• “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…

  • “Fuel for Fire” by Ceci Omri

    I smelled cedarwood burning. The fire popped while I lay motionless, completely enamored with the very thing that could destroy me. The flame was strong.  Blazing red overtook the irises of my eyes. I knew I couldn’t stay here forever, though it was all I had begged for. I reached out — touched the flames. I flinched.  It burned, and I couldn’t help but make it kiss my fingertips again. It danced in response, but I heard no music. There was nothing in the background. Just darkness, silence and that one single flame. How I got there I don’t know, but leaving was not an option. The warmth drew me…

  • “Entropic June” by James Stuart

    In one of the spare seconds when the wind isn’t blowing and the train is miles off yet, Russ holds his breath and stands perfectly motionless atop a mountain of discarded kitchen tile. Focusing intently on the elimination of distraction and need, he pretends for a moment the entire world has frozen. He doesn’t blink, doesn’t scratch the itches which come from nowhere, tries even to slow the beating of his heart – although this proves useless, especially when his lungs begin to burn and his body panics instinctively. Nonetheless, he struggles in a desperate attempt to find even ten seconds of motionlessness – a momentary break in the perpetual…

  • “Working on the Waterfront” by Erik Carlsen

    Editor’s Note: Do not approach distressed seal pups. “If you believe a Harbor Seal pup or other marine mammal has been unattended by his mom for more than 48 hours, or is clearly in distress or injured, contact the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network Hotline at 1.866.767.6114.”   Every morning there are rats Passed out from drinking The leftover booze That pools underneath The restaurant’s dumpster.   Some of the men that arrive early in the morning to fish Kick the rats into the water. Some swim to the floating dock, And hold onto the rope that is tied to the floats. Others do not.   There are dogs that sleep in…