RODENT CONTROL - josh olsen
BLACK UMBRELLA - sarah galvin
I don’t know anything about my life, except that I’m terrified of my massive financial debt, and the only thing that calms me down is a naked girl with two beers. The beers have to be either both for her, or both for me. I rarely have the opportunity to explain this. Most of the girls walk out of my apartment before they’re even completely undressed, saying things like, “Summer makes me feel like a black umbrella is opening in my chest.” It’s okay, but I don’t understand why they do that. Maybe they’re in more debt than I am.
A Cake Appeared
DRIVING MISS LENA TART - nancy stebbins
Our baby blue convertible is number forty-nine in the holiday parade. I'm chauffeuring the famous country and western singer, Miss Lena Tart, who keeps saying, “Well, ain’t that something,” as if she hadn’t grown up here herself. Maybe things look different through famous eyes. On the sidelines, children toss sparkly red and green confetti. There are things I need to say to Miss Tart; I want to congratulate her for escaping this redneck town. I want to ask her how she did it. In front of us, Civil War reenactors ride swayback horses. Behind us, on the Santa float, Christmas elves are dirty dancing to "Blue Christmas." I do believe they’re drunk. Miss Tart swivels her head to watch them. My ex-husband is the third elf from the left. He’s always ruining things, though I must admit he has good rhythm. He waves at Miss Tart and blows her a kiss. “Well, ain’t that something,” she says. A gust of window blows confetti back into the children's faces and makes them cry, and I think maybe my ex is waving at me, too. I hope Miss Tart has some good advice.
WE, THE WOMEN - michelle reale
We were six in that small place, and too many. Close enough together to smell derision. We were all tourists, though we pretended not to be.
The woman with the green butterfly clipped in her hair hung on to her German husband. He squeezed her small breast for show then raised small glass of dark beer our way. Winked. The men at our table laughed. Encouraged, he spoke: In Tunisia, a man offered four goats for my wife.
The artichokes came to the table. The men watched we, the women, take sections into our mouths. I tongued my lips, looked sideways at the German. Ah, she wants to play, he said, forgetting himself. More than power shifted.
The artichokes sat in their juices, glistening. My man placed a firm hand on my arm, and gripped. The blood rushed to my head. The German stood, lifted his small wife by her tiny arm. His embroidered serviette, pristine, fell to the sticky floor.
The woman patted the butterfly in her hair. I looked for the powder on her fingers. There was none. The butterfly wasn’t real, of course. But, God, I wanted it to be.
NAKED HEARTS - alexandra isacson
She hated the spiraling & fading Italian cypresses that edged the cemetery’s memory. Sometimes, when she drove past, she longed to visit his grave, but hadn't for years. Her boyfriend wanted to meet her there.
Beyond the wrought iron gates & flashing granite, she was light shimmering into heat, & rolled beyond a ritual. Headstones spiked with names blurred & returned to the earth by the wind & the rain. He parked in the shade beneath bursting pomegranates & melting olive trees. Inside his silvered Bentley, they talked about love & death, & she asked to see his gun. He liquored her mouth with opiates & got rough. Frequently, she was afraid of getting arrested with him, & later prayed the rosary. After he drove away, her heels dug into the dirt, while searching for his name lost among the stones.
Meeting again in the early morning mist, they wandered through a labyrinth of crosses & angel wings hidden in the chambers of her naked heart. Her silks fluttered & frayed with sparking crystals, & he carried his Glock in his suit pocket. Finding his name, her poetries & poppies unfurled in a slow, icy burn. Then, he squeezed her breathless, promising he would take care of her first.
CHIPMUNKS - sarah gerard
YOU KNOW I WOULD - vallie lynn watson
Vallie Lynn Watson