Nizwa Knox-Jones ~ Or Best Offer

I did too much for her, but Pnina emailed to say the lamps would be ten dol­lars for the pair and she had to have them.  Small, steel, bed­side lamps with cat-print shades.  Pnina had asked me to exe­cute the deal, because she wasn’t very hap­py about dri­ving, even on cool, calm, sun­ny Sunday morn­ings.

Imagine it, Pnina,” I said, “Having a big fat ice cream sand­wich for break­fast, a –more

Karen Alpha ~ Al-Q.

Everyone just calls me Al.  Well, not every­one, exact­ly, as I do not have that many friends here in this coun­try, but all those who do call me Al.  You can call me Al.

It makes me laugh how mixed up you Americans are.  You get every­thing so com­plete­ly wrong that I am laugh­ing so hard!  For instance, I read that you think we com­mu­ni­cate among our­selves by plac­ing notices in those huge­ly thick –more

Clara Spars ~ Domino

There’s noth­ing quite like the Chinese edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, where by the very same for­mu­las that are drilled in the stu­dents’ heads day in and day out, con­crete “this-is-the-answer” study­ing is added and mul­ti­plied to com­pose a sin­gle adolescent’s entire life. I’d walk the hall­ways of Beijing Number 80 High School mar­veling at the head in front of me. It was always craned over a book, rich with –more

Simon Perchik ~ Five Poems

*
Each night this neck­lace cools
till its fever smells from silk
cov­ers the dirt with but­tons

and sleeves help­ing you reach
for a stone small enough to swal­low
though it’s her mouth that’s lift­ed

that stakes every­thing on a sin­gle rock
for shore­line –just like that! a tiny pill
tak­en with water and you find your­self

Jordan Castro ~ Like an Animal Running

Standing, hunched, in his bed­room, he would plan to pack the bare essentials—one pair each of under­wear and socks, one t-shirt for each day, one pair of jeans, a col­lared shirt—but would end up frus­trat­ed, con­fused.

Which under­wear, for exam­ple, looked best on him? Which fit in such a way, or were made from such mate­ri­als, that caused his gen­i­tals to sweat the least? And which, of these, might –more

Tommy Dean ~ Cotton Candy

Gavin, a mid­dle school his­to­ry teacher, stood in line at the super­mar­ket, duck­ing his head, try­ing to go unno­ticed. Though he only had a few items, he hat­ed the self-check machines, afraid he’d make a mis­take or the price wouldn’t ring up right. Some of the employ­ees were his for­mer stu­dents: con­ver­sa­tions like scripts from bad com­mer­cials he couldn’t suf­fer through again. So he wait­ed in the express –more

Kim Magowan ~ Daisy Chain

Gently, Dr. Sukimoto sug­gests it is time for Sharon to get her affairs in order. Dr. Sukimoto is her favorite oncol­o­gist. The flaps of hair on either side of his face remind her of the soft ears of a bea­gle. When he says these words, Sharon, whose dis­ser­ta­tion chair a dozen years ago com­plained she had an undis­ci­plined mind, has an errant thought. She imag­ines not a will, but a daisy chain of names. –more

Avital Gad-Cykman ~ This is When the Sun Spreads Cherry Bloody Spots

A coun­try grows, waters its deserts, rais­es its chil­dren, cul­ti­vates trees, con­structs cities, opens schools, equips hos­pi­tals, defends its bor­ders, builds sky­scrap­ers, pro­grams its com­put­ers, fights a nec­es­sary war, accepts immi­grants, starts busi­ness­es, names its restau­rants bistro or gourmet, goes to anoth­er war and then anoth­er. This is when min­ions work for their mas­ters, dogs bite every stranger, –more

Girija Tropp ~ I Have Almost Forgotten the Taste of Fruit Loops

Pull the weeds, I hear my land­la­dy say. She likes to give strict instruc­tions to her man, so much so that I’ve been inspect­ing him from my kitchen win­dow to see if I can fig­ure out if he is a sub­mis­sive. He is no hunk but there seems to be some­thing about their rela­tion­ship that implies this. To explain, I live below the pair of them, and they have a habit of swarm­ing all over the vast gar­den that –more

Glen Pourciau ~ Three Fictions

Crosswalk

I nev­er see her any­more, but I remem­ber what she said.  We were near the end of our sec­ond date, stand­ing at a cross­walk.  On our first date, we’d been on our best behav­ior, so I’d post­poned any con­clu­sions.  We’d both been divorced for over a year.  According to Jill, the friend who got us togeth­er, she’d giv­en up pray­ing soon after her divorce.  Early in the first date she told me –more

William R. Soldan ~ Flares

Faces round a fire call back spin­ning wheels, pull up that throb­bing glow, the hiss of drip­ping sul­phur on a grade of crush run grav­el.

Fourth of July and they thought it’d be a kick to stick pieces of bust­ed lum­ber to the back of my bicy­cle, duct-taped road flares branch­ing off by the baker’s dozen, all of them gath­ered behind me as I placed my foot on the ped­al, strik­ing black tips with –more

Tiff Holland ~ Castling

I don’t remem­ber how old I was. I think it was the sum­mer between fifth and sixth grades. I don’t remem­ber Tony going to Erwine Middle School, although there was a boy there with dark hair and a big nose who car­ried a brief­case to class and remind­ed me of Tony. Mostly, I remem­ber Tony because of his sis­ter, Angel. She was the girl my broth­ers got caught play­ing doc­tor with. I’d caught them –more

Terrance Wedin ~ Three Short Pieces

Worms

I took myself to the out­door shop­ping cen­ter when the urges got real­ly bad. The unwel­com­ing way they made you slide your car into a spot was just the begin­ning. Women wear­ing pas­tel polo shirts hand­ed out sam­plers that scorched my heart. Men with ex-mil­i­tary tat­toos stopped at kiosks to touch such mean­ing­less things. Children with sneak­ers that cost as much as my month­ly stu­dent loan pay­ment –more

Max Hipp ~ Tollbooth

The macabre scene looked like a Halloween prank to the toll tak­er. Then she saw the blood. – St. Petersburg Times, 2005

Manny is cross­ing 34th Street, mak­ing a list of things to pay for—flowers, music, dress, food, church—when Ernie’s car hits him, and his body smash­es into the wind­shield, his head and shoul­ders burst­ing through the pas­sen­ger side.

*

Ernie thinks Manny fell from the sky, –more

John Oliver Hodges ~ Cabbage

I received The World’s Biggest Piece of Shit Award in 1990. My name was writ­ten on the award in fan­cy cal­lig­ra­phy. In front of the whole class, Mrs. Kerris, our English teacher, hand­ed me the award. She wasn’t wor­ried about get­ting fired, as she was retir­ing any­way. Her thing was she was pissed that I got stoned before her class­es. I mean, she was teach­ing us impor­tant stuff about the hap­py –more