December 18, 2023

Monologue in a Room with the Portrait of My Dead Father

Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto


―for Dad



Dad, I’ve safe in my chest those bright years of spring flowers.

I’m listening to Wayne, Burnaboy, Yeezy, Kendrick and Rozay,

and writing this piece in-between. I carry every memory of you

everywhere I go. I am a piece of you that is whole. b.

I see you in everything I see.

I see you in each of my prayers and dreams.

And somewhere I read that when one prays for

long, silence becomes a prayer too.

I see you in my silence.


I bear your thin legs. Two radiant poles.


March 3, 2022


Olivia Clare Friedman

Never had my mother wanted to live so much as when she was dying. What she made me promise was that she wouldn’t be cremated, that she would be buried with a gravestone in our own yard.

“If I can’t be in a cemetery,” she said, “the yard’s the one place I want to be.”

I told her I would do everything I could.

She said, “I mean it. Complete the circle.”

Just as she died within it, she’d been born in our house. My grandmother was in labor on the living room floor,

January 27, 2022

The Garbage Dump Veteran Museum and Gallery

J. G. Parisi

Johnny Fabulous stood at the white glossy podium, stationed at the front of The Garbage Dump Veteran Museum and Gallery. He was dressed in all white. The gallery was a mammoth warehouse painted in shiny black paint. Everything reflected off everything. Lining the walls, were garbage dumpsters with lids in various states. Some opened. Some closed. “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey played from the Super-Fi speakers in the gallery, echoing off the mirror-like walls.

Today was Friday, June 13th 2042, one day before Halloween that year. Several buyers were stopping by that afternoon, which was

January 27, 2022

Of Seasons

Jill Talbot

Long past August in Texas, the heat hangs on, a stubborn guest. Outside, the trees—their branches heavy with green—sweep in the wind. No signs of autumn, no ochre-butterscotch-rust, no sounds of onion-skin crunch, only sweat and swelter, a suffocation. I lean against the doorframe to my porch, weary. A year ago, I stood here talking on the phone with my mother, the two of us misunderstanding each other.

Virginia Woolf described autumn this way: “The nights now are full of wind and destruction; the trees plunge and bend and their leaves fly helter skelter

April 12, 2021


Josh White

Mac had long carried a linesman’s tool bag to Midwestern fairs where he competed at each locality’s butter sculpture contest in search of a fame that eluded him due to his choice of venue for his talents. He’d found the bag years ago at a pawn shop while stopping in Oshkosh for a fish sandwich and a beer, drawn in by the sadness the weary canvas bag projected through the neon-adorned windows of the shop. Now Evers, the Lower Manhattan gallery owner who’d moved Mac to New York to alter his fate and become a

April 12, 2021

My Beethoven

Kelly Cherry

I have loved Beethoven’s music since before I was born. My pregnant mother, having read that the child in the womb can hear music, played recording after recording of what was then unashamedly referred to as “good” or “serious” music. She wanted to be sure that I would be a good-music lover, as was she. She and my father were violinists. Sometimes Dad gave solo concerts—my mother fell in love with him when he played the Brahms Violin Concerto at L.S.U.—and both of them played in the New Orleans Symphony, but their passion was for

April 12, 2021

40 East to Knoxville

J. C. Jordan

a grieving fortune teller who reads death in every palm my mother says, to make me ache, you’ll never come home again

I know that I’ve been careless in my truancy I’ve been wayward, hoping to drift, Odysseus’ least successful protégé, but when I left I didn’t mean to leave forever

take back your stinging accusations— I have not been unfaithful to my mountains or my southern dirt; no other land has laid its grasping hands on me

I still dream of hazy summer like a fever, your lilting tongues, and some goddamn peace and quiet; even

February 25, 2020


Seth Brady Tucker

He picks scabs, won’t answer questions; he’s still in a cave in a jungle, swamp water seeping up into the musky leather of boots, like a wasp sting, the soft tissue under the scab a pudding, skinned, oozing thin as red Kool-Aid. ?                        His mother, class valedictorian, then unwed teen, ?                        then prostitute, then dead. His father, wealthy son, happy, happy, happy, a whole other

December 18, 2018

Cause of Exit

Terese Svoboda

?                        The Ark Tablet, written 1000 years before Genesis, remembers it  2 x 2 unclean/clean pairs, with ?            noisiness or wickedness the cause of exit,


the houseboat’s interior bituminized ?                                        with the blackest tar, Babylonian creosote

July 26, 2018


Jayne S. Wilson

A better person, she will think later, would worry about him. And maybe she does, but in a way that she can live with.

She will enter his room, take in the smell of crusting dust and stale breathing with a fresh comforter and two pillowcases folded over her arms, and notice the creases on the yellowing sheets and how empty they seem without the spindly arms and legs they have sunken around. She will tuck her hair, gray roots reemerging, behind her ears and think that he is probably in the garden,

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


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


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


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


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


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


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