Chris Guthrie: Kings of New Orleans

Are you gonna be okay? I asked Carly.

She sat cowering in the corner of her bed, recoiled into the wall. I could tell she had been crying. She wore a man’s T-shirt with the neckline pulled too much. Her knees were tucked tight into her chest. She nodded at a 9-millimeter on the nightstand. It was dark and heavy looking. The gun wasn’t hers; somebody had been here. Her eyes grew distant and rheumy. I stared at her and not the gun. She hadn’t looked at me once and I could tell she knew whose it was. Continue reading “Chris Guthrie: Kings of New Orleans”

Trevor Zaple: All the Clocks Have Stopped in Memphis

“The Boss Hides The Remote”

The sun sets behind a cloud and as its last magenta rays filter out over the gothic tops of downtown Buffalo Stephen orders a Rolling Rock and slides a five across the wet surface of the bar.  He eyes the pool table but there is already a couple playing there, a skinny blonde man and his tattooed brunette companion.  They stay close to each other and whisper intimacies into each other’s ears; Stephen turns back to his bottle of beer and plays with the corner of the green label, fraying the paper and getting the adhesive gummed into his finger pads.  He looks up at the aging television mounted behind the bar and sees John David Henderson looking like a deer that has been shot from behind a blind.  His eyes are wide and staring into the middle distance past the CNN camera.  His hair is grayer than Stephen had previously imagined, and is styled in early contemporary bird’s nest.  A solemn police officer is cuffing Henderson’s hands decisively behind his back. Continue reading “Trevor Zaple: All the Clocks Have Stopped in Memphis”

William Blake Brown: Porch Rocker

She sits in her front porch rocker watching
the shadows deepen and the street lamps
flicker on one by one. It is mid-April,
but the breeze caressing the wind chimes
carries a reminder of March, and she fetches
her worn denim jacket from inside. She drops
a chamomile tea bag into a cup and presses
the lever on the electric kettle. In evening
the porch is a sanctuary where her memories
glow as brightly as the street lamps.
“We had some good times, didn’t we?” she says
to the empty rocking chair beside her. At last
the darkness is complete, and she goes in
to find that the kettle has snapped off,
and the water in it is cold. Continue reading “William Blake Brown: Porch Rocker”

Phillip Periman: At the Lake

summers at the lake we sat and watched
the birds dip over the water and waited

occasionally I allowed myself a thought
what would it be like to walk on water

would I need a special type of footwear
should I take my clothes off without sunblock

nothing ever came of those musings except
the times you put your arm on my shoulder

those were the days when I believed myself
to be loved and all the world hung together

now it is winter and I am alone without you
where you are and on whose shoulder your arm

remains as much a mystery as then when
I wondered how you could love a pup like me

today the lake is bitter cold solid white
I stare straight ahead and imagine a bird

flying across the water in search of food left
next to the ice fisherman’s hut in the center

of the frozen lake where the ice is a foot thick
I realize now how easy it is to walk on water Continue reading “Phillip Periman: At the Lake”

Adam Scharf: Practically Dancing with Corpses

This train goes south along the Hudson. You should sit on the right-hand side of the train, that way you see the river. Grab a window seat. It’s alright if someone sits next to you. Just act like you’re really doing them a favor if that happens. I’m in a long-distance relationship; I know how to ride the train. I wear the same sundress every ride. It’s blue, and I’m elegant like a little elf. I love the ride home to Brooklyn. I love goodbye: Matthew waves like a boob from the platform, and I have the luxury of getting smaller and smaller, until I vanish. Every goodbye should be that fun. Your aunts and uncles shrinking until they’re long gone, having a ball. When you want to say hello, you grow like an azalea, out of nowhere. Growing and shrinking out of lives like it’s a habit.

Continue reading “Adam Scharf: Practically Dancing with Corpses”

Finnegan Shepard: Burglary, Robbery, Theft

Carlisle is certain of the robbery. Burglary. Theft. He will look up the distinctions later. He thinks that burglary might have to do with breaking and entering, robbery with holding someone up, and theft with—what? Maybe it was taking something against no resistance, like a chocolate-covered peanut from the bin in the grocery, or the dirty pair of earbuds he found the week before, draped over a low-hanging tree branch.

Continue reading “Finnegan Shepard: Burglary, Robbery, Theft”

Abby Walthausen: Seasonal Rush

The year I had Novi felt like it must have been the first year when all the women in Los Angeles adopted Christian Science attitudes toward birthing. Not Scientology, mind you—I had spent years getting the two cults or sects or whatever confused. But the one that now was creeping into the thought of dabbling Buddhists, well-educated ethical humanists, and atheists with children who attend Unitarian churches. The one that found divine beauty in kids with scarlet fever and otherwise eradicated diseases. Every other pregnant woman I encountered whispered and spit about interventions, and all of them had a birth-plan. My grandma would have said they were looking the gift horse of western medicine in the mouth, yanking on those perfectly good teeth without even a squirt of novocaine.

Continue reading “Abby Walthausen: Seasonal Rush”