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RELAX INN by J. Edward Kruft

Pat sat in his boxers on the edge of the bed, digging into his ear with a Q-tip. When Barb finally turned off the hairdryer in the bathroom, he called to her. “I sure wish you hadn’ta done this.” “What’s that you say?” asked Barb, entering the room in her slip. “I said,” he emphasized, “I wish you hadn’ta done this.” “Oh,” she swatted the air, “they’re nice enough folks.” “I don’t even know why they’re staying here. They got that goddamn travel trailer just sitting there, wasting away.” “Well, they’ve been on the road a long time. Mitzi said

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nick farriella

NOOSE TATTOO by Nick Farriella

When my uncle showed up at my door unexpectedly, he had a noose tattooed around his neck and carried a long rope bundled up in his hand. Over the few days he lived with me, he’d toss the rope over the counter when coming in the door. He’d sling it over his shoulder out in the yard when doing what he called, “Jailareobics;” propane tank bicep curls, cinder block shoulder presses, push-ups with his feet three stairs up. When I said, “Uncle Frank, what’s up with the rope?” He said something about casting his own judgment, that the rope was

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williard-flash-flood

THE FLASH FLOOD by Gregg Williard

The flash flood made it impossible to drive home. She had to leave her car in a Walgreens parking lot and walk the rest of the way. Later she heard that someone was washed away when he left his car. She’d been guiding her boyfriend home, trying to avoid the worst streets, though she didn’t know what was and wasn’t impassible and could only describe the google street map of the area. He made another turn but couldn’t see the street sign. Then his phone died. Before it gave out he thought he saw something big and white bobbing in

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cary stough

THE MID-SOUTHERN WORD FOR DEATH IS EDUCATION by Cary Stough

I grieve that grief ~ Today, when I was being caught up on the news of whether or not my cousin Brian had accepted therapeutic treatment upon being released from the White Oak Psychiatric Hospital, my mother called him a “stubborn soul.” Today was a week after he had called every member of his family speaking of ending his life. A week before when I had spoken to her about the calls every member of my family received I was sitting in a black wooden chair in my partner’s apartment in Allston, Massachusetts, which is about a twenty-minute walk from

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sara chansarkar

NOT FOREVER, SNOWMAN by Sara Chansarkar

You be my Christmas, Snowy. Keep me company this holiday season, that’s all. No Forevers for me, now. Forever lasted only four years and 17 days and left me with this I-am-sorry-note on a neon post-it stuck under the coffee machine, this black-and-white check scarf hung between my coats, and a weight pulling me down like dumbbells attached to my body parts. I’d seen that little minx and the sorcery in her mascaraed caramel eyes ─ the liquid ones made to steal ─ as they bore into his. She’d smiled at me wicked as she sized up my full body.

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SONNY CROCKETT CIRCA 2004 by Ryan Hall

The chain-store you were employed at made so many bad decisions that you pictured board meetings full of cross-eyed and drooling executives, giving power-point presentations that were actually crude finger-paintings rendered in their own feces. And it was there, at the end of things, that you met Ricky. He first showed up wearing faded acid-washed jeans and neon blue cowboy boots, with fluffed and teased hair pulled into a pony-tail. He walked right up to you, stationed in the cafe slinging shit coffee and stale snacks for every third customer that didn’t ask where the nearest Starbucks was. Standing in

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james mcadams

WHERE WE MARCHED, HIS FINAL YEARS by James McAdams

Here’s a pic of Dad and me marching at the Inauguration Protest, January 20th, 2017, he’s holding the IMPEACH TRUMP sign I duct-taped to his hand. He voted for Trump but that didn’t matter—what mattered, according to his neurologist, was that he get fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, away from the confinements of Lush Horizons. This one, yes, that’s him marching with the pink Breast Cancer Awareness cap at the Women’s March, January 21st. His gait palsied, hands slapping the air, mind still in the 60’s, the decade he said changed everything, the decade I was born. At the airport,

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THE BROKEN TEETH DIARIES by Joe Bielecki

We used to be in a mouth but were evicted by a fist in the winter outside of a bar by a bouncer. We weren’t unhappy in our home, but we didn’t mind being free from being drowned in alcohol and choked by smoke every day. The snow was cool. We hibernated like little white bears. We mingled with razor sharp salt that was used to tear through the ice that the snow was packed down to create. Our enamel was scraped away slowly. Small cracks formed and were filled with melted snow that froze in the night and expanded

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harris lahti

BONDO by Harris Lahti

That summer I started working at Lexington Home for minimum wage. I spent shifts convincing residents to swallow pills brimming from paper cups. It was a powerful position. Or at least that’s what I told friends. I told them I could’ve swallowed every pill if I wanted. But the only question anyone ever asked was: “What happened to you?” I was permanently limping. My hips, shins, elbow were riddled with lumps and eggs. The city of Albany was full of cracks that stopped skateboard wheels dead and, it seemed, I’d found every one. I discovered the pink goo of car

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clio valentza

A CATALOGUE OF TEMPORARY OBJECTS by Clio Velentza

One by one they sat for their portraits. Littlest ones first. They stopped at the door and undid their braids. They rubbed their hair with vinegar and pinched their cheeks. The oldest ones were fearsome, they didn’t know how to listen anymore. One pricked her finger and spread the blood on her lips. They rolled up their ribbons and stuck them in their shoes. They spat and brushed their eyebrows. One by one. Littlest ones first, these ones still had hope. The photographer had one grey eye and one black. He would close an eye to look at them, and

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