"Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness."
Tomorrow’s Last ThursdayOmar Esparza
I think I used to lucid dream. More precisely, I’ve lost count. The dreams were flint-sparks at first: I awoke in my sleep a few nights in a row but was quickly blotted out. The first full-length lucid dream was in a movie-theater. I was alone. A movie-projector was being projected on-screen. The movie projector on-screen was projecting the very screen on which it was being projected.
The Miracle of ChildbirthRebeka Fergusson-Lutz
When I was ten years old, I experienced the miracle of childbirth. I was there when my sister was born – not in our living room at home, or in the back of the taxi, but in the hospital room with my parents and the labor coach and the obstetrician. As you might imagine, this experience has proven to be a pivotal one in my development as a daughter, a sister, and most importantly, a woman.
The Art of NothingMollie Duvall
Dear, It is Saturday and I am obsessed with the arc in a story. Let me start over by saying the fickle obsession hasn’t grown into a so called “problem” yet and at every glance a person will find a way to say that humility comes in regular shapes and sizes. Perhaps, it bags its own groceries or even paints its very own toes. It does this to iconically display a varying right or degree of neutrality. Maybe, by staying in the middle ground, we never have to fall short of dancing a wild night in the background or the shadows.
Personal Time: Chapter OneJ. M. Jones
This morning, someone shit on our lawn. Not something, as I’ll tell my wife. But someone. I’m sure of it. I’d gone to pull the car out of the garage, and when I stepped from the driver’s side, I saw it near the hedges, a brown smear. It might have been a dog. That was my first thought. But then I spotted the soiled paper towel tangled in the branches and thought, Son of a bitch, and turned to get the hose to wash it into the lawn, spread it out, dilute it. A couple flies darted off when I hit it with the spray, but they returned, taking up trace amounts I couldn’t clean off. As for the towel, I went inside for a pair of plastic gloves to pick it up. Then I took it to the trashcan, folded the band of latex over it, and dropped the whole thing in.
On the RocksLinda McMullen
Melanie recognized Paula’s extension, and exhaled sharply. She smoothed her voice the way a widow adjusts her dress during an unseasonably hot funeral. “Hi, Paula.” Sincere but solemn. “Melanie, hi. Mark can’t do the trip. Jim wants you to come.” Melanie, after ten years as a diplomat, had the grace not to offer her opinion of what Jim did or didn’t want, but her forehead made a graceful arc onto her keyboard.
It Don’t Mean a ThingChristina Bloom
Muted jazz music bleeds from the walls of the dance studio. My sister and I stand outside and watch, through the glass windows, the varying figures of the dancing pairs: men of assorted heights in jeans and colored button-downs, women in heels and dresses and skirts of subtle hues of green and blue and black. Some of the couples, the more experienced ones, move like waves on a breezy spring day, undulating as a unit across the wooden floor. Other couples sputter like the animatronic creatures at Chuck E. Cheese. In the whole room, there is only one moving mouth. It belongs to a woman who appears to be the instructor, standing to the side, watching the dancers and counting the beats of the music for them.
Don’t Hang Your Soul On That: Chapter OneRobert Hilles
By the time she selects a third papaya, he’s already certain that it’s no coincidence that she’s across the street from him right now. Even from here, he feels an instant connection. This means that they have known each other in a past life. His father has said that: The full influence of karma is only understood through dedicated, daily meditation. He ignores those words and watches as she hands a papaya to the vendor who wraps it in newspaper and hands it back to her. She lowers it into a wicker basket and then turns slightly away from Tuum to pay. With her back to him, he notices that her skirt nearly touches the ground. She wears flat sandals and her hair is gathered in a single knot at the back.
Crimson MoonBre Hall
High above the farmlands of northeastern Oklahoma, above the red dirt roads and the swaying cottonwoods, atop the flat-peaked mesas that make up the Glass Mountains, lives a clan of moon worshipping off-gridders who harvest the selenite crystals and perform human sacrifices while dancing naked beneath the deep pull of a blood moon, their bodies bathed in the rich, sunburnt soil of the land, wailing like a pack of rabid wolves on a midnight hunt. Of course, those were the stories, the whispers passed from lip to ear on the school playground. Tales to sizzle the blood and raise the neck hair. Images to transform the heart into a bass drum, the fear into the mallet that beats against it.
Coming DownCarlos Sosa
I look out the dirty, cracked window toward the road, hoping to see her there; her slim figure, bundled and shivering, hurrying home. But the road is empty save for the brown leaves carried by the wind across the way. Honey’s been gone for three days. That’s unlike her. A pickup doesn’t take three days. I lay back on the hard floor; the air is cold and seeps through the cracks in the windows. The walls are marred with graffiti. Honey and I added our own names to the collection of red and black obscenities and drawings when we found this place, ‘Oscar ♥ Honey,’ big and sloppy, smeared over the wall’s cracks and chips. I look out the window again, squinting to see if I can make her out in the distance, but no one is there.
Animals, All of ThemRowan Johnson
Alois, the caretaker of Vultures’ Nest, wears bush clothes and drives his old safari truck 200 kilometers into the northern suburbs of Johannesburg to get presents to send back to his family in Zimbabwe. In the parking lot of the Mall of Africa he drives his rusty truck between bulletproof black BMWs. Children keep their distance from him and a trendy mother thinks he is a parking attendant and tosses him a few coins. Sparse brick workspaces surround the parking lot, where self-important businessmen stride along selfishly, yelling and arguing into the air.
All in My Blood: Chapter OneMelissa Allison
I tugged on my red hoodie, unable to stop myself from sticking my tongue out at Phoenix when she gave me a look. She might think it was cliché that a Flannery wore red, but I just liked spiting her. Besides I wasn’t the one that had put red in her hair — and my choice had nothing to do with spilled blood, like she claimed. I doubted her hair was red because it was drenched in blood from battle. It would totally have been in a splatter pattern if that was the case and not happen in one night to just her.
A Journey Down the AisleReyna Marder Gentin
They stand in the archway at the back of the chapel, watching the prisms of light as they pass through the stained glass and dance on the old wooden floors. It had taken some effort, but Jeannie had picked the least flashy church she could find. She wasn’t aiming for somber, but she needed dignified. She places her hand on her father’s arm, feeling the cool starchiness of his dress whites as he stands ramrod straight, his seventy-five years not yet bowing his body.
“Landscape”, “The Book of Minutes” and “War”Teresa Sutton
You can’t trust what you see
in the mottled blue and violet
around a black eye.
Real monsters are the ones
we don’t recognize at first.
“If This is Love”, “I Go into Her Mouth” and “In Response to Cee-Lo Green’s Analogy of Rape & Robbed Houses”Talicha Johnson
If This is Love
you love me
like a getaway car/an extra foot of rope/the single phone call/a life
jacket/what i mean
is/you love the way that i am/always ready to save you/that i will get my hands dirty knees
bloodied everything bruised/so you don’t have too/i don’t ask what you are willing to do for
“Failed Her”, “Ashes to Dust” and “Broken”Autumn Slaughter
her. Was not
good enough because
no one can ever be
good enough to carry
the burdens of the
dying on their backs, to
be blessed with the
baggage of existential
emotion that makes life so
sweet as to make it unbearable
“Brotherly Love”, “Loving Your Absence” and “Nostalgia”Jonathan Clark
We start out soft as Egyptian sheets – boys,
then we manufacture into men. Notice how the word
men, sounds harder, stiffened by our insides churning
to stone as we grow.
“A Girl Named”, “What the River Took” and “What’s New, What’s Left”Konstantin Rega
What’s New, What’s Left I keep stray hairs, those golden lines pulled by comb and air before you question my disease, my battle and bait that I cannot shed.
“3rd Floor Up”, “3 Sides” and “The Third Time”Riley Welch
3rd Floor Up
The days started
getting slower and faster simultaneously.
And I lost interest.
But at the same time,
they raced and I couldn't see them pass.