EDITORIAL REMARKS by M.R. Branwen
WELCOME TO THE FIRST ISSUE of Slush Pile! We’re very excited to be here.
Then leisurely proceed to the issue itself, where you will find some new short fiction. To mention just a few stories, Aja Gabel’s What’s In Jacksonville? lends us a voyeuristic view into what’s actually in Durham, NC; Terrance O’Connor’s Sam introduces us to the colorful population of a psychiatric hospital; Ted Morrissey takes us to Russia, with a poet named Hektr, in Men of Winter; and Christopher Harris makes us fall in love with a bunch of teenage troublemakers lost in middle America with The Adventures of Froggy March—-watch out for this one, folks. When I read it, I cried. Real tears.
In the Poetry section, we have new poems from Jules Gibbs, Michele Battiste, Jonathan Weinert, and others, ranging as much in subject matter—lobsters, family, flowers, lovers—as in style... (read more)
WHAT'S IN JACKSONVILLE? by Aja Gabel
WHEN I WAS 25 I LOVED A MAN who—no, that part doesn’t matter, does it. It doesn’t matter what he did or did not do back. I loved him and I was 25 and it consumed me. That’s the beginning of the story. The rest—we toiled, he clutched the fleshy parts of my body in his hands, he let me go from a very great height—it’s all the same. That’s the bulk of the story... (read more)
THE ADVENTURES OF FROGGY MARCH by Christopher Harris
IS IT WEIRD I USED TO CONFUSE myself with Jesus? I don’t mean I thought I was good; I was under no illusion there. Rather, I lied out of charity to myself: I, too, was fatherless, and without comfortable footwear. I have always favored the underdog, and during my childhood felt nostalgic at recountings of Christ’s suffering. It wasn’t unusual for me to play “Squash The Pharisees” over an anthill in our backyard... (read more)
THE ODD THING ABOUT ME IS
by Michele Battiste
ONE, YOU NEVER LISTEN.
Two, though numerous attempts have been made
to domesticate the zebra, success was rare, short-lived,
and resulted in some nasty bites... (read more)
THREE POEMS by Jasmine Bailey
BECAUSE IT WAS A DOGWOOD we sat under, or because
someone wrote this out like a coda, or because of nothing,
because there are no causes, I fell into you and came out
of a French river whose name sounded like a cello sounds... (read more)
AT THE SEA by Maryse Meijer
OVER THERE IS THE CHILD, a red shovel in her hand. Dig, dig! she yells. She’s the only child on the beach still smiling. It’s not hot enough anymore, the wind is sweeping the sand into everyone’s eyes, couples argue about where to eat dinner. You roll on to your stomach and sip rum from a soda can. When your phone rings you don’t answer. If only the child wasn’t there, digging, oblivious, crusted with salt. (read more)
MEN OF WINTER by Ted Morrissey
I HAD NOT CORRECTLY JUDGED Helena’s reaction to my mishap in the woods. Instead of clucking, as I had anticipated, she was mortified at my condition. I have been trying to imagine my “homecoming” from Helena’s perspective: I, Helena, am relaxing a bit after cleaning the pantry. It still smells bad but not so intensely and at least I am confident there are no vermin hiding in the tent... (read more)
THE MINISTRY OF DEATH by Andi Mudd
WHEN I AM 23 I COME BACK from the desert to join my father in the ministry of death. She, the dying party, my mother, comes to greet me at the door. She is standing in the doorway of the Home of Bereavement my father has created for her dying. So this door, against the white frame of which she leans, dying, is not the door of my childhood; it is a door one street over from that through which I passed my youth... (read more)
ELEGY FOR BREAD
by John Poch
THERE WAS A MAN NAMED BREAD who invented more words than Shakespeare. His greatest accomplishments were his simplest words, he thought. HIS, for instance. And HERS. He was as proud of these two inventions as anything he had ever done, even learning to whistle. He took tape and paper and pen... (read more)
SAM by Terrance O'Connor
I’M SPACING OUT, STARING at the ace of spades I failed to discard when I had the chance. I got a letter from Matt yesterday, not an hour after his father called, that said the guys in his company lay the ace of spades on the bodies of the Viet Cong to freak out their buddy-sans, to signify their souls have no resting place.
A self-important throat clearing on my left brings me back to the game.... (read more)
I AM DYING AND I AM YOUNG by Joseph Riippi
IT WAS BECAUSE WE SPOKE of Leonard Cohen together—that was why I brought the boy home with me. I was playing Songs of Love and Hate on the house speakers behind the bar at Flanagan’s and whenever I went to ask if he’d like another whiskey he made a comment about Leonard Cohen. Young. Twenty-three, maybe twenty-four. I am not much older but he seems young when I think of myself at that age... (read more)
LATE FALL, EARLY SNOW
by David Thoreen
OUR CHILDREN ASLEEP at the end of the hall,
the tv’s on mute. People move without making a sound.
I hear the car turn into the drive,
go to the door. Her head sweeps side to side... (read more)
by Michael Burkard
SHOULD I PUT UP MY CLOSING SIGN NOW?
Should I wait until September? If
I wait until September could I still
sell the business or would too many people
be gone? If I can’t sell the business... (read more)
SEVENTY-THREE FAULTLESS SOULS by Jules Gibbs
RAIN RAKES THE SOUND, pelts the bridge, pings through
its riveted underside. We lure crabs to our lines with gobs
of chicken fat; they cling blue as Vishnu with bellies sutured
like skulls and hands that regenerate with injury and loss.
Without talking we toss them into waxy banana boxes... (read more)
TWO POEMS by Jonathan Weinert
LAWYERS WHISTLED IN OUR fantastic city,
Our pigeons stared and massed,
as in the movies, right up to the end. I saw them
slumbering in dozens on the ledge, or brushing
folded wings together, golden-eyed, unblinking... (read more)
SOME WEEKS AGO I APPEARED on a panel at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education with two other writers, both of whom I had met before. The first was Rishi Reddi, whose story “Justice Shiva Ram Murthy” turned up in the slushpile at Harvard Review in the spring of 2004. We published it that fall in Issue 27, and it was picked up the following year by Best American Short Stories... (read more)