January 27, 2020: “Happiness is Homemade”

It was as the sun beat down on her on the hottest day ever recorded in their small town, her sweat smearing her makeup even though she’d only been outside for less than a minute, that the wife decided to bake her husband. She stood out on her front porch that morning, watching her husband’s … Continue reading Happiness is Homemade

January 20, 2020: “What You Owe”

Later, he won’t be able to say why he stopped his truck. Was it the grim set of the woman’s jaw? Was it the trio of them: daughter, mother, and grandmother, each too young to be the elder of the other, like dolls in a mold that had gotten mixed up? Was it the porch, … Continue reading What You Owe

January 13, 2020: “Lucy Ignores Death”

Lucy will swim out too far. Just three weeks after she becomes a certified lifeguard. She won’t want to be a lifeguard, but her parents argue it will look good on her college applications.  She will ignore the lessons she learned in her training to impress a boy named Rick. He has a brother in … Continue reading Lucy Ignores Death

January 6, 2020: “Stories We Will Always Know”

The school board declared our district would never be a Wikipedia entry in the ever-growing roll of school shootings. They invested in armed security in each classroom. Max, our Dedicated Tactical Support Officer, wore mirrored shades, sat in the back and never took hands off his weapon.  On that first Monday, Max insisted we play … Continue reading Stories We Will Always Know

December 16, 2019: “Knife Game”

We play the knife game on the kitchen table. Mark likes it all cut up, says it looks like home. We eat dinner on the couch, mostly. I wouldn’t mind bleeding to death, but Mark is quick and steady and never misses the space between my fingers. He has a knack for seeing where things … Continue reading Knife Game

December 9, 2019: “Cartwheel”

I still owe you a cartwheel. I told you that if I got the novel published, then I would do a cartwheel. You could’ve at least waited or only pretended to be dead. I should’ve done it a few years ago when I heard from Red Hen Press, but I couldn’t get past the worry … Continue reading Cartwheel

December 2, 2019: “Mother”

When the doctor turns the ultrasound monitor towards you, you aren’t prepared for tentacles suctioned to the umbilical cord. You never imagined the large eye sockets, wide disks in the black and white, or the mesmerizing motion of a round body and fluid limbs. We’ve never seen anything like this, he says. You’ll need to … Continue reading Mother

November 25, 2019: “The First Invention”

The shopping cart wheels are carving black lines in the parking lot snow until one goes wonky and fucks up what would’ve been, in a perfect world, very pretty symmetry. My mom is way behind me. Bundled in her pink winter coat, she looks like a Peep if a Peep could walk and play a … Continue reading The First Invention

November 18, 2019: “Gator Bait”

As a lifeguard, you’re not supposed to daydream about the bodies of the lives you are guarding, because it will make you a worse guard of those lives. You’re especially not supposed to have these daydreams, these minutes-long flushes of blood to the face and elsewhere, as a boy scout, because boys fantasizing about boys … Continue reading Gator Bait

November 11, 2019: “Librarian”

She sees me in the stacks, putting a book back, even though the signs clearly say to let the librarians do the reshelving. I know exactly where this book belongs, as well as the others under my arm, all in this same aisle. It makes me feel good, to put things in order, to think … Continue reading Librarian

November 4, 2019: “The Thick of It”

He is a cutting man. It’s Sunday so he left Ma’s room early, when the sun was coming up. Sometimes, I hear him start his truck and leave us. It takes him all morning. When he comes back, he’s dirty, with a fresh load of white oak, cut and neatly placed in his truck. He … Continue reading The Thick of It

October 28, 2019: “Double Blind”

It’s a surprise! Mom says. She’s driving. She has overpacked for a short trip. She keeps glancing in the rearview mirror. There Bud and I ride in the backseat, Bud’s just grown into his booster. I’m five, maybe six. Familiar landmarks out of town pass us by, the International Harvester where Dad worked, fast food … Continue reading Double Blind

October 21, 2019: “What You Will Think About at Your Mother’s Deathwatch”

Her nose, the triangle of it on her face. Nothing at all like yours. The pores, open, the mouths of a hundred tiny fish at the surface of the pond where you took heels of bread and your brother squealed to be released from the stroller. Notice fingerlings of red veins, trickling across her cheeks, … Continue reading What You Will Think About at Your Mother’s Deathwatch

October 14, 2019: “Recess”

The Oregon skies are sleek, transparent silver and the trees and grass are rich, wet green. It rains almost every other day of the school year. A boy at your school has shorn blond hair like a sheep. Every recess, he chases one of the girls in Mrs. B’s second-grade class. One day he chooses … Continue reading Recess

October 7, 2019: “On Desert Towns and How To Leave Them”

1 I remember three boys sitting outside of the Arco on Sheep Creek road eating jalapeño and cheese corndogs, two for a dollar. One of the boys flings a corndog onto the roof of the Burger King next door. He turns and smiles. He’ll have that same smile on his face five years later when, … Continue reading On Desert Towns and How To Leave Them

September 30, 2019: “Eternal Sunshine”

When my sister was twenty, she married this man, a grizzled jock with a trumpet for a laugh, which was funny because she was shy and didn’t even own a pair of gym shorts, and though I was five years older and never really knew her and definitely didn’t know him, it seemed like a … Continue reading Eternal Sunshine

September 9, 2019: “Flush”

Which all reminds me of the thing I have been meaning to contemplate. Of going to the mountains in Virginia and climbing some summit, where at the top I saw it all: the mountain and the next mountain and the mountain behind that one and the mountain behind that one and the mountain behind the … Continue reading Flush

September 2, 2019: “Friday Night at Debra Jo’s Phone Sex Emporium”

And the girls remember I’m coming from my test, my minor medical procedure, so they’ve left a heating pad and a bowl of Sandy’s homemade chocolate pudding by my headset, in my usual chair. I keep calling it that, a minor medical procedure. Everyone knows that means woman stuff, something that begins with a pinch … Continue reading Friday Night at Debra Jo’s Phone Sex Emporium

August 26, 2019: “Human Song”

We pull off at the side of the highway in Somewhere, Maine looking to sing to the snails. There’s a deep shoulder of gravel here, so we assume it to be a parking lot. The sky and the water and the rocks are all the same homesick color. I remember how the bookstore owner had … Continue reading Human Song

August 19, 2019: “This Woman Is the Only Woman”

This daughter has sixteen vaginas, in all different colors and patterns. This daughter has one vagina, and it is enormous and held together with at least ten bones. Quantifying immaterial vaginas is a favorite pastime of hers. The more the merrier. This daughter has a new physical relationship with her stuffed animal, a gray bunny … Continue reading This Woman Is the Only Woman

August 12, 2019: “Marks”

Wax In his stub of a fist is a crayon, thick as an adult thumb, designed for these stubby children who are learning to make marks before they can make words. He hovers the crayon above the paper, wanting to see what he can do, already not wanting to make a mistake. I catch him … Continue reading Marks

August 5, 2019: “The Outlier”

Of course, I heard about it from my brother Ben. Ben lying there on the couch, shoed feet up on the leather, reading the Philosophical Quarterly (Volume 53, No. 211, 2003), holding the magazine far from his face like a soloist preparing to sing God’s praise, ready to testify. “What kind of junk are you … Continue reading The Outlier

July 29, 2019: “Mortality Event”

Day 1 (We’ll come back to this) Hi kid, I’m one of those dead pigeons that fell from the sky, seemingly out of nowhere. I might’ve hit something, or something might’ve hit me. Please don’t feel the need to bury my body or anything, because I wasn’t ready to die. So here’s what I’m going … Continue reading Mortality Event

July 22, 2019: “All About Things That Can Hurt”

This is the title of my son’s next book as he dictated it to me this past Saturday, sitting on my lap. Then he got distracted by the fact that my computer doesn’t have emojis, and his father’s does, but his father, my ex, doesn’t live with us anymore. He lives around the block, per … Continue reading All About Things That Can Hurt

July 15, 2019: “Earthquake Girls”

On the lawn, under the living room window and between the rose bushes, the three gnomes stand in a single row, cone hats like small red pyramids against the desert yellow of Paul Assenger’s house, names painted on two by his dead wife, on one by my mother. I destroy them all. Calvin and Allistair … Continue reading Earthquake Girls

July 8, 2019: “My Father’s Soul”

My mother holds a tiny snail in the palm of her hand. “I picked this out of the basil.” She stands next to the flourishing plant in our windowsill. Back in the United States, in New York, where my father lies entombed, my mother grew plants that I was not allowed to touch. She spent … Continue reading My Father’s Soul

July 1, 2019: “Liquid History”

Ruby is a wreck. She lives in the Thames. Trout fish through her bilge tanks, turds flush past her decks. Once, men lived inside her and plotted inky maps they could travel through; stargazed above her into Africa, to white beaches striped with zebra, sea-pigs singing, kraken rolling in the sand. Now Ruby is lodged … Continue reading Liquid History

June 10, 2019: “Viewfinder”

When the eminent photojournalist and I were children, our school librarian had a seizure while reading aloud from a book of fairy tales. We were in the midst of Hansel and Gretel which, like every tale in the book, was a story of fierce morality, of cautions declawed to suit the sensibilities of the time. … Continue reading Viewfinder

June 3, 2019: “Shallow Water”

We take beach towels and folding chairs to the exposed river bank, where the light can reach us easily. It’s still chilly in the shade. My mother reads while I step from rock to rock in the shallow water until my skin catches up with the cold and eases. Down the river where the water … Continue reading Shallow Water

May 27, 2019: “The House That Is Currently My Mother’s House (but Was Previously My Parents’ House and Will Soon Be a Stranger’s House) Is the Perfect Setting for Nightmares”

But here, in this one, let’s pretend the nightmares don’t happen. In this one, let’s pretend my mother catches you before the first nightmare—the catalyst for all the others—before you ever put your hands on my skin, in my skin. In this one, let’s pretend my Mother’s House is just a house. Let’s say she … Continue reading The House That Is Currently My Mother’s House (but Was Previously My Parents’ House and Will Soon Be a Stranger’s House) Is the Perfect Setting for Nightmares

May 20, 2019: “Flyover”

For quite a while now, these people have been falling from the sky above our town. The fall is not easy to survive, though some of them manage. It’s a problem we have all been dealing with. My mother, being my mother, brings religion into it. She says these people are being punished, that they … Continue reading Flyover

May 13, 2019: ““Parasol,” Demetrios Jameson, 1947”

The television stutters. I hear it from the kitchen, staring at the pebbled linoleum and shuffling my sneaker at a loose corner below the oven. The floor yellow like gingivitis on a dental office poster. Tomato soup cools on the stove because I forgot and it boiled, and it isn’t safe to give to my … Continue reading “Parasol,” Demetrios Jameson, 1947

May 6, 2019: “Good Old Leon”

The writer Denis Johnson, who now is dead, once explained to a group of people, among whom I happened to be a member, that the fear of the apocalypse was really only a fear of personal annihilation. Johnson got clean but not soon enough to grow old. There are days when the world feels emptier … Continue reading Good Old Leon

April 29, 2019: “Milk Money”

Keisha is five when she realizes that she’s God. First it’s the taste. That unmistakable metallic tang, dancing across her taste buds, like sucking on a quarter, making saliva pool in her mouth and the spongey undersides of her tongue tingle with anticipation. Then the hair on her arms stands up and she hears a … Continue reading Milk Money

April 22, 2019: “The Least Fucked Up People”

I have the plastic bag of things he asked for in the passenger seat. His iPhone 7, a pint of Jim Beam, a carton of Camels, a pack of Magnums. I curve down snaky highways for twenty minutes in the middle of nowhere, then boom: new asphalt and landscaping. The driveway leads to a series … Continue reading The Least Fucked Up People

April 15, 2019: “The Day of Small Things”

I work as an oncological radiologist. My grandparents, my jeddo and teita, wanted a surgeon, but I am what I am, and I like my job. Every week I beam small doses of radiation into bodies. A few of those bodies are robust, but most are sick. Some shrivel. Many leak or shed. No matter … Continue reading The Day of Small Things

April 8, 2019: “The Space of a Decade”

I’m waiting under the Great White Oak again, watching the clock tower. When the clock chimes, my heart jumps up the ladder of my ribs and throbs in my throat. His hand materializes in mine, at first the soft brush of a breeze, then a running stream of water, and finally flesh, warm and welcome … Continue reading The Space of a Decade

March 18, 2019: “Not Louise”

She told me Louise wasn’t her real name, just something her mother had passed along. The name Louise had belonged to her grandmother, a gambler with a cigar habit that had killed her at forty-six. At the funeral, standing beside the coffin, the dead woman’s eldest daughter swallowed the name whole, and when she had … Continue reading Not Louise

March 11, 2019: “The Strings Between Us”

You might guess what it is that I, Sanora, and my sis, Latoya, are doing sitting butts-together in front of our home computer this evening, Latoya’s face lit by the screen, mine own likely lit as well, yourself guessing as to what it is we’re looking––no––searching for, Google searching for, us all evening sitting here … Continue reading The Strings Between Us

March 4, 2019: “A Map of Woebegone Places ”

This morning, the window pane is frosted over and Wei’s gone again. When I draw his reflection on the glass, I add an AR emoji of googly eyes and fiery eyebrows. He loves it when I do that. I imagine him packing in the dark before he left, skulking in order not to wake me. … Continue reading A Map of Woebegone Places 

February 25, 2019: “Emma Jane Watson in a Drawer”

Here is Emma Jane Watson in a drawer. Aged six months. White gown. White coffin. Little eyes closed as if the light from the flash is too brilliant to bear. Here are Julie’s hands in the same drawer, pushing through lost smiles, forgotten eyes. Black and white photos of an old farmstead. A class dressed … Continue reading Emma Jane Watson in a Drawer

February 18, 2019: “Useful Information”

Boyfriend One drops me off at Boyfriend Two’s house. One doesn’t know about Two; he thinks he’s dropping me at the house of some college friends, which is not untrue. UVA is where I met Two. We used to get stoned together at frat parties. One wrinkles his patrician nose at Two’s house. It’s painted … Continue reading Useful Information

February 11, 2019: “Helicopter Parent”

I don’t know how we get to the hospital, but my biceps tear when they force my elbows straight and take Hannah away. There’s nothing anyone can do. A believer might pray; I collapse like a marionette, the bereaved jetsam that scums every hospital hallway. Gurneys shoot by. Someone in a lab coat gives me … Continue reading Helicopter Parent

February 4, 2019: “Bone”

On the drive into the city, I pass a crow with a bone in its beak. It perches atop a stop sign at the end of the Montlake exit from the 520 West. I can’t tell what kind of bone – maybe a turkey leg? Or maybe that’s just what I want to think, because … Continue reading Bone

January 28, 2019: “Airplane Mode”

There was snow in the turbine. The runway was slick with ice. The plane skidded to a stop in Philadelphia, and the attendants extended the portable stairs. The plan was to wait out the storm, so she brushed her teeth in the airport bathroom and pressed the hotel voucher into her purse. The Sabbath was … Continue reading Airplane Mode

January 21, 2019: “In November 2017”

We’d forgotten there was a war going on when Mom told us our cousin was killed in it. We were sitting on my bed, painting our toenails and skipping songs on Spotify. Mom knocked and stepped inside before we could answer. I thought she was going to yell at us about the smell—she’d always complained … Continue reading In November 2017

January 14, 2019: “Blank”

Sarah felt overwhelmed by the pressures of the world, with politics, and with the workload assigned by her AP Physics teacher. She had watched a documentary about twelve-year-old girls being sold on the black market as sex slaves. After that, she swore she would never have sex. Once, during an active-shooter scenario at school, when … Continue reading Blank

January 7, 2019: “What Wasn’t Swallowed Was Exhaled”

Because he had passed, and she had read somewhere that dust was primarily composed of skin particles, she found it imperative to stop cleaning her home. She took it a step further, not allowing herself to rearrange any item from its final resting place. Outdated cookbooks blocked the kitchen counter, the sink choked with thirst … Continue reading What Wasn’t Swallowed Was Exhaled

December 10, 2018: “Milk and Other Lies”

One day the river runs with milk. I watch as hollow-eyed mothers bring infants to the shallows. They pour the clouded liquid, scooped palm by palm, into their babies’ gaping mouths. The next day I wake to the sound of children’s laughter. I step outside, smelling a cloying sweetness in the air. The river has … Continue reading Milk and Other Lies

December 3, 2018: “The Great Abide”

There is a road off Interstate 20 in the grasslands of west Texas, no sign, no name, just seven miles of pavement before tapering off into dirt. It splits a mile later into a trail that looks beaten down by hooves more so than tires, and if you go toward the sunset at the fork, … Continue reading The Great Abide

November 26, 2018: “Arrangement”

A single brown hair on the white comforter revolts her. As if it had fallen off a leper. Or a whore. She doesn’t know if she’s ready for this then. Not so much the sex itself, which she’s done before, but the consummation of a marriage she never actually agreed to. The room is different … Continue reading Arrangement

November 19, 2018: “Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table”

Anne Boleyn loves mead. You drink it like a fish, Henry used to say. And how he laughed. Big, baritone, besotted. But that was before she was beheaded. Before she had to do it all over again. Now she’s back. A reincarnated, over-educated college student in some preppy east coast town. She has a cramped … Continue reading Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table

November 12, 2018: “Alligator”

The second thing I see after pulling the bedroom blind is my wife’s handprint on the casement window. The first thing I see is an alligator in the pool. I light a cigarette and grab my phone, Google ‘difference crocodile alligator’. I’d stopped using grammar in my searches years ago. It saved a lot of … Continue reading Alligator

November 5, 2018: “There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles”

Grandma swung in a hammock while complaining about her bad knees, so I told her she was being dramatic. “Bà nội,” I asked, “Do you know how many people in America are homeless?” I didn’t actually know the answer but I just wanted her to make the most out of this life. She was so … Continue reading There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles

October 29, 2018: “Second Base”

New rule says we must choose hands for hands or phones for hands. Not both. No exceptions. Except Devin. Devin has a Senator dad and special permission. People say Devin has one real hand and one phone hand and an agent who booked him on that reality show where contestants try to live like it’s … Continue reading Second Base

October 22, 2018: “What I Have Coming To Me”

My lips are so bitten up it’s like my mouth just chewed its way out of my face. I think my mother is about to tell me about the divorce between her and my father. Guess my age, with my parents getting divorced. You’re wrong, add ten years. I feel like I’m in a nightmare; … Continue reading What I Have Coming To Me

October 15, 2018: “The Unicorn”

Lane Cove is where individuality goes to die. Lane Cove isn’t interested in your ideas, unless your ideas are how to be more like everybody else in Lane Cove. The Unicorn is Lane Cove’s natural enemy. The Unicorn is knee-high socks, striped crimson and yellow. The Unicorn is a purple taffeta tutu, a t-shirt with … Continue reading The Unicorn

October 8, 2018: “Trespassers”

The first boy I slept with had green eyes that I could see in the dark even when my own were closed. He took me to see a phantom face on the side of an industrial chicken barn one night, the giant face of a grizzled farmer, his features gray and blurry like a fading … Continue reading Trespassers

October 1, 2018: “The Sand and the Sea”

On our way home from the beach, my mother parks the car in the gravel parking lot of an ice-cream shop. When she returns with three Band-Aid colored cones topped with chocolate mint, my sister is hanging halfway out her window to intercept her treat. I accept one of the cones, but I don’t thank … Continue reading The Sand and the Sea

September 10, 2018: “Ourself, Ourself”

We used to sit in the auditorium and watch play practice because Mr. Fink couldn’t think of a way to actively cast the girl with two heads. He was too careful to tell us, though, so we were cast again and again as second understudies. He behaved like we were a queen–he didn’t make eye … Continue reading Ourself, Ourself

September 3, 2018: “Government-issued Bunnies”

The rabbits are government-issued. Shambolic bunnies. Bunnies with smeary eyes, with a faintly sulfurous smell about them. Bunnies splotched with white fur on brown. Bunnies full of gumption munch through buckets of grass and weeds. Don’t anthropomorphize the bunnies. They aren’t pets. I can’t help it. I name the biggest, Nutty, for the color and … Continue reading Government-issued Bunnies

August 27, 2018: “Now You See Me”

White clouds crawl across the gray sky. We drink light beer from aluminum cans. Where do you get beer at fourteen? You always get what you want. The tinny aftertaste is like sucking on a penny. My head feels like a balloon. We toss a yellow tennis ball across the open field behind the hospital. … Continue reading Now You See Me

August 20, 2018: “If the light, then the light”

The filmmaker worries he is losing the light. So many hours of work and planning, about to be wasted. He will go home that night and lie down next to his wife. She will already be asleep, though he knows she is just pretending—she is so light at it—until he hears her breathing slow. But … Continue reading If the light, then the light

August 13, 2018: “We Lose Our Virginities”

We make pacts to lose our virginities together by taking a nail file and slicing, a whisper of a line, through our palms, bisecting the juncture where heart meets head. The wounds open wide, baring all, the salacious whores, and love and intellect will never again interact without that slim scar to remind us of … Continue reading We Lose Our Virginities

August 6, 2018: “The Way to Reach You”

If there are 100 ways to reach you, then the first is a closed door, maybe the one that was broken into, on West Hilda Circle, a peaceful–but for writhing black bodies–neighborhood street (where I met you)–in Decatur, Georgia. The door makes the sound of a quiet shout when it shuts, and the smell of … Continue reading The Way to Reach You

July 30, 2018: “Sky Like Concrete”

I’m driving to my pop’s with my son, Dan, who is home from school, and we have to hurry because the sky looks like concrete and the storm will be here soon, I know it, look at the prairie grass, I tell Dan, it’s swaying like those air dancers at dealerships. Dan just nods, his … Continue reading Sky Like Concrete

July 23, 2018: “The Photo”

It must have been 9th grade for our history class was cancelled again, an indeterminate kind of “cancel” because it was Perestroika in 1989 in the USSR and our history textbooks were suddenly out of date. So we would roam the school during those free periods, in groups, like wolves, on the ready for love … Continue reading The Photo

July 16, 2018: “Swans”

When I first met Sherry she was standing barefoot in the tall grass feeding bread to a swan. Sherry lived on the other side of Stoney Creek in a small clapboard house that sat up on cinder blocks, overlooking the cove and bordering the woods that hemmed in the neighborhood. The swan had just appeared … Continue reading Swans

June 18, 2018: “All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE”

When she ran into the street, I didn’t think much of it until I heard the sound. The brakes’ gutting squeal, and then the way, when you had always imagined it as the cracking of bones, there was instead a dull, pillowed thud, like a tree falling into a field of flowers. The car kept … Continue reading All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE

June 11, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Her Lips”

Praying hands on a cedar box. I kept it empty, because nothing seemed important enough for it. I liked to close my eyes and sniff the wood. With my eyes closed, the box was a forest and I was inside. My husband tells me I’m a target, the way I lean forward, courting everyone. We … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Her Lips

June 4, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting”

1)    I don’t believe in angels, and certainly not singing ones, but when you cut yourself they sing. And not in a heavenly fashion. 2)    There are twin crescent moons above my left nipple­–from broken glass. I told an aunt I walked into a branch while hiking. 3)    When I say cut, I also mean … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting

May 28, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nobody Like You”

By the pool we peel off our clothes—not all of them, though, just down to our underpants. I am trying very hard to not stare at Angie’s white panties or her Black Bra. I’m wearing boxers. Clean blue boxers, just washed, not ratty. We stand on the edge of the pool. Angie rocks on the … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nobody Like You

May 21, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World”

1. Lady Tyger trained seven days a week in the months leading up to her unofficial debut match at Washington Heights’ Audubon Ballroom in 1974. The fight wasn’t legal—not with two women in the ring—but she sparred anyway. When she trained, she boxed with whoever showed up at the gym. The men who challenged her … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World

May 14, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Girls, Girls, Girls”

This summer kills me and brings me back to life. Once upon a time, when I moved away from this neighborhood I hated summer. I spent whole summers doing and seeing nothing but hot bright skies and White girls trying to get tan. Now I’m home and the girls; the girls here kill me. There’s … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Girls, Girls, Girls

May 7, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Belly of a Fish”

This is April Jones sitting in a circle of tipsy kids, next to Becca, the best swimmer on their team. This is Becca: radiant, loud, loves documentaries, spends her babysitting money on CDs for the team’s long bus rides. This is April who swims in the last lane with kids whose bodies aren’t assembled right … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Belly of a Fish

April 30, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Recess”

A boy died over winter break. They found him among the cottonwood trees pushed off the trail that ran alongside the river, and now we don’t have recess anymore. I knew the trail—ran it, biked it, haunted it on Halloween. We all had, even that break, my friends and I had taken a group of … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Recess

April 23, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Metallic”

I told this new man I would have sex with him only through the fence. His name, I think, was Charlie. Joey. Jamie? He said it while he tongued the roof of my mouth. I slipped two fingers down his jeans waistband and, in his ear, I went, “Kimberly.” When he took his tongue back … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Metallic

April 16, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Purple Finch”

He would make pancakes for her, with berries and honey. And she would lift the hem of her skirt. And she would build him a fire. And he would make her a card, drawing a picture on the front, of trees and one purple finch. And they would look at each other at the end … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Purple Finch

April 9, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Daddy’s Boy”

1. Open your mouth. Sing, boy. Rise up from your pew and praise Him. Take your hands off your hips. Don’t dance, don’t smile, just clap. Firm up those wrists and sing. Your mouth is His. Those lips? That voice? Speaking of voice: make yours deep. No one likes a boy who sounds like a … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Daddy’s Boy

April 1, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Village with All of the Boyfriends”

Editor’s note: In memory of Zach Doss. ___________ The Village with All of the Boyfriends is where all of your boyfriends wind up eventually. You built this Village for them and they can’t leave and neither can you. You are not allowed inside, but you wait in the desert at the edge of town, you … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Village with All of the Boyfriends

March 12, 2018: “Cubalub”

Cubalub, my son woke up saying the last time he was home. Cubalub in his calloused, cigarette-torn voice. I started to like how he said it, liked how he spoke as if it were something obvious, a given, a garnish on top life. “Cubalub,” he said over my croissant. “Ha,” I chuckled. “What does it … Continue reading Cubalub

March 5, 2018: “The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood”

In Camperland, we wake up early. The traffic starts before sunrise, all those people speeding down PCH from Malibu or the Valley to go to work, the endless hamster wheel, dad says. Britt and I sleep in the bed that converts to a table during the day; Mom and Dad sleep in the small bedroom … Continue reading The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood

February 26, 2018: “Parasomnia”

I was sneaking three moonlit fingers of bourbon into a jam jar when I saw your heart on the front porch, gazing out over the city. Only minutes earlier you and I had been upstairs making what I still thought was love. The same guttural grunting as before, the same slick, the same smile, the … Continue reading Parasomnia

February 19, 2018: “Body Snatcher”

“Your new bodies are growing in there, taking you over cell by cell, atom for atom. There’s no pain. Suddenly while you’re asleep, they’ll absorb your minds, your memories, and you’re reborn into an untroubled world.” -Miles Bennell from Invasion of the Body Snatchers   I’m 93% sure I am an undercover alien who has … Continue reading Body Snatcher

February 12, 2018: “History”

TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains depictions of sexual assault and violence which may be triggering to survivors. ___________ We are thoroughbreds, all of us, designated for greatness. Our school was built in the age of kings, or by a king? We are not sure. Bluff regality hangs about as surely as the velvet curtains dividing … Continue reading History

February 5, 2018: “The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log”

Night One The noises are small, faint scratches and scrapes. We lie in bed and look at the ceiling, drowsy, unconcerned. Rats in the walls, you say. Maybe a squirrel. I think it’s the ceiling, not the walls. But I defer to you at night, because never in any way am I getting out of … Continue reading The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log

January 29, 2018: “Safe”

I slept with the teller in the vault, with all the Presidents around us green with envy. She tasted like copper. The floor was metal. This is the secret, I told her, close to her ear, like I’d heard on the radio. Alchemy. Lead becomes gold. Soft becomes hard. Two become one. She nodded because … Continue reading Safe

January 22, 2018: “umbilical”

Flyers shiver like prayer flags in the blue of December. Multicolored flocks of “Fermentation Classes,” “free guitar lessons,” “NUDE WOMEN!” are clipped to the cord. Women in the neighborhood throw their wet panties across, balance bras cup side front, hope they don’t find them floating down second avenue. Children play jump rope with the slack. … Continue reading umbilical

January 15, 2018: “Aftershave and Soil”

We watch The Bachelor and then my husband buries me in the backyard. It’s just an ordinary Friday. My husband is a modern man—he does all the cooking and the cleaning—he whips up some burgers and mozzarella sticks and then he grabs the shovel and slaps my butt. I giggle like in our courtship days, … Continue reading Aftershave and Soil

January 8, 2018: “Lifeline”

Pia hides under the breakfast table while her mother hunches on the couch and scratches at her palm. Inside the house, acrid air. Leaves of Grass—her mother’s favorite, gifted from Pia’s father—long unopened. The slap-slapping of her mother’s sandal as she bobs her knee. The way her polyester pant leg flutters, the way her mouth … Continue reading Lifeline

January 1, 2018: “Sharp Sticks”

My boy is the beacon in the ache this land calls fields. He loses himself in the bush and the burrows. No man has been buried here since God dug us into the world, wanting us to spread out. I am laying seed far from the laps of my fathers. The valley is eager for … Continue reading Sharp Sticks

December 11, 2017: “חלב חם / Warm Milk”

This story by Lea Klibanoff – Ron, in Hebrew, is part of SmokeLong Quarterly‘s Global Flash Series. To maintain the integrity of the Hebrew text, we are displaying the story as a pdf file. The English version, translated by guest editor Ilana Masad, is presented also as a pdf file. Simply click on the titles … Continue reading חלב חם / Warm Milk

December 4, 2017: “I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute”

Endless Light Whenever I hear about hoarders and the truckfuls of malnourished animals or ancient newspapers carted out behind them, I think about these people in the incipience of their condition, and imagine the boundless hope that must have appeared before them.   Getting Coffee I don’t care how reserved you are. I do not … Continue reading I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute

November 27, 2017: “There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea”

After the evacuation order lifts, we go back to see what is left. Peregrine drives, and when we pass over the bridge he invokes the name of every sea god he knows, living and extinct, because neither of us are sure the bridge will hold. On the island, water laps at the edges of route … Continue reading There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea

November 20, 2017: “Princess Shipwreck”

Monsters have absconded with the lifeboats. Their frilled fins ruffle the ocean’s surface as they wheel and tug those punctured rafts into the depths. On the beach, we are a splayed catastrophe of waterlogged slippers and sand-streaked gowns. Nevertheless, we are polite. Pardon me, could I perhaps assist you in removing the seaweed from your … Continue reading Princess Shipwreck

November 13, 2017: “The Cartographers”

It’s a Friday when the beach house slips into the sea, unmoored by torrential rains and floating on who-knows-what—air pockets in the creosote-soaked timbers is her boyfriend’s theories; he’s always full of theories. “If it hasn’t sunk by now, it will float indefinitely,” Geoff says. “Plenty of time for the Coast Guard to find us.” … Continue reading The Cartographers

November 6, 2017: “The Heavy Things”

I got my period young, and heavy. Heavier than the health class pamphlet said it should be. When it came for the first time, I felt something prickling parts of me I’d never seen, and had been told never to touch. In the elementary school bathroom, I tried to clean myself up with all of … Continue reading The Heavy Things

October 30, 2017: “Nature.”

The women watch the clock on the wall of the factory where they sew cotton shirts and there’s an old woman over there, in the corner, bent over, and no one notices that her back is perpetually bent over like that, so much so that one day when the other women call her for lunch … Continue reading Nature.

October 23, 2017: “Our Father”

My sister Anne opens the door and stretches her arms around me. Behind her are cardboard boxes, taped up and bulging at the sides like dead bullfrogs, and a dim table lamp with dragonflies along its stained-glass shade. Anne says in my ear that it’s so nice to see me and tightens her embrace. Her … Continue reading Our Father

October 16, 2017: “Pastor Bob’s Picnic”

The beach pastor parked his twelve-year-old Chrysler on the street, windows and doors open, so that the squirrels had free run of the picnic items and Bibles inside. Sometimes a squirrel left the car dragging a whole package of hotdogs. Sometimes one caught the attention of a passing dog. Hence the car was a wreck, … Continue reading Pastor Bob’s Picnic