Music Lesson

Anthony D’Aries Don’t tell your four-year-old son how Marvin Gaye died. Unless you want to answer questions about fathers and guns and hearts.  Why did the father shoot that man? Why did the father have a gun? How’s he singing if he’s dead? I wade through half-truths before sinking chest-deep into lies. Santa-Claus-Mall-Helper kind of […]

The Deaths

Ann Gelder               At first there were three deaths: two big deaths and a small death. These deaths were well-mannered. They always called ahead before visiting, and they never talked too much or stayed too long. Their only annoying habit was a tendency to stare, but when asked if they needed something, they said no […]

Ferris Wheel

Ashley Espinoza My dad shows me an entire photo album of my mom pregnant with me. It’s weird, my dad has never talked about his relationship with my mom. Only once when he told me she should have kept her legs shut. I was thirteen when he told me that, the same age my mom […]

Grandmother’s Kitchen

Madeleine Pelletier Grandmother’s kitchen is a gathering place. Women turn their masks inside out, cluster round cooking pots, and offer prayers to birds. Mysterious acts create clarity. Crones wail like babes and babies give second chances. A shadow whispers secrets to the wind which swaddles us in warmth. In grandmother’s kitchen, power rises up on […]

Anderson Shelter

Edward Barnfield In the morning, there’s a hole where the house used to be. The kitchen, where we drank tea and talked about the day, is shreds and burned brick. A lifetime of things, decisions, and memories, taken while we slept underground. The terraces across the way have lost their roofs, their windows empty sockets. […]

Countess Herzinga’s Alchemy

Janna Miller               Countess Herzinga was the first to study the transmutable properties of eggshells as applied to light and sound. Her early laboratory, just long rows of heat lamps and fresh, twiggy nests.               With adjustments to moonlight and whistling arias, she learned to hatch jays from speckled robins’ eggs and leggy flamingos from […]

No Matter How Much Time Has Passed, Some Houses Don’t Die

Janna Miller Nazi ghost houses roam the countryside, setting up bars and brothels. Come in, come in, they say. You do not know us, you do not remember, we have been here before. This door your grandmother passed through. Your great uncle. We have good beer. Nazi ghost houses are not cold, but warm to […]

Homecoming

Anne Daly A turlough blooms each winter at the bottom of our road. It used to be my road, when I was a child. A stone-chipped, meandering strait that brought me from the clamour of the main road, up the craggy hill to home. Now home is not that home anymore but still I return, […]

Cold Comfort

Laura Pike               I lie in bed, shivering in cold sheets, waiting for the nightly crumb of her affections in an otherwise barren house; waiting for the press of lips upon a willing forehead, a ritual as welcome as sleep, itself.               I lie patiently until her absence tastes like fear and I go to […]

False Flat

Caroline Gonda It’s a thing in cycling, apparently, an incline you don’t recognise as one because it’s not that steep so you carry on pedalling, not understanding why you’re getting more and more exhausted when it’s not like it’s hard but your legs are tired and your back hurts and everything is heavier and slower […]

The Things Sally Hardesty’s Best Friend, Pam, Never Speaks Of (CW: body horror)

Jan Stinchcomb               What it’s like to be the first, instead of the final, girl.               How it feels when your ass, immortalized in the dolly shot, is more famous than you are.               How she chose the clothes she died in, red shorts with a black belt over a swimsuit.               Where she learned […]

The Side Show of Birth

Amy Barnes               I give birth to the longest baby ever on the longest day of the year. 144 inches. A gross of a baby. A gross baby. Six hundred people pay a nickel to feel my still-distended belly and listen to me grunt and strain so they can take a closer look at this […]

Clothesline Number 9

Amy Barnes               The sun dries my paintings where Mama can’t see me. I’m supposed to be doing chores but instead I’m painting bedsheets with no-name cheese puff dust, with day-glo orange fingers because brushes cost money.               For once, it’s not our underwear hung there for the whole neighborhood to see and point and […]

Babydoll

Sarah Jones               A moment of silence, please, for my missing left breast. For the spreading lumps bubbling through me. Ripping me up from the inside.               I was my own once. Mine alone to throw about, to shred into pieces, to soak in gin and set alight on warm summer nights. I used to […]

Long After the Long Ride into the Sunset

Marvin Shackelford First thing in the morning I draw a blue mark in the shallow dimple of my cheek, so near my mouth I sometimes taste it. The air is curious just before sunrise, darker and cooler, and I dress a little too warm, too safe. My hands shake, pulling wool from the hanger. The […]

Two Needles, One Dog

Kev Thomas I asked to see the vet. I was holding Gaia in my arms. She was wrapped in my school coat, which was now soaked from the heavy rain. The receptionist chatted loudly with an elderly woman. The elderly woman wasn’t wet. She had two small white cotton ball dogs on her lap. I […]

Post Modern

A. Joseph Black Christ, he’s still there. I lean back out of view and catch the curtain with my shoulder. It sways out across the window but thankfully he’s looking the other way. He just keeps walking backwards and forwards: cupping his hand to the window, checking if I’m here, and then knocking my door. […]

They Were Boiling Their Clothes

Rodrigo Duran               They were boiling their clothes.               They were in the kitchen wearing raincoats, but the true outfits swirled in a bubbling broth in the pot itself. Every so often they looked inside, but met by the tremendous smell, they put the lid back on, only glimpsing a loose sleeve waving back from […]

Night Fishers

Merridawn Duckler Water against the pier like a throat click. The churned blanket of our childhood bed. Lines curve back and fly into dark. We walked down because you wanted to see a super moon over water. On the way we pass a child struggling to keep up with his fast walking father. Father, turn […]

Seed, Root, Shoot

James Montgomery Soon enough, there’ll be time for twelve red roses. A carnation wrist corsage. Homemade Christmas wreaths hung from her own front door. Mason jars and glass vases crowded with tulips, just because – she’d have whole bathtubs full if she could. Flowers for fresh starts, fresh homes, fresh jobs. An ivory bouquet. Blossom-brimming […]

Hot Girl Summer For Nerds Who Love Too Hard

Avery Nguyen You don’t know how to hook up with me and I don’t know how to hook up with you. Just look at us: two idiots gazing moon-eyed at each other in the midst of implacable rain, standing in an empty parking lot, both of our mouths working around the same words. You say […]

Scarlett’s Got a Gun

Fiona McKay Scarlett’s got a gun. Moves on alcohol-soft legs through a glass room, louring shadows, candlestick-high. Feels no pain, plant-pot rammed, skittering away broken-sharded. Scarlett’s got a gun, those bitches don’t even know it, heads together, bending peacock feathers, white skin blaring in the candlelight. Scarlett’s got a gun tight-strapped to her milk-thighs that […]

Museum Piece

Becky May They’d hung Monet’s ‘Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond’ across the white expanse of wall in the end room, benches at regular intervals in front of it on the polished wooden floor. Helen imagined herself removing her shoes, dipping her feet in the nymph-like blue, stems trailing across her ankles, cool after […]

macro photo of black fly

The Weeping Woman

Claire Hampton               I watch the man at the table gnawing his dirty fingernails, pungent sweat darkening the underarms of his denim shirt. There’s no air, no oxygen penetrating the thick reinforced glass of the small window.               A fly circles.               A woman enters clutching an envelope, a cold breath rushing in before the […]

retro lamp hanging from tent during camping in nature in evening

Sorry For What I Said When We Were Putting Up the Tent

Helen Gordon It was the smell, shaken out with the crisped corpses of last summer’s earwigs; musty, with a tang of mould that will creep into the clothes that also act as my pillow – because polyester is for pussies; weak, and so left in plump perfection on the bed, in favour of fleece, which […]

Brand-new Blue Sponge to Clean Up After a Memorable Dinner for Two

S.A. Greene The man is sitting facing the window. The woman sits down, facing the man. The man has assembled the salad. The woman has cooked the steaks. The man pours the wine. The woman butters the baguette. The man straightens his placemat, carefully aligning its bottom edge with the margin of the table. The […]

The Devil You Know (TW: Abuse)

Ariel M. Goldenthal Editorial note from Sara Siddiqui: In very few words, Ariel shows us the day-to-day, minute-to-minute struggle of an almost-twelve-year-old girl, her early years split between two houses and two parents, one being domineering and physically abusive. In such an environment, each breath is a strain, each step a burden. I can only […]

Two Micros: A Heart That Does Not Beat and You Will Never Need to Walk Again

Yunya Yang Editor’s Note from Sudha Balagopal: Yunya Yang delivers her signature punches in these two micros. There are descriptions of other worlds here, of distance and longing, of after-life and current tradition. Then, there is pain and hurt, physical and emotional, and the glimpses of deliverance. All this in tiny packages, word gifts we […]

The Other Side of Me

Helen Chambers               A confident stranger with newly-cropped hair stares back at me in the mirror. Does she feel lucky, I wonder? She tosses a coin, we both watch it spinning in a low slant of sunlight which elbows its way through the shuttered windows of this closed-up house. Heads means leave tonight: so I […]

It Pulls You Under

Laila Amado The season of the fogs brings heat and languor to this island lost in the middle of the sea. Everything sticks. The fabric of my dress, the man I’ve met at the bar the other day. “Where is your husband?” he says, eyes roaming over my left hand. Bed linens cling to my […]

Driven Home

Rob McIvor Alice stops the car in a quiet spot, a service road behind the Multiplex. The last film ended an hour ago and there won’t be any deliveries to the catering franchises on a Sunday morning. She switches off the lights but leaves the engine ticking over, to keep the heating going for a […]

Cornered

Liz Churchill He’s racing to catch up with his mum when he spots leopard skin between the wheelie-bins. It’s well past his bedtime, well into the meat of the evening but curiosity stops him dead. The shape is roaring softly, red talons scuffing against the plastic. He looks down, sees toes trapped, heels raked up […]

He May Be Human, But I Am Not Divine

Rachel O’Cleary He still wants me to finish first, like before. Sometimes he stops himself so that I can. Sidles up to the brink, and then goes still. Retraces his steps right to the very beginning and starts over. Once more, with feeling. I used to encourage him. Lavishly, loudly. His name a series of […]

Double universe

Francine Witte There are forests, there are planets, there is the moon. In this universe, you are nothing but a speckity spec. *** There is another universe inside you. A double universe. Made of blood and bone and goo.  *** On a night of fullest moon, the two universes meet. Ooh, says the inner universe, […]

The Soft Th

Rosaleen Lynch My English teacher counted my ‘you knows’ during a debate and the soft ‘th’ that made ‘dis’ out of ‘this’ and ‘dat’ out of ‘that’, that not even elocution lessons purged but now I don’t mind if ‘we three’ sounds like ‘we tree’ or that when I say the letter ‘r’ I think […]

Dream Baby

Max Hipp Shake your heart like a half-pint of milk, blow in it, put it back in. It’s another night of playing Lost Highway, Long Gone, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, waiting for her to stumble in to find you in your boxers with the cheap guitar, like something out of a sad movie, […]

Panache

T.L. Sherwood The thinness of the envelope puzzles me. Harris has sent a slender, white, unusual feather. Days later, an email explains he broke an international law to send a penguin’s feather. On his honeymoon, he thought of me. Among other places, T. L. Sherwood’s work has appeared in New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Elm […]

selective focus photography of turned on black metal framed light sconce

Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salt

Fiona J. Mackintosh In the crouch of twilight, he hums a single tuneless note under the droop of the rhododendrons. From beyond the hedge, the street air clags his throat with tar and rough metal. Her husband’s probably left for the pub by now and won’t be back till closing, but he has to be […]

Go-Go

Marie Gethins He shouted, ‘What the hell?’ filling his boot with beer as I headed towards the exit A first date at the South American Food Fest should have tipped me off. He promised square dancing and a deep-fry banquet. I starched my best blue gingham—fifteen-layers of net under the skirt with lacy bike shorts […]

gray and black galaxy wallpaper

Trent Lock

Rachael Smart The river is black and fast legging it. High up in the bones of the trees, spring comes, pinkly, and every now and then swallows scissor across tin skies. I order builder’s brew, two twists of sugar. Inside his van, the tea man chalks up the new season’s menu. Proper calligraphy, that, I […]

food man people woman

I Don’t Want Dentures

Anika Carpenter I’m saving for implants like delft pottery, porcelain painted with windmills and flowers; teeth I’ll show off at the Kings Head pub, where a young man, a famous photographer as it happens, will be captivated by my smile, beg to take my picture. My portrait, ten foot by eight, will be hung in […]

closeup photo of brown and black dog face

The Muse

Simon Lee-Price My dog takes no interest in other dogs or bones. But if I have to write poetry he sits in the corner with his eyes fixed on me. I hurl bottles and pens at him to drive him away, but he always skulks back to his post and takes up watch again. I […]

When the Scarves Fell

Katie Piper               Grandad sat in the chair he always retired to after Sunday dinner. It had slender, polished arms and his fingers would curl over the ends of them. He was always a little poised, as if he was on the verge of getting up – perhaps the war did that?               Mum and […]

close up photo of ring

Consumed

Sarah Green Gamber Sally looked from the cluttered sink to the window ledge where her sister’s diamond ring sat in a soap-dish. Outside, the setting sun flared like a solar blade and Sally stood on tip-toe to avoid its blinding glare. A ray lit the diamond solitaire and flashed a prism. That ring taunted Sally […]

Grief Is A Story I Was Told On Rosary Beads

Electra Rhodes Mam was laid out cotton-starched on the bed. The stillest I’d ever seen her. She’d not like to be known this way so I made a bit of busy noise at the door. As if I’d only just arrived. She struggled and gained no real purchase against the slip of the sheets, so […]

My Rooster Booster

Frances Gapper Skipping most stages of poultry production including death, he’d blagged a ride in the delivery truck. He was free-range organic, farm fresh. Howdy Ma’am! We often danced in the kitchen, a wild whirl we called Rooster Booster. Laughing our heads off. We cried cock-a-doodle-do! As he was pecking morsels of oat crunch from […]

The Light Falls Through

Jared Povanda With angular gaps in the branches. Light everywhere. In my hair, on my skin, claws of it and petals. A bullet went through a person last night, exit wound in the back, and as I walk the quarantine weight away day after day, I think of the fragility of bodies. I think of […]

Rama Lama Ding Dong

Sutton Strother On the album cover the Rock Star reaches out, so you take his hand and pull him free, out of the picture and into the rose glow of your bedroom. He coaxes you into a sloppy slow dance as he sings along to his own music in an off-key slur. His hair is […]

Running

Julia Kelly And we ran through the streets, stars like comets streaking the black sky, two girls  laughing,  pounding the concrete through the ugly beauty of the city, the arcing bridge over the black glitter of the river, breath cold and clear, painless, tireless, high above the pavement now from whatever drug we’d taken, we […]

Plastic

Nora Nadjarian I’ve spoken to thousands of art dealers listed in the yellow pages. I’ve turned the thin pages and made over a thousand calls asking for art made of plastic, which will keep for a thousand years. The art dealers call back and say the Ocean, the Ocean. I suppose they mean dive in […]