Two in the morning we parked behind the Trader Joe’s and got poised to suss out some heavy shit.  Lenny’s left hand was turning purple as he held it taut over the top of the Ball jar and I killed the lights and ignition and unbuckled my seat belt and sat back and watched him.  So did Michelle whose head poked over the center console.  “It’s almost got like a Guinness read,” she said of the jar and its contents, the electric wisps of light cascading upwards across a depthless black.  I asked Lenny how the hell his hand felt but he did not respond.  He didn’t move either, just held the jar out at arm’s length unblinkingly.  I watched him for a while to be sure of this and no, he did not blink, not once.  With the dashboard and stereo lights out, whatever it was he held in there with his naked palm was casting pale ripply flashes across his face and the rest of my grandma’s van’s interior.  “What the fuck is called for here?” Michelle asked, running a finger along the rim of my ear.  I could not say.  Her breath smelled like vanilla.  Part of me recognized how convenient a lid would be in this situation but for reasons I could not articulate.  I could not think where we might have misplaced it or whether there’d even been one to begin with.  By now Lenny’s hand had turned black and begun to sprout long translucent hairs the size and shape of icicles and I wheeled around to make some meaningful eye contact with Michelle.  Her mascara was running in twin trails down her cheeks and dripping from her jawline.  She was crying, which was okay, because she was always crying.  This constant crying of hers was her most redeeming quality and the reason we were all so into her.   She reminded us we could always feel worse.   I watched her tell her tongue-ring compulsively across the insides of her teeth and finally said fuck it and elbowed Lenny real hard in the side of the head.  The jar tumbled from his grasp and its contents went surging out all over the place like an escaped birthday balloon full of déjà vu and slobber.  An instant before Michelle started laughing and pulling at my hair, I remembered where it was I’d left the lid.        

Dan Tremaglio teaches creative writing and literature at Bellevue College where he is assistant editor for Belletrist Magazine.  Recent work is in Cease Cows, Jellyfish Review, Tammy, and Skewed Lit.


Afterwards, we stared at each other for far too long. No one knew what to say. We left the hospital and, later, you and I curled into bed as if we thought we could escape in sleep. You reached out to pull me closer and I moved my body further away. But neither of us knew what the other was doing. If I had known you were reaching, if you had known I thought I was giving you space.

Here is a fact I told you on our very first date, because this was the sort of knowledge I had: the Davenport Brothers perfected the art of the spirit cabinet, of speaking with the dead on stage. I wanted to apologize for what it was that I thought of as small talk. But you asked me to explain, to tell you more.

We both sleep as if we are new at it. I sigh and shift and try to keep my eyes pressed closed. You flip onto one side and then the other, back and forth so routinely that it is almost enough to make me sleep.

After the first time we had sex, after the first time I learned the entire shape of your body, the jut of your hip bones and the birthmark at the small of your back, I told you a fact that I always found sad: Howard Thurston was known, in his time,  as the greatest magician of all, but now he’s misremembered. I said, see, I even have to say his whole name because, otherwise, you wouldn’t know he was. You laughed and said, I still don’t know who he is. I said, he was a master of levitation, of making woman float.

I wonder if we fall into sleep at the exact same time, if we dream the same dream. In mine, I am lying on a table and someone is preparing to saw me in half. He runs a finger across my abdomen and says, this won’t hurt anymore. And I sit up in bed, gasping at the same that you do. You reached across the cool spot between us in the bed and clasped your fingers with mine.

Later in our relationship, when I knew you were the person I never wanted to be without, I tell you this fact which I had been safeguarding, waiting to give you when you least expected it: Houdini felt immense guilt for leading the grieving to believe that the dead could talk from the beyond. You said, but wasn’t his whole thing illusion? And I said: his thing was escape. He was always escaping. Which is magic in its own way. And you said, so is staying in one place if you know how to do it.

Chloe N. Clark's work appears in Drunken Boat, Flash Fiction Online, Hobart, and more. She tweets about baking, basketball, and sci-fi, at @PintsNCupcakes.


What was it building? He thought, lifting the shovel off the now dead squirrel. The nest by the toolshed was bowled, like a bird's, but had acorns, bits of glass, routed string, and pebbles placed on each cardinal direction. He knew it was the squirrel because, over the last few days while scrubbing the dishes of his lonely meals, he saw it bound back and forth through the window over his sink. Focused, like a mad scientist.
             He didn't know why he brought the shovel and was surprised he killed the bastard with one swift clunk. What could he do? He laughed.
Looking closer at the nest it became clear the squirrel possessed some sense of mathematics, proportion, architecture. This was no mere hobby-nest. Pulling apart the walls he found foil. Underneath the dirt floor, a metal plate. He looked up. In the tree branch directly above the nest, bottlecaps arranged like a flower, a dish.
He stepped back, fully creeped out.
             He approached again. The dead squirrel's tongue poked through its smashed face. Spooked, he pieced the nest back together, shoveled the creature, and went to his trashcan. What was it doing, he kept asking himself. Was the thing finished or was there more? Would the nest, had there been no human impediment, taken over the backyard, the house, and the whole neighborhood? Was it a squirrel star-gate? Was the squirrel trying to get back to his own timeline?
             I don't know. I want to tell him to forget about it and go to sleep. I'd like to think this squirrel made this structure as a warning, out of some hurried compulsion, that if it could just find the golden wire, the nest would blaze open and give it the ability to speak, so it could tell the man, someone wants to kill you and he's living your toolshed.
But what do I know—I'm just the fucking cat. 

Chance Dibben is a writer, photographer, and performer living in Lawrence, Kansas. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Split Lip, Blue Earth Review, Unbroken, Squawkback, as well as others.


Whose father pushed her until she rose up en pointe, the first living fairy, to pirouette atop toes bloodied like bordelaise the crazed fans later tasted when they pooled their rubles to buy la sylphide’s last worn slippers and cooked them into a paste that slid down their hungry throats.

Siobhan Welch lives in Austin, Texas. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Split Lip, Devil’s Lake, Hobart, Jellyfish Review and elsewhere.


The mayflies hatch every summer from the banks of the Susquehanna and find their way through the air ducts and window screens of every home in the towns that bracket the river like frown lines. As much as they love the warm glow of porch lamps and ceiling fans, those lesser lights can’t compete with the blazing run of art deco lamps that span the Veterans Memorial Bridge—the fourth bridge to cross the Susquehanna between Columbia and Wrightsville. The only bridge to get shut down by a blizzard of mayflies swarming up from the river, little meal worms with lace-work wings that mate and lay eggs and die in the yolky light of those nostalgic lamps. Bodies falling inches deep on the roadway, powdery soft like too-cold snow. Tiny corpses that caused three motorcycles to skid out and forced the Wrightsville Fire Department to guard the entrance to the bridge, like Major Haller and Colonel Frick’s men did over 150 years ago as Rebel forces advanced after the capture of York. Fifteen thousand Yanks no match for 1,800 victorious Rebs drunk on victory and heavy artillery, the Union troops retreated across the bridge to Columbia, lighting fires as they went, until the whole thing was nothing but a charred outline, a pencil sketch of a bridge. Even though the Wrightsville Fire Department cadets stood at the mouth of that bridge like their great-great-great grandfathers did, the truth is, it was only closed for an hour until PennDOT could get there with a street sweeper and clear away the whole damn mess.

Meghan Phillips is the fiction editor for Third Point Press and an associate editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. You can find her in real life in libraries around Lancaster, PA, and on Twitter @mcarphil.


When bone emerges, effortless, from the pool of soy sauce and vinegar, it’s ready.  Your mother covers white rice with dark meat--drumsticks, wing, shredded thigh.  She flosses her teeth with a bay leaf.  Flies circle the cast iron.  Summer caramelises on the lips of strangers. 

Labor Day threatens rain, and the amusement park goers know it. 

paper birch
paint chips from
carousel horses

Park security circles the extended family of skin. Your dad and a few retired G.I.’s chain-smoke Camel Wides and Kent Ultras to keep the insects at bay. Just out of earshot, cornfed boys in rented blue polos make ching-chong and dinggy-dinngy-dinngy-tik-tok-fu noises. Pull their eyes into narrow horizons. Their sweat and laughter attract wasps of all kinds. 

flowering dogwood
empty pizza boxes
bleach in the sun

August is a dying echo of a wooden roller coaster. In gloaming, the Phoenix rises out of a Central Pennsylvania wilderness. One by one, neon stars begins to expand and bring sky that much closer to the sleepy town of Elysburg. Tagalog tongued picnics clatter under a tin roof pavilion. There are a few stray mosquitoes among the fireflies.  Knoebels security reminds the handful of families that the park closes at 10 pm. It’s 7:30. 

sugar maple
the tilt-a-whirl operator
has a nosebleed

Take a white square of fabric and fold it thirteen times and you’ll make a crane. Fold it into a trapezoid and you have a keystone. Roll to a point, and you have a hood. Do nothing to a white sheet and you have a flag. 

white pines face
the lumberyard

Jim Warner's poetry has appeared in various journals including The North American Review, RHINO Poetry, New South, and is the author of two collections (PaperKite Press). His third collection actual miles will be released in late 2017 by Sundress Publications. Jim is the host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit and is a faculty member of Arcadia University's MFA program.


Story about the story I can’t remember the name of and don’t know if it actually exists about the girl whose parents get divorced and she spends weekends at the dad’s new apartment and in the apartment complex there is another girl around her age who also lives with a single parent and they become friends and spend Friday nights relaxing and washing their hair in the sink then wrapping it up in a towel in that special way that girls do and drawing a bubble bath in the bathtub and then getting in the tub together with the bubbles covering them and remembering reading this and thinking that sounds really relaxing and easy, a quiet respite with a friend who could just be a simulation of yourself that you've created in your mind to combat negative thoughts in the middle of a messy and unfamiliar situation. 

Alexandra Naughton is a nice girl.  She is the founder of Be About It Press and runs a literary performance series in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her first novel, American Mary, was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016.


I'm a big clumsy animal, also known as a human being. Human. Being. Even the words sound awkward and lumpy. A human being is not an ant. An ant is graceful and can run up trees easily. Trees are as high as mountains in the ant world. But it does not need ropes and climbing shoes. Does not need the word 'hero' when it reaches the top of the tree. Does not need anyone to clap and say it is the winner. It just does what it does. And it can run down a tree trunk smoothly too. Ant is a clean smooth name. Ant. A human being is not ant-like. 

When people say 'ants in your pants' is it just because it rhymes? My mother says this sometimes when I don't know what I want to do next and keep trying lots of things; when maybe I keep hopping from one foot to the other and asking questions. Does she mean ants are like that too or does she mean ants are running round and round inside my knickers and biting me so I can't keep still? Once, when I went to the zoo with my grandparents I wanted to take home the anteeter. My grandmother gave her loud laugh that carries everywhere and makes people stop talking; makes them breathe in sharply. She said it was the ugliest animal on the planet. My grandfather has tears in his eyes when he tells the story to others. How I said I wasn't leaving the zoo without it because it wasn't happy there. It would be happy with me. I did not think it was ugly. Both my grandparents always like to talk about that. 

Later, when I learned how to spell anteater I felt a little bit strange, because of that time when I had eaten an ant at the botanical gardens. And eating ants is what anteaters always do. That's how they got the name. The anteater has a long snout and could stick this inside an ants' nest no problem. Ants would most likely be running round and round the anteater's nose and hundreds of them would be caught on its sucky pointy tongue and eaten alive. 

The botanical gardens is not a zoo but still it does have birds and fish and rabbits. And wildlife. Ants are wildlife. I am glad there is no anteater. I only ate a single ant and I spat out most of it. Also, I’ll never be eating another one, it was just an experiment. The anteater would eat hundreds and hundreds all in one go and they’d all churn round and round and a large part of them would end up as poo in the botanical gardens. Or somewhere. Ants, most likely go to the toilet too but they're so small you can't see anything nasty.

Jay Merill is published or has work forthcoming in 3 AM Magazine, Berfrois, The Bohemyth, Epiphany, Hobart, Per Contra, Prairie Schooner, Toasted Cheese, Thrice Fiction and Trafika Europe. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the Salt Short Story Prize. Further work has appeared recently in Anomalous, Corium, Crack the Spine, Foliate Oak, Ginosko, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Legendary, Literary Orphans, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, tNY, Wigleaf and other great publications. Jay lives in London UK and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing. She is the author of two short story collections published by Salt—God of the Pigeons and Astral Bodies—which were nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award and Edge Hill Prize.