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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THE MOON IS SAD by Kyra Baldwin

It’s raining in Seattle. I catch sight of my face in the drop-spattered glass of the bus stop. It’s lit by a phone-screen. The moon is out. It’s lit by a phone-screen. No one is texting either one of us.  See, the sun fucked the moon and the moon is sad now. The moon is already a depressive character because the moon is Vitamin-D deficient. The moon wanted to get a SAD lamp to remedy this, but the impassive physical laws of our universe said nuh-uh moon, because a SAD lamp in the sky would just look like another moon….

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VEGAS by Mackenzie Moore

I shudder, feeling the heat as I approach the straightaway where all you see are the shells of casinos looming. Blink-182 cranking, asking me what my age was, again. I keep ticking past billboards that tell me when the buffets will return. I jam my foot down on the accelerator. Tempt fate with out-of-state plates. I think about five months earlier when we peeled away, me from the curb at Terminal 2, and him off to the Mirage for the weekend. It feels like years. I-15 north is an unavoidable corridor, but I hadn’t considered that I’d get a visual…

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DEAR ALISON by Stephanie Parent

I’ve used you so many times. In college application essays, you were the tragedy I experienced early in life, the loss that made me wise beyond my years and allowed books to speak to me so deeply I was determined to become a writer myself.  (I wasn’t wise beyond my years, and I never wanted to write as much as I wanted to read.) I recycled those same essays for graduate school applications, but when I actually made it to a master’s program and depression snuck up on me like a springtime drizzle, then slammed down all at once in…

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SITTING ALONE by D.T. ROBBINS

I had a dream about you. I sat in a pew that only had enough room for two people. Its red velvet had faded, its wooden frame splintered.  Someone played piano, sang a song for you, about you. The congregation sent up a crescendo of angel voices, enveloping the atmosphere, like a child wrapped around her father’s leg.  And me? I lost it. I bawled, wailed.  I’d saved that seat next to me for you, but you never came.    The dream-song, a melody I’d never heard before, stayed in my ears after I woke. I considered whether or not…

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OBIT by Jesse Salvo

Published Wed, Jan 13, 11:53 p.m. ET Jersey City, NJ This item is dedicated to the living memory of David Graff, a friend of this paper, who passed away this week in a manner very much unexpected to those who knew him well. David, who died Thursday, was born in Michigan to a family of middle income, attended the University of Chicago under dubious circumstances, failed out under less dubious ones, spent two years writing grants for legal nonprofits, discovered no dignity in the work, detested labor, detested snobbery, moved back to Detroit, fell in love, became engaged, took a…

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HEAVENLY LAKE by Kristen Loesch

It might be June, or it might be July. I can no longer keep track of the days. It’s that halfway point of a Hong Kong summer, when the heat turns everything soupy. The days and nights run together, and the usual strictures of time and space begin to crumble. How long have I been with my British boyfriend? Long enough for him to have bought a new camera. He’s an avid photographer, one who’s always itching for a worthy subject to capture. One day he finds one: Let’s go off the beaten track, to Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, to…

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MOONRAKER by Robert Warf

GREENHOUSE My father’s hands are large and calloused with supple jointed thumbs. I have my mother’s hands. I’m a man. Not a man like my father. A man like my mother. I’d tell you about my mother’s hands, but I can only say so much for so long about a good thing. But I’ll tell you about my father. I’ll tell you something. MOONSHADOW Oil rig at sea. Drillers drilling. Sweat. Dripping sweat. The moon overhead. Men work under lamplight. Roughnecks with rough hands. Hands of a father. Smoldering filter in dirty fingers. Dirty fingers of my father’s dirty work….

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INCANDESCENCE by Evan Senie

We set the fire up in your backyard with only three logs, two on the bottom and one perpendicular across the top. I was quiet around you then, cautious. I’m afraid I still am, forever worried about possible endings. The fire burned for hours once it got started, but initially it was stop-and-go. We fed pages from the phonebook into the empty spaces, watched the flames cause each to curl inward, the ink running down in a purple wave until it burned itself out and was replaced. When the logs caught, it was just their edges, little strands of wood…

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FOREIGNER by Rachel Laverdiere

When the cockroach and I lock eyes, I’m almost relieved. You’ve half convinced me that I’m neurotic. You say I imagine the scrutiny of the old ajumas at the outdoor markets, the side-eyed stares on the train to Kimje, the personalized attack by the orangutan at the Taegu Zoo. Yet, I’ve caught these glossy black orbs peering at me from above the window overlooking the hall. A hand’s-breadth from the closed classroom door. My only means of escape. I twist the pinching wedding bands your mother had made for me when we came back to Korea to exhibit our newborn…

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