Category: Featured Fiction

“Lenora”
That Lenora is tender is something you discover only once you get to know her over shrimp cocktails laid out on beds of melting ice. You...
“Lenora”
“Another Coming of Age Story”
When the carrot—a science project on a window sill—opens an eye, when it grows legs and leaves its glass to walk the room, when...
“Another Coming of Age Story”
“Catfight in a Cathouse”
Two Whores Brawling in a Storyville Brothel, French Emma Johnson’s Circus, During the Last Week of Legalized Prostitution, New...
“Catfight in a Cathouse”
“Tat”
“It looks like cancer,” Mildred said over the scratchy cell phone. “She’s covered with it. Incorrigible! What is...
“Tat”
“The Trespasser”
He wasn’t from there, and as he passed crop after unrecognizable crop, the urge to stop overtook him. He pulled to the side of the road,...
“The Trespasser”
“Snowbirds”
It was cold that night but it was the wind that bit. The wind and the wetness that would sneak into your socks despite waterproof boots. I...
“Snowbirds”
“Lies”
To my kids I’m telling piles of lies: That the Abyssinians peed in the burial urns of their ancestors; that Columbus had a twin...
“Lies”
"Even Toy Swords"
When the boy next door knocked on mine and pronounced himself dead, he had a gun and I had a sword. Because, after all, I was the girl. He...
"Even Toy Swords"
“The Funny Thing About a Cambodian Prison”
Oh, the funny thing about a Cambodian prison, he says, is that if you have money, you can live better on the inside than you can on the...
“The Funny Thing About a Cambodian Prison”
“Glow Sticks”
When I was a kid, one neighbor sold drugs and the other bought them. They would spend Sunday afternoons eating worms and crickets in the...
“Glow Sticks”
“The Heavenly Language”
As the car whipped over the rise, his stomach came up in his throat and he saw his father’s accusing eyes on him in the rearview...
“The Heavenly Language”
“PBR and a Shot”
The poet and I have settled on the Smoking Porch of No Return when the gap-toothed, retired stripper from Gallipolis lumbers from behind...
“PBR and a Shot”
“Bad Oil Storm”
Word came in over the Bakelite® radio that an oil storm was headed our way, swirling up out of the oceanic petroleum fields to the...
“Bad Oil Storm”
“Helicopter Wounds”
Stuck in morning traffic, I received a call from my mother. She sobbed quietly into the phone. I turned the radio off. I had to tell her to...
“Helicopter Wounds”
“The Longest Night”
For the third time, Ellen Machin asked for permission to turn on the light. She said she could no longer stand the dark. Before that, she...
“The Longest Night”
“Guests”
I was talking with the woman I call my wife because that’s what she is most of the time. Love on, love off. Her face is too...
“Guests”
“Castleton Fireworks”
I’m seventeen and the first girl I’ll ever ask to be my girlfriend is lying down next to me in the bed of her dad’s Ford Ranger....
“Castleton Fireworks”
“Stacks”
It is intermission at a coffeehouse in a small town south of the city. Everything here is for sale: aging paperbacks and cracked teacups...
“Stacks”
“October”
I try not to stare, but their legs are so long. Tan limbs lingering in line as if highlighting their youth. As if macchiato is a recipe for...
“October”
“Baby Forever”
Every night, there’s no place to go. No one to go back for. Had a home and a girl that wanted me cozy and still, but that craziness...
“Baby Forever”
“Ravening Beasts”
When Christine receives her award for “Good Citizenship,” the presenter will try to kiss and fondle her. She is an advocate for choice...
“Ravening Beasts”
“The New Friend”
“What’s that hole in his back for?” he asked. “That’s where his insides go,” explained Murph.  ...
“The New Friend”
“Net”
–after viewing Andrew Wyeth’s “Day Dream”   Even looking at Fiona from my gray puffed-up armchair, I feel an...
“Net”
“These People”
We are here with them now, the blue lights flashing.  When the woman was just a girl, her mother told her that she’d remember some days...
“These People”
“Cardinal”
This morning, a small bird flew into the windowpane and fell stunned into the stippa grass, one wing awry, so small and light that the tuft...
“Cardinal”
“Her Skin”
The waves lap the shoreline with their pale green tongues and the wind carries my dead mother’s name over the dunes.  I drop my duffel...
“Her Skin”
“Junior”
Gary looked back toward shore, thinking about Elissa.  The boat wobbled.  I’m so happy, Elissa had said, face shining....
“Junior”
“Dreamland: Coney Island, 1904”
Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, Ladies and Gentlemen! Peas in pods! Living dolls! The stork was early but we’re open...
“Dreamland: Coney Island, 1904”
“Find His Blue”
She was a synesthete and most words had a color. Her best friend’s name was a Halloween orange and her brother’s, pale green....
“Find His Blue”
“The Gunslinger’s Lamentation”
When it’s twilight in a town like this and the street glows and the horses whisper or seem to whisper and the big cottonwoods behind...
“The Gunslinger’s Lamentation”
“Inhaling Calvin Klein”
I ask her for time to consider us a possibility…there is always the possibility that it will be like a makeshift reality or a radial...
“Inhaling Calvin Klein”
“It’s Not The Size”
Listen to Audio Version The last thing I expected to find in my latte was a penis. At first glance, I thought: Candlestick. But, no....
“It’s Not The Size”
“Infamy”
“When you’re fat, it doesn’t matter what you wear,” Ginny said. “Nothing’s going to cover up your...
“Infamy”
“What Happened to Mimi Acosta, the Most Beautiful Girl at Escuela San Benito”
(Cuba, 1961) The letter that secured her space on a flight to the United States came sooner than was expected. Mimi got to it first and hid...
“What Happened to Mimi Acosta, the Most Beautiful Girl at Escuela San Benito”
“The Painter’s Wife”
After The Soul Attains by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (Poetic license applied) The painter conjured her down from the painting, and fell on the...
“The Painter’s Wife”
“Fire Sermon”
Nothing would burn. Barbecues consisted of people attempting to start the grill. “Pour some tequila on it,” they’d say. “Rub some...
“Fire Sermon”
“Re: Guilt”
We’d just been served our food when it happened, the Camry or whatever crashing through the front window and glass shattering everywhere...
“Re: Guilt”
"It Sings"
I constantly forget things. I leave for work with an empty coffee mug; I leave toothbrushes in hotel bathrooms; I leave our...
"It Sings"
“Thanksgiving”
He said let’s stay home for Thanksgiving.  She said this again.  He said only once a year.  She said  you know mom and pop are...
“Thanksgiving”
“Shotgun Fog”
As you ate your breakfast of cold biscuits and gravy, your shotgun and rifle propped in the corner under the coat rack, all you could think...
“Shotgun Fog”
“Soul Fishermen”
It was an awful sight, seeing these big, beautiful fish being brought onto the dock, sliced open with a knife, then their carcasses dumped...
“Soul Fishermen”
“Origin”
Against the netting of the pitch back, I threw sidearm like the Pirates Kent Tekulve, bottom of the ninth, a World Series that had not yet...
“Origin”
“Crow Death”
The boy isn’t certain how often he should think about his mother. She slips from his mind the way the suns slips into the woods behind...
“Crow Death”
“Down at the Doll Plant”
Gill was our extricating specialist. Whenever somebody at the doll plant got a hand or an arm caught in a compression mold; or a piece of...
“Down at the Doll Plant”
“Labyrinth 10”
The boy in the labyrinth hears gears. Their teeth click ubiquitously, in alarming precision. He is within the belly of a clock. Hands...
“Labyrinth 10”
“His Good Fortune”
For his wedding we dressed him in the finest linen, combed his hair and oiled it flat, strung a garland of flowers around his neck and sat...
“His Good Fortune”
“The Birds”
The birds came and swarmed a group of runners. They were aware that this trope had already played a long role in the history of human fear,...
“The Birds”
“Kansas, 1935”
Still waiting for rain and the pregnant mare has taken ill. Upstairs, the boy rasps air into his lungs as the sky tumbles dry and dark...
“Kansas, 1935”
“Blood Red”
Last Thursday at dinner, Sirocco ate far too many beets, baked in basil and olive oil, then pissed blood red all night. He thought of it as...
“Blood Red”
“Cow Dog and Swift”
I often wonder the worth of food, the midday meal, the tiresome dinner, the dog in the backyard. My wife May has fattened the beast up...
“Cow Dog and Swift”
“Two Hearts”
The baboon needed my heart. The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday. One more week of housing my own ticker, a healthy time bomb concealed...
“Two Hearts”
“Vinnie and Bill”
Vinnie and Bill had walked for miles without exchanging a word. It was a hot day. They were both sweating and breathing heavily. They liked...
“Vinnie and Bill”
“The Fairlane”
The air smells of meat and river water in the alley between the Moose and old Ford showroom on Main Street. The building’s big windows...
“The Fairlane”
“Journey into Your Third Century”
(For Grandfather Johnny Igoe, 1852-1945, from Elphin, Roscommon) You’re near seventy years underground, voice hanging yet in treble and...
“Journey into Your Third Century”
“Man on High”
—Come down, my wife says. —No. She’s at the window of our son’s room. I climb above the window and straddle the gable so that she...
“Man on High”
“A Glimpse”
Today is my thirty-fifth birthday, and I want to wear my hair curly. I want to look natural, the way my grandmother does in the...
“A Glimpse”
“A Tiny Splash”
Sometime in the night there had been a karaoke contest, a standup comic, and a conga line. A bearded man dressed in a hula skirt had...
“A Tiny Splash”
“Life”
Randy had run out of cigarettes again, and it was killing him.  Not a goddamn one of them was working anymore; and the mother had died in...
“Life”
“The Journey”
How slowly our journey begins! Traversing the lush green landscape by inches.  Weeks are required to cover mere miles: each blade of...
“The Journey”
“Entering Susan’s Heart”
The trailer’s steel door slams shut like the cage I spent half my life behind.  I plop the freshly butchered cow heart on the table,...
“Entering Susan’s Heart”
“The Short History of Her Heart”
Pain from panic attacks. Heart attack. Angioplasty. A stent put in. A second angioplasty. Calcified. Crystallized. Shattered. Another heart...
“The Short History of Her Heart”
“The Mayor of the Sister City Talks to the Chamber of Commerce”
“It was after the raid on Tokyo. We children were told to collect scraps of cloth. Anything we could find. We picked over the...
“The Mayor of the Sister City Talks to the Chamber of Commerce”
“Planetarium”
They are born on the edge of winter, when it is still cold, biting, but the icicles on the trees are dripping, wet. We wrap them in scraps...
“Planetarium”
“Spark”
The magician used flash powder to create explosions. He had the rig all set. With the press of a button, a remote device would emit an...
“Spark”
“Soul Sacrifice”
Mike Clonoski, my hippie friend, sat across from me in Earth Science. He did the school’s daily announcements, choosing the song that...
“Soul Sacrifice”
“The Deer”
Uncle Jim shot deer. He went out into the woods and sat in trees for hours. When a deer came by, he would move his gun slightly. He would...
“The Deer”
“Planning A Painting to Remember Home and a Pink Dress”
–After Wyeth’s Christina’s World My perspective is too close: I must leave my house to remember, but I won’t go...
“Planning A Painting to Remember Home and a Pink Dress”
“Husband Tastes Like Chicken”
Lover. Natalie turns the word over in her mouth. Licorice. As a child, she said words just to taste them. Pretzel was salt at the back of...
“Husband Tastes Like Chicken”
“Apprentice”
She wants me to hurt her now when we make love. She wants to be bitten and scratched, insists on it, drives me to do it until sometimes I...
“Apprentice”
“The Gift”
I dreamed Santa brought me a sexy man. When I awoke, only my husband, Lou, was there. “Merry Christmas, Karen,” he said. He drove me...
“The Gift”
“The Plight of the Mosquito”
What we did with Mason jars and aluminum foil—trapping the fireflies. We promised to let them out at the end of the night, but never did....
“The Plight of the Mosquito”
“Enrique’s Funeral”
In a wood-shaving filled glass box, a pet rat gives birth. We all hope that she will not devour her young. We’ve buried Enrique and...
“Enrique’s Funeral”
“Arkansas Traveler, Green Zebra”
I love you. I’m taking Cody. I’m leaving you forever. There are all kinds of tomatoes in the world. Arkansas traveler, green zebra,...
“Arkansas Traveler, Green Zebra”
“SWF Seeking SM to Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed” by Kassia Miller
I am a non-snorer and cover sharer who tends to sleep exclusively on one side of the bed, thereby creating a semi-permanent valley in the...
“SWF Seeking SM to Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed” by Kassia Miller
“Ibiza”
Beth was like this when she was drunk, babbling, unable to find the ends of a conversation. Her breath was the vapor of strong whisky. I...
“Ibiza”
“Yard Work”
This white guy in a trucker hat riding an old ten-speed with a big yellow plastic cart attached to the back by way of a broom handle and...
“Yard Work”
“One of Us Wanted It More”
Whatever I said, the children did what they felt like doing. We all wanted what we wanted, but one of us wanted it more. What did I have to...
“One of Us Wanted It More”
“Lost”
She said I think we’re lost. He said we’re not lost.  She said we should be there by now.  He said we left late.  She said on...
“Lost”
“The Baddest Man in Three Counties”
Israel Spurlock came out of his mama filled with meanness. She thought giving him a Bible name would help calm him, but it didn’t...
“The Baddest Man in Three Counties”
“Feathers and Stars”
The middle of winter, the middle of war. When we were children, every home had plenty of candles, soup-bones, and bread. We burned candles...
“Feathers and Stars”
“Between”
For ten smoky, stainless steel minutes once a month I got to talk to my father. The minutes started out deadly long, like a session under a...
“Between”
“See the Machine”
The machine is simple. It’s not designed to kill, but sometimes it fits the hand just right. Like a length of pipe. Violence is too...
“See the Machine”
“Consuela Throws Her Tv Away”
Consuela threw her TV out the front door, not caring where it landed. Trash, she said in Spanish, loud enough for her gringo neighbors to...
“Consuela Throws Her Tv Away”
“Breath” by Doug Ramspeck
She remembered, from childhood, a crow lifting unexpectedly from tall grass. She was walking with her father. For a moment there were only...
“Breath” by Doug Ramspeck
“Man with Self-Proclaimed Drinking Record Shares at his Second AA Meeting”
My name is Joe and what else am I supposed to say? I drink too much. Actually, the problem is I drink too fast, if you want to get...
“Man with Self-Proclaimed Drinking Record Shares at his Second AA Meeting”
“The Tall Tale of the Cowboy Mattress”
The single mattress decorated with laconic cowboys twirling graceful lassos, and puffy clouds, gallant horses, lasted through a lot of...
“The Tall Tale of the Cowboy Mattress”
“He Had Vigor”
Honey and I are pregnant, due come warm weather.      I’m ambivalent. My cat, Old Guard, is weak. He may go any...
“He Had Vigor”
“Twinkling”
The sound of the screen door slapping shut told me Dennis was home early and something terrible must have happened.  Anymore he worked...
“Twinkling”
“Henry’s Birth”
On a bed of straw on the backporch, the pewter-muzzled old bitch is dying. Long and faithful servants all meet the same reward. Lorelei is...
“Henry’s Birth”
“My Aunt Nola”
It seems like there’s one in every family. The alcoholic aunt who abandoned her husband and kids because they were too boring, and...
“My Aunt Nola”
“Arming the Factions”
Every third word in school dealt with this or that remorseless generation. Tommy’s name was called but he played dumb and was...
“Arming the Factions”
“While Tied to a Conveyer Belt, Inches Away From Imminent and Inescapable Doom, a Hero Reflects”
I’m tied down to a slow moving conveyor belt. At the end of this belt is a sharp blade chopping down. There’s a brick of C4 explosives...
“While Tied to a Conveyer Belt, Inches Away From Imminent and Inescapable Doom, a Hero Reflects”
“Fetch”
Two men came out of a snow-covered wood. One man was short and broad shouldered, the other narrow and tall. They wore brown leather coats...
“Fetch”
“Pick-up-Charlie to Astronaut”
This star reconnaissance began on the fourth of July, quick morning soft as a fresh bun, as warm, air floating up stairs and coming across...
“Pick-up-Charlie to Astronaut”
“Revenge (Best Served Cold)”
2 oz. Gin                                    ...
“Revenge (Best Served Cold)”
“Winter”
Oh PLEASE.  Says the man to the woman.  Oh PLEASE. What? she replies. He stirs his melted ice cream with a metal spoon.  The waiter...
“Winter”
“Boy with Fire in His Mouth”
My father called to say that my mother had died in her sleep, unexpectedly but peaceably, and that now he could eat, drink, and make...
“Boy with Fire in His Mouth”
“Detainee”
So you get in your car and immediately it pricks you asleep, its tentacles of seatbelts entangling you. There are kids in the back or not,...
“Detainee”
“Fish Face”
Splat! That is the noise. Splat! Like an overdrawn word in an action comic book. I watch it where it’s fallen. It is a fish and it is...
“Fish Face”
“Burning Lou”
1958 “Just down below the orchard’ll be fine, I reckon,” Daddy says.  He looks up the hill to the peach, plum, and fig trees, then...
“Burning Lou”
“Unisex Soliloquy”
A woman exits the unisex restroom, and I begin my ritual wipe of the bowl before sitting to find a strangely even series of urine pools on...
“Unisex Soliloquy”
“Man with Longest Eyebrow Hair Drives His Father to the E.R.”
Frank Blanchard of Dover, Delaware earned his place in the Guinness Book of World Records with a single eyebrow hair measuring 3.7 inches....
“Man with Longest Eyebrow Hair Drives His Father to the E.R.”
“Once a Star”
A French fry becomes a metaphor. Something about salt and distance. She wants to find hidden meaning in every story, every object, even in...
“Once a Star”
“To the people who found my underwear”
To the people who found my underwear I left at the laundry mat: Gosh, I m sorry you had to find them like that, im really apologize I left...
“To the people who found my underwear”
“Where’s the Beauty, Jimmy?”
So I’ve got that city tree trimmer Jimmy backed up against the door of my trailer and my hands are in his pants tickling his balls and...
“Where’s the Beauty, Jimmy?”
“The Outing”
You wait for the light to turn green. The air smells like rain. The light changes. Hurry, but be careful. The wheels of the walker catch in...
“The Outing”
“Slapjack”
Usually we play Go Fish or War, but not tonight.  It’s the third night in a row we’ve been sitting in my room with the door shut...
“Slapjack”
“High School Reunion of the Dead”
Larger every year. Not just suicides or accidents now—no slight to you, Nicky or Doug or Jeanette—yeah, the ice is melted and your...
“High School Reunion of the Dead”
“Crop Fire”
We trapped the cats behind the bowling alley with cans of potted meat and stuffed them yowling in sacks we found behind our shop class. You...
“Crop Fire”
“The Girl Who Loved Bugs”
This girl, she doesn’t need a name, is sitting on the sidewalk and watching ants move down a line. They follow the cement to the grass,...
“The Girl Who Loved Bugs”
“The Fire Down Below”
“I hate you,” said Letitia, rubbing her bruised eye with one hand while with the other holding aloft a chair to ward him. The...
“The Fire Down Below”
“Marie Antoinette”
—Queen of France, guillotined by order of the French Revolutionary Tribunal, 1793 softly on the arm he touches his wife and they...
“Marie Antoinette”
“Alfonso”
Now, when I sit on the shore of our troubled little town on the Gulf of Mexico, I make believe that the water is blue and not the brown,...
“Alfonso”
“Anger Management”
My sister’s eight-year-old Alfie is incontinent. She says it’s normal for kids like him who have disappearing daddies and fifteen...
“Anger Management”
“The Mechanics of Sex”
My son, the fifth grader, is receiving Sex Ed in school. Monday, he and his classmates watch cartoons—on-screen Bart Simpsons morphing...
“The Mechanics of Sex”
“Teeth”
Rodney’s teeth fell out one by one and every morning he woke up and found a dollar under his pillow. I looked back into his pink...
“Teeth”
“My Son the Dragon”
Kindergarten “I’m a dragon,” my son says to me when I pick him up from his daddy’s house. He’s in his booster seat, and I can...
“My Son the Dragon”
“Mysticism for beginners”
So on the way to dinner (for shits and giggles, she said) my date and I went into the head shop, Julia with her blue nail polish opening...
“Mysticism for beginners”
“Question Authority”
Amy was conceived by two irresponsible individuals, Doug and Dora, during a commercial break in Superbowl XIII. For weeks afterwards, they...
“Question Authority”
“Multiple Sclerosis FAQ”
Q:        What is Multiple Sclerosis? A:        Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. It erodes the...
“Multiple Sclerosis FAQ”
“Pretend She Don’t Scare You a Bit”
My giant yellow stepladder shifted, then rose up on one foot, and a minute later I was there, on the concrete, like that, sweetly,...
“Pretend She Don’t Scare You a Bit”
“Moscow”
Before the war I was a pastry chef, a milliner, a streetcar conductor, the foreman of a vodka distillery. My name is Josef, is Karl, is...
“Moscow”
“Hide and Seek”
I knew I lost the baby when my jeans zipped up again. “Shit,” I pressed the palms of my hands to my stomach where it should be, where...
“Hide and Seek”
“Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Guide to the Apocalypse”
Let’s face it – when doomsday rolls around, your first priority is going to be compulsively trying to fix all of your minor...
“Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Guide to the Apocalypse”
“The bleating lambs, safe beneath the ewes”
The bullet came in through the side door.  For a long time it just stood there, and eventually I grew used to it.  All day long I saw it,...
“The bleating lambs, safe beneath the ewes”
“The Inside of the Bottle”
I wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that my older brother, Patrick, was a horrible person. Some people are drunkards ...
“The Inside of the Bottle”
“Memphis”
I was between jobs, getting by on what I’d skimmed from the till my last bartending gig. I liked to sip Stoli straight up to keep an even...
“Memphis”
“Chinese Opera”
I kept the guts of the music box after Donny smashed it. The black lacquered wood had shattered on the staircase, while our son shrieked...
“Chinese Opera”
“The Fish”
I asked my father about the fish. It was the only thing Mom didn’t take with her when she left us. We hadn’t talked about her all day,...
“The Fish”
“How Not to Be a Robot Scientist’s Daughter”
Stay away from Nevada, New Mexico, Hanford, Oak Ridge.  From remote areas with good water circulation away from prying eyes....
“How Not to Be a Robot Scientist’s Daughter”
“Thud”
Now: I had the name of the port in southern Maine from one of Jacobi’s emails to my Gillian, and after half a dozen phone calls and...
“Thud”
“Dream Job”
I get a job as an egg warmer at the local police station (no other jobs are available). I sit on abandoned eggs using blankets and a...
“Dream Job”
“Furious”
Scenario #1 When Trisha leaves to go see her counselor he thinks he might just get in his truck and drive down to Biloxi where his friend...
“Furious”
“The Vim and Vigor Twilight Cruise”
On the last afternoon of the Vim and Vigor Twilight Cruise, many of the short-timers spend their days naked. It isn’t in the rule book,...
“The Vim and Vigor Twilight Cruise”
“Black Horse Church”
“White horses ride in on the breath of wind.” –After Luci Tapahonso’s “Blue Horses Rush In.”   It...
“Black Horse Church”
“Pillow”
The sky was an over-bleached sheet, stretched to the point of ripping. Everything worn but clean. He was saying he’d be happier if we...
“Pillow”
“Chief”
Obvious nickname for the boy with the Mohawk. When it grew back in after the miracle of graduation—his famous whoop across the stage—he...
“Chief”
“Hunting Ghosts”
Brennan says that at the end of Kneel Down Road, we might see a ghost.  We are in Brennan’s dad’s Chevy Dually.  Brennan’s dad is...
“Hunting Ghosts”
“Good, Brother”
When we fish the fish out of the dirty river that runs its way through this dirty river town: when we gut the fish: when we chop off the...
“Good, Brother”
“Grip”
It seemed like a good idea, just a minute or two ago, but now, hanging by his cramping hands from the balcony railing of his hotel room at...
“Grip”
“Sanibel Blues”
I race across the dark sand toward the distant sound of surf.  It is not yet dawn, and today I’m after a junonia—Sanibel Island’s...
“Sanibel Blues”
“Catalytic Converter”
When he was a boy, he rode with his father to a garage, really just a wooden shed. His father’s new truck needed some kind of repair. The...
“Catalytic Converter”