by Edward Ahern
The man wore his clothes well and wasn’t ugly. Valerie, bored by arty conversations, weaved through the museum exhibits and stood in front of him.
“Tell me something I won’t believe.”
He smiled. “I’m boring. I don’t drink, smoke, gamble, or do drugs.”
“No, that’s sad but believable.”
His smile turned wistful.
“The model for this statue and I were lovers.”
“The plaque says the statue is two millennia old. It’s impossible.”
“There you go.”
“Tell me more.”
“She left me because of my profession.”
“I weigh souls using a feather.”
“What about mine?”
“Don’t die for a while.”
by Charlotte M. Porter
No question, she stood out like an exclamation point among the literary crowd. Kissing was her idea, and here they are making out. Frankly, he doesn’t find her attractive. Why? She has children. He doesn’t like kids. He has two of his own. End of story.
From birth, his brood were zeros, and he gladly pays child support for the privilege of absence and bad behavior, his, theirs. And hers. At some point, he’ll tell the woman on the hotel couch he has tongue cancer. Maybe next week, to shock her, to shame her, after she’s back home.
I Keep Doing This
by TQ Sims
I have always had this secret power. I draw out the poison, the sticky, dense, tar that blinds him. I remind him. I’m your brother. Nothing changes that.
He forgets. His tone shifts. He slips, says something about some misinterpreted or contradictory verse. He speaks with someone else’s voice before he realizes. I’m the one listening.
He sees me, remembers, maybe subconsciously feels me working to strip away the odious gloom, uncovering his heart again and again. He sighs with relief but looks away from me.
The poison keeps coming, and again, I uncover his heart. I keep doing this.
by Wendy Cobourne
I sneak onto the dock, wishing I could dive in. The airborne arc of me, the piercing of the water’s smooth skin with my fingertips hands arms head shoulders torso thighs shins ankles toes, Oh my god, I’m in. Bulleting through the cold liquid underground. I am swallowed whole into a deep wet kiss, engulfed, sealed in the cool redeeming silence of submersion. Decompressing, reaching languorously for handful after handful of the ungraspable, pulling my weightless self forward. Into the unknown. I was not born to be earthbound, I will tell them at home.
I found my sketches, cleaning the house. Blueprints of all the buildings I had planned to design someday, back when my dreams flowed without end like leaves down an autumn creek.
*I wasn’t wrong*, I told myself immediately, at the pang in my heart. I looked out at my partner, playing with the kids on the lawn. I looked out at my choices.
And then I folded those designs carefully. I didn’t recycle them, didn’t use them. I just put them back, forced the memories silent, and moved on and away.
The Time Machine
I wake up—
Nope. Same day. The sun has moved, though, to get a better look inside my apartment: without her things, it’s a magazine page with pictures cut out.
And he’s here. I admit it (finally).
“Admit?” Ihhh. Confess? Maybe?
Recognize. I recognize him. Who. Uh. Is me.
Well not…me-me. But a me that I recognize I don’t want to be. Anymore. Who still treats relationships like I’m 20. Like he’s 20.
Oh fuck it.
I adjust the blanket, set the pillow, and go off in search of a future where I can handle that guy.
This week’s artwork is “Dandies” by G.J. Mintz
by Simon Read
The café is full of middle-aged men lovingly stroking their paunches. The girl enters like a tongue in the ear and everything stops. Thoughts vaporize in outbreaths then crystallize and tumble, tinkling softly onto the stripped pine boards. Herman’s job is to sweep up the thoughts quickly and unobtrusively. He sweeps them into a dustpan. He empties the pan into a box and seals it with a special tape emblazoned with the words “private and confidential”. When he’s finished, Herman puts the box on the secret shelf for “collection”. Herman and the girl leave the café hand in hand.
by Wendy Cobourne
I must tell you, the poems are all outside. I left them there… I hear them through my window, exhaling in cool, exquisite blushes. I hear them fondling leaves; I smell them mulchy brown and wet green. Inside poems are humanufactured with the sediment of synthetic ingredients. They are architextured and tend toward right angles. Their luminescence is incandescent, like a margarine sun. I wanted to tell you something important, but like myself boxed inside these walls, my revelation is darkly vaulted. I am musty inside. Dank. My burps taste like basement. I’m sorry. Please love me in absentia.
by Kelsey Maccombs
One minute I’m scrambling eggs and the next I’m crying over the frying pan because I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. I don’t know if the rocks match the sky when the sun sinks or if shadows descend to shroud the secrets inside. I don’t know how close I can get to the edge. The eggs burn, the smoke alarm shrieks, and I don’t know if my voice would echo back or be swallowed by the silence. I turn off the burner. I’m a state and a half away when I remember I left the egg carton out.
by Maura Yzmore
Sometimes I cut my own hair. I comb each long, wheat-colored strand; I hold it flat between two fingers, look my mirror image in the eye, and cut. But I always cut too much, by an inch—or five—more than I should. I watch the dead locks fall, without sheen, and curled, like in pain, as I grow lighter. I would love being bald, but that would make me ugly and my life hard. Ugly people cannot be carefree; others force them to battle ugliness. For a bit, when I cut too much, I am both ugly and carefree.
On the Spectrum
by James Dufficy
First they said my brother was dyslexic. Only needed that extra bit of help. But he could tell you the name of every player in the Premier League. He could tell you the name of everyone who ever played in the Premier League. So my mother is dying of breast cancer, and one day she reaches up on top of the refrigerator and pulls down the bottle of champagne. She says, “What the hell!” and starts to open it. My brother turns in his seat and says, “No, you can’t. We’re saving that for when you’re dead.”
Art Imitates Death
by Brooks C Mendell
Racing the sundial, Paulo shaped clay as the Prince loomed behind. The challenge—sculpt the Prince—had three rules. Finish in one day. The Prince decides. Do not look at the Prince. This final rule terrified. As decreed at birth, no citizen could look the King’s heir in the face. Nine artists tried and died, failing the challenge. Paulo glimpsed the Prince’s lengthening shadow, presaging the day’s end. In the shadow, he noticed the shape of the hips and caught a floral scent and thought about princesses.