Reverse Fan Mails are original poems and stories written by small press authors. Each Reverse Fan Mail is inspired by the name of a donor to APRIL. Today’s Reverse Fan Mail is by Matthew Simmons.
Matthew Simmons is the author of A JELLO HORSE (Publishing Genius Press, 2009) and the story collection HAPPY ROCK (Dark Coast Press, 2013).
Read.Learn.Write meets Talk.Think.Remain on the street and they strike up a conversation about all the ways in which Talk.Think.Remain and Read.Learn.Write are able to feel the same thing at very different times. And how that’s odd. And how that distresses them. And then there is just the tiniest shift. Read.Learn.Write falls to the sidewalk. Talk.Think.Remain leans over to help Read.Learn.Write up. Read.Learn.Write cannot get up. Cannot get up. Is stuck on the ground. Talk.Think.Remain doesn’t know what to do, and so does nothing. This is just how things go sometimes.
This Reverse Fan Mail was made possible by a generous donation from Brandon Monk (who runs readlearnwrite.org — you should check it out). To read more Reverse Fan Mails, click here!
Richard Chiem (b.1987) is the author of YOU PRIVATE PERSON, a collection of short stories published by Scrambler books. His work has appeared in Thought Catalog, elimae, and Everyday Genius, among other places. He is currently living in Seattle with his girlfriend and their loud cat.
I DON’T LIKE to talk about weapons. I want to talk about quick thinking. Your environment is at your service, if you’re thinking quickly on your feet. Getting over being scared is how you should try to have fun. You must first learn how to love someone, and then you learn how to do things, like not die. Many scenarios will boil down to quick thinking and how you emotionally react to things coming at you.
This Reverse Fan Mail was made possible by a generous donation from Kate Sullivan. To read more Reverse Fan Mails, click here!
Tara Atkinson has worked as an editor, an arts journalist, a publishing assistant, a home health aid, an organic farmer, a standardized test quality controller, and a line cook. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Washington where she teaches composition. She is the co-founder and managing director of APRIL. Her chapbook, “Bedtime Stories,” is out now from Alice Blue. She reads March 5th (her birthday) at the Castalia Reading Series at Richard Hugo House.
"Thinking of Lauren Davis"
Diana Salier is thinking of Lauren Davis. She texts me a photo to prove it, in which she is holding a sign up to a window, and the sign reads: “I’m thinking of Davis.” But that’s as far as she gets.
I text Diana Salier a photo that says “I’m still in my underwear.”
—Because it is true, Lauren Davis! It is always 3 o’clock and I am always still in my underwear, if I even bother to put them on. Diana Salier has writer’s block. I have writer’s block. And Wikipedia has writer’s block: causes, coping strategies, and popular mentions. To make myself feel better, I imagine God with writer’s block. He is authoring the universe. He sits at his desk. He writes: “In the beginning”…. He says, “Hmm.” He reads: “In the beginning…. In the beginning…. In the beginning….”
—But not you, Lauren Davis! Somewhere, you are our last hope.
Most of the time I think it is true, what they say about my generation. Then I think, So what.
This Reverse Fan Mail was made possible by a generous donation from Lauren Davis. To read more Reverse Fan Mails, click here!
James Yeh is a founding editor of Gigantic. His writing has appeared in NOON, Fence, Vice, and Tin House. A recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Columbia University, he was a 2011 NYC Emerging Writers Fellow at the Center for Fiction. You can find him online at yehjames.blogspot.com or @jamesyeh on Twitter.
Or what about when your apartment got infested with bedbugs, from that bookshelf you had pulled in off of the street? During this time you stayed over at my apartment a lot and this was fine with me—I liked having you there. I remember how you kept your books in large Ziploc bags and also your clothes; they needed to be in there for at least six months, you said. You had read this on the internet.
Just talking about it, you would start itching and I would too. You would wake up in the morning examining your arms and body for bites, the telltale sign being a grouping of three small, red welts. Finally, your lease was up; you were getting to move to a new apartment where you could get a fresh start without worrying about the previous infestation.
A few nights before you were set to move, I went with you to the shitty all-night laundromat near your apartment at 4 a.m. and waited with you while you washed all your clothes (also your blankets and sheets) at the hottest setting and then dried them like crazy. I remember you wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a baggy flannel shirt that hung off your skinny frame in a way that wasn’t particularly flattering. But it was a nice moment. You seemed so sweet and dependent on me and I felt so willing to stay there with you. Exhaustedly walking around with you as we carried bags and bags of just washed clothes along the empty, dirty streets.
You were still worried about your books, though. In an article I had read online one night—your worrying had started to worry me—I learned it was possible to put your books into bags in the freezer and the cold would kill the bedbugs. But when I asked you about it, you said you had already tried that and it hadn’t worked: when you opened up the bag later, a bedbug had jumped out at you.
Did you try the oven, I asked. The article had listed the oven as an alternative to the freezer.
That doesn’t work either! you said. I tried it with a magazine and it melted it. The whole place smelled like plastic. I was afraid to breathe.
This Reverse Fan Mail was made possible by a generous donation from Marie Slaight. To read more Reverse Fan Mails, click here.