From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Emily and the What-if Imp

Emily was nine years old when she met the what-if imp. She was rereading her favorite book when the thing she loved turned sour. Something had its hooks in her mind. It worried her like a dog’s teeth as she sat motionless on her bed. “What if you ran away?” the what-if imp asked. “What if you ran away from home, like the girl in the book?”

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Latest Poetry

Halsing for the Anchylose

They made the finest things / of bone and zealous shell: / homes for the scholars who / scuttled maze-like down

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Breath of the Dragon King

There were three tragedies in Drea King’s life, all of which occurred before it even began. The first was that her parents, like many other parents, tried to birth her in the year of the dragon. Not only was the dragon the most powerful persona, but it was the year 1988, and 8 was a lucky number, so everybody knew the Dragons of ’88 would be special.


I’m excited about this new apartment, its shining glass windows overlooking Harlem, until I see her peeing in the park one morning, shortly after we move in. Insulated glass dampens the screech of taxi honks and sirens below and gives us a great view of the nearby park: a huge swath of hilly green in the middle of the city, where evergreens reach up like pining lovers and silent figures walk along its paths. And yet one morning, while sipping my cinnamon coffee, I see her.


Nellie kept moving, expecting to blend into the ridgeline, but the hiking guide spotted her. He called out in Italian first, then English.

“I don’t think you belong out there.”

His group, tourists with brimmed hats and walking sticks, stopped and stared with dull curiosity. The steep slope under her feet was loose gray rock, treacherous for amateurs perhaps, but she’d been wandering terrain like this almost forever.

(available on 10/26) Buy Issue

More Poetry

Twilight Mind

Magic grows in the interstices: / shadowy blades springing / from the hands of statues, / herb and root, flower and fruit

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Editorial: October 2021

In this issue’s short fiction, Pamela Rentz takes us on a journey of place and identity in “Obstruction,” and Zebib K. A. explores the complexity of being and feeling strange in “Heirlooms;” in flash fiction, Allison King asks what happens when a rabbit wants to be a dragon in “Breath of the Dragon King,” and Gwynne Garfinkle’s “Emily and the What-If Imp” gives voice to an undesired darkness; for poetry, we have “Halsing for the Anchylose” by Stewart C. Baker and “Twilight Mind” by Jennifer Crow. Plus essay “Worldbuilding With Legs” by Premee Mohamed, author of And What Can We Offer You Tonight, The Annual Migration of Clouds, and The Void Ascendant.

Worldbuilding With Legs: Incorporating Insects into Your Stories

So I hear you’re writing a fantasy story! May I suggest the addition of some charismatic microfauna? What about uncharismatic? Um, what if we make them macrofauna? No?

Arthropods get the short end of the stick in the average fantasy tale. Oh sure, there are biting flies in the Marshes We Must Cross to Deliver the MacGuffin; a local witch keeps a few hives of Slightly Strange Bees; the heroes might defeat Scorpions Of Unusual Size now and then. But what if we developed more unusual candidates and gave them some power in the plot? Real insects provide us with everything we need for a variety of fictional functions!

(available on 10/26) Buy Issue