by D. Dina Friedman
As my mother lay dying, we sat around her bed listening to a Bach Brandenburg Concerto on a no-name discount CD.
“Look, she likes the music!” Aunt Elissa gushed. And sure enough, something in my mother’s body had loosened—a small slackening in the muscles of her mouth, which continued to draw a rattled, but rhythmic and regular breath, like the pulse of counterpoint fueling Bach’s twisted knot of repeating melodies. Continue reading
by Peter Krumbach
—for Ron Salisbury
Ron says in a lifetime we each swallow fourteen spiders. That’s about a spider every five years, I say. It’s 92 degrees. We stand on the sidewalk between Luna’s Psychic Reading and Happy Head (Foot Reflexology and Massage). Ron has been married four times, almost killed twice. The last few weeks he’s been contemplating building a canoe. To remind myself, he says, what birch-bark and cedar ribs can do for the spirit. Continue reading
by Ken Nishizaki
(Translated by Toshiya Kamei)
I don’t remember who started calling him “Starman.”
Was it Kondo who worked at the bar? Was it Shorty, a self-proclaimed drummer who quit the band after a month?
One day at an izakaya, Starman told us he’d come to Earth from another planet in a distant galaxy. Since then, he’d been known as Starman. This is his story. Continue reading
by Susan Taylor Chehak
It’s called a murmuration, when the starlings flock together and swoop like that, as one, a great cloud of them, moving in synchrony. How do they know? Who keeps the choreography?
Elf is considering the squalor of the kitchen at the north end of his (ex-)girlfriend’s trailer. Ariel. Or: that tramp, as his mother calls her, which never fails to make Elf wince and flinch, even though he knows that’s just the purpose and the point. His older brother only smiles; his younger brother elbows him and laughs. Elf is a small man, in full sync with his name: Elf, short for Elfred, and he doesn’t know why they can’t just call him Fred. He’s not quite the runt of the litter, but that same laughing younger one of his two brothers—the latecomer, as he’s sometimes fondly called, though not by Elf—isn’t yet full-grown, and because his father doesn’t happen to be the same as Elf’s, it very likely won’t be long before he’s outpaced his older brothers both. Continue reading