BETWEEN OUR LOVE - eric bennett


eric bennett

The broken glass makes her fingers bleed, but she picks up the pieces so the kids won’t cut their bare feet anyway. She tip toes around the jags and juts like she’s stepping stone to stone over a creek, ripples made of razors and splashes becoming slashes, but she looks so beautiful doing it. She makes it seem as if brokenness is a natural fact of motherhood, perhaps it is.

I watch from a kitchen chair and decide that I like the way her long neck moves when she turns to find the broom. It’s a neck I can see me kissing for a long time, a neck I will love with the palms of my hands, a neck I would miss if ever she left me.

I wonder why I don’t make love to this woman more often. She winks at me and I know that something sweet and strong is going to happen later tonight. I smile back at her and the kids stand at the door waiting to cross the kitchen, between our love.

Eric Bennett
The Dog of the Marriage
Amy Hempel

DIRTY EYEBALLS - robert scotellaro


robert scotellaro

After Korea, Billy's uncle, who stayed at Billy's house for awhile, came back a little screwy. "Nerves" was the way they explained it. He'd take the center out of a slice of white bread and shape it into a small, tight ball. The doctors said it might help.

All day he'd roll them, over and over between his thumb and fingertips like worry stones, till they all turned black—a beer in one hand, a doughy ball in the other—working it, working it...

Whenever we'd go to Billy's house we'd see them everywhere, like dirty eyeballs, staring up at us from sofas, countertops, sinks—a creepy pile of them in the ashtray on the coffee table in front of the TV.

Robert Scotellaro
Mad to Live
Randall Brown



david aichenbaum

I’m a puzzle, she says that first night. He sees she wants to be misunderstood, or rather understood not at all. She spotted him closing up, locking the batting cages, rolling home the dimpled balls, swatting a few, sweating under the lights. A puzzle, she says, stripping quickly by the pretzel warmer as if no one with eyes is watching, and he thinks of her in itty-bitty pieces, the cardboard corners of her breasts, a glossy shadow for a belly button. He thinks of the X-Acto knife she’ll use -- already has by the look of it -- to tear apart her arms, her form, her mindly matter. Here she is, boxed, plastic wrap bunching under his nails, and inside, all those impossible fragments calling for someone un-whole to free them, feel them, spread them on the carpet, dive into their jigs and jags, and then leave them there, scattered. Assembly not required.

Me, I’ll be a riddle, she says, and you a pair of hands.

David Aichenbaum
Daisy Miller
Henry James



ani smith

An angry slit between the legs and hair that didn’t know which way to go and decided on every way possible. It’s amazing the way we, as baby girls, split open—two by two, everything, two by two. A block of flesh, splits on two sides to create arms. The bottom half splits down the middle to create legs, and through the center, down into the ground, the perfect aperture for waste disposal. Clinically simple, efficient. Through and out so elegantly. Meatier down the thighs with flexibility, we were all once every animal, but none which wreaked such pleasure and wild as this. None which so much as dreamt of hairless limbs and non-organic, milk-less projectiles from the chest. Now a caricature, now a painted doll, now a cubby hole for worthless possessions.

Ani Smith
Blake Butler

HER PARENTS' BED - jared ward


jared ward

Every time they’re gone, we’re in, then I’m in, then she says something dirty. About me. Or her. Or her titties. That’s the only place she ever uses the word titties, which is so little girl. And I don’t mind that, usually. In fact, it’s often a goal. But when I see her little girl picture on the bedroom wall, with her little girl shirt covering her little girl titties, I feel weird and dirty and harder than ever and then I don’t know what I think of myself. Mostly I try not to think, I just smack her when she asks and watch my handprint fade, or try to balance on the headboard when we stand and she shows me she can grab her ankles. Both of them. At once. And is it my fault there’s a picture of her mother on the dresser, just above my hand that’s riding on her shoulder?

Jared Ward
Up the Down Way
Kevin Brown

EXPLANATION - matt jasper


matt jasper

When there’s a tin can lying on the ground near a dog, it’s not the dog attacking you—it’s the tin can controlling the dog. The dog itself—roasting its skin off, is being burned in a campfire because of the can. The can itself is the object of suspicion—the one thing in any landscape or scene that is secretly fake and is placed as a clue to those who may then discover the entire landscape or scene is fake. The only way to escape is to destroy what the one fake thing is controlling. The fake thing will disappear, but then you have to go away too—to a new place where everything is fake until you notice the one thing that is real.

Matt Jasper
The Anatomy of Melancholy
Robert Burton

JERK - gary moshimer


gary moshimer

I was young then, starting out at the hospital, on medication rounds at 7 am, ready to pop some nice shiny pills into this old woman’s mouth. She was chewing; toothless, never-ending, side-to-side cow-like. The same way my grandmother chewed air—for hours.

“Hey,” I said, losing patience. “Open up.” She garbled something through the chewing. “Open,” I said. “Pills.” I saw something in her mouth, white, a tissue? “Spit it out,” I said, slipping a rubber glove on and putting my fingers in her mouth. “Give it.” She gummed my fingers. I forced her chin down and swept the goo out with a finger. I held the foamy blob before my eyes, watching it run down my glove.

“That was…the body…of Christ.” She said.

I turned my head in time to see the priest in the room across the hall placing a wafer on an old guy’s tongue.

“Oops.” I said.

She shed a tear.

Gary Moshimer
Laurie Seidler

HELPLESS - catherine zickgraf


catherine zickgraf

Her legs were elevated in her wheelchair, parallel to the brown tile and nested in dust-colored pillows, then she tipped forward toward the floor. Everything had come apart, mingling together on the dirty tiled floor: legs, dirty pillows, female items spilled from a purse, one gray slipper that slid under a booth bench.

I opened my cell phone to check the time then scrolled down, perusing my recent calls, then walked away. Disabled people have strong arms and feel good when they do for themselves.

Catherine Zickgraf
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
Sigmund Freud


'Ode to the Wilderness' - peter schwartz



lydia copeland

In the morning our town glows with yellow snowflakes and window displays. You are coming home on the day's first train to pull your suit from the closet and kiss my cheek, and then you will board another train and depart for the city. I walk our son through a fog to school, rhyming all the way about chicken soup with rice. He watches for pigeons, seagulls, penguins in the window, apples on a cart. At the end of the street, we are full of water. Water soaks our bangs, shines our faces. Our coats are covered in a hide of mist. Our son holds my neck up the stairs to his classroom. His hair smells like coconuts. I hand him over, push in his chair, kiss his cheek. You will return the following night and find me under the covers, right where we left off, still cool from the wind.

Lydia Copeland
No One Belongs Here More Than You
Miranda July

CHEESE - sara crowley


sara crowley

The swing seat in the front yard creaked rhythmically. Jake held a package of Swiss cheese in his left hand. Peeling one slice he licked along the length, wormed his tongue into one of the holes. Miss Jenkins had sent him another one of those texts.

“I want ur tongue in me”

Jake flushed and bit into the Leerdammer. He reached for the soda can and popped the tab. Fizz foamed back up.

“I want u in my mouth.”

Once a day he wanked; his left hand holding the phone and scrolling through.

He ate more cheese. Looked up at the chilly sky. Moonshine, stomach flip, guilt.

“And you are sure they are from Miss Jenkins?” the Principal had asked.

“Yes.” Jake looked down at the floor, dry mouthed, heart thumping, too far in now. He’d always waited to see her lush silhouette framed in the window. His fingers would text words that he hoped for, and then he’d go home, check his phone, be surprised at her rudeness, and feel his cock stiffen.


Sara Crowley
Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer
Sean Lovelace

RECIPROCITY - samantha killebrew


samantha killebrew

10am. Frank opened the doors to his shoe boutique. Adele Bruni was waiting on a bench.

"Oh Frank, thank God! I have this very special occasion to attend this evening! I need something that reeks of money but is subtle at the same time.”

Frank ushered her to a chair. “You just relax Mrs. Bruni. We'll find you something just fabulous.”

Frank pulled up his fitting stool and sat in front of her, Brannock foot measuring device in hand.

“Stand-up please.” Mrs. Bruni kicked-off her status-Pumas and did as she was told. The cold metal sent a shiver up her spine as Frank eased the length and width of the device's scales around her naked skin. Frank began massaging the top of her foot.

“Our feet continue to grow even as adults.”
“They do?” He adjusted her big toe with his forefinger and massaged the others.
“Yes. Indeed. It's natural. Prior to pregnancy; all the bones loosening to prepare the body to bring life into the world.”
“Yes Frank, I've heard that Frank.” He was massaging her foot vigorously, and gently eased her back into her chair and guided her foot into his lap.
“That growing never stops. The pressure of everyday living and moving about keeps the feet growing...expanding...bursting.”
“Yes...pressure... intense pressure,” Mrs. Bruni whispered. She was getting breathy and flush. This is their ritual. He knew he could sell her glass flip-flops and she'd buy them, blindly. Frank knew all these things as he came in his pants. Mrs. Bruni moaned and slowly edged her foot from his lap.

“You're still an eight Mrs. Bruni.”

“Wonderful,” she said as a bead of sweat inched down from her hairline. “I'm thinking something in black patent.”

Samantha Killebrew
Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller

THE BURN - cortney mclellan


cortney mclellan

“Careful not to squawk when you’re dipped in the blood.” Aunt Nan threw a white sweater at me. “And cover those titties. Congregation don’t want to be thinking dirty at no baptism.”

When the preacher sprinkled the water on me, it didn’t burn how Nan said. And if something came in my heart it did so quiet.

I was still in all my lacy white when Jerry come for me after church. He twirled me for Nan, saying she did a job prettying up his girl, and she told him be good to the Lord’s new vessel.

In the truck, Jerry started pulling at my skirt. I told him: “No. I’m made clean. Got someone watching me now.”

That’s when I felt the burn, Jerry’s hand stronger than church water. “Don’t tell me no, girl,” he said, tearing at the lace.

I ain’t so dumb not to know when his eyes are bugged like that.

Jerry don’t see the piece of God they put in me. Can’t see it, but I know it’s there. I’m guessing he’ll see it too, if I just wait a time.

Cortney McLellan
Baby Mine
Ron Savage

[ A BOY IN THE WOODS ] - j.a. tyler


j.a. tyler

Sky up shining a boy drafted in wood and the moss of rocks. His back to a stone, leaning crisscrossed legs. Dirt under nails in thick boiling bunches and his dirty rampant face. Hands surround scented. Resting back moments and his eyes closing, snap seconds from the trunk, splintered branches and he is back again, coming into the sky, the shining, the trees. Boy and forest, trickling running together, bead to bead to moss. Gathering blinks. Gone and back, skin closing over eyes and he goes breaks comes back, reveling or unraveling. Sun steaming boy in boy skin. Sky. Sun.

J.A. Tyler

TANGO - alicia gifford


alicia gifford

My brother places the boom box and turns it on loud, positions the hat on the cobblestone street. We move together in studied precision and dance irritably, both jonesing badly, needing to fix. He slides his hand down my backside and fingers my ass and I tell him to stop but he says it's part of the show and we need the dough, and his hand slips lower and his fingers probe deeper and we turn our heads right and we turn our heads left, one-two-three, one-two-three, kick-kick-kick, sidestep, sidestep, a stomp. At the end we dip deep and dramatic then he whirls me up close, fills my mouth with his tongue, palms my breast hard and pinches my nipple, and if it weren't for the crowd now gathered and leering, if it weren't for the cash filling the hat, if it weren't for the bravos and bravas, the olés and whistles, if it weren't for the gnaw and the greed and the need, I'd bite his tongue so it bleeds; I'd spit the blood in his face.

Alicia Gifford
The Painted Bird
Jerzy Kosiński



howie good

Hands clasped behind their backs, the doctors of moral philosophy used to wander through the park lost in thought. Now they terrorize the swans with their motorized wheelchairs. The man raking the gravel path does his best to reconcile himself to the blood and feathers. He has even developed a theory concerning the chemical basis of evil. In his room at the boardinghouse he keeps a black-framed wedding picture of his parents to which he talks all night about it. But only the boy in the sailor suit, squinting up at the sun as he waits for a friend, ever supposes that the sky can be folded in squares like a map, taken home, and hidden.

Howie Good
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
Charlie Huston



jan windle

We stepped out into the cold moonless Venetian midnight. The piazza looked drab and grey. The puddles picked up streaks of orange light from the scattered street lamps. San Marco’s ornate facade stood huddled at one end.

There was no-one about at our end of the huge stretch of pavement.

A rose appeared almost under my nose. Next to my shoulder, his hand holding the flower out, a small brown face peered at mine, an anxious appealing smile: “For madam?”

Absurdly, I felt gratitude and a sense of flattery. I'd forgotten that beggars don’t operate a nine-to-five daily routine. “Thank you!”

Then, remembering where I was, “No thank you, I don’t want to buy a rose.”The rose shivered. “No, no, madam, is yours. Free.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t accept it.” “Free, Madam, please take.” He was insistent. I took it and walked on.

He followed us. It was after he had vanished into the darkness with a euro donated in pity by my companion that I looked again and saw the headless stalk of my free rose.

A euro doesn’t buy very much at all these days.

Jan Windle
The Favourite Game
Leonard Cohen