Flash fiction by Catherine Zickgraf

When the Truth Is in Poor Taste

I did it today, though I promised myself I wouldn’t.  I googled abortion pics.  What I saw didn’t surprise me—I’d seen those images growing up—but they did leave me breathlessly ill.  Stored in the basement of my childhood home, were packs of pamphlets in rubber bands.  We played down there on the olive green carpet that covered half the teal-tiled floor.  And sometimes we’d peek at those basement photos while driving our baby carriages or washing dishes in our plastic sink.

Those pamphlets showed photographs: ripped legs with blistered skin, brick red torsos, and cords like worms all swirling around in trash bags. My sisters and our dolls coexisted with those glossies.  They didn’t bother us: we had the absolute confidence that none of us would ever, ever, ever kill a cute little baby.

Little booklets laid perfectly in our pink hands as our family picketed the Women’s Center Saturday mornings.  My Mom pocketed my other hand to protect me from the dead of Winter.  So we walked down the sidewalk beside the rusted graveyard fence, crossed the street, and walked back beside our Catholic friends.  Their prayers were like songs, those monotone songs—Sister Joan spent six weeks in jail singing songs for her cause.

The promise itself of never, ever, ever is a dangerous, useless safety net: today, as I perused the pics from those garbaged child parts, I remembered why in college I made the choice I did.  Because my life is blessed—some call it cursed—with a weedy bouquet of options to weigh

Poetry by Molly Guy

no secrets
old lovers, body searches
revealing too much
the ‘ulterior’ in motive.
apologized because he had no cache of funny stories
to keep lovers amused
wrote very long poems
telmares on the ends of Andy’s poems
rarely if every eroded.
whenever Andy’s cat Frankie eats mice
no body parts is wasted
not one single arsehole.

Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Cats At Their Bowls Lapping


This time there’s a postscript:

“If ever I cook dinner for you,

it will be Coquilles St. Jacques

and Jefferson Davis Pie.”


Imagine Angela,

after all these years,

rising and gliding

to check on my pie,


wouldn’t that be something?

Angela, come to Chicago,

and bring all of your cats.

I’ll watch those cats


in your lap napping,

you in my lap napping,

the cats at their bowls lapping,

and I in my chair laughing.


Angela, bring all of your cats

and come to Chicago

to make Coquilles St. Jacques

and Jefferson Davis Pie.


Little Cartons, Little Sacks


Every day at ten a.m.

I piss away

the pot of tea

I drank at six,

the tea that gets

me to the train.


At work I wait

for lunch and then

I eat so much

the waitress gawks.

I can’t explain

the years till supper


when again

I’ll dine alone,

bolt everything

that I bring home in

little cartons, little sacks.

After supper


she’s not there

and so the couch


my slab till ten

when bed becomes

my mausoleum.


People Who Live Above Stores

Morse Avenue,



It’s two in the morning

and people who live above stores

have sprung from their beds

this hot summer night.

They’re leaning out of their windows

and bellowing into the street


at the baker who launched the alarm

in the Rogers Park Donut Shoppe.

It’s been ringing for hours

and the police haven’t come.

Not even the firemen.

The donuts will never get done


and it appears now that

people who live above stores

will remain in a rage

leaning out of their windows

waving cigarettes like strobes

and bellowing the rest of the night.

Poetry by Seth Jani

When It Comes


The peace becomes unbearable,

The perfect contours of your life

Settled on perfectly symmetrical streets

And suddenly you realize

It’s a fire you want!

Something unexpected

That will make your head jolt

Side to side

Trying to catch whatever it was

That rushed past you

Ruffling your hair.


You’ll throw the laundry

In the street,

Pack as many books

As you can carry,

Burn the odds and ends

That cannot fit

Into the sad suitcase

And leave a poem

On your desk

Aptly titled “Goodbye.”


You’ll walk the old road

Out of town,

Or crack the sleeping car awake,

Rear forth in the early-morning frost,

The cigarette’s lonely cat’s eye

Your only beacon

In the old, untrusting dark.

Poetry by Changming Yuan


Running short of bulbs
I planted some root words instead
Along the fence
Of my heart

All winter
They seemed dreaming under the frozen soil

When the last dews fly away
You will see certain three-colored tulips
Blooming aloud
Towards the early summer sun


Variation A

You are not a mountain range
That can decide how the wind blows
But you can stand firm even in a storm

You are not the moon
That can control when the ocean rises
But you can keep floating in any waters

You are not the earth
That can determine why the seasons change
But you can bear fruit under the sun

The Artist and the Child

Seeing the sculptor working on a piece of wood
The little girl comes up and asks, surprisingly:

“How did you know there is a bird
Hidden in this chunk of wood?”

“I did not know anything to start with
But found it by following my heart, honey.”

“Will the bird fly away when you cut open the cage?”
“Sure, you will feel it flapping its wings in your heart.”

You and Them

First, they looked but without seeing
So, you began to yell in a yellow voice

Then, they listened but without hearing
So, you cooked according to a Chinese recipe

Still, they smelt but without tasting
So, you melt yourself into spring water

Finally, they touched but without feeling
So, you began to tattoo words on your own chest


What kind
Of mirror
Do I have
In my mind
That has
A reflection
Looking in
At a shadow
That has a mirror
Looking in
At the reflection
That shows
Anyone but myself
When I look in
At it

Poetry by Brandon Roy

I can’t believe

there are tears in the milk.There’s a simple explanation for what
you’re feeling-past life repression.And a bean counter shaped this
world. You remember filling your dreams with erections.The fact that
you have let the teddy bears live this long is nothing short for
How cold is it up there on your elephant.Your cell phone will digest
your brain and shit needles.
Love is trimmed, four inches from the tip of the finger.It’s a frozen
satellite dinner.Now, put your change away. You could hurt
someone.Even rats have a first time for everything.

Poetry by Sayu Tera


The sun rises
It is a turnip
She moans as I enter
A coma and blow it

Water and cliff
Frozen in ice
She moans a last world
Two or three times begins

Two poems by satnrose

The Circus Tea

the tent show queen served darjeeling black
and biscuits, the liontamer

the guys who rigged the rigging
came with not so ugly girls
and passed white lightning around

the trapeze set up

no net

The Gamble

it’s your deal
I know your kind

I don’t mind telling
don’t stop, keep pouring

about a year ago
I caught him

digging holes in my garden
denying everything

claimed someone framed him
could you believe?

could you imagine
how I felt just then?

I’m going to New York from here
if you will let me through

if not
I’m ready for another hand …

Poetry by J. Bradley

The Kama Sutra of Minnie Mouse

I am as flat as rohypnol;
how else can I kiss
like a keyed mirror, bite
your clavicle like a poison

I can forgive the way
how you are charmed
like a sidewalk crack;
monogamy is a castle
I ache to escape.

Poetry by Kenneth Radu


The wind blows the moon

out of the sky,

clouds bank against the stars

and there is no light tonight.


Hunger is insatiable;

the first movement is my eye

then the slow crawl of fingers

across my chest where a dead

heart still beats.


Scholars seek historical

equivalence, Vlad the Impaler,

like scientists explaining myth.

I am pre-existent, made manifest

in dreams and icons of deepest

despair and the psyche’s unlit

corners, cobwebbed and shrouded

like the sky tonight.

What good a cross without belief

against my incisive teeth,

what good garlic in the window

when they invite me over

thresholds into their sleep?


Down the road from the castle wall

which I climb with cat-like

efficiency, a man left his wife

for another land to break new

ground. He still carries me

the way she caries his unborn

child, and she is alone tonight.