Featured Author, Mark Crimmins


There’s a run on peaches. Soon the shelves in Produce are empty. I go down to the basement to get more. When I step out of the lift into the warehouse, I see my boss.

Disco Dez.

There he is in his bellbottoms, bouncing what looks like a tennis ball on the ground. Except it doesn’t bounce as high as it should. Then I see him put the ball in a tray of peaches. He takes another peach from the tray and tries to bounce it off the concrete back into his hand.

I ask him what he’s doing.

“Wot does it look like ahm doin? Grab some a these peaches and chuck em at the floor,” he says. “If they’re bruised or damaged, we can send em back to the supplier.” He hurls one to the ground. Picks it up. Smashes it down again. Inspects it. Puts it back in the tray. “Damaged goods,” he says, lighting a smoke. He takes out a third peach and dashes it against the concrete. “Come on,” he says. “Grab a few and bash em like this. Otherwise, we’ll ave to take em upstairs and fart around arranging em on the shelves.”

I tell him it’s no problem to take them up to Produce.

He’s back at me right quick.

“Oh, fuck off! Ah can’t be bothered doin that! Ahm knackered! Ah were at Pips Disco last night. Met a real scorcher. Took er ome too. At it all night, we was! Ah dunna feel like faffin around merchandising fruit. Ah just wanna stay down ere wiv me cigs.”

He replaces the third damaged peach and mashes a fourth against the tray’s wooden edge with his right hand while he puffs on his smoke with his left.

“There we go! Bita variety—This one got damaged in transit!” He takes a fifth and hurls it to the floor. “Bruising’s the best, though.”

I just stand there and watch him.

He looks at me.

“Wotz fuckin wrong wiv thee? Bruise some a these bloody peaches, lod! Come on, mon! Is somet up wiv yer earz? Ooze the fuckin boss around ere?”

I tell him I won’t do it.

He takes a deep drag on his smoke and looks at me incredulously.

“Did ah bloody ear you right? Yer not telling me yerd rather shove the fuckin trays onto a dolly, lug em up the soddin lift, and stick em on the bleeding shelves!? Wotz yer fuckin probo?”

I tell him I won’t damage the peaches.

“Right then!” he says.

He grabs a tray of undamaged peaches with both hands and tosses it at me. I catch it and turn towards the lift.

He shouts after me as I walk off.

“Yer ken wotz wrong wiv thee? Know wot yer fuckin probo iz? Yer a fuckin workerolick, mate! Addicted to bloody work—that’s wot you are! Not me!”

He jabs a thumb into his chest.

“Ahv got a bituva fuckin life to live!”


Mark Crimmins grew up in Manchester, England, dropping out of high school to work in the textile industry. He emigrated to the United States as a skilled labourer in 1978. In the States and Canada, he received a literature education, with a BA in 1985, an MA in 1993, and a PhD from the University of Toronto in 1999, specializing in Contemporary American Fiction. His stories have been published in Chicago Quarterly Review, Apalachee Review, Columbia Journal, Tampa Review, Fiction Southeast, Confrontation, Permafrost, Atticus Review, Kyoto Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, and Flash Frontier. One of his flash fictions was nominated for a Pushcart Fiction Prize by Kansas magazine Inscape.


Mark Crimmins


It was spring, no I mean dusk, and the killdeer began stepping up out

of intricate doors in the field.


They sported unseen fires beneath their downy vests.


Their presence had been warming the soil before the corn crop, except

for their dead sisters, brothers who had joined the soil.



No, that was in my dream, before the part where the covers had parted

and a voice I didn’t recognize asked a question.


It felt like an ancient alphabet trying to spell some message.


It left a churning in my belly for the rest of that day, and again the day




And the killdeer, that first night, had yet to break their wings.


They had no fear of owls, nor of hawks in the morning, after



And the toe prints they left in the muddy swale read as the myth of



Steve Fay began life twelve miles from the Mississippi River in western Illinois. Since the mid-1970s, many journals have published his poetry, which lately appears (or is forthcoming) in: Closed Eye Open, Comstock Review, Decadent Review, Jabberwock Review, Menacing Hedge, Santa Clara Review, Tar River Poetry, The Dewdrop, TriQuarterly, and Watershed Review. His collection, what nature: Poems (Northwestern UP, 1998), was cited by the editors and board of The Orion Society as one of their 10 favorite nature/culture-related books of the 12-month period in which it appeared. He lives among wooded ravines and a donkey pasture in Fulton County, Illinois.


Steve Fay

What to Wear When Having a Drink with Your Ex

It has been forty years.

he in New York me in San Francisco.

erasing him with ease for forty years. yet he is coming

and wants to meet for a drink. really?

does he regret   the divorce and realize he fucked

up by sleeping with Sally and Sara and Sue?

spending weekends shuffling numbers in his fancy office

on the thirty-sixth floor. but honey

my heartstrings have moved on. happily


Married to a marvelous man. and what

would I wear? certainly not my usual jeans or sweats

that make me look dowdy. which I definitely am. but

certainly not a tight sweater over sagging boobs.

certainly not scads of makeup. which I would have to buy.

I don’t want to fire up his remorse. or do I?

vengeance sweeter than Christmas pie. especially pecan.

rolling the taste on my tongue like a butterscotch disc.

what about the bills for two-hundred dollar “massages”?


Yet we did have some good times, didn’t we? I finger

my rosary of memories. breathless in Florence

standing before David. Coins tossed

in Trevi Fountain. but honey do I really want

to reminisce? do I really want to spend strung-out nights

worrying about what to wear? and fretting

that faint embers might gleam again? flaring

with a word, a look, or even a friendly kiss.

maybe best to say I am busy.

for the next forty years.


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.


Claire Scott

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud