Flash Fiction / Prose Poetry

Kentucky Coal Mines

Maya White-Lurie

littered with canary bones, feathers and beaks swallowed by asthmatic shafts. Abandoned mine land’s muscles lean close, fingers curl into palm, never let go. Where birds kept singing, tunnels stretched deep, wooden support forests grew so well in that dark. Children heed stay out stay alive, magnates wind through sediment toward swelter.

Delicious

Lori Brack

The rind flat on the pavement is by chance a circle—whole but empty where she shimmied out of her skin-tight skin. Around the corner, naked Clementine hangs out on a concrete ledge. She would swing her legs if she had any, puckered around her empty center, bold as anything under the sun’s blaze. When night turns cold, Clementine shivers her regret for peeling off there in the street, wishes she had not left so loose her spicy attire behind. She is sticky-sweet and irresistible to the wasp, his gold tooth shine disappearing inside.

The Mexican Conductor

Matthew Dexter

Meth made the miniature train more endurable as it careened through the mall. Children chased the caboose. Eyes full of diamonds and watermelons and blood, pointing with cotton candy dusted fingertips as the majesty blasts its convivial horn. I think of muchachos and muchachas who ride with their siblings or mothers or babysitters. How they bounce. How they should be lost in a cave with nothing but fire. How steel melts beneath the broken wings of fallen serpents.

The Mask of Night

Lorraine Schein

A sleep mask masks sleep so that it does not recognize and awaken her. But she can see it still, swirling under her eyelids, satin under the satin mask.

When she wakes up, a blind man is lying between her legs. His eyelids are sewn shut with her eyelashes. He says nothing but reaches for her.

He Buys a Revolver

Wendy Taylor Carlisle

A 9 MM is “quick and adept.” A shooter stands with his violent ears, in which devils are. The devils are we, the sad followers of the paranoid “what if.” Our leader, Satan, stands whispering in a little hidden section behind the tympani, behind the breathing meat in a visceral explosion of longing and terror, a confusion of focus.

This story has to be in someone else’s hand. I’m not brave enough to write out all this sadness. Moreover, this story has to be turned away from any beautiful dread, any sexy alarm, from excuses, from the biochemical shell game. The man-gun in this story is blank as le Chiffre, unmoored, drifting away from skin and heat, knowing without means, by need. The man in this story is not the other man; the gun is not one we do not own. We are all meat and millimeters. We are all at bay.

The Venus of Merchants

Robin Wyatt Dunn

Her body’s as wide as the tub; in her mouth a cigar. In her hair are bones. Her teeth gold. Gold also in the enamel on her nails. Wrapped tight round her neck, a blingy necklace studding the diamond word: MIDAS.

Her voice is a thousand metric tonnes. Her animal cry an engine so large it is kept in the basement, where it vibrates whole neighborhoods.

She is a memory of what was, and of what is coming to be.

The men stand around her and weep, pouring their wallets over her body, in devotion, and in humility, to abase themselves before her. She accepts it all, as the best temple whore, with her secret god she keeps inside, of no name at all. The escape god, like the escape hatch, unknown to her worshippers, perhaps it only is: the knowledge of the sham of it all.

Torrents of cash flood the basement; the dump truck scoots in, honking, turning Charleston Heston bodies in soylent-green-ways, turbulent and righteous it thrusts the men in their suits into the cement to make way for the promissory notes.

At the heart of the maelstrom, she is screaming.

Inheritance

Joshua Wann

The family farm had once grown cotton. The place is north of Interstate 20 and west of Texas state highway 277. The father couldn’t afford the upkeep of the crops and sold off the farming equipment and bought bourbon. His boy, Tyler, watched the last tractor get hauled off. His father’s bottle was at the boy’s eye level as the tow truck kicked dust and coughed exhaust. His father kept the land for hunting but left in the mornings, before Tyler was awake. With no tractor or knowledge of the game trails, Tyler made his own way. Now, the land housed Tyler’s trailer. Inside was grey smoke and crushed cold medicine. A new labor of sorts. Summers and sons grow hotter and more disappointing.

Early Morning Fishing Boats

Stanley Jenkins

Up early and watching the fishing boat lights pass across the dark Lake Michigan horizon like a series of broken mirror shards. The lake is very loud this morning but the lights are silent, reflecting something louder than light and surf. I wish all those fishermen well. But I wish the fish well, too, hoping they might find food that will not pierce them. Something louder than bombs. More silent than light.

Three White Dogs

Theodore Worozbyt

From our parlor, the living room, the cloud there seemed to be, across the angle, a colorful snake silently sine-waved across the woven symbols of the Iranian carpet. The white dog spotted with spilled coffee would be poisoned by its fangs if it had fangs. But I was not convinced. While the undulance and pumpkin orange diamonds rowed along its spine suggested a viper I thought too that I was seeing yellow and red like a king’s ambulance through the grass. Something burst on the asphalt. I stopped beside the copper deep freezer to fill it with thin oblongs from bags. An uneaten roasted turkey floated in a five gallon bucket when I opened it but had no smell. I thought how old it was, how beige. The snake became a calico kitten over and over that I would capture with a bucket. Either way was in the road up the hill. Crawling onto my chest the two white dogs were biting through each other’s lips and could not be pried open as their faces came to me.

I Stagger Toward the Future

Daniel Shapiro

When the West needed rediscovery, the powers sent a clown with a camera to compile the spotless carnage. This was before viral. Reptiles ate the strings off guitars. Townspeople wandered with eyes covered to block the awkward flips from color to black & white to color. The new colonists let their hair explode, posed with mannequins for selfies. This was before selfies. Reinvention meant erasure, but not of natives. This was after immigrants started pretending to be natives. The five men who appeared to be human formed a band that could stand alone in the desert, look good in grayscale. They had not thought past the moment, past the four minutes it would take to embed the psyches of whoever was left, whoever would dare to put on the greasepaint.

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