They’re Cutting the Ovaries Out of Deer and Laying Them Out on Yoga Mats When They’re Done, by Franny Choi.
The Host, by Kathy Fish. There’s always something terribly impressive about micro fiction. This one’s about indigestion.
An Index of How Our Family Was Killed, by Matt Bell. This story always makes me want to experiment with form. It reminds me that every choice we make as writers has an effect. "Do not forget that you are doomed, that your family carries doom like a fat bird around its neck, that it is something you will never be rid of."
Obit, by Victoria Chang. Moving seamlessly from a laugh to a feel. “My optimism covered the whole ball as if the fish had never died, had never been gutted and rolled into a humiliating shape. To acknowledge death is to acknowledge that we must take another shape.”
Continue: Y/N, by Kendra Fortmeyer. A phenomenal video-game and gamer tale. I love it from the start, where it begins: “She has one job, and it is to offer the hero a flower. She says, “Would you like to buy a flower?” and if he says yes, she says, “That’ll be 1 p,” and if he says no, then she says nothing.”
The Greatest Failure of All Time, by Christopher Boucher. “I even appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show! ‘Let me give you a test,’ said Kimmel. ‘OK,’ I said. ‘What is the capital of California?’ I peed myself. ‘Wow,’ said Kimmel, and he stood up and clapped.”
Father, by Zach VandeZande. A beautiful model of how when time contorts, it can underscore how helpless we are to stop things, how we want to stop things anyway. “I know the knife is going to enter my child when I feel time slow. I know there will be an accident.”
Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work, by Meghan Phillips. One of the best titles ever. Also a great example of titles and first lines cooperating nicely with one another. And a beautiful, super short piece.
Bats of the Republic, by Zachary Thomas Dodson. “Some said the land was burning. That there were folks outside, in the rot, setting fires. But nothing could be seen. Not even the flocks of birds Zeke had read about in old books. It was as dead and flat as a page of text.”
A Question, by Brandon Amico. "the flowers bide beneath the frost,/ in touch with their subconscious, waiting to be called back--and they will" <3
The Babysitter at Rest, by Jen George. “I’m trying to have a baby. I’d like to name her Ocean, but I fear the implications: the void, vast emptiness, the unknown, big whale shits, giant octopuses, or other possible hentai tentacle situations.”
I Wanna Be Adored, by Melissa Goode. “I sing my favorite song and you keep getting closer. I tell myself the mantra from my therapist—I have a feeling. I am not a feeling. You are so close now. Only two feet away. One foot.”
You Can Take Off Your Sweater, I’ve Made Today Warm, by Paige Lewis. “When they were boys/ they were gentle. And smart. One could// tie string around a fly without cinching it/ in half.”
Desert Island Diet, by Megan Giddings. A spellbinding shipwreck of a poem. “[We] talk about which of the men we absolutely shouldn’t trust. I say none. She says just the Steves. All men are Steves to me, I say, and it’s become our one joke. The rain is being a real Steve today. Don’t Steve out on me. We can make it.”
Now You See Me, by Tiffany Quay Tyson. “Do you think of me? Do you imagine me folding clothes at the mall? Do you picture me walking alone through the dark parking garage at night? No. I don’t think you do. Maybe I don’t exist unless you are looking straight at me.” Heartwrencher.
Rockets Red Glare, by W. Todd Kaneko. “Once, we sang/ like wolves out in the snow, faces/; turned up at the constellations and hoping/ someone out there understands and howls back.”
2 AM AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS, by Marie-Helene Bertino. “Sure, she’s back in her hometown teaching grade school and she can’t fill out the tops of most dresses, but she can tell stories, goddammit.”
Crafting Flash Fiction with Joy Baglio, by Joy Baglio. Technically a YouTube immersion into flash, but SO good and brilliant. “Just let your first draft happen. Try to remove all judgement during this part of the process.”
A Nearly Beautiful Thing, by Cathy Ulrich. Brilliant and ballerinas and bears!! “She doesn’t think of you, or, when she does, it is as an abstraction, the frigid wife. Your husband didn’t say frigid, but the ballerina thinks of wives as being cold things, thinks of ice and unyielding bodies.”
Lone wolf narrative, by Kristin Chang. DAMN this poem. “at school the teachers teach him to shoot/ for the stars/ to constellate/ a body with bullets/ & baptize himself white/ in the light.”
The Friend with the Knife in his Back, by Ben Loory. “So, in the end, we left the knife in.”
Mothers as Makers of Death, by Claudia Dey. “When I became a mom, no one ever said, ‘Hey, you made a death. You made your children’s deaths.’”
Safe as Houses, by Marie-Helene Bertino. “She is a woman who thinks a book can turn her into an oak tree, who has imagined a hole inside her so big it could vacuum up the table and chairs, the refrigerator magnets, the candlesticks, her two kids, and the husband.”
Poem with a Possible Unidentified Flying Object, by Kate Gaskin. “All this glittering city/ and yet we are still only/ animal and heat/ and the renewable resource/ of tears.” <3 <3
Madlib, by Kim Magowan. An example of how form can be so informative, and also how impossible it is to communicate - how impossible it is not to communicate something. “Ron said if I KNITTED you, he would FLY me, and besides, you would never WHISPER me.”
Us, by Leonora Desar. The opening lines are just brilliant. “My husband is cheating on me with me. It’s simple. It’s the younger me. The me when we first met.”
2100, by Andrew Payton. How humbling it is to live beside the river that may one day destroy us.
The Vulture & the Body, by Ada Limón. “What if, instead of carrying// a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”
Dead Stars, by Ada Limón. “Look, we are not unspectacular things. / We’ve come this far, survived this much. What // would happen if we decided to survive more?”
Some interpersonal verbs, conjugated by gender, by Alexandra Petri. “She must think about his future; she must think about her future./ She must say nothing; she will say nothing; she says nothing; she said nothing.”
Bird, by Dorianne Laux. “What do I have that she could want enough/ to risk such failure, again and again?”
The Perfect Childhood, by Pia Ghosh-Roy. “This is their time, precious little time, to be blissfully ignorant of the neat and faulty boxes we adults have created for ourselves.”
When Naming Isn’t Enough, by Rebecca Hazelwood. “I’d begun to think of women as nothing but a collection of body parts to be examined and criticized and discarded. I wonder how my life would’ve been different if I hadn’t assumed all men thought like my father. If I hadn’t been as judgmental of women’s bodies as my father. If I’d believed it when anyone called me pretty.”