- chris cocca



kyle minor

The old man sat on the steps of the Dorr Street Clinic and hoped they’d take his plasma and give him fifty bucks. If this was an old preacher story he’d be homeless, but he had a home in the back room of his daughter’s girlfriend’s house three streets back. He waited all afternoon for the nurse to come outside and call his name, but she never did. If this was an old preacher story, he’d fall asleep on the sidewalk and none of us would know his name, but the nurse knew his name and it was Clarence. Around five o’clock the security guard came over and gave him six bucks to get some cheap whisky from the liquor store next to the pizza shop. If this was an old preacher story, somebody would have given him a dime and not cared that it wasn’t enough to get some cheap whisky from the liquor store next to the pizza shop. After he got the whisky, he drank some of it and started walking home. If this was an old preacher story, a little child would run out in front of a speeding city garbage truck on Dorr Street, and if this was an old preacher story, the old man would run like we’d never seen him run before, throw his body in front of the dump truck, and push the child to the safety of the median in the split second before the dump truck crushed his head and body and all the bystanders gathered around to marvel at his sacrifice. But the old man was just walking home. It was getting dark, and he forgot to get some bread for his daughter and her girlfriend. He hoped they would leave him alone for not getting the bread. If this was an old preacher story, all the people of the city would gather for a grand memorial at Maplewood Cemetery, and an old preacher would deliver the news of the homeless man’s sacrifice, and remind the gathered how we can’t judge a man by his outward appearance. Something would stir in the heart of a small boy in the crowd, and he would begin to believe that the purpose of his life was to help those less fortunate. He would grow up to build a homeless shelter downtown, found a job training program, a rehabilitation center, a halfway house. But nobody died, no one was saved, no one bothered the old man on his walk home. When he reached the house, nobody asked about the bread. He went back to his drafty room, turned on the television, and drank some of his whisky. If this was an old preacher story, this could be your life, if you didn’t renew your mind. The consequences of sin haunt you even in the here and now. But there was a cop show on the television. A car chase, a sting operation, the bad guys got it in the end. The old man watched with pleasure, and he drank the whisky, and that brought him some pleasure. He went out into the living room and sat for a few minutes with his daughter and her girlfriend, and that brought him some pleasure. Sometimes he scratched up a dollar and bought a lottery ticket and hoped to win his millions, but if he did, he thought, this is what he’d do with it. Watch cop shows on television, drink his whisky, sit for awhile with his daughter and her girlfriend.

Kyle Minor
The Union Jack
Imre Kertesz

SPUN OUT OF - kenneth pobo


kenneth pobo

Control—I say, in a library parking lot with an old couple walking to their car and talking about tree surgeons, that I would like to see America fall. You say you’d like to see America be great again. Tennis, no love. A cop comes.

At the police station, I’m turned over to the FBI, the CIA, the ABC, the 123. Stern people ask about my opinion of One Life To Live—do I prefer it when Karen was cheating on Larry Wolek or now when gay characters marry. Larry wouldn’t like that. I figure it’s best to have no opinion, to wrap any view I have in old newspaper and hope fish sellers can peddle it.

“Do you truly love America ?” some former pop star asks while looking in a mirror.

“Yes,” I blurt, hoping door number three will open and my dream kitchen appears.

Jail. Distance. No letters in or out. Duct tape on my lips and genitals. Maybe I got my wish— America did fall. Hard. And in its place? A commercial. Cialis. Swiffers.

Kenneth Pobo
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth
Kevin Wilson



rebecca gaffron

You might want to cover your face, in case your boss likes that homemade porn shit. What would he think? You know, if he saw you lying on your bed fucking yourself. Or what about that guy from the book shop, the one who kind of smiles at you, but always disappears before you get up the nerve to say hello?

He might not know it’s you. He’d be sitting there, rubbing himself, watching that rubber cock split you open. And just when he’s in danger of blowing a load all over the keyboard, he sees the way your chin juts as you cum all pixilated. It reminds him of that day you wanted to ask if he’d like to join you for coffee. He recognizes you from a single magical moment that drained away in the eleven steps from the door to the counter and left you asking in a zombie voice for the latest tabloid rag.

Rebecca Gaffron
Touch Me
Alan Stewart Carl

WHAT SANDRA WANTS - linda sands


linda sands

She wants another woman. She’s not sure which one, but she knows the girl needs to have big tits, because that is what she sees when she’s lying in bed with her husband and the lights are dimmed and she whispers, baby? What are you thinking of, as his hands run over her flabby stomach and she squeezes her own breasts. And he says, dutifully, You Baby. You.

And she wishes he’d lied. She wishes he’d said another woman. Even maybe that he’d picked the same one she was thinking about- the waitress at the restaurant, the blonde with the plunging top and the tattoo of the horned angel on her breast.

That’s what Sandra wants. Yes. Right now. That girl in this bed baring that tattoo and pulling Sandra’s hands away and replacing them with her lips.

Linda Sands
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
Wells Tower

MOURNING - alec bryan


alec bryan

The rain: slanted drizzle, grayscale backdrop, leafless trees drenched. The populace of black parasols, feathering the rain, raven-wing-like, down the acrylic coated nylon onto the already soaked greens. Parasols grouped tight, snug, closer than amphibians morphing into frogs in desiccated ponds, gasping for air, for space, confined only by circumstance. Closeness like this is never wanted.

The plot of earth is pried open, exposing the wet sloppy clay interior, modest puddles of uneven proportions pock the hole.

An ecclesiastic groan from the pastor, an imitation of life, a veritable dyslogy on death, a fabricated ray of light battered by the onslaught of rain, battered back into the mouth from whence it came, back into the sealed casket, back into the mother’s womb, battered back into the dirt, back into time immemorial, then, no more groans, no more words, just rain and a miniature casket lowered into a hole.

Shovelfuls of clods cover the entire opening until the casket is slurped back into the earth, and all that remains to be done is the smoothing of dirt once the rain stops so the grass sods evenly, and for two doltish umbrellas to leave the scene—like the others did minutes before.

Alec Bryan
Robert Bolano



brett fogarty

She says something about Asheville and the districts (or was it neighborhoods?) I add, “enclaves” and another voice says, “borough”. Every city is beautiful in Spring, even the kids are better behaved, my wife talks of their little hands folding neatly into one another’s.

I map the things that correspond in her mind: Districts to cities, Art Deco buildings to beauty, folded hands to even tempers. She says, “quarters” then “parishes” and we pass a man on the sidewalk reading aloud from filthy spiral bound notebook. He catches my eye and pleads,

“We must protect the lion and the lamb from the wolves in our ancestors stolen clothing. Mothers and fathers- Action!”

On the car ride home we talk about architecture over a soft rock station that puts the kids asleep. We get to a bridge over a half-frozen river and on the far bank there are dozens of equally spaced road flares going off, glowing red in stark black. I push the accelerator down hard and it jolts the kids awake. My wife yells, she asks me what the hell do I think I am doing. I shout back,

“I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Brett Fogarty
The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster

SHIM SHAM SHIMMY - ryder collins


ryder collins

My boyfriend becomes the Dalai Lama whenever my back’s to him. I keep crab-walking frontwards, but there’s espresso to be made and those hydroponics, and at night I have to dance.

Ryder Collins
Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami