Issue 29 / September 2019
When Lucinda Holloway Met J.W. Booth, April 1865Sara Kay Rupnik
The Holloway sisters observed the man calling himself James Boyd as they might a work of art. He lay under the apple tree with his black hat angled over his pale face. His dark moustache rose above his straight white teeth.
"A handsome man," offered Cecelia, the married sister and mother of three sons.
Lucinda, the spinster schoolmarm, was less generous. “One might say so.”
Vodka and IceNika Cavat
I am a Russian writer, a descendant of the great Tolstoy. I became well-known, both to the KGB and my devoted readership for subversive works, as the Soviet news wrote. My wife, Irena, would tell you I was best known in the bars and after-hours clubs, but she was a bitter woman, with faith in a marriage I saw more as a domestic necessity.
This Is How We Walk on the MoonJared Green
It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time she played Iris’ voicemail that it dawned on Satya just how long she had gone without leaving her narrow slice of South Ealing Road. It took several more times before the full meaning of it sank in.
Satya...I know you probably don’t want to talk, but this is not just your daily motivational, so please listen to me: I just got out of Waterloo Station. Simon isn’t there anymore. They’ve replaced him with someone new. I’m sorry, but I thought you should know.
The Fourteenth ChildSylvia Schwartz
My eyes, now watered by regret, find little pleasure sketching. The last time I tried, my fountain pen punctured my drawing sending tears of black ink streaming down the page. I must tell this story without the forgiveness of an artist’s eye that sees only what it wants.
The Black PhoneAlexandra Loeb
Carolyn drew a deep breath and tried to ready herself for her mother’s invasion. It was a damp spring Saturday morning and as she stood on the top of the brick steps of her front porch, drinking tea from her favorite handle-less mug, she looked at the wet cherry tree blossoms on the stairs and wished she had felt well enough to sweep them off yesterday.
She is still in love with Brandt the night she bumps into Adam at a bar in uptown. She still likes the way Brandt styles his hair with pomade and a fine-toothed comb, like an old-fashioned gentleman, the boy-next-door from the 1950s.
Of All the Wonders We Have SeenJamey Gallagher
The young man working the two-pump gas station at the corner of Main and 443 stopped a black minivan with an upraised hand so he could fill Annie’s gas can. His narrow face and weak chin gave him away as a Scanlan, but she had no idea which one. Mickey? Eddie? Tommy? Or was he old enough to be Mick, Ed or Tom? He lifted weights and was cock-proud of his broad chest and thick biceps, one of which was tagged with an eagle tattoo, a screaming patriotic bird of prey, talons extended. He looked at her sideways as he eased the nozzle into the can.
He still dreamed of the desert. He never lived there, but he knew it like you know houses and faces you’ve only ever seen in dreams. It was part of him. And no matter how the dream started, it always ended the same way, with the desert sun bearing down on him, sweat running down his forehead, then him falling forward onto his hands and knees, the grit and rocks digging into his palms, the faint taste of salt and sand and blood in his mouth as he clawed his way forward.
Lambs CrossEdward Harvey
In late September, Danny Munchak Jr. disappeared from the town of Lamb’s Cross, an old town in the western part of Massachusetts where redbrick mills stand like ancient landmarks, testaments to a glorified past of material production. Even at the time of the disappearance, which occurred on the edge of the millennium, the mills hadn’t produced much besides tetanus and unwanted pregnancies for over twenty years.
Immersed in the GorgePenny Garnsworthy
I often visit a special place not far from my home. Here I am revived, here I can observe, and here my soul feeds on nature in all its forms. I feel privileged to be able to call this place my own: Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.
I’ll Let You Know When I’m DeadPhyliss Merion Shanken
Henry caught a hint of heavy breathing somewhere in the bedroom, but these days he couldn’t quite trust any noise that entered his large, pear-shaped ears. On too many embarrassing occasions, the old man’s fuzzy hearing had betrayed him.
Gargantuan SkyAndreas Hasselbom
The unofficial center of my town was the house of the Moson family, the only one to have any believable claim to blood nobility. Among the better caste of families, a close maze of interconnected family trees, theirs was the only one envied. The reasons were never clear to be anything beyond simple human petulance. Any open animosity was absent, but the roots never died.
I had already moved away when disaster struck. I saw the images on the TV news. The water moved slow, and the buildings crumbled slow, and animals perched still on the ruins. The people were gone, mostly. It was the next afternoon, I think, that the Mayor announced that there had been no fatalities.
Down by the BayRebecca Amiss
July 15, 1954. Duckett, Louisiana.
The waves crashed against the dock of Hangman’s Bay, sloshing water on its rickety edge. The sun had long gone down and now all that lit the way was a small star off in the horizon. Luellen Temperance and Tessie Sinclair screeched in freed delight as they ran faster than their ten-year-old legs could carry them.
Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza DeliveryTomas Baiza
The shop is packed tonight, every table, booth, and bar stool taken and a line to the door for to-go slices. Zane’s hands are a blur at the register, Brenda’s out on some marathon convention run, Juan and Mario are heads-down pushing dough across the cornmeal-covered prep table, and I’m slinging slices and beers until my pizzas are ready.
A Left TurnJ. Jacqueline McLean
Eleven years later, it is still haunting. The nagging headache is how it started. I stopped kidding myself a year ago. My brain will never return to the zoom, zoom fourteen-year-old who delighted at, “Mom, the paper boy, no, girl, is here.”
A Celebration of LifeDan Popoff
The only thing my mind can focus on standing out here at this cemetery in the middle of July in Charlotte, North Carolina, is that it is flipping hot. It has to be a hundred degrees. A myth I always hear—funeral directors get used to the heat—false.
A Bridge Outside LimerickPaul Benkendorfer
A lingering chill filled the fresh morning air as the crown of the sun broke over the mountains and hills. Spring had come, but the final fragments of 1915’s winter had not yet dissipated. A plume of breath bleached with every breath he took. He sat, crouched behind a large boulder atop a small hill overlooking the road that meandered through the pass below.
“Ruby’s last dress,” “Dialectics After Dark” and “Morningside at the Desert Casino”Dawn Terpstra
Ruby's last dress
is the color of desert flowers
after a late spring monsoon,
purple pops on barrel cactus, pink of prickly pears,
pleated across a canvas of rock-damp sand.
“Just Do It,” “Warning” and “Life Dunes”Russell Willis
No matter what the it
it often starts small, unannounced
undetected or unappreciated
It starts to grow or change in
some way, pushed or pulled by us
“For the Ophelias,” “The Greek Dance” and “A Birth of Blackbirds at Twilight”LaDonna Friesen
Are you one who beats her heart
With fists of rosemarys plucked
from your battered chest now
crushed in fragrant shards by
the throbbing, moaning,
“At the Drive-Thru,” “Vacations” and “Help Wanted”Teresa McLamb Blackmon
I’ve watched a squirrel three days in a row,
Squirting around the empty trees as quick as
Water from a hose, jumping, climbing,
Searching for the spot that bears
“Angels are out tonight,” “Brick wall scripture” and “City hymn”Patrick T. Reardon
Tonight, the typewriter keys slam rhythm
to ease coarse electricity under the skin.
The Sister of the Sacred Heart pleads alms
and sweats under her habit
as angels stride thickly east and west on her sidewalk.
Angels fly complex patterns
over the drunk anesthesiologist and the beautiful child.
“A Matter of Tea” and “Blackbird”M. Betsy Smith
1. A Formal Affair
In Cambridge, English bone china.
A floral pot of black tea.
Delicate cups with saucers.
A bit of milk.