Rodeo Days by Alex Barbolish

 

I was puking over a truck fender when I saw her.  Four years later, she looked exactly the way I remembered, all tan legs and long blond hair.  Alcohol and ex-girlfriends are matches and gasoline, but Coors Light trumped common sense and I called her name.  She looked over right as I lost my grip on the truck and sprawled in grass slick with dew and vomit.  I heard laughter.  I grabbed a fistful of grass to anchor myself as the sky became a kaleidoscope of stars and my thoughts skittered and bounced before finally dropping into a slot on the roulette wheel of memory.

I want a horse like that, she said, someday when we move out west.  The horse was a paint, its piebald haunches rippling muscle as the cowgirl spurred it on.  It was the last night of the Benton Rodeo Days, her last shot at winning the barrel race.  Gravel pinged off the steel fence as the paint’s hooves scrambled for purchase coming around the last barrel.  She laughed and looked down at me from her perch on the top rail, back lit by the harsh arena floodlights.  She was still smiling when the security guard came up and told us to get off the fence.

Look at those bugs, she said as we climbed the bleachers.  I looked up at the clouds of insects swarming the floodlights, hurling their tiny bodies against the glass.  Funny how they just keep trying.  Her smile faded when the floodlights morphed into the morning sun, and I awoke in the bed of my truck to the echoes of the rodeo announcer— But even the best cowboys, ladies and gentlemen, must learn when to let go.

 

Alex Barbolish was born and raised in Nicholson, PA.  His work has appeared in Gravel, Hippocampus, Mud Season Review, and Colere, among others.  This particular piece was first published in The Plume, the literary journal of Keystone College in La Plume, PA.

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Autumn Fire By Brandi Morris Kjarsgard

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Photo Credit: Lisa Petz Photography / Model: Megan Walsh

Brandi Kjarsgard (née Morris) grew up in Elmhurst. She’s been an artist all her life, beginning with a box of crayons and dragon drawings. After sketching countless monsters, she realized she wanted to create them on the silver screen, transforming people into wild and imaginative creatures. She is currently pursuing a career as a professional makeup artist. She is the recipient of the 2016 Ve Neill Legends of Makeup Scholarship at Cinema Makeup School. She also runs Raw Illusions Studios.

Roomie by Corinne Alice Nulton

I like to sleep where your bed once sat
Your posters’ tape-stains and sharpie notes
Hooks from dream catchers, writers’ quotes
I swear that spot still has your scent
If I close my eyes, I can pretend
we’re college roommates again

Watching storms come through and pour
into pots aligned on slanted floors
Inch-long winter window seams
cuddled by a blow dryer for heat
A rusted lock, a broken key,
sagging boards, knob-less doors
rail-less staircase, up three floors
plugs that spark, sirens that screech,
mold that snows from higher beams
Shit, the rent’s due once again

Strangers forced into one small space
City views wrapped in spiders’ lace
Hating it, and you, and yet myself
Out of stolen scraps, you made a bookshelf
A plywood bond yet to be undone
That forged our books, our music into one
So often those years we couldn’t make rent
But laughed through favors made, money lent

“Roommate Wanted” taped to crusted—
cracked window, on the ground floor.
And that whole month I had so much room—
Your half of home, an empty, for-rent tomb.
As your parents took your things away,
I clung to traces of you in the space:
Wine stains, bent nails, chipped paint

I have a room now that’s not condemned
And I can finally, fully make the rent.
But I keep the space where your bed would’ve been
Empty. I lay there and imagine
your posters, clutter, and sharpie notes
Hooks holding dream catchers
Post-its of writes’ quotes
And you, only half a room away.

Corinne Alice Nulton lives above a flower shop in Peckville, where she keeps the scattered parts of her brain on post-its and on the dog-eared pages of dollar store notebooks. She had her play “14 Symptoms” produced at the Brick Theater’s Game Play Festival in 2014, and her ten-minute-play “Flesh” was a finalist at the Kennedy Center in 2011. She has had several short stories published in literary magazines such as Cactus Heart and Ellipses .

Ancestors by Elena Habersky

As I was stepping off the bus, eager to explore the small Polish town of Płock, I ignorantly assumed someone would understand my English. It is a small shame that I carry with me, the fact that I do not speak or understand the root language of my ancestors. How hard could it be to understand “town”, or “city center”, or even the name Płock itself? It took me mere minutes and decreasing self-confidence to realize not that long. Completely lost and alone at a small bus station with no sign of city life anywhere, I began walking.

A kind gentleman ran after me and pointed me in the direction of a city bus. He did not understand what I wanted exactly, but he obviously knew I should take a bus to any direction worthwhile. So I hopped on and hoped I would notice the town or the river that I knew ran next to the town. After ten minutes and ending up at the end of the bus line right next to the local hospital, I got off pretending I knew exactly where I was going. I had no idea, so I waited for the next bus back and went in the exact direction I came from, defeated.

On a whim, I exited at a larger looking intersection and meandered my way cautiously down the street, remembering every step I took, lest I needed to retrace them. I stumbled upon more buildings and it seemed, almost suddenly, that life started springing up around me. Pharmacies, small groceries, and restaurants started dotting the streets until I noticed what looked like a city map. Success! I had finally found the quaint town square!

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Confinement & Digression of a Dead Bird by Brina Platt

Confinement

Snow: Infiltrating our lives. Flurries
build into glacial walls and even beside cozy
Chimney fires I feel those unrelenting flakes
Compiling outside. Suffocating. Four months of—
Breathe in— Solitude &
Out &

Echo &

In &

Exposure  &

the cold chokes my lungs-trachea-larynx and I am
Alone. . . Alone
In the backyard naked trees shiver and their limbs
Are too short to wrap around themselves. The howl
Of a forlorn creature rings, unhindered, and an expanse of white

Stretches and

Stretches and

Stretches. . .

 

Digression of a Dead Bird

The bird: reckless, foolish, diving towards
The window with abandon. This common colored
Creature, a dull mixture of brown and gray as though
God’s paintbrush had been soiled by cheap dyes,
Perhaps realizes its simplicity among an otherwise
Divine world. Suicide:
Thump.
 
The glass does not shatter, the broken
Body shudders in final exhalation,
Whispered secret between us.

Brina Platt spent her childhood in Rhode Island. As a teenager she moved to Wyoming, PA and has continued to live in the northeast region of Pennsylvania. She currently studies at the University of Scranton and majors in English. She is a staff member on the University’s literary magazine, Esprit.

Beyond the Gates by Tara Lynn Marta

The ominous sky did little to deter me from setting out on my daily run. Although I belonged to a state of the art gym, I wasn’t in the mood for an indoor workout surrounded by noisy equipment and weightlifters who felt compelled to vocally illustrate how strenuous their regimen was. The weatherman had promised heavy downpours; looking upward, it was easy to tell that his prediction would be confirmed within the next several hours.

Since my time was limited, I quickly dressed by slipping into a pair of blue jogging pants, a matching shirt, and a runner’s hat. I then put on my favorite new running shoes, grabbed my keys, a half-filled bottle of Evian, and out the door I went. As I scanned the view, I knew the neighborhood simply wouldn’t do for today’s run, so I opted instead to head over to the local cemetery – a place most people tended to avoid. There was a definite fear about this particular cemetery, and the townspeople vowed never to enter it. Rumors had been swirling for years that it was not only haunted, but once you crossed its cast-iron gates, you never returned. I couldn’t care less what others thought and refused to adhere to their foolish superstitions.

Old man Haggerty, a ninety-year-old with neither kith nor kin, was believed to have been the last person buried in the dreaded cemetery. In life Haggerty was an odious, calculating man whom nobody wanted to know; upon death, the only people present at his burial were the priest and the gravedigger. Shortly after Haggerty was laid to rest, neighbors and passersby swore they heard loud screams, along with cries for help coming from beyond the gates. After that, nobody wanted their loved ones placed in a cemetery with such a tarnished reputation.

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Expats, Seoul by Andrew Milewski

We move tarnished tin teapots
to back burners. Slight hisses from gas lines
fight against the rain; heated floorboards

question the season. Down come soy sauce
& sesame seeds from cheap, wooden cupboards.
We laugh about philosophy & wonder about

onion soup recipes. The Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones”
plays from a MacBook. Your hands open packets
of ramyeon. Mine shoot back shots of soju.

Sure, there’s the stink from cooking, but we will
sweeten the air with Rilke, your California
voice mingling with my east-coast tongue.

 

Andrew Milewski spent most of his life in Lackawanna. He also spent two years in South Korea, where he rode in crowded subways to cultural lectures and swing dance socials. He taught English to small children there, too. He is co-editor of The Gorge. He had an idea to make a blog of travel poems (though that has yet to manifest), & he was involved with arts and literature at The University of Scranton.

Blind by Frank Caputo

Great Mother Earth
chewed me up and blurt me out
1,000 thousand times
fool-minded in forever psychosis,
blind seeing from the eyes
of a fool too
too
rigid,
recumbent,
effulgent.

we we we are all two,
and still too, too
divergent.
Two to one:

kissing with dust
lipless in the earth
forming ourselves

blind.

 

Frank Caputo grew up in Moscow, Pennsylvania and graduated from North Pocono High School in 2009. He frequently walked and then biked and then finally drove aimless all over the county, and that probably has something to do with the fact that he writes poetry. He’s currently living in Baltimore and working on an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore, and still spends copious amounts of time walking aimlessly.

 

Now accepting submissions

The Gorge publishes original writing and art from local creatives every other Thursday. Good luck taking the plunge!

We are currently accepting all genres of writing (fiction, poetry, nonfiction, & drama) as well as all forms of visual art (photography, painting, sketches, etc.). We also welcome commentary on current events.

If you would like your piece to be considered, please email thegorge@mail.com. Include your work as an attachment, & please include a short bio (~5-10 sentences), which includes where you live or lived specifically. We plan to get back to people as soon as possible, and we will update this page with specific information on waiting times as we begin to receive submissions.

Submission Guidelines:

Prose:

  • Size 12 font
  •  Double spaced
  • No more than 5,000 words
  • Please submit only one piece of prose at a time.
  • Format your file as a Word doc or PDF.

Poetry:

  • Size 12 font
  • Please submit only up to two poems at a time.
  • Format your file as a Word doc or PDF.

Visual Art:

  • Please format all photos as a JPEG file.
  • Include a title for each submission.