Fear of the Bird Migration

By Darren Morris

Featured Art: Bird by Peter Takal

I was attempting
the old familiar,
the regular slog,
when I slipped into
missing her again,
the child my wife and I
would never have.
Sometimes she was
a girl and sometimes
a boy. But like heaven,
I held her there
in my mind, a place
of light where nothing
is done, but all is felt. Read More

Cups

By Cecilia Pinto

Featured Art: Resting by Antonio Mancini

Many years ago I watched a documentary about people with mental illness. One of the patients presented was a young woman who had been institutionalized. Despite being an adult physically, she acted like a little girl and lived in a room filled with dolls. She wanted more than anything to be spanked because she equated this with love. No one would comply with her request which made her desperate and upset.

I have remembered this. Read More

My Keats Year

By James Davis May

Featured Art: Tea Party with Open Pottery by Seymour Rosofsky

Shouldn’t it be I’m disappointed by (or because of) and not in you?

We were watching Stellar’s jays—I didn’t know their names then,
I addressed the first one as “Monsieur Mohawk”—watch us,
or watch our meal rather. I don’t know if birds feel disappointment,
but as they flitted around the perimeter of the patio
with an odd combination of aggression and timidity,
their feet on the sun-bleached railing
making sounds like a hand searching a filled drawer
for something that’s not in the drawer,
the diminishment of cereal must have been processed
as the bird-equivalent of disappointment. Read More

Mystery Object

By Sarah Galvin

Featured Art: The Art of Living by Saul Steinberg

You come out of the room where everyone is doing karaoke
and ask why I’m ignoring you.
I want to say something that suggests I’ve endured
some exotic, indescribable torture

but a completely mundane thing has happened,
which is you have stopped loving me.
So, even though your body is here, you are gone
and bodies are becoming less like a procession of individuals
than a texture like wet cement, but also like words that say,
“Why would you subscribe to such a mystery object”

and I think, it’s funny the cement forms words, especially these words
but something isn’t right about the word “subscribe” in this context
and I can’t tell if the sentence is a question or a statement—
Why is there no punctuation?
I want to run, but I’m already travelling in every direction at once.


The Darkest Part of the Cloud

By Jessica Langan-Pack

Featured Art: Wheatfield by Georges Braque

My daughter is nine, and she has recently grown taller and lost most of her softness. Now she’s a thin and delicate thing with very straight, very smooth hair that she wears in bangs across her forehead. She is afraid of bees. She is afraid of forest fires, and of strangers, and of a book she read called The Face on the Milk Carton, which is about a little girl who sees her own face on a missing children
poster. She is articulate and serious and very imaginative. When she finds out, at the beginning of her summer vacation, that her father is losing his memory, not slowly, or gracefully, but at a possibly alarming rate, what she decides to do is remember everything.

“So that you can tell him?” I ask her. For a few weeks I have been thinking of my head as an empty room of some kind, and sometimes my voice reverberates off its walls. We are sitting in the kitchen eating cereal.

She shrugs. “Just so I don’t forget.” She is at a stage where she has trouble differentiating between other people, real or fictitious, and herself. I wonder if she is afraid of losing her own memory. Read More

The Professional

By Michael Bazzett

Featured Art: The Conversation by Gabriele Munter

She arrived in a dark suit and a mask-like smile, explaining
her services in a manner so polished it almost put us off.
This is my specialty, she soothed. Both mind and house
will be empty as a mountain wind once I’m done. I sensed
she’d said those words before. We sat at the kitchen table,
you and I, looking at one another, hoping the other felt more
certain, more assured. Once we signed, it would take years
before we acknowledged our mistake. She’d left the whole day
open, and could begin immediately. Was there perhaps a guest
room where she could change? Her assistant arrived with
a black duffel, fresh white towels, and a stainless-steel basin. Read More

Fastball Shy

By Mike Schneider

Featured Art: Multiflash: Baseball Swing with Face by Harold Eugene Edgerton

Hot roller to the shortstop,
me—lean machine
of summer, scuffling
in ballfield yellow dirt.
Off like a hound I go
with my three-finger
Warren Spahn, neatsfoot-
oiled cowhide glove
to gobble that scorched
grounder & fire it
across the diamond
to Tub McMullin’s
fat-handed mitt at First.
Little League? Shit. Read More

Still Listening

By Robert Cording

Featured Art: Confusion of Christmas by Julia Thecla

I. Hospice Jumble

The Jumble in the paper too hard for him to read,
my mother suggested we make up our own: Dear,

she said to her husband, your first word is life.
Reduced to words we jumbled, he joked file

it. My brother offered another, mean,
thinking perhaps of his diabetes, a name

like cancer to our family. Then, lamp,
lit at his bedside, and the one palm

visible outside his one windowed room.
My father got them quickly, the last, moor, Read More

My Dead Father Remembers My Birthday

By Lesley Wheeler

Featured Art: Birthday Party by Margaret Burroughs

Dream-phone rang and I thought: that’s exactly
his voice. I haven’t forgotten. Then: but I could
forget, because he’s dead. Hi, sorry it’s been so long,
but I was sick and the doctors messed everything up.

He made that shrug-noise, dismissive but pained,
meaning he’s lying or leaving something out.
It’s snowing here, and then a click, click, over the line,
and a neutral woman’s voice, slightly officious:
This recording was intercepted. If you wish to replay
this message, dial this number now,
and she recited
a blizzard of digits while I flailed
for a pen then found myself tangled in blankets.
The window a bruise beginning to fade. Read More

A Toast in Cancun

By Charles Haverty

Featured Art: Oak Street Beach, Chicago by Terry Evans

Everyone in his new life warned Ferris not to go to Cancun. They said Cancun was to drinking what Las Vegas was to gambling. “They even drink in the swimming pools,” his sponsor Leonard told him. “No shit. They belly up to the bar right there in the water.” He’d been sober for four months, a week, and three days, but Caitlin was his only sister and he her only brother and this was her wedding. So there he stood, sweating on the beach in the wrong suit, the darkest figure in the sand-colored crowd. With the ceremony behind him, only the reception, the night, and a taxi ride to the airport separated Ferris from the plane that would carry him back to Indiana and his quiet, normal life. Read More

Patina

By Mark Cox

Featured Art: Untitled by Vija Clemins

In your prime, shape presents itself first,
the angle and curve of one thing,
the size of something else,
or the way her hair flows volcanically

along each subtle slope and swell.
It is crazed, intense, super-heated,
even the soles of your boots feel sticky,

because she’s entered you, you know this,
she charts the very map of your blood,
and that eyelid twitch you have going,
they’ll claim is stress and dehydration, Read More

A Distant Relative

By Ryan Meany

Featured Art: Coffee and Cigarettes by Ken Schles

Mom called Friday to say Linda died.
At least two people I don’t like at work
I know better than Aunt Linda. I carried her
casket yesterday, because my grandmother asked,
along with younger cousins, strangers I recognize from childhood,
tough men I see only as the children they were
in bony faces, stubble. The babies they were
they’ve locked up deep: Dusty on military disability
with three kids, and Billy, who used to be Little Billy,
with a court date for driving 137. My grandmother
looked like a Treasure Troll in tired skin, white broken Read More

At the Grave of Sadie Thorpe

By Miles Harvey

Featured Art: A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by Walker Evans

Time forks, perpetually, into countless futures. . . . In most of these times, we do not exist;
in some, you exist but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in others still, we both do.
—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”

“Was she a relative of yours?” the old man asks, leading me toward your grave.

“Well, not exactly,” I begin to reply. “She—”but then I pause. In the middle of my sentence, in the middle of my life, in the middle of some small-town cemetery in the middle of the Midwest, I pause, unable to explain who you are or why I’m here. What I would tell the man, if it didn’t sound so absurd, is that although I am not your descendant, although I only recently learned of your existence, although you barely left a mark on the world, and although your corpse was buried here more than forty years before I was born, I can’t get you out of my mind. What I would recount, if I could figure out a simple way to do it, is the history of happenstance that connects me to you across the years, a bond that at this moment feels almost as strong as the ties of blood. What I would confess, if I wasn’t worried he’d laugh in my face, is that I woke up this morning, a couple months shy of my fiftieth birthday, certain I had to drive more than one-hundred miles from Chicago to visit a total stranger’s grave in this tiny hamlet of Dana, Illinois. Read More

Hook and Eye

By Sarah Barber

Featured Art: Untitled (Woman’s Arm and Bra) by Ralph Gibson

Often I have unfastened it myself
without tragedy. But I wanted you
to stand behind me—in fact
a fourteenth-century town
of needle manufacturers crocheted
loops from wire because they wanted
your hands just so terribly
close and a little bit slow
at the closure too aggressively
latched to unhook at the will
of its wearer
, which is what was said
to sell it to nineteenth-century ladies, Read More

Rome in Us

By Thomas Grout

Featured Art: The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy by John Singer Sargent

It’s funny isn’t it—the way Rome still comes at you
fast like a bat breaking past your head from memory.
At the Roman pace the body takes the city better than the mind.
A cathedral ceiling’s fireworks shoot up
once the sermon’s fireworks stop. And when
the ceiling finally stills, the piazza outside overfills
with new fruits and vegetables and etymologies.
Stimulation’s cheap as wine and your horse
is more than happy to take it in by trough.
But it flies by so fast—

only just now it’s slowed enough to hatch a feeling
similar to how it is to listen through the dark over our bed
for a half-caught sound to sound again.
That given one more chance I could make easy sense of it.

It’s often that I sleepwalk down our subdivision’s version
of the Spanish Steps thinking I left something unnamable
inside the Trevi. Is that it at the end of the tube-slide?
I never know. It all gets hazy after the Flaminian gate
though I’m absolutely certain I wake up at the refrigerator.
Rome is in us like unfinished business— Read More