Poetry by Tom Sheehan

Korean Echoes

My turn had come;
Billy Pigg, helmet flown
lost, shrapnel more alive in him
than blood free as air,
dying in my arms.

Billy asked a blessing, none come
his way since birth. My canteen
came his font. Then he said,
“I never loved anybody.
Can I love you?”

My father told me,
his turn long gone downhill;
“Keep water near you, always.”
He thought I’d be a priest before
all this was over, not a lover.

Poetry by Ben Nardolilli


She is not in black in white,
She leaves that to her world,
Tiles, shoes, dress, and ceilings,
Edges spring up and grow out
To compose her garden.
Her body brings more diversity:
Brown hair, green eyes,
Skin a shade dirtier than white,

And she hates it.

Prose by Katherine Beasley

A Streamlined Reality Has No Room For Tuna

I wouldn’t have imagined that tuna fish could be invisible. Especially not these examples of the species: entombed in sheet metal, which has been shrouded in tree pulp, which has been anointed with polychrome inks (petroleum-based) and then laid out in aisle 4, a towering tribute to tuna.

But I was wrong. Perhaps it was the pure spring water that effervesced them above the mundanely visible. Had they instead been embalmed in, say, canola oil, perhaps they would have slipped more easily over the rim of that shopper’s contact lenses, past his cornea and through his vitreous humor — into his streamlined reality.

He’s not even buying tuna.

I pause, calculate; examine my lexicon of incantations. “Pardon me,” I say. A subtle movement of my grocery cart completes the spell, and the reverie is broken.

A packet of wasabi peas falls from his hand. His eyes are wild – where did that tuna display come from? I jostle my cart and the man hastily removes his own, unblocking the aisle and cutting off an approaching woman headed for the tuna.

Minutes later in aisle F two mothers mutually defy each other’s visual detection. Not until Toddler A detains the lollipop of Toddler B do the moms realize that, inexplicably, they have parked side-by-side and that an elderly man trying to reach the dog biscuits has become trapped between their trolleys.

But my shrewd eye catches it even as they bustle past, trying to pretend nothing has happened. In both carts — tuna.

In the parking lot, I pile the least tuna-like of my newly acquired foodstuffs into the front passenger seat: goat cheese, baby spinach, cane-sweetened organic soda. The charity food goes in the trunk. Sorry, Tater Tots. Gotta know your place, mac ‘n’ cheese. If you ride next to me, I’m dead meat on the freeway. Safety first.

As I drive, I balance a packet of wasabi peas on my head and hope it’s enough.

Five miles away, a boy only I can see helps unload the back. His eyes are the color of root-beer-barrel candies, and he giggles when you say the word “fart.” A charming boy, really, except for that plaguey invisibility. Not even his mother has ever seen him–not since he went to the hospital nursery. Not since his HIV test came back. Not since she slipped back to the streets and regained her own transparency. Not since he came here to Casa para los Niños, where he has watched the white kids (only translucent) get auctioned off on QVC.

But now I know. Now I can tell him. “Raymond,” I say, “you gotta lay off the tuna fish.”

I stuff the wasabi peas partway into my collar, climb back into my car, and drive into the three megapixel sunset of streamlined reality.

Flash fiction by Thomas Mundt

The Multiverse

Sno-Cone and I were on our way to Craig’s funeral and I was trying to concentrate on my driving because I was still pretty lit from the bowl of New York Diesel we smoked back at his Aunt Cathy’s but I couldn’t because Sno-Cone wouldn’t shut the fuck up.  He kept going on and on about the multiverse, how at this exact moment in time the two of us were doing slightly-different shit in a million alternate realities.  For example, he said, throwing his Chick-fil-A bag out the window, I hit a kid square in the nuts with this in one of them.  I asked him how he could possibly know something like that.  I just thought of it, didn’t I? Then I said, Alright, Archi-Fucking-Medes, you’re telling me that if you can imagine it, it exists somewhere?  What if my brain’s capable of some next-level shit that the multiverse hasn’t considered?  Then he took a pull off his Coke and said, Your brain? Then I told Sno-Cone to fuck off, that I was currently thinking of an alternate reality in which I gave a fuck that his prick stepdad was dead.  I reminded him that I could be installing that window unit back at our place or doing something else that’s useful besides carting his metaphysical ass around Tinley Park in search of a funeral home whose address he was too baked to remember.  Sno-Cone just mumbled something like, That’s some cold shit, right there, and slouched in his seat.  Take a right here.

We rode in silence as we passed the Mental Health Center on the corner of Harlem and 183rd and I wanted to make a joke about the crazies inside to cut the tension but then I remembered that Sno-Cone’s sister was a patient there after that time she tried to kill herself by drinking Windex.  So, I just kept my mouth shut and turned on the oldies station and listened to a song about a creepy chick peeking out from under a stairway.  I thought about how somewhere else in the multiverse I was listening to “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, or maybe driving a Prius instead of a Corolla.  Then I thought about apologizing to Sno-Cone for telling him that Craig was a prick because even though it’s true, that everyone in Cook County knows just what a douche he was, that’s just not something you say to a guy on the way to his stepdad’s funeral.  I immediately felt better about the whole thing because I knew that in that same reality Sno-Cone would accept my apology and things would be cool again and we’d just do something normal like go to Morgan’s for wings.  I looked over at Sno-Cone, still sulking, and I smiled.  I wanted to tell him not to worry, that I just made things right in the multiverse, but I didn’t.  He’d find that out for himself, eventually.

Poetry by Jhon Baker

dying roses are not broken promises

literal or not

we bled on pages

and pages and

pages of uncertain poetry.


women bleed with efficiency.


dying roses are not

broken promises as

are crumbling petals

no longer red.

Poetry by Steve Meador

Unliving in Limbo

My father was a puss hound and a drunk

who could sniff out bad snatch, or good rum,

a block away. A part-time handyman, he’d

semi-scam anyone to support those habits.

I was cheated out of a summer’s worth of pay.


He was a missionary, riding barstools and bedsprings

from sundown to sunup, then sunrise till dusk.

Everybody within elbow’s poke was a potential

convert. He thumped on me even after I was married,

introducing me to a waitress at a favorite spot,


I am the father, here is the son. Make him a holy ghost.

Their laughing lungs exuded a shroud of scotch and rum,

then she kissed him and ground her crotch on his knee.

Whatever you want baby, but you can’t run a tab on ass.


Later he charmed his way out of a beating and to a place

at the man’s table for Sunday supper. This shit carried on

night after night, day after day. He finally straddled a donkey

making roundtrips between Styx and the pearly gates, stopping

at neither until there were apologies or acknowledgements.

Poetry by Helen R. Peterson

My Soul Pours Out Like Water

Words push through
from nowhere,
the mind asleep, curled
around baby soft
dreams and minivan
nightmares, the body
lurching, hips
spreading in familiar
shapes of stamen
and petal, pollen turning
the stomach against
the need, the photosynthesis
of light and shadow—
B12 and Folic Acid,
washing clean
another 18 years.