A LOST AND WORDLESS FEELING by Becca Yenser

for Abby Vasquez   All of our friends are dying but they are the ones to blame, so we shut up about it and sit outside at their old favorite bars, drinking set-ups until we puke. The bars are named after animals or phrases: Red Fox, Crow Bar, Haymaker, Lost and Found. Our friends shot themselves in one-room apartments, jumped from bridges, hung themselves from garage ropes. They had dark hair, shiny hair, green eyes, red beards, brown eyes, dimples, scars, cellulite. They stooped when they walked, or danced on bikes, or wore layered sweatshirts instead of coats. They played…

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LIVER MUSH IS AN ESSAY ABOUT MY MOM by Graham Irvin

I want to talk about liver mush. Liver mush is a breakfast meat from Western North Carolina made of boiled pork parts and corn meal. It’s my favorite breakfast meat. It’s my favorite word. Liver mush is more than pork parts and corn meal, though. There is also sage and black pepper. But, liver mush is more than breakfast and sustenance too. It’s something close to that, but not exactly. It’s home but not home, but not exactly. Liver mush is more than a piece of fried pork parts and corn meal. Liver mush is more than old white dinner…

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SEXY REXY’S HOMECOMING FEAST by Steve Gergley

For his fortieth birthday, Lance bought himself a red-tailed boa and named it Sexy Rexy. When he returned to his empty apartment, he masturbated to a video on Pornhub called “MASSIVELY JACKED STUD ANNIHILATES SUBMISSIVE TWINK.” Then he turned off his phone and set up Sexy Rexy’s living enclosure, feeding tank, and hide box. For dinner Lance ate an entire chocolate cake and washed it down with half a bottle of champagne. Then he smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights and threw up in the bathroom for half an hour. After a long, hot shower in which he threw up…

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CONSIDER YOURSELF HOME by Aimée Keeble

You and I at the window with our bandit teeth all exposed. Mine tallow, yours anodizing with the stale gold of nicotine, crap coffee that lives petrified in a jar. I’m your artful baby and I slip into shops first and blast back my chest. Hiya! And you coyote low behind me scoping with your dull sly eyes. Side by side at a counter and you’re velvet and torn at the creases but I’m no better (no worse) and my shirt is soppy and sags, better to stuff the gaps with. We’re proud as we unwrap our sandwiches in front…

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BIRDS AREN’T REAL by D.T. ROBBINS

My girlfriend tells me something’s off in our relationship. Says we’re missing a spark or magic or whatever she calls it.  I go, Oh, you wanna see magic? She goes, Yeah, idiot, I just said that.  So, I wrap an old t-shirt around her eyes and lead her out into the field behind our apartment. It’s all a big surprise. The ice chest is full of beers and pastrami sandwiches and the chocolate cookies she baked last month. I put a slice of bread in a Ziplock bag with the cookies to keep them fresh. The cookies stay moist and…

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THE PURPLE TREE by Alienor Bombarde

It was not her favorite tree. It was simply where the children met. The tree was tall, its purple leaves like curtains, shielding its trunk. It was where, when she was four years old, she first saw Pasang. Pasang was the first and only newcomer the children ever knew. His father had come to work on construction plans. Pasang had a round face and a soft pink mouth. Even before she knew that people could use mouths for anything other than eating and drinking, she liked the look of it, its softness and slight downward turn. Those were the days,…

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THE BLUE ANGEL by Austin Farber

She was cooking dinner when I walked in the door. She had worked all night at the hospital, slept the whole day while I was at work, and was about to leave for another shift after dinner. I usually was relieved when she left, but tonight she looked unusually chipper. When she greeted me, she was dicing up a full rotisserie chicken. She kissed me. “How was your day, honey?” She asked. “Good,” I said. “How was your night?” “Oh, it was something,” she said, stripping the meat. “We had a code blue in ICU. A real stiff.” “Oh wow,”…

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MOUNTAIN MUSIC by Michael Seymour Blake

All kinds of warning lights are flashing on the dashboard, and the front bumper is mostly held together with duct tape. Chelsey and I are driving my cousin’s car through the Catskills, searching for a trail that leads to an abandoned hotel at the top of a mountain. It’s supposed to be crumbling and overgrown, a long-ago meeting place for communists. It’s getting late, but we figure we have time to hike out, see this thing, and get back to the car by sundown. The GPS has us turn up a narrow, dirt path that circles the mountain in a…

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PET by Danielle Chelosky

The night we met, I showed up at your apartment with fishnets shoved inside my bag. I was too nervous to wear them as I walked from my car to your door. I got catcalled three times anyway. Catcalling is really bad over here, you told me while we ascended the stairs. You took the lead; I followed timidly. I couldn’t take in your apartment as we stepped inside because I had too much going on in my mind. Your room, though, came across as beautiful—the light soft and careful, your bed sheets floral and muted, your walls white with…

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BURN THE SHIPS by John Darcy

The first scam was parking outside the bank, mobile-depositing a check, running inside to cash it with the teller. He dubbed it The Double Derring-Do. Loopholes find fault in failures of imagination. It’s about outsmarting, round-abouting. Okay, he did end up with two years for wire fraud. Watching a scumbag stoner conman movie, he whispers, “That’s not what it’s like.” On his computer are two hundred years of pirated movie soundtracks. He’s working his way through them. Also the first two acts of a five-act play, stellar dialogue but lacks compelling conflict. Policies in triplicate because it never hurts to…

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