JON LEWIS-KATZ Supposedly, I have been brought here so the man standing before me can buy me a winter coat to replace the one I have had for as long as I can remember. Already, I understand that my mother cannot afford such things herself.
EMILY EVERETT The trek up to North Beach leads us past strip clubs with names like Centerfolds and Penthouse. A sandwich shop called Naked Lunch is positioned here like an impeccable pun, nodding to Burroughs and winking at the red-light district.
MATT SALYER Check me on fleek like the night /
kitchen mothers, pucker and hum some; come, /
I like to liquor louche; let’s watch the flock /
of spring-heeled bound as borough cabs /
exhaust their carbon phantoms like a gauche /
DILMAN DILA Then there are bodaboda, motorcycle taxis, which became very popular as traffic jams intensified in the city. The riders wear big winter jackets, and it looks ridiculous for the city is very warm. I think it is the only kind of protective clothing they can afford. They are reckless, and during rush hour they ride on pavements.
LISA ALEXANDER and JULIA LICHTBLAU We find ourselves amidst a scruffy, largely invisible subset of Los Angelenos: drifters, con artists, criminals, quack healers, the homeless. Everyone is close to the edge, all the time. Yearning. Longing. Trying to get someplace. Anywhere but here.
JENNIFER ACKER I feel ecstatically like a living slice of the fossil record, several eras compressed into one vertical stack, beheld and existing simultaneously. Four generations of women reading and rereading and passing on the same sappy, gently humorous stories.
VIEVEE FRANCIS There is a sister whose voice is gentle as a lullaby. A lulling. Even when angered she won’t yell. A particular upbringing that eschews the loud, though such a woman can be found embracing those whose voices swell in the streets.
ADAM PADGETT Melvin came upon a man frozen and dead out in the interior, perhaps caught in a snowstorm he hadn’t anticipated. Melvin hooked his sled to a birch tree. His team of dogs sat and panted, tongues spilling out of their mouths in rosy lengths.
DANIEL TOBIN So we lift the cat tenderly / indoors, our sweet, beloved predator / hard-wired for the hunt, and lean in closer. / Tiger, zebra-like the transverse lashings, / each a spray of onyx gold-licked at the edge.
FATIMAH ASGHAR A spell cast with the entire / mouth. Back of the throat / to teeth. What day am I promised? / Tomorrow means I might have her forever./ Yesterday means I say goodbye, again./ Kul means they are the same. / I know you can bend time.
LASHONDA KATRICE BARNETT The white woman meant the body lying in the ditch, covered by a sheet. Harvell looked at the bus tracks; the skid marks a few yards away, left by the fugitive car; a pair of yellow shoes about a foot apart on the side of the road.
WILL PRESTON It’s a rare day that a ghost town makes headlines. Ghost towns, after all, are not particularly newsworthy. They’re deserted scraps of places, melancholy indicators of bad land or failed enterprises. In many cases, almost nothing remains.
LAWRENCE RAAB “Time means nothing,” he announced, and that/ seemed important to him, although I/ was of the opinion that time was important. / But for him it must have meant / getting older. And I felt sorry / that he didn't see that.
SUSANA FERREIRAHer family may have tried to shield her from her father’s struggles with addiction, disguising car rides to pick up methadone as family field trips, but she knew. All the kids in school knew.
COLIN CHANNER Basil from a pot on the veranda, / over-priced pinoli and pimientos / pressured into dust, / brassy olio from TJ’s rumored virgin, / Greek alleged, / Israeli sea salt from Whole Foods / and Parmigiano-Reggiano / from that shoppe in Wayland Square.
KENAN ORHAN In Ivan’s bedroom are forty-seven photographs of beaches, rectangles of sand and sun. I count them every time I visit my friend, and he kisses them like beautiful women each night. He passes me a bottle of vodka and opens his own.
BETSEY GARANDI always work in series. It’s how I develop and investigate ideas: a journey with the departure recognized but the destination unknown. ... Often, I’ll have a seed of thought—working with notions of resonance, balance, and continuum—that grows and develops as I move from piece to piece.
JOHN FREEMAN I tell it so many times / on Tenth Street, over lunch / in a bar, to tender eyes, / it begins to sound / like a piece of news— / but once I decide / I’ll tell it how / it happened— / how she starved to death, / mumbled her pain.
L. S. KLATT The lifesaver found himself on a fire escape reading / a set of instructions. Step 1 directed him to match / the conflagration in his mind with a facsimile / that appeared in a diagram on the page. / That much was obvious, but Step 2 required careful
ANYA VENTURA There were drawerfuls of tiny stuffed birds, their feet tagged and bound with ancient twine; a crest of bleached animal skulls arranged from smallest to largest, from deer mouse to badger.
MARIAM WILLIAMS And I remember the first slap that followed the slur, how soft/ were the fingertips, so slick with oil and sweat the burning mark/ seemed to reassure both ‘Know your place’ and ‘This, too, shall pass.’
MEGAN MAYHEW BERGMAN What if I told you some of the most enlightened women I knew took to the beach and spread oil across their shining décolletage in order to receive the divine? To place themselves in the present and in the path of nature?
MIK AWAKE Became a skinhead / a year after he moved from / Bumblefucktucky. / Hit me with his cast. / Hurt people hurt people / often with their hurt parts. / Who broke his arm? / His step-dad step on him? / They was poor, but they was white. / A black eye was the only / color he…
LOREN GOODMAN If I don’t know my problem’s address, I find it out, and I go there without warning. My problem could be sleeping—don’t matter, I go there without calling, without giving my problem any heads up.
KIRSTIN ALLIO I looked like my mother the night she crawled all the way across the plastic floor of her shared room at Shoreview, bloodless as an opossum, looking for death, and finding it when she reached the door they cruelly left open to the low-ceilinged, florescent-singing corridor. They told me she expired at the threshold, and with all my…
MICHAEL BYERS The house in Hewer was three stories, much larger than they needed, and full of odd vacancies, as though the Jenkinses, from whom Paul and his wife were subletting, had planned to be away much longer than a single semester.
ALISON PRINE The opposite of losing you / was watching you across the purple light / of the dance floor in the local gay bar / while the salt trucks dragged through the streets. / We had our people back then— / Janet all night at the pool table / and Kevin by the men’s room a little drunk
MARIA TERRONE Such an adrenaline rush to find / myself alive / this seventh time, injected / with glee on the stretcher, / making my usual “I’m o.k.” calls, / and thinking I'd heard the surgeons' banter
JOSEPHINE ROWE It was the summer that all the best cartoons went off the air, swapped for Gulf War broadcasts in infrared snippets, and your mother started saying things like I used to be pretty, you know? Christ, I used to be brave.
MATT SALYER Check me on fleek like the night / kitchen mothers, pucker and hum some; come, / I like to liquor louche; let’s watch the flock / of spring-heeled bound as borough cabs / exhaust their carbon phantoms like a gauche / of fuck.