by Gina Balibrera
The summer between high school and college I worked at a clothing boutique in San Francisco, taking polyester tube tops out of boxes, steaming them on hangers, and carrying them across the earthquake-dinted floorboards, which glowed golden in the midday-light, to the rounders for the shop’s wealthy patrons to admire. My boss, K-, lived in a studio above a flower shop and frequently aired her romantic woes.
A man was sad—for himself, maybe for someone else, maybe he had lost something, or someone—so he hired some workmen to erect a monument. He was not surprised when they came calling early one morning, while he was still in bed, but he was surprised when, with a practiced slash, the foreman opened his chest. “We build the monument inside,” the foreman said. “But who will see the monument?” the man protested. “It’s a monument for feeling, not for seeing,” the foreman replied.
by Ann Marie Thornburg
When I recently discovered the blog 50 Watts, I felt a jolt of excitement. The website is an exhaustive collection of book-related art and design. For someone who loves to think about the minds-eye landscapes of writers, and who also loves to get lost in the beautiful, wacky, colorful, and, above all, the inventive work of visual artists, this blog, curated by Will Schofield, is the ultimate feast. It is a lovely reminder of how the written and visual can work together. Neither plays a mere supporting role. Instead, each medium nourishes the other in a meaningful kind of give-and-take. I encourage you to visit 50 Watts and see which pieces tempt you the most!
fiction by Julia Gibson
It was the third dry year. There had been a stream once, made of snowmelt from the mountains to the north, but even the snow had been sparse the winter our coyote mother met our dad, a dog who had his own concerns. When he stopped showing up, it wasn’t because he didn’t want to, Mam said. His obligations conflicted.
That spring it only rained a time or two, and the sage covering the hills went brittle as Mam swelled with more of us than she could sustain. When the stream became a mudpath, she dug down to the damp. After a time, though, she could dig no deeper. So, coyote to the bone, she did without.
Little water made little milk. At first there were five of us wailing mewlers, but if too many latched on, the milk ran out before anyone was satisfied. Then we all were crying, and Mam worried we’d be found by somebody bent on bringing coyote numbers down to none. One after another, three pups departed for the Beyond, and then it was only Luz and me, and there was barely enough.
by Marshall Walker Lee
As opposed to wit, which is often just pedantic cruelty, more ingenious than funny, rarely instructive or heartening, Aphorism is, historically, a manly form, laconic, from the Spartan polis of Laconia. Spartan men were said to hold the rhetoricians and the poets in disdain; the Laconians valued bravery, austerity, and, as anyone who’s seen 300 knows, a direct and very un-pedantic sort of cruelty. The first “Laconisms” come from accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae, the bloody contest that pitted a small band Greeks and Spartans against a superior Persian force. Grotesque, frightening, often hilarious, these early Laconisms make the battle out to be a bloody lark. My favorite: when a Persian envoy sent to Sparta asks for a tribute of “some soil and water,” the Spartans throw him down a well; “Dig it out yourself,” they say.