you are in the diode archives v5n1



How to Do the Cha Cha

Stay alert in red rolling light. Focus premium-like in 4/4 time.  Go into debt with arms held in minor jezebel pose.  Small sidestep about the star specks on the floor. Chin up during the landside.  Sexy bend, sexy bend!  Practice—

Perfect understanding of where your partner is coming from.   Your partner is coming from the same revolutionary party you came from.  Don’t go about this the wrong way again.  Or the next gala will find you cowering under a punch bowl, strained cheek rogued up in-


Boys and girls in panic rows. Roadkill of the Rodeo, toeing the party line on one side of the faultline, quaking. Which side are you on, lead or follow-fallow?

Push; no, pull. Adjust your slippery straps and swaddle sandals in bandages: it’s open season on open-toed slip-ons. Lesson: don’t leave cha to chance. Change into a tux and bind yourself into a seamless Mister. Move her, Master Manipulator.

Sway the small of her back with your small, gloved hand.


How to Cheat at Poker

Paint your toenails in the shade of mirror.  Wear open-ended shoes.  Glint with the best of them.  Move to Kansas City.  Pop out of a cake.  Wearing thirteen flavors of frosting.  Your hair teased all heiress-like.

Vouch for the jacks.  When you know someone who knows someone with chips.  Substitute an accent; exaggerate a cough.  Get high and mighty up in the prescription medicines aisle.  Stay in your long sleeves and multiple pockets.  Fold prettily.  An origami made into luck.

Wear photos of strange children in a locket that dangles off-angle. Lean into stranger danger. Take wrong ones to bed. Mornings, demand a pastry case wheeled into your room by a bevy of showgirls. Hide kings and aces in plumes and pasties. Burn anything evidence. Bury the key.

Leave no luck to chance. Change cities and dogs. Tiptoe down stairways and listen, rouged rogue. Get caught up with red hands. Learn faint-sway. Learn slipknot and slideknot. Learn a different lesson from the one they try and teach you.  Make bank.


How to Climb a Ladder Safely

Here we are at skybottom, wearing house slippers outside the house because it is already so summer that we can get away with anything.

Here we are at a palm tree, staring up at one black and six-toed cat, waiting for the fire department to show up and coax because this is what always happened on Saturday morning TV.

Here we are taking the long way around the ladder because avoidance actually cures superstition.

Here we are, three rungs up, flashing back to Florida.
Here we are, changing places. I’m up top and you’re below.
When we get to the middle, one of us dangles.

Undress me on a ladder and my legs look longer.

Rats are clever ladder-makers. They climb vines, sills, and  pipes to reach rooftops and shimmy through shingles.

Here we are, peering out at the wreckage. Mourning those we knew and those we didn’t.

Here I am and here you are, “we” dissolving on the slow climb down. Violet twilight, bruising light.

You saw off the top rung.

Here we are, tossing coins to make decisions.  


Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including Tinderbox Lawn (Rose Metal Press) and Doll Studies: Forensics (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming). 

Daniela Olszewska is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Citizen J (Artifice Books, forthcoming) and cloudfang : : cakedirt (Horse Less Press, forthcoming).   She sits on Switchback Books’ Board of Directors and serves as Associate Poetry Editor of H_NGM_N.

Olszewska and Guess’s book-length manuscript of prose poems/flash fictions is called How to Feel Comfortable With Your Special Talents, a collaborative work based on the titles of articles on the user-generated-content site, WikiHow.  Pieces from the project have appeared or are forthcoming from Consequence Magazine, Fairy Tale Review, Sad Robot, South Dakota Review, and Stoked.