- Fiction, Reading, Writing

From the Archives: Two Fictions, by John Schertzer

Happy birthday, John Schertzer! Celebrate by reading these Schertzer fictions we published in 2022! And then go read the Schertzer poems we published in 2021!


Fangs and Fetishes

I went out into the world to find a healing stone. Its name was Worry. It had teeth like a snake but couldn’t use them. It was a stone after all, and it didn’t really have teeth. I was confusing it with a snake I wanted as a talisman. I would paint his head on the stone. Its name was Worry. I don’t know why its name was Worry, but it was something to say. I went out into the desert to say it.

I went out into the desert because it was a lot different from what it is right here. I went to the desert with my feelings. I didn’t know what I would find there. I went out into the desert to create the feeling of snow, though there is no snow in the desert. Not the one I’m feeling. I am the desert in my feelings and the stone is this position I must occupy. I’m on a terrace in the city overlooking the place where I belong. It is not snowing here. It is not the desert. My dog’s name is not Worry.

I am the desert on my terrace here. And my dog is looking at the snow, overlooking where the snow had been because it is July in New York City. It is Brooklyn. It is different than you think. People tried explaining that to me and now I’m here. Everyone is poor in Brooklyn, no matter how much money they think they have. There are no alligators in the sewers of Brooklyn. There are trains and buses and apartments just like mine.

I am this Brooklyn I invent when I think of deserts and dream of snakes. I am this stone that heals itself, though it may look like something else. Like falling apart in bricks and stone, the dust, the wheel that blocked your way. Sitting there between two trees, a tree and snake buried in the murk, the feeling. And I crawl awake and watch the sun sugar.


Dialectician’s Insomnia

I left it on an ocean’s wave and it never came back to me. Feels as though it never left. Forming a small patch over my kneecap serving as a second brain. A small patch traversing the entirety of my epidermis—not the physical skin, but its radiance once captured in a silver bottle now left to spread and shed itself in a soft unnoticeable glow. A warm tunic of ideas, conjectures, and or or. The metonymies work that way. They give us breadth. I left it in paradise, on the small patch cresting over a swell before it hit the shore, but it never came my way, never left me here in my disease. Became my disease and my great fortune to be here among you all tonight. As the tidal pallor thwarts us in another game of going and never receding, always in a whorl, in a knot that pursues us, gives us these alibis we call “raison d’être.” As if we could ever be such a thing, except life itself walling in its warble.

The life that punishes and adheres. And it says to itself when and where but never why or what. It is out there on a wave. It is part of you never returning but always within eyes’ reach, unforgettable and irredeemable. A patient island flickering on its float, and you right here with it always out of reach and by your side, imagining there is such a thing, though there is not. Something else so slippery it ceases to exist as you begin to reach.


  • John Schertzer is the author of Bellamonia. His poems have been published in Big Other, Inverted Syntax, The Germ, American Letters & Commentary, 1913 Journal, The Cortland Review, La Petite Zine, Danse Macabre, LIT, and other journals.

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