MAMÁ’S MORNING by Moisés R. Delgado

Mamá kept her morning in the bathtub. But why a morning, I once asked, why not instead call her moons a night? Or a waxing? Or why not simply call them moons? Without a moon, mamá said, the night would be dark—my moons are anything but dark. But to be a morning, mamá said, wouldn’t you give anything to be a morning—to even be one panel of light? I wish I could have been more like mamá. I know she prayed the same. When she called me her cielo we both knew which sky she meant. On what would be…

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RETURN TO PLANET CLOWN by Nathan Hoil

Clowns vomit clown food. Clowns vomit anything dead that they find in the neighbor’s pool. I am looking so sharp I am made out of scissors. I do not remember a happier day.  The lungs in my stomach are hungry for air but I go back in the house and try not to think about all the dead clowns in my yard. Not even my loved ones love me.  “You’re too cute,” I say to a clown moments before they light me on fire.  I always thought I would live to see my own ghost. The horizon is a drug…

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NOSTALGIA by Timi Sanni

I fumble with my keys and find the odd, crooked one that opens my apartment. Relief instantly douses the fire of anxiety burning through me. At first turn, the door unlocks and opens and I almost fall flat on my face. For a split second, fuzziness fills my mind like a giant wad of cotton. The thought of burglars crosses my mind but is quickly replaced by the overriding smell of onions wafting from the kitchen. Two people had been robbed in this same building last month and I never fail to lock the door behind me when I come…

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THAT’S MY BOY by Jo Gatford

The cartoon cat hits the cartoon dog over the head with a wooden plank and an angry lump rises from the top of its head. The dog’s face turns red and steam escapes its ears like a whistling kettle. The cartoon cat is frightened. He presses the lump back down with his finger but it returns the moment he lets go. The dog is furious. The kettle blows. The dog chases the cat around and around and around. Frantic music plays.  We teach our son the word ‘gentle’ by stroking the back of his hand over and over but he…

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KETCHUP by Rebecca Gransden

Ketchup went missing. I made some posters and taped them around the neighbourhood. Lost Ketchup Black and white cat. 7 yrs old. White socks. White spot on head (see pic). Last seen yesterday (Sept 27th) in the Glenwood area. Reward for information. Call us on ***** **** **** even if it’s bad news. Please return Ketchup if you have him, no questions asked. Ketchup is really missed. Every telegraph pole, lamppost, or empty surface around the nearest blocks had a poster attached. If Ketchup didn’t return, I planned to extend the search area to streets farther away. After a sleepless…

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HEADS OF STATE

My dogs strain at the yoked leash I was so clever to buy. I dream of a free hand for my phone or a coffee cup, to wave at neighbors, flip off speeding teens. A stinky bush next to me suggests skunk. I scan for the varmint, but instead find a stain on the asphalt, not unlike the hundred other oil puddles in my driveway. I peer closer. It’s dark red. I look over my shoulder for a neighbor I could call witness to this sticky offense. My dogs jerk me forward, but the yanking doesn’t distract me from what’s in…

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DING! by Will Finlayson

The kid must have defected. He’s still lying there in the dirt—red-faced and full-uniformed, one arm in the pig’s water trough, that red insignia hot on his sleeve—and what should they do with him? They point fishing spears and pitchforks and kitchen knives at him. Tie him up in the barn that’s what’s to do, Nema says. Kill him right here and now is what it is to do, says Jenko. It’s that we should turn him in to a judge, Harlem says. Isn’t that the wartime law? So they tell Harlem that he should take the kid to the…

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TASTINGS by Colin Lubner

Nose So once upon a time this chick gets a job with her boyfriend at a liquor store and two months in he quits after some regular has a seizure and crashes forehead first into a refrigerated shelf of Sierra Nevada.  In the incident’s aftermath she calls the drunk a drunk. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, deems the victim a sort of tragicomic invalid. And while they hadn’t contemplated separation prior to this fight, not once, this divide is by itself enough. He’s a romantic. She doesn’t know who she is.They are different people, he tells her. She agrees. This is some…

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ROADSIDE MELTDOWN AFTER ULTRAPLEX WEEKEND by Rebecca Gransden

Loose teeth in the hot tub. Sun on bug splatter eruptions. Bodies pile in dreamy aftermath. A bearded chubby man is in the summer house, performative human berserker, rewatching footage of a winter streaker. Somewhere inside the main house schoolgirls dance around a fish tank. Hairy boom licker in a sunlit bedroom, sweating to his parents’ bootleg. Too shy to risk playing his untitled demo, because it’s flammable. Twin motor lips frozen wrongly. Heavy. Smasher. Forever. Monster spinster reclines on a duck egg blue deckchair and sucks on a bombsicle. Sweetener for evil. The largest prescription sunglasses you’ve ever seen. …

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NO TAKE BACKS by Nikki Volpicelli

The phone calls and it makes me anxious. I mean the phone rings, a person calls. It’s been so long, I forget what to do.  “Britt, you there?”  I hang up. Princess. Who else? She’s the only one who still remembers the landline to my dad’s house. Her dad’s house. Ours. Was. Past-tense. She calls back immediately, and this time I know better than to answer just because it rings.  I haven’t talked to my sister in 10 years and I don’t plan on starting now. It’s not sibling rivalry, not just two girls fighting over a boy. Sure, back…

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