A Perfect Day by Michael Akuchie

Today there is not a lot that the sun is saying—the thick layer of clouds keep back the sun’s venomous beam. The windows of sky are ajar. The wind is what leaps from the fine decor of heaven. I am camped by the slender frame of a tree, wind sways toward the shoot of leaves. I love a weather without the charge of heat.


Michael Akuchie is a poet and essayist residing in Nigeria. Wreck, Michael’s debut chapbook of poems was selected by José Olivarez to receive the 2019-2020 Hellebore Poetry Scholarship Award. He is continually inspired by mundane things.

One Good Thing by Claire Taylor

One good thing is a pile of steamed crabs on butcher paper. Last night I dreamed I knew how to put out fires. My arms were sprinklers. We ran through the spray laughing. Nobody said the apocalypse is coming. Nobody said we’re running out of time. It was already over and we couldn’t remember how it ended so we ate popsicles and danced to Queen, our lips and tongues as red as a blaze. To eat a crab, you hold a knife to its shell and bash it with a mallet. You dig your fingers into every crevice, pull out the meat. Someone on Twitter says it’s the worst first date food. Someone on Twitter says you can make your own currency. So I pick the petals off all the flowers and pile them up like coins. I roll them into a ball and we kick it around the yard. When our son scores a goal he falls to his knees in mock celebration. I let it in on purpose. I let it all in: the shadows and the street lamps, the sound of the highway thundering like a waterfall at the edge of the world.

CTaylor_PhotoClaire Taylor is a writer in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of two microchapbooks: A History of Rats (Ghost City Press, 2021) and, As Long As We Got Each Other (ELJ Editions, Ltd., 2022), as well as a children’s literature collection, Little Thoughts. Claire is the founder and editor in chief of Little Thoughts Press, a quarterly print magazine of writing for and by kids. You can find Claire online at clairemtaylor.com or Twitter @ClaireM_Taylor.

Budapest by Matt Leibel

I circle the globe, searching for you. I find you pretty quickly, since the globe is sitting in the middle of our living room, and you’re not even trying to hide. You’ve always wanted to go to Budapest, but you can’t, because no one can go anywhere, so you just stare at the dot on the globe where Budapest would be and imagine that you are already there. You speak to me in a language you pretend is Hungarian. You bite into a sandwich that’s a stand-in for some grand Hungarian delicacy. The way you describe your meal, even in the fake Hungarian I can’t quite decipher, allows me to smell the meaty, juicy, aggressively carnivorous tang of it. I feel like I’m there with you, in Budapest, a place I’ve never been to in actual life. But what even is “actual life”, you ask me. “Being here with you,” I reply. “Who’s the hell is Lou?” You wonder. (My imaginary language skills are still pretty rudimentary.) “We should go there,” I say switching back to English, “when such things become possible again.” You agree, and stick a pin in Budapest—but the globe, the centerpiece of our shared, shabby space, is inflatable, and it pops. “Quelle catastrophe!” You exclaim, in your real language, and I’m beginning to think that we may never make it to Budapest, except that we’re already here, you and I, in this room we rarely leave, a place that could be anywhere, really, and is, in different moments, in different moods, on different days. And tomorrow, we will replace the globe with a map, and we will replace Budapest with Tokyo or Texarkana or Tangier—or hell, with Atlantis, what does it matter? We will invent more secret languages, we will find new modes of being. We will replace our wanderlust with real lust, or—if you’re no longer amenable to that—with whimsy, or with whiskey. We will play our roles until we have mapped every scale inch of our daydreams, and then we will sleep the sweetest sleep we’ve slept since the before times. And then we will wake up, stare blankly at the same room, the same walls, the same random, lake-y shapes of peeled-off paint, the same failed geographies, the same us, with our same stupid faces and stupid dead eyes, our same stupid noses that long to smell the world beyond our reach, our same stupid mouths that long to taste it.


Matt Leibel lives in San Francisco. His short fiction has appeared in Electric Literature, Portland Review, Gone Lawn, Tiny Molecules, Cheap Pop, DIAGRAM, Wigleaf, and Best Small Fictions 2020.

Urban Geography by Wendy BooydeGraaff

Our small-town high school urban geography class rode the yellow bus on the QEW to
Toronto to observe the gridded mecca of skyrises and underground malls. There on Queen
Street near Church, a man—a jovial man with three shirts and two jackets, a Santa beard and
a warm palm—said I was beautiful, the mirror image of Princess Di, she with the perpetually
bowed head, pearls and memorable black dress, now part of a wardrobe curated by art
museums. I tossed my long kinky hair and blushed—me, with the tight light jeans and slouch
socks, a baby pink t-shirt tucked in exposing empty belt loops, and my red school jacket with a near-invisible gold chain around my neck. You! my friend said, the one with pixie blonde hair, and upturned nose, disgust dripping in her eyes. He just wanted your money. Of
course, I said, and dug in my purse to find another loonie.


Wendy BooydeGraaff’s fiction, poems, and essays have been included in Nymphs, MORIA, Splonk, NOON, and elsewhere. Originally from Ontario, Canada, she now
lives in Michigan, United States.