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Poets don’t have to be so negative! (I’ve heard this, anyway.) Now, think of the first lie you were told, OR the most recent. Retell that lie—using the time and place and liar for your sensory detail…although you could also use your own physical reaction to that joke for detail, too, and the place and time of day and the weather you either recall or imagine accompanied that lie. Freewrite for ten minutes. Lie in your freewrite about the lie if you’d like. No one will know you’re lying about a lie but you.

THE REFILL
By LK

A deep blue lake on the other side
of that wall made of sparkling
cinderblock and cement, there’s
a boat tied to a dock. Everything
undulates, gently, waiting. You

can’t see it from here, but we
procured a boat
may not be able to see it yet, but we
procured a boat crafted by
a computer programmer
to meet your specific needs. (Oh, he
read your posts and tweets, studied
your google
searches—or maybe
the algorithm did that: don’t ask me!)

But we were told: no motors, no paddles, no
sails for this woman. She’ll
want to drift. He
named it after your mother. Your
mother’s name has been stenciled and spray-
painted on the side. You’ll see.

Soon you’ll be with her again.
Think of it!
On the island where she’s been
a long time. So, let’s

not keep her waiting.
Shall we?
Here’s the paperwork. Don’t
worry, you already signed it
whether you remember
signing it or not. Now, you’re
free to leave immediately.
And you should.
A lot of people have gone to a lot
of trouble to organize
this reunion
for you.

And, still, you have questions?
Okay.
Fire away.

Well, the island?
Let me just say that it’s always
cool and shady there, if that’s
what you want me to tell you.
Or maybe there’s a tiki bar on the beach.
It might be very quiet, or there may
be speakers blasting Kraftwerk and
Tangerine Dream, if that’s
what you need to have in order to dance
and not feel foolish—although
you should feel
no pressure to dance if you prefer
to swing in a hammock and catch
up with your mother
on what she’s missed. She’s
no longer judgmental. But, even
when she used to be, when
she was alive, she always loved you.
Nothing you ever said or did, even
as a teenager, disappointed
her, even
when she screamed at you that it did.

How do I know?
Because everyone knows this.

Now what?

Please, don’t worry. It’snot far
at all from the dock to the island.
Yes, as I said, the lake is deep, but
even at its deepest it’s not so deep
you’d drown if your
boat capsized. You
know how to swim. (We’ve
heard about all those
expensive lessons and the year your high
school team won the girls’ state
championship. Well, we

know because there’s still a trophy
in a case, behind glass, right
next to the double doors
where no one can miss it, and
one of my interns saw your name—
misspelled, albeit—engraved with
the others on it.
.
And the water is lukewarm. Too warm
for snakes or stingrays. The only fish
are of the tiny, fluttering species we call
Your Mother’s Eyelashes. Nothing

there to fear. But we left a lifejacket
for you just in case. It’s
on top of the cooler filled with ice
and Diet Coke and Wheat Thins (your
mother told us these
were your favorites—or that at least
they were back then, but
of course you were a teenager, so
we understand. All of us
change. So
we can provide you with anything
you’d prefer. Just make a list. We’ll
have it sent.)

And the wall?
It looks much higher than it really is.
And there’s a locker next to it in which
you can leave your things. You
won’t be needing it.
No—not even your glasses, not
even your iPhone or your passport or
the change at the bottom of your purse.

I’ll give you the key in a minute.
Everything will be
just as you left it when you return.

Without all that extra weight, you won’t
even need to climb it. You’ll
be so light you’ll be able
to fly. It’ll take you ten
minutes at the most to get to the boat
and then—

Yes. As I already told you, she’ll be there.
She’s been expecting you
for a long time. Let’s
not leave her waiting
too much longer. It’s time
to end this grief you’ve insisted
on keeping, selfishly, to yourself
all these wasted years. Now

here, swallow this.
Here’s a second. And now, feel free
to choke down this whole handful.
They’re only little pills, even
the biggest one. And you don’t need
a prescription. This
is free. For you. We don’t take
any insurance plan, either. Too
much paperwork. This
is a charity, after all, and we can’t
afford to employ
someone to deal with that.

Why you?
Because we read your posts and tweets and
studied your google searches, and all of it
was equally
hilarious and grief-stricken. So
the whole committee agreed that you
were the most deserving
of all the applicants this year.

Oh—I know you didn’t apply for this.
But it’s not that kind contest.
You were nominated for it
by a friend. (I’m sorry, I can’t
tell you the nominator’s name, or
the names of the nominees—all
those who didn’t win, and never will, but
there were a million of them.)

Did I tell you yet
about the tree?

The tree. It grows
at the center of the island, and its roots are so
deep that the whispers of the dead
can travel up its trunk, and when
the sun begins to set you can hear them
whispering their secrets to each other
down there in hell.

I’m sorry, did I say hell?
I meant, of course, to say heaven instead—
although (don’t be embarrassed, you’d have
no way of knowing
yet, but there’s no difference. As
you’ll soon learn for yourself.

Oh, the membership fee—that’s
symbolic. If you opt out
at any time
the refund will be posted
to your credit card statement.

We aren’t in the business of stealing
money from anyone here. We’ve
been doing this a long time.
Believe me, we could never
have become as successful as we’ve been
if we weren’t people as honest as yourself.

Congratulations.
Be safe.
Enjoy your joy.
Wallow in your relief as shamelessly
as you can, however briefly.

Briefly?
Sorry, you misheard me.
As I said from the beginning, this
is eternity we’re giving you, which is
why it would be
immoral for us to sell it. Hell, if
this could be sold we’d all be so
rich by now we wouldn’t need
to be standing in front of this
wall, talking to you, giving
you things for free now would we?

Call us
if you need anything. (You
won’t need
the phone to do that, trust me.)
We’re always here.
We just want you to be happy.
Happier than happy.
We’re talking bliss here, and we
couldn’t even pay the electric bills if
it wasn’t for addicts like you. So
we do what we have to do.
.
Sorry.
Did I say addicts?
I meant valued customers.

Now, listen!
Hear it?
When the wind blows over that
wall you can hear your mother
calling you
home. It’s getting late. She’s
barefoot, on the front stoop, and
it’s cold. You’re going
to be late for dinner if you don’t
get back soon. She made that cake
you always loved
so much
for dessert.

What kind of cake?
If you can’t remember, how would I know?

I’m sorry if it’s wearing off already.
But you have to pay is this time
if you want more. We’re
a nonprofit corporation, and your
happiness is all we care about.
However, as you must’ve already known
before you showed up here
with your hand open, our
supplies are limited, the demand
inexhaustible, and, sweetheart, please
accept my apologies, but
drugs like these don’t
just grow on trees.

Zoom “Touch Up My Appearance” Has Crashed
By Logan Corey

No,
you don’t look
tired. Hungry,
Maybe.

Smooth as Glass
By Jodi Ann Korte

Smooth as glass

Black-out back-up

Sliding silvered eyes over me

Daily, I’m standing here

You cling to half-truth walls

Picture perfect, only if you believe it

Distorted, is more the truth

That the good is bad

That the bad is good, except when

The bad is very bad

Actually, honesty

I don’t know how it is

I’ve been trusting for years

Or why or how I daily still do

Especially now, unbiased

Snapshots convey different stories

The depth of deceit depends on

The spinning of light and those

Angels with angles always trying to help

Closed off together more often than not

Always surface, never for show

No matter how deeply known

Smart enough, still denies

Fogged compliments and fears

It takes a while to clear

The morning

Takes forever

To clear the night

The time is never right

No matter when,

No matter what, it’s

Back to square one

Facing and fighting reflections

That always lie.

Lesson

And so happily
they lived after
ever and ever
they lived and
happily they
ever since lived
happily after all
they lived after he
in his glass slipper
she in her shoe
old woman
little prince
happily after ever
they lived after
a kiss one kiss who
would ever after
think after all
they so happily
ever and ever
lived and lived
amen.

I Love Rabbits
By Meghan Prindle

Cool and crackly;
Evergreen and sandy;
A deep calm;
And a deeper quiet.

But it's not vacation,
It's Day Umpteenth of the Great
Pause;
It's only juniper and a turtle
sandbox,
    And the campfire smoke swirls.

And yet, for us, the moment's
still melty-sweet (and a little
caramel) like our slow-roasted
marshmallows.

A Little Lie
By S. Atticus O.


Daily, I stand at my little standing desk
doing work for hours on end; my partner sits across the room.

For years I was able -
when living with bigger families
with dogs and cats and birds and stuff -
to blame my farts on someone else.

So it is rough when I cant do that anymore.
That’s the hardest thing about living with only one person.
I love living with my love, I truly do, but the fart lie
sometimes goes too long past the moment they’ve realized.

Tonight, it wasn’t a purposeful lie,
but by god was it bad, a bad bad gas released at 5pm,
as I closed up my work for the day
and loosed writers end-day fumes.

“So,” I say, “Im done, how bout you, hun?
What do you say we….Oh man….What is that smell?”
“I dunno.” They say, “Can’t smell anything. Allergies.”
Thank god. I think, glad I don’t have to own up.

But in this instant I’m reminded of my first memorable lie:
I stole a star wars toy from Newbury Comics at closing time.
I was five, but wasn’t caught. When asked where I got it, I lied,
“I found it.” I lied to the Nanny, sweaty palms and insides.
Though she turned a blind eye, I took my stolen saber to the side walk,
“I lost it,” guilty conscience stronger than desire to play Jedi.

Later, fourteen at the gym, gleaming with sweat,
Dripping, though a man’s locker I went.
At first I thought it was mine, but even in realizing it wasn’t,
I couldn’t help myself but pry through his belongings.
Digging, I heard a door open and close
and tried to do the same, but the little metal one
was slow, too late not to be seen, so I locked eyes with him.

“Give it back.”
“What?”
“My wallet.”
“What?”

“You stole it.”
“I didn’t…”
“I’m calling the police.” He grabbed my arm.
“No, please. Here.” Tears streamed from my eyes.
“Give me your phone.”
“No”
“I’m calling your mother.”
“What?” Reluctant, handed it over.

He told her, and let me go home.
On the way, they wrestled, my mind and my soul,
and came to a conclusion that one must prevail.
I am privileged and lucky. I have a responsibility.
I have to use it for good. I got there and told her:

“I’ll never steal again,”
and told myself I’d no longer lie -
I’d been spared twice from life behind bars
and now my two signs from god, if its what they were,
were up, and, strike three, third time’s a charm.

Not every lie is the same. But nonetheless I must stay
True to my word to myself. So as I stand in the dining room,
clouded in my farting, I own up. “Darling, I am sorry. I lied."