Matt Rich


“WHY DO PEOPLE have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?” — Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

The stories and poems in this issue—almost without exception and through no design of my own—all attempt to answer this question. We’ve got Carolyn Oliver’s haunting “Drifting, Maybe Caught,” Bob Matlock’s bittersweet “Parranda,” and Karin Lewis’ devastating “O, Annie.” We’ve got suburban infidelity and Christmas shopping in Jacqueline Doyle’s “Merry Gentlemen,” a painfully awkward and unrequited crush in Lorie Broumand’s “Josie & Stanley,” an existential murder mystery in S. Frederic Liss’ “Maybe,” the beige purgatory of car sales in Steven J. Rogers’ “Piscary,” and a charming exploration of fiction writing and longing in the tundra in Steven Lang’s “Considerable Complexity”...  (read more)


IN WINTER, 5 BELOW FAHRENHEIT is nothing. It's wry. Safely dismissible. 15 below gets your attention. 20 below and I plug my truck in. I wear choppers and stock up on dry goods and make soup and have a fire in the fireplace, and the smoke emanating from the chimney lets my neighbors know I'm okay...  (read more)

PARRANDA by Robert Matlock

EMMETT AND I HAD LOBSTER a la Cartagenera at a little marisquería in Getsemaní. I wanted to eat somewhere in the old city, but Emmett hated tourists. Emmett finished the tail of his lobster and then cracked open the claws and teased out the last of the meat with a lobster pic. When he was done he wiped his mouth on his napkin and pushed his plate away. “Not bad for cinco mil pesos,” he said...  (read more)

Matt Rich

TWO POEMS by Daniel Evans Pritchard

WE DROVE NORTH on Route 2,
where the elbow’s cheek of sumac
seemed to blush with phlox;

where privet and spurge
singed the blasted rocks...  (read more)

by Jacqueline Doyle

THEY RAN INTO LINDSAY and Adam at the mall, all of them laden with bags of Christmas gifts. Johanna was the first to see them—Lindsay tall and angular, elegant in an off-white cashmere jacket, Adam in a dark Italian turtleneck and sport coat. She was tired, and felt underdressed in her jeans and parka. She tried to pull John into the nearest store, but Adam and Lindsay had spotted them...  (read more)

JOSIE & STANLEY by Lorie Broumand

JOSIE WALKED TO WORK through the heat and the dust of summer.  She arrived, dusty, her dark blond hair dripping under a blue gingham scarf. Every feature on her face created a shadow and the many uneven surfaces trapped these shadows; her face was a chaos of lines and streaks and stripes.  She wore blunt, woolen skirts that fell in bunches,  choking her legs...  (read more)

Matt Rich

RELAPSE by Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

make a cage from splayed wings,
like the rings of an atom,
you become a nucleus in their capture;
for years, they knead you with talons,
caress you with curved beaks;
sunlight then becomes a violent thing

and I know that one day
in a sudden moment
bred from a mystic force,
he makes you laugh...  (read more)

O, ANNIE by Karin Lewis

SHE'S MAKING A SOUND, a series of sounds really, like interrupted hiccups. They’re not unlike sounds she made when we used to make love. Now these sounds come when she’s anxious or fearful, which is more and more the case. She’s seated next to me in her new doctor’s waiting room, her hand gripping and ungripping my wrist. “It’s okay, Ann, honey,” I say, in as modulated a tone as I can muster. I put my hand over hers and pat-rub, slowly and softly...  (read more)


WHEN SHE FIRST SAW the body in the river as she peered over her shoulder, Jane thought it was a large branch downed in the night’s long storm. She’d glanced back in a routine check for other boats, distracted by her attempt to avoid thinking about the argument they’d had again the night before. She was wondering where she’d left the big hedge trimmers and whether the town collected garden clippings in October; the wisteria was crushing the wooden lattice propped against the side of the house, waiting for Monique’s heirloom roses to arrive in the spring...  (read more)

FOUR POEMS by Abby Minor

1. ALTHOUGH THE HISTORY of the United States shows acts of velour and courage
2. although any of various fabrics with a pile or napped surface
3. I don’t care if you’re red, white, pink, or purple
4. it has become clear that some students celebrated Halloween in a manner that / offended others
5. have you ever looked up your Congressional District representatives? 
6. shit, man...  (read more)

PISCARY by Steven J. Rogers

ON WEEKENDS MADDIE BROUGHT her kid to work. He’d sit alone in the break room, work on homework, and eat candy bars from the vending machine. It was hard not to feel bad for him — the break room was like the third circle of hell. Limbo. And not the kind from Dante’s Inferno, where at least you’d get to hang out with Caesar and Brutus...  (read more)

Matt Rich

MAYBE by S. Frederic Liss

HE SMOOTHED THE POCKET square in the breast pocket of his suit coat and tugged on his shirt sleeves revealing a quarter inch of white and his cuff links—sprigs of parsley dipped in gold—as he descended in the elevator to the lobby of his building. He was on the way to his third date with Darci Lippincott, dinner and the ballet, same as the first two. Watching the floor numbers light up, then go dark, he felt the strain of the day dissolve...  (read more)

Matt Rich

RICH'S WORK HAS BEEN exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, BravinLee Programs in New York City, VOLTA NYC and VOLTA Basel, DODGEGallery in New York City, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and Columbus College of Art + Design, among other venues.