Miranda slams the bathroom door so hard that the full length mirror falls onto the floor. Shatters. A million shards of glass. Rage, pain, hate. The problem was that you told her to eat. You wanted her to eat and she didn’t want to eat and you made that outrageous request. That demand.
             “I hate everyone in this family!” she screams, and you want to slap her but you can’t because she has locked the bathroom door. Now the hallway is a mess and the dog is sniffing around with interest. You throw a shoe at the dog. You watch the dog yelp in pain and skulk away, tail tucked between her legs. Miranda will never come out of the bathroom, and if she does the soles of her narrow feet will be sliced to ribbons.
             Miranda’s younger sister cowers in the bedroom. You cannot see her, but through the walls you can feel her fear. She is probably hunched under her desk, blond hair falling over her eyes, and if spoken to she will not respond, she’s stay mute for hours, days even. Some of us lash out in fear, others fold in upon themselves. Miranda is one who lashes out.
             While you sit helpless in the kitchen, Miranda rages on inside the bathroom. “No one in this family understands me, no one even cares! I hate you, Mommy!” You should get up, get the broom, get the dustpan, but you cannot move. Your ass is cemented to that chair. Maybe if you are quiet this whole fucked-up situation will evaporate, maybe you could take the keys and slip out the back door and maybe you yourself could evaporate. But while you are thinking this shameful thought, the younger one slips noiselessly from her room and appears before you. She points at the broken glass. “Mommy,” she whispers, and her voice is weighted with anxiety. “Mommy.”

Dylan Brie Ducey's work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Pinch, whiskeypaper, Pear Noir!, decomP, The 3288 Review, Foliate Oak, and elsewhere. She lives in California.


She lumbered down the hillside, clutching her enormous belly, then veered off the path and into the woods, stepping over tangled tree roots, half sliding in the mud as she descended to the river. Her water had broken. It was time. The river was swollen with spring rain, so loud she could barely hear the birds twittering in the trees, the raucous cries of a flock of crows that swooped through the sky. When she reached the riverbank, she tugged off her shoes and socks and sodden underwear. She was covered with goose bumps. Shivering from the cold, she lay on her back and spread her legs wide, feet planted in the soft silt of the riverbed. Two crows were fighting on the opposite bank. They pecked aggressively at something on the ground between them. The pain was unbearable. She imagined crows in her womb tearing at her, preparing to fill the skies, a dark cloud. The crows were an omen, she was sure of it. She was about to give birth to a lie.

Jacqueline Doyle's flash has appeared in Quarter After Eight, Sweet: A Literary Confection, [PANK], Monkeybicycle, Vestal Review, The Rumpus, Café Irreal, Literary Orphans, and Corium. She has a flash sequence in the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine, 2016). Her work has earned two Pushcart nominations, a Best of the Net nomination, and Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays 2013 and Best American Essays 2015. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


It was the way he’d said, “Of course, Sweetie”—heavy on “course,” long on “ie”—that made her wonder. The way, too, that he pressed her hand between both of his as he said it, the way he locked eyes with her and smiled.
             A faint scar, the length of an eyelash, curled up from the right corner of his upper lip, a capital C for… Cute? Clever? Charismatic? 
             She smiled back, then pulled her hand free, wiped the sweat on her jeans, and left for work.
             When had he ever taken her hand like that, like somebody’s mother, like an old aunt? And that intense look into her eyes—it was like he’d studied a how-to on appearing to speak with sincerity.
             Calculated? Confident?
             She would have been fine if he’d said no, I don’t love you. Maybe she would have preferred it.
             All day she wondered. She heard, Of COURSE, Sweeeeteeee, over and over, even as she logged receipts, managed to sell a few fish tanks. You should see that in three to five business days. Enjoy.
             Canny? Cunning? Cavalier?
             Sweeeeteeee. Crafted? Coded?
             No surprise when she got back and he wasn’t there. And it wasn’t just him, missing, but the him-infrastructure. His toothbrush, his slippers, his tea mug. Beer.
             That’s what you get for asking. Well, no. That’s what you get for living with somebody you have to ask.
             Or. Wait.
             Maybe she had imagined the whole thing, and all this time... Conjured??
             Crazy Confused Confounded. ColdClammyCrushedCrateredCapsized.
             Yeah, of course the “C” was meant for her all along.
             Closed Castle. Crypt.

Claire Guyton is a Maine writer, editor, and writing coach, whose work has appeared in bosque (the magazine), Crazyhorse, Hunger Mountain, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Mid-American Review, River Styx, Sliver of Stone Magazine, Summer Stories (Shanti Arts Publishing, 2013), and elsewhere. She is a former Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellow, and earned her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


I burn incense to ash and watch rosemary ember drop into a bowl the color of the house I grew up in. I move my fingers over the bowl’s cornflower glass, thumbing the small bumps in its surface where air has been trapped. I inhale the thick pockets of smoke and feel my body become empty and whole at the same time.


The middle branch of the Escanaba River was the back yard of my blue home. The deck that reached the edge of the river was littered with crooked nails and rocks split down the middle. I remember its wood always wet with rain or rot. The river’s water ran low enough to see every rock and twig over which it passed. I would dangle my feet off the end no matter the season. My toes ebbed through its warmth in June and skimmed the frozen water in December, but there have been summers when my feet couldn’t reach the surface.

The water was high and cold in April during the first spring that I could walk. The day I learned, my mother took eight pictures of me moving toward her in our backyard on her 35mm Pentax, each one blurry. After taking the photographs, she shifted to shield her eyes from the sun, her bare arms reaching above her brow, casting a shadow on her face. With her back to the river, she moved her knuckles down to the camera and twisted its lens closed. She opened its back and removed the used cylinder, not noticing that I was still walking.

I fell in head first while her back was turned. She heard the splash and continued to replace the film with a new roll, moving the leader into the slit on the right spindle, winding the lever toward and then away from her until the film was wrapped firmly in place. She pressed the back of the camera shut and pushed down the metal disc on its top left side to lock the film in place. She took a test shot of her shoes and then came to save me.


I notice a crack in the side of the bowl and I run my finger against it, wondering where it came from. Maybe it split when I dropped it on the bathroom floor. Maybe it was there to begin with. I think about flaws: cracks in casserole dishes, cracks in windshields, cracks in fingers.

Sometimes I imagine rivers, ones that flow through towns I’ve never been to, ones with red sand and grass carp and water higher than the Escanaba in spring. I walk along many other banks, but my fingers always slip back to blue houses and mothers with their backs turned. Maybe half of my words are synonyms for suffering.

Macie Mitchell lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where she studies literature and writing at Northern Michigan University.


We are so pleased to announce our nominations for two awards: Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. We owe everything to all of our wonderful contributors, and it was a challenge to select just a handful, but we felt these pieces really highlighted our focus and drive here at CHEAP POP.  (Seriously: we are lucky to publish consistently excellent, moving stuff.)

And here they are:

Best of the Net

Pushcart Prize

Help us in wishing these nominations good luck, and if you haven't already, now's the time to check these magnificent works out. 

(For a full list of of our award nominations, check our our Awards Page.)


I was born with a stethoscope around my neck. I grabbed the scalpel from the scrub nurse in order to cut my own umbilical cord. They slapped me with malpractice insurance to make me cry. Then I was swathed in prescription pads and rubber gloves. My mother gave me an otoscope to suck on. My father made a teddy bear out of tongue depressors. I kept an x-ray of myself as an imaginary friend and juggled specimen cups when I got lonely at night. During the three days I spent at the hospital, I attended seminars on brain surgery, forensic psychology and the advantages of taking payments on an installment plan. I spoke my first words on the morning that I came home. As my parents lowered both me and my pager into a crib, I gurgled how I didn’t think I was cut out for medical school and that I was better suited to be a nurse practitioner instead. I watched my parents pick up one sterile instrument after the next from my bassinette and throw each one onto the floor. Once my mother and father had succeeded in smashing every piece of equipment, from the articulator to the tubing clamps, they both wet themselves, bawling without respite until, finally, they cried themselves to sleep.

Craig Fishbane is the author of On the Proper Role of Desire (Big Table Publishing). His work has also appeared in the New York Quarterly, Bartleby Snopes, Gravel, Drunken Boat and The Nervous Breakdown. He can be contacted at his website:  https://craigfishbane.wordpress.com/


It was an exhaustive search—seriously, thank you all for your interest in the position!—but we're excited to introduce our new Assistant Editor, Letisia Cruz!

Letisia brings with her a wealth of experience in publishing, she's a talented writer, and we couldn't be more pleased to welcome her to the CHEAP POP family.

Get to know about her below! Yay!

Letisia Cruz is a Cuban-American writer and artist. Her writing and artwork have appeared in Ninth Letter, The Acentos Review, Gulf Stream, Moko Caribbean Arts and Letters, Ink Brick and the Writing Disorder, and her chapbook Chonga Nation was selected as a finalist in the 2016 Gazing Grain Press Poetry Chapbook Contest. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently lives in Miami, Florida. She serves as Resident Artist and Co-editor at Petite Hound Press and Online Poetry Re-Features Editor at The Literary Review. Find her online at www.lesinfin.com.


I can still feel its heat, the smell of burnt hair after you placed your arm in its opening. How I called your name into its mouth, as if you were still able to hear me. As if the wormhole had a belly. As if it was a great sperm whale and you an old man, a cat, a goldfish, a puppet. 

The sour smell of ozone forever lingers on my mustache, even when I shave it off and it grows back anew. 

Its mouth—the dark darker than dark. How you stretched thin, and were gone. 

We were barely twenty then. Back when we watched Darren Aronofsky’s Pi in your dorm room. Back when we cuddled together on your twin bed while your roommate was home on weekends. 

You said you were going to tell your parents about us. Soon, you said. Soon, and then you left. 

If I could condense space-time. If I could pull it like a string. If I could just get it to bend. 

It’s strange how hope still clings to truth like some parasitic wish. Like I could just stumble upon another opening, another access, somewhere in the park by the water tower, or in the changing room at some store. I still look everywhere. 

And what if I was to find one? What if I tripped over myself and stretched like taffy into the void? Would you recognize me right away? Would you believe how long it’s been? Would you understand how the years have passed? How they’ve passed with the heaviness of a wet blanket? 

But what if I really was to find one? What if it was just there again? After I’ve sketched equations on forests of notebooks, consulted hundreds of scientists, maniacs, broken fingernails scratching at graph paper, killing myself just to find patterns in the ripples of skipped stones—what if it was just suddenly there again? 

All these years. All these years. 

And for you, my dear boy, you’re probably still in a state of shock, just mere seconds after it happened. How time is different where you are. How if I saw you today, your face would still be smooth from your morning shave. 

I ask myself: Would you be distorted from the weight inside? I ask myself: Would you still be you? 

If only I could get back to the beginning. If only I could rediscover you on some miscreant thread of string theory. You in your green t-shirt and the smell of Barbasol on your skin. Just like you were, and simultaneously, precisely, just like you are.

Adam Gianforcaro is the author of the poetry collection Morning Time in the Household, Looking Out and children’s picture book Uma the Umbrella. His work can be found in Hippocampus Magazine, Kentucky Review, The Los Angeles Review, Sundog Lit, Potluck and others.