your nature to know the genus of every hunger, to shimmer in the distance without effort. For you starvation is abstract. If necessary, you will grind the hulls yourself.

 

Star Language

Patron saint of planetariums, you negotiate the chatter of the cosmos with gentle instinct, you watch over those who watch the night from telescopes and bonfires, and send their wild prayers to Nut. To you it’s nothing, this holding of a billion silver murmurs, this rapt interpretation of the furies of the sky. You’re counted on for your precision in the loom of star ancestors, each stitch forms a story that is granted and re-told. Some would say you speak too quickly but you know full well the urgency. You cannot stop speaking prophecy for the stars have charmed your tongue. You are bridge and lullaby, and we will free-fall in your sound.

 

Blue

And not just cooling shades of sooth-song, but white blue of rage, warning blue, what comes to us in spits and sparks, danger of first illumination, wild ignition of touch and blissful transfer. Light to use your earthen body as its holy host. Blue of over-worn, blue of standing on the shore in late December twilight, blue of eggs and Sunday sweaters, blue of lone boys and low note afternoons in the only open bar, blue of going home, blue of intimate winters, blue of the enlightened heron, who keeps exquisite equilibrium with cobalt sky and pond.

 

 

The Anesthesia Technician in Retirement

 Before death, the counting. If they allow it, my hands and the song of my hands. My native blessing.

To be born is one thing, but to awaken every morning: Rose of Hope, ardent bloom,  stoic and striving. To go alone each night.

I walked them over every stone low to the lapping edge. I told them to dream of Chinese noodles, grenadine and swans. The heat of my palms guided their descent.

I want to emerge magnificent again, exalted against the sunrise. Simply: to awaken in happiness.

I would chart each foot of submersion, but still they rose up terrible, slammed to the surface, yet to shift from their underskins: monster, newborn, terror-wrecked.

Now I am yanked each morning from the underworld, hag fish, thrashing on the brown water, battling air with my soft gray teeth.

Later they thanked me, the ones who shattered intact.

 

 

Author Bio:

Kristen McHenry is a Seattle-based poet, fiction writer, and day-jobber. Her work has been seen in literary magazines including Bare Root Review, Numinous, Tiferet, Sybil’s Garage, and Big Pulp. It’s also been seen huddling at the bottom of her sock drawer, covered in mothballs. You can find her most nights napping in front of the T.V., clutching her poetry journal as a prop.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction by Patrick Vincent Welsh

Shrimp Fundraiser

from Hard Times Galore

Peck’s bar was packed for a shrimp fundraiser for Grace whose husband had contracted rabies from a wild beaver.

He didn’t have health insurance so Grace kept him tied to the radiator in the kitchen, foaming at the mouth, until she could raise the money for his treatment.

Peck threw the fundraiser with one stipulation; that Grace strip throughout the night. She’d make money in tips and Peck would finally get what he wanted since he first met her; to see her naked.

Grace made four hundred dollars that night, but it was not easy. One man licked her leg, one pinched her butt, one man critiqued her body using the word quaggy. Someone even tipped her by shoving a piece of shrimp down her underwear.

She went home, humiliated but excited to finally have the money to save her husband, but he was not in the kitchen. The rope had been chewed through and he was gone. She called the sheriff who arrived with a tranquilizer gun and they drove through town looking for him.

His body was found the next morning outside of a chicken coop where he had bitten the throats out of several chickens. Grace cried over his body, knowing she would never get over him, a man who she loved so much she danced topless for, with shrimp in her underwear.

 

Author Bio:

Patrick Vincent Welsh calls the stories in Hard Times Galore  “tragic and humorous portrayals of the modern American condition”.  Selections from the collections have been published in Euphony,The Journal of the University of Chicago, Apiary Journal and
Juked.

Three poems by Gregory Zorko

Stitches

The jinns go into my ears and halt my copulation. I become a useless nude or a fish, angular with light.
In a veil of blue shadows that I wear by the window. The frost comes to feel my testicles.
Demons gain weight in my stomach and esophagus, like a peach flush with water.
But you are tired, a demonstration that windows make all women tired.
On another plane you would be fire in a pine forest now. But we are here and not in the place where the ostrich wears silver on its ankles.
The jinns hear all of this, blessed with wide ears and they speak:
“We want the surrender of the sun to the slower stars, and to the pace of our lives give the speed of a wheel.”
You don’t catch it, girl with stitches, you are exhausted and you barely spoke.

 

Field

Your wives are like a field for you. Approach them in the soft months, in the midst of drought and flailing pink mackerels. Guard against the possums. It is known that the possums bring their nipples into shade. Give your sons words to build fences, and your daughters tight strings to speak to the owls. Approach your women from the pine trees and from the irrigation ditch. If you go anywhere together it is better than going a thousand miles alone.

 

Allen

Iverson is hiding in a Chinese apple, but his red tattoo pulls him out. Five tigers with wings come from Xinjiang to steal him away. They rip him apart and make threes with his arms. And the fans scream out, they sound like the bells of Las Vegas.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gregory Zorko is a writer and history student.  He is currently applying to graduate schools seeking a master’s degree in European History while trying to publish more of his work.

A poem by AJ Huffman

A Rained Bow’s End

Paint
streaked sight.
Turn pink.
Blink blue.
Fight.
(Green wins.)
Over battled brick.
Building?
Misunderstanding.
Tear it down.
Try it again.
Think twin —
not twine.
Split.
Smile.

Too bad.
Flat and mute
are apparently mutual.
Not exclusive.

 

 

Author Bio:

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published six collections of poetry all available on Amazon.comShe has also published her work in numerous national and international literary journals.  Most recently, she has accepted the position as editor for four online poetry journals for Kind of a Hurricane Press ( www.kindofahurricanepress.com ).