February Birch
by William Waters
art by Neck Bone a.k.a Adam Goode
popping-tree-moonThe popping tree moon:
elegance from peasantry expects
broken bones.

The Underdeveloped Character She’s Been Spending Time As
by Jacquelyn Bengfort
art by author
and-quickly-she-grew-round-as-a-balloonShe’d say, “You know Bill Nye was from Washington, DC?” Different people and towns. Others were less interested. “Everyone is from somewhere,” they’d sigh.
She’d look for the days between heating and air conditioning and open every window. Feline intercourse and heavy bass rent her quiet afternoons.
She’d work seasonally as a turkey talk line operator for a big bird concern. “Baste it,” she’d say, or “tent it,” or best, “a job for the fryer!”
She’d send postcards. The harder it was to purchase stamps, the less English the postal workers spoke, the more pleased she felt.She’d love it when Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked, asking her, “Will you die?” “Not really,” she’d reply.
On the last day she rebuffed a hug and everyone acted as though she’d said she enjoyed to kill and eat puppies.
And quickly she grew round as a balloon and floated into the sky.

by Jason Marak
because-jimmy-imageJimmy learned much on his shoeless walk from love-hotel to his apartment: He had always considered pavement a singular thing. It was actually many different things. Some was marble-smooth and seemed to hold onto pre-dawn cold despite the fact that it was approachingnoonwinter sun glinting off glass-walled office buildings made Jimmy squint. Other pavement had the texture of coarse sandpaper and felt therapeutic on his bare feet. The walkway to his apartment building was made of pavement filled with jagged gravel that forced him to walk as if across hot coals. He had walked Tokyo pavement for ten years and never actually known it. He knew it was hard. He knew it was most often gray. But now, describing it in those terms felt like describing ice cream as cold and softtrue enough, but wholly inadequate.

How We Mature 
by The Mannerchists
by Chris DeCrocker
When her opinions were gathered like the boxes, she saw she didn’t like the new apartment. The family’s truck was gone. Night came, a large finger around a lunar wart, nudging her. And she couldn’t sleep. There was, on its own cycle, the thought that she hated the place. And she had to move, but the truck was gone, and the money, and the lease was signed. And so she yelled, and tried calmly to tell the apartment what she didn’t like, and why it would never fulfill her.
Being what it was, it was its only answer.


William Waters is an associate professor, associate chair, and director of composition in the Department of English at the University of Houston Downtown. Along with Sonja Foss, he is coauthor of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation. His research and teaching interests are in writing theory and practice, the history of the English language, linguistics, and modern grammar.

Jacquelyn Bengfort was born in North Dakota, educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and Oxford University, and now resides in Washington, DC. Read more of her words at www.JaciB.com.

Jason M. Marakwork has appeared in a number of print and online journals including RaritanThe Paris Review100 word story, and matchbook. More online at smokeandotherindications.blogspot.com and Twitter @jasonmmarak 

The Mannerchists may or may not be busy civil servants pressed into brevity.  Every day, in every way, they are putting the ‘able’ back into ‘parable.

Comments are closed.