By Dawne Zirley-Leight
You don’t realize this (probably)
But in you
I see the promise
of an infinite horizon and
During quieter moments
I find the space to be mindful
which warm threads will line the womb into which I crawl
And there you are
If you see this (and
I doubt you do)
think of me
By Breena Clarke
I had love to lavish when my son died, you see. Bess, an obsidian-colored Labrador retriever puppy, smelling like all infant mammals, was the companion I chose. We took obedience training together. Bess always behaved well on the leash. The trainer said, “You don’t need a gun. Bess is a lab, and a lab is a staunch dog. She’ll lay down her life for you.” She did. She lunged at a crazy guy in Lincoln Park who slashed at me because he was crazy and she got stabbed, and her black coat was darker still with her blood.
Breena Clarke is the author of three novels. Her debut, River, Cross My Heart, was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Her short fiction has appeared in Kweli Journal, Stonecoast Review, Nervous Breakdown, Mom/Egg Review, and Catapult.
By Bryan Jansing
In America the apricots are too big, pears too hard, tasteless, the apples too shiny. In America the streets are immense, the cars enormous, the traffic lights monstrous. In America, the people are tall, large, overweight. In America, I am small, little, my hair too curly, my eyes too dark. In America, I’m not America, I’m strange, foreign, my clothes weird. In America, the boys fight, the girls laugh at me. In America, I don’t belong and I long, so much, so very much not to be in America. But in America, there’s nowhere to go, but America.
Bryan Jansing’s flash fiction was included in Fast Forward Vol. 3, The Mix Tape (2010), a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards. He has also written for Beer Advocate, Celebrator, Primo and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Descending the rope
Into ever-deepening shades of blue
Releasing pressure with every foot
Leaving behind the world I come from
Dusting words and woes
Off the blackboard of my mind
Passing through the void
Into another dimension
Where silence is the norm
And sound has no source
Mind waves bend just like the light
Nothing is how it should seem
One must reforge the most basic instincts
For this is not familiar territory
Although time here is as fleeting as air
I hear the tingle in my skin whisper
Welcome home stranger
I watched you walk across the room, caught your scent from the wind gently blowing,
Smiled when you said hello, hiding my startle that you’d already come so close,
I noticed your two-second lingering stare, fought the urge to look away from your welcoming gaze.
But isn’t that what he had said, quickly welcoming me into his arms and getting into my head? Quickly twisting me and turning me like a piece of thread, causing me to come undone, I picked up my books and started to leave, hoping you would follow to catch me, and not bind me.
By Dwayne Allen Thomas
We were like small-town teenagers during a blackout in the 1950s. Despite phones, text messages, email, Facebook, and FaceTime, I drove 40 minutes each way to her house. We sat in my car, talking for hours. Nearly every day. For five weeks.
It almost didn’t happen. That first night, I drove her home from an event. She said, “Nice meeting you” and “Goodbye.” Ten times in the next four hours. But she didn’t leave. At 6 o’clock, we went for breakfast. She reached for the check. I said, “I should marry you.” She still didn’t leave.
We huddle together on the bench, waiting to see if she will appear.
Markings on the gravestone are impossible to read, eroded by rain and five years of waiting. Every anniversary we hope she will visit, a sign of forgiveness to finally set us free.
As we are about to leave we hear another presence – a car pulling up nearby. We see her, flowers in hand, searching for our grave.
She finds the bench and we shuffle up to make room, despite having no need to do so.
Hombre’s work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, The Cabinet of Heed, and is forthcoming in Spelk.