Silence After the Thud of the Telly

By Emily Townsend

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Beneath the winter Hartlepool sky, I coiled myself into a scratchy wool blanket Mum made for me thirty-nine years ago. The bottle of cider pressed cold against my fingers.

–Get out the road, my neighbor Horace shouted. Ya gonna get run over.

–Let ’em, I said. Got half a mind to die.

I babysat Horace’s dog once. An Alsatian named Bran. Horace told me he was going to see his kid in Halifax for the weekend.

–Don’t forget to feed Bran, he said. You usually forget to feed yourself.

–Sod off. I can take care of myself.

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The Hawthorn Speaks

By Mary Buchinger

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Of course   I’ve    noticed
how  you’re   drawn     to
what    you    call         my
wounds            symmetry
doesn’t beckon the    eye 
no—       disruption       &
disorder  a lopsidedness
reminding  you  you  are
dreaming   the   rest    of
your     life     asleep     in

expectation   until         a
patch    of   bark    shows
you a           swirl       &  a
swelling   about a      gap       
that       once              was
wholeness                   my
surface  wavy  like     old     
glass          the           slow
assemblage     of      cells 
moving in   to  cover    & 
protect  rippling  up  the
roughened  river      new
growth      a     whirlpool
whose  center    narrows
by season    &     I  know

you     want         nothing 
more  than to stick your
hand    into    this    soft-
edged  opening  to    feel  
reparation     what     we
trees  are     go      ahead 
touch  me    &     awaken  
to doubt

– Mary Buchinger

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By Nilanjana Bhowmick

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Faltu: Meaningless.  Without a purpose. Without any promise. Imposed upon. Unwanted. Something that can be got rid of easily. Useless.

Thwackk! The blow was unexpected. Swift. Unnecessary. The blue and white carpet, with its odd, congested geometric pattern, rises up to meet me. I realize with a pang! that they are not flowers. They are just straight lines that criss-cross each other. Why didn’t I notice this before? Why did I think they were flowers? I am suddenly mortified, and then I am flying across the room. My body is a hot spring and a cold glacier melting into each other. The searing pain of contact. Black. Blue. Purple. Nights and days that cross each other off.  The pain comes and goes. It travels up. Unravels down. A shimmering wave. A recurring nightmare. I smell the fear. Taste the blood. Crouching nights. Mindlessly long days. A never-ending doodle.  Unread letters. Unwritten notes. Dreamless sleep. Unlived memories. Tabula rasa. Run. Keep running.

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Women with ‘Problems’: The New Female Anti-Hero

By Alexis Shanley

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Behind every crazy woman is a man sitting very quietly, saying, “What? I’m not doing anything.”

At some point, you realize you aren’t waiting anymore for your life to start. Your life’s happening right now, and it’s pretty dull.

– Jade Sharma, Problems

'Problems' - Jade Sharma
‘Problems’ – Jade Sharma

There’s an unspoken yet ubiquitous set of expectations we have for women in an attempt to keep them palatable. They shouldn’t be “too loud” or “too much.” We praise them on their restraint. We associate femininity with being demure. Maya, the narrator of Jade Sharma’s Problems, has freed herself from the shackles of these notions, so much so that her behavior directly upends them: She’s a drug addict. She’s blunt about not loving her husband. She’s unapologetically unfaithful, sleeping with a much older man who doesn’t bother pretending to be interested in her. Her thoughts radiate an unabashed selfishness. She’s a compulsive liar. She enjoys rough sex and actively seeks it for validation. Her language is vulgar.

She’s an unlikely heroine and just the one we need.

Even amongst the growing trope of “bad women” in contemporary literature, Maya stands apart. For one, the female antihero is rarely a woman of color. There’s something exhilarating about having an uncompromising, profane protagonist who isn’t white.

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This Is Why You Need Them

By William Soldan

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Names. You’ve got this thing with them. The names of plants, rocks, native species. Concrete details have become a favorite pastime.

Vehicles, clouds, chemical compounds.

You file names away in no particular order but know right where they are when you need them. And you will. Need them.

Architecture, muscles, functions.

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