Lindsay Parnell

Meditations on Cock Fury from South Broad (or ‘The Pirate and Other Stories’)

Lindsay Parnell

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                                                                She is the house.

                                                                He is the steeple.

                                                                - Anne Sexton


The Soloist

His fingers, like broken metronomes, punch keys in time.  Short digits trip over knuckles then still when lost in the rudiments at his heels. Stuttering hands search for a melody, lazily trailing the high hat. Chasing the chorus to elevated tits at each and every barstool.

Slack limbed and eyelids falling, she waits for his pulse to her match own, like the others.

He’ll have at her all right, as soon as her face sprouts a mirror...

The Visitor

With a belt tail hanging across his fly, limp as a shed snakeskin, his zipper falls agape every winter when his wife flies west to her Mother’s for communion and recipes scratched onto post-it notes with corners curling in the heat—

—at the sight of her shoulder blades he buys tokens for his troubles and takes the southbound train until it stops. Sets his soles forward for 22 eastern blocks following a trail of her inkblots and dried tendrils of spit.

Speaking in couplets during fourteen thrusts, like the other times before it, he hasn’t slapped her, his host, yet. But on the East Coast, they taste it both.

The Scholar

A paper cut kisses the skin between his index and middle finger and he’ll love this slit more than his wife’s.

Naked nerves birthed from the sunken-in pits of his molars that taste air like a gunshot. He sucks oxygen with a smile and shake of his head.

Prefers the promise of yes, please to money; bows his head to salute his own reflection. Straightening the copper spines of paperclips, he tongues marriage proposals in silence to foreign women spoken for.

He licks his lips at a strangers smile while his dry tongue laps the edge of a rolling skin. It’s tobacco his little boy tastes when their lips meet.

The Pirate

The Pirate made a baby on land, by chance. After he slid the copper needle of his long-dead daddy’s compass into his wrist, he docked his rig near the riverbank then laid with a witch in Chinatown whose talons are broken at each knuckle, tongue slick with rail liquor and lips puckered with the cackle of his own mother.

The Pirate, who is charcoal jawed, carries the axes of his limbs East to West.  Guards his one-room castle with concrete walls and concrete floors. Roaches nest in the corners, stray cats with ears ripped in two, slip underneath the gate he forgets to close on the street corner where children expire like criminals. Lets an orphaned mutt eat pizza crusts and egg shells while he spins a socket wrench inside a stranger’s speedboat engine, fingering worn belts even when they’re dry.

The Pirate has a body birthed in water and the brain of a boy because his mother can’t sleep. With clusters of leaking sex sores, she is rotting between her legs while her apartment floods. Filling with river water, her eyes remain shut, mouth cavernous, tongue cherishing the inside of her lips. Hungry for chalk, earth and sunlight. The smiles of her little boy and his.

The Pirate doesn’t drink and doesn’t smoke. The sins of others he casts away with hands that won’t build a manger for his own boy – the one with a face gaunt and giddy whose hands are empty and skull rattles when he’s alone, howling in sunlight like a stray with ribs dog-bitten. Blue eyes and pale skin whose silent mouth is a dark sunken hollow. He’s still his daddy’s boy when his face is smacked on days blessed by Jesus. The Pirate burns crosses before swallowing Chinese takeout. Beats his boy in slaps of four at high mass. Always they sleep in soiled sheets where lame-legged canines lay.

The Pirate fucked his fairy godmother and everyone was fed but the boy cowers still, waiting to be licked clean. Wrapping presents her hands never still, she won’t pray; wishes on a star she will. The Pirate has a woman who will swell even though he says not to. But Rumpelstiltskin will lie to hide the pulses inside her, cackling at the cauldron their eyes sink to the cobblestone and wishes she will.

The Pirate knows a liar when he tastes one - sharpens the unwound hanger’s tip in anticipation of the swelling season. First he’ll poke it through her lips then punch until his fisted knuckles knock the flesh where her legs meet. Like the others.




                             

Lindsay Parnell


Lindsay Parnell published her debut novel DOGWOOD with Linen Press in 2015. Her short fiction has appeared in 3AM Magazine, Honest Ulsterman, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Prague Revue, Underground Voices, and others.

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