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Stephanie Valente

Good Girl

the swallow hips, hands tighten a grasp instead of shuffling papers and with clementine oranges, all to spare   my eyes widen, a set of lips unburdened, to charge, to rifle just as quickening tenses when a woman, without apron stitches up conversational parts   my words are reduced to newspaper headlines stop, go, yes, please, maybe is a forbidden word in the construction of marriage   my husband, wrapped at my hip bones fingers spread like letters, pressing ink into my shoulder coffee cuts, mouths waiting akimbo a command, cut fruit across a platter and my voice pours through breakfast. ...

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S. C. Johnston

Bodies Turn Cold

Tom washed dishes where I worked while he was on work-release from the Ottumwa Residential Facility after serving 7 out of a 10 year sentence for manslaughter. Allegedly involuntary. That’s mean. It was completely involuntary, but that is beside the point.

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