Issue Thirty-Nine

Victim Complex: A Found Essay

I am not perfect. I came of age in the 60s and 70s. I drank beer with my friends. I have assaulted a couch or two. I’ve mistreated people. I showed a woman my dick. I feel terrible.

Corsets of Whalebone

What does it feel like to be dry-drowned by the jaws of a whale? Stays swim up through cotton channels. Hooks, black-eyed buttons dot navel to breastbone. Ribbons braid like a spine. Stiffness softens with the heat of our sore skin, our beating hearts cresting above....

Apparitions

I’d first met Paul going up and down the stairs. He lived on the sixth floor, the same floor as the woman in the wheelchair who thought everyone was a relative coming to visit her (Is that you, Davie? Are you coming to see me?)

Class Participation

In October, because she wanted to hear all of our voices, Miss Craddock began having us read aloud in American history class. The same words that not enough of us remembered from last night’s homework.

Love … LOVE

Hearing loud voices, I rushed out of the house. “Love ... LOVE,” our employee Gayle screamed as she dashed to her truck. “You don’t know what love is,” she called out, opening the truck’s door, turning on the ignition, and slamming her foot on the gas pedal. As she...

952 ways to kill your daughter

IF your first born is a daughter then, everyone says, first child ok-ok. Your mother is annoyed and says it is your wife’s fault. She  chooses to blame your wife, forgetting her own first born is a daughter, and she was once blamed too. IF your second child is...

Livelihood

My dad and I pick up a large tub of popcorn from Marcus Theatre and deliver it to a frat house three blocks north of campus. We are so late the stoned college kids seem to have forgotten about the order. I raise my thumb aloft.

Signal to Signal

Joe— I have your glasses and wedding band. Earl’s daughter, Phyllis, had them in an envelope in Earl’s old luggage, buried underneath moldering boxes of Yank and Life Magazine in her garage. I found your death certificate, too. And an itemized breakdown of funerary...

Place of My Heart

At midnight the rain had stopped. We all heard the bang of impact. Then the police were at the door. Some people panicked and ditched their drug of preference, oxy, molly, special K.

Stuck, Hung-Up or Stiff?

Sydney Ashley was always getting stuck. Not on thoughts in his mind, but on things. His rubber galoshes would stick like caterpillars mating, even on linoleum floors. Sydney Ashley was always getting hung-up. Not on thoughts in his mind, but on door tops when he...

Enclosure

My lids are scarcely ajar when exodus skydives. An eye for an eye; my stirring pupils for a brooding, binocular lens, a grey scope that catches me at its centre.

Frost

  Honey, baby, winter break and Massachusetts, filled with snow again and again, house golden and lit from within, what does everyone look like, you’re hunched in the chair, your sister has too much punch, drunk, six champagne bottles and you got lost in a house for...

Sister-Sister

She’s an independent woman, living her best life, or so she tells me. She’s vegan, collects Roman coins, roller-skates on steel wheels, bumping off curbs just like she did when she was eight. I don’t understand her. Never have.

Riptides

Agent Mulder died in the field. A war. X-Files, season 4 episode 5. He remembers now. He, once a corpse, now resprung. A lover in high school once told me she was Mary Todd Lincoln in a past life.

Entanglements

Murder Boyfriend parks. / Moves a turtle from the road. / The gulch marks a course of untried knives.

Drift On

When we break apart, you stay on the East Coast with the dishes / and one of the diamonds. I keep the dog and the other one.

Small Towns

In a small town of misfits, I am a mistake, a misnomer, a twist of odd. And what is done, I do myself. I have no garden, and dreams, if I have them, are question marks left in an abandoned lot at the edge of town.

Tina Needs a Deadline

Tina needs a deadline or she spins out, Tina says, disassociating to fight off dizziness. She’s a bit like 90s cartoon Tasmanian Devil Taz.

Cursed Hands

When my first husband put his hands around my neck it wasn’t kinky, and he didn’t leave a mark. It was surprising though since he had never laid a hand on me before.

Nocturne

The mother did not set the owl free, but she would have. The mother pictures herself scaling the park gate after hours, black top and pants, black beanie, wirecutters in her back pocket.

My Masculinity

My masculinity rolled down the stairs—disembodied—wondering, where am I, what year is it? It Googled, “masculinity.”

Fascination Street

It was a Sunday night in late summer and the bar was faking darkwave and the jukebox was really new wave and the man and the woman were a fashion mismatch so they went outside where they could act casual and pretend to be drunker than they were…

A Care in the World

I don’t care that I got into Big Ivy with a full ride, or State with a Merit. I don’t care that grandpa came here with nothing but made something of himself by avoiding low company or that gramma was Gamma Beta or that mom runs a clinic or that dad fixes the world.

Catastrophes of Children

Since my wife grew a pea-sized tumor in her brain, she has premonitions of children in danger. As I leave her hospital bed: “Be careful going home,” she says to me. “There’s a girl at the corner of Price and 1st.

A Simple Prop

That year he got his first knockoff Walkman, listened to Document in the living room while his parents watched TV, went outside to the broken picnic table with a book whose words he barely saw, hearing a refrain whose words he changed to suit himself, “This song sails out to the one I love.”

Three Words and A Question Mark

On a sunny day in June, three words and a question mark drastically change your life. If you think the question is a joke and laugh, you can read number (2). If you thought the joke offensive, you can move to number (4).

Ice in a Warm Place

They had a little baby, their second together. Thirty years from that moment, I’d find out that he hadn’t wanted more babies, not after his first two with another woman. I’d find out she’d left him many times, hauling her giant television in and out of their apartment.

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