Racetrack Massacre

Look at it this way. They forced you to wear a hair net. Because your locks were too long for the rusted chicken-fried-steak trailer, that grease-pit concession-stand prison uglifying the edge of the racetrack. As if the orangutan with rotted-out teeth on the other side of the counter, the dude standing there with chewing-tobacco drool, slobbering all over himself, drenched in day-old sweat, the dude on his fifth can of Stroh’s, hell bent for the grandstand with his skeletal meth-head girlfriend to watch modified cars drive around in a circle for two hours–that dude–like he would give a shit if one single hair from your head wound up in his chicken-fried steak sandwich. Look at it that way. They forced you to wear a hair net. They got what they deserved. They all got what they fucking deserved.

Gary Singh


Gary Singh is an award-winning journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he has published hundreds of works including travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is a sucker for anything that fogs the opposites of native and exotic, luxury and the gutter, academe and the street.

Clear Days

They scare me. Give me blizzards but not a blue day with a ground of ice and a T-Rex bite to the air. She enters the kitchen in a white tank and short shorts. The slink of corn flakes into her bowl stings. The stillness gets me most of all: inescapable frost that digs the face when shoveling out a pickup bed or packing tools to fix some old fart’s frozen pipes. She has her mother’s skin, clear with dapples around the crest of her nose and tops of her shoulders, and my yellow teeth. We talk to each other (I don’t want to make it sound like we live in silence) but we don’t say much. Except for the storms. Like the prom night. At 2 when I woke to a broken bathroom mirror and her with fists bloody and an eye black: fists from the mirror, I never found out about the eye. But she cried on me that night. Mascara staining shoulders of my shirt a deep violet black. Her tears were torrents and I was there. She told me she hated me and she hated that mother was gone and I was there. She told me she loved me anyway and I was there. At 4 I made Denver omelets and some strong coffee. She skipped volleyball practice and told me jokes.

         —Jenna giving you a ride?




         —It’s cold out.

         —I know it.

         —Susie, I could take you. Lemme get the truck warming.


         She stands at the bottom of the driveway, balling fists inside her gloves because the fingers are too thin.


by Aaron Bauer


Aaron Bauer lives in Colorado and received his MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His work has recently appeared in Prism Review, Spillway, Superstition Review, and many other journals. Also, he has served as Editor for Permafrost and is a Contributing-Editor for PoemoftheWeek.org

Angel of Progress

You brought our freedom as a mirage in their parallax vision.  In that one brick wall shirt that you wore every day.  That spring noontime, in gym class, that we stood at the far end of the parking lot ballfield—you with your middle finger masking-taped to two popsicle sticks, splinted—and you urged me, with each change of batter, to retreat ten feet more from the game. 

We did it for the full 48 minutes, gliding backwards in our ballgame-facing position—behind the chain that marked the schoolyard boundary, onto and beyond the sidewalk, across the street, down the block—slack witnesses reverse-looming further and further away. 

To have watched receding the whole civilization, that credence! Only the bell of the period startled us from it—and you laughed at the top of your lungs, yowled, as I scrambled—we’d never get back in time.  You turned rightway around, that sly loping walk of yours, made of your hands a listing scale of comically foregone decision.  To have watched it all receding, in those Lion’s Club glasses, without blinking.  You were right: we were well out of that now. 

by Nicole Matos                                       


Nicole Matos is a Chicago-based writer, professor, and roller derby girl. Her credits include Salon, The Classical, The Rumpus, THE2NDHAND, Vine Leaves, Chicago Literati, berfrois, Oblong, neutrons protons, and others. You can catch her blogging for Medium, publishing tappable stories on Tapestry, and competing as Nicomatose #D0A with the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby, too.

Travelling Days

“Have another?”

“Can’t, I have to go.”

“You always say that.”

“Only when I need to leave.”

I can still hear the corny music on the jukebox, the clinking of the glasses.  The barkeep heard our chiming, collected his money, a too generous tip. We left, bade each other platonic adieus, walked separately to our separate families.  How I miss my travelling days! 

At home, always the same or nearly the same scene:  I open the door, panting after my three story climb, my wife at the range frying or boiling something.  “About time you got back.”

“I was delayed.”

“I bet,” smelling my breath, it’s cheap vodka, not kissing me.  “Did you pick up the bread?”

“I forgot.  I can go get some.”

“Don’t bother, it’s late, you may get delayed again, besides bread makes me fat.  Do I look fat in this?” She twirls away from the steaming stove.

I say nothing or say something mollifying.  My expression does or does not give me away, I can never tell with her, besides she isn’t fat.  We eat in silence, our son long gone, the damn TV still on, a carafe of mineral water our only splurge.  I pick at my meal, not wanting to mix drink and food, that’s why I’m too thin.

“If you drank less, we’d both eat better.”

I rise, clean off my plate, return, put my arms on her shoulders, nuzzle her ineptly, we don’t kiss.  “But we wouldn’t be so happy.”


by Clyde Liffey


Clyde Liffey lives near the water. 

It starts with sex

The fish is staring at me from the plate, its blackened skin and brittle tail spread between rice pilaf and sautéed mushrooms. A foot of omega-3 fatty acids, which my mother, who set the plate before me, said helps with depression.

I wasn’t depressed last winter when I hugged the possibility I might be pregnant, wrapping my heart around the secret, envisioning my baby tadpole-size clinging to the side of my uterus, our blood intermingling. Brian’s baby. There was a bridal shop down the street from my apartment; I already knew the dress I wanted. But then I wasn’t pregnant after all and Brian told me he’d met someone else.

At night I drank and wept, working up a Camille-like tragic image. During the day, I sniffled at my desk until co-workers rolled their eyes when I reached for another tissue. Then, in early April, a bunch of us got let go.

When I couldn’t find a job, my mother said she’d moved her sewing stuff out of my old room and I was welcome to it. So, I’m back home with this damn fish, my mother eyeing me across the table, and my father hunched over his food like a wolf with a fresh kill. Who wouldn’t be depressed?

The fish doesn’t want to be here. Once it shimmered in fast moving water. It might have been pregnant with hundreds of luminous eggs. How can I eat it when, like me, all it wanted was to have babies? I try to explain this to my mother, but she can’t get past the sex part.

by Anna Peerbolt


Anna Peerbolt’s flash and short stories have appeared in Drunken Boat, Prick of the Spindle, Apollo’s Lyre, The Legendary, Long Story Short, DOGZPLOT, and elsewhere online.

Lucy’s Walk

Lucy strolled into my life twenty years ago. Short and heavyset, trailing a couple of unruly dogs, she welcomed me to the neighbourhood. Most mornings Lucy wound her way through the community with her dogs in tow, and their leisurely pace always invited the opportunity to chat.

On warm evenings Lucy walked with her husband Leo, a tall thin navy veteran. It made people smile to see the elderly couple hand in hand. When Lucy stopped to admire gardens and dispense dubious dog training advice, Leo waited patiently, content to let his wife weave her hospitality through the neighbourhood.

An ambulance came for Leo one bright afternoon and for a few months Lucy’s walks took a different path. Neighbours respected the urgency in her step as she hurried back and forth on her way to the hospital. No time for chats and even the dogs curtailed their usual exuberance.

One morning, a thinner and frailer Lucy stopped to admire my fall asters. Leo was gone, but Lucy was back. I joined her as she retraced a familiar path through the community and gathered condolences like a grand bouquet of sunflowers. Lucy’s daily walks continued until the day she got confused – inexplicably lost on her own street – and well-meaning family intervened. Recently, a young couple bought Lucy’s old house.

I often stroll by at a leisurely pace that invites the opportunity to chat. 

by Hermine Robinson


Hermine loves writing short fiction in many genres and her publication credits include Readers’ Digest, Postcard Shorts and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She lives with her husband and children in Calgary, Alberta where the winters are long and the inspiration is plentiful. Her nickname Minkee was chosen at the age of five and it is still the name she answers to when it is shouted across a crowded room.

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