Issue Twenty

Ghost of My Mother Along the Atchafalaya

When my mother heard the news we were moving south, she remembered pecan pralines and dirty rice, bayous and shrimp boats, and dark heavy drapes shut against stultifying heat.  She remembered nowhere to live along the Atchafalaya, U-boats staining beaches black...

Parts of a Plane Fall From the Sky In Colorado

First came the propeller, smashing through her awning. It squashed the zucchini, severed tomatoes from their vines. She freed the chunk of wood and aluminum from her freshly tilled soil, refashioned it into an enormous lazy Susan that spun across her lawn, its slowly...

The Strongest Man I Know

I cannot imagine the struggle Trapped inside my own body Which does not represent my true gender Reminded Every time I pass by a mirror Every month when red spills from between my legs Rejected By the outside world For something beyond my control But Darling, You are...

Bubbles

“The bubbleis what you make itlevying an emotional tax …as magical as a typicalDisney trip.”(Excerpted from “The True Cost of Life in the NBA Bubble” NY Times 9/2/20) * Curly haired Rachel Landau blew a bright pink Bazooka bubble bigger than a basketball. Just as she...

Spaghettification

Yesterday scientists watched a blast of light from a star as it was eaten by a black hole. A star with the same mass as the sun ripped           into thin strips.  Such a view is not usually possible because the dust & debris cover up the disruption. But this...

A Ritual of Belief

I find myself again in the cemetery where a man cuts tree stumps into animals – a bird, a bear, a woodpecker with its long beak pulled back ready to strike at the smallest head in remembrance of someone I’ve never met. I wonder if the woman buried next to my car would...

Armadillo Confronts Dullahan: A Lesson in History

I.Armadillo burrows in the rusty sand off Highway 66, lifts its miniscule claws towards the barren sky, not in any act of deference or shock, but as if it is imploring whatever gods might lie behind the ether, beyond Ship Rock. Armadillo recalls the deep past. Each...

Yellowstone

I lumber into the kitchen at 8:36 and begin my life. Everyone is already awake.  I am a small black bear among humans: wild and askew. “Fiiirst daaay of woooork!!” Naomi says to me. She’s unpacking her groceries: cold brew, chickpeas, organic shampoo. “How do you...

Defending the Home Front

In a cynical display of toxic self-interest, Larry had formed a group called Save Our Parks. Its goal was to keep the city from selling a weed-choked lot for affordable housing. When I read about it in the paper, I jump up from my recliner and throw the paper down and...

How to Mourn the Death of Your Grandfather

Pretend that you remember the scent of the juice from the freshly squeezed oranges seeping into the crevices of his hands, that you remember the sound of his fingers juggling housekeys after returning from a ten-hour workday at the pharmacy, that you remember his...

We Hadn’t Had the Best of Relationships

I’d heard prisoners were getting vaccinated, so I decided to get arrested. I wasn’t the only one. A temporary station was set up at the old Maytag repair center—they weren’t busy. Five people ahead of me, out front, each on a 12-inch blue circle with a pair of white...

Annie Sanduski, Queen of Grade 9

I The first time I saw Annie Sanduski she stood in sharp relief against the rust lacework of an ancient Ford Ranger, waiting for the truck to disgorge the bevy of smoke soaked boys that composed her court. There was no sun to speak of; the mist drifted in a slow...

Transitions

A student, once, wrote a story for introductory fiction workshop that ended as a young woman danced slowly with a girl described as beautiful in a shimmering dress that revealed a body that “seemed to be budding as they embraced at the song’s last note.” The student,...

Jumbo

I lay on the bed. Theirs still. At least, Jackie’s. I got comfortable. Took out old Jumbo. Who would dare cut you, I said. She saw me and fled. The plane shuddered. My wife knocked, asked if I’d gotten lost. I came out and sat in my seat. We watched the same oil rig...

The Green Mustang in Front of the House

(is a) Dead frog hard and rotting at the curb; unmatchedhubcaps. One might call "to love" April's first sunwhere the skin burns, the heart envelopedin the hardiest permafrost, an epic tundra'sdeath; the infinitive. Tiny bees flyin irrational patterns near my feet. He...

Zucchini Blossoms at the End of the World

The world had ended, even though she has done what was requested of her: stayed home, washed hands, worn a mask. The virus became a pandemic, and the Sickness spread. It spread because that’s what contagions do, but also because some were not allowed to stay home,...

Holiday Inn Express

The birthing suite is expansive. Like a hotel lobby where they serve breakfast, but with all the tables and chairs taken out. The framed photos on the wall are the same, but in place of railroads and highway signs are flowers and points of light. They haven’t given me...

Nicknames

The first thing you need to do when you meet a man is take away his name. Without a name, he only exists in your story. It started with Clammy Hands, in his late twenties, too eager to talk to your not quite legal (but almost) neckline as you shelved books at the...

Garage Sale at the Singhs’

The inventory: Twelve packets of Silken Touch wet wipes. Ordered online for the Goa trip and delivered within twelve hours by a delivery boy who thoughtfully placed a call over intercom before ringing the doorbell of the Singh residence, then handed the parcel to Mrs...

Mean World

I recognize the sequence, it’s from a show I used to watch in the middle of the night until I’d watched every episode at least three times. The animated gif soundlessly depicts a mostly toothless man, mouth wide open, crying like the dickens. The look in his eyes says...

The Reborn

I bleed a heart-shaped stain on my mattress then sell it for $100 on Wichita, Get It Cheap. The woman texts me, Is it heavy? I won’t lie to her, I say it is, and that she’ll need a rope.I stay inside as the woman and her daughter stomp up the front steps and bicker...

When The World Moves On

There’s this song by The Cranberries called Linger.  It’s a relic from the 90’s, a familiar tune that I never offered a second glance until recently.  Someone uploaded a video on Youtube playing that song but as if you were listening to it from another...

Booming Economy

The first sloth appeared on Clarissa’s desk, right next to her keyboard. The statue’s dark brown eyes stared, its painted mouth smiled wide, and its three toes curled around a tiny sign that read “Follow your dreams!” “What the fuck,” she said. She picked it up with...

The Fall of Toby and Lady

Before the neighbors leashed and fixed their dogs, they roamed freely through our fields, and Toby, my dog, courted Lady, the Airedale next door, who had nappy hair and bivits dangling from her shaggy ass, and who was anything but. Goats climbed on tractors and ate my...

Celestial

You played quietly, as instructed. Hunkered in the gap between your bed and the wall with a ballpoint pen swiped from the telephone table in the hallway. Tiny particles of chalky white paint clogged the tip, but you continued, undeterred.  Bubble hair for Mum,...

The Terminator (or How I Learned to Love My Mother)

Imagine it—a four-foot-eleven, ninety-pound Jewish woman from Brooklyn with a metabolism permanently set to hummingbird, who constantly tries to shovel partially hydrogenated high fructose food into your face. Her hearing must have gone out years ago because she never...

MY WOMAN

i wail that my ama still cries over her beat husband I weep over my ammama counting her days even though I know brown women never die, I don’t know how she dosent know this I cry over days spilt over the course of hot dahl and weak chai my ama coming home to only wish...

A Flurry of Ashes

A jailer holds me down while another presses a red-hot iron against my forehead. I writhe and scream before I black out. I wake with my own shriek ringing in my ears. The guards drag me out of the dungeon and hoist me onto a cart filled with other scholars. Our...

Whitewashing Frank Butler

He is a salesman, can talk you intoa bigger barrel, can weave a tale with youas Annie Oakley, sharp eyed and lightand little as she. Build him into the manyou want him to be, shadow behindthat girl—how ordinary it all seems,blue eyed boy cutting steak acrossthe table...

Blessed

The elderly couple on the train to Portland have stopped speaking to each other. They’re both seated, pretending to read, one a newspaper, the other a paperback. They trade sighs. Pages crinkle. No one seems to be enjoying this. But no one is leaving, either, and...

If Only

It's amazing what a year in solitude will make me yearn for-- events I never liked in the first place-- overly crowded outdoor festivals with $12 bud lights and lousy cover bands, waiting in line for the breakfast buffet, the Chinese buffet, the casino buffet that...

Why you never left a tip

Amuse Bouche You were conceived, quickly, against a dance hall wall to ‘You are always on my mind.’ Your mother didn’t come. Starter You emerged, slowly, on a rainy morning to cherry blossom branches scraping against the windows of the Rotunda. Your father didn’t...

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