All posts by Erika Raskin

Turkeys by R.H. Emmers

Leaves and branches in water
 

I was sitting at the bar in the My-Oh-My drinking what was left of my disability check after buying oxy from the retarded janitor at the hospital. The idea of killing someone hadn’t come up yet. I kept staring at the dancer in the cage in the corner. She was short and pale and had the resigned expression of someone floating in darkness just waiting for the next tragedy, exactly the kind of girl I’m always attracted to. I thought if I stared hard enough, she’d look at me, but she never did, which is … Continue reading Turkeys by R.H. Emmers

Diluted by Jaime Balboa

Lemons in white sink
 

I hate the scent of imitation lemon in dish soap. It’s too concentrated to be authentic. But the scent will lose potency once I dilute it in water. That’s always the trick. Dilute what’s unpleasant. Dilute what hurts you, what keeps you up at night and, even though it’s still there, you can bear it, even accept it. The pyramid of dishes starts with a foundation from yesterday and leads, like an archeological excavation of dried food bits, through memories of breakfast and lunch to the dinner we just ate. Dirty mugs and glasses clutter … Continue reading Diluted by Jaime Balboa

Tips and Guidelines for Becoming a Shooting Star by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

Shooting star in dusky sky
 

Remain calm. You have purchased the crème de la crème of packages; don’t squander the experience with a panic attack. So bridges make you sweat. So you chew three Xanax every time you board a plane. So you refuse to open your eyes at the top of the Empire State Building, so so so…Think of the hospital beds and the tubes and the shots you will not have. Think of the chemo and the surgeries and the lopped off body parts you’re not trading for a few extra months. You’ve made your decision, so take … Continue reading Tips and Guidelines for Becoming a Shooting Star by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

The War by Carla Myers

microscopic germs
 

Private Wilson hesitated at the precipice. It felt like a long time since his Sargent had barked, “Wilson, GO! GO!” Technically, Wilson hadn’t heard it, the air rushing by the plane was moving by so quickly that it hijacked all speech and left angry roaring wind in its place. Still, he knew what the Sargent had said, there was no mistaking his squinting eyes and tensing body trying to squeeze out sound and even though Sarge’s skin seemed to be blown back, trying to take his facial features with it, Wilson could still make out … Continue reading The War by Carla Myers

Nesting by Stefanie Newman


 

I had long been convinced that destiny had intended me to be born and bred in Italy. Instead, I grew up in suburban Chicago. In September 2008 I set out to rectify fate’s error. Together with my husband Bill and our ten-year-old son Asher we would rent an apartment in Bologna, Italy for three months. It was a city whose streets were practically paved in tortellini and prosciutto and then, for good measure, covered over with miles of graceful porticoes. My husband and I were artists who had spent our youth among the angst-ridden expressionists … Continue reading Nesting by Stefanie Newman

Sequins by Gina Willner-Pardo

multi-colored sequins
 

Risa Eccles, thirty-nine weeks pregnant, sat in her car, furious at Dr. LaSalle for being an asshole, at Paul for having the kind of job that made him seem like a degenerate, at herself for thinking that having a baby might be fun. She watched people walking in and out of the clinic. Some of them held crying toddlers; others—mostly elderly—grasped canes, walkers, or other people’s arms. She thought, Everyone who comes here needs something desperately. It reminded her of church. When she was sure she wouldn’t cry, she called Paul. “The baby’s fine,” she … Continue reading Sequins by Gina Willner-Pardo

Vanilla Music for Sinister Women Coming of Age by Mark Galarrita

Vanilla soft serve cone
 

California Girls was the lyric that bumped the bass held together by a woman’s sweet, altered, voice that tasted like vanilla but left a burn like bottom shelf vodka; and Elsie Malabago loved to hear this sort of tune on 93.5 POP! Radio, cruising with the windows down in her Mother’s old ’99 Corolla—before her Mother’s heart gave out and she died in that car cursing Papa in Tagalog and staring Elsie in the eye to say “putang ina,” whore, with her dying breath—but Elsie forgot that morning because it wasn’t Mother’s car anymore, it … Continue reading Vanilla Music for Sinister Women Coming of Age by Mark Galarrita

Coma Sleep by Ben Wood

Colorful clothes hanging on clothing line
 

  Before surgery, before the bones are set, and while blood flows from Jacob Randolph in quick rivulets, Agi is there. She is the nurse on duty when he is wheeled through the doors of the ER. She witnesses the doctors bring him back, helps quell the bleeding, feels a triumphant surge when his heartbeat regains its jagged kick on the monitor. She hears the head neurosurgeon muttering jargon to the fellows, picking out words where she can – cervical, contusion, ten-story fall. Eventually, the word stable, which shines among the rest. Two months in … Continue reading Coma Sleep by Ben Wood

The Semicolon, Another Grammar Guidepost by Erika Raskin

Shadow of person on bicycle
 

A while ago I went with one of my nieces to get matching semicolon tattoos. This was remarkable for a variety of reasons: 1. I was 56. 2. Years before, when my eldest daughter came home from college sporting her first permanent ink, I may not have reacted well. 3. Trends in general have always bugged me. A lot. Our landfills are filled with them. So are our photo albums. 4. In terms of the grammar symbol itself, I never really got semicolons. Half comma, half period—what is that about? (Kurt Vonnegut rudely referred to … Continue reading The Semicolon, Another Grammar Guidepost by Erika Raskin

A Grammar Rule to Live By by Erika Raskin

Plane trail in the sky
 

“Period. New Paragraph,” the mother of a good friend of mine used to announce when changing subjects—sometimes mid-sentence. It’s a good rule for life in general, though. I believe in changing your mind. When I was in sixth grade I agreed to participate in an Outward Bound type field trip that involved rappelling down a cliff. I took one look at the ground below and sat on the grass. Period. New Paragraph I spent freshman year of college in a state so cold that by November when I went outside with wet hair, it froze … Continue reading A Grammar Rule to Live By by Erika Raskin