Flash Photography/Flash Fiction contest winner

We’re pleased to announce Erich O’Connor’s short piece “Play Fight” as the winner of our flash fiction contest, inspired by the photography of Diane Arbus!


by Erich O’Connor

We stood shoulder to shoulder staring at the photo in The Medicine Shop—a local art gallery.

“What does it mean?” Alberta whispers.

“I don’t know,” Marvin says.

“Well, it’s clearly a statement about the effect of war and the Military Industrial Complex on the younger generations,” Frank says. “Humanity’s always been at war. We learn to fight because that is what we are taught.”

Frank is such a bummer—he’s smart—but he always takes the fun out of things by over-over analyzing things and always ends up making everyone feel like a dumbass.

“Whatever,” Alberta says, “I think it’s a toy grenade. The kid’s just playing around.”

“Exactly,” Frank resonates, “How else do you think we learn it.”

When we leave The Medicine Shop and Alberta says she wants to go to Tacos and Ice Cream and have a taco and some ice cream. We walk down the street, passing the spinning neon sign. Inside as Alberta is stuffing her face with a soft shell taco and I’m chowing on the cheesiest nachos, Frank informs us about the news report he’d just seen Andy Rooney give on last week’s 60 Minutes.

“In the news report,” Frank tells us, “they showed all the chickens and cows they pump full of hormones and stuff. The chicken’s bones snap like toothpicks and the breast meat is plump and the eggs are many. The cows, they get heavier, and the girl cows’ utters swell with so much milk that their utters touch the ground. It’s unhealthy,” he says, “and they use it for fast food and stuff.”

I throw a chip at his face, cheese sticks to his cheek and jacket before the chip falls to the floor.

“Hey!” Frank says.

I say, “What, you wanna take it outside?”

Jen Lambert’s “Dinner for the Dying”

Poem:  Dinner for the Dying: blog one
Poet: Jen Lambert
Magazine: Boxcar Poetry Review
Blogger: R. Romero

 While reading through all the different poems on the websites, I wasn’t very interested in many of them. The poem on Box car poetry titled “Dinner for the Dying” by Jen Lambert caught my attention the most. This poem caught my attention because I felt like I could dissect it better than the others and also at first I was unsure if Jen was writing from the animal’s perspective or from the human mother of the farm. This contrast intrigued me because in the first stanza she describes a boy running in with blood on his hands and she was chopping onions, and I had no clue that this was going to end up talking about a female deer.

In the first stanza Jen presents a stylistic structure to her stanza which she describes a scene and then at the end puts a comma to side note what the character was doing at the time. I feel like this gave a twist that everyone in class could learn because it kind of gave a tone to the poem that the character was not surprised to see this boy with blood on his hands and made me want to keep reading.

In the second stanza, I love the way Jen uses specific words to defamiliarize an ordinary subject.

“The scar on my belly, that battered, barbwire grin
that opened like a window for him, twitches
for the dying mother and the calf like a love note in her womb.”

These three lines caught me the most in this poem. The scar on my belly, hence the character had a C-section and Jen describes the scar as a barbwire grin, which gave a new twist instead of just saying scar. When she states that this scar on her belly opened like a window for him, she tells how she gave birth to a baby boy and that she twitched in empathy for the mother deer because she knew how it felt to give birth.

These two stanzas intrigued me the most out of this poem and I feel like there is a lot to learn from here with word play and structure.

Karen J. Weyant’s “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees”

Poem: “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees”
Poet: Karen J. Weyant
Magazine: Glass: A  Journal of Poetry
http://www.glass-poetry.com/volume-four/issue-one/weyant-summer.htmlBlogger: L. Dunbar

The title of this poem intrigued me as soon as I saw it.  As I started to read it, it gave me a very clear picture of what was happening in the poem.  I really like the adjective she uses to describe things.  For example,  “stale whiff, sharp click, haughty hues, proud hum, thin twirl wirl of a girl, quick shimmy, lofty shake.” I also really like Weyant’s verb choices.  She has the coffee cans “smother” and “snap” at the bees.  I really like “ qu,” and she used “squeeze,” which I love.

Alliteration is used in a section of the poem describing Cindy Mills.  “I watched her/ in English class that day, saw her shrink/ into a shadow.  Slouched forward,/ shoulders hunched, her whole body curved.”  This is an important tool she uses to draw the readers attention to how Cindy Mills was feeling.  Weyant continues to use many S words throughout the poem, such as “ scowl, swell, stared, stranded, soft, screenless, shimmy, shake.”

Weyant does a great job of de-familiarizing the ordinary.  She starts off the poem describing the bees as something fun, something she wanted. An innocent game she played.  As the poem progresses, the “bees” turn out to be something she doesn’t want.  The innocence of the bees ended when her boy classmates teased Cindy Mills about her “yelledEbee stings.”  After hearing that, the speaker decided to let her bees go and stop catching them.  Perhaps this is a symbol of letting her childhood go and becoming a young woman.

To me, this is a great example of creative writing. When I first read the poem, I expected it to be a cute poem all about bees.  I would have never guessed that it would transform into the story of the first girl in fifth grade to wear a bra.  This reminded me of “The Triggering town” in the sense of unexpected things having a connection.