I do not share my sister and my son’s love for snakes, so seeing the largest anaconda in captivity in an outlet mall in Chicago was not my idea of a fun day. However, neither my overall uneasiness, nor my vote counted as we came to the black painted windows at the entrance of the zoo located in the mall. My hopes sank as the door swung open, my sister Pamela (who I always called “Sissy”) bracing it with her foot in the white canvas Ked accented with the blue lace ribbon as shoelaces. Her daughter Tana’s hand hidden within mine was slight and cool, the feeling and weight of dried snow as she flitted her fingers within my palm while we followed them in. Continue reading
I am elbow-deep in moist newspaper and bird droppings, being bludgeoned repeatedly in the forearm with the head of a canary. He – I am making a base assumption on bird-gender – gets a tight grip on the wire of the cage and launches himself back at my arm, bird-head first, as though he has been shot out of a cannon. His partner is desperately attacking the back of my hand with her surprisingly sharp bird-claws and tiny but ruthless bird-beak. I am currently in the second hour of this hell, no doubt catching bird-diphtheria from these beautiful little jerks. The tiny feathered soldiers pause for a moment, bird-chests heaving rapidly, and then begin the attack with renewed vigor. My bleeding fingers accidentally knock over their water bowl, but victory is mine, little jerks! For in my human-hand, I hold what I have been sent for: a beautiful, molar-sized bird-egg. Continue reading
It’s you. You know, there’s something about you. Something good, I can just tell. It’s in your eyes mostly. I love them. They are beautiful, I mean really beautiful. I would know because they’re looking right at me, right now. You’re just sitting there across from the page and I beg you please don’t leave. Not until the end when it’s all over. A horrible but inevitable ending I dread. If you stop before then, I don’t know if I will have fallen completely in love with you. Continue reading
“It’s only going to hurt if you’re a pussy.”
I winced slightly, withholding my “pussification”, took it like a champion, and instantly became the rebel most girls in undergrad yearned for in their deepest, darkest corner; I finally became the guy with the nipple piercings. What Sarah, the plump lady from Piercing Experience, failed to tell me was that a man piercing his nipples was like an open invitation for all women to rub them. There was the two-fingered double-tap girl, the split-fingered vertical rub girl, and of course there was the infamous video-game calloused thumb girl. I became “King Nips” along with several other unheralded monikers, like “Genie-Nipples”, and what’s important to note is that I didn’t ask for any of them. I simply wanted to pierce them and be done with it, but now I’m the oversized guy with the genie nipples who has to hide his proverbial headlights protruding through the muscle shirts he enjoys wearing. Continue reading
Seven years and eight months have passed since she last ventured to the haze-ridden Blue Ridge Mountains. With the seasonal change of bright coppers and ambers blanketing the treetops towering overhead, she’d arrive at a small campground outside of Ellijay, Georgia for an extended stay in a fifth-wheel camper hitched behind a white two-door GMC truck. Traveling daily through dormant communities and mingling with mountain folk, my grandmother’s admiration for north Georgia was unquestionable. Countywide fall festivals, antique thrift stores and the occasional Huddle House, she loved this place. And it wasn’t just her place, but theirs. Continue reading
I told my boyfriend I’d never have children because I’d be too afraid I’d eat them.
“What the fuck?” he said.
“Yeah, you know,” I said. “I’m actually writing a memoir about my life and all my problems right now. Let me read you what I have so far.”
Ivy Hall Review Features Sybil McLain-Topel
Lavender No. 19
La lavande me manque.
Lavender is missing to me. This is the French construction of the phrase ‘I miss lavender.’
When I say I miss my lover, I say in English, I miss you. In French I say, you are missing to me: tu me manques. Listen for nuance. The noun for me, myself, and I now rests in shade. My lover takes on full sun. Tu me manques.
Subtle. Thought. Shift.
My mother says that God told her to name me Melody. She says He led her to a verse:
Ephesians 5:19 “…singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”
In Isaiah 43:1, God tells Israel, “I have called you by name; you are mine.”
If I believe in this sort of thing, my existence is stamped with divinity; the name Melody was chosen by Jehovah.
Did He know people would have such difficulty pronouncing it?
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.”
The dark leather couches are situated to encourage conversation and interaction. Sectioned off, it accommodates no more than five to six people but more could squeeze in. Men, sometimes with a mix of women, but mostly men sit on supple leather chairs and couches and talk. “Man, I just lost my job today.” One friend orders the newly jobless a scotch. Another goes to his private humidor locker and pulls out the Cuban he’d been saving for himself and gives it to his disheartened comrade. Another hands him a card and says, “Call me tomorrow, I might have something for you.”
I flick a soggy cigarette butt off the lip of Otis’ bejeweled dinner bowl before dumping the mush into the crowded sink. You can’t tell it apart from shaved yucca skin or three day old guac.
“Ma, you trying to kill the dog again?” I yell into the dim, half opened bathroom. It’s obstructed by her yellow scooter and a tower of records. “He ain’t a smoker, you know.”
The phone rang and Marian picked it up, tangling her hand in its spiraling plastic cord. “Hello?” she asked.
Just like the other week, there was no answer. Marian’s thin lips got even thinner and her left eye twitched. Jim kept saying she needed to eat more potassium, but Marian knew that wasn’t it. She needed a new hobby.
I spent five months looking at Mrs. Wendal before I saw her. I noticed her flowers before I saw her eyes.
There were alien interpretations of the Egyptian lotus, the Nymphyaea Cerulaea. Pointed silver petals,like elongated triangles, fanned out around the circumference of red and orange centers and crossed over into a third dimension, waving as if the breeze would carry them off like wished-away spokes of a dandelion. The flowers, miniature sunbursts, hung suspended around what I could not perceive to be a body.