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.


I stumble outdoors barefoot. I’ve had much too much to drink and reach for the brick wall of the house to ground me as I tiptoe onto the cool grass. My brother-in-law stands under my father’s carport and the smell of grilled lobster floats away into the haze of the July evening.
             Ben calls out to me, something low-sounding and comforting. He steps away from the grill and takes a swig of his beer. My sister strolls up and stands beside him.
             “I got a joke for you,” he says.
             I nod, try to concentrate and focus on keeping the world still.
             “This is an old Redd Foxx joke.”
             The lake shimmers under the moon, the frogs croak in unison.  They announce, “Redd Foxx Live in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, One Night Only!”
             Redd emerges from under the carport, illuminated by the floodlight. Moths and mosquitoes dart around him. He’s silver-headed, slick sex: he’s wearing his crushed velvet tux and aviator shades, doesn’t break a sweat in the 90-degree heat at 9 o’clock at night. He raises the mic and tells a joke, just for my sister and me, for our grandmother’s little wake.
             Redd soothes us, encourages us to revel. He croons things like, “That’s right, ladies—mourn tomorrow, celebrate tonight.” He tells us the great one about pickpockets, snatches, and watches.
             Applause fades away along with Redd and only Ben and my sister remain in a tableaux vivant. Ben’s wearing his suit trousers and dress shoes, a slender tapered cut, his cuffs rolled up. The red paisley silk of Jennifer’s dress swings around her knees in mid-twirl. This is a moment from our grandparents’ pasts, when they were fascinating and vibrant. The cherry from Ben’s cigarette glows and a double helix of smoke remains poised near the cut of his cheekbones and the curve his curls as he watches his wife.
             I hear the frogs again, louder, more insistent. They sing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
             I say, “That is so goddamn funny, Ben.”
             He keeps on, one joke after another, babying the grill while Jennifer and I laugh and laugh.

April Bradley lives between Nashville, Tennessee and the Connecticut Shoreline outside New Haven. Her writing has appeared in Blue Fifth ReviewFlash FrontierHermeneutic Chaos Literary JournalThe Journal of Compressed Creative ArtsNarrativelyNANO Fiction, the Smokelong Quarterly blog and Thrice Fiction, among others. She is a MFA candidate at The Sewanee School of Letters and a Writing Coach at Writers Helping Writers. Find her on Twitter @april_bradley.


The famous person likes being famous, duh, and hates it simultaneously. What she wouldn’t give to walk down the street without the eyes of the world upon her. What she wouldn’t give to eat at a restaurant without her choices being scrutinized and run through an online calorie counter. Her dress entered into a database where it is matched against others wearing the same dress, their measurements calculated and compared. Numbers which then are sized against other famous people from history. What would her dress have looked like on one of America’s founding fathers? On Joan of Arc? On Jesus? There will come a time when the photographers forget her, and even though the restaurant is empty, she will proclaim her catchphrase with conviction: I wore it better than Jesus.

The famous person doesn’t like me. I have sent her a deck of lucky playing cards from Vegas, cans of the name-brand electrolyte water she mentions on her daily blog, and a small pocketknife I once used in the Scouts. She sent back everything but the knife. Online, she posted a picture, blade open and caressing her throat, with the caption “Obsess much?” I favorited it and commented, “I do.” Electronics-wise, we are nearly but not quite at the point where this will constitute legal marriage. Videochat to consummate. But for now. For now.

Sarah Layden is the author of the novel Trip Through Your Wires. Her short fiction can be found in Boston Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Monkeybicycle, Booth, PANK, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana Writers Center. Find her at http://www.sarahlayden.com/ 


—after Alison Knowles

#1 Where Was That Saguaro? 
The performer is a woman on a hiking trail, just off the edge of the city. The sun and moon are having it out in the sky, one too eager, the other unwilling, and the sky is a blue losing interest. It’s dimming shut like a computer screen. Fading like jeans. Like the jeans the woman is wearing, the woman who is standing still and looking up, estimating the hour. Eight? Eight-thirty? She didn’t mean to be here. She is surrounded by jumping cholla, rock and gravel, rustles in what’s dry and dead. She remembers passing a saguaro. Tall, one-armed, with cactus wren pecks slashed into its green. Where is it?

#2 Fire-Breathers Take Over the Street
A street in the suburbs, quiet and neat. Careful landscaping in the median: pink gravel, palo verde trees. To the left of the road the scant audience can see a pet clinic. To the right, an entrance to a gated community. (The houses are sprawling, adobe-inspired.) The street is empty and abandoned until something orange flashes in the distance. Then another flash, and another, and suddenly the flashes are orange and flickering, orange and leaping, lumbering up and over the asphalt hill. The fire spews forth and retracts, shoots up and shoots in. Fire cartwheels, fire tumbles, fire does perfect-ten backflips. Are those people? They’re gone before the scant audience sees. A car drives past, following the speed limit.

#3 IHOP after 10 p.m.
The first sound is the clatter of forks on plates, then plates on hard carpet, then the startled gasps of pancake eaters. The performer is a young woman wearing a church-length skirt and a t-shirt. At the performer’s feet, forks and pieces of plate and pancake gather like disciples. She doesn’t gasp with the other eaters. While the others watch and the waitress leaves, the performer stands still as a suburb, still as a secret, and all the pancake eaters sit bathed in the still. One pancake eater thinks, still here. Another thinks, this again, this still? Still another thinks, but still... 

#4 La Llorana
Three performers sit on the bridge. Their legs swing above the lake that’s in the middle of the city. The performer on the far right whispers her deepest, darkest secret to the performer sitting on her left. The performer who listens to the deepest, darkest secret stands up and dives into the dark water beneath her. When she reemerges, she swims to the shore, walks to the sidewalk, and walks back to her place on the bridge. She sits down and, to the performer on her left, whispers her own deepest, darkest secret. The performer who listens to the secret dives into the dark water, reemerges, swims to the shore, walks to the sidewalk, and walks back to her place on the bridge. The sequence is repeated with secrets of diminishing intensity (i.e. second deepest darkest secret, third deepest darkest secret, etc.).

Victoria Miluch is an MFA candidate at Indiana University, and the former Fiction Editor of the Indiana Review. Her fiction and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, The Adroit Journal, and the Denver Quarterly.