2.3

Forms In Between Poetry Fiction Creative Nonfiction Visual

Explore this Issue

Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

The next day a gaunt man pulls it from the dumpster and holds it aloft with his arms extended. He presses it into his face and smells it, then bunches it into a ball and stuffs it into his large plastic bag. Later he tosses it onto the bare mattress in his apartment’s cluttered living room and falls asleep with it under his head like a pillow. All around him are piles of weathered and dirty toys, sorted into groups of similar objects: here a pile of small metal cars, there a pile of bigger plastic dump trucks and tractors, ...

Read More

James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

III Coffin Handle, arrives home one night and tells Ashtray the job at the plastic underwear factory has been taken away. Ashtray coughs a lot and doesn’t come out of the drain for a long time. Coffin Handle sets the table for tea and we all sit around drinking marmalade and eating dry tinfoil. Coffin Handle wanted to know about school. Rolling Pin says how after kicking the egg whisk in the handle, the punishment is a week with no port-a-potty so Rolling Pin goes upstairs to the floorboard and sulks all night. Coffin Handle opens a tin of paint and ...

Read More

Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

A week later when the quilt arrives at the Second Chance Thrift store, a sorter hangs it by a large metal specialty hanger on a rack against the far back wall, pressed between a stained blue comforter and a yellow afghan with fraying edges and a fist-sized hole in the center. It hangs undisturbed but for the occasional brush of a child’s hand, moving down the aisle and touching everything on the rack. A faint and stale odor combination of sweat, dust, and mothballs soon coats its surface, and by night it glows weakly in the red-orange light from the ...

Read More

Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

It leaves on a lori after midnight, packaged in plastic and cardboard, traveling northeast across 490 kilometers of vacant fields and settlements, past Tiruppur and Erode, past reservoirs dotted with dust-colored flamingos barely visible in the moonlight, past Salem and Villupuram, to the sea port of Chennai. Here, in the morning, men in checkered sarongs unload the boxes and resettle them inside a battered steel container. Giant pincers lift the container into the sky and place it on a cargo ship, and the next day it departs, sailing south down the coast, stopping briefly in Colombo before crossing the Indian ...

Read More

James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

II The credit cards are nestled behind the bottle of tequila in the fridge. They should be defrosting in the flower vase on the kitchen counter. This means no excessive spending on needless electronics like the fancy amp in the window of the stereo shop in the village. Maybe for dinner Cassette Tape will create a tequila-and-pastry version of steak-and-kidney pie, and later the Swingline Stapler will perform the annual oral sex event. Highly possible, especially if the pastry/tequila combination leans to the tequila side of things. The last time there’d been “oral” in the house they listened to string music ...

Read More

Stacey Mann

Wall to Vanity

the beginning quite glibly has just been run over, / a tram-car at Patriarch’s Pond whirled and pitched, / poor thing, it must have slipped on frosted glass.

Read More

Mark Lewandowski

The Polish Lesson

One scorching July day I clipped some newly laundered koszulki onto the line. Arek’s apartament was on the bottom floor of the ubiquitous Soviet-style building: grey, mundane, with bits crumbling off here and there. I sat on my pupa with Gramatyka Polska w Dialogach and tried my best to pretend that I could ever learn this goddamn język.

Read More

Matt Sailor

Cut the Crap

Granted, the punk rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s have become our heroes and our saints. But would it soften our admiration to know, for instance, that Joe Strummer was born the son of a diplomat, that he went to a posh boarding school in Surrey, that he went to art school to study drawing, that he most certainly never fought the law, much less lost to its omnipotent hand (and additionally, that that song in particular was originally recorded by that notorious voice of the downtrodden, Buddy Holly), that he was not intimately acquainted with running down a railroad track with police on his back?

Read More

Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

The quilt does not become alive immediately. First the coarse-cotton fabric must be woven, the intricate patches cut and sewn, the white cotton batting pressed between the patchwork top and the solid whole-cloth backing. Then the bundling in burlap, the jostling truck ride from the sewing unit to the quilting center, and the long wait in a pile of starchy doppelgangers. And still it takes blood to bring a manufactured thing to life. This time, it happens when a quilter pricks her fingertip and gasps aloud, causing the women at her table to glance at one another, because if the foreman finds even a freckle-sized stain of blood he’ll dock twenty rupees each from their weekly wages. She keeps stitching, plunging her finger deep into the guts of the quilt and staunching the wound in the batting, hoping nothing will seep through to the top or bottom layer and ruin her last hour of work.

Read More

James Claffey

Tales from Normal Street

The Paper Bags escape and run wild in the geranium fields down by the salty egg whites. Little Soupspoon sees one of them snap at a doddery old flowerpot, and cries when the flowerpot topples over and cracks apart.

Read More