THE CONVERSATION by Robert Pulwer “Are you an anti-Semite?” I looked up from my mother’s crumbling copy of Journey to the End of the Night, which I had pilfered during my last visit home. I was so shocked to hear that someone actually recognized what I was reading that I stammered at first, unhinged my jaw as if to say something, anything, in response to his question, thought, pulled my head back, and finally furrowed my brow and said “no.” “Yes you are. You’re reading Celine. That man—that guy, he was the most…anti-Semitic of them all. All the French people at that time. The non-Jews, they were against us, and he was the worst”—woist—“of all. The worst! How could you read him, and in public, too?” We were on the D train between Grand Street and Broadway-Lafayette. After we had both gotten on the train at Atlantic, he through the … chop! chop! read more!
OFFICE SUPPLIES by Brian Clifton In the back, a Formica table waits on off-white industrial tile. We clock- out, pull paperclips from our throats: purple ones, yellow ones, metallic, pink. Our mouths never seem satisfied. We cough them up enough in jagged convulsions for our fingers to work out like loose teeth. Our ritual piles every example of unbent paperclips on the Formica table in the back. Such is our breaks. We want the pile to grow so large it spills off the table but this requires more paperclips than the amount we have managed to expel from our bodies already. We need new mouths to mine, to set in the approximate motion of vomiting—a bolus that turns into a swarm, a wave, a knocking, a riot, a fist, a slow boil, a bulge, a fit of lightning strikes vying to collapse this table in the back with ritual, to … chop! chop! read more!
MACARONS by Shannon Sweetnam We were in the Clotted Cow when we got the call. “I found four thermometers, but they’re all rectal,” Dad shouted over the phone. “Rectal?” I asked, as I licked buttercream frosting off my fingers. “What do you mean rectal?” “Hold on.” There was a long pause. I could tell he was waiting for me to repeat my question. Our son was thirteen. Our daughter was twenty. We hadn’t had a rectal thermometer in the house in over a decade. I was not going to repeat my question. Jim and I were in Toronto for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We’d come to attend the annual TIFF Film Festival. The plan was to watch a lot of movies, balk at how skinny the actresses were at the premieres, eat five-pound lobsters at the oldest restaurant in the city, get drunk on Canadian beer, and, when the occasion … chop! chop! read more!
WHAT THE CLOUDS BRING by Chila Woychik Five years ago, the eastern part of this state was submerged—a Midwestern Katrina. Waters from a snowy winter mixed with an especially rainy spring and ran down our rivers, the Mississippi, the Iowa, the Cedar, and others. The soil was saturated and the river banks gave way under the weight of the deluge. Some built arks. We were safe, standing at the peak of Mount Ararat with a pair of binoculars, watching the flood waters rise and raze crops, cities, continents. The breadth of anxiety from such experiences is not to be understated. To illustrate, when the unsinkable Titanic sank, among the seven hundred or so survivors was stewardess Annie Robinson, forty years old at the time with a grown daughter. Annie returned home from the Titanic disaster to—believe it or not—take a position aboard yet another ship, the Lapland. (Some well-meaning idiot probably … chop! chop! read more!
THIRTEEN MUSINGS AROUND MY CREATIVE PROCESS by Anthony Cuneo I I’m a big fan of uncertainty. I wish to God that the Nazis had been less certain that Jews were vermin. Not knowing you’re doing it right is a good thing. It makes you stop and think. II Finding, not executing; searching, not knowing. III I don’t know many artists who talk about their “art;” the preferred term is “work.” I’m guilty of this myself. “Work” demands respect, and suggests what you’re doing is serious. But the truth is, when I paint, I’m playing just as much as I’m working. I’m experimenting. I’m trying this, or that. I’m asking questions. And, a lot of the time, I’m not sure I’ve got the right answers. IV So I have mixed feelings about describing what I do as “work.” It (sort of) fits, but it also has a slightly bitter, puritanical aftertaste. … chop! chop! read more!
DEADBOLT by Alicia L. Gleason I always end up back at the apartment on 12th street. We moved in on a dim Saturday morning. Remember how you found that kinked key in the cabinet beneath the sink? A key someone before us had bent? You fell ill with interest in the house’s previous owners. In how they got in and got out, in where the key fit. You tried all the locks. You searched in the cobwebbed cellar while I soaped the kitchen floors. I’ll bet this was with a hammer, you said when you came out, holding the key with two fingers, a loop of red thread drooping from the hole at the top. Then you tracked dirt onto my clean floor. Or someone with a strong hand, you continued, your shoe prints bleeding into the suds. Or, I said, waving you off the floor, it wasn’t in the … chop! chop! read more!
FEIGN & CUT by Tony Tracy Indian summer a shroud of humidity that hangs in the form of crystalline vapor over the striped field. Flaming sun falling backside, burning from a ridge of distant pine. Its ruby trajectory caught in a canvas of heaped-up clouds, firey arms sweeping the diorama of altocumulous folding and unfolding in the cinematic light. I survey Nathan’s practice under such brilliance, my helmet-headed son shirking my exhortations, my words of encouragement met dead-on-arrival by his hard eyes from the fringe of the huddle. Coach’s whistle again: the snap’s on two boys on two! Halfback in motion, trotting through a cadence of hard counts knowing ultimately ( barring disaster of timing, the center’s untimely flinch or transfer of ball ) the pigskin is meant for him, a play designed to use his gifted speed. I raise my nose from review, from my sister-in-law’s disturbing texts: ur … chop! chop! read more!
BROKEN EGGS A Visual Narrative by Emily Steinberg Introduction by Tahneer Oksman To read Emily Steinberg’s autobiographical visual narrative, Broken Eggs, a set of sixty-seven images accompanied by sprawling text and recounting her struggles with infertility, is to witness a series of concurrent, sometimes even conflicting, emotional transformations. From the first, our narrator appears engaging, intimate, and raw. She sits on the ground, her hands wrapped around her knees and her brow furrowed, delivering a back-story for the whirlwind series of events that follows. [Image #1] She spent her twenties as an artist [Image #3] and her thirties unsuccessfully looking for love, while other life events—depression, anxiety, her mother’s dementia— got in the way as well. [Image #4] This is how she finds herself “on the cusp of forty,” [Image #5] just married, trying to have a baby, and suddenly encountering the possibility that what seemed like such an inevitable life course might no … chop! chop! read more!
You are so far south I keep
looking down at my thumb.
Written on the wrinkled skin
just below the joint
the neon blue veins fan out
flashing the name Utopia.
METEMPSYCHOSIS by Caleb Murray John Henry made circles with his bare feet on the carpet. The overhead light was on a fader, which was set low and gave the room an almost hazy affect. Against one wall was a purple couch, its frayed and shredded fabric covered with overlapping blankets and old bedsheets. Against the opposite wall was the television, which was off. The classical music station was playing some minor baroque drivel; it was set on this station because the jazz station, with its squeaks and honks, bothered John Henry’s cat, Felix, who was currently transfixed by the concentric undulations of John Henry’s taunting foot and the disembodied violins. His eyes were like black saucers, with only a faint hint of silver, a mere suggestion of an iris. “Have you eaten all my drugs again?” John Henry said in the high-pitched, playful voice he used for Felix when his … chop! chop! read more!
WHEN I SLEEP, I DREAM OF TSUNAMIS by Luke Stromberg I’m walking down Main Street when a blue and strangely beautiful tidal wave rises in the distance, reaching high over roof tops. It’s the sound of wind, of water gathering force that I hear first, and I cannot move, awed by this watery hand that seems to come from nowhere as its shadow falls over an afternoon scene: a meter-maid writing a ticket; two teenagers smoking cigarettes in front of a convenience store; somebody sweeping; my dead uncle walking his dog. They all seem to notice at once, look up, break into a panic. Cars shriek to a halt, try to turn around. The hand comes down on top of them. Water crashes over buildings, crushing them to pieces. A torrent rushes toward me, taking everything with it: cars, telephone poles, debris, what used to be people— I run, my … chop! chop! read more!
RAVEN IN THE GRASS by Kelly Ann Jacobson A single blade of grass. Long and thin, streaked like the drag of paint left behind by a brush. A singular shade of green, like the color of nothing except itself. Among others it is just a pinpoint in a larger plane, which we see the way a child draws grass, scribbled shape colored in with the nub of a crayon. But up close. Up close, near the nose so that your eyes draw inward and cross, that blade is one entity. Albeit picked and soon to be sun-withered, it is whole. Marilyn lies beneath her husband’s green army blanket. Her arms hug her sides so that her body, beneath the wool, looks straight and stalky. Her feet are small, two doll feet barely rising from the flatness of her chest and legs, and the blanket covers them and hangs off of … chop! chop! read more!
THE BANK LET MY DAD GO by J. Scott Bugher I’m alone in a projector booth, dressed in denim and sweat, prying open tin canisters, reels of nitrate film. Tonight’s a double feature, and I’ve been left holding the bag again. Two years on the job and my cut is still lower than the take-home boarded out to cigarette hussies trotting the cool auditorium, where aisles are carpeted and chairs are wooden. There is no anxiety, no perspiration, no fear of burning for those dames on the job. I’m like the tail gunner of a B-52. Everything is metal: the walls, the workbench, my stool. They say it’s for my protection, that it’s fireproof, but I’m not made of metal. And there’s hope for everybody in this theater tonight, our weekly drawing for fruit baskets. My only hope: that I don’t burn to death. After pasting together the cartoons and … chop! chop! read more!
CATS by Alli Katz “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” —Mark Twain Mark Twain never met my cat. Five seconds with Albany, watching him throw his body against our kitchen cabinets early in the morning (and again in the afternoon, and at bedtime) for six ounces of “classic beef” or a scoop of prescription urinary health dry food, or watching him raise his leg to lick his crotch and then forget what he’s doing, or him leaping on a tiny table that would never support his girth to try to press his face into a cactus, is easily enough to dispel the idea that a cat has any kind of dignity at all. And it’s not just Albany. You can watch my friend’s cat Walker slide across a wood … chop! chop! read more!
THE INGREDIENTS OF DOG FOOD by Kevin Tosca Each night my father dipped two fingers into meat and sauce and then passed that wet present down to Django’s drooling mouth. It was no secret. I saw. My mother saw. My father wasn’t trying to hide anything. And this didn’t just happen at dinner, it happened whenever my father ate or snacked. If three slices of cheese were to go on a sandwich, one more went to Django. If my father grabbed a handful of peanuts, Django got his share. If there were an orange to eat, Django got a segment. If there were ice cream at the end of the day, Django licked the bowl. The only food my father didn’t give Django was salad, but that’s not because my father hadn’t tried. Django just didn’t like it, which became Django lore, the one thing Django wouldn’t deign to touch: … chop! chop! read more!
THE LEMON POEM by Glen Armstrong He said “lemon” over and over. Lemon. Lemon. Lemon. Until the word was just a can of creamed lemon. The radio played a marathon of lemon songs. All over the city a million plastic boxes sang out ———-until each radio was likewise a can of creamed radio. And what of those cans? ———-Losing their edges ———-and hollow cores ———-as they proliferate? The edges? ———-The creams? ———-Undone. ———-Becoming dreams and juice. By eight o’clock ———-his yellow bathrobe ———-and gym socks ———-were no longer ———-his yellow bathrobe ———-and gym socks. Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. … chop! chop! read more!
EMILY by Jan-Erik Asplund Desire not the night, for that is when people will be destroyed. Or perhaps: to drag people away from their homes. Or maybe: when people vanish in their place. (Job 36:20), variations The speed was a natural solution to Professor Flowers’s death. The only thing left to do after we had laid it out on the table and crushed it up and all was talk—and it turned out we could do that for hours. It was a beautifully orchestrated display, a symphony of run-on conversation and exuberant denial. We talked shit about the neighborhood, and what it was like to extort your parents for thousands upon thousands of dollars a year in the guise of receiving an education. We wondered if we were doing the right thing. We understood each other even when we didn’t. “It’s so messy in here,” she said. “I don’t really like … chop! chop! read more!
OYSTERS by Merilyn Jackson I am licking the insides of the oyster shells embedded in salt on a plate black as your angry eyes like your love, cooling rapidly as lava. Forgive me. It reminds me of how much I want to lick your hair. A dance and book critic, Merilyn Jackson regularly writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Broad Street Review, national and international dance magazines on the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European literature, culture and politics. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awarded her food-driven novel-in-progress, Solitary Host, a $5,000 Literature Fellowship and a chapter of the novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review. In 2012 she attended Colgate’s Summer Program with Peter Balakian and Sarah Lawrence Poetry Seminar with Tom Lux. Her poetry has been published in Exquisite Corpse, Poiesis Review 6 and Poetry Nook. … chop! chop! read more!
MIKEY COMES HOME by Karla Cordero When I was eight my father told me Mikey our pet turtle ran away from home. I dusted the aquarium for fingerprints. Made reward posters out of construction paper and outlined Mikey’s smile with jungle green crayon. I interviewed all three of my sisters and checked under each of their beds. A week later I found Mikey in the backyard. His body was a murder scene on fresh cut grass. An explosion of pink and purple organs from an unknown violence. A shell split into tiny fruit bowls soaked in fresh blood. Flies paraded on a face I could no longer identify. I buried my first body under the lemon tree with a beach shovel. I hosed down the rest of the carcass and watched a piece of intestine slide down a single blade of grass. My father came outside with whiskey on his breath. … chop! chop! read more!
LENITIVE MAN by Dan Encarnacion from “Hominids” (1) ..the quality or condition of being tortuous;….twistedness, ..crookedness, sinuosity; an instance of this — (2)…figuratively mental … .. .. … … or moral crookedness — (3)..an instance of this; or something……………. ……………that exemplifies it, a twisted or crooked object,…. ….. … …..a twist, turn, winding: tortuosity — what………. …. ….. …….can be examined in the fundus of the eye through an opthalmoscope —…………….only place on the human body where microcirculation can be directly observed .— .hemorrhages, exudates, cotton wool spots, blood vessel abnormalities:. pulsations and, the aforementioned, tortuosity ………… …… …………fourteen years old — first complete physical — pressed firmly cheek-to-cheek — told me….. …. .. …. to look away to the side away from the light — … .. … … .. ..did not want him to remove his face — his wet breath — sensed …. …. …. ……. his lips ajar — balls — on one knee — arm wrapped … chop! chop! read more!
CUTMAN by Marc Labriola If the needle swung from side to side, it would be a girl. If the needle swung in circles, a boy. Lailah’s three sisters lay her laughing in Ben’s arms as her mother dangled the needle above her belly. Each woman willing the azimuth of the needle like an ancient geographic divination. No one agreed on the gender of the needle and thread. Lailah’s mother saw a boy. The youngest sister swore it barely moved. The sister who had sworn off men blamed Lailah for the cryptic emanations of her body. Her mother, laughing her head off, mapped out Lailah’s body as the tree of life—naming ten parts of her body from head to toe which formed the ten Sephirot where God was broken into male and female. Lailah and Ben were silent in their pose. They had both distinctly traced the needle as it … chop! chop! read more!
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LADY WHO ALWAYS REQUESTS TWO NAPKINS AT MY RESTAURANT by Melanie Sevcenko Dear Miss or Mrs., First off, although my hostess shift covers only the lunch crowd on a Monday through Friday basis, I am well aware that every day when you leave us at 1:30pm—after you request two cloth napkins, and after you swallow three bites of Today’s Special—that you will be back in five hours for dinner. And sometimes, forty-five minutes later, when you remember the dessert you ordered while you sit in the parking lot and reapply your lipstick to your muttering lips in the rearview mirror, until they come together to blurt “Dessert!” and you will come back inside to join us. And because I never see you when evening falls, and because I’d rather not discuss your potential thievery with my co-workers, I am left only to wonder if you … chop! chop! read more!
MAGIC TRICK by Circus He presses the deck of cards into her hands and says: Shuffle. As you shuffle, think about all the cards in the deck. Concentrate on a single card, but don’t choose one, just hand the deck back to me when you have the image clear in your mind. She does as he says. Her mind settles on the three of spades. She returns the deck to him. He takes it in one flat, outstretched palm and rests his other hand over the top card. He concentrates for a moment, eyes closed, then fans all the cards and, without hesitation, chooses one at random. He holds up the card. It is the three of spades. Is this the one, he asks. She nods, but it is clear she’s not impressed. Nice trick, she says, but I can do better. Prove it, he says. She smiles. She leans … chop! chop! read more!
SUNDAY IN VENICE by Julie Kearney The alleyway was paved with humped dark stones like so many dead or hibernating turtles. On either side of these stones, walls leprous with peeling plaster inclined inwards towards a sliver of grey sky. The man walked ahead trundling his suitcase, the woman followed dragging a matching one. Their wheels made a thunderous noise on the stones. ‘Wait for me,’ the woman called. Her face was red. The man kept walking. ‘Will you stop?’ she called more loudly. ‘Are you deaf or what?’ The man stopped but didn’t turn round. ‘That’s it!’ she said when she came up to him. ‘I’m not going another step!’ She wiped her sweating face with the back of her hand and said without looking at him, ‘I hate you. Why don’t you ever listen to me? If you’d listened to me we would have got off the vaporetto at … chop! chop! read more!
MAINE FARM by Peter Beck Maine I. Four Season Farm, June. When I first started farming I thought I’d eat well, but the truth is no one eats worse than a young farmer. After a full day of pulling weeds, the last thing you want to see is another fresh vegetable. My friend Rob ate what he called “The Special,” and that was his everyday sandwich: two pieces of bread, one on top of the other. His “Special with Cheese” was two pieces of bread with a slice of cheese in between. “The Toasted Special” was two pieces of toast. Alex ate Fluffernutters all day long, and his hands were even dirtier than ours because of the sticking power of the marshmallow on his fingers. Greg ate better than any of us, but only because his girlfriend moved in with him, and she had nothing to do but cook. The … chop! chop! read more!
MISS TORRES WOKE US EARLY by Beth Seetch Just before a) Death We sleep upside-down, toes at bed’s head, pajama seams chafing our buttons tender unless we remember to turn them inside-out and put cold spoons under our pillows. Walking slow in fast snow, we pass blue houses. The houses we leave leaven into loaves like shoes full of gifts. Miss Torres woke us early just before b) Dawn We forget our silent-movie dreams and dance to dress our tops and bottoms. We carry her lilacs and open our books, confident in our heads and the pages that shade them. Miss Torres woke us early just before c) Dusk We will not chisel our desks with our pencils, grind days between our molars, or lapse into tired sedimentary naps. Our ankles will never be pestles, work gristle to sidewalk cement, for Miss Torres woke us early just before d) Dark … chop! chop! read more!
MAGDALENE’S DREAM by João Cerqueira That night Magdalene dreamt about Jesus. She was wearing a green overall and gloves, her hair was protected by a plastic cap, and a mask covered her mouth. She was in a large laboratory, looking through the lens of a microscope. All around her there were similarly dressed people—some sitting, others standing, each engaged in a different task. All of them were concentrating intently, and no one spoke. She worked for Monsanto. The evil gene-manipulating, pesticide-and-defoliant-inventing multinational. But, weirdly enough, Magdalene was happy. Absorbed in her work, as if nothing else existed other than that experiment in genetic alchemy. Like a goddess about to create a new species, more perfect than all the others she had engineered, Magdalene the scientist took delight in her experiments. However, as is always the case in lucid dreams, the awareness of this pleasure disturbed her. There was a project: to … chop! chop! read more!
TWO POEMS by Darren C. Demaree I. EMILY AS A GRAND ASSUMPTION Tide & fog, the shore lines up like an army, slow to defeat, powerful with neat tongues tucked in to avoid the swallow of salt. It’s not a defense when Em carries lightning to make glass near the ocean. It is, however, only mine, my dream that she buries death there to threaten the moon with cause. x x x II. EMILY AS DART AND PIVOT Asleep, never resting the humming lamb of the wonder, of labor & of cupping, springs even in conjecture, at the owl of fresh desire. It is night & there are no shadows. Emily is waiting for me. Darren C. Demaree is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (2013, 8th House), Temporary Champions (2014, Main Street Rag), and Not For Art For Prayer (2015, 8th House). He is the recipient … chop! chop! read more!
LAB CHILD THEOREM by Deborah Purdy Automatic habit like a rifle, pistol or pilot, the beach doll hermit told him to hold the bracelet, the bracelet told him to blame the rich hotel, the cloth heir, the rambling hot chili. He touched the bridal cloth hem and breathed in the child moll— the label torched him label child mother blame cloth hider blame child other beamed torched hill. Originally from Virginia, Deborah Purdy now lives in the Philadelphia area where she writes poetry and creates fiber art. She earned BA and MA degrees from Hollins University, and an MSLS from Clarion University. Her poems have appeared in Apeiron Review, The Milo Review, The Found Poetry Review, and other publications. Image credit: Petealward on Flickr … chop! chop! read more!
“Space and Time” was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2015 SPACE AND TIME by Amelia Fowler 1. Since very early childhood, I have had a recurring dream of a white room so bright it is dimensionless, boundaries of wall and ceiling bleached invisible. It is a nightmare, a preoccupation that bleeds into waking. I think it could be real, hidden under the opacity of matter. Awake, I imagine tearing away the black paper of the night sky; a wall of cold starlight stretches immense and glaring—at my feet, scraps of night. Or, I scratch at the dark paint, freeing shreds of light; outer space gathers under my fingernails like ink from a pen or blood from a scab. I feel I could even peel my body back, starting at the fingers of my right hand. What is left: white absence, a perfect silhouette cut out of … chop! chop! read more!
NOTICING WATER by Nancy Agati Public Art As you travel along the river—any river, stream, creek or body of water—what do you notice? Do you see the changing currents, the light that bounces and travels from wave to wave? Do you feel the rush of water at a rock’s edge? Can you hear water lapping at the shore? Do you sense the flow that ceases to part as it travels? I believe that there are times when one becomes acutely aware of the act of perceiving. There are moments when a heightened sense of awareness highlights things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Trying to accurately describe this sensation, this shift in perception, is difficult. There is a certain silence in the experience, it overcomes you and narrows your focus. Like a camera the eye zooms in, crops, and brings into view specific visual aspects of life. Objects in nature can … chop! chop! read more!
LITTLE FEATHERS by Andrea Rothman The bird lay shivering on the lawn, their faces reflected dark and alien in his button eye. The other eye, the one on the left side of his head, was shut, or possibly gone. A clot of blood and barbs seemed to fill its place. The woman, called Anne, scooped him awkwardly into a kitchen towel and carried him across the juniper-bordered path to the house, her daughter Anne Marie skipping merrily behind her. Set against the hardwood kitchen floor, the bird perked up, flapped a wing and began hopping between mother and child. With only one eye visible he seemed to be winking at them, in some overlooked gesture of gratitude or appreciation. “He’s not going to die, is he, Mommy?” “I don’t know.” “Let’s keep him.” The woman stepped back, wishing she’d left the bird to die. Blood-encrusted feathers trailed behind him, feathers … chop! chop! read more!
PHOTOBOOTH by Thomas Devaney Black-and-white film is instant toner for Americans and their famous tans, our fantasy faces, free of talent and a free shot. What summer looks like when the sound is on: bronzed, burnt, black, and red. Just look at us crushing our crush: our closest friends are as close as we get. There’s no need to point out anyone: Fresh. Lusty. Full-sized. Bad. All clamor, no fear our every move is enterprise. The second hand swimsuit. That hoodie. A soda face and a T-shirt slogan that can’t be read— and then nothing. We, free, and again out of the last frame, all of us together. One strip left behind; and by now the sea shook loose, and who knows how many stories have been concocted. These pictures aren’t private photos that our mother mailed to our father. She went to the drugstore to take those. We were … chop! chop! read more!
THE TIMES, THEY WERE A-CHANGIN’ West Philly Days: A Photo Essay by Stephen Perloff When I arrived at the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman in 1966, men were required to wear jackets and neckties to dinner—and most of us wore jackets and ties to football games. The men’s dorms in The Quad were several blocks from the women’s dorms at Hill House, and you couldn’t have a woman in your room past 10 p.m., and maybe a little later on the weekend. But there were confounding juxtapositions and experiences. Who was that strange guy with the huge head of curly hair and the button that said “Frodo Lives”? What did that mean? (Most people now don’t know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy started to become a popular phenomenon in the U. S. in the mid-1960s.) And then there was the war in Vietnam. Back home it was … chop! chop! read more!
LE PAIN D’AFFLICTION by Steven Anthony George The piercing, relentless buzz rises and falls in pitch. It starts and stops for only a moment, before resuming again near the upper corner. I have been cared for in this same room for nineteen years now, I think. It is difficult to say for certain. Most days are like any other, except for the weather, which changes almost daily here in the spring. Raindrops tap gently on the unbearably narrow window. On days such as this, I am not permitted to go into the courtyard. I try, through the aggravating buzz, to focus my eyes on the stark, white ceiling in order to again project mental images of my memory of Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc: the questions of the tonsured judges, Joan’s responses, the exact words of a simple county girl, not in armor on a field of battle, but in … chop! chop! read more!
MAKING EGGS by Carly Eathorne A thousand ways to make an egg, and I’m attempting one: over-easy. But there past the blotches on my kitchen window gleams the hourglass on the belly of the black widow – she, too, is making eggs. Her process commences with the drape of her naked legs against her homespun silk, and the swell of her abdomen silhouetted against the sunrise, hot and full like my skillet. Her suitor comes running like yolk. She only eats her mate if she is hungry — what woman isn’t? We finish our meals together, comrades in breakfasting for one. Carly Eathorne recently received her BA in English from Western Washington University. In the past, her work has appeared in Inkspeak Magazine, and she received a Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest Merit Award in 2012. She is happy to call several locations in the Pacific Northwest home, and … chop! chop! read more!
THE TASTE OF OTHERS by Madeline Zehnder She walks gingerly toward the man chopping onions, who turns but does not shake her hand. Later she will learn this was politeness; right now she thinks he is rude. He criticizes the oil she picks for her salad dressing, causing her to cry and consider quitting. In May, she saves his menu with an asparagus dish so fresh and vital they cannot help but kiss for hours behind the stock pots. In June, he finds her cleaning knives at the sink and confesses that his estranged wife has returned. She hurls a cleaver and runs, leaving the other blades to rust. Another year, another kitchen. She is filleting sole when he walks in, his empty hands telling her everything. Madeline Zehnder received degrees in English Literature and Music from Smith College. She lives in Cambridge, MA, where she works for a Harvard … chop! chop! read more!
BORDERLAND by Amber Officer-Narvasa The rainwater dripped lasciviously—as rainwater in New York will do—through the sidewalk gratings and down through the mottled, cracked, brown-stained ceilings of the Grand Street subway station. He was standing near the MetroCard machines, begging. Good writers, so they say, show rather than tell. So I will show you my mother doing a double take, being struck by his youth or his voice or that mysterious thing which stops us now and then and renders us unable to walk away. I will show you the three of us going back up the subway stairs into the tepid light. I will show you us walking down the street, around the puddles and past the fish market, into a crowded little canteen that no longer exists, where noodles and tea could be had for two dollars. There are few places in this city where noodles and tea can … chop! chop! read more!
BEAUTIFUL UGLY by Sue Granzella The temperature outside was 107, but it was hotter where I was that day in 1989, bouncing around with three friends in a dilapidated bus bound for Chihuahua, Mexico. Air-conditioning on this journey was simple: wrench the cockeyed windows up as far as they would go and pray to God the airflow wouldn’t be blocked by someone else’s sweaty body. My t-shirt was plastered to me, unable to breathe against the synthetic backrest. The years had sculpted a deep depression in the seat that had encircled my butt for the last two hours. It felt like longer. We sped through desert unblemished by buildings, the sky and horizon merging in a cloud of dirty beige. Then we stopped at a flat structure with the sterile angles of a little green Monopoly house. Except it wasn’t that vibrant grass-green but a faded minty color, coated by a … chop! chop! read more!
LIVING ARRANGEMENTS by Tammy Delatorre I. Landlord & Tenant Fresh out of college, I rented a tiny two-bedroom in the slums of San Jose. It was a cold, lonely house. In the winters, to get warm, I had to turn on both the heater and stove. Still, it was a steal at $650 a month. “Why should I charge more? I’d just have to hand it over to Uncle Sam,” said Ron. His wrinkled face and jowls made me think he’d had enough tenants to just be straight with me. Ron also owned the small one-bedroom in the back lot, and several other houses throughout San Jose. On the first of the month, he’d roll by for his check. I heard he was a millionaire, but he drove an old Ford truck and lived in a house badly in need of a woman’s touch, or at least some modern fixtures. … chop! chop! read more!
SMALL by Michael Head He stood staring out the peephole and waiting for the girl who said she’d come. She was three days late and he didn’t have a television so he mostly stood staring out the peephole and counting the seconds. It didn’t bother him that the power had been shut off for five days or that the rent was a full week overdue. He had twelve thousand dollars in a backpack and he was waiting for the girl who said she’d come. She would bring one thousand grams of Small and they might fuck and she would leave. He was thirsty and wanted to run to the vending machine down the hall but if she was on Fast she might come and go before he got back. So he stood staring out the peephole and waiting for the girl who said she’d come. He started getting Small when … chop! chop! read more!
HOW A GHOST IS MADE by Sean Jackson This is the part that gets to Shelly every time: running past the Horner’s fence with a big, bright smile on her face. It can’t be the sour pucker that she wants to display. It has to be a buoyant expression, otherwise Mingyu will talk about it in the clubhouse. So she sprints along the freshly painted pickets (Mingyu Horner isn’t one to forgo spring improvements) and bares her teeth, chin high, shoulders back, and a proper curl to her lips. The Shih Tzu scrambles through the flowers behind the fence and leaps at the wheeling legs, yapping and clawing at the wood. “Fuck off, Roxy,” Shelly says through her teeth. The sprinklers click on and the Belknap’s maid appears down the sidewalk, searching for the morning paper. Shelly flies past her, doesn’t even nod hello, her mind locked in on the … chop! chop! read more!