'AFTER THE PRAYER' - bl pawelek

DEWEY - rick hale

My placid uncle enjoyed the‭ ‬1990‭ ‬shore of the lake in a plaid lawn chair.‭ ‬He had a fishing pole with an empty plastic milk jug where the hook would normally be.‭ ‬At night he'd cast the jug out through the evening bugs clouding over the water and it would come down with a hollow splash.‭ ‬Reel in,‭ ‬cast again.‭ ‬Splash.‭ ‬There was a giant lidless jar of Vlasics open beside his chair.‭ ‬He would allow himself a pickle every time he bopped an alligator's head with the jug.‭ ‬Fonk.‭ ‬It was usually pitch dark,‭ ‬but he could tell when he'd succeeded by the sound of thrashing and clapping jaws out in the water.‭ ‬My uncle would crunch a bumpy pickle with his teeth.‭ ‬His large laughs would go out through the marshy air like storks,‭ ‬invisible in the dark as they flew to peck at the lizards‭' ‬rough green skin.‭ ‬But there came a day when those alligators learned to follow the jug to shore.‭ ‬They slid out of the pale green water,‭ ‬smashed the jar.‭ ‬Pickles slopped out and the label got all wet.‭ ‬Vlasic.‭ ‬My uncle laughed as he ran.

Rick Hale
The Journey to the East
Hermann Hesse

TRANSPORT - howie good

I clambered aboard as ordered.‭ ‬It was dark inside,‭ ‬though it wasn‭’‬t night and wouldn‭’‬t be night for hours.‭ ‬Ghosts of lost objects patrolled the aisle.‭ ‬I leaned back and closed my eyes.‭ ‬When I woke up,‭ ‬fire was cradling my head in its lap.‭ ‬We were far from anyplace I knew.‭ ‬The woman reading to her seatmate hesitated over certain words‭ ‬– verdigris,‭ ‬exculpatory‭ ‬– as if she feared their meaning.‭ ‬Others passed around a Polaroid of a brick wall.‭ ‬Poor everybody,‭ ‬I thought.‭ ‬The sun,‭ ‬suddenly below the horizon,‭ ‬continued to breathe with difficulty.

Howie Good
The Arrival‭
‬Daniel Simko

TEXT MESSAGE TO SPOONMAN - stefanie karlina greene

Just watched a kid with no chin, but somehow squeezed into skinny jeans, windmill his arms as he skipped across an intersection. I'm at a loss for words.

Stefanie Karline Greene
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

DRY CLEANING - justin c. witt

You don’t expect to come home one day and find a midget fucking your wife.‭ ‬It’s not something you can prepare yourself for,‭ ‬yet there he is,‭ ‬wearing that ridiculous Zorro mask,‭ ‬smacking her in the hip yelling‭ “‬Ho‭! ‬Ho‭! ‬Hooo‭!” ‬over and over again,‭ ‬neither one of them realizing you are there.‭

“HOOoooooOOOoooo‭!!!” ‬the midget screams,‭ ‬his ass-cheeks jiggling like Jell-O at each pelvic impact.‭

You remember that you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning,‭ ‬the words repeating themselves inside your head as you turn and leave the room.‭ ‬“Yes‭” ‬you say,‭ ‬walking back down the hall,‭ “‬the dry cleaning.‭”

Justin C. Witt
The Sporting Club
Thomas McGuane

TO CHINA - caroline kepnes

We’re lovely people,‭ ‬Dan and I.‭ ‬We came to China because the mother spirit wants us to take in a child who already breathes rather than create anew.‭ ‬We’re ready.‭ ‬Dan plays jazz trombone,‭ ‬he’s as‭ ‬New Orleans as they come.‭ ‬I’m a financial planner for divorced women.‭ ‬We’re also regular.‭ ‬We eat peanut butter,‭ ‬mainstream,‭ ‬organic,‭ ‬we have a line on what really matters.‭ ‬Dan and me,‭ ‬we’re good people begging.‭ ‬I was adopted.‭ ‬I know what it is to make family.‭ ‬

But the family won’t get made,‭ ‬not entirely.‭ ‬I can’t get a line on little beige Derry.‭ ‬He’s mine but he doesn’t want to be mine.‭ ‬He’s a fish that gets away,‭ ‬not from Dan though.‭ ‬He wants Dan’s song.‭ ‬Dan looks at me different.‭ ‬I can see his first wife in his head,‭ ‬the paws on way she had with the babies they made.‭ ‬I hate jazz now.‭ ‬Jazz doesn’t give a shit.‭ ‬I play tight pop when Dan’s not here,‭ ‬pop doesn’t brat out on you and wander to daddy just because.‭ ‬I hit Derry yesterday.‭ ‬Dan can’t see it.‭ ‬He doesn’t know Derry’s skin like I do.‭ ‬Dumb jazzman,‭ ‬good daddy though,‭ ‬I’ll give him that.


I fell in love with a girl I've never met.‭ ‬She writes like a whore and speaks like a poet.‭ ‬I like it when females write like deranged,‭ ‬drugged out sex addicts.‭ ‬I think maybe they're just like me.‭ ‬And I've never met anyone just like me.‭ ‬If I could clone myself as an identical female twin,‭ ‬I'd fuck her/me all day and hit her and not say I'm sorry cuz I don't lie to myself and she/me would know anyway.‭ ‬I would cum deep in me and lick it out and kiss her/me and make us taste us/it.‭ ‬If I could transfer a brain between bodies,‭ ‬I would switch my brain into my cloned identical sister's body and hers into mine and let her/me fuck me/her until she pulls out and covers us with us and the neighbors would complain.‭ ‬I would hold her/me/it up against a wall and the phone would ring and it would be God and he would be judging me and the neighbors would complain again.

LIKE FIVE O' CLOCK - parker tettleton

She pulled the book off its shelf. It meant something else now. He’d quote her in the mirror, at the backs of buses that kept her moving, something she’d said without saying. He would remember for them. She’d forget, without him, the way she wanted. Garland and lights were on her stub. The station was packed, like five o’clock, except it wasn’t.

Parker Tettleton
Kim Chinquee


jenny perkins


She said I have to believe. She said it was important and why she had called me after a year--not to have sex, though I asked to be sure. From Guadalajara, she came to North Carolina knowing no English but soon was doing poetry readings. Now, she was in a cult.

She pointed to her palms. “See the sparkles of light? That is the holy light. I have been anointed.”

“It’s the recessed halogens reflecting off some oil or sweat.”

“I can talk in tongues.” She talked in tongues.

“I can talk gibberish.” I talked gibberish.

“It’s ancient Aramaic. That hasn’t been heard in thousands of years.”

“Then, how do we know what it sounds like?”

She stood, short but all long black hair and cleavage. She laid one hand, sparkling palm down, on my heart and the other on my back. She prayed over me and fell into the tongues. We were in Starbucks.

“I’ve done what I can,” she said. “You have to save yourself.” She was crying.

“And you have to fuck yourself.”

Much later, when God came, I was sorry about that part.

S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.
William Gay

THE BREASTSTROKE - dawn corrigan

When we got back from space it turns out we could fly. Oh, not all 517. Only those who'd traveled beyond low Earth orbit had acquired the ability. Two dozen. And it wasn't really flying so much as a kind of swimming. There was no zooming through the air like Superman. Rather, you'd be thinking about what zero gravity felt like, and you'd take a step, and then instead of your foot landing on the ground it would land on air, which I know doesn't make sense but that's how it happened. The air would bear your weight and you’d swing your other foot forward, and that foot would land higher than the first, as though you were climbing an invisible staircase. And then--you couldn't help it--you'd push your arms together above your head and then separate them, like a person doing the breaststroke. And your body would follow. Once you had enough height there were loops, and flips--all in slow motion, like moving through a dream.

The twelve who’d walked on the moon, they could fly like Superman. Or so we heard. They never let us see, and they never came to our parties.

Dawn Corrigan
The Lone Pilgrim
Laurie Colwin

THE OPENING - jenny breukelaar

He waved his thing at her and called out to her trying not to think about the hole in his sock but she just kept walking, tap-tap-tapping with her cane and her eyes were like pearls. She looked like she was drowning. He loved her pearls. One morning when there was no one else around to hear him, he offered to lick them. She never said anything.

She stopped then in front of him, this silent girl with drowned eyes and she waved her magic wand in front of her. Wave wave. He froze and his dick went limp in his hands. Sunlight fell down on them from between the dark branches.

Jenny Breukelaar
Nightmare Town
Dashiell Hammett

A SPECIAL BELT - chelsea hogue

Nothing is left but silence. At least he has that. Roberto is laying in the trench, surrounded by a scene of no striking faces, just a monogamous flow of ordinary. He can look up the side of the mountain that almost looks human.

He’s a Spanish conquistador building shelter out of palm branches, regal, cool, calculated yet impulsive, taking native prisoners. He looks over his mangled armor, coiled around him now like a sardine lid, hundreds of feral guinea pigs’ tiny claws clinking over his breastplate.

He’s a martyr. He’s a soldier. He’s a young boy sitting inside a large bugle horn, painted candy-red, sitting cross-legged, laughing.

Revisiting everything Barry Hannah

WHAT BETSY WANTS - linda sands

She wants to keep him around longer than a night. She wants to be more than his fuck buddy, the one he calls when he wants a piece of ass without buying it dinner. She knows she’s not pretty enough for him, not skinny enough or nice enough and her crooked teeth, she figures they might have something to do with it, although he never minds feeling them skim across his cock.

She wants him to shut off his phone when he walks in her door because the chime and ding of all those pretty girls calling him gets annoying after a while and she has to try even harder to please him, even harder to get him to understand she is so much more than this naked girl standing in front of him willing to do anything he asks at any time.

TELL ME - walter campbell

She tells me that it always smells damp this time of year, like everyone left their gym towels in the sewers, and the smell’s leeching up. It makes me wonder what the locker room at her gym smells like.

She tells me that everyone gets sweaty, and they glisten like glazed donuts this time of year. It makes me wonder if she eats donuts, because I find myself no longer wanting to eat them. Ever.

She tells me that the last time it was this time of year—meaning last year—she was with another guy—meaning not me—and he became insatiably horny with the change in season. I start to tell her I’d prefer not to hear about that when

she tells me that she’s glad I don’t get that way this time of year. It makes me wonder if I should tell her something about my ex that I’m glad she’s not.

She tells me that her favorite time of year is the other time of year. It makes me wonder why I don’t have a favorite time of year.

Walter Campbell
Sharp Teeth
Toby Barlow

FRUSTRATION - blake wilcox

“Shit,” Jones said, “I cannot write this stupid story.”

His husband, Mel, piped in. “Well,” he said, “think of a river running down saccharine banks, cascading over rocks dotted with quartz like the chips in the ice cream I bought, which is delicious, just so you know. That’s you. You’re the river. Or, no, the words you’re writing are a river, like a river of ink, but distilled, or something, because if you were a river of ink, you’d be all over the page, and nobody could read it. But, hey, that might be ironic, right? Probably something like that. You’d know better than me, sweetie-bear. My sweetie-bear, the writer river rider of ink, over those rocks, kicking some rock ass, because that’s what you do—you kick ass, baby. And I know you can do it. A hang-up here and a stint of writer’s block there is nothing in the grandest schemes of things, the great literary cosmos you traverse every goddamn day and wrangle those glittering stars down for the puny mortals like me to look upon and squeal and squirm with delight, oh yes.”

“No,” Jones said, “I’m pretty sure I just can’t write the story.”

Blake Wilcox
The People of Paper
Salvador Plascencia