Short stories


Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam, Eliot, Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv all live in Subburnabla and they are very, very happy. They work Monday to Friday and love their jobs. They drive to the station to catch the train. The train takes them peacefully into the city. Some read, some daydream, some sleep. They meet for lunch; they talk about work, about the news, about the weather. Some work in the same office. They congregate on the platform and wait for the train home together. Some yawn, some talk about their day, some are excited about getting home. On the train some sit in silence, others laugh, some make plans to have a quick drink at the local bar. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot after church go to breakfast with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

On the weekends their white shirts dry in the midday sun. Their dogs dig holes and bury the bones they were presented with for being good dogs. They shower to the sound of blenders mixing fruit. They shave to the sizzle of bacon. They run, stretch, play ball. On the weekends they enjoy barbecues and drink bottled ice beer that is advertised on the television. Their gardens are impeccable, the flowers bloom, the trees fruit, the soil is brown. They exterminate the worms, the ants, the beetles. Their cats feed upon the eggs of birds. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot drink cocktails in the morning sun with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

On Saturdays they go to the mall and watch a movie while eating buttery popcorn and drinking Diet Dr Pepper. On Sundays they go to church and pray to God to save them. They eat steaks, chicken, and pork. They coach football, softball, soccer. They laugh at the jokes they tell over and over and over again. They are interested in each others’ little histories. They share recipes and talk about the television shows. They are very excited about their DNA. They exchange music, movies, and ideas. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot bask in the sun around the swimming pool with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

The new dreams fade and linger with the old dreams. They stand outside and stare at the stars and smoke. They wave and say ‘good night sleep tight’ as the embers die, as the smoke dissipates. They love to sleep but fear rigor mortis. They drink cocktails in the morning sun. They overdose on a myriad of pills. The alligators feed upon the turtles. Every Monday a little girl wanders onto the road and is hit by a speeding truck. They stand at the curbside and cheer. They take pictures with their new improved cameras that just keep getting better. They erase all abstraction. Every Friday a little boy falls out of a tree. One day somebody came up with the idea to catch the boy. They grill hotdogs and drink Coca-Cola to the sound of bones breaking. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot dance with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

We help our neighbours to burn down their homes. We disable their smoke machines, we pour inflammable liquid on their back doors, we mess with the electrical systems. When the fire service turns up we act shocked, we ask silly questions and turn into obstacles. We stand and watch the fires. We break into our neighbours’ homes and steal jewellery, electronics, and money. We urinate on the carpets, we defecate in strange places. Foxes feed upon placentas. We teach our teenage daughters to sleep with cockatoos, wolves, lions. We force our teenage boys to rebel, to disfigure themselves, to smoke crack. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot get naked and sleep with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

Paul Kavanagh



If I were a song, I’d come up

at sunset onto the porch.

Occupy the rocker. Crack

the digits, knuckle by knuckle.

Smooth my lap, eying

the evening star touch your heart.

Wouldn’t stick around long.

Back and forth, forth and back,

slow enough to sip from the fifth; between

wobbling to the mosquito, the swallow,

the bat, hoops of smoke. Just as

the fireflies begin in chartreuse to spell your name,

and the June bugs pop their noses against the screen,

I’d go with the indigo dying to go black,

where the stars and the crickets elbow the melody out,

but not before the rhythm sets up echoes

of sweet, of nothing, of nothing sweet at all;

and the worm of a foot impossibly falling writhes.

I’d tithe the ear, tax the step, the better

to pay the night back with all the savings of death.

Willie Smith

Short stories


He is dead. He cannot feel the bed underneath him or the blanket wrapped around him or the pillow that is propping up his head. He died in his sleep. Peacefully. His heart. He cannot move his arms, hands, fingers, or legs, feet, toes. This does not perplex him because he knows when you are dead you are dead. His mouth is open and he cannot close it. He is dead and there is nothing he can do about it. He is sure he is happy. Being dead. Happiness hitherto unknown. Incongruous. Ineffable. He doesn’t understand the happiness he is dead but he is sure that something is stirring not within you understand he is dead. He can’t believe it. Life is unfair. He’s dead but that happiness is everywhere. “Oh” and “Ah” fills the bedroom. “Ohhhhing” and “Ahhhhing” is the dead man’s widow. She, the widow, fell out of the bed and is now up and dancing, not dancing, her late husband is showing signs of rigor mortis.  “What I am going to do?” she says and adds “How am I going to live?” She lights a cigarette and smokesfuriously. He doesn’t complain. Smoke away. Cancer can’t harm me. I am dead. I am happy.  ‘The children and school and holidays and clothes and college and marriage and grandchildren” she says. A speck of worry fizzes as magnesium in water. “Who’s going to pay for the funeral” she adds “I mean a funeral nowadays is more expensive than a home or a car or a holiday.” The miasma once so thick and beautiful is nothing more than a diaphanous cloud of smoke and is swept away with an opened hand and that turns to a pointing finger. The fingertips and toeends itch. “A coffin is very expensive” she says “And the tombstone and the flowers and the cars to take us to the church and the church and the priest and the food and the booze and I hope Uncle Toby doesn’t get too drunk and cause a punchup.” He remembers his mother. He remembers his side of the family. He opens his eyes. He wants to shout I want stay dead. He doesn’t want to get up, brush his teeth, empty his bladder, dress, go down the stairs, turn on the television, have breakfast, and then go to work. Work. He forgot about work. Work. The time! He’s going to be late for work. “They will want a free bar,” she says.  A poke. A kick. A punch. Surge impels. Electricity flows. Anger.  Depression. Disappointment. He coughs. Clears his throat. He says “I want death.”  His wife says “I knew you were playacting” and pulls the blanket from him and the pillow that was propping up his head. He sniffs, quaffs the air, snorts, runs his tongue along his bottom teeth, scratches his balls, scratches his arse, readjusts the soft penis, farts, and wiggles his toes.

Paul Kavanagh




Out on the bay in a boat fishing.

Ballgame on the radio.

Home team in the ninth

battling from behind.

Big one about to bite.

Watch keeping perfect time.

Check in the mail.

Wife at home,

roasting beef to a tee.

Gravy boat on the table brimful.  

Golf tomorrow ineluctable.

He smiles into the wake –

half-open eyes on the line half-focused,

hands folded over paunch, adequate

gold in mouth –

half-dreaming at his own wake

the jig never up.

Willie Smith


Seven Endings

  1. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect but luckily for him it was just the pillow upon his belly and the blanket wrapped around his sleepy head.
  2. Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure so I’ll go back to sleep. 
  3. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul I am sorry but you are shockingly way too young for me.  
  4. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed there was much spillage and he slipped and broke his neck.
  5. It was a pleasure to burn. The fire got too hot so we went inside and continued the party.
  6. Call me Ishmael. ‘Ishmael.’
  7. Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Something Hemingway never achieved.

Mark Barkan

Short stories

The clever araña de rincón

A fly was caught in the web of the araña de rincón and the fly turned to the araña de rincón and said how come you recluse spiders are so recluse why is it that you hide in the nocks and crannies why do you hide when you have such a terrible bite and to stop the fly talking all night the araña de rincón broke a cardinal rule and said the araña de rincón bit the boy and the boy asked why the araña de rincón had bit him and the araña de rincón looked at the boy and said because I am araña de rincón and so the boy took off his shoe and crushed the araña de rincón and the boy’s father asked the boy why he had killed the araña de rincón and the boy said because father one day I will grow up to be a man.

A.M. de Rodas

(trans: Larry Caomhánach)



I been conked on the bean.

Been on the cabeza banged.

Bonked on the coconut.

Skull-whacked; booted in the brains;

had the daylights kicked outta me.

While some days, no lid in sight, it rains.

Once knew a squirrel named Fuck Nose;

because his name was, well, who the fuck knows?

And that squirrel, you see, should you think

I’m just some kinda nut, was me.

And might you fall to wondering, yeah,

maybe Phil, maybe Bert, who the fuck knows

but maybe I do be some kinda nut.

I been flogged on the noggin,                                                           

beat on the ear drum.

Till I a humble stumbling bumbler be. 

But now I must ask, how come your candy ass,

anonymous as any minnie mouse,

down here with the rest of us dead,

got such a God Almighty swelled head?

Willie Smith




You & I

Could hear bugs

Fuck & scream & curse & eat & fart & defecate

Would we want to stay in their world?


Marc Ash

Short stories

Code Name

It starts with a phone call.

Hall, Oates is here, comes down the phone, loud.

He phones me up at all hours of the night. I think it has something to do with the time difference. I could be wrong. I am not very good with time or geography.

Hall? he says.

I cough to demonstrate that I am still on the telephone.

Silence is impossible, he says. It is a quote. He always quotes intellectuals. This time it is Maurice Blanchot. I introduced him to Maurice Blanchot. He always regurgitates my quotes – often misquotes and I have to correct him.

Please can we change my Code Name, I plead.

We have done this routine before – it vexes him.

What? comes down the phone, loud.

What about Lennon and McCartney? I’ll even let you be Lennon.


What about Hemingway and Fitzgerald?


I was going to say Batman and Robin, but he hates Superheroes.

I could be Oscar Wilde and you could be Marcel Proust, I whisper.

You are a decadent, he barks.

I was joking, I say, but seriously, what about Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello?

We are not playing a game, he says.

He’s irate. It always happens this way. I give in.

Abandoned Luncheonette, I say. This is the Code saying I am ready. He tells me in the morning a parcel will arrive. Inside the parcel, I’ll find a cyanide capsule. I have to swallow the cyanide capsule.

Goodnight, I say.

Good morning, comes down the phone, gleeful.  

Aaron Peterson

Short stories

Colhounn the Giant

Colhounn was a big man, the biggest man in the city. Colhounn was so big he was homeless.

Colhounn was big and homeless and a voracious eater. A pound of tripe Colhounn consumed in a day.

The children after school mocked poor Colhounn and his pound of tripe. The Children called Colhounn names, spat spit balls at Colhounn, and the children mocked Colhounn’s size.

 Once upon a time Colhounn was in love, a girl with long blond hair. This girl with the long blond hair stirred Colhounn to swoon, caused his heart to flutter, and caused his melancholy to dissipate.

The girl with the long blond hair was called Mary.

Colhounn and Mary would take long walks and consume two pounds of tripe.

These were Colhounn’s happiness days, Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Happy days don’t last forever.

But still, Colhounn had experienced those days with Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Colhounn remembering those days with Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

The children seeing Colhounn happy teased him, they threw rocks, urinated upon him, and they smeared his face with excrement while he slept happily dreaming of Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Mary hung herself.

Colhounn could not be helped, doctors tried to console him, a butcher gave him free tripe, a chef cooked the tripe, a waiter served the tripe, but Colhounn could not be helped.

Colhounn missed his Mary.

Colhounn drank day and night.

Nobody could help or did not want to help Colhounn.

The heart of Colhounn was broken. The pieces of the broken heart of Colhounn were scattered all over the pavement where Colhounn slept. The pieces were brown and hard. A dog came along and consumed the broken pieces. Where once there was a heart there was now nothing.

Colhounn free of his heart decided he could do whatever he pleased.

A wasteland is as good as a forest.

There was no forest but there was a wasteland.

Colhounn was a big man, had big arms, and had a big….

And so, Colhounn with those big arms carried away the children that mocked him day in and day out and in the wasteland that was not a forest Colhounn with his big …. sodomized the children, fed the children glass, and finally he flayed the little brutes…

Melia Klepht