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stephen mortland

THAT ABSENCE YOU SEE WAS FORMED BY MY FRIEND’S FATHER by Stephen Mortland

JORDAN To imagine what Jordan’s dad looked like, I pictured Jordan’s face stripped of his mother’s features. It was like clearing away layers of earth to find the remains of some unidentifiable structure. The scavenged and featureless result was the face of his invisible dad. Jordan planned on changing his last name when he got married. The disembodied and scarred face of his father heard about it and showed up in Jordan’s dream the night before the wedding. “The name was fine for twenty-something years,” he said, “and now what, it’s not?” “I learned how to wear your name,” Jordan

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andrew miller

6:54 by Andrew Miller

I arrive at 6:55. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby, swipe my badge to access the elevators. I wait. I have earbuds in and keep my eyes dipped so that no one acknowledges me. I enter the elevator. I exit the elevator at my floor. I begin my work day in silence. I attempt to spend as much of my workday as possible in silence. I arrive at 6:56. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby, swipe my badge to access the elevators. I wait. I have earbuds in and keep my eyes dipped. I say nothing

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jeff phillips

THE CUPS by Jeff Phillips

Orel Gammon stopped wearing his cup the second day he played in the “majors.” This wasn’t the Major League Baseball. The rec center named their little league for ages 10-12, “the majors.” For all who played in “the minors” before it, this new league was a big deal. It meant kids pitched, and the kids pitched harder than the pussyfoot dads, who were notorious for tossing slow balls to make their kids feel like all-stars when they knocked a homer over the fence. League rules in the majors required that kids wear cups over their crotch, something all the preteens

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vanessa norton

EMPATHY by Vanessa Norton

The man who lived downstairs kept a wooly pig as a pet. Sometimes, he would stab the pig with a kitchen knife until the pig fell over. He insisted that the pig enjoyed being stabbed; in fact, he would come to the door just to get it. Falling over meant the pig had surrendered to the sublime. My boyfriend had a hard time taking care of himself. He was a drooler. He forgot to rinse at the end of his shower, so his body was often covered in suds. He walked around town with his cock swinging from his fly—unintentionally—but

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marc olmsted

SCROTUM NEAT AND TIDY by Marc Olmsted

And so began, at least for me, the first real public event of the piercing phenomena – now performance art 1989 – video cameras providing close-ups of this guy driving nails into the skin of his balls, the pain lashing through him like a visible hot flash of kundalini.  Later I learned I was seeing the piercing hero Bo Flagellant. I looked around me at the packed house, another venture of hipster Curtains who had a real touch for trendy pulse, publicizing his new coffee table dick-piercing book – Skin of the Living. At the entrance, a big b&w nude

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elytron frass

PSEUDONYM AS DOPPELGANGER by Elytron Frass

“My reluctant author types: I AM,” my reluctant author types. I am evoked: his incorporeal pseudonym. I am manifested from the zeroing incantations of outsideness—drawn into a closed occulted circle, sans apotropaic salts, of his postmodern syllabic construction. He writes my name and binds me to his will as if I am some prostrating Goetic demon, servant, or subordinate. I am an automaton—an object of possession. I’ve not yet differentiated my desires from that of my conjuror’s. My author is a magus; he demonstrates a skillful sleight of hand. He shifts and sets my letters on his page. Although not

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FOLK SINGERS, SKINHEADS, AND BEARS by Alistair McCartney

Folk Singers We have never enjoyed folk songs. In fact, we had a profound dislike of folk singing—all that plaintive strumming did not agree with us—that is, until the other evening, when we reluctantly attended a smoky folk club in downtown Los Angeles and the sleepy folk singer with the pair of lips tattooed on his neck sang the lines Ravage me, tattoo me, I’m a window, put your wrist in a soft bag and smash right through me as if he were singing directly to us. Ever since that evening, we have been huge fans of folk singing, folk

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avee chaudhuri

I WAS MARRIED BY A GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST by Avee Chaudhuri

Lake Charles, Louisiana Expressionist is probably not the right term, but Jannick Meisnner was a German male in his mid-30s. He claimed to be the German embassy’s cultural attaché at large. He was making a study of the Satsuma fruit and its impact on life in southwestern Louisiana. My wife and I met him at a bar down the street from the university where she taught. This was right before we were married. My wife holds several fine arts degrees. She liked Jannick and we had him over for pulled pork sandwiches. He ate and drank lustily. In fact, he

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PLANT REPLANT by Jon Berger

I smoked Bubba Kush with my cousin Will. He got it from a guy who grew hydroponics.  It was my first time smoking anything other than midgrade. Will had this evil clown hookah thing with hoses hanging out of its head. His friend Joe got so stoned the clown gave him a panic attack. On the drive home I kept checking myself because it felt like I was pissing my pants and driving felt like a videogame. I got home and went to the bathroom to find out I was totally dry. The next morning I’m driving back to my

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jason teal

EVERYONE TO BLAME by Jason Teal

In the past, when bodies turned up, or there were kidnappers, officers arrived on TV, badges glinting, to arrest the suspect. Marjorie is missing at the proctologist’s office, her job as office assistant. Maybe you are a suspect still. Marjorie looked guilty. You remember that. You wish the phone receiver scalded her ear; you wish flames snaked across curled wallpaper like insects. You wish anything else happened, even if everything burned through and you had to start all over. The call comes late at night, police knocking on your door. None of this seems real. No one has seen your

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