Issue Seven

Every Girl Who Got in a Car

The ghost needs a ride, so you let her in your car. The ghost looks like your old girlfriend; the ghost looks like all your old girlfriends. Esther, you call her, Georgia, Harriet, and the ghost nods at each name, yes and yes and yes. The ghost wants to go home. The...

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Rambles with Nature

I am given to long peripatetic walks through outlying districts.  Past rust-encrusted fences and cement-block lots, along fetid, long-stilled waterways next to crumbling skeletons of once-thriving commerce abandoned bathtubs half-filled with dirt over a once-upon-a...

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Courtyard Goddess

The doorman kept tabs for any hint of illicit love. His apartment was the cracked open door by the stairs. Twice now, the military had rung the doorbell which played chimes to the sound of London Bridge falling down, falling down, and twice, the apartment caretaker,...

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Notes of a Flower Boy

I still don’t know the language of love Every girl has my father’s face.   On a summer train ride from Kazan to Volgograd I leave the radio talking to itself at home There are roughly 1,137 silences I fill my mother gently into every silence.   My body is so...

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In a Mood

“Don’t go down there,” my grandmother says, as soon as we walk through the door.  “He’s in a mood.”  But we had driven for an hour, which, to a child, feels like a day.  And so I go barreling down the steps into the rec room my grandfather built to sit near him. When...

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Sole Cleaning

With Clorox wet wipes, I cleanse Paris from the soles of my boots. I scrape off discarded gum and candy, dog waste from careless owners, urine from the homeless who are too ill or forsaken to seek shelter, or too obstinately insistent to remain under the deceptive...

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The Last Drop

An affair. Yea. What would that have been like? Paul guessed it would have depended on what kind of affair. Which really meant what kind of woman. A single woman who thought she could steal him from his family? A married woman who viewed him as the dessert her husband...

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Eight Easy Steps

How to defer to men in solvable predicaments A broken white fence separates your yard from the neighbor’s. You and the girl next door like to meet there every day after school. You’re five and she’s eight, and you talk about if Barbie really likes Ken, how mosquitos...

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Feel Good Inc.

That shift was the longest  Casey’d worked in months. As she watched some sorority girls down the last of their tequila shots and fall onto one another for balance, she decided that maybe taking her dad up on his stipend offer wouldn’t be so bad. (That is if she was...

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Transmuted

He caught convo snatches as they rode the red line: her on the phone with a friend, or so he hoped, every day, and him on his home screen, catching her reflection on the glass past carved-in gang signs, telling himself his good intentions made him not a creep. Her...

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Gran’s Return

“Don’t worry, Gran. We’ll get you back,” my sister said as the doctor reviewed the medical records. We hardly recognized the woman who had come to live with us. Her once-tailored clothes sagged on her petite frame, making her recent 15-pound weight loss look even...

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In Deep

It’s evening in the desert and we’re moving against the current toward a building with a cheap buffet. Before we make it to the door, you’re holding your breath, shutting your eyes because my brother’s children won’t walk with you as grandkids do; they move like a...

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Overdue Elegy

For Manon You wouldn’t know how often I think of you. We didn’t see each other during the last years of your life. Not because of differences or hard feelings: Our lives had simply forked like two roads and somewhere among us flowed a river. We wrote to each other...

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Dwyer

Dwyer is tall and lean, with a mop of white hair, blue eyes, brown skin from a life outside, and hollow cheeks. He follows a vegan diet. He is near seventy, a retired carpenter who reads the Bible every day, the King James Version. Met by chance on the street, we...

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Reply Hazy, Try Again

“Meet me at the Red Lobster.” I looked at the clock; it was just after five. I brushed my hair and teeth, put on clean underwear. There was a half-empty glass of orange juice in the kitchen sink. I swigged it. My jaw clenched: Tropicana and Colgate. It was pitch dark...

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The Bandit’s Voice

I haven’t done it for a while but if I lie very still God strokes my hair. God’s voice sounds like Burt Reynolds' in Smokey and the Bandit. He doesn’t actually say the Bandit’s lines but his attitude is, What’s there to lose? Everything’s simple actually, take the...

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DAMAGED GOODS

Months went by since I was liberated from the labor camp in Northern Russia. Behind were dozens of blood transfusions, dental tortures, and scary talks with a bunch of cardiologists. I’ve got my so-so bill of health and was waiting patiently for the Soviet Immigration...

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A Brief History

There were letters, written from a father to a mother, professing his love, wanting her to return to New Orleans from California. A photograph, a mother on the beach in Santa Monica, a man’s arm draped over her shoulders. “He was just a friend,” she says. A secret...

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Not Because They Hate Us

—after Tao Te Ching   I spent prom night In the school’s handball courts playing Pachuco with my friends— Boys trained like dogs to look down,   Hands on their head, legs spread— Ricocheting the tiny, atomic-blue Rubber racquetball as hard As our budding...

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Habibi

Habibi is what your face looks like in the morning Moving through me quietly and before me then When you kiss me good night and fall asleep first To the blaring news of death from far and near   Kismat is locking eyes at that meeting we were both asked Not to...

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Boxes Filled with Empty Promises

Boxes filled with empty promises of love filled to the brim with clothes and shoes nothing I would ever wear empty promises these are excuses to spend money to use money and objects in order to prove our love.   I was always dreamy but also perspicacious and as a...

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Untitled

Strands of light blue twisted, crossed over, then sank into the expanse of knitted wool only to emerge at the next stitch and repeat the pattern again. They ran in parallel symmetry, converging up to the pompom at the top of the cap. Around the circumference of the...

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not my February-cat

language borrowed from 1-star yelp reviews of taxidermy services I one word: tragedy. this shop lost my antlers and tried to give me somebody else's deer mount. i was lied to, deceived, put on the back burner and picked up my deer today which is by far the worst i’ve...

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Furry Foot Hand Sign

I’ve been the White House Easter bunny rabbit for twenty-nine years—Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama. Now Trump. Supplemental weight has modified a few stitches and better designers have changed a few heads. I got the job on Christmas Eve 1988, dancing in a...

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When Life Hands You A Clementine

Jo wanted to be in the limelight, when life handed her a lemon. Clementine, to be precise. They met two-stepping by the plywood 2x4s that were stacked by the snack table. They met over chips and salsa. Jo twiddled her thumbs. Her thumbs were long, fat, professional...

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Particularization of Sand and Masks

They bought the masks while on various vacations, my grandfather and his wife. The masks hung on the walls, an installation that started, I think, in my grandfather’s office and which had grown like cancer to spread throughout their sprawling, pretty pastel, Floridian...

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The Fruit Ridge Region

Ethan and I weren't allowed to have pets. Father forbade it. I was ten years old, my brother Ethan was thirteen. "Dogs are damned spies and dirty," Father would say. "Cats are too clever by far. Everything else is a cheat." Our backyard, littered with rusted...

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Ambient Emergencies

Whichever way the sign points, go the other way. The kid upstairs likes to hear herself scream. He left a suicide note that said he really wanted to stay.   Calm evenings are the exception, it’s easier during the day. Why does the kid upstairs like to hear...

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Just Because

I want to tell you about my son because he is coming to visit, and I’m picking him up from the airport at 5:36 Saturday morning, because he’s taking the red-eye, because that flight is the cheapest and he doesn’t have a lot of money, because I no longer support him...

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Accomplice To A Lie

I know this married couple that lie to each other.  Not little things like the quality of his mother's cooking or if that dress makes her look fat.  They lie about big things.  They lie about each other’s existence. She's unfaithful.  But it's not the occasional...

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Disposable Dogs

The winter morning our ten-year-old golden spaniel mix has what appears to be a heart attack, stretching his neck toward heaven the way my wife gulps pills, Mom drops her scrambled eggs and bacon at the butcher’s block and spills into the back yard to cradle his...

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Donde Crece La Palma

My love for the island of Cuba must have begun in the early 60’s. My grandparents had just moved to Miami Beach.  I befriended a little girl, maybe a first-grader like me, who I met in front of their apartment.  Both of us were new to the area and aware that we didn’t...

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1943

My father folds himself into a Plexiglas bubble twenty thousand miles above the sea. In his pocket two photographs, one of my mother, one of me, talismans against the wump-wump of explosions, the rattle of shrapnel hitting his plane. He locks his thumbs on the...

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Pronounced Tendencies

This part of the river is popular for suicide attempts. But if you go early, it’s not usually this busy. A twenty-something woman writhes on the pavement, her right leg splayed at a gruesome angle, her face contorted with pain. Huddled over her are three friends whose...

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Chairboy

Chairboy lives in the space you used to. Before you died or ran off, or whatever. Mother likes Chairboy more than she likes the rest of us. She says we should be more like Chairboy. And not because he’s made of wood, or wears embroidered pillows. It’s more because...

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Lavender

When I was ten, I told Mother I liked her lavender perfume. I said it made her a real mother. “What the fuck does that mean?” she said. That was the first time she yelled like that. I apologized. I meant that the perfume smelled like love. Mother said that was...

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Fundamental Futility

You are made absurd standing against a bird with a mohawk. Move on, find your fate a café to concoct a fantastic idea, tell us how ecstasy tastes like the leaves of fog. Sit there, devising routes to flee from the indecency of the incident. Then begin clapping madly...

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The Bear’s Tower

¬ Watch the bear, watch the bear, mummy! The naked toddler, body covered with sand, waves back at the cotton candy beach vendor, who is already dehydrated inside a yellow plush shroud with a long snout. The boy’s mother, embarrassed, turns around and pretends she...

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