Issue 40
August 2020

Issue 40

Politics of Distraction

Jamila Minnicks Gleason

Memories of America before the Great War distract my mind as Annalisa—my chief of staff—slides the after-dinner briefing book over the warm oak desktop before me. The picture of a woman at the border—draped in a red satin sheet holding a sign overhead reading “You’re no Obama”—rests just inside the cover of the materials. She catches my eye and confirms for me why the American experiment had to end. Or, at least, why the theory behind it had to deviate.

Issue 40

St. John’s Night

Nathan Mears

On the night of St. John, atop the flattest peak of the tallest mountain, three Witches danced in decomposed unison around a bonfire made of the flesh and bones of followers to a god unknown.
The first was light of skin with hair of fire. Over her sisters she danced in balance and harmony, writhing her arms as the winds overtook both arm and finger within their hook. Poor fool.

Issue 40

Subjective Content

Rebecca Burke

The decision letter is polite, offering you admission in an MFA program in creative writing with a full stipend, tuition remission, and a teaching position. It briefly mentions some aspects of your fiction the admissions committee liked—your strong voice and tackling of difficult themes—and is signed by the director. It is your first acceptance. Most of the rejections so far have come over email.

Issue 40

What It Took to Surrender

Linda Heller

My mother is French and her happiest time, far happier than when she met and married my father or gave birth to me, took place during the filming of a Brigitte Bardot movie. She was only eighteen and an extra yet she and Bardot became intimate friends. She’d been hired to play a member of a theater audience and watch while the leads furthered the plot center stage.

Issue 40

All the Noise Is on the Outside

Michael Peppergrass

Peter stands in front of the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in the middle of a terrazzo plaza that is hit full-on by the Californian summer sun. Behind him cars rumble past, taxis honk and construction workers are operating a power drill. It is sweltering hot and he is sweating in direct proportion. He admonishes himself, silently, lips barely moving.

Issue 40

From Humans Come The Gods

Olivia Lee Chen

In the beginning, there is only darkness. Then light and water. From those three there are plants. From plants come fish – from fish, mammals, and eventually, humans. The first human awakes and rises and raises its head under the stars, and later, under the sun. Its bare feet wade through water, over rocks, sand, dirt, and then, grass. Its arms balance it upright as its outstretched fingers graze the trees.

Issue 40

Her Own Devices

Geoffrey Dutton

It was almost the Vernal Equinox and the warm spring air was dry and turbulent. Its signature tulip gardens, baby animals, and happy pastel hues notwithstanding, that most optimistic of the seasons doesn’t always come calling with a smile on its face. Nor was there one on a young woman's face as she auto-piloted her youngster along a windy Piraeus sidewalk. Oblivious to the plastic bag fluttering just above them and the dervish of leaves swirling above the gutter that delighted the boy, she fretted that the recent outbreak of what the Health Ministry had dubbed “a mild transitory outbreak of late-season flu,” might be neither.

Issue 40

Shades of the Deep Blue Sea: Saya

Jack Woodville London

Saya had not decided whether to let Olafson see Ambon. She left him tied up in a water-filled pit that was lined with bamboo spears, not so much as a test but merely to keep him occupied for a few hours. He stared at her, wild-eyed with fear, and she disappeared into the rainforest.
She had not visited the spice plantation for more than two weeks, not since the day she had taken possession of Olafson. The home where she had grown up, what was left of it, was much higher upland than the cannibal hamlets and the hidden kamp where Saya now slept.

Issue 40

Dream of the Shadows Darkly

Lysabella Barrett

In the nighttime when most things are sleeping, the Fae murk about freely. Masking their true visage with glamour spells, humans often see them as fireflies, glittering and twinkling in shadowy areas at dusk. In the daytime they pretend to be hummingbirds, chipmunks, or dragonflies. It is through this deception they spy and when night falls, they steal away with your most fanciful dreams, your lover’s breath, and sleeping babies. You should never seek them out, call on them, or make any deals with them whatsoever.

Issue 40

War Heroes

Nick Gallup

Mamma owned a small grocery store on the corner of Keller and Howard. Howard was the main street and paved with asphalt. Kellar was just a side street and paved with crushed oyster shells. The smell lasted for about a year, gradually fading away. Or maybe we’d just grown used to it.

Kellar was all white folks until the railroad tracks; then it was all blacks until Division Street. After Division Street, it became white again. Division Street was aptly named.

Issue 40


Chapin Cimino

The door was locked. Or rather, Amelia’s key no longer worked. He must have changed the locks on her. It was dark and the porch light, though on, was dim. She could barely see. Yet it was clear that her key—the same one she’d always used—was powerless.
“Charles?” she called, stepping back down the front steps, so she could see up to the second story where dim light was visible in the otherwise dark old house. It was his room. Outside on this March night in Rocky Mountain, Colorado, Amelia was cold and starting to get impatient.

Issue 40

Dear Young Queer Non-binary Poet

Carla Schick

Dear Young Queer Non-Binary Poets, Thank you for creating new avenues of exploration, and this is what we experienced:
Older than you, I wandered wide, but infinitely narrow, New York, Queens streets in search of my body. Yes, my body. I sat in the drip drip drip of basement pipes with my best girlfriend as we promised to grow up together. This didn’t happen. I grew up. Left. She shattered under the weight of her father’s history of mental depression.

Issue 40

Jumping Off Place

Lisa Grantham

Since I learned I was pregnant, every drink has been my last. But I haven’t stopped. I can’t. I keep promising myself I’ll give it up tomorrow. But I’m out of tomorrows. My baby either has fetal alcohol syndrome, or he doesn’t. Abstinence is no longer about my son’s well-being. Now it’s about getting a few days sober so I won’t go into withdrawal in the delivery room or give the staff a reason to test my baby for alcohol.

Issue 40

Injury Reports

Kristen Gidel

September 2016
Folded neatly in the front pocket of my older son’s preschool bag is an injury report form.
And my own heart trips, unable to catch itself from falling.
Not in concern for his scraped hand. Not in surprise that his teachers even filled out and sent a form for an injury that, when I check, is not evident. Not in gratitude that they cared for my son, though I am grateful. Grateful every day that I have complete confidence in his caregivers.

Issue 40

I Am Racist

CJ Acosta

I started out the day like I always do. I took a shower. I got dressed. I went to my local cafe for some coffee. I generally try to stay away from my phone during this time. This is my time to relax and write and prepare for the day.
I am glad I checked my phone.
When I did, I saw a flood of criticism of the police. Criticism of the police, the government and the “system.” I am not blind to the intolerable acts of our current administration. I am not ignorant to racism.