Whatnots by M. Maxwell
  Music by Guthrie Lowe
  Art by Marty D. Ison
'Art'  2006 Marty D. Ison

An Ostensible Lover in a Brothel

I redeemed my voucher—"2 Maidens with the Identity of 3: Maidenhead Guaranteed!"—and fingered the two I wanted. Clementine opened her velvet sari, revealing plush plumage. Because her vulva tasted like the fingernails of northeastern fishmongers instead of a runt orange, I traded her for Anise, who smelled of sambuca and coffee beans. The other maiden, whose name I forget, but recessive regressive memory says it rhymed with sturgeon, I wed when she donned a gothic pith helmet to bed. She connected her nipple ring to my Prince Albert and we led each other down the street and around lamp poles. Her Saturnian behavior meant she liked my role-playing games where she enacted the role of a convent converted harlot (except when Saturn lay in apogee of Venus in aphelion of Uranus). The proprietor slash candlemaker accepted my voucher, handed me a coupon offering a better discount were I to supply my own maiden, preferably a decorated master baiter to lure more men like me. In the bedroom, I kept my ear to the wall separating me from the next room, where the crying Clementine skewered mandarins and stuffed them into orifices to purge her smell, while Anise and my wife whose name rhymed with sturgeon blew me glass canisters for the candles I bought, a requisite written on the voucher in point-nine millimeter fine print.

'Art'  2006 Marty D. Ison

(Mis)Guided Steps

When the sky is halved by rain and sunshine, and I cower out my front door, in which direction do I step? Am I tentative? Cocksure? I pinch my eyes and close my breath, so I'm unaware. But you're watching me, noting my movements into your day planner, squinting as if I'm words receding into the horizon, eating, with one hand, a tomato soup sandwich. Who sent you? Nabokov? Rumsfeld? Springer? I would like to borrow your videotapes, if you don't mind. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but inevitably by next week. I'd like to know where my feet lead me. It's an anvil concern of mine, where I bother to follow my feet, what I do, who I might converse with, before I pinch my eyes again and I'm standing in my threshold, with you watching me, dabbing away the lycopene dollop on your chin.

Whether the weather, I'm protected by my parasol. I made it myself—the hides of mice, the handle of glued ballast. It dispenses clandestine doses of thorazine and ginseng and Levitra (the last merely so I don't wet my shoes, though if I stepped into the sky beset by rain I guess my efforts wouldn't matter). I'm hoping to weave Kevlar into my parasol. Would that make me paranoid? I've seen you hoist a pistol, though it could have been a pair of sunglasses, or a walkie-talkie, or a portable transmografier, or a blackened catfish.

I know if I watch your tapes of me I can adduce something of myself, maybe if I have inclinations toward a smile or frown when I'm guided to one half of the sky.

What would I infer if I straddled the split?

'Art' © 2006 Marty D. Ison

Crossed Eyes

The rivalry blossomed over time, as they became aware of the other's deficiencies. It led to a murder-suicide (which doesn't have the rhyming snap of homicide-suicide) and the man couldn't identify the killer.

The left eye could wink. Quickly. Furtively. The right eye couldn't. The right eye rarely took a punch, never stagnated a black bruise. While the man kissed Cassie, the left eye opened and devoured her skin, and the right eye looked beyond, at a blank wall or the game on tv. They couldn't decide who to score the advantage.

The left eye glittered gold flecks, and women cooed. The right eye whorled gray storm clouds, and women swooned. It stood as a tie.

The right eye couldn't decipher text at arm's length but could pinpoint a thong outline at twenty yards. The left eye lacked strength to decode billboards but read without squinting, managed fine details on Photoshop.

They bantered. Mocked. Went criss-cross, meeting at the nose, to punctuate contentions. Stood at polar opposites to shun the other.

What prompted the homicide-suicide was debated, but the man's interview proves jealousy ignited the feud. The left eye read a selection of poems—horrendous, trite, inane poems. The right eye peered over the book at two high school girls in mini-skirts. The left eye cussed for having to bother with painful drivel. The right eye curtly ridiculed the whining. The left eye reprimanded, demanding equality in all sights, insidious or heavenly. Accusations became spiteful. The right eye ogled what the left saw as a blur. The left eye railed, refused to quiet. It escalated to the homicide-suicide, with the deaths seconds apart. Painful. Bloody. Too quick for the man to recall which eye first went black. The blind man blamed the deaths on horrid poetry.