Friends, it's that time! From today (January 15) to February 28, 2017, CHEAP POP submissions are open!

Read about what we're looking for, how to submit, and what not to do, right here:

And really: We've spent a lot of time listing out what we're looking for, and, especially, what not to do, so please give our Submissions Page a good read-through. It won't take long, promise. 

Please note: We will not begin posting (newly acquired) submissions until March 2017. In addition, we will try to get back to folks regarding submissions ASAP, but please know there may be a lag, depending on how many submissions we get.

For now, a quick few things to remember:

- 500 words or less
- Submit via email
- Submit only one piece at a time
- We are not looking for poetry

We're stoked to read your work—happy submitting!


The dentist is attempting to install two crowns on my teeth, but he has to call in reinforcements. Can you just try to keep your tongue out of the way, he asks. A man and a young woman come into the room. The woman is normal-sized, but the man's the size of a bull. He doesn't look like a member of the dental profession. Maybe he's just brought in when someone has a very strong tongue. The woman pries my mouth open with some contraption and the bull-sized man clenches my tongue in his gloved hand. It's like a bucking bronco, he says. Some of his spit lands on my eyelid.
             The snow pile in the middle of the cul-de-sac, once shaped like the Matterhorn, has shrunk and gone sooty. There's a half-eaten sandwich at its base. I kick some snow over it. Supreme the neighbor dog paws it out and eats it.
             I call my mother and tell her about about the new wrinkle on my forehead, deeper than the others. I tell her about the dentist. All these things are happening to my body.  I hear her chewing.
             Why do you care, she says. You were never that pretty.
             My tongue is strong because I have figured out a trick and it's this: If you press your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth and make a half-smile, it makes your neck look younger and firmer. After my dentist appointment, I had driven to King Soopers and sat sobbing in my car. An old guy tapped on the window. He gave me his monogrammed hanky and a lecture on ninety degree parking. 
             Supreme the dog belongs to the man across the street. He’d once had a wife, but she died in her sleep soon after they were married. He said for six weeks all he did was drive around eating Taco Bell with the radio blasting. He rescued Supreme from a puppy mill. She’d had so many litters her nipples were raw and hard as pebbles.
             My mother says I shouldn’t take the new job in the new city. She reminds me how often I get lost. Even with GPS and that takes some doing, she says. Have you forgotten those three months in St. Louis? 
             My tongue is strong because I hold it so much. 
             When I meditate, I listen to Solfeggio tones through my headphones. I have some things to get over and my doctor said it will release my anxiety and open my Third Eye. My doctor isn't a real doctor but she makes me feel better. I lie back and imagine I'm in the dentist chair and they are all telling me how good I am. How I am no trouble at all. Behind my eyelids I see snow and tongues and teeth. I see my own neck, long and smooth as the stem of a daisy.

Kathy Fish teaches flash fiction for the Mile High MFA program at Regis University in Denver. She has published four collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); and Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015). Her story, “A Room with Many Small Beds” was chosen by Stuart Dybek for inclusion in Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). She blogs at


From all of us here at CHEAP POP, happy holidays!

It's been a banner year for us—we've published some incredible work, added to our staff, and although 2016 has been rough for many of us, we're still hopefully optimistic that the power of art and literature can help guide us through these turbulent times.

Regarding submissions: We're still going through some growth spurts at the moment (a good thing!). In order to give us time to knock our collective heads together, and enjoy some much-needed time off, we're aiming for submissions to open at some point during winter 2017. When that happens, when we're ready to open them back up, we'll make announcements on our website here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. So, stay tuned!

Again, thank you all for a fantastic 2016, and happy holidays, wherever you are!

—Rob, Elizabeth, Hannah, Letisia



There's this porcelain owl statue your wife keeps in the kitchen that's always out of place. You buy a security camera. These two things are related.

She accuses you of moving it. You aren't moving it. That would be stupid.

The camera, it stores video to cloud storage so you can see everything you're missing when you're gone. It's a good buy.

You set the camera up and leave it alone until one day you see the owl turned to stare directly into the camera. You're almost excited to see the owl moved. You open the video, watch on fast forward until you see a sparrow fly into your kitchen window. It crashes violently and then dies. Then another sparrow smashes into the same bloody spot the first did. Then what must be a hundred birds smash into your kitchen window. Kill themselves. Lie in a pile of dead talon and feather.

You rush outside. There are no birds. There isn't even a stain on the window. Inside, on the screen, your kitchen is normal. Nothing's different, except the owl is facing the camera. You delete the footage and move the owl back. You don't mention it to your wife.

In the shower, you think about the birds. At work, you think about the birds. Over dinner, your wife says you seem out of it.

Days later the owl is moved again. You pull up the video. You watch as a well-dressed man sits at your kitchen table. Your wife brings him an uncooked steak and three raw potatoes.

In the video, the owl is facing the right direction, but your wife, she's wearing just an apron while a man in a full suit has sex with her on your kitchen table. It's uncomfortable. You look away. When you look back, the man, your wife, the owl, they are all staring at the camera.

Your wife says you're an asshole when you accuse her of having an affair. She says you seem different lately. She says she doesn't understand you.

Days later, when you come home, you find a handwritten note on the table. She's leaving you. It says she wasn't cheating. It says you're scaring her. You haven't seemed like you in weeks. It says she wants you to be happy.

Her important stuffclothes, toothbrush, computerit's gone.

The owl, it's on the window sill. Its ceramic eyes follow wherever you go.

You realize you still have the camera. You can watch her leave you, maybe even write the letter.

Onscreen, in the video, you are alone, naked, covered in motor oil.

The screen you draws a pentagram on your kitchen table. The letter appears. Screen you lights it on fire. Screen you lights everything on fire. Screen you is covered in oil and burning, melting. Screen you turns, faces the camera, and repeats the name of a cat that ran away from home when you were nine until youthe real youdeletes the footage.

Jeremy Bronaugh is the author of When You Bleed to Death and the co-founder of Hypertrophic Literary. He is able to regularly lift and carry items weighing up to 20 pounds as well as occasionally lifting and carrying items weighing up to 40 pounds. He is able to stand for prolonged periods of time and has reliable transportation. Contact him at


Night calls the animals to the streets. I’m on the Triumph shifting gears amid my own shiftlessness. At the corner of Mohawk and Reservoir a scrawny coyote sifts through the contents of a trashcan. In the neighborhood newsletter editorials, the coyotes are always portrayed as nuisances. In folklore, coyotes are often depicted as trickster figures—whenever one shows up, watch out: something interesting is about to happen. Sideways is usually the way it goes from there, but that’s better than a straight line. Look at the way cops drive. I’m stopped at a traffic light, watching the coyote lap up leftover beer in the recycling bin. I admire a coyote that drinks. I give my horn a quick tap of approval. The coyote looks at me with its eyes aglow. I look at the coyote. And for a split second we understand all there is to understand; we understand each other. Nothing lasts. The light changes. 

Ryan Ridge is the author of four books, including American Homes (University of Michigan Press, 2014), which was The Michigan Library Publishing Club’s inaugural book club pick. Past work can be found in Fanzine, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, Passages North, The Potomac Review, The Santa Monica Review, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. Ridge lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and edits the literary magazine Juked. He’s an assistant professor at Weber State University. 


There was cancer in her bones. The doctor said he knew what it was and that they hadn’t found anything that worked for it. He said it would eventually kill her.                 

So I started screaming. And I asked how long. And he said we had a year. “Doing nothing is an acceptable choice,” he said. “This will be harder on you than it will be for Margo.” I looked at her, sitting there on that flower print, plastic covered chair in the corner of the tiny room and I thought about how beautiful she was. All she had was that scar on her forehead. It’s all I could see. There was nothing else. She had told me the story of how she got it, the scar. She snuck through the fence when she was a little girl and tried to pet that dog that she didn’t know and it bit her, right there on her face. It would have made anyone else less beautiful but not her.                                             

I realized that everything up until this moment had been perfect, and that I just hadn’t noticed it until now, because now everything was not perfect. It never would be again. I didn’t know what to do. So we went to the dog shelter. The place where people abandoned all the things they didn’t love anymore. And we sat there, petting them and trying to act like everything wasn’t suddenly different. She loved all the things in this world that no one else would love. We brought home three from the shelter that night. When I touched her hand on the drive back, she didn’t pull away. I squeezed and looked ahead at where the headlights stopped and the darkness began and I squeezed, and I squeezed, until I felt the cancer in her bones lift up through her skin and float out through the crack in the back window that couldn’t roll up all the way, and through the windshield too, and the dogs looked at it leaving the car, floating up and away, and they whimpered and the air from outside stayed where it was, cold and icy, and embraced the sickness as it left her. 

Terek Hopkins is an English teacher in Spain. He studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. You can find his work at


There’s a city inside me. It sits deep down in my belly wrapped in high pink walls. The people who live there, they all moved in slowly, one-by-one, beginning with just a single person so long ago. Back then it was quiet, peaceful, but now there’s so much movement that it keeps me awake. Now there are so many people I’ve stopped counting, and they’ve built houses and buildings and skyscrapers so tall that they poke into my lungs until it hurts every time I breathe in.

The people inside me, they’ve taken over.

They swim in rivers of bottled water and build swings from spaghetti and kick blueberries around like soccer balls. And they’ve planted trees now too. I felt the roots digging into my abdomen shortly after I accidentally swallowed an apple seed.

I’ve watched them grow up inside me, each and every one of them. I’ve seen children turn into doctors and teachers, neighbors fall in love and have families of their own, little carbon copies with green eyes and curly hair. I can feel the spinning tires of dirt bikes and the vibrating hum of cars stuck in morning traffic. I feel my insides wringing out with warm welcomes and difficult goodbyes.

There’s so much life in this city they’ve built. But still, they sleep with their suitcases packed, ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

It’s dark all the time in their city. I eat starfruit and moon pies every night before I go to sleep to give them a night sky, and I drift off imagining that they’re looking up at the same stars I am. I try to make it as nice in there as I can for them, try to keep it warm and keep them protected. It must be pretty, I think, with the constant bokeh of a speckled night sky.

But it’s not enough for them, the stars and the moon. They pass rumors from house to house about the sun, about something so bright and beautiful that you don’t mind that it hurts your eyes. I press flashlights to my skin and I swallow down sunflower seeds but it does nothing to abate their interest. They don’t know about how cold it is out here, about the rain and the wind and the snow. And they don’t care; they want to see it anyway. They say things like “One day I’ll get out of this town,” and maybe one day they will. And I want them to. I want more than anything for them to be happy.

But not a single one has been able to leave yet.

Lynsey Morandin reads and writes fiction that makes her cry. She drinks too much coffee, is terrified of flying, and is desperate to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in her lifetime. You can find her in Cease, Cows!, Crab Fat, and The Quotable, among others, or at


It was summer and hot, but cooler in the basement. Carl could hear the television upstairs. Janey was watching cartoons. Their parents worked. Carl was in charge. He couldn’t be with his friends, or even leave the house, without Janey tagging along.
             A coffee can held a paint brush soaking in blue turpentine. Carl checked it. It seemed clean. He tested it on a wooden support beam. The beam was white, but now there were streaks of blue. Dad would be mad.   
             A box of matches stood atop the water heater. Carl lit one and touched it to the beam. It went “whoosh.” The flame was blue, but a different kind. It moved up into the underfloor. Dust and spider webs shot sparks. Carl went upstairs.
             Janey was watching Mighty Mouse.
             “You should go play outside now, Janey. Ride your bike around the block, or something.”
             “When this is over.”
             Carl turned off the TV. He looked at his watch.
             “I’ll time you. Ready … go!”
             Janey squealed and was out the door and off the porch. Her bike was on its side in the driveway. She righted it, climbed on, and was off, with streamers flying and her thumb working the bell.      
             Carl listened to the bell until he couldn’t hear it anymore. He went to the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator. He chose a can of grape soda and popped the top. He closed the door. A list of Emergency Numbers was attached with a magnet. Carl lifted the wall phone receiver and held it to his ear. He listened to the dial tone and drank soda. When it changed to a busy signal, Carl returned the phone to its holder.
             It was two steps to the basement door. Carl touched it with the palm of his hand. He sniffed for smoke. He went downstairs. The fire had died out on its own, but the wooden support beam had a black scorch mark all up and down one side. Dad would be real mad.
             Carl finished the soda. He placed the can on the cement floor and stomped it flat like he’d seen his father do a billion times with his Pabst Tallboys.   
             Carl went upstairs and turned on the TV. Janey slammed through the screen door and plopped beside him on the couch.
             Carl checked his watch.
             “New world record.”
             “I am the fastest bike rider!”

Dan Nielsen drinks bourbon and plays ping pong. Old credits include Random House and University of Iowa Press anthologies. Recent work in: Jellyfish Review, Bird’s Thumb, Minor Literature[s], Storm Cellar, Spelk, and Pidgeonholes. Dan has a website: Preponderous and you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES