Tripped by Lisa Zaran

From your pocket so obliquely you pulled me out and readily, I found a comfortable position in your palm. If your voice is heaven, I’ve been acquainted with it for years. Does this mean I’ve died ten thousand times? I just assumed I was dreaming. That it was my midnight which created your mouth and … Read more

The Holding by Elizabeth Gibson

The vigil is over; Martina is gone. Her children have returned to their homes which seem now so strange — the red and yellow marigolds that once brightened the yard look diminished, and a grey film lingers over the sofas and chairs. It is as if the struggle between moments and worlds that held Martina … Read more

Jasper by Linda Wojtowick

In 1964 the campus library burned. The guard dog custodian was engulfed like a skiff in hungry sea. She had tried clumsily to douse the hall, the great oak doors with water. It was a Sunday. Trucks came with red lights ripping the grass. After this event she would be seen, most often in the … Read more

From Chicago Facades by Inara Cedrins

CXXVI. Red cabbage and bronze lilies. In my dream a woman says, I am a radio violinist. I imagine that continents communicate by music, the way dolphins do. Is it thunder or is it coal in the cars on the tracks below, sliding over the gravel beds stubborn as black pearl, baroque? Precious as pepper … Read more

Remnants by Greg Nicholl

In the fields, a girl stumbles on the remains of an antelope. She was hoping for gnomes or gold, not a skull nestled between a rock and a clump of paintbrush as if deliberately composed by some amateur painter. The flesh long since plucked clean by scavengers who, once full, disbanded to stash each bone … Read more

Evaporation by Greg Nicholl

They submit, let the current take them, their bodies a tangle of elbows and knees that smack against the portable pool. In the desert, every ounce of water is coveted. Kids slosh in every direction, oblivious why soil beyond the plush green lawn cracks. On the Pacific, miles of beaches shift, claim entire towns, playgrounds … Read more

Sifting by Greg Nicholl

After the last house is lifted onto the truck, dust swirls, chokes workers as they lash the final frame in place, the building left wobbling in the middle of the street uncertain of its new foundation. The front door unlocked as if anyone could just climb up and walk inside. Tire tracks left behind soon … Read more

The Years by Greg Nicholl

after “Die Jahre” by Goethe If not for oil, the town would’ve never existed, would not have sprung from barren soil. The years brought families, brought water, pipes entrenched for miles beneath the ground. Frayed power lines hang from poles lashed to homes that emerge from nothing. Then, as if the town changed its mind, … Read more

Suffocation Box by John Roth

An 8-year-old girl and her 7-year-old brother died after getting trapped in a hope chest in their home. ―NBC News It started as a simple game of hide-and-seek, a father watching television as his two children raced up the stairs on little hands and feet. The mother still stuck at work while her kids played … Read more

On driving through the backwoods of Ohio by John Roth

Time is the accumulation of all things, only in the way dust whirls through an abandoned parking lot, clogs the wheel well of a rusted pickup truck. Trying to distinguish one noise from another; a rabble of crows hunched over on a barbed wire fence, their oil- dipped beaks & feathers slick with fluorescent, orange … Read more

Elegy for a suicidal bird by John Roth

A cardinal opens its ragged wings against the sky like an old wound; something red and feather-fringed caught up by the sweeping cold, berry in beak, as it dips in and out of the wind. Shaky in its first flight, the cardinal adjusts its tail, throws its body onto the strongest current, quivering in the … Read more

Enter Helena by Joseph Mills

She thought the role rubbish but she had agreed to it because he swore there’d be a good part in his next play: It Is What It Is something more than the usual witch, wench, lady in waiting, something, he had hinted, with weapons and the chance to use them. She wasn’t naïve. She knew … Read more

Enter Duke [disguised] by Joe Mills

We see through the disguise, as we’re meant to. Just as we know who is Rosalind and Viola and Portia no matter their clothes. We smile when Henry the Fifth, camouflaged by a cloak, says to his soldiers, “The king is but a man as I am.” We recognize the deceptions of Iago and Aaron … Read more

Enter Viola, a Captain, and Sailors by Joe Mills

Shipwrecked and washed ashore, disoriented in a strange new world, it’s a story familiar from The Odyssey, Robinson Crusoe, Lost, video games, our immigrant grandparents, our divorced parents. And it will happen to us as well. The key is to recognize when you’re free from family, you’re free to make yourself into what you can … Read more

The Waterboy Looks Past the Team by Clyde Kessler

I watch for a house in a moon crater. Smoke nudges the rim. A light hangs across three chimneys, and an astronaut sits down on the roof, and she waves.   It might be the ghost of one of my aunts. She might be looking for a hinge that bounced from a rocket. She might … Read more

not the same old song and dance by Lee Kisling

A Blackfoot legend tells us that the buffalo taught a maiden how to sing and dance — to restore life, year after year, to the buffalo who were killed. And so the people believed that the animals were willing to be killed, that there was a mystical covenant between the animal world and the humans, … Read more

The Savages by Lee Kisling

Mom brought the hamburger, Gerald the buns. Aunt Shirley brought coleslaw and a Neil Diamond CD. Gary from across the street brought plum pudding in an antique bowl. Lawrence brought pickles, Steven brought cider, and Marsha carried in the yellow folding chairs. You brought a cake and I brought potato salad and an extra-big plastic … Read more

Following the Chinese Girl by Lee Kisling

to look, again, at her lips — pinked and mysterious and to look at her gray eyes through her glasses. (She waved at me and I waved back.) Even though she is majoring in Finance, she never heard the expression bean counter which I, laughing, explained to her— well, you see, the beans represent other … Read more

The Last Cigarette by Barbara Daniels

My lungs are already clearing alveoli pinking and perking my breath the breathing of great whales rush of sound massive ingulping. Now I want my last cigarette. Do you have matches? Just one cigarette please. This is the last one. I’m stopping tomorrow. I prefer aprons egg beaters rolls of clear tape walls adorned with … Read more

Death Chickens by Barbara Daniels

A neighbor’s dogs killed Dan’s chickens. His leghorns, his New Hampshire reds. Even his rooster didn’t survive. After death will all the chickens I’ve ever eaten surround me? If slaughter-sized Cobb broilers take up their cloned bodies, white feathers, red combs, I’ll regret the stir fries, chicken strips, Red River salads, pot pies, soup with … Read more

The Raft by Barbara Daniels

Everyone’s dead or dying in Gericault’s painting. He locked himself up with corpses. Emptied a room, backed benches to walls. An eye stared into nacreous light. How do peasants die, Tolstoy asked as he, a nobleman, embarked on his dying. Deserted crossroads, invisible coach in the distance, man turned to still life, action arrested. Night … Read more

A Light Drizzle by Daniel Pecchenino

Rain in Los Angeles makes you think about all the lives you don’t lead, the times you didn’t move somewhere with four seasons, of girls who wanted you to follow them back to northern ancestral homes or jobs in fashion, of your parents wishing you lived around the corner for Sunday games and the inevitable … Read more

Foreclosure by Kristin Collier

Unearthed after a long rain, worms stretch like wet band-aids across our yard. The dog takes her last swim before the pool is drained. Even as the water recedes, our father skims the surface with a tattered net, catches leaves from the neighbor’s trees. Here, where we practiced back strokes, flipped off the board, blessed … Read more

By Bone by Kristin Collier

After my father died, I dreamt doctors could stitch someone back to life, bone by bone, breathe air into lungs, rub warmth into stiff limbs. He returned to me another man— an uneven gait, sunken steel eyes, and rubbery, damp hands. Clumsy with love, his speech was slurred. He was my pet; I fed him, … Read more