Editor's Note





Contributors' Notes


Michael Martin Shea

Still Life in the Supermarket

It starts with a resolution to make better sandwiches, which comes from a fridge full of lunchmeat and a lack of lettuce, but if you want to go all the way back, it starts with a promise to be a better lover—something penis pills can't fix, and you can't either, not when days drip like coffee and you can't seem to spread the cream cheese smoothly enough to warrant the waves of her hair. So, you compromise: you get better at fucking, or plan to, and three days of ab workouts make you re-think this little plan. You've got a big enough dick anyway. The real problem here is you don't have enough pills not to swallow for her and you can't get addicted to cigarettes because of the smell. Step down again: we're talking floss more (bloody gums), make dinner (burn your hand), try to shatter fewer pots. And you start buying expensive gas and hope your car runs better. And then, one day, you're in the supermarket and you buy the fancy new condoms, which break, of course, so you buy the plan B too and let her cry on your new bedsheets because it's never happened, to her. A writer would say love's made out of these moments, or at least movies are, but here you rent movies at the gas station with her credit card and forget to return them. Eventually, you start falling asleep on the couch and dreaming of exotic lunchmeat, and that's where it really starts. You drive to the store. You buy the deli salami and a jar of kosher dills. You put your seven-grain sandwich bread and your organic lettuce in your cart and you walk to the register and you think, this is enough.

That February, We Tasted Winter

In the way candles shiver when you pass or how, in New Orleans, in a church whose name I've forgotten, you cried on my shoulder when I said that it smelt like confessing. Isn't that winter? The way the river confessed itself to us in fog that night and we followed it through the littered streets, both of us drunk—and the next day, in the car, you fell asleep on my lap and missed the tunnel in Mobile— the one where you always held your breath—and the mists returned, over the marshes and the signs for deer urine, the tattered confederate flags hanging over the interstate. And you woke up—remember?— as we slipped back to Florida, and I wished I could have woken you gently, the way the gentle old houses in the Quarter unfurl their doors like parchment, the fleshy creak of the balconies, the way their old paint peels without a sound. That weekend, we made love in a room full of people, so we kept our breath close to the sheets, and in the morning, the curtains pulled back felt like coming up for air, and the mists had fallen on the sidewalk, coating the hood of the car, the beer bottles not yet disowned by the city. I never told you, but in that tunnel while you slept, I didn't breathe once, as if I could buy your salvation for you. I remember the Sunday we left, the Mississippi in daylight, its waters changed, murkier, the way dried paint looks nothing like it did before.