More Than Flowers by Jamie Gogocha

It’s that moment when I’m able to step outside without my winter coat. That moment when I look at the flower bed I’m about to tend. I’ll look at the dirt, rich with nutrients from things I missed during my autumn cleanup. I’ll look at the green sprouts of leaves and the minute buds on the hydrangeas my grandma ordered for me from QVC. I’ll smile when I recall that only a handful of weeks before, the hydrangea’s skeleton was in a vertical arm-wrestling match with seven inches of late-winter snow.

It’s that moment when I shudder as I use my gardening gloves to wipe the spiderwebs away from the yard-waste bin before I wheel it out to the middle of the yard. The blue container is chest-high and promises me a workout as well as a clean yard by inches. We got the little black wheelbarrow as a housewarming gift in 2011, and each year it helps me in the aspiration, never realized, to have one of those pristine yards I see in the movies. I fill that wheelbarrow over and over to dump into the yard-waste bin. Little by little, my yard will be tidy. But for only a moment.
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Four Truths of a Withering Heart by Daniel Wolfort

Prologue

     Once upon a time, there was a boy with small hands and a withering heart.
     A withering heart is different than a broken one. A broken heart acts in accordance with Newtonian physics—action and reaction; tragedy and heartbreak. A withering heart, meanwhile, crumbles away, degradation and disappointment wearing it down to dust. It acts in accordance with the law of entropy.
     All things follow entropy. The heart is a singularity of time divided by experience divided by memory, all derivative of the heart’s singular, drumlike beating. And with each beat, a little more of the singularity is released, giving the finite amount of energy it contains away to the blood and bone and marrow around it. The heart ripples out through time and space and loses itself as it goes. I wish, says the heart. I wish.
     Wishing is a form of entropy, too.
     But this is not just a story of wishing. This is not just a story of empirical evidence or singularities or small hands or even of entropy—although all things are just stories of entropy at the end of the day. This is a story of a boy, and the heart he did not wish to have. And in the beginning was the Word and the Word was a singularity that spoke amid darkness, “Let there be light,” so we can conclude through the transitive property that words are singularities are stories are light. And this is the magic of the Word and the words: light is precious in a world so dark.
     The boy with the small hands and the heart he did not wish to have lived in a gray house with a bedroom with a window to the roof. The boy sometimes stood on the roof. He sometimes looked out across the ocean of suburban houses. The boy’s years raced toward entropy, and his space on the roof became the Cartesian coordinates (0,0,0) on the three-dimensional graph of his world. The boy’s heart raced toward entropy, and as it withered, it beat like a singularity. Let there be light. Let there be light.
     Come close, my friends, and I shall give the four truths of a withering heart. Come close, and I shall give light amid darkness.

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Daughter Songs by Joanne Clarkson

I remember an evening thirty years
ago, three of us standing on a footbridge
when my daughter was one.  She
in a stroller.  My mother, eight months past
cancer.  Me leaning over the railing watching
tracks of abandoned trains almost
touch, disappear into a seldom-used

journey. This March, I push my granddaughter
in her little red car down the road to a pasture.Continue reading →

Bubbler Man by Jonah Barrett

     The Benson Bubblers are all gone. They have disappeared from every street corner. From Burnside to Madison to Stark to Washington to Alder to Yamhill to Morrison to Hoyt to Salmon to Madison and again to Washington. Everywhere. Zip. Badda boom. Our iconic water fountains have vanished, or so it feels.
     The fact of the matter is our Benson Bubblers are not where they should be, but we know exactly where they are. They’ve all been accounted for in Pioneer Square in the form of a giant, hydraulic man that sits in the center plaza.
     We’d call him Bob, but that’s a bit old these days.
     So we call him Simon.

Simon the Bubbler Man by Samantha Breaux
Simon the Bubbler Man by Samantha Breaux

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Forty-Five by Ulee Edwards

Thwump, thwump, thwump, thwump

The record player’s arm jumps at the end of the spiraled midnight groove. Bass thumps flicker from the needle, reverberating through the studio apartment. The repetitious beat sets a monotonous soundtrack to the lethargic morning. An occupied mattress sits on a hardwood floor. A light breeze and warm eastern sunlight radiate from the single-paned window. Contrasting warm and cool sensations cause Aaron’s naked body to burst into goosebumps. Aside from the sheet strung across Aaron’s midsection, a sleeping lover in a cocoon of hoarded blankets is the only source of warmth. The bombardment of senses causes eyelids to flutter as ears catch up to a groggy brain.

THWUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP, THWUMP

The six feet to the record player seem impossible from deep within the silken-sheeted comfort of the bed. The automatic arm, still refusing to budge, taunts Aaron. Persistent low-pitched heartbeats eventually stir enough motivation. Aaron’s knees creak as they swing to the side of the mattress. Insecurity strikes as the realization of nakedness sinks in. What the candlelit room hid last night is maximized by the white light of day. Carelessness has worn away over the years, replaced with an old-aged reason. Nonetheless, a shrug and discarded caution set a course for the turntable.

THWUMP, THWUMP…

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Sharing by John Kulm

She said, “You never wash the dishes.”
He said, “That’s not true at all. I’m sure I have.”
She said, “I have to take care of you like I’m your mother.”
She said, “I am not your mother.”
He took that as a personal attack.
He took it as an attack on his manhood
and a little disparaging about his mother.
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Corsairs by Justin Ballard

This is what happens,
when “something”
is better
than nothing
at all.
The quiet desperation
of memories of things
that never happened,
cities never built,
worlds never explored,
watching the sands from the hourglass fall.
Weaving through time,
extrapolated metaphysical context.
To secede from the constraints
of the constant, of physics.
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Black and Beige by Edward Stiffler

The earth was dead. The air was still. Tiny snowflakes floated down like ash from the fallout of some great disaster far away. My sister was driving an old, rusted-out Dodge van with no heat and no door handles; hell, the entire inside of the door was missing. Just a bunch of rods and plastics to get stuck on, or grease to rub off on your pants. I paid it no mind, though; I wore all black back then, black so dark grease stains wouldn’t show. My sister, on the other hand, she’s the hippie who missed the bus, born two decades too late for peace and love and San Francisco.

The asphalt was frozen so hard you’d think it had gone brittle, like it would crack under your weight. The whole thing resembled an immense, dark pond of unfathomable depth. Salt stains etched the surface like cracks in the black ice. We pulled up to the thrift store in this squeaking, squealing ruckus machine and parked on the far end where it was easier to maneuver the behemoth. Elissa and I hopped down from the contraption, slamming the doors to make sure they’d stick.

“Well, we’re here.”

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