Kurt Newton

by Arthur Graham on January 12, 2018

Kurt Newton sold his first story, “The Promise of the Sea,” in 1993. Since then he’s had over 400 poems and 250 short stories published in a wide variety of magazines, anthologies and webzines in the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, Germany and Poland. To date, he has received sixteen honorable mentions from the editors of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and has been four times nominated for the Rhysling Award for his poetry.

Among his favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Flannery O’Conner, Harlan Ellison, J.G. Ballard, Joyce Carol Oates, John Shirley, Lucius Shepard, Jonathan Carroll, Christopher Conlon and Paul Tremblay.

He lives in the northeast corner of Connecticut.

 

The Apprentice

Uncle says he’ll teach me
how to stuff a squirrel
but not until I’m eighteen
says it would be better to wait
says I need to get to know
my own body first
before I can touch another
says he’ll feel the same then
as he does now
but I’m only fourteen
and eighteen seems
such a long way off
I guess I could learn
from the boys my age
but what do they know
about bodies
they know about hunting
and killing
but not about life
and art
and the art of making dead things
live again
at least that’s what Uncle says
when I watch him use the thin
black thread
and the sawdust stuffing
the way his fingers move
turning skin inside out
it’s hard to think he was ever
dumb and stupid
like the boys I know
so I guess I’ll have to wait
even though the waiting burns
in me
filling me with numb fingers
dry as sawdust
wait until my eighteenth comes
and Uncle shows me everything
squirrels
crows
raccoons
owls
but never boys
no never boys
boys make better trophies.

 

Putting Things In It

At an early age I began
putting things in it
Momma told me to leave it alone
said to keep my legs closed
and my eyes open
said a man would come
soon enough
to take care of things
but I kept at it
late at night sometimes
under the sheets
a flashlight
to see what I was doing
under the stairway
behind the barn
I didn’t want to wait till
some man came and
told me what to do
what to say
how to be
and when to be it
now I just sit
with my legs open
wide sometimes
my eyes shut
just dreaming about all the things
I’ve put in it so far
and all the things still left to put
and why some women settle for just
any old thing.

 

Dear Charles

This letter is for you
like the ones we used to write
to each other
back and forth across the miles
you moved away and I forgave you
your exodus to the big city

but you knew me better

back then we were close
you lived just down the road
remember out behind the shed
lighting fires in the leaves?
or riding our bikes
down to the lake in the summer
past the homes we’d break into
in the fall?
or the girl’s camp on those
warm, muggy August nights
trying to catch a peak?
“gotta see some titties” you said
you didn’t care how small
I did that for you, Charles
like a lot of things I did
just to be near you
to hear your voice inside my ears
to feel your eyes like cigarette burns
upon the soft flesh of my heart
we swore to each other
we’d never get married
I held up my end of the bargain
but you never held up yours

you knew me better, Charles
better than you know

like the last time we were together
camping in the Maine woods?
that night we both got drunk
almost thrown out by the campground ranger
we thought we’d finally
really get to know each other that night
remember?
buddy to buddy
“man” to “man”
the morning after we drove home
silent as church mice
you probably thinking
no church, no woman
would ever feel the same way again
and I believing I’d found
the purest form of love

you knew me better, Charles
and it was then that I knew you

but soon afterward
she came
and offered you a way out
desperate acts call for desperate measures
but isn’t that the world we live in, Charles?
a world where so much is left unexposed
unspoken, unexpressed
the secrets we keep from each other
the lies we tell ourselves
to keep us safe
and straight as razors

oh, how you knew me, Charles
better than anyone else

that’s why
after all these years
and all these miles
I have come to claim what’s mine
your undivided attention, Charles
no more lies
no more deceit
that’s why the gag must stay in place
and your hands must stay bound
behind your back
and why this basement of yours
is the proper place
to renew our special secret relationship
because you knew me better, Charles
but you kept it hidden in the bowels
of your soul
for no one else to see
but me
and the pain you’re going to feel
cannot approximate the years of pain
I’ve felt since–

shhhh
that must be your wife I hear
home from work a little early
you stay here, Charles
I’ll be right back
then we can get started.

 

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