Month: July 2023

How to inherit storytelling by A.J. Akoto

*All italics in parentheses are excerpts from Unmothered, A.J. Akoto’s debut poetry collection, published by Arachne Press in July 2023.

My mother dreamed me before she even knew she was pregnant. The message of me came from her grandmother. Her dead grandmother. Woman to woman, across realms, whether real or in the imagination-soaked field of my mother’s subconscious, they communicated. I sometimes wonder if my mother and I would talk more if one of us were dead (Dreams are a gathering place,/ after all. Is she meeting me/ where she can?). Then again, the silence between us is so populated – by memories, stories, aunts trying to push me into contact – that it makes me question what it really means to no longer talk to someone. Especially when that someone is your mother.

Hands Up Who Wants To Die by Sonya Vatomsky

I didn’t think anything of it when the mail arrived. Or rather I thought about the mail arriving, about the spoils of my latest shopping spree. I had, you see, a moderately popular YouTube channel and was in a perpetual state of buying and receiving perfume — samples usually, tiny vials always turning up under sofa cushions and between the pages of magazines. Mail, much like my life, could be exciting but was under no circumstances unusual. X led to y without dilly dallying; events brushed the crumbs of chance off their no-nonsense cardigans. My flat smelled of vetiver and old habits.

Detroit in the Distance by David Harris

They were in their hotel room watching a movie on Netflix when the power went out. Scott had been dozing on the bed with his eyes half-closed; AJ was occasionally glancing up at the television while texting with someone back in the States. Only the glow of her smart phone enabled her to see anything when the room went dark. She switched on the phone’s flashlight and walked up to the balcony window. The promenade along the ocean was dark, save for the headlights of a few cars cruising by the open-air cafes. She opened the sliding door, stepped out, and listened for a moment. With no music blaring from the cafés, she was suddenly aware of the sound of waves from the Mediterranean as they broke and surged across the wide sandy beach toward the hotel. She felt scared.

The Crow and the Peacock by Nupur Gupta

The first time I saw death coming my way was when I went to my maternal grandfather’s home and saw him crying on the bed in pain. Kidney failure. He was begging my father to bring something that would kill him instantly. He was tired of waiting for the crows to come and feed on him. I was four. It was a dark room; I’d spent quite a lot of time there before my grandfather did pass away. The corner bulb just gave me enough light to see my grandfather in the middle of the bed, wearing his usual attire. His white Kurta Pajama. It’s strange how he used to wear white when in Hindus, we wear white after somebody dies. He was crying in pain, and my mother sat by his side, silently shedding tears. Her father was begging for death. Death can make you feel helpless in a unique way. At that time, I didn’t exactly understand what was happening and why everyone was crying. Maybe I was breaking inside, something was changing in me, and I didn’t even realize it till it happened to me; when years later, I wanted the crow to come for me.

The Taxidermist by Alison L Fraser

It was not abnormal for taxidermy to be around the apartment, but it had been a long time since Ruth had last seen it. Not since her mom died, she thought, and she brought a few to a consignment shop, the type of shop that loved to decorate itself like a hunting lodge. But there the bird sat on the askew toilet lid, statuesque. The kestrel’s body was firm, heavier than it could have been when it was alive. Ruth gently lifted the taxidermy creature off the toilet, its beak unaligned appeared to be mid-joke.

PETS by Travis Flatt

We’ll break into your house and pet the shit out of your dog. Not literally. If your dog shits inside then you’re safe. Housebreak your dog. Have some decency for chrissakes. It’s not our job to clean up its mess. But, we won’t go through your stuff or steal anything. We’re not criminals. You’ll never know we were here. Well, if you wake up and your dog seems a little extra cheerful, like she–we prefer girl dogs, they don’t piddle as much when they’re excited–has gotten lots of attention, then you’ve been paid a visit by PETS.

Six Defining Moments from a Mediocre Life: A Vengeful Tragicomedy by Matthew Alcorn

It has occurred to me that in these final days of my life, with no spouse or heir to wait at my bedside for my final breath, that I should preserve in writing the few defining moments of my mediocre time on this Earth. While I doubt that anyone will be interested enough to read these entries, it seems wrong that one should pass from this plane of existence without leaving something behind. Unfortunately, as I reflect on my mundane existence, I realize that each defining moment is somehow connected to my late “friend” (for he would, until the end, recognize me as such, though I could not reciprocate the sentiment) Howard Foreman.