All You Can Eat [story] by Robin Hemley

Sarah, Jamie, and I are at this pancake social given by a local church. Not that we’re churchgoers, it’s just that we like pancakes. We never use syrup though, only butter. Bad for our teeth, you know. I remember when sweet meant good and wholesome, but now you can’t trust anything that doesn’t say “sugarless” …

Thinking of Ted Berrigan on the Day of First Snow [poem] by Stephen Kuusisto

For my sins I lived in Iowa City & my heart was dark as poetry itself— My little heart my raven my common bird of dispositions Joyful that God is no God to the hearts, birds, poems. The nest box Of hearts, birds, poems sways up in the ash tree. The hearts, birds, poems make …

old rockstar [story] by Eldon Reishus

(it’s been said that old rockstars love young women with long legs because of all their magic added leverage come the final purple VIP cord) Who can say for truly real? By the last day of his life Gary’s health was so troubled that he couldn’t hold his plectrum. He retreated into himself, no interest …

Engaged [poem] by Lowell Jaeger

We’re side by side, my daughter and I, walking a country road. Her fiancée had squandered eighty bucks on a battered canoe, brought it home all excited, and hooked his prospective spouse for a rollercoaster shoot through the rapids. It’s a piece of junk, she tells me, can’t be safe. She’s talking about the canoe …

Lunch, Hold the Soul [essay] by Amy Friedman

My good friend Tiffany recently told me that she’s become a vegetarian, though she still eats fish. This technically makes her a pescetarian, but still not someone who eats the things I love. I’ve recently given up gluten as it makes me violently ill, so now that both meat and gluten have been removed from …

The Writing Prompt [poem] by Stephen Kuusisto

—for Doug Anderson   Think about the pressure that makes each fact float, high rise buildings at the edge of___________, in my case, Helsinki, the apartment complexes “post-war” vaguely Stalinist, “a good place for electro-shock” and the architect now in a mad house. 4A stands where once, in ’38, they made machine guns and a …

Samson [poem] by Mark Elber

I draw strength from the inflamed sun, from the slain gods strewn in the fields of stubble and stone I am more than blind muscle and will, insatiable loins, iron More than a hirsute chest Delilah would caress with one hand as she cradled my longing with the other My pious parents cast my childhood …

Divorce [essay] by Kristen MacKenzie

Seven petals on every flower, thirty-five along the border. Forty-two knot holes on the wall above the sofa, one in the shape of a woman curled into a ball. I can’t see your eyes anymore, just the color of disappointment. How many nights did we spend this way, me counting to stay in the room, …

The River of Doubt [story] by Frank Diamond

Gary Doyle sips his beer. It is a Friday in winter, late afternoon fading like a holiday hangover. Gary peeks at the camera over the bar, imagines the feed speeded up. Silent comings and goings, sniffles and laughter, cute meetings and ugly breakups. Life. A couple about his age enters, looking for seats. “I’ll move …

The Blue-Haired Boy Meets the Mona Lisa [poem] by Mark Elber

The blue-haired boy meets the Mona Lisa In the cramped viewing room An event overlooked by the flash of automatic cameras this overcast January day The Mona Lisa looks past the crowds that crane for the best angle She slips through the throngs unnoticed Feeling invisible, loved for all the wrong reasons The blue haired …

What Was Never Lost [essay] by Mary Jo Balistreri

Sound is my earliest memory, my first language. Within its vibrations were my Gramma’s songs, the waves of water she traveled through, the back and forth of the rocker in time with Irish songs from across the sea—songs I breathed in, drinking distance and absence, loneliness and love, lullabies she sang as her mother had …

I Am Therefore I Am [poem] by Mark Elber

I am the sea endlessly rinsing itself beside the ungroomed sand I am the ubiquitous chain of ephemeral footprints An epigram wishing I were an epic A siren awaiting an Odysseus worthy of my allure A surrealist temperament trapped in the body of a rationalist Both “not-A” and “A” claiming the same logical piece of …

What Father John Doe Never Said about Trees and Habits [poem] by Cal Freeman

The man has thin yellow pamphlets spread out before him on the table. When I ask him what he’s reading, he tells me it’s The Golden Book of Excuses by Father John Doe, a pseudonym, of course. A catholic priest, a former drunk, his real name was Ralph S. Pfau (Hard to say which is …

Have It [poem] by Allen Strous

What was not meant to be seen so present to sight, the warehouse wall, brick leprous with paint and age, and still huge blank to the busy street made only for use above, the freeway made only for use, still only for that under a glaring factory sun these planes of flatness, endlessly limited— the …

Beatitudes [poem] by Allen Strous

Praise, a usual sigh, for the sink, the electric stove, making so smooth and still and ordinary. Making a cup of instant coffee, I find myself in this household round of a few steps in the kitchen. They have painted the coffee-making, folding clothes beautiful. This is not beautiful. It does not run so far. …

July Night [poem] by Mark Elber

It’s a warm July night on the open bow of the Port Jefferson ferry churning through the waters of the Sound from Bridgeport, the Long Island coastline sprinkled with electricity As the prow parts the sea And these are the same waters once crossed by canoe, by raft, by skiff, by schooner from ports of …