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King Lane and the Devil

In August 2023 Issue by Seth Foster

A little time before I’d see my sweet wife Ellamae at death’s door, trapped in our burning house surrounded by leaping flames and black smoke, this bluesman they call Ol’ Boy walked into Joogee’s wielding a guitar. Joogee’s is a small juke joint way back in the woods. It’s just an old shack. Bullet holes here and there. Blood stains smeared across the floor. The smell of liquor oozing from the walls. You’d miss it if you didn’t know where to find it. But Joogee’s got the best damn blues in all of Mississippi.

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A Smile, A Nod, A Reckoning

In August 2023 Issue by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

He once smiled at me with small brown eyes that had a yellow gleam. He once sat by my child’s bed and read me fairy tales, “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” “The Sugar Plum Tree,” and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson. In summer he held my six-year-old hand and delighted in taking me with daddy-longlegs steps up the hill to the big lake where we sat on our haunches and watched tadpoles skitter in the shallow water at the edge of the shore. I was his treasured soul—

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Pop Goes the Weasel

In August 2023 Issue by Paul Benkendorfer

I stood with my father on the BART platform of San Francisco, our luggage in hand and three plane tickets tucked tightly away in my pocket. We had spent the previous week with my older brother and his girlfriend to celebrate my nephew’s second birthday. The walkway was damp and covered with puddles that had formed during the rainy night. The day was humid, carrying with it the soft heat of a Bay Area July. A weird aroma of cinnamon mixed with the sewer steam of the city wafted through the breeze. Little light crept in the sunny afternoon day from above the stairwell.

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Orion’s Arm

In August 2023 Issue by J. M. Platts-Fanning

A slash ripped open the night sky, like a great sleeping black eye had blinked open. A gust of wind blew out and rippled around the globe, then as if the black hole was inhaling, the wind blew backwards off the earth sucking anything not grounded into the tear in space.
Colossal lenticular fingers appeared on the top and bottom of the void lifting the eye open wider. Out stepped garnished Mycelia, illuminated by brilliant quasar beams.

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Neighbors

In August 2023 Issue by Jayna Locke

Benny was at the window again, watching the new family across the street crawling around the property like wild animals. Not literally crawling. Just… everywhere. He looked on, annoyed, as an indeterminate number of children occupied themselves with balls, bats, jump ropes, skateboards, trikes and bikes, and even small cars. One was Pepto Bismol pink and branded after the ever-popular Barbie, and a red one was painted in a fire engine theme. Horrible.

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Black Moon

In August 2023 Issue by Ruth Langner

A good deal happened after the fire devoured half the mountainside. People whose homes were now ash and rubble fought with their insurance companies over replacement or hired lawyers to litigate on their behalf. I had my own ideas about how these professionals operated: quietly evaluating how much each house was worth, talking in four-syllable words they thought their client wouldn’t understand, which they mostly didn’t, and throwing in some Latin.

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Bobtail Five

In August 2023 Issue by Mark Wagstaff

Snow, but not yet. Clouds built across the sky, ahead of a raw east wind like smoke from encroaching fires. Pavements and walls, brick and stone, scornful of fragile bodies. He moved quickly, thinking a day ahead when streets would freeze, when snow would lay and, bound with anxiety, each careless step invited damage.
He walked opposite to the way home. South across Euston Road, by the spot where the hospital Christmas tree stood just a week ago. A few decorations still pinned in the emergency room. A half-deflated balloon. He cut through the muffled crowd at Warren Street station. Cut across their flow, fixed straight ahead, walking fast to make people falter. A small pleasure.

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Trotsky in Mexico

In August 2023 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

I now see everything through the prism of my own destruction. As I lie here in the hospital room without my recently amputated leg, I realize that my life will also be amputated in a similar macabre manner. The past and the future are forever riven asunder by a simple and irrefutable fact: my body is now incomplete, and my soul is soon to follow. I write because the circumstances require my sincerity even if it pains you.

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“Cry of the People”

In August 2023 Issue by Michael McQuillan

The netherworld’s sordid secrets, disclosed,
brook no remorse for the dead nor regard for
those barely alive. Brutal eruptions

punctuate detention’s boredom. Nor does night’s
darkened cell ease despair. With 6000 not 3000
confined to have a cell is rare.

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On the Rocks

In August 2023 Issue by Ruth Hawley

I decide to get out of the house while I can.
Before I can consciously articulate my heading, I’ve arrived at the beach by the lighthouse. Here, in the imprints of ebbing tides, is where I like to treasure hunt. Caws of herring gulls reverberate off grayscale skies as I begin my search.
It doesn’t take long for me to lose the sense of time passing. Minutes or hours later, I’m surprised to see another hand reach for the same piece of sea glass I’ve spotted, cobalt poking out between shards of tumbled rock. A jolt runs through me when our fingers touch.

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“Around the Final Bend” and “Lovely Scene”

In August 2023 Issue by Kate Adams

Song, take these rhymes and carry them abroad.
Lift your little wings and beat and beat
like in some Disney film. The Greeks had gods,
the Christians, Christ. We moderns have the heat
of giants booming from the screen. Our stars
take close-up orbits, Venus kissing Mars.

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The Last Writer

In August 2023 Issue by Julia Otto

Eliot King, a senior high school athlete, is stuck picking up the pieces his sister left behind after her arrest and execution. In the year 2052, the New American Government (N.A.G) has forbidden practicing Dark Artists by penalty of rehabilitation, or in most cases, death. Two years after his sister’s death, Eliot discovers three illegal Artifacts, actual Writer’s notebooks, hidden in his sister’s old desk. “Nobody”, the mysterious Writer speaking through these pages, poses the question–who is the real author of this hidden work?