TWO STUDENTS WALK INTO A BAR by Sara Davis I can’t believe you haven’t heard this story. I feel like we tell it all the time! Maybe not in class, no, but grad school isn’t all lectures and bad coffee. We do have fun sometimes. Anyway, Lee and I used to come here all the time in our first year, because on Thursdays they had pierogies for fifty cents apiece and we’d have money left over for nasty beer, except I think this happened on her birthday so maybe it was nasty rum instead. I’m sorry, I don’t know if I should try to tell this story without Lee, I’m not going to remember it right. Well, anyway, we were sitting up at the bar over there having some kind of intense conversation. I think it was when we were planning on co-teaching a class about rape culture—I told you, … chop! chop! read more!
AUTOPSY OR, THE HOUSE OF YOUTH (LIKE A RUSSIAN MOUNTAIN) by J.M. Parker I kept a hand-written note, on creased but still clean typing paper, wedged into the pages of a book Dear Sweetheart― You’ve got the tv program and today’s newspaper― some white wine in the fridge, and the end of a bottle of red one on the table, and another one and pastis in the kitchen― I don’t know what time I’ll be back but until that moment I kiss you― Frédéric Also, if the phone rings let the answering machine answer―see you― I’d kept a photo of the two of us grinning while cutting up a dead rabbit to put in a stew, after which, as I remembered, we’d sat on Fred’s couch, and I told him I had a boyfriend in America. “I love him,” I’d said, “But he isn’t in love with me.” “Without love, … chop! chop! read more!
LAB RAT VENGEANCE by Sarah Schiff In the neuroscience lab where I worked as an undergraduate intern, we were studying what makes mice experience the sensation of fullness. You can just imagine who’d want access to those findings—the know-how to regulate people’s appetites. The primary investigator, Dr. Hillbrawn, suspected a specific subnucleus of being the moderating agent of satiety, so my job was to locate and then lesion it (which is fancy scientific jargon for destroy, and, just so you know, I am pretty fancy). Once I could do the surgeries without supervision, I started coming in late at night so I could work without the distractions of other people’s gossip and smells. One grad student played Nirvana on a loop, so the whole white room consistently felt filled with dismay. On a late September night, I had an adolescent mouse head-fixed into the stereotax, a kind of miniature operating … chop! chop! read more!
In the 1st section, 3rd sentence: “In fact, I would have swung for the gut, stole his air so he had to collapse into me.” –Grammatically, this should be “stolen,” but the author may have chosen the more colloquial “stole.” Query?
Also in the 1st section, 4th paragraph, I fixed the em dash to make it consistent.
In the last section, first paragraph, I’m having second thoughts about this line: “with a first name and last initial like a partial staking. An object, a tool, more stamp than identity.”
Staking or stalking? I think “staking,” as in a claim, but want to make sure.
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FROM THE HEART OF OLD MAGAZINES Collages by Sherry Shahan Feeling shipwrecked in 2020, I began ripping words from the heart of old magazines. My scissors were like me, rusty and dull. The glue, too thick. My collages resembled drawings found in a kindergarten classroom. I like that about them; it frees me from ideas of what art should be. Decades ago I approached photography much the same way. I rarely considered myself a professional even after my photos appeared in national magazines and newspapers. My collages seem to spill into two categories: those that pick at the scabs of humanity and those that reflect promise and possibility. Both styles express my purpose, passion, and personal truths. —Sherry Shahan, September 2021 Sherry Shahan has wandered the globe as a travel journalist, often watching the world and its people from behind: whether in the hub of London, a backstreet in Havana, … chop! chop! read more!
29 REASONS WHY THERE WILL BE NO REPLY by Chelsey Clammer You didn’t visit me for fifteen months. I know, pandemic and whatnot, and we live three states apart, but why isn’t your lover in your “circle”? When we did finally see each other, it was only because I came to see you, but even then You didn’t spend the night with me because You didn’t want to tell your wife I was in town, meaning that You spent the day fucking me, then lied to her by coming home at night and saying work was fine that day, which also means you, yet again, Put your wife’s emotional needs (to continue denying the ongoing affair you finally told her about) before not just my relationship needs, but also your own. Why? Because you are a fucking spineless coward, or it’s possible that You’re lying to me about wanting to … chop! chop! read more!
BUILDING BOATS, WRITING POEMS A Craft Essay by James Diaz When building boats, we try to craft something that will hold us aloft, a durable vessel that can bear and balance the weight, and hold out against the waves. Some boats are perhaps more beautiful than others. Some just do the job. When you’re in a jam and need to cross whatever inner seas need crossing, you work with whatever you have to work with. It’s important to write against the grain, it’s important to fuck up, fall flat, rip your pages apart, regroup, keep dreaming into the agony. Writing is agonizing. Organizing agony, categorizing wounds, sorting old stories, finding new insights buried beneath the familiar ways of seeing our life. How did I become the writer that I am today? Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy. Sitting in a room with another person who holds your story and then … chop! chop! read more!
A Conversation with Amy Koppelman Author of A MOUTHFUL OF AIR Two Dollar Radio Interview by Michael McCarthy I spoke with Amy Koppelman as she was finishing making her first book, A Mouthful of Air, into a feature film. Though she wrote the novel eighteen years ago, it still seemed fresh in Koppelman’s mind. As I spoke with her over Zoom, she searched for the right words to describe her first novel. In this work, Koppelman engaged the experience of postpartum depression when conversation about the topic was rare. The book was first published in 2003 by MacAdam/Cage (a small press that has closed) and is now being reissued by Two Dollar Radio. In this interview, which Koppelman and I have edited for clarity, Koppelman discusses how she began writing, the encouragement she received from Joan Didion, and whether writing is a world in which she feels safe. —MM ◊ … chop! chop! read more!
Dear June, A few weeks ago my wife and I were watching Noah, our two-year-old grandson, at our house. He was playing with some pots and pans on the floor of our pantry room, totally absorbed. I stepped out of the room for half a minute to refill my coffee, and the next thing I knew there was a crash and Noah was screaming. Either from Noah’s pulling at it or from sheer bad luck, a set of shelves had separated from the wall, raining down boxes, bags, jars, and cans. Ginny, my wife, came rushing in, back from the bathroom, zipping her pants as she ran. She scooped Noah up and took him to the sink. At least one of those cans or jars must have hit him because he was bleeding pretty heavily from a cut in his scalp. Ginny cuddled Noah and cleaned him up a bit, … chop! chop! read more!
THE ELEPHANT OF SILENCE by John Wall Barger Je suis maitre du silence —Rimbaud, “Enfance” I. At fifty, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, I drove my 1989 BMW motorcycle from Philadelphia to The Hambidge Center in the mountains of northeast Georgia for a three-week writing residency. They provided me with a cottage in the forest, with floor-to-ceiling windows and enough space for a person to spread out their work. My first feelings, when I’d taken off my jacket and sat down, were—as Wendell Berry describes it in “Stepping Off”—“along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement / a little nagging of dread.” It was so damn quiet. I’ve always felt an aversion to quiet. I was a hyper only child. The kid with the firecrackers and toy soldiers. The teenager with the boombox. As an adult, I am a talker and—I wince to admit it—a loud one. “Silence,” … chop! chop! read more!
YOU ARE A POET (Even When You Aren’t Writing) A Craft Essay by Mark Danowsky In Poetics, Aristotle essentially defines a poet as someone who has “an eye for resemblances.” This is a nice reminder to look up, both literally and metaphorically, look around, look within, simply look. We are all trapped in our physical bodies while also inhabiting external spaces. What are your spaces? What is in these spaces? People say, “Life happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Sometimes, in order to return to your writing, you need to live a little. This is not because you lack content. Flannery O’Connor famously says, “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Writers each have their own metaphor for “waiting for the well to refill” so that their ability to approach the page becomes feasible. When you’re not … chop! chop! read more!
Blended format: Asynchronous elements with four Zoom meetingschop! chop! read more!
Six synchronous meetings on Zoomchop! chop! read more!
ARTIFICE IN THE CALM DAMAGES by Andrew Levy Chax, 176 pages reviewed by Johnny Payne The traditional identification of poet and prophet is acceptable only in the sense that the poet is about as slow in reflecting his epoch as the prophet. If there are prophets and poets who can be said to have been ‘ahead of their time’, it is because they have expressed certain demands of social evolution not quite as slowly as the rest of their kind. Trotsky said it best: “All through history, the mind limps after reality.” The aloof intelligentsia continues to believe in the power of reason alone to move the world. No amount of revolution has yet changed this fact. As a recent electoral outcome pretends to remedy the hyper-capitalistic state of siege in which we all currently exist, neoliberalism, a name which in itself has become insufficient to describe the evolving phenomenon, … chop! chop! read more!
Synchronous on Zoom; for writers & artists with some experience in visual narrative.chop! chop! read more!
SPECULATIVE MEMOIR: MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE A Craft Essay by Laraine Herring I was eight years old when the tree spoke to me. My dad had just gotten out of the hospital after a near-fatal heart attack, and I would ride my bike down to my elementary school to escape the new person who’d replaced the father who told jokes and let me walk across his back. I always brought a book. I’d lean up against the massive oak’s trunk, nestling in among the raised roots, and let the tree hold me. When she spoke, I thought it was the wind. When she spoke again, I thought it was birdsong. The third time, I knew I was both losing my faculties and gaining something magical. Her bark scratched at the place I couldn’t reach on my back. Her voice crept around the edges of my eardrums. I won’t tell you … chop! chop! read more!
All genres and levels, mostly asynchronous with two optional synchronous meetingschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels, synchronouschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels | Synchronous with asynchronous writing assignmentschop! chop! read more!
For poets of all levels | Mostly asynchronouschop! chop! read more!
For writers of all levels and genres | Synchronouschop! chop! read more!
SWIMMING TO THE TOP OF THE TIDE: Finding Life Where Land and Water Meet by Patricia Hanlon Bellevue Literary Press 224 pages reviewed by Michael McCarthy Six Ways to Look at a Marsh Swimming to the Top of the Tide, Patricia’s Hanlon’s delightful debut book, follows her through New England’s Great Marsh as she swims its creeks and channels every day for an entire year. It is a captivating, adroit climate dispatch from Gloucester, Mass. that views the crisis of global warming through a local lens. In grappling with the potential destruction of her beloved home ecosystem, there emerge six ways of looking at the Great Marsh. 1. As a painter Hanlon puts pen to paper as beautifully as she puts brush to canvas. Before turning to the written word, she painted the Great Marsh in her free time, savoring its nuances of color, play of light, and dance of … chop! chop! read more!
RESEARCH AND WRITING The Warp and Woof of Historical Fiction A Craft Essay by Terry Roberts When I stand before a crowd of curious readers and talk about my novels, which are generally understood to be “historical fiction,” invariably someone asks a version of the following: “How much research do you do before you start writing?” Sometimes that question is followed by more detailed queries about the kind and type of research: “Where did you go to find information?” and “Do you interview the experts?” and “How do you know when enough is enough and it’s time to start writing?” And one of my favorites: “To what extent are you constrained by history?” I understand the motivation behind all those questions, especially when asked by true historians (amateur or professional) or nascent fiction writers. But the truth is that I have never tackled the process of research and writing in … chop! chop! read more!
Blended format suitable for all genres.chop! chop! read more!
SCORPIONFISH by Natalie Bakopoulos Tin House, 256 pages reviewed by Aleksia Mira Silverman Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos begins with a return. Mira, a Greek-born academic in her late thirties, arrives in Athens after her parents’ funeral. She must sort out the remainder of her parents’ affairs—Mira’s childhood home in Athens and another apartment on an island referred to only as N. While Mira is stranded outside her apartment building without a key, she has a chance encounter with her next-door neighbor, a sea captain. Later, the pair spend night after night on their adjoining balconies. While they are unable to see each other clearly, they share cigarettes, beer, and conversation. Both characters are grappling with grief, of sorts: Mira has lost her parents; the Captain has lost his position as a sea captain and is about to divorce his estranged wife. Bakopoulos splits the novel between Mira and the Captain’s perspective, their … chop! chop! read more!
WALKING ON COWRIE SHELLS by Nana Nkweti Graywolf Press, 200 pages reviewed by Juliana Lamy The ten stories in Nana Nkweti’s debut short story collection Walking on Cowrie Shells offer tableaus of Blackness that are as varied as they are vivid. From tale to tale, Nkweti’s genres shift as surely as a living body does, limbs never at a single angle for long. The same assortment of stories that renders a realistic portrait of race and romance within New York City’s Black literary scene delves, with the same intrepid narration, into a crime drama’s layered violence and moral contemplation. Though varied, what anchors these stories within one another’s vicinity is a relentless inquisition of human connectivity, a tour that proceeds whether such connection hues grotesque and brutal or beautiful and palliative. Black girls navigate personal and cultural identity as the collection arcs through fandom space in “Rain Check at MomoCon.” … chop! chop! read more!
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 PM—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 in the ungenerous glow of the stringed lights on Amanda’s porch, 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 … 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!