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Bamboo Grows Straight to the Sky

Issue 31 by Janet Wells

Beyond the thatched eaves of the school building, the Moie River shimmered in the hazy midday sun, its green oxbows carving through steep lush mountains. From afar the refugee camp’s rows of bamboo huts, nestled among palm and banana trees, looked like a tropical paradise. Up close, the terraces were barren hard-pack dirt, the weathered shelters so close together neighbors could climb onto one another’s porches.

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Here Comes a Regular

Issue 31 by Dave Boeckhout

HE SHIFTS IN HIS seat atop barstool, a lean-to-sinewy build weighed down by an epic hangover. He locks a gaze on his nemesis and stews. A nonchalant simmer boils up into something resembling a care, in the presence of one who has done him wrong.
“Damn you,” he mutters, upgrading his stare to a glare in glowering at a fifth of bourbon one splash above empty.

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River of Steel

Issue 31 by Ed Davis

The country east of Roseville is a gentle plain of grassland and houses, tilting steadily upwards toward the Sierra Nevada. It’s a gradual climb that an automobile wouldn’t notice, but the eastbound freight labored at it, all six power units throwing thick black smoke into the afternoon sky.
In their boxcar Lynden and The Duke stood like sailors on a rolling deck — hands clasped at their backs, feet wide apart, faces thrust forward into the wind.

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The Northland

Issue 31 by Christopher Ryan

The northern lights have a sound, you know. Like static but grander. The electricity of eels, not machines. The first time I’d heard their song, I had just arrived at the upper reaches of Finland’s Bothnian Bay, and while standing there at the edge of the sea with the lights shimmying and quavering above me, for a moment, finally, I wasn’t staring at my feet, the pavement, or the cracks in the earth. I was actually watching, truly listening.

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The Law of Return

Issue 30 by Leeore Schnairsohn

My father was playing guitar with Guns N’ Roses when he died in a nightclub fire. The club was an old airline hangar packed with polyurethane to hold in the A/C, which was running against an epic Florida summer. Someone, it was conjectured, lit a cigarette in defiance of the law. Meanwhile my dad was playing Izzy Stradlin’s old parts: rhythm lines, easy to miss. His fate was sealed in seconds. As was yours.

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Twisted Fate

Issue 30 by Linda Boroff

Like compliant worker bees, Brian and I reported for our blood tests even before they became mandatory. His employer had sent out a message offering two-for-one discounts at local restaurants for showing a test receipt. The message reminded us that getting tested was our patriotic duty and a big step toward bringing the epidemic to an end—the standard drivel.

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All Sorrows Can Be Borne

Issue 30 by Loren Stephens

He told me that our son, Hisashi, would be better off living with his sister and her husband in America; I was too weak to argue with him. My mother said I had lost my mind to give up my child. Her judgment of me was cruel, but I knew she was right.
“You are like a monk for three days,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“You give up too easily. You carried your baby for nine months; you took care of him for three years; and after all that you give him away. What was the point of that struggle? Do you not love him, Noriko?”

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Randine: Letters to a Midwife

Issue 30 by Robin H. Lysne

Randine clutched her belly, seized by a spasm of pain unlike anything she had ever felt. She was terrified. She wasn’t sure what to do, what to expect. Would she die? Would her baby survive? She wanted her mother—Mama! She would know what to do. She remembered this dream as though she were still in it, felt the stab of their absence, tried to hold on to an image of her parents loving her. But when she looked again, only Hella and Holda were smiling.

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NoNameGirl@27

Issue 29 by Lauren Avenius

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.

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Lambs Cross

Issue 29 by Edward 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.

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A Bridge Outside Limerick

Issue 29 by Paul 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.

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Annapurna

Issue 28 by Robert Detman

I awake as we glide in over the haze of a city the color of concrete, the sun a glowing orb in a pink sky. On the horizon, the buildings materialize from the mist. After an eight-hour flight from London, I arrive in Islamabad at Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
I brought the bandage gloves with the prosthetics, but in London I feel the first gust of freedom and decide to bare all for an indifferent world. two hands with their odd scarcity of fingers.

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Alice Walking on Water

Issue 28 by Thomas Weedman

They work past midnight. They work past the time scarab June bugs and even Jesus should be asleep, walking behind a rusted, yellow tanker holding modified fire hoses. Instead of pressurized nozzles, they dip mud-flapped deflectors into banked furrows the shape and color of baked pie crusts, watering a thousand dry apple saplings. Their boots and denim bell-bottoms get soaked.

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A Worthy Life

Issue 28 by Sylvia True

Sabine stood in the vestibule and looked at the steel door that had a wire-mesh window. She knew that air was a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen and traces of other gases. She knew there was no molecule that made fear, yet fear was what she breathed on that cold, damp, November night.

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Hazel Come Home

Issue 28 by Ethan Steers

The Merrick house was on a hill so that, from the porch, you could see down past each farm and, on clear nights, the lights from Moravia. Large cottonwoods blocked the property from Route 11, but from the fields down south you could see directly up to where the home loomed above the town like a castle. If a stranger were to see Hazel standing on her porch, they might simply think she was surveying her property…

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The Woodcutter and the Angel

Issue 27 by Esther Ra

Last fall, in my first semester of college, I wrote a collection of poetry. It was a series of poems revolving around an ancient Korean fairytale about a woodcutter and his wife. The original story goes like this. When a poor woodcutter saves a fleeing deer from a hunter, the deer tells him a secret in return: there is a magical spring where seonnyeo (the traditional Korean equivalent for angels) come down to bathe. If you steal one of their winged robes, she will be unable to return to the heavens and therefore become your wife.

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Box of Rain

Issue 27 by Bobby Wilson

All Tobias could do was thank HaShem over and over again that he had made it to the train station on time and that they were now on the train; the former because of what his wife would have said to him and the latter because now that they were on the train she wouldn’t be able to level criticisms of any kind at him in such close quarters.
He loved Hannah, she was a lovely woman, but the nagging sometimes, it was a bit much. And it didn’t seem to be waning in frequency or potency as the years went by

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