By Jeremiah O'Hagan
So much writing doesn’t say what it came to say. So much tries to say more than it was meant to, and sags and splits and spills adjectives and adverbs and unholy descriptive phrases. Or pieces try to cheat, saying less than they need to, and they fail, too.
The fine, hard writing might begin as something dark and rank, but in this bog the bones grow.
By Leslie Entsminger
Paul walked towards me –twitchier than usual–pulling at his collar and scratching his wrists. Grade Ten Literature had just let out and he signaled to me among the throng; meet me in the Latin room upstairs. We both knew it would be empty during lunch. Always furtive, Paul was, but it was that sly quality that had drawn me to him in the first place.
By Lisa Mae DeMasi
Flaubert wrote his famous quote in the mid-19th century, after he’d left his bourgeois law career and was in the Middle East enjoying prostitutes and engaging in orgasmic activity with a 14-year old Maronite boy. He finally contracted syphilis, showing just how much he risked for his subversion. Perhaps the advice, so oft quoted by literati, is really about the writer needing the bourgeois life in order to push against it.
By Jonathan May
Mothers run towards the trucks
and the soldiers, barrels-up
to sunlight, ride in the back.
They have never been so
By Mame Ekblom Cudd
“Your father and I have picked out the guts of our coffins,” my mother’s first words after I push open their kitchen door. “Isn’t that great?” she adds, walking over and standing close. She touches my shoulder and smiles.
I hold the door ajar, wanting to rush back outside—and breathe, to not answer. A year and a half ago her dark humor would have been amusing. Now, with her dementia symptoms
By Jacqueline Haskins
“Open the gate for the High King.”
Clad in sable and gold, a figure strides forward. “Dum da da da,” singsongs my son: “the King.”
“No, not him, the High King. This one’s the High King,” Finn declares.
“And then the invaders—”
“Wait — where’s the King’s jousting thing?”
By Sarah Carleton
Eight days of rain and he’s climbing the door jambs,
bare feet and spine wedged against the molding,
clothing strewn below.
He inches up: Mommy, look at me!
Going out doesn’t help.
By Ronald Palmer
I made it to work
But my car did not.
Yet I only had to walk
half a block
in the below zero air
By Steve Merino
There’s a knock at the door and Jason leans his body sideways. He eyes the wooden door for a few seconds before hollering “just a second.” Determined to make himself breakfast, he cracks the egg on the side of the pan, lets it drop on the oil with a small splash which leaves spots on the belly of his white shirt. “Shit,” he mumbles to himself before wiping his hands on the towel above the sink.
By Michael Klecker
The boy and the girl sat alone under a black oak tree, their backs against a pale fallen branch, gnarled and shed years ago. It was still and getting dark and in front of them laid a long and forlorn stretch of prairie, a great Minnesota plain, broken only by a small creek. And in the distance, hills capped with trees. There were no clouds as they stared at a cold sky, a sky of pale dark, unmoving and unblemished and unbound.
By Caroline Bruckner
Wanda plunged through the wet sheets dangling on the clothesline, bare feet slipping and sliding on the bathroom floor. I held my breath. Cracked skull. Blood sipping through her small, pink mouth. Blood dropping out of her pointy nose. Eyes staring coldly at the flickering neon lights above.
By Judy Bebelaar
In June fog, I am an empty boat,
weathered, one oar lost,
at the center of a fathomless lake.
On a warm July morning,
I am a blue canoe far from the sea—
By Marcus Clayton
On the other side,
of the viridescent fence—
upturned chain-link at the feet
trench too small
for our torn
By Loukia M. Janavaras
I can recall when the first wall
it was unexpected
how the sunlight barged in
from where it was not
By A. K. Kiik
The bees are washing themselves in honey
All night I listened through a cloth sack
A song of sour bread dunked into wine
Dark handful of grapes heavy a breast sweeter
Than ripe carried like a black sugar to the mouth
By Jonathan May
The government thought we were terrorists
because we looked at a house. White people
would never live in such a house, they thought.
My parents were held for hours, questions,
By Vincent Renstrom
Prince of Darkness never shook hands,
flossed his teeth religiously, never sweated,
didn’t like heat, kept his windows open year round.
Computer whiz, master mindpicker,
keeper of serious secrets, cruelly conceived,
By Karen Vande Bossche
If there were a range to wander
on the back of a semi-broke horse
I suppose I would be happier.
Instead I sit cross-legged
on a brown leather couch
By Karen Vande Bossche
Through the window I saw
you this morning talking,
counseling, I guess you could say,
those girls who draw blousy flowers
on the board in your classroom