jenny perkins

COWARD - nathan stretch

He pushed the ring on to his finger and slid it up and down the strings of his guitar; making music in the underground apartment. The songs were jaundiced as they took shape, crawling from the sound hole on thin, weak legs to collapse and lie on the floor—piling on top of one another and suffocating—each emerging derelict finishing off the last with a huff and a flop and a sigh. The ring met the guitar strings with recognition, the four bottom of which were wound wire, and they danced to the sound of their music dying; a serrating grind up and down the fretboard.

Nathan Stretch
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

BLACK SUMMER - sabrina stoessinger

There was that one night when me and Sonny went down to the lake and dug ourselves down into that great big sandbar that had come up a ways off shore. The water was so shallow and warm and we waited there real quiet and still for what musta been hours until the minnows finally swam up and nibbled on the tips of our bodies. I liked how they tickled me; it felt magic and electric like little pin pricks all over. Sonny, he said the minnows wouldn’t touch him, that they were scared of him just like everyone else. But I checked. Those minnows were there trying to feed on his pieces too. I told him they were there, hundreds of them, but Sonny said he couldn’t feel a thing.

Sabrina Stoessinger
Horses of the Night
Margaret Laurence


how does he know that i am blank and blackness. how does he know that inside here there is nothing. empty space. that i don't feel anything until my forehead is smashed against a rough wall. i just came inside you, he says after a distance. i know, i say. but only because i feel sticky on the inside of my thighs. then it all returns slowly. my vagina hurts and i remember that it hurts. and i think fuck not again, not again as i smile at him like that was just great, like he did something no one else could do. wow. you men with your cum you're just amazing. my forehead and palms are skinned from the wall and a day or two later i'm still bleeding. but i am an empty bucket. willing and waiting to receive disease. and i don't care. don't really care. i really don't care.

Ani Smith
Frowns Needs Friends Too
Sam Pink


You once let me stroke your thigh through your shorts and even if it was pretend I poured tons and tons of language about how all I want is to adore you into your cells. It did nothing as always, but I got a little stolen something for that night’s loneliness.

I wish every beautiful woman I see would let me hang out with her constantly until she starts repeating herself and seems boring. Then I wouldn’t have to feel sad about her not being mine. That would be like one hell of a service.

Picture everyone you’ve ever known in the same auditorium. If we could make them all make eye contact it would be totally disgusting. The strongest males would want to look at the most beautiful women with the best bodies. Some would ride their stares like war gods while others would simply let go.

Peter Schwartz

GOAL - john tait

Fine drizzle is whipping down on us, dripping off the rusted lip of the old cantilever stand. We’re going mental. I feel the full heaving force, the surge of bodies behind me, the stale smell of drink, tobacco, body odor, wet denim, and boiled onions filling my flared nostrils. I soak up the animal roar that rolls around the dark empty roof space and echoes back off the cold concrete. I jump up and down, grabbing hold of the man in fronts’ coat, shouting in his face. He has a mustache. Looks a bit like Basil Fawlty. He grins back, not caring, he’s seen me around. My mate Rob has clambered up on a barrier and is hanging onto the cage, screaming obscenities at the pissed-off home fans across the dividing lines of fences and police. His eyes are rolling as he punches the air and gives the finger to their element, mocking them. His black leather jacket gleams with the wet.

Jon Tait
Arsenal of Spitwads
Misti Rainwater-Lites

THE STORYTELLER - sarah galvin

I will spend hours and hours shopping for bike parts online, taking in T shirts I found at Goodwill, and reading Jean Genet, while you watch me and touch yourself. I’ve always wondered why you tape your mouth shut when you do that, it seems unnecessary.

Sarah Galvin
The Man Suit
Zachary Schomburg


Nicelle Nicelle

OF TIDINGS - donna d. vitucci

Watch the girl girder the mid-December bridge. Instead of splash, she lifts; instead of plummet, she birds, skinny-legged stork lugging a backpack purse. Babies fill her throat. Her taste buds stir. Given half the chance, she'll eat her own. Her face is moon-like but even the moon can be cut off by a cloud.

Under threatening skies, still falling, the long fall, the fall of stories, fall of decades, shedding hope, she inhales through one nostril, exhales out the other, prayer gliding in a threadbare parka. She banks into the bath. She will drown before she spits. She will turn to fable. She will kiss the river and fan out face down, our angel. One big gulp. She, and all she's held back, or will never spew, expelled.

Minnows fuzz the froth, their fins kiss her, comprise an aura visible from space, from the highest-peaked Star in the East, and the deepest Hudson stones, blessing all, any, amen, while waiting, waiting. Even the fish suspend their faith.

We, we lean our camels in the direction of Herod, shoulders caved, hearts split over this cog in a wheel, one Jackson Heights girl among countless teens mulling bridges. We've a tale and we tell it in all the known languages, twitter, travel, move on, spilling the news and betraying our blood. We're eyewitnesses, and goddamn it, we'll tell the world what she couldn't, we make it ours, will testify in the flood-lit desert, in the terrifying, shiftless world. We will nod at His name. On hearing hers we shall bow. We cast palms on their paths. We will pass the word.

WHAT JIMMY WANTS - linda sands

To be fucked.‭ ‬To be fucked up to be fucked on,‭ ‬but never,‭ ‬never does he want to be fucked over.‭ ‬He wants to tell the girl on the bar stool that he calls the shots. ‭ ‬He wants to tell her about that time‭— ‬that time he thought he was going to die except when he tells her it will be that he believed he was going to become God.‭

He was fucked up then.‭ ‬You can’t take all that shit and not have something bad happen.‭ ‬The doctors told him he did it because he wanted to die.‭ ‬But Jimmy knows better.‭ ‬He did it because he wanted to live,‭ ‬in a bigger place,‭ ‬in a wider place,‭ ‬in a place where the girls came to him,‭ ‬where they beckoned him with their angel wings,‭ ‬where they straddled him on a cloud.

He stares at the girl on the bar stool,‭ ‬at the crack of her ass.‭ ‬He wants to be the only one she looks at on her way out the door.‭ ‬He wants her to straddle her Harley FatBoy,‭ ‬flip her long red hair over one shoulder then crook her finger in his direction and beckon.

SHAPES - molly bond

Lights flash in the dark, filling my eyes with shapes. The motor hums in steady bursts. My hands against the steering wheel become tentacles falling from my arms, ghostly and freckled. My shoulder is wet. I slide down in the leather seat so I can reach the pedals.

I feel a strange sense of companionship with the other drivers. I wonder what it would be like to live on the highway, driving on and on. I would feel free, a balloon let out of the sticky hand of a child. We are all in the same situation.

A black ribbon of asphalt ebbs and flows. Farms line the road, the perfect plots of land lined up, a game of checkers. I'm stuck behind a towering SUV. I swerve to the right lane, pulling in front of it, even though there's nothing to see.

Molly Bond
Collected Stories
Raymond Carver


Eyes dart staring,‭ ‬searching for them.‭ ‬The real one.‭ ‬Must be.‭ ‬A halo round his head with a sign for her somewhere if she could only.‭ ‬He will,‭ ‬they will,‭ ‬it will.‭ ‬Out in the field she practiced saying what she must say when it is there.‭ ‬Right.‭ ‬If he makes mistakes it will be alright,‭ ‬if she makes mistakes.‭ ‬He will fix it,‭ ‬set it upright on its head,‭ ‬the things they do and not look back.‭ ‬A child in the wilderness tells the story of what‭’‬s right from the every night book which is‭ ‬probably never never.‭

Neila Mezynski
Beyond Desire
‭Sherwood Anderson

DOCTOR LOVE - meg pokrass

The doctor I love admits he is slightly infatuated with a patient - one who is dying. He tells me this when wiping semen off his chest with a kleenex after I have made him come in and around my soft hand. He says her name is Alabama.

I ask if she is beautiful. The patient that needs so much care.

"How many Alabamas can there be?" he says.

He talks about the cactus she loves the most, the one she calls "Jim", with long white human looking cactus fur.

"Do you call cactus fur, 'hair'?" I ask.

"Good question," he says.

He touches my fake hair and releases a groan of approval. I tell him they are made of real hair from living girls.

Meg Pokrass
Jack Swenson

AFTER ALL - greg dybec

They tell us how na├»ve we were to have sprawled lethargically in fields of ash and chase down the remaining blackbirds with stones in hope of some bird-mash gumbo sprinkled with bark. These new men in masks say that we are lucky to be alive, since we’re just young children and all. I don’t trust them. Their masks cloud their eyes and there is no telling if the faces underneath exist or not. They tell us that we are on the threshold of a new world, and that the apocalypse wasn’t so apocalyptic after all. They explain that new ferns and hollies are beginning to sprout toward the Eastern coast, and soon enough we will see schools and hospitals once more. I don’t know what they mean, but I’m hungry and there are crickets still left over in our bunker, at the edge of woods where cracked road meets a wrinkled blanket of ash.

Greg Dybec
Love and Hydrogen
Jim Shepard

IRIS - rick hale

I'm going to wash my belongings and pile them all together in the same room.‭ ‬I'm going to shut the door and allow them to become familiar with each other.‭ ‬Then we will go to Mexico.‭ ‬I will eat biscuits.‭ ‬I will go outside.‭ ‬The sun will look dazzlingly light and secure,‭ ‬and I will give it a new name.‭ ‬You will introduce yourself to me as Iris.‭ ‬You will pick up your white stick and take me out into the desert.‭ ‬We will hunt for things,‭ ‬holding our guns and looking through our sights at unimportant things.‭ ‬Your rainbow eyes will fall on me hard.‭ ‬My body will wake up lying in your bed with my head on your chest.‭ ‬I will tell you about the time I washed all my belongings and went outside.‭ ‬You will tell me about the snowball effect,‭ ‬that it is not an accumulation or gathering of speed.‭ ‬You will tell me it is an explosion.‭ ‬A firecracker of cold white powder fanned out across the pavement like the eyeless spread of an albino peacock's tail.

Rick Hale
The Journey to the East
Hermann Hesse