online magazine for short, good writing

Month: January, 2013


by a contributor

a brief encounter from Katy Gunn

He receives a welcome email from a department store at which his email address, home address, and phone number have been entered for a registry. Name your registry now, says the e-mail. The graphics appear equally themed between weddings and baby showers. There are a few graduation hats. So far, he is registered for twelve Bratz dolls, a machine to make rocket pops, a machine to make snow cones, and twenty-six twin-sized Disney bedding sets. The bedding sets cover twenty-six different movies, at least three with titles he has never heard.

He is looking up a trailer for The Black Cauldron when he receives another e-mail from the department store offering him twenty percent off any purchase that exceeds two hundred dollars. Above this, an email from his own address appears with Daddy my favorite movie is Fantasia in large green font. The first reply to this email says My Favorite Is The Fox And The Hound, and from that point the favorites proliferate. He moves back to his registry page, the margins of which read Best New Family Minivan 2013 and Free Séance Online Only $20. The latter speaks to him about spiritualism if he hovers his curser over it.

His inbox blinks with a new email from the department store offering thirty percent off any purchase that exceeds two hundred and fifty dollars. He receives the opinion that The Great Mouse Detective is the best movie of all lifes. He hesitates over his trackpad. He taps to reply all. Only his address appears in the address bar. How many of there are you? he sends, but any response gets lost in all of the favorites. Every time he tries to shift back through them for a hard number, another favorite appears and he gets knocked back to the bottom of the thread.

Katy Gunn ( is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama with writing forthcoming from BirkensnakeJellyfishH_NGM_N, and more.

5 Most Useful Lessons Learned in College

by a contributor

from JJ Lynne, author of Vacancy and Before I Have Kids:

  1. Set your priorities in order. I learned this when my professor of British Literature said, “There are three photos in my office. One is of my wife, two are of Virginia Woolf.”
  2. Avoid distraction. On the first day of Italian I the professor announced that he threw his television out the window and it was the best thing he had ever done for himself. I retained this fact rather than the verb recitations that followed.
  3. Do not become a doormat. Mid-semester 90% of the class stopped doing the reading and adopted blank stares as responses to the poetry professor’s discussions. He said “fuck this” and walked out, like a father abandoning his ungrateful children.
  4. Rhyming does not equal poetry. When a classmate resigns himself to using the word “cunnilingus” because it is the best he can find to complement “fungus,” the writing strategy needs to be reevaluated.
  5. All work and no play makes JJ a dull girl. When Esther Greenwood from Plath’s The Bell Jar starts to sound logical and eerily sympathetic, it’s time to take a break from the pressure and enjoy the lunar eclipse or the swaying hips of the beautiful boy beside you.

Before I Have Kids

by a contributor

JJ Lynne

I want to feel
what it is
to question
my own curiosity –
to bring the raw skin
of my cheek
to the raised tops
of a range of knuckles,
brushed by the
slip-covered bones
of a lover’s hand.

I could learn
to ride a unicycle,
rather than to stand
on two flat feet –
oscillating between
former and future
selves to find balance –
to roll like a bowling ball
in a metal gutter,
avoiding the moment
of impact.

I ought to craft a map
of my mistakes
and burn it
in a steamship’s furnace –
making smoke of the moments
where monsters sleep
like vermin concealed
between mattress and sheets.
Only then can I force the bow
to thrust toward
the climax of collision.

I should listen
to what women say
about watermelons
squeezed from lemons,
like elephants extracted
from a magician’s hat –
shining at center stage
before stampeding the spectators.
The fruit seems sweet
until it plants its seeds in hollows
that once held wisdom teeth.

I will study
how to cultivate
children – like saplings –
memorizing amounts
of water and light, or
discipline and the right
time to wipe the drops
from a daughter’s face
after too cold a scolding –
to watch myself grow
in bodies I cannot control.

JJ Lynne is a recent graduate of Merrimack College where she earned her BA in English. Her poems have won first and second prizes in the annual Rev. John R. Aherne Poetry Contest and her poetry and photography have recently appeared in The Scrambler, Common Ground Review, and [PANK] under her birth name.

Also check out JJ’s poem Vacancy and her 5 Things You Should Read.


by a contributor

JJ Lynne

Her false teeth slipped
into the dry sink – a violent
clank of porcelain upon its polished self.
The front tooth chipped into a gap-
toothed grin as a cracked piece
dove down the copper drain.
She decided that it looked organic–
like a storm-splintered branch
or a beheaded Black-Eyed Susan.
Lips stained with a violet shade
and feverish cheeks flushed with a pinch,
she walked to the drug store to sit
at the soda fountain, sliding a pinstriped
straw into the fresh, vacant space.

JJ Lynne is a recent graduate of Merrimack College where she earned her BA in English. Her poems have won first and second prizes in the annual Rev. John R. Aherne Poetry Contest and her poetry and photography have recently appeared in The Scrambler, Common Ground Review, and [PANK] under her birth name.

See JJ’s poem Before I Have Kids, and her 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.

This Week in Words – Jan 26

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

The UK’s Telegraph has a photo gallery of the rarest books in existence, including editions of Wuthering Heights, On the Origin of Species, and The Birds of America (a set of which sold three years ago for a whopping £7.3 million.

Happy 10th birthday to The Millions. To celebrate, they’ve introduced The Millions Originals, a platform for contributing writers to publish longer-than-magazine-articles-shorter-than-books essays in ebook form. The first is Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever by Mark O’Connell; a sample of the first chapter is available at the above link. Epic Fail and the selections that follow can be found at the ebookstore of your choice for $1.99 apiece.

Check out a selection of very awesome lit-themed coffee mugs put together by Book Riot. I already have the Banned Books mug, but I would not be sorry to own every one of these.

“Some of us want to be loyal and think that by wanting to be we may already have cleared the path to it….But we know better. We also know that we will shed our loyalty if given the opportunity. It is the absence of opportunity that keeps us loyal, not what’s in our hearts.” André Aciman and other contributors offer their own definitions of the theme for Granta’s Spring issue: betrayal.

Butter Both Sides

by Treehouse Editors

a brief encounter by Casey Jordan Mills

The divorce split the household into a nasty atmosphere. My parents rummaged through DVDs, silverware, and picture frames; my brother and I watched as they tugged on the Panini press, staking claims, spitting slurs about money and betrayal. Each party signed and initialed eight or nine dotted lines after pretending to read the stack of legal papers before Dad and I drove off with cardboard boxes and a key to a new duplex. Mom didn’t stay for the wave-off, but my brother lingered in the driveway. My brother had a mind for math—he argued it would make him successful, a grown-up with a salary. He tweaked his jokes to blame everything on Dad (and me) boasting how numbers would make him a better man. We went five years without speaking. I tried multiple times to contact him, but he didn’t want anything to do with the other half of the family. I knew he would only apply to his dream school; I knew him well enough to know he had zero friends. I clicked through the pages on Craigslist until I found him, his post searching for a roommate in the area. His ad: Looking for a quiet roommate. 2 bedroom. 1 bathroom. 1.8 miles from campus. Rent and bills split evenly down the middle. I arranged a meeting, using a different name to deter suspicion. My brother answered the door of his cramped loft only after I knocked four times. We stood in silence, examining changes in our appearances and demeanors. He finally motioned for me to come in, still only a few words traded between us. He offered me a glass of water and handed me half of what he called his signature sandwich creation, made with our Panini press already plugged into the counter, his parting gift from Mom.

5 Portentous Conversational Prefaces

by a contributor

from Charles Byrne, author of The Clouds:

  1. We have to talk.
  2. Are you sitting down?
  3. I have some good news and some bad news.
  4. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.
  5. First of all, I want you to know how much I love you.