Tamara Burross-Grisanti ~ Four Stories

Broken Cakes

Autumn is my bur­den. My morn­ings come mid-afternoon. I crawl out of bed by the light between the pur­ple vel­vet cur­tains from my failed second-marriage bed­room. I take a swig of vod­ka to wet my cracked lips, light a cig­a­ret­te on the fumes of my next breath.

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Sheldon Lee Compton ~ After Watching Ido Mizrahy’s Film Gored — July 9, 2015

I couldn’t real­ly say why I hadn’t killed the bull. Not right away, when every­one kept ask­ing. I struck at it sev­er­al times in the exact spot I should, but I could not sink the blade. I couldn’t say to my friends inside the vehi­cle what had hap­pened, after the bull­fight, but I knew. I knew exact­ly what had hap­pened. It was the bull’s tear that par­a­lyzed me. Although my body seemed to move, to make its attempt at killing, the sight of the bull cry­ing pierced me instead.

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Sandra Kolankiewicz ~ Two Poems

Before the Desert

Before the desert, I shook trees for
you, beat bush­es, trav­eled far and wide, high
and low, both inside and out through the course
of unfor­tu­nate con­se­quences, the
def­i­n­i­tion of matu­ri­ty that
I final­ly rec­og­nize my sense of
self as an illu­sion.  I was in the
same mind as she who is doing some­thing
she will lat­er regret.  When you hang a
light from the wall, how­ev­er, you begin
to see pos­si­bil­i­ty, sud­den­ly
able to remem­ber one good act you
made, a sin­gle wave of beau­ty in the
tip of your fin­ger, the moment you lost
your­self to respond as if the body
did not mat­ter.  We can tell each oth­er
every­thing now, liv­ing in a waste­land
we once believed unin­hab­it­able.

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Gail Louise Siegel ~ As Vulnerable As We Are

2013-01-20 13.41.52Far above: a jet descends. As if pulled by an invis­i­ble hand behind a mag­net­ic game board.

Gods play with car and boat and plane-shaped pawns from the oth­er side.

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Hillary Fifield ~ Nice to Meet You

I wake and search for my phone beneath my pil­low where I store it night­ly. Glare from the win­dow cov­ers the screen. I drop under the sheets, blan­ket, and duvet. I’m held as if embraced, but it’s only my hair that smells like skin and cot­ton.

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David Gilbert ~ Stupa

When we were with­in an hour of the stu­pa, Thurston final­ly showed me the pho­to of it.  We’d stopped so he could take a nitro­glyc­er­in tablet from the bot­tle he’d bought in India.  He looked toward the top of the moun­tain and smiled despite his dis­com­fort and short­ness of breath.  He no longer sang his Bollywood influ­enced songs that he impro­vised about the stu­pa we would find at the top.

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Mary Lannon ~ All the Stray Cats of the World

Oprah will die! Oprah will die! Oprah will die! you think as you pump gas at Gas on the Go on Thanksgiving Day. You mean to send her no bad kar­ma, of course. It’s mere­ly a fact. Still, it seems more shock­ing than oth­er deaths. Oprah will die! Oprah will die! Oprah will die! you feel like shout­ing it to the world, wak­ing its cit­i­zens from their zombie-like stu­por. That would do it, you think—Oprah’s death—more shock­ing than the planet’s death or War in Iraq. Easier to fix­ate on at any rate.

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Lydia Copeland Gwyn ~ Four Stories


Gray Cats

Juniper bush­es out­side a green house. Matchbox cars in the sand, the trace of their tracks lead­ing away from me. These are the first things I remem­ber. The dog’s neck, the swell of ticks under her collar–their white bal­loon bod­ies. I wait on the play­ground swing for Grand to pull up in old Hildy, the brown Town Car that made it all the way from Oak Ridge and would make it back again lat­er that night. At the gro­cery store down the street there’s can­dy at the check­out coun­ter. A gold roll of cin­na­mon Certs pressed into my hand.

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Josh Russell ~ Two Suburban Folktales

The Ship With Three Decks

But the old sailor had brought along the bar­rel con­tain­ing the water of long life, in which he immersed the youth’s body, only to see him jump right back out as sound as ever and so hand­some that the king’s daugh­ter threw her arms around his neck.” The man with can­cer stopped read­ing from the arti­cle he’d found online and looked up at his col­orec­tal sur­geon.

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Sherrie Flick ~ Chest Out

Words string out like clothes­line along each page as Ellen reads in the yard. Thoughts sweep in like tides as she turns each page. She has ques­tions, and they have led her out­side into the ear­ly evening sun.

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T.L. Sherwood ~ Birth Control

The radio was tuned to the local NPR sta­tion so they didn’t have to talk. Tara was glad because each time she thought of some­thing to say, it began with, “Had I known,” and Pete already explained that if he’d told her he was tak­ing her to his sister’s for his nephew’s birth­day, she wouldn’t have come and if he’d told his fam­i­ly he was bring­ing her, they would have been on their best behav­ior, and what he want­ed was for every­one to be them­selves.

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Pierre L’Grommet ~ Letter to My Doctor

2010-03-28 21.31.41
Dear Dr. Hanson, Nurse Cache and Lisa:

I just want­ed to write this note thank­ing you all for work­ing the­se many years to keep me upright and nom­i­nal­ly func­tion­al. Very kind of you all, and one of my few fond mem­o­ries of Penurburg, along with the many stu­dents at Penurburg State, and my den­tist. You guys are the best and have my unend­ing appre­ci­a­tion.

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Melissa Goode ~ All Roads Lead to the Met

Elise awoke think­ing about light­hous­es and safe har­bors, or light­hous­es not indi­cat­ing safe har­bors. It must have come from a poem. Louise Glück? She tried to recall the words and stopped when she real­ized she was lying in a bed­room she hadn’t seen before. She was naked. Not a safe har­bor.

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Greg Bottoms ~ The Dropout


Death by cop is a more com­mon form of attempt­ed sui­cide than I would have guessed before I became a crime reporter. Among the poor, the des­per­ate, the heart-crushed, the men­tal­ly ill, and the abject­ly lost it is up there with bridge jump­ing and, believe it or not, about a third as preva­lent as guns, pills, opi­ate over­dos­es, and car exhaust fumes, main­ly because the­se lat­ter reme­dies for our exis­ten­tial knot all require some cold, hard cash. Acting insane and life-threatening—hyped-up and crazed, prefer­ably at night, in the shad­ows, a stranger in a place you should not be—is often enough to lure a bul­let out of a policeman’s gun and into your heart, lung, guts, or head. And sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, it of course also helps to be black.

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Kevin Matz ~ Mayonnaise

for Mike Madonick

On the rec­om­men­da­tion of a col­league of mine, who says my work lacks vari­ety, I am going to attempt to describe, of all things, a jar of may­on­naise. In his opin­ion a more var­ied sto­ry will arise from this exer­cise. I have my doubts, but we shall see.

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