EMBRACE THE NELSON: Going Beyond the Pretty Narrative Voice A craft essay by Dena Soffer In my first graduate writing workshop, David Gates told a true story about Raymond Carver working on a piece of writing that wasn’t going well. Carver worked and worked, experiencing the feeling that all of us writers have felt—the piece was going nowhere. All of a sudden, the phone rang. He picked up, and the voice on the other line asked to speak to someone named Nelson. It was a wrong number, but this timely interruption made Carver think that maybe what his story needed…was Nelson. He inserted a new character by that same name into his story, which soon became “Vitamins,” and this proved to be the exact change the narrative needed. In a craft lecture at Muse and the Marketplace Literary Conference, Charles Baxter called this type of character a “Captain Happen,” someone … chop! chop! read more!
NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER On (Re)writing, (Re)vision, Editing, and Other Random Terms A Craft Essay by Gayathri Prabhu The young writer asks me, the mentor whose name is vertical on book spines, a question about writing they wish would go away. No doubt they can write, they know that, they love that, but the question is really about rewriting. What they seek is vigor and inspiration in writing, the kind of dazzling force that they believe only spontaneity can create, and none of that squares up to my advice about reflection, revision, and molten sentences constantly recast. Yes, yes, they agree with me about the demands of crafting, of sentences that need trimming or ideas that need extending, but what does one do with the air of drudgery and scrutiny that is evoked by rewriting? The young writer would like to believe in something that is complete in the … chop! chop! read more!
THE FUNNY IN MEMOIR: Alison Bechdel, Dinty W. Moore, and Trey Popp A Craft Essay by Beth Kephart A few years ago, a friend who had first come to know me through my books and was slowly coming to know me through myself—our emails, our occasional actual conversations, our letters, our back-and-forth gifts—sent a note my way that included (I’m paraphrasing here; none of my friends speak as strangely as I write) this question: How is it that I’ve known you for all these years and I’m only now learning that you are funny? Why have you hidden your funny? I wondered then, I wonder now, what frees me to precipitate the giggle. And why I so rarely feel so free. And why funny isn’t in most of the books I write, why I tend, on the page, toward the not-hilarious me. Writing funny, especially in memoir, is a … chop! chop! read more!
EVER GIVEN by Sara Davis Because the spring tide comes in on its own time, because the earth goes on turning and the moon goes on circling around us and the ocean eddies unevenly but inevitably between them, because the seawater rises even in the desert latitudes of the world where scorching winds blow dust in the eyes of sailors, the tide came in on the seventh day after the Ever Given lodged slantwise in the throat of the Red Sea like a crust of dry bread. It was because the seawater welled in the deep trench men cut between continents, because the seawater poured into the furrows men scratched into the muddy banks where her bow sank into the sand, because the seawater flowed under and around her steel hull, that this colossal obstruction, this beached vessel vast enough to be seen from space, this ship of shipments simply … chop! chop! read more!
AN UNFULFILLED DREAM by Anika Pavel Through the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020, people were buying everything in sight. During a visit to my local supermarket, the empty shelves were familiar. In my youth, in communist Czechoslovakia, empty shelves were a norm, not the result of a pandemic. A memory flooded in. I had to put my hand over my still unmasked mouth to hide the smile as I joined a line of people waiting for a new supply of toilet paper. I came back to the apartment empty-handed and told my husband how we dealt with toilet paper shortages back then. Under communism, toilet paper was quite often a scarce item. There was never enough of it to store up, so we used newspapers. We children were tasked with tearing the pages of the newspaper into squares, then crushing them in our hands before putting them into a shoebox that … chop! chop! read more!
cleave. by Courtney Elizabeth Young Here are the ways I have heard it happens: in bed, waking to wheezing, breathing in loose clumps lining your pillow. Out with friends, falling into your Cobb salad, your Pinot. In the pool, raking waters in a panic, clawing to clean up the unhinged mess you have become. Wiping sweat away from your brow after removing your garden hat, now filled with clumps. In the conference room, before a presentation, onto your notecards. With windows down, enjoying a summer breeze until you see it in the rearview mirror, whipping and whirling away and out of your car. Fast, far, and away, anywhere and everywhere, because it defies boundaries. Here is how it happened to me. I am finished running. There was no sun, but my scalp burns, it itches. I didn’t expect this process to be painful down to the follicles, but it only … chop! chop! read more!
manic / depressive by Savannah Slone i only exist in spectrum extremes floating amongst personality binaries hard cut offs…….. prescription intimacy learning to top the in betweens dusting for my own fingerprints in a house made up entirely of stained glass ………………………of sunday bath mat moldings …………….erotic velvet desert mirrors floor ………………………………………………..ceiling violet skylight blue flame rage love concentrate false memories sky flood my marionette hands choreographing hillscapes folding in on themselves constellations underwater, ……spot lit haunt monochromatic weekdays i am only wallpaper self-gaslighting, a welcoming home. Savannah Slone is a queer, bipolar, and disabled writer. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Homology Lit and the author of An Exhalation of Dead Things (CLASH Books, 2021) alongside two chapbooks. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. Cover Design by Karen Rilechop! chop! read more!
NITS by Marsha Blitzer The native mums told me it was inevitable, ……………………………………………………..nobody’s fault. ………………..In the changing room ………………………..……………………………they swapped ………………..uniform jumpers and caps. Soon I saw my sons scratching their skulls. ………………..Sesame seeds, each louse ……………………………………………………..had claws attached to hair ………………..where it was warmest— ……………………………………………………..the nape of the neck ………………..or around the ears. They laid nits, ………………..ten or so a day. The brown pinheads hatched, ……………………………………………………..first into nymphs, ………………..then adults — left behind empty egg cases ……………………………………………………..glued on. Neat rows clung with military precision ………………..to the shafts. Mother swore by mayonnaise ……………………………………………………..to suffocate the tiny ………………..wingless insects, or vinegar ……………………………………………………..to dehydrate them. Gasoline or kerosene, a less acceptable ………………..alternative, even for her. I chose disinfecting shampoo, ……………………………………………………..used a fine-toothed ………………..comb to tease them out ……………………………………………………..at night – parsed one section then the next, egg by egg, ………………..each strand of hair. We talked about the … chop! chop! read more!
HOW A GIRL GROWS UP by Lindsay Rutherford I don’t remember who suggests skinny dipping (me?), but none of us have our suits on anymore. At least I don’t. I am twelve, and we are at a friend’s remote lake property for a swim team picnic. It’s after 9 p.m.—many families have left already—and dark, so there’s not much to see, just the occasional fleeting glimmer of something pale beneath the lake’s surface. Flesh, ghost, or fish, it’s hard to tell. It smells like the end of summer—tang of smoke from burnt bluegrass fields, the day’s heat evaporating from boulders and docks, pine needles crushed in dirt beneath bare feet. Naked bodies slip through the water around me like otters. On shore, our parents shake their heads and laugh and hold towels for when we decide to emerge. Some of the less intrepid swimmers huddle in sweatshirts or wrapped in … chop! chop! read more!
DOUBLE FOLDED by Tricia Park Every Korean girl I know freaks out about going back to Korea. Some are yuhaksaeng, the Korean born who study, work, and live abroad. Some are like me, American born and returning to Korea for the first or third or one hundredth time. We represent a range of the diaspora, living in various states of exile. “I’m so ugly,” we sigh, pulling at our faces as we peer at ourselves, our noses close to the mirrors, examining every pore, every hair, every line, imagined or no. “Oh, I’m so fat,” we moan, pulling at our arms, our thighs, our middles. “I’m going to get an earful. My mother/my grandmothers/my aunties will be so angry that I’m … chop! chop! read more!
THE SKULL by Marc Tweed Marv. Teenagers found him washed up on the sand, bloated and bright in his favorite Hawaiian shirt. A crowd gathered and called the police, but not before those who found him took his wallet, wedding ring, car keys. The car itself. Authorities appeared, took pictures, bundled him up and drove his body past the palm trees and liquor stores to the morgue in Oakridge on 31st. There were several other bodies already there so he waited his turn, something he’d always found difficult. ◊ Lorraine. Around dinner time, a Broward County detective came to Marv and Lorraine’s condo in Plantation with two shoegazing deputies. He told her he wished everyone had their names sewn into their clothing because it would make his job a lot easier. Lorraine just looked at him with her mouth open. It was late when they left. She drank a whole … chop! chop! read more!
LOAVES by Lizzy Lemieux My daughter tells me her dream while I pack her lunchbox. What a terrifying nightmare! I say and kiss the top of her head. She narrows her eyes. Mom, she says, It was not a nightmare. It was a dream. She smiles, showing off two lost teeth. I do not correct her. Even though it is polite, when you dream up terrible things, to pretend that they are unwanted. But she is still learning, still puzzling over the sound an ‘o’ makes. When is it a short exhale? When is it a sharp howl? I add a sticky note to her lunch and make myself proud. Motherhood is contained in small gestures. Later, I get the call. My daughter has decided today the ‘o’ makes the howling sound. When I arrive at her school, the teacher says, Your daughter is crying because she cannot read the … chop! chop! read more!
Shelter by Esther Ra Every evening before we climb into the car, I tap the hood politely, and wait for the street cats to leap out underneath—gray cloudbursts of mist- matted fur, supple flash of muscle and sinew. Even in the winter, slices of sunlight butter the walls, caress the faceless square windows. Last night I dreamed about laughing with someone I missed, the cold trickle of fear when I felt myself stirring awake. In English class, my student signs his letters to his mother with —softly, your son— and I don’t attempt to correct him. The cats are screaming hoarsely in the night, so crazed with joy in each other’s thin warmth, they long for the whole world to know. If only everything could be a little bit softer. The snow falls soundless in the golden light, blurring every edge to a gently rubbed-out mistake. Esther Ra is the … chop! chop! read more!
SMALL CONSOLATION by Diana Rickard you make an offering to posterity ghastly aesthetic cauterizes the virile there is a corniness to the late wave and you absorb because of resemblance because of what drifts and sifts through the sieve all of it you fought and then you learned and then used humor to veil your motives the prosaic shame of waiting, a penny dreadful of anticipation in half-hearted syntax you question risk a lilac apple flecked with gold the edifying volume that is always put off, and the cuteness of everyone’s pets nostalgic for an attention span, you are moved by a hesitant apology the inbox contains an update. a question about snacks. a second confirmation you recognize a silhouette on the toilet familiar like that dull bonding when a celebrity dies you love the bottle but hate the fragrance merely balancing, on coiled spine porous and commanding, generous and small … chop! chop! read more!
THE RECKONING by Emily Steinberg The Reckoning is a 22-page full-color visual narrative, that illustrates our planet’s stark environmental crisis on a visceral gut level in words and images. It explores how our sustained misuse of natural resources is intertwined and connected, on micro and macro levels, impacting everything from climate change to how the Covid 19 Virus was transmitted from animals to humans. It imagines how we can do better. The Reckoning, supported by a grant from The Studio for Sustainability and Social Action, Penn State University, was created in response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production. —Emily Steinberg Emily Steinberg is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on painting and visual narrative and her work has been shown across the United States and Europe. Most recently, her first cartoon and Daily Shouts story were published by The New Yorker. Since 2013, her … chop! chop! read more!
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by Christine Muller They sat the way they wished they could always sit: together, with wine at their fingertips, a cooling breeze in the air, and the fading day’s light sparkling like magic across the terrace’s gold fixtures. Cleopatra told a story. “He was so funny, you know. Well, of course you know, you knew him. This one time, he told me, he said to me, he said, ‘Hey, Clea: workin’ hard or hardly workin’?’ Oh, so funny. Too funny.” “That’s—kind of funny, I guess.” Antony took another sip from his cup. “And so wise. This other time he said to me, ‘Clea, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ So true, you know? So wise.” “Mm.” “What’s that?” “Oh. Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” “Are you OK? You seem, I don’t know…bored.” “I’m not bored. It’s just—” “What?” “I just … chop! chop! read more!
NIGHT VISION by Kim Magowan and Michelle Ross They were cooling off in Amanda’s pool—three women submerged to their necks. With the moon behind them and the stringed lights on Amanda’s porch ungenerous in their glow, Amanda’s and Louise’s faces were silhouettes. Toni had the most unfortunate position, facing the moon. Light beaded her skin like sweat as she listened to Amanda talk about whether or not she should break up with Boone, whom they’d referred to for months as The Hot Chiropractor, even after Amanda had started dating him. The problem with Boone was that he was boring. “When he talks, my mind drifts,” Amanda said. “I try to focus, but it’s like trying to listen to my CPA, or to Miss Engler, my PreCalc teacher back in high school. I actually had to dig my nails into my arm to stop myself from falling asleep in her class. … chop! chop! read more!
MICE by Meg Pokrass and Rosie Garland The cork shoots out of the bottle, bounces off the wall and loses itself behind the sofa. Don’t bother, she says. It’s too late. He’s already clasping the curved arm of the Chesterfield and trying to shift it away from the wall, one grunting millimeter at a time. He’s puffing, face screwed up. He makes the same face when he’s on top of her. She almost laughs but manages to keep her voice steady. Why are you…? Corks attract mice, stupid, he says. Your happy little furry family. He points a fat finger, laughs at his joke. His nickname for her is ‘Mouse’. It never used to feel this heavy, Ms. Mouse, he grumbles, wrestling with the sofa. We haven’t got rodents, she says, staring at her toes. They have no pattering of small feet, of any description. Leave it to you to … chop! chop! read more!
DIGITAL PAINTINGS by Joe Lugara These works are from two distinct series of digital paintings, Framework and Dark Oddities. I enjoy the clash of the man-made and the organic, the grids contrasting with the shape-shifting blobs. The Framework series asks one of those short questions that begs a long answer: Am I inside or outside? The pictures offer seemingly objective experiences that turn uncomfortably subjective on the viewer. Does being on the “inside” mean being trapped or incarcerated, or does it mean being in the know and accepted? The drops and splotches in the Dark Oddities are likewise objectively/subjectively charged. Alluding to specimens on microscope slides, they suggest things observed—scrutinized—and then make a U-turn on the viewer. The question they pose to me is whether their seemingly bloody forms are healthy or diseased. I find that my response depends on the size of the blotch or drop, and especially its … chop! chop! read more!
GIRL ON FIRE by Courtney Thorne-Smith She is bent over the sink. The ends of her long dark hair dip in and out of the bubbles as she circles the sponge slowly over the already clean pan. “What’s wrong?” he asks. “Nothing,” she says, watching a single tear drop into the sink and disappear under the soapy water. I’ll have to remember this feeling, she thinks, in case I ever need to play a woman with a broken heart. As an actress, only half of her attention is ever in her actual life. The other half is watching, directing, mining moments to use later in her work. “I can tell something is wrong, Juliet. Just tell me.” He reaches over her to take a glass from the drainer. She flinches when his chest brushes her back. “Really? I can’t even touch you now?” “You hurt me.” “Just now? When my … chop! chop! read more!
Paper mache on the drain by Soheon Rhee The day of Chuseok, I remember that you wanted to cut my dress and how you made confetti of silk on the basin with the remaining the cloth of my hanbok jagged. I had closed my eyes, and when I woke, darkness descended through the window panes and eomma was wearing an apron and looked at me oddly. I cannot hear her words from the pounding rain outside, I can see the shadows hanging in between the skinned branches of an oak tree. Mother is now cleaning the dishes and I hear your footsteps receding before you find me, you are holding on the silk I had planned to wear today, smiling as if you had forgotten. Soheon Rhee is a thirteen-year-old student who is currently attending International School of Manila. During her free time, she likes hanging out with her friends … chop! chop! read more!
PLENTY OF FISH by Dylan Cook Matt felt the morning dew jump against his legs as his feet flattened the seagrass in his way. He had his fishing pole slung over his shoulder like a bindle and his tackle box swinging at his side. The sun had crested over the ocean, already strong and getting stronger as the light shifted from orange to white. On a good day, no one bothered him on this beach. He could expect to see one or two old retirees fishing too, but they usually kept their distance and never said anything to him besides the obligatory “How’re the fish today?” to which he’d respond with either “Not a nibble” or “Got a few keepers.” Beyond that, they all had a tacit agreement to keep the peace by keeping to themselves. Matt baited his line with some baby squids he’d picked up on his drive … chop! chop! read more!
A PIERCE OF ANGELS by KC Pedersen Light airs! Light airs! A pierce of angels! Theodore Roethke …it is not the skill of the hand / That writes poetry, but water, trees, / And the sky which is clear to us even though it’s dark. Czeslaw Milosz I was torn between the desire to show how well I was dealing with things and the imperative to show that I was not O.K., that this man’s actions had derailed my life in a thousand ways. Rebecca Makkai Each time, Greta recreates her grief from scratch. There is no mercy for time served. She bobs to the surface like some stupid laughing doll. Well, what did he know? How many times had he been raped? Greta could tell him that you went numb and left your body to float somewhere near the sparkly sprayed-on ceiling. That way, you weren’t really there. But … chop! chop! read more!
SPONGE BATH by Tracy Rothschild Lynch The no-nonsense, middle-aged Filipino nurse tells me, pushing up her smudged glasses, that I need to clean up a bit down there. She waves her tiny hands dramatically around her own groin area and then shuffles over to me, all action. Am I embarrassed? Maybe. For some reason I feel like I’ve let her down. On day three in the hospital, day three with no breasts, day three of forcing a smile each time a visitor says knock knock out loud like it is funny, I guess it is time to get back to life. I simultaneously hate her and feel bad for hating her because she is only doing her job. Vera, her name is. I see the pleasant serif font on the RN badge dangling around her neck. As instructed, I stay as still as possible while she hustles. Does she know … chop! chop! read more!
CATALOGUE BABY: A MEMOIR OF INFERTILITY by Myriam Steinberg; illustrations by Christache Page Two, 304 pages reviewed by Brian Burmeister The graphic memoir Catalogue Baby shares the deeply personal fertility journey of Myriam Steinberg. Compelled to leave her career, passion, and life as a festival organizer to pursue motherhood as a single 40-year-old, Steinberg’s immensely honest memoir chronicles the intense challenges she faced getting pregnant and carrying to term. Throughout the five years of her life covered in the book, Steinberg skillfully navigates shame, guilt, and loss in ways that help us understand the pain and frustration she was experiencing while balancing those brutal realities with humor. Among other amusements, we are welcomed to the literal “Carnival of Dreams Brought to You by I.V.F” where at the egg-shot carnival game you are given “10 shots for the price of your dignity and patience.” One of Steinberg’s many strengths is making … chop! chop! read more!
DEAR BEAR by Ae Hee Lee Platypus Press, 42 pages Reviewed by Juniper Jordan Cruz Dear Bear begins with the gripping dedication, “For Daniel, to the end,” and from there, takes its readers to the end of the world it introduces. This is author Ae Hee Lee’s world that exists in a collection of letters addressed to the titular Bear—who is both a real and parabolic bear. The book is set in a forest, “at the border of every ruin, of every past home.” The forest is also both real and parabolic as a form of borderland, acting as a Romantic landscape: sublime and shaped around the speaker’s psyche. Because of this, the forest becomes a vessel for the speaker’s exploration of the relationship between her and Bear. Ae Hee Lee establishes the forest as a post-apocalyptic setting to navigate both the relief and anxiety that comes from surviving an … chop! chop! read more!
THE NATURAL MOTHER OF THE CHILD: A MEMOIR OF NONBINARY PARENTHOOD Krys Malcolm Belc Counterpoint Press 304 pages Reviewed by Beth Kephart Krys Malcolm Belc—nonbinary, transmasculine, and talented—begins his memoir with an Irish dance—“all jumping and pounding, the tight black laces against my calves, the bang of hard shoes on the floor.” He is young and the music permeates, and now, he writes, “I try to remember what it was like then, when I was four and five and six, if I was unhappy. I am supposed to remember being unhappy, but mostly what I remember is what it’s like to stand there knowing the dance is about to start.” Supposed to remember. Supposed to be. Supposed to become. But suppose does not fit the life Belc will live. Competitive, just like his father. Prone to moments of rage. Enrolled in an all-girls’ Catholic school, dressed in the costumery of girlhood. … chop! chop! read more!
RESONANT PLACES Houses We Live in, Homes that Live in Our Writing A Fiction Craft Essay by Ellen Prentiss Campbell Memory and imagination cast spells. Fiction is inspired by places as well as temps perdue. Many of us have dreamed last night that we went back to—well, not Rebecca’s Manderley but to a place from our past, one that resonates. Some places are lost to us even if the building remains because we can never again enter and live there. Perhaps we can peer in, but we cannot look out the windows again, never see the way the world is framed from within that particular shelter again. Sometimes indeed an entire small world is lost to us. Although years later we may wander through a campus again, a neighborhood, the people are gone or so changed as to be unrecognizable. Without our remembered familiars, it’s empty as a stage set. … chop! chop! read more!
Juliana Lamy is a Haitian fiction writer from South Florida. She holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University, where she won their 2018 Le Baron Russell Briggs Undergraduate Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Split Lip Magazine, Pidgeonholes, The Conium Review, and elsewhere. She is an incoming MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.chop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels |Mostly asynchronous with some optional Zoom sessionschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels | Zoom sessions and asynchronous writingchop! chop! read more!
Moriah Hampton received her PhD in Modernist Literature from SUNY-Buffalo. Her fiction, poetry, and photography have appeared in Entropy, Rune Literary Collection, Hamilton Stone Review, The Sonder Review, and elsewhere. She currently teaches in the Writing and Critical Inquiry Program at SUNY-Albany.chop! chop! read more!
For fiction writers of all levels | Synchronous with asynchronous componentschop! chop! read more!
For poets of all levels | Mostly asynchronouschop! chop! read more!
For writers & visual artists of all levels | Synchronouschop! chop! read more!
FUND WHAT YOU FEAR by Marnie Goodfriend I lie in bed, my eyes fixated on the fruit trees outside my bare windows. I do not have insomnia. I am bone tired. Recently, my pain is nocturnal. My body waits until my head makes contact with the pillow before fireworks burst in my pelvic cavity. I bend my knees like an upside-down V and press my feet into the mattress. V is for vulture. violence. victim. vampire. vagina. The other day, my friend Melissa told me about the fund-what-you-fear philosophy. Her words bloat several text bubbles. They remind me of our distended stomachs: agitated, acting out, hardened. There’s something like less than one dollar a day that goes toward endometriosis research and when the medical world is predominantly men … it’s easy to see why they never push money towards diseases that only affect people with a uterus. Is this a … chop! chop! read more!
AT A CAFÉ IN VICTORIA, BC TWO GREY-HAIRED MEN TALK ABOUT LOVE by Kate Peterson She’s in the garden all the time and I’ve got my bridge, and the next thing you know you’re living different lives. One asks the other, If she finds another guy do you think you’d still be friends? I wonder if this is generational or national, men talking this way out in public, over a cup of coffee. My ex was absorbed in his book and didn’t notice, which may also be generational or national. After a while he eyed me taking notes and guessed I was writing about him. He looked up to say he just realized he is more American than he wants to be. Wind lifted in my chest, waves of loneliness and love I’ll never understand. The way it rises and falls. The men started up a game of Mahjong and … chop! chop! read more!
LAST GESTURE by James Miller We eat on the porch when evening heat recedes. Lamps hang from the oak. The Conrad novel rests between us—eighty-nine pages left to speak aloud. As you reach out for a drink, we see a tiny frog, its soft green curves still as summer, perched on the lip of your glass. He leaps, alights on the secret agent, then the near-blankness of our table, dry and smeared with tree sap. Motionless, aware. You offer a thumbnail of water and he rests there, half-submerged. We fall silent, but miss the last gesture. He is gone. James Miller won the Connecticut Poetry Award in 2020. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Typehouse, Rabid Oak, North Dakota Quarterly, Yemassee, Phoebe, Mantis, Scoundrel Time, Permafrost, Grey Sparrow Review, Blue River, 8 Poems, After Happy Hour, Two Hawks Quarterly, Concho River Review, Sweet Tree Review, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. … chop! chop! read more!
SENSITIVE SKIN Ceramics by Constance McBride “Everyone wants to have an illusion of themselves, that they’re a bit attractive, but the older I get it seems more important to be absolutely honest and direct.” — Chantal Joffe When I was a kid I discovered Seventeen Magazine and it really messed me up. I recently googled it and was shocked to see that it debuted in 1944. I always had the impression that it began in the ‘60s or ‘70s when I was a subscriber. From Wikipedia: “It began as a publication geared toward inspiring teen girls to become model workers and citizens. Soon after its debut, Seventeen took a more fashion and romance oriented approach in presenting its material while promoting self-confidence in young women.” I have to disagree with this idea of promoting self-confidence in young women. What I think it really did was cause many young women to angst about their faces … chop! chop! read more!
LITTLE GRIEF SONG, JULY 2020 by Laura Tanenbaum “But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged into our personal weather They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove along the shore, through the rages of fog where we stood, saying I” —Adrienne Rich, “In those Years” Today we took the kids to the cemetery, for escape. No, it’s fine we explain to bewildered out-of-towners. A place to go. Historical. You ask, am I grieving: OK, then, yes, I’m grieving. The last day on the playground. Someone sent me a picture and a joke. Said we were all doomed; we touch our faces so much. Remember that? I thought then that I had never touched that person’s face, not even by accident, and now I never would. The kids find graves of two brothers from Maryland who fought on opposite sides of the last battle of … chop! chop! read more!
SAN ANDREAS HEAVEN by Nick Olson I remember back in the day Nick used to try to get to Heaven. Heaven was a glitched-out place in San Andreas where nothing made sense or seemed quite real, and Nick would come home most days, boot up the PS2, and try again to get into it. There was a specific building in San Andreas where, if you went inside and used a cheat code to spawn a jetpack, you could fly through a certain part of the ceiling that didn’t have proper clipping. There was just one spot where you could fly through, a place that the developers had overlooked. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. This wasn’t something you were ever supposed to be able to come across just walking and jumping around. But if you knew what to look for and you did everything in just the right way, you … chop! chop! read more!
SENSITIVE SKIN: Ceramics by Constance McBride “Everyone wants to have an illusion of themselves, that they’re a bit attractive, but the older I get it seems more important to be absolutely honest and direct.” – Chantal Joffe When I was a kid I discovered Seventeen Magazine and it really messed me up. I recently googled it and was shocked to see that it debuted in 1944. I always had the impression that it began in the ‘60s or ‘70s when I was a subscriber. From Wikipedia: “It began as a publication geared toward inspiring teen girls to become model workers and citizens. Soon after its debut, Seventeen took a more fashion and romance oriented approach in presenting its material while promoting self-confidence in young women.” I have to disagree with this idea of promoting self-confidence in young women. What I think it really did was cause many young women to angst about their faces … chop! chop! read more!
FALL OF MAN a visual narrative by Jennifer Hayden Scroll down for an interview with Jennifer Hayden by Cleaver Visual Narrative Editor Emily Steinberg Jennifer Hayden is the author of The Story of My Tits, the Eisner-nominated graphic memoir about her experience with breast cancer. She wrote the webstrips Rushes: A Comix Diary, and S’Crapbook. Her first book, Underwire, was featured in The Best American Comics 2013, and she has appeared in anthologies. She is working on a graphic anti-cookbook called Where There’s Smoke There’s Dinner, and a travel novella called Le Chat Noir, about her dicey relationship with France. She has lectured at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and NYU, and is currently quarantining in New Jerseychop! chop! read more!
I AM THAT GROUP OF PICTURES OF SPIDERWEBS MADE BY SPIDERS ON DIFFERENT DRUGS by Valerie Loveland Scientists call everything an experiment, …………………….even when ……iit is actually a meme even when …………………………..it is actually a spiderweb beauty contest Scientists don’t realize even when they talk about drugs, ………………………….…………………they are still nerds. ……Who hasn’t been…….. an accident, an experiment, a copy of an experiment, ……………..another copy of an experiment? Everyone always tells me I am…………………… so ………………….…..……right: I am proof there is a part of us all that can be normal. But I forgot to tell you spider moms die before the babies are born so …………nobody teaches spiders how to make their webs. I forgot to tell you a spider doesn’t bother to go back and fix their mistakes. ……………………………………A fact becomes a fun fact when everyone attempts to tell it to everyone else ……………………………………but everyone already knows it. …………One … chop! chop! read more!
AMMONITES by Ann de Forest mountains once were ocean evidence coils beneath our feet prehistoric curlicues not yet nautilus not yet snail not yet calcified turban washed up on the beach ………………………void of any tender ……………………………….creature barely old enough to remember tasmanian devil’s cyclone wake cartoon cat’s stiff armed stumbles vertiginous eyes hypnotize pulsing black & white watch dangles ………………………sways eyelids ………………………………fall …………………………………………………………………..where does time begin? crack the case find the spring sister crouched beneath a crib a finger flick sends silver spiral shimmying up spinning down mesmerized by tiny revolutions mesmerized by bounce and drop ………………………by boing …………………………..and hum ………………………………………………………………………danger up ahead rattler on the trail vortex in the toilet bowl fingers furled to pack a punch lobster thrashing in a pot fallen leaf and flame-licked letter go in green come out red tail ………………………rolled up between ………………………………your legs tentacles sweep across the map … chop! chop! read more!
I’M NOT SORRY by Ali Kojak They say I should write you a letter. As a goodbye, they smile sadly, for closure. They say closure like it’s a literal thing I can touch, can put in my Amazon cart and click, it’s here. Aha! Now you’re closed. But how do you close a life? Maybe it’s like sending guests home after a party. Thank you for living, I say quietly, as you stand in the doorway not looking ready to leave. I gently push the door in your direction, biting my lip to stop from changing my mind. It’s late, and my kids are tired, I plead, so you step back but keep staring—sadly, silently, into the warm house. Now I push hard and fast, heart-pounding, sweaty fingers turning the bolt frantically. As if you might push back. As if it really matters. As if you’re not a ghost. I … chop! chop! read more!
LEPIDOPTERA by Lorette C. Luzajic Pheasant Falls, end of the line. There is only a diner and smoke shop at either end of a triplet of small houses. On the other side, city-potted geraniums and a path to the waterfalls. An arrow points past the narrow choir of pines to the museum. You have come together from the city to see the birds and the bears, and the butterfly room. You will see mineral specimens, too, a treasure chest of agate and amethyst, geodes and fossils transporting you back in time and deep into the earth. Sticks and Stones, a little known gem of taxonomy. You come to a dilapidated house, with antlers and boulders strewn through a scraggly garden. There are no signs to confirm you are at the right place, but a cold-faced ibex glares through the window at your approach. The proprietor is a sleazy little man … chop! chop! read more!
TRADE CRAFT by Jason Jobin On the walk home from the bakery, spelt loaf in hand, I look back—because this is the part of town where you look back—and see a guy. He’s late thirties, soft looking, salt and pepper hair, very familiar. Familiar from where? He doesn’t make eye contact, but if he was a serial killer, would he? A real serial killer would feign disinterest and appear much like a normal stranger, maybe even exactly like a normal stranger. I run the rest of the way home. Safe in my room with all the doors locked, I roll a joint and blow the smoke out the window, stinking up the whole place, too worried to go outside. It’s rude to smoke inside. If it wasn’t an extreme circumstance, I would never. And then I roll and smoke another joint, and another, and another, and try to sleep. Who … chop! chop! read more!
FISH FEEL NO PAIN by Michelle Renee Hoppe My little brother held a trout, a rainbow burning bright enough to eclipse reflections. The fish did not reflect, but the stream did, and he took a mighty brown watery rock to spill the brains of the flesh, white and red onto the grey wooden dock, a spilling of color all over the dock, and when I screamed he said, Fish feel no pain. I told him he could not know fish’s mind, not at ten or twenty or a thousand years could he know the inner worlds of slippery things, but that day I learned eating took no feeling. He picked up the dead limp thing that once swam bravely, meant to be swallowed by dolphins or sharks, whales singing underwater, pelicans that fly without invention, alligators who were also dinosaurs, flamingos that were too, and asked if I’d like some. … chop! chop! read more!
WEBSITE INSECURITY QUESTIONS by David Galef What was your first pet’s favorite color? How many pets have you neglected since then? This is about your father, isn’t it? How often do you think about sex? What did you drink on your first date with Janet? Who was she there with? Did you really think he was her cousin? When you drive from I-78 to your house, what exit do you take? What little winding road do you always miss right after that? How old were you before you learned to drive with a stick shift? This is about your mother, isn’t it? What do you always quarrel with Janet about? Why? How many times has she said in the past year that she’ll leave you? What’s your favorite Netflix show? What was your favorite show five years ago? Which show does Janet prefer? Who’s told you repeatedly, “Will you ever … chop! chop! read more!