Best Small Fictions noms

by JHow on January 15, 2018

in Announcements

Hummingbird

Photo by Brian Sims

Passages North is delighted to announce our nominations for the Best Small Fictions anthology. All our nominated stories (and so many more incredible short fictions) can be found in Issue 38. Thanks for being a part of our magazine, nominees!

Alex McElroy—Responsible Fear

Jennifer Givhan—The Trial

Nicole Rivas—Death of an Ortolan

Alexandra Lytton Regalado—Mosaic

Ingrid Jendrzejewski—The Middle Ground

 

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Scissors

Photo by 38 Degrees

Associate editor John LaPine on today’s bonus poem: Patrick Kindig’s poem is a vital inquisition into masculine self-expression. Why do we change? Who are we to think we can try to stop others from changing? And is it really change if we all get the same haircut?

boys are always trying

to cut off their curls
says my stylist
at great clips
& there is something
so sad in the way
she says it that i want
to rip off my poncho
& shout STOP shout
IT’S NOT TOO
LATE AMANDA
THEY CAN STILL
BE SAVED but
of course they can’t
my lap is already full
of hair & growing
fuller all my curls
heaped between
my knees now or
about to be & when
the clippers slip
across my left
temple leaving me
clean & crewcut
my stylist sighs
takes a moment
to shake her wrist
& in this moment i look
at her & wonder
who else’s curls
she has cut off if she
cuts the hair of all
her boyfriends & all
her boyfriends
want crewcuts
if every time she falls
for someone she looks
at his head & thinks
yes this is the one
until two weeks later
he pops the wrong
question & she
is sweeping the kitchen
at midnight again
washing hair like
rose-tongues from
between her fingers

Patrick Kindig is currently a PhD candidate at Indiana University, where we works with nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. He is the author of the micro-chapbook Dry Spell (Porkbelly Press 2016), and his poems have appeared in Court Green, Willow Springs, Meridian, Columbia Journal Online, Muzzle, and other journals.

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Pallas cat looking angry

Photo by Tambako The Jaguar

We’re heading into the final weeks of the semester, so we asked our editors were asked how they relieve stress.

Krys Malcolm Belc
Associate Fiction Editor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Baking muffins. Eating muffins.

Robert Ball
Intern
Dearborn, Michigan

Eating… though it inevitably leads to more stress due to my lack of self control.

Molly Johnson
Intern
Saginaw, Michigan

I typically stress shop, stress eat, or stress sleep. All of which ultimately lead to more stress!

Sara Ryan
Associate Poetry Editor
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Watching the Food Network, napping, eating tacos, online shopping.

Jennifer Howard
Editor-in-Chief
Escanaba, Michigan

Most years I would say fantasy football, but I don’t think I’m going to make the playoffs this time unless my running backs get it together.

Ethan Brightbill
Associate Fiction Editor
Allentown, Pennsylvania

If I’m doing creative work and feeling anxious, I’ll go on a night walk with some music to give my subconscious time and space to make connections. If I’m writing an academic paper, however, I’ll play a quick round of an FPS game like Counterstrike. Getting into a state of reaction keeps my brain from being overloaded by whatever critical theory sorcery I’m trying to understand.

Emily Doseck
Intern
Northern Michigan University

Watching Marvel movies. Reading Marvel comics. Looking at Marvel-related pins on Pintrest. Basically anything Marvel. The Marvel Universe is my happy place.

Tianli Kilpatrick
Associate Editor
Northern Michigan University

Horses. They’re my stress reliever for everything. Also, puzzles. 3D puzzles are a great distraction.

Kelli Rajala
Intern
Michigan

Definitely painting. If I’m feeling it, though, jewelry making as well. I like the tedious aspects of both that take all of my concentration, so I don’t have to think about anything else for a while.

Melissa Orzechowski
Volunteer Reader
Michigan

Chewing ice.

Ella Flores
Associate Editor
Marquette, Michigan

A nice bath with some hot chocolate.

Charlie Edwards
Intern
Engadine, Michigan

Putting on music and dancing!

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Pushcart Prize noms!

by JHow on November 29, 2017

in Announcements, Blog

Untitled

Photo by Emery Way

Passages North is thrilled to announce our Pushcart Prize nominations. Thanks and congratulations and more thanks to the following writers from Issue 38.

Jonathan Escoffery, In Flux (fiction)
Skye Anicca, Trimmings (fiction)
LaTanya McQueen, Points of Interest (nonfiction)
Dustin Parsons, The Fujita Scale (nonfiction)
Gabrielle Bates, Cinderella as Told by Grackles (poetry)
Paige Lewis, When They Find the Ark (poetry)

We’re rooting for you.

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Photo by Elina Dekee

Our editors were asked what books they haven’t quite gotten around to reading yet.

Emily Doseck
Intern
Northern Michigan University

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman. It’s my best friend’s favorite and I’ve just never gotten around to it. But that’s the story for 87% of my bookcase sooo…

Molly Johnson
Intern
Saginaw, Michigan

Essentially my entire bookcase.

Bill Nyfeler
Associate Nonfiction Editor
Northern Michigan University

SPQR : A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. If there was such thing as a break.

Ella Flores
Associate Editor
Marquette, Michigan

The Bible.

Charlie Edwards
Intern
Engadine, Michigan

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Sara Ryan
Associate Poetry Editor
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I have so many things that I have left unread, but I would love to dig into The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. Because dictionaries are cool.

Gabriel Calle
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Northern Michigan University

The Sun Also Rises.

Ginny MacDonald
Associate Nonfiction Editor
Dowagiac, Michigan

The Odyssey and The Iliad. Because I always think I should have read them.

Robert Ball
Intern
Dearborn, Michigan

Lolita has always interested me. A wholesome family tale for some light holiday reading.

Krys Malcolm Belc
Associate Fiction Editor, Fiction
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Waiting for Godot!

Jennifer Howard
Editor-in-Chief
Escanaba, Michigan

Alias Grace.

Ethan Brightbill
Associate Fiction Editor
Allentown, Pennsylvania

The Lady Matador’s Hotel by Cristina Garcia. I read Monkey Hunting in undergrad and loved it, so I bought her other book, yet I never even started it. No idea why. It’s probably fantastic.

Jacob Hall
Associate Fiction Editor
Decatur, Illinois

I have a collection of flash novellas from Rose Metal Press I stole from Jen last semester that I still haven’t read. I’ll give that back one day.

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footprint

Photo by tomo tang

Associate fiction editor Krys Malcolm Belc on today’s bonus short-short: A teenage heartthrob/savior. A collective pack-of-fans narrator bent on winning his adoration, young women who communicate through glances and social media. Two miracles. A heart-wrenching farewell at the beach. Allison Pinkerton’s punchy contemporary take on religious fervor moves me each read with its mix of humor and compassion for its subjects.

The Ascension

Cole told us he was Jesus Christ at the last dinner we had together. Not as a joke. We got goosebumps, and reached for our phones to scroll through Pinterest because we didn’t want to look at each other.

He said he would disappear. We figured he would vanish like the boys we’d dated—without a text, a tweet, a snap, a word, a look. But, no. He wanted us to watch him go.

“Why?” We asked. What would watching you leave would do? We were already sad, confused, and angry. Later after dinner, Ashby would shut herself in her room. Martina and Enid would stop speaking. Bridget would post the funny sneezing panda video three times to cheer herself up.

“I’ll come back,” he said when Bridget started crying at the table. We mind-punished her, for being upset, for outing us in our grief. We wanted to cry, too.

“When?” Martina asked. Martina was in love with Cole, really in love with him, though we all posted his picture for #mancrushmonday. Martina would sacrifice for him, forgive stuff that shouldn’t be forgiven.

“Three days,” Cole said.

Their love was chaste, we knew, we exalted over. We sang alleluias to their chastity, which was new for Martina. We used to judge Martina for playing that game where girls wore colored bracelets, where a guy would snap the bracelet corresponding to a sexual activity, (pink for kissing, red for kissing with tongue, blue for blow job) and the girl would have to go do that with him. Cole had never snapped anyone’s bracelet.

“He wants it that way,” she’d told us earlier, after we’d learned that she’d spent the night in his bed in her clothes. We loved him more, and understood him less. We began to keep his secrets. His chastity seemed to need protecting, like by protecting him we could protect our younger selves, maybe make different choices, so that, by now, we’d be less bitter. A guy who hung out with Martina got a reputation, because Martina had a reputation, and we didn’t want that for him. If we told people they were doing it, they would leave them alone, look the other way, explain the miracles they saw as a result of too little sleep and too much Red Bull.

* * *
 

In those three days, Cole did two miracles, because he said one miracle was easy to explain away. We were at a party, and out of wine, and he created some by brushing his hands over a pack of Zephyrhills in the fridge. Later at that party, he raised someone from the dead.

Some druggie had OD’d and we were scared and embarrassed, and confused about who let the druggies knew we were having a party. Somehow, they’d found coke, and began to do lines on the coffee table. This guy might have had a heart attack—he dropped to the floor, white powder on his lips and nose. People started freaking out. The guy’s girlfriend started sobbing; someone else yelled that he didn’t know the address of the house to tell the ambulance where to go.

And then Cole stepped in, calm. He reached the guy lying in the middle of the living room and we held our breath. We’d just seen the wine appear, and we weren’t sure if he was playing us, if we should be angry. We looked to Martina for assurance, for answers, but she just watched Cole like he was magic.

Cole reached the guy passed out on the carpet, and knelt to feel the guy’s pulse in his neck. For five seconds, no one moved. The guy who’d called the ambulance held his phone in the air without ending the call, and we could hear a faint, “Sir? Sir?” from the dispatcher on the other end of the line.

The guy on the carpet started breathing again, and so did we. Groupies, we circled Cole like we wanted to throw our bras at him. He stepped out onto the porch and we watched from the foyer as he sat with Martina, his head in his hands. She rubbed his back and he ran his fingers through his hair. She put her head on his shoulder and he didn’t respond. This made some of us happy, but petty-happy, and we turned from the window.

The ambulance came and they took the guy to the ER. No one said anything. One guy tweeted, “@colethemole Cool party!” and he got no retweets.

* * *
 

The morning he left, Cole told us to meet at the beach before the tourists came. He made us promise not to post anything about it. We agreed, even though it was a proven fact that our palms sweat when they were empty. So, we held hands, though we were normally only sincere about our love for each other on Snapchat, through filters. Dry-eyed and silent, we stood in a circle. He made eye contact with each of us. Then, we dropped hands and watched the gray, choppy water for a while. Seaweed floated near the shore, and, further out, an industrial fishing boat bobbed. Under our shoes, plastic bottle caps and a sandcastle someone had kicked in. It was not a beautiful day.

He took a deep breath and pulled Martina to him. He whispered something to her we couldn’t hear.

“Don’t be scared,” he told us. We look sideways at each other because we were scared—for him, for what would happen to him, and even of him, a little.

“Love each other,” he said. He broke from the circle and walked away. We tried to talk through eye-contact telepathy. Should we chase him down the beach? Like a seagull?

We needed more time. We had more questions. We would chase him, we decided.  We ran in the direction Cole had gone until it hurt to breathe, until we had sand in our ballet flats. We couldn’t find him.

Allison Pinkerton is the 2017 Kathy Fish Fellow at SmokeLong Quarterly. Her work is forthcoming from Image, and has been published online at The Pinch, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere.

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Photo by Mark Chapman

Stranger Things has returned (!), so we asked our editors what other TV shows they consider binge-worthy.

Charlie Edwards
Intern
Engadine, Michigan

Besides Stranger Things, shows that I find binge-worthy are Charmed, Will & Grace, X-Files and Once Upon a Time!

Sara Ryan
Associate Poetry Editor
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Office and House. Finished both very long series in a few weeks.

Deziree Brown
Associate Poetry Editor
Northern Michigan University

Scandal. Anything with Kerry Washington in it is golden.

Jennifer Howard
Editor-in-Chief
Escanaba, Michigan

For me right now it’s The Americans, though I’d watch any spy show with Mary Kay ladies and cowl-neck sweaters.

Ethan Brightbill
Associate Fiction Editor
Allentown, Pennsylvania

Planet Earth, Adventure Time, Narcos, lots of stuff. If I want to relax, I’ll put something on and then do something else while it plays.

Robert Ball
Intern
Dearborn, Michigan

It is nearly impossible to not binge Bojack Horseman.

Skyler Sars
Intern
Miami, Florida

Rocko’s Modern Life and Cowboy Bebop.

Emily Doseck
Intern
Northern Michigan University

Parks & Recreation. I watched the whole series in a week.

Krys Malcolm Belc
Associate Fiction Editor, Fiction
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’ve recently watched entire seasons of Insecure and One Mississippi in one day.

Hanna Shemke
Intern
Livonia, Michigan

Pretty Little Liars hands down.

Randi Clemens
Northern Michigan University

For those who love a good chick show with fEeLinGs, Gilmore Girls is a classic. But I also love dark stuff like Dexter and American Horror Story. And while I’m at it, also, New Girl!

Kelli Rajala
Intern
Michigan

Anything Marvel for me. Agents of Shield, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders.

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Store Chair, 02.10.09 [41]

Photo by timlewisnm

Shaking Hands With Idi Amin

My mother stands in the Entebbe Airport, a daughter on each side. It is January 1978 and Idi Amin has been up to his usual brutality. He has murdered four college professors, scores of Christians in the southeast, and 15 high-ranking officials, and these are just the killings reported in the New York Times. Since he has taken power, Idi Amin has killed 100,000 Ugandans or 300,000. Human rights observers aren’t sure.

My mother gently squeezes our hands and tells my sister Sonja and me to “stop staring, for goodness sakes” and then she whispers, “You’ve seen people before, haven’t you?” There are more soldiers in the airport than civilians, and in truth, she has never seen anything like this. What are the chances that he is here, too?

We’re in this airport because my Finnish grandmother is dying. My mother received the telegram in Kenya: Come immediately. She and my father considered their options. We had fled Uganda several months earlier, leaving our possessions in storage, but once in Kenya, we didn’t have money for one ticket, let alone three. Somehow, the plan developed: Our family would return to Uganda, sell enough of our belongings to buy tickets to Finland, three of us would fly out, and my father would take a bus back to Nairobi.

When my father’s boss forbade him from entering Uganda, my mother laughed. “So now it’s too dangerous.” She laughed and laughed, and then she cried. “Never mind,” she said. “I’ll go alone.” What she meant is that she would go without her husband. Of course, she would take us. We were her limbs. Our father, ever pragmatic, nodded.

On the black market in Kampala, my mother sold her wedding gifts. “Never mind,” she said. She moved like a fury and didn’t allow herself to cry for her dying mother. Aiti-aiti-aiti, she thought. Mama-mama-mama. She took the shillings, good only in Uganda, to the Sabina Airline office and booked the earliest flight out.

At the Entebbe airport, we sit at our gate. My mother opens her purse for us, and Sonja and I pin brooches to our t-shirts and smear strawberry chapstick across our lips.

A soldier approaches. “Excuse me, madam. How are you, madam?”

My mother takes out her Finnish passport, her eyes wild. She assumes Americans are in trouble again and her daughters will be detained. Maybe her citizenship can protect us.

The soldier looks embarrassed. He tells her to put her passport away. “Idi Amin would like to welcome you to Uganda,” he says. We are in the departure lounge. “Would you like to meet him?”

“We’d be honored,” my mother says. There is no other possible answer. She takes a fast brush to our hair and holds out her hands. As we walk through the airport, people turn away, actively minding their own affairs.

Idi Amin is a large man dressed in khaki and exuding so much charm that he seems to fill the VIP lounge. A few other mzungu are already here, all of them women and children. One of the bodyguards gestures for us to stand in a row and Amin stops chatting and walks down the line. A man takes photographs. We are political theater. The pictures will show that Uganda is safe. Look at these foreign women bringing their babies here. See how happy they are to meet the president.

When Idi Amin reaches us, he shakes my mother’s hand and says, “You are welcome.” It’s the most Ugandan of greetings. My mother smiles and says thank you.

When Idi Amin reaches for Sonja’s hand, she holds out her left arm. My mother has heard something about a cameraman killed over a left-handed shake. She hisses, “your other hand.” Sonja drops her arm and snorts back tears.

Idi Amin laughs. He’s like a jolly uncle. He bends at the waist and takes Sonja’s left hand in his. “Look at this one,” he says. “You are welcome, little sister.”

When we meet Idi Amin, he is kind and our mother is mean. This is one story.

Here’s another: After we shake hands with Idi Amin, we board a plane to Finland and our mother says goodbye to her mother. At the graveside, she stands between us, holding our hands. The sky is grey with unfallen snow. We have not yet become acclimatized to winter or to our mother’s grief. She smiles down at us. “Move your fingers if they’re cold.”

Years later, our mother will die too young and will reside solely in the land of our memories. Some days, unexpected days, I will wake to the image of her sweeping through the Entebbe airport, holding our hands. Across the span of time, she will call to her daughters and she will tell us that we must always do what we have to do. Never mind the rest.

Sari Fordham’s work has appeared in Brevity, Isthmus Review, and Best of the Net. She teaches creative writing at La Sierra University and is completing a memoir about growing up in Uganda.

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Photo by Hiroki Fujitani

Since the changing of the seasons is fully upon us in Michigan, we asked our editors what music they enjoy listening to in certain types of weather.

Alexander Clark
Associate Nonfiction Editor
Michigan

The Smiths all fall long because I’m still 15 and sad.

Jacob Hall
Associate Fiction Editor
Decatur, Illinois

I like to listen to depressing music when I’m depressed in winter. I always feel a little better after hearing about how awful someone else’s life is.

Ethan Brightbill
Associate Fiction Editor
Allentown, Pennsylvania

After seeing The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology in Intro to Critical Theory, I always listen to Rammstein whenever I have a major paper due. December will be loud and German.

Bill Nyfeler
Associate Nonfiction Editor
Northern Michigan University

Like Ethan, I’m a Rammstein fan and listen to it or other excellent metal when a project is due, like Killswitch Engage and classic metal like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, early Van Halen, Metallica, etc. Cold days always draw me to early (late 70s-early 80s) U2 albums, especially the song New Year’s Day. Melancholy is System of a Down or Sarah McLachlan. Happy time is for fun music from Sia or Rihanna. Chill time is classic R&B like Brothers Johnson, Jaco, Dazz Band, and Isley Brothers.

Sara Ryan
Associate Poetry Editor
Ann Arbor, Michigan

I like to listen to weird, drone-y ambient music in the wintertime. Unless I’m in the shower– If i’m in the shower: 90s R&B.

Jennifer Howard
Editor-in-Chief
Escanaba, Michigan

The 4 Seasons’ Christmas Album takes me back. Took me a long long time to understand Mommy wasn’t actually having an affair with Santa Claus.

Robert Ball
Intern
Dearborn, Michigan

I genuinely love me some contemporary Christmas tunes. Nothing puts me in the jolly spirit like (Sir) George Michael’s “Last Christmas.”

Krys Malcolm Belc
Associate Fiction Editor, Fiction
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer,” in the summer. Close second LFO’s Summer Girls because I am a sucker for super crappy but amazing pop tunes.

Charlie Edwards
Intern
Engadine, Michigan

I listen to all types of music year round. I don’t really listen to anything specific at one point during the season, unless it’s Christmas, then obvi covers of popular Christmas songs! However, some of my favorite summer-flavored songs include “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, “Party in the USA” b Miley Cyrus, “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, and “Lush Life” by Zara Larsson!

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Esoteric symmetry

Photo by fdecomite

Mixed White/Filipino poet Anthony Sutton Accepts that He Is Often Read As “Latina” And Then Interrogates the Basic Notion of “Passing”

PN volunteer Mariel Murray on today’s bonus poem: In this poem, Anthony Sutton’s internal monologue scrutinizes Americans’ collective cluelessness on how to start a dialogue on the subjects of identity, gender, and race. The poem feels almost deceptively accessible at first glance. Read it again. And again. A new facet will manifest every time.

There’s how the words “Ma’am” and “Man” are indistinguishable.
If ma’am: Did that parking guard not notice my facial hair?
If man: Was he just really informal?
Am I really this dumb? If so,
let me state the obvious: that a marginalized subject
can be mistaken for a majority subject
means identity is, to varying degrees,
fictional. But here’s what we don’t say:
an antonym of passing is failing.
In this, failure can be broken down two ways:
              1) The marginalized subject is seen as themselves.
              2) The marginalized subject is seen as a differently marginalized subject.
On my last day in Houston, I walked through downtown
when a homeless man crossed the street,
and asked Are you a male or a female?
I said Um. Male?
He turned around disappointed and walked in the opposite direction.
I’m trying to come up with joke about how I should return to Houston
for the homeless man who wanted to be my boyfriend,
but I can’t get it right, so
I’m putting this incident in the pile with the others.
I order them like a tarot deck.
In my major arcana, I was (rightfully) pulled over
for speeding in a school zone.
I remember the line on the ticket for ethnicity.
It read latino.
I wondered if it was possible
to correct this, and how
bad Americans are at confirming that we understand
each other. And how English doesn’t
provide many opportunities to talk
about race and gender simultaneously.
Then I stuffed the ticket in my wallet and drove to work.

Anthony Sutton’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Third Coast, Grist, and elsewhere.

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