[My mother] said, Beware when a man calls you angel. Every earthly thing you do will disappoint and enrage him.– Kathy Fish, “I Have Not Pushed My Cuticles Back With An Orange Stick Since The Nixon Administration”
Kathy Fish is an extraordinary woman. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t encounter her work until the end of 2017, when she published “Collective Noun for Humans in the Wild,” an absolute gut-punch and something else you should read when you have time. Since then, I’ve dug greedily through everything else I can find online and enrolled in her Skillshare Flash Fiction class. This piece is, like all her work, so short and powerful; one of those sort of ominous moments when you connect all these things you’ve been told, how they come from who they come from and how they’re a cultural inheritance, in a way.
Read “I Have Not Pushed My Cuticles Back With An Orange Stick Since The Nixon Administration,” by Kathy Fish on Monkey Bicycle here. If you’re interested, buy a copy of Kathy’s collection, Wild Life: Collected Works 2003-2018 on her website.
A man wearing a mask approaches me. “What’s your name?”
I look down at the name-tag I grabbed off the welcome table. “Volunteer 8.”
“Take your shirt off,” he says.
I hesitate. I wore my ugly bra today. This isn’t fair.
“It’s to give the babies more warmth,” he says. In his outstretched hand is a crepe gown. Yellow, the saddest color if you ask me.– Allison Kubu, “Bottomless Sounds”
When Ruthie’s roommate cajoles her into volunteering to hold babies born with opioid addictions, the last thing she expects is to become deeply attached to a baby girl named Splenda. Ruthie has a blunt and straightforward presence, but can be “sentimental,” she tells us. From a family with significant challenges herself, Ruthie is constantly struggling with the notion of being part of a family, even as she has aspirations to create her own.
Read “Bottomless Sounds,” from Longleaf Review here.
I scoff at them, and throw shards of glass into their cardboard. How’s this for a mirror, I say. Later I feel guilty and I apologize. The parasol ladies say it’s fine but I sense some distance between us still.– Reem Abu-Baker, “At the Home Depot”
For today, a beautiful little flash fiction from Cheap Pop, published originally in 2016. Abu-Baker conveys SO MUCH in so few words. The voice is whimsical at times, then sober, then tender, and while we only see a few glimpses of the narrator’s world, she lets us in to the tensions between what we are told we should do, how we are told we can look, and what we need to do to survive.
Read “At the Home Depot,” in Cheap Pop here.
Now, in front of the farmer and the market and God and the fruit, my mother looked at me expectantly for an answer. Or maybe for permission? She hadn’t asked me a question, but the squint in her eyes demanded an answer, or maybe she was wondering, praying, that I understood, that I would say the exact right thing.– Harrison Geosits, “Peach Pit Mother”
I knew I wanted to share this essay as soon as I read it. Harrison Geosits brings the reader gently and intimately into his relationship with his mother as it takes new shape. Because they raise us, adults seem fully formed in the imagination, always having been as they are. After finding an “easy rhythm” with his mother during his college years, this essay explores a moment of vulnerability on her part, and recognition on his. I loved the fullness of both Geosits and his mother as characters in this short piece; if you like family dynamic stories, this one is for you. I won’t spoil it any further.
Read “Peach Pit Mother,” published by Jellyfish Review, here.
I am, of course, committing my classic Gentile mistake once again: ascribing too much power to God and not enough to humanity. Zion can only come to a place completely ready for it. The streets had free will paved right into them from the start: You can U-turn. You can turn away. People chose cars, not God’s blueprint.– Karrie Higgins, “The Bottle City of God”
First published in 2014 in the Cincinnati Review, Karrie shared this essay on her blog in 2018 and I encountered it a year later. Part exquisite portrait of a strange city, part memoir of the author’s discovery of her “extrinsic asthma,” asthma that doesn’t come from within the body, and part study of design, intention, choice, and belief, “The Bottle City of God,” braids all these pieces together, and more, rivetingly.
Read “The Bottle City of God,” on Karrie’s blog, here.
I need you to know: I hated that I needed more than this from him. There is nothing more humiliating to me than my own desires. Nothing that makes me hate myself more than being burdensome and less than self-sufficient.— CJ Hauser, “The Crane Wife”
Ten days after she called off her engagement, CJ Hauser was studying the whooping crane on the gulf coast of Texas. On the Paris Review blog, a gorgeous braided essay about a difficult decision and why it had to be made. This essay has gotten a lot of attention in the literary community, so it’s a little more on the beaten trail than I had planned on starting this project with, but it completely deserves the attention, and yours. Enjoy.
Read “The Crane Wife,” here.
Hello there! I’m Anna, a reader, writer, and educator tired of hearing, “I don’t have time to read much these days,” when I ask people what they’re reading.
Every Thursday and Sunday, starting this Sunday, I’ll be sharing and linking you to beautiful fiction and creative nonfiction published by literary journals and accessible online.
My mission is for readers who are overworked, tired, busy, or unfamiliar with small journals to find something new, short, and lovely to read when they have some spare time.
I’ll be sharing stuff I love and that other readers and writers recommend. I want to highlight as many writers and journals as possible!! I’m not trying to say I think anything is “the best” piece published this week/month/year, just sharing great stuff out there one piece at a time.
In my dream life, I would be able to post something every day, but I think I’m going to have to work up to that.
Thanks for reading – look out for the first story I can’t wait to share on Sunday, July 28th. If you would like to, please subscribe!