June prompt: Fever

Blistering, scorching, fever dreams and bedridden thoughts. Stuck in your head, pulling you down, heavy hearts drowning in dread. What thoughts are stuck in your head lately? What makes you antsy, anxious, excited? What trends are sticking and spreading, contagions in the air? Let’s talk about ideas hidden, infectious, and fierce.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Untitled

Written by Tess Murphy

 

Eyes open, darkness. 

No air, just hot skin. 

The blanket is a burden 

but without it, 

the shadows 

can crawl all over 

that skin. 

Sigh. 

Rolls onto back, 

the white ceiling is empty- 

well not really empty, 

there’s those brown spider guts that stain that one spot. 

Really should clean that up, 

how long has it been there anyway? 

Why is this feeling so similar to the ceiling? 

The air is heavy, suffocating. 

Sudden deep breath, 

forgot to breathe. 

Nothing in mind, 

yet it won't shut off. 

Turns on side.

Limbs wrap around pillows,

wishing they were you. 

Pretends they are you. 

Eyes slowly close, 

feeling less 

alone. 

Just imagine it’s reality. 

Because this false happiness tastes better 

than this real sadness. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Greece, Slavery, and Drinking: 

Written by Karl Rosenburg

 

Recently, the question came up why I don’t drink. The question comes up often, actually. Normally I can write it off with a simple “personal reasons.” When really pushed, I can resort to something like, “A friend of mine grew up with an alcoholic father” and that usually settles it. But when 4 a.m. rolls around and I start to eye the bottle of rum someone once left on top of my fridge, I’m forced to ask myself why I don’t drink.

 

Which means, naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about Greece.

 

Ancient Greece was rife with sanctimonious cartoon characters. Cartoon characters are drawn with simple, easy to recognize features: broad faces, spaghetti arms and legs, round hands and blocky feet, an emotion literally built into their body. If they’re angry the lines are straight and jagged, if happy they’re rounded and smooth. When enraged, the Gods would curse thunder and spit hellfire. When feeling saucy, they would slip on the form of a swan and get down. Simple enough for Saturday morning TV.

 

2008 marked the beginning of a modern financial crisis. Perhaps hit hardest of all was Greece, which had been, for years, setting up its own defeat.

 

Paradox: a state that allows for rent-seeking behavior, clientelism and corruption – yet champions liberal democratic social programs like welfare, subsidies, and public schooling.

 

There was no way Greece wouldn’t collapse; it’s economy was tanking so hard that the European Union stumbled to rewrite its policy on bailouts, loaning the flailing nation billions of Euros to keep it just barely afloat. The bailouts came with exorbitant interest rates – rates so high that Greece is falling further into debt (with debt hovering around 144% of GDP and climbing).

 

In ancient Athens, a slave could not give testimony in a trial unless the testimony was obtained through means of torture. Slaves were tortured during trials due to the assumed loyalty they carried for their master. The only way to ensure an ‘honest’ testimony was to put them to the lash and whip the allegiance out of them.

 

During the times of austerity stipulated by the bailouts, the people of Greece went wild – bombings, riots, a flesh-and-blood reaction. Anarchism gained new ground. Firebombs often splashed across riot shields. For many Greeks there was simply no other alternative. If you’re dying every day, may as well die fighting.

 

I don’t think these tortured slaves were truly loyal, they simply wanted to avoid their master’s ire. Either way, they had to be tortured before they grew bold enough to betray their rulers.

 

As a result, I’m sober because I’m angry. I’m sober because I want to die.

 

The idea is to be miserable. As miserable as possible. I don’t want an anesthetic, there’s more than enough tranquilizers flowing through me already. I want to feel as hopeless and degraded as I can. I want to feel like a fucking dog because I know that’s the reality- if not for me then for others.

 

I could get drunk, let off some steam.

 

But I’d rather be pushed as far as I can – feel as desperate as the situation really is. Maybe then it’ll push me out into the street. Maybe, if I torture myself as much as I can, I’ll grow desperate enough to betray the masters for whom I carry such undying devotion.

 

We’re still being pushed around by sanctimonious cartoon characters – politicians with spaghetti arms and block feet who curse thunder, only now they’re promising hellfire.

 

So if you want to buy me a drink, first help me build the barricades.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sestina for Uneasy Hands

Written by Declan Harkin

 

What should I do with my hands

while they sit idle in this space?

They sound restless and they say,

Were bored. Put us to good use.

I wish I could give them purpose

so they would not pester my head.

 

My hands will explore my head

as they grow impatient. My hands

assign themselves mundane purpose,

agitated when they sit still in space.

They demand action, beg put us to use,

and so I try to do as they say.

 

My hands will never know what to say

if they exist in the space outside my head.

Listen, Im trying to put you to good use.

These words means nothing to my hands.

These words from my hands only fill space,

so how do you suppose they find purpose?

 

Maybe my hands have no purpose,

contrary to what they have to say.

If they occupy the wrong space,

then they exist outside my head.

Restless drumming from my hands,

always asking, put us to good use.

 

I listen. I put my hands to use.

I remember my hands have no purpose.

I feel bad for my hands.

What do I tell them? Im sorry, I say,

Im sorry you exist outside my head.

Im sorry that you occupy this space.

 

If my hands felt comfortable in their space

they tell me they could be put to good use.

They would communicate with my head.

They would begin to move with purpose.

They would know exactly what to say.

You might even consider listening to my hands.

 

This space seems to be void of purpose,

useless for hands that have nothing to say.

A head can’t accomplish much without hands.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks to all those who submitted for our June prompt! Take a look at our July prompt, Breathe. Send any questions and submissions to shreddedmag@gmail.com by Thursday, June 29th.