Parker: First Camelia
I named yesterday Cold and Brittle and White
Like Snow. It was a picture to me, a
composition. Winter jasmine had pushed out her
yellow petals. They exploded like stars. They fell
to the earth. They shot over archways of leafless
Kocz: The Exile Suite
My wife is stealing the baby’s pacifiers. Eighty
percent of women have some form of postpartum
depression. That is what statistics tell us. Nary a
month goes by without hearing about a mother in
Houston who drowns her newborns or a woman in
Montana who stuffs them into a trash compactor.
Tyler: The First House
I started by building a house. With an axe I
chopped down trees. I cut the limbs from their
bodies. I shaved the stick-arms of their children.
Svalina: My Father Is a Dissappearance
The last time we talked was months ago. I was
mowing the lawn, listening to an Aerosmith tape on
my Walkman. I saw him cutting a dead branch from the
dogwood tree. I ran over to him.
The hunger for hunger lasts longer on the tongue
because I dream about it. I refuse to rehearse my
dreams. My opinion, my marginalia regarding dreams
is that they remain more vivid when I am overfed.
What happened to the lusty applause he was to
command upon the final bow strokes of the famous
Romantic concertos? Or the hoorahs and huzzahs as he
strode out with violin in hand, the concertmaster
tuning the orchestra to the unerring pitch of his
Cunningham: Sight Unseen
What unnerved him most, with the passing weeks,
was his increasing certainty of being seen,
observed, interpreted as never before.
This resulted in a series of uncomfortable
Hemmings: The Truth About Onions
She picks the old lover up from the airport.
They have much catching up to do, something that can
be done without words. But they spend too much time
locating themselves in rooms or almost breaking down
when they recall who they once were.
Shangrila Willy: Origami
I am not prolific. I cannot / write you forty
thousand / words in which the detective / with a
quirk finds the body, / is bamboozled, comes to / a
grizzly not quite end, smokes / a cigarette
instead, and does it / again in the next hardcover.
Christopher Lee: Lift Your Antenna Like Skinny Fists
His eyes ache. The television has been on for
weeks, maybe months. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t
care. The longer he keeps them open, the more he
sees. The more they twitch, the more they throb and
blur colors together, the clearer she becomes.
Kamins: The Brain
When I was ten, my teacher brought a human brain
to our classroom. It bobbed in formaldehyde in a
white plastic tub, which sat in the corner next to
the coat rack.
Brubaker: How We Did Not Become Extinct
The first children born to the Cloud Generation
lived difficult lives. They were raised listening to
songs that evoked their parents’ memories instead of
their own. They had no memories to evoke because
they were born into the world of clouds.
A single sheetless mattress on a floor. An
afternoon where bodies stick atop another. This day,
the fan lacks a drowning feature. His roommate and
the dog are downstairs, panting in unison with
Andrews: Quarter in the Jukebox
Philadelphia. Our bathing suits bunched under
our thighs. The cats swayed between our legs. We lay
side-by-side like sisters, combing each other’s hair
before sleep. You climbed on top, and your hair fell
between my lips.
Olen Butler: Justine Remembers Her Three Husbands
So my therapist says to me, “If you want to feel
better, you need to let go of the anger,” and I say
to her, “Sure, okay.”
van den Berg: I Have Been Moved by the Spirit
Three of my foster siblings came to the city
that same year. Julia managed a diner, Raymond was
unemployed, and Louise was taking night classes for
accounting and dating a classmate.
Gaudry: Best. Summer. Ever.
My grandfather always told me not to trust men
without hats. He used to play this living room game
with me called Giant Steps—two giant steps toward
him, three baby steps back, four giant steps
forward, six little steps back.
Paisley: The Solipcycle
Crammed tight in the loges, in that secret
theatre, they ogled me as I stripped these limbs
bare. I was beautiful, son. No one had ever seen the
flesh that I showed that night.
My first choice was to work on the crisis
hotline. I wanted to save unborn lives
twenty-four/seven in the deepest darkest most
godforsaken places of our nation, especially San
Rydell: Riding in the Rain Taxi
The rain inside the moving taxi slanted like a
woman’s long blonde hair blown in a strong wind. The
driver’s face, pruney and dripping, twisted into a
frown of determination, his gloved hands clutching
at the wheel, windows closed tight to keep out the
sun, clearness, dryness.
von Bohlen: In Borrowed Houses: Toledo, Michigan
Once in a while the cars wake me up. / Though
the windows are shut / the air blows through the
house / till the walls cool down. / We drown in
belongings / until we can’t see our shoes.
Genevieve DuBois: Status Vertiginous
There is nothing wrong with your brain, there is
nothing wrong with your ears, or so the doctors tell
you—you just have a disability, a small handicap,
some quirk of your body’s architecture, some slight
misalignment, nothing that can’t be lived with—and
you smile, and nod, and nod, and smile, and you hate
them, if only for their humanity when they are
required to be superhuman.
Ashley: Behind Closed Doors
Today I will skip work and start a project.
Tassels and wheels, that sort of thing—the kind of
wooden bike you might find at the far end of a flea
market between the quick cash and the liquor store.
Clark: Apology to the Grayling
I apologize if your new accommodations are a bit
tight, but at least it is—a place. I feel your scaly
body press against my ribs; your tail flicks in
anticipation against my spine; an eye peers out from
behind my left kidney.
Rose Etter: Love Letters to Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is holding a sledgehammer or
another woman or both. His hands are around hard
wood silver built to be heavy, a weight we haven’t
measured or discussed. He built the sledgehammer out
of the parts of other women, sculpted the silver
head from the thickness of their skulls, created the
handle from the fat of various breasts.
Jackson: The Sharpest Part of Her
My mother had been clean for most of her
pregnancy so no one suspected what was to come.
True, no family had come while she was in labor, or
even after I was born. No father, either. But it was
New York, it was 1982, and this was common enough.