Here you’ll find merch, Issue #7 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
I thought he was a Fed at first.
Okay, no, I didn’t, but in hindsight I should have. The second time he turned up at Saucy Sue’s everybody noticed him on account of his height and his clothes, which were righteous. I’m the only one who saw him arrive the night before. He was furtive, dressed in…I don’t know what, man. He wore shoes and pants that even the Salvation Army would turn down. The height was there, but he was such a dark cat that, without the flash of jewellery, he faded into the background. I played percussion, that first night. Al played the horn, some shit he’d cribbed off watching Dizzie in St Louis. Saucy Sue’s was a gangster’s joint, but many of the jazz clubs were back then, and a Fed or two or an undercover cop wasn’t out of the ordinary. He was a yard dog that first night, and every other night he came in, that’s the name that stuck in my head, even before he started playing.
Down down baby, down down
Sweet sweet baby, sweet sweet
won’t let you go…
Melanie kicks her skinny legs out. Her ashy elbows and arms pump and pump, ricochet off the cool wintry air. She wears summer clothes, a flowery church dress that billows around her, like a pink upturned umbrella, and cornrows, neat and lustrous, her Easter Sunday best. Melanie swings from a frayed brown rope. Her ankle socks must have looked good in her shiny black Mary Janes, but one shoe is missing. Her giggles bounce off the shards of ice atop the frozen red earth of Miss Dinah’s playground.
Sometimes, when I listen to my mother sing, I wish for a bit of imperfection in the tune.
I go red in the face at the thought of her. My eyes go accusing, my fists balled, and though we aren’t supposed to let her go, I hope she’d at least stumble and her never ending songs would be cut short.
Sure, she has to riiise in voice when the nightmares invade and come back stronger— the monsters never going away forever, only being pushed back by songs to the point we can survive—but her voice is still a light, strong and radiant, never flickering.
Anna Maria Percival, widow and Diva extraordinaire, woke abruptly as the coach passed over a particularly rough patch of road. She reached instinctively for the blade under her skirt but Eleanor stayed her hand. Anna Marie looked up and found her lover laughing at her.
“And what has you so amused Mrs. Percival?” Anna Maria said, sitting up.
“Forgive me, Mrs. Percival but you are most amusing,” Eleanor said. “You are ready to vanquish even the most dangerous of potholes.”
“I have half a mind to take you over my knee.”
“Gladly I shall go,” Eleanor said her smile quirking mischievously.
Rosetta knelt to look at the stump in the corner of her client’s bedroom. It had the likeness of a ten-year-old boy: four feet tall, dressed in an oversized shirt and suspenders. And its features were flawless, from the newsboy’s cap cocked on its tight curls, to its pupil-less eyes fringed with long eyelashes. The only oddity was that stump’s hands were unformed, shapeless blobs. It was easy to believe that a sculptor had chiseled a boy out of wood and had stepped away just before finishing its hands.
Rosetta sucked in her breath through her cloth face mask. The SPC hadn’t told her that her first stump extermination would look like a child.
Poem: “Ella Hour” by Uche Ogbuji
Poem: “I Sing the Lady Electric” by Latonya Pennington
Poem: “night chimes” by Lisa Allen-Agostini