Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
In one room, a freezer hums a melody of orange Push Pops and venison.
An army-green commercial gas dryer takes up half of another room,
spitting flames as it tumbles our clothes with a roaring growl.
All the castoff mysteries of those who tell us to be seen but not heard
are packed in this hidden and noisy sanctuary.
My brothers and I drive toy cars along cracked concrete,
roads created each time the house sighs.
We play in a place where everything comes to die—
chipped vases in a rainbow of colors, a lone toilet bleeding rust,
broken rakes, and boxes filled with yellowed paper.
Coffee cans overflow with treasure—bolts, screws, and nails.
Tools hang from a crumbling pegboard, and rows of everyday household poisons
glint like jugs of jewels in the dim light.
Grandpa’s old wheelchairs, leather ripped and duct-taped, with handles worn smooth,
transport us around teetering shelves, stirring up dust and whoops of laughter.
My brothers and I aren’t the only ones who flourish in this damp haven.
Scabs of mold dot exterior walls here and there like living wallpaper,
clouds of spider nests thrum with new life, and every now and then a scorpion appears,
blindly fumbles for a moment before panic-scurrying back inside the wall.
During tornado warnings, my brothers and I squeeze beneath
a wobbly table with a star-patterned Formica top and listen to scorpions
dancing their thunderstorm dance in the walls that keep us safe.
We huddle in the dark and worry about our grandparents upstairs.
Grandpa is wheelchair-bound, and Grandma refuses to leave him.
We never have to wait long, though.
The pounding of our hearts is soon gentled by the soft thudding of Grandma’s footsteps,
which always stop just a few steps down the stairs.
She knows we are already racing to her, thundering through the basement,
ready to carry in the wood before she asks us to.
He plays an assortment of makeshift drums
just outside the rusty door of the van he calls home.
He is worth fifty years of life and music,
which is more than enough to revive our stale hearts,
but is rewarded with the coins that burden our pockets.
Sometimes I see a bright ‘S’ in you,
but usually I’m in a hurry
and miss it.
Hannah Jane Weber’s poetry has been published in I-70 Review, Kansas City Voices, Nebo, The Poeming Pigeon, Rosebud, Slippery Elm, The Seattle Star, and Wrath-Bearing Tree. She is also a recipient of the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize. Hannah Jane is a children’s librarian and tennis enthusiast. She lives with her husband and their golden retrievers.