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Conversion by Gasoline
by Marsha McSpadden

art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
Daddy'd cracked.

The kids at school pointed and whispered. Said he'd made orphans overseas. Watching people explode had turned him inside out.

Quiet as a wish, he carved up our kitchen table. Hacked it into figurines. Splintered bodies with round mouths. No eyes.

Afterward, we took nearly silent suppers squatting over linoleum, corners curling. The dolls were heaped in the corner not watching. I asked if he shot children over there. Ones who looked like me.

Hush that, mama said, spooning beans onto plates. I wondered if they brought to mind shrapnel. Pieces of people.

Once, while Mama bought time at Winn-Dixie, daddy slogged whiskey down his throat. Finally, unstrangled. I sat cross-legged, twitching to be filled with secrets.

His voice slick with memory: Monks ablaze. Flame-licked. Calm as nectarines.

He capped himself but not the bottle.

Still, my very own blooming postcard. Finally delivered. I turned it round and round in my mind until the edges softened.

Nights I curled by the fire. In yellow footy pajammies. Waiting to spark.

Read the interview.

Marsha McSpadden is an instructor at the University of Alabama. Her work has appeared in the Missouri Review, Shenandoah (Bevel Summers Prize), subTerrain, and Quiddity, among others.

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16-year-old internationally award-winning artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News web site and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run "See The Bigger Picture" global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.


All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.





Issue Thirty-Five (March 26, 2012): Bird, White and Running by Paula Cappa «» I Don't Know Who Used to Live Here but No One Lives Here Now by Isaac Boone Davis «» Blood by Justin Lawrence Daugherty «» Eversharp by Cherie Hunter Day «» Everyone Continued to Sing by Josh Denslow «» WHERE RU by James Drew «» His Mother the Rubble by Jesse Eagle «» Lacrimosa by Jo Gatford «» Reunion by Kawika Guillermo «» A Madness by Katy Gunn «» The Right Wing by Mark Hage «» To & From by Joshua Helms «» The Summer of '84 by Derek Loosvelt «» Girls Town by Rebekah Matthews «» Benediction by Sharon McGill «» Conversion by Gasoline by Marsha McSpadden «» Fire Egg by Brian Mihok «» From "The Game of Surrounding" by Ian Sanquist «» Lydia Before by Aliya Whiteley «» Interviews: Paula Cappa «» Isaac Davis «» Justin Lawrence Daugherty «» Cherie Hunter Day «» Josh Denslow «» James Drew «» Jesse Eagle «» Jo Gatford «» Kawika Guillermo «» Katy Gunn «» Mark Hage «» Joshua Helms «» Derek Loosvelt «» Rebekah Matthews «» Sharon McGill «» Marsha McSpadden «» Brian Mihok «» Ian Sanquist «» Aliya Whiteley «» Cover Art "Crick" by Josh George «» Letter From the Editor
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