MY BROTHER, MY MOTHER, MY FATHER, AND I by C. Beston

My brother asks if, when he is older, he will grow as big as our father. I tell him the best thing to steal from the supermarket is a glass pint of milk. You drink the milk, then return the bottle for two dollars. My mother asks me to stack plates and glasses in our high cabinets. Reach for vinegar at the store. Every year she shrinks. I wonder when she won’t be able to push a shopping cart. If I will set her in the child’s seat and hand her tomatoes and oranges to inspect, one by one, before…

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THREE TRIPTYCHS WITHIN A TRIPTYCH, OR: SPINACH PIE by Benjamin Niespodziany

a multi-level triptych   [1] Woodsman’s Lint-Licked Pockets after Leśnik, the Slavik forest deity   [a] Woodsman protects the forest by writing messages into the rocks. Messages in clock talk Woodsman doesn’t understand. Messages in dirt. In fur. In bark. Important forest, he writes. Formative forest. Former corner, cornered form.   [b] With beard of grass and vine, Woodsman wears skin of reed and tree and string. His stomach is a lake of fish. The torch he carries bares a blue flame. It assists in guiding his moon, in practicing the magic of being alone. Silence hangs like a stranger…

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AT A LEMON-COLORED HOUSE ON CALLE D by Ray Ball

The day before Myradis Guzmán died, the tropical sun boiled off some of the rainwater that shrouded and smoothed the cracks in Havana’s sidewalks. She sorted grains of rice and hung out laundry under the watchful eye of a statuette of Yemayá. She chatted with neighbors on her way to ETECSA. When she arrived, she secured her place as la última and slipped into a wisp of shade to wait her turn. After her heart suddenly stopped, her body remained in her house for over a week, while her brother Yordani navigated bureaucratic tapestries of red tape. Waiting was so…

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HUNGER PAINS by Lindy Biller

Eating nacho-flavored cauliflower chips is like eating the crisp skeletons of dead leaves. Still, there are far worse things I could be doing with my mouth. I sit at a drop-leaf table, grinding the so-called chips between my teeth, and you streak around our apartment, rabbit-like. You’re terrible at acting cool, aloof, whatever you want to call it, and I will always love this about you. You are tender to the bone. “Why am I doing this, what if I fuck the whole thing up?” you say, although you’re not really asking. I stand up, ignoring the subtle aftertaste of…

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SOUR by Wilson Koewing

To escape the midsummer heat, I ducked inside a bar specializing in sour beers on the fringes of Five Points in Denver. I ordered from the happy hour menu, drank sour pours then had my debit card declined. “I tried it nine times,” the shaggy hair bartender said. “Try it again.” “Won’t go through.” “I don’t know what to tell you.” Another bartender, one of those effortlessly beautiful women who always seem marooned in restaurants, came over. “Nice ink,” I said, noticing an eight ball on her wrist. “Do you have another card?” she asked. “I don’t,” I said. “Where…

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NOAH’S MILLENNIUM SOLILOQUY by Maggie Nye

I am building a space ark. I have the raw materials to begin. Many can be salvaged from the junkyard, which is the humble throne room of heaven’s inheritors. Not that I believe in metaphors. We are all best served speaking simply, plainly, and with a cube of bullion under our tongues. I have collected 130,000 pounds of aluminum rather easily. It took the better part of a century, but I am blessed with dreamless sleep all nights except Sunday, when I drown myself again and again in my indoor jacuzzi until my wife prepares the coffee. To make a…

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SALAD GIRLS by CK Kane

I don’t want my mom to die not because I like her, but because she’ll be the nastiest ghost. Unrelenting in death. I just know it. I pull her boots off like always. Using both hands, I make an ugly face and lean my body trying to pull. She moans like always. Whenever she’s not on a horse she’s in this bed. Crumbs of caked mud and crap get on the white sheets as the second boot finally gives and I almost fly across the room. Still in her breeches and a turtleneck, she pulls the covers over her save…

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SMALL SMALL GOAT OR 羊鬼泡面 by Emily Lu

I was the most vocal opponent of article 94.1, a new hospital by-law permitting employees to outsource labour to ghosts. I wrote to the department head an ostentatious but sincere email defending the sanctity of patient care. They referred me to another committee, started a new subcommittee, requested further submissions of appendices, etc. The next day, I went to find the ghosts. When I remembered the small small goat, it was a month later. I opened the fridge expecting death. It was standing on a side dish where I last saw it, unaffected by the cold. Its eyes unblinking. My…

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REWIND by Amy Wang

This is before the bed at my new apartment feels especially wide and I wake up crying over things I barely remember; before the two years during which every night I hear the tell-tale groaning of a broken stairway as it is about to collapse under the weight of ashes and a leaping fire in the second after I fall asleep; this is before I have to start going to therapy in order to keep from crying every time I pass the cafe where you used to buy me peppermint lattes, before I begin reminding myself that it is my…

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LONELINESS AND HEARTACHE IN THE DISCARDED APPLE CORE PIT OF AMERICA’S ROTTED DREAM FOR AND OF ITSELF by Nathaniel Duggan

Lately Frank has been feeling especially Frank-like, his days reduced to the potato chip crumbs he has failed to brush from his lap—as if he, the essence of himself, is a shirt that can be slipped on or off and has been worn perhaps a few too many weeks in a row. He wets the bed more than when he was a child, although back then his piss was hot and searing as shame, whereas now it is simply cold as a metal unexpectedly touched. His sweat, too, is cold. His dreams are muggy as incest, bratty stepsiblings fucked. He…

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