“Here’s a Little Prayer” by Troy James Weaver

When she wakes up, she immediately recalls the last bib she threw to the Goodwill, the last piece of fabric that remained. She’d already been done with the shoes, the little shirts, the pants and the onesies.

Her eyes well as she fingers the rope, her bed companion she spoons in sleep.

The zoo is always empty when she goes, which she likes. She can push through and really get what she wants. She doesn’t go to see the animals. She goes to feel less alone. And the animals always provide, even if she doesn’t see them. Just knowing they are there and always will be. Seeing the changes in the exhibits, the color gradients, the incline of a path, however jarring and resistant, is welcome. The surprising in the ordinary, in the known. Routine. The unknown is a burden girdled to prayer.

The last time she prayed was the day she buried her son. She prayed for the impossible. Then waited. But it wasn’t hers. That prayer belonged to the earth.

When the rope tickles her palms in her sleep, she sees, so clear and possible, what she thinks she needs, what she wants, in dreams, then wakes up and moves into the heat of a new day, forgetting.

She’s a haunted house, who lies about her occupants.

“I hope the last prayer I hear is the sound of the branch breaking,” she says.

Minutes pass watching the ceiling fan circle.

Troy James Weaver lives in Wichita, Kansas. He is normal.

“Revised Syllabus As Personal Essay By A Former Zoom Teacher” — Andy Tran

Intro to Creative Writing

Summer 2020
Monday-Thursday 1:30-3:30 PM


Mr. Andrew Tran


I’m thinking about railing a long white line off of my iPhone, and I’m also thinking about buying Ketamine with my future paycheck. Right now, I’m wearing a blue suit and staring at my computer screen,  my face is reflected back and it’s hard to look at myself. I’ve made PowerPoint slides with art from Banksy and Basquiat. I wonder if the kids are excited to learn about Ekphrastic poems.


Mr. Tran Intro/Half Truths

My name is Mr. Tran. My favorite animal is a Siberian husky. My favorite food is steak. My favorite color is blue. If I could anywhere in the world, I would go to Alaska. I would love to have dinner with a jiggly puff!


It’s my second day as a Zoom creative writing teacher at a private school. I’ve never taught a class before and I don’t have a degree in education. I don’t have a teaching license, but I have worked with kids on two separate occasions. In Northern, VA, I taught kids at a summer Tennis camp based out of a country club. I’ve also been a support educator/helper at a Jewish Community Center. I know how to coach kids on serves and volleys, and I know how to change diapers. But I also know a few brief things about creative writing. 

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“Treblinka, 1942” by Stuart Buck

I was made in Pakistan in 1927. I came to Germany before Hitler had his hands around the throat of the country. But fascism is never far from the surface and even back then the seeds were spouting thick black stems, choking the air. I arrived in a leather satchel, brown, used and dirty. A man had bought me from a sports shop in Pakistan while visiting a friend and had traveled back to Germany by steamer. 

Like many Germans, the family eventually succumbed to the Nazi party and in time my owner became the Gauleiter for Dusseldorf. I saw little action, being taken out on windless days then replaced and forgotten. When the Fuhrer himself visited Dusseldorf, he was so impressed with my owners running of the local branch of the Nazi party that he asked his aide to invite him to help run Treblinka concentration camp in Poland. Not wanting to leave his family behind, he broke the news to them over spaetzle. 

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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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“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


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????”


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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“Dead Serious” by Peter Tyree Morrison Colwell

“I wish you were always like this,” Mom says.  

“Like what?” I look at the kitchen doorway, but Mom isn’t there.  

I’ve lived with my mom for sixteen years, but I still can’t predict her words or actions.  No one can.  Mom was born a lefty, but my grandmother tried to make her right-handed.  My grandmother’s attempt was among the first of many to change immutable things in my mom.  They all failed.  Mom mounts a hostile resistance to other people’s ideas of what’s right.  

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