Tom Leins

Howie Good

Kenta Maniwa

Mark Antony Rossi

Bojan Babic

Christopher James

Ursula Villarreal-Moura


Dardanelle has cruel features. It doesn't surprise me when he tells the boys to dip their razors in bleach before cutting the beast. Its legs are small, stumpy almost, but they are strong enough to knock a man off his feet. Dardanelle severs the sail-like fin with his hunting knife. He likes to keep trophies, but the beast looks too big to shift without a flatbed truck.
Dardanelle has the carcass of a goblin shark preserved in formaldehyde in his kitchenette. It looks as ugly as sin. It is small, no bigger than an average-sized man, but it looks fucking disgusting. Dardanelle paid a fisherman in French Guiana $1,000 for the fish. I was there when they caught it. The locals chained it to a palm tree and left it to rot in the sun. It took three hours to die.
The beast's breathing becomes ragged, and Dardanelle slit its flabby throat. Before walking away he wedges a hand grenade in its mouth. Malice glints in his good eye. It blows the lower jaw and the crocodile-like snout clean off.
Tonight Dardanelle will retire to his rooming-house with a small, snub-nosed prostitute. He likes to celebrate in style. 

Tom Leins
Crimes In Southern Indiana
Frank Bill

BREATHING IN - howie good

The technician wears a Joan of Arc haircut. She says, “Just do what the machine says.” The machine is a tube with rotating lights. I’m lying on my back inside it, pants down around my ankles. Even if I could find a pretty accomplice to escape over the border with me, the border has probably already been unpinned, repositioned, and pinned again. The machine says, “Breathe in and hold your breath.” There’s a menacing buzz, followed by a burst of light, and then the machine says, “Breathe.” I have the same questions everyone else must have: can funeral expenses be claimed on taxes? Is this real? How do you say “fellatio” in French?


Howie Good
The Lunatic
Charles Simic



I was on Xanax, alone, watching Space Jam on my computer, when, towards the end of the movie, at 6:00AM, after my alarm clock made a noise, I realized the relationship between loneliness and independence. It was not an epiphany, not rock bottom, but something unexpected and clear, an experience that, like Michael Jordan's acting, was right because it was wrong. As I watched the sun crawl through the blinds, the crisp morning air pinning my skin, drying my cheeks, I felt a smile bleed across my face, stretching, gliding, maybe, away from apathy, sarcasm, and death, in the direction of something beautiful and vague, squishy – happy.

Kenta Maniwa
Fast Machine
Elizabeth Ellen

FLASH DRIVE - mark antony rossi

I can fit my fucking life in a flash drive.
I know it sounds depressing but it’s not window dressing.
This shit is real.

I traveled the world writing poems and books.
I married a wonderful woman and we had two kids.
Yet I feel dead inside.

It’s not their fault. It’s not your fault.
I’m not very sure it’s my fault.
Something deep says I haven’t done enough.

I want to lecture in a world that can’t listen.
I want to listen in a world that can’t shut up.
I want to see in a world that hides in the dark.

I can fit my fucking life in a flash drive.
Fit in a digital landscape dearth of feeling.
Fit for a man dying to leave a legacy.


Mark Antony Rossi
Ghost Soldiers, The Epic Account of WWII's Greatest Rescue Mission
Hampton Sides

CHILDHOOD - bojan babic

We ride a small wooden slaughtered horse. Our nails are stained with blood because we have killed half the village with a small crystal knife. We will sell our stockings and throw our dolls when we grow pubic hair. We will spend fresh mornings in New Orleans – where people wear wide hats.
You will marry me.
I will marry you.

The Melancholy of Resistance
Laszlo Krasznahorkai


When I barbacked in Soho Manse, I could always count on unsnorted coke on the toilet seat lids. Five or six times a night I’d go there, blub my finger, rub the powder, and dub my gums. Sometimes I’d discover money too. Rolled twenties, forgotten or discarded by those too rich and high to care. It got so I’d spend more time in the bogs than on the floor. In the end, though, I lost that job because somebody’s girlfriend tried to stick her tongue all up in my palate. Dude, said my friend. Don’t you know who she is? She’s the future Mrs Me, I intoned, grand enough. Except she wasn’t, of course. I got a job in another club, one with the acrid plastic smell of crack in the toilets and forgotten, discarded bic tubes on the floor, and I saw her there too, looking less fancy. Again, she wanted to kiss, but I’d learnt my lesson. Dude, said my colleague. Don’t you know who she was? No, I told him, but I know who I am.

Christopher James
The Vagrants
Yiyun Li

SHORT ANSWERS - ursula villarreal - moura

The therapist asks about my first memory of despair. This is too easy: a multiple-choice question with the correct answer listed as a), b), c), and d). I reply with a wince—Sunday afternoons of my youth spent in my parents’ living room, dust atoms arrested in sunlight, newspaper strewn about, and the judgmental remnants of Sunday mass percolating within me. This was my primer, my first lesson in vanishing hope.
What about my current state of despair, the therapist asks. It’s true these emotions have matured from zygotes into adults. They’ve lost teeth, outgrown their braids and mohawks, sat for yearbook pictures, worked crap jobs, fought with lovers, and concocted plans to end the flipbook of my life. Yet even when prompted, I am reluctant to measure the depth of their reservoir—to acknowledge the sedimentary layers of their helplessness.
The therapist invites me to imagine my life free of despair. She is testing my loyalty, determining whether I possess the fortitude to bury my own. 
Within a month, I’ll forget the therapist’s name, the waiting room couches, the wall art that hints at new beginnings.

Ursula Villarreal-Moura
Twitter @ursulaofthebook
Alissa Nutting