WOODED LOTS by Amanda Baldeneaux

Bess’s grandmother leans a sharp elbow into the worn armrest of her recliner, her chin pointed away from the kitchen chair where Bess sits, signing the contract for Ray, the homecare aid. Her grandmother has lived in the cottage at the nursing home for five years. The cottage lets retirees

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COLLABORATION by Parker Young

I was writing a fantastic tale about two little sheep who have nowhere to go but up. The main question that animates the whole story is, will the sheep go up? It seems that they should—they have no reason not to. Certainly, they can’t go any further down. We all

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JUMP by Neil McDonald

Arlene had felt like a criminal the first time. You’re thirty-seven, she thought to herself.   Don’t remind me, she’d say in jest, whenever her age came up in conversation. But here she was again, sneaking into the back yard in the dark. The first time she had done it on

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BERMUDA by Danny Cherry Jr.

It was somewhere between the fifth and eighth rendition of the “birthday song” when I began to see the appeal of a tight noose and a wobbly stool. That’s what this job did to me. I prayed to the chain restaurant gods to put me out of my misery, but

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A EULOGY by Michael Hendery

Cynthia B. Hurley, known online as @iBrake4Corgis17, was a well-connected woman visible across the social media landscape. Her beloved Instagram feed totaled 12,574 posts, and she amassed 836 followers after more than twenty-five years of daily engagement with the app. Cindy’s all-time, most-liked post was a photo from October 2031

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GIRLS OF THE ARBORETUM by Brianne M. Kohl

The girls of the arboretum are just girls. Nothing more, nothing less. They do not speak to one another. Why would they? The wind blows through their branches. Everything that must be said has already been said. The world is over four billion years old.  When no one is watching,

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FAIR NIGHT NUMBER ONE by Tom Weller

Scrap Boys have each other. Scrap Boy 1, Scrap Boy 2, Scrap Boy 3, three prepubescent bodies lean and sharp as barbed wire, three backyard haircuts, three thunder-clap voices, three tornado spirits joined like the three chambers of a rattler’s heart. And tonight the Scrap Boys have the fair. Tonight

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EGGS by Emma Howard

I’m just going to write stream of consciousness  I don’t like women I admire I’m scared of them I’m scared I’ll never be like them and I’ll always laugh at every joke and be afraid of feeling angry and letting people know every time I was angry I ate a lot

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“WHAT? NO.” by Scott Bryan

One time, at least, an elephant ate a bat.  It wasn’t a mistake, either. Nothing is. It wasn’t like the bat was flying around, all willy-nilly, and the elephant was yawning, as pachyderms have a tendency to do, and the bat just, like, zigged when it should have zagged, and

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BONES by Wilson Koewing

I slide the glass racks to the side and peer into the dish pit where Bones struggles mightily to scrape the charred remnants of bread pudding from a hotel pan.   “Bones, how are you holding up?”  “Good, Chef Adam,” Bones says.  “Let me know if you get overwhelmed.”  “Ah, shit,”

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DEMOLITION DEMOLITION by Brett Stuckel

Saturday night, nine to ten to eleven. None of us had asked the skyscraper if it wanted a last meal, but I picked up a cheesesteak and a tall boy of Steel Reserve. I placed the cheesesteak on the altar of the abandoned security desk, poured all sixteen ounces on

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MY TORNADO by Joshua Bohnsack

While I could reach outside my tornado, it was still difficult to hug my date at the end of the night. He never asked me specifically about the tornado, but he did keep asking if I was okay. I said, “Yeah. Sure. Thanks for asking,” and knocked the saltshaker over. 

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MY NONNA’S CURSE by Elizabeth Kattner

I have six impacted teeth. My mouth is overcrowded as the New York streets I wander. Too many people, not enough space. Life learns to grow upward. Skyscrapers. My teeth got the wrong message and push sideways. I take two tablets of ibuprofen to dull the pain. My coworker offers

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THE FLIGHT OF LIU XIAN by Matt Zbrog

He stared out at the world through paneled glass. At his fingertips lay a suite of controls. Switches. Buttons. Joysticks. HUD. Chrome. Glass. Metal. All that blinking light. But Liu Xian focused on the world beyond, gazing out from the cockpit at a domed sky. He breathed in pressurized oxygen

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THE SWADDLE by Janelle Bassett

I am at the sink, rinsing a food processor blade, when I hear the cry of a tiny baby. Carrot bits go down the drain, easy, but the insistent wailing isn’t going anywhere. I assume the sound is some sort of inner-ear repercussion from the electronic-tornado buzzing of the food

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SEVEN IS A HOLY NUMBER by Jen Julian

And yes, that is how many children she has, and I’m talking of course about Mrs. Goth, who every year selects one of her children to be her favorite in a ceremony she performs for us: a blessed clique of friends and neighbors. She lines the children up on the

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CHEATER by Norris Eppes

I go there to ask why I go there. I go there to pick up trash from the sand. In the sand, I draw a heart with my toe. My initial. My wife’s initial. The initial of our shared last name. Then, I make two footprints beside it and let

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RIGHT BEFORE WE FALL APART by Elizabeth Crowder

We sit in cooling sand. You reach out a gritty palm. I don’t move closer. Eight years ago, on this same stretch of beach, with our swelling son arching your back like a comma, we vowed to love each other forever.  “Let’s play a game.” You twist kinky hair around

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BOLD NEW ‘DO by James R. Gapinski

The hairdresser takes too much off the top. Whoops, sorry! she says, holding out a piece of scalp for me to see. I take the little hand-mirror and inspect the damage. A swath of skin pulls away from my brow and wraps around, like a halo. I take the scissors

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ENERGY FROM LIVING THINGS by Laura Eppinger

I examine the head of lettuce because he tells me to, but I don’t know what he wants me to see. Broad romaine leaves the color of spring rest outside his canvas shopping bag, sure. Just a few minutes ago, John shouted at me for putting my slicker on the

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COVER by Benjamin Kessler

The father is accompanying the daughter to the mall. The daughter wants very much to get her ears pierced, and while the father thinks she is too young, he has consented. Though only after making the daughter pull weeds from between the spaces in the driveway concrete. The father doesn’t

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VIEWS LIKE WHITE ELEPHANTS by Frank Jackson

The couple found a spot on a beach with no one in front of them. Sunset was an hour away. She pulled out her phone and scanned the view. He grabbed a couple of beers, opened his own and started chugging.  “Hey Babe, how’s it looking?” “Oh my God, it’s

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SNOWBANK by Frances Badgett

The night comes on so quietly, a hush riding each flake to the ground. The snowman slumps against the brambles, overwhelmed, the new snow wet, heavy. The quiet is unsettling, and all Mara can hear is the hiss of tinnitus in her left ear. She pops in headphones and listens

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DOING IT IN PUBLIC by Angela Miyuki Mackintosh

Joey likes to do it in public. Other guys prefer the privacy of a locked door, a secluded bedroom, drawn curtains. Joey likes to do it that way too, in the bedroom or the kitchen or the hallway, pushed up against a wall or shoved into the carpet, but he’s

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I KNOW ALL ABOUT COMBUSTION by Allie Marini

On the night of your funeral, I stand in front of a raging bonfire licking its way up to the blacked-out stars hidden in the sky above & let the snowstorm the radio says is on its way whip oily lashes of my hair across my cheeks. Drag them like

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DEER by Jack Wildern

The petrol station has a toilet but no window. Behind the door, a song that she has heard before  plays. Or maybe she hasn’t. It’s muffled. The speakers’ range only extends to the shop with its packet sandwiches and cheap mobile phone accessories. She exits and catches a glimpse of

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GATSBY EFFECT by Erika Veurink

The first time I had pneumonia, I wanted it to be seismic. I wanted it to almost kill me. Being fatalistic felt grown up. I laid in the West Village, drank gin from a jar and stared at where the wall hit the ceiling, the cross-like convergence, forever.  “There are

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CINNAMON by Gina Marie Bernard

“Your mother should have had them tear you from her womb,” my stepmom says. “For the wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” I flinch but know better than to reply.  “What the hell, Darlene? You can’t say that shit,” my dad says from his recliner in the living

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CONSIDER RAVIOLI by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

We’re three in a row and it’s warm like the way the bottom of a plate is hot and comforting after you microwave leftovers. Colleen and Sean both throw off heat to my right and my left, so much blue between both of them like the most blistering parts of

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WE COULD BE ANYONE by Alicia Bones

I knew I should feel sympathy for Laura, but her fire-bright face in the Abernathy-Smythe backyard unsettled me. She was telling me the details of her life, the really private, personal ones, though we’d only met a few times at parties hosted by shared acquaintances. “My father is a drunk,

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THINGS TO SHIP TO AMERICA by Jessica Evans

Is heaven a proper noun? Here, I learned to love myself. To love the thick full shimmy of thighs against one another; to appreciate the height of my traps compared to the valley of my clavicle. I fell in love with butter churned from cream produced by cows who live

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AFTER AUSCHWITZ by Howie Good

To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. – Theodor W. Adorno We were taken off the train at night. “What are those bonfires?” I asked. A sarcastic male voice said from out of the dark, “You’ll find out, child.” It felt like I was on a bridge and there were

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FISHSPLAINING BAUDRILLARD by Faye Brinsmead

The robo-guppy came in a tank with LED lighting, soothing ocean sounds, and coral reef background wallpaper. Proven stress-buster, Bernie said, handing me the box. There was some study in some journal. After 10 weeks of fish-watching, 75 percent of the subjects flushed their anxiety meds down the john. I

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IRENE by Sarah MW

“Fancy a bite of my banana, Miss?” Teenage faces have a soft bluntness to them, a button-like quality as they wait to be chiseled out to their full adult contour. Joe’s face was the same, though unlike the others it sported a uniquely impressive beard, far from usual in a

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WHOSE HUNGER by Kristen Estabrook

In the hours prior to dinner, she studied her reflection in the mirror, checking and rechecking the flaws in her complexion, adjusting and readjusting the height of her hair, while thinking about sex. On their second date, he had asked about sex. He had asked if she was ready. She

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MANLESSNESS by Meg Pokrass

The pizza delivery boy stumbles at the front door. He’s a bit shy. Me and Mom order pizza five nights a week. I serve her slices in bed, this is where she eats. When I open the door to him, I’m like a puddle of a girl, not a woman

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ALL THE THINGS WE’LL NEVER HAVE by Christopher DeWan

I remember, there was going to be a birthday party for Michael. He was turning ten. Michael was always interrupting, saying things that weren’t funny or important, because he couldn’t stand not being the center of attention. My mom said it was because he didn’t have a dad. But Michael’s

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HUNGER by Tyler Dempsey

Robbed.  The ski-masked man squeezed my biceps.  “Easy,” I said.  He went, “Get in, fucks,” and nodded toward a black SUV, gun under Eddie’s throat. “Don’t even think about it.”  Eddie called shotgun.  That was yesterday.  Eddie’s my roommate. I’m 34. Too old for a roommate.  I fucked up.  Eddie’s

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IN A SMALL TOWN (CALLED AMERICA) by Christian Fennell

It’s getting worse, and Jake finished his beer, and together they listened to the rain on the tin roof of the drive-shed; the receptiveness of its falling; the comfort within its echoing.  Things are lookin up, said Jake.  Damn straight, said Jared.  I mean, now that things are great again,

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ONE DRUNKEN M. LEVAR IN RELATION TO SMALL GROUP by Scott Malone

 To ease elaborations, an assumption will be made for the reader. That, from sober perspectives, stupor-induced antics most commonly associated with alcoholics are the chaotic, frenzied movements of temporarily broken brains; they contain zero scientific insights. This case intends to show Academia why the understanding is incorrect. And that, under

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IN-BETWEEN SIRENS by Davon Loeb

The in-betweens are like waiting for something to happen, like flashes of red and blue sirens pulsing through my car, while searching for the police officer about to step to my window. And I watched from the rearview mirror, and would say and act exactly how my mother told me—to

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PROBLEM CHILD by Ellen Huang

Ariel often got in trouble for trying to escape. That was how he saw it, anyway. He spent much of his time enigmatically testing the limits of his body, such as a current frustrating inability to become liquid. “If cats can do it, why can’t I?” he’d grumble. He’d try

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THE FALL by Sara Lippmann

Last night I passed out as you fucked me for 100 hours for 18 years on the living room floor. The mood was right: kids out, throw pillows deftly arranged, fire doing its snap crackle pop, flames licking the grate. There was wine and weed—an empty house!—so it could’ve been

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THE WITCH IS DEAD by Katherine Gleason

Jamey sprawls across the sofa. I place the box of Ding Dongs on the coffee table, and she laughs. “You remember,” I say. “Of course,” she says. “Mom loved those.” “And pretended she didn’t. We need coffee.” I slip into my galley kitchen and mix a few grams of a

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IMAGINE WHAT MY BODY WOULD SOUND LIKE by Hannah Grieco

Twenty-year-old me had biceps. Back from a year away, rock climbing and waiting tables, fucking women for the first time. I walked differently. Strutting in my baggy cargo pants, flirting with those baby butch Oberlin girls. A new me.  In the college library lounge, short-haired, smooth-skinned girlfriends ran their fingertips

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AT HOME WITH THE MARTINIS by Joel Allegretti

4 p.m., Sunday, July 16, 1978 The white house with the gray trim at 33 Harper Road is the home of Elizabeth and Edward Martini. They were newlyweds when they moved to East Bedford, a Central New Jersey township, in 1957. They are both forty-four years old. Liz Martini, née

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THE DUMPSTER GAME by Rachel Mans McKenny

The Hu Palace had a classy buffet, with slippery chopsticks that went into the dishwasher not the break-apart kind. Baxter raised himself on the lid of Hu’s dumpster, hanging off it with forearms and elbows as anchor. The graying cabbage landscape and jagged Styrofoam iceberg looked the same as yesterday.

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JEWEL OF THE DELTA by Noemi Martinez

Once called the jewel of the delta, Delta Lake is a tiny man made reservoir where poor families would go and eat in the 80s, claim a table to have lunch or a picnic on the sand and have Easter Sunday cookouts. You’d get there by driving out towards Edcouch,

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FRAGMENTS by Chelsea Plunkett

I. My mother tastes like the peanut butter sandwiches she made when I refused a homemade meal, Chai-spiced tea to soothe bronchitis, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on brownies and banana bread. Her taste is stolen bites of cream cheese mixed with sugar as we make pumpkin cheesecake, steady

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I TOLD HIM I WOULD by Steve Chang

Before his accident, he’d called to ask if I’d go drinking with him. I told him, No, not tonight. I’d started writing again. Wow, he said. That’s cool! I guess, I said. We both listened a little longer on the phone.  * I would tell myself—in the months to come—that

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1978. BATH, OHIO by Sean Williamson

He was driving drunk, a cigarette ripping hot, filter crushed between his fingers. Around a faraway corner headlights, beams reflected faint through the windshield, through his Kmart but that’s ok glasses. Tiny embers spit, excited by wind from the open window. He put out the cigarette, stuffed it into the

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THE PAIN WE DON’T TALK ABOUT by Amina Frances

I was six years old when my mother strapped me into the buggy of her bicycle and steered us both into oncoming traffic on the stretch of road behind the Mulberry Street house. A teen driver swerved and clipped us at fifteen miles an hour. I’ve had a raging pain

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PICTURES by Andrew C. Miller

Lauren watched her father saw through the apple pie with a butter knife.  “Want a piece?” He scooped out a chunk, slid it into a cereal bowl. “Got eggs if you’d rather, but no bacon.” He poured coffee into a brown mug, dribbling on the counter. Lauren shook her head,

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KILLING PLANTS by Aaron Kreuter

It was during Fletcher’s third week at the new job that he noticed Colleen’s plant didn’t look so hot. The plant’s big green leaves were sagging, nearly touching the desk. Nobody had asked him to take care of the plant during his ten-month contract, filling in for Colleen while she

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UNCLE CHARLIE’S BICYCLE by Rick White

Esther lived in corners. And behind the backs of armchairs. In the black and white shadows cast by the TV which Ma sat in front of all day. Saturday afternoons was wrestling—Ma’s favourite—and the other kids, the other ‘no-hoper-kids’ the ‘wargs of the state’ all gathered round to watch. ‘That’s

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DCUQ ANGRUQ by Hugh Behm-Steinberg

A discussion in one of my classes, about metafiction, memory and torment, led me to bring up Chuck Jones’s classic cartoon, Duck Amuck. None of my students had heard of it, but that’s typical: they’re students. Still, before showing it in my next class I wanted to see the actual

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BLACK HOODED NUN by Caroljean Gavin

Stunned, I took the subway and rattled off to work at the Starbucks on 51st and Broadway. My brain’s way of assimilating my mother’s news was to take customers’ orders while imagining plunging a knife into their chests. Would I have to struggle to penetrate their clothing? Would there be

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THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED by Sandra Arnold

We called him the Music Man because while he cleaned the headstones he liked singing along to the opera playing on his radio. Sometimes he threw his head back and let his voice soar to the sky, scattering the crows. His singing was so beautiful it softened the fears that

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THE CLOCKMAKER by Lucy Zhang

Far away—further than the deli store only frequented by the patrolling police officer and a few custodians, further than the farm with three cows and a horse and several chickens guarded from preying hawks by a fishing line ceiling, further than the white oak tree and its branches striking outward,

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FERN by Abigail Stewart

He opened the box and immediately his face fell. The shoes were not only, clearly, the wrong size, but the wrong color. If Marcus were in fact a small child with a penchant for neon, they would be perfect, but he needed something staid and professional for work, a muted

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GLAD YOU’RE HERE by Dan Shiffman

You are the one who goes back for the remaining Christmas presents  while the rest of the family hugs in puffy coats by the doorway. The straps on the duffel bags pulled from the trunk of the car are rough and chilled. When you come inside, everyone is already seated

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THE MOON GOES ON by Lydia Copeland Gwyn

The tea warms through the paper cup and through my gloves. A tiny island of pleasure in the winter air outside my car. My head is still reeling with the conversations of the night. Friends from upstate New York, who drove here in their Prius. Their gentleman toddler who sat

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SAFE PASSAGE by Sharon Dale Wexler

Even though I know where the missing part of the toy gun is, I won’t tell. They haven’t asked. They ask each other but not me. Even if I tell them it’s under the kitchen table, that won’t be the end of it; they won’t settle down and sit at

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WHAT IT HAD IN ITS MOUTH by Arielle Burgdorf

What can make viewing it so memorable is the fact that as each day passes, the rock changes colour depending on the light and atmospheric conditions, and never remains the exact same permanent hue.   Red, the only color that stays with you. A massive red rock, rising out of

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“THE LINE” by Michael Seymour Blake

  Michael Seymour Blake is the author of the art book 12 Days of Santa Crying. Shirts featuring his art can be seen on hot bodies around the world. He eats, sleeps, doodles, writes, lives in Queens, NY. He easily gets lost. Instagram: @michaelseymourblake Fabulous (It’s True!) Website: MichaelSeymourBlake.com

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GIVING SPEECHES IN YOUR UNDERWEAR by Emily Painton

You are stirring onions, slowly caramelizing them. You can’t believe you’re married again. He’s in the other room, well not the other room. The long galley kitchen you’re standing in is attached to the living room. You can see him, sitting on the couch with his football game on, the

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STUMBLING ON CONCRETE by Mileva Anastasiadou

I was overweight when I started the diet, but eating less didn’t help much. I lost some weight, yet I still feel heavy. I told him last night. My husband eyed me up and down, checking for excess fat, then said I look fine, but I don’t feel fine at

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THE PENCIL TEST by Grace Loh Prasad

I once dated a Famous Author—someone you might have heard of. He’d written half a dozen nonfiction books by the time I met him at a writers conference, and had recently published a surprise bestseller that was made into a movie. He’d lived and traveled all over the world as

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CRY BUG by Gregg Wiliard

CRYBUG!!! CRYBUG SAY WE IN DANGER AGAIN!!! CRYBUG SPEAK FOR WHITE RACE PEOPLE, ‘CAUSE THEY IN DANGER AGAIN!!! CRYBUG CRY, WE IN DANGER AGAIN!!!! AGAIN!!!!!! CRYBUG GOT HOT BLACK TEARS AND SUCK CUP FEET!!!!! CRYBUG CRY, WHITE PEEPS, WE IN DANGER AGAIN!!!!!!! HOT BLACK TEARS CRY COLD WHITE FEARS, SAY,

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DISPATCHES…FROM THE NALTREX-ZONE by James McAdams

Sadonna was always my last visit that summer before she died.  At Derek Jeter Rehab Center-Delray, we dispensed meds between 1900 and 2100. I’d start with the early sleepers at the sober house on 999 Swinton, then swoosh on Freaky Fred’s moped through the back alleys and garbage docks behind

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LITTLE DISTRACTIONS by Sherry Morris

Maybe because I’m bored, I agree to see Barry’s fish tank. I’d just returned from three months in Europe where travelling with a circus through France or catching live octopus to grill for lunch while house-sitting on a Spanish island was just how some weeks played out.  I was back

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THE CLOCKMAKER by Lucy Zhang

Far away—further than the deli store only frequented by the patrolling police officer and a few custodians, further than the farm with three cows and a horse and several chickens guarded from preying hawks by a fishing line ceiling, further than the white oak tree and its branches striking outward,

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HAPPINESS by Matthew Licht

My father wasn’t a traveling salesman, just a guy who never seemed to be where he was. A look crossed his face if someone came into the room where he was thinking or dreaming or scheming or whatever he was pretending to do, or spoke to him directly when he

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PEN by Neil Clark

They put a bomb in my pen. It’s like that film Speed. In Speed, your man Dennis Hopper puts a bomb in a bus. Tells everyone as soon as the speedometer in the bus goes below 50 miles per hour, the bus goes boom. That’s what they did to my

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THE FIRST TIME I WATCHED PORN by Tyler Dempsey

In sixth grade (1997), my friend Tom invited me to church because I was a heathen and poor. (We drifted when he got really into drugs later, but from ages 11 to 14, we were close.) Because my mom worked—Dad vanished in 1990, returned for three days in 2014, and

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SALT IN THE BODY by Kelsey Ipsen

Ghosts do not come to me because I grew up by the ocean and my body is still full of salt. Girl; all limbs, all eyes and sudden fearlessness, dared the waves to become bigger and they did. And of course she was sucked under, tossed about, close enough to

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A HOME by Sasha Tandlich

Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me! She covers her face. There’s nobody there but the cat. The cat yells, jumps at something. See, it’s not just the cat. There are also the ants crawling in a line, stampeding through the too-big crack under the front door. She leans

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FISH GHOST by Kevin Richard White

My sister spoke of a fish ghost that occupies a nearby river. She raised her voice as if her sentences had a weight. But in reality, she’s timid. “It has bones and fins,” she said, “but it is poor at cutting through the water.” “Amanda,” I said as she swayed,

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THE HANDS REMEMBER by Andrea Rinard

I sit on the bench outside Publix. A little boy ran by me in light-up sneakers when I was almost, almost, almost to the door, and suddenly I could hear Caleb’s feet, encased like two meat loaves in the shoes I got him before he started K-3, drumming against the

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DINNER by Christopher Linforth

At that time in our lives, we rose at dusk for the feeding shift. Still in our underwear, we crept downstairs and into the kitchen. Shiny black bugs skittered across the tile floor. The lazy cockroaches remained on the counter and in the tinfoil containers stinking of rotten noodles; a

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MIDGE by Tara Campbell

“I remember sailing in a ship.” Skipper’s voice fills the musty darkness of the drawer. “I mean, it was a small ship, more like a boat, I guess, and we were just floating, really, which maybe some people wouldn’t call sailing, but anyhow, I liked it.” Her tone brightens with the details.

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BABY DINGO by Emily Harrison

Boy finds Baby Dingo in the swell of the high noon heat. He waits for any signs of Adult Dingo, adjusting the too-big-for-his-head trucker cap. At home, Grandad is snoring heavy on the sofa.  Boy likes to wander off on weekends.  He wants to be a great adventurer.  Maybe today

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MARKS by Monica Dickson

‘The phantom scribbler strikes again’ – Biro on gloss, 1976 The cubicle door is freshly scarred, blue ink on institutional green. This is where John learns to read. John has been constipated since he started school. His mother takes him to the doctor and they send him to hospital where

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TO TEACH by Tyler Barton

Whenever she passes a picture she’s in, Jewell closes her eyes. She laughs. Jewell’s earlobes are drippingly long, and her granddaughter Tanny would like to see them pierced nine, maybe ten times. This makes Jewell laugh. Jewell has been convinced by friends to join the poetry club, because, they say,

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BABES by Ian Anderson

She wants to know how it works.  It’s easy, he tells her. You create a profile on the Babes app, upload a couple pictures of your baby, fill out the profile, and then people can start Holding. Thirty dollars for the first hour; five dollars for each additional fifteen minutes. 

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ANOTHER ROAD TRIP STORY by DS Levy

Two months ago, after flirting with a handsome Ojibwa who poured stiff Margaritinas, Fonda tottered over to the slots and maxed out her credit card, setting her back two grand. Which is why, heading south on I-31 after an afternoon wine-tasting in Traverse City, I’m surprised when she tells us

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LAST WORDS by Jayne Martin

There’s usually two of us, but it’s Christmas Eve and I got nowhere to be. Anyway, she’s just a little bit of a thing, barely 90 pounds from the looks of her. I can roll her onto the gurney.  The Super found her after complaints about the smell. I don’t

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YOU’RE LUCKY YOU CAME IN TONIGHT by Susanna Baird

Pickleball is a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-pong, according to the USA Pickleball Association. Kids and teenagers play it. Seniors, too. I am middle-aged, but anyway, I play pickleball. According to me, pickleball is an okay sport you play with a paddle and a

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DEADBOLT by Kami Westhoff

In her dreams, she can walk. She unclips the cord that connects her to the Emergency switch, swings her bloated-log legs from the bed until her feet find her one-in-a-million prints in her purple slippers. Though it’s been over a year since she’s stood unassisted, her legs neither quake nor

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SENIORS ON THE MOVE by Mike Itaya

I’m Old Boy.  In the assisted living, they give me the journal, for a doodling. I write camphor, cancer. Camphor, cancer. I don’t give a shit. I’m Old Boy.  It’s Tuesday. And right off, things go bad. Somebody swiped Rundy’s anxiety candle.  “Who’s fucking with my aromatherapy?” He wants to

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FAILURE TO BREATHE by Emily Withnall

The diaphragm wheezed and gasped. It was a broken accordion and with each push, the squeaking and squawking that emerged were evidence that it should surrender. There was no hope and what’s more, the attempts were painful—and embarrassing. The diaphragm felt defeated. This was an old, familiar feeling. It had

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GHOST by Alexandra M. Matthews

I rode the roller coasters again today. I called out sick from work, ate a small breakfast. I pulled my hair back in a tight braid so it wouldn’t whip me in the face on sharp turns. The park was empty. As long as I didn’t faint or vomit, there

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IF WE MISS THIS ONE by Abbie Barker

The morning sun highlights imperfections—the cigarette burn at the edge of my seat, the dust on the dash, the dried blood hugging the edges of Grant’s thumbnail. He’s disheveled, unshaven, his black hair kinked from a restless sleep. I want to slide my hand over his cowlick and smooth it

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EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST EXPOSITION by Gauraa Shekhar

Carefully coded a fake Myspace account for Joel Madden—copied the URL from his skull-and-crossbones profile, pasted it into a Layout Stealer, added Steve Aoki and Junior Sanchez to my Top 8 Sent myself love letters from the account Showed off love letters from “Joel Madden” at band practice Threw some

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CRACKED by Nick Farriella

Someone who was once very famous, but not so much anymore, said, “Every whole person has ambitions, initiatives, goals,” about a boy who was very particular and wanted to press his lips to every square inch of his own body. This is not about said boy, but a different boy,

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LIFE, AS OF NOW by Kamil Ahsan

The courtship practices of Shalimar Gardens spiked on Pakistan Day. His breath is raggedy. The trees brush the air with heart-shaped leaves, a reminder that the world is passing him by without noticing him sink—the cars that move too fast, the motorcycles that almost run him over, the people, oh

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JAKE’S DÉTOURNEMENT by Ben Robinson

The concrete slab lies resting at the centre of a clear perspex bowl that had until just now been full to the brim of cake mixture, a potential Victoria sponge whose life is suddenly cut short. As of mere seconds ago, the sugar, eggs, flour, and butter are splattered all

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WHEELS by D. T. Robbins

Fat-boy Brad, the same Brad who went, Hey, Cheese Factory!, to me on the bus because my teeth are a little yellow, stood in the middle of the street with Chris, the same Chris who almost drowned me in his pool last summer showing me what a washing machine was

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MOLD ON THE CEILING by Katherine Tweedle

Sophie had never thought twice about the décor in her mind palace. That was, until her counselor barged into her secret space and perched in her favorite armchair.  One moment, the women sat in an office tinted a chi-centering blue; the next, the room had transformed into a dim sitting

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THE BIRD by Mary Widdicks

There’s mud between my toes. Slimy, sticky, and covering the chipped pink polish that now decorates only the tips of my big toenails. It’ll be gone the next time Mom cuts them. The ground is hot even though the sun is starting to duck behind the trees, and I can’t

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INTERVIEW WITH JAMES McADAMS by Jo Varnish

James McAdams’s Ambushing the Void is released this month by Frayed Edge Press. I caught up with him for a chat about his book, his writing process, and his inspirations. JV: Ambushing the Void is a collection of stories drawn together by themes such as relationships, loss, and nostalgia, and told

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A CIRCULAR SCAR by Shannon St. Hilaire

A guy I dated briefly once asked about my mother of pearl ring. Everyone knows a ring has a story.  “I won’t tell you,” I said before I could stop myself. Then I corrected, saying I bought it off Etsy, but it was too late. I would never tell him

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NO, YEAH. by Erin Gallagher

“You can play games or you can end it and move on.” Lit by twinkly string lights atop a shiny marble counter, apparently we’re not fucking around anymore. Soft pink and blue bulbs create a calm ambiance, steam rises from big porcelain mugs of herbal tea, and we are sparing

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LITTLE KNIFE by Candace Hartsuyker

Finger  Deep in the bowels of the circus tent, the air is sage and sweetgrass. A bundle of snapdragon pods lie on the table, faces like skulls. The hermaphrodite gives me tea laced with rum in a teacup that has no handle. His index finger taps the cards, tell me

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LENA by Divya Iyer

I want this to be honest in a way that makes empires shake. I need to text Lena back, and if I do text Lena back with the right words, the ones that hum and whimper and shake and do not cajole (under any circumstances), I know what I would

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SCURRY by Vanessa Chan

As a killer pandemic swept through the world, my mother died from cancer, alone in a Minnesotan hospice facility. A thousand miles away, also alone in my Brooklyn apartment, I held my breath as my heart caved into itself, salted with guilt. A week later, I encountered my first common

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NEGOTIATIONS by Adrienne Marie Barrios

Mar∙riage, /merij/, noun: a series of negotiations.  At least, inside her head, it was. She had these little rhythmic mantras to keep from fucking it up, like my plate is on the left, or the left tray goes on top. She’d repeat it to herself, over and over again, like

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EVENTUALLY NOTHING’S COMING BACK by Gabrielle Griffis

First they converted five-thousand year-round homes into summer rentals.  The number of Airbnbs and zoning regulations filled the ponds with nitrogen and cyanobacteria, stuff that evolved 2.7 billion years ago. You stare at a sign that says keep kids away from scum. You think, something is desperately wrong, but folks

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TIME TRAVELING ANTIQUE DEALER by Travis Dahlke

The owner of Beachman’s eBay store had it bad for my best friend Gedaliah. I didn’t trust him because his eyeballs were made three times smaller by his glasses and it was rumored he kept a time machine in his stockroom used for poaching antiques. The eBay thing was just

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RESCUE 60640 by Megan Carlson

Google Search History (retrieved 11/14/2019)  How to get salt stain out of Uggs How to make friends How to make friends in your 30s 60640 coffee shop  weather Chicago  60640 coffee shop NOT starbucks negative effects of caffeine alternatives to caffeine benefits of chamomile Making friends at coffee shop  how

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SUBFLOOR by Jason Fox

Your refrigerator is yawning. It spills an egg-yellow rectangle on the floor. A ticking clock somewhere beyond. Then the fridge door closes and seals itself with a magnetic kiss. Plum dawn darkness washes in. You barefoot-shuffle through a current of cold air. Past your trash can and over some spilled

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GLOVES by Robert Stuart Powers

He had a dream, he says, about the rest of their lives on another planet rich with tech indistinguishable from magic. On his back, he holds his hands toward the ceiling, the cusp of dawn filling their disheveled bedroom, and describes jazz hands-ing away the deep gulf of scar tissue

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THE COAT by Sheldon Birnie

“Hell yes,” Dave answered when his cousin Lisa asked if he’d like to see something weird. Dave followed Lisa off the deck and back to where the cars were parked as the sun was sinking in the west, cutting through the trees in brilliant bars of gold. Down by the

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THE CORRECT HANGING OF GAME BIRDS by Rosie Garland

Rostrum  Select old, wild birds. Beware harsh beaks, horned spurs, claws toughened by years of defiance. Pierce the beak. Hang by the neck, the feet. Each man has his taste. Hook and hang them long enough to conquer disobedience. Pectoral girdle Keep them in the dark. Convert the cellar into

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FOREVER by Jennifer London

Clara sat on the edge of the tub, smoothing the hem of her dress compulsively. Forever was an awfully long time, she thought. Forever was endless, sprawling, impossible. It was unnatural and unlikely. But maybe. Perhaps. Forever could be parties and dinners and clinking wine glasses. It could be laughter

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EXPANSE by Tyler Dillow

She talks to me at the bar. She talks about him. Him, the fucking bastard. How could you not fall in love with him and how could you not hate him? She talks back at me. On the front patio of the bar, she lies next to me and the

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THE YEAR I WAS MOST HUNGRY by Shane Cashman

When I wear my long, dark peacoat, I look like I’m about to betray my country; I instigate assassinations; I have affairs in 1964; I fly first class.  When ex-presidents die, the whole nation wears peacoats and flags at half-mast. We all of a sudden show a strange love for

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REYKJAVIK by Jane Snyder

We took the kids on a tour of Iceland for winter break last year. It was Carrie’s first year of college, Tad’s third, and I wanted to do something as a family while we still could. The sun didn’t rise the whole time we were there but everybody seemed to

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PISS SHORTS by Doug Ross

Kyle got his piss shorts ready. They were his last pair, he would have to wear jeans for rafting. He took the bag that held his snacks. Dumped them onto his sleeping bag. Stuffed the shorts in. He couldn’t do knots so he spun it until the handles wrapped around

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DROSOPHILA MELANOGASTER by Hannah Storm

The fruit fly shares the same genes as a human. Its Latin name is “Drosophila Melanogaster,” which sounds awfully fancy for something attracted to rotten fruit and vegetable. I think about the time you told me I smelt ripe when you forced me onto my back in that room with

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NO EASING INTO IT by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman

November 7, 1994: I sat on William and Luke’s bed, listening to the ring, ring in my ear, each ring getting fainter like a distant alarm. I was about to hang up when someone answered—a man. “Hello,” he said, startled, like maybe I’d woken him up.  “Hi,” I said into

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“PANDEMIC WAVES” by Michael Seymour Blake

Michael Seymour Blake is the author of the art book 12 Days of Santa Crying. Shirts featuring his art can be seen on hot bodies around the world. He eats, sleeps, doodles, writes, lives in Queens, NY. He easily gets lost. Instagram: @michaelseymourblake Fabulous (It’s True!) Website: MichaelSeymourBlake.com

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THE FAMILY THAT SKIS TOGETHER by Kim Magowan

“The family that plays together stays together,” Carol’s father used to say, though even at the time Carol had felt skeptical about that assessment, given her mother’s aversion to all forms of competition and her brother’s more specific aversion to losing. Oh, the way Alec’s skin would mottle, the way

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I FIRST MET ZAC SMITH IN A BARN by Giacomo Pope

I was 250 miles from the nearest streetlight, and my shoes were covered in horse shit. In the centre of the barn was this dude standing on the stacked hay. He was foaming at the mouth and shouting at overfed livestock. Zac was watching these chickens try to kill each

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AT LEAST IT WASN’T ME by Andy Spain

George arches his back and reaches for the ceiling, fingers fully splayed in morning praise pose. His wife lumbers around him with a groggy scowl. “Great, gonna be late again,” she mumbles and bangs her leg on the bed frame, cursing softly as she clutches her shin. George winces and

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WHEN I WAS A PAPER GIRL by Sam Payne

Nana was always keen on telling me how working hard was important, so when I was thirteen, I took it upon myself to sign up with Turners Newsagents. It wasn’t long before a round came up. This pleased Nana. She was enthusiastic about bringing me up in the right way.

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A TRANSVERSE PROGRESSION by Alyssa Jordan

iv. Late one night, Fred acted on a whim. She reached out to the one friend who still took her calls.  Together they stood, poised on a street corner with coffee cups in hand. The Friend was tall and blonde and intrigued. Red lipstick lined her mouth, wet like a

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¿CÓMO ESTÁ TU MADRE? by Phebe Jewell

Every morning Mom digs in the garden plot behind our house, dressed in a faded red shirt and ripped jeans. She refuses to wear black. “I’m done mourning,” she says. “I’ve been grieving since the day he enlisted.” Kneeling in the dirt, Mom turns the soil with a hand spade.

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FILLING THE GOYA ROOM by Beth Gilstrap

One wouldn’t think my hands would sweat the way they do walking adjacent to you, with your khakis, too short and wrinkled, but here we are. Since day two of the retreat, your various states of beard have complicated my hair and makeup routine, my mind equally untidy. By day

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FOR A MOMENT by Dixon Speaker

Noelle was a response to Sophia. He learned relationships in a high school science class, each action creating an opposite reaction.  He peeked at the Yankees score while having sex with Sophia and it changed the atomic properties of rooms they shared going forward. Hives appeared on his back like

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SECONDARY PROBLEM by Kate Lindstedt

Tell your mother you are going to see a movie. Ride with Hannah in her gold Honda Accord to the liquor store on Harrison, the one that doesn’t card. Watch the sun skirt behind clouds while she buys a handle of Malibu. Fling ping pong balls into cups of Tecate

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GOD AT 60 by Bill Merklee

We started as marginal Catholics, going though the motions. Now I was having dinner with Kenny, the only one of us who’d stuck with it. Father Postlewaite to his parish. It’d been too long. “Andre still an atheist?” he said. “Yup. In Oregon. Found himself a nice godless girl.” “And

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THE GATED COMMUNITY by Joseph Pfister

We received the brochure in the mail. It was printed on that thick paper, the fancy kind, with raised lettering. ESCAPE TO FLORIDA! it read. YOUR OWN PRIVATE PARADISE AWAITS! Everyone in our subdivision got one, but that didn’t matter. It was February, the ground brittle with snow. We were

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YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE by Jesse Bradley

You never listen to what I say when it matters. You’re treating this as a ticket to be with other people. I should have seen the symptoms when you stayed on your side of the bed, your body sleeping on the edge, rather than close to me, our feet touching.

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AN ALLEGORY by Dan Crawley

Take your brother to the orange grove, and do not let your friends throw rotten fruit at his head, or any other part of his body. Take your brother to Stop-N-Go, and do not spend these dimes on anything else but candy bars for you and him. Take your brother

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ABOUT DINNER by Veronica Klash

You know what it means to have dinner. The meal that satiates before slumber. After the sky is drained of fire and flooded with ink. But what does it mean to have dinner with a man? To sit across from each other at that Thai place that just opened. To

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CHAMP by Emma Hodson

The man smells like smoke. He is moving into a new apartment on a street that used to be a bustling thoroughfare, but now is just another grey road. That is, the apartment is new to him, but not to this world. It’s close to his old spot, just a

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BROWN RECLUSE by Cody Pease

Their arrival to the reception is further delayed when he sees a spider on the tongue of his boot. Both men refuse to wear the boot now. The taller man traps the spider beneath a glass, as his partner tries to decipher what kind of spider it is. A brown

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THE PUDDLE BOYS AT NIGHT by Hadiyyah Kuma

Though dripping a little, the puddle boys are no longer melting. It is late nighttime. They don’t have to sleep because there is nowhere they have to be for now. They hope they never have to sleep again, but of course this is idealistic. The puddle boys know this too,

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A FAIR FIGHT by Alle C. Hall

The boat didn’t launch until 10PM. Allia and the three Swedish men she found herself with settled into the hold of the 25-foot cargo vessel ferrying supplies between Indonesian islands. They must have hit rough seas, because Allia woke in the dark to find the boat tipping right then left,

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BODY BETRAYAL by Crow Jonah Norlander

When I reached the age at which my older friends started to complain about their bodies falling apart, mine really did. My infant son picked up a smooth piece and used it to soothe his gums. My wife palmed another, soft for warmth and whispers. Mom grabbed some with more

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MURMURATION by Daniel Fraser

Chip Disco hated chips, and disco. He only ever danced alone. Chip worked the skeletons in the Blackpool Ghost House and had done for three years. Four rooms in, the skeletons crept out from a false cupboard that looked like it wasn’t part of the house at all. Everyone said

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GIRLHOOD by Jodi Aleshire

A body washes ashore in the recommended section of my Spotify podcast radar. This isn’t the first or the fifth or the third time it’s happened and I’ve long since lost track of the tallies meant to keep them in check. Their faces have become nothing more than the black

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RAW HAND BURGER by EC Sorenson

They’re coming at me all the time now. I want this, I want that. Uppity bunch. In my day, students didn’t act like this. This lot spends the morning taking selfies. Spends the afternoon posting them places you never even heard of. All that staring into their own eyes—where’s it

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A GROCERY LIST FOR A SAND DUNE by K Chiucarello

The grains could never contain me. I had always been a shape-shifting blurry little thing packed tall behind foundation slabs, their windows blown out with the shutters ringing loose, paint chipping off the front tooth. When the coastline birthed me, I was a miracle of wonder: pretty as a Cadillac

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SOMEPLACE ELSE by Emma Stough

I am here now. Wide unexplained sky. How did I get here? Wait. Let’s stop. No, let’s start. We are here now. Again, I think.  Purple wallpaper. My family huddled around the TV watching Seinfeld re-runs. I am squeezed between Aggressive Older Brother and Sensitive Younger Brother—I am boiling with

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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION by Zac Smith

Emo Phillips stands on a train. He thinks about all the fucked-up people he knows and wonders if people think he’s as fucked-up as he thinks other people are. The train conductor/engineer/driver person clicks on the intercom and thanks everyone for riding the train. Emo Phillips feels like he has

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TWO TIMES BELOW by Ben Segal

For once I was leaving well enough alone. The rain was harder than average. My sweater was coming apart at the sleeves. This was when I was officed by the Pacific and could walk in the waves during lunch. This was when my colleagues wondered at the afternoon damp at

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MY PERSONAL BRAND by Matt Leibel

My personal brand is integrity. My personal brand is fresh, innovative thinking, and a commitment to excellence. My personal brand sets me apart, in the sense that many people refuse to stand within 50 feet of me, as if my personal brand stinks or something; my personal brand does not

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MEMORY PALACE AS MAZE by Kate Tooley

“Words fail…” No one says that anymore, but sometimes she still thinks it. She hears it in her mother’s squeaky, horsehair voice, the one that meant sarcasm: when her father put all the pots and pans in the oven to “clean them,” when the neighbor dressed her Persian cat in

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ASSIGNATION by Joshua Hebburn

He bought flowers at the grocery store and put them in a wine bottle with a little water and an aspirin. He put them on the nightstand. There, for her, so the room wouldn’t smell of him.       He took the ingredients from the plastic bag that said,

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CHALK by R. J. Patteson

Look at a man’s shoes, would you look? You can tell a lot, they say. People look at your feet and see the left toe of your boot scuffed black and they don’t know that you do it for the wind, man. That you kick the shift up, up, up,

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ADULT-ORIENTED by Kala Frances Wahl

I was seventeen with braces, bright pink rubber bands looped around the brackets in my mouth, when God appeared to me in a dream. He told me it was my destiny to be a porn star. I was peroxide blonde, big-breasted and flexible. I readily accepted God’s proposal. Once without

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SATURDAY NIGHT (AT THE ER) by Fran-Claire Kenney

Trigger Warnings: anxiety, mental illness, self-harm, suicide At best (at first), it feels like mooching off. There are all these kids in the pediatric ward with oxygen masks gripping their faces like leeches, or their scalps shiny against the fluorescents, or their parents sitting watch in a casually tragic state

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HEADLESS HORSEMAN by Liz Fyne

Years ago I had a terrible dream that my cat was guillotined. Afterward she rolled her eyes this way and that, and it came to me that as a head you have no options. Questions spin through your mind on their way out forever and you want to cry and

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NEIGHBORS by Will Cordeiro

It was an in-service day at school, and the bus dropped me off at home three hours earlier than usual. The doors were locked. The extra key was gone. I tried to wedge a screen-window open. The neighbor saw me trying to break into my house. He invited me over.

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CUL-DE-SAC by Christopher Linforth

In the backyard, firecrackers fizz in our hands. We dare each other to throw first. We draw the firecrackers to our mouths, chomp on them like cigars. Watch the fuses burn. Blue smoke drifts up our noses, down our throats. We hold the smoke inside of us, blackening our lungs,

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MANDALA by Vallie Lynn Watson

He always walked me to my car when I left his house after sex, so stealing his albums was tricky. Not stealing. Borrowing. I started in month two, initially one album at a time, always only the record itself. He’d have to excuse himself to the restroom five or six

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GLASS by Ross McMeekin

My neighbor wants to know about the fish tank, whether it still holds water. I want to know the same about the river running along the highway. There’s a lot of agriculture upstream, a lot of fields to irrigate. It’s midsummer, the sun is merciless, and the snowpack is gone.

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ALL WORKED UP by Linda McMullen

He often simply appears in my office, insouciant grin and silver hair: “I want to show you something.” In the age of #metoo, he is carefully respectful of a female subordinate. No hands ever touch in the exchange of— A binder with reference documents, paginated and neatly tabbed; a viciously

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ANTS by Mary Mattingly

There’s an ant infestation in my bathroom. They are relentless. Everyday, more squirming black dots swarm the sink, the countertops. Me, I’m fearless. I launch attacks on them with a safe-for-pets Ant and Roach Killer spray, twisting the green cap counterclockwise to cock it, holding it close to the sink

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A NOTE TO YOKO OGAWA by Michael Farfel

a note to Yoko Ogawa, I think that others might say you make key lime pie like all other confections. You pick the fruit—found in trees and sometimes pockets—and you open it and line it up and chop. It takes patience, of course, to form the pastry dough and fold

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SPAWN by Isabelle Correa

I was a thing among other things in the hazy scene of his bedroom after shotgunning a beer for the first time. I remember the red pocket knife and the aluminum bending into itself to make room for the blade so that the hole I pressed my mouth to was

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THE PULL by Ann Kathryn Kelly

I’ve felt the pull for years, to see what’s out there, how it differs from what I understand of the world. I’ve traveled distances to feed the pull. One destination, while still in the planning, thrilled me. Africa’s “Big Five” beckoned: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo. I had my telephoto

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LUCY by Paul Nevin

Lucy saw me first, so I didn’t have a chance to avoid her this time.  We were standing on opposite sides of the narrow road that ran along the beach, her by the sea and me in front of the shops. She had one hand at her hip, thumb up

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BEACH HOUSE by Jenny Stalter

Our house faces neither east nor west and sits in shadow. The tiny green house with the too much wicker. The tinted glass dishes full of seashells and tapestries accented with smooth beach glass. Oil paintings of seagulls. Mom really went for the beach look. Most people acquire a life

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I DIDN’T MEAN TO WRITE THIS. by Susan Rukeyser

I meant to write about young environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her impact, how she was received on her recent visit to the US. I loved how uncomfortable Greta made the “grown-ups,” including me. I was dismayed and unsurprised by the sexism chucked at her like crumpled, plastic water bottles:

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