Here you’ll find merch, Issue #9 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
Mi walked the Mississippi, in search of the one dem call Longinus. The river wound along the boulevard, the bank a dozen feet below the cold guardrail. In the day zealots sounded warnings of witches and monsters on it banks. At night they prayed at home, gris-gris locked in death grips.
Couldn’t say when Mi last prayed.
What are we doing here, bokor? Achebe asked, materializing next fi me. First he was a shadow rising from the ground, then an ochre man clad in nothing but a hide skirt. His appearance rattled the teeth fi mi bangle. The black metal absorbed light, bitter cold around mi neck, a schism in space save the teeth chained fi it. “Money.”
There I was, drink in each hand, and a new kid had gone and froze up right in my path. Judging from her stillness, she was a first-timer. Default pose and everything: feet (hooves in her case) planted on my chrome floor, head locked straight ahead, hands hovering just from her hips. The only parts of her body that pulsed with the bass were the neon blue tattoos arcing on her collarbone. I sighed at the glasses in my hands and decided to put my sangria to the side.
With a thought, one of the glasses disappeared and left my hand free, reaching for her shoulder. My contact made her jerk to face me, made her eyes go all wide. She must’ve thought she looked real cute with the no-pupil look and you know what? I couldn’t judge. We all made fashion blunders the first time.
Matches were always the highlight of the seasonal visit from butcher families. One night, after they met at a stream, Mati told Saya one thing she had never heard before.
“You know, not long ago, women fought too.” Mati said.
“Really?” Saya asked.
“Ask your family elders about Byol. She was a great fighter.”
And thus the seed was planted. In the two years it would take for the rest of her age-group to graduate from their various apprenticeships, Saya would master the art of fighting.
Where were you the first time you heard about it? Heard that someone you knew, had known, had met at a club in the city or at a party in Greenpoint was sick? Had caught the plague? Where were you the first time someone you knew died?
These are the questions that preoccupy us now. We go to dinner and the only thing we can think to talk about is who’s got it now, when they found out, what doctor they went to, who they think—or who we think—they got it from, who they slept with, do any of our partners overlap with theirs.
My boss stares at me over the half-wall of my little slice of cubicle hell. His face is all wrong, and I mean besides the glaringly red bump on his jaw. It’s like the muscles that held his permanent scowl in place have finally snapped from years of undue tension. For the first time in my four months of employment at Blanchett Capital Recovery, Mr. Lawless isn’t angry with me. This couldn’t possibly be a good thing.
Poem: “Nest” by B. Sharise Moore
Poem: “The Basket Weaver” by Soonest Nathaniel
Ahmara Smith: Creator of comic “23.5°” is featured in this issue.