The Buffalo Hunter

by Larry Lefkowitz

On the keelboat going up the Missouri, Clearfield and I became friendly. Normally, I don’t think he would have been interested in me — it seemed buffalo hunters were only happy with their buffaloes for company. (I wasn’t surprised, the smell that emanated from him was enough to discourage anyone — the French crew gave him a wide berth because of it.) But the combination of the Frenchmen avoiding him, the fact that they avoided me, and the fact he didn’t like “foreigners,” soon made us companions. The nose adjusts to smells–even what I gathered was buffalo smell; and Clearfield was a valuable source of information to someone like me, in sore need of it. Sometimes he could be unnerving, as when he would suddenly pop off with his buffalo gun at some lone tree or other object that took his fancy. “Gotta keep in practice,” he explained. This practice of keeping in practice scared the pants off the Frenchmen. The first time he did it, the captain of the boat asked him to discontinue it, but he threatened him to “use you for a target if you don’t get back to runnin’ your boat instead of your mouth.”

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Other Leevilles

By David Licata

Stephen Miner sat crossed-legged on a Persian carpet hunched over New Jersey. His right index finger slid vertically along the map down the F axis, his left horizontally along the 7 axis until they met. Lifting his hands, his nine-year-old eyes had little difficulty finding his hometown, Leeville. He wondered why it was written in smaller letters than its neighboring towns, towns he had been driven through–Englewood, Fort Lee, Palisades Park, Tenafly, Bogota–all clustered near the pale blue Hudson River, all near a red line that was the George Washington Bridge. He liked the George Washington Bridge and thought that more than a single thin line should represent it. When his mother took him into New York City to a museum or a play she drove on the bridge’s upper level and when a large truck rumbled by it shook their car and his mother gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands but he liked it. He usually saw people walking across it and sometimes he asked his mother if they could walk across the bridge one day and she always said yes, they would do that someday.

He flipped through several pages of the musty atlas and stopped on North Carolina. There were the Outer Banks, the strip of islands where he used to go for two weeks each summer before his father died. He flipped back several pages to Hawaii where he was going to surf big waves. To Arizona, the Grand Canyon, where he was going to raft down the river. To California, to walk through redwood forests. All places his father had told him they’d visit and things he told him they’d do.

He turned to the back of the book, to the main index, to the Ls, and found five other Leevilles besides his Leeville. Florida, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington, and Australia all had Leevilles. There was also a Leesville, Louisiana.

He looked at each Leeville and he knew they were all different. Leeville, Florida was warm year round, Leeville, New Hampshire cold in the winter. Still, he wondered if they were the same, too. As he stared at the word “Leeville” in Washington State, he wondered if a boy there was looking at an atlas this very minute, wondering about the other Leevilles. Did he wake up in the middle of the night, grab his blanket and pillow, and sleep the rest of the night in front of his mother’s bedroom door? Did he wake up before her and listen for sounds that would soothe him (her feet shuffling, the bathroom door opening, water running)? Did the boy in that Leeville live in unexpressed dread knowing that no matter where he was in this entire book, his mother could die at any moment and he’d be alone?

David Licata is a writer and filmmaker. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Literary Review, Word Riot, R.KV.R.Y., Hitotoki, The New Purlieu Review, Sole Literary Journal, and others. His films have shown on PBS stations across the country and screened at festivals all over the world, including New Directors/New Films (curated by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA), the Tribeca Film Festival, and dozens of others. You can find him on the web at

We Speak as One

By Claudia Anderson

I don’t know how many of us are here now. Our weight steadily increased until one day the machines lay silent.  The parameters of our existence really do not bother us much anymore. Weight and length and color are nothing more than shadowed measurements of something once thought important.

We are tired, some of us more than others.  Our collective consciousness is slowly seeping out of this world, thoughts of ever-after more a smile than a possibility.  I think there are six of us here on this flatbed. We mouth colors of Regal Black and Arctic White and Matador Red, but no sound comes out.  Perhaps that is what we were once called.  It doesn’t really matter now.  Our identities no longer lay within the tints of our shell. The cold September wind is whipping around us, rhythmically snapping some long forgotten trim against someone’s bumper.  We lay together, six tall, waiting for our last road trip, trying to remember what we once were.

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Seaside Boi

By Maya Lionne

The girl was saying something, but he didn’t hear any sounds coming from her – just a rash of noise that had begun with the words “Are you a fucking tranny?” Rain slapped the windshield hard enough to drown her out and for a moment, he thought about staying and dealing with it, trying to educate her, trying to help her understand that he really was a guy, that he just had to “spend some time in the shop” getting some parts corrected, removed, or added. That his name really was Nicolas and yes he bled every month, but he’d been taking testosterone shots and his high tide would be history soon enough, and he really liked spending time with her. But he didn’t stay. He didn’t offer any explanations or education, didn’t offer understanding. He just unlocked the car door, stepped out into the rain, and slammed the door behind him. She waited a full zero seconds before she started the car and drove off in the opposite direction.

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Under Dermis Wonderland

By Aholaah Arzah

It was a process of sufficient precision; the hair combed through and narrowly parted with a fine-toothed comb.  The ribbons of hair that resulted were then separated into thinner swathes yet by the weaving motion of the rat tail of the comb.  These slender strands were slathered in dye and folded into tidy foil packets. If even a single loathsome louse clung by the claw of one of its six legs to the shaft of one frizzled tri-colored hair, it would be seen. The resultant repugnance of such a discovery made in the refined realm of Salon Curlicue would be loudly indignant. So, Virginia could safely conclude that despite the innumerable potential opportunities for possible infection one was daily exposed to that today at least in this moment she did not have head lice. She needed the respite of these moments because regrettably the relief was only temporary.

Barely an hour later Virginia found herself scratching furiously at her scalp and examining the white flaky accumulation under her fingernails with the pocket sized 30 power magnifying glass she carried for this purpose. At this level of magnification it was still difficult to distinguish between the flakes of dry scalp now rolled into ovals by the drag of her nails over her skull and the pearlescent forms of the infamously “sesame seed” sized larva.

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Reverie of the Recurring Soul

By Jeroen van Honk

There must have been someone, somewhere, sometime, who said that everything happens for a reason. Led by the hand of this convenient adage, and by the siren calls of invisible angels who trumpet my destiny, I will now scale the faithful stairs of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos at the fringes of the Unescoed heart of the ancient city of Córdoba. Made of large stone slabs, the Alcázar housed the Christian Kings, Isabel de Castile and Fernando de Aragon, after they drove the Moors out of their once-famed capital. What is left now is a calculated ruin, showing just enough grandeur to inspire awe and just too little to anchor the place in a tangible, imaginable version of history. The walls are still standing and the gardens stretch out endlessly. This contrast of grey and green emanates a certain simplicity here, bringing everything back to basics. Here, it is as if the human race once and for all is pitted against nature. From the grounds there is one spiral staircase, with tall, uneven steps, leading you up to enjoy the ultimate vista of the place.

Though unimaginable, since it is now a major tourist showcase, it is said that those who scale these steps can never again return to terra firma. At the foot of the steps there is only the insignificant warning sign stating that no more than ten people at a time are allowed to go up. At the same time it is impossible to know how many have gone before or how many are walking around up there. Never has anybody been seen to descend the stairs, though there are tourists who claim to have done it. They show pictures of the gardens taken from an aerial point of view. These don’t prove anything, however. As the legend grew, it has become a popular tourist pastime to put their cameras on self-timer and throw them in the air, or tie them to long, wooden poles. It’s a fascinating amalgamation of the decadently touristic with a fatalistic old-world curse.

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The Eyes of Aaron Marsh

By Scott Brendel

Was it West Cedar?  West Maple?  They should have brought the paper with the address.  But no; it sat in the clutter beside the phone at home.

“Hurry,” Amanda said.  “We’re late.”

“How hard can it be to find?” Carl muttered.

Then she saw it, knew it by the prickle that crawled up her spine.  “There,” she said, pointing.

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The Lie

By Jean Rover

Spring had come to the campus of Riley Institute, a small Lutheran college tucked safely in the blue foothills of the Pacific Northwest. Cream-colored spikes covered the huge chestnut trees that lined the sidewalk to the commons area and the gigantic rhododendron by the library was again ablaze in bright peach-colored blooms. The staid little campus bustled with the sounds of singing birds, humming insects, student chatter, and campaign speeches. Awkward election signs spouted alongside purple lilacs and white, fluffy trees; together they swayed in the fragrant air.

Mary, a junior, rehearsed a speech that she hoped would get her elected student body president. She’d taken a public speaking class her sophomore year and had gotten that part in a play last semester. After that, she headed a campus food drive, which set a collection record. These accomplishments surprised even her. Who’d of ever thought a quiet, small town girl, once so afraid to talk in class, could not only stand up before a group, but could also move it to action.

Once Mary learned the power of words and tasted success in the limelight, she could not step back into the shadows. Winning the presidential election, could open all kinds of doors. She saw herself working on some local politician’s campaign or maybe heading off to Washington D.C.

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Musical Girl

By Wendy Vardaman 

As soon as the lights go down and the conductor lowers the baton, her tear ducts open. Boyfriend offers one Kleenex, then another. She soaks them with salt water like a soldier shot in the heart soaks torn shirtsleeves. After the first box, Boyfriend gives up. She leans on his shoulder, drenches his only suit coat, his tie. People nearby have to lift their feet into their seats by the sixth song, and toward the end of Act I, there’s a steady drip to the balcony underneath. The people below don’t notice the rain at first, because of the pain swelling in their own empty hearts, filling their own sad, sad eyes.

Her row wades out at break, and the ushers come through with wet vacs and rubber boots. Phone the house manager when it’s ok to start. Break out the emergency drainage system for Act II to prevent the whole hall’s collapse.

But Musical Girl’s no ordinary sobber, and when she returns, eyes swimming in tears, telltale ripples boiling near their beaches, any island child could tell you that the tsunami has already started, the walls of water pushed up from her bottomless depths unstoppable.

Wendy Vardaman is the author of Obstructed View (Fireweed Press), co-editor/webmaster of Verse Wisconsin, and co-founder/co-editor of Cowfeather Press. She is one of Madison, Wisconsin’s two Poets Laureate (2012-2015) and co-editor of the 2013 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar and a forthcoming anthology, Echolocations, Poets Map Madison. In addition to poetry, she writes essays and interviews, which have appeared in Poetry Daily, Women’s Review of Books,, and other venues. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. With husband, Thomas DuBois, she has three children and does not own a car.