What It Took to SurrenderLinda 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.
War HeroesNick 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.
The SaintMisha Mintz-Roth
“Look at these people,” said Arif pointing at the television. “Look at the way they talk and talk.”
“Well, isn’t that the point?” I asked.
“The point of what?”
Arif’s face turned bright red.
“What this country needs is a monarch,” he said, “a kind and benevolent monarch.”
He removed his eyes from the nightly news to stare at me again.
“None of this democracy mess.”
Subjective ContentRebecca 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.
St. John’s NightNathan 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.
Shades of the Deep Blue Sea: SayaJack 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.
Politics of DistractionAmina Adele
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.
Jumping Off PlaceLisa 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.
Injury ReportsKristen Gidel
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.
I Am RacistCJ 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.
Her Own DevicesGeoffrey 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.
From Humans Come The GodsOlivia 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.
Dream of the Shadows DarklyLysabella 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.
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.
Dear Young Queer Non-binary PoetCarla 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.
All the Noise Is on the OutsideMichael 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.
“Word Perfect,” “and sometimes: a poem about incarceration quarantine” and “Volta”Will Anderson
i am outside in the oven
chin ups and dips
and laps[e] in the grass
around the poured concrete
and picnic tables bolted down
with music in factory
ear buds playing loud
enough to drown
the chatter of fat, angry men
“The Dreamland Sea,” “The Sparrow” and “Night”Cyphertes
Sleepy baby, sleepy baby...Drift
away with me. I’ll
take you to a place I know, it’s
called the Dreamland Sea. It
lies beyond the moon and stars, among
the silvery skies. A
splendid dream awaits you there, behind
your tired eyes. Sleepy
baby, come with me...We’ll
sail until sunrise.
“reasonable,” “small” and “wrack”William Aarnes
a starter home
with kitchen and bathrooms redone,
six percent down
an unlocked car
an affordable five-bedroom
in a neighborhood
with good schools
a crowded floor
in a stumbled-upon squat
“Making Silent Stones Speak,” “Cracking the Code” and “When Jeannette MacDonald Reigned in the Kitchen”Susan Cummins Miller
Picture Rocks Canyon: Paisley
scarlet bandana caught on gray thornbush
sprouting from naked rock. Lavender-
blooming ironwood, swift
zebra-tailed lizards and always
the cactus wrens for company.
“El Tiempo Pasado,” “To the Double Flower of Spring” and “I was a Jesus Impersonator”Mario Duarte
The shrubs are flush—branches scarlet
by the red brick dormitory.
Rolling past Hickory Hill park
leaves blaze into miniature suns.
In our backyard, the swing set is
as empty as a hollow gourd,
“Beach Walk,” “Flint” and “bouquet from the garden”Arlene Downing-Yaconelli
a conch shell emptysea-gifted
carried back to window sill
trapped voices now extinct still
in shifting sandsbreeze-lifted
sounds of surf on gentle winds
crashing pulselife’s quickened flash
mutes the tracks with ocean slash
silent ciphersexpunged suspend
“An Unforgotten Path,” “From Athens to Tellico, Tennessee ” and “An Assault Rifle Ode”Mervyn R. Seivwright
31 scorched—one week
before I went home
to London. I was lost.
7 years since I left
my childhood in England.
My father told me
to meet at King’s College,
I arrived at King’s Cross
6 miles away. Accosted
by roses, carnations, lilies,
a meadow of flowers