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Peter Fortunato

Cocks of the Walk
(Key West)


by Peter Fortunato

Just when I’d thought the roosters, glossy, beaky
black, and bold were my best friends, they upbraid me.

Samson’s notion is I’m old, too weary to have fun—”Wary,”
I correct him, though he misses the distinction:

“You got faded, man, like some magazine they plopped
under the parakeet. Pooped, is what you look.”

I can’t take him at this hour, ranting before dawn.
I go back to dreaming of Ann-Margret, her auburn hair

on fire in the drawer where I stashed her picture.
I was twelve and hadn’t learned to masturbate: I swooned.

Samson hawks some phlegm. I have to stare him down.
“I also had Betty and Veronica,” I say. “And Lollobrigida,

legs in pink tights, swinging on a star.”
“Christ,” he spits, and treads a hen who happens by.

Louie is another story. Molting, what he calls it, going bald
the way my uncle did, a redhead in his forties.

Since I’m working on a skullcup of my own, I put it to him kindly:
“Women dig a phallic crown.” Still, he takes it as an insult.

Up all night and feisty, drunk on rum, he tells me I’m a clown.
“Look, you piece of stew,” I say, “I took Boots Mullen down.”

He circles, fakes a strike. Three tourists pull up sharply
on their rented bikes, cellphone-cameras ready. I attack:

“Girls don’t want your gecko and chameleons.”
This breaks him up and he backs off: Clown! Clown! he cackles.

Actually, I love him. We used to watch the Fights together.
I’m tired, awake since three, can’t find the sleep I gave away,

but here’s Lorenzo, puffed and plumed and strutting:
half the downy things in town call him their Daddy.

“Jesus rose from the dead!” He throws it at me and I fumble.
Yesterday he wanted all the news about my wife; today

it’s my entire life—he means it as a compliment: “Comprende?”
He thinks he’d be a king in my hometown, Brooklyn, he thinks.

I gave him that idea. Also told him Sheila was my boyhood crush,
the older girl who waited for me: in the movie Dustin Hoffman
played my part and Katherine Ross I dated twice.
Lorenzo takes some notes; he’s working on a novel,

a resurrection tale. (Today is Friday—even Hemingway
couldn’t top the Jesus story, so he had to eat it.)

‘Enzo crows and beats his wings.
If I want another match I’ll have to find him later.

Now he’s hitting on a bird with feathered purple hair.
I can hear her sobbing how she’s out of luck, tried so hard,

wants to be a singer. He tucks her gently underneath his wing.
She nestles, coos, and glancing back at me she winks. She’s he.

Then there’s Kurt—or is it Kirk? I’ll never get to sleep tonight.
We met at the cemetery: I was meditating; he was screwing

an iguana. He brags his penis is the best of him.
His eyes are bigger than his brain.

“Hey, Pete!” Like he’s known me my whole life—no one
calls me that, unless they’ve seen my shadow.

“Lost your way again, Pete?” He does this thing that bantams do,
jerks his head from side to side, his eyeballs on me.

His voice this morning spooks me. He spends his nights
roosting on a gravestone—not that I’m superstitious.

Wary: the son of a sailor, and I’ve got a lot of Catholic blood.
I cross myself. I ask the Virgin of the Sea to pray for me.

“It’s Kirk, right? So what are you the church of?
Loveless nights? Broken promises? Passions

unrequited? You a friend of Baron Samedi?”
I smoke him out like that, I take him to the mat like that.

His hand on me, he says, “We’re brothers, Pete. Shipmates
on the Planet Earth. We’re heading through a band of energy.

Hunab Ku, the Maya called it, shooting from the center
of our galaxy. You feel it, right?” Awake now, half-asleep.


Peter Fortunato



• OREN PIERCE, GuestEditor
Welcome to the Weird Issue
My Heart KnewWhat the
Wild Geese Knew

Natural Bone Chapter 2
21 Things You May or May Not
Consider Weird
fever cat
Perry City Dinks
The Deserted House
Black Beauty
Weird Happens
The Soldiers' Story

• SUE-RYN BURNS Wild Turkeys
• MARY GILLILAND Kitchen Theater
Cocks of the Walk (Key West)
Copernicus under cover

to the Weird Issue

by Oren Pierce, Guest Editor
(short excerpt here, read it all
on the home page)

Weathercock (I feel) has presented us not with just an honest meditation on the uncanny nature of everyday life that an unsensational treatment of the theme requires, nor is it either fact or fiction, but just plain fake news.
Not wanting to be too negative, I won’t get any further into that. Read and judge for yourself.

Just about everything else in this issue is fine with me and I recommend the writings to you without further doo doo. ______________________

by Rhian Ellis

The letters came, and the letters came, and then they stopped. The last came in the autumn, with the falling leaves and the clotting sky, but through the long grayness of winter there was nothing.
Ruth continued to write even though it felt as though she was dropping her pages into a bottomless well. She asked questions that were never answered and told stories that seemed unheard. She wrote faster and more frantically as the snow blew into the city and hid the dirt and the trash and the broken things. She imagined her sister in her little house, out there in the wilderness, burning logs and nursing babies and what else? What did she do? Life was so different out there, so hard to imagine...

And then a letter came, on the same rough paper, written with the same too-sharp pen that scratched. But the hand was unfamiliar. And inside, the letter was hard to read and cramped and was almost like the writing of a child. Perhaps it was the writing of a child.

Sister Ruth-- I hayte that I am the barer of the world’s moust dreaded newes but the truth is that our dearr Jane is dead and so are the chyldren tifuss came to our small house and we coud not stop it. First the older chyld then Jane then the baby went to the arms of Jesuss. Wheeler is the only chyld left and I am left too tho to what purpose I

(go to story)

Natural Bone Chapter 2 with recap
by David Warren

Noah had stared at the falling water for he didn’t know how long, when his eyes began to wander around the yellowish chamber floor and he saw a helmet lying there: a battered metal helmet with stubby horns. And then, only a few yards from the helmet, he saw a bodiless head in a nest of its own hair among the rocks. It’s eyes were wide open, and the grisly thing spoke to him, although in an understandably weak and sighing sort of voice.

“Don’t be afraid!” said the Head “I’m just a head.” click here for the recap of chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2

The DesertedHouse

by Annie Campbell

One time, the kids and I stopped to explore a large deserted house on Townline road near Trumansburg. It still had its roof and didn’t look too bad, so we squeezed through a door coming off its hinges. Plaster and lath which had fallen from the ceilings in the three spacious rooms we could see - littered the floor. Carefully, the three of us made our way to a big room that still had a few glass panes in the windows. A wide staircase beckoned, and I made the kids wait while I went up. It seemed safe enough so I waited for them to catch up to me.

(go to story)

Weldon packs a yellow umbrell athough he doesn’t expect to use it. “If I carry a yellow parapluie jaune,” he tells Mathilde, “it might fake out the rain sprights. Energize them. Maybe drought will start to end. Vive la pluie.” He finds his French words exhilarating, as he does his French girl friend.
(go to story)

Perry City Dinks
by Gabreal Orgrease

“Fire so hot and quick that when they opened the trailer door they found my father sitting smack in front of the tube with his reading glasses melted around his nose still holding an instant coffee on his lap only the skin of his fingers was stuck to the melted thermal mug.” (go to story)

Weird Happens

1 I was at a crosswalk and the oncoming motorist stopped to let me pass.

2 Rocks along the train tracks are of consistent size and shape, composed mostly of basalt. They are excellent throwing rocks, as if quarried and broken for that purpose. I hit a RR sign with one on a quiet creosote-rich afternoon and it made a startling racket. Some deer broke out of the sedge. I felt lonely all of a sudden.

3 Toenail fungus is a form of life that is hard to evict from the body. It has generated a whole line of quackadoodle remedies. The only surefire way to get rid of it is to have all infected toes removed.

4 When I checked my pants pockets this morning, I found 77 cents in quarters, nickels, dimes and two pennies. I don’t normally keep pennies. Pennies are not worthless, but we don’t use them for cadavers any more so why save them? There is nothing significant about 77, except it was in the title of an old TV show called "77 Sunset Strip."
For numbers 5 to 21 click here

by Georgia Warren

I was taught hand reading in the 1960s by a doctor from India who was getting certified to practice medicine in the US. It took me two years to learn the intricacies of the India-style of hand reading. When Dr. Singh said I was ready to go out on my own.I got a seat working steadily in a coffee house in Akron Ohio.

One night a couple of soldiers back from Vietnam stopped by. Their hands were in their coat pockets.. They said they wanted me to read their hands. They were laughing, and I was sure they’d probably had a “couple” of beers. I didn’t have the attitude that I gained years later to say, “I don’t do readings for people who have been drinking.” The two of them sat down, still smirking. They took their hands out of their pockets, they were prosthetiucs. Neither of them had any hands for me to read. (go to story)



Kitchen Theatre (go to)

Wild Turkeys (go to)

Cocks of the Walk
(Key West) (go to)



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