Literary Orphans

Three Micro Fictions by
Matthew Burnside


The Zombie Apocalypse Will Be Televised?

Writers will be the first to go, obviously. Most will die of shock or dysentery right out of the gate. Last words will be found all over. Self-eulogies in shit smear, metered brain matter over smooth stone, cinquains of cutlery and metal scratches on the sides of cheap toasters and Panini-makers. In the end all the best books will be burned for heat, to prolong the long night’s foreplay while in the ruins of the city the modern nuclear zombie family wines and dines on prime human fillet in the luxury of rubble teepees. For dessert, flambéed spleen or mandible a la mode. They won’t push into the woods for the writers yet: save the diet humans for later, they’ll reason. But once the audience at home begins to bore, the situation will necessitate a ratings boost. The studio helicopters will be swiftly dispatched to rain down glass in hopes of forcing contestants back into the urban arenas. Poets will catch it upon their tongues like first snowflakes, all the prosaists swilling death in style from paper bag chalices. Before cutting to commercial, cameras will zoom in on the base of a water tower, one lonely benediction written in blowtorch: TIHS EVAS T’NDID SDROW YTTERP


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Anatomy of a Clockwork Cock

In the basement we built a Robot Bukowski. We tried to teach it how to hold a spoon but it kept picking up the butter knife instead, sawing at its own throat. Bad Bukowski, we scolded it. In the dining room we fed Robot Bukowski, bottled water and some soda crackers, but we kept finding half-eaten rodents under the carpet, a thermos full of human bile. Still hungry, it confessed. In the kitchen one night we came in to find Robot Bukowski with his dick in the toaster. You can’t go around sticking your gears in any old household appliance you please, we tried to teach it. Still horny, it said, crotch sparking. In the living room we gave Robot Bukowski a hymnal and told it to sing. It coughed battery acid on the pages, buried its head under the couch cushions. I am broken aren’t I? it said— and so are you. One morning in the garage we caught Robot Bukowski dismantling his manhood with a wrench. There is no need for that, we told it, finally, fed it a fresh sparrow between two slices of pumpernickel. In this world one must be what they are. In the basement we built a Robot Bukowski. We tried to teach it how to sing: it taught us instead how to crucify the birds and dance with our disease.


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Four Ways to Drown a Cloud

1) Fast or 2) slow or 3) with mercy or 4) without: your death was without. Every morning since is a firebrand ritual. Father takes his cereal in the basement of the attic where paper phantoms won’t find him. Mother does a slow waltz with stainless cutlery through the diner of dead dreams. Your old scabrous dog waits, not knowing any better, tail tied to a cloud. Your sister sits on the curb, bloody tissue blossoming out of her nose. A junior meteorologist, she skims cirrus, catalogs cumulonimbus numbering the turgid tumblingtufts—but in her dreams hot air balloons are always crashing. Your aunt told her that her heart is inside her stomach, so she feels her stomach constantly now. I can’t feel it, she says. It’s not there anymore. Inside, a leaky faucet that can’t quit dripping your name.

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Xmas List

Matthew keeps a list of his sins at

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–Art by Navid Sanati

Nike Sneakers | Air Jordan 1 Mid GS “Light Smoke Grey” — Ietp