Excerpt from the novel When Love Was Clean Underwear

Susan Barr-Toman

Lucy took the oxygen tubes out of her mother’s nose and turned off the tank so they could share a last cigarette together. Marge’s last cigarette. It was October 30, Mischief Night, the day her mother Marge had chosen in the hope of being buried on All Souls’ Day.

The Origins of Sadness

James Pabarue

Seven a.m. on a Monday morning and my mother is the only one awake. She pads downstairs. In the kitchen, she raises the shades, letting in weak, gray daylight, then turns to find the coffee pot.


Kate Delany

since it was halloween anyway,
they carved a big jack-o-lantern grin
just above my pubic bone
and from inside that sinister smile
they scooped you out, pumpkin seeds and all.

Devon Drive

Pat O’Brien

I am trying to remember blackberries
on my tongue, and my mother’s rolling pin
flattening out the oily dough for pies


Hayden Saunier

They took away our windows for two weeks,
ripped them from kitchen walls with wonder bars,
then nailed up sheets of chipboard, while we waited

Bedtime Story

Gwen Wille

If we tell another day with-
out wasted breath
or furtive glances set
free from hazy dreams
and desire, I could pretend
your real life

In Lieu of Flowers

Gwen Wille

In lieu of flowers,
we’ll bring that time you burned
toast and stunk up the whole down-
stairs, and the sound of your boots
through empty halls. We’ll bring that


J.A. Klemens

It was inevitable, but all the same he hadn’t thought they would get there so soon. Not one lid would match up with one receptacle. They had reached perfect Tupperware entropy.

BJ Schaffer is Dead

Bernard J. Schaffer

Twenty years ago I was famous. Not so famous that my torrid affairs with young starlets were covered by national magazines, and being thirteen at the time, that wasn’t really much of a problem. I was famous enough that strangers followed me around the Montgomery Mall when I went shopping.