By Jessika Grewe Glover
Both tires turned from bright, commercial white, to the grit of living north of Calle Ocho. Two weeks earlier, I traded my saved cash for the red and white all-terrain scooter. It seemed logical to use it on this early morning in June to get my mom a birthday present. At eight, I knew it was two blocks west, two blocks south from the house my mom, brother, and grandparents shared in a lower middle class neighborhood in Miami. The increasingly grubby white tires bumped over unmaintained sidewalks and driveways, past the Dade County library on Calle Ocho, the carniceria, Everglades Lumber, which I found much later in life had been involved in a cartel scheme, and to the train tracks. At eight, I was trepidatious around the tracks. Even then I knew that was where the prostitutes stood each night, able to continuously cross Eighth Street each time a police car pulled up. South of Calle Ocho was Dade County police, north was City of Miami. Neither had the jurisdiction over the other and as long as the women of the night tripped their heels along the tracks, wavering between the demarcation of departments, they were free.
Continue reading “MARCH 2022” →
Men I have Given a Fish
By Rachel Rodman
“What do you think?” I asked him, heart in my throat.
He gave me a wan smile. Then, leaning forward, he gave the plate that I had so carefully prepared a sniff.
“It kind of smells like fish,” he admitted.
He had enjoyed our date to the Aquarium. So, for our one-week anniversary, I wanted to go big.
Making a pilgrimage to the Sea Witch, I secured for him dominion over all the fish in the ocean.
In exchange for my soul.
As we stood on the dock, I showed him how to flutter his fingers so that, in a gesture of obeisance, a thousand fish would erupt from the water at once.
He was certainly surprised.
“Does this include the dolphins?” he asked finally.
“No,” I said.
“Oh,” he said wistfully.
Continue reading “JANUARY 2022” →
By Filip Wiltgren
When Raphael was born his mother took him to church. His father, not being inclined to such things, held the boy in his lap and read him the newspaper.
When Raphael was five, his mother took him to choir, and his father took him to play-school.
“Such voice,” said the priest.
“Such brilliance,” said the teacher.
“It is clear he has a calling,” said the priest.
“It is clear he has a gift,” said the teacher.
And Raphael’s mother and father smiled, and congratulated themselves, and basked in the radiance of their offspring.
When Raphael was ten he was a soloist in the diocese choir, where the old, soberly dressed matrons cried at the sound of his voice and kissed his mother on both cheeks.
“He is blessed by the Lord,” they told her, and Raphael’s mother nodded and smiled.
Continue reading “SEPTEMBER 2021” →
By Andrew Kozma
We found the beached humpback whale still glistening from the morning fog. It breathed hard and deep and ragged, its chest an old, moth-eaten bellows. The air wheezed between its baleen. Joe’s dog Joe Jr. sniffed the whale’s mouth and whined and jigged about, eager to get inside.
But the whale wasn’t going to die. We wouldn’t let it. We looked into its liquid, almost melting eyes and whispered comforts as we dug trenches in the sand to guide the water around its flanks and ease the whale’s flatbed of a body back into the Atlantic with the rising tide.
It took a while for the sea to reclaim the whale. We watched it the entire time. It didn’t feel right to abandon it before it could abandon us. And it watched us, too, with its alien whale-face. We were gratitudeless, but we didn’t do it for the gratitude. Joe spent half the time preventing Joe Jr. from pissing into the trenches we’d dug.
Then it was gone, slid backwards into its home, a majestic re-entrance. Joe called it pathetic, but I know he meant it in terms of pathos.
We both knew we’d never see anything so strange and unnerving again.
Continue reading “ISSUE 30: JUNE 2021” →
Footprints in Fine White Ash
By Michael Kozart
The day Darlene pulled up to Jack’s, she was facing a night in a shelter or the car. She had searched the county for an affordable room. Rents were soaring. This was the last resort.
It was a ranch home, with crumbling chimney and faded pink aluminum siding, out of place on a rural road with vineyards and mansions. Darlene knocked on the screen door. “Jack Elmer? We spoke on the phone.”
There was cursing and he appeared: sweat stains, stubbled jowls, a clump of masking-tape around the angle of his glasses. He looked her up and down.
“Is the room still open?” she asked.
Jack opened the door. Inside, there was the strong smell of cannabis and pork fat. Down a dim hall with dusky carpet, he gestured to a room. “Thousand, first of the month. Take or leave.” Continue reading “ISSUE 29: MARCH 2021” →
By Ravibala Shenoy
When my baby sister was a few days old, my grandmother showed me the soft spot on her head, how we had to be careful not to hurt her there. She said, my mother was going to be busy with the baby, and I should not mind because I was four-and-a-half years old, the big sister.
My mother’s thirteen-year-old brother tormented me with stories of Ghooghooms who he said roamed my grandmother’s house and garden. When night came, he‘d put a flashlight in his mouth and cover himself with a bedsheet and he’d go thump, thump, through the house making sounds like an owl, and I’d run away shrieking. It was no use telling my mother because she lay limp in bed with the baby.
One day, when my sister was sleeping, I brought from the kitchen the brass pestle that my grandmother used to grind peppercorns. My sister lay in a winnowing basket swaddled in a blanket. Her chest rose and fell with her breath and her round face and shiny hair looked as peaceful as a lake. Just as I was about to hit with the pestle the soft spot my grandmother had told me about, she ran in breathless and grabbing the pestle from my hand, pushed me away. Continue reading “ISSUE 28: JANUARY 2021” →
IAN IN GLASGOW
By Madalyn Aslan
We’re all in the little guy’s car on Belswain’s Lane when Ian tells me his dad is in Broadmoor, prison for the criminally insane. I tell him I was born a bastard and we are poor. Ian counters, “But you’re rich in looks.” And I am like, man!
So we fall in love. He’s thirteen like me and looks like an angel and is going to be a playwright when he grows up. I love his hands. In the pub he talks about books with my mother. We discuss, seriously, names to give our future children. His mother Mae is a joyful drunk, fat and sexy in a tight flower dress, always coughing and laughing. She and my mother light up cigarettes with great animal sighs. My mother says she is from Scotland. So Ian is, too. After the little guy breaks it off with Mae, that’s where she and Ian disappear back to. Continue reading “ISSUE 27: SEPTEMBER 2020” →
By Paul Ratner
Hiroshima, 6th August 1945
I was sitting in class staring at Mr. Takashi writing algebra in big loopy lettering on the chalkboard when the bomb landed. He was wearing a short-sleeved white cotton shirt with black slacks that billowed around his skinny legs and a pair of black-rimmed glasses that perched on the bridge of his rubbery nose.
I’m not sure why I can remember him so vividly now. It was just an ordinary school day and me and my thirty or so classmates had no idea when we filed into trigonometry that morning that this day would change our lives.
But somehow every minute detail of that day is seared into my memory, like it’s a part of me and I’m a part of it. And so my life became divided in two—those childhood days that came before the bomb and the days that marched onwards defiantly after. The bomb itself is somehow outside of my life now, like a break in a paragraph, instead of a chapter in itself. Continue reading “ISSUE 20: JANUARY 2019” →
Three Summer Flights
By Tim Love
As usual, Dad collected her after breakfast on Sunday and drove her to Dunstable downs. The hillside was already full of families.
“You first, Tracy.”
She held the bobbin of string while her father retreated with the kite. Then he threw it skyward. “It’s new!” she said, watching the dragon soar.
“Yes, I made it this week.” When she pulled harder, the kite spiralled and fell. “It needs a longer tail,” he said, “Oh well, let’s have an ice cream.” They sat on the grass, licking 99s. While he studied the other kites, which to her were heavy and drab, she watched the gliders taking off below. Winched up, they climbed steeply until they were higher than she was. She watched the cable fall away, as if in slow-motion. The ice cream finished, she stretched out on the grass and looked up at the kites against the bright blue sky. Without warning a glider filled her vision, flying very low and fast. She would always remember the wide wings, the silent surprise. Continue reading “ISSUE 15: SEPTEMBER 2017” →
This Heady Thing Called Love
By Linda Ferguson
He calls and I say I’ll come.
I haven’t seen him in three days. Unless you count Tuesday, in the dining hall. Ah, there he was, in line with the tall ballerina with the beret tipped over her Lauren Bacall bob.
Good thing the roommate is in class right now. I wouldn’t want her watching as I stand in front of the mirror and finger the magenta streak in my hair I added the day he first kissed me. She was here last week when I was a sodden, shuddering ball on my crumpled bed, having just heard his sudden confession. She crossed her arms then and said I could do better, her voice rising to vehemence when she called him a “lousy boyfriend.” Which makes me think she might not endorse my getting all gussied up now, smoothing on China-red lipstick, pulling on black fishnets, dabbing my throat with the perfume Aunt Jeanine sent me last Christmas. No, I don’t need anyone frowning at me as I clasp a slender silver chain around my ankle or as I turn in front of the mirror again to check out the short tangerine-colored dress with the coral stitching around its hem. Continue reading “ISSUE 14: JUNE 2017” →