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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 166(b)

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

This issue features

Bart Edelman

This Body Is Never at Rest

This body is never at rest:

For reasons I now suspect,

For what it may portend,

For where the next breath leads,

For steps of jubilant agony.

This body is never at rest:

Although it yearns for repair,

Although an avalanche awaits,

Although the Holy Spirit is asleep,

Although the universe cries, Foul.

This body is never at rest:

Despite forgetting its last name,

Despite working ‘round the clock,

Despite a simple state of decency,

Despite the hatchet in its back pocket.

This body is never at rest:

Hence the clarion call to arms,

Hence a thought in a glass bottle,

Hence each muscle at mid twitch,

Hence no date of expiration.

This body is never at rest:

Because the morning is an uncoiled string,

Because the afternoon pays no taxes,

Because the evening needs a shadow,

Because this body says so.

Copyright © 2022 by Bart Edelman.

Consider This

The world is one dead letter

After another, after another,

Hidden in top secret drawers,

Signed by a conspiracy of vandals,

Unable to provide proper dates.

It’s mind-boggling, a whodunit

You could take to the bank,

If you only knew the combination

Issued to you at birth,

When security was a gurgle away.

I tell you, it’s a lot to fathom.

Who hasn’t thought of crawling

Under the nearest bridge in sight,

Contacting the local troll and demanding,

Hey, you take over from here.

Like all senseless acts, I suppose,

I’m committing this one to a memory

I’ll surely forget by tomorrow—

Puzzling as it may be—

Truth or humble consequence.

Copyright © 2022 by Bart Edelman.

About the Author

Bart Edelman’s poetry collections include Crossing the Hackensack (Prometheus Press), Under Damaris’ Dress (Lightning Publications), The Alphabet of Love (Red Hen Press), The Gentle Man (Red Hen Press), The Last Mojito (Red Hen Press), The Geographer’s Wife (Red Hen Press), and Whistling to Trick the Wind (Meadowlark Press). He has taught at Glendale College, where he edited Eclipse, a literary journal, and, most recently, in the MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. His work has been widely anthologized in textbooks published by City Lights Books, Etruscan Press, Fountainhead Press, Harcourt Brace, Longman, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Thomson/Heinle, the University of Iowa Press, Wadsworth, and others. He lives in Pasadena, California.

Canadian Geese in V Formation

© by Gino Santa Maria.

Blake Z. Rong

This Will Haunt You

Sunday morning, light rain, and clouds, and I was standing before the kitchen window, staring at the Canada geese beating their wings against the blank grey sky, when I got the call about you. Poured myself another cup of coffee. My wife was sitting at the kitchen table, and she saw me with her typical calm unblinking grace, as if asking silently through her hazelnut eyes—I knew that she meant well, but she could never understand. This I knew for sure. I slipped into the study, closed the door behind me. Considered locking it but there was no need. When the call was done I played a sad song on the record player, a song that made me feel like the last man in the world, a voyeur, an unwanted witness to your pain, and in some way I figured that if I played it loud enough I could make you hear it for yourself.

Now I paced around the room, tried to muster the words. This day I marked for revising my many many manuscripts—but for the rest of the afternoon. I could not think of anything else. Could you? Bent over the typewriter, stabbing the keys with my fingers, trying to make them sing, or at the very least bleed worth a damn. Just like the fire you had left me in our more defiant years.

I took a walk. Standing on the edge of the river, underneath a spiderweb of branches, I watched sheets of lingering ice meandering downstream. No doubt you had seen this view a thousand times. Walking down to where the shore turned to rocks, I almost expected to see you there, sitting atop the pier pilings, staring blankly into the water as if divining your fortune. But in my mind, you had never really left, had you?

I was piecing these scenes together like a lost detective, searching for clues. I saw the façade of the hotel from the off-ramp, its unremarkable beige. Walked past all the long-haul truckers, parked to the side, their diesel engines idling. A jet airplane roared overhead on its final approach. Its shadow flickered among the bare trees. Across the sidewalk to the lobby your feet had crunched the dirty snow hard and slippery like weather-worn rocks. You looked out onto the freeway, and there was nothing beyond the median of trees, the distant grey-green hills. There were the cops standing outside of your room; one was idly checking his phone. And then the door swung open and the EMTs came out, shaking their heads. And then the woman with a nametag on her polo shirt, shooing away the guests, and the maid standing in the hallway, looking at the striped carpet, averting her face in her hands.

Oh, god damn you. I thought: of all the places they could have found you, why’d it has to be a midpriced business hotel out by the goddamn airport?


On the day they came to take you away you had called Matthew, who had panicked and called

Peter, who had then called me, and I didn’t know what to say.

Instead of subjecting us to your hauntings, perhaps it was better that you could go away for a bit. Spend a few weeks with a trained professional, someone who could give you more than just a sigh and an uh-huh, look on the bright side, everything’s going to get better.

You had sounded perfectly calm, Peter had said that Matthew said that about you; a certain unwavering clarity, like you had finally figured it all out.

That afternoon I went to your house, drove your cat to the shelter. She didn’t care very much for my presence: there is a long and dotted scar in my neck to reflect that. You had left your front door unlocked. Magazines across the kitchen floor, unopened envelopes on the dining table, shards of a coffee mug in the sink. I cleaned up your liquor bottles, took them to the driveway. Outside the mourning doves were gently cooing. I smoked one of your many cigarettes that you still had lying around, ones that would be waiting for you when you came home.

I wandered down the hallway, pressed a hand against the yellow wallpaper. Brushed Opened the doors to your closet of neatly folded shirts and jackets, each stacked by weight and season, linen blazers to the right, fur-lined parkas to the left.

Here, on the left wall, against the cigarette-stained walls, was a picture of us from our fraternity days; here was you and Peter and Matthew, clad in Harris Tweed, blowing pipe smoke before the cameras; here you and my future wife carried each other home after New Year’s, dropping our top hats in the snow, flicking our cigar butts into the lake, throwing them at the ducks. Snow underneath the tongues of our penny loafers, you lean your head against my shoulder. A silly look splayed out across your face.

I had felt your presence in your house, felt a kind of growing anger that had been trapped in these walls, felt the hair growing on the back of my neck. Had a poltergeist invaded this house? An army of cockroaches? Even months and months later you still heard our voices like a distant drumbeat, raising a declaration of war.

I walked into the bedroom, and I sat on your bed.

There once was a reason why we stopped talking to you, but now—slumped against my Wassily chair, watching the first of the snow flit past the window of the study—I couldn’t remember. But surely, our hearts were in the right place; we did what we could for all the right reasons.

I wish I could have told you that all the small victories counted, yes, even the smallest ones did, such as going to bed early and getting out of bed and peeling yourself away from the television and saving one more bottle of beer in the fridge for tomorrow instead of a nightcap that never quite ends in your mind.

Sometimes your old friends reappear out of the fog, and they emerge full of grace and effervescence. Sometimes they leave your life with an explosion, a hull breach, and a loss of cabin pressure. The rupture of metal once impenetrable.

You had told me this in the letters you sent me from the hospital. I tried to follow along, but the words felt alien, badly translated from another tongue. A man moves through a storm cloud, you said in the poems they made you write at the hospital, forever changed by rain.

Plebian, I thought, all meat and potatoes, none of your initial spark. Frustrated, I crumpled your letter and threw it in the garbage.

A memory, now: the night I won my first major literary award. There we were, just before the ceremony, sitting on the back bumper of your Volvo in our rented tuxedos. You pulled out a small bottle of something from inside the trunk and passed it to me. To grip our readers by the throat, you repeated like a mantra: to snarl our questions in their face, defying them to answer otherwise. That was the point of our work, was it not? Anything else would be a squandering of our talents.

I thought about wormwood, the first time I held it aching on the tip of my tongue, dreamy and scathing from the bottle. Surely this was no time for poetry: how can you capture with words something of this magnitude? Like attempting to describe the universe—it all becomes purple prose, florid and ungainly. A trickster god only sneers at your efforts. I thought about what you would drink when the world was grey and adrift with flying snow, and you were the last person on earth and the Volvo fired up with a rare first kick and you put it in gear, and you were on your way to meet a ghost.


The last time I saw you at the hospital, you told me you had trouble sleeping at night, you had barely slept for the past three days.

I asked you, have you been taking your meds, they should help with that, I checked with the head nurse, and she says you are.

You had dreamed of a great big house where all the rooms rearrange themselves when you turned your back. Has a dog ever bitten a pope? you asked me. Surely one has, back when packs of dogs roamed the streets of our holy cities. Do you think those dogs go to hell?

I’m sure that if there was a confessional booth for dogs, I said, they could still get into heaven.

Take me down to the river and let me gaze at your perfect view.

I recognized that line from a piece in your first collection: “Flowers in the Belfry.” Published by some rinkydink outfit whose founder seemed more interested in a pyramid scheme than being a literary citizen. Nevertheless, it was you, me, my wife, and your then-girlfriend—what was her name again? Janice? —raising drinks to you at Phil’s, the dive by your old apartment: that was the night you stood on a table and hoisted a pint skyward and yelled this shall pass, you motherfuckers!

Now here we were, ten years later. You sat across the table from me and took my hands into yours and you told me a story I had never heard before.

I could feel the burning glares of the orderlies, ready to swoop down and render us once again into illusions. You ignored them and said: this was from college, the year you were an RA. Just before I met you. You began: I just can’t forget that smell.

Downstairs, fourth floor, right below me, over in Kennedy Hall, same room below me and everything. President’s Day Weekend. Everyone had gone home. Her friends had been trying to call her for days now, knocking on her door. Wednesday morning at the dining hall one friend went up to me and started crying do you have the master keys can you just let us in and at first, I had said oh no I can’t do that I’ll get fired I’d have to talk to my boss whose name was Luke. I found Luke just when the office opened. At first, he was annoyed and cursed me out but eventually he pulled the key from a drawer, and we unlocked her door, and I was the first one inside.

I’ll never forget that smell.

The room was dark, and all the curtains were drawn. She had the music going, it was on a playlist. It had already timed out by the time we got there, static upon static. Luke walked over and flicked it off, coldly, like he was annoyed at it. She had cleaned up her room, made the bed, folded her clothes, and put everything away, tied the rope herself, got on the chair, and all she could hear was her playlists and her music and whoever was speaking in her mind, egging her on. The EMTs and the medical examiners and the detectives and the volunteer fire department showed up and I watched as they cut her down from the ceiling slicing through the rope with their hacksaws. I’ll never forget that sound, the scritch scritch scratch sound, how one of the EMTs braced her legs with bright blue gloves on saying I got her, I got her while he was breathing deep through his face mask.

What I remembered were the ladybugs.

Even after the mandatory counseling, even after the 24-hour watch they placed us under, even after the one-on-one sessions where my residents have been telling me the only thing that kept me from killing myself today was that I vacuumed my room the only thing I could remember were all the dead ladybugs on the windowsill covered in dust and lying flat on their backs. You know that ladybugs eat other bugs, that they can eat up to 5,000 green bugs in their lifetimes? They have some encyclopedias here in the common room, I read those after group therapy. Did you know that ladybugs will only live the year. Did you know if you dream of a ladybug your days will bear beauty and good luck, that’s what it says, verbatim. If a ladybird lands on you your wish will come true and if you kill a ladybug, you’ll be wracked with sadness and sorrow and the brighter a ladybug is the more luck you’ll have and the more spots on a ladybug the better fortune you’ll have—

I let out a low whistle.

Do you know what Luke, the head of student services, said to me that afternoon?

No, I sighed, I wasn’t there.

He said: this, all of this, this is going to haunt you.

Here I noticed that my hands were now incredibly sweaty. I withdrew them, wiped them on my trousers.

What you said about me wasn’t true, you said, it was never true. Now your voice was tremulous, as if you had spent all your energy on ladybug facts. But I can never begin to defend myself. Instead, I suffer here, and I ask you: what is the point of suffering if I can’t even understand what I’ve been through? Instead, all of this has been an act.

I nodded.

A pity party. Hasn’t it been?

Yes, I said, yes, I suppose that’s true.

And then you whispered so quietly that I had to crane my neck, lifting out of my seat: that is what I am saying to you as well. This will haunt you, too. All of this.

You leaned back, took my hands in yours again, and said: you have my love and support.

I got up and I shook your hand, for what I now realize was the last I ever would.

A damn shame, a day like this: its bright clear skies went on forever, yet I clutched my peacoat tightly to my chest, shielding myself against the whipping winds. Above the hospital grounds a finch cried out a lonesome trill. Below me on the pavement I stepped alongside a trail of ants, squiggly and dark like a child’s drawing, and on the curb was a pair of dead earthworms, dry and tangled like a piece of gum, and on the hood of my car there were grasshoppers were mating in slow-motion, and I opened the door, and out tumbled grey moths and a cloud of gnats and fat little bumblebees and dragonflies with iridescent wings that clung to each other in midair, and I heard the howling of invisible crickets, and saw dazzling pinholes of light from the fireflies, and swarms of a million unrecognizables, darting and buzzing in inkjet clouds, until no light remained but pinpricks, every insect that could possibly spill forth black and crimson and fluttering and dotted with the ghosts of your purloined veins, your stolen breath, gasping for the world to come.

Copyright © 2022 by Blake Z. Rong.

About the Author Blake Z. Rong is a writer in Brooklyn with an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His debut collection of poetry, I Am Not Young And I Will Die With This Car In My Garage, was published in 2021. His work has appeared in SLANT, New Mexico Review, Thimble, and others. He is a finalist in Oprelle’s "2021 Matter" Anthology Poetry Contest. He hails from central Massachusetts and lives with a cow cat named Moose.

Fragment of the monument to the Polish King Casimir IV.

© by Irina Borsuchenko.

Wally Swist

The Polish Rider

—after a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, circa 1655

You bring the framed print

back from purchasing it at the Hospice Shop,

with quotes written by hand, taped to the back,

from Iris Murdoch’s The Green Knight,

such as “the calm, infinitely sad

gaze of the Polish rider traveling

in the golden light of dawn,”

inspired me to look deeper than

I first had into this unfinished composition.

What is it about the equanimity

of the Polish rider’s visage that lacks hubris

but points to courage beyond

any notion of the egoic, the heroic, or the profane?

Why did Rembrandt not finish

the painting, especially since his subject regards

nothing other than ardor, valor and perseverance?

Why in such an aesthetic abeyance is there

an air of mystery in a landscape uncompleted?

Some suggest that the Polish rider

is “a soldier of Christ,” the idealized young man

wearing a kuczma, or a red fur-lined hat,

and a joupane, a long riding coat, worn by

seventeenth century Polish and Hungarian

light cavalry officers. Others suggest

that the Polish rider is the prodigal son, which

is quite an Eastern European archetypal

projection. In 1912, Polish scholars

posited that Rembrandt’s son, Titus,

was the model for the portrait. Whomever

it may have been or was supposed to be,

it is a painting of a Polish rider, apparently

before he is about to face danger

in a landscape that is nameless since

it is unfinished: a faraway building,

an intimation of a distant fire, black water;

whereas the rider, through the centuries,

exhibits determination to travel on,

to fight whatever enemy that imperils

his family or his country, the meticulous

attention given by Rembrandt to

the Polish rider’s face, his weapons, and,

furthering the stead’s nobility, the bit

and harness, its neck. Perhaps this is

the reason why the Polish rider’s fate appears

to be unfinished, not unlike life itself.

Copyright © 2022 by Wally Swist.

About the Author

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), Evanescence: Selected Poems, and Taking Residence (2021), with Shanti Arts. Recent poetry and translations have or will appear in Asymptote, Chicago Quarterly Review, Commonweal, The Montreal Review, Poetry London, and Rattle.

Doug Van Hooser

Fallen Catalpa

After a century of lake ice

munches at the shore,

the tree falls and I don’t hear it.

Even if the tree leaned first

like Pisa’s tower,

the roots grip loosening its noose,

gravity gnawing at it,

there had to be a splash.

Always a loner among the oaks and hickories,

the tangle of vines, chokecherry,

and wild viburnum.

Some bird must have brought the seed

planting it in a feces stool.

No answer how it found its way to the sun.

The trunk is a settee now.

Branches in the water

taken by winter’s freeze and thaw.

In summer branches pointing at the sky

shade sunfish and perch.

Sparrows, wrens, and a cardinal couple

hide in the rippling leaves’ hearts

and open umbrellas

of white flower panicles.

The seed pods steroid induced look

dive and drown in the lake’s algae green grasp.

Another season on its back like an invalid.

Unwilling to admit any disability.

Copyright © 2022 by Doug Van Hooser.

Unbleached thoughts

My mind an attic

Trinkets of the past

Now boulders of the present

What I hear is

The constant drip that annoys

And leaves a stain

That which should not have happened

Panhandles in the middle of the road

With a sign, Homeless Please Help

The blanched idea

That equal has no time zones

There are no rounding errors

I succeed by blaming someone else

Use failure’s credit card

To pay down my self-respect

No bitter yearning

No sweet escape

A thick haze inertia perpetuates

Breath’s fog surrenders

To the cold

Without words

I get hung

On the noose

Of what matters

The secret the wind whispers to the leaves

The tear that streaks the cheek

The echo of a sigh

A message sent that has

No banks, no levees, no dam

No control of the runoff

No one cries out

Or sheds tears

When they scratch their brow

Second place is my home.

Almost but not quite my mantra

The finish line a handshake

Disappointment slouches

In the chair, stares at the clock

As it repeats itself

Most things die

From the inside out

But rot from the edges in

The writing was on the wall

I fell from and slipped

In the bubble that burst

Copyright © 2022 by Doug Van Hooser.

About the Author

Doug Van Hooser's poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, The Courtship of Winds, After Hours, Sheila-Na-Gig online, and Poetry Quarterly among other publications. His fiction can be found in Red Earth Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Bending Genres Journal. Doug’s plays have received readings at Chicago Dramatist Theatre and Three Cat Productions. More at

Kyle Van Lant

Dawn in Medina

The phone will ring.

When you answer

you will remember

that Life and Time

have not passed

in a blur

but have instead

emaciated themselves

like molded tomes

in bloodstained brambles.

It will be a reminder.

It is that gaunt scrape

with nothingness

that reminds you

just how furiously

your cells can vibrate.

Your breath is now a tempest,

an ode.

The details multiply.

You will note the words

in the coffee cup’s dregs


you can finally cry

and it cracks

the whole prophecy

wide open.

Cigarette butts

will roll in the street,

the drafts of cars

rustling business cards

cultivated in concrete seams.

You will find yourself

sitting still,

eyes wide,

looking for something.

Live wire.

The phone will ring.

It is not yours.

An eagle

will alight on a lamp post

and look down on you,


Something is happening.

Something always is.

You will pretend not to notice.

Copyright © 2022 by Kyle Van Lant.

About the Author

Kyle Van Lant is a poet and science fiction novelist based out of Long Beach, California. He has recently appeared in UC Irvine’s undergraduate literary magazine New Forum and has released four collections of poetry, the most recent being Blueprints, which can be found on his website. He is also an engineer, naturalist, and jazz musician.

Siamak Vossoughi

Don't Go J.D. Salinger-ing Anyone

All right, he thought, knock it off. All right, so you're sitting in Walt's and Jordan Arrington walks in. All right. Let her be whoever she is now. Let her look like a girl in college who looks like any girl in college. You don't know her. You don't know the first thing about her. Let her be whoever she wants.

All right, so you knew her when she was six. So, she was a genius. One of those geniuses of a little kid who doesn't really see you because you are an adult, and you sort of relish their not seeing you. You relish it because it is a glimpse of genius either way. So, you used to love how she didn't see you because her world in the schoolyard and in the classroom were too interesting without you. So, she was perfectly nice all that time she didn't see you. So, it was nothing personal, and so the way you knew it was nothing personal was the closest you could get sometimes to touching your own genius inside you.

All right, so she was the kind of comedic genius at six who almost never laughed because she was too busy perfecting a deadpan, a deadpan that laughed at the whole world beyond the life of a six-year-old girl, because all of it was funny, all of it was funny because all of it was second place, all of it was a very nice and funny second place compared to what was happening inside her. That had to be first place. Not in any kind of boastful or arrogant way. It just had to be. So, she had you convinced that she must be right, that it did have to be first place, even though most of the time you could hardly guess exactly what it was.

All right, all right, knock it off with the romanticizing of that stuff. I mean you can romanticize that stuff all you want because it was true ­­­­­­– that was you back there, and that was all those kids—but knock it off with the romanticizing that looks at her now and thinks she's a girl in college who looks like any other girl in college and so all that stuff is gone. You don't know.

Don't go J.D. Salinger-ing her, in other words. Don't go remembering the comedic genius of a six-year-old girl and calling it gone forever because she's wearing a sweatshirt with sorority letters on it. That stuff is fine when you're a kid. You have to find your way to poetry somehow. But it's no good once you've said hello to death. If J.D. Salinger wants to J.D. Salinger her, let him go ahead and do it. He should be the one to do it anyway. Even if he does it very beautifully and forgivingly, which would probably be the case, let him go ahead and do it. Because what in the hell would you be forgiving her for? Growing up? Good luck with that. Good luck with it, because that's all you'd be doing if you start doing that, is forgiving people left and right, and that's a lonely way to be.

It's too sad, really, it's too sad to have had a glimpse of who a great many young women and young men were at six. But you can always tell them. What's stopping you from that? What's stopping you from getting up and walking over to Jordan Arrington and saying hello and telling her what a great kid she was at six, how much you appreciated the way she didn't see you because her own world with Callie Bennett and Erica Stine was too interesting, which it was, it was obviously too interesting because they were six and nothing newer had ever happened in the world than their friendship and the way they could make each other laugh? What's to stop you from doing that? Is it some notion that a man is not supposed to walk around having these memories at the ready, at his fingertips, activated instantly by the sight of a little girl he knew years ago when she was six? That's ridiculous. That's got nothing to do with J.D. Salinger-ing her. I remember people, and kids just happen to be very easy people to remember because the way they are goes inside you and sticks. At least if you're paying any attention at all. I was paying attention to Jordan Arrington when she was six because I was paying attention to life. There was no way around it. I couldn't have done it any differently. You could just get up and walk over and say hello and tell her you remember how great she was as a kid. Who wouldn't want to know that? You don't have to get into any specifics. Give her specifics if she asks but be light about it. Be light like it's just something you remember along the course of moving through your day, along the way of being a man in the city. That's all. The memory doesn't have to look cherished. It is cherished because of the way that every memory is cherished. But it doesn't have to look cherished. It's just something you remember as you're moving along your day.

There's a way to be a man about it, in other words. Not desperate. Not lamenting any loss. Just cool and casual, a man moving through the city, holding the present and the past. To look at her in a sorority sweatshirt and remember what a genius of a kid she was ­­– it's a thing that somebody would lament because lamenting gives life shape. The hell with that. Life already has shape. Life already had a shape before she walked in. Just because you don't always see it doesn't mean it's not there. That's what you'd be doing if you start lamenting, you'd be saying that it's not good enough to know it's there, I need to hold it, I need to hold it even if it takes a lamenting kind of holding. That's what you'd be doing. The hell with that stuff.

Just say hello and drop in a casual note of what a great kid she was when she was six, and if she gets any kind of look that seems to say that this man holds the memory of who I was as a little girl too closely, you can smile and say so long and keep moving. That's all. No big deal. You can talk until you see that look and then you can make a graceful exit. And don't talk in a way that's trying to figure out what she remembers. She remembers all of it. Or at least all of it is in her. You don't have to know how. It can't not be in her because it can't be anywhere else. Don't worry about how it sits in a young woman in college in a sorority sweatshirt. She's not always going to be that either. Just know that it sits in there, and if it seems like it's sitting very small and quietly right now, don't worry about that either, because it's there.

And anyway, hell, there are third graders at the school today who don't want to hear you tell a story of who they were in first grade, because the present is everything. Whatever you do, don't talk to her like you're looking for that six-year-old kid. Let her be whoever she is today. Don't talk to her like you're looking for traces of that deadpan, however much genius it had. Could be that deadpan is the last thing she is just now. That's all right.

Or, he thought, or, you could just sit here and not say anything and remember that kid. You could not get up and walk over and say hello, and instead just sit here and remember that kid because Lord God, she was something. You could just sit here and remember how she didn't see you, and how eventually when it came to doing her math page or something like that, eventually she would see you, and she would be perfectly nice when she did, but the main story was always happening away from you, away from you and in the direction of her and Callie Bennett and Erica Stine, and it was perfectly fine that the main story was happening away from you, because there was enough of a story in having a view to it, that was enough of a story for a young man, and it was a hell of a thing to learn that, and if anything, you could thank her for helping you learn that you don't need to be in the main story, that you're smack in the middle of the larger story simply by viewing hers. You could try to explain that to her if you want to. In a way that's gentlemanly and graceful. But probably that's no good either, because nobody wants to be thanked for having been a kid.

Copyright © 2022 by Siamak Vossoughi.

About the Author

Siamak Vossoughi is a writer living in Seattle. He has had some stories published in Kenyon Review, Missouri Review, Bennington Review, Columbia Journal, West Branch, and Gulf Coast. His first collection, Better Than War, received a 2014 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and his second collection, A Sense of the Whole, received the 2019 Orison Fiction Prize.

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