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Dormant

Issue 42 by Joanne Saunders

At the entrance of the yurt, Larry pulls a large group of keys from his pocket; one key for the door of the yurt, one to the gate above the entrance of the lava cave, one for the lightbox, one for Tom’s mansion, one for his car, and one for his bike lock. He’s always loved the perfect circle of the yurt. There are no hidden corners, no set-aside spaces, everything can be taken in, in one sweeping look…

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Exegesis

Issue 42 by Thomas Weedman

Jimmy is proud to have lettered in basketball. But he has come to think of his Saint Ambrose high-school varsity jacket as a private and public symbol of his life. It is a sort of Scarlet Letter of taint and shame for being sexually abused as a child and a bold blue A rating from the Health Department like at the zoo food stand where he works for appearing safe and clean.

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Juneteenth, 1963

Issue 42 by Rick Forbess

Big Tiny and Polly owned a neighborhood grocery store with two Conoco pumps out front and rarely more than three customers at a time inside. No TV or radio played in the background, no beer or cigarettes sold, and they didn’t bother with a cash register. A narrow counter ran from the front window almost to the back door, two aisles opened perpendicular to the counter, and shelves lined the walls. Other than a well-stocked cold drink box and an old Hotpoint refrigerator filled with dairy products, that was it. I worked as the store’s only employee in the summer of 1963, when I was thirteen and secretly held Cassius Clay as my hero.

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What To Keep

Issue 42 by Peter Hoppock

One hot summer day twenty years ago, the day after my father died, my brother and I placed a few sheets of four-foot by eight-foot plywood in the center of the attic at my parent’s house, the same house I live in now with my wife Anne and our three boys, the house we are selling. Putting the boards in was hard work that required twisting and bending and lifting, and it strained our muscles. Dust motes and pink asbestos particles clung to our sweaty skin, and splinters pierced our fingers; I enjoyed the work, more from the pleasure of my brother’s company than the job’s inherent value or purpose.

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Orphans

Issue 42 by H.C. Gildfind

Afternoon. A mist of not-quite-rain. Stacking wood by the side of the shack. River Gum, bought in to mix with the bush wood. Admire its deep desert-red, its dense solidity, its promise that winter has its comforts too: this is the only wood that knows how to burn hot and slow and all the way through to the morning.

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Panning for Gold

Issue 42 by Sarah Jiang

I was born in the winter of 1982. A week later, my father transported me and my mother from the town hospital back home on a wooden horse cart. The unrelenting snowflakes oscillated from the dreary sky and soon smothered the blanket under which my mother cuddled her infant daughter. Many years later my mother confided, or complained, that my father grudgingly hauled the cart choosing broken road and stones for the wheels to roll over to declare his vexation at having another girl.

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Faith in Life

Issue 41 by Michael Hetherton

We stayed close to a lone biker, tailgaiting him on the drive into Sturgis. His Harley floated around the long curves of shining blacktop, and up and down the slopes. The rocky pine-covered Black Hills were clear of clouds, the sky breaking open blue after an earlier rain. We were the only SUV in the long, long, procession of rumbling motorcycles, and we did not talk, transfixed by the constant, fast moving parade.

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Saving Up to Die

Issue 41 by Steve Bunk

Jia arrives on the arm of Horst and I look away but they’ve noticed me, so I look back and lift my chin. It’s the usual assortment at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, including a few Chinese like Jia and an overrepresentation of Australians like Bruce Colley next to me at the bar. Colley is in Hong Kong on business for his family, which owns a media empire based in Sydney. He’s higher up now than when I first met him a few years ago.

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A Musical Interlude

Issue 41 by Michelle Toon

I met her at the beginning of the end. My time in the country was winding down, and I wanted to explore all options before leaving; I had danced, and so I wanted to sing. My dream was to play the piano and sing simultaneously in an effortless concert—my favorite songs brought to life—but it seemed to make sense to do one first, especially since I believed myself not to be naturally gifted in these areas.

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Beggars in Space-Time

Issue 41 by Lauretta Salvini

A refrain from a dance rock song soothes my ears as I regain consciousness. Headache pulses between my temples and all my joints are sore. My left knee hurts. I slide my hand down my leg and touch, through a rip in my jeans, the mushy softness of a wound. My breathing gets faster, as random flashes of myself cycling along an urban roadway blast in my mind like a display of fireworks. No room enough to stretch my limbs. The surface under my body has the roughness of wood.

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Electric Cars

Issue 41 by Christine Marra

September 1933
“Ollie, have you seen what their car spits out into the air?” Gertie asked, hands on her hips. “The smoke, Ollie! Every time that damn Model T cranks up it sends columns of smoke up just like Fourth of July fireworks. Every day, Ollie, every day. How can that possibly not be dangerous?”
Ollie sighed and took Gertie’s hands. “It’s not good for us, Gertie, I know it’s not. And you know it’s not. But nobody else sees it.”

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Triptych

Issue 41 by Alpheus Williams

Earth’s songs have dimmed over the world, ousted by noises of our own making but she sings here.
Now has finished the ‘Knock ‘em down time’ that comes after the monsoon season when the strong winds flatten tall spear grass of the savannah woodlands. Heavy rains have abated, floodwaters drain towards rivers, creeks and billabongs. The woodland savannah begins to dry.

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Subjective Content

Issue 40 by Rebecca Burke

The decision letter is polite, offering you admission in an MFA program in creative writing with a full stipend, tuition remission, and a teaching position. It briefly mentions some aspects of your fiction the admissions committee liked—your strong voice and tackling of difficult themes—and is signed by the director. It is your first acceptance. Most of the rejections so far have come over email.

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What It Took to Surrender

Issue 40 by Linda Heller

My mother is French and her happiest time, far happier than when she met and married my father or gave birth to me, took place during the filming of a Brigitte Bardot movie. She was only eighteen and an extra yet she and Bardot became intimate friends. She’d been hired to play a member of a theater audience and watch while the leads furthered the plot center stage.

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Politics of Distraction

Issue 40 by Amina Adele

Memories of America before the Great War distract my mind as Annalisa—my chief of staff—slides the after-dinner briefing book over the warm oak desktop before me. The picture of a woman at the border—draped in a red satin sheet holding a sign overhead reading “You’re no Obama”—rests just inside the cover of the materials. She catches my eye and confirms for me why the American experiment had to end. Or, at least, why the theory behind it had to deviate.

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St. John’s Night

Issue 40 by Nathan Mears

On the night of St. John, atop the flattest peak of the tallest mountain, three Witches danced in decomposed unison around a bonfire made of the flesh and bones of followers to a god unknown.
The first was light of skin with hair of fire. Over her sisters she danced in balance and harmony, writhing her arms as the winds overtook both arm and finger within their hook. Poor fool.

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From Humans Come The Gods

Issue 40 by Olivia Lee Chen

In the beginning, there is only darkness. Then light and water. From those three there are plants. From plants come fish – from fish, mammals, and eventually, humans. The first human awakes and rises and raises its head under the stars, and later, under the sun. Its bare feet wade through water, over rocks, sand, dirt, and then, grass. Its arms balance it upright as its outstretched fingers graze the trees.

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All the Noise Is on the Outside

Issue 40 by Michael Peppergrass

Peter stands in front of the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in the middle of a terrazzo plaza that is hit full-on by the Californian summer sun. Behind him cars rumble past, taxis honk and construction workers are operating a power drill. It is sweltering hot and he is sweating in direct proportion. He admonishes himself, silently, lips barely moving.

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