James Claffey

James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He is the winner of the Linnet’s Wings Audio Prose Competition. He received his MFA from Louisiana State University, where he was awarded the Kent Gramm Prize for Non-Fiction. His work appears in many places including The New Orleans Review, Connotation Press, A-Minor Magazine, Literary Orphans, and Gone Lawn. You can read him at www.jamesclaffey.com.

Work by James Claffey

James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

III Coffin Handle, arrives home one night and tells Ashtray the job at the plastic underwear factory has been taken away. Ashtray coughs a lot and doesn’t come out of the drain for a long time. Coffin Handle sets the table for tea and we all sit around drinking marmalade and eating dry tinfoil. Coffin Handle wanted to know about school. Rolling Pin says how after kicking the egg whisk in the handle, the punishment is a week with no port-a-potty so Rolling Pin goes upstairs to the floorboard and sulks all night. Coffin Handle opens a tin of paint and ...

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James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

II The credit cards are nestled behind the bottle of tequila in the fridge. They should be defrosting in the flower vase on the kitchen counter. This means no excessive spending on needless electronics like the fancy amp in the window of the stereo shop in the village. Maybe for dinner Cassette Tape will create a tequila-and-pastry version of steak-and-kidney pie, and later the Swingline Stapler will perform the annual oral sex event. Highly possible, especially if the pastry/tequila combination leans to the tequila side of things. The last time there’d been “oral” in the house they listened to string music ...

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James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

The Paper Bags escape and run wild in the geranium fields down by the salty egg whites. Little Soupspoon sees one of them snap at a doddery old flowerpot, and cries when the flowerpot topples over and cracks apart.

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James Claffey

Where’s me dinner woman?

  3 Limestone. Asphalt. Bitumen. Stones in the road, a telephone pole, silver paint flecks falling away, crude hearts scratched into the metal, fleeting encounters in teenage life are immortalized for the lifecycle of the metal cylinder outside our house. Mam at the door. “Your tea’s ready, come on in, now.” Sound travels over water. Mam’s voice travels over the tarmacadam ribbon, across the road and up the lane into Hollie’s Plant Hire company. Dumpster trucks with slabs of ice, 5′ x 4′ floes, turn fingers blue, shatter on oil-soaked ground. Perimeter wall is lined with barbed wire, three strands wide, the ...

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James Claffey

Where’s me dinner woman?

  2 Birdseye fish fingers, creamed potatoes, Heinz beans, and maybe, just maybe, a slice of buttered toast. All washed down with hot tea, a blessing on you for taking care of your children, missus. Knock once for yes, twice for no. A low card table with a green felt inlay, deck of dog-eared cards, the suits faded and fingered to nothingness. There was a house up the lane from where we lived, three-story, with a sprawling back garden that seemed to go on forever. It could have been the Garden of Eden, or Gethsemane, but it was the garden of criminal intent ...

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James Claffey

Where’s me dinner woman?

You shared a house in Harrow and Wealdstone with Frank, Mickey, Ken, and Elaine. The place was a cuckoo’s nest of oddities. Mickey, Elaine, and Ken were all from the same small town in Northern Ireland, a town containing a large mental institution it was rumored the entire population had at one time been in. You heard Ken’s maniacal laughter on the tube to Covent Garden one night, his hoots more like a howler monkey than human being.

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