“of mass shootings and love and chopsticks and bridges and warmth and cherry blossoms and expectations and acrostic poems and” and “Dear White Men: Bet You Think This Poem Is About You”

In Issue 17 by Albert Lee

of mass shootings and love and chopsticks and bridges and warmth and cherry blossoms and expectations and acrostic poems and
m Maybe it’s naïve for me to expect the world to scream
a and shoot just because another human is shot.
s Silence is not the absence of a gunshot.
s Silence is the presence of a bulletstorm.


Charlie Hustle

In Issue 17 by Alan Swyer

At a get acquainted lunch, which took place before I agreed to direct a baseball instructional video, I did a surreptitious check on what I termed attention span.

After countless hours with public figures—doing on-camera interviews with politicians, scientists, law enforcement officials, and athletes— I had learned the hard way that every person has a fixed period of time—a maximum—after which concentration shuts down.


Ventilator Blues

In Issue 17 by Daniel Bartkowiak

Beyond the tracks and rising erumpent from the swallows of the Mississippi are two Maple trees which he watches alone and with a face not older than the trees but one of a similar mold. He pulls out a red lighter and a pack of Lucky Strikes from his leather jacket. He spins the wheel twice before the flame emerges, an orange haze in the gray evening.


Dr. Yang’s Emotional Rebalancing Clinic

In Issue 17 by Kristina Heflin

Kathleen glanced around the sterile chrome and white setting while clutching the tablet in her hands. She had been here once before for the preliminary, complimentary consultation, and it had been just as silent. A big screen TV mounted in the corner played a midday soap on mute with the captions scrolling across the bottom. The receptionist typed her notes in swift, almost clackless rhythm.



In Issue 17 by Christopher Wyman

Ms. Elizabeth Brockridge was as sharp as a tack. As an attorney, she never missed a trick in the courtroom or anywhere else in her life. Of course, she had to be, because she did not have much else going for her in the beginning. Her parents had nothing but a small farm they could barely pay the taxes on, and when it came to her education she was largely on her own. She showed all the naysayers, though.



In Issue 17 by Matthew Wade Thomas

A pickup truck slammed into our car killing my wife instantly. The drunk driver who ran the red light also died at the scene.
The accident was so random and the loss so devastating, I could barely comprehend it. Reacting without reason and not knowing what else to do, I sued. Even though the drunk driver had a family, they were not the object of the lawsuit, so I could take out my vindictiveness on the insurance company. I was not interested in a settlement—we went to court.


Filling the Void

In Issue 17 by Kevin Taylor

“We’ll be getting a new store manager soon.”
“We will?”
“Yep, it’s coming on”–Rusty swiveled his chair and peered at the calendar on the wall–“ten months. They ain’t ever here for more than a year.”
“Why’s that?”
“Beats me, Luke. Someone told me it’s so they don’t get too attached to us. The same reason farmers don’t give their hogs names. Just makes it more difficult when it comes time to…” Rusty drew a finger across his throat.


Clomid Dreams

In Issue 17 by Susanne Lee

She shifts to her side. On her thighs are tiny marks, the size of pinpricks, her battle scars. Faded but still visible are the blue Xs on her ass that her husband Steve draws with a blue marker he uses as a guide for the hypodermic he uses to give her the injection with. According to schedule, he fills her with the cocktail and afterward, full of medication that is supposed to make her ovulate, it begins. That night like all the others these days, with the invading chemicals swimming in her, she suffers psychedelic Clomid dreams.


Sweet Dreams

In Issue 17 by Carey Cecelia Shook

“I can control my dreams,” Andrew, my oldest brother, told me as I drove him to work at 5:40 a.m. in 2014 because he didn’t have his own car. “That’s why I woke up a little later. I was dreaming, and I wanted to keep dreaming.”

“What do you mean you can control them?” I asked.

Andrew went on to tell me how he always knew he was dreaming, so he made his dream-self do anything he wanted to—fly, teleport, rescue people. That was the first time I heard about lucid dreaming.


The Immortal Goldfish

In Issue 17 by Sophie Austin

When I was nearly eleven years old, I stood up in front of my classmates and proudly announced that I had an immortal goldfish. My teacher, a stout, angry woman called Mrs. Gilbert wasn’t as impressed by this statement as I had hoped.

‘Immortal?’ She said, her tone scathing.

‘It means she’ll never die,’ I said. ‘Mum said so.’


The Matterings of Molehills

In Issue 17 by Anna Davis Abel

“I want to matter.”

You will say this, ten months removed from it all, clutching a pink frilled pillow under your elbows, picking at the fraying seam you pull a little looser each time you come to her office. Your therapist with the little feet will listen and then say what everyone always says. “You already matter. Everyone matters.”


Birth of a Cosmic Being: Chapter One

In Issue 17 by Sarah Ann Jennings

It was dusk when I awoke in this body for the first time.

I was on a screened porch watching the light fade from the clouds with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We sat on wooden chairs carved by his grandfather and looked out over the back of his land. It was shadowed fields of greenery at this point, and a few dark spots that could have been cows or bushes depending on whether they moved or not. Over the canopy of trees farther back, a smoky gray blue of fading light traced the tops of the leaves, and I could easily picture the crescent moon rising behind us.


Playing Mother

In Issue 17 by Laura Schmitt

They hired their au pair off a job posting website for the northeastern Wisconsin area. Mrs. Clara Bush had been specific about the language in the post, insisting on the term au pair because it conveyed a greater sense of class than babysitter or nanny, and she wanted to attract an elite applicant pool.