Issue Thirty-Seven

Black and Purple

On Friday my wife dyes her hair the color of shimmering obsidian. It is a wonderful and bewitching color. It furnishes my brain with vigor, and engorges my body with buckets of lust and reverence.

Left Coast

In early November, I quit drinking for the 87th time. What disgusted me was how I kept cracking beer after beer on a Friday night, complaining to the kids about their deadbeat father.

Fuck Me In the Dumpsters

and you know I don’t mean inside the dumpsters because holy fuck how gross would that be but in the cinder block enclosure that hides the dumpsters from the public with its blocks textured on the outside to mimic cut stone

Unlike Ourselves

The mouthpiece of our phone smelled just like Dad’s breath. Like raw meat starting to turn. I stood on a dining room chair, in the kitchen, on aching tiptoes.

Silence is a Sound

His mother’s yelps of pain could rip open the sutures of an otherwise uneventful day. “There are lots of different ways to dream”, she had told him as her hunched frame pulled itself through the bathroom door.

Flesh Cravings

My therapist wants me to tell you how much you hurt me. How the affair destroyed not only my ability to trust you but annihilated my capacity to believe that what we had was real.

Cemetery Train

Sometimes the electrical outlets on my train cry harder than I do. I’ve learned to leave them alone when they need their space. No one wants an audience while they cry.

Spinach in Your Teeth

I can’t explain why I keep going out with Nick, except that it’s cheaper than cable TV and just as fascinating. On the way out of restaurants, Nick always drops a filled out comment card.

Us

I felt her eyes upon me before I saw her. No more than three feet tall, a blonde ponytail pulled tight from her face, her cheeks wet with tears. The street was still quiet.

Sunshine

My watch vibrated and I pulled up the notification: Appointment: 1:00 pm.  Procedure: Mouth sewn shut.

Singing Pickle

During one of these workplace holiday soirees where everyone brings a little gift and then people swap and strategize to get the one they want according to an arcane set of rules…

A Life Lost

I was twelve years old when my father tried to kill me. We’d all gone on a day trip to the beach. I was sick of my idiot brothers splashing water all over me and throwing sand in my hair, so when Dad suggested the two of us take a walk up the cliff path, I jumped at the chance. It was such a blustery day we had the viewing point at the top all to ourselves. We scanned the horizon for fishing boats and tankers, and spent ages trying to work out if a black dot in the distance was a seal or a buoy. I was mesmerised by a gannet silently gliding past when I felt his hands on my back, pushing me. I screamed at him to stop. This was not the time or the place for Dad’s messing. But he didn’t stop. He kept pushing and pushing until, being no match for a fully grown man, I went hurtling over the edge to certain death.

Grief Trough

I prefer to eat alone, but on a dim and backlit Thursday evening, I call my sister and ask her to witness me chew my own grief. She’s surprised but says yes, she’ll wiggle the woe-bone from my throat, tell me if I have gristled sadness between my teeth.

The Magpies

My wife died watching the magpies. She rocked endlessly on that chair, sat monatomic on the porch, and counted them. ‘One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a funeral, four for birth.’

Four Visits

My husband and I have just separated. I visit the modern art wing alone and pause in a room to watch a film of William Lamson wheeling an enormous mirrored magnifying glass into a desert valley to harness the sun’s heat and burn an arc across the ground.

Patrilineal

Dad got taken by Grandpa again. We were all sitting around the dinner table when his eye did that twitchy thing, his head snapped back, and he screamed, “Timmy!” (That’s Dad’s name.)

Universal Love Story

You are not pretty, and that’s what I love. Jowls like a bulldog’s and white, chalky makeup that collects in the ravines between your nose and cheeks, turning to wet cornstarch when you sweat—and you’re always sweating.

from the barren dirt grew an olive tree

It’s the smell that wakes her up. Smoke invades her bedroom through the shattered window; they are burning the neighbor’s house. He must be seventy now, or older. His son has long since disappeared, dissolved into nothingness like the sugar he lent her for tea once....

Crisis

Steph remarked on the schema of plexiglass skyscrapers crouching over a green veneer in the distance on the drive back from the airport, three days early, telling Leon that she had squirreled her cashing winnings in a duffel, which was stolen in the Charles De Gaulle terminal, meaning she was illiquid but could gamble his savings to the gosh darned moon if he’d let her.

Mantis

David found the mantis. He and Grayson were the last two left in the office, again; all the other forgotten children were already picked up, hugged, and apologized to.

You Should Join Her in the River

Ascending, I snorted loud, wet lungfuls and sniffed the walls. A little girl giggled, and an old woman scowled. At the first rest point, a young man asked–as best as I could parse–if I needed assistance?

Neo

We are pre-gender for so short a time, even shorter these days. The prenatal images of me likely looked like alien spine painted in grayscale vibrations.

Driving in the Snow

I love being inside a snow globe—visiting a miniature village of snowmen or elves or penguins, ice skating by a quaint gingerbread house, or standing beside the Empire State Building, the Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore or waving from a balcony in Cinderella’s castle, or...

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