We met in the most interesting place in America
which, it turns out, is any place that has a corner store.
All those black pills at the counter, bagged in twos,
like Snow White’s eyes in “Snow White: the Comic Book.”
I had a theory about oil and wine emulsions re:
the perfect glaze but was not ready to share it. And he said,
You look like the kind of girl who has a cat. And I said,
Who doesn’t? All that steady lamplight turning
the sidewalk into snow. The fountain in his residential
area had been shut down until spring, so we walked
through a series of gates and enclosures to find another
fountain. There we composed letters to American Bungalow
Magazine. His began, “Bungalow owners will rejoice to find
that memory is not a room, it is a bungalow.” Mine began,
“I am writing in response to your September article
on unconventional salt and pepper shakers, which, in my
estimation, can only be considered ‘unconventional’
if they are filled with something other than salt or pepper.”
All that sand and graphite on the dinner, turning our teeth
into dingy pearls. We praised the fountain because it was full
of feeling but ultimately transparent. We praised the electric
chandelier: shorthand for “flame.” Think of a transistor
as a bucket full of invisible water, he said, and I said
why not invisible wine, or some kind of oil and wine emulsion?
It’s easy once you get the hang of it. It’s only cold because
of all this wind howling from its pulpit on the beach.
If god wanted us to be strangers, why would he place us
next to each other in the movie theater and make us think
our knees are touching when they’re really a few inches
apart? Looking at Anita Ekberg’s breasts, we can see
the future. It is soft, pink, and frolics in a fountain
where the sea gods bathe their weary feet.
"Bedroom Community" appeared in Best New Poets 2008
Being that the shortcut to the only grocery store in town is smeared with blue bottle
flies and small dogs, I am forced to walk on Main Street.
The dressmaker knows my name because I commissioned a gown that I never bought. I wanted
bluebottle flies for the bodice and many stitches and it was expensive work.
My ship was coming in, I thought. This was the idea, to watch the ship coming in while
wearing the gown, to watch the wrestle of the sea in it.
The ship I saw coming in was not mine. It belonged to my sister—we bear the same coat of arms.
The next day she was famous. She came to my hut by limousine. “Let’s buy the dress together,” she
said. “We can go Dutch.” I told her I would never go Dutch with her on anything. “I’ll buy it
myself,” she said. I could do nothing to stop her as she was already famous at this point.
So my sister bought the gown. She wore it on television the next day. It looked so fabulous,
they put her at the end of the parade instead of the mayor’s ironweed float. I watched my sister
through dark glasses. I, too, had been practicing for fame.
The next day, my sister took the gown back. It was so fabulous she couldn’t wear it again. I
tried to buy it back, but the dressmaker said such a thing was impossible. She put on her earphones
and embroidered lambs on a set of linen napkins. No one has spoken to me since.
"Why I Am Not Famous" appeared in the Black Warrior Review
Nobody won the World Series. We were too busy pollinating our
telephones to watch. The radios grew dense with bee stings, grew
leaves; it was easy to tell who had been kissing too much. Some
girls wore deep bruises and carried paper fans. Myself, I took
to wearing a veil until dusk. Spinsters and virgins, perfect vandas
on their faces, blanched and turned cold in palpable shame. Self-help
books advised to “press the back of your hand against your orchid
to simulate the gentle pressure of a kiss. This will help you appear
less desperate.” So it became impossible to know anything simply
by looking at the orchid on someone’s face, whether it flourished
or hung loose like a tooth. Nobody married that year. On New Year’s
Eve we waited for midnight with secret bottles of champagne, tubes
of lipstick and piles of matches, so ready to have our mouths
again. When the orchids fell off, we ate chocolates and whole
fish, but it was not the end of our problems. Opera singers sung arias
in reverse, and startled children in Detroit knew French. Our voices
fell out of our mouths like anvils and we couldn’t pretend to be anything
but stupid and vague. We whispered. Some of us wanted to change back.
"That Was the Year We Replaced Our Mouths With Orchids" appeared in Ninth Letter
Undergraduate Student - College of Liberal Arts
Johnny Meyer grew up in Dallas, New Orleans, and Kansas City, and joined the Army on January 2, 2001
as an Airborne Infantryman. After completing Ranger school and serving a tour in Afghanistan, he moved
to Austin and began attending college. During this time, he completed the first draft of his novel,
American Volunteers. In August of 2006, he was called back into the Army for a tour in Baghdad, Iraq.
Meyer's novel looks at the inherent conflict between foreign war and American values by observing the
actions of an isolated infantry squad patrolling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The book's chapters
alternate between verse and prose.