More Good News: Nominated for Best of the Net!

There’s been so much commotion and excitement around here lately that I almost forgot:

I owe a big thank you to the folks over at Flash Frontier.

They nominated my story “Cicadas,” which appeared in their November 2012 Issue Eye Contact, for Best of the Net!

Check it out!

Reaping Rewards: Word Flood in Yemassee

YemasseeCover20v2 web

 

 

Here’s another non-rejection that I’ve racked up from my original Submission Bonanza! 

Word Flood,” my first published creative nonfiction piece, just came out in Yemassee.

I’ve pasted the original text below for your reading enjoyment!

 

Her words sank.  Not quickly like an anchor, or with a splash like a rock.  Instead as she spoke, her words fluttered in the air, held afloat by the humidity.  They tickled earlobes, in a language half a world away. Pieces of ideas curled with the wind among tendrils of jasmine, leaving a heavy scent wafting through the city.  Nouns and verbs together toyed with bodhi leaves, pulling them along as they flitted to the ground.  They landed gently on the Chao Phraya, quivering on the surface of the river and leaving ripples too small to be noticed.  Amongst water hyacinth and coconuts they floated, gathering silt and absorbing the wetness of the city.  In this way, the words gained weight and began to drown.

Before long, they swam in the wake of snakefish and nestled between the scales of water monitors.  The more weight they gathered, the more they were immersed, the harder it was to see them. The light had trouble reaching them between algae and waste and even apsaras would be hard pressed to find them.  They landed on the river bed, stirring up the bottom and throwing silt into an already murky darkness.  Covered.

And soon all her pen could do was draw the curves of the paths her words had taken, as if trying to retrace their steps.  Searching between the roots of ficus trees and the stamens of hibiscus for where she had misplaced them.  A world made of tendrils and bubbles, floating in a silent and wordless black and white.  Sea horses and leaves and turtles all swirled with a silent current.  Owls became nok hoo, knock, who? and lost their edges and their names.  Questions were gone and statements no longer made sense.  The world churned as if everything were from the point of view of those lost words, staring up at far away surface of a river that always was moving.

And then there was a flood.  The water seeped slowly, climbing up through sewers and along the streets.  The river rose past dams and sandbags bringing pythons into houses and buoys into cars.  It brought everything from its depths, decay, sand, and her words, which huddled against a curb and waited for the waters to recede.  After months, the river left, burrowing back into its banks but leaving its refuse to dry in the sun.  The sediment cracked and caked.  Mosquito larvae dried like tiny raisins.  The decomposing river sludge made banana trees greener and left seedling strangler figs sprouting along sidewalks.  And, as if growing out from cracked pavement, her words dried, too, finally able to breathe and soak up a little bit of the warm winter sun.

 

Featured Author: Reaping the Rewards of a Submission Bonanza!

After an incredibly intense month of submitting writing to 30 literary magazines in 30 days, following my Submission Bonanza! Challenge, I am beginning to reap the rewards.

This month Flash Frontier included me in their featured authors section.  Check it out!

Also, if you want to do your own Submission Bonanza! you can check out my tips for editing and choosing pieces to submitfinding magazines, and writing your cover letter and bio.

Or check out the unexpected lessons that I learned while doing this challenge.

Cicadas (Thailand. Rewrite)

 

 

 

She could hear his abdomen, even from eight stories above. She knew he waited for her, dressed in new skin holding the bark of a mango tree. For thirteen years, she had dug and hid, dug and hid, a pale pearl of a nymph sheltered in flooding clay. Prematurely buried. She had fed on rootjuice and waited.

And now, the time for burying herself had gone. She no longer wore the tough soil skin of the past. The brightness of being was nearly unbearable. She was green and larger than herself.

She sat exposed, mesmerized by the equatorial sunlight and the sound of his clicking ribs. She could see him from here, just a speck, but she could tell even at this distance that he looked back at her. Through her ten eyes, he was a kaleidoscope of rounded cicada flecks, mirrored and moving in unison, calling her to the ground.

And then a closer sound. Behind her, ten of the same dark-haired girls with lightning eyes and cloud-colored skin reached a catastrophic finger in her direction.

She heard him again, dry-fly ribs rubbing together to blot out the sounds of metropolitan traffic and children. The vibrations called to her.

She looked down at the expectant mango tree and imagined the future she would create: millions of shimmery nymphs sprinkling from the branches, raining onto the soil below, christening the ground with their sparkling selves.

There was nothing for her to do now, except let go.

 

 

Back in the day, I wrote about submitting some of my flash fiction to Flash Frontier.  This rewrite of my original post was published in Flash Frontier’s November Issue, Eye Contact.

 

Also, I’d like to reiterate my Creative Commons love to Flickr user Roger Smith for the amazing photo!

Darunsikkhalai (Thailand. May 2010.)

(Reposted for Ram (:  )

Norea wondered how the scene in front of her looked to the tour group.  A woman framed her mock-surprised face with her hands as she backed away from a set of high-heeled feet dangling lifelessly.  In a circle around the computer screen, 8 orange-striped ten-year-olds in pleather rolly chairs listlessly watched the drama.  Only their Thai teacher seemed enrapt.  In the corner, the teaching assistant scrolled through pictures of cookies shaped like Lady Gaga.  From the window outside, the five professors on Norea’s tour tittered like overexcited hamsters.

“Very… unusual school,” one of them said to her.  Norea nodded.

Norea turned around so that her silvery eyes met the horizon. On the eighth floor, she had an uninterrupted view of the city.  In the distance, the most recognizable bridges in Bangkok batted golden eyes as they coyly skirted behind the smog.  They dropped gray-brown veils onto the vibrating city below as they shimmied in the heat.   The distant downtown towers looked as if they had donned their best khakis and sidled up next to the stage to enjoy the show.   The scene was suspended, a sepia photo with blurred edges and a highlighted blue sky.  All the smiles were frozen.

The wet, climbing ivy that was the Chao Phraya River evaporated inexorably up the sides of skyscrapers, covered the cars parked on bridges, and hid the street vendors, encircling the city in its grasp.

“The children learn by creating,” she told the group, still looking at the hazy sparkle in the distance.  “In this class, they are learning Thai culture and language by studying curses.  In the coming weeks, they will make their own drama about curses.”

The group nodded in unison and Norea guided them downstairs.

“And does it work?” a professor with too-red lipstick and an unmoving-shell of hair asked.

“The sixth floor has science labs and the facilitator’s offices,” Norea said.

Creative Commons love to http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebehnken/ for the picture!

Cicadas (Thailand. May 2010.)

She could hear his abdomen, even from eight stories above. She knew he waited for her, dressed in new skin holding the bark of a mango tree. For thirteen years, she had dug and hid, dug and hid, a pale pearl of a nymph sheltered in flooding clay. Prematurely buried. She had fed on rootjuice and waited.

And now, the time for burying herself was gone. She no longer wore the tough soil skin of the past. The brightness of being was nearly unbearable. She was green and larger than herself.

She sat exposed, mesmerized by the equatorial sunlight and the scene in front of her. A kaleidescope of rounded, dark-haired girls with lightning eyes and cloud-colored skin. Mirrored and moving the same. The repetition of girls had no expression on their faces. Their mouths moved at the groups of people surrounding them, but their dream-time eyes looked through the scene.

She heard him again, dry-fly ribs rubbing together to blot out the sounds of metropolitan traffic and children. The vibrations called to her.

She looked down at the expectant mango tree and imagined the future she would create. Millions of shimmery nymphs sprinkling from the branches, raining onto the soil below, christening the ground with their sparkling selves.

There was nothing for her to do now, except let go.

 

 

 

Creative Commons love to http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersmith/ for the photo! Thanks!

 

Word Flood (Winter 2012.)

“Self-expression must pass into communication for fulfillment.” –Pearl S. Buck

Her words sank.  Not quickly like an anchor, or with a splash like a rock.  Instead as she spoke, her words fluttered in the air, held afloat by the humidity.  They tickled earlobes, in a language half a world away. Pieces of ideas curled with the wind among tendrils of jasmine, leaving a heavy scent wafting through the city.  Nouns and verbs together toyed with bodhi leaves, pulling them along as they flitted to the ground.  They landed gently on the Chao Phraya, quivering on the surface of the river and leaving ripples too small to be noticed.  Amongst water hyacinth and coconuts they floated, gathering silt and absorbing the wetness of the city.  In this way, the words gained weight and began to drown.

Before long, they swam in the wake of snakefish and nestled between the scales of water monitors.  The more weight they gathered, the more they were immersed, the harder it was to see them. The light had trouble reaching them between algae and waste and even apsaras would be hard pressed to find them.  They landed on the river bed, stirring up the bottom and throwing silt into an already murky darkness.  Covered.

And soon all her pen could do was draw the curves of the paths her words had taken, as if trying to retrace their steps.  Searching between the roots of ficus trees and the stamens of hibiscus for where she had misplaced them.  A world made of tendrils and bubbles, floating in a silent and wordless black and white.  Sea horses and leaves and turtles all swirled with a silent current.  Owls became nok hoo, knock, who? and lost their edges and their names.  Questions were gone and statements no longer made sense.  The world churned as if everything were from the point of view of those lost words, staring up at far away surface of a river that always was moving.

And then there was a flood.  The water seeped slowly, climbing up through sewers and along the streets.  The river rose past dams and sandbags bringing pythons into houses and buoys into cars.  It brought everything from its depths, decay, sand, and her words, which huddled against a curb and waited for the waters to recede.  After months, the river left, burrowing back into its banks but leaving its refuse to dry in the sun.  The sediment cracked and caked.  Mosquito larvae dried like tiny raisins.  The decomposing river sludge made banana trees greener and left seedling strangler figs sprouting along sidewalks.  And, as if growing out from cracked pavement, her words dried, too, finally able to breathe and soak up a little bit of the warm winter sun.

The Weight of Bangkok (Thailand. Summer 2006.)

It was a small splash, the first time the Chao Phraya River touched her skin. It collected itself, making a rivulet, its own tiny clone, and slithered from her shoulder, down her back. It was easy enough to brush off at the time; her attention was focused on ochre-colored robes of tan-colored monks and the smell of sewage. The busy-ness of Bangkok is enough to distract even the most worldly of travelers. It would caress her often while she tried to wrap her mind around the city. She often mistook its gentle droplets for her own sweat. Little by little it seeped into her clothes. The algae would get invisibly caked in her hair. Bathing only made it worse, since it was the same snake that came out of the faucet, running in tiny streams down her legs and nesting in her drain, just waiting for the next time she would stand above it. It brought all of Thailand into her room. The sweat from the bathing mother. The piss of the Ko Kret buffalo. The decomposing rice leaves. The acrid saliva of Asian Open-Billed Storks. The ashes of incense from Wat Pai Lom. The river left them on her eyelashes, resting on the shelf of her belly button and curled in the ques of her pubic hair. In less than two weeks time, she was drowning in it, tangled in water hyacinth.

The combination of water hyacinth and wet heat left me with dreams of the Amazon. Before long, each day was laced with ayahuasca. My stomach ached for and wretched with the newness of each experience. My appetite left me completely, and food became just another beautiful band in the rainbow of the life around me. Piranhas nibbled my toes as I walked down streets dusty with the resin of car exhaust, curry-laced smoke, and incense cinders. Vipers strung themselves from telephone poles and carried the secrets of the city from Klongsan to Phra Pinklao. The sky let loose a constant rain of wet sunshine. Even at night, nothing was dry. The moist fervor of the city covered my body, making it a struggle to keep my hips still.

In the end, it was the weight of everything which finally drove me mad. Every blanket was too heavy to sleep under. Just thinking became dangerous because one could get smothered under the weight of a simple idea. Each thought that went into the air collected condensation and dust, becoming more and more tangible and visible, until it finally dropped to the ground in a puddle and actually existed.