• “The Box” by John M. Carlson

    Carl discovered the secret compartment in the back of Grandmother’s closet. It only held a small metal box, but Carl had a feeling he’d found what he and Marc, his brother, had been looking for. He turned to Marc, who was digging through Grandmother’s underwear drawer. Carl was reminded of when Marc was a teenager. Back then, he often went digging through their mother’s dresser hoping to find a few dollars to steal. “Marc? I think I found it!” “Good.” Marc slammed the drawer shut. A sliver of underwear stuck out of the top of the drawer. He came over to Carl. “Yep. It sure looks like the box that…

  • “Do Not Love a Poet” by Emilie Rommel Shimkus

    They will expose you. They will expose the things you did not know you seemed and said. Worse, they will expose these things you knew you seemed and said but did not consider significant. They will consider you endlessly and from every angle.   Do not love a poet. They are stranger than even you who love them know, and they will make of you a metaphor: breaking glass, a campfire, daffodils, a hat, the color blue. Worse even than a painter, a poet will transform you from the inside out. They will take your love and turn the prism under every source of light. Your hangnail, your morning cheek,…

  • “Elephant and Tiger” by Sammy Vickstein

    Elephant and Tiger are chilling, just hanging out.  Playing video games in the zoo break room, Madden 19, actually.  Elephant is up by 6, with a minute left in the 4th quarter, but Tiger has been mounting a comeback and he’s got the ball on Elephant’s 5-yard line on first down. Tiger is suspecting something is up though, has been all game.  Elephant isn’t up to his usual trash talk, not that Tiger is complaining.  Elephant can be a bit vulgar honestly, going on about tusking Tiger’s mom and such.  No, Tiger doesn’t miss it.  But he notices his friend’s silence. Tiger’s got more important things on his mind though. …

  • “August Night/Tacoma” by Daniel Person

    You just Lay the flame down –Light like Apollo On the flame-moon– On the tobacco Combustion reaches To the roots Of the bowl In your palm Fire breaths into the crook Made by the joint Of the turkey-thigh thumb And the index.

  • “Jakarta” by Joshua Swainston

    Sweet soy soaked chicken thighs sear over an open flame wicked with equatorial humidity & the thin man with the patchy mustache spits: Seventy-five for the scooter. Pedicab pharmacists peddle knock-off Viagra OxyContin Adderall dropping from glass jars, like penny candy, to bloated white Westerns. The scooter salesman rolls a Gudang Garum cigarette in the corner of his impatient mouth, checks his Mickey Mouse wrist watch: Brand new, fifty cc, perfect for you.   A Queen cover band blasts: Weeeeeee Aaaaarre the Chaaampionnns; past the boundaries of their ex-pat night club while teenagers, perched on cross-strap platforms, hustle for rent. Where do you go when all the dark parts of…

  • “Fire Burns” by Monica Carvajal-Beben

    This industry is the balance between hot and cold, fear and beauty. On one hand we revel in extreme temperatures, our hair and skin regularly singed by open flame, and we all share an affinity and respect for sharp blades. We wear our cuts and burns as badges of honor. We compare notes on the pain a particularly long, grueling shift can take on our bodies. On the other, we exalt the beauty and preciousness of the delicate flesh of a perfect tomato. Hardened hands that barely flinch at the splatter of hot grease can so lovingly plate with such pristine perfection: a fragile leaf of herb or dainty garnish…

  • “Jones” by Sydnee Smith

    My stepmom told me it sparkled like the moon in the winter, her favorite season. I never understood why she wanted to adorn something that looked like the night. The night was when demons came to play, but I guess she was used to that. I untangled the headphones she got me for the plane ride home. She was always thoughtful like that. We had frantically walked the aisles to find them, a shadow cast behind both of us. A shadow we both could never seem to shake. She said it tasted the way moonshine burns down your throat. She said she liked that kind of pain. I never understood…

  • “Indigo” by D.L. Fowler

    Let’s get something straight right off the top. Indigo isn’t a color – and if you have to ask the question that’s nibbling at your mind, you’ll never understand. Indigo isn’t a snowflake—white. White is blind to color, erasing perceptions of depth, shades, and outlines that give definition to individuality, causing you to stumble over obstacles you cannot know are underfoot. Neither is it sympathy, understanding, nor any other voluntary act. It’s the unconscious absorption of another’s colors – crying their tears, shrieking their cries for help, bearing their terror, anguish, emptiness, despair, loneliness, horror, trepidation, hopelessness, helplessness, all forms of darkness as if each emotion were your own. It’s…

  • “How to Rock Out with Strangers” by Tori Kaufman

    I have only ever camped with total strangers once, so I boast only cursory observations in this instructional piece on exactly how to go about camping with strangers.   First, you will need some strangers. For this, I recommend leaving the apartment, house, or even looking up from this screen. I had to do all three (and many other things), on several separate occasions (my entire life up to this point), until such an event as will be depicted here could be achieved (I had no idea what I was doing regarding any element of this adventure).   Next, you will need to interact with the stranger(s). Walking up to someone…

  • “Port Angeles” by Jordan Hartt

    Was a couple used to live here in PA name’a Bud n’ Lorraine Gillis, maybe you know ‘em or heard tell of ‘em. He was a machinist n’ coached football n’ she worked at th’Oyster Café n’ run the bowlin’ league. They had two sons: th’oldest one was killed in a car crash, n’ th’youngest, Tod, shot himself three weeks later. Tod was a short-order cook in th’same place Lorraine work at. No one saw him react after th’phone call about his brother, but his breaks started getting’ longer n’ longer, which no one blamed him for. We’d see him go outside th’restaurant even during th’busiest times at th’dinner rush,…