by Kyle Hemmings


Near the rim of the city, Munch met a man with hook nose and leaky ear. The ear leaked the useless soliloquies of others. It was in a bar where couples rarely looked past each other and secretly discriminated against certain colors of intimacy, denied the depths of falling into pure longing without starch or feathers or correct hue. “Call me, Captain Hook. All my friends do. It works for me, “said the man, before downing a lager and making obscene swipes at his lips with three melded fingers. One side of his mouth drooled dirty hope. Munch bit his lip, thought: swarthy. Noir movies of the 40s. A dead body in every port. A stable boy who can see through walls. Hook’s dark eyes, somewhat unfocused, at times, bulging in a tragicomic way, hypnotized Munch. Captain Hook kept Munch in his apartment off Waldo and Saint, rent and paper free, offered to own him in exchange for warmth and seductive charades by candlelight. Again and again, Munch stated that he was too old to be a house boy and his wrists still burned from the matchsticks of his last lover who chose The Brando Method over sublimated Southern Gothic. As time went by, Captain Hook revealed in bits and pieces that his mother tortured him with unworkable umbrellas, left magical wounds that disappeared by day; his mother was the world and when turned upside down it was called night. Omniscience. Omnipotence. Captain said those words while munching sesame crackers and goat cheese in bed, later, cried himself to sleep, curled himself into a round of darkness. He later died by failing to wake up in light. But the coroner’s office pronounced it as death by frostbite. Munch had drilled a hole in the bedroom wall facing ice and wind. Midnight sun, in that section of the city, was a myth. Freedom for Munch meant going solo, slipping tiny bones into strangers’ pockets for warmth, with their permission, of course, cursing gout and the arthritic flare-ups, at times, walking on his knees, getting lost with frigid hands. So numb from the cold, they soon would no longer be his.



Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collection of poetry/prose is Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.