'I AM DYING' - sam pink



chris east

It’s like chewing on broken glass. Talking to her is just like chewing jagged little bits of broken glass, swallowing them, and letting your stomach bleed and bleed until you shit out blood and eventually die painfully. “I just want you to know, you’re the best and I want us to be friends forever.” Fuck. I should have finished this months ago. All I have in my head right now is images of her hanging upside down by her ankles, dangling from the ceiling of a pedestrian underpass with hungry dogs snapping at her face and the occasional tooth catching her cheek. She is breaking up with me and that is ok. I just wish she would hurry up with it. I have killed this girl so many times in my sleep. I even got close in real life once, when she was in bed asleep and I was poised above her head with a pillow and hands trembling but I talked myself out of it. Blah blah blah blah. She just said something about “all the great times we shared together” and I taste an amount of sick at the back of my throat. That taste has been almost constant throughout our relationship. “Yeah, it has meant a lot to me too.”

Chris East
Knut Hamsun

WHAT LONG LEGS MEAN - roxane gay


roxane gay

I have long legs.

My boyfriend, short and stubby, once told me, “Your legs remind me of my mother. I hate her.” I told him I didn’t know what to say to that.

My mother does not trust short men. She married a very tall man and had three very tall children; she feels that she’s done her part to improve the overall trustworthiness of the world. She finds my boyfriend rude and unattractive. He finds her opinionated and intrusive. They are not incorrect in their estimations.

My boyfriend insists on missionary because he likes the way my long legs feel wrapped around him. He gives me explicit instructions—squeeze your breasts together and lick your nipples, bite my shoulder until I bleed, lock your ankles just above my ass. He likes me to squeeze him between my thighs until it hurts. “Harder, baby,” he’ll grunt. I’ll think that should be my line. I get bruises on my inner thighs from his bony torso. His body is a complex series of incompatible terrains.

“I fucking hate you,” he says when he’s close to coming.

I tell him “I fucking hate you too,” but I’ll squeeze my thighs tighter so that he’s gasping for air.

I give him exactly what he wants. He makes me come so hard, every single time.

Roxane Gay
Big World
Mary Miller



kyle minor

The therapist said you’re not so happy with Angela. That’s true, I said. The therapist said maybe what you’re not so happy with is you. That’s true, I said. The therapist said maybe Angela is not so happy with you, either. That’s true, I said. I said, maybe Angela is not so happy with herself, either. That might be true, the therapist said, but that’s not what we do together. That’s not what we do. I told the therapist, maybe we should do what me and Angela do together. Then we could both be happy with each other. That might be true, the therapist said, but that’s not what we do together. That’s not what we do.

Kyle Minor
The Collectors
Matt Bell



michael j. martin

You spent all those years studying under Wolfgang learning how to cook various incarnations of duck and you end up at some lower-side joint flipping over-seasoned zombie patties—I mean, geeze. The rules of chefing go something like: you cook what’s dead. What isn’t dead, you kill, and cook, cook well, and serve. You don’t double-kill. You do not double-kill. The whole human coil issue lapsed a decade ago when the President’s aunt’s nephew’s cousin was caught eating a young man who had written a note stating he wanted to be eaten in the event of his untimely death. The police and politicians and the mothers against drunk drivers and father’s against pornography groups discovered the fact that this cousin had killed this young man, and the defense attorney said the case was this this this and that that that—lawyer talk I don’t know, but it boiled down to the note said in his untimely death, and murder is definitely untimely, no one has a timely murder, and if they do, then it wasn’t anything to be grumpy over, it was on time. Someone said the note said being eaten to death had erotic properties in some document like the I-ching, or the Tao something, or, no one is sure, but by Fall everyone was trying it. Soon you had people translating books and inserting stuff in where you had Bob Hope and Thomas Jefferson eating Adam ribs in ads like Lucy and Desi smoking cigarettes in technicolored commercials. I’m telling you.

Michael J. Martin
White Noise
Don DeLillo



ryan manning

i want to be a fashion designer and make clothes exclusively for librarians. for each season each of my collections will be for librarians, and the models will wear nonprescription eyeglasses. then i will start a viral marketing campaign in order to promote my collections. within fifteen years every department store in america will carry 45-60% librarian chic.

Ryan Manning
the condemned
noah cicero

EXTERNAL - jessica maybury


jessica maybury

It was a clear day and cold, but my wife was thankful it wasn’t raining. I could tell by the way she didn’t moan upon waking, by the way she put on her bathrobe. The bathrobe suggested that she was preparing to enjoy a leisurely morning in the sunshine. As I drove to work, I held her in my mind, curled up in the sunroom that had been abandoned since the winter, really seeing the garden for once, rather than just toiling over it. She would gaze at the flowers for longer than she realizes, appreciating the geometrical beauty of nature, perhaps even having a small epiphany, a gleaning, a hint of the existence of a divine creator. What a beautiful thought to have on a day such as this, that one is loved and cared for, that one is never alone. I imagine the color of her hair in that light, the curve of her mouth; the sun, a yellow dwarf 92,960,000 miles away, bringing her closer to God.

Jessica Maybury
The Stranger Beside Me
Ann Rule

WE ARE NOT HERE - ben brooks


ben brooks

You are letting it running and looking forward then looking back then running this is slipping you are to trip it has been written those who succumb are not let go with no marks, scars, cuts or heavily diminished sub-lists of liberties, contacts or family members they perish in the night raids with the Soviet soldiers and the founding fathers I cannot see past the post “This way” I can see behind the post “The next post is a trap” and the road behind is a golden palace and the road ahead is a fog in which cars crash and children die, children never die, death is maturity in brine eyes wide claw hands break them to broth and feed yourself in cold winter the bear will stay away his bicycle is broken and the blue cars have taken his legs the prophet knew the prophet knows nothing the bear was a deist and he is not going to stand over you and you are going to be fed blue purple pouch higher than the bears kiss lower than the bears butterflies and colder than the last day.

Ben Brooks
Wind-up Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

CONFESSIONS OF AUGUSTA - alexandra isacson


alexandra isacson

I’m not crazy, and I’m even a Mensa member. I just misuse my sexual energy. I trace it to Raves and E as a teen and high creativity. My husband left me over my infidelities, so I paid him off. I take one day at a time. I tore down my altar to Venus. I truly miss her embodiment. This is day 61 of my sobriety.

The treatment center was peaceful, cloistered away in the mountains and Saguaro cacti. We had to dress conservatively. They discouraged smoking and even drinking coffee. I met a hot guy named Dave there. The treatment cost my parents a mint.

I saw Dr. Stein on day 68. He told me about an SA group and asked about my boundaries. I’m not going to make-out with my friends, flirt, or flash cleavage anymore. I liked the group, and Dave was there. He lives here in the valley. We had Spanish coffee, and I wondered what he would be like.

I’m ashamed that I totally blew it with Dave.

We went to the group the following week, and Dave told everyone. I’m not going back, and I’m rebuilding my altar to Venus. I have better boundaries now.

Alexandra Isacson
The House of Spirits
Isabel Allende


'ATLANTIC CITY BLUES' - peter schwartz



audri sousa

we're gearing up for something big we're guessing charades before the lonely parade begins and nobody wins but curtains and we're packing for easter island checking for forgotten toiletries we're packing for all places for the alleys outside the benefit hall where there's some tourist sex trap in the shop window but i'm another kind of masochist can reopen wounds with any russian cab driver a maudlin tale of exchange long after everyone's sleeping honest and naked in sacred pools of greenlight long after everyone's dreaming howling scratching alone with regrets bound safe in eye ducts long after everyone turns on the re-runs i am pyres of unmade stitches writing tomes with my finger in my own breath on a stranger's windowpane i will build my own religion of nonreligion and we will lap up the little shocks of existence we get at 3 a.m. that paralyze our sleep flick lightswitches dream sweetly because something like the universal is in the stars and even if it isn't it still is maybe in freckle constellations on the back of your neck where hairs stand up in acknowledgment of jazz and everything is okay and even if it isn't it still is and for the record ---

the particles that were minerals and salts and seas and skin will remember they are particles become particles and the particles will disperse into and through all the nothing the valences balk and forget their bonds as our elements pass into naught our little everythings become endings and i will forget to wear deodorant

Audri Sousa
measuring tape for the midwest
noah falck

LEAVES - ethel rohan


ethel rohan

At the gym, I think about wine and dinner. At home, over French Fries, chocolate, and wine the color of blood, I think about the gym. Tomorrow I will step-up my jog to a run. I’d showered, but forgot to put on deodorant. I can smell myself. Even the cat’s meow holds a hint of accusation. I somehow recall a history lesson from childhood about people getting tar-and-feathered: the French or Irish or English, perhaps all of them. I couldn’t remember exactly, not even for cash. When the wine and food are finished, I think about driving in my car, anywhere. I stand, a little unsteady, and decide instead on tea. I blow on the too-hot tea, making bubbles the color of dirty water. In the morning, I’ll need aspirin; I’ll feel like I’ve been mugged, my brain knifed. Still I’ll drag myself to the gym. So much in life is like my cup: China both a vast country and a fragile vessel. I study my tea-leaves. My great-aunt claimed she could read tea-leaves like psychics purport to read stars. My leaves sit in three soggy clumps, and I think I know what that means, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ethel Rohan
The Collected Stories
Amp Hempel

OLD MAN POWER - brendan o' brien


brendan o’ brien

You’d heard whispers, but when it happens your sanity hiccups like that of a naked tribesman that kneels and chants never knowing if a spirit will even bother, but then the chief drinks blood from a skull and wind ruffles chimes of teeth and, holy shit, would you look at that.

When your dad says he’ll lift the rusty generator from its decade-old spot in the garage, you smirk and eye roll because you’re sixteen with a pocketful of pot and there is no way this man with hair the color of gravestone can actually lift that generator, perhaps the heaviest and oldest generator in the history of generators. So, seeing the ambivalence on your face the old man gets the thing to his chest, hot veins pumping purple, knees registering on Richter, and this guy, your fucking dad, carries it to the curb while his body pops and whirs like nickel amusement.

He returns gingerly, grey t-shirt soaked, head red as tomato guts. You want to give him something, an ovation or a hug, but instead you stand, enlightened, like George Washington or Hitler or one of those evangelists the first time they successfully tapped someone on the forehead.

Brendan O’ Brien
Dart League King
Keith Lee Morris

DO YOU - dawn corrigan


dawn corrigan

I've noticed this, as a woman: you toast a few bagels, iron a few shirts, and lust disappears without a trace. In its place there's this kind of mommywife love, this surprise--oh look, you're a nice girl after all, even though you sucked me off on our first date--this reverence. But reverence without lust can kiss my ass. Which you haven't done, as of late. And I want to toast your bagels and iron your shirts and help with the kid any way I can, but I need to know you care that the sound of your voice still makes me wet. Do you still lust me? Do you do you?

What are you talking about? he asked. You haven't toasted me a bagel yet.

Dawn Corrigan

Angels on Toast
Dawn Powell

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING - 1973 - mike whitney



"At $1500 a night, the customers don't want to know the band is angry."
- Robin Williams to Jimmy Cliff in Club Paradise

We closed the last set with Prine's Sam Stone, an anti-war tune about a vet who comes home a junkie. Luckily, we got away safe, mainly because Gloria's voice, red hair and Trini Lopez Gibson had charmed the cowboys into a stupor while Mark, Greta and I became mainly her side men.

The next morning, we packed to drive to Brookings, South Dakota to start two weeks at the Ramada. Mark and Gloria got into their station wagon and hooked up the trailer for the drive; Greta and I got into the Jeep CJ 3, took down the side curtains, tossed guitars and bags into the back and got onto the highway, posted limit, 70 mph, which means 80+.

That short wheelbase, high center of gravity makes the Jeep hard to keep in a straight line at those speeds - two hands, 10 and 2 and still a stiff side breeze will put you in a new lane. Greta was wearing a jump suit, paisley patterned, with a zipper down the front. She was quiet for the first hour, no radio, no shop talk, and almost no traffic. She pulled the zipper down to her waist, and I saw perky boobs, small, high, hard, nipples pointing, "I'm bored. I'm horny." Pouting, with the wind blowing her long ash blond hair out behind her.

Mike Whitney
The Given Day
Dennis Lehane



eric beeny

She put her lips to his mouth, blew him up, tied a string around his neck, the other end around her wrist, and she let him go, drifting up into the sky.

She let him float along above her, carried him with her from a distance wherever she went, so far up he couldn’t hear what she said to anyone, could hardly see what she was doing down there.

He just floated above her, tied to her wrist.

When she needed him she pulled him down, hugged him big, letting the air out, sucking it in, him deflating, ready to shoot around the room, her laughing, her voice squeaky, her need for breath leaving him breathless.

Eric Beeny
The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Amos Tutuola

TOUCHED BY GOD - david peak


david peak

The King filled the drafty hallways of his castle with gleaming suits of armor. They stood, erect, gauntlets crossed, aligned and gleaming beneath the flickering yellow light of wall-mounted sconces. Tapestries flapped along the walls, thick and woven red, the dewy stonework penetrated by the draft off the moors, flapping. The smell of dust and dirt in the air.

The King’s footsteps are like the soft closings of children's books as he walks up and down the hallways of his castle. He has no heir; he has a team of boys who help him into his armor, who watch their king ride off, arms crossed, armor gleaming white beneath the white sun.

He rides to nothing. There are no battles.

When he returns, the suit will be caked with cracked layers of dust, the suit will need to be cleaned, oiled, then returned to its rightful place, gauntlets crossed and gleaming.

Beneath his facemask the King bites his tongue, sees only the rays of the white sun.

David Peak
The Rainbow Stories
William T. Vollmann

TRAN SIBERIAN - michael j. solender


michael j. solender

Lyudmila did not defy description. She was an easily lit, wide hipped, Stoli-drinking, schemer from Irkutsk that got her claws into an American riding the Iron Rooster from Khabarovsk to Moscow. Her voice was the prototype for the beautiful Russian spy in the recurring role that captivated Le Beau on Hogan’s Heroes. It wasn't long before she was running girls in LA for Russian mobsters who had more chutzpah than cash. She could have been one of those girls just as easily but she was smart. Maybe too smart.

Michael J. Solender
Blood Done Sign My Name
Timothy B. Tyson