WINTER - zachary c. bush


zachary c. bush

Ester's parents are in Paris over Christmas break. Twelve naked bodies pack the downstairs living room, playing Santa Claus, fucking to Christmas carols and vanilla scented candles. Ester and I are upstairs in her parent's sleigh bed. I don't remember what all I took tonight, but I feel just right. Ester's got a glittery leather belt wrapped around my bicep. She pops the skin of a blue vein running up my forearm with the small spike tip. I feel the warmed wave. I look up, blink my eyes, and everything in the room is moving towards me. Ester whispers something into my ear and the rest is a blur.

MY GIFT TO HER - lauren becker


lauren becker

It was fucking freezing inside. I threw a Duraflame on. The genius who designed the house put the fireplace between the entryway and a wall of built-in bookshelves. The kids fought to sit in the narrow area of carpet in front of the fire. There was no heat otherwise. Doug turned off the pilot light. I wore a turtleneck, two sweaters, sweatpants, a couple pairs of tube socks, and my fake Wal-Mart Uggs. Green sweater on top for Christmas.

It felt warmer outside. Todd and Cheryl threw iceballs at each other. Todd got Cheryl in the face. "Mommyyyyyy." I went inside to check the ham. She needs to learn. Girls always lose.

Fruit salad for dessert. Todd's favorite. Canned peaches, canned pears, maraschino cherries. I'd add Cool Whip later. Green beans in mushroom soup with canned fried onions for Doug. The last trailer trash dinner I'd make him.

I wished he were original enough to fuck someone other than his secretary. She sent me pictures of her shoving a dildo up his ass. I put copies in his stocking. Along with divorce papers and a candy cane. Merry Christmas, dickhead.

Lauren Becker
One Christmas Wish:

To be less scatterbrained, more patient, effortlessly thin, to have a housekeeper, new carpet, a better computer, to see my nieces and nephew more often, to go to Barcelona.

I'm Jewish. I get eight. Happy holidays.

CHRISTMAS MORNING - erin fitzgerald


erin fitzgerald

Dad woke us up and said it was time to go. Our stuff was already in the car because he and Mom hadn't slept all night so they could get everything ready. Mom sat with Dad's rifle pointed down toward the wheel well, and when we were all settled she turned around and gave us each a peanut butter granola bar that had to last for three hundred miles. Dad told us to lay down and go back to sleep. When Tyler said he couldn't lay down with the seatbelt on, Dad said go ahead and take it off. Tyler opened his granola bar and said that riding in a car with no seat belt was against the law and wasn't safe and Dad said that riding in a car these days wasn't safe either. Mom said that's enough, both of you, even though Tyler hadn't said anything wrong. I tucked my granola bar into the waistband of my jeans so that Tyler wouldn't steal it from me. Then I listened to the bumps in the road through the car seat. They made Mom's box of shells rattle.

Erin Fitzgerald

One Christmas Wish:

My Christmas wish is for a job from any one of many employers. A long arm stapler is a very close second.

NEW BALLS - randall brown


randall brown

His parents slept soundlessly in separate bedrooms and he hurled the new ball through the Christmas mist as if he could break the backstop's netting, throw so hard no air could hold it and nothing in the world could ever catch it. Even now, his hand holds the memory of baseballs.

Randall Brown
One Christmas Wish:

I'd wish for myself the writerly skills of F. Scott Fitzgerald because he wrote passages such as this one, "His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete." And I wonder if I ever will.



A THOUSAND MILES AWAY - kyle hemmings

kyle hemmings

She was strolling in the park, thinking about her son, a thousand miles away. He died when she was young enough to still dream snow babies. If she could stop time, wrench seasons from the cycle, what would he look like? A perfect ice sculpted child who wouldn't melt with a drop in temperature? Around her were trees reduced to their skeletons: dogwoods, windbreaks, spruce, perennials in the shape of spires.
In the house by a kidney-shaped lake, her grandfather was speaking to a stranger about a foreign war that had never ended, had spread close to home. His wife’s hands, he said, were so lifeless after he had returned. The insides of her palms, he said, no longer resembled tributaries, supply routes.

Sipping a cup of tea made from rose hips and ginger root, she walked in on their conversation. “What about the war orphans?” she said. “There must be a whole country of them."
The stranger turned and studied her. His face was white as her tea cup.
She stood peering over their heads, out the window. The snow fell in clumps from the trees. The snow fell in clumps. The snow fell.

Kyle Hemmings
Entropy and Atrophy
Robert Lopez

WHAT HE NEEDS - john oliver hodges


john oliver hodges
“I’ve read about this,” Mom said. “They hide under your car when you go to the mall. Listen. I’m telling you. Whenever you get in your car, look under it to see if a man is there waiting to cut your ankles.”

“No!” I told her. “Just return them, okay? Throw them away if you want. I don’t care!”

I see her. She goes to the mailbox. It’s filled with his letters, all personal and friendly looking, some with pictures or stickers on the envelopes. Mom takes the letters inside, smells them, puts them on the kitchen table, telling herself she won’t, no, she won’t open them, they do not belong to her and, “Why didn’t anybody send me letters like this when I was in college.” I know Mom has opened my letters. She has opened my letters and read shit like: Please, just one word from you. I cannot get you out of my mind. If only I could touch you now. You said you loved me, remember? You said you wanted to be the best fuck I ever had.

Oh, the crap never stops. Is he trying to lay a guilt trip on me? Does it sound like he loves me? What he needs is another piece is what. It’s not my fault. What he needs is a blow-up doll is what. If I send him one, will he leave me be? I’ll get a whole case of blow-up dolls. That way I might avoid this junk in my future dealings with men. I’ll get two, two cases of blow-up dolls so that I’ll never run out. I’ll drop a blow-up doll on the ground and kick it under my car whenever I go to the mall. That way I won’t have to get down and look to see if a man is under there, waiting to cut my ankles, every time I get in my car.

John Oliver Hodges
Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe



tai dong huai

When you are fifteen, a girl in your Spanish class named Sophie Rogers says she wants to show you something. She found it out from her brother, and to see it you'll have to sneak into the first floor boys' room when nobody else is around.

You finally get up your nerve and one afternoon, as the busses are being called, you see it. It's in the middle stall, written in black permanent marker, and it refers to you:

At home, you're silent and sleepless. Finally, you can't bear it any longer. You make up your mind to go back in there and, if you can't erase it, at least change the letters: EBAH YAQ JAWBTTL GIVES GOOD READ. Anything.

So you sneak back early one morning with Formula 409, paper towels, and a black Magic Marker. But someone has beaten you there. Under the original words, carved in the very metal of the stall itself, someone has written bullshit.

From them until the time you graduate, you entertain an unlikely fantasy. One in which a guy, someone who wears a different face every night in your dreams, steps from the crowded school hallway and says, "You are Leah Yao Janetti and you are not anyone to be taken lightly."

Tai Dong Huai
Hollywood and Hardwood
Tricia Bauer

FUCKING RETARD - david erlewine


david erlewine

The man who may have called me a fucking retard watches football while lounging in his faux-leather chair. His wife appears to have gone to bed upstairs.

My hand hesitates before killing my Camry’s engine.

Even now, my third time stopping by, I don’t know whether I actually have an ax to grind.

I took his nod as an invite to board the train. Seconds later, he hissed “fucking retard." I figured wacko carrying a gun, don't turn around. Then I thought he might be referring to another passenger who tripped him from behind. Later that day at work, I decided he said “retards,” meaning the train operators running three, maybe four, minutes late that morning.

In 6th grade I pretended not to see Ronny Timmons beat the hell out of my brother Tim. Ronny works at the nearby Subway. He’d need 450 guesses to figure out our connection. This is what I am thinking about when I realize the man who may have called me a fucking retard is tapping on my window, ordering me to roll it down.

David Erlewine
Four Hard Facts About Women
Damien Dressick

CRAWL SPACE - sarah hilary


sarah hilary

I thought he’d kill me; those black eyes boiling over in his face.

A low oblong of light is all I have left. I see the toes of his boots rusted with my blood. My throat’s a fist, fighting dry dirt. I’m trapped, my shirt snagged on tacks, my skin hostage to a hundred splinters. He’s got a hammer, and boards, is shutting out the light.

Sarah Hilary
Stranger on the Porch
Gay Degani

BUFFALO - jason lee norman


jason lee norman

When she found me, I was in the woods. She was starving, I was a wild animal. My mind was a tornado. Life was a Van Morrison song.

I was by the water, exhausted and slow. She came up behind me and put her knife in my ear. When she whispered I could feel it in my coccyx. She told me how she would kill me, how she would eat my heart.

You can't kill me on the Sabbath, I said, there are rules.

There are rules, and exceptions to rules, and there is my knife in your brain, she said.

Give me three days, I said. Her breath makes my neck wet. Three days and then I'll come back to this spot, right here.

She throws me to the ground and straddles my back. Her knife tears my ear from my head and the blood runs down my cheeks and into my mouth. It tastes like metal, like strawberry jam. The blood stains my teeth. It smells of paint.

Three days, she said.

Jason Lee Norman
Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut



ravi mangla

I'm tired of sleep and seek other forms of restoration. It's three a.m. and I'm at a Friendly's in a town I've never heard of. I order the lumberjack breakfast. The wheelchair-stricken waitress asks if, perhaps, I wouldn't be better off with something more my speed. I change the order to a sundae off the kid's menu, you know, the one with the cone-hat and candy face. My sundae arrives with no nuts, but I'm not bothered (only nuts eat nuts – right? – ha ha). I flag down the waitress and ask her where the ketchup is. She tells me I won't be needing it. Not tonight. I get to work on the lobotomy. My incisions are severe and precise. Knife, I say. Fork. Cream. Sugar. Sutures. Sutures? Nurse? The waitress apologizes, says she gave her set to another customer. Is she kidding? I can't tell; I don't have much experience with the sarcasm of the handicapped. She asks me how it is…the sundae. I look down at it, face swollen, pooled in hot fudge, cone-hat dangerously askew. I tell her, I don't think he's going to make it. I was afraid of that, she says. I ask for the check. Don't worry, she says, it's on the house. You tried your best.

Ravi Mangla
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
Wells Tower


'EVE' - bill dunlap



ted powers

In my living room a stranger is dying. She is lying on the couch, using her last fingers to motion me to her. When my ear is the closest thing to her face, she says to me something that sounds like, "Circle of Death."

"You will be fine," I say, rummaging vainly for a pack of gum. I don't know what this circle of death business is about. I do not know why she insists on wearing your face either. It just looks silly on her; it looks pretty good on you.

This is when Jesus walks in and even though I am like, "Woah, it's Jesus," my guest is not surprised. He walks over to her, places one palm on her forehead and turns her to wine. "Jesus," I say later, as we pass the bottle around, "I heard talk of a circle of death before, but really, it's more of a line." This is when a tire flies in through the window and hits me dead in the face. Jesus finishes the wine, heads to the fridge for more.

Ted Powers
Selected Poems
Max Jacob

& (SEVEN) - j.a. tyler

& (seven)

j.a. tyler

This will be the story of people and time. This will be the story of dirt that comes from the ground, laced in worms, thick with mucous and the density of rain, the slickness of dew, and remains on a window sill in the cooling air of fall or early winter. The dirt sitting without purpose, drying in the space of a square and glass. In the sun. This will be the story of it dying, drying, propped and no longer moist, no longer living, the worms having slipped away or dried to the sill, the unpainted graying wood, unliving in crusted loops of earthen paint, spills of once living. This will be the story of that. This will be the story of how that works or happens or does.

JA Tyler
Bob, or Man on Boat
Peter Markus



jac jemc

Listen, I'm ready for you to come right over here, darling, and dance with me. We're pulling in the weight of what we're waiting for. Dance it down for me. Let me see your sequins shimmer and shake. I want the breeze of all those sparkles to blow me right off this tugboat. We're getting down, all dancing equal, mismatched pulses, wanting nothing more than to keep moving and I?

I will be your tugboat king. I will call the do-si-do's, and the skip-to-my-lou's. Hokey Cokey! Shimmy! Whip out a Watusi for me! We have flipped and landed decent. Now is when the crowd forms to clap and keep rhythm. No cardboard laid down, we are skull-spinning because that's what it'll take.

Turn the music up. It's time to move. Shake it out. Warn the neighbors: this'll go late. Ring that bell like pure silver. Swing it around. Here it comes: We're clear out of black and white into Technicolor: Set your eyes up for all this seeing.

Your tugboat king is doing the hustle, the Charleston: I'm ready to boogaloo: I'm foxtrotting: I'm locomoting, twisting, shouting: I'm working out a hully gully here: Do what I do.

Jac Jemc
Attempts at a Life
Danielle Dutton

THE MANY CANYONS OF UTAH - stefanie freele


stefanie freele

She waits a full week at the campsite for the bruises to heal. His body is but a leaning tree at the bottom of the canyon.

Feet dangling far above, she chews salami right from the sausage itself. She bites into the cheddar too. In fact, his body looks more and more like a v-shaped bush than a man, the more she looks at it.

They aren’t due back for a month. Plenty of time to invent explanations.

Anyway, he would have insisted on cutting the salami with a knife, even if it made marks on the top of the cooler.

Stefanie Freele
Mad to Live
Randall Brown



josh olsen

A young blond in denim cut-offs slept with her knees to her chest. Doubting her consciousness, I took my time eyeing the soft skin of her inner thighs. Where is she going? I asked myself. And why is she alone?

I considered excusing myself to the bathroom to quickly jack-off, but KT called to tell me she had a dream about ketchup packets – about a movie about ketchup packets, starring Michael Rappaport and a girl KT and I graduated high school with, a girl whose name I knew but whose face I didn't. At first, I was jealous. I wished that the dream had been mine. Surely, I would have remembered more detail.

Not having noticed that the young blond was awake, I resumed staring at her bared flesh until she awkwardly threw a thin wool blanket over her ass and pretended to go back to sleep.

I had spent the weekend back home in the city that both seduced and disgusted me with her familiarity. When it was time to leave, I stepped onto the train weighing 10 pounds more than when I first arrived. The sun was high and hot. Alcohol and fried cheese seeped through my pores.

Josh Olsen
Dancing in Odessa
Ilya Kaminsky

CAPITAL - bill barr


bill barr

I awoke from an abrupt feeling in a dream of being done with murder. No, I imagine it’s the sound of tapping from the dripping faucet on the handful of silver spoons in the bottom of my sink until I squint through my lids and see a gun barrel softly nudging my brow, almost pulling my left eye completely open, pushing the eyebrow up with each rhythmic bounce. My right eye sees into the rifle as the gun pulls up and back for another tap. Strange that an empty circle moves me so much yet I don’t move a muscle at all.

“Kiss it,” a gravelly voice breathes.
“I won’t,” I said.

It drops onto my forehead. I hear a quick tiny click then my eardrums rupture from the explosion that blows a hole in the wall through the pillow next to my face. My skin burns where the barrel rests.

“You’re done. Out of the business,” he says. “It’s my way or my way. You pick.”
“Fine. I’ll do it.”

My fingers stretch for the trigger but I can’t reach. A fingernail better be enough. Another explosion, louder than the first and something is dripping in my eyes but my heart beats still.

BOLOGNA NIPPLES - peter cavanaugh


peter cavanaugh

I'm trying to learn the aesthetic of the internet writer. And when he told me he only read my blog for the pictures of pretty girls at parties, I didn't care because I looked over, and my girlfriend was taking off her bra in la vida real. That's la cosa mejor. And letting her fall asleep next to me is another cosa mejor.

I’m trying to learn the aesthetic of the internet writer. I am trying to be earnest. I don't really read blogs. I am only looking for pictures of pretty girls. One time I thought I saw a nipple, but now I'm thinking it might have been an advertisement for Subway. And then there should be a tangent here, and it will pair words that have yet to be paired. I will talk about the bones of your father and toothpicking my teeth with the crack of his ribs. And do I need to feel more alone? Will I have to tell my girlfriend we are not so now? And do I need to drink more? I'm trying to learn the aesthetic of the internet writer.

Peter Cavanaugh


"STRANGE HEAD" - bill dunlap

THE WALK HOME - dawn corrigan


dawn corrigan

At the start of the century you decide to walk home. Snow has been falling and the air makes your face prickle like branches are brushing against it. You shoulder your burden and begin. The packed-down snow has elevated the sidewalk. If you wanted to sit on a bench to wait for the bus you'd have to climb down to get to it. But you don't want the bus; you want to walk. Your pack begins to ache so you shift it to the other shoulder. You could call your roommate and he'd rush out to get you; it's the start of the century and you shouldn't be walking. Out. Alone. At night. Walking. But why would you rush home? At home you're always sitting around waiting for a man to call. Always his name is Tom. So you keep walking. Finally you reach your house. At the back door an icicle has formed, so large it reaches the ground. You think you should tell someone about it, but no one's home. Without going in you pick up your pack and begin again. Even now you're still walking. Perhaps if I look out my window I'll see you.

Dawn Corrigan
The Secret History
Donna Tartt

UNREQUITED - hobie anthony


hobie anthony

Ellis watched the whole thing. Or, most of it. After the diagnosis, after the cancer was declared terminal, a website was built to document Jane's final days. He found it immediately. He'd been searching for her ever since the break-up.

After the police had contacted him to ask that he not call any more, he had no other avenue. He had to keep track. He had to know. That's all. The website's photos reminded him of what had happened, how she'd treated him. She even had the gall to use a photo he'd taken before she returned home to her fiancée.

The women he dated from the internet were all nice. He loved them all and they all left with no trace. He couldn't track them. Myspace pages were blocked; e-mail accounts were deleted; some had used throwaway cell phones and cancelled them. Eventually the numbers were reassigned to strangers, sometimes men.

But Jane was different. She offended his pride and for that she got cancer. Ellis was furious that he could not do more. Yet, he still had to look at the photos from her marriage to that mouth-breathing plumber or whatever that loser was. She was bald, smiling in a white dress.

Hobie Anthony
Selected Stories
Robert Walser

from GRACE - adam moorad

from GRACE

adam moorad

They'll walk home drunk past the church and Grace rolls her eyes, says she can't stand the looks of the steeple, Soo phallic. She won't even call herself a Christian anymore. She chats Randy up to her friends, He's his OWN man – a real rebel (even though he's never worn handcuffs)…and a musician TOO. Randy brags to his guy friends that he's the only one getting regular ass, that she's nice and tight like, lika gal should be, and, MAN - She's got enough tongue for 10 rows of teeth! Grace is more adventurous than Randy in the sack, probably spurned on by years of corked-up sexual energy and a fear of missing out on something, he thinks. On their first "date" she said she wasn't scared but she lied, and just leaned back, unable to participate. It hurt, but she didn't show it, instead she muttered out O-O-O the whole time and squeezed her eyes shut. How are ya? he asked afterwards. Then she didn't respond, but now she tells him to come inside or on her face or in her hair and Randy does neither though this doesn't stop her from asking. He wonders where these ideas come from. She doesn't like to talk when she's being dirty, but moans and groans, almost painfully, and will whisper something about a hairbrush but it's unclear what and – to Randy – this is a relief. When she finishes, she lets out this charged wail of exhilaration and will only allow herself to be embraced after she swabs her gummy crotch with Randy's t-shirt. That was nice, she says.

Adam Moorad
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Hubert Selby, Jr.

JACKIE BOY - antonios maltezos



Jackie’s mother used curved scissors to clip away her cuticles, just like the professional manicurists used, the slivers of skin settling in his lap, on the deep blue of his baggy Golden Horse jeans, the cuffs rolled up three times, the perfume from her armpits coming off onto the flesh of his shoulders, and then from his shoulders smeared into his pillow nightly. He’d rub his face in her smell so she was there with him even when she wasn’t.

She’d let him paint her thumbnail from time to time, his favorite because it was thick and yellow after the nail polish remover, and curved like a jungle cat’s. “Momma, you could tear someone’s face open with this,” he’d told her, holding her thumb up as if it was their secret weapon.

And once she’d even slipped her hand in under her blouse, while he was still in her lap, massaged her breasts until the nipples hardened and poked him in the back, and then she told him there was enough hate in the world and that “we beautiful people need only stay beautiful, Jackie boy.”

Antonios Maltezos
Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer
Sean Lovelace

FIRST KISS LIPS - charles lennox


charles lennox

I once knew a boy who’d stolen the lips off the first girl he’d ever kissed. Told me her name was Emily. Said she had lips like sliced Fuji apples and her taste was the same. He met her by the bleachers after fifth period and when they’d finished he asked if he could hold onto her lips for the night. Guess all she saw was promise in that boy’s eyes. She peeled them off like band-aids. That’s how easy it was. Emily never did see those lips again. Soon everyone in school was talking about it, the whole town even. The girl with no lips. Her parents moved her to some other school out of state. She was gone and no one said anything about her again. I asked the boy what he ended up doing with the girl’s lips and he said that he threw them in with the trash one day. Just like that. Never did think of returning them.

Some nights I get to thinking about finding that girl, Emily. I imagine her standing in front of me. The backdrop behind her gray like morning mist. I take her in my arms and she lets me lean in close and press my lips over the naked skin where her apple lips should be. I wonder what that might be like. To happen in real life. Would she feel my passion flooding in? Would she feel anything at all?

Charles Lennox
The Girl in the Black Sweater
J.A. Tyler

A LESSON IN BREATHING - zachary c. bush


zachary c. bush

One morning, when I was nearly ten years old, my father woke me and said, “Son, we’re leaving for the mountains.” And so we left.

Later that morning, as we crossed into the neighbor’s yard, my father pointed to the mountain range that circled the city and said, “Out there will be our new home.” I nodded, and we walked into the mouth of the woods behind our neighborhood. We hiked a few sluggish miles before we came to a frozen lake at the foot of the nearest mountain. We sat down to rest. Not long after my father fell asleep, I tried to masturbate beside the lake, but nothing came out of it, so I listened to the ducks squawking and cursed my penis.

Later that afternoon, when we were three quarters of the way up the mountain, we stopped again for water and rest. My father turned to me, dried his face and said, “Last night I gagged your mother and locked her in the attic.” He asked me if I cared to know why he did it. I looked at him and said, “Indeed, I would like to know why you did such a thing.” He took a quick swig from his canteen before looking out over the city where we used to live. He said, “Because she laughed too much and for far too long at times when she shouldn’t have…”

Later that night, as my father tucked me into my sleeping bag and kissed me on the forehead, I laughed out loud at the thought of my mother’s hot, muffled screams. But I tried not to laugh for too much or for too long, because I am a severe asthmatic.

Zachary C. Bush
Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino

RED - brian a. ellis


brian a. ellis

It felt so good inside Red that Sal came in less than a minute. Red had an amazing body, Sal thought—the kind, he assumed, certain serial killers would cut up into tiny pieces and feed to their pets. But still, he did not want a child with this woman, so he pulled out and sprayed his release into the peach-colored bed sheets. Then he pushed Red aside and turned facing the wall. But Red wasn’t through—she cuddled Sal, whispered into his ear, pecked his shoulder with her teeth, tried reviving his spent cock with her right hand. And knowing that Red’s attempts at reviving his spent cock were in vain, Sal felt bad for her. So with his body still turned towards the wall, he began fingering Red. The angle was exhausting and tricky, however, and before long Sal had given up and fallen asleep. Angry and restless, Red didn’t know what to do. And Sal didn’t care. He couldn’t.

Brian A. Ellis
All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers
Larry McMurty


'Monster Horns' - Bill Dunlap

WHAT I FOUND OUT - blythe winslow


blythe winslow

While perched on a log out the back of our church, I lose my virginity to Charlie Coons, who has long eyelashes and eyes the color of pool water. I have no idea why I decide to sit on a fallen log, but I do. At first, when he’s in, I hug him close as if we’re two boxers and I’m very tired. But I am not very tired; I am amazed at the freckles on his shoulders. I’m also amazed at how I don’t want to look in his eyes. I just want to be amazed at the shock of our naked bodies, the sound of still-chirping birds, the itch of bark on my thighs and butt. When it’s over, I want Charlie Coons to say something special, and he does. As he’s lifting his jeans from his ankles, he tells me I’m a sweetheart, and I believe him. What I don’t know but find out later is that Charlie Coons is missing his index finger on his right hand. After I find this out, I never feel the same about sex again.

Blythe Winslow
Glen Pourciau

GALAXY - mercedes m. yardley


mercedes m. yardley

“I’ll get the mail,” she said, and walked out the door. She walked past the mailbox and down the street and hung a surprise left out of town. She walked out of America and across the ocean to Africa and off of the earth and past the stars and popped right out at the other side of the universe. And she was happy.

“No, you didn’t,” he said. “It’s impossible.” He turned and left.

She pointed her finger at him like a gun and made a small “pow” with her mouth.

“It’s on my list for tomorrow, then,” she said.

Mercedes M. Yardley
August Frost
Monique Roffey



greg gerke

Candace, a woman who wears heels a few times a week and studies Biology, meets a man called Bernie from Düsseldorf, Germany on a bus ride to Seattle. They talk about how the Germans log their forests. Their methods leave 40% more trees standing. “I’ve always wanted to live in Germany,” Candace says brightly. When they part at the Greyhound station, Bernie flags a taxi and has the driver follow Candace, who has been picked up by her boyfriend Ned in the front circle drive. Ned is late and grumpy but he has brought her flowers. He only says he loves Seattle traffic once on the drive to his parent’s house in the suburbs. The parents are away on vacation in Tempe. The house is huge, overwhelming. Candace and Ned drink red wine before ending up in the master bedroom.

Meanwhile, Bernie walks in through the unlocked front door and finds them upstairs, the boyfriend sucking at Candace’s small, pert nipples.

In a strict voice, Bernie begins, “I vergot to tell you, but I just remember. I told you da wrong ding about Düsseldorf. Dere are sex hundred tousand people living dere, not sex tousand.”

Greg Gerke
Alice Munro

HOT NUTS - molly gaudry


molly gaudry

“Two hot nuts,” Phyllis orders, “one cum, one clean.”

The scar over what’s left of her Adam’s apple shows on either side of her red leather choker adorned with a gold cock ring. The rest of her getup is more hockey mom than dominatrix. She wears her hair in that ridiculously outdated Farrah Fawcett do, and the pearl buttons on her pale-yellow cardigan are fastened to mid-sternum.

To be fair, Phyllis can’t decide what kind of woman she is. Back when she still had a dick and was going by Phillip, I hired her to bar-back on show nights, to move through the crowd with cases of beer above her head, to restock ice, cut fruit, all that jiz. Weighing in around 270 and something like 6’5”, I knew she was my go-to guy if a pack of diesel dykes got rowdy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my twenty-five years owning this club, it’s that Phillip was nice to have around.

Sometimes I miss him, but I’ll never tell Phyllis. Some things you just do not say to a person. That you miss the part of her she’s always hated is a good example.

Molly Gaudry
Jose Saramago

THE CABIN - james iredell


james iredell

We pulled up at the cabin, a pre-fab sentried by pines, a pair of old skis X-ing the apex of the roof, like something on a cartoon poison bottle. Grandpa had slathered a dull green paint over its wood so that it would “blend in” with its natural surroundings. It resembled a barracks. From the outside, this place could’ve been the staging ground for some bearded radical, someone whom San Francisco had failed. Inside sat evidence of a thriving thrift store. Even the books were Reader’s Digest Condensed, which made me think of soup. A deer’s head stared over the kitchen and hallway, above the cuckoo clock and the liquor, and the windows that squinted out over the California brome and, across the road, Squaw Creek, which ran cold and white with ripples. The creek had once slithered with brook trout. But they built hotels upstream. Instead of trout there are tourists, which are almost the same thing.

James Iredell
Slouching in the Path of a Comet
Mike Dockins

(BIG) TREE OF (TOO MUCH) KNOWLEDGE - jais brohinsky


jais brohinsky

The tree bark flows like rivers digging soft chasms into its massive trunk plopped layer upon layer like rolls of fat. The tree grows upside down. Its roots extend into the sky, sprawling hundreds of feet across in a system of reaching hands. The tree top sticks into the ground, and here and there giant boughs curl out from under the earth, fanning bushes of spade-like foliage, before diving back underground.

A man approaches. He kneels in front of the tree and prays. His tongue is a hatchet that swings into the trunk. The tree creaks, and black sap drips from the wound. The man puts his mouth to the bark and sucks. He falls back gasping and choking. His eyes film over as if injected with ink. He is still for a long time.

I am he, but I and am and he disintegrate. Surfing the edge of the universe like waves. Too much. Big. Too much big.

These words are pathetic.

Jais Brohinsky
First Aid to Critics (A Preface to Major Barbara)
Bernard Shaw

USES FOR A FAT FRIEND - malialinda



I would really like a fat friend, not like obesely disgustingly fat, but pleasantly fat, like in a way I could have fun with. I would squeeze her 'til her gummy eyes pop out like those piggy key chains and then rent her out for my birthday party so I could jump on her - in good fun – and I'd play hide and seek in the folds of her fat and grab a fistful of her flesh and run with it and see how far I could get and invite her over to make me pies and cookies and we'd eat ice cream out of the container and I wouldn't feel bad and I'd drip ice cream on her tummy and watch my dog lick it off and watch her skin like waves ripple with laughter and then rub jelly on her belly and rub the unspikey side of my dad's electric razor over it and pretend I was giving her a sonogram and that she was having siamese twins! I would put on a sumo-wrestler Halloween costume and challenge her to a duel.

I, Sam Pink, Want to Have Sex with That One Girl from "Clarissa Explains It All'
Sam Pink


Alyssa Davis

HOW TO EVERYTHING - orlo yeahblip


orlo yeahblip
Tickets from the coat check girl should be memorized and swallowed. Like bonds and angst and lockjaw, no one gets on stage without them. Try nylon. It holds anecdotes, not very well but better than a thumb. Or else spread it thin, like butter from a shrew. All instances should be served or checked with you know who. And don't let on about the relatives. Distractions might include: successful uncles, a handsome son. If it was hidden in a hat, then don't look in the pond. Mention death just to shrug off the breathing. Or just swallow down the bad taste that comes from dreaming. If they ever got out into the world it would be dangerously packed with reinvented wheels. Remember there are no coats for writing in the cold. So don't steal too much from Australians, they are the only ones who can decipher anagrams. It's no coincidence that the soup's boiling over. Watch out and it will boil some more. This will save on disappointment.

Orlo Yeahblip
To a Child Who Is Still a FAQ
Miriam Allred

BEAUTY - jessie peacock


jessie peacock

She was smiling at me, her yellowed teeth gleaming like hardened syrup in the surreal silver light. I ached to hold her, to crush her in my arms, to see if she smelled fragrant when she was broken—like a petal when it dies. Her thin, twisted purple veins spiderwebbed just beneath her paper-thin, dappled skin. She squinted her bloodshot eyes; she looked strained and small. She ran a finger down her emaciated frame, hooking it inside the folds of her cheap blue gown with pride alien to her kind. Her hair, where it had not been burned off, hung around the hollows of her long, thin face in ratty tendrils, so greasy they did not sway in the breeze. I couldn't help but lean forward, take her in my arms, kiss the crook of her arm. She fell back into me like a rag doll, and when my knife broke the skin of her neck she sighed. The crimson blood slid down her dirty dress like a cascade of gems onto my hand. Her groan became a gurgle, and when she was gone, I laid her out onto the concrete, arranging her limbs just so. She was so beautiful.

Jessie Peacock
Across The Wall
Garth Nix



tyler enfield

It is the position of the Holbringer Council Of Aeronautic Studies that there is no intelligent life on Mars. It is our recommendation that all investigation into the possibility of intelligent life on Mars, either in the present or the distant past, be unilaterally halted. We know there is not, and has never been intelligent life on Mars for the simple fact that it has three moons. Three moons would require half the population to menstruate three times a month and no civilization could, mathematically speaking, withstand a torque of this caliber. It is furthermore asking too much of the imagination to believe in such a race, a super-race, if you will, of hominids who could constitutionally survive the aforesaid onslaught and not be here today. Where are they now? This is the question science would like to know. What class of cataclysm could hold a candle to three moons? Thank you.

Tyler Enfield
Cormac McCarthy



bob jacobs

The new girl had big fucking teeth. People say fucking when they mean very or really, but this girl had really very big fucking teeth. All morning no-one spoke. No-one laughed. They dumped the new girl next to Old Lil. Lil went home mid-morning claiming period pains.

Lunchtime, people squeezed wholemeal sandwiches between their lips and snorted friendly-bacteria yogurt up their nostrils. I went to the vending area to fetch a Kenco decaff. From out of nowhere these big fucking teeth appeared and said hello. I mumbled something and ran back to my desk, sloshing coffee.

I've never heard so many people hammering their keyboards in this place as they did that day. Productivity soared.

The next morning Mrs. MacTwitchett from Human Resources came by and said the new girl had left. Everyone smiled. They really very fucking smiled, showing off their dainty teeth. Productivity plummeted as we joked our way through the day, laughing with mouths agape. Lunchtime, people chewed their sandwiches with mouths stretched impossibly wide, balls of half-chewed bread balanced on their tongues in a manner that would have shamed our parents.

Bob Jacobs
Instruction Manual for Swallowing
Adam Marek



jan windle

The Via Cavour is silvered. The cats are sneaking home. Only the gutter’s oily puddles retain color in the dawn light. She waits with the heavy suitcase while he fetches his scooter. He loads the baggage on to the seat so he can push it down to the Piazza della Libertá where the hired car waits in the underground carpark. The top-heavy load sways and wobbles as together they guide it.

In the Piazza the grandiose arch broods across the deserted one-way traffic system, the lights wink and change unnecessarily. Now she realizes that she no longer knows the way to the Subterrano where she left the hired car yesterday. She’d circled the Piazza a dozen times to find the way into the one-way street where the vehicle entrance lay. She makes a guess and they struggle across the piazza into a side street. Nothing looks right. She stops him with a sign and gets out the map.

No matter how they twist and turn the tattered page, they can’t orientate themselves. Time is passing, in this Fellini film environment, faster than real time. He goes back to the top of the side street to see its name, returns and grabs the map, pointing to a street at right angles to where they stand. She’s sure he’s wrong, but follows. The echo of their progress is amplified by the high ornate buildings above. Now there’s an occasional three-wheeler on the street, an early cyclist whistling as he passes on the other side. The silver sky has a tinge of gold between the buildings. The time is passing, the plane is waiting. They double back, try another street. She sees them as through a lens, an odd couple, no communication except through looks and touch, but a common aim – her welfare. Despite her panic, she’s excited, moved and for a moment she loves him.
Jan Windle

PROUD - crispin best


crispin best

That summer you got a job picking hair off the soaps of the super rich.

You stole. A cupboard’s worth of crockery appeared, a pepper mill, six or seven coasters, a crystal goblet. You stole slowly from their fridges: Genoa salami, pickled sweet gherkins, provolone, shallots, cheddar, beef tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, mozzarella, pepperoni, a crusty loaf, sea salt, mild Plochman’s mustard.

One morning you were ready and you set the sandwich down in front of me. You stood there watching, as proud as a dog on a roof, as proud as the ground.

Crispin Best
Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan


'I'll Be Right Back' - carol radsprecher

THERE'S NO TELLING - blythe winslow


blythe winslow

If you just get your license and then take a drive and then hit a man crossing the street, there’s no telling what you might do next, and this is not to say that you might hit another person crossing the street or that you'll go in the bathroom at the party you were driving to and cut yourself or drink too much or kiss other people’s girlfriends, this is just to say that you’re only sixteen and life feels just about as large and inexplicable as the small eye-expression of a killer whale in a tank at Sea World. See, world, this is you; you’re youth-hard and ready for basketball, football, any type of game involving a ball, which wouldn’t be so bad at a time like this, a time when you’re not sure if you’ll tell someone I probably just killed a dude, or if you’ll just sit and wonder if you care or if you’ll cry or if there’s something wrong with you for momentarily enjoying the sound of flesh and metal as it met, that is to say, as you made it meet.

Blythe Winslow
Glen Pourciau

DRAGONFLY - robert a. dollesin


robert a. dollesin

In the park, Jenny’s father used newspaper to make her a kite. I asked my mother to do the same. Instead, she stalked the hedges, walking alongside them until she spotted a blue dragonfly. She positioned her fingers above the insect while it rested. In one quick motion she snatched it by its wings.

I watched its tail curl and its spindly forelegs claw the air as my mother looped thread around its thick neck. Then she placed the wooden spool into my hand. “Here. Fly this.”

Jenny dropped her kite and stared in awe as my dragonfly buzzed skyward. She begged me to let her try. But since I have no father to craft old newspapers into boats or hats or kites, I ignored Jenny and maneuvered the dragonfly with pride.

Inevitably, though, the dragonfly’s head popped off and the thread slackened. Jenny laughed, picked her kite up off the grass, and ran with it across the lawn. I reeled the thread in and sat on the grass. While pinching apart the dragonfly’s tail, I listened to the paper tail of Jenny’s kite flap in the breeze and watched my mother laugh with yet another strange man.

Robert A. Dollesin
The Dinner Party
Joshua Ferris

SEA LION WOMEN - dawn corrigan


dawn corrigan

At my grandparents' assisted living facility, love is in the air. The singleton residents pair up and disengage and pair up again with the frequency of sea lions.

My grandmother updates me when I go to visit. We huddle together in the dining room over her two cups of tea.

"See that woman there?" she says, as a resident I haven't seen before passes by. She's tall and striking, her back unbent, a slightly wild look to her face and hair. She glides past at a stately pace with her walker.

"I do," I say.

"She's dating ... let's see ... there he is," my nana says, indicating a man. He has white hair and glasses and a rounded back. I think the back must be disappointing to a woman who's remained so upright, defying gravity and time.

But what do I know. Maybe if I make it to 80 I'll finally be less uptight.

Dawn Corrigan
The Judas Hole
Calvin Haul

DEAD RINGER - ravi mangla


ravi mangla

I met the double in a Sam's Club, by the frozen pizzas. He looked just like - in almost every unique way - my dead father. We joked about the sign out front. Some of the letters had burnt out and it now read S M Club. His laugh was a little sharp, but I thought, maybe, we could work on that.

I found out he was eating alone and invited him to dinner. My mother was coming over to eat that night, and I decided it would be a neat surprise. After the salad, she excused herself, and hid in the bathroom. We set her lasagna outside the door.

While my wife did the dishes, the double and I tossed the pigskin around the backyard. That night he tucked us in, kissed our foreheads, and mussed my hair. My wife thought this was all too weird. I told her I agreed, even though I didn't. When we woke up our car was gone, the faux-Renoir that hung above the sofa, most of my wife's crystal stemware, and our son. A day out with Grandpa. It made me consider how little time I spent with my own grandfather growing up. I hoped my son wouldn't make the same mistakes that I did.

Ravi Mangla

YOU AGAIN - brandi wells


brandi wells

The television is muted. The only sounds are leaking faucets and the air conditioner clicking on, running and clicking off. I imagine you fucking her. Her stomach, flatter than mine, with no trace of razed off hair. Her boobs, larger than my A-cup. Did you feel guilty with your cock shoved up her cunt? Did it matter that you left me? “I am done with you,” you told me, then fucked a nineteen year old with the clap.

I did not throw coffee in your face when you told me about her. I looked at the cup and rubbed my fingers together, picturing the way I would flick my wrist, the way your face would turn, the waitress’s expression.

Then later I saw you with her. “I like your green dress,” you told me. I was so drunk I drove to your apartment instead of mine.

Weeks later, when we are drinking margaritas and eating refried beans, you pull my feet into your lap and rub my ankles, hardly sexual, but I get your meaning.

And now, when you’re sleeping next to me, I dream that we are sitting in a ditch on the interstate, smoking cigarettes that are turning to bones. The bones are shrinking, thinner than pieces of pine straw. I feel embarrassed that my cigarette is gone. I keep asking for more.

Brandi Wells
Brian Evenson

HAPPY - steven j. mcdermott


steven j. mcdermott

Maybe she should just give in and take the fucking sleeping pill. Get a night’s sleep—even if it’s a drugged one—for a change. She thought about those men who did the murder-suicide thing—shot their wife and kids and then themselves—and wondered what the difference was between them and her. Where would her mind have to go so that pulling the trigger once, twice, however many times, would seem not just the best, but the only option? Some joker had told her once that happy thoughts make happy people. So she stared at the ceiling and tried to make up punch lines to the joke: “How many homeowners does it take to screw a mortgage broker into a light socket?”

Steven J. McDermott

MR. PIBB, ETC. - ben segal


ben segal

The only cd I could find was Gregorian chants. All my socks have holes in them. I wore a funny hat to the party. Nobody thought it was a joke. Or at least nobody laughed.

They could always remember my dog's name, even if mine wasn't always quick to the tongue.

For dinner I'm getting Taco Bell. I'm getting a gordita. It means 'little fatty.’ I tried to order a 'little fatty' at the drive-through once. I don't think they got it. They told me that no such item was on the menu. I told them to get a translator. I ordered a fajita. I have a whole list of Taco Bell purchases. I transcribed it to its own notebook.

Dec. 19- Chalupa, hard-taco, medium Pepsi.
Dec. 20- 4 hard tacos
Dec. 22- 2 bean burritos, large Mr. Pibb, etc.

Someone once told me, 'It could be worse. You could be collecting your toenail clippings in a jar.'

Ben Segal
The Heresiarch & Co.
Guillame Apollinaire

SNOW - hardy jones


hardy jones

She, being from the tropics and having seen the Olympic Winter Games on her village’s TV, named her only child Snow. She had never been in snow and Snow had never been in snow, so it became the village’s – whose name is not pertinent and is difficult to pronounce – one desire to get Snow in snow. This cause was helped along by Snow’s grandparent the village leader, who each year after Snow’s birth saved part of the village’s profit from its harvest of mangoes, tamarinds, lychees, papayas, pineapples, and rice to pay for Snow’s trip to be in snow.

The grandparent and the rest of the village could not decide where the best snow resided for their Snow. The Himalayans were suggested, but that place, the villagers heard, had the abominable Snowman, and no one, especially she and the grandparent, wanted Snow to be taken by an evil Snowman. She, after the others had reached their wits ends, thumbed through the atlas and found the perfect place: Iceland. She remembered the Winter Games had ice-skating, ice hockey, and the luge and bobsledding were conducted on ice; ice, she concluded, must be a requirement to have snow, and a place named after ice would have snow for Snow.

After six transfers and twenty-seven hours in planes, Snow was in snow. Snow froze Snow’s mouth, so Snow didn’t like snow. Snow decided that snow was not Snow, and that hating snow, Snow did not hate Snow, but hated snow.

Hardy Jones
The Ballad of the Sad Café
Carson McCullers

22. - drew kalbach


drew kalbach

She put on a top hat and a feather boa and asked me to tell her a universal truth. The captain showed her an old dirty sock and told her to go fuck herself. The captain lit a fire in the middle of the room and roasted a duck. The pigeons were offended but the captain told them the smoke mingling with my wallpaper would produce a very important universal truth. We all watched as he turned the duckover and over and over. The smoke began to rise and mingle with the wallpaper. The captain strained to keep his rhythm smooth and even. She stood nearby and shifted from foot to foot. A nervous tribal dance. My entire room was full of duck smoke. We coughed and hacked. Nothing happened. The pigeons tried to open a window but the captain told them to stop and watch. The wallpaper began to peel away from the wall. The wallpaper fell to the ground and formed the word 'because.’ We watched in silence. The captain nodded to the pigeons and told them to open a window. We fanned the smoke outside. The wallpaper did not move. She stared at it for a long time. The rest of us feasted on roasted duck. She twisted some yarn into rope and tied her teeth to mine. She crushed a porcelain tea cup. We fed each other the shards then made love on the bathroom floor without flushing the toilet.

COME BACK TOMORROW - tania hershman


tania hershman

I'm open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm closed. Weekends, it depends how I'm feeling.

You try and open me on the wrong day. I say, No, it's... (Tuesday) or (Thursday), but you don't seem to know. You don't see the sign. Closed. Shut. Sometimes, I'm closed for a week and you pace up and down and you want me to be open but I'm not. I can't. I can't open just for you. Don't you see? It's about more than that, more than me. There are shutters that have to be lifted, curtains pulled apart, items laid out in rows, on shelves, everything in its place. I can't just open like that, waving a wand, some kind of magic.

I lie in bed and I hear the sounds of you and inside I try and make myself. Even though it's (Tuesday) or (Thursday). I want to. For you. I want to be open-all-hours, all day, all week, every month of the year. Even Christmas. Then the sounds of you come closer and the touch of you and I spring back. Closed. Shutters up.

Maybe tomorrow.
Try again tomorrow.
Come back tomorrow.

Tania Hershman
The People's Act of Love
James Meek

GUINNESS - crispin best


crispin best

The priest drinks Guinness. He sits and drinks. He reads a newspaper.

He is humming. I listen. He is humming ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On.’ The sun has no hat. The hat would burn. Also, the priest was lying. Outside it is very cloudy and cold.

The priest has a dog. The dog looks bored. It sits beneath the table with its eyes open.

I am sitting two tables away from the priest. The dog is either a boy or a girl, I know this much. I try to stare at the dog’s genitals. I cannot tell. I crane my neck. The priest sees me looking at the dog’s genitals. I smile at the priest. The priest does not smile.

Crispin Best
Dan Rhodes



matt ryan

Roxette, rawboned and badassed, figured Santa was on his own naughty list. She knew he’d like her letter, the way she drew floating breasts above her signed name, the way she wanted Bucky dumped down the black of her chimney--tape-over-mouth, rope-around-wrists.

Roxette would take care of the other supplies: the gloves, the bags, the rags, the chainsaw.

And later, she’d give a gift of her own and send a Mime-O-Gram. They’d do the Edgar Allan Poe and rap, tappity-tap on the chamber door of Bucky’s girlfriend—the klepto-whore-o with a penchant for engaged men.

Oh, these mimes were multi-talented. They were also reenactors: War of 1812, The Battle of Thermoplyae, The Seven Minute War.

Seven Minutes of pure mime realism.

That’s what Roxette paid for. That’s what was needed to incorporate the gloves, the bags, the rags, the chainsaw. That’s how long it took her to win her not-so-nice little war.

Matt Ryan
Joey Goebel

HUSH MONEY - stefanie freele


stefanie freele

I gave him all the cash I had. One dollar. He was buying this 100mpg moped so he could toddle around, baseball hat backward, hairy legs exposed, black boots, leather vest, unlit cigarette. I said, “for-the-love-of-god drive on the right side of the road.” He said, “drive this,” and tore through the front yard snatching the balloon right off the peg, causing the children to cry and the ducks to scatter. “I only had one dollar to begin with turkey,” I yelled. He flipped me off, driving ninety-nine more miles. I lost him when I pulled over to fill my tank.

Stefanie Freele
A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness
Kathy Fish, Amy Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Claudia Smith


'Carnivore II' - peter schwartz

TONIGHT - sean lovelace


sean lovelace

I’ll cook tilapia for dinner; use the trip to the grocery as an excuse for a bottle of Pinot. Fill the kitchen with Depeche Mode, and sautéed onions. Then gaze into some man’s forehead and say, “Really? It’s this damn phone. I never get a good connection.” Well, I’m sorry for my serotonin. But if you don’t like sex and secrets; white wine, Percocet, and the most hurtful words; me curled naked into a plastic blue chair and rather happy—please go away. I’m too old to play much older. Too young to gather with others, in yellow closets. And often, very often, I will not reply. There is a steady wind that blows right through me. Lightning bolts down my throat. My life is cloudy, and perfectly lit with the taste of dusk. “What do you mean?” they ask. “What do you mean?” Hours ago, I penned a Patagonia. Wandered a sidewalk of whiskey drinkers. Met a woman who told a wonderful story for every inch of her body. Went to my mailbox, and saw grappling in coils, a snake swallowing a snake. Really. That’s what I mean, tonight.

Sean Lovelace
The Lover
Marguerite Duras

THE DOG - kyle minor


kyle minor

The child likes dogs. The child is not afraid of dogs. The child crosses the street saying woof woof. The Doberman strains at the chain. The chain strains at the stake. The child says woof woof. The stake pulls free. The Doberman mauls the child.

The doctor says stitches, skin grafts. The doctor says the plastic surgeons are good, the physical therapists are first rate, ugly is as ugly does, the child can learn to write with three fingers.

The lawyer says six figures, maybe seven. The lawyer says courage, fortitude. Are you prepared to do what needs done?

The mother says I’d like to kill the bastards. The father says soak ’em, ruin ’em, ruin ’em.

The defendant says the dog was on a chain. The defendant says the child taunted the dog. The defendant says I love the dog.

The defense rests. The plaintiffs, the plaintiffs. The television waits at the courthouse steps. What will the money mean to you? The dog is dead, the dog is dead, that’s all I care about, the mother says.

Later, the defendant pounds her fists against a one-way mirror. Please, please don’t take the dog. Please, please, let me stroke the dog. Please, please, let me see the needle. I love that dog. His name is Sal. Nobody raped me anymore since I got that dog.

Kyle Minor
The Comedian
Graham Greene

CHARLES LENNOX - grocery list


charles lennox

She looked up from the paper. The boy had become a four-legged animal, running the yard in circles. The dirt he kicked up plumed slightly in his wake then settled back down. He chased a dragonfly ‘til it flew over the fence line. She knew his blood was wild, not of her body.

“And what are you supposed to be?” she asked.

“A lion,” he said, sitting at her feet.

“What about me?” she said. “What am I?”

“You’re mommy,” he said.

“Can I be something else for a little while? Something exotic,” she said. “Like a horse.”

“No,” he said. “You’re mommy. You’re always mommy.”

He stood without effort and ran to the opposite end of the yard, arms extended like a bird, flapping, leaping every few steps, a new being entirely. She watched him and sipped her tea. She went back to the paper, pen in hand. She wrote out her grocery list.

Charles Lennox
How The Water Feels To The Fishes
Dave Eggers

ORGANICS - maria anderson


maria anderson

Undertakers entrusted with the burial of vanquished life, caskets of dead ends. This is not a through street. All in which you once took comfort is now meaningless. And these words, they mean nothing, muttered at random by the homeless of the globe, in tandem, at every street corner and from cardboard mansions and beneath marble halls and between the fibers of knit blankets. Millions of lips shuffle through indistinct similarities between themselves and others, talking to ensure that voices still function. All languages are rendered immune from private thought under the shell of fractured skulls.

Organs threaten the dichotomy of the rich and the poor. Three hundred volunteer firemen heave a politician’s broken body from the wreckage of his silver Mercedes, and doctors pop the unfortunate man’s liver into a small boy. This boy had thus far lived in abandoned houses and wandered dying into a hospital, lost and addicted to heroin since conception, although his mother did try to eat organics.

He now had an important man’s liver next to a throbbing stomach, and knew his luck was about to change. The boy was far too humble to smile.

Maria Anderson
The Open Curtain
Brian Evenson



beth thomas

The savages are cutting off the heads of males. They are plucking men and boys from the crowd but no one runs. We are too enthralled to run. Rapt, we are simply waiting.

In the back of the field, I shield my eyes from the sun. The sky is pink. I revel in the safety of womanhood. My baby cries and I offer him a breast. When he falls asleep, I fold him up and put him in my rucksack.

Shhhh, I say, swaying. No one will know you are here.

Beth Thomas
A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness
Amy Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, Claudia Smith


'Postcard III' - peter schwartz



stefanie freele

I ask my Chinese friend why we’ve been ushered to the center of the empty restaurant. She tells me to read menu. Don’t ask so many question. I reply I have posited one question and I might have many more and she should get used to it. I remind her I’m paying. She replies, never order egg roll.

I try to ask in a way that isn’t a question. I say, interesting music, eh? She smoothes the tablecloth and replies in Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese. Our conversation falls flat.

The tea arrives and I attempt to pour, but she stops me, saying it needs to steep three minute.

My prawns arrive in sauce. Her prawns sit up, red, crispy, with black eyes at the end of pink tentacles. The eyes look from me to her. She bites one off and eats at an astounding speed. She calls the waiter over. They speak their choppy language. Plate after plate arrives. I maneuver her prawn-head dish so all the eyes face her.

She nods. Scoops more onto my plate, even though I protest I’m full. She points to my stomach. They take off head, she says, you not Chinese.

Stefanie Freele
A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness
Kathy Fish, Amy Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Claudia Smith



sam pink

I am waiting in the parking garage for you and I have a bouquet of arm bones. Would you like to go to a restaurant with me? You'll have to pay though; I'm broke. Or we can go to my place instead. And I will comb your hair with the stem of a rose. And make faces behind your back. And turn you around and hug you. And slowly slip a knife through your back so it comes out the front and pierces me and we die connected.

sam pink or
Tape for the Turn of the Year
AR Ammons

NAKED - savannah - louise



we took off all our clothes on top of nick’s roof last night, kind of drunk but mostly just in love. the sultry city air hung in sopping swells between the bricks & treelimbs & traffic lights, connecting everything by unconquerable phantom-dusk. we dragged up some beers and a couple blankets that didn't smell like cat-piss and we fell asleep under the electric wasabi green of the midtown sign.

"midtow" it said, because the giant "n" had burned out.

in the morning the world looked very thin and blue until the sun rose and stung the world. we were roused by the terrible shrieking of brakes & a dull thump. we scrambled to the ledge to see the smash, nick shouting, "fuck you asshole" in a silly voice.

the lady in the crumpled car opened her door in a huff. she had tight curly hair and high-waisted pants. she looked kind of bruised but i don’t know. the man who hit her walked slowly. he was younger. he wore khakis. a policeman walked towards the scene, broad shouldered and important. we burst out laughing. from above we were shiny gods, peering down with disdain on the lilliputian populace on the corner of lake & chicago.

You Shall Know Our Velocity
Dave Eggers

SCAB PICKING - meg pokrass


meg pokrass

He hops around the living room scratching his ankles, complaining of an itch. Lately, he's decided to howl about how bad it is to wait for the lawyer to call, flogs himself for marrying her. I tell him to leave it alone, enough scab picking. She lies up for months in bed with a baby that turned out to be nothing but a stomach ulcer. She came home from the doctor one day wearing her size 4 boot cut jeans again, saying the OB GYN had never seen anything like it, describing how the OB/GYN fainted when he did the ultrasound. He wished he'd been at the appointment, to see the doctor falling over. Going through her car weeks later he found a rubber fat suit curled in the trunk. Still, he has dreams of someone peeping. I dig my head under his shirt on the worst days and he rubs it. Ba-Gawk! he says, over and over. I don't really want this, I say. I want to sit and watch Myth Busters, adopt a cat, have a dream.

Meg Pokrass
The Lay of the Land
Richard Ford

EXCUSES - athena strickland


athena strickland

She loved him but hated giving blow jobs. On prom night, in the back seat of his daddy’s Buick, she convinced him not to ‘go’ in her mouth. She reminded him she was diabetic and it’s a known scientific fact that semen contains lots of sugar and should she accidentally swallow his load, she could end up in a diabetic coma. They’d miss the prom, the bowl-a-thon, the seniors only breakfast. He’d have to rush her to the emergency room for a stomach pumping.

The doctor who did the pumping would find the semen. They would analyze the DNA and know it was his, just like on TV. Her daddy and her brothers, the two that weren’t in jail, would come after him with shotguns blazing, while her poor mama kept a bedside vigil as she slipped deeper into her coma.

He went limp as a dishrag when he heard the word, ‘shotgun.’ After that, he wouldn’t even kiss her.

Athena Strickland
A Man Without a Country
Kurt Vonnegut