Sprd #14

Issue #14: grab

Published 14 July 2006 | Cover Art by Titus Toledo

And so spread 14: grab emerges. Peace.

The editors have been batting for a heftier volume. How else to accommodate a rich hoard of submissions? But the accumulation of e-mailed pieces sent in has turned oh so unwieldly – serves the editors right for slacking too long on their chores. Forgive them if they choose to tread the safe path, by serving up a measly morsel from the cache. Some of the authors in this issue are already familiar contributors. Their works, as well as those by the first-timers here, are sure shots to satiate readers’ extended hunger for new underground guerilla exploratory art and lit.

Hey, there is even a non-English language piece coming out (“Sin Titulo” by Teknikal Nova) that we thought of publishing as is and without the aid of translation, simply because we are not competent and do not trust free automatic translation services on the web that will mercilessly mar the work’s sense and essence. And so, in addition to contributors, a call is in order for willing translator-editors and -reviewers in the other languages. Indeed, spread has drawn so wide an audience that was not foreseen since it started close to the turn of the millennium. Please let us see your credentials and samples.

Meantime, let’s skim the rest of the issue.

Regular contributor Luke Buckham asks us to dig more into his bag of explosively exquisite poems. The vituperative prophet and vicious poet is at it again. His lines unleash warrior and lover, in tandem or at tension, over operas of obliteration of self (along with its extensions and relations in), society, place, and time. That the poem “The Atomic Bomb” sends Buckham’s more benign sentiments indicates the potency of his venom: “(She) suggested that eating pussy might make me / more useful. “It feels like an inner atom bomb to us ladies” // she exclaimed … I replied / with great maturity and (felonious intent) that though an increase in cunninglingus // might not uninvent the atom bomb, I would certainly go / down on her in a daze of gratefulness …”

In contrast, Maurice Oliver – another habituĂ© of spread – delivers verses that derive power from acts of preservation, as in the plumbing of the yet unenacted and unobtained in “I Wish & Wish & Wish” that overturns an otherwise banal challenge to, yes, “make a wish.” But make no mistake of typecasting Oliver to tamer, if not more tender, pursuits. Get yourself blistered in the following parley from “Entry-Level Lock Pick”: “I think the future will always / be just a shoulder without the promise of an arm”, she confides, as one / renegade zipper hip boot decides to go solo. “Yeah, and the newspaper / ink will always stain my hands for weeks after reading the obituaries,” I / reply, just about convinced that the phoned-in threat to bomb the school / is in lieu of the dreaded statewide achievement test …”

Scrolling further down to the fiction department …

Wayne H.W. Wolfson’s 128-word fiction, “Heaven,” falls way under spread’s criterion for works of “fliction” – short fiction in a flash of 250 words. (In fact, the piece reads almost like prose poetry.) The story, however, still manages to pack a cosmos of thought, heart, and breath caught bare and isolate, albeit in a “flick” or “flash” seized from the accumulating blur of life’s “frictions” between “action” and “inaction.” The Talking Heads long ago sang of a bleak “heaven (as) a place where nothing ever happens.” Wolfson’s minute opus affirms but seeks to abide beyond, although still inexorably afflicted by, that scene.

While the other two fished from the fiction grab bag are revelatory, if not instructive, of the writing life.

Jayson Michel’s “Black Dog” reprises the pathos of a writer who is painfully uncertain of, or reluctant to exhibit, the worthiness of his art and craft’s output. Michel’s writer distracts himself to the max to erode the wearying weight of his dilemma: conducting bonfires of his work in between hazes of cigarette smoke and hangovers; self-degradation at parlor rituals among a beloved “surrogate family of individuals”; haunting bookshops for inspiration, or affinity with the great writers, only to find himself in one as the haunted and in need of healing when he chances upon a surviving notebook of his that vengefully flaunts his words (wounds).

On the other hand, and finally, in “Sam Edwine Gets That All-Important Publishing Contract, And Decides What The Key Word Of His Book Shall Be,” Tom Bradley’s writer confidently mines available idiom from the milieu (such as “obscenities” authored communally by truck drivers and ditch diggers), quirkily instructed by the mintage of bon mots from the canon (founded on the works of Hemingway, Heller, Orwell, et al.), for that original “hook” that will reel in for him immortality, if not passing greatness at least, in the writing business (or foolishness).

poetry Five Poems by Maurice Oliver The significance of plainspokenness
"Close your eyes" sonnet
I wish & wish & wish
Entry-level lock pick
Loose buoy barbed wire interred shore

poetry Sin Titulo by Teknikal Nova

poetry Nine Poems by Luke Buckham A warning from the poet
My journey through shit and failure
My dreams and successes
Nature is a one-trick painter
I will now talk about love
The diary of Waslav Nijinsky
Observations on my time and on the time of my time
The atomic bomb

fiction Heaven by Wayne H.W. Wolfson

fiction Black Dog by Jayson Michel

fiction Sam Edwine gets that all-important publishing contract, and decides what the key word of his book shall be by Tom Bradley