Short Fiction 1500 words & under
Flash Fiction 500 words & under
Poems up to 3 per submission
Word Doc Files Please
Short Fiction 1500 words & under
Wiggum Love Letter
Like the smell of a cat’s hungry breath,
like the taste of burning,
like Skinner dreams of his Super Nintendo,
I break my wookie
thinking of you.
Every night alone,
it’s you I choo, choo, choose.
The aisle of childhood is a funnel, too:
The narrow end deposits you
In so much sucking mud―
A vast dump that doubles as food.
Soft talkers chew each other’s cud―
‘Inhuman gore imbued.’
Food drips in droplets from the nipple.
The people feed the other people
Who stare across the fluted grain
Like one could simply go again.
One can’t, and that’s why I could cry
And will eventually die
Or get a life and carry on―
Render myself in vibrant crayon
Pinched of so much manly mud.
(The scrawl across the body’s throat is blood.)
In Italy you can be fined for boiling lobsters
alive. Then my mother is a monster.
She knows at least three ways to kill
them. She sees a guy upshore
when she feels the urge and get him to load
the poor guys into the trunk
of her car. Once she was stopped
by the police. She said oh hello officer
I`m just trying to get my kids home before dark
in her best Mom voice. She continued driving
and carried them through the downstairs door.
She would get others involved. She would call her mother
and say the eagle has landed and my grandmother appeared
out of nowhere with her big black pot, hammer,
and screwdriver. Lobsters were food for criminals.
Always I wanted to rescue one of them.
I said it would be a good pet. We could keep one,
but the lobsters would bubble language
in the link or one would swim without the water.
I thought the lobsters were poor lobsters.
My mother would actually smile as she salted
the water and then said okay, I’m gonna throw’em
in, and the lobsters would be destroyed by hammer
and screwdriver while she sucked the meat from their legs,
Shells of their former selves. She became a total murder
machine. My mother would leave me to hide
the evidence, in the bushes is best she said. She’d been doing
this a long time. I have no idea what possessed her, sharing
around the potato salad, a dust of paprika, sliced egg—
my god did she ever enjoy it.
scared by the ball
across the field
his fall softened
by the dandelions
he asks his mother
if she is upset
and in the same breath
why his knees are yellow
she looks away
to the other children
playing and laughing
she tells him simply
that he is a coward
NOW YOU KNOW, AND KNOWING MAKES YOU A SUPERSTAR!
The G.I. Joe ®: A Real American Hero ™ line of fully poseable modern army figures were top-sellers, but then Jem ® fashion dolls hit the shelves. When the G.I. Joe ® animated series lost the key 6 to 11 demo to Jem ® and the Holograms ™, Hasbro ® seized a marketing opportunity: G.I. Jem ®! Scripts were written for a series featuring codenamed female characters performing combat roles, yet they were never animated. The project, which featured a run of 11 ½ inch figurines including five points of articulation, was cancelled due to falling sales of Jem ® products. All that remains of G.I. Jem ® are the following P.S.A. tags.
Do you feel lost? Smarten up! Think about the place where you feel most at home, even if it’s imaginary, like Never-Never-, Wonder-, or even Oompa-Loompa Land. If you don’t know the way, ask a local for directions, even if you can’t remember the lyrics of the song that mischievous truants sing along the path to the Emerald Kingdom. I’ve got a feeling, my pretty . . . you’ll forget Kansas soon enough!
PHOENIX EN FLAMBÉ
Hey, looks like you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off burnt skin. You must be en flambé! Quick, drop to your hands and knees. Now, fumble around to find the tunnel that leads out of the cave. You probably shouldn’t have awoken that most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm. Huh, Bilbo?
Ignore what kind of smells like lollipops. Forget what maybe looks like a swirling rainbow. That’s not Candyland ® – there is an oil spill on the lake! Unless you want to make believe you’re a sticky seagull, go somewhere else for a dip. To quote Bob Ross, a painter famous for his oils, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
SWEET MAMA ONOMATOPOEIA
It’s got to be rough – ruff! – to be cast out of pleasant society. Just look at this here werewolf . . . look at it, but don’t make eye contact! How’ll – howl! – you know if he’s hungry? Remember, lycanthrope can smell fear and some breeds appear to read thoughts. Don’t even think about – bow-wow! – red meat!
Before beginning construction, get the blueprints for your project approved by a board-certified inspector. Anything worth building is worth planning for. It’s procedure! (Sponsored by The International Brotherhood of Teamsters – unions built U.S. strong!)
Forget what Phoenix-so-and-so told you before. If you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off layers of burnt skin, whatever you do, don’t just fumble around! Wrap yourself in a rug, a blanket, or strips of cloth to smother the flames. Then, move into an opera house, wear a half mask, and learn to play a pipe organ, electric guitar, or synthesizer.
FIRST LADY NANCY REAGAN
Only a phony like Jem ® or one of those “Hologram” posers would ever doggy-paddle in the shallow end of a public pool – and you’re no loser, are you? Tread water in the deep end like a winner! Kick your legs like a backup dancer. Keep up a hip-hop tempo! Cup your hands like you’re going to make Jerrica Benton taste your backhand! Repeat after me: “You wouldn’t know a hit pop song if it slapped the gloss off your lips!”
Even if you’re not so sure whether in the right, never turn down a good, clean fight. Why not give bare knuckle boxing a go? Try on fisticuffs! No eye-gouging, fish-hooking, or hair-pulling, though. And nothing below the belt. Don’t get beaten – get even!
STARRING TINA TURNER AS AUNTY ENTITY™
Looks like Max Rockatansky ran out of gas for his ride. Clearly he’s jinxed. A mutant gang must’ve paid a witch doctor to hex him. If you want to reverse the curse, cut off the heads of a dozen chickens, string them around your neck with twine, swallow a handful of their tail feathers, and roost on a few of their eggs. It takes hard work to undo voodoo.
CORPORAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Whoa, close call! I couldn’t see you there! No wonder, you don’t have any reflectors on that creaky rickshaw. Reflectors are necessary to let the vehicles, never-mind those other runners, know where you are. Remember, when you have to haul wealthy Western tourists around Seoul between shifts at the animation studio, be sure to have the proper safety equipment on your rig.
SIREN’S SONG (A.K.A. MANATEE SQUEAL)
You’ll never learn to waterski while standing on the shore, landlubber! They don’t call it dirt-skiing, do they? Never quit! Ever. Not even when you’re swallowing saltwater by the mouthful like some shipwrecked survivor clinging to a lifeboat.
Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate death!
The vessel’s taking water
A hoary tale, you’ll tell it best
From Davy Jones’ locker!
LITTLE MISS ZEITGEIST
Never tell anyone your name, your age, or when you’ll be home alone. Don’t give up your privacy so easily! Your dear Father in Heaven says you must save your precious, sweet, tender . . . innocence. For marriage. No premarital funny business. True love waits.
LADY DOCTOR JEKYLL
How many times do I have to tell you? You can’t plan a mistake; a mistake is what happens when you don’t plan. Was it a mistake to concoct a potion test it on yourself? No! To transform into a cold-blooded, dead-eyed sociopath? Well, yes. To cook up a serum to prevent you from turning ever again? See? Even though it’s plan B, it’s still a plan.
Don’t pull the fire alarm unless you’re coughing up smoke and / or sloughing off layers of burnt skin. It isn’t a firefighter’s job to put out your pranks. If you’ve got to pull an alarm like one of those new-batch Gremlins TM, be sure to set something on fire before you hear sirens.
BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN ANNE RICE
Looks like someone’s been picking her nose! Okay, you have to pinch it and lean forward. You’re still swallowing blood? Now, pack your nostrils with tissue to stuff it up. So, have you developed a taste for it plasma? Congratulations, you’ve conquered the test of a vampyr. Good news is you’re not undead!
Don’t forget, the surface of a pond or river may look frozen, but the ice could still crack, and you can easily fall in. Why not take up a nice indoor hobby, like owl macramé, whittling with a steak knife, or thousand-piece puzzling?
Never take medicine without a responsible adult present. A healthcare professional would call that “self-mediating behaviour.” But, if you’re really jonesing, ask a responsible adult. And, even though your cousin calls himself a naturopath, he doesn’t count. Don’t take anything he gives you, no matter what he calls them. No deadly nightshade, no magic hour, no rashish, no teardrop, no devil’s batteries . . .
There’s nothing chicken about being smart. Unless, of course, you’re being kept in a cage while strangers steal all your eggs. Stopping to think about flying the coop won’t make it easier to put up with. There’s almost always a better way, but so long as the present administration subsidizes draconian factory farming practices this is as good as it gets for you. Stop wishing for good governance and chew your pellets. Don’t make us get the force-feeding tube.
I ♥ RED MEAT
So, I see you’re still swinging and missing, ‘lil slugger. Looks like you should either squint a lot or get a pair of spectacles. Of course, you could try my home remedy: mix a poultice or salve from a dram of ammonia, a pint of day-old gruel, and the ashes of the Union Jack. Place directly on eyes. Either that, or switch to softball. Meet your problem and beat it – with a bat!
MOTHER OF PEARL OF WISDOM
Running away from home won’t solve your problems! Your mind will keep running long after your legs stop. Remember how the clam makes a pearl: it deposits layers of calcium carbonate over an irritant or particle. So, if you want to make a pearl of yourself, stew on your issues!
ROD SERLING’S OLDER SISTER
When you’re playing hide and seek, never crawl inside anything that could close up and trap you. You don’t want to get stuck like the memories of that time when your older brother said, “Submitted for your approval. There’s a deserted chest freezer in the back alley! Want to play house, Judy?” Remember, that was the time when you and your brother found the autopsied alien?
ANNA OL’ SOUL
If you chance upon a gentlewoman who has caught the vapours, espy whether she draws breath, even faintly. If she breathes, lay her on a chaise longue and loosen her corset. Ensure that hysteria has not set in by gently massaging her torso. If she is not hysterical, but the breath of life has left her, ensure her sprit will not linger by removing all other mistresses from the premises. Poltergeists are known to anchor themselves upon passionate feminine emotions.
SUPER HEROINE WOMAN GIRL
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get superpowers from surviving electrocution. All you get is third-degree burns, cardiac arrest, or loss of consciousness. Try to keep your fingers out of wall sockets and your tongue away from exposed wires.
Don’t judge people ‘til you give them a chance. Then, if they don’t appreciate how many days of dieting or hours of rehearsal it took to pull off the forbidden dance of the seven veils for his fortieth birthday gift, judge away! Hear that, Herod? Heads will roll!
Remember, taking something that isn’t yours just isn’t right. Unless it’s land from people of the First Nations, clean air and water from future generations, collective bargaining rights from the working class, or reproductive freedom from women. Nothing wrong with any of that! Not one thing.
FEMME MORGAN LE FATALE
A stranger is anyone you don’t know yet, right? That’s why I wear my name, Morgan, here, on this tag. And right here is the name of the chain restaurant that employs me as a server. The corporate entity whose logo appears on my paycheque kindly suggested that I not identify them by name. See, they are presently in court defending against a class action lawsuit. One word: “Listeria.” I guess what I’m saying is that even though you know my employers by name, they’re still kind of strangers, aren’t they? Have a nice day!
TATTOO OF KANJI CHARACTER FOR FERTILITY
A Hazmat suit is good protection in a room filled with asbestos – almost like a life jacket in a tippy canoe, a space suit on the dark side of the moon, or a chastity belt in a Victorian manor. Good to know you’re good to go!
No matter how many educational advisors you consult, consultants you coordinate, or coordinators you advise, a public service announcement is only another form of commercial. I mean, who do we think we’re fooling? Ourselves. And only ourselves. We’ve trained our children to know an advertisement when they see one.
& the stench
of their words
the ozone layer
Cohen & Bowie
& Prince to make
the music of the spheres.
I said to you that’s
a fucked up dream.
You replied that the
Ogre in the House
of White is freaking
We ate a large pizza
& extra cheese.
We maxed out our
credit cards & booked
a trip to Mars.
To how many things may writing compare? Four points of a compass. Spring break. The unbound capacity of sentences. Birthdays. What have you. Such threadbare, reproduction. Exponential. I wish for clarity. Reading glasses but useless for reading. Blurs, the right eye. I blame cataracts. Mimir, the archivist of wisdom and memory. We circle the globe, circumnavigate. Mark up with chalk. Draw: a straight line. Transparent: as facts into consciousness. Even a tree.
Trying to adhere to the tenets of Taoism while waiting for a publisher to email me back
Remembering to be in the place between,
to be in the place
between is to be where
the place between is
in the place
to place the between is
to be, to just be …
Check for new mail
Remembering to be
in the place between,
to be in the place
Autumn chill fills the air as a fresh literary breeze blows in. But these rudderless boats with no wind in their sails are stuck, angry, confused, scarred, scared, bewildered, boring, tired, impotent, flawed, embarrassed and shamed. Defeated and disillusioned, eight unpublished and unloved manuscripts explain their tawdry doldrums as “shaped by the whims of writers” and, seemingly, beyond their control.
While this disparate crew of discontents all share the disappointment of their respective unpublished lots, some can’t even keep it up long enough to revise. Discouraged and sad, they are at an all-time low. How come they stink so bad? Seeking change, the eight manuscripts vow to confront crippling rejection by signing on for the Twelve Step version of a 60s-era-Esalen-style encounter group, minus the hot tub.
You’d never know that a heart of gold hides beneath the therapist’s tough hockey-style, editor-coach façade. But instead we see a critic’s critic who knows he’s erudite—and published. So who dumps in his slush pile today?
Bull, a passive-aggressive three-act theatre script, blames everyone else for its missing point and plot. This slimy piece of shit at least fulfills our expectations.
Wham is a whiny, navel-gazing confessional poetry manuscript, lacking music, imagery and insight. Everybody and everybody’s dog writes poetry these days—and some even win prizes.
And Then We is a rambling hodgepodge of short stories. You know the type.
1066 and All That: The Novel (or was that 1867? 1967?), a confused and confusing historical novel that can’t keep its time periods straight, is lost under mounds of research and shows signs of early-onset dementia. Poor soul can’t tell the difference between a now and a then.
Depressed and in despair, As Worlds Collapse is the speculative fiction that can’t sustain hope or inspiration. We suspect bad dope.
All Points Described claims creative nonfiction status but drowns in the TMI of direct quotes from too many sources. Enough said.
Well past its best-before date, Steam! poses as pornography but fails to perform. This manuscript describes an illicit affair that the writer—think Sue-Ellen-Ewing-meets-Jackie-O—perpetuates with her married boss long after the fun runs out. (He always does it wearing pearls and heels.) Both manuscript and writer think it’s smoking hot. We are not aroused.
Say F–k, an earnest but shy debut essay collection recovering from a recent English Lit degree, is the only manuscript with a glimmer of hope. And nice legs.
He swaggers in and assumes his seat in the circle, making slow, sustained eye contact with every manuscript who’s showed up to the page. He doesn’t speak, building tension to crack open the first check-in. All eight manuscripts squirm in the heavy silence, punctuated only by strains of sun-lit readings that breeze in through the open window from the festival stages next door.
“I don’t give a crap about diction,” he finally barks, “so long as your orgasms sparkle and surprise.”