Poems and flash fiction in The Voice are presented in collaboration with Nimrod International Journal at The University of Tulsa. For more information about Nimrod, visit nimrod.utulsa.edu.
The wail of a broken fire alarm shepherds tenants to the balcony. Clanging metal doors, sighs, and the snick of lighters—a weekly congregation. Wealthy women walk from the coffee shop to their cars in “resident only” parking, sidestepping Bicycle Wayne as he dumpster dives. Retrieving his reward, he mumbles to himself and returns home, a second-floor apartment across the street with a door that opens to the sky. Twenty-nine left a lamp at the top, in perfect condition, earlier this morning. Three conceals a cat and mastectomy scars under her acrylic-covered coat. Twenty-Eight, a revolving door romantic, is convinced Thirty is stealing his snipes. Fourteen swore off the sole bar in town, but from the balcony the broken neon sign sizzles a siren song. Ten, packing a remaining studio, risks tinnitus, motivated by a low-interest mortgage and a walk-in washer-dryer. Eleven is a lifer, loves the pomp of weekend parades, the neapolitan sunset from the roof of the restaurant next door, closing time when the street is swarmed with last-call lovers leaning on each other. The abandoned houses nearby are ripe for renovation. The street is getting a facelift and a farmer's market. “Coming soon” a warning shot, inflation a four-letter word.
Jessi Cornell is making things up, writing them down, and working full time to keep the self-loathing at bay. She is accompanied everywhere by her gentleman schnauzer, Harley.