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MOMENT by Chad Redden

A little raccoon, more sponsor than mascot, came with the moment, came down the tree. We waited below the tree, Ryan and me. Waited for the racoon that came with the moment, but it was a tall tree, it took some time. For the racoon. For the tree to grow that tall, how many years I cannot speculate. I cannot look at a tree and say how much time it took for a tree to grow. It took some time for the racoon to reach the ground. After a while Ryan had to leave, before the racoon could reach the

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BEFORE THE FATHER/DAUGHTER JAILHOUSE DANCE by Meg Pokrass

1. Before seeing your daddy you wait with the other girls who have criminal daddies and you size them up. Your nose doesn’t hide like theirs does, doesn’t hang down in shame. It dangles smack in the middle of your face like a lifelong promise. You’re proud of your strident, unapologetic nose, the nose you inherited from him. “You all waitin’ to dance with your bad daddies too?” one of the droopy girls says. You aren’t interested in bonding with fools. You wonder if these girls wake up to the sight of a mother pulling crust from her eyes, saying,

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RESTORATION by Myna Chang

Nobody tells her how to remove her father’s blood, how to cleanse the pools and spatters of a life stolen. The county sheriff doesn’t warn her about the stickiness, or how very much of it there is, puddled on the floor between the cash register and the chicken feed. He doesn’t tell her about the crust that will form if she puts off cleaning until the day after the funeral. No one helps her call the professional crime scene cleaners in the city. Their phonebook advertisement mentions special equipment and emotional distance. They promise ‘restoration’ — but she is outside

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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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SMACK by Chella Courington

Meet me @ Aquarium, he texted. By jellyfish, 7. She would perhaps, most likely, but not before researching jellyfish, for she knew his habits, the way he liked to make it impossible for her to say no wherever they were.  Adults spawned daily if given enough food, and for most, spawning was triggered by dim light so the entire population bred every day at dawn or dusk, floating through water, dropping eggs and sperm, tentacles (though she preferred tendrils) never touching. While most men she’d known like to roll against her in the morning, he was a night creature. Fortunately,

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THE MILK BOTTLE LEGS OF THE HIGH WIRE WOMAN by Frankie McMillan

1 When I look at her legs I see upturned milk bottles, and I’m talking here of the glass bottles that milk used to come in and I love the shape of those legs, I could stay out all night on the frosty grass looking up at the wire and Miss Tatyana walking the wire in silence, only the guy ropes creaking and the twang of the metal pulley, and you know, those legs get my score, those legs belonging to Miss Tatyana all the way from Russia where they didn’t have glass milk bottles, only Mr Stalin, his mouth

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AFTER SHRINKING by Hannah Cajandig-Taylor

We lived in a pale blue dollhouse with three stories & a basement. Obsessed over hot air balloons & weather blimps. Collected snowglobes & birdcages & convinced our giant neighbors to order countless pizzas by jumping on the remote buttons until a commercial with extra-large pepperoni flashed across their TV screen. Until we snuck enough triangular pizza box tables to furnish the place. Grew make-believe green beans & perennials on the roof. Protected our cardboard porch with Venus flytraps. A drawbridge. Toothpick mailbox. The works. Repainted our plastic appliances with glittering silver nail polish. Sharpie’d our heights on the wall,

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HIGHWAY 25 by Lindsey Heatherly

I remember that night we parked at the drive-in on Highway 25 and steamed up the windows before static on the AM station switched over to previews. Previews came before a raunchy, college-age comedy, alternating between raindrop rivers and lip-locked intermissions that cut through windshield fog. Foggy windows were smeared by my gray cotton jacket through your steady hand. The hand that sat on my knee during a panic attack on the drive back. The drive through dark and rain and a flooded road too immersed for good traction on those too-old tires. Tires that skidded across water when you

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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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