Small Boy

By Joseph Scapellato

Featured Art: Pepita by Robert Henri

The small boy says to his big sister, “Why did we kill all the Indians?”

They’re in the basement playing a video game. Both of them are white.

“We didn’t kill them,” says his big sister, “our ancestors did.”

“Why did our ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“Okay, not really our ancestors because Dad’s family came in the 20s and Mom’s in the Sixties and the Indians were already totally dead by then, mostly.”

“Why did ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“But I guess you could say it was us, pretty much, because today we’re basically the same culture as the culture of the people who killed the Indians back then. And it’s ‘Native Americans,’ not ‘Indians.’ ‘Indians’ is ignorant.”

The small boy says to his angry stepmom, “Why did we kill all the Native Americans?”

They’re returning from the grocery store in hardly any traffic. Plastic bags stuffed with food rustle in the back seat.

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The Light Factory

By Sandy Gingras

I work the night shift at the light factory.
The gears of the conveyor belt slip
silently, and emptiness goes by me
one segment at a time. I have to take
the dark in my gloved hands and make
something of it, then connect it to something else.
Someone further along the line bends
it, I think. Nobody really knows much about
the other guy’s job here. We just do our part.

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By Sandy Gingras

My mother wants her head to be frozen
after she dies. I’m against it, but
there’s no talking to her. She has a brochure.

On the cover, there’s a picture
of a white building with no windows.
I tell her, I go, “I’m never gonna visit you there.”

She says, “Fine, fine,” the way she does.
She reads me the whole brochure.
She’ll be maintained at something-something degrees

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The Undersized Negative

By Robert Glick

Sometimes the day after Mom’s miscarriage, a chemistry teacher with chin-only stubble interrupts class to tell you he is dying. There were so many reasons not to be anywhere. I, Dr. Watermelon, convened everyone at the abandoned house, which I insisted on calling the sketch house, on account of the Etch A Sketch I had found in a toy chest. My buddy Filbert plopped himself down on one of the oyster chairs; the air clouded with dust mites and dried skin. “Finders, keepers,” he said. We demanded answers of the Harris family from phone bills and colanders, from the oregano scent of the bathroom cleaner, from a postal sack half-full of gas caps. The throat to the fireplace was choked; perhaps a bird’s nest.

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The Egg

By Eric Nelson

We’re sitting at the table the way people do
When a family member dies and a stream of well-wishers
Arrive with sympathy and food.

Everyone is concerned for the widow, 70, tough, wiry,
Who now seems weak and befuddled, staring at people
She’s known for years without answering,

Rising and walking out the back door, staring at the woods
At the far end of their land.
Returning to the table without a word.

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Gun on the Table

By Eric Nelson

My favorite scene in Body Heat has nothing
To do with the intricate plot
That William Hurt and Kathleen Turner
Devise to kill her rich, oppressive husband.
My favorite scene, maybe ten seconds long,
Shows Hurt getting into his car as an antique
Convertible drives by, a fully costumed clown
At the wheel, waving. Hurt stares, slightly
Bewildered, while the clown passes and disappears.
That’s it. Cut to Hurt and Turner in another
Sweaty sex scene and post-coital planning,

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My Life with Pines

By Tom Wayman

In the glow of a fluorescent, I sit leaning
over a table to sort through parts of
a jigsaw puzzle, working hard to recreate
a picture displayed
on the box I purchased
while outside
great pines have moved in the darkness
down the ridge to surround my house, many of the trees
taller than the roof. A fierce wind
causes the pine trunks to sway, their limbs
churning the dark in wild
and pitiless gestures.

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The Road

By Lee Ann Dalton

I left, not looking back. I was afraid.
I left the things he bought me, just in case.
I had to close my eyes to find the road.

I carried names and numbers, tucked inside
a pocket in my purse, and not much else
to leave and not look back. I was afraid

of corners, entryways, store windows, hid
and dodged whole neighborhoods, memory’s curse.
I had to close my eyes to feel the road.

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By Jennifer Leonard*

When, years later, I learn Kevin Miller,
the boy who grew up next door, is in jail
for drugs and a stolen car and a gun,
I think of eighth grade:
Kevin with his buck teeth and buzz cut
always getting into fights, Kevin suspended
once for carving the F-word into a church pew
during Wednesday Mass, then again
for slinging walnuts against the windshield
of Mrs. Sabatino’s car.

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Pavlov’s Dog

By Derek JG Williams

I chase my shadow all morning. The neighbors watch
from between drawn curtains.

I tear up clumps of lawn until my blood churns how it does
when the bell rings. I sit in the sun and pant.

Next time I’ll lunge for his throat. But the bell sounds
and I love him still. When I run away, it’s to nowhere

special. There’s a certain slant of moon
I seek. It changes the angle of my longing.

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Photograph Albums

By George Kalogeris

“We finally got all of our family photos
Onto our home computer,” Quentin was saying,
Just as we entered the Asian fusion place.

And that’s when it hit me: all those leather albums
With their matted pages and bristly hides,
In their mundane way as archly ceremonial

As the Golden Dragon preening against
The restaurant window. All those cumbersome tomes,
In a decade or so defunct as the dinosaur.

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For My 1st Ex-Lover to Die

By Francesca Bell

I heard this morning my old lover died, and I cannot say I loved him, though I may have said it at the time, cannot say he was a good person or lover or anything other than a man who called me in the small hours, driving back roads drunk in his Ferrari, when I was 23 and he was 50, who bought me books and a Lalique clock that’s been broken 20 years, who was the dumbest smart person I ever knew, crying in his car at 4 in the morning, wearing a coyote skin coat that reached to his shoes,

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Dialing The Dead

By Mark Kraushaar

I’d never call.
First of all, I’d be intruding, and besides
I can see my dead friend with all his dead friends
even now, translucent, weightless, winging
through a cloud or sitting in a circle
on some creaky, folding chairs—
Hello, my name is Peter and I’ve
been dead ten years, car wreck.
Hello my name is Edith and I’ve
been dead a week, pneumonia.
Hello, my name is Frank and I’ve been . . . .

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Last Call

By Penny Zang

Each night, after work, we changed our names. We were trying on new identities, seeing which ones fit. Serena and I would throw off our aprons and get undressed in the car, wiggling into tight black pants and shirts thin as napkins. Sometimes we wore red lipstick, sometimes eye glitter. Then we’d find a new bar with the same tattered barstools we were used to balancing on, the same veil of smoke and low light that felt like home. To the men who approached us, we turned into different girls, ones who knew how to charm even without the promise of making a tip.

Our new names were decided on the spot, never the same name twice. They were names we’d once used for our baby dolls, names we’d wished our moms had given us: Isabel, Deanna, Lily. Everything else came later—our stories, our new personalities—fueled by beer and tequila, a practiced game of improvisation. Sometimes men invited us home or out to their car. Sometimes the night just fizzled and we’d stumble out to the street in the wrong direction, too lost to even know it. We’d stop to eat greasy pizza and compare notes, our throbbing feet the only part of us that wanted to give up.

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The Game

By Steven Cramer

Let me clarify some things about the game.
First rule: think about the game, you’ve lost.
No tiles, cards, currency, whirling dials: all pieces

are included, space has been cleared at the table.
Join in. Your turn. Kids learn the game in school
corridors, score it in red along their forearms,

new staves on old. It doesn’t end when the day ends:
race for the stairs, dodging the geeks and slow kids,
thunder of fists on lockers, last push to the streets.

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