My mother was an optimist, my father was an optometrist. They opened up the shop at a time in Brooklyn when you didn’t have to be so serious about a thing like that. You could have a little fun, you could put some of yourself
Nadia Kalman ~ The Optical Illusions Eye Shop
Gerri Brightwell ~ A Vaster World
When I was young, bedtime meant shrinking beneath the covers in case the Devil found me. My parents said you could tell he was there by a sudden sense of dread, and the smell of excrement on the air. The small crucifix they
Andrew Cusick ~ Star Wars and Subway Surfers
X lives over the USA Fried Chicken and Pizza Halal on Hancock Street. He goes by X because he doesn’t have a name and the people at the boys’ home in Williamsburg said that he was wearing a raggedy Star Wars t‑shirt
Michael Howard ~ Paint a Pretty Picture
A small lighted cruise boat crawls around a bend in the canal. The murky brown water is shallow today and much of the garbage that’s normally concealed is visible. It floats here and there. Some is stuck to the muddy bank.
Julie Benesh ~ How to be it
These are the first days of spring. The breeze at dawn
pumps petrichor to the tune of birds chirping relentless cheer;
that gap between pounding heart and sluggish mind. A woman
and cat lie in bed, waiting for the day to begin.
The cat says let’s eat
Myles Zavelo ~ Broken, Clown, Smell
The dream starts, stops, picks itself up. Suppose I breathe sometimes. So what! Not easy! Never was. To relax. Do nothing. And breathe. Well, it must be nice: all that nothing, all that breath. Anyway, here’s what
Richie Zaborowske ~ In the Offing
This morning, the doctor’s nose twitched along, trapped in a web of spider veins, as he used jargon and acronyms. As he said cancer of the breast, instead of just saying breast cancer. As you sat there, wearing that damned
Julian George ~ Everyone Loves Heroin
Heroin is a mother drug. It puts you in the warm safety of the womb where everything’s fine. – Tom Verlaine
Everyone loves heroin. Opium, morphine, laudanum (those were days), methadone, codeine, Robitussin,
Rachel Becker ~ Four Poems
I swear the boy at the bus stop
will never get away with
whatever he thinks I am,
a fucking cunt he says,
kicking a spray of rocks and gravel
that peck like roosters at my bare shins.
Because I’m fifteen, I fork his lawn,
white plastic prongs
Steve Gergley ~ House Sitting
The day after I finished my first semester of college, I drove up to Utica to house-sit for my aunt and uncle. Having nearly failed out of my computer science program three times in less than a year, I decided to ditch the
Greg Sanders ~ Le Flâneur
Under more typical circumstances I’d show up at your place wearing my stirrups, carrying a bottle of chardonnay.
But not today. Don’t ask me to come around.
I would love to “drop in,” as I used to do, sporting a fez
NWWQ ~ JANUARY 2023
We thank everyone who submitted to this issue. Special thanks to Senior Editors Kim Chinquee and Elizabeth Wagner. The next issue will be April 2023, accepting submissions April 1–14. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the readings.
Kathleen Ma ~ Four Poems
Don’t sleep on the wormup!
Don’t sleep on the wormup!
You’ll never make it out if you try.
On Long Island we saw a dead eel,
Stomach leaking in terror.
It looked like a sausage.
No one ever tells you life is going to be so inspiring.
J. G. Steen ~ Triptych
We Become Death
We watched the first explosion from our laboratory and it freaked us all out. I looked at Ed, his big thick framed glasses reflecting the mushroom cloud: a towering monstrosity, a hand of desolation reaching up from the desert,
Candace Hartsuyker ~ 3 Linked Flashes
When You’re The Actress
You and he will star in 140 episodes. You will be a damsel and a werewolf, an opera star and a jealous clown, a dominatrix and a detective. You will nickname the camera Gregory, from the Latin word Gregorious, meaning watchful.
Michelle Reale ~ Two Pieces
IF YOU SHOULD FIND YOURSELF VOICELESS
There may be a grandmother somewhere who would be willing to carefully collect a drop or two of your tears and mix them with a sprig of rue and a lock of your hair. At this point you can forget all of the advantages that you
Gary Fincke ~ Tractors
Once, in May, a tractor near where the teacher lived in Western New York vanished beneath the earth when a farmer drove too early into the onion fields. The teacher, a month from finishing his first year of instructing teenagers,
J. Alan Nelson ~ Hat on a peg
This life splits you apart like a fortune cookie. Bear with me while I have this Proustian moment the year I was twelve and live on Martha Avenue with a fire down the street. Fire trucks and fire men.
The house was once a small lending
Sophie Panzer ~ Estate Planning
My friends and I are talking about what comes after we die. Nothing about souls or the afterlife – the only one who believes in that stuff is Cassie, and we all know that’s her Pisces moon talking – but we are concerned about our bodies. Burial,
Dan Shiffman ~ Marginal Comments from My English Teacher During Covid
Avoid sentence fragments.
My school days are not fragments, they are one big blur. The too-early–in-the-morning garbage trucks that sound like dying whales. My mother’s bowls of healthy, tasteless oatmeal. Which