Francine Witte

Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Passages North, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and (The Theory of Flesh.) Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) will be published by ELJ September, 2021. She lives in NYC.

AND WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT by Francine Witte

First time I met my brother, he was a hum in my mother’s swelling belly.  *** When he was 10 and me 14, we’d mock our parents’ arguments. We’d sneak up to the attic. He’d put on Dad’s soggy fedora and kick my bottom hard. When I flinched, he’d say, “hey, that’s how Dad does it.” *** I remember the first dead rabbit. It was the winter it wouldn’t stop raining. Always on the edge of snow, but not. My father scowled at my brother, who was something like 11. “What’d you go and do that for?” He shook the…

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JUST OUTSIDE THE TUNNEL OF LOVE by Francine Witte

And Benny Jones telling me about Darlene. In other words, he pulled me through to unlove me.  Something about how love is a crispy pepper one minute, but then it goes wilty and soft. I told him I’m not a goddam pepper and get to the goddam point.  Problem is, I gave Benny Jones my heart too fast. My heart is a bristle I keep in my pocket and I can never wait to give it away.  Benny Jones sat in the boat in the Tunnel of Love, all squirm and tangle of words. Friends, he was saying, and didn’t…

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AFTER A MONTH, WE MEET FOR DINNER by Francine Witte

First thing I notice, new haircut, the grays dyed clean away. I’m careful with my words. Nice shirt, I finally say. I’m aware he never dressed this nice for me.  I found it in my closet, he says. The waitress brings a basket of bread. You look good, he says.  I can smell the scratches on his neck.  They smell like blood and sex and another woman. Would you like some bread? I ask. Cutting down, he says, pointing to his stomach, flatter than I recall. The waitress returns, and we order small.  Nothing that will take too long. The…

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BURGLARS by Francine Witte

I used to wish my parents were burglars. That would have been more honest. Instead, we had to live in a shadow. It looked like a house, but it was a shadow. All dark and hushed and Daddy about to lose it anyway. Always about to lose everything on some bad business deal. Some neighbor or something would tell him a mountain of lies, and Daddy would climb it like a stupid goat. One night, I woke up to my mother screaming. Daddy started pounding the piano keys. When that didn’t stop her, he pulled the vacuum out of the…

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