Issue 33 / January 2020
"What is the proper protocol to follow when one meets a ghost? All I knew about spiritual realms came from Twilight Zone re-runs. I’d left those witchcraft books with Aunt Dulcianne. No doubt they held clues as to how to proceed in this type of encounter. Had I read them I would know how to behave."
The Tale of AlimonaMargaret Sullivan
There lived a woman Alimona who was called so because her evil husbands had forced her to pay them alimony before they would agree to free her from their miserable reigns. Many, many evil husbands, too many to identify, lest you find her thoughtless or promiscuous, tortured Alimona’s good faith, good heart and good intentions.
The President’s GardenJordan Smith
“It is with some delicacy,” began the note that May had found that morning in the wastebasket in Theo’s study when she went in search of a scrap of paper, that I phrase this apol…” And there the script sputtered and ended. May knew exactly what had happened.
The CaveEllis Shuman
They say the cave offers a passage to the underworld. In ancient Greek mythology, a musician, poet, and prophet named Orpheus, son of the god Apollo, descended through the cave into the subterranean kingdom of Hades in search of his beloved, Eurydice. There are many versions of this legend and none of them have happy endings.
I see her still. Her beaded plaits, flashing smile, bubbling laugh. Temilola. She has five other names but this is the one she prefers. Lola for short.
Toronto, Canada 2019 Floating downstairs after a therapy session, I hold the invisible balloon around me, a hot golden bubble of healing light from my osteo-physio. Pain free for now, I exhale, re-enter the city.
Taking LibertiesLyzette Wanzer
They are such nice clothes.
But how can I wear them, in light of how they’ve come to me?
With an exuberant air, Dulcianne presented me with two large trash bags. She was my aunt, but for as long as I could recall, always only Dulcianne.
“Her family left all of these behind,” she said.
Then: “They took only the jewelry and the furniture.”
And then: “I think they might be ‘bout your size.”
I accepted the bags with splayed fingertips. They’d been sitting in one of the sixth-floor apartment rooms with, I understood, two polished bookshelves and a dead body.
Saving GraceReyna Marder Gentin
One day, Grace Stevenson stopped coloring her hair. All those hours and all that money spent trying to keep aging at bay, and John had gone off with a younger woman anyway. What was the point? At seventy, she thought the gray made her look refined, worldly. That’s how she wanted to feel. Like she’d arrived at a certain stage in her life where her choices should be respected.
She knew she wasn’t fooling anyone.
Neither Here Nor ThereMarianna Boncek
Angie pulled her cell phone out of her pocket to check the time. She was late. Actually, she was over an hour late. She had two missed calls both from Harold. He had warned her not to be late.
“You absolutely cannot be late,” was exactly how Harold had phrased it. “There will be press and photographers there. They do not want to wait around for you. Don’t screw this up.”
Loma PrietaHelen Beer
October 17, 1989. 5:04 P.M. I’d just left the Moscone Convention Center with my colleague, Jacqueline. We were exhibiting at a conference on water pollution and had just settled into our seats on one of the buses shuttling exhibitors and attendees to their hotels for the evening. And then it struck. For fifteen seconds it felt like a carnival whirlybird ride.
The windows in the buildings around us seemed to breathe in and out, until, released from their frames, these great panes exploded, showering fragments of glass, glittering in the traffic’s lights.
I Am a Stalwart: Part TwoDavid Kennedy
There was shouting along the banks of the East River, but Arthur could not quite make it out.
He stood upon the deck of the Saint John, the steamboat that he and Conkling had caught very early that morning, and peered across the morning fog that now was lifting from the waters of that tributary that shot north from New York Harbor, cleft the island of Manhattan from the cities of Brooklyn and Queens, swept heedlessly through the sharp breaks at Spuyten Duyvil, then rushed into the great Hudson River and ran up to Albany. But the return of Conkling and Platt to Albany had proven less triumphant than anticipated.
Hashish and Mother GooseJeanne Wilkinson
Val has received a Christmas gift from the old lady of one of his clients: some hash brownies. Hashish is from the cannabis plant but purified and intensified, with a pungent, soil-like flavor that doesn’t do much for the brownies but chocolate and sugar make the hash itself somewhat palatable. I’ve smoked it before – since it’s not from a test tube, it’s on my okay list. Val gets it in a compressed form and sometimes sprinkles it in a joint. I’m not too excited about eating it, but I’ll do it. I’m on the magic bus; might as well go with the traffic. Within reason, of course. Within my code.
Going to the CDStan Werlin
It’s April 1963, the snow is mostly melted, the ice is gone from the sidewalks, and we’re streaking, we’re flying, we’re absolutely airborne on our bikes as we race to the center of town. Flash has a sleek new racer, one of those Schwinns, accented bright blue on the frame and handlebar. He’s hunched over in an aerodynamic crouch, so low you can’t see his eyes. The rest of us – Ziti, Rando, myself – we’re green with envy, so jealous we can’t see straight, but it doesn’t matter, not really; we know sooner or later our parents will give in and we’ll all get one.
Francisco’s TowerPaul Crehan
Sometime in the pre-dawn hours, outside of a Mexican village called the Three Sisters, a teenage boy had climbed to the top of a 500-foot-high transmission tower.
To us in the new day, our faces skyward, he looked like a tiny hovering angel, his gaze directed over the mountains of the Three Sisters, from which the village drew its name. He was oblivious to the shouts of his people so far below, in whose midst I stood.
Then suddenly as we watched, he dropped from the sky, and nearing earth, he took on flesh, while losing it, too, as the sheer-sided struts sliced through the falling body.
Easy Does ItHoward Sachs
Easy Ed’s brain was under siege, assaulted by an unidentified buzzing. His nervousness layered mystery onto its origin. He was too high and too edgy to think clearly. Everything was a vibrating blur. What he contemplated doing would either ruin his life or save it. Easy’s corpulent body seemed to shrink as the droning gathered into a whining bolt of shrillness that pierced his ears. The buzzing morphed into the tip of a drill that bored into his brain.
Bald is a Feel, Not a LookJarrett Neal
Byron shook the rain off his driving cap and wool blazer before he hung them on the rack by the entrance. He handed the chubby lady behind the front desk a twenty-dollar bill. She was honey-colored with glossy yellow fingernails and plump black and gold braids coiled atop her head like a nest of vipers. When she passed him his change and gave him a receipt she said, “That’s for them,” gesturing to the phalanx of barber students several feet away.
“Traveling Through Lightning,” “Night Creatures” and “Wind Chimes”Caroline Sidney
traveling through lightning is
I am here
I am not
all this living is more electrifying
when the sky trembles
“The Unwritten,” “Our Messy Shoes” and “William”Carvel Tefft
They don’t write many books
about when the love dies
I tell em’ to picture the river
washing over the familiar rocks
The pull we feel to abandon
any sense of continuity
Our broken compasses
Our broken bastards
“Late Seventies,” “Ants” and “And Again”William Ray
It’s strange how often
All these years later
I hear this guy
Sprawled big in that way certain
Italian men can be
Cater-corned across from
My solo table in the Boylston St eatery
“Hold Perhaps or Maybe to Land” and “Stage Direction”Elana Mass
At the gallery is The Kiss
– you know the one –
Those two marble lovers, oblivious, entwined,
Stealing a moment never meant to be seen.
Did they know what would come, I wonder.
Do you know they had names?
“December 4, 2012; Eleven Days Until Christmas,” “February 14, 2018; A Sunny Day” and “We’ve Seen Too Much”Yazmin Flores
A picturesque day
in Newtown: scattering
clouds danced joyfully,
making playful shapes,
monkeys and rhinos
followed the children
from car to classroom.
Sun rays shone warmly
above, soon to reveal
the twenty-six halos of
“Checking In,” “Second Nature” and “All you need know”Steven Deutsch
There you are Dad
on our cobbled deck
splayed out in my favorite chair,
our nearly feral cat
content to be on your lap.
You hold up the perfect tomato
so round and red-ripe—
I can almost smell it.
“Territory of Ladders,” “Elephant Burial” and “Lost Neighbors”Cassandra Rockwood-Rice
Who were you before ships
became your shoes? Now you sway
on mesozoic legs wondering why
there’s no stability inside. I heard you pierced
ears with knives and severed free thinking
on every continent before.