Something’s Burning

By Ritta M. Basu

Gladys had always loved the smell of coffee. Even though she didn’t relish her first cup until she was nearly 25 and Starbucks had made coffee drinking a fad, she remembered well the constant drip of the coffee pot at her parents’ home. They never stopped drinking coffee. They drank it all day long.

Back then the smell was only distinct first thing in the morning. After 8, the aroma blended into the odors of cigarette smoke, fresh dirt brought in on shoes from the garden and the chicken pen, the smell of eggs frying, the pungent tang of fresh goat’s milk, and a fragrant mixture of strawberry shampoo, Ivory soap and Aqua Net hairspray floating from the bathroom. Continue reading

The Last Time I Saw Janis


By Kevin Moriarity

The last time I saw Janis was on Lake Michigan. It was a hot, muggy day in August. I had taken my Grand Banks trawler out for a day trip from Chicago to New Buffalo. The engines purred as we moved through calm water at a leisurely 12 knots. The slight breeze created from the movement of the 45 foot yacht was refreshing. Janis was on the foredeck working on her already deep tan.

“I don’t know how much more of him I can take,” she shouted back at me.

“Why don’t you just leave him? Why do you keep going back and take his crap?” Continue reading

The Whittler: A Dedication

By Jonathan J. Bishop

I whittle away at the unshaped wood in my hands as the sun brazenly sets above. The day fades. Soon it will be dark. Hungry beasts will emerge from the woods. There’s no fence to protect me; no neighbors to assist. My cabin rests juxtaposed to a lowly dirty road that carries only the occasional car. Drivers don’t stop to see me. I’m an old man.

Long ago, I was paralyzed—an old war injury. I figured it’d do me some good to get out of the city and move to the country: Alaska. It’s what you see on all the postcards. The air and trees and rivers all sparkle with untouched purity. Nothing looks poisoned. Continue reading

The Pixilated Man

By Mark Juric

It started, he thought, with the telegraph. “Technology strips luxury from language,” he could be heard saying on the days we could still understand him. “It squeezes thought into ever-shrinking spaces, so how and where you listen and watch,” he’d say before pausing and buffering “ha — ha — hahahahhahas — has become more important than content.” Continue reading

A Graceful Departure

By Ritta M. Basu

Grace felt the soles of her shoes catch on the sticky floor as she made her way to a seat midway up the aisle, then midway down the row. She always reached the theater early just to get this seat. She consistently came for the 1 o’clock matinee.

This was her escape and she made it perfect every time. When the lights dimmed and the previews started, she lost herself. She didn’t have to think about the crying children, the battered women, the raging alcoholics. She allowed the screen to sweep her away into its sounds and scenes. Continue reading

Make Them Dumb

By Lisa Martens 

On my last day as an undergrad, I ran into my Chinese lab partner. Her English name was Scarlett. I told her I was graduating and she proceeded to do some ancient Chinese dance for “good luck in future!” Then I went to drown myself in Red Bull and attend a reading for my creative writing in Spanish class.

After that, I took the six train uptown and hung out with my friend Elif and her boyfriend. They had a relationship based on supplying each other with chemicals in a very thoughtful way. He bought cigarettes, she bought weed, they bought snacks together when they got the munchies, they split the cost of coke (both kinds). It was a symbiotic understanding that they both needed all of these things and they would help the other. I leeched behind them for the view of it, not drinking, not smoking, not snorting, not eating. Continue reading

Saint Joseph

By Larry Roszkowiak 

After the sex stopped I’d lie in bed at night, stare at the ceiling and plan carpentry projects.

I’d plan the miters and the cuts. I’d calculate the swing of the hinges. I’d plot the saw settings.

In my mind strips of wood moved through the air obedient to the blueprints developing in my mind. Continue reading