Return

"My father is long dead, and I was / faithful to the last. Still, postcolonial / that I am, I have built my own myth / of departure,"

Babyland

"Mom says if I’m a dragon I’ve got fire enough in me to make the beaches here warm, so maybe I should share more. I haven’t thought of a good come back yet."

Rituals

"That’s how / it works— / whichever hand / wrecks the largest / bit of bone / wins / the right to wish."

The Canyon

"Showing me the chicken wishbones she carried in her pockets for good luck, breaking them into halves of a full moon to make a wish."

Drink

"My mother would not rest in her grave if she knew I’d soon be drinking what they drink, but I’ve given up so much to move all the way here for a better future."

Track / Stream

"The jealousy permeating our college quickly morphed into resentment, a simmering stew of indignant glances and stiff smiles, laid thicker than the summer the air conditioning leaked."

Noodle Shop

"You doused your noodles in chili sauce to clear your clogged sinuses, and your ankle was hanging over the edge of the bed, careless and gentle, the tendons relaxed, the soft hollow of skin like stone smoothed out."

Beetlemania!!!

"I closed my eyes and caught a whiff of Aiko’s Dove anti-dandruff shampoo. For a second, the idea that my absence hurt her too filled me with a bestial joy, then faded to pain at the idea of her pain."

chang’e, the liar

"nothing but teardrop comets; tell her i taste her sticky rice, tell her i remember: / her silken-sleeve ribbons, her bamboo biscuits"

Waving, Not Drowning

"This is what also delights: the stripe on the bottom of the pool, the stripes on the side of my suit, the snap of the rubber cap, my spine snapping into the turn, my feet snapping at the wall."

Counting Stairs

"On the desk pencils are scattered. A laptop rests half open, the current tab on the internet opened to a WikiHow article about resurrection ceremonies. An unopened envelope lays on the desk, addressed to you."

In the City of Flying Trumpets

I wish I could tell you exactly when they’ll appear. They used to come with the sunrise every morning, shouting their flourish into the skies, a salute like something you’d hear at an Olympic opening ceremony:

Praise

Mahogany board by swelling board sits still on a hill between  yellow birch. The dogs down the road  sing to each other, while a dead calf

Determination

Beneath translucent lids, its eyes were purple hull peas. Directly above, the nearest branches were much too high to reach, so we filled the shoebox with grass and twigs.

Heat Harvest

The fire, then: orange-red, orange-yellow, orange-blue, just blue. Colors like threadbare sheets pinned to a line, and blowing.

Best Intentions

The people that wore the hats didn’t see the birds when they lived. They didn’t know that their bodies never bent that way.

The Vacation

She hasn’t kissed anyone for seven years, and though with Diane she doesn’t feel the same electric desire coursing through her body that she had felt for the men she’d been with romantically in years past, she feels something. Something she didn’t know she could feel. Something she still hasn’t named.

Nine of Hearts

I always thought she looked best, healthiest, happiest, when she was in a tank top and the dirty baggy jeans we swapped back and forth until they fell completely apart, a joint in her mouth and an axe in her hands, splitting firewood for a winter that she probably wouldn’t end up sticking around for.

Love Potions

“You’re wrong,” he finally said. “There’s no hell. Today is all we have.” The man blinked twice, then walked away shaking his head, a small man carrying on his shoulder the weight of a world without redemption.

Do or Don’t or Do

You take your son home to California with you for visits and one day your son peels you like the tangerines in your parents’ yard and you step out clean and open, nutritious, and your seeds can be planted to make new tangerines.

Sally, or How to Walk a Dog

Something about Sally’s shadowy gait is familiar to the young woman’s dog and it seizes and yelps like a cut wire, emits unsettling dog-screams of deep yearning, runs in large loops to and from the window, my friend my friend it is my friend.

Night Drive

Her dad’s old ‘55 Dodge Lancer sat beside Harold’s truck in the cinder block garage—cracked seats, mouse nests in the vents. It still reeked of unfiltered Camels.

Seven Minutes

My cousin got a reputation at school, and she said reputations are like ghosts. Once they decide to haunt you, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of them.

The Young Ones

I’d waited for him to come to my side of the room, had been pretending to admire, for too long, something that looked as though it had once been Apollo and Daphne but was now melting like hot wax.

In the Long Grass

Surreal moment, this: a roo lounging on a road in the middle of the day, a horseshoe of people staring down at him like he’s some sort of a prophet—or an omen.

FISH

He hovers over her, like Goldie after Kurt, as she floats and undulates in her half-dreams, me staring out the window, wondering if the fish might be dying rather than giving birth.

Corsage

Sideways glances at others who are doing it better: crisp black ties, polish on their shoes, the right moves.

Sugarloaf

Horses and earth are just different shades of each other, and we start to disappear, all of us, into the thickets of leaf and shadow.

EARL

Nothing / about my grandfather was soft, // though he planted fruit trees / in improbable climates.

Lord Randall

At first it’s just a low feeling at the base of your tum, a knot being tied, but then it tugs like a rope being pulled at both ends by a pair of black hogs

Letter from the Editors

Let this harvest issue be your invitation to trust that seeds are being planted, that violets will—in their soft and fragile nature, yes—break through the rocks.

Deer Lord / Dear Lord

The boys have never seen him, don’t believe he’s real, but the girls all whisper about the latest boogeyman, the Deer Lord they see outside their bedroom windows at night; the deer who wears a human skull over his own face.

Goldenvein

Every spot she has dug so far has felt lucky, magnetized, like some divine force led her to those coordinates; and each spot has been barren, empty, desolate.

Garbage to Curb

I’m instantly reminded of why I skipped the last few of these—the room is all hot breath and squeezed shoulders, and I have two giants in front of me blocking my view. One wears a blue topcloth with the words Garbage to Curb carefully painted across the back, staring me in the face.

Blow

Imagine her saying, as she settles, “Good God, Ben, my constant pessimist. Give it a rest. I’m not here to fry.” And imagine a pebble loosened from the clifftop, falling. Impacting her skull. There would be damage.

Boba Talk

You bump into White Boy on a parched, irreverent Wednesday morning, power-walking your way to line up for the three hour commute at 6 AM, and too loud he announces, I am in love with your country.

Strangled

I need to speak now; he’s expecting it. Waiting for an answer. Summoning all my energy, I push the air from my lungs, forcing it over the golf ball wedged in my throat.

Election

When I first saw that my mother was running for mayor I was in the grocery store. It was the morning and I wasn’t doing too well and the check-out girl was wearing this big blue pin with my mother’s big white face on it.

Forbidden Birth

I found you bitty in a snap pea, plucked you out and swallowed you whole, / rivered your body through my insides and grew it quietly. What bad men? we say.

The Moon at Noontime

Stuck in the basement where the TV was, out of Mom’s way, I’d pinch the well-timed edge and prolong the pull-away, the cling of flesh where the glue most adhered, the release, the skin’s snap back to itself.