“Self-Preservation” By Kevin Brown

Cars usually worked well. Joey or Alan would decide which way to go, and I would run away, try to angle a path to my house, hoping I would outrun them at least to my yard, believing I would be safe there. Getting beaten up felt like a hobby I had taken on, not of …

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“Too swift,” By Melissa Atkinson Mercer

Too swift, she says, too insatiable. Don’t you know these things take planning? Father was salt-skinned and whiskey; built coffins in the mustard plants, in the hard mud. Chopped boards from the porch. From my bed-wall, my exorbitant spine. Back to river, bones to fish: perfect thief, I started small: sticks of butter from the …

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“Holy Ghost Sunday” By Travis Turner

Sweat trickled down his brow, stopping hesitantly in his thick sideburns before rolling down underneath his plain white undershirt. “One more time?” the little boy said earnestly. One. More. Time. The words stuck with him like glue, transporting him back to the sultry afternoon in a backwoods church in southwest Alabama. St. Stephens Pentecostal church …

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“Candles for Orlando” By Tonie Bear

Candles for Orlando, June 15, 2016 Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. What happens in the span of a year is a blur of motion: feelings smeared across a moving train, purple sorrow, red hurt, green anger, and yellow fear. It’s a whirlwind of emotion, pain twisting around regret and spiraling into depression. But …

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“Clarity” By Ian Williams

After tragedy— when cherished bodies break— we see things clearly. I’m driving to the hospital with lilies for my mother. Ian C. Williams is an MFA student at Oklahoma State University. He has received the Florence Kahn Memorial Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies for his chapbook, House of Bones, and his …

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“But I didn’t do anything!” By Michael Heiss

“What are you in for?” The man above me said. The bed creaked as he rolled over to the edge and peered his bald, pale-white head down at me. His skin was unkempt. His five o’clock shadow glowed in the low light. It made my skin itch. “A domestic disturbance. It was nothing really.” I …

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“Wasted? So is Your Life” By Jacqueline Kirkpatrick

The first time I did cocaine was off Billy Joel’s face. My boyfriend, Shawn, lined a row over Billy’s mouth on the cover of Piano Man. I remember leaning down with the dollar bill in my fingers, locking eyes with Billy, wondering why his eyes were sad, and wondering if I was going to do …

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