The Funny Man

By Imran Khan

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The strained ticking of a broken clock was the single noise in Oscar Brum’s living room, but was enough to clasp him from his staccato sleep.  His spindly body shook convulsively as a nervous wave shot from feet to torso and sprung him upwards. He immediately made note of his latest night terror: ‘suffocation’. His dreams were becoming progressively violent, all ending with painful, contorted deaths.  They had, for a while, been morbid, but it was a gloom he’d basked in. As the unfortunate butcheries had involved others, he found no reason for concern.  Now that his visions had taken an unwelcome personal turn, he sought a confidant but couldn’t trust his neighbours. They were the epitome of paranoia, walking like maniacal hens, darting their gaze nervously from sky to ground, unable to settle on either.  They would brand him a ‘lunatic’ which, for an up-and-coming comic trying to network a venue to hold a breakthrough routine, was a severe risk. He was being watched and studied; vacant eyes lingered, strained eardrums fought the fog.…

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Men Behaving Badly: A Review of ‘Scoundrels Among Us’ by Darrin Doyle

By Jordan Blum

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Darrin Doyle is quite an accomplished writer, having published two novels (Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet: A Love Story and The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo), a sequence of fiction (The Dark Will End the Dark), and many individual pieces in various journals over the last decade. Couple that with his diverse history of jobs (including paperboy, pizza delivery job, janitor, door-to-door salesman, telemarketer, and janitor)—as well as his experiences living around the country and teaching English in Japan—and it’s no surprise that his latest short story collection, Scoundrels Among Us, radiates a mixture of [mostly] down-to-earth situations and eloquently refined yet quite accessible language. While not every piece in it is as conclusive, eventful, and/or impactful as it could be, they’re all at least enjoyably inventive, with a few downright enthralling entries that’ll stick with you long after you’ve read them.

Doyle aptly bills the book as “an electrifying look at men behaving badly—or just being weird.” Indeed, many of its strongest works concern precisely that set-up. For instance, “Engagement” finds a husband violently escalating a simple neighborhood disagreement (to the chagrin of his wife), “Slice of Moon” explores the potentially sinister nature of a seemingly innocuous loner, and the title piece is a wonderfully ludicrous and intense narrative about “a foul-mouthed posse of machete-wielding scoundrels who wreak havoc on a small-town mayor.” Likely the best inclusion (in terms of character, implication, and plot) is “Reborn,” a poignant account that mixes a crisis of faith, adultery, blind devotion, and divine consequences to great effect.…

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By Joe Sullivan

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I carry
clothing & food
across the river

to another compartment
in the sky
an offshoot
a sequel

I lie
carrying still
anger waiting
an excavation in the future

on the bed you turn
glowing blue-lit
mouth wide open
face to the ceiling

mouth kissed by others
in dark places
I wonder

if we’d met at another time
would this be severed

could we laugh then
& throw each other
knowing glances
never touching

we would lie
at separate ends
of the sofa at the party
its end closing in

Joe Sullivan

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more worlds

By Thomas HIggins

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they huddle in the doorway
of a dark abandoned building,
smoking what might
be a cigarette,
beneath shreds
of blankets
goodwill coats
and cardboard.
we pass as the light
moves on from red
to the green
of seaglass caught
in sun,
and they
do not watch
as we pass
from their lives
so freely,
as if there were
worlds than one.

Thomas Higgins

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