Issue Sixteen

Residence

The first woman who lived inside herself reported, via text message, that it was nicer than you would expect. Cramped, yes, but I can hear myself for the first time in forever, she wrote, and then the second woman found that this was true—that from the inside, the...

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Some Nights

When you looked at me, there was nothing looking back, but a threadless needle containing only the shape of the room. Wood paneled walls, a clean floor. We would smoke on the couch and spend all night watching a woman sing in slow motion on the TV. The moon slipped...

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First Date

He said we’d rename every dog we saw because it’s a better game than love. I name every dog after favorite poem titles: I call the golden, “If all of my relationships fail and I don’t have any kids, do I even know what love is?” He nicknames the dog knowledge. I name...

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Born Again

My son, who just turned thirteen, refers to himself as Sergeant Dagny. I named him something else, of course, although I no longer know what to call him, no longer know who he is.  We have never left Minnesota, this unknown town of ours, but he talks incessantly...

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Lunch in Kennedy Park

My wife and I find a table Under a tree whose branches And leaves are fulsome enough To provide us with protection From the rays of the summer’s sun. Delicately we unwrap our burgers As if they might crumble before Our eyes if we weren’t so careful. Reaching for the...

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The Whitening

No one ever remarked on her teeth and that was just fine with her. But perhaps her teeth were less white than they used to be. Her grandmother had purchased for her birthday a gift certificate to a dental clinic. White, Overnight was written in a thin black...

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Sunrise Over the Long Island Sound

Last summer I visited my father. He hides his worry better than anyone I know. A stubborn skin that refuses to peel its layers, convey the daunting of it all. The length between home and shoreline. The precious soil sloughed of its greenery, like the skin off of a...

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On the Way to Our Summer Place

None of us wanted to get there. My father and mother in the front seat. In the back seat, us kids were thinking of ways to slow it down. My sister, Little Peg, said “ooh, let’s count the gas stations.” But, of course, most of them were gone after the bomb hit. “Let’s...

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Dream of the Rising Sea

I am walking between two loose narratives, connected by a seaside promenade. Rising from dark water, my childhood’s plastic toys and adulthood’s kitchen utensils float near the stony edge. I can’t resist gathering things within reach with promises to use them in my...

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Tree Dreams of Becoming a Mast

Pieces of that day, together with phrases or words from a novel or a poem I remember, still snag within me, meshing, blending, trying to turn what we did in that last hour into something greater than it was. As if the work somehow made small legends of us in some way...

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Evidence from the Door Recorder

            Those fucking boys were at it again. Doorbell ringing in the middle of the night, them shining their flashlights into the foyer, daring me to come outside, trying to kill me with their laughter. Their...

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American Study Guide for a Cumulative Final Exam

Thirty third graders sit in five rows of six students each. Twelve of the students wear dresses, and eighteen of the students wear long pants. Four of the students in row three ride the bus, but all of the others walk and leave school first at the end of the day when...

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Camber Sands

Today it’s hotter at Camber Sands than anywhere in Death Valley. I’m eating olives stuffed with anchovies because I’ve drunk all the wine in the plastic wine tumbler. Maureen doesn’t like olives. Too foreign, she says. Reminds me of that Israeli guy, did I tell you...

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One Away From Enough

When the cotton candy colored sky spins out shadows that land in the hungry crevices of old brick that line these cobblestone streets, I begin to wonder what my brother had eaten that day. Perhaps beef stroganoff, his favorite? Probably not. A paper cup of chocolate...

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Shay’s Lot

The house burned down. One person died. Don’t ask me about that person, his name or how old he was. I’m telling you right now, I won’t talk about it. I fucking can’t. I cannot think about it. At first, everyone treated the fire like it was a sad accident, just one of...

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Aspects of Poetry

My friend’s mother talked on the phone for hours, pacing the kitchen, smoking cigarette after cigarette, pausing and frowning in dramatic caesuras, then replying in a burst of diatribe or praise. She’d hush us—vamoose, I’m talking—and then, after a brief apology,...

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Gag Order

silence. you promised. lips pressed thin. don’t tell, you think. but—the heaviness of it. the weight of words distended, when once upon a time you oozed innocence, unblemished and soft, trailed by truth like perfume. light exploded through your pores, your dreams,...

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A Meditation on Bitterness

I am five and I go to a co-ed school. It is the summer after I’ve passed 1st standard, first in my class. I am seated in between two nuns who are about to start interviewing me, and my parents are made to sit across from us on a separate sofa. We are here seeking to...

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Eat and Eat

You are asleep when I get to your room. I watch your back rise and fall, your face toward the window, toward the Domino Sugars sign lit in the distance. The thick window slightly tinted so the sun doesn’t seem too bright, so it doesn’t need a shade with a cord. I...

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There is Something I Need to Tell You

I do my best to avoid images of violence or death. When a slow-motion car crash is recreated on a tv show or a hockey replay presents a gruesome injury, I cover my eyes. If I’m with company I look at my phone, where violence has become unavoidable. I have seen the...

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Skippy

I come back home out of breath and unbearably sad. I look for Skippy. “Skippy, where are you?” I say. “Skippy?” I search the common room, the kitchenette, my bedroom, under the couch, the windowsill, my desk, and for reasons I cannot fully justify, the freezer. Skippy...

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Shooting Star

Einstein overturned the idea that time is the same everywhere.  Time is relative for a horror movie, for a soccer match. For a storm brewing. You kept windows unfastened, watched a podcast. Our star bent over the tub in the adjoining bathroom; her three-year-old...

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He Used to Be Gold

But now, he’s hungry.  Husband walks in, his teeth shining bright, a big smile on his face, like he’s just entered heaven, he throws his jacket on the floor, takes off his shoes, yelling, honey, I’m home, like in the movies, but we’re not in a movie, it’s not...

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Memoir in Five Weddings

1. Wedding Poetry We sip steaming mugs of coffee. Stevia keeps mine dark, sweet and mellow in the caverns of my cheeks. Between us, Wallace Stevens lies open on the bed. “Want to hear a poem about a wedding? It’s called ‘Life Is Motion.’” “Sure,” I say, hoping it...

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Petra

Hoo-hah! Father and Uncle Ray flap their naked fat bellies and bare feet and red necks around town sucking down beers and setting popsicle stick fires which they pee out. At the fire station they pretend to drive the trucks and wail sirens that mourn the loss of their...

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The Last Supper

Before the outlaw couple part ways forever, they empty the refrigerator into the oven. In goes raw chicken. In go carrots. In goes a brick of butter, a pound of beef, and a half gallon of milk. In goes a mystery product wrapped in foil, which lands atop a head of...

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Body Heat

Jordan regretted leaving the cult. He missed the scent of familiar bodies, how they huddled together on cold nights. The cabins they built were ill-equipped for Montana winters. Snow swept in beneath window sills, gales slithered through gaps in the shingles. One...

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17 Reasons Why

The cable car tracks are singing, sewing alarm into my pulse: Shame! Shame! Shame! I am. Jittering on a couch at Chela’s. Her man is a firefighter. A Chinatown native. Small-time coke dealer. He’s still on duty around the corner, where we spent the last evening. It’s...

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Who Cares if We Contaminate the Line?

Cottonwood pods carry me, like snowflakes onto the fertile ground. Around us, origami butterflies and swans decorate the vines of poison ivy plants and cotton mouths loop around, playing our wedding march sonorously slick with singing and sass, punctuated by a tenor...

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Little Girl

1. Missouri In each place called home, the lovers, the farm with blue eggs, and the calf being born. Learning that the best branches for whipping are from weeping willows. From the backyard you could see for miles, trace the lines of the fences and county, patches of...

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