KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Ekphrastic Micro-Fiction: 458 words
Visual Art: Painting [R]


by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

long night moon: painting by Steven Schroeder

long night moon (oil on canvas, 2010)

Copyrighted © by Steven Schroeder. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with artist’s permission.

Atomic rain patters like the fingers of God on the glass of the phone booth. I dial zero for the operator, ask the area code for the moon. She says, One moment, please, then comes back and says, I’m sorry, that number is no longer in service. I ask, What number? I only asked for the area code. She says, The moon has been disconnected.

Don’t give me that crap, I say, looking out at the vermillion sky. I can see it, big as a baseball right before it smacks you in the face. A pause. What number are you calling from? she asks, and I read her the number from the white paper in the center of the dial, and she tells me that number’s been disconnected. That’s impossible, I tell her. I’m talking to you, aren’t I? and she’s got her comeback ready, she’s been waiting for it: I don’t know. Are you?

It’s 5:35 AM and the white desert sand has melted to glowing green glass, and I’m not in the mood to play games. Okay, I say. If you can’t get me the moon, get me the future. Some clicking on the line, then: Please deposit one cent.

That’s all? I ask. One cent for the future?

The future isn’t what it used to be. Nasdaq crashed six minutes ago.

Six minutes. 5:29 AM. The Gadget. The mushroom cloud. Forty seconds later, the shock wave. In three weeks, Little Boy, Fat Man. Seven years, Ivy Mike. Nine, Castle Bravo. Seventeen, Cuba. I don’t know from Nasdaq, but it can’t be good.

I deposit a penny. Four rings later a man’s voice says: The Future can’t come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone. Then nothing. The voice sounds a lot like mine, the nothing a lot like what I’d dreaded. I say nothing, leave the void a void. I’m getting ready to hang up, to cry, to put my fist through the glass, when the operator comes back on: Sir? She has to repeat it several times. Yes? I say, finally. I’m curious, she says. About why you asked for the moon.

Because, I say. In no time at all, we’ll be up there. I wanted to warn somebody. The Man in the Moon, I wanted him to know. ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’

I’m so sorry, Dr. Oppen___er. The line is breaking up. Please return___bunker. You wouldn’t want them___ome and find you___ing to ___self___ And I am left holding only the red-hot night in my hand.

From the bunker, Moonlight Sonata whispers, Teller at his Steinway. The first movement so tranquil. I can only imagine how he’ll thunder when he gets to the third.

Steven Schroeder
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is a visual artist and poet who was born in Wichita Falls, grew up on the high plains in the Texas Panhandle, and now lives and works in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. (1982) at the University of Chicago and spent thirty years moonlighting as a philosophy professor at universities in the United States and China. He has been painting for more than 50 years and writing poetry for nearly that long.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Portfolio and additional details

Books and links to scholarly publications

Learning to See Nothing: New and Recent Work on Paper and Canvas by Steven Schroeder; exhibition catalog, Eleanor Hayes Art Gallery (Kinzer Performing Arts Center, Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma; 4 September–18 October 2018)

Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of the poetry collection At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, November 2018). His work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Shot Glass, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, KYSO Flash, River City Poetry, Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity, and the Wichita Broadside Project. He was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and read at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and the Chikaskia Literary Festival in 2018.

Dean has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas, and serves as Event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music held annually in Wichita.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry (Fall 2017)

Metal Man, ekphrastic poem by Dean inspired by 1955 photograph of his grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018)

Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun by Dean inspired by Inge Morath’s photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic Review (13 January 2018)

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