Tag Archives: Issue Forty-Two

Neon Literary Magazine Issue Forty-Two

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From a brief biography of a man raised as a chicken, to a mortuary romance, to a tale that teeters on the edge of a precariously-assembled tower, issue forty-two of Neon is packed with excellent poetry and fiction. There’s even a grotesquely surreal comic by Swedish artist Janne Karlsson, and a beautiful cover image by urban explorer and photographer James Kerwin. Featured writers include Luke Silver, Clifford Parody, Jane Flett, Mack W Mani, Tara White, Eliza Victoria, Gregory Cartwright, Caroline Hardaker, and Natalia Theodoridou.

Neon is free to read online, and costs just £4.00 for a physical copy. In its perfect-bound format each issue is around 70 pages, and is photo-illustrated in black and white. Included with the print edition of this issue is a free broadside by Jaclyn Weber.

Published winter 2016 (print and online).

“The Keepers” by Luke Silver

"Keepers" by Luke Silver

Carla and I draw our blood in the auditorium. They collect our specimens in Dixie cups and send them to a laboratory. Do it! Do it! they urge us. We disrobe and I masturbate onto their microscope slides. My performance improves when I look at Carla’s breasts. My performance diminishes when I look at Carla’s helmet. Carla’s helmet is always turning black. I do not know what face is under Carla’s helmet. It is supposed to be from Nicaragua. Carla does not know what face is under my helmet. It is from the United States.

At night we sleep in separate dormitories and, sometimes, I hear her whimpering through the walls. Hector. Hector. I wish Carla would stop. I wish Carla would let me sleep. I wish Carla would take our responsibilities more seriously.

Sometimes, she communicates to me that her heart is broken. When she does this, I communicate to her that Hector is dead. Still, when they demand we lie together, her breasts feel cold like there is no organ beating beneath them. When they demand we lie together, her helmet is always turning black.

Most weeks I give Carla a rating of fair on the peer evaluation form. Under additional comments, I often write “lacking energy and enthusiasm.” I do not know what grade Carla gives me. It does not matter. They have no replacements for us.

On Tuesdays, Carla self-administers a pregnancy test. So far all the tests have come back negative. Carla communicates that she feels lucky this is the case. I communicate that she must soon adopt a positive outlook. We have an important function in the preservation of the human race. Still, every time Carla squats and pees on the thermometer, her helmet turns black. Carla’s helmet is always turning black.

I sometimes share Carla’s morbid sentiments. Their tests on our bodily fluids have not produced any tangible results. I know this because we stay in their compound. I know this because they continue to ask for samples. I know this because they stock my dormitory with Lemon-Ice flavored Gatorade, and say, Drink up! We need you to replenish your electrolytes.

I do not communicate my unease with Carla. I do not express my belief that medical breakthroughs will never be reached. Doing so will disturb her and likely turn her helmet black. It seems impolite to expose her to more worry. Her helmet is already always turning black.

Recently they have begun examining Carla’s hormones. They fear that she is unable to reproduce because she is deteriorating from stress. I am not deteriorating from stress. I am drinking all of my Gatorade. My teeth are deteriorating from sugar, but I am not deteriorating from stress.

Whenever Carla leaves to get doctored, I draw on the walls with a Sharpie marker. Sometimes I draw out my name in block letters. Sometimes I draw Jean Luc-Godard in Breathless with a fedora and a gun. Sometimes I draw two stick figures having sex doggy-style or holding a stick figure baby. The stick figures are Carla and myself.
I recently sent in a request form for a queen-sized bed. Under additional comments, I suggested moving Carla and myself into the same dormitory. Snuggling together nightly should help expedite Carla’s familiarity with our coital routine.

I have not decided whether I want to see the face under Carla’s helmet. In my mind, she is attractive, but I am aware that this might not be so. I have decided Carla does not want to see the face under my helmet. I am not Hector, and she continues to cry for him at night. But still, we are the only ones with natural antibodies that can withstand what they brought. But still, time changes everything.

They reassure us that our helmets are for our own safety. From what I do not know. They did not tell me. Nor did they accept my request for monochromatic helmets. They did accept my request for a queen-sized bed. I have not told Carla. I am afraid she will cry. I am afraid her helmet will turn black. For one-hundred-and-eighty-five days, we have lived in this compound. At least once every day, her helmet has turned black.

Yesterday, they brought Carla a dog to help fight her depression. Like us, he is supposedly immune. He is nine months old and a chocolate lab. He makes Carla happy. Today her helmet has stayed a neutral blue. He does not make me happy, however. I detect competition, and I do not know their long-term intentions with him. I do not know his long-term intentions with Carla. If it comes to it, I plan to kill and eat him. But I do not share this with Carla. It would only make her upset. I am afraid it would turn her helmet black. Carla’s helmet is always turning black.

*

Luke Silver is pursuing his MFA candidacy at Sarah Lawrence College. His work has been accepted by Dogzplot, Literary Juice, BOAAT Journal, and elsewhere. He occasionally tweets @LUKEABRASSI.

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“Elicit” by Clifford Parody

"Elicit" by Clifford Parody

“Elicit” was originally published in Forklift, Ohio

I am the stretch of easement
beneath a stretcher beneath
your broken body, your weight,
and I hate that the last hand you felt
was gloved in blue latex, attached
to a man who detached himself
from the boy who lay bleeding
before him. I am the minivan
and the pilot, frame and feet,
I am the kids in the backseat,
how I scream, how I scream,
how my  body tenses, my
tires screech, we meet. I am
the green light so quick
to turn yellow, I am the aluminum,
the seat, I am the pedals
beneath your feet, how we
creak turning tires that took you
and took you, I am the backpack
you threw on the floor as you walked
through the door, I am the door
and the floor, I am the school bus
that carried you home, I am the school,
I am the bell that carried you from room to room,
I am the bedroom you woke in, the bed
where you slept, I am a flash card
on the side of the road, weeks later,
stumbled upon, staggering stoned:
to draw forth— to bring out from the source—
I am picking it up, I am thinking,
and the only word I can think of is theft.

*

Clifford Parody holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and currently lives in Lakeland, Florida, where he writes for the local newspaper, co-runs the record label Swan City Sounds, and hangs out with his wife, daughter and dog. He is the recipient of the 2015 Noel Callow Award from the Academy of American Poets and his work has appeared in Forklift, Ohio, Backlash Journal, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Terminus Magazine, and The Greensboro Review, among others. His first chapbook, Because I Did Not Know What To Do is forthcoming this fall via The Altar Collective.

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“Belasis And Hastur” By Mack W Mani

"Belasis And Hastur" by Mack W Mani

It is the first cold night of Autumn
and I smoke a cigarette to myself
looking up to the sky;
you can’t see many stars from the city
but you can see Belasis and Hastur,
the new constellations.

When they first appeared
two weeks ago,
no one knew what to do
but crane their necks upward to see,
everyone asking the same questions.

Even during the day
you can feel the weight of them
hovering above us, waiting.

No one showed up at work
but the administrator and me,
a lot of places are closed
but the bars are all open
and in every joint it’s the same thing.

A TV on mute,
some harried looking news anchor
mouthing the words:
No idea as of yet…
No one seems to be able to explain…
We will keep you updated as…

After a few beers I dial my ex,
who sounds scared
so I offer to come over,
but she says she’s fine
that she has it under control.

Shots.
The girls at the bar,
they seem scared too,
but the words
get caught in my mouth
and all they want to talk about
is the sky.

Alone now with another beer
then another and at midnight,
birthday drinks,
one for me and one for
Belasis and Hastur.

Outside,
it’s starting to rain,
the sky coming down
dark and close,
but I can still sense them,
up there watching
and I imagine
I can feel their pull,
tugging me gently across
the vastness of space.

Gently, I ask what they are
but the only answer I receive
is thunder,
without any flash of light,
just a loud rumbling
cast down from the heavens.

*

Mack W Mani was born in rural Washington State. He currently lives in Portland. His work has appeared in The Pedestal Magazine and The Non-Binary Review.

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“Red Feathers” by Tara White

"Red Feathers" by Tara White

Seventeen-year-old JD DeMondo is positively flapping with excitement, straining against the straps on his seat. He is inside a giant metal bird. This bird is way up high in the sky. The sky is the best colour. This is JD’s first time on a plane. He got the window seat. He is on his way to New York City, but he doesn’t know that. He scans non-stop for clouds and other birds and pinches at the bracelet on his right wrist, makes it go SnapSnapSnapSnapSnap. He doesn’t know speech but he’s learning about rhythm, fast. One of his aides gave him an iPod for the journey, midway through his rehab, when he’d finally stepped away from the walls and into the room. It’s loaded with Beastie Boys and Ghostface. He clucks along and bobs his head. Occasional squawks escape him.

The stylist this morning had smelled wonderful. JD wanted to touch her, really, really badly. He tried. He tried to touch her breast. Same but different. He didn’t know why or how or what it was for or what it would be like. He wanted to know. The rest of his haircut was done in handcuffs. She smelled sweet and fresh and lovely, like outside. She gave him a mohawk. The producers wanted a comb. Now he skims his newly trimmed nails through it. Soft spikes now. All different.

Chicken Boy hatches! Keep up to the minute with Chicken Boy on your hand-held device! Download the CB app now!

The viral campaign featured eggs being catapulted out of special spring-loaded guns on the back of a truck, driving around towns and splattering people, all in good fun.

Will Chicken Boy rule the roost or cock it all up? Install the livecam now!

People will pose for photographs with him on the street. He will never know why, but he very much likes to examine each one afterwards, and takes great pride in pointing out who he is in the picture.

Subscribe to the RSS feed from the CB fanpage! Premium subscription gets a free CB welcome pack including tracker device!

Street vendors will give him free hot dogs, corn dogs, pretzels and sodas. It will all taste like heaven.

Will chicken boy be cock of the walk or a feathered failure? Install the real-time ticker now!

His name will be spoken at water coolers in real life and spread in virtual life like a virus, filtering past the usual talk of the NFL, the humidity, the Middle East. “How ‘bout that Chicken Boy?” It’s not his real name, though he answers to it now. Even his real name is not his real name.

“Did you hear? Somebody tried to mug Chicken Boy at knifepoint. Got shot twice by a DeMondo sniper! One in the head, one in the chest!”

He has three snipers on staff, two full-time bodyguards and a private detective in his entourage. He’s never met them. Chicken Boy is always intercepted with chloroform so as not to witness aggression incidents. Standard DeMondo damage limitation policy.

“Why did the chicken cross the road? Because DeMondo Corp paid him a million bucks” – #DeMondo #CB #chickenboyfail

JD enjoys percussion and wind instruments, his express favorite being the didgeridoo; riding the Subway; a great variety of foodstuffs, in particular Vietnamese and Cantonese cuisine; the New York Knicks and nudity when permissible. He also exhibits a confident preference for redheads.

“CB’s ideal woman? Lauren Bacawk” – #CB #KentuckyFriedKid #chickenfucker

John Doe “Chicken Boy” DeMondo has no family, not to his knowledge, to this day. He had birds. He was good with them. Some of them kept him warm at night, all curled up like cats. He was fed maize meal – rolled oats on good days – and he learned to fight for grubs, meal worms and crickets. He could use his hands to scoop the hens out of his way, but it was a struggle. There were lots of them. His hands and feet were always, inevitably, covered in open sores. Beaks are sharp. You have to be quick, in and out. On bad days he felt like something was missing, something big. Something else told him maybe the missing part was the most important one.

Chicken Boy has hair like straw and a scraggle-feathered scruff beard the colour of maize meal. He is fine-boned and small in stature with an exaggerated C-curve in his spine. In the coop, he defecated in only one corner: the top left. He didn’t know how he knew to do this; birds go everywhere. But he felt increasingly strongly with time that he was rather a different entity. The cleaners, mechanics and collectors never spoke, never touched him and always wore the full regulation garb, a shapeless full-body shroud obscuring all features. His earliest memory is of a hand reaching in from outside. If he knew the first thing about age he might attribute this memory to five. The hand came up the chute. JD watched from a safe distance. Groping, feeling, five fingers in an industrial rubber glove. Five orange, bloated fingers. The wrist caught on a barb of rusted wire. The glove peeled off. JD was momentarily horrified. He squawked and crowed and stomped his feet to sound the alarm. Something was very wrong with this. As the call went up, the hand pawed about to retrieve the glove. It wore a ring on its baby finger. A fat, gold, insignia ring. The nails were ridged and bitten way back. And. And. It had pink skin, this hand, just like JD. The call went up and kept up, a cacophony of squawking, flapping, clucking, madness. And then they left, and left the glove behind. He examined it closely, after a time, when he’d begun to believe they weren’t coming back. Its smell was overwhelming. He put it on immediately. Over the years, as he grew into it, in contact with pecking, scrapping poultry and various splintered edges, it shredded away to almost nothing, leaving him only a scraggy orange band, which he was particularly mindful of.

He was utterly repulsed by the thought of egg-eating. He tasted it once, the yolk, because he was too, too hungry. It was awful, the newness and the texture and NO. Sometimes an egg broke. Sometimes he stepped on one and there was chaos. He would be severely reprimanded and felt terrible, although he dimly felt a sense of ascendancy in this, obscured like some speckled perfection of shell winking out from a dusting of straw. He felt – he thought – no, he knew he could make this if he wanted to. That he could cause pain, social reshuffling, something else. He didn’t understand where the eggs came from, he tried and tried but he just couldn’t, although he knew they were special. He knew some birds tried to hide them, as if they knew they were special too. He wondered why he couldn’t produce anything like that. He wondered if that part of him was broken or dead, if his insides didn’t work. But he could make something else, and it made him feel good. He occasionally retreated into a compulsive suspension in this bliss and would emerge pained, underweight and inexplicably apologetic. He enjoyed the smell, distinctive and saline, which he would smear on himself freely. He liked it because it didn’t smell like them. It smelled like something else. That was vital.

The deep yellow of a yolk was his next favourite colour to see, after blue. He neither suspected nor proved a connection between the delicate semi-precious objects the hens expelled and the batches of fluffy pastel chicks he saw further down the line. He saw the eggs siphoned out by gravity and simple mechanics. The floor would be levered up by four of his fingers at ten, two of his fingers at fourteen, then came the thook, thook of dropping eggs, from all around like rain as they rolled into the lined rubber chutes underneath. As a young adult this process went from terrifying him to entertaining him to nothing, nothing at all of note. He saw the chicks arrive in crates once a month. He watched them grow and develop, all at a unanimously accelerated rate. He felt slow and somehow unworthy by comparison, inchoate.

In his teenage years he entered phases of an awful chronic blackness, an endless internal starless night. In these times he refused to eat. In these times, after some weeks, when his skin was a mere film over his bones and its usual translucence had dulled and soured, they took him out. They took him to the medicine room. The hands there were white. The coats blue. Fascinated by blue. He knows the silver of the surgical table from the automatic feeders, the freshly replaced sheets of metal on the roof. He knows white from lots of places. From the lights, from reflections. From the rarer birds. But blue! Blue is sky, in through the vents and the pinholes. Sky was on these creatures, these other hims. He moaned as they wiped and injected his noodly upper arm. Wept freely and delightedly as they inserted the feeding tube. And then an incredible thing. Somebody spoke. And somebody else answered. He grabbed for it, for either the noise or the place that sweet hum came from, for whatever was contained behind the mask, under the visor. He wailed and cupped his own throat, bleated a sound and felt the tremor of it shudder through his vocal chords out on to his waiting fingertips like the reverberation of a strummed guitar. Me too, he was saying. Me too! You too! You, me, us! Music! The room soon blurred, the chemicals diffused quickly and his focus left him. He went heavily under like a dropped stone.

He had figured out, after feeling, tracing, pushing, tweaking, pulling, scraping, two places where nails come loose from the galvanized iron, easily and simply. One was above the top roost, three decks up (Chicken Boy was an avid climber). He could fit neatly as a boy, but it was a tight squeeze now. Flakes of rust got in his eyes. That was the day something changed. They came in to activate the grain silos and freshen the bedding. He had spent the night on the top roost, angled poorly and quite squashed, watching the light change and the sky sift through all the different colours, in the space behind the loose nail. With the kindling dawn, he felt something bubble up inside him, some foul urge belch up as in a cesspool. His finger and thumb grasped the nail, pressing, pressing until he had milked a bead of blood from the sinews of his forearm. He let it trickle a moment, the slow red teardrop, his head, his heart, his head, everything swirling, expanding and contracting, out-in went his chest, too quickly. Out-in. He bruised the wound and drank from it, spreading the blood around his mouth and savouring the unusualness, the novelty and the dark thrill he felt deep in his churning belly, knifing through his watery insides predatory and threatening, the fin of a shark above an opaque pool. Power. Power was what he felt. The incomparable exhilaration of making something happen. He felt he had discovered and understood and was about to prove a universal truth: that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

When the hands came to turn on the lights, they heard it all before they saw it. Before they saw headless birds still flapping, turning perfect circles as if on little red tracks. Before the blood darkening the walls as if seeping in from outside. Down softly raining from the ceiling in beams of starched sunlight. Raw pink ripped flesh, cartilage, intestines and blue veins knotted like electric cabling. Before they saw JD DeMondo, almost a grown man, naked and crimson and coated in feathers, his eyes burning like charcoal, dark and too bright both at the same time, burning with something ferocious and new, the panic reached them on the wind like a bad smell. Squawks, screeches – and over the din, the low, curdling wail of a territorial lion. Change. Change was what they heard, and what awaited them in the worst way.

JD has finished his grape soda, there are no more peanuts left and both his ears have popped. His clucking is soft and worried. They are descending, wheeling, at twelve thousand, at ten thousand feet. The slow pour of a New York twilight is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Insects on water, on fire. He knows he can’t touch them. He thinks if he touches them they might burn him and he would stub them all out. The plexiglass is cool and firm against his fingertips.

*

Tara White is an Irish writer with an MA and MFA in Creative Writing from UCD. She teaches Creative Writing at the Limerick Writers’ Centre.

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News: Issue Forty-Two Preview

Issue Forty-Two Preview

I’ve spent today putting the finishing touches to the eBook editions of issue forty-two of Neon. If all goes to plan, the latest instalment of the magazine will launch at the end of this month, on February 29th. If you want to be one of the first people to get hold of a copy, why not place a pre-order, or even subscribe?

From a brief biography of a man raised as a chicken, to a mortuary romance, to a tale that teeters on the edge of a precariously-assembled tower, this issue is packed with excellent poetry and fiction. There’s even a grotesquely surreal comic by Swedish artist Janne Karlsson, and an innocuous-looking but unique broadside by poet Jaclyn Weber.

Other writers featured in issue forty-two include Luke Silver, Clifford Parody, Jane Flett, Mack W Mani, Tara White, Eliza Victoria, Gregory Cartwright, Caroline Hardaker, and Natalia Theodoridou.

This will be our largest print run ever for an issue of Neon. Thanks to everyone who has already subscribed or purchased a copy – and for everyone else, it’s never too late to do so.