• “He Cuts the Engine to Show Us the First One” by Christina Butcher

    17 crosses on the river & he cuts the engine to show us the first one proud fisherman-turned-tour guide   who earlier this morning hoisted a rope, slick & wet, from the water   one end tied to the platform the other to a net swollen with oysters.   The moon was still out & the boat tilted as everyone leaned over its side, port. please, teach me, I hear myself say   “Obrigada.”   Silvio’s words return to me like waves, lapping against the edges of my third eye.   Boat.   “Say it as if there is no obligation.”   “Schto mutu grata,” Silvio, I fall in love…

  • “At Sea” by Erik Carlsen

    My father and I went out on the boat To scatter her ashes where we set the crab pots So that when the rest of the family asks Where we scattered her ashes, we can say That we scattered them where we set the crab pots And they will know.   A lot of the ashes blew into my hair. The pieces clung to my hair like a field of white crosses.   My grandfather could do pullups with his fingertips. He gave me stitches when I was a child. I do not even remember Being hurt.   We set the crab pots where my grandfather did. He would yell…

  • “The Black Egg” by Shondhi

    The interior of the car was dimly lit in the city’s halogen glow. Its leather seats were tattered from many years of hard use. The fabric glued to the ceiling dangled low, a victim to the ravages of time and heat. The steady rhythm of quiet breathing.  A lone figure drives through a forlorn neighborhood obsessively glancing through the rear-view mirror and into the back seat. The car smells like sweat, blood, and cigarettes.  In his lap, black hot gunpowder steel. His assurance that no one will take what he has found, even though guns didn’t stop him from taking it from them. Nestled in the back seat of the…

  • “A Dog’s Life” by Veda Leggett

    Maya exited the independent bookstore owned by a friend, Dax walking beside her. She had a couple more errands to run and it felt good to have a companion, even a four-legged one, to walk with her. Well-trained and protective, he made her feel safe. She loved living in the city but it wasn’t always safe.  Two weeks ago, she’d been attacked when leaving the post office. Some young punks seemed to think it was a game to run up, hit someone and beat them while they were down. Thank goodness she hadn’t been seriously hurt.  Although it scared the bejeebers out of her.   After mulling it over for…

  • “A Three-Act Poem for Holy Saturday” by Sammy Vickstein

    I. We hear a knock on the door from offstage. The lights are still down. After no answer, We hear the knock again, faster, Panicked, even.   Peter, reluctant, lights a lamp. Looks through the peephole, Not taking any chances. Lets John and James in.   “I thought I heard thunder,” he says. James does not laugh. John, warm, does, wraps Peter up in a hug His friend receives.   “Hell of a day,” he says. “Hell of a week,” Peter responds. “Hell of a fucking life,” James chimes in. Peter looks at John John raises a pantomimed bottle to his lips,   Shrugs “Maybe he’s got the right idea,…

  • “Swimming” by Erik Carlsen

    When you tell stories about your father Hopping trains, you leave out any mention Of the snake with ball bearings in its mouth, Or the bird made out of cherry blossoms Tossing it’s head like it is seizing From going days without booze in the hotel.   You don’t talk about finding the floor wet before You have even had the chance to unpack. You distinguish the scent as sweat, As his. You feel him everywhere, your father, Generous with how he annotated his volumes About the civil war and all the theories About Kennedy and his head, breaking apart like a bad pie, Like a crow pecking at it…

  • “Joel the Great” by John M. Carlson

    “Joel the Great isn’t great!” I snarled to myself, as I pulled into my parents’ driveway that afternoon. Although I knew that my parents, actually most of the town, had a different opinion.   Joel the Great was my brother. He was simply named Joel when he was born. At some point, kids in school started calling him Joel the Great, and the name stuck. Of course, he was still usually called Joel for the sake of convenience. But even at those times, you could still hear the Great, even if it was unspoken.   Most people in town probably thought Joel the Great was a perfect name. He was…

  • “Paradise on the Mountain” by Steve Vittori

    Aptly named at the end of the road: Paradise. Crossed off the list of places you’d been. You, sled master in yards of sloped streets in lowlands of Puget Sound, with long-awaited, short-lived snowfalls.   The paved Paradise lot.  A mile up the mountain. Your sled set free from our trunk’s clutter. Your frozen face, bare in an otherwise bundled body, froze me, transmitted its fears. I trailed your gaze to the peak, the way pockmarked by ice, crevasses.  Rocky outcrops of Nisqually Glacier between it and us.   I said, “You think you’re going there?” Your silent reply: a barely thawed nod. I said an encouraging word, “No.” You’re…

  • “Not Your Home” by Julie Foster

    Houses fall on little girls all the time, not witches. Girls with real curls, skinned knees, holding dirty fingers from the bruised ladders between their thighs.   Peter built this house, welded the doors shut, sparks crackling against his mask but my mother opened the windows and birds flew in.   Stiff feathers, ink and oil, hid in the rafters. Until the wind shifted and creaked and we were buried, twirled, stacked and seeded.   The leaded carpet halls, patterned with decomp and blue veins were swept unhinged, unwalled and unearthed. We used our nails, pried from sheetrock, to shred the saviors.   Houses fall from little girls all the…

  • “Suerte” by Kirsten Schowalter

    “Now approaching platform 2.” “Fremont train now approaching platform 2.” “Fremont train platform 2.” Snap. Huh. I swing my North Face backpack over my right shoulder, stuff my Cal lanyard and student ID in my purse, and hoist my carry-on size luggage over the threshold and onto the train. I’m going to be sitting on a plane for the next several hours on my way to Tacoma, WA for the holidays. I briefly consider standing on the train, but the sea of empty seats and the aching between my shoulders makes me decide otherwise. I don’t like sitting in the seats near the door set aside for the elderly or…