Issue Thirty-Six – Summer 2020
By Molly Preston
By Ranney Campbell
Don’t you ever get lonely, he asked.
I understand, I don’t like people either
but sometimes, he said, I just need them.
By Quinn Bailey
Tonight the wind will not let
The trees sleep.
Branches to the ground,
The few squat evergreens
Sway through the meadow
Walking the Shelter Dogs
By John Delaney
When I walk past the adoption cages,
each dog makes a case to be the chosen,
with a bark, a jumping up, some raucous
reason to be recognized and singled out.
By Kathryn Hunt
Tonight, I stood outside, named the stars
you’d named for me. Dug out maps
that told you how to go. My actions,
you once said, let those stand for me.
By Samantha Malay
to smell the end of summer
in the sundown trees
and lunchbox rust
By Ray Sharp
This broad plank of a table,
wood warped and wavy,
pitches the most familiar things —
cups, bowls, my orange thermos —
Footprints in the Snow
By Christopher Nye
These are French footprints,
leaving the road north of Beauvais,
disappearing into a Norman wood.
Boot size and tread say—a man.
By Tara K. Shepersky
There are four of them: two solid sorrel horses,
and two spotted goats.
Some permutation of patterns is always grazing
side by side. Or sometimes playing—
By Ann Bodle Nash
The two men could not have been more different. One kept a picture of Jesus over his bed, the other a framed photograph of a naked woman in his living room. Both lived in cheap quarters along South Tacoma Way, in the years C-130s routinely flew low on their approach to the McCord Air Base. Vietnam was winding down. Noise from the planes rattled windows and caused conversations at the law school, where they were bothContinue reading...
On Mourning Properly or the Rules for Grieving and Dealing with Others Grieving at Funerals
By Mike Gravagno
The theme of MOST funerals is something like sadness, or missing Nana, or general mourning. The color scheme is black, and the food selection is bland (because now that the dead can’t taste, why should you enjoy your chicken piccata). Going in cocky and all-knowing can get you into trouble. Knowing the religion of the dead is a good lead, but that only lets you know the flavor of mourning to expect.Continue reading...
A Love Letter to Andre Lancaster from Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko
By Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko
Under the artificial but highly industrialized canopy that was the D-train running directly over our heads, we stood outside for our first heart-to-heart conversation. It was summer in New York City, distinct in humidity and activity from summers anywhere else in the world, and the workshop process for your Black queer theater group with its five playwrights under fellowship had begun. Monumental was the fact that we were BlackContinue reading...
Imminent Danger of Sudden Death
By Jesse Sensibar
She introduced herself as Wendy, a nurse practitioner. She seemed like a pleasant person, fast smile, blond, athletic, and about ten years my senior. “What brings you here today?” she asked.
“I’m here because I fucked up,” I said. She cocked her head.Continue reading...
It Only Hurts When I Remember
By Cynthia Stock
A cadre of ghosts populates my forty-three years of nursing memories and creates an extended family of sorts, a congregation of souls. They appear in images of an intimate moment shared, a last breath fluttering into oblivion, a backrub to withered skin, a final word of good-bye to a family, or just me, alone at the bedside listening to one of them breathe.Continue reading...
By Rich Ives
We were employed by Ceonothus to remove its edible parts. We worked in the open forest brushlands, stained from the top down a deep red-brown. Even on the undersides we turned a pale gray-brown with an irregular transverse white-edged black line from our uniforms and a faint blue spot at the base of our new tail flanked by two black spots.Continue reading...
Best of Meals
By Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp
When you got unhappy customers, best thing to do is feed’em. Shit, everyone knows that. So when the line into heaven backed up, they did the same thing and sent us to their overflow location: the buffet at Glacier Little Peaks Casino on the Blackfeet Reservation, outside Browning, Montana. They got keno there in the buffet section, so it’s a pretty good spot.Continue reading...
By Heidi Nibbelink
“That ought’a hold her for now.”
I drop the car’s hood and slip the roll of duct tape over my wrist, wearing it like a bracelet. “Just a cracked radiator hose,” I tell the stranded driver. He peers at the closed hood like the sun will hit just the right angle to reflect hidden instructions in the shiny finish. The wind lifts his sparse white hair as he leans on his metal crutches. They’re the kind that only come up to your elbows. The kind they give to people who aren’t going to get better.Continue reading...
Advanced Lesson of Boats
By Gary Thompson
Land is where the dog pees,
the crew rests their achy
sea legs, and the boat is hauled
for new bottom paint. Land is good.
By Kristy Webster
I want to know, are you happy?
It’s been too long.
I’ll admit disappointment.
The white horse died centuries ago
and the sword rusted before
I ever held it in my hand.
The Sound of Rain Outlives Us
By B. J. Wilson
My grandfather, ninety-two, wakes and sleeps again as I read him Keats, but Li-Young Lee holds him for a while. I read, “The Gift,” where the father pulls a splinter from his son’s palm. I read, “Eating Alone,” where the son mistakes a spade for his late father waving in the garden. I read, “My Sleeping Loved Ones.”Continue reading...
And Cassie Is Dancing
By Jane-Rebecca Cannarella
It’s 2012 and Cassie is dancing. It’s a Friday in spring at a place off South Street at a weekly party known as “alien sex club,” and Cassie is dancing. She is painted in pastels and primary colors from tattoos that swim like a school of carp over her body, and her hair is long and green. It swims, or swishes, or spins: whatever movement freshwater fish make is what the tail of her hair did and does. And it is aContinue reading...
By Leslie Hill
Simon has avoided me since I arrived a day and a half ago but tonight he leans across the table towards me, his green eyes intent, abandons his meal after a couple of bites and pelts me with questions while I try to eat the dinner Sarah has made us.
‘Did you see much of your aunt and uncle when you lived in Scotland? Where did they live? When did you first meet them? How did they meet each other?’ Each question comesContinue reading...
On Hands: A Meditation
By Jill McCabe Johnson
A gorilla’s hand looks almost identical to a human’s. Palm smooth while the back can be hairy. With meaty fingers and strong, opposable thumbs. A gorilla’s hand holds branches and trunks as they scale trees in search of food. Wide enough to cradle a coconut or jack fruit or a baby’s head. Gentle enough to peel and proffer bananas to a sibling, to groom and pick lice from a lover’s fur.Continue reading...
By John Brantingham
You’re lying on the couch, pains shooting through you. Cyndi’s in the next room making tea and cutting up a pear. You figure you have two months more to live if the doctors are right, and you’re guessing they are.
This, it seems, is probably a moment for contemplation, and when you think back to childhood, you realize your best memory is that pear you had one day whenContinue reading...
By Tressa Brittin Berman
KMHA went dead today. The “voice of the people” silenced in the middle of some sad country song. Life moves along the prairie edges – some don’t make the wide turns, hug too close to the ground, their bodies pulled out from the ditch. Inside a weather-worn trailer a newborn kicks its way into the world as a bottle rolls to the floor and out the door to reappear under melted snow in a spring thaw. Underneath the frozen groundContinue reading...
Mr. Yates’ Tree
By Kate Flannery
Vern Yates was barrel-shaped, like his wife, Ethel, and almost toothless. He often didn’t wear his dentures, because, as he explained it, they were uncomfortable. Without his teeth it was hard for us to understand anything he said, but he didn’t talk much, so it wasn’t something we noticed a lot. He always ate soft food that Mrs. Yates mashed for him specially. Mr. Yates’ skinContinue reading...
The Smell of Angels Burning
By Kendall Johnson
All structure fell away in that 9/11 early morning dusk. We gazed frozen with disbelief and then our eyes took it in and we felt our bodies awaken from our toes to our guts to the piled rubble and stink. We forced our brains to function and our bodies to move.Continue reading...
A Birthday Story
By Lita Kurth
“Jesus!” Gina grumbled, ostensibly to herself but loud enough so Boyd could hear. “This drives me nuts! How many different places can you put hammers? Five? Why?” Righteously, she hauled hammers # 3, 4, and 5— found in three separate drawers in three different areas of the basement and garage—into the tool shed to join hammers # 1 and 2 already hanging from hooks on the wall.Continue reading...
By Wayne Ude
Every morning the neighbors watch Tom Wallace carefully as he strolls out to his car. Tom moves differently than most people, who walk with heads down, shoulders hunched, on the way to something they’d rather avoid: work, maybe, or an errand down to the new shopping center. Tom holds his head up, shoulders back, looking around with a wide, sweeping glance: at the other cars, at anyContinue reading...
In the Dressing Room
By Penny Kohn
“She’ll never catch a man talking like that. She’s just too loud,” said one woman to another as they entered the dressing room at Frugal Fannie’s.
They were frumpy old ladies with gray hair and clothes that had gone out of style years ago. The other woman didn’t comment. She had an armload of polyester pants–pull-on, the kind you’d find in JC Penneys.Continue reading...
By Kim Allouche
I descend the attic steps stopping twice to curl into the bannister at the height of the pain. Once in our bedroom, I press my nose against the chilled, bare window, scouting for signs of life. The street is nearly erased like a sepia postcard, a two-dimensional image, noiseless, but for the crunch of an occasional snow-topped car or the wail of a muted siren crying in the distance. Carefully, I change from my bathrobe into a long-sleeved top, and maternityContinue reading...