Robin A. Dare is an
MFA candidate in poetry at Rosemont College. Her poems have appeared in Diagram, La Petite Zine, and Quick Fiction. Others
are forthcoming in Mid-American Review and Sentence.
1. Audra calls men from the phonebook. 2. She begins with the A’s and moves forward. 3. By March, she’s still
in the B’s. 4. Audra wears nothing but a purple speckled scarf and thigh-high black boots. 5. She eats pop-tarts and
drinks ginger ale with a twist of lime. 6. She tells no one of her antics—not
even Adrienne with whom she shares quite a bit of herself and her pop-tarts. 7. Six possibilities exist: The men hang up on her, become so embarrassed they cannot talk, are aroused to the point of breathlessness,
call her names, agree to meet her, or don’t live at that number. 8. The B’s are especially tedious. 9. Sometimes
her scarf dips into the ginger ale and creates a stream of fizzy commotion. 10. The bubbles run down her hairless legs in
dots of tingle.11. If Adrienne saw the bubbles, she’d lick them clean. 12. Too bad men aren’t carbonated like
Adrienne. 13. Audra wants to know the fuss about penises.14. Maybe the stiff ones will make useful stir sticks, or perhaps
balance her lime; the others—a bookmark between the B’s.
Rena lives at the
end of her rope – a physical location of Levick Street at Cottman Avenue. A scarf around Rena’s neck identifies
her presence to herself. You may know her. Rena’s blouse is neither tucked nor free free flowing. A mind can’t
make itself up for a cup of coffee or a doughnut. She scuttles lifting her flat feet two inches off the ground for every step.
Rena’s daughter gave her a present five years ago. This cloth is her constant – whether worn ‘round the
neck, at her waist, or as a turban. Rena’s walk is a granite monotony. Her scarf repeats mangled fringe. There’s
no spirit left in the threads. Rena sees the Dunkin Doughnut sign ahead. The swooping plastic tub chairs beckon – smooth
as a creek bed’s rocks, slippery in a fake way. Rena’s eyes aren’t in contact with other windows to the
souls today – messages in a streaked mirror. Sparkles and sugar mingle on the scarf. Today Rena wears it knotted next
to her chin. Tomorrow Rena nods. Midway through this nod Rena feels stonewalled. Her halfway, taut story.
Kate Grimes is a freelance writer who lives and works
in Chicago. She earned a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, where she participated in the Undergraduate Writers
Workshop under poets such as Jorie Graham, James Galvin and Kate Northrop.
Three dead rabbits lie in the sink. Their blood has dried into a gooey skin along the bottom. He
thinks of the expression ‘the rabbit died’ which means that someone is pregnant.
She speaks softly from
behind him and he is startled. "Don’t you think it’s incredible that I’ve done this?" He does.
you wonder how I caught them?" He wonders about this and other things. He sees the thin skin on her chest jumping as her heart
beats, slow and hard. As if her blood is syrup and her heart works hard to squeeze it through. He can tell that she is over-heated.
Her pale body is flushed. Her eyes and mouth are ringed with greenish-white. She smells like sweat and outdoors. Her breasts
are veiny. Where have her clothes gone?
"This sink," he tells her, "is porous. It’s unsanitary to leave… things like this in
here." He hears his own voice as if from far away and his throat feels coated with something he imagines to be white. He looks
at his hand, which is pointing to the sink. He did not feel himself do this, make this gesture.
She has wandered back outside into the heat. He wants to make a suggestion, so he looks into the
sky, sees the gathering storm clouds, and says, "We should get something to catch the rain." He pictures a barrel, big
and old and purposeful.
She glares at him. "It’s dirty."
She’s right. Bugs would drown in the water.
Frogs would come looking for bugs and get trapped in the barrel and drown. One day he would find a dead frog no bigger than
the tip of his thumb, gray and stiff, not bloated but puckered as if cold.
He will fear her reaction to it, turn away to look for something to fish it out, and
a stork will land, silently land on the edge of the barrel. The stork will be as menacing as the sky above them now. It will
dip its long sharp beak, clean and precise, and pluck the tiny creature, which has turned into a baby, from the water. Gently.
Then it will throw back its head with a kind of ecstasy, toss the shriveled figure into the air, catch it in the gaping V
of open beak and sweep it from the air with its great black tongue.
Rowan Johnston is a student
at Oberlin College, and has been actively involved in the creative writing program there and attended an arts high school
in Lexington, Ky where he was a Creative Writing Major.
She drew wrinkled old lady feet. They reminded her of gorilla feet when they were
twisted to the side. She watched a small Chinese boy struggle through elementary school. He made friends with the girls,
and sometimes if he was lucky they would kiss him. She drew gorilla feet and he drew pictures of his own face, growling
out. He wanted to make a kite one day. Asked her if she had string and paper and glue, and he fastened it together
sitting on her floor and took it out into the field behind her house and she watched him lift it into the air. She drew
pictures of her feet and put them up around her room to keep her company when she was knitting and humming. She made zucchini
bread because they grew in her garden and she had too many for her self and she knew how much the boy liked it. She
sat at her round table. Hands grasped in her lap, smiling. A present left on the table, her baby monkey eating one piece
at a time.