Issue Fifteen

Burn It Down

A match, half a bottle of liquor, a full can of gasoline, a house covered in cheap carpeting, with ancient, oh-so-flammable wooden furniture in every single room…

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A Brief History of the Soft Drink

Behind the convenience store, beyond the dumpster, a path begins so narrow it explains how it has been walked only single-file by the brain-damaged who travel daily to the store from the state-sponsored school for the impaired. Those residents have etched a permanent...

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Halcyon Digest

“Nothing is as good as you remember it being. We digest, compile, and collate our memories to be more agreeable to us. We leave out the bad parts.”—Bradford Cox 1. Earthquake Julien and I spent the summer huddled over my kitchen table emailing bookers, calculating...

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Errands

When the apocalypse comes, I’ll write my grocery lists in ash on the fallout shelter walls. I didn’t mean to say ash. I meant to say something more forgivable, something held fragilely like an antique phrase, like spring’s tides of marigold, something to be replaced...

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A Girl Grows Wings

At first, her feathers are pale gray. Baby wings, they span seven inches and flutter eagerly to the touch. In time, they turn robin’s egg blue, stretching toward the easy insides of her elbows. Her skin is very tender then, like a freshly healed wound, and when her...

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Beltane Queen

“Don’t tell me about your life,” your sister says, shutting the door in your face.              “Okay, sorry for existing,” you reply, grumbling down the stairs....

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Distancing

My husband lost his job at the airport, in this Colorado mountain town of 6,500, because the last flight he worked for United had a single passenger. All the stores and restaurants are closed, all nonessential businesses, so he applied for a job at the hospital as a...

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O Night Divine; Take it Like a Man

O Night Divine Straight-shot past sunset—no tolls, no gas, no pissing, camels for two hours with the kids asleep to talk about our life until the 10-year-old wakes, insists on Christmas music. It’s Nov. 26th, but we find it more easily than we avoid  weaving...

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Dogs

Listen: Your life will be different than you thought. There will be one night where you will wake up, outside, in the middle of the night, peeing into your underwear, underneath a gazebo in the middle of a dark compound in the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda; a compound...

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Cannibals

Every hour we shed 30,000 skin cells. Some we’ll swallow back down, like an auto-cannibalism. Some won’t be ours, but they’ll settle in and stay. It’ll look like a place called home among the bronchi and the bronchioles, the ligaments and the tendons, the red and the...

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Albatross Soufle; Bird Home

Albatross Soufflé There’s no secret to how the world is made: it isn’t. It grows from the leavings of holy box turtles, flightless origamis, snufflings lost behind elder doors. Tears and Tvarscki, Chopin and Coffins. My daughter’s goodbyes that settle into my heart...

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Chestnut Street

Only a few people and maybe two stray cats remember when this house was purple, not tan. Every autumn except the last, a white Maltese often frolicked through the yellow ginkgo fans confettied on the sidewalk like he was too late for a parade. A pair of wood-planked...

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Want

The wind descended from the west            To rattle the orchard trees. Dogtags nailed to apples and plums            Rang out like wine flutes struck At the marriage table. The star-white blossoms            Let go their limbs and laid themselvesAs if for a funeral...

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(too often a sentence)

                                                          , too often a sentence forgets its beginning, wandering to and fro toward an ill-formulated end only to be abandoned in a momentary distraction; an insect in the throes of death trapped at the edge of a...

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Casino People

The Angle of the Winds and another killer appear on a highway going nowhere. And there, a fallen farmhouse as though the sky pushed down from above and the ground from below, timbers slowly snapping, swallows like souls bursting through the doors… I know these people,...

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This is a superhero story

This is a superhero story. It’s about a kid who is growing up in Hollywood. He lives alone with his mother in an apartment that was once a cheap motel. She cleans houses in Whitley Heights and gets up early and comes home tired, so he has most of his time to himself....

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You Can Sail Away on a Ship

     I still complain about Dad from time to time (though he's been dead now these many years), whereas he was always complaining about his mother. His own father—unflappable medico from the old country—he never said a word against. But his...

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Misunderstanding Mother

I am still shaking mossy dreams from the rivulets of mind when I remember the story my mother had been describing—it was the one about the yellow duck, the man with the wooden paddle, and the long curl of the Yangtze River in summer’s ebbing light. Somehow I’d...

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When You See Them, Say Hello

Don’t say you weren’t warned, there she is my mama begging on the median strip, that busy intersection, her hair ratted, a snarled-up medusa head, her clothes blackened at the edges like a charbroiled steak. Her cardboard sign blesses me for spare change, but I’m six...

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The Morning After the Phish Show

The morning after the Phish show I walk around the campground picking up all the used nitrogen balloons with my trash stabber. People had gotten high and sang and danced and smiled while Phish played their music and the lasers splashed all over everyone.  I’d...

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This Path

This path, this pounded down path, that cuts through the forest and weaves among them like wearing a necklace, lace-mail made of interlinking locks with cathedral cedars as charms and rocky cairns like signposts so you know you are spinning in circles; this path, this...

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Sometimes Unhappiness Can Make You Mean

In the final dying days of my grad school career on a break one afternoon I wandered lonely to the vending machines where a classmate struggled to buy an ice cream from a dispenser with raised buttons requiring a firm push, like the keys on a manual typewriter, but...

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You as Tornadogenesis

Have the birds outside been talking to you too. Does each beak parting in the thaw make you think of fifth grade choir practice, all whistles & tiny songs with plastic-flamed candles, sun enveloping you & the crows & twilight calling you by last name, then...

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Skull

The skull of a man is the skin of a mountain, cities weightless on the apron of dirt. Buildings. Hollow twanging. Plastic knuckles of light. I carve her words out with a knife so her softness floats drifts between the bolted streets and gasoline...

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Infinite Waiting

I know dreaming of touching you now is like choosing to watch the story of the earth ending or the one where the sun’s core fuses too much helium and soon after collapses. Still, I remember what it was to wait for you. You had a job washing the bodies of the deranged,...

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Signal Road

Here in the future a satellite floating silently in space is beaming music directly into my moving car. No matter where I am I'm one of the chosen, sanctified by signal shot straight from the heavens. Even late at night out on a lone strip of old cracked two-lane...

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In the Process of Forgiving My Mother

“There was a taut blue quality in the January light, a hardness and confidence.” - White Noise, DeLillo I had just stepped out of the house and into the front yard after having had my mother throw vino at my feet, the jar shattering with a pop much like the requiem of...

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Mugshot

That mug shot from DVI, the penitentiary the gladiator school for hardened young cons—just one eerie frame your hard-as-steel face eyes glaring no flinch no emotion just those angry eyes staring back at me like dull black stones—that mug shot from the place where you...

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Salt

Outside of our home, a white truck with yellow trim salts the road so our cars don’t slide into a ditch or each other. From the kitchen window my wife and I see it slowly approaching. I’ve poured us coffee and she’s scraping butter onto her toast. She sets down the...

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Nuclear Family

Push. Would it be barely human? Would it suffer? Would the bombs take this too, reaching out in retroactive radiation, touching everything? She clenched teeth, winced, her toes curling against the black sand of Tennessee nuclear wasteland. A home birth, on ash dunes...

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It Is Good

It is good to feel your steps on the earth not to feel the earth, but to know how you propel yourself. I step hard on the outside of my heels. Some people strike on their toes, some on the inside of their heel, some on the balls of their feet. Some people wear the...

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The War of Socks

In my half-South African, half-Russian family, the common rule was it’s always someone else’s fault. If something went missing, you didn't lose it. It must have been stolen. The most often misplaced items were small, black, ankle-high socks. All pairs were divided...

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It’s the Night Before

Harry leaves me, but I don’t yet know. We didn’t sit down and discuss. I’m leaving you, he never said. I don’t yet know how in the morning, Harry will tell me to leave the breakfast I am cooking, bacon aroma waking him up, and him telling me to come back to bed. How...

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Everything Here Is Beautiful

“Everything here is beautiful. You are beautiful. The shower is beautiful. The coffee. How did you know I was awake? How was the beautiful coffee suddenly ready?” -from Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner  After her father fell through his ceiling, Kashew...

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