Blackholes by Alaina Behan
We’re told to love, but never how.
When we are cradle-ribbed,
a cheshire-grinning moon
is not the waning smile of a lover
with a gravel-studded heart.
The pillowed breast of a mother
is not a pale beating cage
hammering & churning.
We’re told that the love doesn’t die
from pin-pricks of foul-lipped secretions
That in the winter, browned grasses
aren’t blades of stubbled graves
That the handprint on a window
is not the glance of parting light.
We’re taught that hurt comes
from thorn-tipped fingers
with bright blood drops
Sterling Cooper and Dallas Cowboys by Nathan Pesina
With a few concussions,
One man’s Don Draper is another’s 35 yard-line kickoff
Each day is a glacially-paced step in the right direction
And a 10-yard sack in the wrong.
But a compromise is still a win
When you ask the right person.
Even if Donovan McNabb says there are no draws.
These talking points aren’t really
useful. Are they?
Let’s just play the game we love
the 9 billion
and the product placement behind.
If you want
we can ditch the plastic, soulless offices
of Madison Avenue
and smooth-talking Joe Buck
ranting about nothing
dead and beaten in the middle of a dry desert.
But I’m willing to hold on if you are.
To what we have left
because it makes Sundays worth it.
Deer in the headlights by Nathan Pesina
Philip looked at the Christmas tree propped in front of his window, the lights flicking in and out like seizing lightning bugs. He lit a cigarette before he started the engine on his Ford Customline, a 4-door they’d just upgraded to now that he and his wife had a kid on the way. He watched the road disappear and reappear in front of him at 40 miles an hour. The smoke from his cigarette tornadoed out the window he had cracked open, blending in with the low hanging fog outside. Tired of the smoke in the car, he punched out the cigarette in an ashtray on his dashboard. Regretting this instantly, he shakily pulled another out, trying to light it with his momentarily Parkinson-stricken hand.
“Piece of shit,” he muttered though the cigarette in his mouth as he repeatedly flicked his lighter, looking for one good spark.
The lighter popped from the stranglehold Philip had on it and bounced under his seat. Cursing again he reached his hand down feeling for the last ingredient needed to enjoy the unlit cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. As he regained the feel of the lighter in his palm, he looked up with one eye, seeing the deer that had appeared in the middle of the road. His foot slammed on the brake in sync with the front of his car, slamming into the deer. The cigarette propelled from his mouth while his shoulder dislocated itself against the steering wheel. The cacophony of sounds, the thud of the deer falling, the tap of the tobacco propellant hitting the windshield, the wailing screech of tires, the pop of his shoulder leaving its socket, were drowned out by a harsh ringing in Philip’s ear when the car finally came to a twisted stop.
Philip stepped out of the car clutching his limp shoulder. The front of his car was crushed in. The new vehicle was now horribly disfigured; it would surely become an unwelcome pariah among its car peers. More disturbingly, it now had the beginnings of a sticky, crimson coat of paint thanks to the dying animal lying in front of the vehicle illuminated by the flickering headlights.
“Sorry, pal,” Philip said to the deer gasping on the ground. Philip couldn’t help but notice the eyes on the deer. The placement of them on the side of its head had one eye staring up at him and one eye staring at the black of the asphalt beneath it. He wondered what it was seeing. He hoped that it was the black.
Philip knew what had to be done. However, he didn’t know exactly how to take care of the problem. He thought he could stab it with something, but he was not currently in possession of anything large enough to end its suffering any sooner.
He sat on the road next to the deer and pulled out a cigarette, looking for a light he realized he was still clutching the lighter in his palm and was now able to get a flame going.
Putting away his lighter he said to the deer, “If I could’ve got this going a few minutes ago this wouldn’t have happened.”
He took a drag and blew smoke into the fog. He then chuckled at the distasteful thought of offering the deer a final smoke.
“Shouldn’t even be out here,” he said as he finished watching the smoke drift off, “Had some ‘business’ to attend to.”
The deer continued to look up into the air with his one good eye. The headlight continued to flicker causing an orb of light in the deer’s pupil to appear and disappear frequently.
“You see,” Philip continued and then laughed, “I feel like I should explain, I’m going to meet this…‘government man’ in town. But I don’t know if I can go in this condition,” he said showing his shoulder to the deer. He then noticed the flood of blood drifting through the hair on its body and instantly felt bad.
The realization struck Philip instantly as he examined his tires. He wondered, however, if running over the deer’s neck with his car would break it and kill it instantly.
“I don’t think you’ll argue with this,” he said as he knelt down to search for the ideal spot to run over, “Where was I? Oh, yeah, why I’m out here. Well, a few weeks ago, this man from some government agency came up to me and asked me for information about my friend, Tom. Said, Tom might be a communist. Tom, this guy I’ve known for more than ten years!”
Philip placed his hand on the deer’s neck and it seemed to temporarily jerk away from his touch, as if it knew what he was preparing to do. The jerk caused Philip to snatch his hand away and brining his hand closer to his face, he noticed he’d gotten a bit of blood on the tip of his fingers. He rubbed it on the ground, fingerpainting the road with a morbid red.
Standing up to walk back towards his car he continued, “I found out, a few days ago, that he might’ve been right. I followed him around some, he has these…meetings with people I’ve never seen him hang around with before and I don’t think his wife knows about it. Caught him lying to her about where he goes after work…”
The deer’s eyes met Philip’s as he began to walk over to his car. The flicker in them continued.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go tonight,” he said swallowing a lump in his throat, “That’s why you’re here right? To keep me from going?”
A river of blood had made its way to Philip’s shoes. The red traced around his foot, enclosing him in his current spot.
Philip shook himself out of the hypnosis he’d been put into, “I have to go,” he said to himself and the deer. He pointed his thumb to his car, “I’ll watch out for your friends.”
Philip flicked off his cigarette and climbed into his car. He turned the key to start the engine, reversing and lining up his right tire with the deer’s neck. He paused before driving forward and turned off his lights, catching the bulb in the deer’s pupil one last time before driving forward. It was nothing more than two bumps; he hoped if the front tire didn’t do it, the back tire would. As Philip drove off, guided only by his flashing headlights, he glanced back and saw the silhouette of the deer’s body in the rearview mirror and thought about his current predicament. He reached a Stop sign and considered whether or not to go forward or to turn around and go home. And as the cigarette that popped out of his mouth during the crash caught his gaze from the dashboard he realized that maybe he should just stop smoking, looked both ways, and kept driving straight.
Nathan Pesina is a senior Film-TV-Digital Media and Writing double major from Grand Prarie, TX. for more writing from TCU students check out www.1147.tcu.edu