Cathy Ulrich – In Pieces

In Pieces

Someone has been replacing his wife in pieces. He first notices it when she pulls a spring dress over her head as they prepare for dinner with her parents, the fabric rustling round her bare legs.

Have you always had that mole there?

She’s distracted, checking her makeup in the mirror. Where?

There. Beside your left knee.

She barely glances at it. I think so. Sure.

Then it’s the scar on her shoulder that she’s had since childhood, crawling under the neighbors’ barbwire fence, tearing her jacket, shirt and flesh. Running his finger along her skin as they lie in bed together in the dimness of early evening, he doesn’t feel its familiar traces.

She shrugs. It faded. Scars do that.

It’s smaller things, too, like one earlobe suddenly thicker than the other, or the pinkie finger on her right suddenly longer, thinner.

Doesn’t the knuckle seem higher to you?

Oh, Carl, she laughs. Oh, Carl. Continue Reading »

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Richard Beckham II – Tell Me

Tell Me

The old man clutched the young man’s arm. He clasped it with both hands as if he were falling off a cliff. In a way he was. In another way, he was burning.

“Every second counts in this life,” he whispered in his hospital gown. He lay in bed, living through machines for too long, long enough to hold on for the young man to get there from miles away.

“What’s that?” the young man said bending over the old man. “I missed it.” The young man could see the mildew growing inside the old man. He could hear the machines pump electric air into him. He saw the old man’s heart skip rocks along the line on a monitor. But he couldn’t concentrate. Why did he take those mushrooms at his buddy’s house an hour ago?

They can win or lose everything in the jerk of an eye. A horse can be killed. He can have a shotgun to the head out of nowhere, just like that. All for a second. All over a second in this world. Tell me that doesn’t matter. Tell me that the car whose brakes gave out for three seconds didn’t matter when the mother wails to no one at the blood of her infant. Tell me!” He gripped the young man’s arm and pulled him closer. All he had in him thrust forth with each word, each breath. Continue Reading »

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Gary Glauber – Hawk versus Crow

Hawk versus Crow

No one travels to this part of town anymore,
not since the 5:06 has been rerouted
and the filling station removed its pumps.

The sole radio station plays mostly static
cut with echoes of a distant broadcast,
the excitement of a local sporting contest.

Here it is all phantasmal and bleak.
I clearly hear the double screech overhead
and see proud brown wings flap in aerial attack.

Yet the underbird here, the smaller crow
caws loudly, like a chatty old woman
shouting out feats of raffish grandchildren.

This cackle draws an immediate response.
Black dots appear as if called out of thin air,
flying from distant branches to gather in force.

The twenty birds that populate the branches
of the early spring’s bare maple tree
understand how there is comfort in numbers.

Here below things are barely intact.
Unpainted shutters blow in the stiff breeze,
a morse code of lonely abandon.

The hawk screeches in final protest,
then flies away, defeated for now,
but reserving the right to fight again.

Down here, there’s far less promise.
Rumors say the schools will close soon
along with the remaining branch of the bank.

In this place, I crow and no one comes
to shake these surrounding branches,
to win this singular battle.

– Gary Glauber

Author’s Note: This piece reflects what is happening to so many places across this country when industries abandon small towns and nothing comes to take their place. It is a disheartening battle, but a real one. Raising awareness is a start.

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Allison Landa – Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You

I’m trying to explain to Richard why fonts matter. I’m not sure what to call Richard. Is he a blind date? Is that term even in use any longer? I don’t want to call him my internet date. The sound of that phrase is large and echoing, proof that I should just leap off the Coronado Bay Bridge and get it over with. Blind date, though, sounds as though he should have walked into Lestat’s for our coffee date tapping his cane, eyes covered by dark glasses. He didn’t. By his reaction when he saw me, I almost wish he had.

Let’s just call him Richard, then, and hope this is over soon.

“Times New Roman just has something soothing to it,” I say, sipping my soy chai. When did I start ordering shit like this? When I went to UCSD it was black house coffee all the way, simple, nothing to adulterate it. “I don’t know. It’s that serif thing. It’s kind of like a hug.”

Richard nods, the motion reluctant and minimal. I want to shout at him: Try, motherfucker! Can’t you at least try? His obvious distaste for me is quickly poisoning my favorite coffee shop. I fear I won’t be able to walk in here without being reminded of him and his tiny little head-bob, the most effort I’ve seen him make since he walked in here 20 minutes ago. It’s not like he’s a prize either, I think with resentment. At least I’m acting humane.

He’s definitely a Calibri. It’s the default font on my computer, the one I change every time I open a new Word document. There’s nothing to recommend it. It’s grudging and ugly, and it makes me feel bad just to look at it. I can probably change the settings on my computer so I never have to see it again, but that feels like too much work. Kind of like ending this date.

All around us are students tapping on their computers. They’re alone, but they’ve chosen their typeface. It didn’t just patter up to them, already looking disgusted before saying a single word. If only it were me and pixels at this moment, I think, drinking down the hot beverage far too quickly. If only I were by myself in a way that didn’t feel like abandonment. If only I didn’t need people like Richard, injections of hope, promises of beginnings. If only print impressions were enough.

– Allison Landa

Note: This piece was originally published by Cease, Cows in September 2014.


Megan Hewitt – Noises


I rest in the bed listening to my upstairs neighbors fighting or fornicating, it all sounds the same. It reminds me of my lonely existence. My last boyfriend left months ago and trashy novels have been my only visitor, sneaking in when they are not wanted. I bang my broom on the ceiling as they get too loud, reminding them that they have neighbors. At least our bedrooms are on the corner and they have the top floor. I am the only one they bother. I roll over with my Cosmo, reading about some woman’s drug addiction and return to the real world, pressing my ear to the pillow hoping to block out the noise. Ceiling chips down on me as it often does when they near the end. I brush them away from the guy in the ad, his eyes looking into me as no man has. The noise peaks so I bang one more time hoping to hurry it along.

I hear a crack above me. I look up hoping to not see blood dripping through as a head hit the floor. I see the ceiling caving slightly. Just in time, I bolt away dragging ripped pages of sex tips and clothes with me. They come falling on my bed, crushing my old quilt. A naked young man in his twenties holds the wife safe in his arms, while the husband sits dazed, coming together slowly with another insult.

I guess they were doing both.

– Megan Hewitt

Author’s Note: Noises is a flash fiction based off the idea of hearing noises from an upstairs neighbor. It was started off a prompt that quickly took a funny turn that has pleased its readers so far.

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Patricia Holland – E. B. White and Me

E. B. White and Me

Every struggling new writer who has just earned a B.A. in English needs a dose of the career advice E. B. White once gave me. He had very definite views on how to write—what to write about and then—how to get it in print.

Since Andy really didn’t like his first name, Elwyn, he always asked his friends to use his nickname “Andy” although the byline on all of his stories, articles, essays, poems and books listed him as E. B. White.

Today, children may be the only readers who truly appreciate E.B. White for his  excellent stories. E.B. White’s children’s books have lived on past his death in 1985. Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, are still very popular.

Some students currently in college probably know that E. B. White had a strong grasp on the rules of grammar and usage, but’s that all they know about him. In 1959, White took on a freelance project to revise William Strunk’s classic grammar guide, The Elements of Style. From then on the slim little book credited two authors “Strunk and White.” Andy revised it in 1972 and 1979.   Continue Reading »

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Reynold Junker – Billie Holiday And Me

Billie Holiday And Me

A while ago I received an e-mail from the bank that controls all of the money I have in this world. They were enhancing their security system with a series of personal questions. The idea being that only they and I would know the answers which would be used to thwart any  attempt by cyber thieves to break into my checking or savings account.

One of the proposed questions was “What was the name of the first girl you loved?”  I searched back through near but never totally forgotten memory and found Joanne Donovan, the girl I’d dated three of my four years at Annapolis. She was the girl I’d escorted to my Ring Dance, two Farewell Balls, and two Army-Navy games. Joanne Donovan, a petite Audrey Hepburn look-alike, had owned my heart for the better part of three years. She was, I thought, the first girl I loved.

And that was that until a snatch of Saturday late night jazz collided with a snatch of Saturday late night memory and I remembered Billie Holiday. I’d loved Billie Holiday, Lady Day, since I first heard her sing  the Gershwin’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” And although I’d never seen her, I loved her music and I loved her passion and I loved her warmth. Continue Reading »


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