Yard Sale

The barrio adjacent to the state’s only Catholic university held Grandma’s ChaCha yellow house became a hub for elaborate yard sales. With the sun shining year-round, children would take barefoot to the rows of front yards down the block. The parents wrangled their kids to visit our yard sale in hopes of finding a new sweater for the coming school year or a pair of smudged Converse knock-offs.

I was too little to be of any real help to my mom, grandma, and Aunt Sugar who meticulously planned every aspect of each yard sale. “The cord needs to wrap around the tree tighter to hang the clothes.” “Put the toys in this box.” “Stack the books over on this table.”

While they set everything up, the radio blasted KOOL 60s Oldies. I loved to twirl under the shirts hanging from the clothesline and pretend that my dad’s old button-up was my dance partner. My cousin interrupted my fantasy and squirted me with a super soaker. We chased each other in between Spanish-speaking customers. I could hear Aunt Sugar and my mom yelling at us to stop. We didn’t stop. We ran carefree, not understanding that one day this memory would cause a longing to be that barrio child again.


Sarah Chavera Edwards is a Mexican American writer based in Phoenix. She is both a professional freelance writer and creative writer. Her work has appeared in The Dewdrop, The Nasiona, The Roadrunner Review, and Terse Journal. Her creative nonfiction piece, “Mujeres Divinas/Divine Women,” was the winner of the 2021 Nonfiction Prize through The Roadrunner Review. The piece was then published in an anthology about life and death in 2023. Her subject matter deals with Latino issues, mental illness, and memoir.


Sarah Chavera Edwards

The Rise and Fall of Burlington West

No one within hearing badmouthed the new town’s two ceramic frogs perched columnar on oxidized blue lily pads outside City Hall like they never did on Crenshaw Pond.


Sheriff Osprey couldn’t find or explain the missing pair of rattlesnake skin cowboy boots enshrined in glass once worn by Riddly Tucson, founder and first mayor of Burlington West.


The story told more often in schools, saloons, and after-church lawn gatherings had to be Roy Calhoun’s losing his battle with the bottle blamed for heaving him and his horse into Red Pine Canyon, Chester saved when hung up forty feet above the canyon floor by its titular tree, his rider not so lucky, pitched headfirst on a boulder the size of Paul Bunyan’s bowling ball.


The last to leave the deserted town, Pastor Wiggins, preached a sermon to a congregation of ants, mice, rats, and bats, advising them to learn the lesson God gave Job, to pay obeisance to the Lord no matter how stark their futures, without hope or food.


The developer stressed the new primitive, box over box, the way of the future born from the county’s Indigenous past for maximum efficiency, aesthetic nuance, and ambient preservation like no other in-town rural casual formal feel.


“Pond? What pond?” Mrs. Killibrew threw at the half-blind, nearly-deaf Claude Wiggins, her frosted flute meant for more than grocery store Chablis half empty, then lifted from her hand-me-down Brown Jordan chaise to emphasize her gift for leaving idiots to stir themselves thick.


When the residents of Cactus Butte Luxury Homes opened their manilla envelopes on Thursday, May 14, 2042, they might have felt a similar sinking feeling as Roy Calhoun when first pitched off the trail, Chester dropping beneath him as if he’d taken up flying, long-needled pine boughs slapping his face bringing him to an unwanted and unplanned consciousness until, upended, landing as he knew he must, the split second crack hatching a split-second memory of the Cowtown Rattlesnake Round Toe boots, squirming out of a coil as he liked to think of them, under three loosened floorboards in Pastor Wiggins’s horse barn over which Sheriff Osprey every day clomped like a man with little or no horse sense before everything went dark.


Richard Holinger’s work has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, Iowa Review, Chautauqua, and has garnered four Pushcart Prize nominations. Books include North of Crivitz (poetry) and Kangaroo Rabbits and Galvanized Fences (essays). He holds a doctorate in Creative Writing from UIC, has taught English and creative writing on several levels, and lives northwest of Chicago overlooking Lake Campton.


Richard Holinger

Taco Tuesday

Lisa sends me this long text grumbling about her husband and how he’s informed her he can’t handle Taco Tuesdays anymore and now she must redo her ENTIRE menu for January because the selfish bastard can’t deal with spicy food, and I’m thinking, damn. You’re lying in the morgue waiting on someone to perform your autopsy, and the least she can do is wait until we know if you were drunk behind the wheel when you slammed into another car and were thrown through the windshield of your own because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. She’s railing about her prickly-assed husband while you are dead-dead-dead, along with your brother who is dead-dead-dead, and my husband-your-uncle who is dead-dead-dead, but I am calm. Ice-water-in-the-veins calm. Because who gets to tell my daughter about these grisly events? Who informs Bonnie that her dad shot himself or Cousin Josh’s heart fritzed out in the bathroom or you bought it on the gravel-studded pavement near El Salido Pkwy on the northeast side of Austin, Texas? The pleasure’s mine. I phone her tonight just before Lisa chimes in with her news and I think, damn. Her nag of a husband is alive. What does she have to complain about?


Cindy Sams is a teacher and writer in Macon, GA. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Reinhardt University with an emphasis on Literary Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Brevity Nonfiction blog, Pangyrus LitMag, High Shelf Press, The Chaffey Review, Canyon Voices Literary Magazine, Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine, and The New Southern Fugitives, which nominated her for a 2020 Pushcart Prize.


Cindy Sams

An entry journal

Feb or March 17, 1995

As my suitcase orbits away from me, I surprise myself by shouting “our bag.” Unbeknownst to me I have begun talking in plural. As we drive toward our home, I am puzzled by the empty sidewalks. The man who’s both from here and there assures me it’s normal. All creatures empty out at night. Alien landscape must look like this I think. I feel it again as the sky wraps my suburban apartment in an indigo that makes you remember the things you had forgotten you had lost. My skin picks up signals that my mind garbles. It is beautiful this new city. It is also impossible. This planet with supermarkets stacked sky high and hunger going unannounced is where I belong according to my papers that announce my status: nonresident alien

Vimla Sriram is a Seattle-based writer shaped by Delhi. This means banyans and parrots will try to sneak into her essays especially if she tries to steer clear of them. She loves the Pacific Northwest for its gigantic Douglas Firs, leaning Madronas, and oat lattes. When not craning her neck for elusive woodpeckers or nuthatches, she can be found reading, writing, and making cauldrons of chai for her family and friends. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in 100 Word Story, Wanderlust, Stonecrop Journal, Little Patuxent Review, River Teeth Journal, Cagibi, Tahoma Review, and Gulf Stream Magazine.


Vimla Sriram

It’s Ungodly Cold in Kahramanmaraş

When I google Turkey earthquake photos, I find a man sitting amidst broken concrete slabs, holding the hand of his daughter, her body sandwiched between mattress and pancaked upper floors. Her hand is smooth and white, spared from the broken and slid. Her palm is open— an invitation. The pink sheet too spills off the bed, the way she’d slide off each morning, sleepy-eyed, following smells into the kitchen, her chair across from his. His other hand is in his pocket. Men dig around him with bare hands. His stare barely touches upon their movements, the sunsets and sunrises that will come and go.

I zoom into his vacant stare. And I am sixteen, with too many theater friends piled in my car. We sit at a red light in awe of the pink and orange sunset silhouetting the mall. In the next lane, a woman stares ahead, unsmiling, haggard. We bang on our windows and yell until she hears our muted cries through glass and turns, confused, awakened. We wildly point and shout Look. At. The. Sunset! until she understands. And when she sees it, she smiles. We pulse with victory, changing the world one soul-less adult at a time! All the empties that walk the earth— those who’ve forgotten to notice.

Caroline N. Simpson

Caroline N. Simpson’s chapbook, Choose Your Own Adventures and Other Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. In 2020, Delaware Division of Arts awarded Caroline an Established Artist Fellowship in Poetry, and she has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize in both poetry and nonfiction. carolinensimpson.com

We Are the Enablers

Although I’m not particularly fond of violence, I decided to watch the TV miniseries “World without End.” It’s a Medieval butchery, maybe along the lines of “Game of Thrones,” which I haven’t seen.

Anyway, I watched the first hour of this curious pastiche of 21st century sensitivities dressed up in 14th century primitivism. In that hour, I saw a man get his forearm chopped off with a meat cleaver; a man get both legs broken with an enormous mallet; a pilloried man getting dung thrown at his head, apparently all day; and two hangings, one of which included about 15 victims, all of whom were simultaneously thrown off a bridge, necks ennoosed. There were also three graphic depictions of coitus, only one of which was consensual.

I stopped watching just before the first burning of a witch. My god, who are we to make such inhumanity profitable?

Richard LeBlond

Richard LeBlond is the author of Homesick for Nowhere, a collection of essays that won an EastOver Press Nonfiction Prize in 2022 and was a finalist for general nonfiction in the Spring 2023 San Francisco Book Festival. His essays and photographs have appeared in many U.S. and international journals, including Montreal Review, Weber – The Contemporary West, Concis, Lowestoft Chronicle, Trampset, and Still Point Arts Quarterly. His work has been nominated for “Best American Travel Writing” and “Best of the Net.”

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