At the Crossroads

By Mark A. Murphy

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In search of light and love and lost time,
the months are flying by
faster than either of us imagined.

 Loneliness speeds us to the grave
more surely than
disease,
yet we remain impotent in the face of it.

 Try as we might to cling to the past
and each other, the present
has a proclivity for mass murder.

 Wind swept and shell-shocked, we stand
on different
shore lines
ineluctably alone, defying the odds.

 Our fates inextricably bound, written
by fear and solitude,
unerringly devoted, waiting around to die.

Mark A. Murphy

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Sexuality and Loss of Innocence

By Janel Brubaker

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Life carries us through various stages of maturity like a ship transporting passengers from one location to another. External situations and struggles shape the individual, unearthing truths and revelations about the self in relation to those situations and struggles. Sexuality and physical desire are just two of many other unearthed revelations that can make themselves known throughout our lives, dug up, as it were, as we traverse the overgrown path of life. With these two revelations, others can be planted and given a chance to grow. In Marguerite Duras’ novel The Lover, sexuality is used to illustrate the narrator’s journey into adulthood. This journey reveals the narrator’s complex passionate desires and illustrates how her external circumstances unearth deeper, hidden truths about herself and her family.

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That Time . . .

By Larry Thacker

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. . . you burnt your lip on the coffee mug, distracted by the pretty crow eating french-fries in the parking lot, thrown out by a litterer during a conversation with a potential lover who wanted to impress with callousness, the girl who was only in the car by virtue of a blind date agreement, trusting another’s word, who hadn’t noticed the bird or the fries, her window rolled up since she was chilly, her mother’s advice unheeded as to the need for a sweater for the evening, the lights still on at home, that mother sitting, not really watching the television, wondering if the daughter will do what she did on blind dates, the worry turning to fantasizing about lost years and chances, the husband, separated from the worried wife, prone in a downtown apartment – cars passing loudly along the avenue – intently watching a rented DVD, absently murmuring on the phone with an old girlfriend, that woman, at work in the restaurant on a break where the fries originated, having just dropped some more for the giddy teenagers idling in line at the drive-thru, which is visible from the table where you sat when, instead of being in the moment of coffee and conversational enjoyment, you were entertained by a frolicking bird in the innocent evening sun in a littered parking lot – of which you blamed – mentally – for causing you to burn your lips, which would later tempt me but were ultimately kept at bay due to the pain.

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Nymph Skin

By Rena Graham

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Our nights were full of cicadas. We called them tree crickets. Their sound like dancing gypsies, arms raised high, castanets rhythmically clicking. While climbing trees, I’d be startled by the nymph skins left behind from their nocturnal molting. I’d grasp onto a hidden part of the tree, crunch down on a brown empty shell, and quickly pull my hand away. Cicadas live mostly underground, emerging in late summer. In living out their insect destiny, they leave a translucent, crackly version of themselves behind, before flying off into the world fully formed.

After I became more familiar with their delicate casings, I collected the shells and gingerly transported them to my bedroom. My small hands cradled them at a distance; not wanting them too close, not quite convinced they wouldn’t flit away.

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Cover to Cover with . . . Leza Cantoral (author of Cartoons in the Suicide Forest)

By Jordan Blum & Leza Cantoral

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Born in Mexico and residing in New Hampshire, Leza Cantoral is the editor of CLASH Books and the author of Cartoons in the Suicide Forest, a wonderfully twisted, clever, and poignant short story collection that we, among many other outlets, enjoyed very much. In this second episode of Cover to Cover with . . . , Editor-in-Chief Jordan Blum and Cantoral touch upon many topics, including her work and inspirations, the highs and lows of AWP (where they recorded this), Trump, bigotry, and of course, sex and drugs!


Leza Cantoral

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