BLUE ARRANGEMENTS                              about                     features               Lazy Susan            shop           

Four Short Works 

Nik Slackman

Nine Lives

A man at a reading describes how he’s “fantasized his way through his 20-year marriage,” describing his porn addiction, staring at women, and thinking about other women during sex as a “middle circle” of what he’s allowed to do. “If I avoid my outer circle of sleeping with prostitutes, I’m doing well.”

For my father’s birthday, which coincides closely with my own, a family friend buys both of us a variety of cigars. This bifurcates the party into four men, smoking cigars, and four women, talking about driving on highways. My father's friend takes issue with the way I smoke my cigar saying I should “only smoke the outer ring, since that’s where the actual flavor is.”


A fledgling playwright in my meditation group told us that “if there’s a part of you that feels broken, or self-critical, or that you’re not enough, just know that that’s only one part of you, and not one to over identify with. My zen teacher told me I do this and admonished me for it, and that there are many different parts to me that make up who I am.” When I asked how it felt to be admonished by his teacher, the playwright replied that it “felt amazing.”


At dinner, my girlfriend says her drive to write comes from a desire for attention. She says if I don’t have a strong reason to be a writer, I shouldn’t be one. The restaurant where we discuss this features seasonal paintings by local artists. Every time I visit this restaurant with my family or friends and notice a new group of paintings, I usually take a second before we order to mention why I think they are terrible.

We Would Laugh at Her

After my grandma died, my mom commissioned a painting of her by a family friend, a 68-year old alcoholic painter. My grandma had dementia for over a decade, and the alcoholic painted her in black with a big smile, confused eyes, and a bowler hat with a red pom-pom on her head. I loved it, but my mom told me that this painting was “hard for her to see,” and that the hat made my grandma “look like a clown.”

While she was alive, my family had bought the hat to put on my grandma’s head. She would forget she was wearing it, and we would laugh at her.

Nik Slackman is from Morristown, New Jersey. He works at Fence, where he served as managing editor for The One on Earth: Selected Works of Mark Baumer, and also edited Content: A Memetics Research Journal. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.