Tag Archives: Oblong I


by Matthew Salyers 

He was fifty-two and he had hair but not a lot of it and the hair he did have was more gray than blonde, matted to the skull with a licked palm or sometimes a loogie that had a yellow tint because of phlegm from a smoker’s cough, and he would be the first to tell you on a scale of one to ten with one being a job and a family and a roof over his head and ten being the lack of all these things he was a conservative nine because he was the type of person to tell it like it is, maybe not exactly like it is but maybe more like how he saw it, and his mother used to tell him An honest man don’t got nothing to hide but his birthday suit, though he came to learn that in all reality an honest man doesn’t have anything and that is why he slept on an inflatable raft in the back of a storage closet at First Baptist Church, two blocks off of Main Street, the one with the stained glass that was real stained glass and it depicted a scene from Hebrews 12:1 – which says something like run with patience the race that is set before us – and he has undoubtedly been patient but maybe he missed the word run because the race was over years ago and he has been stealing bananas from the church kitchen – eighty-seven in a span of fifty days from June to July – while Bobby, who sat in front of him in twelfth grade homeroom and got a scholarship from Villanova to play some sport with his hands and met a girl with hips wide enough to naturally birth three boys with cantaloupe heads, drinks double malt scotch in front of his television set but that is not to say that life is without blessings because he found a package of meat sometime around the end of June, and he kept the meat in a microwave that he used as a fridge next to his raft and next to the three dozen Gatorade bottles full of piss lining the floor even though a functional bathroom was adjacent to the closet door and this made his living arrangement reek of stale salt water and ammonia (the Gatorade bottles were collected in a bin to be recycled until he found a use for them and a single bottle could last over a day because he never drank too much) and the microwave was not plugged in he wasn’t stupid it was just for storage, a sense of privacy and definition as if to say valuables do not belong next to piss and for good reason the smell of urine and raw meat does nothing for an appetite and everything had a place in the closet and he knew where everything was, like he planted a garden and could pick out the tulips lined in the back row or the marigolds clumped in the middle, and he had amassed a small collection of items intended for the homeless and needy and he thought that although he was not homeless – he did have a closet with a raft that only had a slow leak and a microwave that could hold a twenty ounce sirloin – he surely needed a plastic keyboard from the Toys For Tots box which did not have batteries but he liked the way the keys felt when he pushed them down and he could close his eyes and turn the click of a black key that he did not know as a sharp into a sound that was more reminiscent of a trumpet, unsure of how a piano actually sounded, and he imagined what his mother would say if she could see him composing like Bartok if she knew who Bartok was and she would probably say Boy you got my toes tappin’ like a dog’s tail on hardwood floor and sometimes when he was not waiting for a spring to reload underneath a plastic piano key or looking through assembly instructions for a coffee maker that had never been used he wondered if he gave his mother too much credit and maybe he blocked out all the godawful things she had said to him before falling over dead from a brain aneurysm when he was fourteen years old but it was hard to complain when he rested his head down on the green inflatable raft, pulling his shirt up to expose a bare stomach and rubbing the curly hair of his torso in circular motions like a relaxed man applying suntan lotion at the beach belly up to the clouds and it was hard to complain because he was not homeless or he was not homeless until a diminutive Peruvian man began yelling in his general direction You can’t be here! You can’t be here! and there was a moment of confusion as he felt as though he was being harassed by an intruder in his own house and questions ran through his head Who are you? What are you doing in my home? until he realized that he was actually the intruder and this was not a house this was a storage closet in a church and he gathered up all of his essential belongings in a backpack which he wore high and tight for no other reason than it was a child’s backpack and that was the only way he could wear it and there was a waddle to his walk like a mallard or more like a penguin with the weight of his entire body quickly shifting from one side to the other as he raced past the small man wearing a carpenter’s belt and holding a hammer and in the hysteria he knocked over a stack of folding tables which he would have avoided if he had time to grab his cardboard map of all the items placed throughout the closet; even in the dark he knew where everything was because a map was the only honest thing he had left anymore and he did not have many things except for what could fit in a bag made for a child.

– Matthew Salyers is a writer currently studying and teaching at George Mason University. He is a native of western Pennsylvania, not to be confused with eastern Pennsylvania. Hobbies include nail-biting, vacuuming, and obsessing over Doctor Who with his girlfriend.



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The Jerry Garcia Orchard

by Tom Sheehan


Once upon a time there was this balls-out bike rider out to visit all the Cistercian monasteries in this here good old USA, because something told him he had to. His name was Michael. Something also told him he also had to write a whole series of Biker Prayers, laminate them on index card stock and pass them out at biker stops and gatherings. He kept at it. For a long time he kept at it, sometimes his rides out and back were as long as 7,000 miles. Michael always rode a lime-green, Softail Harley and one day he was tonguing in his mouth all the pits from a Mepkin Abbey apple he had toted all the way from Moncks Corner, Georgia, through stops at Melleray Abbey in Peosta and Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey up at Dubuque in Iowa for the impressed idea of tossing the core of that apple, neatly left over from a chewy ride, onto the wayside moving off from the Santa Rita Abbey in Sonoita, Arizona. Long had he fantasized in riding that Sonoita road bare-ass nude, in puris naturalibus, and at one moment of the journey his sole garb was an oversize Jerry Garcia T-shirt bearing the legend of The Grateful Dead, and an odd pair of GI combat boots, the buckles yet in place. In the eternal draw that is father and son, the left boot was his father’s boot, the right boot his own that had made its way back from Europe. As Michael tossed the apple core, and spit the black pits floating in his mouth, he suddenly tossed his sole garb, the Jerry Garcia T-shirt, almost in the same motion. All sailed over the bare edge of the road that, in both directions, was empty of traffic.

Legend coming to Truth:

Everybody swears to it now, at all the bike stops along the way, from Moncks corner to Santa Rita, at all the truck stops from Dubuque to Peosta, through all the high grain northern fields and all the dark southern plantations, that today, on the way from Santa Rita, on a special stretch of that balliky biker’s road, there is now blooming a Jerry Garcia Orchard, the T-shirts coming in all sizes.


For 43 years Michael-Michael-Motorcycle had no sight in his right eye, and it came back one day following an eye operation, after stripping off his garb, after riding free as a jay bird, after writing all those prayers and visiting all those monasteries, after doing his Johnny Appleseed thing with his balls hanging out in the breeze, riding away from the Santa Rita Abbey in Sonoita, Arizona.


As Matt Damon should have said in Good Will Hunting, How do you like them fuckin’ apples?

Sheehan served in Korea, 1951. Books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; A Collection of Friends; From the Quickening. He has 18 Pushcart nominations, in Dzanc Best of the Web 2009, and 295 stories in Rope and Wire Magazine. New eBooks from Milspeak Publishers are Korean Echoes, 2011, and The Westering, 2012, nominated by the publisher for a National Book Award.



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Oblong I due out 1st September 2012!

The debut issue features fiction from the (former) wild horse-tamer, zinc-smelter worker, flag-pole painter, post office worker and cave-dweller Catfish McDaris, a veteran of the small press world, whose biggest seller was Prying, a chapbook with Jack Micheline & one Charles Bukowski.

40+ pages of short, short fiction from both knowns and unknowns for £2.95.

Click here to pre-order a copy of the debut issue from our online shop.

Oblong I will be released on 1st September 2012 – if you buy one now we will put your name straight down on our oblong-shaped list and will send one in the post as soon as it is released.