[Thanksgiving] by Nicholas Fuenzalida


It was not snowing,

the shopping center was not 

shut down for three, going on four hours. 

We were not in a distant 

northern city, and the bed we didn’t share 

was not rented. The television

didn’t cover the events, there was no 

discussion of long guns, hostages, 

or possible motives. Nothing was political, 

and I didn’t call home or send 

a message to a friend to learn

his mother was not shopping there,

in the town in the state in the country

where this has not become part of living. 

My fingers didn’t ache of cold

and questions of

how not to speak

about this not happening.

We didn’t flip through the channels, 

I wasn’t driven to distraction by lack of details, 

and you did not ask me (repeatedly) to forget this,

to never think about it again. The distance 

between people huddling in windowless offices 

and us was not obvious, and I was not ashamed 

to be in a restaurant, tomato sauce hot

on my cheek. When we returned, 

our phones did not buzz to life 

with word from relatives

who were not safe, we did not turn

the television back on to see

a police lieutenant without tears

explain that the suspect was not

captured. She did not refer to the people

who were not seeking assistance

in the medical building by something

other than their names. She didn’t say

he carried bags into the building

with him, she didn’t refuse 

to reveal more information

on the suspect, or why he did not do

what he didn’t. The next day, the papers

did not share his name, his picture

was not framed to show his eyes

as someone searching and desperate.

His mugshot did not stir something

within me, he didn’t appear

in any way similar to the others

who have not killed, and I was not conflicted,

not seeing in his face a man I did not know.

His cheeks and eyebrows weren’t familiar,

did not make me think of the neighbor

across the street who didn’t house a cabinet

of guns his not-adopted son and I didn’t find.

Years later, his son did not bring one of the pistols

to school. I am not trying to contextualize why 

these images of wild white men do not keep me

awake at night. I do not imagine what they might

have thought. So when I am in a subway station, 

or a theater, I do not remark how it is a wonder

the numbers aren’t higher than they are not.

This weekend, I didn’t surprise you by saying 

it wouldn’t be so easy in this northern city 

of underground passages. No escape

when the gun does not go off.

Nicholas Fuenzalida is a poet originally from Denver, Colorado, now living in New York. He is the recipient of a Goldwater Writing Fellowship and serves as the layout editor for The Washington Square Review. His work can be found in Potluck Mag, Rust+Moth, and elsewhere.

by Nicholas Fuenzalida

It’s Always Afternoon in the Hills

and you tell me you think it was that day
you found your father undressing 

an elk in the garage, his hands stained dark,
thick smell rising from a body hung 

on a hook you thought was meant
for sleeping bags or tents grown moldy.  

The swiftness of his movements, the gentle
peeling of hide from meat seemed meaningful 

as if to prove some men only show themselves
when their backs are turned.

You tell me he even hummed a little—Casey Jones,
a tune he would play on Sundays before sweeping 

you up in his arms. I imagine you shut the door slowly,
feeling your presence somehow wrong.

                                                I’d like to have been there
to see the afternoon’s light play in the blood that pooled  

on your dinner plate, to better understand why you
continue to call him, even though you were the one 

who came home to find patches slightly whiter than
the rest of the carpet, where he kept his lanterns 

and the other things he said he couldn’t live without.

Nicholas Fuenzalida is a poet originally from Denver, Colorado, now living in New York. He is the recipient of a Goldwater Writing Fellowship and serves as the layout editor for The Washington Square Review. His work can be found in Potluck Mag, Rust+Moth, and elsewhere.

by Jackson Holbert


And so I've come to these hills
to have a long look 

at the earth
and what it does to itself. 

After all the years of harvest,
clapboard towns, 

and muscle, it's time to see
what ice can do 

all year long. Between
the long gashes 

of freeze-brittled
sedges, crocuses 

push through
the frost 

with the blindness
and valor 

we thought was love. For
a week now 

the geese
have been rushing south, 

all the misery of sea-ice
at their backs. It's huge, 

how they pass,
shadows grazing 

the slow Columbia
as it makes its long, 

winding stab
toward the sea. 

The earth darkens
huge under the flight 

of geese. Its order
is always asking for a name 

always asking to be destroyed.
I go at it aslant, not reading,

not speaking to myself or anyone else,
counting the geese fly past 

one, one, one, one, one.


Jackson Holbert is originally from eastern Washington and now lives in Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Thrush, Muzzle, Gulf Stream, the minnesota review, and Word Riot, among others.

by Benjamin Newgard

Treasure of the Lake

With your brother and his wife, on the way to the rental cottage. 

They ask you questions, to catch up. 

They say: How's it going? How is work? Are you seeing anybody? 

You say: Fine, Fine, and No, because, as you see it, there's little worth saying about data entry and living alone. 

The drive to the lake is long and they spend it chatting about the neighbors, or your nephew.

You spend it looking out the window, or tapping fingers to your knee. Always feeling the backpack heavy on your lap.

When you arrive your brother says: Not bad! 

His wife says: Not bad at all! 

And with the backpack you walk toward the water. 

What you know that your brother and his wife do not is that they will return home without you. At the lakefront, shrouded by misted spindly trees, you feel this with renewed certainty.


In the cottage you have your own room. There are two twin-sized beds; you give the backpack its own bed, the left. You take the right. Down the hall the sound of sliding doors, the refrigerator. Your brother: Yes, dear, very nice. 

You step to the backpack, open it, check that the contents have not somehow disappeared. They have not. You thumb stiff brush hairs, the prick of a single sequin. Though they've not left your sight for days, it's a comfort to touch them now.

Your brother calls for you, Happy Hour!, and you zip the bag, move like a whisper from the room. Close the door behind you. 

A beer with twist-off cap; you've never had much tolerance. Your brother mixes Makers—it's a special occasion, he says—with the ginger ale bought on the way. For the wife, soda water. She tells you she is on a diet. Your brother rolls his eyes, clinks your beer in cheers. 

He makes sure you still like steak, with an elbow, half kidding, and invites you outside by the grill. You take distant sips and watch the meat turn, slowly, from red to brown. Gnats spool feverishly under the porch light. Your brother speaks again about his son, your nephew. 

He says: He's all into acting, into painting his face and nails. A good kid. But I'm worried, if you know what I mean. 

You look at him as if you do not. 

He says, About girls. 

Oh, you say. You recall some coworkers, not long ago, sniggering from another lunch table. You recall leaving your sandwich uneaten and walking to your car, where, pinned beneath the wiper blade, you found the body of a feral-print butterfly. Trying to free it you ripped a wing clean off, and then you left, went home early. You showered and thought hard of quitting. The next morning you called in sick and spent the day watching park swans, and later, in bed, you dreamed of men in orange-billed masks, men with white-plumed backs. 

Behind them, as always, the pale wax boy with gold tipped fingers. 

Sudden sweaty wakefulness. 



You say to your brother now: He's young.

Your brother nods. The grill hisses and flicks hot lashes as he flips the steaks, a sound as thin and taut as tripwire.  

You eat at a round table and decline a second beer. Your brother eats an entire steak; his wife pokes at a speckling of summer squash. Your own modest portion, you do not finish. 

There's talk of your mother, how, as your brother puts it, she's so glad you're spending time together, that you're both able to get away. 

For you, there is a hum in these last words, a wonder, a fluttering of wings.

After dinner there's a tray of chocolates, of which you eat four or five. You've always had a sweet tooth, worsened with your slow, lonesome aging. 

Your brother falls asleep in a love seat, drink balanced on his belly. His wife stitches at what might be a scarf while the TV shows a war movie, shows men in green bursting red and white. 

At a commercial the wife looks up at you, at her sleeping husband. She says: This really does mean a lot to him.

You look at your hands. 

She says: He gets tired of hanging around his drinking buddies. And of course it's always nice seeing family.

To this you nod. Behind your eyes there are your brother's friends, who you knew in childhood, who once walked into your room as you played with mother's lipstick. There is the ensuing routine of slapping, of howling laughter, the sound like crow frenzy as they forced lipstick to your lips. There is your brother, waking you another night, bruised and black-eyed, offering silence for silence: from mom, from everyone.

And there is the boy, one of the friends, who while the others slept would come to your room, to your bed, where you'd sit across each other in a blade of moonlight, where he'd ask to touch faces with your secret golden paints. 

You think: There's much, so much, you do not know. 

You say: You don't need to diet. 

Your brother's wife quits stitching, smiles at you.

She says: That's between me and my double chin. 

You say: I don't see it. 

She resumes her work. Curious smile on her lips, as if strained by the compliment. 

She says: You can see it from the side. 

She says: I can't take my picture in profile. 

You say nothing, and the movie returns from commercial. Soldiers bust into a bleak farmhouse. Rifles swing, interrogating the dark, while bedraggled civilians cluster and cower. 

A bearded man finds a trapdoor, lifts it, sinks himself into shadowed secrecy. 

Your brother's wife puts down her work, swipes a chocolate from the tray.

She says: Orange Liqueur, and she winks at you.

Behind her the bearded man stands alone in dark shelter. His eyes search upward, aware of the loud calamity he's escaped. 

A gunshot wakes your brother. 

Weirdest dream, he says. 

His wife says: What happened?

His eyes close, threatening sleep, but he says: My son had no face. 

She says: We've all had that one. 

No, your brother says. No. 

His wife takes him by the hand, leads him away like a sleepy horse. She says goodnight to you with a sweetness, and you murmur goodnight back, wait for the door. Pan the TV volume down until it's barely there. 

The bearded man emerges from the secret door, finds the farmhouse empty. 

And you click the TV off. 

What you've been waiting for. You sit in your room for an hour, giving them time to fall asleep. Satisfied with the quiet you pick the backpack up, check its weight in your hands. Exit through a sliding door. 

Again to the lakefront. The water, black against clouded night. You set the backpack down on the sand and open it. Then the package.  

First you undress. You take the gold paint and the sequins and the brush and you coat and bespeckle your entire body. As you finish the moon peeks through a part in the clouds. You glitter. 

You think, He's spying on you. Smile at your distant glowing onlooker. 

And, of course, you imagine the boy. Peeping through the shades. 

Asking, Can I come in?

Next you take the belt of lead, which you have already covered with paint and sequins. For now you hang it over your shoulder, like game freshly killed. 

And you fish from the pack the pill bottle. Give it a shake, as if it were a habit, and hear the rattling sound.

Benjamin Newgard lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he’s currently pursuing an MFA in fiction at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. This is his first publication.