This week’s artwork is “I Burn/Phoenix Rising” by Rachelle Olsen-Veal
The Small End of the Funnel
by Robert Scotellaro
P.S. Brenda’s doing Phone Sex. Can you believe it? I remember her saying the word ROBUST once. It was hot.
P.P.S. Kay’s into photography now. Close-ups of rusty staples in phone poles. A red spider on a yellow sponge. Artists. Christ.
P.P.P.S. I called Brenda last night. And man oh man!
P.P. P. P.S. Out of nowhere Kay says, “All cheaters should be pushed down a funnel with the small end in hell.” I looked at her like, that’s interesting. Like, there’s nothing in this fridge worth taking. Only began breathing again when she started taking pictures of the cat.
by Allen X. Davis
The low rumble sounded like thunder. The house shivered. A miniature teacup teetered off the hutch and exploded musically. She would have blamed it on him. “Earthquake, smirthquake. You’re a drunk. You don’t care about my stuff. You don’t care about me!”
He picked up a piece of the cup. On it was an image of the Eiffel Tower. “I did,” he said. “But not any more.” He picked up Hawaii—where they had made love in the honeymoon water. He held it high in the air and waited for the crash. Carefully he set it back on the shelf.
by Andrew Davis
I don’t bring Mom anything when I visit her grave. I sit alone in my car and smoke, and I think about Sara and me making out, gasping for love until we are too gross. I never told Mom about her. When Sara first saw my place, she told me it was barren and needed a “woman’s touch”. What else could I do but laugh? I think she wanted to fix me, so I told her I never wanted children, and that marriage was a social construct. I wished her the best.
Numbers Never Lie
by Jace Killan
He usually liked numbers. Numbers were safe. The numbers wouldn’t lie; they were set in stone, firm, constant. Unless the conspirers of these numbers were liars, he thought. But then you could hardly blame the numbers. It wasn’t their fault that they were now etched in stone by fabricators of reality. How dare they? The wretches! Blasphemers of righteousness. Was it incompetence? Negligence? Intentional fraud? Surely the latter. Lawrence breathed deep and squeezed the trigger. He scowled at the numbers of the gasoline pump, growing and growing and growing.
Out of the Dusk
by Kim Peter Kovac
One, two, three, four, two, two, three, four.
Dirt road, civil twilight, lime green Zoom Fly shoes, jogging past thistles and sword grass, racing from the coming-soon nervous night, nasty night that fills my room, night landing on places hiding blades (Balkan blades, vampire blades).
Stop, breathe, turn, breathe again. Then: run, two, three, four, one, two; for me.
I’m on the edge. So, breathe, one, two, three, set, ready, set, go.
At astronomical twilight, the crescent moon slices up through the horizon and gently lights on Orion’s arm. Not mine. The moonlight makes my Zoom Fly shoes glow.
This week’s artwork is by Rachelle Olsen-Veal.
by Alexis Goldsmith
Margaret chose the candles for Mom’s funeral. They had the sweet smell of peaches. They put him back in a bathroom, in a time when he couldn’t yet see above the counter. Before Margaret was born. Leaves brushed the hazy glass. Dad’s & a woman’s voices. And something else: flies buzzing in your ear on a humid morning, fog rolling off a lake, vinyl walls, deep black mold. And something else. Behind a locked bathroom door, eating ripe fleshy peaches with pits filled with cyanide. “What are you thinking about?” Margaret’s hand is on his. “I can’t remember,” he says.
The Drowning Pool
by Cathy S. Ulrich
The children practice the dead man’s float in the water. They don’t believe in ghosts, or drowning. They have contests to see how long they can hold their breath, playing still and dead. One of them always loses, thrashing his hips up and down until he finally surfaces, gasping. The other children don’t move, their faces pressed into the water. They don’t see when he pulls himself out of the pool and crouches below the lifeguard’s stool in shame. The children are counting the seconds until they need to breathe again, and the lifeguard counts, too.
God of the Sea
by Cyn Bermudez
Metal tore my wrists as the boat rocked. Mast and bow tossed about, ripping through rotted planks. Salt and wet wood permeated the air, my pores, my tongue. My flesh—torn by whip and branded with hot metal—stung with each splash, with each touch of cold wind. The ocean twisted in fury. I bit into my arms, banged the shackles against a flat, sharp object that hung near where I stood. Beneath me the floor fell away revealing a large and terrible eye. Blacker than night, hungry like a wild beast. White bone shone through ripped flesh.
by Joy Manne
They said he was born lucky.
If anyone found a coin by the roadside, it would be Tommy, except mostly he found $50 notes.
If anyone got the most beautiful gal, it would be Tommy, and she would always come from the richest family and have parents who adored him.
The best university, the best grades, the best job offers, and – just before choosing between them – run over by the Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 that had once belonged to Mick Jagger for whose concerts he always managed to obtain the best seats.
Lucky Tommy escaped before life could disappoint him.
Before He Gets Home
by Bill McStowe
When he gets home, Lo is in bed with Jasmine, the book about the princess tucked under her arm. Before he gets home, she returns the duffel bag to the front closet, under the winter jackets she has been meaning to donate.
Before he gets home, Lo looks at her bruises in the mirror.
She calls her sister.
Before he gets home, Lo sits at the kitchen table and counts the money she keeps hidden between sweaters in the duffel bag.
Before he gets home, Lo smokes a cigarette.
Before he gets home, Lo reads her baby girl a story.
by Courtney Watson
War was all they were good at. Planning it, waging it, missing it once the guns cooled. There were annual celebrations, but roman candles and bottle rockets echoed weakly. That’s why they forgot us when the first metallic streaks sizzled across the thin black sky, leaving us to host the ghosts of the last revolution while they lost the next one. Tomorrow would mean blood soaked in the marble, and boots on our fine pink china. Tonight, though, the sky was haunted with bright specters of light and sound. Fireworks or bombs; either way, they laughed and our world burned.
by Dan Plate
When Jesus was ten, he and his cousin John had a thing for the same girl. John was the better looking boy, but Jesus made her a bird, which was what she wanted.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is “Mazatlán II” by Rachelle Olsen-Veal.
by John Laue
On New Year’s Day, 2009, Norman Moser, also known as The Good Natured Psychopath, walked from San Francisco to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge, a feat he was accustomed to perform on Sundays. That day he was one of just a few people since the weather was rather blustery. When he reached the halfway point he saw on the sidewalk in front of him a pair of white running shoes. Since the shoes had no visible owner, he tried them on. They fit and he proceeded to his destination leaving his old shoes neatly in their place facing the rail.
So They Said
by Robert Scottellaro
The chickens pecked around their steps as they headed back to the house. The sky lay low, brooding, charcoaled by rain. It would soon be more intimate. They’d just returned from an exorcism. A boy with one leg shorter than the other. Who didn’t listen to his parents. Typed Satan-speak into his computer. Spoke sometimes in tongues. They said. All of them gathered around with God-words, and he told them to go fuck themselves. In a language they understood. They waited for the holy water to smoke and sizzle when it touched his skin. When it didn’t, they headed home.
by Tanya Gouchenour
“Demons from hell…yep…” she muttered to herself as she filled in the hole. Sure enough, it had been a real possession and she was unable to save the host. Demons jumped into humans and kept ’em upright no matter what, but when that force was gone…nothing she could do. She knew some hunters left a trail of bodies in their wake, but that never felt right to her. She leaned on the shovel for a moment after finishing. It was gonna be a long drive to her next job, so she’d better pack it up.
Collards on the Corner
by Joan Leotta
A large swath of green plants extended back to a clapboard house.
“Collards 4 Sale.”
Thinking, “collards for tonight’s dinner,” I pulled into the driveway.
“Hellllllooooooooo….” A large man in a plaid shirt came out.
I extracted three singles.
“Come on.” He had a machete! Hard to say no to a machete.
Despite fear, I followed Plaid down the plant rows.
I pointed out a plant. Thwack! An entire plant, mine. Filled my trunk. Collards nightly for two weeks. I still cringe when I see collards.
by Nathan Hystad
I watched the whole thing like it was a car accident, craning my neck, slowing down to see the damage, but I was just a bystander. They signed the papers and told me Dad would be moving away. Dad’s apartment was small and musty. Signs of a female friend—a small, pink t-shirt, votive candles, potpourri in the bathroom—were there when I visited every second weekend. It became normal. Eventually Mom dated, Dad married Becky, and I was numb to it all. Years later, I’m divorced, and I’m numb again.