SmokeLong Quarterly

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I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute

Story by Pete Segall (Read author interview) December 4, 2017

Art by SmokeLong Quarterly

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 care about your binding shared peace. You are far too young to be this quiet together in public. Can’t you see how she looks at you, man?


Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.

 American radar once mistook the moon over Norway for incoming Soviet nuclear missiles. Had the situation not been corrected I can imagine the moon laughing hard enough to be heard in the next solar system.



There is what I want to say, and there is this headache. The headache has its own story to tell and it refuses to let anything else be heard. The headache’s story is this: It happened.


A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea

I’ve started losing the imagined fights I get into with people who don’t know me and they are growing increasingly less satisfying.


I Am That I Am

 As iterations of narcisscism go, autotheism is vastly underused.



As difficult as it is to acknowledge yourself as a player in the first line of “This Be the Verse,” accepting the inevitability of the second is even worse.



Clarity, unlike its benevolent twin self-deception, never arrives when it is needed.


When There’s No More Room in Hell the Dead Will Walk the Earth

 Zombies are an expression of our fear that death is as bad as we imagine it is. They are our nonbeing, weaponized. Ghost stories are revenge fantasies for lonely people.


Tora, Tora, Tora

  1. Of course you’re loved. You’ll always be loved. You never need to worry about that.
  2. Of course you’re loved. I can offer you no assurances, though, about your ability to locate or interpret or comprehend that love.


That’s All, Folks!

The cartoon immortality of our sustaining dreams. No sooner have we seen them cut down, eviscerated, blown to bits, than we see them intact again, bright and scarred, staggering across the lawn, eyes aglow; steeling themselves against the memory of future destruction.


Notes from Guest Reader Melissa Yancy

I was looking for alignment between content and form—a piece that needed to exist as flash, and not as a poem, a longer short story, or something else entirely—and this had both density and use of negative space. Each section was interesting to me, but piecing them together felt like a puzzle. I might have found it just inscrutable, but there was an intelligence at work that made me trust the writer, and trust that the piece had been carefully constructed. It made me work. And I loved the ending–it stayed with me and kept me coming back.

About the Author

Pete Segall is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, Necessary Fiction, decomP, Forge Lit, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He lives in Chicago with his wife, the writer Kim Brooks, and their children.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty-Eight

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