A Smallie by Richie Johnson

I said, “lets give Cowboy a saucer of milk.”

She said, “no one says saucer anymore.”

She was right. No one says saucer anymore. I began wandering what exactly a saucer was.

She said, “You’re not supposed to give cats milk anymore.”

That made less sense to me. “So you once could give cats milk, but now you can’t?”

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Possible Band Names For When You Finally Decide To Start One by Charles John March III

     Like many, I fantasize about starting a band at some point, but I don’t think that I’d be able to commit to just one—so my dream is to join a group of like-minded individuals who see themselves going out on tours under rotating monikers for every leg of the way, under relevant, and sometimes, seasonal circumstances. 

     Around my 31st birthday this last July, I began compiling a list of names that I found meaning in (one for every year I’ve had to endure), which would synchronistically come to mind periodically…

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“It Is Another Friday Night And We Are All Avoiding Another Party We Don’t Want To Go To Full Of People We Don’t Want To See By Crowding Onto Our Shitty Couch And Playing Smash” by Timmy Sutton

Mostly we are waiting
For whatever crumb
From the table of grief
Has lodged itself into tonight’s parade
Of mashing buttons and gnashing teeth
To name itself then disappear

I get the sticky controller
That Mac spilled a Natty on in August
And am stuck jumping the whole game
But still beat Chris
Who’s almost a year behind in practice
And refuses to choose any character but random

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“Taxidermy for Dummies” by Charlie Chitty

Zack pulled on the balaclava and climbed over the porch. The balaclava he’d bought secondhand from a guy on Craigslist who said he used to use it as a make-shift gimp mask. 

Every few minutes, he’d catch a whiff of something raw and potent and retch for a solid ten seconds.

“You could have just fucking washed it first.” said Paul. His pumpkin mask from three Halloweens ago bobbed on his face.

Zack flipped him off and grabbed the window frame as Paul clambered gracelessly over the porch and fell on his ass. Zack ducked under the window as Paul scrambled to his feet. 

There was a scraping as the old woman inside pulled open the window and Zack saw the barrel of a shotgun poking just above his head.

Paul stumbled, climbed back over the porch and fled. Zack, feeling his pulse begin to race, grabbed the barrel and yanked the gun.

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“Another Monday in March” by Jacob Hendricks

When I get to work I leave my guts on the curb. I won’t need them inside. So I scoop them out like ice cream and pile them up next to the others. They’re all pretty similar. Some are darker. Some emptier. I notice mine are heavy and fragrant. I can’t place the stench. But it reminds me of ground beef and sour cream. 

When I leave work I find my guts where I left them. A few crows were just about to start chowing down. I caught one in the belly with the heel of my boot. Then I stuff my guts back in the best I can. I feel better already. There’s sunlight for the first time this year. The vitamin D from the light turns my blood into wine. It’s been too long. I start sweating. Quickly soak through. I fumble taking my coat off and almost trip crossing the street. Catch myself against a bench. An old woman walking a cat laughs at my reaction. I nod knowing it’s deserved. I thank her. I thank her cat. Both of them still cackling as I slip down the street. 

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“Blades of Glass” by Calvin Westra

1.) His brother was shot by the police while trying to break into his own house, drunk, very late at night, using a hammer he had found in his shed. The shed had not been locked and he had looked around in the dark for something blunt and heavy and settled on a small hammer which he then used to crack the glass and pry the shards free of the window. When the police arrived and shouted at him, he threw pieces of glass at them while they told him to drop the glass, the hammer. He was shot several times. He was awarded a settlement. He uses a wheelchair.

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Three selections from More Animist Babble (in manuscript) by Bram Riddlebarger

Leash

The leash of red foxes scampered from the community garden and crossed the paved bike path into the low-hanging forsythia along the riverbank. The foxes didn’t even notice the stag beetle making its way to the garden across the blacktopped path, but the last fox had upended the beetle, which now lay on its back looking into the heavens.

The beetle treaded air and screamed into the void, “INSECURITY PROBLEMS????”

Biggie

The worm crawled through the earth and the darkness and the disgusting grubs that sometimes got in its way on their own beautiful way to flight and broke through into the light of day.

The worm was listening to Biggie.

“Fuck,” said the worm. “I’ve made all the wrong friends.”

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“Catheter” by Bill Atmoran

I’m not sick of McDonalds even though we’ve had it five times this week. Every night someone pours the biggest bag of cheeseburgers onto the kitchen table, and no one has noticed when I stack three together. I will sneak a box of fries and eat them lying down on the hardwood, with my heels pressed high against the dining room wall. It’s been kind of like a slumber party, except for the tears, and the three week time span. I guess it’s more like summer camp. When they aren’t talking about blood results, or how hearing is the last thing to go, they whisper that mom should stop singing Garth Brooks all the time, and how it’s pathetic that my godmother starts drinking at noon. She sleeps in my bed and spilled red wine on the comforter. I sleep in the basement, which is okay because I’m able to sleep better when the TV hums in the background and I get to talk to my cousins until really late. I haven’t cried yet, mom said I will when it’s all over. She said sadness hits people at different times and can creep up on you now and again. 

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