Light Pierces Surface of Water, Also Shimmers
by Derek Annis
My wife and I are waiting for something. Maybe a train.
Our baby makes the sign meaning more
We are standing on the tracks
Our baby makes the sign meaning more.
She’s bathed and clothed and fed.
Our baby makes the sign.(More …)
Nocturne in the Aftermath of Violence
by Chelsea Dingman
A black mare, the wind.
Black stones strike the windows, rain
-water rushing inside stone walls,
hail stoning the walls of this
heart I dream. I dream
the children were never born
so they cannot die when maybe
it was I who never lived
because I couldn’t keep them
alive. The stars buried in the wells.(More …)
When Depression is the Catalyst for Faithlessness [cue “Losing My Religion” in the background]
by Chelsea Dingman
I confess: hurt isn’t even the word
for that dark room
or what I saw there. The door
opened. I swung & swung.
My hand broke. You cried. I wanted
to take back our whole lives & throw them(More …)
by Kaitlin LaMoine Martin
September 27th 2018
a blade is held to my skin or
i hold a blade to my skin or
my skin hugs a blade
a love tells me again to get off the internet
so i pick up an anthology about rape
and my chest fills with bees(More …)
Elvis Replaces God in All Former Myths
by Erin Slaughter
secretly we all want to assassinate the president, we don’t care
who the president is. because every man in a suit distills
to husbandfather unattainable. because the burned-out shell
of a honda civic steaming against winter is more frightening
than any ditch-born skeleton of wild bone. (More …)
Some People Can’t Stop
by Erin Slaughter
jabbing themselves in the ribs & hiding
their eyes in pots of flour. Someone’s mother
is a moonrock they worry
in their palm & promise with great difficulty
not to swallow. It’s easier to know an object
separated from the guilt of looking
directly at it. The window has not
been half-glass for a long time. (More …)
Giant White Squill
by Marcela Sulak
Drimia maritime, or giant white squill, grows up to a meter tall along the rocky Mediterranean coast. It was used in ancient times to mark borders and boundaries, and as both a poison and a remedy.
Dear great white squill in my little life, how your delight
is always predicated on the death impulses of this world. Your practice
of planting heavy feet, which we can see in the movement
of your lightly scented wrists:
in such a world, it is simplicity itself to be beautiful.(More …)
We Carry Smoke and Paper
by Melody S. Gee
A week after my oldest daughter was born, I asked my mom if she wanted to come out for the baby’s one-month celebration. Having only heard about this ceremony, since I neither had one myself nor ever attended one, I asked her, “You know that red egg party for babies? Do you want to do that?” My mom agreed and she and my dad traveled from LA to St. Louis.
My daughter was one month and three days old. She was covered in baby acne, still learning to nurse, and sleeping in forty-five-minute stretches. My mom arrived at my home armed with a printout of a website’s directions on how to conduct a Chinese red egg ceremony. It was written in English. I wondered if she had called her sister, Auntie May, who was eighteen years older and grandmother of twelve. Auntie May was who we called for traditional recipes or instructions on how to set out ancestor offerings correctly on our mantle, who loaded our car with fuzzy melons only she could grow to taste like their childhood.(More …)
Aren’t There Any Beautiful Things in Your Own Country?
by Melissa Matthewson
after Susan Sontag
In which she answered (1977): “Yes. No. Fewer.” [note]Susan Sontag, from “Unguided Tour”[/note]
In which I answer (2018): “Yes. No. Also, fewer.”
I want to think there are/were beautiful things in the country I grew up: in the chaparral hills of California, at the border of two countries, where a line on the map draws a curtain between the US and Mexico.
If you go, you should take foot if you can, though horses could be adventurous, cars more likely.
Is it still there?
But not for long.
When you arrive, take off into the hills with heart and fortitude.
Were you happy there?
I lived for the auburn-haired boys who played baseball and came from the east, and the mountains. Nature as it was then. (More …)
by Rochelle Smith
John Coltrane is my father. The jazz saxophonist, yes, who many say was the greatest musician of the twentieth century. I’ve known this all my life. Or that’s not true, not all my life, really only since I first heard his music, which was in college. Before that, I’d always wondered who my father was. My first boyfriend, Brian, used to sneak recording equipment into the library in his messenger bag and bootleg jazz albums onto cassettes. He would play them for me later, and that’s where I heard them all: Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk and Lester Young and Charles Mingus and Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon and Coleman Hawkins and Max Roach. (Why do jazz musicians have such interstellar names? Who else that you know has had the last name Mingus? The first name Thelonious? The middle name Sphere? Uncle Ornette, Uncle Thelonious, that nice Mr. Strayhorn who drives the school bus.) And my father. My mother was the last woman he made love to before he died in the summer of 1967. He was her first, her only for years to come. Let me tell you about him. He was born in a crook of the southern end of North Carolina, in a town called Hamlet. He was raised Methodist. He loved to roller skate as a boy. He joined the Navy at the age of nineteen and became a sailor. He had three other children, all boys: John, Ravi, and Oran. (More …)
by Lawrence F. Farrar
From the Officer Evaluation Report on the work performance of Foreign Service officer Peter Hempel. Mrs. Hempel, an attractive young woman, is the mother of three small children. She is a gracious and charming hostess. Her poise, conversational ability, dignified reserve, and subtle sense of humor make it obvious that she is a credit to the Service.
From the Officer Evaluation Report on the work performance of Foreign Service officer Frank Barnes. Mr. Barnes is assisted in his work by an attractive and intelligent wife who is an accomplished hostess and is active in local affairs. She serves as the social chairman for the Wives Club, a position which requires her to make extensive contact in the local community. In addition to the attributes already mentioned, Mrs. Barnes is fully versed in the social requirements of the local society.
by Scott Hunter
As Dad lay brain dead in the ICU that short week, three nurses remarked on his beautiful toes. So smooth, so clean, the nails so perfectly clipped and squared off. Nothing in-grown, no dark corners, no fungus. Doctors say the state of an old man’s toes will tell you the state of his mental and physical health. An old man can’t clean what he can’t see—or reach, maybe—and will stop tending to things like toes if he’s forgetful, or if there’s no one left to impress. These were not the toes of a man ready to die. Living alone, free to do as he pleased. “Every day’s a Saturday,” he said to me, after retiring. Time! Time to run to fish to golf to bike. Tend to his tulips, tend to his toes. On league nights, a beer or two at Mingles. There are still bowling leagues where he lived, where he competed. At home he sipped a single malt over pictures of fish caught and released. They all looked like the same damn fish to me, date-stamped photos or not, but Dad could point out the distinctions. Like a nurse can talk about an old man’s toes. Bigger dorsal fin, redder near the gill covers. “Oh look,” he said, “a hook scar on the lip—maybe you’re right, maybe it is the same damn fish.” We laughed about that, and sipped some more. (More …)
As to the Manner Born
by Stephanie Trott
It was nothing they could have planned for, not something to be learned from a book or a blog. They’d read the manuals, consulted the experts, taken classes and received high praise. So when the couple spoke with their doctor during the start of the pregnancy’s thirty-first week, you have to understand their surprise in learning that their child did not wish to be born.
“Impossible!” said the woman. “We’ve wished for this baby and nothing more.”
“You’re a liar!” said the man. “We’ll take you to court for such fabrication.”
“It’s true,” thought the child, though no one else could hear. “I would prefer not to participate.”(More …)