by Chanti Burnette

Lies My Body

my body is a round stone

                             resting in the center of a queen bed 

this is how it's always been

                                           something to sleep around 

the centerpiece of someone else

                                            when the morning arrives 

my body has sunk heavy and deep 

                                                        longing for a river 

it is impossible for a round stone

                                    to propel itself from a mattress 

without cracking the floorboards

                                                   waking the neighbors 

it is impossible for a round stone

                                   to paint itself like a party favor 

to become a landscape

Chanti Burnette is famous for spilling coffee on freshly laundered shirts. She works on the blended learning team at Aspire Public Schools and lives in Los Angeles with her wife.

by Jenessa Abrams


Polyester. The feel of polyester on skin: sticky, sticking, scratchy. Please stop scratching me. The couch in the surgeon’s office. It is scratching me. It won’t stop scratching me. The skin on the back of my thigh is raw. Like meat. Reddened. Dirty. Maybe soon it will be bloody too. The women across the room. They moan. Wailing, like children, like whales. Like the wind. Only angrier. Only sadder. Only why are their hands touching? Only why am I over here? On the couch. Alone. Not in their circle. Why am I not with the women wailing? With the whales wailing. With the Woosh. With the Wooh. I am dying too. Will you wail for me? I will wail for you. The women’s hands, they’re overlapping. Their fingers are suffocating. They look like they’re praying, but they aren’t praying; they’re just waiting. Waiting like I’m waiting. Waiting for the woman in the white coat. Waiting for answers. Waiting for questions. Questions they don’t want the answers to. I’m waiting to be cut open. When something is open is it no longer whole? I don’t know what it means to be whole. I am looking for the hole. On my breast there is a hole. Am I going to the hole? Where are you going? Asked my father. Do you care? I asked no one. I asked everyone all at once. Once I was a girl. Once I was sixteen. Once I was untouched. Once a boy asked to touch me. Once a boy didn’t ask. Once the doctor never asked. Once I thought I couldn’t be touched any longer. Longer is what it feels like when the doctor is using a knife to cut open your skin. Your skin is like chicken, the scraps you pull off the meat. The scraps you leave on the paper plate. Everyone is leaving me on the paper plate. Everyone is licking their fingers. The boy licked his fingers. The doctor licked her fingers. The plastic. The gauze. The wound. The wound is wailing. Please stop wailing. I will wail for you. Please don’t wail for me.

Jenessa Abrams is a Norman Mailer Fiction Fellow and has been awarded residencies at the Ucross Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Washington Square Review, The Grief Diaries and KGB Lit Magazine. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiction and literary translation at Columbia University.

by Rachel Voss

The week David Bowie died and I didn’t win Powerball

Lightning only strikes
once.  The odds were so 

not in our favor.
You’d have a better 

chance of a Martian
walking up to you,  

singing a song
somehow otherworldly 

and in your own language.
It would be odd.

It would be like understanding
space.  Like unfolding 

all the cosmic layers
and exotic matter that led us 

to this exact point
in time: the first ball up 

a planet spinning;
single, perfect 

star punched
into dilated sky.

Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Astoria, Queens. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal Page, Hanging Loose Magazine, The New Verse News, Unsplendid, Newtown Literary, Silver Birch Press, and 3Elements Review, among others.

Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen by Daniel Oz

Flash Fables

The Soldiers and the Dogs

First one soldier took ill. He coughed drily and wiped tears of blood from his eyes. Then the dog he liked to pet fell ill and infected all the other gray, hairy barracks dogs, and now each of them roved around in a swarm of flies. When the Commander became ill, he ordered the dogs shot and buried. Their suffering, therefore, was ultimately the briefest. 

The Freezing Piano

Due to a heating malfunction, the pianist’s hands freeze and she threads them between her thighs and wizens. Her teeth chatter and the wooden floor faintly echoes the judder of her feet. From time to time her audience, its attention growing increasingly lax, accompanies her with a sneeze. 


And what about these ruins? Which era are they from? I asked the archeologist.
He blushed and muttered: Ask the general.
Why was all this destroyed? I asked the general, who sighed: That is for the archeologist to say.

Daniel Oz is an Israeli poet and musician currently residing in New York City. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Ben Gurion University and is the author of three books of Hebrew poems and micro-fables. His work has been translated into nine languages, with English translations appearing in World Literature Today, Poetry International Web and Flash Fiction Magazine.

by Shelly R. Fredman

Plating the Warm Vegetable Salad

Micah swept into the kitchen, his arms hugging paper sacks crowned with curly topped carrots and bunches of radish. We were in St. Louis visiting his grandmothers and all the others we’d left behind when we moved to New York City. “I’m going to make a collage with Savta,” he said, “a food collage.” Savta is Micah’s paternal grandmother, and he hadn’t seen her in three years, as he’d been honing his skills as a chef at Gramercy Tavern.  

My mother-in-law was once an artist, a weaver of silk tapestries, cerulean wefts with golden warps piercing through. But Alzheimer’s had taken her mind, her ability to distinguish between the beets and the carrots Micah began slicing, razor thin, on his mandolin. And macular degeneration had claimed her eyes, so we never knew exactly what it was she saw anymore when she gazed into our faces. She had taken to her bed in the past few months and we wondered if each visit was the last.

“I invited Namaw to come along,” Micah said, as he carved a curling strand of cucumber. 

“Namaw said yes?” My own mother hadn’t seen Savta in over a decade. They had shared dinners sometimes through the years, but once my mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s set in, she bowed out.   

“Well, she said she isn’t too good with people who can’t talk—she gets close to people by talking,” Micah laughed. “But I told her it would be okay.”

I bit my cuticle, saying nothing. My children have trained me to keep silent at times like these.


We drove over early the next morning. Hattie, her caretaker, had wheeled Savta to the kitchen table. She waited there, hunkered down like a small bird, expectant. 

I sat across, feeling helpless. I had feared my mother-in-law, at first. Her dark moods, her strange silences, her blunt Israeli style. When my husband and I returned to St. Louis every few months now to check in on her, though she grinned in his presence, she didn’t seem to know who I was. “Mah zeh?” she used to say to her son, when she still had words. “What’s this?”

I began to wonder if my own mother would show up. 


Micah laid out a dozen plastic containers across the counter. He was intent on having his grandma “play” with the food, hoping she’d take some pleasure in it. A way of sharing who he is with his savta, the person he has only recently become. I knew he was hoping to meet her in some land beyond language.  

I’ve practiced meditation for the past few years. The daughter of a woman who is always the first to jump in when silence strikes, I’m making my way into silence now. I took deep breaths, hoping all would go well.

The doorbell rang. My mother was speaking to Hattie as if she was deaf; the way folks speak when they’re in a foreign country, desperate to be heard.

Savta, who had only been babbling gibberish the past few months, suddenly found a few Hebrew words. Micah’s forehead creased as he plumbed the depths of his day school Hebrew, trying to answer.

My mother swept through the kitchen, kissing everyone, carrying a vase of orange geraniums. She sat in the chair next to me, saying something about a beautiful day, but grew quiet as she watched Micah pull a chair up close to his savta.  

He dipped a spoon into one of the containers, and then spread a layer of black lentils atop a puree of golden beets. He crowned these with thin disks of watermelon radishes and plums. Then he held a spoonful of lentils to his grandmother’s mouth.

She peered up at him, leaning in toward the six-foot-four-inch man he’d become, the boy she’d once chased on the deck outside: the four-year-old and his savta, gathering leaves, pine-cones and sticks for an October collage.  

Savta nuzzled her face into Micah’s, while he giggled, nuzzling her back. Only him. She kissed and cradled his chin with her hand, making smacking noises, murmuring, “Bubelah, bubelah.” 

My mother watched the two of them silently. I thought I saw tears in her eyes.

Later, we walked beneath the trees at Concordia Seminary, my mother and me. Savta and her husband once planted trees in their backyard, a new tree each time a grandchild was born. “I can’t believe how much she can express,” my mother said.    


Hattie ate the warm vegetable salad Micah constructed in patient concentration before he flew home. When I thank Hattie each time we leave St. Louis, she always says, “It’s a blessing, child, it’s a blessing.”

Savta ran a few slices of plum over her gums as she watched Micah plate the salad. She tasted the prayerful presence of her grandchild.

Shelly R. Fredman's writing has appeared in Tablet Magazine, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Best Jewish Writing, and othersShe is a guest contributor for NPR's On Being. She teaches essay writing and literature at Barnard College, and is currently at work on a spiritual memoir.