Mad Hatters' Review

Flash Fiction by Ann Bogle

Posted on June 29, 2011


My savings account had $16,000 in it. There were $16,000 in my savings account. I was on this side of the economy. I sided with the economy: Get on up, banks, get on up!

Barbara hadn't called for a year before her position at the biotech company had been eliminated: Six years after her Chapter 7, she owed $16,000 in credit card debt, and her wisdom teeth teemed with cavities. She was unemployed, and her wisdom teeth hurt.

Aaron called to say his wife's sister had been killed. She'd been beaten for an hour then shot between the eyes by someone she knew, someone backing a jealous girlfriend. I didn't believe that, but I believed someone had killed her—until they knew more—slain. He asked me to pay for the funeral. After his divorce from his rich second wife, he had filed Chapter 7. He said, “You have money,” and, “My wife's family are white trash.” At one time he had wanted to marry me. He could have said “my third wife's family,” but he said “my wife.” He had a job. I said, “Aaron, you earn $90,000 a year,” and he said, “Shut up” and “fucking bitch” as I might have said “goddamn.”

Nancy called to say the housing market had slowed to a creep, and she was running out of cash. Her mother had died leaving her several millions in real estate and locked assets. She was tired of it! she said.

My sister called to ask for $200 for a dress form for her clothing design business. She pitched it like a saleswoman. I had spent $400 on her birthday the week before that, thinking it was extravagant and due to having something.

My mother called to invite me to a play. I felt like I owed her, and I did. I bought the tickets.

At 60, Brian, a music prodigy, who had rent control and a house he inherited in New Jersey , never called. I called him. He and his wife, a publishing executive, couldn't buy groceries except rice and beans. Chop-chop salad, I said.

Jason called before his Chapter 7 to ask me how to file. He worked nine-hour days trying to sell Chevrolets and had borrowed $60,000 to pay bills: daycare, a mortgage, food. “Black is up, red is down,” I said, knowing he turned to pleasant memories of lawbreaking when he felt discouraged. I asked him to meet me for coffee. He said he hadn't bought a coffee in a year.

When I was poor, too poor for lunch out or coffee, cash poor but rich in time, the word broke had too catastrophic a meaning, so I said poor to give it balance, to live inside it. I was eating, practicing at gentility and at saying “fixed income.” My friends lived flamboyantly with millionaires they ended up not marrying. The therapist for the county suggested I move out of my mother's house and into government housing.
Who remembers? What do any of us remember of those times?

I am a would-be philanthropist with my nest egg, but I would go down. The egg came from winning a poetry contest: $20,000. The text of my poem is as follows and appeared in a hard cover volume called Touch of Tomorrow, $80 a copy:

Florence's Weekend

Grace brought Ryan
with his saw
to grind the trunk
and make the logs
build the stack
and clear the leaves
the tree left
when it died

I had told three people who later called broke of my success. I said they can write a poem, too: anyone can! They said they didn't want to write a poem. They said they were too busy working to write poems. When they realized all I intended to give them was a story about a poem, they said: Why didn't I get a job (if I couldn't be useful)?

Anger management, the therapist said, so I went. The therapist there scowled at me for coming in late. I realized I was angry because I knew no one I could meet for lunch. Why did poor people go to therapy? They borrowed money for housing; why not borrow money for business school? What had I learned at leisure school: the days went by slowly, the weeks went by fast? I didn't know how to pass time; it passed me, and it couldn't be saved. Time kept running at me, flapping its salty deck in my face like A/C.

Ann Bogle's short stories have appeared recently at Blip , Wigleaf , Whale Sound , Metazen , fwriction : review , Big City Lit and other journals. Country Without a Name is forthcoming from Argotist Ebooks in July.


One Response to Flash Fiction by Ann Bogle

•  rich haber says:

July 10, 2011 at 3:33 am

i was published in a poetry anthology, a contest entry, for which i was congratulated and offered a copy of the anthology for a mere $75 or for $3 i could submit a short bio, for the list in the back of the book. i was thrilled until my nextdoor neighbor told me her entry'd be in the same anthology. we partied together till her hubby came home and informed us his entry would appear in the same anthology. he'd been embarrassed to admit he wrote a poem, being a big guy in the NY Sanitation Dept.

none of us bought the anthology. Big Joe's poem was this:
When I was 8, I lit a fart
I thought I was smart
But it burned my leg
Like a fried egg


Vispo by Tray Drumhann

Posted on June 28, 2011



Tray Drumhann is a photographer and visual poet. His work has been included in such publications as The Emerson Review , Columbia New Poetry , The Pinch Journal , After Hours and The Pedestal .


Three Poems by Gretchen Primack

Posted on June 23, 2011

Doris Can Juggle

three suits of French armor. Three handfuls
of straight pins without losing a one. She can
juggle a bleached blue beached rowboat,
disorientation, and a fig branch, blindfolded.
She can juggle disbelief, a V of geese,
and passionately-tended bonsai. A suit of
French armor, a mound of straight pins, ferns
in a blur of ferns, and a Jewish sunset, and
she can juggle juggling. She is a survivor until
she isn't, a person who handles what is handed
until she can't be that person anymore.


Forest Floor

Summers we'd watch the carp
leap and arch and sink, tramp
stands of fluorescent mushrooms,
tooth-sized frogs, let the blue-bodied
bottle flies settle the branches.

The shade pressed in, a sharp
shimmer. Grief was stuffed
into the marrow of each trunk,
each trunk was sugared in pleasure,
all of it too alive with gorged
bees and anxious seeds.

Doris and I walked through with a bright
frog of color at the corner of each eye.
We were on our way to the edge
of the earth, where it would flatten
and bubble in the pan.



Gloom comes tonight knocking
olives against jam in Doris's black
kitchen shakes the room
crawls into bed knobbed
arms open muffles her face sucks
her hair into its flat eye

if she could tear
through the ticking
burrow the coils claw
and numb and

in the morning it may lie
sharp against her chest staring
dumb or have vanished
into a crackle
along the air behind or
a bitter syrup on the tongue

Gretchen Primack's publication credits include The Paris Review , FIELD , Prairie Schooner , Massachusetts Review , New Orleans Review , Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review , The Tampa Review , and Best New Poets 2006 . Her manuscript Doris' Red Spaces has been shortlisted for several prizes. Her chapbook, The Slow Creaking of Planets , came out with Finishing Line Press in 2007. Gretchen teaches at Bard Prison Initiative. More about her here .


3 Responses to Three Poems by Gretchen Primack

•  Susan Richards says:

June 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Loved these poems. Went right into the vein. Fabulous. What a talent.


•  Sarah Scheffel says:

June 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

These poems were gorgeous. I especially loved the imagery in “Forest Floor.” Will we see more from Gretchen Primack?


•  marc says:

June 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Absolutely, Sarah. Watch this space.


Video by Cecelia Chapman & Friends

Posted on June 21, 2011

The Moon2 (is the mirror of your dreams)

Cecelia Chapman is an image maker and writer producing short video.
More about her here .


Jeff Crouch is an artist in Texas . His current blogs are Nothing
& Insight and Famous Album Covers.

Steve Johnson, from Pismo Beach, has been surfing since 1963 and now
surfs the San Francisco area and has collaborated with Chapman on
more than a dozen videos.

Christa Hunter is a performer from the San Francisco area and has
worked with Chapman on 14 videos.


Poem by Anny Ballardini

Posted on June 20, 2011

The summer of 2011

The summer of 2011
after my father's death
the sun crashed his iron fist
perpendicularly into my head.
I felt as if it had cracked
my right side apart, a split
a gap, the void tunnel in which

my new enemy sat: sturdy-cut-short
a leaden bullet shot through
her round muscles, crow face
her nose the crooked beak,
chin receding, squinty
eyes, heavily limited hands.

Not out of fear, nor of unease
I kept on going back
to talk, to ask, to tell him
what _ I'd never uttered before
sharing meadows to cross together
drinking his anguish & mine
when he was still alive _”Had I…”
followed by a tacit blind _”next time…”
& my deterred soul
no one has ever heard.
Build up faith,
while what I wanted
to show him _ WHAT
[that I suffered], Him – mute
cachexic sliding into his death
I was dropped, an insect,
into a gnarled spider net.
And I still go back in time
to collect bits of him, a sight
an empty nest _ his hopes
sucked into the sky, my bare
arms under the scorching sound.

Anny Ballardini edits Poet's Corner , an online poetry site; and writes a blog: Narcissus Works. She has translated several contemporary poets into Italian and English. Her collections of poetry: Opening and Closing Numbers , was published by Moria Press in 2005; Ghost Dance in 33 Movements by Otoliths appeared in print in 2009.


7 Responses to Poem by Anny Ballardini

•  Séamas Cain says:

June 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm

This is an excellent contemporary poem !
It is an innovative approach to a very old dilemma !


•  Pingback: Poem by Anny Ballardini / Mad Hatters' Review Blog « word pond

•  Christina Pacosz says:

June 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Going back and collecting bits – says it all about what the living do when the ones we love die.


•  Anny Ballardini says:

July 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thank you Seamas and Christina! And thanks to Carol Novack and Marc Vincenz for having accepted my poem.


•  Martha Deed says:

July 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm

This is a stunning text, Anny. I am very sorry, however, that you have had the experience that triggered the poem. All best to you.


•  Anny Ballardini says:

September 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thank you Martha, unluckily.


•  Rob Mason says:

October 25, 2011 at 5:32 am

You've expresed a universal dilemma that exists between parents and children unfortunately it's not recognised this way but only as a particular and personal problem. Children never really understand and fully appreciate their parents until its too late.


Flash Fiction by Caleb Puckett

Posted on June 16, 2011

A Trail of Pits

Your seasonal workers may apply for food stamps, but they must return to their permitted camps by sunset. The limited nature of our investigations has led to embarrassing irregularities. Have you checked the stability of the metal spacer grids, children? Remember: the laws of physics are suspended to accommodate the laws of our self-image. Forget discussing the methodology behind it, for heaven's sake.

Your seasonal workers must understand that privacy is only a state of mind in cases of peonage. Several of our illegal and harassing arrests have led to embarrassing irregularities. Have we reached full power output, children? Watch how they are soon broken and awash in the lukewarm potage of revulsion. We will periodically administer sustenance to keep them going.

Sewage violations at the camps may also apply to the mental hygiene of your seasonal workers, but the fines must differ. Inadequacies in our record keeping have led to embarrassing irregularities. Have you checked the pressure of the heavy water, children? If one person slaps another person in the face, the motion of said slap dissipates before impact if the alleged slapper is a friend of the State. Consider the incriminating proximity of a self-defense plea.

Your seasonal workers may be denied the right to invite visitors to the camps. The position of Sheriff is embarrassingly lucrative with all of these irregularities. Have you checked the fuel storage capacity, children? What there is to salvage of desire lies beyond the lip of this yellowed and chipped porcelain bowl—this land abused by the misery of its own history. A trail of pits radiates around Empire City like the ghostly image of stolen dentures. One fills the blanks with suchlike poetry:

I certify
that the foregoing statements
are true and complete
to the best of my knowledge
and belief.

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas . He has writing in Otoliths, Moria, Wheelhouse , and With + Stand . Otoliths released his newest prose collection, Market Street Exit , earlier this year.


One Response to Flash Fiction by Caleb Puckett

•  rich haber says:

July 10, 2011 at 4:02 am

almost as bad as the reality of migrant work. thanks for putting it out there.


Eyes Wide Open,

but Blindfolded Nonetheless

Posted on June 16, 2011



Waiting to read your poetry manuscript.

MadHat Press's Wild and Wyrd Poetry Chapbook Competition now open.

Go here to submit . Go here for complete guidelines.

Nothing will ever be the same again.



One Response to Eyes Wide Open, but Blindfolded Nonetheless

•  Pingback: Demske Interview, CA Conrad & chapbook contest and a new Rabbit Light « NICKI-POO


New Vispo Video by Nico Vassilakis and James Yeary

Posted on June 14, 2011


James Yeary's Comments:

I ‘d spent a day at a Russian bathhouse, an alternative writers' residency, where I was assigned to ‘spend the day thinking about writing, without the means to compose any.' Afterwards, though perhaps I left early, Nico picked me up in the rain and took me to a tavern at the crossroads where we watched and listened to a train as it passed as if it were a piece of music in performance. The video comes from that place: forms barely sorted into language, just beneath. The idea, as far as I have read it, is such that instead of the eye following a language, being pulled along by it, it trails it actively, instinctively, and the object is fleeing, forming words, but not words that existed before the flight.

Nico Vassilakis works with text and visual alphabet. Nico, with Crag Hill, edited the forthcoming The Last Vispo: Visual Poetry Anthology 1998-2008 . He has published several books, including West of Dodge (redfoxpress, 2009) , Protracted Type (blue lion books, 2008), Text Loses Time (Manypenny press, 2008), Disparate Magnets (BlazeVOX, 2009) and DIPTYCHS (Otolith, 2008).

James Yeary is an organizer for the Spare Room reading series in Portland, Oregon . He also publishes c_L Bokes and its corollary newsletter. He co-authors the myday book series with visual artist Nate Orton, which, as an institution, is flirting with pedagogy.


Fibonacci by Larissa Shmailo

Posted on June 13, 2011

Aging (Fibonacci Sequence: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89)







two (I)

I 2 threeeeeeeeee

5 school, ruled 2 three

hate math 8/5 parents split divisor 3 & me

bad teen luck black eight-in-hole no triskaidekaphobe call five ringtones call.

now lucky legal drink I'm old-gold-rolled ready-to-hold I stick on 13 so play vingt-et-un tonight with me.

still 13 in the soul getting old with a balding working luck. 34 is dirty floor & still behind, & the legal drink now a double, hit me hit me & no! not prime.

Fivefive, now fivefive, finally loving the mother/other/the 21-still-angry child & forgiving the serious careerist, so knowing, so sure, so 34. Take our bald inner luck as it comes, let's leave the dirty floor alone (why are these aches okay ,why are these losses, these losses, so possible to endure?) Five years plus ½ century, decoding while eroding, ofivefive.

89 am I 8 or 9? The young ones are 34, my children 55. There are 13 pills in the morning, 13 pills at night. But what, exactly what might happen next? A working soul and another season's turn, what else did I ever have? This word is greater than my numbers, the poésie of my self. I take the garbage out and set it on the street with joy. Tell me your secrets: I am the one who truly wants to know. Lemniscate, I move toward today.

Larissa Shmailo's poetry has appeared in Barrow Street , Drunken Boat, Fulcrum, Rattapallax , and many anthologies. Larissa's chapbook is A Cure for Suicide (Cervena Barva Press) and book is In Paran (BlazeVox Books) . Her poetry CDs with music are The No-Net World (SongCrew) and Exorcism (SongCrew). Larissa translated the Russian transrational opera Victory over the Sun, contributed translations to the anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive Press), and recently translated a Russian historical-linguistic bibliography of Bible translations into over 80 languages of the Russian Federation and other Commonwealth of Independent States.

Listen to Larissa's poetry with music by Bobby Perfect and Manny Molecular here .

Larissa's continuing series of mistranslations of the Joseph Brodsky poem “New Life” can be read and heard at Drunken Boat .


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