Month: April 2023

As If It Could Possibly Forget

by Douglas W. Milliken


A five-legged beetle marching across the sun porch floor, every few steps stumbling as if forgetting—as if still relying upon—its missing leg.


Douglas W. Milliken is the author of three novels—To Sleep as Animals, Our Shadows’ Voice, and Enclosure Architect (forthcoming)—the family history Any Less You (forthcoming), and the collection Blue of the World. www.douglaswmilliken.com


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “As If It Could Possibly Forget”?

I composed this piece about six weeks before my cat had her right rear leg amputated due to an Injection Site Sarcoma. There’s no way I could have known I was writing a metaphor about her future weeks and months of recovery.

Five Words for Pink

by Juliana Rappaport


Five Words for Pink

I trudged past Lee’s grocery store in sneakers, pockets stuffed with bubble gum and peanut butter cups. Tongue scarlet with the stain of sour cherry, bus tokens in the small plastic bag, useless. Pink school lunch card, frayed.

Walking the long road in the slush marked with soot. My sister dashed ahead to catch up with friends. The sun too bright, the air a dry bitter cold, loneliness, a parka like a fat suit, the static electricity of dirty blond hair stuffed under a wool hat.

Nibbling on chapped lips when the sweets ran out.

On the front steps of the old pillared school in Philadelphia, I waited for a mother who was always late, the wind whipping, scattering the leaves into the yard of the Charles Addams-like house with the cupola on top: a hat, the rickety porch: an apron. The mysterious old woman who lived there, draped in scarves, whose doorbell on Halloween was always a fearsome dare. I would stand a few feet behind as the other kids rang the bell. One Halloween, the door opened, and they ran off spooked, screeching. I remained planted in my ghost costume, a plain white sheet with eyeholes. The antique woman in front of me was drowning under a heap of colorful fabric—fuchsia, rose, her cheeks thickly powdered.

“Here,” said the scarf woman, in a quivering voice. She held out a chipped teacup with three unwrapped butterscotch candies inside. I reached into my bag of loot, pulled out a large Hersey’s chocolate bar, balancing it on top of the teacup, her eyes lighting up. “Little ghost,” she said, delighted, clutching the bar in her hand.

“Aren’t you something?”


An emerging writer, Juliana Rappaport has been a finalist in several fiction contests including Fractured Lit’s micro fiction contest and the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction -Bellingham Review. She was awarded a Crossfield Fellowship in Fiction to the Cuttyhunk Writer’s Residency. She’s also the author of the Tarcher/Penguin book “365 Yoga: Daily Meditations.” She lives in Berkeley, CA with her family.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Five Words for Pink”?

I wrote this piece first as a list: objects, slices of memory, tastes and colors-many turned out to be in the pink family. I then shaped these components into the story.

There was at least one intimidating house in Philadelphia whose doorbell we were too afraid to ring on Halloween. One where the inhabitant seemed surprised to have a visitor, as if she’d never had one before. She might have been as lonely as the girl in my story. Two outsiders who connected over a candy bar.

Kabuki Masks

by Tina Zhu


The parade was canceled midway through due to the sudden downpour. Before the crowds scattered, two performers with Kabuki masks appeared, expressions red and black angry swirls painted on pale faces that weren’t faces. I cried. My father scolded me like always. If I were scared of mere masks and rain, I wouldn’t be able to survive in America, he said. He was wrong. To become American is to learn how to wear masks. But his limestone grave on a hill has never seen visitors, and I hear his carved smile is slowly dissolving in the rain.


Tina S. Zhu writes from her desk in California. Her work has been published in Tor.com, X-R-A-Y, and Fireside Magazine, among other places. She can be found on Twitter @tinaszhu and at tinaszhu.com.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Kabuki Masks”?

My family used to live in Ibaraki, Japan, which was where I was born and spent my early childhood before we moved to America. I had this inexplicable fear of Kabuki masks and Noh masks (not surprisingly, clowns terrified me too). My goal with this piece was to explore all the meanings an inanimate object can gain over a lifetime via this unnamed narrator’s view on masks.

How to Cherish Your Daughter

by Gargi Mehra


Carve out fillets of haddock, and marinate them in spices but not the salt from your tears. When they’ve stewed for a few hours, wield each slice like it were a swimmer from your club, one who thrashes around in a pool of egg before emerging and drying itself upon a blanket of panko. Let the swimmer now dive into a vat full of hot oil and deep fry itself. Remove with tongs when golden-fried. Lay it on a quarter plate, with a dollop of mayo and hopes on one side. Serve it to your daughter for breakfast. Two weeks later, exhume it from under the carpet while vacuuming, slathered in threads and rug tissue.

For the best jam sandwich, take one lightly toasted bread and smear butter upon its surface along with your dreams. Don’t rest on your laurels now – slap on some jam upon the layer of butter. Conjure up another slice of bread exactly the same. Offer it upon your daughter’s favourite plate. Watch her grab a distracted bite before heading out to dribble a basketball with her friends. When work has all but choked your spirit, dig out the mould-leaden piece from behind the bed. Scrub the spot where it had tethered itself to the wall and permitted a colony of ants to erect their own little hill.

Dive into the cesspool online and discover recipe reels. Stumble upon a fantastic new chutney – you just know your princess will simply smack it off her fingers. (Remember how she would blend sauces in a bowl until they whirlpooled like your mind?)

Scan the shelves of the local supermarket for the ingredients and a jar of parenting expertise. In the warmth of your kitchen, cut-chop-saute-fry-sizzle, then dunk them all into a mixer.

When your finger’s poised on the button, and the girl strolls in all curly-haired and rosy-chinned, answer the accusation she hurls at you.

Is that something you are planning to feed me?

Comfort her that the mixture is destined not for her lunchbox, but for her satiny tresses. Deceive her by spieling its many miraculous effects.

Watch her brighten at the idea and skip away. Hunt her down in her room and mix it into her scalp. Help her choose an outfit for the party by tsking at every garment she whips out of her closet. Slink away from her at the venue and join your friends. Imagine her checking out the cloakroom mirror, and gasping when she glimpses the witch from that show, drenched in black with her hair pasted to her head.

Tinker with the drink in your hand, swirling the bubbles until they pop. Feel your heart plop to your abdomen, when she seeks you out and utters some choice words into your ears.

When she sashays out, tell your friends what a sweet girl she is.

Back home, toss your recipe books in the trash. Find your favourite floral box of tissues, and plant it on your nightstand before sleeping.


Gargi Mehra works in IT and moonlights as a creative writer. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Crannog, The Forge Literary Magazine, The Writer, and others. She lives in Pune, India with her husband and two children. She blogs at www.gargimehra.com


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “How to Cherish Your Daughter”?

I don’t know if it’s really surprising, but the delinquent daughter who keep stuffing her mother’s lovingly-made goodies in odd places, is me! My mother is a fantastic cook so I have no idea why I did that, but I remember doing it and she has narrated her tales of woe to me quite often.
I had noted those two incidents but hadn’t been able to come up with a story idea, until one day it struck me that I should write in the form of instructions. The first draft flowed out in a rush, and over the next couple of months I revised and edited it as best I could. My story was out only with Matter Press and accepted within 3 days!


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again December 15, 2023. Submit here.


11/27 • Michael Mark
12/04 • Helen Beer
12/11 • Rachel Rodman
12/18 • Betsy Robinson
12/25 • Trish Hopkinson
12/31 • Kim Chinquee
01/01 • Jill Michelle