The Encounter

BY Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

You meet a woman in the woods. Black hair to her bare feet, flesh flickering between child and crone. The one you have dreamed of all these nights of wandering. She begins her seduction by removing her dress. A subtle one because she wears many dresses, layers of lace and cotton, each rippled with hundreds of buttons. She undoes each button slowly and you cannot tell whether the buttons are made of baby teeth or snake’s eyes. Some slither out of her fingers when unlatched and, come alive by her touch as you wish to be, fall to the moss-covered ground. They pile and writhe. 

You are tired from your journey. You have been walking for many days. The light is falling through the strips of pine and you wish to seek shelter, respite from the night. But you cannot look away. 

Let her continue her unbuttoning. She decreases. Her dresses fall to the ground and, like the buttons enlivened by her touch, begin to move, to mass with breath at her feet. The distance between her feet and your feet is closer now, indistinguishable. The ground is mired in this swarm of cloth made flesh and scales. She is so small now. 

Let her do what she wants, what she pleads from you with words of bark. Let her cut open your throat—no birds will escape. Let her climb inside, dig with her fingernails into your pit. She can rest there. She is tired too. Let your bones form around her, your ribcage making room for her shape. She is finally still, naked and asleep. Now, you may continue on your way, feeling her weight nestled deep inside of you.


Ghost Ocean


Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes is an MFA Candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Gabrielle's poetry translations have appeared in Issues Magazine.


BY Robert Alan Wendeborn

nothing burns like a cavity: a hole pouring out the beginning and ending of life. it starts with a drill, a knife, or a pair of lips for the carving out, the carving into.
there is no liquid to deliver the oxygen. there is no destination for delivery in a cavity.
delivery lines begin with the sun. the big yellow one is the sun.
the world has a map. bodies are maps. lay my skin out for skin directions. lay my skin out for a tan.


Robert Alan Wendeborn is an editor for Puerto del Sol, an administrative-logistical slave for Apostrophe Books, and the editor of ep magazine, a short magazine with long pieces. Robert's writing can be found in PANK, killauthor, M Review,, and forthcoming from owl eye review and Uncanny Valley


BY Erika Eckhart

“Don't let me see those little motherfuckers.” He measured out a 1-cup portion for the boy child and the girl child and locked the rest of the cornflakes in the car, took the toilet paper to work, locked their momma in his room and made her beg for the key. He made sure they could hear everything. He picked them up by their chins and told them he could make them and their slut mother disappear. So, that summer they hid in the forest behind the house until mid-day when he went to work at the paint factory. There, they built a fort of rotted logs and wooden palettes stolen from behind the 7-11. They filled their home with furniture picked from the garbage, hung mobiles of perfectly-cleaned bird bones, stapled flannels from the thrift store donation bins as wallpaper, put out vases of weeds in empty beer bottles.  Then, once everything was settled the way they liked it, they passed the days tidying their home with brooms fashioned from branches and reading comics. At mealtimes they ate generic ho-ho’s and drank the colored juices that come in tiny plastic barrels with wispy foil tops. They made conversation and asked to be excused from the table. Once, they found their home destroyed: their palette walls covered in spray painted remarks and broken in places, their beer-bottle vases filled with urine, and on their furniture, three little plastic sleeves that held shiny fluid like the iridescent film that collected in the still spaces on the creek. It took them a week to roam the alleys and campsite remains to find materials to rebuild. They took turns standing guard at the fort. When it was her turn, the girl child eagerly remembered a housewife waiting eagerly for her husband to return in a black-and-white sitcom. She stood at the entrance way in an apron fashioned from leaves, hummed an ancient song, and swayed back and forth, waiting for the boy child to return. 

If they find him encased in ice they might mistake him with Adam.


After the last surgery they decided not to reconstruct his belly-button. It’s only a cosmetic concern they said, a tiny depression and now it’s just a smooth plane, but likely, when he is found he will be just bones and some future culture will look at the nicks and depressions marking his extremities, the inside of his fingers like the teeth of broken zippers, and think that we practiced torture or conclude that we evolved small indentations for holding pens or saws, or that we were defective. If there was any skin left they could see so much more. That’s the real prize, when there is still skin. They could see the indelible blackness draping his fingertips. They would see the darkness beneath his nails, each explaining a decade, the examination of just one might tell the story of a house he bought, a failed marriage, a bottle hidden under a chair, and then two, and then no house, and the process of building master bedrooms for others and then returning to a small trailer at night. They would see the scars that wind can create when it beats the same place for too long, the redness highlighting each stressed, protruding follicle coating his throat and the soft part under his eyes. We must remind ourselves that, given time, moving air creates mountains out of dust.


You can imagine she feels terrible now, half a century later, about what happened. They taught school children not to give water to burn victims; that their insatiable thirst was deadly. That somehow it would drown them, even though they appeared leaky. So when those that were closest to the blast, white with char, the ghost people, came begging for water, she said no, no, no. She was expecting help, an emergency crew, nurses to make the men stop moaning and glue their skin back on. They put the remains of their hands together and pleaded. Please, please, please little miss. They used their last breathes asking. She is still murmuring to herself around the house while doing the dishes or in the shower, “If I knew they would die anyway, I would have given them the water.” And the same dream comes to her still: she is surrounded by men that start with melted eyes and begin to dissolve further, their skin coming off in sheathes, everything collecting in a pool at her feet, the men keep complaining about their sight and each time she says it will be okay, they erode further and the pool rises, approaching her neck.


This was the third month she’d hid her soiled underwear in the burgundy suitcase with a gray monogram that only accidentally matched her initials, quietly like a wounded soldier scared to admit his injury for fear that he will be left behind. Each morning, before her brother and mother woke up, she doused the three pairs in rubbing alcohol (her grandmother used it to clean her scrapes when she was little) and returned them to a sealed plastic bag under all of her other belongings. She was running out of underwear. At first she had attempted matting up toilet paper, but it clung to her pubic hair creating little roly-polies, enhancing the smell, holding it to her. The smell—that was the real problem. This month their room had a balcony overlooking the pool. She worried the chlorine would emphasize the smell, which reminded her of the time a mouse died under her grandmother’s house and they had to wait for the earth to take it back She tried to keep her legs clenched at night in this the queen bed next to her mother’s, and in the one before this and in the one before that. She remembered, last summer a boy she knew taunted her with a Slurpee, an amalgam of cherry and coke; he told her that’s what girls were like inside.


Erika Eckart’s poems (or stories, there is some debate) have appeared in Double Room, Quick Fiction, Quarter After Eight, Quiditty, nano fiction, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Women's Studies Quarterly. When not writing, she teaches English at a public high school on Chicago’s Southside and makes vegan baked goods for her husband and two very little children. 

Thirty Years Times Three Thousand Miles from the Summer of Peroxide Hair

BY Robert Hill Long


Still too early in the year, too far north, to sit bare-legged outdoors for long. But being this close to the forsythia’s yellow flames helps. Beneath the red maple’s ten thousand flamelets. Even my hair, which years ago turned to old iron in the shaving mirror, I can almost feel lightening, yellowing, in the light wind’s fingering.  It’s the way my dog enters some temporary heaven through the simplicity of my fingers rubbing the bone between her eyes, scratching her iron-whiskered muzzle. This close to the forsythia, other pleasures loom: lime froth of the willow above the iron vein of the river; copper flashing of my neighbor’s slate-roofed barn shining through the hemlocks. 

Later today, the hemlocks will stand out. They store night in their black greens, and release its sharp dark resins all afternoon. But for now, the pleasure of this solar yellow focused into one immense bush, flames that do not warm my legs but light them. Burnishing the fine hairs. As though preserving some way that I may walk in my wife’s remembering, an ambient light in the garden, on brick paths I laid, picking snow peas, picking asparagus.


In a week, if I want this flame-yellow, I’ll have to find it in the handle of my daughter’s tiny hairbrush, or a toy truck lying under the hemlocks, where my son abandoned it last summer when he finally grew sick of toys. By summer, the forsythia-yellow will have passed into hemlock pollen; by September, into the sulfur butterflies I used to see on the last good days of the beach season, in a stiffening wind above the waves, blown southerly toward nothing a boy with chemical-yellow hair wanted to understand. 

Here, it’s already noon: look up from this page and there are the clouds we have not kept waiting. They are not coming for us; they will never leave us. Still, they’re moving; they are the way the wind moves time, when it has been suspended long enough, into a kind of review—as though the past, too, lifts and lightens when it evaporates, and keeps expanding, brightening on its way toward the vanishing point.


Robert Hill Long's flash fiction and prose poetry has appeared in The Best of the Prose Poem, Sentence, Kenyon Review, Poetry East, Manoa, Norton's 1992 edition Flash Fiction and many other journals. 

In Our Dreams

BY Adam Morgan

It is always night in Chicago, and the edges of downtown give way suddenly to an endless prairie that stretches north and west and south, and Lake Michigan isn’t a lake but an ocean, and most of us never leave the city because we’re too afraid. The trains and taxis are silent and still. There aren’t many of us left. Every so often some of us venture out into the prairie and disappear forever over the horizon. Sometimes a family of deer wander into the city, and we all gather to meet them. They ask us for poetry, and we ask them for new jokes.

Chicago is a half-drowned city, a cluster of towers rising out of a grey ocean. We live on the upper floors of empty hotels and gather on rooftops to watch for whales. We visit each other on papier-mâché gondolas we make from old copies of the Tribune. At night, the water glows dimly from the streetlights on the bottom of the ocean, and we make up stories about the people who live there. We imagine they are sad, that one day we will swim down the elevator shafts and bring them back to the surface with us, but we are too scared to dive that far down. We know that they hate us, because they have never seen the sun.

Chicago is hidden deep in a forest, covered in flowering vines and writhing trees. We are the first people to discover the ruins, to wander through its leafy canyons and explore its vast libraries reeking of mold. The books are rotting and coated with fungus, like tumors. We wonder if the mushrooms have soaked up all the knowledge of the ancients, and so some of us eat the mushrooms and die. We wonder if the fungus was poisonous or if the knowledge was too much for us to bear.


Adam Morgan is a writer, editor, and reviewer in Chicago who loves dogs, thunderstorms, and red velvet cake. He is the author of Best Hikes Near Chicago from Falcon Guides, the winner of the 2009 New York Television Festival’s Fox/PGP Script Contest, and his reviews and interviews can be found in Publishers Weekly, Bookslut, and