*Past issues will be collected here, in the archive, once the following issue is published. We will preserve each issue for as long as possible, hopefully forever.
Issue 17: October 15, 2020
Not a First Date but a Start by Kirby Fields
Stanley’s real name wasn’t Jake. It was Stanley. He had told her Jake to protect his privacy. If she knew his real name, he reasoned, she would be able to look him up. Creep him on social media. Drive by his house at slow speeds. Stanley had told himself a thousand times that there was no shame in the transaction. That there was nothing illegal. Two consenting adults. All that. But he still preferred the security of a pseudonym. And besides, Jake just sounded better. Cooler. Jake was a mighty oak. Stanley, a weeping willow.
Issue 16: August 15, 2020
Let Us Plough, Let Us Build by Mark Connelly
“On top of everything else, she broke her glasses,” the nurse told him with a bored sigh. “The new ones won’t be ready for two weeks.”
“Give me her prescription. I can get them in one day at the clinic in Pankow. Any style.”
The nurse was unimpressed and said nothing. Paul followed her down the high-ceilinged, tiled corridor. Her flowing white coat brushed the dusty aspidistras lining the dim hall in squat iron pots.
The Coracoid Process by Robert Sachs
Benny, who wouldn’t turn twenty-two for another six weeks, had been throwing hard for two innings and the pain in his right shoulder was scaling up. He was sweating, lightheaded. For most of May, the pain had been getting worse and he worried now that each pitch would be his last. Before starting the top of the third, he called time and motioned for the pitching coach to come out to the mound. The umpire moved to his left and held up one hand. Crawley, leading off, moved out of the batter’s box and tapped his cleats with his bat. C.W. Moss, the team’s pitching coach, was used to pitchers who flounder, but Benny had struck out the first six batters he’d faced.
Issue 15: June 15, 2020
The Accidental Instapoet by Wes Civilz
On Christmas Day I wrote a short, angry poem about Christmas.
I remember disliking the holiday even when I was young. Somewhere in there, maybe around eleven or twelve, the drugging effect of the presents wore off, and I realized how strange and annoying the whole thing really was. Santa, his reindeer, the music. That smug music.
This was the poem:
Legacies by Molly Sturdevant
I’m all alone in Chicago tonight, and I decide to hang up some pictures. I need a drill so I buy one, and on the way home I pick up beer and a dragon roll, and through the window of a coffee shop I see a man who missed his opportunity to marry me because he didn’t look up.
Issue 14: April 15, 2020
The Crack by Rebecca Andem
“HIKING IN Scotland. In November.” Jim dug into his ear. He was certain something was crawling in there. “Off-season rates,” he muttered. He studied his finger. Nothing. When he glanced at her, Caroline huddled deeper into her coat. “You do know that hiking is free?”
Moon Over Leo by Ed Davis
KENNY LIKED to come to the empty lot on Leo Street weekdays after dark. The lot wasn’t exactly empty, though, if you counted all the weeds, poison ivy, and tangled honeysuckle at the back, beyond where the rundown house had stood. The fire had taken it all, except three concrete steps. Chicory and Queen Anne’s lace swallowed up whatever foundation remained.
Issue 13: February 15, 2020
Penthouse by Rob Costello
SHE PULLS Daddy’s Penthouse magazine out from beneath the rumpled bedclothes and strokes the cover he’s crumpled during the night.
Probably slept on it, she thinks.
She smooths the creases with her thumb and clutches the magazine to her breast.
What would he do without me?
Issue 12: December 15, 2019
Papaw Tells Me a Story: The Troubles of the Spirit by Morton Russell
WOULDN’T NONE of us been in school much longer, but Sassafras Jackson had made up his mind he was going to start cutting out anyway. Miss Metcalf was in a different mood than normal that day, so she hadn’t even mentioned that Sass never showed up at all. She was up to the board writing our numbers on there and us just trying our best to keep up.
Phase by Eric Smith
FUNNY HOW a full moon brought Simone to mind. Nights he impulsively called her only to discover, later, the full moon hanging like an ornament in the trees behind his house. Tim would stare at it until he was sure it moved then marvel at his friend’s mysterious tug. “Kindred spirits,” she told him, “you and I are kindred spirits, Timmy.” But after eight months in which three e-mails to Simone had gone unanswered, Tim wondered if it were still true.
Issue 11: October 15 2019
Stephanie Esher by Siamak Vossoughi
FIRST LUCAS Hardisty lost his virginity to Stephanie Esher, then Nick Sando lost his virginity to her, then Will Eason lost his to her. They were close friends. It was the last year of high school and it just happened that way.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive by Michele Reisinger
IT’S A PUZZLE, ain’t it? How sometimes life gives you all the pieces but their edges are rough and the colors are blurry and it ain’t till you step a ways back and rearrange that you see the patterns. You know? You asked what brought me here and I’ll tell you, but first I got to tell you something else. Since Pa died, I barely spoke, but after the ruckus in church a few weeks back my words is like a fountain. You don’t mind, Ma’am, do you? We got time.
Issue 10: August 15 2019
Undertow by Peter Gooch
SELENE SPRINTED down the steep, grassy slope that led to the beach. DB, always cautious—laden with beach chairs and their picnic hamper—called after her, “What’s your hurry? Lake Michigan’s been here for a couple of thousand years. It’s not going anywhere.”
The Magic Cloak by Robert Pope
THOUGH I TOLD him the year was 1970, Phil kept tapping his watch and listening to it in an effort to determine whether we had stopped for gas an hour or a day ago. Because I had completed my draft physical that morning, Phil offered the beach trip and one of two tiny blue pills. Now I sat on the opposite side of the road looking across an expanse of succulent ice-plant slanting down to a second hill, more ice plant, a third, ice plant, and so on down to the sea. Phil called after me in profanity laced invective concluding with, Quo vadis, Dimitri?
Issue 9: June 15 2019
Theresa Weaver by Sean Murray
Just Between Us by Brandon Adams
Issue 8: April 15 2019
Red Light by Joseph Payne
OF ALL THE sad places in the world you have been to, this is the saddest. Tucked away past a decaying bridge is a sea of cracking and uneven concrete. Wild grasses spill through the gaps. Groups of people are hunched near dilapidated bars and gambling houses, their faces etched deep with the ridges of time. They are downtrodden and sad to look at but, strangely, you get the sense they are not lonely. They, at least, belong here. Through the smoke of their cigarettes they peer at you.
Existential Love Story by Jennifer Edelson
The cedar sauna is pitch black inside, like an ink stain that never dries despite the heat. To navigate, I keep one hand on planks of blistering grooved wood, until I find a flat surface directly in front of me. Evan plops down and pulls me up against his body and the jolt loosens a little air bubble from between my lips.
Issue 7: January 15 2019
The Fall of Achilles by Fiona Chai
SO TELL ME why you’re here today.
You know why. I guess you don’t. You heard the rumors, maybe, no? It was in the news. I guess there’s a lot of news.
I guess the first thing you should know is his name, which- or do you care about my childhood? Haha, like the movies- I lay on your couch and tell you awful things about how I grew up bullied, or whatever. It’s a small backwater town, the place we eventually settled down in. Everyone’s a little- I mean, it’s not like here, in the city. It’s a whole thing there, if you’re gay. That’s why he was such a big deal. He just… didn’t care.
Fireworks by Tommy Vollman
I’m not sure if the sky really is higher during the summer or if it just feels that way. There’s probably an explanation for it. Maybe it’s an optical illusion. Or maybe it has something to do with the tilt of the earth or the position of the sun and the lengthened days. But I don’t care much for explanations; I’m more about feelings. And the feeling I get beneath a high, summer sky—a big, blue sky—is one of endless possibility. It’s as if anything can happen. Anything.
Issue 6: November 15 2018
You Do What You Have To by James MacDonald
RAY AND I met at work. Years later, we’d laugh about how pretentious it was to think that was cliché, but when we first met, it didn’t seem like we’d amount to much. I’d just moved home from D.C. after a bad breakup. Ray had just finished college. We waited tables in our home town, made eyes at each other and then, at the Christmas party that year, Ray and I had drunk sex in the employee bathroom.
Santa Madusa by Siolo Thompson
A SMALL STATUE of Saint Angela of Merici, sits in a nook above the fish tank in Dr. Langer’s office. Marina has seen the statue before, here of course, where she has visited many times but also in her grandmother’s house where it keeps a quiet vigil between yellowing candles and other chaste, porcelain saints. Virgin martyrs of the dusty shelf; Agatha, Goretti, Saint Eulalia of Barcelona. Marina has thought of suggesting to the optometrist that he should replace Saint Angela, who lost and then regained her ability to see, with a statue of Medusa, who was blessed with an avenging and protective sight. She imagines that he would laugh, “oh ha ha,” he might say “we wouldn’t want to scare the patients, would we?”
Issue 5: September 15 2018
Rosa by Maryann Lawrence
SISTER ROSA said that the gates of hell flew open the night of Carina’s engagement to Eugene Baker, the American who came to town on Opening Day. Some of the old women said his real name was Eugenio Bacil (when he was young) but that is neither here nor there. It would not matter whether his name were Eugene or Eugenio or even Eugeniusz, because the Devil’s fork is mightier than Cupid’s bow. That’s what Rosa always says.
Sonny Boy by Beth Konkoski
MY FATHER’S cousin, Bobby Burger, came home from Vietnam with a purple heart and black lungs. At least that’s what he told my dad each time he stopped by to see him.
“Sonny Boy. I’m back and thirsty,” he’d roar through the screen door at least twice a summer. I never understood why they called each other that name; Dad said it was just something that started when they were kids.
I am a Pink Being to You by Griffin Reed
GRIM STEPPED out of a warm bath. The unfurling of pink, close limbs into cold verticality jarred. The parts of life sat next to each other. She looked at her body in the mirror and took pleasure in imagining how someone else would view the cypress curves, the taut collarbones, the unexpected lushness of the ass. The desire for an observer used to worry her, spilling into notes in a small black journal, What good is it being beautiful if there’s no one to love my beauty? Why do I care? She had a more peaceful question now— What good are bodies at all?
Issue 4: July 15 2018
Till Death Us Do Part by B.W. Jackson
A WARM summer breeze blew through the kitchen window, rustling the plastic blinds. Jeanette stood with her hands behind her back, squinting in the afternoon sun. Her paunch protruded through her floral dress. On the street, two officers in sunglasses were leaning up against a patrol car, one of them jotting something down on a notepad. An ambulance pulled away from the curb and disappeared behind the leafy trees.
A Most Practical Imperative by Joe Taylor
“PETER! PETER Rabbit! How long it has been!”
The old gentleman calling this out was from either Romania or Rome, so what he said really sounded more like “Pay-ter! Pay-ter Rha-beet! Hu longue eet hath bane!” But to keep things simple and move the interesting facts along, I’ll transcribe for you.
“Peter! Peter Rabbit! How long it’s been!”
“The Consortium must die,” the suicide ghost said by Andres Vaccari
THEY’VE SURELY done a good job on the ghost.
“Just look at it, Roop, like a million bucks!” Fred Thunder turns in the plushy seat to face the ghost and wince his famous wince. “The suit must’ve set them back two grand—what is it, Guccee? How are they so well-funded?”
Issue 3: May 15 2018
Joy of Vicks by Sidura Ludwig
SHE WHO sits at her kitchen table across from her mother who has flown in for the birth of this child; who hears her mother’s rattled shaky cough, a chesty, phlegmy obstruction that sounds like guns popping as her mother’s face turns red; she who gets up to fill a glass of water, to find the tissue box (which is empty because her household just finished a round of colds); she who passes her mother a torn paper towel instead, who lets the water run cold so that it will refresh as it pushes back against the nagging cough, but really she who stands at the sink doesn’t want to watch her mother spitting up the phlegm into the napkin, horking and gagging to battle against this cough which has probably been lingering for months. She who doesn’t look, does not have to see…
Red Dirt Road by James Roderick Burns
HE SCARCELY noticed when they left, his wife quietly closing the bedroom door, allowing the screen-door to settle back into its frame with a tiny even hiss. The sound of their car rounded the driveway and the far side of the house, then disappeared. The room was silent. Though the pain in his arms and legs had faded a little, the sickness remained, unshakable and sticky-sweet as a shower of summer rain…
A Spiral Life by Kate Roos
THE WATSON-CRICK model of DNA structure was a revolution. I still remember learning about it as a graduate student. In my imagination, the model looked as if musicians had figured out how to spin narrow staves into two spiral strands and play a tune in duplicate. The twisted ladder of our genetic material seemed simple enough. It was beautiful…
Pool by Kathryn Kopple
It happened a long time ago. So long ago in fact that the details need to be hauled up from the deepest well of memory—one at a time. Who was older? Who was younger? Who led? Who followed? There were three of us in the pool. It was late and dark and there was no moon that night. We had scaled the fence between houses. We shed our clothes and slipped into the neighbor’s big round pool. Naked. Innocent. We didn’t think about our nakedness, our bodies. Our hands and legs became a tangle; an arm brushed against a breast, a foot found a buttock. We were free. The neighbor’s blue vinyl pool was our paradise, our octopus’s garden in the sea…
Issue 2: March 15 2018
Just You and the Road by Giles Selig
YOU’RE DRIVING somewhere on a two-line highway — or is it four? It doesn’t matter where you are or whither bound. Your stupid husband, Mack, couldn’t join you on this trip. You’re on your own, and glad you had the guts to do it, finally. This journey, so far, has gone well. To cover so much ground so effortlessly and at this pace has compressed your sense of time. You’ve gone farther than you realized.
Issue 1: January 15 2018
Herman Groome by Nancy Gold
HERMAN GROOME first heard the sounds as he chipped old paint from around his window frames: the scrape of metal dragged across the ground and the clang when it fell. A whooshing followed, and sometimes voices, but he did not hear these every time…
Pizza Guy by Doug Van Hooser
WHY WOULDN’T they admit it? He knew. You had to be an idiot or drugged into oblivion, which obviously he wasn’t, not to know. Take this tube out of my mouth and I’ll tell you. Look at me. There is no need for sugar coating. Tell them hope is a gaseous vapor. And I mean like a fart, not fog. Time to roll down the windows and let the stink out. Somebody get behind the wheel. Time for this bus to go in the ditch…