C. J. Hribal

The Buzz Kill

Porter’s known people like these men all his life. Men—some women, too, but mostly men—who can’t quite get a grip on their life until they’ve squeezed with the pads of their fingers the fluted wet coolness of a seven ounce glass of beer in the velvety half-dark of a tavern. The word itself, rhymes with cavern. No matter how bright the day, it’s always full shade in a tavern—twilight at mid-day, with electric lighting and the slight buzzing of those neon beer signs. Almost like a different kind of pulse…

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Jessica Barksdale

Swing Out

“I can show you how to kidnap your mother,” Rosalie said. We were sitting on the fence in my backyard, Rosalie’s hands round the rope swing, ready to push off…

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Amy Barnes

photo by Mark Shepherd
Do You Know the Mattress Man?

I crawl into Joe’s van when I turn sixteen. The Owl Creek Park oak trees are still dressed in jaundiced leaves. There are no back seats, only a stack of mattresses from dorm dumpsters and apartment eviction piles…

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Talia Deitsch


The first image that comes to mind when I think of that day at the carnival is the Rainbow Brite bandaid I got on my elbow. The rest has turned into something of a blur of sound and color. My older sister calls it psychological repression. She would….

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Eric Scot Tryon

Wrong Math

6 – 2 = 1 
When we’re supposed to meet at 6 outside the theater on our first date, and I wait for 2 hours like a fool, there is only 1 person sitting at the coffee shop alone when the movie lets out and couples and friends spill in through the doors, laughing and talking too loudly and reciting favorite lines…

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Taylor Leigh Harper

Yellow Oranges

On Sunday, my sister says Yellow, as if it were a complete command, a fully-formed request.

She’s sitting at the kitchen table holding a pen, the blue cap still on. She’s looking down at last week’s wrinkled newspaper. The pages have been folded and refolded.

She asks me to bring her That yellow thing

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Byron Spooner

Love Story 

I’m no picnic. That much I know.
      My ex-wife used to tell me that all the time.
     “You’re no picnic,” she said.
      And I guess she was right. At least that’s how I’ve thought of myself in the years following the divorce.
     Avoid getting a divorce, speaking of ‘no picnic.’

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Nikki Williams

photo by Dan Keck
Crib Note

love at first sight in a fast-food line is risky business, after all. yet there were whispers between eyes and eyes, soon keeping time with light steps, laced fingers. jokes, dreams, confessions peeped into moony fragments of forever….

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Erin Osborne

Uncle Pete Doesn’t

Uncle Pete tells the story about his mother, my grandma, how when she was a kid, she climbed through her bedroom window with her little brother in tow to escape their father as he held a knife to their mother’s throat…

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Daniel Tam-Claiborne


“Do you ever feel like you’re losing it?” she asks. We’ve just finished dinner—shrimp fajitas from La Cocina—and Chloe glares at me across the table. She’s smiling the smile that, in a former time, I might have perceived as an opening, but by now has already changed into something else….

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Chris Hannas

Family Meeting

Grandma didn’t like you at all.  Grandpa loved when you told stories about the time you visited the Panama Canal.  Uncle Joe hated how your hair was so long it kept falling into your eyes.  Aunt Muriel thought it was cool…

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Candace Hartsuyker

When You’re Allergic to Your Lover

Each time you wake up next to him, you wake up with a rash. It doesn’t matter if you’re at your place or his. Intricate and swirling, like an elaborate tattoo, it mars all the places he’s kissed you: the back of your knee, the inside of your thigh, the crook of your elbow….

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Olivia Zubrowski

The Mask

That house had a large family, five children and two parents. The downstairs was neat and hardly ever occupied. There were many darkly painted rooms upstairs, mess trailing between them: clothes, pens, hairpins, shoes, towels, books. Many small, ornate side tables cluttered the hallway, each with an unusual altar…

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Cathy Rose


Out the window is a notice for a vacant apartment I can’t afford. “Fine Victorian building, dog friendly, neighbor friendly, gay friendly, cooking friendly, glorious rooftop garden with a view, a cozy seat at your bay window, the best place to live on Ivy Street, the best place to live in all the world!” My own apartment is fine…

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Jessica Evans

An Awkward First Date on Flemish Street

They met when the sky was dipping from purple to black, the kind of inky midsummer that gives magic and allure to everything, hazy glow of possibility, the skirting of chance. She was buying an ice cream and he was selling it to her, two scoops delicately balanced once on top of the next…

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DC Diamondopolous


Welcome to The Shady Lady, a queer bar in San Pedro, California, across the railroad tracks, near the docks, in a back alley off Harbor Street. It’s a raunchy hole in the wall dive where dykes and drag queens hang. So you didn’t think they mixed? Well, think again Daddy-O. Over there, slouched against the juke box, listening to Gogi Grant croon “The Wayward Wind,” is Stormy…

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