HOOKS by Troy James Weaver

A few days after I heard the news, that he’d tried to carve a hole for himself inside the earth, I wondered if it were possible for a man to rip out his own vocal chords. One night, I actually Googled it, came up with a bunch of misleads. Wouldn’t have mattered anyway—I’d just get a little black board and hang it around my neck and write it all down for him with chalk. The things I saw, the thoughts I had. Voices still exist, even if you can’t hear them. Maybe it all came down to selfishness. For a…

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WE CLEAN UGGS by JP Sortland

Yes. No. Hand washed. No machine. He was the only man who shined shoes at George’s Shoe Repair. The tiny refuge was located below ground at the 51st and Lexington subway station. Yes. Hand. Wash. Personally. You’ll like. There were two or three ladies of an implacable foreign origin who also shined shoes in silence. Customers predicted the mystery women came from Bolivia to Tajikistan and everywhere in between. Buddy’s origin was clear as mud too. But wherever he’d come from before ending up at George’s had made him an amicable fellow. Unlike the shoeshine girls, the patrons of George’s…

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AN ESSAY ON BIGNESS by James Tadd Adcox

I am a man who never needs to do what other people tell him to do. I am so much bigger than they are. When someone tells me to do something, I give them a look. It is a calculated look. In this look, I share with them the artificiality that lies at the base of this interaction, and indeed all of our interactions. It is a look that says, “Whatever you might tell yourself about rights and authority, we both understand the physics of the situation. Perhaps, after you have told me to do a thing, I will do…

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HOW TO TAME A FERAL CAT by Katherine Beaman

It was a point of personal identity for Lula that she refer to no plant as a “weed” and refrain from assigning labels of “good” or “bad” to any creature. Her property: a lot which was adjacent to her daughter Valerie’s own house, and on which sat a mobile home with two attached porches and a mess of plant matter almost entirely obscuring it. Corpses, or almost-corpses, of junebugs lie scattered and belly up all over. Many an afternoon, Lula would study the cat the hung around by her fence. She would glance over at him from her chair on…

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HEAD TO TOE by Molly Montgomery

One day, Penny woke up with her consciousness in her feet. She could still feel her head, blink her eyes, watch the procession of sunlight from her shutters ripple onto her bed, but it all felt very far away. Closer to her, the flannel blankets cushioned her arches and as she flexed— her feet that is, but it felt like she was stretching a larger muscle, like her back— her toes popped out of the warmth of the blanket, giddy like bright-eyed children, singing at last, at last it’s our turn now. They waved, creating a breeze in the rumpled…

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FRIENDHYRE by Leland Cheuk

Feedback Entry Form: I really wanted to go to DonutFest but none of my actual friends were as fervid about donuts as I, so I thumbed FriendHyre on my phone and hired someone for just $20. I thought of the cost as a surcharge on the event, which had a $50 cover for all the donuts you can eat from the top ten artisanal vendors in The City. I bought two tickets and met up with Damon at 9 a.m. in front of The Copper Mine, that warehouse concert venue by the river. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, and went…

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SOMETIMES HEROES CAN’T WEAR BROWN SKIN by Delvon Mattingly

In times of life-and-death, nobody quite grasped the concept of “be quiet.” But for us, it didn’t matter. My peers panicked, whimpered, some nearly hyperventilated—but nothing outclassed the tormenting screams coming from an adjacent room. Nothing could abolish the cackling gunfire, bullets penetrating walls and possibly bodies. Nothing stopped the killer from heading to our room next, glaring at us with a face of apathy, drawing our attention to boast about his body count, and how we were going to add to it. Nobody could do a thing, except for me. I wouldn’t consider my actions gallant. I charged the…

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THE NAMES OF THINGS, by rob mclennan

I gave my attention to the pause. Angela Carr, Here in There 1. I am downsizing, for practical reasons. I gift my belongings before the choice is no longer mine. Ending six months of aggressive treatment, some small strength returns. Moving through boxes and bins and shelves, I name items as I release them into the world. I name you, glass figurines I salvaged from my grandmother’s possessions, as her quiet death ended the decades they sat in her sitting room. I name you, pilfered coffee mugs, each adorned with a different company logo. That summer we drove through the…

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SHAVER by Nikolas Slackman

“All of my hair is leaving me.” But I was the one who’d shaved it all away. To say it left me was a compulsion to attract that rich melancholy self-lovers look for. I knew within mundane choices was the opportunity to feel abandoned. I’d electric razored the whole thing top-down and looked like a flesh pear. I ran it against the arms, down the back, around the tits. A little cut up shaving the neck, but the cuts from nerve damage jitters don’t count, I’d said. Tweeze the brow, but you always tweeze the brow. I could feel George’s…

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THE ELEPHANT EATS THE DOG by Wayland Tracy

I’ve rested my eyes upon the kit cat clock that keeps manic vigil of my darkening apartment. Either this or another video of fish eating birds, and I’ve figured out how all those end. Its eyes shift front door to back door, synchronized with pendulum tail, sixty back-and-fourths to the minute. A maroon coat with white beard and a clock face on its belly grasped tightly by claws. And a bowtie. And ears like devil horns. Surely the devil keeps time, is timely, time of our lives. But I’m waiting for those eyes to break rhythm, waiting for those orbs…

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