November 7-13, 2011: Brett Stout and Matthew J. Babcock

week of November 7-13, 2011

Brett Stout and Matthew J. Babcock

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Brett Stout

Bio (auto)

Brett Stout is a 32 year old artist and writer living in Myrtle Beach, SC. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and paramedic. He writes while mainly hung-over on white lined paper in a small cramped apartment in Myrtle Beach, SC. He published his first novel of prose and poetry entitled “Lab Rat Manifesto” in 2007.

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The following work is Copyright © 2011, and owned by Brett Stout and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Noose Criterion

Driving black pitch,

10:32 p.m.
Jungle America
Just outside a
Power window
Eastern Standard Time
Neon green flashing pulse
Interstate 95
Florida prisoner plated sunshine
Asks me if I’m tired of her yet
Thought about it for a few seemingly endless seconds
Knew the answer
Deliberating for a few more seconds
Lied and said
I was having a great time with her,

Driving pitch black.

Matthew J. Babcock

Bio (auto)

Matthew Babcock teaches at BYU-Idaho and lives in Rexburg, Idaho. He has a PhD in Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His book, Private Fire: The Ecopoetry and Prose of Robert Francis, is available from the University of Delaware Press. Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award in 2008. He won first place in Press 53’s 2010 Open Awards (novella category, “He Wanted to Be a Cartoonist for The New Yorker”). Matthew’s writing has appeared or will appear in Alehouse; Bateau; The Battered Suitcase; The Cape Rock; PANK; Pinyon; Poem; Quiddity; Rattle; The Rejected Quarterly; Slant; The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review; Spillway; Spoon River Poetry Review; Terrain; and Wild Violet.

The following work is Copyright © 2011, and owned by Matthew J. Babcock and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Friday night upstairs at MacGregor’s I become one
with my true self the moment Tom McCusker—
single, schnockered, father of a little boy—shoulders
from the sweaty grottos of Herman Melville’s dreams
through the Penfield High School Class of ‘91
to see if he still might have a chance with my wife
after twenty years. Platters of cherry tomatoes
and asparagus spears lie untouched on shellacked
pine tables. Beer mugs swing fistfuls of Spanish gold
over the trophy for Best Homecoming Float
and the glittery shrine for Eric (gunned down
in a drug deal) and Towanda (found on railroad tracks
six days after the ten-year). The conversation in the room
sounds like a passenger jet performing an engine test.
So when Tom McCusker, in skin-tight black T-shirt
and diamond crucifix, extends his hand, I hear only
what my wife said the week before our trip to New York:
Tom was from Glasgow and days before our flight
sent her a note, asking if she would have liked him
if she hadn’t liked her boyfriend, Chris. I have journeyed
thousands of miles to crush Tom’s grip and say,
We aren’t in high school anymore. People stopped leaving
the British Empire to seek fortune in the New World hundreds
of years ago.
Instead, the history of conquest pulses
through our handclasp. The passing waitress transforms
us from rivals to twins separated at birth by shipwreck.
Out the window, Irondequoit Bay brews the red ale
of dusk. I want to tell Tom I remember when love
was a leaky sloop soldiering out of the Firth of Forth
and arriving every day in the same malarial swamp
of lies and loneliness. I came to stand under the thump
of the house PA and say, Tom McCusker, you are
the MC Hammer tunes nobody hears. Your life is the U.S.-Australia
softball game no one watches on the big screen TV
. But I leave,
swearing to my long-lost blood brother I will give him
the deed to my sugar plantation, with my wife
and five children as slaves, and sail the globe in search
of the marooned mutineer I no longer recognize as myself.

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