Ever wonder how journal editors make decisions about work to feature? The Take gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at Mud Season Review. Here, we feature one single poem or flash fiction piece that caught the attention of the editorial team, apart from the signature poetry portfolio or fiction piece in our bi-monthly issues. We hear from the author about the inspiration for his or her work, and we hear from a co-editor about why the poem or flash fiction story stood out.
By Steven J. Rogers
Nocturnal Plant Life
It smokes cheap cigars plucked from the humidor of broken blue-collar dreams. It orders the chicken tenders cooked until golden brown and dry. It dines in the mouths of the innocent and defecates its disease before leaving.
Fat Wallace says he saw it once. Slimy fingers — shards of lizard skin quenched in suburban tanning booths, maroon fish-like scales, dead white eyes, country club khakis. Guts forged on the nineteenth hole — gilded gold intestines.
Fat Wallace says he’ll kill it. Drag it to Braddlebone Hill. Use the rusty knife he found by the sun-bleached cattle carcass. Chip away at the gilded guts until he finds a heart. Bleed it out on the dirt during the sunrise. Force it to see the light.
Leave it there. A spectacle. A final reprieve for anyone who doesn’t have the disease.
Let the coyotes pick at the meat. The bugs suck the bones.
But Fat Wallace can’t kill what he doesn’t understand.
There’s a new brand of nocturnal plant life. Sold in aisle fourteen, sixteen and eighteen of your local mega-outlet-retail-super-store. Fat Wallace says if you see it at the right time of night, it almost looks human.
I’m always searching for the soul hidden in the rotten festering corpse of America. “Nocturnal Plant Life” is very much a part of that search. The poem’s form is a subconscious reflection of the beat poetry I religiously read as a teen in the back of the local coffee shop in an effort to look hip in the eyes of the fairer sex from the nearby liberal arts college.
From the Poetry Editors
You might feel compelled to wash your hands after reading this poem. Yet the images won’t cooperate and disappear down the drain. They linger, as does the imagined violence on “Braddlebone Hill.” Without becoming preachy, Rogers expresses the revulsion many of us experience when encountering
the archetypical “ugly American.” The author’s approach is wry and fresh, letting “Fat Wallace” describe his wet dream of unspeakably violent acts. In the voice of “everyman,” Fat Wallace gives readers permission to get our own