Robin Dawn Hudechek

Thirsty Leaves

(The California Drought, years later)

 

The only clouds we see are

useless as smoke.  I walk alone

on blistered roads crisscrossed in veins

of tar.   Few cars pass.

The sky above us is burning.

 

My water bottle shimmers,

a liquid jewel.  When I set it down, tree limbs

bend, shading the spot above my head.

Perhaps now, the peeling eucalyptus will begin to heal.

 

We should have fixed this years ago,

gathered the water in ancient pots and cisterns

as desert dwelling peoples have always done.

Now oak tree limbs are exposed bones

and the people have gone.

Nomads, heads bent under broad hats,

shielding sunburnt faces

return in tens of thousands

to the states of their parents

and grandparents, understanding only now

what their grandparents understood

from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

Some moments should never be forgotten.

 

When a stranger with parched lips

lifts his head, let him drink.

Pour the last drops of water on the mound

below the tree trunk.  Sprinkle drops on exposed roots

and whisper: it’s raining.  Thirsty leaves curl inward,

catching precious blades of water.

It’s raining.  Soon the sky will wash away,

this empty sky scorching our hills,

until we are all laid flat and bare,

and the rain washes over our faces

and pours into the open palms of leaves,

a singular blessing:  first a sip, then a drink.

 

 

Breathing in Water

 

I was nine when my mother took me fishing

and taught me how to use live worms as bait.

Impaled and wriggling on a fishhook,

their last moments of life

were as cruel as any death sentence

handed down in a human court.

They were caught in the indifferent jaws

of fish, who would meet death by suffocation

at the end of a line, thrashing

and rippling  waves behind them

threaded in blood, pierced by the hook

as Christ was, by a centurion’s sword.

Yanking hooks from slippery bodies

we dropped them into our pail.

Feeling sorry for these fish

with their gills rising and falling

in currents of air when they

should have been breathing in water

we tossed them back.

No one mentioned the puddle of

red that appeared behind their fins

on the water.  No one thought of

the predators who would be drawn to that blood

by our careless hooks.

 

Doesn’t it hurt?  I asked on behalf

of worms and fish who would never speak.

My mother shook her head.  Worms have no feeling.

Why then did the worm’s head curl and twist,

and bunch lower in my fingers whenever

the metal point of the hook drew near?

My mother had no answer.

 

 

The Woodsman

 

The tree is a lens, an ancient eye

blinking,  a web of frost

melting in an empty socket,

a pond disturbed.

He can feel it burning.

 

Sleet scars the bark in icy lashes; he circles it with his hands.

The tree is a throbbing vein; he can hear it breathing.

 

The woodsman laughs, and lifts his axe,

dreaming of a house flickering warmth,

a candle tucked among snow drifts.

 

Soon his children will scramble onto his lap,

a daughter and son

who know nothing of trees and sap

their arms and legs, tender as branches

tangling playfully.

 

Mallards and Blue Geese rise up from their streams

as the axe falls and the trunk splits into halves, then quarters.

 

Two hawks circle the sky

and a field mouse sniffs the wind.

A shadow of a wing catches the man by his foot,

a shadow of a wing drops over his head.

 

The tree is a heart.

To save himself he must slow its beating,

lift the axe once more.

A deer emerges from the woods and blinks at him.

a single horned owl perches in its trunk nest.

The woodsman coughs and raises his hand to shield his face.

 

From behind rocks and under branches,

he can feel their eyes

on his boots and the back of his neck.

The forest is a cacophony of cricket song and scratching claws,

hooves advancing in new snow

and the mournful howl of wolves.

 

Eyes moist and teeth bared, glinting in the moonlight,

they are waiting for the axe to swing

the wrong way,

and the woodsman’s leg, to fall–

severed from his body

sky throbbing red in his ears.


Robin Dawn Hudechek received her MFA in creative writing, poetry from UCI. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Caliban, Cream City Review, Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets, Cadence Collective, Gutters and Alleyways: Perspectives on Poverty and Struggle, East Jasmine Review, Hedgerow: a journal of small poems, Silver Birch Press, Right Hand Pointing, Calibanonline and work forthcoming in Chiron Review. She lives in Laguna Beach, CA with her husband, Manny and two beautiful cats, Ashley and Misty. More of her poetry can be found at robindawnh.wordpress.com

Shittu Fowora

featherage of the interim

 

All it takes

for me to fall

into an equation

and endure mortality

like a life-sentence

is a string

of words and I come,

undone

I touch the moment

by light words,

I test it by the featherage of the interim

 

my lantern invents

an idea of strength

it draws in air for inspiration

 

Densities and words

lyrically erase my eyes

and I am a punctuation

drenched in words.

 


Storyteller, poet, freelance writer and editor. Shittu Fowora, a lifelong fan of history and the power of scented words has recently been motivated by the winsomeness of birds and the wisdom of ants. Having been stung more than twice while attempting to lounge in trees to write verses, he now spends more time around PCs and electronic gadgets,at other times,he’s in bed, not sleeping.
His works have recently appeared in or forthcoming from Sentinel Quarterly review, Cha, Monkeystarpress, StoryMoja, Elsewherelitmag, RousingReads, Thewritemag, Helen Literary Magazine,NaijaStories.com, DANSE MACABRE,WritersCafe.org, National dailies and various literary outlets.

Cindy Bousquet Harris

Constellations

Constellations pad

the sky paths, leave puma

prints above my head.

 

Bed Sheets and Dental Floss

Laundry crept into my head,

folded me, hid me

in corners, pressed me

to the edge

you didn’t notice

the count was off,

had to be,

could have been

much worse, sheets

dangling from the ceiling

like a sentence.

Floss from razored boxes

tripped me,

wound its minted accusations

through my brain;

all those hours of weaving

couldn’t know

if it would really hold

to lower me

outside the walls.

 


Cindy Bousquet Harris is a poet and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her poems have appeared online and in print journals, including Indiana Voice Journal, Snapdragon, Eclectica, and Blue Heron Review. Cindy’s had the pleasure of giving poetry readings at the Claremont Library, the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, and at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, CA. She lives in southern California’s “Inland Empire” region with her husband and children.

John Brantingham

A Kind of Social Justice

They hold Dale’s retirement breakfast in the far corner of a ballroom on a Friday morning, forty-three people huddled together in a room meant for two thousand. That’s all right, he supposes, as is the gold watch and the handshakes and sentiments, but he’s happy to get out of there. When he does, he’s surprised at the lack of sentiment he has for Continental Works, his boss, coworkers, and the profession of civil engineering.

Mostly what he thinks about as he drives through this neighborhood is how closely his life has stayed on the little path he thought it would take. His retirement party after all is in the town where he went to college. On a whim, he drives up to the old neighborhood in Claremont where he rented a backhouse, he and his three roommates, one of them the only black person he knew in the entire city.

He parks in front of the place and can see into the yard. The mother-in-law house they used to rent is gone, replaced by a giant pool. Across the street there is an open house, and Dale goes in. He’s still wearing his suit and tie from the breakfast, and the woman who’s selling it gives him a quick look and smiles broadly. “Hi, you in the market for a home?”

“No,” Dale says without bothering to think about a lie. “I was in the neighborhood, and I was remembering a time when I broke into this place as a kid. I wanted to see if it had changed.”

Once it’s out of his mouth, Dale can hear how it sounds, wonders if he’s scared the poor woman, but she cocks her head, shifts her weight to her other leg, and laughs. “Well, I’ve never heard that one before. What, are you just getting out of prison today?”

“No, it wasn’t like that.” Dale smiles. “It was a dare in college. I used to live with a black guy named Stuart. I was trying to prove to him that it wasn’t any easier being white than it was being black.”

The real estate agent laughs again. She knows how to do it so it doesn’t feel fake the way he’d expect from someone trying to sell him a house. Maybe it is real, too. She leans against a doorjamb framing herself in front of a window onto the backyard. “Did you actually believe that?”

“Sure. I was young. There was a big party going on across the street, and he said he bet I could just walk on in, and no one would stop me, but they’d probably call the cops on him.”

“And?”

“And they stopped him at the door.”

“And you?” She folds her arms.

Dale shrugs. “I walked right in. It was a wedding reception, and no one had any idea who I was. I just put on a tie, and no one thought to question me. When Stuart came in, they did everything but call the cops.”

“You’re like me.” She smiles at him. “You’ve had just one big indiscretion in life, right?”

“Yeah, but that’s not the end of the story. I got a drink at the open bar and a steak, and I knew that Stuart had been right. I sat there talking to the bride’s sister, who was feeling bad about her dress, and I realized that I could do pretty much anything I wanted in this house.”

“You mean to her?”

He shakes his head. “No, not like that.” He thinks a moment. “I guess maybe like that too. I mean if I wanted to. I realized that I walked around like I came from money, which I did, and that meant people looked at me differently.”

“So what did you do?”

Dale can feel himself blushing. He’s never admitted this part of the story to anyone in his life. “Well, I went into the bedroom where all the purses and jackets were, and I stole a couple hundred dollars out of a woman’s wallet.”

She covers her mouth with her hand. “Seriously?”

“I took Stuart on a road trip to Vegas and thought of it as a kind of social justice. The woman’s purse was made out of expensive leather, and it was on top of a fur coat.”

“So Stuart was right.”

“Yeah, he was. I could have made a career out of breaking into houses if I had wanted to. I was thinking that now that I’m old and look like I come from money, I could have an entire second career of crime.”

“Same holds true for me,” she says. “People trust women more than men, but the thing about crime is that you don’t make all that much money doing it.”

“Second careers aren’t about money really. They’re about new experiences.” He’s joking. Of course he is, but there’s something to what he’s saying. “So what was your one big indiscretion?”

She laughs and waves a hand at him and blushes, and he’s sure she’s not going to answer, but she says, “God, I slept with a married man.”

“Yeah?”

“I was nineteen, and he was a minister, and there was something really sexy about that.”

“Were you married?”

She shakes her head. “No. I never thought about the other woman.” She’s been smiling this whole time, but it weakens now, wavers. “Oh, God, I’ve been thinking about her lately.” She shakes her head and laughs a little to herself.

“And you’ve followed the rules ever since?”

“Sure,” she says. “I never break the rules anymore.”

“But you wish you had.”

She shrugs. “No. I wish everyone had. I wish that the world were full of rule followers, but that’s just not who we are. So I guess I might as well just break all the damn rules.”

“Do you want to get back at him a little maybe? Maybe with me?” Dale knows there must be a him, knows what this him must have done. Still, he can’t believe that he’s saying this, Dale Worth, retired civil engineer, coming up with lines like this.

She must be surprised too because she looks at him in a way that women haven’t in a long time. He must be exuding confidence. Maybe she has a bad boy thing. He hasn’t been a bad boy since the day he broke into that house, and come to think of it, he got laid in Vegas that weekend a couple of times.

Whatever the reason, when she leads Dale back to the bathroom, it doesn’t feel as if it’s about him, but what does that matter? It’s not about her either. It’s about that terrible breakfast commemorating the last forty-one years. It’s about what he might have been doing that whole time, what he’s missed out on in his windowless office.

They have sex on the edge of a bathroom counter quickly, roughly, ending before anyone else comes to the open house. When they’re done, they laugh together, not really because anything is funny. They just laugh. Her skirt is off but her blazer and blouse are still on, and that’s funny to him now that he notices it. He laughs once more.

The bathroom seems to be a world to itself where the rest of society doesn’t exist and rules don’t apply. Inside, they are friendly partners, and she keeps her palm resting on his chest. When they leave, she turns into the aloof saleswoman, which is almost certainly the mask she wears for the world.

“So,” she says, straightening her skirt, “I don’t suppose there’s any chance that you’re actually interested in buying a house in Claremont?”

“No.” He shakes his head.

“Well then. Maybe in the future.” She offers him a card that he takes and reads. Her name is Shirley.

This is the problem with crime, dangerous sex, theft, or whatever. The profits are never good unless someone really knows what he’s doing. Dale tosses the card on the front stoop as soon as he closes the door, and he thinks about Stuart. At some point thirty-five years ago or so, they lost touch. By then, Stuart was an accountant who had moved to downtown Los Angeles. He wonders what happened to him in the riots of 1992. He wonders if life has gotten any easier for him, and if he has a family, and if he is rich.

Maybe he’ll call him when he has time. Maybe he’ll look up Shirley too. Probably not. His wife is waiting for him with a little retirement party with his family. The kids. The grandkids.

For now, he has to get home.


John Brantingham is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction and is the editor of the LA Fiction Anthology. His work has appeared in publications such as The Best Small Fictions, Writer’s Almanac, and The Journal. He teaches composition and creative writing at Mt. San Antonio College and in a program that is free to the public in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Volume VI – Issue 1 – Artist’s Bios

Christine (Curry) Coates grew up in Redlands, CA, drawing, painting, rollerskating, and exploring the mountains, hills, and deserts surrounding her town. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art & Design and currently resides in Redlands again, where she continues to paint, explore, and sometimes rollerskate.

Graphic artist and painter Allen Forrest was born in Canada and bred in the US. He has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books. He is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University’s Reed Magazine and his Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation’s permanent art collection. Forrest’s expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh, creating emotion on canvas.

Jeff Mays currently lives in Redlands and has just finished a project called Assembled Pipe Portraiture wherein he took the portraits of many assembled pipes he found in public places throughout the Inland Empire.  You can view the entire gallery at diamondmays.wix.com/jlmphotog.

Dr. Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 500 national and international online and print journals. Professor Williamson has published poetry in journals such as The Oklahoma Review, Review Americana:A Creative Writing Journal, and The Copperfield Review. Some of his visual artwork has appeared in journals such as The Columbia Review, The GW Review, and Fiction Fix. Many of his works have been published in journals representing over 50 colleges and universities around the world. Dr. Williamson is an Assistant Professor of English at Allen University, self-taught pianist, editor, poet, singer, composer, social scientist, private tutor, and a self-taught painter. His poetry has been nominated three times for the Best of the Net Anthology. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing/Literature from the University of Memphis and a PhD in Higher Education Leadership from Seton Hall University.

Michael Overa

We Live Here Now

My kid sister Phoebe stood in the doorway of the cheap motel staring into the dimness. Cubby, her stuffed bear, dangled from her five year old hand, his butt hanging a fraction of an inch above the crinkled gray paint of the outdoor hallway. It’s one of those indelible moments that will be forever painted on the inside of my eyelids.

“S’this?” She asked.

“Our home,” I said.

I channeled every possible sentiment of good nature I’d ever witnessed, but never felt. I squeezed past her and ran my hand up and down the wall until I found the switch. The warm orange glow of the table lamps didn’t seem to make her feel any better. Phoebs took a few reluctant steps into the room. She was still wearing her scuffed pink slippers. The dingy fake fur at the ankle was worn into a threadbare fold. She hugged Cubby to her chest, his button eyes regarding me suspiciously.

“See,” I said.

“It isn’t a home.”

“It sure is,” I said, “it’s our home. It’s yours and mine and Cubby and Mama’s.”

Ma was out at the van grabbing our bags. Suitcases clattered on asphalt, and I could hear her cursing into the evening humidity.

“It’s not even a ‘partment.”

“It’s just like an apartment,” I set my duffle bag on the floor, “In fact, it’s even better than a ‘partment.”

Mom thumped up the steps, the metal railing pinged as the suitcases hit it. I picked Phoebs up and half-flung her onto the far bed, where she bounced to a stop without ever letting go of Cubby. Ma appeared in the doorway suitcases dangling from each hand. I may forget the day of the week, or the name of the place, or whether the soap was in little rectangular packages or little round packages – but I will never forget that image of her.

“Great,” she said.

“Is there more?” I asked.

“Phoebs, brush teeth.”

“Want me to get anything else from the van?”
“This isn’t even a ‘partment.”

“Teeth.”

The door stood open to the late summer and the heat came through in waves, shimmering the street lights into blurred halos. The suitcases were piled on the carpet at Ma’s feet. I picked up Phoebe’s pink roller suitcase and dug out the Ziploc with her toothbrush and glittery toothpaste.

“Listen to Ma,” I said.

“I’ll be back,” Ma said.

“Where are you going now?” Phoebs whined.

“I’m going to the store.” Ma was looking at me but talking to Phoebs, “Carl can grab you a snack from the vending machine.”

“I’m ‘posed to do teeth.”

“Pick something out. Then teeth.”

Ma fished a crumpled wad of cash from her wallet and held it out. As I grabbed the bills she held them fast and pulled me close. With our faces inches apart she mouthed: I don’t have to tell you.

And she didn’t.

Down in the parking lot I heard the van start and pulled back the heavy curtains in time to watch Ma ease onto the otherwise empty street. She’d be gone a while. She wasn’t going to the store; she was going to get blind drunk.

Phoebs sat on the bed with her arms around Cubby.  I looked at the wad of cash in my hand. I’d seen a row of glass-fronted vending machines on the ground floor next to the rumbling icemaker. I hoisted Phoebs to my hip and walked down the stairs. The staticky sound of cicadas electrified the middle distance. I set Phoebs in front of the machines and she examined her options. The stink of industrial cleaners and melting tar loitered among the cars.

“S’that one?”

“Peanut Butter cups.”

She pointed to another.

“Milk Duds,” I said, “Carmel with chocolate on the outside.”

“Skittles?”

I looked. “Yeah, they have Skittles.”

I lifted her up and she fed the dollar into the machine and punched the buttons. The thunk of the package made me wince. Phoebs squatted in front of the machine and I pressed back the plastic door. She peered into that pocket of darkness and grabbed the package. Back in the room she curled under the blankets as I opened the package for her and found cartoons on TV. She looked miniature on the king sized bed; the wrapper crumpled as she fished out several Skittles at a time. Cubby sat beside her, the shadow of the two of them morphing into a glob of round bear ears and little girl ponytail. The smell of stale cigarettes and dust had been ground into the carpet. The AC chugged along behind me, prickling Goosebumps along my arms and neck. I stared down at my backpack and gently nudged it into the corner with my toe.

The room was one more unfamiliar place in a growing chain. Everything was a rental for us: apartments, falling apart houses, motel rooms. Other than a long winter we spent with Mas parents, we’d never lived anywhere long; never owned anything other than two cars and our clothes. North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee. We’d lived a dozen different places before Ma landed a job at the hospital in Virginia. That spring we lived in a brick rambler, tucked back off Grandin Road. By mid May the heat settled in, pressing humid hands down on our shoulders. Ma’s worked nights, opposite of Pops, and most days she left right after he got home. If she left before he got home it was no doubt because of the argument I’d heard through the bedroom walls the night before.

Going into the basement was verboten. Pops disappeared down there for hours at a time, often right after dinner. Thin wooden stairs that led down into the basement seemed as if they’d barely support you. It was a late weekday afternoon when, mostly to escape the heat, I ventured into the smell of mildew, spilled beer, and sweat. At the bottom of the stairs a chain dangled from a single bare bulb. Along the far wall was an old workbench. Tools and faded porno mags littered the scarred wooden surface. Behind the workbench, tacked to the wall, was a tattered Rebel Flag. Off to one side an old rag covered something bulky.

I grabbed a corner of the cloth and folded it back. Underneath was a pistol I didn’t know Pops owned. I sat down on a barstool near the workbench to examine the thing. It was heavier than I expected. The dull metal shined in the stark light as I turned it over in my hands, running my thumb along the crisp edges.

I hadn’t heard his truck pull up or the front door open. Through the opened door I could hear the TV playing. But there he was, standing at the top of the stairs with a beer in each hand.

“You piece of shit,” he said starting down the steps.

He was so focused on me he forgot to duck under a low ceiling beam. His head cracked against it and he tumbled backwards onto the steps. His beer cans skittered across the concrete as he groped for the railing, swinging one arm up to keep his balance. His hand smacked against the dangling bulb and the chain rattled as the light swung back and forth casting hideous shadows on the cement. It looked like someone turned on a red faucet above him. I never thought a person could bleed so much.

“Piece of shit,” he said.

One of his eyes was squinted closed. He looked from me to the blood on his hand, edging towards me like a drunk in a darkened room. I moved out of reach, backing up until I was against the brick wall. Pops placed one hand on the workbench and sat on the barstool. An entire galaxy of blood stretched across the floor.

“Get a towel,” he said.

I didn’t move. He was leaning forward, his hands pressed to his head as he grimaced. The tendons and muscles of his back stretched the black cursive letters of Donnelly Construction from shoulder to shoulder. Dribbles of blood curved down his cheek and neck. He leaned so far forward that the back legs of the chair hovered above the floor. I counted the rhythm as he rocked slowly forward and back. As he took deep breaths his shirt stretched and went slack. I took a step forward and hooked my toe under the crosspiece of the stool. I waited. The legs inched upwards. I kicked hard. The chair came out from under him and his chin smacked the workbench. His head ricocheted backwards. His body bounced against the concrete.

The light bulb slowed to a soft, lazy circle. The chair splintered beneath him, one of the legs snapped off and landed across the room. He laid there motionless. A bubble of spit and blood expanded and contracted on his lips. The silence of the basement settled in as I stared down at him, the gun gripped tightly in my hand. I backed up the stairs. In the kitchen I set the gun gingerly on the counter; the image the gun bent and distorted in the chrome finish of the toaster. Phoebs stood in the hallway; behind her in the living room I could hear the babble of cartoons.

“S’that,” she pointed to the gun.

“Nothing.”

“I want juice.”

My kid sister pulled back a chair and clambered up. Numbly I walked to the refrigerator and opened the door. The humming coolness of the refrigerator chilled the sweat on my forehead as I bent down. Phoebs hummed one of those kids’ songs from TV. I poured her apple juice and set it in front of her.  Grasping the cup in both hands she tilted her head back, swallowed, and finally gasped when she the cup was empty. I listened to her slippered feet scuff down the hallway to the TV.  She sat cross-legged in front of the TV with Cubby at her side. The gun sat on the counter and as I reached towards it I could see my hand shaking.

Each creaking step into the basement was louder than the last. I braced one hand on the low ceiling beam and ducked under. Pops was lying on his back in the middle of the room. The bubble of spit and blood had popped, speckling his lips with pink froth. He made a little groaning noise, but didn’t move. I took a few steps forward and crouched down, listening to his shallow breathing. I wasn’t sure if I was happy he was alive.

From the kitchen phone I called Ma at work and told her Pops had fallen down the stairs. She asked me if he was conscious, and if he was breathing. She told me to hang up and call 911. Phoebs came down the hall again as I stood there on the phone with the dispatcher. I hung up. I stood there in the thick, stale heat of the kitchen. The weight of the gun dragged me towards the ground. Without much thought I opened the freezer and set the pistol on a bag of frozen peas, pressing it down as the metal fogged over.

When they arrived I led the paramedics to the top of the stairs. The lights of the ambulance lacked urgency. As the two men trundled down the stairs with their boxes, my sister hid behind my arm, pulling it around her. Her tiny weight pressed against my leg; her clammy hands twisted around mine as we stood in the kitchen. The men bent over Pops and talked to each other in casual voices.  Ma got home as they loaded him onto the gurney. She stood in the kitchen with her keys in her hand, her gray hair curled in heavy waves across her scalp. I could see the heavy lines etched into her face. She wanted to know how bad it was. She told them she was a nurse.

“He’s stable,” one of the men said as they wheeled Pops past.

Pops looked at me around the oxygen mask with nothing but shear and absolute hatred. Ma, Phoebs, and I stood on the front steps as they loaded the gurney into the back of the ambulance. We watched as they pulled away. Ma led us inside and closed the front door. The TV was still playing in the next room. She looked at the two of us there in the narrow doorway. Phoebs hadn’t let go of my hand since the paramedics arrived. Ma turned and walked down the hallway to the bedroom.

Over her shoulder she said: “Start packing,”

 

Phoebs fell asleep just after midnight. Ma wasn’t back yet, and I didn’t expect her anytime soon. I turned off the TV and tugged the edge of the covers over my sister. She hadn’t brushed her teeth, but I figured it didn’t much matter. I took off my shirt, the fabric was damp from sweat and cold from the AC. I shivered as I wrapped myself in the scratchy wool blanket. The floor was hard and the room was so dark I could barely see anything; light from the parking lot bled through the curtains. I could hear Phoebs snoring on the other side of the room. I imagined a hospital bed somewhere. Pops connected to a tangle and tubes and wires. Ma in a back road tavern with a Boiler Maker and a cigarette. A whole new chain of rentals. New states. New schools. Nothing would change.  I stared at the ceiling and listened to the drone of the AC.  Rolling over I reached out and placed a hand on my bag, feeling the contour of the pistol beneath the canvas.

 


Michael Overa was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. After completing his MFA at Hollins University he returned to Seattle where he currently works as a writing coach and is a writer in residence with Seattle’s Writers In The Schools Program. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the East Bay Review, Across the Margin, Fiction Daily, Portland Review, and Fiction Daily, among others.