Issue 139

Issue 139 Cover-page-0

Worn squares of paper, fingerprint smudges across the top and bottom where the secret inside has been folded over itself again and again. I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no. There’s a memory there – a crush, a flutter in the belly, heartbreak, or nothing to do with affection at all.

– From “Grandmother” by Cheryl Smart

Contributors: M.M. Adjarian, Howard Brown, Robert Kerbeck, Geoffrey Miller, Ralph Monday, Cheryl Smart, David J. Thompson, Frank Watson

Tell us what you think! Use the comment form at the bottom of this page to leave feedback. What was your favorite piece this week?


on “Issue 139
48 Comments on “Issue 139
  1. I especially liked “Grandmother”by Cheryl Smart and “Badass is strictly a relative term” by Howard Brown. Different in content, but both tightly written in a way that captures the reader’s interest immediately.

    • I am so glad to have this particular comment. I had hoped readers would be able to visualize both the subject and the narrator. Good to know.

  2. Loved “Ass Breaker” by Robert Kerbeck. I’ve been following Robert for a while as he slowly but surely masters the art of the short story. I love the way his stories twist in unexpected ways and never end in cliches.

  3. Howard Brown is the literary voice of Mississippi’s North Central Hills. His stories are more truth than fiction — although, of course, fiction is Mississippi’s truth. Indeed, for novelists, poets, playwrights, and the authors of short forms, no greater field of dramatic reality has ever existed, and Howard Brown is its master.

  4. Especially loved the piece by Cheryl Smart, “Grandmother”. The imagery that is conjured with descriptions of Queen Anne’s lace, planked wood porch and the red gingham dress, to name a few, bring this piece to life. The writer’s brilliance in nestling the emotion so closely to the detail brings the reader straight to the scene of the crime!

  5. “Assbreaker” by Robert Kerbeck is excellent. I love the voice, the authority, the humor, the characters…such a satisfying story! It’s engaging, well written, and memorable. Great addition to this issue!

    • Thank you, Austin. I’m glad the details of this piece are working. I had hoped readers would enjoy following the subject around, over that fallen log, across the creek, Queen Anne’s lace tickling. I wanted to sink readers deeply into the scene so they could be with the subject in her moment of loss. Now, my grandmother will never again be alone in that moment.

  6. Loved the living language in Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker” – he captured perfectly the island dilemna and it made for great entertainment. Thanks!

  7. In “Badass is a Relative Term” Howard Brown illustrates what I’ve said many times – no matter what your circumstances are, there is usually someone around bigger, better, faster, smarter, etc…..

  8. Growing up in a small town, everyone knew who the bad ass was…Ours was Wyatt Otis…( last name omitted to protect myself.) As I read Howard Brown’s story, it brought back vivid memories of fist fights fifty years ago at our Dairy Queen. He has a way of describing the action that puts the reader right there with Tommy Lee and Booker. His dialogue is authentic. If you have been a spectator to such an event, the words spoken by Tommy Lee and Booker will ring a bell. I never saw WO lose a fight, but according to Howard Brown, odds are the he he has picked a fight with someone bad-assier and lost.

  9. Howard Brown’s story is very true to life. It brought me back to my days in high school and the Badass whose soul purpose in life was to pick fights. Badass is a Strictly Relative Term captured my interest immediately. Brown put a lot of story into very few words. I particularly enjoyed the part near the very end that described Tommy Lee’s life after lose and his permanent reminder of his fisticuffs with Booker.

  10. I am so glad to see Geoffrey Miller’s “Latin Elephant” appear in this issue, he’s a fantastic artist with a truly unique voice. The way he manipulates language and phrasing is deeply inspiring.

  11. Really enjoyed Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker.” A humorous tale that made me chuckle and the characters he describes are spot on for anyone who has spent time in Hawaii.

  12. Geoffrey Miller’s piece has stayed in my head… from the barest outline of a scenario I somehow came away feeling that I had understood, and entirely. I hope to see more of this creative and subtle voice…

  13. As people wait, time passes in the Latin Elephant. Geoffrey Miller treats us to three of the elephant’s current inhabitants: a German, an Egyptian, and a cripple. We don’t know who they are or why they are there. We are just allowed the barest glimpses of their decontextualized pronouncements.

    The narrative flows; the words link; and images are imprinted upon my mind. I want more words.

  14. I really enjoyed the Ass Breaker story by Robert Kerbeck. I got a kick out of it being set on Lanai, which is owned by the billionaire Larry Ellison. I think he might be the “Uncle Harry” character in the story. Maybe his daughter, Meghan Ellison (a big movie producer) can be convinced to make a movie out of it. It’s certainly suspenseful enough. Anyway, thanks for the great read!

  15. I enjoyed Howard Brown’s raw story “Badass is a strictly Relative Term.” It is about Tommy Lee, a snarly small town bully who must live each day with a badge of dishonor as he peers into the mirror of his soul.

  16. I really enjoyed Robert Kerbeck’s story ASS BREAKER. I have followed his other published works as well and find him to have such a unique voice and characters that pop right off the page.

  17. Reading Geoffrey Miller’s Latin Elephant is like eating a pomegranate. His voice and style is quirky, Like the fruit, it’s a bit of work to get into, but every morsel, every word is worth it.

  18. Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker”engaged me right from the first word. A fast moving story that has action and subtlety at the same time. I like the modern style and there is heart in it, too.

  19. Latin Elephant showcases Miller’s masterful manipulation of words, which allows him to paint and juxtapose images using the reader’s imagination as a canvas. Tasteful, pithy, and vivid…

  20. Howard Brown’s “Badass is Strictly a Relative Term”, once again, depicts his experiences of being raised in Mississippi. He is a talented writer and poet. “Badass is Strictly a Relative Term” concisely articulates that everything is a relative term. Well done.

  21. I liked Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker” so much I read it twice. His slice of life set on an Hawaiian Island provided insight into larger issues, as any great short story should do.

  22. Geoffrey Miller’s work Latin Elephant paints a somewhat nebulous picture. It draws the reader into the world created and asks them to think for themselves and to form their own conclusions. I look foward to seeing more of Mr. Miller’s work on a grander scale.

  23. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker.” He artfully and economically created fully developed characters (including Lanai) that kept me engaged and entertained from beginning to end. A great read!

  24. I enjoyed Robert Kerbeck’s “Ass Breaker” story very much. It was amusing, well told and completely kept my interest to the end. He made the characters real. Looking forward to more of his work.

  25. Robert Kerbeck, my cousin and friend, impressed me with his piece “Ass Breaker”. I am so proud of him for his ability to transport me to Lanai where I now imagine and feel like I can connect to these characters. His writing and storytelling not only made me laugh, but also made me think. His writing is insightful, inspirational and truly enjoyable. I found myself first smiling, then laughing and finally looking inward at parallels in my own life. I liked it so much that I am reading it again! Bravo!!!

  26. Really enjoy all of Robert Kerbeck’s stories. His strong voice, clever plot twists, and intriguing characters make for an enjoyable read.

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