Ronin

He had finally come to blows with his father over breakfast. Bowls of porridge fell, slow motion, to the kitchen floor: white blossoms on dark slate.

“Taro, where are you going?” his mother had said as he grabbed his gym bag and filled it with clothes.

On leaving, he saw the kitchen put back together: bowls on table, father behind newspaper. He stood on the threshold looking for a wrinkle in the white sheet. On seeing none he closed the door behind him.

***

As he walks, he puts a hand to his face. The pain is fading. It was out of shame, mostly, that he did what he did. He had failed and lost his father’s regard. He could not, with good grace, stay.

Ronin, he calls himself under his breath. He wonders if, like a disfigurement, it shows.

At the train stop, he tries to find a new destination on the map, but his eyes go to the usual spots. He chooses one.

As he rides to Shibuya, he hangs an arm on the strap to hide the side of his face.

At Shibuya, he wanders below buildings, in daylight, like a movie sets revealed. He concludes that it is difficult to enjoy Shibuya when one is newly homeless.

He sits on a bench looking upon Hachikō, the obedient dog, pondering his failure. He again comes to cover the spot on his face where his father’s blow had landed.

He is lost in it, caressing the side of his face,  until he hears a voice: “Hello, I’m Ayane.”

At first he believes she is talking to someone else. Then, he looks up and sees finally, her silken legs, her suit skirt, her folded arms. No, she’s talking to him. She holds out her hand.

“Would you like to come with me?” She smiles.

He knows who this is. Some other boys had paid for one on a trip to Osaka. They had returned to the dorm late at night with a new aura about them. “She kissed me where I’m a man,” Hideo had boasted.

It is uncharacteristic, but then, just this morning he’d had a home: when she offers her hand, he takes it.

They do not talk as he follows her  to a street that curves up a gentle hill. On one side, the pallets of love hotels flap like flags. She leads him into the lobby of one of them.

“Majide! Ayane, he looks fifteen,” a man at the counter says. He listens as they reach a price for the room: three thousand yen, one hour. She leads him down the hall and behind a pink door.

When she closes the door he begins to shake. She coos and smooths his hair.

“Have you ever kissed a girl like me?”

He shakes his head. She kisses him on the lips.

“Do you want to do anything?”

He can only shake his head, just barely. He is pasted against the door, terrified.

She pulls back and regards him, a look spreading over her face: she realizes she’s misjudged.

“What’s wrong?” She asks him.

He sighs down to the floor, the release of tension. “I have no home,” is all he can say.

“What do you mean?”

“Ronin,” he says placing his head down between his knees. He doesn’t look up. A silence pours between them. Judgement.

Then he hears the whisper of her suit skirt. She’s beside him, kneeling, reaching for his bag. He pulls back, but then realizes, she only wants money for the room. He opens his wallet.

“No. Here, give me something from your bag.”

“What?”

She reaches for his bag again and this time he lets her do what she wants. She rummages through and in the end produces one matched change of clothes. She takes them and carefully folds them again. On the other side of the room she drags a pink chair under the air vent and with a little piece of metal undoes the bolts. From above she removes a small bag. She unzips it, and puts his clothes inside, among her things. Then she carefully bolts the vent back into place.

“There you go. Don’t tell the old man,” Ayane says, eyes twinkling.

He begins to cry. She comforts him. He thanks her and begs to pay for the room. She refuses and sends him off with more kisses.

He catches the late train back to his town. On the ride home he hangs one hand on the strap. With the other he touches the places that she’d kissed.

 


Y.G. Yen
Y.G. Yen lives in Clear Lake City, Texas and works as a contractor in aerospace.

Updates

Our online submission form is now operating.  Also, check out our updated FAQs page.

Submission Deadline: March 30

Be sure to submit your most dynamic prose, poetry, or visual art by March 30th! The submission form can be found on our “Submit” page, FAQ can be found under “About”.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

So why the fox?

So why the fox?

After the long process of choosing a title that represented exactly the kind of work that we were most interested in receiving, we watoo timid!nted a logo that would capture it as well.  In group-brainstorming we thought immediately of animals.  The first idea was a mouse.  It was certainly small enough to be indicative of the fact that we’re looking for short, concise work.  But somehow, it wasn’t really conveying the rest of our mission: energetic, spirited, dynamic.  Sure mice are fast little scurrying critters, but they’re also timid and often hide.  We wanted bold!

 

Then we thought of the fox.  Like the mouse, it is small and fast, but more dignified.  Dynamic, sleek, clever, careful.  These are all fox-like characteristics, and they are all things we want in our work! Perfect.  We’re hoping you keep the idea of what the fox symbolizes in mind when you start to think of submissions.  Short/small work, yes! But be bold, let each word be carefully chosen to convey your message–we can’t wait to read your submissions!

(Also, a third meaning of bantam is a chicken, and Helen thinks it’s funny that foxes eat chickens.)

just right

 

A Lesson In Bantam

Le microbe

LINES ON THE ANTIQUITY OF MICROBES

Adam had ’em.

-Unknown

This is the poet’s version of the John F. Kennedy conspiracy:  was it Oswald, or the mob?  Some attribute the above to Ogden Nash, others to Shel Silverstein.  Some insist there was a third writer on the grassy knoll.  No matter the author, the piece is short and spirited, and it would not take the most skilled professor to teach an entire lesson on this work alone.  Consider how the title and poem compliment each other.  Notice how perfectly the trochaic meter* punches up the effect.  Internal rhyme and colloquial dialect are also at play, and the poem accomplishes all this in nine words. 

Go and do likewise.  We are assembling an ad campaign that we will launch in the coming week.  Over and out.

 

*trochaic meter – the pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables.  Opposite of iambic meter, which is unstressed/stressed.

Image courtesy: mathovore

The Fox and the Zorro

Foxes by Marc Franz

"Foxes," by Marc Franz

What do they mean by 960×120?  Is the fox jumping over the moon, or is it road kill?  Should it be taking off, or landing safely?  When did ‘Post Title’ become the standard?  Who would choose a ‘default post author’?  How frequently do drafts save themselves?  Can this get any more conceptually abstract?

Tune in next time for the answers to these questions, and more…

#queries

Image courtesy: WebMuseum

On ‘Bantam’

Contemplative Kitsch by Kevin Dooley

"Contemplative Kitsch" by Kevin Dooley

What do they say?  ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  ‘Vigorous writing is concise.’  Similarly, Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, told us that accurate speech and thought are the cornerstones of any moral or spiritual program.  The greatest writers take the wooden block of the Idea, and hew it down to its most brief, most bare essence.  This is what we call ‘poetry.’

Whether or not brevity is the soul of wit, we can’t say for sure.  It is, however, the soul of this literary journal.  We encourage writers to challenge themselves, and the mediums they work within.  What would that 10-page story you wrote look like on one double-spaced page?  How could you distill its message to a couple hundred words?  That 6-page narrative poem you churned out during your Robert Frost phase; can you re-write it as a sonnet, or a haiku?  We want to see you try.

As you recover from Valentine’s Day and start looking forward to spring break, keep the message of our journal in the back of your mind.  Bantam:  diminuitive and lively; brief and punchy; fast and first.  ‘In Bantam’:  In short.  In spirit.

2/14/2012

Happy Valentine’s day from In Bantam literary journal.  To celebrate the holiday, we remember the touching words of Philip Larkin, from “This Be The Verse”:

Big Heart of Art

"Big Heart of Art" by qthomasbower

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Today we are crafting a mission statement, and deciding on a layout theme.  Thanks for tuning in, faithful reader.  I just mixed metaphors.  You don’t tune in to printed literature.  We won’t let you down.

#love

 

Image courtesy: qthomasbower on Flickr

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