There’s More Where That Came From by J. Stahl Brown


From JENNIFER STAHL BROWN: I am a middle school English Language Arts teacher in New Jersey. My poetry has been published in Edison Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review and The Stillwater Review, and my poetry and short stories have been published in This Broken Shore by The Coleridge Institute Press. I am a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for my short stories.

[PHOTO BY P. CHATELAIN COPYRIGHT IN PARENTHESES 2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Gran Terremoto de Chile
In 1960, you weren’t in Chile, abuelo,
when the earth opened up
and swallowed your hometown
during the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
What were you doing during those 10 minutes
here in America?
Were you showering off sweat after a long day
running the racetrack kitchen,
yelling out directions in Spanish to the line cooks
about steaks and shrimp and tapioca pudding?
Were you fishing off a pier at twilight,
listening to a Spanish radio station
and not really caring if you caught anything?
Were you eating your dinner alone
at the dining room table,
hearing your daughters giggle and squeal
as someone got pinched putting on pajamas?
You weren’t there when water levels rose
and the tsunami struck,
when livestock broke fences and
ran for the hills.
You weren’t there when landslides
full of floating debris, including entire houses,
destroyed the water supply.
You were here, raising strong daughters,
never teaching them to speak Spanish,
because America was your country.

June, 9:00 p.m.
Windows down in the back of a cab,
Humidity curls the hair at her temples,
No traffic noise, hot oiled engines hum
And the cab catches all the green lights.
Windows down, cross breeze,
Her hair flies, whipping and easy.
She takes a deep breath,
Holds her life in her lungs,
Uses her fingers like combs.
Look out there at the city, girl,
Sick with knowing and history.
Hot spell, sidewalk talk and jazz sax;
Windows down, the city flickers…
A blurry photo on her cell.

What I would do with the Hope Diamond after I stole it
After stealing the Hope Diamond,
I would swallow it whole,
even though I should slice it thin like a potato,
sauté it in light cream,
and serve it over toast.
Once in my stomach,
acids would try to destroy it
and blue light would shine out of my belly button.
It would lodge in my small intestines
and give me diverticulitis.
A surgeon would remove the
Hope Diamond obstruction and ask me,
“Is this the Hope Diamond? Did you steal it?”
I would admit to nothing and turn my back to my family
as they stood next to my bed in the hospital,
shaking their heads.

Chandelier
I heard the first snaps from the ceiling
as the hook gave way.
I turned my head toward the sound,
a crack like a felled tree in the mountains.
Far away and distinct and familiar,
a ripping.
Then came the whoosh of the giant glass jellyfish
swimming upside-down as all the dangling pieces
suddenly raised their arms in exaltation.
It fell in sparkling slo-mo release
like in the movies when someone lets go
and the bad guy finally plunges to his death.
Glass flew to impossible distances,
a piece landing in the bathroom down the hall.
Crystals spread out like startled fish—
I wanted to toss them in a bucket of seawater.
There were suddenly a thousand things to keep from the mess:
the cat, bare feet, toddlers, old people.
I had a vision that the glass
would never be completely cleaned up—
the area would always remain a minefield,
a sliver cutting your heel in the middle of the night
as you walk to the kitchen for a glass of water.

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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