Predator

Just after my thirteenth birthday I killed a mailman. It was an accident as much as anything is an accident. There were no weapons and I never planned it and feel bad about it still, but it happened, and I watched it happen, and after it happened it seemed like something I would always be waiting to have happen again.

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Criticism

I was drinking Coca-Cola a lot. I was exercising that privilege a lot. And Pepsi’s okay. I like Dr. Pepper, too. And Mr. Pibb, whenever I can spot Mr. Pibb. 

My older brother is a very decent person at the range. He never criticizes me at the range. He never hurts me at the range. He never corrects my posture. Or my swing. And I smack those golf balls. And sometimes, they go pretty far. At least it looks that way. 

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Myles ZaveloTSRNONFICTION
Use Your Words

He asks if I’m a poet, and I say no, I’m just a Pisces. He nods, unimpressed, and jots in the open file on his lap. The line is obscure, and that is the point. I am using all that I’ve read for screening purposes. 

The social worker reaches into the business-looking bag by his chair and produces a bunch of tiny papers. I flinch at the sight of them. Sticky notes. These were found in your backpack, the social worker says, placing the pile before me. He waits, blinking, so that I might explain.

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Courtney DenelleTSRFICTION
Ying Ying

The man dragged out the dummy panda again and put it in the middle of the yard. It was well oiled and for a few moments my body was readying even though I was like—no, intestinal vapors, do not rise and do not go to your battle stations, no no no—but then the grease globbed off, all melted in the sun and runny. This must be this dummy’s definition of romance, I thought, though I don’t think a real bear could control its thing if it wanted to because, well I don’t know. And I laughed, because I thought it was funny, though it was a little serious, too. I say serious because of the dummies.

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Graham ToddTSRFICTION
Does She

Is she good? And I don’t mean versus bad, but is she better? Does she do all the things? Does she part for you? Does she? Do you prefer part or spread? Does she spread? It’s okay if she does, because you know that I know, so it’s okay now.

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J.R. AngelellaTSRFICTION
Leave it to Samson

Who else would seek out the body 
of an old battle, lion foe, & find 
entwined in the bone cage a hive of new, 

heart & lungs now floor to honey- 
filled storage rooms, waxen—before 
his downfall & blindness, & blindness 

the strength needed to reach
through sun-faded fur into a rotting, 
fetid carcass.

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Bullet Catcher

I made a bit of a joke about it. “Beautiful country over there,” which was my way of seeing if he was telling the truth. Because, when you’re talking one veteran to another, you never say, “What a shithole that place was,” or “I hate that fucking place.” You say, “Beautiful country.” “Real vacationland.”

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Old Friends Home for Retired Racehorses

I went to the farm of retired racehorses,
listening as the guide told us of how
they’d been kept in stalls twenty-two hours per 
day so they’d confuse speed with freedom
as they bolted down the track—how, 
no longer able to race, they’d been                                                    
sold for slaughter, then saved 
by a journalist from Boston who had 
an idea: to give them these green-
brown fields, this long afternoon. 

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Dear Best Buy Employee,

I guess this could be an apology letter, 
of sorts, because I’m sorry, I really am, 
for stroking those sound bars into their own 
sonic, semi-erotic oblivion. Giggling all the way 
to the flat screens and pressing their power
buttons in pivot so that all your beats pills screamed
yes, they are still in stock. Did you know 
that everything in your store can be taught 
to speak with one another?

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the eddy

Is it the eddy that makes us include the bits
we did not want? Is it the curving hill that means
snow shapes our pathway? or just the cold black
thought that the eddying of memory never
brings back even a swallow of the days
in which I wandered and left, and jumped
off the high stones in a ravine, near our lake.
Ravine, lake, stone, eddy, all to be leapt
Hurry body hurry. My time, almost quit.

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Star Trek

Back then he saw himself, a Black Captain Kirk
cruising the cosmos in an Afro and tight gold shirt.

When he was eighteen, he tucked the doo-wop street corners
of his neighborhood into his back pocket and traveled

where no colored man had gone before. He crossed-over into suburbia
rang doorbell after doorbell while holding his breath, waiting

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Bar Jokes

And the bartender says, “Sometimes, when it’s a slow night, I think about those vacant November days, when the leaves are an ancient language on the sidewalk, a prayer to something old and blind. I think about how this joke would look, boarded up and rotting.”

And the man says, “That bad, huh?”

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I Saw the Sunshine, Melting

Beneath the old sarcophagus and inside the core of Reactor 4, there remains a black, molten mass. The mass has a name, though I’m not sure who named it. (Only a few people have seen it in person, and it’s unclear if any of them are still alive.) They call this black, molten mass the Elephant’s Foot, and if you look at it for more than five minutes, it may be the last thing you see. The blackened lava has solidified in parts and formed rings, loops like the bark of a tree. At its center, the Elephant’s Foot continues to burn. Thirty years later the wolves and deer and wild boars have returned, the sun is scorching, the mushrooms are scraping their fresh caps against the sky, oh my, oh my! And the core is still melting.

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Origins

This daily shrinking of a 28-letter alphabet 
Trading غين حاء عين ضادfor the Fourteenth Amendment
Dragging inshallah by the vowels from right to left.
English no longer my second language
Nor Arabic my first. 

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