Slipstream Issue 27    Slipstream 27

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Highway Religion  by David Chorlton
Dented Moon   by Martin Vest
A Gas Station Near Bakersfield, Christmas Day, 1983    by Patricia Caspers
Slow Dance   by Jon Boisvert

Featured Photography: Charlee Brodsky
(collaboration with poet Jim Daniels)
  Fresh Fish, 2007 Charlee Brodsky
Fresh Fish
©2007 Charlee Brodsky
Detachment, 2007 Charlee Brodsky
©2007 Charlee Brodsky

  Secrecy [re-version] (detail), 2007 Michael Ian Bateson
Front cover
Secrecy [re-version] (detail)
©2007 Michael Ian Bateson
Birth, 2007 Michael Ian Bateson
Back cover
©2007 Michael Ian Bateson
Cover Artist: Michael Ian Bateson
Visit Michael Ian Bateson's website


Highway Religion
by David Chorlton

The desert keeps its good looks
for a while west of Phoenix
then it turns honest.
The hours evaporate

along the highway
between truck stops in which
the temperature never changes,
where you can buy a souvenir
made in China, a book
about the afterlife,

and a cassette tape for the road
that talks when you are lonely
about Jesusí coming. Perhaps
he will appear between

the dry mesquite,
thumbing a ride to salvation.
Perhaps he will speak Spanish,
and carry no passport.
Or perhaps itís just a story

that made its way back to this desert
where illusions
are the standard currency,
a promised land
with the next promise
seventy miles away.

© 2007 David Chorlton

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Dented Moon
by Martin Vest

Six months ago they took
half of his lung.
The spots returned within weeks.
Now they carpet-bomb his body
with chemicals and radiation,
nausea pills and borrowed blood...

He used to get drunk
and shoot holes in the wall.
God was a funny word, then,
like boomerang and succotash.
Now he sleeps with a Bible
tucked beneath his pillow.

A part of me feels betrayed by this.
I wanted him to go down with his ship,
to laugh at dying the way
he used to laugh at God—
no crossed fingers,
no pie in the sky...

It is evil to make a man
fight his own body to the death.
And yet I would ask my father
to do it with his bare hands.

I am trying to keep a little of him alive;
a part of him that cannot
be resected by doctorís scalpels
or cancerís teeth
or Abrahamís keen faith—
a part of him that no one loved,
imperious, athletic,
mean as hell
beneath a dented moon,
so ugly, so magnificent,
that even the saints
crawling in and out of Godís ears
would stop at His eye
to have a look.

© 2007 Martin Vest

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A Gas Station Near Bakersfield, Christmas Day, 1983
by Patricia Caspers

Iím locked in a bathroom
with the stink of grease and mold.
No windows.
Dad pumps gas outside.
Weíre six hours from home,
and heís forgotten me before.
Heíll speed his El Camino down the highway,
slap his hands on the wheel,
and sing Quincy Jonesís, "Ai No Corrida"
all the way to Ensenada
before he remembers me.
Mom said
he just wants to buy drugs
but she let me go,
and now this steel door
wonít budge.
I bang on it, give up,
sit on the toilet,
listen to engines start,
and tires crunch over glass.
Then his voice comes
so handsome through the wall,
You okay kiddo?
I sob my answer,
and in his one heroic moment
my father hurls the bear of himself
against that door,
and sunlight
comes crashing in.

© 2007 Patricia Caspers

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Slow Dance
by Jon Boisvert

Haley Hayes was beautiful the first time we met,
Kicking the back door of Our Redeemer Lutheran
In fishnets and twenty-eight hole lace-up boots,
Cigarette swinging like a horsewhip,
Yelling how fucking stupid detention was,
How she canít wait for eighth grade
When she will be allowed to public school.

Freshman year, we were neighbors.
I used to hold her bag at the bus stop
When she had to puke liquor before school.
It was raining once, walking home she took me
In to slow dance on Carlson & 3rd
In the middle of the street and sang lightly.
The rain took down my liberty-spiked hair
And poured it over her shoulders.
I asked when we could stop.

Youíre going to be a very lonely person
If you donít learn how to slow dance in the rain
She said. A car honked at us in its way.

Last November she was beautiful still,
With a red silk scarf tied in a big bow
Hiding the scrapes around her throat
The drunken homemade noose had made
When she taught him how to dance
In the garage of her childhood home.
Over the coffin was a thirteen-by-nineteen
Picture of her taken that Halloween
In a white wig and dress looking so much
Like Marilyn Monroe, smiling, smiling.

© 2007 Jon Boisvert

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