they always do

Contents May Shift

Vol.63 Issue 02
Cover Artist: Sim Chi Yin

All things become islands before my senses…
Cesare Pavese








Minna Zallman Proctor
Editor’s Letter

Today it seems absurd to say things like “the way things are,” or “these extraordinary times,” or “in times like these.” There aren’t really “times like these,” there is rather this time, Covid time, which redefines itself from one day to the next…


Wayne Miller
On Childhood
On Aesthetics

…and when she holds in her breath
her body suspends
touching nothing…


J. Robert Lennon
Ten Short Essays 

I’m about to take a walk around the lake. Then I remember that, when I walk around the lake, I am often threatened by angry geese…


Krystyna Dąbrowska
translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal

…I prefer instead to sever your head in verse…


Brandon Taylor
When Will We Get What We Deserve?

In late spring, Darla said that she was pregnant. Hermann knew that the baby wasn’t his…


Emily Luan
Your longed-for true form
Target™ Haibun

I watched the ceiling from my low bed. It bent when the girls danced upstairs…


Stephanie Bernhard
Summer of Love

By the time I poured my coffee, two men had texted me pictures of their breakfasts…


Matt Hart
The Pretty Red-Head
Wilder Bluer Yonder
A Comforting Return

I packed my bags
and left my home,
and when I got to the edge,
I did what everyone does…


Lis Anna-Langston
all of my days were nights

Funny, the things we remember later…


Robert Farnsworth
Dog Ears
Prepared Instruments
Further Notice

How I wish someone would draft
These lines for me…


Mark Doten
Judith and Ahmed: A Story of Friendship

I crouched behind her, put my lips to her ear and asked if she needed anything, anything at all…


Leah Umansky
Heart Out

What is the use in our holding? What is the use in the lull?…


Linda E. Keyes
A Mother of Concern

Mary worked night shifts because of the babies…


Shanna Merceron
Once Upon an Ending

Once upon a time, I wasn’t a good little girl…


Tiziano Scarpa
translated from Italian by Stiliana Milkova
The Philosophy Student

the philosophy student
dreams she has insomnia…


Bart Schaneman

That night, as Sam slept, Daisy snuck out and drove out of town, the sky clear, the moon half-empty…


Khal Torabully
translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson
[For the first time]

For the first time, we were naked…


David Varno
Minor Neil

They’ll be here soon. I’m not denying that fact…


Dujie Tahat
The Therapist We Never Got Says, “Time Doesn’t Do Anything—You Have to Fill It.”

So here’s our firstborn. Another child, and
another. Here’s a six pack of dark beer
shoved through a basement window… 


Brian Evenson
A Report on Forbidden Beverages

For many years, I did not drink beer and then, suddenly, I did…


Richie Hofmann
Historic District

Sitting up in a bed built for a husband
and a wife, I think for a second…


Jackson Saul
The Rat Problem

The lady upstairs is yelling at her kids. I mean, really yelling…


Brian Tierney

A professor once wrote me that to write of fruit
or flowers or dreams, no matter how deftly,
is the lowest form of metaphor…


Cassandra Lee
‘Mysteries of Small Houses’

To put off doing what I need to, I plan a trip to Detroit with my mom…



Sim Chi Yin

Ba Tu, 72, returns to what’s left of her house struck by a landslide four days earlier. This bedroom snapped off into the river and the mattress her daughter-in-law had just been sleeping on floated away. The two women, who were alone at home, ran out of the house after saving some rice grains from the kitchen which has also disappeared. In the commune of Hiep Phuoc, in Nha Be district, 33km southeast of Saigon. (Used by permission.)



* The epigram by Italian poet Cesare Pavese is taken from the poem, “Passion For Solitude,” from the collection Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 translated by Geoffrey Brock.





Bart Schaneman lives in Denver, Colorado, where he works as a reporter covering the cannabis industry. He’s had short fiction published in Per Contra, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Pindeldyboz, Laurus, and Dispatch Review. Previously he worked as the editor-in-chief of the Star-Herald newspaper of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.


Brandon Taylor holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow in fiction. His essays and fiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, The New Yorker online, Gulf Coast, Joyland, GuernicaBuzzfeed Reader, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Real Life, has just come out.


Brian Evenson is the author of more than a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection Song for the Unraveling of the World. Other recent books include A Collapse of Horses and the novella The Warren. He has been a finalist for a Shirley Jackson Award five times. His novel Last Days was the 2010 ALA-RUSA selection for Best Horror Novel. His novel The Open Curtain was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes, an NEA fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been translated into Czech, French, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Slovenian, and Turkish. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Critical Studies Program at CalArts.


Brian Tierney‘s poetry and prose have appeared in: Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, AGNI, The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, and others. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a graduate of Bennington’s MFA Writing Seminars, he was awarded the 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America, and has been a finalist for the National Poetry Series, Frontier’s Industry Prize, The Levis Prize from Four Way Books, and Ploughshares’ Emerging Writers Contest. In 2013, he was named among Narrative’s “30 Below 30” emerging writers. He lives in Oakland, Ca., where he teaches poetry at The Writing Salon.


Cassandra Lee 

is a person from wyoming

preoccupied with closeness, what we conceal, & the forces that guide poems into arrangement

she hopes one day to be out standing in her field (or meadow)


David Varno is the fiction reviews editor at Publishers Weekly and president of the National Book Critics Circle. His work has appeared in BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, Tin House, and elsewhere


Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian immigrant living in Washington state. They are the author of Here I Am O My God, selected by Fady Joudah for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship, and Salat, selected by Cornelius Eady as winner of the Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Award. Along with Gabrielle Bates and Luther Hughes, they cohost The Poet Salon podcast.


Emily Lee Luan is a Taiwanese American poet and essayist. A 2020 Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets (2019), The Rumpus,Washington Square Review, The Offingand elsewhere.


J. Robert Lennon is the author of two story collections, Pieces For The Left Hand and See You in Paradise, and eight novels, including Mailman, Familiar, and Broken River. A new novel and story collection are forthcoming in 2021.


Jackson Saul lives in Alabama.


Khal Torabully, prize-winning writer, film director, essayist, and semiologist from Mauritius, has given voice to the unimaginable suffering of millions of indentured laborers from the turn of the century. He coined the term “coolitude” in the way Césaire coined the term “negritude,” imbuing it with dignity. A collection of Torabully’s poetry, Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude , translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson, is forthcoming in January 2021.


Krystyna Dąbrowska is a poet, translator, and essayist. The author of four poetry books, the most recent of which is Ścieżki dźwiękowe (“Soundtracks,” 2018). She won the prestigious Polish literary prizes, the Wisława Szymborska Award and the Kościelski Award, both in 2013. In 2019, she won the Literary Award of the Capital City of Warsaw. Her poems have been translated into sixteen languages and appear regularly in literary magazines in Poland and abroad, including Harper’s Magazine, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, The Southern Review, and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. Her translations include the poetry of  W. C. Williams, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Thom Gunn, Charles Simic, and Kim Moore, as well as selected letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She lives and works in Warsaw.


Leah Umansky is the author of two full length collections, The Barbarous Century (2018), and Domestic Uncertainties (2013), among others. She is the curator and host of The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as POETRY, Guernica, Bennington Review, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, Poetry International, The New York Times, Rhino, and Pleiades. She is resisting the tyrant with her every move. She can be found at @lady_bronte


Linda E Keyes is a writer and emergency physician in Boulder, CO. Her work has appeared online in the The CommonHippocampus, and elsewhere.  She’s been recognized with Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train & the CRAFT Short Fiction Prize. Some of the events in this fictional future are based on true experiences of current day American women. Find her on Twitter @LindaKeyesMD


Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She is a Parents’ Choice Gold and a Moonbeam Book Award winner. Twice nominated for the Pushcart award, her work has been published in The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals. She draws badly, sings loudly, loves ketchup, starry skies and stories with happy endings, aliens. Her new book hits shelves in October 2020. You can learn more about her at


Mark Doten is the author of the novels Trump Sky Alpha and The Infernal. He was named to Granta’s once-a-decade “Best of Young American Novelists” list in 2017, and his writing has appeared in Granta, n+1, Guernica, The Believer, and Conjunctions. He lives in Princeton and teaches in the creative writing programs of Princeton and Columbia.


Matt Hart is the author of nine books of poems, including most recently Everything Breaking/for Good (2019) and The Obliterations (2019). A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he plays in the band NEVERNEW and teaches at both the Art Academy of Cincinnati and in the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing.


Mira Rosenthal is a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner Fellowship, and her work appears regularly in such journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, Guernica, Harvard Review, New England Review, A Public Space, and Oxford American. Her first book of poems, The Local World, received the Wick Poetry Prize. Read her essay in questions about translation in The Kenyon Review


Nancy Naomi Carlson, twice a recipient of a literature translation fellowship from the NEA, is a translator, poet, and essayist. An Infusion of Violets (2019) was named “New & Noteworthy” by the New York Times.


Richie Hofmann is the author of a collection of poems, Second Empire. A 2017-19 Wallace Stegner Fellow, he is now Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University.


Robert Farnsworth’s poetry has appeared in magazines all over the U.S., in Canada and the UK, in two collections from: Three or Four Hills and A Cloud (1982) and Honest Water (1989), and most recently in his collection Rumored Islands (2010) from Harbor Mountain Press. His work has won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a PEN. Discovery citation. In 2006 he was the summer poet-in-residence at The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. For twenty-seven years he taught writing and literature at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.


Shanna Merceron is a fiction writer whose work can be found in Philadelphia Stories, Mikroksmos Journal, Oxford Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, and The William and Mary Review, with work forthcoming in Cleaver. Born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, no one believes her when she says she’s from “Flah-rida.” She is currently at work on a novel that examines the layers of darkness in and outside of oneself.


Stephanie Bernhard’s essays on literature and the environment appear in Slate, Orion, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other venues. She has received fellowships from institutions such as the Jackman Humanities Institute of the University of Toronto and the Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures of the University of Virginia. “Summer of Love” is her first published work of fiction. She is currently revising a novel, The Corridor, about dating on the highways that divide rural and urban America.


Stiliana Milkova teaches comparative literature and literary translation at Oberlin College. She has translated from Italian works by Antonio Tabucchi, Alessandro Baricco, Roberto Carretta, Anita Raja, Andrea Raos, and Dario Voltolini.


Tiziano Scarpa was born in Venice, Italy in 1963. He is a novelist, poet, and playwright. Scarpa’s third novel, Stabat Mater,  was awarded the 2011 Strega Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary honor. His acclaimed Venice is a Fish: a Sensual Guide is known throughout the world as an idiosyncratic celebration of Venice.


Wayne Miller is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Post-, which won the UNT Rilke Prize and the Colorado Book Award for Poetry, and We the Jury, which is forthcoming in 2021. His 2015 co-translation of Moikom Zeqo’s Zodiac was shortlisted for the PEN Center USA Award in Translation. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and edits Copper Nickel

Miller last published with TLR in 2017, TLR: Uncle