Issue Nineteen

This Goes On and On

I can distinguish each one by their walker sounds. My mother’s walker makes a steady clacking, a locomotive’s leisurely journey. And there I wait, say, in the kitchen, as if on a platform anticipating her arrival. I coax and cheer her on, hugging her when she finally...

A Good Earth

I talk facing away from the dead They replace me with the change in my pocket A penny that has yet to be invented They say, “You have to know how to cut a throat on the way to cutting a throat” After sleeping on a mattress made from two garbage bags of clothes I...

The threshold

Where’s your bedroom, is what Jane, once being inside of Papa’s house, asked of it. Like this. She placed a palm on my oily jeans. Don’t worry, she said next. I said Clara. I said Jane—Sisters, I said. You two are different. They looked at each other and licked, up...

Not on the Railroad Tracks

The tracks flanked the river between twin rails. The red light blinked westward a permanent, arrested fixture, begging stop forever. Crews cruise westward then eastward like any way was a good direction. The sun shone fall in its amber palette.  Music stuttered...

Hardboiled

Monday needs someone to tell her that she sounds like Lauren Bacall, so she walks over to the fire station and lays herself down on the top of a fire truck. I clean the truck and listen. She’s like a fever except what I have to wait for her to do is the opposite of...

Beechcraft Bonanza

They had a story in the paper last week about a guy up in Kossuth County, and he built a Beechcraft Bonanza in his barn.  A model, I mean.  Full-size.  Same one killed Buddy Holly, and it looked just perfect.  Like it could actually fly.  You wanted to climb on inside...

New Orleans

The dead don't stay buried in New Orleans, so I took you on the ghost tour with me. I saw you skewered on a spike, choking blood onto the sidewalk. You were trying to jump from the balcony of a girl you saw in secret. She watched you die. It made me smile....

Robust and Infrequent

Another Friday, another night spent admiring thousand dollar quilts made by friends at the art gallery. I have absolutely no idea how they were made, unlike my big heavy book. They are truly shocking when thinking about quilt expectations. Take what you think about a...

where i was when i realized you are me

i had obsessed over logistics, maps, inroads, geography: coast, sea, shell, flight, waystation, layover, customs and immigration that i forgot i could access you, just one of the 65,000 children adopted between 1980 and 1989—city of exiles, generation of sparrows...

Scopophobia

In Tarrytown, I met a woman who told me a tiger killed her husband on their honeymoon.  She didn’t like to talk about it, she claimed, though she often brought it up in conversation.  When I asked why her moods were ever changing, she would gaze at me and...

Whichever Remnants of Us on a Perennial Ferris Wheel

WHICHEVER REMNANTS OF US ON A PERENNIAL FERRIS WHEEL swimming over invisible waves, collecting like debris on glowing smartphone screens, could be a brilliant masterstroke in getting others to pay attention. Other than, say, screaming from rooftops or plain leaping...

Hope Chest

According to my big brother Daryl, mothers used to wrap their stillborns in gauze and stick them in a hope chest, hoping their child’s heart would then start beating again. I suspected Daryl was full of shit though because he was always full of shit. Mom kept her hope...

Hazard Ahead

On the way to the hospital for my husband’s hip replacement, I rode shotgun as he worked the clutch and gas. A move first rehearsed on his ‘62 blue Chevy, then Ford Escort, Subaru wagon, red Honda Civic, silver Civic and black Civic. A skill so natural he never...

Her First Thought

She bears the news like a storm cloud bears the rain, heavy to the point of bursting but not quite because she can’t burst just yet, not thirty-six days before her son’s wedding in Los Angeles, USA, to which she’s bought the plane ticket two months ago and gotten an...

An Ode to Brie Cheese

Like velvet, like the surface of the moon. A field of cream, a bolt of pale silk. Not wax or plastic, but mold. A white mold sprayed across the surface to protect something so soft and delicate. To give it backbone, give it flavor. It suggests a decaying whale. Dead...

Grief Visits Me Today

It wears a golden tutu, a spinning disco ball effect. I’m dizzy, off-balance. I’m trying to eat breakfast. It’s wearing old-fashioned roller skates and boogies to a Parliament Funkadelic song, doing splits in my kitchen. It doesn’t suffer our pressure of memory. It...

Sediment

‘I couldn’t do that,’ you said, when I deleted my social media. ‘I’d feel as though I was missing out on everything.’ You always disappoint me like that. I admired you so much at university; your intellect, your lust for learning. I can’t believe I still have a friend...

The First Millennial President

The first millennial president spaces out. She’s looking at a word document. But not really looking. Seems like too much to care about. And there are other people being paid to do it in case she doesn’t feel like it. So she’s not sure what she’s supposed to be doing....

The End of the World in Slo-Mo

We’re grilling chicken thighs and deep-frying pickles and donuts, watching the cartoonish red glare of the burning city and taking bets on how long before it all spreads here, all of it, the fire, the former inhabitants, the thugs who started it all. They aren’t even...

Verb Conjugation: To Sweep

Instructions: Apply the appropriate usage to the blanks. Due Monday. sweep sweeping under the rug swept away sweeping sweep When your husband makes the following ___________ statement, “This is the first time I’ve ever been in love,” and then follows it up (because...

Share the Wonder

Last day of the salmon season, as I unzipped the bellies of sockeyes that splashed headless onto the belt and Mandy pulled the blood-orange sacs of roe from the entrails of the females and released them into the stream of saltwater that would carry them to the egg...

All I Know About Sin is Robin Egg Blue

two gentle orbs nestled in a fallen thatched bowl found beneath the canopy of a Douglas Fir’s lowest limbs the neighbor girl wanted me dared me to crush it in my palm so easily I chose, and she looked satisfied before leaving me cross-legged in the pines my father’s...

Tranche de Vie

The next improbable thing comes barreling at us as if it has nowhere else to go. How many turns of phrase would you like with that asparagus today, ma’am? I am no one’s grandmother, thank you very much. That junk in the back of the closet doesn’t work, as expected....

You ask the soil if you belong

What has always been whisperedthrough other leaves grows bold,thunderclaps laterite-red:never. Transplant, hue and clay,your roots never the right length.Untrue/halfbrednot hybrid, weednot plant. Be silentand show some gratitudefor this flowerbed,for being at...

Cherries Jubilee

I pause what I’m watching to make cherries jubilee. It’s the new movie about the architect who falls for her married client. They’re doing that thing on screen, where a message bubble floats next to the character’s head. The architect starts, then deletes, then starts...

Wheatfield, with Crows

What if there were two moons or maybe even three, what if this crow was an envoy from the realm of the moon, and what if that country were golden, except for the sky and the ruts across the field? If we urge our mule forward, we will enter into the frame of the...

Godly Women

They tell us our story, they scatter it like rose petals in front of us when we walk: how God plucked out one of Adam’s ribs to make us, and that’s why, when we lay in bed with our future husbands and press our cheeks to their soft, mangled chests, we will feel safe...

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