Issue Thirty-Eight

Spiderweb Lungs

She was rolling a cigarette when I found her, licking the ivory paper, spitting pith onto the earth, her pepper hair stringy over her eyes in a desiccated waterfall, dryer lint rolled in balls on her shirt, dandruff flakes dusting her shoulders, one leg bobbing cross-legged over the other in a particular rhythm.

Recipe for Disaster

A very insistent bug clicks rhythmically outside my door. Like rain if an insect were made of rain and able to click. Mid-July in a Florida palmetto jungle, and everything’s alive.

Reckon

I received an anonymous note in my mail. “We are on our way to you,” it said.

Sacrificial Limb

He asked for her heart. She offered her right hand instead. He said he needed it—her heart. She believed him. Still, she only offered her hand.

Star Diner

The woman asks him if he is ok and bites down on her burger, spindly fingers indenting the potato bun as if it were playdough. Blood drips. He flinches, then coughs.

Pursuit

Looking at something closely does not always betray the way it works; this can be true for relationships as well as objects and poems and people.

The Lost and The Found

A young man, charcoal suit, skin cold and pallid.  Tall grass brushes against his legs as he wades deeper into an endless meadow. The waning sunlight empties gold all around, everything bathed in a fluorescent glow. There is a purpose to his journey, yet the...

Orchard

There in the fine-grain dust of the apple orchard. There with the dust running through our small child hands like liquid. Like the things we can’t ever hold onto. Like the memory of the orchard on that day.

Soundtrack for the End of the World

In this scenario, I realize it’s pointless to prepare for the worst and compile stockpiles of canned goods, water, or toilet paper. A bomb shelter won’t do anything to prolong my life, either. And

The Violin Factory

The factory was quiet, but our fingers were busy. It was delicate, painstaking work and we always kept our voices low. I told my parents to do the same. “Sorry,” said my mom. She always vaulted into gaps in conversation, afraid of what silence might drag out of her....

Sheila at the Bus Stop

She hurries to the corner to catch the 23 to South Philly. No one’s there except for some guy who's lying on the sidewalk with his head propped against the downtown convenience store’s stone column. He’s wearing a gray knit cap twisted to the right. Sheila must've...

I’m Not Listening

I’ve made up my mind that I will not listen in the meeting that starts in fifteen minutes, but they will think I am listening because I have this incredible knack for scrunching my eyebrows together like I’m concentrating, a behavior I adopted from my sixth-grade teacher Ms. Clemens.

Maybe Nihilism Isn’t so Bad

Dread – that was really the only way I could describe it, the way I would lie awake in my freshman dorm staring at the metal webbing of the bunk bed, feeling the little needle of anxiety start somewhere in the middle of my chest then get stronger and wilder like a twister

Sky Blue Hydrangeas

My sister Julia was everywhere; smirking down from the billboard at the bus stop, pouting at me through the glass of my TV and phone. And she was also nowhere. Even when I looked straight into her eyes, I couldn’t find her behind them; just another screen flashing...

Arizona Coast

Today I will be laid to waste in the unadulterated sunshine of the Arizona coast. Here I will remain, red as a cardinal.

Anadema

There is a clearing in the woods. You lie on your back in the word clearing. In the word clearing you see the clearing. In the clearing you imagine and anticipate the word. You feel the pressure of a root in your back. You roll and dry leaves crackle. The word crackle...

The Grave of Junius Brutus Booth, Jr

They called him June. He was tucked away in a corner, lichen-sprayed white granite in the shape of a book that bore his name. His wife was next to him. Her name was Agnes. She remarried, after he died, but kept the surname that bore an acting pedigree. We couldn’t...

Shield

When you close your eyes, you no longer see those gazes woven with doubt; that’s why I can tie on an apron without burden, and conjure up dishes of braised pork and cola chicken wings for my hardworking wife upon her return, but I am told when I feed the baby with a...

The Gun

You lure your friend Mandy towards your father’s dresser. He is still alive, which means you are no older than eight.  You slide the bottom drawer out, climb onto his folded work socks.

Denzel

Denzel is in my kitchen. My bass is there too; on the floor, sitting in its thousand dollar hard case.

Shoot For The Stars

I swipe through Caleb’s dating profile and scroll down to his reviews. He has an average of three and a half stars out of five. Caleb’s good-looking and smart. He cares a lot about movies. He talked a lot and didn’t ask me very much about myself, so we only went on...

The Clips

The only people in the gym are the cop doing chest presses, the gym owner standing beside him, egging him on, and now her. As usual, Mr. O, the owner, calls out to her, Heya, you’re a winner!

Working the Pound

I’m sitting at the counter of a local dive bar, the one down the street called Rock and Roll Roadhouse with the mural of Jim Morrison.

At the university graduation, a family looks unhappy

Grey, granite, immovable. So described by a student with a shiny new degree in 19th century European literature. She doesn't know why. Other families—including her own—are smiling and waving, recording the proud moment on their phones. "All happy families are alike;...

No Flats

This human traffic cone was standing in front of the rear door, and as the other bus riders maneuvered around him to squeeze their way out, they swung their colossal, overstuffed backpacks and reusable shopping bags filled to the brim with soup cans and various other blunt objects manslaughteringly close to my head.

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