BEWARE THE IDES
you said that someday you’d quit, laughing and child-locking the window. I breathed in wildfire and sneezed and you slammed the brakes and my little neck bent like an eraser. you said you’d quit as you blotted a cherried end into a smear of ketchup with a squelched hsss. I chatted nonsense to cover a cough. you said you’d quit to help pay for a school I never saw because inside I turned from pink to red to black and at the hospital you said sorry with no tears, just two empty circles searching for your next fix.
Lucciana Costa is a writer and musician living in Vermont, but also Nashville, and sometimes in a truck heading west down I-40. She likes snacks and snowboarding. She wants to chug a beer with Ben Folds. @LuccianaCosta
I rip away boards that have held the door of my childhood home closed for too many years. A few scraps of wood and some rusty nails can’t keep the ghosts locked away. I stomp over used needles and past spray-painted profanity. Desiccated flies comb my hair from a thousand dangling webs. The battered La-Z-Boy where my mother drank sits beneath the leather strap my father cracked across my back to keep me down. I snap open my knife and add a notch to the wall where they measured me, one last mark to show them both that I survived.
Named after a character from the 1960s soap opera The Secret Storm, Kip has had no choice but to live a soap-operatic life. He is a writer, photographer, art dealer, and teacher living in Ohio. His most recent book of poetry—Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on—is available from Kelsay Books. | Website: kipknott.com | Twitter: @kip_knott | Instagram: @kip.knott
Dad told me never to answer the door when he was out, but they had a key.
I listened from my bedroom. Three of them, in the kitchen below. Worried noises. All troubled talk and twittering. They’d probably found the plates and cups, neat, tidy, the way dad liked.
His job meant he was out overnight. Sometimes. Hard work. Shifts. He’d promised he’d always be back for breakfast.
I was his big lad, I could reach the kettle, and light the stove.
He hadn’t come home this morning. But I’d still laid the table.
I sobbed when they told me.
E. E. Rhodes is an archaeologist who accidentally lives in a castle in Worcestershire in England. She writes flash, cnf, and prose poetry to try and make sense of it all.
IT TOOK 'TIL YOU WERE GONE TO SEE
i stood alone in your old room; the halcyon sun fell, timorous, through the windows, animating scenes i’d never seen from the summer of you at seventeen—the shape of your clothes perched in your chair, elbows on knees, hands in hair, it was like you were there, living in moments before me, before i was the villain in your story.
Vic Nogay is a proud Ohioan writing to explore her traumas and misremembrances. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Lost Balloon, Emerge Literary Journal, perhappened, Little Engines, Ellipsis Zine, and others. She tweets @vicnogay. Read more: linktr.ee/vicnogay.
The bar isn’t much. I sit down and it becomes too much. I am here because I need to feel wanted. Come tell me I’m beautiful. It might be a lie but I don’t care. Buy me a drink like in the movies. Take me home. It will be a risk but I don’t care. Pull me close and kiss me with your Wild Turkey mouth. Wet and scrambling for a connection. Flick your tongue past the darkness and help me find a light.
Megan Colgan likes staring off into the distance. She has two children and an English degree. She puts peanut butter cups in the freezer.
FISH IN A BOWL
He brought them back alive, safe from the gullets of larger prey; said we could keep them in the playhouse and watch them swim in their endless circles. A good life, he said.
I didn’t see the hammer until he raised it, but I knew what it meant, and ran. The fishbowl became a storm-tossed sea in my tender hands, slick with failure, and as heavy as my guilt would be.
The first blow shattered the minnow’s skull. The second split me in two and I bled sister-love into an empty bowl.
Laura A. Pike is a mother, writer, and administrative assistant who lives in Tampa, Florida with her two rescue cats, Naya and Priya. Compelled to explore the darker recesses of the human psyche, Laura dives in deep and comes up dirty because, ultimately, writing is about the ongoing search for self. Find her on Twitter here: @lauraapike
Your face flashes in front of the screen in the video I find on an old SD card from your Blackberry. You position the camera to capture the shower head and the shower, and you balance it behind the curtains hanging from the curtain rod above the window. The screen turns black and my blood, cold. I hear a woman’s voice. Is it my sister’s? Is it mine? I see your face flash once more and your phone drop into your pocket. I never found the hiking pictures.