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By Thomas Mixon

October’s sky is so plump with undelineated stars I do everything I can to keep my eyes Earth-bound, which is difficult since the hills on the turnpike crest without warning, the trillion distant suns begging to be seen, tempting my eyes upward instead of left and right, where I should be looking, where the GPS (had it not failed) should be tracing a glowing line to First Unitarian, the side streets sporadic, on sign posts bent for some reason (and only two rhymes: Aquarius Road on the right, then Sagittarius, after that, then the rest (I wonder had I never overheard you talk about astrology, if we would have ever spoken, of course I knew you, of you, from the punk shows (had been yelled at for favoring the volume of your vocals at the expense of everything else, when your band showed up and I was on the mixer) we both couldn’t keep away from even though we were sick of that crowd, those same tired chords (but what else was there (save for hanging out in the parking lots of the three fucking Market Basket grocery stores on the same fucking stretch of road, the first of which I’ve just passed, the second coming up, and thank god the last one is beyond the church, because if I had to see all three tonight I don’t think I’d be able to keep my word, Sydney, despite both of us promising that, no matter what, we’d stop each other’s wedding, no matter how far into the future, no matter how many years had passed since we last spoke) in Billerica) from the same shitty speakers and sound system at the Boys & Girls Club, but it wasn’t until I heard your bullshit about moon signs that I summoned the guts to tell you off (I wonder had I saddled up and said how deep your lyrics were, how cool, if you would have placed me in your mental pile of Sydney sycophants, just another guy trying to make the only female punk singer in our little hamlame/shamlet of New England feel special) and say you were wrong, that it didn’t matter what goddamn day or month we were born in, that nothing’s ever pre-decided) of the zodiac) and of varying heights, so that I don’t know where to look, Sydney, everything is upside down, I swear tonight the Milky Way’s below me, and what’s above are echoes from the firecrackers that we once set off under the grocery’s red awning, which ended badly (for the store, for the seagulls in the parking lot, for all our stupid vows) just like driving to you now is dumb, just like the decades that we haven’t talked are sparkling with cold unknowns, distant, magnetic) with a pledge fulfilled, but my soul still empty.

Thomas Mixon has fiction and poetry in Barren Magazine, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

By Amy Barnes

My mother’s hands are coated with darkroom fluid or melted carob, I can’t tell which, but one is caustic and one is healthy and she forces both on me; pose for this she says do it again until you look happy AND skinny she demands, but I’m not happy because the chocolate is fake and my smiles are too, even forty years later when she sends me the developed photographs for Christmas, signed by blurry Kodak autographs, inserted into yellowing plastic jails that trap me and my first boyfriends and first dog and first bicycle and first car and last grandfather, right before we ate Farrell’s real chocolate ice cream wearing brown 70s bell bottoms and frowns when she only let me lick the spoon, but I find myself buying carob now out of curiosity at health food stores and it makes me frown and smile and take digital pictures wearing a brown sweater and brown boots and brown jeans, until I melt a little when my daughter with carob-colored eyes and hair smiles at me,

Amy Barnes lives in the South with dogs and kids and words and at @amygcb on Twitter.

Photo provided by author.

By Margaux Williamson

on the phone with Grandma, we talk in circles—how are you, I'm good, how are you, I'm good—due to the shortage, the interruption in what was the extended chord of her mind, straight, pulled taut, and plugged into infinity; it's a circuit now, the sharpness blurred and rounded, around and around, a relentless ring, staticky, steady, until a shocking, unwarranted cachinnation shines and spreads, her reaction to an unshared joke or some one-sided quip, or a memory fixing me, its receiver, elsewhere in time; I'm a child on the living room floor before the flickering, the outage, my tiny laughter, bright and clear alongside Mom's, my uncle's, my aunt's, and there's Dad, taller and broader than most, also laughing, louder than most, tossing Grandma over his shoulder, and she is a wisp, a light, whooping, playfully slapping his back like she's eager for grounding, though we know she's not—her mind is, was, a projector, large, illuminated, easy to read; so we laugh, and it’s riotous, sharp, visceral, crackling, and now, back from this charged reverie of hers, of mine, on the phone with Grandma, we talk in circles—

Margaux Williamson is a US-based legal associate working in advertising; she lives in the Midwest with her wife. 

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

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