Listening is Critical | Paul Gaszak

During my last few years of undergrad, I worked as a supervisor at a Chicago Tribune distribution warehouse in the southwest suburbs. The job was seven nights a week, in the middle of the night. It was an exhausting routine. Thankfully, I worked with some fun and interesting people, which brought a touch of joy and humor to the nightly grind. The nature of the job had us standing at workstations for at least a few hours a night as […]

woman holding drink

Orange | Karen Clanton

It was simply unacceptable for Anne to ramble around in her husband’s girlfriend’s trunk any longer, we decided. It had taken almost six years to get her remains, and we didn’t want Anne to linger in indignity for another second. So we met the girlfriend one Saturday afternoon to collect the urn and ashes from her Chevy Malibu. After repeatedly calling and texting to track her down, our persistence led us to the dry cleaners next to the gas station […]

walk sign

Run…Don’t Walk! | Angel Simmons

I had just started that job three weeks ago. I thought it was going to change my life. Everything was still new and fresh and bright and shiny. This was my first job with my own office! Now granted, the walls didn’t quite reach the ceiling… but it was still my own office. And we could pretty much yell over that wall and talk to each other without getting up… but it was still my own office. It was April […]


Lion-Hearted | Joy Ellison

Editors note: Names have been changed to protect the safety of the people of At-Tuwani. When I returned home after three years working in Palestine, people told me that I was brave. I wished they would stop. In Palestine, I wasn’t brave so much as confused. The Israeli military occupation of Palestine is baffling. Palestinian homes are demolished for not having building permits, even though it is well known that the Israeli army refuses to issue permits. Pregnant Palestinian women […]

girls on curb

Finer Things | Stephanie Douglass

The doorbell shouldn’t have been ringing. When you are a fat kid, and you have a half-day of school, you go home, you put in Salt’n Pepa’s Blacks’ Magic, and you re-read Danielle Steel’s Fine Things for the fourth time. This is life, and it is glorious. But then the doorbell rings. And your mother rushes back to your room. Through gritted teeth, she tells you to, “Put your hair in a ponytail and go to the door.” Because even […]

Postcard from Acapulco | James Sweeney

I can count on one hand the times I’ve lived, I mean really truly lived, with passion and ferociousness and all that stuff. However, after further consideration, I am forced to admit that four of those times I was drunk. When I am sober, which is fairly often, there is nary a hint of primordial fight in me. Nor flight for that matter. You see, I am evolved from a rare strain of homo sapiens whose particular defense mechanism against […]

Best Love in the World | Arch Jamjun

I was eight years old and running for my life. I sped into the men’s bathroom, opened a stall door, and hid. “She isn’t allowed in here,” I thought to myself, “She can’t get me in here.” Four years earlier, my mother first had her way with me. It was a children’s fashion show at our Thai temple. She dressed me up as a young girl from the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. She attacked my four-year-old boy cheeks with blush, applied […]

A Southern Accent | Erin Watson

Whenever I read poems somewhere, the first thing I make them say about me is “Erin Watson is a Southern person living in Chicago.” It’s one thing I know. The more I make people say this, the more it becomes an incantation: “A Southern person living in Chicago.” It’s like I never really left, like I can choose to wrap my life around two places. Even if I live here til I die, and I want to, I’ll always be […]

Undead | Will Hindmarch

It isn’t like peeling an orange. It isn’t like popping a walnut. Skulls are harder than I’d imagined. How long do I have, now? I’m still here, here enough to know this is wrong, but I love my wife and I love my kids and I want to hold onto those memories and for that I need a brain. Someone is coming closer, hesitating, slack-jawed. I scream at him, meaning to send him words like, “Back off! This is mine! […]