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    The Coyote Ate My Baby by Heather Ayers

    What a fat, behemoth of a baby. What kind of plump mutant did they bring home? It looks like a flesh-tone sack of tuna purée, cream-heavy milk rolling around with a little black toupee clinging on to the top of its tiny block head. I am less than unimpressed. A new low even for these two metalheads somehow charged with my well-being. I’m trapped in some bizarro version of Little House on the Prairie, where the farmhouse has been transported to the human’s poop plant, their only neighbor a mountain lion inhabiting the crawl space underneath. They’re all too happy to let us drift off into oblivion on our very…

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    Duke by Erik Carlsen

    Whenever he talks I hope he knows I’m listening, But I only respond when he is gone.   I dream that I can ask him questions. Why is there thunder? How long were you alive before me?   When he takes me for a walk I know he is thinking of his regrets. That is what silence has always done to him, I bet.   He looks at me every day and says the fur on my tail Is growing back. I take his word for it. I don’t think   He would lie to me, especially about something like that. But when I dream, I dream I walk upright…

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    Frederik Sandwich and the Earthquake that Couldn’t Possibly Be by Kevin John Scott

    The old man’s coat was worn and matted with what looked and smelled like animal dung. He was clearly some kind of tramp. There were holes in his gloves and stains on his pants and his shoes were quite unspeakable. Frederik quietly took a very tight grip on his backpack. “I’m sorry,” he said, as he had been taught to do in such circumstances. “Not today, thank you.” He averted his eyes and stepped aside and waited for the old man to shuffle off and worry someone else. “Sorry?” the man growled, leaning close with his terrible breath. It was all Frederik could do not to gag. “You’ll be sorry…

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    We Would Have Been Old Friends by Samuel Snoek-Brown

    For Josh E.   You taught me to play SuperMario Bros.   You showed me that I will never be as good as you at playing SuperMario Bros.  You always, always beat me.   You corrected the way I clip my toenails. Straight across, not curved in at the corners, and you saved me from years of ingrown pain.   You told me I’m no good at building model planes. When I sat on my F-4 Phantom and crushed it, you told me not to take things so seriously.   You told me that porn is best when stolen, and we talked about how stark—how unmysterious and frankly funny porn…

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    THIRD PLACE “Do They Deserve It?” by Gemma Duggins

    It was a brisk fall morning in September of 1942, when they knocked on the Takahashi’s door. The family was eating a breakfast of rice porridge and bread at the table. They were chatting about the news when their pleasant meal was interrupted by three men at their door. They were tall and threatening, looming over them, holding large guns. The family was only allowed to take a few items. The rest were just left, abandoned, an image of a humble home frozen in time, left to rot. The children were crying. They didn’t understand why they had to leave. The family would all be put on a train and…

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    SECOND PLACE “Never Lose Hope” by Amber Lee

    I stepped out of our car for the last time, breathing in the exhaust as if it were a precious perfume. I could almost feel the tension of the crowded train station and immediately resented the severe-looking white soldier watching me, his gun at the ready. I turned desperately to Father. “Make them let you come,” I pleaded through the open window. He climbed out of the car and pulled me into his arms. “Akira, you know I can’t,” he said gently, even though his voice was thick with emotion. I broke down. “It’s not fair,” I sobbed into his chest, “Isn’t making me leave our home enough, without taking…

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    FIRST PLACE “Nettie Asberry, My Hero” by Vivian MacBain

    Hi. My name is Josephine, but everybody calls me Josie. I am 11 years old and my favorite color is royal purple. We just got a new puppy named Spot. I know. Not very original, but he is a Dalmatian! I couldn’t help it! Anyway, my daddy told me that I had to train him to “go” outside. So, I did some research in the library and found out that if you use old newspapers to train your dog to “go” on them, you can then put the newspapers outside and get your dog used to that environment. Then you can take the newspapers away altogether and boom (that is…

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    “Whispers in the Wind” by Alessandro Gelmini

    The wind holds no secrets though its sound says otherwise. What was just here is now there; then high above in branches let sway.   Grazing the sea holding scents of petrichor, howls in the night elapses our fallacies.   Currents mirror wind slither below the water, mother bird always returns to shore.   Dusk rolls in, clouds wrap around all that exists pushed by wind’s breath – all while being lured into night’s lullaby.   Sitting on the bow, blushed by moonlight- wind dies down like leaves in fall.   Speaking aloud, words reverberate back through nostrils. Wind carries salt for the wounds, the fire in these hands extinguish…

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    “Standing On Line” by Kathryn Daniels

    You know that game that kids play on road trips, where you add an item to a growing alphabetical list of things you’re bringing to grandma’s house? The first kid might say, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke.” Then the second kid says, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke and a Basset Hound.” Then the next kid (or the first kid again) says, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke, a Basset Hound, and a cocktail,” or some such, until you run out of letters or someone messes up or my mother explodes from the front seat: “What the…

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    “A Poem is Not Just” by Aidan Kelly

    A poem is not just Prose broken into short lines unless they jostle like puppies Struggling reach the tit Or sperm competing to be first to penetrate the veil around the egg, Knowing from their genes They must catalyze the Big Bang That begins all life—or die. A poem is not just Feelings anyone could feel Unless they explode with knowing How her aura feels when rubbed by mine Or how the sensuous grace of the spirit Justifies my faith that all is worth persisting. A poem is not just Assuming the world is what others Think, but must question assumptions For the shock of the instant when You see…