lexi tess

christina drill

rory fleming

tammy peacy

tanner sherritt

jeff switt

mark mckee

dr. mel waldman

FUCK SEPPUKU - lexi tess

Give me your best bloodcurdling scream.
Do it in your bedroom, barefoot, lost deep in the closet.
Scream at old sweaters. Because they make you itch.

Do it in your parents’ house, at the dinner party, while guests speak but say nothing. Uncross your knees, if you please. Don’t scream with your mouth closed.

Do it in the kitchen, on white tiles, wear shoes painted with mud. Tap dance. Hold all the sharp knives, wedge each tight between fingers, just because…

You are motherfuckin’ Wolverine!

Then for years at your birthday, when friends fail to surprise you, stand in the dark and drop your jaw to the floor. 
Scream like it’s the start of the apocalypse.
Like little do the no-shows know, you’ve got a bomb shelter in your basement. 

Scream, dead of night, in the road, in your underwear.
At unchanging stoplights. And mosquitoes, as they eat you alive.
Scream until your heart screams back, a war cry, eardrums beating with blood.
Until your whole body vibrates.

And you float through brick walls. 
Until you are the air around you, scream. 
Like you’re a doll in a dreamhouse.
Like you’re entirely made up,
of the most beautiful sound.

Lexi Tess
The History of Love
Nicole Krauss

YOU DANCED WITH ME ALL NIGHT - christina drill

Because when we are good, we are inseparable. If it rains and I can't cling to you I get anxious about gravity. When we are bad we don't admit it. In the quiet dark you message young girls online. Twenty-year-old loud ones with big full chests, and I walk over town mumbling my dead boyfriend's name. Neither of us can help it. From our experiences we know that love can get awful, it can get desolate, it can get ruinous, and good. But it is a level playing field on Sundays at the table. Like a festival on grass where I can sincerely congratulate all your hard work. Where you kiss me all the time, all the time, all the time. Where I get a sense that I will understand soon the silver truths of marriage. Why people in the end get o.k. to die.

Christina Drill
Eleanor and Park
Rainbow Rowell


In a world without women he plays piano in the living room. He hears the phone ringing. He runs to the kitchen to pick it up. There is only static. He likes chatting with the phone operators of the different companies that call the house. He once talked to a guy from Time Warner who dreamed about Martians and multiverses. He goes and plays Moonlight Sonata. Disembodied, he watches himself sway, his back turned. He hears a knock at the door.  The music keeps playing after he leaves the bench. It’s a pizza.
"Pizza-man," he says, "Do you have a reason to keep living?"
The pizza-man is in his forties.
"I don’t have an answer to your question.  Is that Moonlight Sonata?"
He shuts the door. He looks at the box, Papa John’s. He rips the top off and dances with it to the melody of Moonlight Sonata. He draws a face on it. He imagined the first woman would look more like himself: with longer hair, a softer jaw. Luckily for him, the sharpie was black like his hair. He puts it down and continues dancing, now with his mother. Today he formed his first memory of her, at age sixteen.

Rory Fleming
The Disaster Artist
Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

BETWEEN THE CAGES - tammy peacy

I tell you not because it matters at all, but because through this you have been very kind, and too I believe curiosity should be satisfied.
I read a lot, and one of the things I read, not long before — before this — was about Da Vinci. An observation he’d made.
He’d noticed that when goldfinch babies were stolen from their nests, to be sold in cages, as pets, at markets, the mother bird would come with sprigs of poisonous plants in her beak. She’d move between the cages, depositing the greens into her babies’ upturned faces.
That’s the long answer.

Tammy Peacy
The Body Artist
Don DeLillo

BASEMENTS FREAK ME OUT SO - tanner sherritt

I’m just going to say it.
I used to dream your face was chasing me. Up our basement stairs and into the kitchen. Eyes bulging out and into me.
Rubbing, singeing the sleeves off my shirt.
My tweety-bird shirt. It buttoned like a uniform, pin stripes and patches. I wore it open like daddy. I let my beer belly hang out.
I could hear your calloused hands against the railing as you crawled closer to me. Static in the picture distorted your face. You shook yourself to pieces.
I was the fastest kid at school. Playground king with a clean vagina. The boys were jealous. They wanted to touch it. I always touched theirs first.
Yet I couldn't leave the stairs. My baby toes were thumb tacked to the ground, forehead stapled to the wall. You crept in closer and I tried to scream.
Daddy was in the fridge, Larkin was at the plate. My mouth was open, my fingers stretched. I felt your breath beat upon my neck. I couldn't look up. I didn't. You told me to clean up the blood off the carpet.
You told me I looked just like him.
I took off my shirt and went to bed.

Tanner Sherritt 
Debacle Debacle
Matt Hart

ESCAPE - jeff switt

I dab my face with foundation cream and watch each bruise seep to the surface like shit in a cesspool. They scream, "Look at me, damn you. Look at me. Too scared to leave him. Too scared to kill him."

I’ll show him.

I stuff a fresh pair of panties into my shoulder bag. My make-up. The twenty-three dollars he keeps hidden in an argyle sock in the back of his underwear drawer for poker night.

My hand trembles, clutches the door knob with uncertainty. I have maybe fifteen minutes.

I pull open the door. It’s him.

Jeff Switt
Jolie Blon's Bounce
James Lee Burke

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE - mark mckee

I read a story about a drunk character whose creator was drunk when she was created. She stumbled around outside a bar, trying to find her car. According to his unofficial autobiography the writer of this story said he got the idea after getting drunk at a bar in Pomona and after stumbling outside to go home he saw a young woman in her twenties stumbling around the parking lot, trying to find her car. So this writer, according to his unofficial autobiography, goes home drunk and writes a scene for his latest collection about a drunk character stumbling around outside a bar. And then I read about the drunk character and her drunk creator, while stone sober, and I wrote this down. I called it The Circle of Life, even though I dislike the Elton John song of the same name. And maybe if you're reading this you'll write your own story about reading a story about a drunk character whose creator was drunk when she was created. And you and I will help perpetuate it, the circle of life.

Mark McKee
Albert Angelo
B.S. Johnson

FORGET ME NOT - dr. mel waldman

I got this weird phobia you probably never heard of - athazagoraphobia. Yeah. I take a deep breath and let the vowels roll across my tongue and into the human-sphere beyond my flesh. Yeah.

I say the word. A-THAZ-A-GOR-A-PHO-BI-A. The fear of being forgotten. It freaks me out. What am I doing here? Where? Here, on planet Earth.

Only a couple creeps know I exist. Who’s going to remember me in the future, even a year from now? Do you understand? I’m nothing. Get it? Some days I totally shut down. Feel nothing. Vanish. So I cut myself and maybe, when the freakin’ blood flows, I remember who I am. Maybe.

But fuck it. I’ll do anything to feel real. You won’t forget me, cause I’m coming for you with a switchblade or a .38 I bought on the street. You and the world’s gonna know who I am. Just read tomorrow’s paper. Yeah.

Forget me not, motherfucker!

Dr. Mel Waldman
Pierre Lemaitre


Danielle Etienne

Ryan Werner

Dresden De Vera

Paul Rogalus

Ursula Villarreal-Moura

Tom Leins

Parker Tettleton


Katy Perry
Ash Koncel

Toilet Paper Mummy
Nicole Antonette

Kristyn Shelly-Olsen
Donna Stinson

KITCHEN WITCH - danielle etienne

"And when I press right here, see? That’s yer rib cage...You feel it?"

He pushes down a little with the big hunting knife, on bone on skin. My lungs are really hot and exploding and making my eyes and nose water.

"It’s a fuckin set a lungs, under the goddamn breast plate, see?"
"It’s not the breast plate"
"The fuck you talkin about girl, it’s RIGHT HERE"



Gentle like my grandma handling a dandelion in the field outside the barn but I can still feel hollow, steel

My inside doesn’t have anything inside it.

"You’re on the sternum don’t know shit about bones"
"Well I ain’t a doctor but neither are you so were both wrong I guess"

When the handle grazes my neck I feel wood and I’m afraid I’ll get a splinter. A splinter in your neck. A big ol broomhandle of wood sticking out into the fog.

Because sailors are always losing their way, always in disaster.

Mermaids come from disaster, so do sirens and people that grow tentacles and fuck each other with em. 

Human squid and that man that turned into a tree because of his genetic code. They get it in.

India or Pakistan. parasites.

Here they’ll burn your clit with a pall mall 100 if they catch you looking at an eclipse.

Danielle Etienne


I meet Wallace downtown to talk about the mistakes that fill my days and within a few minutes the sidewalks are hot to the touch and the sky looks like we’re inside a plum. I don’t know if it’s biblical or nuclear. There’s a simple, glowing chaos and Wallace puts his hand on my shoulder to guide us through the people, into a Mexican grocery where an old woman with wooden teeth is obliviously stacking coins on the lip of the register and watching crowds out her window come together and disperse like old milk. I should have tongue-kissed a foreign girl with skin the color of a vegetable and bought a Dalmatian named after a guitarist and gotten braces and learned Italian and paid my rent on time and divorced my second wife but maybe not my first, and as people start to look for the end, start to scale buildings to either see into the distance or jump to the bottom, Wallace has taken the smallest of bites from his candy apple, opened up the old woman’s hand and placed his change inside it.

Ryan Werner
Gary Lutz

8 BALL - dresden de vera

You couldn’t lean the way I’d shown you, though I guided your hips to be just so. And you didn’t quite grasp how to keep your wrist flat, but your knuckles up. Your conversation, too, was failing. Bringing up your mother who cheated you out of your paychecks. Your ex-boyfriend whose baby you miscarried the past month. I’d met you on your last week before Sacramento. It was happy hour at the bar. Why ruin what this was supposed to be?

Yet there we were, me giving cue advice you couldn’t translate.  You knocking in balls on my behalf. Saying things like, It was fucking crazy; I don’t know how I made it through; My life is a movie. Things I wish I could say and mean. The one thing you did right was keep the 8 ball alive.

After we wandered into that tattoo parlor, I joked how we should get matching 8 ball tattoos on our hips. You asked what it’d cost when I stopped you and explained how I planned for my first tattoo to be a poem - strewn across my chest - in the likeness of an equalizer. Meaningful. Original.  Thought out in advance.  But you were willing to etch the permanent reminder on a whim.  Of course you were! It would’ve gone with the woman snake charmer on your opposite thigh. You didn’t need courage, you were practiced with the needle.  I’m that way with the pen.

So how’s Sacramento?

Dresden De Vera
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison

THE GOODTIME BAR - paul rogalus

The GoodTime Bar, in downtown Lafayette, Indiana—"where every night is Halloween."  Stiff Kitten, a heavy metal hair-band cranks out Ratt and Motley Crue covers to sweaty bikers and local metal-heads, cramped together into this seedy shack.  Wiry biker chick in a fight with her boyfriend lifts him up by his t-shirt and rams the back of his head against the battered wall, making the tables in the back shake, and the skinny, middle-aged drying out ex-drunk bartender looks nervous, too scared to pick up the baseball bat behind the bar.  And then the heavy metal hair-band breaks into AC/DC, just to help break up the brawl, just to make everyone happy. 

Paul Rogalus
Big World
Mary Miller

EFFIGIES OF OURSELVES - ursula villarreal-moura

I say let’s do it. You say you have to smoke first. You go outside with your pack of cigarettes and lighter. I get comfortable on the couch and start reading a short story. You come back inside and say you’re ready. I hold up a hand and say five more minutes. You say you’ll shower in the meantime. Down the hallway you sulk. The water jerks on and I finish the story with time to kill. I wash a few plates sitting in the sink, a fork and a knife. You walk into the kitchen with wet hair, faded boxers, bare feet, and that orphan frown. Okay, I say, I’ll be right there. When I meet you in the bedroom, you’re watching stand-up comedy skits on TV. Now? I ask. Three minutes, just three minutes, you cackle with cruel laughter. This is how we build resentments. This is why I don’t even want to touch you. When you’re finally ready, I’m so fed up by the wait, your sulking, our excuses; I’m ready to build a bonfire of your cigarettes. 

Ursula Villarreal-Moura 
Fast Machine
Elizabeth Ellen


For the past six months I had been living with a buck-toothed lapdancer named Sandrine. She was a well-preserved 45, and preferred to be known as ‘Cutie.’ When I told her I was leaving she stood in the corner of her bedroom and rearranged her underwear. Her nails were painted the colour of cheap red wine, and her good panties were frayed from being wrenched off one-too-many times. She fixed me with her impenetrable black-eyed stare, and placed the ball-gag back in the drawer.

I retired to the Cavendish for a liquid lunch. Lorraine served me. Her nervous smile reminded me of the entrance to a condemned tower-block. Until then I hadn’t been in the Cavendish for almost a year. Every time I get undressed the scar reminds me of this place. It reminds me of the fat cop with the cheap suit and the pork-pie hat. Reminds me of his loud, slurred voice and his rusty flick-knife.

Sandrine used to tell me that I had the longest scar in Paignton. Sometimes I believed her. All I know is that it is longer than my dick and it throbs when it rains.

Tom Leins
Don Winslow

FLY OPEN - parker tettleton

I wake up for a drink. I blink across the bed at red digits. It’s morning. She doesn’t say anything. She’s still asleep on the sofa with her mouth & gown open. It’s mourning. I move from the fridge past the cat gate. I shut it behind me. I sit down on the sofa. I swallow. I think about what I’ll tell when her eyes open. I think about what I’ll have told before her mouth, gown, closes. She takes my closest hand in her sleep, just like I don’t know. I start telling her. My other hand stops before my eyes.

Parker Tettleton

The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake
Breece D'J Pancake


Brittany Harmon

Melissa O. Howley

James V. Coffey

David Mohan

Robert Scotellaro

Christopher Morgan

Doug Mathewson

Brenton Booth

NIGHTS ON THE DELAWARE - brittany harmon

After auntie fell asleep, comatose from chardonnay and her morphine pump, we’d sneak through the jagged hole in the chain-link fence to the river’s secret beach. During the day it laid prey to desperate pigeons and washed-up condoms. But in the moonlight we didn’t notice, not the fishhooks or cigarette butts, not even the stench of pollution. The darkness was a shield. My brother was best at finding the flattest stones, which he taught me how to skip. He told me not to think so much about wrist motion. You just have to feel it. The soft patter like rain on the gutter. Our bare toes crunched shells and broken bottles, sharpness blunted and weathered by some unseen force. But every now and then there was a malicious edge. We’d wrap our cut feet with leaves and seaweed, the saltwater soothing, the stars reassuring. As long as we had this, we didn’t mind the blood.

Brittany Harmon
Out of Sheer Rage
Geoff Dyer

PALLBEARER - melissa o. howley

Whenever anyone came to visit, my grandfather opened his kitchen cabinets and dragged everything out, everything he had to offer. He laid them out on his 1950s Formica countertop, trimmed in chrome and plastic. Stale moon pies and fig bars wrapped in sandwich baggies. Ginger snaps with no snap left, soft enough to bend. Milk from the ice box, colder than sleet, poured to the tippy-tops of jelly jars.

You received them with thanks, like communion. It’s been a hard fit for you. But you try. For instance, you’d never clutched a fish in your hand while it gasped, gills flaring; slick skin skidding over big chapped hands.  

The handsome man in sunglasses smiling outside of the funeral home made me think of you, but in reverse. Because this man did not seem comfortable in a suit.  The morning of my grandfather’s funeral, my father drove into Walmart to buy a tie. He bought two, and let you hash it out. Mr. Working Stiff. Mr. Pallbearer, bearing our load. Between my own grim cousins who barely spoke to you.

I pull over and cry—a thing like that.

Melissa O. Howley
Tallulah: My Autobiography
Tallulah Bankhead


She has come to believe that the world is a fictional construct and that nothing actually exists. Not in the way that they would have you believe that things exist. She also does not believe that things don’t exist in the way that they would have you believe that things don’t exist. She believes that life does not progress in linear progression as it might in a text, with a beginning and middle and an end. Her life, everybody’s life, she believes, demonstrates that deviation and fracture and disjuncture and fissure are the norm. She wishes she could get rid of those artificial conventions like fear and desire and that feeling of wanting to believe that out there beyond the chimera and superficiality and constant transformations of daily life there wasn't in the great wide open space of the universe, among the stars, something, just something, or anything, anything at all.  

James V. Coffey
In Search of Lost Time

IN BED WITH JESUS - david mohan

Afterwards, he liked to talk.

We talked about Homeland Security, crossing rivers secretly, border patrols, loose women in army towns, Carnival, pilgrimage, his grandmother’s holy shrine,   red rivers of lights out of his church, what his Sacred Heart tattoo meant, what his pierced nipple signified.

I liked that when he spoke English he had a schoolboyish lisp. I said his name when we touched. He said, “Please baby, without the ‘s’.”

I smoked and let him talk. My bed was a shore and he’d washed up here beside me from somewhere unimaginable I’d need to keep asking him to explain until morning came. When he finished he looked deep into my eyes and told me his mother was an actual saint.

Before we went asleep I kissed his eyelids.

David Mohan
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


BIG - robert scotellaro

He drove a monster truck in a big stadium on the weekends. The roar of cylinders and crowds still in his ears days later.  So high up. With such power under him, it was almost subterranean to sit in that overstuffed chair his father died in with a mystery book on his lap. Mickey Spillane, he recalled, with a single match for a bookmark. Something about a shotgun hole in someone so big a baby could crawl through without ever getting its shoulders wet. And nothing good on TV, and their old cat just shit in his slipper. And his wife was pecking at him from the kitchen about God-knew-what. And, Christ!—the weekend just couldn't come quickly enough.

Robert Scotellaro
Blood and Soap
Linh Dinh

SEETHING, HE WAITS - christopher morgan

He hasn’t heard a thing since she sent a text about getting drinks with a classmate at 6:36pm. It's 2:23am. Sitting in their living room, he drinks a Zin spiked with cinnamon whiskey. He’s remembering his girlfriend, dressed in a flattering, low-cut dress with dark stockings. And that image is making him hard, then lonely. He imagines her touching some guy’s knee while she talks about DalĂ­, flirting like she does—why hasn’t she responded? She always has her phone, checking pokes and pings, mashing away texts in each available silence. He’s often seen her rejecting calls, making some quiet laugh as if to say Oops. She’s doing that right now, he imagines, sitting with that tattooed fucker from Photography, declining his calls with a laugh. Oops! Roaming the room, he finds himself expecting her with new found urgency, sweating as he adds whiskey to his half-empty glass. It’s nearly three when brakes squeal outside the house. The car door slams, and he’s at his feet, moving to greet her. How magnificent: a chance to confront everything. Their bodies will be exposed in the cold—he’ll sweat and shake her, and then she’ll understand.

Christopher Morgan
Separate Escapes
Corrinne Clegg Hales

BIG THREE - doug mathewson

The guy ahead of me in line switches to another line that's longer rather than order his Mega-Burger from a woman wearing a head scarf. His new line is slower too since the senior running the register laments to each customer that he is seventy-two years old and can not afford to retire. Ethnic discrimination, high cholesterol fast food, and a gutted economy. Ignorant, fat, and broke.

Doug Mathewson

AN ENDING - brenton booth

I wore big sunglasses and a designer suit to hide at my father’s funeral. The priest read a ridiculous poem and a few bad songs were played. A relative organized the songs. I imagined my fathers disapproving spirit trying to destroy the tone-deaf sound system.

When they finished I got up and gave a speech. I held back the tears well enough and made everyone laugh—I guess my time at drama school and onstage was good for something.

After the reception everybody praised my speech. “ Your father would be SO proud of you,” is all I kept hearing. Though I wasn’t really listening. I was thinking of the way he looked in the casket before the reception. Looking at his naked, vulnerable face. I felt everything I had ever done wrong. I was a bad son.

I couldn’t get the look on his face out of my head. When the hearse drove off to the crematorium I felt a great relief. At least one of us would feel better soon.

Brenton Booth
Hermann Hesse


kate folk

scott daughtridge

jeremy kniola

jon morgan davies

jackie doyle

damian dressick

robert scotellaro

LAST FIRST DATE - kate folk

You meet him at the gym. He asks you out while you’re wiping the molded black arms of the elliptical machine.

Two nights later you’re at the Olive Garden and he’s mad that the waitress isn’t bringing your salad refill fast enough. He yells; you stare into the abyss of your minestrone. The shell noodles stare back, shiny and forlorn in a red, salty bath.

Later, at a bar, he tells you Ted Bundy is his hero. You are unfazed, accustomed to the shock tactics of small, powerless men.

He gives you a ride home. Parked in front of your building, he grabs your wrist and pulls. You’ve readied the pepper spray. While he screams, clenched like a croissant around the steering wheel, you feel guilty. He was probably only trying to kiss you goodnight. 

You let him come in to wash his eyes with the spray attachment on your kitchen sink.

In bed, as his thumbs press the hollow of your throat, you regret leaving the pepper spray in your purse, across an unbridgeable chasm of carpet, the most significant ten-foot span of your rapidly expiring life.

Kate Folk
The Butcher Boy
Patrick McCabe

STAY AWAY - scott daughtridge

“Grab a knife from the kitchen and follow me,” Josh said from the front door. He always sounded like he was losing his voice, like he’d been screaming in his sleep or into his pillow behind closed doors, wide awake with tear filled eyes. Whatever it was, it made me respect him less. Instead of getting up, I mocked him in my head. I knew where he was going and why he wanted me to come. We had told Kenny, our neighbor, to stay away from our house, but he didn’t listen. He kept coming back later and later in the night, knocking harder and harder on our door. I don’t know why he didn’t just leave us alone.

“This is what animals do,” I said to Josh as I grabbed the long steel knife with the wooden handle from the drawer. I felt the edge with my thumb. It needed sharpening, but it would do for the time being.

“We are animals,” Josh said in his strained voice.

I closed the door behind us and said “that’s true.”

The air was sticky and the sun was directly overhead. I hummed a song and noticed that our shadows were nowhere to be seen.

Scott Daughtridge
Donal Ray Pollock

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW - jeremy kniola

I’m flirting with this girl at the bar when a popular song I recognize from high school plays over the speakers. You know that nineties hit by that one Jesus something band. Memories of grunge, PlayStation, and The Real World strum a chord in my mind. Back when CD’s and pagers were all the rage.   

“Man, I haven’t heard this song in forever,” I said. 

The girl bent her ear toward the speaker revealing a twelve-gauge plug. She wore her dark hair fashioned in a retro mullet. The polka dot dress she wore captured that ‘vintage style.’ She was nostalgic for records and Polaroids, but shared a mutual obsession for technology. She had a new age-y name like Sierra or Rainee.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song,” she said.  

“How have you not heard this song? It was the jam in ninety-one.”

This girl giggled, blushed. “I was born in ninety-one.”

Jeremy Kniola
Amelia Gray

FAREWELL PARTY - jon morgan davies

Everyone was drunk by the time the women started taking off their tops and shooting Polaroids of their boobs. The party was for Charlene. She wasn't going away, just quitting, but that hadn't stopped anyone from coming for one last farewell.

Brian, the only guy in the room, was asked to leave. He told the men in the backyard what was happening. The men went to the windows, but the shades were closed. The women were giggling.

Charlene's husband was away on business. "I hate that jerk," she told the women, half serious.

She held up her blouse, showed them the burn spot next to her navel.

"He did that?" Rachael asked.

"Sex," Charlene said. "I like kinky."

Bea showed a hickey she had on her nipple, Trish a bruise on her hip, Lucille a welt on her behind.

"I've had it with men," Charlene teased.

"We all have," said Bea.

They took more pictures, drained more bottles. The men peered at the blinds, beat on the doors, grew restless and heavy on booze.

Jon Morgan Davies
The Miracles of Antichrist
Selma Lagerlof

BRIEF VISION - jackie doyle

She unhooked her bra and turned to the window. Across the street, the red neon lights on the strip club marquee flashed: "Pussy Galore! Girls, Girls, Girls!" Her breasts glowed in the rosy light. A sailor exiting the club glimpsed her in the window above for just a moment before she stepped backward into the dark shadows of her room. He would think of her often in the months that followed. He thought she was all that was missing in his life. He knew he would never find her again.

Jackie Doyle
Susan Steinberg

LISTING - damian dressick

Visiting after karaoke night at Shaunessy’s, I find my mother loaded in the living room. Two used fentanyl patches sit on a DVD case on the coffee table. Foil-lined bags lie crumpled on the floor next to the sofa. She stares at season two of Weeds. Headphone cables run from her ears to my brother’s laptop.
"Karen," she asks me. "Do you think I look like Mary Louise Parker?" She is sipping jug wine from a coffee mug.
There are things I want her to be healthy enough to hear:
1. You don’t look a damn thing like Mary Louise Parker.
2. You’d feel a lot better if you stopped feeling sorry for yourself and act more like the 100 pound ball of threat who TASER-ed the vice principal the afternoon he paddled my sister.
3. You were the one who swore you’d never let yourself be defined by a label like "cancer patient."
At the very goddamned least I want her to be ferociously angry that I’ve been driving or to tell me to stop thinking of myself—that she’s the one who’s dying.
"Nah," I say, finally, deciding I’ve got to start somewhere. "Mary Louise Parker—that woman has a much better ass."
Damian Dressick
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Moshin Hamid

KEPT - robert scotellaro

I found the blow up doll crumpled under a bunch of shoes in his closet. He'd been in the home for several months and I'd managed to put off going through his stuff. The hats with a hint of that hair grease he fingered into the little that was left, the .22 rifle he showed us how to point at small animals, the binoculars he and his brother used to spy on nude hippies...

It was old and rubbery, collapsed in the corner. A stem I put to my lips to see who he'd kept company with all those years alone. She was a blonde. I tried to remember if his third or his fourth wife was a blonde.

It had a leak, maybe several. But it plumped up well enough for me to get a sense. Big breasts as he liked them. Cleopatra bangs. Wide eyes framed with black liner. And that mouth that never talked back, complained about his drinking. Bright red lipsnearly the color of that birdhouse he painted one summerso many yards, so many birds ago.
Robert Scotellaro
Ennui Prophet
Christopher Kennedy


Photo courtesy of Angela Davis

John Arthur

Andrew J. Stone

Loren Moreno

Bruce Walsh

Michelle Meyers

Evelyn Jeandron

Mike LaFontaine

DON'T TOUCH - john arthur

When I was a kid I broke my friend Frank's nose with a baseball bat and stood over him as he lay, screaming, blood covering his face and dripping down into his mouth.

A few years later, while I sat on my couch, Frank finger-fucked my sister's best friend on the floor in my basement while I watched The Simpsons. I heard her moans and smelled the inside of her body while Barney and Homer drank at Moe's.

When they were done, they laid on the floor for more than an hour, silent, seeming not to even breathe, perhaps waiting for me to leave, as if it was the getting up that shamed them. A few years later, he became addicted to heroin.

He died last Friday.

Today, my first visit home in years, I see that bat, my Louisville Slugger, in the corner of my parent's garage, among the fishing rods and bicycles and other forgotten things. I pick it up; it looks brand new. Not sure it's even the same bat, I spin it around. I see what I wrote on its side in permanent marker, what Frank had once ignored:

Property of JP: Don't Fucking Touch.

John Arthur
The Watchmen
Alan Moore


I hope someone loves me enough to cut off my head. It doesn’t have to be a close friend or family. It could be the mailman. It could be the person who sits two rows behind me on the bus. It could be you. All you would need is an ax or a machete or a butter knife. I see you sawing, hands moving back and forth and I feel the heat of my blood plopping down my chest. I feel alive. Then I feel the life running away from me like I’m threatening to destroy it, like it’s afraid of me. And the only thing I would ask in return is that just before my head detaches into your curled fingers, you tell me that you love me so much that you’re cutting off my head so you can carry it everywhere you go and look at my face whenever you want. 

Andrew J. Stone
Edie & the Low-Hung Hands
Brian Allen Carr

PALM-SIZED WOMAN - loren moreno

You filled your bag with rolls of film about to expire. The planks of the boardwalk were dusted in sand, a cold wind blew off the ocean, the approaching fall. You said you preferred people in your photographs. The Mexican boys selling rosaries from a backpack. The old women in pink Adidas jump suits sharing a can of beer. You couldn't believe the price of a hotdog. Old Coney Island, sitting next to the new. We saw a sign advertising a palm-sized woman. I suggested we have a look. It didn't occur to me we were paying a dollar each to see a midget. I don't think you realized it either. A midget in a rocking chair, a rocking chair in a trailer, a trailer in a dusty field. You asked her if this was how she made her money. She pointed to the camera around your neck, then to a sign behind her. She wanted you to take her picture, for an extra dollar. You hesitated, paid the money, and snapped. We walked the boardwalk, an awkward silence between us. The photo would never be seen. You would develop everything else except that one.

Loren Moreno
Daniel Arsand

AVIARY - bruce walsh

Gulls are mating. Last week I watched two starlings build a nest in an eave and I applauded the effort. But the gulls, I don’t know; no courtship, no shared experience, no fidelity.

I want to pass on a healthy distrust of people to you. I want you to know isolation. But solitude sounds nothing like a gift. And we are not one another. I do not have your social graces. You say I dislike people but I disagree. It is something else. If I pass it on to you maybe you could name it.

Little happens without a certain amount of abandon. There is a dent in my desk from a chair I upended in an argument. If some things do not matter then let the gulls fuck across every shingled peak, let the ex-lovers quarrel. But I am unconvinced.
I have seen the shape of you in someone’s arms. No, I have seen you fold to a stranger’s touch. You are in the highest boughs with a song and the wildest sways of the breeze. I am in the underbrush, turning over damp brown leaves, convinced of some dark thing’s existence. 

Bruce Walsh
The Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes

PRIMAL BEAUTY - michelle meyers

I still thought you were beautiful even after you took off the long, blonde wig and took out the blue contact lenses and peeled off the fake eyebrows and the fake black lashes and the clip-on nose ring, wiped away the foundation, the rouge, the liner, the shadow, the mascara, the lipstick and gloss and plumper, wiped away the spay-on tan, the cover-up that hid the tiny whiteheads on your chin, took out the retainer with the two fake teeth wired to the front, stripped off the plastic fingernails with French tips, undid the water bra stuffed with socks and toilet paper, untied the corset, slipped off the high heels, pulled down the control-top tights, unscrewed your prosthetic arm. And I still thought you were beautiful when you showed me the scars on your abdomen and the one across your throat and the one that snakes along the top of your head. It reminds me of the serpent from the Garden of Eden, except this time the serpent is sewn into the ground, and Adam and Eve can do whatever they want.

Michelle Myers
Wonder When You'll Miss Me
Amanda Davis