Dear Reader,

As I’m trying to decide what to write to you, I am watching a baby monitor for any signs of my baby boy stirring. Today was a long day for us, as we had a three hour birth parent visit, minimal naps, and basically no structure. Foster care is hard, y’all. And with heavy bags under my eyes, this will be a very short letter :)

This tiny baby literary journal seems to be intertwining with my life more each day. Could I have timed the July 2019 - CHILDHOOD issue to coincide with the placement of my new son any better? Probably, since we are publishing a day late!

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Cover Works




I’d brought in Johnny’s drum kit—him being so old, and I set it up to his liking as he taught me. The floor tom leaning in like it’s curious to hear what the base and snare drums was gossiping. I was curious too. Luring and gazing like I didn’t want Momma Om at all {how could a boy want a woman?} but for danger and comfort and everything she possessed all at once and everywhere in between.

“Threw away 15 years…” began Momma Om, and I tuned the skin on the snare drum’s head. Johnny taught me the skin’s what gives the drum life. When you hit it, it sings.

“Just cause you don’t have a husband no more don’t mean you can take your crazy out on me,” hissed the Professor. He was a thin, old white man—lean as a stick with skin so loose it looked like it had given up.

“If…I—I can’t—” Momma Om said walking off stage as if she had follow me written on the soles of her shoes. She wore stockings weaved like a bird’s wings. One long wing on each leg and each feather pressed against her skin. When she walked away, she walked all with her femur leading the way—the sexiest part of the thigh always pointing toward the future and desire. Read more…



It was pure chance, our getting the place. Jeff was working on a major construction project with his buddy, basically ripping half our house apart, and he didn't mind me staying out of his hair for a couple of weeks. He and I both knew I'd spend the whole time whining about the noise and dirt.

Melanie, my second cousin and good friend, accidentally found the listing online, the cottage for sale or rent, and the owners were willing to do a two-week stint. I hadn't set foot in the place for thirty some years.

"We don't even know what it looks like," said Melanie, but I didn't care. So many memories; I had to experience it again.

My first thought, as I packed, was of my brother with whom I'd not spoken, other than at our mother's funeral, for fifteen years. The night before the service, Eric and his wife Kathleen, and Jeff and I had gone out for drinks. While we'd joked a bit and talked, I could see the anger in Eric's eyes. Though six years had passed since our falling out, he was obviously still enraged. While I can't describe all my emotion towards him as rage, some of it indeed was, mixed with hurt and the rest was a determination to no longer put up with his subtle and not so subtle insults. I had closed the door in his face to protect myself but not without uncertainty and pain. Read more…



Tommy’s name was called over the loudspeaker during 2nd period chemistry.  He looked at the teacher, Mrs. Borsch, who didn’t pointed at the door with an ancient crooked finger.  He stood up and straightened his well-worn green flannel and walked to Principal Howe’s office running a nervous palm through his short hair.  A delicate girl was sitting outside and smiling like she held a juicy secret.  She had dark hair with a pale purple stripe running just left of center.  It made the skin around her face seem like it was glowing a saintly white.

“Ah, Thomas!” Principal Howe said, wiping muffin crumbs from his fingers onto his khaki pants.  “This is Lillia.  Her family just moved to town and she’ll be joining your sophomore class. I thought, ‘who better to show around a new student than one of our best?’”

“I like your shirt,” Lillia said.

“Oh, thanks. It used to be my Dad’s.  It’s a little big,” Tommy said.  He awkwardly patted the front of his jeans and swayed from toes to heels doing everything to avoid eye contact.  Even still, he took note of what she was wearing.  Black jeans ripped at the knees and a black tee shirt for a metal band that had a graphic of a snake fighting a tarantula. Read more…



Cody opened his eyes in the dark room. He felt like he had had too much sleep, and when he looked at the red digital lights on his alarm clock, he saw why.

“Mom!” Cody yelled. You didn’t wake me up! I’m late for school!”

Cody threw back his covers and jumped out of bed in a single motion. He quickly peeled off the t-shirt he slept in, and began looking through his dresser for another to put on. It was nine-thirty already. He had overslept by an hour and a half.

Cody’s Mother pushed open the door to his room as he was putting on a pair of jeans, and turned on the light.

“I let you sleep. It’s a snow day. They cancelled school.” Read more…



Rosa O’Neil

THE people who lived on Bolt Mountain had lived there for their entire lives, as had their parents and grandparents before them. It was as if they were raised from the dirt and peaks that surrounded them, mined from the coal beneath them. The ash from burnt coal ran in their veins, coursed through their circulatory system, and pumped their hearts. So they married their high school sweethearts, if they married at all. They waited tables or worked long night shifts in the mines. They took vacations—once every few years—to Myrtle Beach. They stayed in seedy motels they didn’t find seedy because there were wide blue swimming pools to float in, which made them forget the scratchy comforters and the bathrooms that reeked of mildew because they were carpeted. They lived in trailers or small single-story houses inches from the road and miles from the wealthier few—doctors and lawyers and dentists—who they called townies. 

At night the people on Bolt didn’t listen to crickets or the breeze. They heard trucks heavy with black coal nuggets driving too fast, the wind catching beneath their cabs. Sometimes the coal would fly off, zip down between the homes with a ping against trailers. Kids on Bolt collected the errant pieces the way other children collected seashells. They lined trailer windows and small, easy-to-assemble Walmart bookshelves. They were proud—too proud—of where they came from and too wary of money and strangers and liberals to want to be anywhere else. Read more…