The Blue Planet

by Mark Brazaitis

The first trouble was the boy.

Mike Little said he was lonely. He missed his parents and his brother. He missed his bedroom. He missed the café at the corner of the two busy streets where he used to meet his girlfriend after school. This was, of course, before she broke up with him. He was with us because she’d broken up with him, he confessed. He wanted to show her he didn’t need her—he wanted to show her he didn’t need her or the entire earth. Continue reading

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Latency

by Janet Yoder

Early in the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, two of my cousins and I did a Zoom ukulele session. Before the pandemic, we had planned a cousin reunion in McPherson, Kansas. A wheat farm near McPherson is where my cousins grew up, where their mom and my dad grew up, where my Grandpa Yoder farmed, where his father farmed, where one cousin and her husband still farm. We had planned the trip months ago. My Aunt Mary Ellen is 88 years old and lives in the skilled nursing section of her retirement home there. She is the family historian, storyteller, and one of its musicians. So, my sister Gail and our three cousins planned the reunion. We all anticipated our time together, especially Aunt Mary Ellen. But the coronavirus arrived and we had to settle for our Zoom ukulele session. That’s how I learned about audio latency. Continue reading

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My Mother’s Middle-School Yearbook

by Alex Manuel

Some names were highlighted
in a faded yellow marker, and I don’t understand why.
The first few were boys. Initially I thought
they might’ve been her school-yard crushes,
but I doubt my mom had a crush
on her chubby English teacher. In his photo, he wore
glasses that made his ears bulge out.
A jokester chicken-scratched
Dumbo by his name. Continue reading

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Photocopiers Are Better Than Lawyers

by D. M. Kerr

The hallway that led from the print room was unnaturally narrow and long, part of Darwit and Lee, Lawyers’ drive to maximize useful office space. From where he stood, Eng Chun could see Eunice approaching well before she was close enough for him to say hello. Today she wore a tartan kilt, in a kind of Japanese style, with a frilly hem so wide it almost touched each side of the hallway. Her black-strapped pumps made a clicking sound on the linoleum floor, and between the pumps and the fray of the kilt stretched a pair of very shapely calves—to which Eng Chun tried to keep his eyes from returning, this being an office. She wore a cream silk blouse, with a triplet of pleats on each side of the buttons, and, above a short, frilled collar, a bemused smile. Continue reading

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Beggars and Begging

by Deborah H. Doolittle

We praise the dog when it raises
its paw.  Laugh out loud when its
lolling tongue belies the earnest
effort of his concentration. Continue reading

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