DARK LOVE - kim goransson


The body lay on the riverbank, its face a cool and tangled mask of seaweed and regret. Seeing off the curious gulls, inspector R. inhaled the salty-repugnant perfume that all expired beings waft of. Turning his attention to the set of footprints leading away from the body that, sure enough, appeared to be one-footed, he began to hum.


I am the darkness that swallows all. I know a dark love. My heart is a thousand-feet-deep stone chamber that you will never pry open. I have been known to murder babies only to return them to their mothers in pieces. I am the original motherfucker. Hear hear, who is calling, I am the darkness that swallows all.


Inspector R. carefully replaced “Mass in B Minor” on the turntable and with the first note sank into the abyss. Walking the narrow corridor with the 111 doors again: the terrified screams, feeling every handle. There was the unbearable stench, both familiar and strange. There, in his left shirt-pocket, heavy and close to heart, lay the solitary key.

Kim Göransson

Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado

Mikey Fatboy Delgado

A MAN OWNS HIMSELF UNTIL THE GATE - shannon elizabeth hardwick

I'd rather be a tree than you any day. She drew diagrams whenever she was nervous. Made lists and stuck them everywhere. A tree stands still. That's all. A tree doesn't mind distance or noise or earthquakes or babies.

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein


Thomas Jefferson – now recognized by scientists as a disease that only coincidentally took the shape of a man in early America – has been detected in a number of household objects. Shipments of Chinese toys are reported to be contaminated with the politician and are being recalled due to isolated incidents of fatal child legislation. A vaccine is being developed – but is years from completion. Some speculation has arisen that Thomas Jefferson accumulates in closets and under beds. Children have demonstrated profound ability to recognize the viral presence. Adults are asked to avoid areas wherever there is a screaming or frightened child. Some religious conservatives have suggested that there are no people, but only the many manifestations of Thomas Jefferson – humanity merely a temporary accumulation of a hive-like intelligence that we have only just glimpsed and can never hope to understand.

Dolan Morgan


Philip K. Dick

SIDESHOW - daniel romo

The Chinese contortionist has several suitors:

The lion tamer who stuffs his head down the beasts’ throats claims, “My ability to elude the deadly jaws of the jungle shows life with me will be breathtaking.”

The trapeze artist boasts, “Our love life will be a display of aerial courtship and passion, complete with funhouse mirrors and swinging chandeliers.”

And the greybeard ringmaster who rescued her from Beijing poverty reminds her, “Remember, I’m the greybeard ringmaster who rescued you from Beijing poverty.”

But at night she slinks out of her dressing room to be with The Fat Lady, away from numerous suitors enamored with the way her slippery noodle body bends. Instead she’s content to curl into a taboo embrace of security and comfort with a stationary body that never ends.

Daniel Romo
The Angle of Yaw
Ben Lerner

WHOLE LIFE - gary v. powell

In 1987, we sold life insurance. After selling family and friends and the few easy marks they referred us to, we cold-called, my partner Mahoney and me. We stalked the chiseled streets of Chicago, coked-up predators in wool-blend suits.

We overcame objections: You don’t mind your wife whoring herself out after you’re gone? We closed with: No one plans to die, but you can plan for death. We carved the hearts of guys with mahogany desks and suburban aspirations.

Once, between pitches, I heaved in a gutter; vomit freezing on contact, pizza chunks glittering like rhinestones. We summoned guilt, conjured insecurity. It’s okay if your kids shop at Goodwill? We created dreams and painted nightmares. Pay me a little today or the tax man a lot tomorrow.

The Great Lake lay gray and flat as a policy binder. We cut lines with razor blades on its indelible surface, inhaling them in the marbled Men’s Rooms of venerable law firms. We saved the souls thrown from the Sears Tower, catching them in our financial safety net.

We explained the difference between term and whole life. You can rent or own. Landlord or tenant; what kind of man are you?

Gary V. Powell


Andre Dubus III


She keeps saying, “Neti Pot” and it’s all I can do to not scream and cover my ears.

Neti pot. Neti pot. Neti pot.

It’s every fifth word. Every fourth. I want to make her stop saying it, but her hospitality keeps me quiet.

Neti pot.

And now she’s describing how it works. And now she’s describing how it doesn’t work. And now she’s demonstrating how it works. And now and now and now.

She leaves and comes back with the Neti pot. It’s in a small box. It’s out of the small box. I want to get up. I want to leave. Saline solution. Warm Water. Fill levels. More demonstrating. Nostrils. Head tilt. Nasal cavity. Flow. Drip. Flow.

I cringe and hold back my real face. The one hiding under the nice face. I sip my drink. I eat a cracker. I eat a piece of cheese. My real face is begging her to please stop saying it. Please stop. I don’t want to hurt you. Please. Stop.

I am on the verge of. I know what that means now. I know I will now be able to sympathize with certain horrendous news stories. I will whisper, “Neti pot,” after I read them and then try to fold the paper away without tearing it apart with clawed hands.



Roxane Gay

INDUCTION - erin fitgerald

Fold time into a tight, careful accordion and fan others with it.

If you are not angry, you must eat bacon. Tug hard on its black crunchy outline with your sharp little apnea-ground teeth. Each time your upper and lower molars connect, think of the person you'd most like to tell to fuck off. Your progress should be measured by the number of people it takes to chew through a piece that is the length of your middle finger.

If you are not tired, you must eat almonds. Place them on your tongue and let them drift in your mouth as they see fit. Breathe slightly through your lips, if this allows to you remember a sweeter taste. When the almonds tell you that they are bored, grind them into a paste and swallow them. Do not pause.

If you are not sad, you must eat hardboiled eggs. Tap them gently against your plate, and nod vigorously when the sulfuric fumes curl around the broken shell. This life, this possibility, it has died so that you may live. Observe the grey layer that is visible between the yolk and the white. That is the soul. Swallow it whole.

Erin Fitzgerald

Death Wishing

Laura Ellen Scott