• “Beyond Nisqually” by Carol Sunde

    I scuttle a cedar-spiced path at the Refuge, more than a little wild, scuffling leaves   where crisp breezes hula rose hips and snowberries bead bushes,   imagining plover, goose, and warbler engines fueling migrations south,   as maples unclasp autumn fashions, strip   leaf after leaf to slither and glide down trunk and limbs,   exposing intimations of what the future holds.

  • “Cat Hair and Stretch Pants” by Dawn Ellis

    Go see your aunt,” my mother nagged after Sunday night dinner. “She misses you. You don’t go see her enough.” “I’ve got way better things to do. I really don’t want to, Ma,” I whined. “Go. She doesn’t have anybody. And she’s interesting! She has a lot of life experience to share.” “Ma, she’s interesting like a fender-bender or…a personality disorder,” I said. “Oh, stop. She’s your aunt.” “I get all unspooled when I go there, Ma.” I pushed away my plate of pecan pie, half eaten. “For Pete’s sake, what does that mean?” “It means that I want to crawl out of my skin when I’m there,” I said.…

  • “Sincerely, Your Emotional Poltergeist” by Lucien Vedego

    This is an open letter to anyone who has ever dishonored my presence or done me wrong. I mean you no harm but, when you look at me I hope you forget what home feels like. I hope all memory of your mother’s touch dissipates as your eyes meet mine. I hope my pupils feel like it’s one hundred degrees and there’s no shade in sight. But only for a moment. I just want to hold you in that presence that you missed out on because you decided your attention needed to go elsewhere while you left me to fester in your rotting wreckage.

  • “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…