Flash Fiction / Prose Poetry

The Downed

Becca Borawski Jenkins

The three of them stood in the field and stared at the cow lying in the grass. Her husband had told her not to look. The old man had concurred. But the old man had shot the cow, so he was not to be trusted.

“My wife is inside and she’s dying,” the old man said.

“That’s not the cow’s fault,” she said.

“It was either me or the cow,” the old man replied.

The cow’s head jerked with a snort. Blood sprayed from its nose onto her husband’s pants.

She waited for her husband to react, but he didn’t.


Howie Good

An elderly man croons “It’s Raining Today,” a prophecy from a religion that never was. Nine out of 10 American children turn into geometric shapes. It became common after appliances misbehaved with deadly results. In a drab city, the sale and purchase of emotions are strictly regulated, but not everyone follows the rules. A gangster has himself gilded in gold. Flowers rise up against their oppressors. I make a fairly successful attempt to recreate a LSD trip, beginning with a blow to the face.

This is what I see when I get home, monstrous miserable flesh, a mumbling blue cow, the first sentence of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” I try to work on myself but am constantly interrupted by cigar-smoking angels who have had too much coffee. They argue over the necessity of burning the museums, shoot pink waves of light from their fingertips. It’s impossible to silence them. Self-doubt pokes through my normal façade. The small hours are the worst. I take the fact that the cow has run off to the woods surprisingly hard.


Kierstin Bridger

You hang the candy cane on the lamp. Lick what melts. Now you’ve ruined the bulb, poisoned your room with burnt sugar smoke. You’ve blamed your brother for dumping all the easy-bake cake mix in cocoa heaps on the floor, for fingers squeezed between hinges on your wooden door, and for stolen cherry bombs under the bed. Three out of four fit a pattern. Years later you think of your dollhouse plates that went missing, don’t remember him smashing the Shaker dining table, or if the rugs were painted on the floor. You only recall having the house, the smell of splintered balsam and glue, that it was tornadoed somehow, blown-away.

Lily’s Room


Lily’s head led her into a white room where the carpet lurched into a lotion so hot her nipples melted, cooled, then slid right off. Hours before, at the tanning salon, she sat in a gold-knobbed chair and coolly questioned other girls about the parts of her skin she will never control: tiny inexplicable bead-drops of brown dripping down onto her shoulders from outer space, little light bulb-gods hexing up a deep, itching pink. In the end, she tells them it all peels away. The white room, pregnant with steam and sweat, is curated by Lily’s very own mind but coroners of an older, more arcane stoma of science gave it life. No matter is safe, no atom guarantees it will stay. Once her nipples fell, she cupped two warm black eggs gently in her hands because what breaks ceases to mystify her. As fast as Lily’s mind can swim within itself, dimension yields and the walls are throbbing chests of cornered felines, maybe the mealy innards of a mantis-hued gourd. Once, it was her own body poured, uninspected, and then split four ways.

There was a time when the white room could not exist. There was a time when Lily had a green lion for a father but her mother would not marry him. From the last fragment of their alchemy, Lily ignited, cauterizing each channel of his heart until he became flesh and bone. Her mother’s molecules were curdling long before. Inside them, wet, dark Lily grew. Though it is said to be impossible, she remembers the first white room she ever entered. She cannot remember exactly where she was three afternoons ago but some sort of modern science occurred. If she held the thought long enough she might recall, in its place, the first time she set conditions to create life. Following that, she might revisit how it felt when the bloom finally unsealed itself. She caught sight of it on her way out, in the sun, one floret too bright to call coincidence. In her white room, it yellows gracefully.

Up On a High Shelf, the Living and the Dead

Len Kuntz

All her wigs are lined up by hue, each nestled atop a torso-less mannequin, just heads, and of course a sight like that can frighten anybody, especially a kid as young as me, yet I find a footstool from her closet to get a closer look where they sit like glass-eyed zombies, freaky, ghostly, these facsimiles of women who are not my mother. I recognize nothing but the tinny odor of her hairspray, remembering how that was always the last application after her shower and wardrobing, accessorizing, checking makeup in the mirror. I am strong but I admit to missing her, to needing the warm wind of my mother’s breath down my neck as she napped. That time seems not so long ago, like night which was up and then gone, a curtain drawn then opened. So now I do the damndest thing. I close my eyes and rifle my fingers across the plastic cheeks of each mannequin. I picture skin and a face, pretty. I touch there but not the hair, the wigs which are styled perfectly.

We Knew Her To A Small Degree

Mercedes Lawry

She was a boulevard of a woman, with black-eyed dreams and absent tears. She’d carried a bastion of troubles in her doughy hands, crushed and creased them into fine grains. This was long before her lies caught up with her. Her terrors were mauled and buried deep, no lingering voices, no midnight gasps. Her cloud of hair could have housed a welter of wildlife, small enough to hide, sharp enough to bite. The green of her walls was the green of her longing, chilly and somewhat related to nausea. She spoke in tercets when she spoke at all, not minding if no one paid heed and edged closer to the brick and stone of buildings, rough but silent. Her stories were knit by a madwoman, knotted by a drunken sailor, pounded down like cheap meat ought to be. The head of one and the tail of another. Bridges, burnt stew, apple rot, arguments. Quelled clamor, when sleep would come out of stolen grace. She was a woman thick with the slums of faraway countries, yet marvelous. We knew her only in pieces and plenty missing. We knew nothing of the glue that kept the pieces together, only that it was failing, losing its suck, and the pieces were falling erratically, one by one.

Blue Collar

Tatiana Ryckman

Don’t you sometimes comb your hair because it feels like the warm hand of affection? I don’t want to confuse things but it’s possible that nothing matters. I just mean, don’t bother gesticulating if it’s not going to be grand. Make your breakfast cereal tell me moonbeams shoot from the glory holes of my eyes. Your sneakers compete for my attention. The trees you cut into graves could at least invite me in. But what’s in a day? They pass like shit on a factory production line assembled by ladies with hairnets on their feet and men with two beers on their minds; who could you convince to care about an evaluation of these things, good/bad, like a reality television show competition about canned food in a church basement or convertible couches in the backs of vintage cars? You’re sleeping in the warehouse of my cellphone and I keep thinking about drowning it just to prove to you how much you want to get out.


Jefferson Navicky

“If you could do all that stuff and then be dead, I’d say do it.” I dreamed of writing the piece that started like this in the restive moments of waking this morning. It was funny and strange and about death, what would happen afterwards. I can’t remember it now, but I think I knew that would happen. It always does. But it was about this size, maybe a little bigger. If you can let yourself imagine, it was also quite a bit better than this one. I’d be grateful if you did that. Imagine it better. Please do.


Jennifer Gravley

I am from bruised thigh, junk drawer, box of borax on the top shelf. I am from vowel hard to pronounce, disordered creek bottom, bloody heel. I am from set of three. I am from formula, jar of baby teeth, sharp-bearded fish. I am from February, from Saturday, from many specifications of the abstractions time and space. I am from hand of my mother, bone of my mother’s ear, mother of my mother’s mother. From a tome of like characters. From filth, from undesirable car parts, from trundled spoilage.


Diana Smith Bolton

Before the lizard gods, I was shaped from blue clay, my eight fins pinched, scales combed, gills lifted like crescents. I trembled my fins, tested my mouth on coral and young clownfish, dove deep. Above, lands shifted and crashed, drawing lava from my ocean floor. The reptiles rose and fell. Things began to take to the … is it air? New primates grew greedy. I dove deeper, leaving the shallows to those who dared go out in tree shells.