December 26, 2017

Song of a Flightless Bird

Brian Koukol

Amelia lowered her husband into their double bed—his naked, cachexic body cradled in the polyester sling of their Hoyer lift. As the plush mattress accepted his feeble weight, his contracted legs splayed, exposing a mound of unkempt pubic hair and a flaccid penis, demurely tucked to one side. A musky smell of salted dairy wafted into her face, and she had to work hard to suppress a reflexive cough. Once upon a time, twenty years earlier, this area had been a source of great pleasure for her. Now it was a source of bladder infections and

December 26, 2017

Wasted

Kiran Chatuvedi

The flat maroon pebble skims three times across the jheel before sinking. I had managed up to four skips with these as a child, and Malti had managed five at one time.

Malti sits next to me. The dark brown frizzy hair severely pulled back into a topknot instead of the two tight pigtails of our childhood. The companion of my younger days, my almost-sister with her baby pink fair complexion and immense dark black eyes looks only to be a slightly bigger and stronger version of her once little self. I am told I

April 10, 2017

Forgotten

Nina Charap

I hollowed out my skull and let you swim about Let you piss and laugh and dance Let you fill me up with every disgusting thing inside you Inside me Inside you To think that I loved and loved and loved you I cradled my skull in my hands Hunched over it like a mother Humming lullabies To the cracked and worn remains Pieced back together The finished vessel Unfit to be filled Like swiss cheese Like the syphilitic skeletons you took me to You held my hand and you said look Look what that disease can do

April 10, 2017

The American Ruse

Gerry LaFemina

My first guitar was a Japanese Les Paul wannabe with a warped neck I’m certain was manufactured in Staten Island, in Paul Majewski’s basement,

circa 1982. We knew the best ones were built in the States, Gibsons & Fenders we couldn’t afford. The best amps were British Hiwatts or Marshalls,

hand wired, tubes glowing like party lights, those parties we never attended. We were poor children of poor parents. Our heroes made do, made music from distortion—

Wayne Kramer, James Williamson, Ron Asheton, names so ordinary they might have been written under a

April 10, 2017

Seven Months

Ravi Mangla

In a courtroom that doubles as a mobile office for the DMV, my parents marry for a second time. Under different circumstances this would be cause for celebration, a collective victory for all those kids who saw their childhoods undone by divorce. Under different circumstances I might have bought them a blender or breadmaker (or, more conveniently, a custom license plate). Yet we have only the attending circumstances, which cast the proceedings in an altogether different light. My niece sits on my lap as we watch them recite vows and exchange rings: plain, unadorned bands.

April 10, 2017

Misremembering Chekhov

Rebecca Gould

There are tragedies and there are comedies…a comedy depends on stopping the story at exactly the right moment.—Siri Hustvedt

Chekhov was not my first love. More obviously delectable to a college freshman just returned from her first visit to St. Petersburg and discovering Russian literature for the first time were the thick novels of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Those “great, baggy monsters” (as Henry James called them) buoyed me up through my first marriage, my frantic conversion to Christianity, and my equally hasty divorce. I imbibed the entire oeuvre of Dostoevsky on a reading binge, hoping

April 10, 2017

Jesus in Berkeley

Sarah Wang

My mother came to America from Taiwan in the early seventies. Her only impression of people in the west was derived from a single source: Jesus. Representations of Jesus were everywhere in Taiwan. As statues, in pamphlets, on hand-painted wood amulets that the devout wore around their necks. Upon arrival in Berkeley, California, her expectations were met with great delight. All the men indeed looked like Jesus. Long hair parted in the middle, beards, flowing robe-like shirts, sandals. Even the women looked like Jesus, though without beards.

No English, was the only English she spoke. This was a

April 10, 2017

Ask Me About Love

Ojo Taiye

i look into your eyes each morning and find

me—sifting

through all the syllables of love

brimming with words i can say

and cannot spell

half-illiterate in my mother

tongue                  half-silent in         my         purchased         f———luency

at the age of five i watched my mother fold her breath

into birds         until they found

home

in a stranger’s arms

and yes

what of all the green blessings

in my mouth—the shadows

that keep me company

when my

April 10, 2017

Red

Meghan Callahan

Tell it like this: she meets the wolf.

She invites the wolf out for coffee on a whim. Perhaps he is tall and broad and barrel-chested and he laughs at her bad jokes on the subway. Latte? she asks. Yes, he says, but what he means is mine.

Or maybe it starts like this: he is someone she knows, but not well, from the office or the bookstore or a night class. She’s always taking night classes—pottery, mostly—and this time he asks first. He’s got holes in his skinny jeans and she outweighs

April 10, 2017

Listen

Greg Mulcahy

A desultory replacement life partner. She had not had to call him that. That comment of hers did not help matters, and he told her. He said he assumed she was not trying to mean something. Do you think, she asked, there is no point in attempting to describe or illustrate nuanced, complex social relationships?

Cloudy outside and breezy hot. Inside, air conditioned.

Appearance was misleading.

Was she saying that for all his high capability he was low functioning?

Typical of her to borrow language as though she could throw an appropriate

April 10, 2017

After Life

Jen Michalski

Of the two of you, you were always more morose. In fact, you could never remember a time, exactly, when she complained about anything—her parents, her job, her friends. But she was delicate in a way, a lack of permanence, a lack of tenaciousness, but still tough, like the way celery is impossible to break apart because of all those fibrous strands, and it never, ever rots, ever, even though you’d buy it and it’d sit in your shared refrigerator for months, waiting for you to begin your diet, because you were always the chubby