by David Meischen
The morning I learned of Hank Locklin's death, I disappeared right out of my life, jolted elsewhere by a single fragment of the deluge spilling from my web browser.
by Barret Baumgart
People kept materializing out of the mist—college students, spandex moms, and couples with dogs—everyone satisfied, exercised, a restful, celebratory mood dominating the parking lot; folks shaking hands, heading home to watch soaps operas and eat ham sandwiches, saying, “Bye, Trish!” “See you Monday, Tom!” Within minutes, they were gone.
by Don Lago
As I looked up at one huge cottonwood tree, I saw the power of trees to lift tons of matter high into the air and give it shapes and skills. I looked at the ground and imagined the root system, two or three times the size of the canopy, tunneling in search of water and nutrients.
by Kim Adrian
When I was a child, I had a beautiful book that fit perfectly in my hands. Its covers were squarish and addictively smooth, its binding a wide ribbon of coarse blue fabric, its pages thick and waxy. In simplified prose this book told child- length versions of various biblical tales.
by Kim Adrian
Please answer all questions as simply as possible; do not use digression as a means of evasion. Feel free, however, to elaborate on the point at hand to a reasonable degree so as to provide the clearest and most informative answer you can. You may want to use your hands—or other body parts—to express yourself, . . .
by Mary Alice Hostetter
I never intended to become a cheese maker. Of all the futures I might have imagined for myself as a young adult, certainly none involved raw milk. So it was an unlikely path that brought me in my late twenties to the place where I was considering a job that could include making cheese.
by Catherine Jagoe
Church bells punctuated our lives, doling out information and instructions, for the church clock tolled every hour. Eight bells meant it was time to jump out of bed and get ready for school. One bell meant it was lunchtime. Six bells, and it was time for Dad to switch on the evening news. Bells at 7:30 PM on a Friday meant the ringers were holding their weekly practice. In the evening, ten bells meant it was time to switch out the light.
by Aviya Kushner
I once lived in half a dorm room in the middle of Paris, right across from the École des Mines. Every afternoon, from the speaker of a rickety, cheap tape recorder, the music of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto stretched its immense arms past the chipped, hundred-year-old bathroom sink that doubled as a kitchen sink, over the cold communal showers, the ancient grease-thickened hot plates, and the toilet in the hallway, operated by a string.
by Kerry Reilly
You met a guy online. You have had four or five dates, and you haven’t so much as held hands. He is artistic. His expensive button-down shirts are decorated with bold, colorful patterns. He has two tickets to the Body Worlds Exhibition in Denver. A traveling display of human bodies and body parts that have been preserved using a process called plastination.
by Jeffrey Hammond
When I was a child in the late 1950s, the streetlights ended two blocks before our neighborhood on the edge of our small Ohio town. Given the midwestern custom of early dinners, my friends and I often played outside afterward. On dark, moonless nights in late fall and winter, familiar yards were transformed into mysterious black voids relieved only by trash burning here and there in an oil drum.
by Anne Ray
On our way to the yearly party Yahlie’s friends throw, we encounter a woman and her baby. The drive is one day from Santa Fe to Amarillo, one to Austin. Maybe Yahlie and I will do it in less, with our feet up on the dash and Styrofoam cups of soda in the cup holders.
by Victoria Lancelotta
Here is the slow thaw and the fox that creeps through the sweet new green, wet teeth, wet fur, sharp ears and snout, so pretty in its stealth, its silence. Here is the lullaby, cicada hum and truck horn, water dripping on cracked tile and the buzz of walkway lights, the fade and crackling swell at the bottom of the radio dial: voice and static and the tin roar of applause from the stands of a dusty arena inside that metal box on the stained and listing dresser.
by Janice Obuchowski
His heartbreak loud, demonstrative. And when his mother died, this tendency became exacerbated. He cried for weeks, although this grief—unlike his other various melancholies—was pure. Sully felt that despair, too—like a hole he could jump into and fall and fall.
by Allegra Hyde
A boy must think of the good times: the summer picnics, the nutting and the berrying, the swimming and the skating, the barn raisings and chopping frolics, the corn roasts. A boy must think of now and no other time.
by Judith Edelman
We are on a date, but Dafne’s heart isn’t in it. Both she and her date keep darting their eyes to me where I sit on one side of the table, a frozen explosion of orange fur against the pressed quiet of the white tablecloth. I imagine the gentleman thought he was more open-minded than he has turned out to be once in my presence. Dafne has unthinkingly placed me so that I face him. As always, I’m snarling and my limbs are splayed out midleap. I must look like I’m going for his throat.
by Katherine Heiny
He thought of himself as the New Graham now. Not New and Improved, because it wasn’t an improvement. He would have liked to go on being the Old Graham, but that wasn’t an option. The Old Graham had thought he’d stay married to Audra forever; the New Graham wasn’t so sure. The New Graham’s future was unknown.
by Edward McPherson
Sam and Kat, Kat and Sam, as unassuming as their three-letter names but, to their minds, violent with potential. In the spring of 1998, they met in St. Louis, when they both had to board a bigger bus. Two kids in zipped pullovers smoking and picking at their fingers as they watched the driver fling their bags into the belly of the coach as if they weren’t their only belongings in the world.
by Andrew Berthrong
You could say he chose me, although perhaps I was in the mood to be chosen. He came out of nowhere, and I was swept up. But I was concerned about things too: Lola’s recent desertion, the state of my heart, my aching tooth. And so on.
by Shannon Robinson
The zombie community is astir with controversy. One faction insists that zombies are mindless creatures who cannot make the traditional moan for “brains.” And that in any case, they don’t crave brains specifically, but the flesh, blood, and organs of any living human. This is what I’ve learned from scrolling through chat boards.
by Kim Magowan
The first day, I pace the red-light district, looking for a hotel, my suitcase banging my leg. At noon, sick of carrying it, I open it. My maid-of-honor dress, midnight-blue silk, spills onto the sidewalk. A dress I spent four hundred and fifty dollars on, a dress I will never wear. I stuff it into a garbage can, where it billows out, a bloated flower.
by Christopher Kempf
We run the kókúku trail (translation— snow owl, in late-American) alone this morning, its strict, midwinter alders dark against the snowfall, its flocks of crows
by Michelle Boisseau
Clock in the hall, tea in cups, Henry James has come to call on George Eliot. “To begin with,” he writes his father, “she is magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous.”
by Alice Friman
The Rapture must have been cancelled.
The only sudden flight I’ve seen
belongs to the bird nesting in my begonias
who takes off each time I open the door.
by Tina Barr
Four little pigs ran in an orbit, an oblong
of four tracks, each ringed with a colored
collar, toward a pile of neon Cheetos,
then disappeared into their home trailer.
by Linda Pastan
If each couplet should represent a single pearl,
are these strung beads at my throat words disguised as pearls?
The hooked fish looks up at them with recognition
as his eyes fade to the opacity of pearls.
by Katharine Jager
Who weeps for cracked bluestone
pavements? For flowering lindens, their havoc
wrought on lung and sinus, for the flower
shops laden with peonies each winter?
by Lynn Domina
The body says, I am a galaxy. Choose
sixteen or seven or ten stars and write your story
within their image: dragon, swan, virgin.
Your story will exceed the stars’ boundaries.
by Richard Lyons
The trees distract my attention and remember me as a passing,
as do the open windows and doors, and a flashing bicyclist
and a line of schoolkids on a rope between their tenders.
I move uneasily across a bridge, my hair gusting.
I’ve forgotten my little hat with the brim so I fret a little.
by Jason Myers
We are living in paradise.
The front desk is open twenty-four hours,
the police speak seven languages and don’t dwell
on the insults they’ve endured, the hurts they’ve overheard.
by Amy McCann
Didn’t it doily me? Wave-lace
tatting my ankles in an uneven
hem. A forgotten umbrella, a foraging
for shells—those vacant, softly
howling dwellings. . . .