Smokelong Weekly for June 20, 2022
He put me up on his shoulders so I could see down into the freeway. They had built a park atop it. They call that a freeway lid. And tall walls made of red brick to dampen the noise. Inside the park all the old Russians sat on grated metal seats and whispered to one another under the cover of juniper bushes happy to co-conspire. A few men in wife beaters hung from the bars of the exercise platform and...
Continue Reading "Upstream, Up!" by Alexsandr Kanevskiy
Smokelong Weekly for June 20, 2022
I hadn’t understood how it would feel when I nursed my baby and the oxytocin caused my uterus to contract in an effort to reshape itself, and my friends who’d nursed babies said oh yeah, it feels like the baby is still inside still kicking, and it felt like a memory, but not of kicking, of when I carried so much possibility in my body, and then I carried the possibility in my arms, and now he is older and...
Continue Reading "Conversation Topic" by Stephanie Frazee
Smokelong Weekly for June 20, 2022
Posted signs warned DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS, but I couldn’t stay away from the one-footed brown pelican menacing the pier. Depleted from liquidating my dead mother’s things, I used the money from the pathetic estate sale to book a weekend at a Floridian Airbnb, right on the water. I wanted more than anything to feel the bird’s loose nubby pouch, its quilled feathers. I yearned to massage ointment into its stump and watch it endure my devotion. Yesterday, I...
Continue Reading "The Pelican" by Arlaina Tibensky
Smokelong Weekly for June 20, 2022
My fire pit glows in the darkening backyard, corn cobs–Kayode’s favorite–roasting atop the coals. Fresh off the airport taxi, he slides past the rear gates. I help him prop his luggage against a wall and throw myself into his arms–to remember his scent. The pinewood on his corduroy evokes no memory. His hug fails to bruise my spine. And when he says I missed you Mom, it sounds rehearsed, his accent diluted. We sit on white plastic chairs flanking the...
Continue Reading "My Americanah" by Vincent Anioke
Three Facts About You
Smokelong Weekly for June 20, 2022
(1) “Do you know why our hands get pruny in the shower?” My nephew, Jack, dimples up at me. He collects facts like gold coins, showing them off when I visit. This trip, I’m at his house for three days: many facts to come. It’s the first time you’re not with me. “Early humans hunted in water,” Jack answers himself. “It gives us a better grip.” He squeezes his little fist, demonstrating. It’s one of his more evocative facts. I...
Continue Reading "Three Facts About You" by K.S. Dyal
Smokelong Weekly for June 12, 2022
«¿Y ahora?», se preguntó Gregorio, y miró a su alrededor en la oscuridad. --Franz Kafka, La metamorfosis A. despierta en una cama blanca de hospital. Afuera es otoño. Los cielos de otoño siempre han sido los más claros. Podría decir que A. no es un escarabajo. A. es una ballena encallada en la arena. Una ballena encallada en la arena blanca con la cadera rota. Se sabe que las ballenas no tienen cadera. Pero quizás no se sabe que...
Continue Reading "Prótesis" by Iliana Pichardo Urrutia
Smokelong Weekly for March 21, 2022
The hero of Tomás’s story is a fish, slithery and luminous, its design poached from page 308 of Fishes of the Maldives, a donated textbook which Tomás has propped open with his elbow amid a riot of colored pencils. The students are creating stories in three images––beginning, middle, and end––in the style of a miniature comic book. In two hours, I’ll pitch the alternative declension thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and this will go exactly as well as might be expected...
Continue Reading "Rabbitfish" by A. J. Bermudez
Smokelong Weekly for March 21, 2022
she shuffles in flea market slippers too big for her flat walk-on-lava feet you going grow into dem no worries she veils her tears in a hand-me-down hasn’t been quite white in a while mu’umu’u you gotta wear dat to church so stop making any kine or you going get it she feels adult in her first brand new blouse-not-shirt she buys from the Ben Franklin sale rack you better wear em to school and take em off when you...
Continue Reading "in ache" by Melissa Llanes Brownlee
Smokelong Weekly for March 21, 2022
My husband’s best friend hung himself in his bedroom closet. Sometimes, my husband dreams about his friend and he tells me about the dreams. In the latest one, they’re at 7-Eleven buying scratch-off tickets. The dead friend wins big. A ten-thousand-dollar prize. They whoop in the aisles. The friend says to my husband, I think I’ll reinvest. He goes to the counter, asks the cashier for ten thousand dollars in scratch-off tickets: the crossword, cash five, pick three. Thousands of...
Continue Reading "Lottery" by Rebecca Bernard
All the Ways We’re Hurting
Smokelong Weekly for March 21, 2022
My living room is filled with too many family members with too many opinions who all say ‘Ellie, your son is a nightmare, you have to do something before it’s too late’ so I listen with a set jaw and blank eyes as each person states their case mentioning such times as when he flushed his uncle’s prescriptions pills down the toilet, bit his friend’s ear in drama class, got caught stealing five DVDs and a Coca-Cola, showed pornography to...
Continue Reading "All the Ways We’re Hurting" by Emma Brankin
Smokelong Weekly for March 14, 2022
Se despidió de sus hijas en el aeropuerto. Ahora está apoyado en sus muletas y mira hacia la cantera. Es una cantera inmensa que fractura la geografía del paisaje y permite ver al fondo la luz de los barcos entrando por el río Magdalena. De ella sacaron la tierra para erizar de edificios el norte de la ciudad y seguramente las mismas casas de la urbanización. Orlando piensa que nada puede elevarse en el mundo sin hacer un hueco en...
Continue Reading "La cantera" by Paul Brito
Las vaquitas del patrón.
Smokelong Weekly for March 14, 2022
Gonzalo desvió la vista cuando su hermano degolló la oveja. Arrodillado sobre el campo húmedo, arrancó un manojo de pastos mientras sentía la muerte del animal. Su hermano cerró el brazo alrededor de la cabeza rígida, y forcejeó para sacar el cuchillo trancado en el pescuezo lanudo. Al escuchar el golpe ahogado del ovino contra el pasto, Gonzalo apretó los ojos para reprimir la temblequera que le atravesaba las piernas y los brazos. ¿Ya está? Se dijo a sí mismo....
Continue Reading "Las vaquitas del patrón." by Matías da Costa
Smokelong Weekly for March 14, 2022
Por alguna variable no sometida al escrutinio de los meteorólogos esta tarde llueve incluso cuando en la radio, camino al centro, el locutor dice que el informe del clima atisba un excelente día. Todo es una falla, dice Alicia. Acuerdan por teléfono ir al café de siempre, allí se encuentra con David. Beben café, charlan discretamente. Caminan en direcciones opuestas luego de despedirse. Alicia lleva una sonrisa en la cara; David tiene una expresión de preocupación. Es el 14 de...
Continue Reading "El Presente" by Didier Andrés Castro
Smokelong Weekly for March 13, 2022
La Habana no parecía detenida en el tiempo: realmente lo estaba. Veía a sus gentes languidecer con el calor, el aburrimiento, la pobreza y la inercia de una vida sin mayor sentido que respirar. Micaela vivía en un edificio de los años cuarenta, bonito y destruido, y sus penas no eran distintas a los del resto. Incluso siendo cirujana, las vicisitudes del día a día mermaban ese prestigio que los galenos suelen tener; así que ella, la doctora, tenía las...
Continue Reading "La azotea" by Claudia Lago
Smokelong Weekly for March 7, 2022
we were giant sized high above the city, community volunteers on a federal allowance, sorting white polo shirts and khaki slacks and timberland boots into folded piles on commercial carpet, and we would descend into the streets to collect recruits to wear the garments, foraging through parks for young citizens wandering in search of something bigger, hearts aching to clean up abandoned lots littered with ripped condoms, to sow flowers over old seeds, and this city would bloom because we...
Continue Reading "Life Size" by Erin Vachon
In Lieu of Closure
Smokelong Weekly for February 28, 2022
In the fall of his ninth-grade year, just months after his father’s execution, Lawrence Eberts and his mother moved to the small town of Rothsburg, Nebraska, and Lawrence became a devout conspiracy enthusiast. His entire demeanor had changed—the quiet kid who used to sit subdued in the back of the classroom was gone. Now he’d blab on and on about how Kurt Cobain didn’t kill himself, how 9/11 was planned by the U.S. government, how Lee Harvey Oswald not only...
Continue Reading "In Lieu of Closure" by Ambrose D. Smart
Smokelong Weekly for February 21, 2022
Sweetie vacuums at 4 a.m. because she’s up and she’s not going back to sleep and the carpet cost a fortune and you’ve got to keep it clean to make it last. And when your husband is dead and the kids have flown the coop, who are you bothering anyway? She vacuums at 4 a.m. because at 4 p.m. she won’t be up to vacuuming, only sitting in the swivel-rocker watching the first round of evening news, that daily she...
Continue Reading "Sweetie" by J. V. Skuldt
Our Lady of Perpetual Plastic
Smokelong Weekly for February 14, 2022
Like our fields our bodies give no yield. We’re running out of food but have fewer to feed, the upside of the calamity Mama says when I tell her I can’t have children, as she makes tea and tells me she will build a shrine in Lego to the god of plastic, so I can expel the microscopic contamination like a demon exorcised, my words not hers. I sip my tea, a mix of raspberry leaves, nettle and red clover...
Continue Reading "Our Lady of Perpetual Plastic" by Rosaleen Lynch
A Brief Natural History of the Automobile
Smokelong Weekly for February 7, 2022
Your father insists that you pray daily to Henry Ford, the patron saint of Michigan who puts steak on the table and keeps sneakers on your feet, but you’re not willing to die for him. It’s all because of Henry Ford and his automobiles that the Cubans are pointing their missiles at Detroit right now, according to your geography teacher. The Cubans will aim their bombs right here, she says, jabbing at the wall map of Michigan, its vulnerable thumb....
Continue Reading "A Brief Natural History of the Automobile" by Sarah Freligh
Smokelong Weekly for January 31, 2022
Suppose this windstorm veers onto shore before sunset, earlier than Amy the radio weatherlady expects. Suppose it helps the mangy wetlands swallow our truck. It’s 7:30am, we have five houses to weatherize, and a black fog has already risen where land lines water. “Sleeping deer!” Van Behr says. Everything’s a joke to him. I can only tell the deer’s dead by the gnats blowing out its eyes, otherwise it’s curled like a dozing dog. I laugh with him. Suppose there’s...
Continue Reading "Porcupine" by James Cato
Ms. Looms’ Big & Gigantic Question of the Week
Smokelong Weekly for January 24, 2022
When it comes to my sister, Dani, it was much less so the content of her answer and much more the how in which she said it: the way her words dropped like birds from the sky, one right after another, as she stood with her palms flat, pressed at her sides. She didn’t blink, not once, as she faced the entirety of her classmates. No one could have known then what they know now; it’s difficult to understand just...
Continue Reading "Ms. Looms’ Big & Gigantic Question of the Week" by Samuel Berman
Send Us Your Stories
Smokelong Weekly for January 17, 2022
We’re currently open to fiction submissions. What do we look for? Our editors have a wide and diverse range of tastes, but, above all, we want to read stories that do something that no story has ever done before. We want stories that blow us away. We want stories that wow us, that awe us, that captivate us, that capture us. We want words that jump off of the page and pull our hair down and poke out our eyes...
Continue Reading "Send Us Your Stories" by Paul Riker
The Reason Wolverine and Deadpool Are Flambéing on the Barbecue
Smokelong Weekly for January 10, 2022
My stalker stops me in the street, hands me a self-help guide and a jar of homemade cookies, says I haven’t been myself lately. He’s invested a lot of hours in me, he’s not going to sit back and let me let myself go. I find myself talking about Simon. It’s tricky, I murmur. He knows (duh). I shuffle my feet, rotate the misshapen biscuits beneath the glass. I can sense his disappointment, imagine following someone for months only to...
Continue Reading "The Reason Wolverine and Deadpool Are Flambéing on the Barbecue" by Jo Withers
I’m the Henchman from Witness Who Was Buried in Grain, Here to Warn You About the Dangers of Silos
Smokelong Weekly for January 3, 2022
In this divided, technology-driven era, I’ve seen a lot of cautionary articles about the risks of getting stuck in silos. I’m here to echo those warnings. It can happen to any of us, in any number of situations. Maybe you feel isolated during the pandemic and have started spending more time on the internet. Maybe a friend invites you into a private Facebook group that begins to shape your news intake to the exclusion of other, less partisan sources. Or...
Continue Reading "I’m the Henchman from Witness Who Was Buried in Grain, Here to Warn You About the Dangers of Silos" by Dorian Fox
Re: Your Short-Story Collection
Smokelong Weekly for December 20, 2021
Dear Mother Goose, I ran through the first draft of your short story collection. Great rhyme and riveting action! As with any book we publish, we want it to be as polished as possible. I’ve tracked questions, notes, and suggestions in your manuscript (attached) to help guide you through revisions. If it’s helpful, I’ve also summarized my major recommendations and places where I stumbled below: What if the dish ran away with the water goblet instead, and the spoon cried...
Continue Reading "Re: Your Short-Story Collection" by Camille Verzal
Smokelong Weekly for December 6, 2021
The kids at school got under Sam’s skin—pointing at the scars lining her wrists like she didn’t know—so when she found the pelt, she donned it as her own. Sometime she held the smooth blade of her father’s hunting knife, like when she couldn’t escape the sound of her heartbeat in her throat or there was nothing in the fridge again, her father sleeping off a football loss in the parking lot of the town bar in his old pickup,...
Continue Reading "Hide" by Sarah Fawn Montgomery
The Larvae of Tree-dwelling Species Stay Where They Hatch
Smokelong Weekly for November 29, 2021
Fifteen new species of luna moth covered the cars when we left Moxie’s birthday party, delicate and translucent. Their overlapping wings clogged vents and engines, blocked doors and jammed up underneath wheel rims like pale spreading weeds grown through an empty garden pot, with nothing happening but the passage of time and maybe a concert to a sweaty ska band and a rough but unexpected lingering hug, your collarbone sharp against my cheek. Though the moths were more insidious and...
Continue Reading "The Larvae of Tree-dwelling Species Stay Where They Hatch" by Janna Miller
Smokelong Weekly for November 22, 2021
I. Here is your story so far. A beautiful woman lives in a coastal village and goes out in search of work but no one will hire her. She asks the shopkeepers who line the pier, and they smile and look her up and down and say, Work? Forget about work. Come around here, darling. Come behind the counter where we can talk about you. She tries the back streets instead, her feet aching, and finally finds an empty, musty...
Continue Reading "Endings" by Daniel Kuo
If God is My Drug Can I Still Claim Sobriety?
Smokelong Weekly for November 15, 2021
california hellscape with beach & ash First day of fall and fire season has come early this year. Sunday and there was supposed to be a heatwave. People sat in 3 hours of traffic to spend 2 hours at the beach. Call it Self Care Sunday. In Northern California we are always trying to escape the heat the fire the smoke the rain the cold versions of ourselves that no longer serve us. Being a human is just a state...
Continue Reading "If God is My Drug Can I Still Claim Sobriety?" by Shelby Hinte
Smokelong Weekly for November 8, 2021
At dusk, I will look out my dusty dormitory window and see fields submerged in shadows. America will be quieter than I thought. In a still room, I will sometimes wander back to nights in Seoul, playing badminton with my father in an empty parking lot. I will recall skyscrapers puncturing the darkness with glass teeth, a hue of amber glossing my father’s freckled face. I will remember how the wind sweeps the tattered shuttlecock just out of my reach...
Continue Reading "Dusk" by SJ Han
When A Man You Met Online Suggests You Visit a Lake
Smokelong Weekly for November 1, 2021
That night I follow, palms outstretched, searching for stray branches, briers, a hand to hold, trying to think of bright things: the smooth, green ridges of horsetail reeds growing in thick patches along the trail, the sound they make when separated like bone popping out of place, bright things, seen things: my date’s dog cutting through choppy water, shivering at the edge of a man-made lake, waiting for his master while the sun spreads its magic, sherbet sunset, but the...
Continue Reading "When A Man You Met Online Suggests You Visit a Lake" by Amanda Gaines
My Mother Calls Her a Head-Case Convict
Smokelong Weekly for October 25, 2021
But here I am anyway, in the CVS on Perkins and Sixteenth, allowing her to turn me criminal. Like this. Don’t be, like, obvious. See? When she slides a lipstick into her palm, it’s so delicate, you’d think she was lifting a bird. At the counter, three Maybelline butter glosses jammed into the waistband of her jeans, she buys us a six-pack of Budweiser beer from a cashier with adult Invisalign. Her ID says she is twenty-five and from Nebraska, but we...
Continue Reading "My Mother Calls Her a Head-Case Convict" by Kaya Dierks
Smokelong Weekly for October 18, 2021
Content Warning: Cutting/Bloodplay We’d swapped spit at the New Brunswick stop. Right outside the station. It was my first time in New Jersey, the first time I’d traveled alone. I’d told my parents that you were picking me up, but you were too busy, let’s just meet at the station babe. You’d said this to me — no, texted this to me in that slick way where it felt logical. Natural. Of course you were busy. Of course it made sense...
Continue Reading "sing-sing" by Celeste Chen
The Thought of Roux
Smokelong Weekly for October 11, 2021
Every day the thought of missing Roux gives the children breath. Their teeth clench, their eyelids quiver shut, and the humming blood rubs and curls its hands, expands their chests and gives them stomachs for news. Has he been adopted at last? Then Roux they rediscover in their missionary’s orphanage six days later without a dent. He sits smiling in his same ashy skin on the cracked ceramic, back braced against a wall, trying to slurp red shaved ice. Some...
Continue Reading "The Thought of Roux" by Melissa Beneche
The Wait for the Whoosh
Smokelong Weekly for October 4, 2021
I’m in the waiting room of a secret clinic that uses pressure washers to unclog brains like mine, brains with bitchy burnt-out synapses in need of a fresh start. The clinic is a secret because the water blasting method is unproven, because the equipment was likely stolen from deck cleaning professionals, and because brains are delicate and shouldn’t be slapped around unless it’s an emergency. If necessary, I’ll swear to ten men in ties about the existence of my own...
Continue Reading "The Wait for the Whoosh" by Janelle Bassett
A Case for De-Extinction at the End of the World
Smokelong Weekly for March 1, 2021
Because when I was a child, I read that the first woolly mammoth fossil was discovered in 1799. I swear I felt the hair on my arms thicken to match the guard hairs on the mammoth’s skin. I wanted to be full of coarseness and sprout tusks in place of dull canines. I wanted my budding breasts to be the lumps of fat to survive long winters. When my parents asked if I wanted a pet, I pointed to a...
Continue Reading "A Case for De-Extinction at the End of the World" by Lyndsie Manusos
Smokelong Weekly for February 22, 2021
I was born on the tail of a comet, a cluster of cosmic Chi, blind but seeing, cold and on fire, shooting in through my mother’s bedroom window. I smashed perfume bottles and pristine angel figurines, shattered time and space. My mother, still in bangs and barrettes, delivered me single-handedly by the light of a teacup candle while spitting grace. I arrived ravenous, raging, revengeful, a maw clipped to a body. I rooted for my mother’s milk, suckling colostrum sweet...
Continue Reading "Savage Daughters" by Allison Rae King
Foldable Essay with Wet Bee
Smokelong Weekly for February 15, 2021
My grandmother climbs over the rail of her motorized bed, one naked, frail leg then the other, escaping. Why would I try to stop her? Beneath a sheer pink nightgown is the wound of her chest, atomic and radial. She folds to the floor, knees tucked, head in hands, her wig on the bureau, Vivaldi on the radio, weather warnings, heat and winds. All those years we tried to save the drowning bees with an extended leaf, plastic tumbler, our...
Continue Reading "Foldable Essay with Wet Bee" by L.I. Henley
The Bear of Goffstown
Smokelong Weekly for February 8, 2021
They say there have been bears spotted all over Goffstown in these final days of summer, but I know it is the same bear. She emerges at dawn and dusk in search of food, getting fat for the winter, and I wish that were something humans could say without it being a self-deprecating joke. The news urges homeowners to bring their bird feeders inside so they don’t lure bears into the neighborhood, but each night I leave her a wooden...
Continue Reading "The Bear of Goffstown" by Sarah Fannon
Smokelong Weekly for February 4, 2021
My neighbor and her ex reunited at all hours. At first I listened. I kept my couch against the shared wall, the one they reunited against. It amazed me how they transitioned so quickly from fighting to playing and then from playing to pinning each other against the wall. Sometimes it would get quiet and it seemed they had finished in a modest way, but it was always just the quiet before the storm. I liked the commotion of the...
Continue Reading "Listening" by Michael Don
Smokelong Weekly for February 1, 2021
I didn’t know about the tattoos. Ribbons of black snaking around his torso and shoulders. He must’ve been working on them for years. So when they called me to tell me what happened in a parking lot days ago, and they asked me if there were any identifying features to make sure he was my kid, I told them about the mole on his left cheek, the freckles that made a perfect line along his right forearm, the scar on...
Continue Reading "Only Skin" by Chris DeWitt
The Old Baby
Smokelong Weekly for January 25, 2021
The old baby splits my wife like a papaya, his only cry a keen. We drift past unused artifacts new with tags: newborn onesies, saccharine plastic toys, the old baby’s name hand-painted in cranberry on the nursery wall. When the casserole people arrive, they place hot dishes on our doorstep like flowers at a roadside memorial. * I sleep and my wife sobs and my wife sleeps and I whimper and sometimes when she flashes her skeleton in the dark,...
Continue Reading "The Old Baby" by Elizabeth Crowder
Our Girl, Victor
Smokelong Weekly for January 18, 2021
Our girl Victor tells Kelechi that butterflies have begun to fly in her belly when she thinks of him and this is bad, this is very bad. Kelechi purses his lips, smiles a small smile and says thank you. Victor shakes her head and says she knows how this will go: she will trick him into liking her back and they will be fine for months but then they will break up and become tiny, one-section antagonists in each other’s...
Continue Reading "Our Girl, Victor" by Chantelle Chiwetalu
Smokelong Weekly for January 11, 2021
I lost my daughter at a costume party when she was five. Here are the times I lost her before that: At the mall, three years old, under a clothing rack she thought was a fort. At the grocery store, two and a half, in the animal cracker aisle. At the beach, twenty months, hiding behind our umbrella when the gulls came. I want this one to have a similar ending, to be able to talk about her found place,...
Continue Reading "Masquerade" by Melissa Bowers
A Letter to my Therapist, to Whom I’m No Longer Speaking
Smokelong Weekly for January 4, 2021
While I comb my hair, the cicada husks whisper. They live in a row on my dresser, spaced out so they can breathe. I don’t know what they’re saying, but it reminds me of Great Grandma Anitza after her stroke, blurring English and Armenian and the throaty cooing of mourning doves. I divide my hair into three sections and start weaving. Do you ever wonder why I stopped showing up for sessions? Does it worry you? My husband thinks I...
Continue Reading "A Letter to my Therapist, to Whom I’m No Longer Speaking" by Lindy Biller
Plants of Paradise
Smokelong Weekly for December 21, 2020
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Our Plants Remember when we started buying plants because everyone was moving out of New York City and getting rid of their gigantic Swiss Cheese Plants? Craigslist was full of people selling their well-loved, thriving, and pest-free plants from their virus-free homes. And who were we to resist? We could have never afforded plants like that, like the ones people have when their lives are good and well put together. Do you think that was...
Continue Reading "Plants of Paradise" by María Alejandra Barrios
There are a thousand ways to love a snake but only one way to kill it.
Smokelong Weekly for December 21, 2020
My daughter’s hair is black. It gleams with oil, hot under the sun, hot in my fingers. When I braid it, I lace the sections so tightly her scalp bares itself, dark brown and naked. Each time a strand loosens from its root, I rub it in between my palms so that it forms a ball, which I hold in between my toes. When I am done, the ball is half the size of a fist. Mama it hurts, she...
Continue Reading "There are a thousand ways to love a snake but only one way to kill it." by Shreya Vikram
Smokelong Weekly for December 14, 2020
Content Warning: sexual abuse I went to Neerja and Gaurav’s wedding and danced all night because the DJ started playing Punjabi rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh and one of Gaurav’s friend brought a drink, claimed it was a mocktail, oh yeah, and half a glass down, I realized a bitter aftertaste, but by then I was on the stage where most of my friends were dancing, screaming, whistling, their hands like confetti only I could not scream when I was...
Continue Reading "Knot" by Tara Isabel Zambrano
Things I say to my son while he sleeps
Smokelong Weekly for December 7, 2020
If you end up breaking your promise and climbing out the window into the alley and meeting those boys whose beards are nearing manhood and whose angry eyes pick at my body—I know they see a useless woman, a crumbling moral life, no man to protect me—and who slip you into the dark mouth of the old internet café down in Johar Town and who won’t let you smoke (though I am grateful to them for this,) with whom your...
Continue Reading "Things I say to my son while he sleeps" by Hananah Zaheer
Smokelong Weekly for November 30, 2020
Girl Scout at the door, a box of Thin Mints in her hand. She is maybe 12 or so. Bangs and peachy lip gloss. The purse against her hip is like the one my mother wore. Cobra skin and golden clasp. ***** My mother died eraser-like. One day there, then gone. After the funeral, my father built a mountain out of my mother’s things, her purses and shoes. The mountain was shaped like my mother and slept next to him at...
Continue Reading "Thin Mints" by Francine Witte
A Bee Story
Smokelong Weekly for November 23, 2020
This queen bee is old news. Slowing down and running out, her egg output too low—service to the hive complete. She’s eaten all the royal jelly; she’s taken her lone mating flight. Once upon a time, she hunted down her sisters, and she killed them one by one. Time to fly, your majesty, I say, waving my smoker to the box as the hive settles into a hum. I single her out on the comb, her smooth and slender abdomen....
Continue Reading "A Bee Story" by Nicole VanderLinden
Smokelong Weekly for November 16, 2020
1. When M got a fellowship to study linguistics in Montréal, I went with her, because I loved her and I’d never had a savory crêpe. Here is something I learned about linguistics in Montreal: Let’s go to McDonald’s is not a charming expression, but Allons-y au MacDo is a very charming expression indeed. One good thing about moving to a new country is that your flaws do not follow you—everyone knows this. On the drive north, we played Nina Simone with the...
Continue Reading "Sleepers" by John Miguel Shakespear
The Other Half Of A Yellow Sun
Smokelong Weekly for November 9, 2020
The news comes at noon, wrapped in a husky voice over the radio–"...The Republic of Biafra ceases to exist. We remain an indissoluble, indivisible nation known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Long live Nigeria." I blink twice. From the window, I can see people in the streets, celebrating. There are women putting sand in their hair, swaying their hips with exaggerated steps. Young girls gather around them, clapping and singing about a woman who swallowed the testes of her...
Continue Reading "The Other Half Of A Yellow Sun" by Bryan Joe Okwesili
Smokelong Weekly for November 2, 2020
I am on the southbound bus from Taipei, headed for my grandmother’s village. She lived as deep as anyone can on an island without coming out the other side. I should say lives, maybe, because she is haunting me. She drops by on Tuesday evenings and gives me her trademark smile, the one that swallows her whole face. She likes to tell me how much she enjoyed my daughter’s elegy, about whether Ah-Zou, the Taiwanese word for great-grandmother, might be...
Continue Reading "Unwritten" by Kristen Loesch
Questions For Further Study
Smokelong Weekly for October 26, 2020
1) How are these poems like dark dad jokes with Gillette® razors in them and wild slept-on hair and a receding hairline all the punchlines lost like a wedding ring swallowed by a toddler sitting on a potty chair learning that this is going to hurt us more than it hurts you is just one of life’s pretty lies like the one about birdsong and poetry both being peaceful and chime-like when really both are elaborate ways of saying let’s...
Continue Reading "Questions For Further Study" by Tom C. Hunley
Lions in the Amazon
Smokelong Weekly for October 19, 2020
Telling fortunes usually takes fifteen minutes, longer if a ghost turns up, and all night if there’s more than one. Mama reminds me and Charlie to stay in our room, but we already know the drill; if we keep our mouths shut and the door locked, the ghosts won’t find us. I wait for Mama’s heel clops to fade down the hallway before I switch on the flashlight. Charlie climbs into my lap, and I open the worn red atlas,...
Continue Reading "Lions in the Amazon" by Sara Hills
Smokelong Weekly for October 12, 2020
We wanted Michelle Dong’s doll sacrificed to something, but couldn’t agree on which deity. The doll’s name was Polly and her hair was plastic and her face smooth as a pinky. We wanted no nipples, so we nicked them off with pennies, the same way our aunts flayed lotto scratchers. They lost. We were numberless under our nipples. We won the moon, though, and argued about who would get to pop it like a balloon. We wanted Barbies whose knees...
Continue Reading "Vengeance" by K-Ming Chang
Smokelong Weekly for October 5, 2020
In nightmares, I arrive too late. Abuela dies and I hop on a plane, too late to say goodbye, too late to hold her hand, too late to hear her last words. Too late, as always, for everything. So, of course, this comes true. I book a flight and I tell my boyfriend, not to come—really, no, it’s okay—and I call Mamá, and she doesn't pick up, and I stay in my childhood home that smells like comejen and the...
Continue Reading "Dirt" by María Alejandra Barrios
Quail With A Topknot
Smokelong Weekly for September 28, 2020
“There's a bird in the library,” I tell the librarian. The university employee has thin, penciled brows and a nest of brown hair. I place the encyclopedia on her desk. With an unsteady hand I show her the wet splatter of bird dropping—an irregular stain on the information about polling methods. “I need this material for class.” “Maybe where you're from, birds come into libraries. Not in Arizona.” Her red-tipped finger indicates the closed windows of the air-conditioned building. I...
Continue Reading "Quail With A Topknot" by Sudha Balagopal
Smokelong Weekly for September 14, 2020
My dad had students. He taught social work. They’d call to discuss the reading. They must’ve been insomniacs or late-night readers—or maybe vampires. They’d call at all hours of the night. I’d pick up. I’d hold the receiver in my hand. Then my dad picked up in the other room. Hang up, he said. OK, I said. I fake-clicked. I may have done this a couple times. The girl talked, for the most part. Neither of them said anything really...
Continue Reading "*69" by Leonora Desar
Smokelong Weekly for September 7, 2020
There’s a five-minute timer on the board behind her as she tells me about the boys who raped her. The other kids are answering the question: What was one moment from Spring Break that sticks out to you? And she’s standing at my desk telling me about the boys, the apartment, her sister needing to run to Rite Aid, something about a prescription, I’ll be right back, the video games, the rice on the stove, the second room, the lights...
Continue Reading "Zero" by Emily James
Why I think of you every time I bruise
Smokelong Weekly for August 31, 2020
Because we were young enough that we rarely made it to a bed big enough for two, and instead we loved each other in cars, on the floor, on rigid dorm-room beds with plastic coverings, in the shower. Because we were young enough that we didn’t care if other people heard, if they were on the other side of the wall laughing, and we would smile about the things they heard in the morning, because that made us feel wanted...
Continue Reading "Why I think of you every time I bruise" by Madeline Anthes
What is Ours
Smokelong Weekly for August 24, 2020
My father began constructing his metropolis the morning after my sister died. It was odd. I came down the stairs in my fuzzy socks and polka dot shorts, hoping for coffee and finding the pot near empty. Just a layer of gritty water, some cigarette butts swimming in their own ash. It was six am, summer sun slathering our counters thick like with honey. I settled for water in a mug and cupped my hands around it as if it...
Continue Reading "What is Ours" by Meg Walters
Smokelong Weekly for August 17, 2020
People have been trying to take down the Influencers for some time now but I have my eyes fixed on just the one. I’ve been watching her for a long time. I have her notifications turned on. I know she’s just returned from Seminyak, Bali; I know the Jetstar flight she was on got delayed twice. I know she had trouble at the airport, that she slipped through just before Indonesia closed its borders, I know she resents having to...
Continue Reading "Waiting" by Jemimah Wei
Smokelong Weekly for August 10, 2020
The Sauders are almost prepared for winter. Silo shuttered, woodpile tarped, perennial bed snipped of spent blooms. Mrs. Sauder is canning in the kitchen, she leaves the radio loud to listen for bad weather. The girl is upstairs stitching. Mr. Sauder kills a pig in the barn. Mr. Sauder slaughters to celebrate winter’s first snow. He’s past the hard part, bolt gun and leg binds, the thing is now meat and exsanguinates above a bucket in the barn. He walks...
Continue Reading "To Pieces" by Abby Feden
This Is How You Give A Baby CPR
Smokelong Weekly for August 3, 2020
I’m feeling different recently. Erica and I. We’re feeling differently. I write it in an email. To my mother and her mother. I say: DEAR MOM and ERICA’S MOM, We’re feeling differently recently. How about you? Sincerely, Peter and Erica I write it to our moms because we’re good adult children. I write it so they’ll call, and we can switch to the telephone, and I can say “Do you know how pregnant Erica is?” and they’ll say “No,” so...
Continue Reading "This Is How You Give A Baby CPR" by Kyra Baldwin
Smokelong Weekly for July 27, 2020
Richard had bought me hot chocolate and churros, which was the kind of thing he always did when he felt guilty. The texture of the hot chocolate was like sludge, and I imagined my stomach filling with mud. I pushed it away. “Eat, beautiful. Please. Do you want something else?” I shook my head. My hair was uneven and shorn up to my ears. I’d hacked it off the week before with nail scissors in a hostel bathroom in Lisbon...
Continue Reading "Search Party" by Rebecca Turkewitz
How to Build a Bunker
Smokelong Weekly for July 20, 2020
To survive a nuclear blast, you need to be at least 3 feet underground. Also, you need 36 inches of concrete or tightly packed dirt to shield you from the blast radius. Whether you survive or not, depends on the size of the bomb. Our bomb was 5'4" and mother-shaped. Days after Mom left, Dad started to dig the hole. Once it was deep enough, he waterproofed the walls and floor with a thick rubber membrane like the ones used...
Continue Reading "How to Build a Bunker" by L.M. Brown
Smokelong Weekly for July 13, 2020
One You and I, we try on a new last name for me when I am eleven and you are fourteen. We’re at a summer camp, a place with weepy hemlock trees and cabins that smell like bridle leather. After dinner at the mess, we stand in a circle of your cabinmates, boys with too-long limbs, as they steal looks at me from under their baseball caps. Scuff their sneakers against the dirt. “This is Annie,” you say ruffling my...
Continue Reading "Four Lies" by Ashley Wilson Fellers
Smokelong Weekly for July 6, 2020
The sea breeze whips at my bathrobe and whistles beneath the floorboards of the front porch. Something seems off again, but I can’t put my finger on it. Millie says the isolation will do that to you. Behind me, the glass dome of Hak Island Lighthouse glints in the autumn haze. The dome is called the cupola, as I’ve learned since we first moved in as caretakers. Millie says the word originally meant a burying vault. I look out on...
Continue Reading "Cupola" by Jiksun Cheung
Smokelong Weekly for June 29, 2020
If you wanted to know the way my Abuelo pescador tiraba su raya (every morning just before dawn to not wake up the fish) I wouldn’t be able to tell you, I grew up apart from him and his ways and Abuela’s ways—Abuela who would be always in the kitchen, starting the coffee in the greca and, moliendo maiz for the arepas—and I wouldn’t know about them because I didn’t ask, and because I didn’t ask nobody told me—en boca...
Continue Reading "Ciénaga" by María Alejandra Barrios
All Your Fragile History
Smokelong Weekly for June 22, 2020
I got this DNA test for my dog because he looks like a cloud and he looks like a luckdragon and he looks like something your lint roller picked up when you banged it around under the couch for the first time in three years and I was sick of people asking sick of having no answer when they did so I followed all the directions on the packet I got him first thing in the morning before he could...
Continue Reading "All Your Fragile History" by Jasmine Sawers
Smokelong Weekly for March 16, 2020
The hand tremors hold off until the second “F” now. “Progress!” the therapist says. “I know you don’t think you can…” But it’s not that. It’s not a question of strength. It’s about beginning. Or reprisal. Pale yellow pads are best. They contrast well with black Sharpies. No one can miss a bumblebee. Bold shades feel childish, multi-colored stacks, desperate and chaotic. Pale is unpretentious. Professional. Informative, but not pushy. “Do you think it matters to most people?” the therapist...
Continue Reading "Paper Nests" by Laurel Miram
Smokelong Weekly for March 9, 2020
Charles is my blood and what he feels, I feel. From the overhead vent, a soft breeze cools the sweat of his neck. I experience the small blessing of it, seeing him lean soft arms onto the checkout counter. My brother is dressed in the same black suit he wears to all our dinners. Charles is baldheaded like me, although my bony pate is covered--in the way of middle-aged men and ball players like the young Turk I saw near the...
Continue Reading "Over There" by Patricia Q. Bidar
Smokelong Weekly for March 2, 2020
Old boyfriend used to work the overnight at Hy-Vee, and I’d meet him in the parking lot around dawn. Sometimes I’d bring an Egg McMuffin and coffee, and sometimes it would just be chewing tobacco and Kit-Kat bars, and then we’d drive on up to the place Buddy Holly died and talk about insects. We’d talk about moths. He would tell jokes about purgatory and our pal Buddy having to listen to the crickets for eternity, and then we’d grab...
Continue Reading "Midnight Shift" by Brett Biebel
Buried Deep, Buried for Good
Smokelong Weekly for February 24, 2020
We climb the mountain in moonlight. Kagan leads with his impossibly long legs. I have my little shovel, the one I carry everywhere like other girls carry lipgloss or tampons. You never know when you might need a good shovel, when you might curse yourself for leaving yours behind, for not thinking contingencies, worst cases, opportunities. The city lights fade as we climb; the air gets clearer. Gone is the staleness of bodies breathing and sweating en masse. We sit,...
Continue Reading "Buried Deep, Buried for Good" by Dakota Canon
Smokelong Weekly for February 17, 2020
"Is there a war?" my grandfather said. My father explained it to him once and my mother explained it to him once. They explained how my Uncle Jerry had gone to Jafco's with his sister Aleya and she had gone to the bathroom and a man had started shooting people. "That's war. I know. What you're talking about is war." "Okay, Pop. The point is that Jerry is gone." "Soldiers die in wars." "Okay, Pop." "They're supposed to give us...
Continue Reading "A Soldier" by Siamak Vossoughi
Smokelong Weekly for February 10, 2020
My father creeps down the hall in his lobster costume, big red tail ssss-ing as it drags across the carpet. It’s been this way since my mother left two Junes ago, piling her things into the back of a cab, headed for Hollywood or Vegas, somewhere bright and impatient. “I never did get to do the exciting things,” she said, tying a pink kerchief around her crepe-skinned neck. She squeezed me to her chest like I was sending her off,...
Continue Reading "Lobster" by Rachel Reeher
We Expect You To Take This Seriously
Smokelong Weekly for February 3, 2020
The myth starts here: You join a sorority and spend your nights marching the streets of a college town with a group of girls dressed in black. Sworn to silence. Like you’re going to war, but you have to be quiet. Yeah. You’re going to war! A pack of women, stealthy in the night, black leggings, black sweatshirts, black tennis shoes. This is how wars are won. Comradery. Uniforms! There are two older members up front, yelling: They are in...
Continue Reading "We Expect You To Take This Seriously" by Emma Stough
Happiness is Homemade
Smokelong Weekly for January 27, 2020
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 back as he walked down the driveway to the car to head to work, just as she did every day. She spent her morning prepping...
Continue Reading "Happiness is Homemade" by Alise Miller
What You Owe
Smokelong Weekly for January 20, 2020
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, how it careened above the hill, boards gone blue and splintered with rot? If there were stairs leading up to the house, he couldn’t see...
Continue Reading "What You Owe" by Alison Stine
Lucy Ignores Death
Smokelong Weekly for January 13, 2020
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 college who sells Adderall. He also has a Jeep, so she thinks she just might date him, or at least let him feel her up. ...
Continue Reading "Lucy Ignores Death" by L. Soviero
Stories We Will Always Know
Smokelong Weekly for January 6, 2020
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 handball within the defensible perimeter of the cafeteria instead of in the kill zone of playground courts. On Wednesday, he put Frank Twombly in a...
Continue Reading "Stories We Will Always Know" by Robert P. Kaye
Smokelong Weekly for December 16, 2019
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 aren’t. Mark was one of those boys with nervous hands. He could riffle shuffle a deck of cards like a professional dealer. He spun pens...
Continue Reading "Knife Game" by Kira Homsher
Smokelong Weekly for December 9, 2019
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 of my shirt flipping up and then you would have seen that I don’t wear a bra. Then there would have been the chance you...
Continue Reading "Cartwheel" by Mia Heavener
Smokelong Weekly for December 2, 2019
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 prepare. Once home, you read everything you can find on Ocapa Squid. You talk with your husband about the new pink of their skin, how...
Continue Reading "Mother" by Christen Noel Kauffman
The First Invention
Smokelong Weekly for November 25, 2019
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 game on its phone at the same time. Two-hundred dollars worth of candy cereal and bagel bites, a family pack of toilet paper, diapers, and...
Continue Reading "The First Invention" by Tyler Sones
Smokelong Weekly for November 18, 2019
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 is gross and probably against the scout law. Your scoutmaster always emphasizes the word “clean” between “brave” and “reverent,” and when he does you know...
Continue Reading "Gator Bait" by Alexander Cendrowski
Smokelong Weekly for November 11, 2019
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 I might be easing the workload of an actual librarian. Maybe she approaches me because I’m wearing my pinstriped pants and my professional shirt with...
Continue Reading "Librarian" by Wendy BooydeGraaff
The Thick of It
Smokelong Weekly for November 4, 2019
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 is a tree cutter. Around here “we call ˈem tree cutters,” he says, when he gets to telling stories about his childhood and his younger...
Continue Reading "The Thick of It" by Sacha Bissonnette
Smokelong Weekly for October 28, 2019
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 and pawn shops, cocktail-lounged cinder block and glass brick and pocked faded Pabst Blue Ribbon signs. The post-industrial age recedes from my window, rubbed out...
Continue Reading "Double Blind" by David Ryan
What You Will Think About at Your Mother’s Deathwatch
Smokelong Weekly for October 21, 2019
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, like the bare Japanese maple branches outside your childhood bedroom window. Think about the fleshy lobes of her ears that your seventh grade science teacher...
Continue Reading "What You Will Think About at Your Mother’s Deathwatch" by Shawn Nocher
Smokelong Weekly for October 14, 2019
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 you as his victim—and for the next few weeks your life gets more exciting. You wait for the recess bell to ring with secret joy....
Continue Reading "Recess" by Cameron Conover
On Desert Towns and How To Leave Them
Smokelong Weekly for October 7, 2019
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, somewhat drunk, he stands in the middle of a two-lane highway, arms outstretched, another corndog-throw moment, just before the jeep strikes him at 47 miles...
Continue Reading "On Desert Towns and How To Leave Them" by Shawn Mangerino
Smokelong Weekly for September 30, 2019
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 case of opposites attracting so nobody was completely surprised when whispers started circling about trouble in paradise, which is a silly expression because nobody describes...
Continue Reading "Eternal Sunshine" by Tom McMillan
Smokelong Weekly for September 9, 2019
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 mountain behind the mountain behind the mountain, and the sun doing the holy breaking through the clouds, and the clouds low down and golden, the...
Continue Reading "Flush" by Margie Sarsfield
Friday Night at Debra Jo’s Phone Sex Emporium
Smokelong Weekly for September 2, 2019
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 and then some pressure. So much of the female reproductive system summed up in two sensations. They would have understood if I hadn’t come in...
Continue Reading "Friday Night at Debra Jo’s Phone Sex Emporium" by Amy Rossi
Smokelong Weekly for August 26, 2019
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 described it earlier when he suggested adding this stop to our trip, and I think, Any place can be scenic, depending upon the scenes in...
Continue Reading "Human Song" by Shannon McLeod
This Woman Is the Only Woman
Smokelong Weekly for August 19, 2019
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 with a white bow on one ear. This daughter comes down for breakfast breathless and flushed and missing a tooth. When her mother asks her...
Continue Reading "This Woman Is the Only Woman" by Emily Flamm
Smokelong Weekly for August 12, 2019
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 looking at me as though he might need permission. The crayon is red, always red. Sometimes I ease the green into his palm, trace a...
Continue Reading "Marks" by Johanna Robinson
Smokelong Weekly for August 5, 2019
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 reading now?” Dad asked and swatted Ben’s feet off the leather. Ben let them hang unnaturally. “I’m reading about how probable it is that we’re...
Continue Reading "The Outlier" by Al Kratz
Smokelong Weekly for July 29, 2019
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 to do: I’m going to become you. The chosen one should never fight or scream. Day 2 I’m going to become the kind of...
Continue Reading "Mortality Event" by Hadiyyah Kuma
All About Things That Can Hurt
Smokelong Weekly for July 22, 2019
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 the complicated co-parenting arrangements we worked out with the help of lawyers, and it would probably be better if I didn't call him because last...
Continue Reading "All About Things That Can Hurt" by Stephanie Reents
Smokelong Weekly for July 15, 2019
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 first, the two oldest, all cherry cheeks with tiny axes in their hands, smears of dirt and dust on their name plates where damp cloths...
Continue Reading "Earthquake Girls" by Jayne S. Wilson
My Father’s Soul
Smokelong Weekly for July 8, 2019
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 hours in our basement with seeds and leaves, extracting, grinding, mixing. I get to tend these herbs in Rome, which affirm the permanence of our...
Continue Reading "My Father’s Soul" by Martha Witt
Smokelong Weekly for July 1, 2019
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 in a sludge of London slurry. She is snapped, her skull six metres down, tiding with gravel. Her gut gurgling coke cans and Primark, plastic...
Continue Reading "Liquid History" by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace
Smokelong Weekly for June 10, 2019
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. The characters never found themselves beheaded or folded into baking ovens or disfigured by cruel magic—these gruesome turns had been excised from the narratives—but each...
Continue Reading "Viewfinder" by Christopher Santantasio
Smokelong Weekly for June 3, 2019
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 churns someone has posted signs. Do not swim, risky waters, threat of drowning, hand written on birch bark and nailed to every fifth tree. Years...
Continue Reading "Shallow Water" by Caits Meissner
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
Smokelong Weekly for May 27, 2019
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 wakes up in the middle of the night with a sudden urge to check on me. Let’s say she is heading up to bed herself...
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" by Liz Declan
Smokelong Weekly for May 20, 2019
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 are fleeing a wickedness we can’t see. I admit, I used to believe her. Nowadays, I think it’s probably just bad luck. Once, when I...
Continue Reading "Flyover" by Jen Julian
“Parasol,” Demetrios Jameson, 1947
Smokelong Weekly for May 13, 2019
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 grandmother. The nurse warned us she could burn her tongue and lips and chin. I call my mother. She answers after five rings. “Hey, when...
Continue Reading "“Parasol,” Demetrios Jameson, 1947" by C. Line Beston
Good Old Leon
Smokelong Weekly for May 6, 2019
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 without him and days when I think: he’s one of the lucky ones. Like today, when winds from the polar vortex are madly playing the...
Continue Reading "Good Old Leon" by Matthew Vollmer
Smokelong Weekly for April 29, 2019
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 spongy undersides of her tongue tingle with anticipation. Then the hair on her arms stands up and she hears a quiet crackling noise whispering around her, needling the skin on the back of her neck. Then—after the blue flash—all the cows at the metal feeder...
Continue Reading "Milk Money" by Chloe Vaughan
The Least Fucked Up People
Smokelong Weekly for April 22, 2019
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 of squatty buildings, a gazebo, quacking ducks, and a brown lake. Nervous looking people huddle around deck tables. Frank always holds his body rigid when...
Continue Reading "The Least Fucked Up People" by Max Hipp
The Day of Small Things
Smokelong Weekly for April 15, 2019
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 how they are, I like to tell the bodies and the people inside them, “You’re doing great.” And I’m not just saying that as a...
Continue Reading "The Day of Small Things" by Emily Dezurick-Badran
The Space of a Decade
Smokelong Weekly for April 8, 2019
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 to the touch. He wears his only smile—lips curved in one corner—and he doesn't say a word. I laugh. I glance at the full moon...
Continue Reading "The Space of a Decade" by Jake TS Wryte
Smokelong Weekly for March 18, 2019
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 a daughter of her own, the name spilled out with the afterbirth. Now my Louise, who was not Louise, carried the name around like a...
Continue Reading "Not Louise" by Sutton Strother
The Strings Between Us
Smokelong Weekly for March 11, 2019
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 asking the internet, asking Google, typing on the keyboard, the keyboard with the broken A key, the broken O key, you yourself most likely guessing...
Continue Reading "The Strings Between Us" by James Braun
A Map of Woebegone Places
Smokelong Weekly for March 4, 2019
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. On the side table is his note, all the hand-written alphabets shivering against each other because he has no faith in capital letters: off to lonesome...
Continue Reading "A Map of Woebegone Places " by Elaine Chiew
Emma Jane Watson in a Drawer
Smokelong Weekly for February 25, 2019
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 in uniform. A man off to war. Emma Jane Watson tucked between photos of a family on the church steps, a child with her dog....
Continue Reading "Emma Jane Watson in a Drawer" by Natalie Teal McAllister
Smokelong Weekly for February 18, 2019
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 orange. Not a classy shade of orange, like pumpkin, but the too-bright, in-your-face color of a reflector vest. “You should tell your friends the color...
Continue Reading "Useful Information" by Kim Magowan
Smokelong Weekly for February 11, 2019
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 something in a paper cup. I don’t know what Jason is doing. He’s somewhere else. I’m alone in some kind of exam room. I vomit...
Continue Reading "Helicopter Parent" by MFC Feeley
Smokelong Weekly for February 4, 2019
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 I’m pretty sure it’s something else, something bigger, something a crow shouldn’t be able to pluck out of a plundered trashcan, if you know what...
Continue Reading "Bone" by Didi Wood
Smokelong Weekly for January 28, 2019
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 a few hours away. In the winter, she could see the Sabbath coming in the ice. She could see the sky inverted, blushing, and then...
Continue Reading "Airplane Mode" by Raven Leilani
In November 2017
Smokelong Weekly for January 21, 2019
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 the ethyl acetate gave her migraines—but instead she said, Christian died today. He was our age, born in the two years that separated us. How?...
Continue Reading "In November 2017" by S.L. Bailey
Smokelong Weekly for January 14, 2019
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 she was crouched below her desk, she watched a muted YouTube video about the opiate epidemic. The people interviewed were desperate-looking, lost. Allyssa Johnson was...
Continue Reading "Blank" by Shoshana Surek
What Wasn’t Swallowed Was Exhaled
Smokelong Weekly for January 7, 2019
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 at the spigot, the door opened so rarely that it ached when it was. Groceries were stored in an icebox at the backdoor, and were...
Continue Reading "What Wasn’t Swallowed Was Exhaled" by Tucker Leighty-Phillips
Milk and Other Lies
Smokelong Weekly for December 10, 2018
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 turned gold overnight, shining with butterscotch. Children hurtle in, barefoot – hungry for its sweet promises. “Does it fill you up?” I ask a boy...
Continue Reading "Milk and Other Lies" by Judy Darley
The Great Abide
Smokelong Weekly for December 3, 2018
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, you’ll find a rusted-out double-wide where it dead ends, and in that double-wide you’ll find two little girls staring out of the window, waiting. One...
Continue Reading "The Great Abide" by Brooke Fossey
Smokelong Weekly for November 26, 2018
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 than she imagined, as if the furniture is nailed to the ceiling or as if it’s all underwater. It feels wrong. She remembers her mother’s...
Continue Reading "Arrangement" by Jessica Dealing
Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table
Smokelong Weekly for November 19, 2018
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 dorm room, a roommate who listens to Norwegian Black Metal, and these cool things called jeans instead of corsets and gowns. In her leisure, there...
Continue Reading "Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table" by Jules Archer
Smokelong Weekly for November 12, 2018
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 time, so I decided to try it with my verbal communication as well. This was just before my wife left. I’d say things like ‘pass...
Continue Reading "Alligator" by Christopher M Drew
There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles
Smokelong Weekly for November 5, 2018
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 old that her bun was the size of a cherry and her boobs dangled against her rib cage. One time I found her stash of...
Continue Reading "There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles" by Vivien Cao
Smokelong Weekly for October 29, 2018
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 the 1800s. We laugh imagining dorky Devin using his one real hand to grind wheat. I hate laughing about Devin. All year we have mandatory...
Continue Reading "Second Base" by Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice
What I Have Coming To Me
Smokelong Weekly for October 22, 2018
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; in fact I am living my own repeating nightmare. They used to reassure me merely by laughing. Ten years after that they reassured me more...
Continue Reading "What I Have Coming To Me" by Maddy Raskulinecz
Smokelong Weekly for October 15, 2018
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 the bust of a rainbow-maned unicorn, and Baby Spice hair, two bobbles, symmetrical as shit. The Unicorn is neon-purple Geri-Spice-circa-1996 platform shoes. The Unicorn is...
Continue Reading "The Unicorn" by Ashley Kalagian Blunt
Smokelong Weekly for October 8, 2018
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 charcoal sketch. Legend claimed no amount of paint could cover the face; its scowl resurfaced again and again. “Who was he?” I asked. “Nobody knows.”...
Continue Reading "Trespassers" by Shelli Cornelison
The Sand and the Sea
Smokelong Weekly for October 1, 2018
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 my mother, and she doesn’t demand I do. We eat the ice cream in the car, my skin stinging where dozens of jellyfish tentacles caressed...
Continue Reading "The Sand and the Sea" by Michelle Ross
Smokelong Weekly for September 10, 2018
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 contact, but we always had two bottles of water, cool from the mini fridge by his desk. We were there mostly to watch Jack work,...
Continue Reading "Ourself, Ourself" by Lindsey Baker
Smokelong Weekly for September 3, 2018
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 woodsy smell of its fur, not for his psychological temperament. I leave the other six nameless. Nutty and the others live in the pen I...
Continue Reading "Government-issued Bunnies" by Caroline Bock
Now You See Me
Smokelong Weekly for August 27, 2018
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. We laugh when Buddy comes running to us with the ball clenched in his slobber-foamed jaws. We toss the soggy ball until our arms ache,...
Continue Reading "Now You See Me" by Tiffany Quay Tyson
If the light, then the light
Smokelong Weekly for August 20, 2018
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 he will stay awake, go over each choice he made today. Everything that went wrong. His work will fail. He will fail. The next morning,...
Continue Reading "If the light, then the light" by Beckie Dashiell
We Lose Our Virginities
Smokelong Weekly for August 13, 2018
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 pain. The next boys to walk in, says our favourite brave idiot, the very next boys to walk into the bar will be the ones...
Continue Reading "We Lose Our Virginities" by Diana Clarke
The Way to Reach You
Smokelong Weekly for August 6, 2018
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 Dad’s fried pork chops lingers like hot laughter. They sold that house, you know. And like the maple that stood in our front yard with...
Continue Reading "The Way to Reach You" by Janelle M. Williams
Sky Like Concrete
Smokelong Weekly for July 30, 2018
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 eyes still on my gin cup, which I grab from the cup holder with my good hand, the other one having been rotten since the...
Continue Reading "Sky Like Concrete" by Mike Riess
Smokelong Weekly for July 23, 2018
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 and war, in Soviet fake fur coats since it was -15C outside and the heating system had been broken for weeks. One time, during one...
Continue Reading "The Photo" by Svetlana Beggs
Smokelong Weekly for July 16, 2018
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 one day, she said, standing in front of her house, and it continued to visit because, well, it liked bread. Sherry held out her hand....
Continue Reading "Swans" by John Mancini
All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE
Smokelong Weekly for June 18, 2018
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 going down the block and into forever, and I ran to pick her up, this mottled mess of blood and fur. I figured she’d be...
Continue Reading "All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE" by Devin Kelly
One Purple Finch
Smokelong Weekly for April 16, 2018
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 of the day and say now what should we do? We should be friends forever and hold each other's hands and tell each other when...
Continue Reading "One Purple Finch" by Kathy Fish
The Village with All of the Boyfriends
Smokelong Weekly for April 1, 2018
Editor's note: Zach Doss, you are missed. ___________ 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 pace, sometimes you stomp a sleeping leg until it wakes up, sometimes you sit cross-legged in the dust. You spit and the ground soaks it...
Continue Reading "The Village with All of the Boyfriends" by Zachary Doss
Smokelong Weekly for March 12, 2018
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 mean?” “Cubalub,” he said. “Cubalub. Cubalub. Cubalub.” He left me with crumbs around my mouth, my plate. And he left. I asked the guys...
Continue Reading "Cubalub" by Alex Eaker
The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood
Smokelong Weekly for March 5, 2018
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 in the back. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I sit in the driver’s seat, looking at the rear of the camper parked in front of...
Continue Reading "The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood" by Lori Sambol Brody
Smokelong Weekly for February 26, 2018
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 same sleep. But he’d been down here all along, gooshy arteries clutching the railing, longing. I’d been lying to myself, but as long ago as...
Continue Reading "Parasomnia" by Emily Jane Young
Smokelong Weekly for February 19, 2018
“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 body snatched this person I am now trapped inside. My/his name is Dan. Except I don’t remember ever being an extraterrestrial. Maybe an intergalactic buddy...
Continue Reading "Body Snatcher" by Daniel Myers
Smokelong Weekly for February 12, 2018
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 the dining hall from the Corner House. We hold this greatness in our shoulders. We use our shoulders to propel other great boys across fields...
Continue Reading "History" by Maia Jenkins
The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log
Smokelong Weekly for February 5, 2018
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 bed and investigating things. Night Two The noises are a little louder tonight, scuffles and thumps, like someone moving furniture. Christ’s sake, I say....
Continue Reading "The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log" by Amber Sparks
Smokelong Weekly for January 29, 2018
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 I was the advisor of the school’s magic club. All she wanted to learn was the trick to pull the quarter out behind the ear,...
Continue Reading "Safe" by David Lerner Schwartz
Smokelong Weekly for January 22, 2018
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. The yawn of sunlight at the window. Hot breath. Holy hell. You’re swaddled in sweatshirts, balled up like a large teenage sock. All warm in...
Continue Reading "umbilical" by Shea Stripling
Aftershave and Soil
Smokelong Weekly for January 15, 2018
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, even though I’d rather wash my hair. He does my makeup first, like in the movies. My husband’s good at makeup. He always knows what...
Continue Reading "Aftershave and Soil" by Leonora Desar
Smokelong Weekly for January 8, 2018
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 trembles as she mutters to herself. The hairs on top of her mother’s lip, unshaven. Pia wants to crawl out from under the table, to...
Continue Reading "Lifeline" by Sumita Mukherji
Smokelong Weekly for January 1, 2018
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 me to become a valley myself, for other people to pass through. My boy will bury me in the clogged turf and more of the...
Continue Reading "Sharp Sticks" by Rob Yates
Smokelong Weekly for December 18, 2017
At daybreak, when your mother brings you a café con leche, then asks if you have a moment, slide a chair over and say, “For you. Always.” She doesn’t need to know the ins-and-outs of the ongoing investigation, all the ways your brother incriminated the family. She doesn’t need to know that everything is on the line: the house, the cheap festival artwork, the view of the golf course. Lie because your mother deserves better, this miracle of a woman...
Continue Reading "Filthy, Polluted" by Raul Palma
חלב חם / Warm Milk
Smokelong Weekly for December 11, 2017
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 below. Warm Milk חלב חם
Continue Reading "חלב חם / Warm Milk" by Lea Klibanoff – Ron
I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute
Smokelong Weekly for December 4, 2017
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...
Continue Reading "I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute" by Pete Segall
There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea
Smokelong Weekly for November 27, 2017
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 A1A, and tongues the front doors of the empty beach houses. We crawled flipper footed out of the ocean, and it longs to pull us...
Continue Reading "There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea" by Rebecca Saltzman
Smokelong Weekly for November 20, 2017
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 hair? It seems your tiara’s gotten washed away—would you like to wear mine for a while? During times of stress it’s easy to fall back...
Continue Reading "Princess Shipwreck" by Tessa Yang
Smokelong Weekly for November 13, 2017
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.” Sharon says nothing. She has to be at work Monday, Geoff’s daughters back at their mom’s, and she knows Geoff won’t listen, or else he’ll...
Continue Reading "The Cartographers" by Joshua Jones
The Heavy Things
Smokelong Weekly for November 6, 2017
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 the paper towels I could grab, but I was frightened and clumsy. I cut my finger on something down there, the prickling thing. I was...
Continue Reading "The Heavy Things" by Julian K. Jarboe
Smokelong Weekly for October 30, 2017
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 she doesn’t answer. She’s been frozen in that position for the last twenty-four hours. They thought she was working late the night before but she’d...
Continue Reading "Nature." by Cheryl Pappas
Smokelong Weekly for October 23, 2017
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 grasp could crack walnuts. When she ushers me inside, I hesitate, wondering if I’ve made a mistake coming back, but then she leads me by...
Continue Reading "Our Father" by Jonathan D. Nixon
Pastor Bob’s Picnic
Smokelong Weekly for October 16, 2017
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, and Pastor Bob developed a dislike for dogs. Lately, he’d developed a dislike for pastoring, too. He was sure the people were coming for the...
Continue Reading "Pastor Bob’s Picnic" by Lee Reilly
Smokelong Weekly for October 9, 2017
July 1945 Ueno, Japan Ueno Zoo housed exotic animals from around the world. The officers at war shipped them from faraway places. The handsomest leopards with shiny tassels arrived. The longest, most venomous snakes were shipped in woven baskets. Ueno Zoo overflowed with parades of 700-pound polar bears. The line to see the bears winded back towards the bridge and up the steps so the curious town could greet the pure white beasts. The beasts did not come from Japan,...
Continue Reading "Ueno Zoo" by E. J. Koh
Smokelong Weekly for October 2, 2017
My therapist Leo says, “So how are the warts?” and I look down at my hand, the three little discs of salicylic acid on my pinky and ring finger, and tell him the medicine’s working, they’re slowly melting away. I tell him it’s my hip that’s been bothering me. I’ve got this tear in my labrum—the cartilage in the joint. It’s something that happens to forty-year-olds with too much bone in the rounded balls of their femurs. My wife laughs...
Continue Reading "Starlings" by Steve Edwards
What We Do for Work
Smokelong Weekly for September 11, 2017
With a straight face, the client says he prefers we blow him because he’s worried our cunts have teeth. The name for this myth is vagina dentata. It’s obviously not real. What is real is eurotophobia: the fear of uteri, vaginas, labia. I guess that this is what he has. Or castration anxiety, Melanie says later. Between us, we have a half-major in sociology, another half in lit, one minor in psych. I would have finished mine but what difference...
Continue Reading "What We Do for Work" by Caitlyn GD
Smokelong Weekly for September 4, 2017
“It’s like husking corn,” he tells her. “See? Like this. Just rip, rip, rip, and it’s done.” Does he mean shucking? He must mean shucking. But corn doesn’t have a head and eyes, a flippy tail, a cluster of legs to be yanked off. Corn wasn’t gliding through the ocean on Thursday, perching on submerged, barnacle-crusted boulders, diving into the sediment to escape a school of predatory salmon. Isla’s vision dims, the shrimp in her hand an indistinct smear of...
Continue Reading "Husking" by Didi Wood
Smokelong Weekly for August 28, 2017
I went to Mexico with my mother when I was twenty-four. We were going to spend two weeks on a tour of churches and shrines, and she was paying for everything. I liked the religious angle of the deal. Because of the delicate ecosystem of uppers and downers that comprised my bloodstream, I was afraid of everything, so I went to mass a lot and prayed the rosary. It calmed me, but I still spent a lot of time begging...
Continue Reading "San Miguel" by Jane V. Blunschi
Sins of Omission
Smokelong Weekly for August 21, 2017
My father records my transgressions in a large blue ledger with marbled edges. Dropped lumps of coal out of the scuttle whilst taking it to the living room fireplace. Punishment: Six slaps with the leather dog collar. Stealing money from Mam’s purse. Punishment: Fifteen slaps with the leather dog collar. Staring out the window for no reason. Punishment: Banished to my room for the afternoon. From my bedroom window, Mrs. Prendergast clacks her way up the avenue at exactly half past five...
Continue Reading "Sins of Omission" by James Claffey
Smokelong Weekly for August 14, 2017
The dog we had to get rid of was the same color as the dirt in the field. We carried it there and dropped it on the ground, and its fur matched the dirt just right. If we squinted our eyes, almost we couldn’t see it. On the way to the field it kept shaking and bucking; we broke its bones. They went snap like a wet stick. Always bad ideas with me and Cole. Worse and worse. Gimme that...
Continue Reading "Good Boys" by Tamara Schuyler
I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck
Smokelong Weekly for August 7, 2017
Hello, Spokane. You peer into the darkness. You could play your first album in your sleep, but you start with the new stuff. You didn’t promise anyone anything—even Brian Wilson doesn’t sing about t-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs anymore. Does he? They haven't come for you. They came for 1994, when you and all those other bands were kinda famous. They came to remember how uncomplicated their lives were, full of promise, because promise is light as air,...
Continue Reading "I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck" by Jen Michalski
Still Life with Hairball
Smokelong Weekly for July 31, 2017
A straightened hanger lay in the sink, one end pointing to the ceiling, the other weighted by a bolus of hair and muck, grease and gravy, sauces to make bland things palatable, bits of whatever was unwanted—mushy peas and slimy mushrooms—the final plum of sink fruit Beth had gathered from the pipes, then dissected, searching for her wedding ring. Across the floor, splattered on the walls, gray slime and globs of everything that had slid down the drain and stuck...
Continue Reading "Still Life with Hairball" by Robyn Groth
All of us are in pieces
Smokelong Weekly for July 24, 2017
A fire gutted the tire factory three streets from our old apartment, where he still lives. It burned for days. The suburb was covered with a thick, gray pall for a week. Tires contain particularly flammable components, he tells me. He lists them. I am slipping away, floating from the cafe and down the street. “Did anyone die?” I say. “No, it was an insurance job. Why would anyone die?” “I don’t know,” I say. I want to say, please...
Continue Reading "All of us are in pieces" by Melissa Goode
Smokelong Weekly for July 17, 2017
The channel was so narrow the manatees could only swim through in single file, and we took turns diving into the water, riding their backs for a few seconds before surfacing. Their skin was soothing to touch, the globs of creatures that they were. Their blubbery bodies galumphing through the water filled us with a sense of comfort that if these ridiculous creatures were somehow still alive then we, too, were assured survival. Only Linus refused to go in, saying...
Continue Reading "Manatees" by William Todd Seabrook
Smokelong Weekly for July 10, 2017
I go out to the bodega at two a.m. when I know Fresh Garden is still selling booze until three. A month late on rent, I also know I can come up with some believable excuse to excuse my delinquency. Nine years living in this same digs, and if anything counts for anything, I have never been late, and I believe in that more than anything at all. I am the only one on the street tonight, it is Sunday,...
Continue Reading "Night Run" by Monica Lewis
Smokelong Weekly for July 3, 2017
After his divorce, Grant Costello moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to Billings, Montana. He rented an apartment above a dry cleaners and took a job at a grocery store. He told everyone at the Crow Bar his wife Tina drowned in a flash flood, even though Tina was very much alive and working as a claims adjuster in Wilmington. “Shit,” everyone told him. “Sorry.” Grant explained how he fought the rising waters to get back home and save Tina but...
Continue Reading "Floodplain" by John Jodzio
Smokelong Weekly for June 12, 2017
"Encuentro Nocturno" is part of the Global Flash Series at SmokeLong Quarterly. The English translation follows the story in its original language, Spanish. Está lloviendo. Jesús va tan rápido como puede, con el cuello del abrigo alto y el sombrero bien calado, el viejo maletín de piel apretado sobre el pecho, la cabeza embistiendo la lluvia, los zapatos lustrosos de agua y luces navideñas. Dobla una esquina y un hombre se le abalanza, lo empuja con fuerza contra la...
Continue Reading "Encuentro Nocturno" by Rodolfo Rivas
Smokelong Weekly for June 5, 2017
There were five forks on the sidewalk. They weren’t arranged in any discernable pattern, but three of the forks were bent back at ninety degree angles and the other two weren’t bent at all. It was a sunny day and the sun glinted on the tips of the tines and the bent points in the metal. “Ain’t that something?” said Georgie. “Who you suppose left those there?” I shrugged. In the distance a lawnmower purred and a weed whacker whirred....
Continue Reading "Forks" by Kevin Matz
After the Third Notice, the City Shuts Off Our Power
Smokelong Weekly for May 29, 2017
John and I pace the house by candlelight to keep our feet from going numb. The kids hug each other in our bed, which is too tall for them to reach easily. They have to stand on tip-toes, grab handfuls of sheets, and pull themselves up. Normally I say, “You can do it,” and let them try alone. Tonight I gave them each a boost. It’s so cold that John puts his fingers in his mouth to get them warm....
Continue Reading "After the Third Notice, the City Shuts Off Our Power" by Wynne Hungerford
How to be Another Person in Five Days
Smokelong Weekly for May 22, 2017
1 You will begin by letting go. Lie down and open your mouth. Can you feel them? The air particles are moving in and out, alighting on your tongue and residing in your being. The secret is in the kind of particles. If you taste yellow, stand up. This yellow is sweet like the melancholy you felt as a small child on Sunday afternoons. If you can’t taste yellow, stand up. Move toward the nearest forest. Move toward it slowly....
Continue Reading "How to be Another Person in Five Days" by Rebecca Bernard
Smokelong Weekly for May 15, 2017
Her papa's hands tremble as he opens the olives—something she can do but asks for help with anyway. It is the same sort of lid the octopus she is studying in her lab opens to dig for shrimp while she clicks the buttons on her stopwatch. In a race, Papa would shake into second, the octopus leaving him far behind. Slow to leave the table where he chops this morning's catch, slow to take the jar, slow and fumbling as...
Continue Reading "Pulpo" by Leigh Camacho Rourks
Smokelong Weekly for May 8, 2017
We are all of us born with a collection of stones. Perhaps this is not how it has always been, but this is how it is now. Little, perfect, smooth stones and jagged pieces of granite that live in the pockets of our jackets and jean pants. These stones range in size from miniscule pebbles to fist-sized mounds. A handful of basalt. A scatter of swirling gneiss. Some of these stones are treasures for us. We put our hands in...
Continue Reading "Geology" by Katelin Eden
Lucky Number Six
Smokelong Weekly for May 1, 2017
The lady in apartment 5G, her name is Rose, is one of those black widows—a woman who, for whatever reason, keeps having husbands die on her. She’s working on number six right now, and everybody’s keeping a close eye on the situation. All of the neighbors agree that Steve, the new guy, seems nice enough. He remembers everybody’s names. He’ll hold the door for you and ask you about your health as the ancient lift carries him slowly, and with...
Continue Reading "Lucky Number Six" by John Haggerty
Smokelong Weekly for April 24, 2017
He keeps her in the bedroom, hands in her lap, face straight ahead. Or either she’s doing the splits, like a cheerleader. After work, they watch television together. She straddles the recliner’s arm. He keeps the remote. Despite her big hair and blue eyeliner, he realizes she’s probably a liberal. But he doesn’t let it get to him. He sees the bigger picture, knows that they could “sit around the same campfire, look at the same stack of burning logs”...
Continue Reading "Dream Barbie" by Mamie Pound
Where the Words Go
Smokelong Weekly for April 17, 2017
Sometimes her words simply fell away unnoticed, like pearls through a careless queen’s fingers. But one was as good as the other, and she had too many to miss a few. When she came across them again, glinting in the shag carpet her children kept telling her to upgrade, she would dig them up from the dusty strands, blow off the dirt—as good as new. Sometimes they dropped like breadcrumbs she never meant to leave behind. She thought they were...
Continue Reading "Where the Words Go" by Tara Campbell
Three Ways of Getting Lost
Smokelong Weekly for April 13, 2017
1. For a moment, I truly believed that the war had come home. People ran from the streets. Missiles, directed and released by an invisible enemy, exploded whole city blocks. Trees disintegrated. Angels beyond the clouds finally sang for us. Families, friends, and total strangers clung to each other with no concern for body odors, bank accounts. Bankers held garbage men. Travel agents held architects. Children climbed into the arms of murderers, and I clung to you. You weren’t even...
Continue Reading "Three Ways of Getting Lost" by Rebecca Fishow
Smokelong Weekly for April 3, 2017
You know those little cities I told you about last night. Those tiny little cities. They’re the size of pins or smaller, they’re long and thin like pins. They rise up on each of our discarded hairs, our forsaken hairs, skyscrapers growing from our abandoned hairs. You with your giant workboots and your giant, clodding feet, you should watch your step. You’ll crush these cities and everyone in them; you’ve surely crushed a hundred already. But listen: Like our full-sized...
Continue Reading "Hunger" by Lucas Southworth
Smokelong Weekly for March 13, 2017
Editor’s Note: “i utide”--in Danish--is part of the Global Flash series at SmokeLong Quarterly. The English translation follows below. Ingen ved, hvor gammel jeg er, men jeg prøver at følge med. Min krop kan, min sjæl kan ikke. Tankerne spænder ben for hinanden, søger omveje og overlap, går i ring og fletter ind i flere niveauer. Bliver som en lagkage af motorvejskryds i stedet for de lige strækninger mellem afkørslerne. Det nedsætter hastigheden, og jo længere tid der går, des...
Continue Reading "i utide" by Lone Vitus
Story with a Gallinule’s Wing in It
Smokelong Weekly for March 6, 2017
for Margriet The sea was also in the story, just beyond dark playa trees like ironworks, the umbels of a wild carrot. This was December, near the village of Santa Teresa. There was a girl, too, not a character but an actual person, who really did say, “I want to be lost in the heat stink of jungle and surf, to raise the sea as my child, to have it break my heart.” She had a good shot. This was...
Continue Reading "Story with a Gallinule’s Wing in It" by Seth Clabough
The Life Cycle of Salmon
Smokelong Weekly for February 27, 2017
The priest comes to the house to bless Beatrice, and I have to step out of the room the way I do when the hospice nurses come in to change her bedpan: I’m not allowed to be there. Not that I want to see that, but Beatrice cracks really funny jokes about bowel movements and gets them all riled up and laughing, and I can hear it when I put my ear up to the door. I’d at least like...
Continue Reading "The Life Cycle of Salmon" by Kristin Keane
Smokelong Weekly for February 20, 2017
My little sister moved into the chandelier in our dining room. She had a pillow and some jars of food and hopefully something for a bathroom. When our mother came to talk at her—about the party tomorrow, about safety, about lots of things—something fell on her head. I picked it up and it was one of the rungs of the ladder Penelope used to get up into the chandelier. An hour later, all the pieces were on the ground beside...
Continue Reading "Straight Lines" by Ryan Werner
Smokelong Weekly for February 13, 2017
Some wolves were driven from the forest where they lived and hunted. Their forest was destroyed and made into a mall with a J. Crew and an Apple Store, so the wolves found another forest. But before too long, that forest was torn down too and made into a golf course. The wolves were completely out of forest. And the wolves didn’t golf. For a time, they tried to survive in the suburbs, but there was nothing the wolves liked...
Continue Reading "Wolves" by Bud Smith
Txaj – A Prayer
Smokelong Weekly for February 6, 2017
Dream Bird For two days I lay awake thinking of death. I blamed the election first, but time on Facebook had a hand in it. I was alone. Then he visited me. A Dream Bird usually brings herbs. That is how you know you have been chosen to be a medicine man. This one brought a ticket for Spirit Air. Three quetzals appear in the sky In my window seat, heading for Guatemala, studying Spanish phrases, I glanced out...
Continue Reading "Txaj – A Prayer" by Jeanne Jones
Smokelong Weekly for January 30, 2017
We noticed the coins first. The night before, a Tuesday, we drifted off to sleep in the ordinary world, and sometime in the night, the earth loosened its hold on us. We woke to floating disks of copper and nickel above the nightstand where we’d emptied our pockets, yesterday’s change suspended in the air like a model solar system. We saw our children walking on air, their feet skimming empty space inches above the floor. When we stepped out of...
Continue Reading "Gravity, Reduced" by Kara Oakleaf
A Smooth, Shallow Cut
Smokelong Weekly for January 23, 2017
Hadley knew she wasn't supposed to be out there. But nobody had said much of anything about what she did or didn't do for quite some time, certainly not since her mother left forty-two days ago. The night was quiet. The low hum of staticky country and western music floated across the garage, eclipsed every now and then by the harsh electric of the bug zapper down by the burn barrel. From where she stood just outside the door, her...
Continue Reading "A Smooth, Shallow Cut" by Denise Howard Long
Smokelong Weekly for January 16, 2017
I was driving southbound on Clementine towards the Whole Foods. December fifteenth and I was stopped at a red light. You were in the lane beside me with your friends in a powder blue Toyota and as you pulled up I noticed you were looking in at me. You were in a blue dress, red hair slightly curled and lightly touching your shoulders. I couldn’t help but feel like an animal in the zoo, a snake that is potentially venomous...
Continue Reading "Missed Connections" by Kevin Hatch
Smokelong Weekly for January 9, 2017
Without warning, the price of stamps began to drop. After inching up and up her whole life. Few others noticed right away, since everyone was looking at their phones, even at the post office. Still, forever, which she’d never bought anyway, came to mean something slightly different, and each day after there was a little less of it to press against and hold.
Continue Reading "Postage" by Kate Petersen
Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway
Smokelong Weekly for January 2, 2017
Lightbulbs. Penguins. Velcro. Claymation. The moon made out of cheese. Tap dancing. Yoga. Twizzlers. Mountain Dew. Jello. Colors she can eat with her eyes. Methamphetamine. Bud Lite. T-shirts. Thin and soft, they pass from person to person, men to women, each owner slipping into a team—Yankees, Warriors—and out again with no bloodshed, no thought to allegiance or tribe. And the words! Profusions of nonsense. The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Fine. Chemists Do It on the Table Periodically. Cut...
Continue Reading "Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway" by Gwen E. Kirby
Smokelong Weekly for December 12, 2016
La lune est couverte d’un voile de gaze. Le froid pénètre mes muscles. Je suis couché dans l’herbe, au bord de l’autoroute, quelque part entre Douala et Bafoussam. Où suis-je exactement ? Je ne sais pas. Je regarde la lune, les étoiles aussi, dont l’éclat est terne. Quelle heure est-il ? Je ne sais pas. Il y a eu un accident. Sans aucun doute. L’autocar dans lequel j’avais pris place, et qui devait me ramener à Douala, est sorti de la route....
Continue Reading "Accident" by Timba Bema
A Place You Know
Smokelong Weekly for December 5, 2016
We visited the City of the Dead every year. Our mother bundled us into the car early—the sun barely having crested the sky. She told us we’d get there in time for pancakes. She always promised this, even though it didn’t matter what time we got there as we could have pancakes all day long if we wanted. My little brother grumbled and then fell into sleep. I leaned forward in my seat and asked our mother questions. “Why do...
Continue Reading "A Place You Know" by Chloe N. Clark
Smokelong Weekly for November 28, 2016
The bear will knock on your door on a night deep in winter. It will smell of ice and the secret corners of the forest. Its fur will gleam whiter than the blue-tinged snow sloping away to the larches and birches that shelter your cottage. You've always suspected-dreaded-hoped that a bear would someday arrive on your doorstep, and when it does, you will let it in. Creak the door hinges, whisper the invitation, watch it track dry snow over your...
Continue Reading "The Enchantment" by Emily B. Cataneo
The Body’s Amen
Smokelong Weekly for November 21, 2016
In these southern mountains, men cleanse spirits with prayer spit—tobacco water, vinegar—while women swallow dust. Daddy and his men hunt snakes beyond the holler; they carry snake hooks that they slip inside rattler dens; they tail the snakes and push them around with those hooks before dumping them in a bag of God. Daddy forces my arm into one of the serpent boxes that line the inside of the farmhouse; my stomach feels like a hundred of those snakes are...
Continue Reading "The Body’s Amen" by Brigitte N. McCray
Smokelong Weekly for November 14, 2016
Last year on the Fourth of July this town had record drought; this year, they have record rains. But the good people here go on blowing things up in spite of everything. From my spot on the porch I listen to the whistles and blasts of their rockets. The rain falls in sheets off the roof and pools in a moat around the perimeter, a watery bulwark. The house does not have gutters. Adam and I failed to notice this...
Continue Reading "Independence Day" by Marysa LaRowe
The Way of Things Now
Smokelong Weekly for November 7, 2016
An alligator swam past my window and that’s when Mama said it was time to leave. He stopped and turned, looked in with a forever smile. Like he knows we can’t last. Like he’s out there waiting. Mama says we can’t keep waiting. River’s gonna rise before it falls. But still we don’t go. Ain’t no river to it anymore. It’s ocean light that seeps into my windows, rippling green swampy shadows. Mama says to hold our breath. I practice....
Continue Reading "The Way of Things Now" by Linda Niehoff
The Father’s Story
Smokelong Weekly for October 31, 2016
In a hotel room out west, a man writes his children a letter. He begins by saying I’m sorry—sorry for leaving when they were young, sorry for never coming home to visit. He stops here and pictures their faces: Joanne with pigtails and a crooked mouth. Tim with wispy blonde hair and chubby cheeks. They must not look like this anymore. He writes that he’s coming home to see them if that’s all right. Of course it’s not all right....
Continue Reading "The Father’s Story" by Matt Barrett
Smokelong Weekly for October 24, 2016
I used to tell people that my first kiss was on a December night, under a pine tree, when a boy I sort-of liked kissed me after a dance recital; but actually my first kiss was older, and with a woman. In this memory, I’m twelve (it’s seventh grade), and I wake up one day to find the condo hushed as if afraid to breathe too deep and set the hinges to sighing. I open my window to let the...
Continue Reading "Softening" by Ruth Joffre
Dear Fiction Editor:
Smokelong Weekly for October 17, 2016
The following submission is titled “Dear Fiction Editor,” a story in the form of a letter to a fictional fiction editor of a fictional literary journal. I hope to relieve any confusion that the fictional letter might pose since this letter to you is also addressed “Dear Fiction Editor.” You could say that is a part of the joke. The idea came to me after one of my Kantian-like walks that I take every day at about 3 p.m. I...
Continue Reading "Dear Fiction Editor:" by Kyle Brown
Smokelong Weekly for October 10, 2016
Linda did not call the police that night, did not wake her husband when she felt more than heard the vibration of the back door closing, and even before she sat up in bed she knew it was Cody, her younger son. She did not move, not for minutes, not until she was sure she was the only one awake, the house stilled and dark, the green minutes on the alarm clock blipping by, her throat already gone dry, but...
Continue Reading "Quiet Hours" by Mike Minchin
That Sun, Struggling Down
Smokelong Weekly for October 3, 2016
One night I found that Cal’s left nipple had turned luminescent, milky-pale. The skin over the bottom knob of his spine developed the sheen of spilled gasoline. He quit soccer when the moon-colored skin hardening over his knees made it difficult for him to walk, much less run or kick. When I cried, Cal grinned. “At least I’ll never have to shave again when it hits my face.” “Stop cracking jokes. You sicken me,” I hissed. “Exactly. Then we could...
Continue Reading "That Sun, Struggling Down" by Anna Cabe
Aufgaben: ein Triptychon
Smokelong Weekly for September 12, 2016
Hunger Nach meinem Horoskop, das ich in der Nacht gelesen habe, steht mir in etwa einer Woche eine Hungerperiode bevor. Ich mag Hunger eigentlich ganz gern, weil einem dann besonders Fleischgerichte gut schmecken. Aber gleich eine ganze Periode? Gerate ich vielleicht bei meinem nächsten Versuch, in den Eurotunnel zu gelangen, in Polizeigewahrsam, und den Behörden gehen die Vorräte aus, weil wir unerwartet viele sind? Aber in Mitteleuropa sollte so eine Panne doch spätestens nach einem Tag behoben sein. Oder kriege...
Continue Reading "Aufgaben: ein Triptychon" by Rupprecht Mayer
Smokelong Weekly for September 5, 2016
Heidi Sutherton disappeared from Lumitown in the summer of 1973. She was seventeen years old—seven years older than my best friend Margaret and I—and lived right across the street from me. Our next-door neighbor told us the news—Mrs. Carmichael, with her chin mole shaped like a pencil eraser. Snatched right in front of the house, Mrs. Carmichael told my mom. Margaret and I eavesdropped while we played Maui Beach under the weeping willow, arranging Beach Barbie and Malibu Ken side-by-side...
Continue Reading "Safety" by Michele Finn Johnson
Smokelong Weekly for August 29, 2016
“I’m working on a theory of art supplies. Come down to the basement and I’ll tell you about it.” “What’s downstairs?” “Grandaddy’s gun. Working on that too.” “Man, I don’t like guns.” “Of course you like guns. You just haven’t met the right one yet.” “I think I don’t want to.” “Come on. You’ll thank me later. Gun knowledge could save your life some day.” “Fine, but if you point it at me, I’m out of here. I knew a...
Continue Reading "Gun" by Ethan Feuer
House of Mirrors
Smokelong Weekly for August 22, 2016
The woman who works at House of Mirrors must see herself more clearly than she cares to: her image always reflected back at her from every angle, always catching herself looking at herself and herself and herself, repeated to infinity. I suppose we could take the long view and say the hallway behind her never ends, but even with this positive approach how tired she must be, endlessly eyeing herself in the corners and doorways. In the mornings when my...
Continue Reading "House of Mirrors" by Paul Crenshaw
My Husband Is Made of Ash
Smokelong Weekly for August 15, 2016
My husband is made of ash. He likes to smear himself into my tears when he can't get them to stop. “Don’t do that,” I say, disliking the way he raccoons up my eyes with his darkness. The way he blows around me when I’m trying to pull myself together. Was it the scar over his top lip? I wonder, blotting the smudge on my face. The birthmark behind his right elbow? The mole on the back of his index finger? At night,...
Continue Reading "My Husband Is Made of Ash" by Jennifer Todhunter
Smokelong Weekly for August 8, 2016
My first love was my last love because I married it. Three months after my grandfather died, I met the kid who became my husband, and eventually we became adults. Somewhere in there we had four kids. Grandpa was in the Navy a long time ago and had traveled a few places. He'd take me hunting and get to talking about all the unseen world. He always told me to get out of town before I got caught up. I...
Continue Reading "At Sea" by Ashley Hutson
The Farmers’ Market
Smokelong Weekly for August 1, 2016
There were booths and stalls selling soaps and granola and candles and jewelry rings bangles earrings necklaces chokers with chunky stones and ropes and beads performers juggling rainbow colored balls or tossing rings that disappeared. I had the boys with me and I told them to stay close and they did they were close the whole time we rounded corners and weaved through the crowd and we found the puppet man and we found the popsicle man and we found...
Continue Reading "The Farmers’ Market" by Hannah Harlow
Smokelong Weekly for July 25, 2016
“You love me so much you can hardly stand it,” says the mother, who is also a monolith, toppling. Her body is long and broad and her female child has a difficult time looking at it directly. Instead she looks at the microwave, which blinks in a way that seems both friendly and aggressive. It is ten o’clock in the morning and the child is nine years old. “If I died you wouldn’t even know what to do with yourself,”...
Continue Reading "Little Plum" by Ari Braverman
The Sound and the Song
Smokelong Weekly for July 18, 2016
The baby was asleep. The news report was over and the channel had moved on to commercials, which surprised the mother, who had stood up at the end of the newscast to do something, but what? She pressed her hands against her eyes: wet. She'd been crying. Her eyes were puffy, her stomach hollow-feeling, as it always was after a cry, but she couldn't remember why she had been so upset. She went to the kitchen and stood by the...
Continue Reading "The Sound and the Song" by Letitia Trent
Smokelong Weekly for July 11, 2016
We've had Addison and her egg all week. She named it Molly and drew its face with permanent marker: two gaping eyes and a mouth like a sideways capital D. It's for a kindergarten class project on parenthood. At night Molly sleeps in a cardboard bassinet in the refrigerator. “How does that teach her about parenthood?” says Jennifer, Addison's mom, with a snort. “I didn't get to keep her in the fridge all night after she was born.” We were...
Continue Reading "Egg Baby" by Katie Burgess
Smokelong Weekly for July 5, 2016
In the meantime, they would stay in the house. They loved it and it was theirs; neither would leave it. But they had run out of money and the work had stopped and they could not do any more or live alongside each other any longer. Nick went to the basement where the boxes were fortressed. He was sleeping in his old pup tent, a familiar dome in the wilderness, and reading through his comic book collection once again. Amelia...
Continue Reading "The Nest" by Anika Streitfeld
Smokelong Weekly for June 13, 2016
Tammy couldn’t believe no one else wanted him. She only had to knock over three milk jars with this ping-pong ball and he’d be hers. She squinted again at the oversized hot pink teddy bear. Its rainbow heart beat loudly calling to her, but Tammy couldn’t be swayed. On a stool next to the teddy bear was the alternate prize, and no one had scooped him up yet. She scanned the Missouri State Fair: greasy carnies, steamy crowds, sunburnt kids...
Continue Reading "Storage" by Melissa Scholes Young
Smokelong Weekly for June 6, 2016
Clatter of chopsticks, rice bowls, smacking lips of aunties and uncles seated at wobbly folding tables we’d draped in our best linens, greedily eating our best food: roasted pig pieces, oily duck chunks—tender, pink. The baby, hidden under a heart-print blanket Lin had strung around her chest with a shoelace, makes kissing sounds like the couples do in the movies I’d recently started to watch. My fifteen-year-old cousin was Mother’s cautionary tale. “That harlot. Sex in a station wagon. All...
Continue Reading "Little Harlot" by Nancy Au
Surge and Recede
Smokelong Weekly for May 31, 2016
We were on 45th and Rosa and I watched a plane fall from the sky like a toy from the hands of some celestial child. At first, I thought, it must be landing, and then I said, it must be landing on some rural strip somewhere we don’t know about. Somewhere miles away. But no. It tipped its nose toward the Earth and then tumbled out of sight. I went home and the power was out. The power was out...
Continue Reading "Surge and Recede" by Remy Barnes
Smokelong Weekly for May 23, 2016
The seventeen-year cicadas punched out in May and throttled through June. On porch evenings, sitting with my Apollos, we discerned three calls. One with four distinct parts, one with two crescendos, and a third went skeedle-dee-boppity-doobop-deedleeeeee. I couldn’t decode cricket, noise looping excitedly all around in the night, in the trees: labor pains. What are they saying, Apollos? He said, it is like Dr. Seuss Go Dog Go, where you think it’s about hats, but it’s one big huge dog party...
Continue Reading "Summer Baby" by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber
My Friend Diane
Smokelong Weekly for May 16, 2016
My friend Diane once had sex with this guy and went home from his place the next morning wearing his roommate’s contact lenses instead of her own. She’d gotten wasted like always and was so hungover she didn’t even notice. The roommate was not happy. Diane tried to laugh it off but the dude never called her again. Another time Diane had sex with a guy with a tampon in. It got jammed up so far inside her during the...
Continue Reading "My Friend Diane" by Emily Flouton
I’d Botch Data for You
Smokelong Weekly for May 9, 2016
Today, we’re scientists. We flip over our horseshoe crabs and try to find where their souls latch on, somewhere among their many slowly moving legs, their layers of shell. With syringes, we poke between their abdominal plates, puncture a soft tissue spot, and draw their blue blood. It looks like cleaning chemicals, like if you drank it you’d die in a minute. You say they look like fossils come to life. Windex-blood leaks onto the examination table. The Head Scientist...
Continue Reading "I’d Botch Data for You" by Kelsey Wiora
The Tale End
Smokelong Weekly for May 2, 2016
My boyfriend doesn’t like fish. He is Asian, Chinese-American to be exact, so I find this funny. I am Asian, Korean-American, to be exact, so I feel free to tell him so. Well, you don’t like ginger, he says. True, but being Asian and not liking fish is like, well, not liking rice! He grins. What can I say? It just, it just smells fishy to me. It tastes fishy. That’s the point, silly! My boyfriend is seventeen years older...
Continue Reading "The Tale End" by Susan Kim Campbell
Several Repurposed Pictorials
Smokelong Weekly for April 25, 2016
Earth pig At first light: what you are being offered is not made plain. You are going to have to dig. Go to it. The book is open. There will be a test. At your death, which will likely be violent, men will come. They will prise your teeth from your skull and string them as amulets for protection against the evil one. A pterodactyl Ice thickens in mud as the tide runs out. Cold, dark, wet are best. You...
Continue Reading "Several Repurposed Pictorials" by Karen Donovan
Smokelong Weekly for April 18, 2016
I hang my jacket in the closet and then turn on my mother's answering machine, hoping there's a message from my Uncle Jack with his flight times. He's in California now. He and my mother were never close but I'd called him, wanting him to know that his sister was in the hospital, that the situation didn't look especially hopeful. My mother hadn't known I'd called, wouldn't have wanted me to. “Don't bother Jack,” she would have said. He'd said...
Continue Reading "Cravat" by Rosanne Scott
Smokelong Weekly for April 11, 2016
2. Sheepie. Bubba. Nappy. Mummy-sit. Book. Good-girl, girl-I-am, Molly-girl. Audie. Hot. No, Audie, no-no-no. 3. I. Don’t. Like. Audie. I bite Audie. I sit in the corner. Bad Molly, mad-bad-sad Molly. 8. Audrey stole my words. When I was two, and Audrey was six. My mouth wide open, the screams running through me like a blade, until they turned me inside out and all the words got buried. No, Audie, no-no-no. 10. Audrey is the sweet sister. I am the...
Continue Reading "Prismatic" by Eileen Merriman
Sometimes My Father Comes Back from the Dead
Smokelong Weekly for April 4, 2016
He’s forgotten something again—an umbrella, or his hat and gloves, his lunchbox—and comes charging through the front door and into our kitchen, muttering, mad at himself. It’s all deeply unsettling to my wife and young son, who never knew him when he was alive. “He’s probably forgotten he’s dead,” I joke after the fifth or sixth time it happens. “He was always absent-minded, you know.” He never stays long, and never talks to any of us. He spends a few...
Continue Reading "Sometimes My Father Comes Back from the Dead" by Steve Edwards
The Brittle Man
Smokelong Weekly for March 14, 2016
Keith’s Han-D-Fill was a speck of nothing off I-90 somewhere between Flintlock and Raxton, Montana. Half a day of white, roadside crosses, and we were ready to be whole again. Where that happened didn’t matter. Driving for days on such broken sleep—it felt like we were speeding through a kitchen, knocking over cups and saucers. Calling attention to ourselves. Inside, I picked out a tiny plastic buffalo from a case of others just like it propped up between the cheap...
Continue Reading "The Brittle Man" by James Nokes
Smokelong Weekly for March 7, 2016
Foresight arrives in an Amazon box. The woman thinks of the man she has stopped loving and the job she hates. She is tired of life lessons. They bring her no closer to figuring out what she wants. Foresight tastes like liquid cotton candy. She lies back on the couch with her eyes closed. She will remain on the couch, waiting. Her waiting will curdle until she forgets what she was waiting for. She will develop bedsores. She will line...
Continue Reading "Foresight" by Lara Ehrlich
The Girl with the Egg
Smokelong Weekly for February 29, 2016
The girl takes the egg everywhere. She washes it at school because the water at home does not get hot. She washes it with a toothbrush that her Math teacher threw away. Sometimes, the other students stare at her as she brushes the egg. They gargle and spit in the sink next to hers, and they wonder aloud, “Why?” The egg is the size of the girl’s head. It is the same color as the seashell-buttons on her school-uniform. She...
Continue Reading "The Girl with the Egg" by Tim Raymond
The Final Problem
Smokelong Weekly for February 22, 2016
The seven detectives lived together in a rented house. Two shared a bedroom, four had their own rooms, and one slept on the screened-in back porch, where it was darkest. All were men. All answered the advertisement for rooms and were not surprised to see the others. All had origins they did not share and, in an immediate and unspoken rule, did not investigate. One burnt toast. Another listened to opera. A third practiced chess openings. Keys never went misplaced...
Continue Reading "The Final Problem" by Scott Onak
Determining the Gull Bone Index
Smokelong Weekly for February 15, 2016
We’ve been freefalling for months according to Becky’s day planner. An expanse of mountainous crags stretches beneath us, endless and unmoving. Perspective lines do not shift. Daniel insists we move closer to the ground each day—he has developed a method of squinting and measuring distances with his fingers. The rush of constant velocity had been nauseating at first, but Becky and Daniel adapted within days. I still vomit some mornings. I dream about falling, and I wake just before I...
Continue Reading "Determining the Gull Bone Index" by James R. Gapinski
Sea of Love
Smokelong Weekly for February 8, 2016
My husband said something very clever once. I had sliced my wrist—this was only an accident—and we were sitting in an emergency room. A nurse had wrapped my arm in bandages and then left to take care of other people, some of whom were also bleeding. People don’t know how much blood there is in a body. My own blood was seeping through the bandages, appearing at the surface, spreading. It seemed, at least to me, that it might not...
Continue Reading "Sea of Love" by Maria Mutch
Smokelong Weekly for February 1, 2016
I saw a man holding a gun to a dog’s head and another man taking their picture so I stepped back and assessed like number one what is going on number two do I want to see it if this man blows this dog’s head off number three what is the other possibility here. The other possibility that my brain came up with pretty fast I have to say is that this is a photo shoot for an instructional book...
Continue Reading "Scooter" by Meredith Alling
Some Cool Heaven
Smokelong Weekly for January 25, 2016
I learned that I was sick again on a Wednesday. The following Saturday, I took my five-year-old son to the county fair. I planned for us to ride the Ferris wheel together, eat corndogs, pet baby animals. I wanted to give him memories that would stick: cotton candy shrinking and sweet on his tongue, a view from higher than he’d ever been—mountaintops, roads, the river. I would take pictures of everything with my phone. The fair came every August, and...
Continue Reading "Some Cool Heaven" by Emma Smith-Stevens
Smokelong Weekly for January 25, 2016
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 girl. Don’t linger on the S’s when you speak. The air whistles through the space between your teeth. It angers Him when you whistle like...
Continue Reading "Daddy’s Boy" by Denne Michele Norris
The Favorite Person
Smokelong Weekly for January 11, 2016
Leeasha went in with all her clothes on because it seemed like a good idea but now she's more uncomfortable than before. “Put your nose down to the bottom,” says Leeasha’s brother, Will. “Smell it.” Drowning is interesting and can happen when people smell the floors of things filled with water. Leeasha kicks Will in the head and says, “Smell it yourself.” Will leans on the edge of the pool, hard, letting quantities of water seep into the grass. “Let’s...
Continue Reading "The Favorite Person" by Lorie Broumand
Smokelong Weekly for January 4, 2016
I was up in the plum tree when I saw him climbing over the piles of trash—plywood with rusted nails jutting out at weird angles, tires and license plates, bushes that pushed through all that trash. His face was twisted in concentration as he stepped gingerly over the hypodermic needles. I wondered how he’d learned to climb like that. I’d been doing it for so long it was natural to me. But him? Ramon wasn’t a climbing-over-trash kind of boy....
Continue Reading "Dollhead" by Vanessa Mártir
Not to Scale
Smokelong Weekly for December 7, 2015
The Snake Lady disappoints us. We waited in line for half an hour, weaving through the queues of curious gawkers. Some kids in front of us kick the cage, clang their steel-toed boots against the bars. What we see when we finally reach the cage: a plaster coiled snake body, a woman’s poorly painted head on top. My brother, Kegan, groans, “Fake. So fake. Like they didn’t even try.” I laugh. I am relieved. We exit, and we spot the...
Continue Reading "Not to Scale" by Whitney G. Schultz
The Kindest Cut
Smokelong Weekly for November 30, 2015
My little girl regularly relays just how little she is, and isn’t. No longer so little to need to clutch toys in bed, still little enough to need to clutch something. That something is, for now, my hair. She will only drift to sleep with the mess of it clutched in her fingers. It provides the comfort of her stuffed porcupine, without actually being the porcupine. She resists my hair when it’s wet after showers or greasy after work. Worst...
Continue Reading "The Kindest Cut" by Matthew Pitt
He Called Me Honeybunch
Smokelong Weekly for November 23, 2015
He called me Honeybunch and I called him Sweetheart. He came over when I totaled my Nana’s car. I wrote him a poem on sage-scented paper for the anniversary of his brother’s death, and gave it to him before a pink sunrise. He held me close as our hearts pounded in shock over the blue plus sign. I cradled his head when the doctor told us there was no heartbeat, his tears stringing down my elbows. He was gentle with...
Continue Reading "He Called Me Honeybunch" by Karen Sherk Chio
Smokelong Weekly for November 16, 2015
They split the chattels in two. Half an eggplant sat in a half Tupperware container in what was left of the refrigerator. Half a television perched on half a cabinet. Half a Siamese spread itself over the semi-circle of the felted rug. My mother cut towelling lengthwise, sawed the dining table on a diagonal. It was a tough job, but she put the weight into her good arm. When she was halfway through she twisted an Oreo into fifty-fifty portions,...
Continue Reading "Parting" by Elizabeth Morton
Smokelong Weekly for November 9, 2015
Me? I remember it was the spring I got my breasts (my breasts are two ringing anvils, basically perfectly loud) and James Franco in front of the class and staggering on about something, I forget, most likely a charity involving fire swallowers, something to do with inadequate health care in an environment of very great need and all these crazy, red scribblings on his neck, these splotches moving up like garlands of flowers draped over a cow (in Guam?) or...
Continue Reading "Memory" by Sean Lovelace
When They Say Share the Road They Don’t Know What I’ve Already Given
Smokelong Weekly for November 2, 2015
My most recent ex-lover’s dick fell off. One day, just like that, he emerged from the shower in a cloud of steam, feet red from the hot water, and there was nothing left but a little nub. “What the fuck is that,” I asked. “What am I supposed to do with that?” “I don’t know,” he said, his palms turned up, shoulders tensed into a shrug. “It’s gone.” “You ride your bike too much,” I said. “Her name is Audriana.”...
Continue Reading "When They Say Share the Road They Don’t Know What I’ve Already Given" by Dennis Scott Herbert
The Butterfly Effect
Smokelong Weekly for October 26, 2015
“Thirty years I’ve been in San Francisco,” she said, her watery old eyes finding memories beneath the rain-pelted, sodium-yellow streetlights outside, “and I can tell you the tram’s never gone down Powell. No, it hasn’t gone that way at all since I’ve been here. This’s the first time, honey. Always used to be California Street.” Lia glanced at the old girl’s reflection in the tram window. A weak, confused face set between a pink wooly hat and a coat far...
Continue Reading "The Butterfly Effect" by Marc Joan
Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist
Smokelong Weekly for October 19, 2015
The reason you have panic attacks at school is because things move too fast, there are too many people in the hallways, and the bells are too loud. The reason you get confused and have to think for a really long time before you answer a question, any question, is because you are only getting about three hours of sleep. The reason you had good grades in chemistry and don’t now is because J was your lab partner. You were...
Continue Reading "Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist" by Colleen Kearney Rich
To Hold But Not Have
Smokelong Weekly for October 12, 2015
The unannounced plummet of her heart that day in Galway when she saw newlyweds taking a victory lap around the town, dragging tin cans behind their chauffeured car. The sedan was a vintage Buick-looking thing: curvy with chrome details arcing down its powder-blue body like eyeliner. Her tears dripped in time with the cans’ rat-a-tat-tat-tat. This is how it’ll be, he told her that day they’d gotten high on ecstasy. I’m going to let you go and you’re going to...
Continue Reading "To Hold But Not Have" by Jenny Magee Stenger
Grains and Names
Smokelong Weekly for October 5, 2015
In twenty or more colors, sand artists capture slivers of the Painted Canyon in twisted vases at the fair. I honeymooned in the Painted Canyon. It was hot. It was dry. It was filled with grit. Last week, I imagined my husband’s head in a giant glass jar, the one we keep our wine corks in. Steve lolled about, bodiless, but still alive. As he rattled off the statistics of every Baron’s game from the past century, I imagined spooning...
Continue Reading "Grains and Names" by H.M. Cotton
Recurring Dreams Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s Post-Modern Classic Infinite Jest
Smokelong Weekly for September 14, 2015
1. Today is the final for a class I’ve never actually attended and I realize, as I open the door to Georgetown’s multi-winged LXR Building (Loyola-Xavier-Ryder), that I don’t even know which classroom I belong in. The halls are empty. I have a few friends in the class—Natalie Lescroart, Walker Loetscher—and I poke my head into the first room on the ground floor, but they’re not there. The second classroom is empty. I continue down the hallway, looking into wire-meshed...
Continue Reading "Recurring Dreams Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s Post-Modern Classic Infinite Jest" by Jeff Bakkensen
Smokelong Weekly for September 7, 2015
A man knows what he knows. Call it gut. Instinct or what have you. First thing I think when I see him coming up the lane: He ain’t no count. Could tell by his walk. Number two, he’s ran hisself outta gas. His shifting gait says he never learnt it’s as easy to drive off the top of the tank as the bottom. Ours is the only house on a ten-mile stretch—this old road invites our guests. Let’s hope this...
Continue Reading "Bait" by Amy Sayre Baptista
Smokelong Weekly for August 31, 2015
I was reading Goodnight Moon to my son when my brother called. But it was only after James was asleep––a major tell being his partially open little mouth––that I put the book down and left his room. My brother, as always, hadn’t left me a message. As far as I knew he never left anyone messages. It was just who he was. I thought about not calling my brother back, but just as soon as I thought this my mind...
Continue Reading "Hi" by T.E. Cowell
Stone, Well, Girl
Smokelong Weekly for August 24, 2015
The girl would kick it on the way home from school, some fallen thing on the ground. Perhaps a stone, squarish, leaping small across other stones. I think it must have been a stone. The path of her punt was a lazy line, a gentle skid, the stone hopping in short dusty zags a foot or two. When the girl gave the stone a boot with her black leather shoes, it was not to make the stone fly or sail....
Continue Reading "Stone, Well, Girl" by Benito M. Vergara, Jr.
Of All the Animals in the Aquarium
Smokelong Weekly for August 17, 2015
Mama loves the sea jellies best. “See the way the bell goes blub blub?” she says to Robby, pointing to the opaque body of one of the moon jellies. “They pull the water in and push it out, just like pumping blood. Water is their blood. It’s how jellies get oxygen and other nutrients.” Mama talks to Robby like he understands. “Our hearts would make graceful swimmers too,” she says. “Pluck them from our bodies and set them free in...
Continue Reading "Of All the Animals in the Aquarium" by Michelle Ross
The 12 Steps (Of Making Amends To A Dog)
Smokelong Weekly for August 10, 2015
1. Admit life has become unmanageable. Do you even own a dog? You’re not sure, but there is definitely one in your house. He looks down at you with sad eyes when you wake up on the floor. It’s not clear whether it was him or you who wet the bed. 2. Come to believe that this is, indeed, your dog. He smells like an ashtray. Everyone at the bar knows his name. His favorite meal is a bowl of...
Continue Reading "The 12 Steps (Of Making Amends To A Dog)" by Caitlin K. Clark
Smokelong Weekly for August 3, 2015
You kept your milk teeth in a prescription bottle for cough medicine; the whole thing pushed unceremoniously in the back of a cupboard drawer. When the light came in through your window each morning it blessed the bed from head to foot. Your bleached blonde hair was a light. Your mother a premonition. You drank condensed milk straight out of the tin and once you sliced your finger against the metal lid—the blood watery, all over your finger, running down...
Continue Reading "Glint" by Sharmini Aphrodite
The Moon is a Wasteland
Smokelong Weekly for July 27, 2015
At night, Thomas climbed up onto the roof of his house carrying a lasso. He threw it out, and it fell, limp and coiled. He tried again, and again, and on the seventh try, Goddamnit, he really did put that bastard right around the moon. He pulled it down and it wasn’t as big as they say, just the size of a beach ball. It was bright and spongy and tight like one of those high-bouncing balls for a quarter...
Continue Reading "The Moon is a Wasteland" by Daniel DiFranco
Smokelong Weekly for July 20, 2015
She dreamt of aliens with eggs for heads and when she told him at dinner, he told her that was normal. “Just a stress dream,” he said over their steaks. She’d asked for medium, but it was still bleeding when she cut into it. “It looked like their faces were drawn on with a sharpie,” she said and wrinkled her nose like their alien bodies had disgusted her, but really she’d enjoyed the way their heads rolled, bobbing like pelicans...
Continue Reading "Egg Alien" by Maggie Su
Eighty-Eight Minutes at Sea
Smokelong Weekly for July 13, 2015
Five drinks into the night, Ben decides that the movie is shit. Loud enough for the whole party to hear. Ocean Man pulls Ben into their marble white kitchen and points out that nobody’s forcing Ben to watch. Ben pours himself another, what was it, Earl Grey and vodka, and says that it’s the spear-fishing montage he objects to the most. Ocean Man was in that life raft for four days. Out of what materials would he have fashioned a...
Continue Reading "Eighty-Eight Minutes at Sea" by Scott Fenton
Smokelong Weekly for July 6, 2015
My mother wore the broken back of the house inside her. She made us grey dinners and lifted her face to see our faces when our lips moved. “Hello,” was all her face said, even if we made her angry, even if I yelled at my brother for taking the last piece of breast meat off my plate and replacing it with a greasy wing. But our father exemplified purpose. “Pull the lines up when the ship’s captain has given...
Continue Reading "Natural Disaster" by Jessica Plante
Bird of Paradise
Smokelong Weekly for June 15, 2015
After the Kravian flu laid waste to the suburbs of Denver in only a matter of weeks, we go to work. I—an undertaker born of a family of undertakers descended from griffins who guarded the mysteries of life and death—dutifully consume the dead all over the city. Yet, because we’ve arrived on the tails of the plague, as in the days of yellow fever, we must be its source as well as its mode. People will wring our necks to...
Continue Reading "Bird of Paradise" by Alexander Lumans
Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting
Smokelong Weekly for June 15, 2015
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 burn: cigarettes, those old car lighters–most recently an iron. 4) Being drunk makes it more likely, but it also makes you numb. It’s when you’re...
Continue Reading "Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting" by Kathryn Lipari
Smokelong Weekly for June 8, 2015
It has been three days since my fourteenth birthday, since my dad unexpectedly picked me up after track practice and told me he was taking me on what he called a mystery ride. I’d never left Cleveland, never been on a plane and, despite all that, twenty-two hours later I found myself wearing the same polka dot underwear and sharing a thin, hard cot with my dad in Croatia, the place my grandmother had always bragged about escaping—and when I...
Continue Reading "Puberty" by Kat Gonso
Smokelong Weekly for June 1, 2015
Cari awoke deep in the night to a low buzz that reminded her of a chainsaw. Dennis slept beside her, his snoring steady, the hair on the back of his neck a tickle on her nose. She rolled onto her back, listening. When the buzzing continued, she swung out of bed, unable to sleep. She’d grown up in the country, on a farm outside of a small town, her father and older brothers slinging chainsaws to fend off trespass of...
Continue Reading "Drone" by Gary V. Powell
The Sadness of Spirits
Smokelong Weekly for May 25, 2015
The spirits gather around the Ouija board. They never know which one of them will be called, but they are hopeful. They have messages, words of advice, theories on life they have spent thousands of years perfecting. They are still working towards spiritual actualization, but that is a long process, often involving the silent voice of the almighty whispering in their ears. The almighty is not an easy entity to understand. “And then you will eat the lonely fruit of...
Continue Reading "The Sadness of Spirits" by Aimee Pogson
The Easy Arm of Adam
Smokelong Weekly for May 18, 2015
They left the nunnery, where they’d been renting a room, already upset. On the day of their visit to the Sistine Chapel, the weather was hotter than expected and muggy. Emma was anxious to get to their destination. Charlotte complained about the new, stiff sandals she’d purchased at the market and the way her fine blonde hair went limp in the heat. In her art history class, Emma had learned about Stendhal syndrome—named for the French author who’d entered a...
Continue Reading "The Easy Arm of Adam" by Katie McClendon
Smokelong Weekly for May 11, 2015
I dream about Ghosht Korma. Onion and garlic crescents shriveling in the fuming oil alongside turmeric and pepper-smeared chops. The old Hindi music swirling like gossip in the street. I wake up and see a stranger glancing at my naked thighs. The heat is gathering and so are clients. Our mustard-colored room lined with nylon curtains is filled with naked bodies and obscenities. Rubina is up against the wall and Ganja, a local mobster and a frequent visitor, is banging her...
Continue Reading "Ghosht Korma" by Tara Isabel Zambrano
Old Man Falling Off of Stool
Smokelong Weekly for May 4, 2015
There were no seats left at any of the tables, so the old man stepped over to an empty high stool at the counter, sliding in with his hands full—a plate (gruyere and pastrami on sourdough) jittering in his right hand, and a novel (a spy-thriller) clutched in his left—and lowered one haunch down toward the worn vinyl surface where no one quite saw whether he missed the stool completely, or slipped, or tripped his shoe over the loosened metal...
Continue Reading "Old Man Falling Off of Stool" by Timur Jonathan Karaca
Any Friend of My Friend
Smokelong Weekly for April 27, 2015
An Irish friend told me that her German friend, a frequent traveling companion and fellow fan of Leonard Cohen, had called. I wasn’t sure why but Leonard Cohen was a big hit with the Irish and also with the Germans. "Do you want to come to Berlin and see the Leonard Cohen concert?" her German friend asked. "I can’t," my friend answered, "because I just got tickets to see him in Dublin." Late that night she received a text message....
Continue Reading "Any Friend of My Friend" by Mardith Louisell
Smokelong Weekly for April 20, 2015
It was unusually, uncomfortably warm for October. The air seemed to become thicker the further south I drove; it bled into the car and pressed me down. It didn’t take long to get there. It was over six hours to my parents’ house, but the dread of visiting always stole the time away. Every time I pulled into their drive I wondered if I’d killed a child on the way. I could never remember. I call it “my parents’ house”,...
Continue Reading "Broken Bird" by Debbie Kinsey
Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World
Smokelong Weekly for April 5, 2015
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 would purposely go for her face, pounding until her eyes shined. They didn't want the big-eyed girl from Harlem in their gym, but she kept...
Continue Reading "Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World" by Annie Bilancini
Smokelong Weekly for April 1, 2015
The first few times Mom pulled me away from the source of my calm, she called me a mongrel like my older sister, Abby, when she discovered her naked, straddling the huge stuffed panda they'd bought her for Christmas, bouncing up and down on him, raw and red as any cowboy from the movies. Mom called them "magpie moments" when she found me licking the lime green wall in the bathroom. We didn't have locks on the doors so she'd...
Continue Reading "Mutable Pleasures" by Meg Tuite
Smokelong Weekly for March 31, 2015
My wife and I were lying in our backyard, staring at the sky. It was ten or ten-thirty, and we were halfway through our second pack of cigarettes. It was a clear night, but the smoke from our cigarettes seemed, somehow, to dirty up the sky. I’d just taken a new one from the pack and I was searching around for the lighter when I heard my wife gasp. “Quick,” she said, “make a wish.” “What?” “A falling star,” she...
Continue Reading "Fall" by Santi Elijah Holley
The Pool Guy
Smokelong Weekly for March 17, 2015
It was not a separation. Not what you'd call a conventional marriage to begin with. More like I was alone experiencing an emotion and then I was alone experiencing a different emotion. And everyday the pool guy came. And I ordered the pool guy to drink with me. I said sit with me. I said if I lose the house I'll come back for you. Bruce can't take the pool and the pool guy too. He said I am sorry...
Continue Reading "The Pool Guy" by Jessica Alexander
Smokelong Weekly for September 22, 2014
What you've forgotten in Chinese you have not yet learned in English: this is what happens when you spend four years in life, but three and a half in America. Your parents attend classes at the university that runs this town. While they are away, old shrinking Chinese ladies take turns watching you from the plastic wrapped couch. As the hours pass, the lady recedes into herself, the dent in the couch rises like dough, the plastic flattens out, until...
Continue Reading "First Story" by Simon Han
Next Rest Stop Twenty-Two Miles
Smokelong Weekly for December 17, 2013
I passed a sign for Erie, so I'm making decent time. Some local radio station's playing Magic and Loss. Horizon's a blur, though, like I'm reading a map underwater. Flat, flat, flat out here, Z. Just goes on and on, the color of old oatmeal, winter mush for days. Chicago eastbound, turns a girl old. Erie. In preschool we sang a song about that. I got a mule her name is Sal. I remember, I remember the melody line felt...
Continue Reading "Next Rest Stop Twenty-Two Miles" by Rosie Forrest
Sometimes We Both Fight in Wars
Smokelong Weekly for September 24, 2013
He lives on an orange houseboat when he's home and sometimes he fights in wars. He tells me of course. Of course he's killed a man with his bare hands. He says of course like he's digging a deep hole—a small, sharp shovel stabbing a whopping rock. I want him to show me. I motion for him to stand up and I get in front of him, press my back against his chest, pull his arms around me and wrap...
Continue Reading "Sometimes We Both Fight in Wars" by Leesa Cross-Smith
Smokelong Weekly for June 25, 2013
We chew in our family. It's our God-given freedom to chew what and when we want. I chewed the legs off my grandmother's piano. It keeled over and crushed her thirteen year-old Bichon Frisé, Gingersnap. My granddaddy laughed his ass off. Me and my brothers used to chew shapes into things all the time. We turned straws into palm trees. I made a lily out of a milk carton for my brother's girlfriend. I had to be careful around the...
Continue Reading "Chew" by Venita Blackburn
Smokelong Weekly for June 22, 2013
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 girls down there. Our jackets were dark blue. Theirs were sky blue and had clouds of fake white fur lining the edges. I tried to...
Continue Reading "Recess" by Adam Peterson
Girls, Girls, Girls
Smokelong Weekly for June 26, 2012
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 her, the Haitian high femme hottie. She is shorter than me, thick-thighed in her white K Swiss and booty shorts. I met her at a...
Continue Reading "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Shannon Barber
Smokelong Weekly for December 20, 2011
Michael heard once that the stars used to be so close and bright that his ancestors could see the shape of a spoon hanging in the sky. On nights like this one, when he's walking home from work with his nose buried in his coat, he looks up and tries to find that mythological constellation. He never does—his eyes are too weak and the stars are too distant. Still, sometimes when he's tucking his children in under their heavy blankets...
Continue Reading "The Freeze" by Virgie Townsend
Egg Toss, August 1989
Smokelong Weekly for October 3, 2011
In my memory my sister's ninth birthday is always almost over. The pre-made burger patties have been grilled, the supermarket cake cut, the glut of white frosting smeared on paper plates. The three aunts up from the city have smoked their cigarettes, have told the stories of the dead grandparents, of weekend childhood abandonment for Temple Bazaars, Atlantic City. The dance to Debbie Gibson's "Electric Youth" has been invented and performed. The games of TV tag have been played, the...
Continue Reading "Egg Toss, August 1989" by Meagan Cass
Smokelong Weekly for October 3, 2011
The Boys We will never grow up. We used to tell her that, all the time, our little mother in the kitchen with the frowning face and the Marcia Brady hair. Oh, boys, she would say, everyone grows up someday. Not us, we would say back. We would tell her we will never do our own laundry, never take out the trash, never scoop the litter or get jobs or pick up after ourselves. She is ours; she is green-grass-eyed,...
Continue Reading "Never Never" by Amber Sparks
Belly of a Fish
Smokelong Weekly for June 28, 2011
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 for, as Coach likes to say, slicing through the water like a knife through the belly of a fish. This is April Jones wishing her...
Continue Reading "Belly of a Fish" by Rachel Mangini
Smokelong Weekly for December 23, 2010
Everyone in town knows her mother's face got taken off by a razor. Some meth head wandering out of the corn like a zombie got her in daylight next to the toolshed where she bled to death. Beannie was too young at the time to remember, but not long afterward she started setting traps outside. Trip wires and shallow holes covered with grass, butter knives stolen from the kitchen and pressed straight into the mud like stakes. Now her security...
Continue Reading "The Corn" by Kathleen Hale
Nobody Like You
Smokelong Weekly for September 29, 2009
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 balls of her feet, getting ready. We meander over to the twin diving boards—one for Angie, one for me—and now we're standing on the edge...
Continue Reading "Nobody Like You" by Jeff Landon
Smokelong Weekly for September 15, 2008
My boyfriend and I grab our bikes and pedal across town for a parade which has probably been cancelled anyway. Ahead, Mark’s skinny calves pump, his day glo rain poncho flaps behind him like a flag. He stops and gets off the bike and I catch up to him. "Oh, damn,” I say. “A kitty.” "It looks sort of lumpy," he says. There's a drop of rain holding on to the tip of his nose and steam rising from his...
Continue Reading "Tenderoni" by Kathy Fish
Smokelong Weekly for June 15, 2006
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 are just married. He thought that was all for him. I tell him that the world is my target. Everyone will love me. I read...
Continue Reading "Her Lips" by Claudia Smith
Smokelong Weekly for March 15, 2004
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 he told me, sotto voce, "Makes me think of spiny green veggies, wet." Perhaps he was a poet! This pleased me. Still, I didn’t want...