Once, I had one hundred imaginary dogs and my nursery school classmates decided to have imaginary dogs too. Siddhartha decided to have imaginary elephants instead with names filled with letters strung together like the pretty glass beads my teacher wore around her neck. I liked Siddhartha because he always shared his crayons.
Once, Justin, who lived in my grandmother’s building and showed me how boys could pee standing up, told me he was eating my imaginary dogs. I watched him bring his grimy fingers up to his mouth and ran away angrily. Loneliness tainted the rest of my day, and I kept turning my head to look mournfully behind me as I walked, now void of one hundred imaginary puppies that always frolicked in my wake.
The next day, he came up to me again. “Yum, yum, yum,” he said, gnashing his pearl-white teeth together around the necks of my dogs. “Your dogs are delicious.”
“Nuh uh,” I retorted, my hands planted firmly on my hips. “I left my dogs at home today. You’re eating imaginary worms.” Justin, who wore batman underwear and always scored in kickball, stared at me with his mouth open as I walked away triumphantly knowing that his stomach was now filled with imaginary worms.
Justin asked me to marry him at recess the next day. But unfortunately for Justin, I had already asked Siddhartha, who had very politely, said yes.
by Amelia Jane Nierenberg
Amelia Jane Nierenberg is a Junior at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York. She is a Fiction Reader for the Adroit Journal, the Fiction Editor and co-founder of the Fieldston Literary magazine, The Icebox, and spends much of her free time painting and writing. Her work either appears, or is forthcoming in Amazing Kids! Magazine, Tap Magazine Issue 25: Bare, Prick of the Spindle, the Blue Pencil Online, the Doctor T. J. Eckelburg Review, the Emerge Literary Journal, the Eunoia Review, the Postscript Journal, the Poydras Review, the Rusty Nail, the Black Fox Literary Magazine, Torrid Literature Polyphony HS and the Blue Lake Review. She received an Honorable Mention for creative nonfiction in the Young Authors Competition in addition to five regional Honorable Mentions, eight Regional Silver Keys and three Regional Gold Keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and a National Gold Key for Flash Fiction.
He passes the old place daily,
The abandoned mill where his grandfather
Worked, made his livelihood
And sense of his life, making wood
Products, until the job went elsewhere.
He thinks about the old man now,
Several times a day sometimes.
His own father checked out early,
Disappeared, followed a dream
That didn’t include family.
His grandfather took him in,
Raised him best he could.
Good years, no matter what,
No one could take that away.
Now, his grandfather dead,
He’s on his own at thirty-eight,
On the road five days a week,
Selling party favors, cheap trinkets
Made in Thailand and China.
Party hats and blowers, confetti,
Candles that won’t blow out,
Napkins and plates with clown motifs.
Crap, every last bit of it,
All made by little kids worked numb,
Who never wear party hats.
He passes the old mill now.
He’s popping pills to stay awake,
Other pills to stay sane and numb.
He rolls down the window to smell
The field, the creek, the old mill,
He wants to scream but he’s too tired.
He’s already late for his appointments.
Venders depend on him, his party favors.
Many celebrations await.
by Christopher Woods
Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. His published works include a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. He conducts creative writing workshops in Houston at The Women’s Institute. His photographs have appeared in many journals, with photo essays published in GLASGOW REVIEW, PUBLIC REPUBLIC, DEEP SOUTH and NARRATIVE MAGAZINE, among others. He has completed a darkly comedic novel, HEARTS IN THE DARK, about a sociopathic radio talk-show host. His photography can be seen in his online gallery – http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/
The Western Hemisphere is asleep
with one great eye cocked open
fastened to the burning stars that used
to guide women and men to their future
and at first glance one may mistake
it for dead and not be far wrong
the body collapsed in front of a barren
library huddled under incalculable layers
of coarse blankets and buffalo hides, with
one prehistoric hand trust bravely forth
clutching an ash stick that looks more
suited for fertility rituals than walking
a cigar burns incongruously out the
side of the fertile mouth with lips
that bloom like wild mustard through concrete
and just to the north the obscene mustache
cured by the smoke and in danger of
catching fire itself or disappearing
and the beard, a dangerous whirl of knotted
wool and shadows is littered with objects
gathered off the street, flecks of leaves
and black earth, dried and brittle remains
of lottery tickets, chards of shell and bone
pages torn ruefully from literary magazines
some still smoldering as if recently issued
from a smoke stack, and if you look deeper
an underground canopy teeming with dark
insectile faces, a cosmos of imaginary life
and death, ten thousand years of tearful
wondering, bald eagle feathers, discarded
rattlesnake skins petrified by the vacuous
terror and loneliness in the one good eye.
by Stephen Moore
Steve Moore formally studied theoretical physics and abstract mathematics but now has no time for such nonsense. Since college, he has wandered restlessly about North America and Europe, and has lived in such disreputable places as Liverpool, England; Carrboro, North Carolina and most recently Carrollton, Georgia where he currently resides with his family. He is a now full-time student of urban planning and father of two precocious kids. His free time is spent working on his poetry, short fiction and long unfinished novel. His poem, ‘Love in the Time of Vinyl Siding’ was recently published in the 2013 edition of Eclectic, the Arts and Literary Magazine of the University of West Georgia. His short story, ‘Incident at Oscuro’, appeared in The Fabulist’s 2010 anthology, and his poem, ‘The Bride’, was one of the winning entries in the 2009 Cardiff Academy International Poetry Contest.