Saturday, January 25, 2014


by Erik Svehaug               first published: jan. 20, 2014
Have and Have Not, crtsy Lee Chapman

Chet shoved the key into the lock of his Brooklyn apartment and twisted.

In arid Mauritania, Hissein fell writhing against the lead goat, holding his belly from the pain of the parasite in his stomach.

As Chet dropped down the stairs two at a time toward the sidewalk, the tailings dam of Cerro Negro, Petorca, in Chile, began to bulge outward from age and the press of water behind it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Severed Dreams

The snore that severed me from peaceful dreams
Was his zipper, ragged as the pull stroke of a chain saw.
Though the act was six thousand and many nights ago,
The sound still rips through me as I edge toward sleep.

The cruelest wedge he drove forced comfort from my bed,
Where I might have healed when the pounding stopped.
My duvet of down and sheets of Egyptian weave don’t soothe
The girl of twelve, sobbing, shattered, on her closet floor.

The graft never takes; split forever, my seam is open to the world.
From dark to dawn, till I stand up, fully clothed,
I count the hundred saplings around her grave
And, weary, guard that little forest with my life.

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She wanted help, the thin, jowl-eyed lady. Long pink scars scattered like brush strokes up her brown arms and onto bare shoulders. Her hair hung resignedly past her shoulders. Her lipstick was only approximately in position. She teetered on gold open-heeled shoes.

“Just give me a strong lock and chain; 3 feet of chain that can go around the door handle. My husband threw the other one away. And he broke the last lock I had, like, like it was made of candy. He gets so rough when he drinks. I need to lock the bedroom better. When he decides he wants me, he just comes and takes me. I need a better way to keep him out.”