Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Greatest Uncommon Denominator
(a.k.a. GUD) – a new magazine of short/flash fiction
and poetry with surreal and beautiful graphics
by various artists in (mostly)_New England.
Issue 0- Spring 2007
USD $10

GUD is a new journal of top-notch modern literature which embodies both eclecticism and unity. Its stories run the gamut from Gibsonian Sci-fi tales to moving emotional friezes about real people in naturalistic landscapes. Peppered with fine surreal and free-associative poetry that’s always got an eye to form, the reading public is treated to a rich cut of cake, including the often multi-media inspired drawings and paintings.

Here are some standouts from Issue O, released just this past month. Hats should be be tipped to all the editors and especially lay out editor Sue Miller and Instigator of the mag, Kaolin Fire (if that’s a real person, or if it’s not.):

There’s Beverly Jackson’s “Fade In and Fade Out” – a great three stanza poem – next to the mixed media work by Fefa called, “Changing Destiny.” The poem is about the shifting perspective one can have watching a movie, about getting lost in them and coming back around to the realia details that mark them also.

“My eyes are like the director’s. Eyes seeking out the monster. Looking for the love connection.” P 32

Fefa’s painting across the page looks like Frieda Kahlo or a Flamenco dancer rising above a dark medieval city with magical swirls of white issuing from her fingertips. It’s a real nice juxtaposition.

Poet Kenneth Ryan provides three short poems in this collection: “No Motor Home,” “Past Due: Final Notice,” and “Fortune.” Each provides an intimate portrait of compressed and visceral language. “No Motor Home” is about Cuddy Cabin in the woods and the fantasy of its being sea-born:

“when bog mists seeps over our bow/and your fingertips taste like salt/we’re finally out to sea.” P 124

“Fortune”, a love song, ends again in oceanic imagery:

“and the sea drew back from the beach with a sound like unstrung pearls cascading into your palm.” P 126

Short Fiction – which serves as the bulk of the journal – includes “Where Water Falls” by Rusty Barnes, a writer from Revere, MA. This story’s about a wife who’s pounding tenderloin a little too often and loudly for her bewildered husband’s comprehension. Set in a rural outpost, we become acquainted with rabbit hutches and the symbol of the hunted and captive, also the animal symbol of fecundity. As the mystery unravels with deft narration and concrete descriptions that never “lather it on” we find out that Maggie is, in fact, pregnant at forty-four. She’s also furious about it. Richard,

“watches the rabbit as it reaches the rock wall. He can follow the sound of Maggie’s tears as she runs crashing down into the back field toward a crick.” P 141

She proceeds to take him on a wild chase through the woods and winds up sitting by the crick on a rock without her pants on. In a strong dramatic turn, she waves a stick and threatens her husband to do it to her, as the abortionist will. It’s a pure cinematic moment, pristinely captured by his clear prose, and ends with Maggie proving her position and pain, then squeezing his hand with silent tears. Neither of them wants to keep the child, but that’s not the point, certainly not Maggie’s.

Another poet of note is Benjamin Buchholz, a US Army official recently returned from Iraq. In “Dialogue with the Hollows of Your Body,” he writes his first stanza in an unpredictable poem about desire and language and cultural congruities:

“When I am blind and very near to you
in the vesper stillness of a cell, small
and veiled from the street, through shiver,
heat, arch of back and hips, pressure placed
by the flat of your palms against the flat
of my palms: speak.

And ends, with:

“The body, like a map bears these significances.
Crease them, see where they cross: in the glens
And glades and most secret shrines,
At all of the roadsides and waysides,
I listen.” P 143

To prelude the short fiction of David Bulley, Sue Miller posts a ghostly rendering of what seem to be the heads of fish, eyes prominently stuck out in a Daliesque landscape filtered with gauze. The painting’s called “The Kiss.” And what follows is a fast-moving sort of tale of a man who transforms into the wolfman of his sexual fantasies….to take the school mother of a grade-schooler.

The narrator, speaking to himself, says:

And you are the wolf and you so so want to taste her fear, just a tiny bit, just a taste. “I want to fuck you.”

“Um, she says, looking around, checking the exits, nervous and shivery. “Um, are you threatening me?”

In the opposite chase scene to Barnes’ story, she takes off and the wolfman follows her till they proceed to bump and grind in a deliciously wanton sex scene under the moon. The tryst completely unmasks the hesitant and prim Teri, a suburban mom. Bulley writes as the wolfman:

“And when you see her next, smarmy and prim, at the bake sale, think about bright air and goose pimples.” A brilliant piece of flash fiction with a gorgeously poetic opening paragraph.

So like the entire collection. Get hooked!

Lo Galluccio

1 comment:

  1. Kaolin Fire is very much a real person. In addition to writing and editing, he is the artist who created most of the covers for my novels.