May 28, 2020

“Mutt and Jeff,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

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“Mutt and Jeff,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

Friends who knew us back in the day called us Mutt and Jeff. We had buddy tattoos on our biceps, cartoon characters: Jeff tall in an orange striped suit and fedora, with a mustache like mine, Mutt short, with mutton chops, dark suit and top hat. I never told Tina, my second wife, why I had the tattoo because I got into bad habits with Mick a year into my first marriage. I wanted him nowhere near me and Tina, until the bad times hit.   We had funny hours, Tina and I. She sold real estate, I worked from home, free-lancing web sites, buying and selling, investing. We made decent money, unpredictable, sure, but we talked about having a kid. That dropped off when things cooled in the bedroom. One Saturday, I drove by an open house to say hello when I saw her on the porch, talking with a younger guy in dark slacks, blue shirt. He had dark hair, styled, real regular white teeth.     I put it out of my mind overnight. We had a nice dinner, and off she went…

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February 25, 2020

“Broken Hearts & Dead Flowers,” by Michael Summerleigh

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“Broken Hearts & Dead Flowers,” by Michael Summerleigh

BROKEN HEARTS & DEAD FLOWERS (February 1970 – upstate New York)  Josh stepped out into the beginning of the day, heard the steel door slam behind him as he pitched the black garbage bag into the dumpster.  He checked the door once to make sure it had locked, buttoned his denim jacket up around the paper sack of unsold apple crisps and burgers, jammed his hands down into the pockets of his jeans.  It had been a slow shift, some heavy wind and a couple of inches of snow discouraging the stoners from boarding the Midnight Munchie train that usually kept the Jack-in-the-Box busy through the night. He’d sent Kyle and Donnie home at two, started shutting everything down around three-thirty. . .picking up wax paper burger wraps and empty Zig Zag sleeves in the small…

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December 3, 2019

“Typhoon Season,” A Short Story by Michael Colbert

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“Typhoon Season,” A Short Story by Michael Colbert

Logan followed Natsumi to Japan and he was beginning to wonder why. Yesterday he wondered why when he drank bad coffee from 7-Eleven but was desperate for an iced latte. Today he wondered why when he tried to buy stamps at the post office to send his seventeen-year-old sister a birthday card.  “Kitty,” he said. “America made kitty.”  Natsumi had told him what to say as she ran out the door of her mother’s house to buy more medicine. Her mother was sick. Badly sick. With what, Logan didn’t know.  “Logan, I need to go home to Japan,” she’d said. In bed, her back was to him. He stroked her smooth shoulders, outlining the Astoria house he saw through the window. “My mom is sick.”   They were coming up on the end of their lease. Their first apartment together. They met in college, Wesleyan. He was studying…

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November 20, 2019

“Thank God I Drove Past You Today,” by Mário Santos

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“Thank God I Drove Past You Today,” by Mário Santos

I drove past you today. You were chatting with some friend of ours, waiting for the bus. I saw you briefly through the window of my car but, at that exact moment, I stepped harder on the gas. I saw your image, but it was just for a second. Then you vanished. You know what? Thank God I drove past you fast. I had to tell you this.  Today, I couldn’t be in your world. I’m dead tired. I’ve a deadline at work to meet in four days. Last minute problems as usual. Meetings in a row. The pressure from customers, my first manager, my second manager – that shit is full of managers – my co-workers. Not today. I’m not capable of hearing your endless complaints, your criticism about everything, your grievances. Not today. I don’t want to hear you talking about your…

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November 2, 2019

“In Thought, Word and Deed,” by Jose Oseguera

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“In Thought, Word and Deed,” by Jose Oseguera

By the time Paul and Ariela reached the Caravaggio exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, they decided to stop avoiding the urge to hold hands, and finally interlaced fingers. The tingling sensation first came to him when he handed her the red LACMA sticker, she needed to wear in order to be allowed in all the special exhibits. Paul squeezed her hand as if it would fall out of his if he didn’t. She blushed. He smiled, showing more teeth than he’d intended. Paul was born in Mexico, but was adopted as an infant by white evangelical Christian missionaries who decided to bring him home to Rialto, California along with all the goat’s milk candy they could fit in their luggage. Although his parents had tried to instill as much Hispanic culture in him…

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October 12, 2019

“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

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“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

The door to Carol’s bedroom swung shut behind her with a bang. The late-afternoon light streaming in through her window highlighted every wrinkle and mote of dust that had accumulated on her pantsuit over the course of her walk home from work, but she wouldn’t be dealing with that now. She had come to a decision. It was one that she had been slowly working her way towards not just since she’d woken up that morning, or since the week had begun, but for one full calendar month — and it wasn’t a February either. It was one of the respectable months.  “Okay, listen,” she said to the figure sitting on top of the table beside her bed. “I didn’t know all this would happen between us. But it did, and I love you, and…

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October 2, 2019

Your Habit or Mine? Two Poems by Chad Lutz

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Your Habit or Mine? Two Poems by Chad Lutz

859 Years they were singing Ave Maria in the streets when the flames leaped out of its crown like a scurry of small animals glass popping wood hissing from years of accumulated moisture they’re calling it a shared sadness it’s madness what we find in the losing ** If Anything, We Played Each Other you only smoke on occasion you smoke every day of your life fingers caked with the cancer you’ll contract the Turkish spices and menthol chards your lungs draw deep your mouth purses saying you’ll quit tomorrow telling me you’ll quit today we share a Size 8 waistline & every order of nachos you plant kisses on my earlobes & tuck your hands into the seat of my pants we dance but that’s it you’re everything to me a habit to pass…

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September 5, 2019

Jennifer Judge’s Poetry Tells Us The Way Things Just Are

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Jennifer Judge’s Poetry Tells Us The Way Things Just Are

PEOPLE Always say you know what to do when your child cries, you just know, like some parent gene kicks in, the knowledge springs up in your brain like it’s always been there, a priori knowledge.  But that’s a load of bullshit.  Watch a baby fall backwards and drop a chair on herself. You see the chair going but you can’t get there in time to stop it, and you can’t control the gasp that escapes you. You’re not supposed to gasp, have to remain calm so that the child does. And when there’s nothing, nothing, nothing that calms her after the fall—walking, talking, hugging, singing, kissing—you know your love is not strong enough now for anyone, that you are what you are, failure of a parent, and you know this is your life now….

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August 28, 2019

Aphrodite’s Revenge: Two Poems by Madison Culpepper

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Aphrodite’s Revenge: Two Poems by Madison Culpepper

Even Aphrodite Has Lazy Days  I apologize for the days I don’t wear make-up or dress in tight gowns, and for the days I don’t try to seduce a man to feel worthy.  I used to bathe myself in lavender to attract men. Right now, I’m tired and alone. My confidence wilts when I don’t plaster my face with a glow brighter than the sun.  Today, I’m lying beneath blankets in nothing but sweats and skin. My hair is tied into a bun, purple scoops under my eyes. I wish a man could see that even without my highlight I’m still beautiful.  Most days, I may appear  like the pink sunsets pouring into violet streams. But beneath the gloss and glow and goddess sheen, I’m just a woman, a person. Someone who is more than vanity. And with my face bare, I hope my soul can finally shine, lilac light blooming freely through my skin after all this time.  Citrus Grief  Rows of oranges make a masterpiece in…

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August 27, 2019

The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson

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The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson

The Back of Trudy’s Head  Everything, at once  came to Trudy on the bus, the world through a window  smeared with hair grease came in clear, she  looked around at all the other passengers and knew us —  felt our tension in her  shoulders, drew a breath of  body odor, smelled our fear.  And the thick, pink man  who sat ahead of Trudy leaned back to scratch his mat  of ratted graying hair releasing flakes of skin  down his back and in the air,  then turned to smile a  crooked-tooth smile at himself  in the window, that at night  is both a window and a mirror.  Trudy pulled the cord  to make the driver stop, as it was all that she could  think to do, and when he did  the doors swung open  but Trudy could not  get off — no one did  but me, and I watched  the back of Trudy’s head  till the bus drove out of view.   Bridgette | Since the Accident  Friday’s the new Thursday  for Bridgette, since she  moves with sudden grace  at such an elementary pace through space and…

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