NEMESIS - dawn corrigan


dawn corrigan

When I was seven my family let me in on one of its secrets.

"That one," they said, "is our nemesis."

"Really?" I asked. They were pointing at my aunt’s second husband, Jason. He had an enormous key ring, which he jingled nervously in his pocket. He didn’t seem very menacing.

Nonetheless, I kept an eye on him.

The next time he came over for a visit, he was disturbed by the swarm of us playing ball in the street. "You can’t play here," he said, in the staccato voice he used when he was extra nervous. "You can’t play here." He tended to repeat himself when he was nervous, too. "You’ll damage one of the cars."

We ignored him and continued our game. As we changed sides, Uncle Jason stepped over to his car and punched out his own side-view mirror. Then he ran inside to tattle to Aunt Linda.

Dawn Corrigan’s stories have appeared recently at Steel City Review, Wigleaf, Insolent Rudder, and Clapboard House. Her nonfiction appears regularly at TheNervousBreakdown. com.

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE - scott garson

Accounts Payable

scott garson

Why does the ham-and-cheese croissant cost less than the ham-and-cheese sandwich? Because its for breakfast? Because lawyers from the offices on the floors above ours occasionally come here for lunch? Oh, I see you, Cafe Metro, I know who you are. The wind out there has spit on my face. The smear of the sky has claimed me. My toes are cold, further. These shoes are in need of repair. Understand one thing, however: I’m nobody’s sheep. I’ll take your ham-and-cheese croissant, right now, before breakfast "ends," as you say. I’ll save it. I’ll eat it later.

Scott Garson’s stories have appeared in the New Orlean Review, elimae, Juked, Quick Fiction, Puerto del Sol, and others.


But The Tree Grew In Winter (translation of a native american hieroglyph)

angela davis

The snake ran for life and at night lightning struck the river for three days and then they made peace. And the sky met the old woman and the old woman ate fish and hunted with a knife and her heart was sad because a tree was dying. The snake ate the old woman and the dead old woman went in the canoe and saw aliens and then it rained. But the tree grew in winter, then the birds hunted corn.

FEEDING TIME - jan windle

Feeding Time

jan windle

The rabbits press soft slit noses to the wire as the pellets drop into the hoppers. The generator throbs and rattles next to the bank of cages. The cabbage leaves, grabbed and quickly chewed, vanish in minutes. Toes gripping the metal grid under their paws, they preen and groom in the sun that slants into the grimy shed.

Marco has moved on to feed the chickens that scratch and cluck behind the partition. Half a dozen small hens and a miniature cockerel, pecking and strutting in the small space. "

For eating?" I mouth above the din of the generator. Marco nods briefly and continues the daily chore. I know I should be feeling concern for the caged animals. But I can only fix my attention on Marco’s hands as they methodically dole out to the rabbits their only pleasure of the day. He moves with purposeful grace, rhythmically dipping into the sacks, face set as usual, focused on the work.

I don’t want to be free, I muse. I’d rather be Marco’s caged creature: a chicken, a rabbit. Soft, vulnerable, safely imprisoned. So what if the price of daily pleasure is to be subsumed, consumed, eaten….

COLOR LOVE - brandon potter

Color Love

brandon potter

The first moment we met, you had just spent the last forty-five seconds sliding your shoes across the carpet. You poked me in the neck. It shocked me. I pushed you down and you cried. That was kindergarten. I still remember how that moment tasted, like sharkleberry fin Kool-Aid and Ms. Hallison's home-made paste.

Our relationship went like that - you would shock me and I would hurt you and there would be a burst of flavor. It was more than that; a spectrum of color. That time we made our parents buy the biggest box of Crayola Crayons, 96 count with the sharpener in the side, so we could hold them up to our eyes, find a match. Yours were cerulean. They didn't have mine (if you mixed denim and sea green you were close).

That was so long ago and this is now, all is pale, except a little red heart covered in black crayon. It smells of wax, the past, your strawberry shampoo.


Summer Vacation Story

bill barr

Every year they made me write about my boring summer vacations until sixth grade when I made everything up. I wrote I stole a car and drove it to see Mickey Mouse. The kids all clapped but my teacher sent me to the office. My father had to leave work and when the principal turned his back, Dad rapped me on top of my head with his knuckles like he was trying to crush me. That night I stole my teacher's car for fun but the police were in the garage when I pulled it back in.

I met Sarah in court. I convinced her to take her grandma's car and drive us to Florida. We were changing a flat tire on the highway when she stepped in front of a truck. I was looking straight into her eyes when it clipped her, shooting her like a pool ball into the trunk. I plopped down on the pavement. The driver stumbled out of the pickup and placed his hand on top of my head asking, "ya alright, son?" I wet my pants then jumped up and drove the car nonstop right back into Sarah's Grandmother's garage. I sat and waited.

BEHIND ME - rebecca kanner

Now I'm this bitch. It's not all the war's fault, but it's not all mine either. I had John--I had a good man. Call me old-fashioned but sometimes that's enough. I didn't shine his shoes or fetch the morning paper or clean his splash-back off the toilet, he did all those things himself. We let everything slide on Sundays to stay in bed all day.

"All day? That can't be good for you," my friend Pam had said on the phone when I told her, with more than a hint of jealousy in her voice.

But then John was gone and when he returned four years later we no longer spent Sundays in bed and I had to move all the alcohol out of the house on account of how fast it was disappearing. Now I never get to do anything not good for me, except think. And this is what I think: The war John tried to come home from is with us in our kitchen every morning, in our bed each night, and even here in the car with me now as I try to leave it with John, behind me.

MOVING BY MOONLIGHT - todd michael cox

Moving By Moonlight

todd michael cox

How many people in that graveyard are dead?
All of them, she said.

And do you ever wonder if the grave worms tickle?
Now, take a graveyard and turn it upside down. You get a place like this.

I met this girl in the Fall of a year in which I found myself lost and didn't know what to do.
She took my hand and looked me right in the eye. She said:

It's easy to believe it won't get better than this. So we wandered the world, moving by moonlight, sleeping in courtyards graveyards ditches and barns, throwing bones to the dogs and nickels to the bums.

We read headstones, laughed at the names, met Mary the Screamer making charcoal rubbings. Caught trains headed west and jumped into rivers and lakes, built fires in old houses and dreamt of wine and steaks.

And when we found our final destination and she let go of my hand I thought:

If the grave worms don't tickle the silence will surely drive me mad. And how many people in that graveyard are dead?

Todd Michael Cox is a writer from the schizophrenic state of Wisconsin. When he's not writing he's out in a swamp or forest looking for reptiles and amphibians, or possibly in his basement making what he calls music. He's also responsible for the noise-and-spoken-word project, Ripe For Shaking, found only at http://www. myspace. com/ripeforshaking Contact him at

OLD GUY AT THE BAR - verless doran

Old Guy at the Bar

verless doran

Old Guy at the Bar: Damn, I love country music.

Me: I like some of it. The old stuff, mostly. Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash. When those guys sang about pain and loss, you really believed them.

OGATB: Yeah, these singers that come out today, they ain't got that thing in their voice you know? I don't know what you call it. Them old guys had it though.

Me: I think it was their life. They had their lives in their voices. These singers now, they ain't got no life in their voices, in their words. They ain't lived, really. That's what I think, anyway.

OGATB: The first time I ever heard Johnny Cash do that song "Sunday Morning Coming Down" I thought, there's a guy whose been there.

Me: That's it, man.

OGATB: Well, I'd better go home and feed that damn little dog.

Me: That sounds like the title of a country music song.

OGATB: It does, don't it? Let me tell you something, my wife died last year, and she left me that damn dog. It was her dog, and she loved it, so yeah, I take care of it.

Me: That's beautiful. You know, I'm a writer, and not just a person who says they are a writer. I mean, I really write stuff, and I'm gonna turn what you just told me into a story.

OGATB: Let me tell you about her. . .

And he talked for a solid hour about her. Nothing else. Just her. And then someone played "He Stopped Loving Her Today." And the whole bar sang along.

Verless Doran, been published sporadically here and there. Born and raised in east Tennessee, he writes mostly about the south, rural Appalachia, specifically. He just finished a novel, "A Season of Impotence" which is not about erectile dysfunction. You may reach him at

THE READING - pablo vision


pablo vision

she likes reading erotic writing. cliterature. the covers are usually black. it is written by women for women & generally involves girls getting tied up & girls getting humiliated. i read one where a girl was tied up & various men shot their cum all over her. & then she got it in the mouth cunt ass all at once. she says that there is a difference between what turns her on in her head & what she would like to happen for real. she says this is normal & it is common. she says fantasy & adventure are healthy. & now she wants me to read to her. & so i am reading to her now. & she is using me. or rather she is using my cock. she has put a cock ring on me. she has put a bullet in the ring. i am on my back. i am not to move. i am not to touch. i am not to thrust. she is doing the movement. just as much as she wants & when she wants. the girl in the book is tied to the bed. her legs are wide open. another girl is using her fingers tongue & vibrator on her & she is calling her ’bitch whore slut’ & i am calling her ’bitch whore slut’. & she torments herself like the girl in the book is getting tormented. the girl in the book is in agony of ecstasy of being denied release. she moves her clit to the vibrating ring. she writhes squirms & grinds on my cock. & i long to feel her skin. & to kiss her tits. & to grab her ass & to fuck fuck fuck. the girl’s agony is her agony is my agony. it is ecstasy. & then i watch & feel her cum. she removes herself & goes to the bathroom to piss. my sweet cruel sister.


Too Many Questions

cl bledsoe

There are woods behind my friend Wendell's apartment building. His parents tell us not to go in there; they say there's a monster, a tree that eats little boys.

"Where did it come from?" I ask.
"It used to be a little boy who asked too many questions," they say.

They don't like us to go into the parking lot, but when they aren't paying attention, we go anyway. We crawl under the fence and sneak into the trees, following the path until we find a wooden platform built into one of the trees. Shopping carts rust under the bushes and there are clothes and a thick smell like sweat in summer, like a hundred summers worth.

"Is that a tree house?" Wendell asks.
We hear a loud rustling from the other end of the trail.
"What's that?" Wendell asks.
"Don't ask," I say, turning to run. I don't even look to see if Wendell follows.

CL Bledsoe's prose can be found most recently in Pindeldyboz, MonkeyBicycle, Hobart, and Foliate Oak, for which he was nominated for a Pushcart. He is an editor for Ghoti Magazine

CHIVALRY - gregory heaney


gregory heaney

My throat, raw and ragged and ruined, a victim of back alley alchemy, the process by which yelling turns bourbon into sandpaper, the process by which strangers make teeth taste like pennies, like unwanted change delivered on the terrible edges of generous fists provoked by my tongue trying to defend yours in good faith that my mouth, with lips that taste like carmex in an ashtray, like sugar and carbon and forest fires, ruined by carelessness and cold, would get to hang out with yours, and at least get to crash on your couch.

Gregory Heaney is an Arsenal supporter who likes his home messy, his hands clean, and has been known to smoke and drink to excess. His writing has appeared in Cellar Roots, 50/50, Dogzplot, and a massive database filled with information that you may or may not ever need. Born with a nervous disposition, he was once overheard at a party saying "Oh man, I sure hope I don't die tonight."

LIFE DRAWING - jan windle

Life Drawing

jan windle

"Would you draw me?" He seems genuinely narcissistic, very Italian.

"What would you charge?" he asks.

He reclines on the bed in his white bathrobe; it's falling aside. He appears asleep. I have trouble concentrating.

He moves, disturbs the folds of the bathrobe. We agree that I'll find it easier to draw him nude. He is cool, polite. I record his magnificent erection in scrupulous detail, along with his gentle demon's face.

I can't stand it any more. "Do you … ?"

"Yes." He comes close, looks at the drawing. "My wife will love this. I'll frame it and hang it above our bed. Yes, I do….. It's all right, my wife will not know…"

Coolly, methodically, he puts on a condom, caresses me, accepts my caresses, fucks, we chat and fuck again . He is grateful, graceful, respectful.

On the terrace in the morning, he puts down his overnight bag and briefcase. We embrace. He asks if he may contact me again, accepts my card. A patron of my artwork, he deserves that; he has paid for the drawing with euros. I've no doubt that it will hang over his marital bed. But I don't expect to see him again.

I FOUND IT INSIDE ME - heather fowler

I Found It Inside Me

heather fowler

That piece of you I borrowed was strange, shorter than a cucumber, warmer than ice. I found it inside me, suddenly, the rest of you hunkering above—as if it had led you to me, protesting perhaps, against your will? It lost its rigor when you mentioned your girlfriend, then regained stamina as you stared at my breasts, as you moaned, breathed on me, held me—until it was through. Then you pulled out, got away, got dressed. Who was I to stop you?

But you might have apologized, you know? Said something like, "I'm so sorry it came here and bothered, almost pleasured, you—though I, myself, [this is you] from my head's perspective, take no responsibility." It was fleshier than a rabbit with C-sized batteries, more involved than a vibrating bullet with its larger attachments, and better than Jello or whipped cream manipulations, which are often sticky. But losing it—losing you, this was hard. How strange. I like the faucet better now.

Only my own hand turns things on and off. Nothing hunkers above it. Nothing but time and water and the sterilized, inelegant slant of that blank, white wall, which is happily, always, open to reinterpretation.

Among other venues, Heather Fowler's stories have appeared in Temenos, Mississippi Review online, Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry, Exquisite Corpse, The Barcelona Review, Penumbra, B & A New Fiction, and Zoetrope All-Story Extra. She has recently published poetry at In the Fray and Empowerment4Women. Heather was the co-first place winner of the 2007 Faringdon Online Poetry Competition. She currently seeks agent representation for her short fiction and novels.

I WANT YOU - jamie lin

I Want You

jamie lin

I cannot sleep, my eyes burn scarlet. I want to cut a piece of you and put it over ice while I slit a vertical gap on my chest where I want you to be anchored for safety purposes. I want you. I want you so badly. I am insomniac. Come fill the ever expanding hole inside of me, caress me, upside down, smack me sideways, make me come, and come. The air feels forever thick without you. I don't want that boy at the train station who smiles at me every night as I pass talking to myself, at you, with you. Hold me. Hold my hand as the train shrivels right and left above the bright city lights. I want you so badly. I am insomniac. Come and lie down beneath the ceiling light and listen to music, and soothe me, fix the gap, pinch the beauty mark on my breast, and tell me you love me so much that you could just stop breathing. And I'd say, well, I'd say I love you so much I wrote a poem about you so I would stop wanting to kill myself and pour my ashes over you.

Jamie Lin grew up in New York but migrated to the South for college, warm weather and to get away from the parentals. She enjoys emotionally aggressive stories. Her website is at

REASSURANCE - simon a. smith


simon a. smith

Maria is unable to console me tonight. Before, maybe she'd blow in my ear until I stopped fish flopping.

Maria isn't exactly unable. She's here in the bedroom. She's just not speaking to me. I'm by the window counting birdbaths in our neighbor's yard, keeping my heart from doing racecar. Maria is awake in bed but motionless. Her body is a zigzag, like the design on Charlie Brown's T-shirt. She's making that whistling noise everyone fakes when trying to convince someone they're dreaming. Because she's spurning me, I'm bonkers for her.

She won't accuse, but she's angry she can't sleep. The past two nights she's threatened 911, though she knows what doctors do to me. If you'd asked her a year ago if she'd ever suggest a doctor, she'd have said no.

Tonight's distraction? I swear the back door is clanging, like someone fiddling with the deadbolt, like it keeps opening a little and I think somebody's entering.

"Come back to bed," Maria says, face down in cotton.
"Listen," I say.
"Wind." She pretends.

The door is only a metaphor, but her saying that… it proves things about loving and lying. I peel back blankets, my body begging to hear more.

Simon A. Smith lives and writes in Chicago. He is the Editor of the literary magazine Bruiser Review. His fiction has appeared in Storyglossia, Look-Look Magazine, The Columbia Chronicle, The Banana King and others. He is currently working on a novel titled Escape From Dreamland that will hopefully be finished by the end of 2008. If you're a publisher or an agent, call, I mean him.

ON A WHIM - jamie jones

On A Whim

jamie jones

You took me to the botanical gardens in Ann Arbor, one day, on a whim. We skipped the two dollar entry fee and walked through the park instead. We followed the blue arrows for a few miles. Halfway through, you bent over and picked up the plastic wrapper from a two-pack of frosted donuts, carried it the rest of the way out of the woods, and threw it away when we got back to the parking lot. I was in love with you then.

OVERDRIVEN - verdi e. mathis


verdi e. mathis

I didn't know you cared. A friend opened my eyes to what was in front of me and now, I think about you often. Your infectious smile, the light in your eyes, your earthy voice calling out to me. You tell me everything about you except what I need to hear; that you care for me, that you want me. Will the words ever come, or is my imagination in overdrive?

Am I imagining your eyes following me when I walk by? Am I imagining the decibels of your voice lowering when we speak? Do I smile when I see you, because you smile when you see me? Tell me you care for me. Tell me you want me. Is a former lovers' burn holding you back? Did she break your heart and bruise your spirit? I'm not her. Don't make me pay for her mistakes. I won't reject you. I won't turn you away. Look at me. See me for who I am. My arms are open wide. Or is my imagination in overdrive?

Verdi E. Mathis is a widow and mother of three, residing in Maryland. She has been published in 34th Parallel Magazine and A Long Story Short Ezine. Verdi can be contacted through her MySpace page at