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“NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT,” Howie Good

1
The beach is empty, but informers and false witnesses are everywhere.

2
The light filtering through the clouds is flecked with shadows, like the one-eyed cat’s good eye or a roadside bomb hidden among the garbage and the weeds and obsessively rehearsing what it’s going to say.

3
When it rains, how quickly my pockets fill up with water! I always think the same thing: You bastards, there are innocent people down here.

“Katrina Town,” Ryan Thomas

In Katrina Town
I walk the cluttered streets
Picking up children’s toys as I go
Each one ruined by The Storm
Stained, broken
Barbie’s blond hair made brown
Her make-up smudged
Not going to the party
Anymore

“A Better Everyday Life,” Daniel Romo

People around the world will be wallet size.
Their homes function as solutions.

That means aspirations require
a different approach.

It is all about easy manufacture;
finding a different path to design
and home furnishings.
But not on ideas.
Not on everyday lives.

Just spend the money.

Dreams side with process.

IKEA

“Corporal Vanguard,” Jack Bristow

     I have to get out of here, I can’t stay here, Tom Vanguard had thought, driving his Chevy on the empty intersection. The pressures of small-town city life eating away at him, he had started to feel a sharp, acute pain in the upper right side of his chest. Instinctively, he grabbed the pills from his right-side shirt pocket, popped them into his mouth, and let them dissolve dryly. Ah. Lorazapam—one of the few pills you can eat. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of bitterness to its texture. Almost instantaneously, Tom had started to feel better—the pill was already beginning to work.
     Now, the benzo-induced detachment already felt, he could look at things objectively, and dissect where it had all gone wrong. Click here to finish Jack’s story.

“It’s Best to Leave Cootie Alone,” Donal Mahoney

     “Damn the vernal equinox! Full speed ahead!” is all that Cootie Murphy would ever say when he sat on the last stool at the end of the bar in The Stag & Doe Inn. He wouldn’t say it very often, only when provoked by someone or stirred by thoughts known only to him. Mostly he would simply sit at the bar in silence, staring straight ahead, tapping his fingers now and then, and sipping his Guinness.
     Cootie had held the rights to the last stool for more than 50 years, ever since he returned from Korea in 1953 after two years spent in conflict. Some people thought he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, although they didn’t call it that back then. Others thought he was nuts before he went to Korea and had simply come back a little nuttier. Both sides would find their opinions confirmed on nights when the moon was full and Cootie would throw his head back and howl like a wolf. Regular customers were used to it by now and they’d sometimes join in. The bartender would only say, “It’s best to leave Cootie alone.” Click here to finish Donal’s story.

“Proving My Existence,” Robert Laughlin

I’m eager to condemn
the faults I find in them.
René would say:
I kvetch, therefore I am.

“Daddy’s Done,” B.D. Fischer

     “Daddy tole me there warn’t no such thing as race mixin’.”
      “Well, if your granddad”–the little girl had meant granddad–“said that, I think that what he meant is that he, personally, doesn’t like, or approve of, miscegenation, but in our family …”
      “What’s mixing the nation?”
      “It’s ‘miscegenation,’ sweetie. All one word. Mis-ce-ge-nation. Sound it out.”
      “But what is it?”
      “Miscegenation? Miscegenation is … well, it’s race mixing, but in our family we don’t say race mixing, we say …”
      “Why not?”
      “Well, sweetie, because, adults, polite people …” Click here to finish B.D.’s story.

“Wild horses,” Tyler Bigney

     When my mother ruffled my hair, mellifluously whispered that I was special, she might have been onto something. I could spot a sliver of a blue sky in a thunderstorm. I had my head so far up in the clouds, I could taste the sugary palatableness of a rain cloud, discern the difference between a cirrus, an alto—a stratus.
     I couldn’t even tell you what they looked like now. I keep my head down, always making sure my feet are planted firmly on the earth. One foot in front of the other. My ear pressed to the dirt, listening for the distant wallop of the hooves of wild horses. For the pulsating wings of the white crow.
     I wish now I had learned to play the saxophone. Wish I learned how to pull off a clever card trick. Or magic, to impress my seventh grade crush. I want to fix what is broken. To levitate, to be buoyant, to defy gravity. To be the apple, that instead of plummeting, floated up, up, up, and away.

“Late Night Elegy,” Les Bernstein

somewhere along the way
life passed into sameness
boundaries meandered and pooled

the link was broken
between spirit and matter
flesh and reveries

illuminated by insight
the geometry of us
wide awakened

our small world
phased out of orbit
and a larger universe
trumpeted forth

“aNd,” Sarah Ahm

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