ILLUMINATION by Audra Kerr Brown

Three weeks after her miscarriage, Guinevere fell in love with the lightbulb. A 40-watt incandescent globe from the dining room wall sconce. She removed the lampshade in order to stare at the glow of its tungsten filaments, the bare harp sitting above the bulb as a halo. You are beautiful, Guinevere would say. Absolutely beautiful. The light had an electrical heartbeat, a faint buzzing, as if bees were trapped inside. She liked to unscrew the bulb from its socket, marvel at how perfectly it fit in her palm. How warm it felt. How round, how small.

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OBIT by Jesse Salvo

Published Wed, Jan 13, 11:53 p.m. ET Jersey City, NJ This item is dedicated to the living memory of David Graff, a friend of this paper, who passed away this week in a manner very much unexpected to those who knew him well. David, who died Thursday, was born in Michigan to a family of middle income, attended the University of Chicago under dubious circumstances, failed out under less dubious ones, spent two years writing grants for legal nonprofits, discovered no dignity in the work, detested labor, detested snobbery, moved back to Detroit, fell in love, became engaged, took a…

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WHEN THE FIRST HUSBAND DIES YOUNG by Dan Brotzel

When your first husband dies young, you feel shock, you feel sick. You hurt, you bruise, you ache, you sting. You feel nothing at all but also everything, way too much. Reality has been swept from under you. There’s a big hole, a gap, where your life should be. Nothing makes sense. You’re trapped in a nightmare that can’t possibly be yours. Everything is panic, anxiety.  You keep running up against the hope that this is all an illusion, that soon you’ll be able to get your head round it, feel differently about it, send it away. You keep thinking…

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SAN ANTONIO by Saul Lemerond

The piglet was pink, but not the regular pink that you expect piglets to be. This was the sort of glowing, warm pink that only exists in Disney movies. God, the little animal was so cute Yancy wanted to squeeze the thing to death. Wanted to squeeze it ‘til its head popped off its precious little body.  Yancy’s friends Tim and John think this too. He is so lucky, they think as they stand beside him wishing they could also have one. They’d all been on their way to the Riverwalk but now no longer care.   Yancy reaches out a…

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DARLING by Suzanne Grove

We were fifteen, our bodies slick with baby oil, as we tanned on her lawn in old beach chairs rusting at the edges. I was pouring flavored sugar down my throat when Julia told me the devil seduced my parents. The candy’s raspberry tang hit my soft palate, and I coughed a fine blue dust that tasted like medicine. I knew her parents were evangelicals or born again or fundamentalists, all words I could say but didn’t understand. Her father wore jeans to church. The faded denim Wranglers rode high up his waist and tugged at his crotch.  His leather…

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PENNY-UP by Daniel Fraser

On Tuesday afternoons I would go down to the garages with Sam and Jason to throw coins at a wall. Derek would come and bring a twelve-pack or a slab and we’d stay there past dark. Penny-up can’t be explained, you just have to play it. Like life. The summers were the best. Big sun falling behind the tower block, kids running under the washing lines, screaming and fighting on the open grass, the chimneys and smoke-blackened brick stretching back into the hills, and us with nothing to do but roll.   “Watch me,” said Derek. We watched him land a…

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TENDERNESS by Anthony Sabourin

The Doomsayer is at work.  He takes a sip of black coffee from a styrofoam cup. He mumbles to himself and barks like a dog and screams into his elbow as one would muffle a cough. He takes another sip of coffee, gargling it and spitting it into the street; wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Across the street the train is stopping, and soon the morning rush will be streaming by on the stretch of street before him, walking in their harried steps, a tension in the inconvenience of being a person around other people, already…

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MOONRAKER by Robert Warf

GREENHOUSE My father’s hands are large and calloused with supple jointed thumbs. I have my mother’s hands. I’m a man. Not a man like my father. A man like my mother. I’d tell you about my mother’s hands, but I can only say so much for so long about a good thing. But I’ll tell you about my father. I’ll tell you something. MOONSHADOW Oil rig at sea. Drillers drilling. Sweat. Dripping sweat. The moon overhead. Men work under lamplight. Roughnecks with rough hands. Hands of a father. Smoldering filter in dirty fingers. Dirty fingers of my father’s dirty work….

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SCARAB by Jihoon Park

I see a scarab beetle on the sidewalk on my walk home from the bar. Instead of stepping on it, I scoop it up with the Yellow Pages on the driveway and place it on the ficus tree next to the garage door.  I’m very nice when I’m drunk. I fall into bed next to Janine. She is awake but she does not want to talk to me. She probably wants me to shower and get the whisky smell off, but I still have some dignity left. I am my own man and tonight I want to sleep in my jacket and jeans.    In the morning,…

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WRITING PROMPTS AND CHANGING VIEWS by Sabrina Hicks

At a time when real life is crushed into an acronym, IRL, to accommodate social media, texts, curated accounts, all I crave is something real, someone to talk to, my father’s voice, my mother’s strength. Dani was annoyed that her father sent her a text asking how she was doing, as if the weight of their collective damage could be written with thumbs. Knowing he won’t answer your phone call, you text back fine not explaining how you got fired for taking too many days off, caring for a woman he once loved.  A strong memory of color. I’m driving…

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