DING! by Will Finlayson

The kid must have defected. He’s still lying there in the dirt—red-faced and full-uniformed, one arm in the pig’s water trough, that red insignia hot on his sleeve—and what should they do with him? They point fishing spears and pitchforks and kitchen knives at him. Tie him up in the barn that’s what’s to do, Nema says. Kill him right here and now is what it is to do, says Jenko. It’s that we should turn him in to a judge, Harlem says. Isn’t that the wartime law? So they tell Harlem that he should take the kid to the…

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ROADSIDE MELTDOWN AFTER ULTRAPLEX WEEKEND by Rebecca Gransden

Loose teeth in the hot tub. Sun on bug splatter eruptions. Bodies pile in dreamy aftermath. A bearded chubby man is in the summer house, performative human berserker, rewatching footage of a winter streaker. Somewhere inside the main house schoolgirls dance around a fish tank. Hairy boom licker in a sunlit bedroom, sweating to his parents’ bootleg. Too shy to risk playing his untitled demo, because it’s flammable. Twin motor lips frozen wrongly. Heavy. Smasher. Forever. Monster spinster reclines on a duck egg blue deckchair and sucks on a bombsicle. Sweetener for evil. The largest prescription sunglasses you’ve ever seen. …

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QUEER VISIBILITY by Brooke Kolcow

I disappear in large groups.  -John Elizabeth Stintzi, circa 2014 I know it’s starting when my legs begin to prickle like they’ve fallen asleep. They fade away and no one notices. My arms go next, numb from my fingers up to my shoulders. The beer I’ve been drinking falls to the floor and I wince. The bottle bounces once and rolls across the kitchen linoleum. Without legs, I can’t bend down and without hands, I can’t pick it up, but at least this time it doesn’t shatter.  Once, at a Halloween party in grad school, my cocktail glass broke when…

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CONDEMNED by C. Cimmone

My mother smoked her favorite cigarettes in the kitchen. Smoke billowed out into the living room and crept down the halls. A small television muffled the evening news as the three of us chewed away at overdone meat. Splatters of hot bacon grease slid down our throats as my father hurried through tough threads of roast. He ran the tractor after supper; and my mother splashed hot water around in the sink as she yelled at me for not finishing the black-eyed peas. “Black eyed peas are good luck,” she’d belt.  Holiday evenings were much the same. “Too much sage…

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THE EXPLODING TREE by Kevin Richard White

She’s feeding you remains of her meal. Like you’re some animal child.  There’s a tattoo of an exploding tree on her back and right shoulder blade: black ink like paint splatter on her smooth skin, roots pulled up, snapped branches, drifting leaves that become new birds. Hair covers it, but not often. One day, you woke up, and it was there. You were angry about it at first, but then you realized you had a lot in common with that tree: You both couldn’t move and had nowhere to go fast. You open your mouth. You want more of the…

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TRIPTYCH OF FALLING STARS by Wayland Tracy

Every night I hear the screams of myself far away. I beg for help but I will not help. In a ditch by the tracks, full of golf balls and bones of careless creatures. White quartz set in circles. I lie down and I am falling. Can’t find the earth. The noises of town rattle like deathbed confessions. Trains hurtle past. The stars encroach. We once had lights that prolonged days. I scrounge for bones with meat clinging on. I once had a table. Pictures of people stuffed into cracked walls, maps that do not help me. No children anymore….

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NORA LIVES IN PIECES by Mason Parker

Everything crashed into its true form following the blackout in New Orleans when Nora missed her flight and we drove to Little Rock, buzzing as trashy manic fairies. The Ozarks flopped and rolled, redefining themselves every few miles. Nora had proposed to me after pissing on the fence of an electrical transfer station somewhere outside of Austin where the grass grew through the chain link. I laughed at her, and she said, “I’m fucking serious, mate.” “You wouldn’t want to marry me, Nora.” “Fuck man, I love America. We could get dual citizenship.” “It wouldn’t be worth it. I’m a…

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MY DOUBLE by Michael Loveday

I made a cardboard cutout of me. Clodagh, I called her, and my family took to her well. That first evening at the dinner table, they didn’t register any difference, as they slurped and gnawed, licked their lips, and gorged on their lavish daily meats. At last, I was spared the disgusting sounds of them eating. I spent more time alone in my bedroom, reading tales of the headless Dullahan grinning on his night-black horse, and slowly starving myself, praying that I would one day become invisible.  My parents grew to like that Clodagh endured, without disruption, their long-and-short-of-it stories…

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MY MAMMAW’S BOYFRIEND by Dalton Monk

He looks like Stan Lee. And we call him that behind his back. Stan Lee’s real name is Marvin. Right now I’m in Marvin’s truck and we’re parked at the grocery store. He goes inside, and I stay in the backseat of the truck, which is old, the fabric cutting loose in the corners. It’s full of long cucumbers and cobwebs and ants. And a putrid smell that can only come from an old man, specifically an old man that looks like Stan Lee and wears Stan Lee glasses. This is an old man I hardly know. I sit in…

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A WEB, A TREE by Eileen Tomarchio

Up close, they were groves, nebulae, Medusa’s head of snakes. Two ragged thatches, one on each of my mother’s outer thighs, a Rorschach pair. Seen in full only when I lifted her covers as she snored and lay beside her. By day, she had her ways of hiding them, fooling the eye. Let-out hems lengthened with ribbon, ricrac, lace. Concealer sticks and opaque hose in rainbows of flesh tones. Napkins over-draped on her lap at barbeques. Napkins that slid off after too many daiquiris like a magician’s reveal, my mother’s cue to rise by an invisible thread and tango with…

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