Karen

By Daisuke Shen

Short Story

 

One thing about Karen that you should know: she is a good person. Sure, she has her faults, like ordering catering for the office from Applebee’s. Even Steel wouldn’t eat it, and he usually eats everything.

 

Home Depot Harvey says when it comes to entryways you can’t go wrong with a pergola. The culturally appropriated East Asian architecture in rot-resistant cedar suggests a certain refinement of spirit, i.e. “Why, yes. I did read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in college,” while simultaneously declaring, “Here is the front door. This way. Come inside. Relax.” I buy lumber and a DeWalt cordless framing gun and put them on VISA. Between my Chase and Alaska Airlines Mileage cards, my limit is $10,000. I haven’t been watching my purchases.

It’s Saturday. Lawnmowers cry from front and back yards. A house finch shoots out of an Oregon Grape and nearly kills me. I google “How to build a pergola” and watch a tutorial on YouTube. This is going to be trickier than Harvey let on.

Anne sticks her head out the window. “What are you doing, babe?”

“Pergola,” I say.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Jane

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Four

 

My friend, the vampire, wanted to go to the vampire dance club in Newark, New Jersey. I said sure, even though I was not a vampire and didn’t dance. Turns out I was driving, too. That’s fine. There was nothing else going on. September, in my bayside town, one hour south. We climbed in my silver Mercury Cougar and drove north.

 

I met Jane at that vampire dance club. She was not a vampire either.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with David Shields. His two most recent books are The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power (Mad Creek Books) and Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention (Thought Catalog Books).

This is David’s third time on the podcast. He first appeared in Episode 26 on December 14, 2011, and again in Episode 454 on February 22, 2017.

He is the internationally bestselling author of twenty-two books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (NYTBR Editors’ Choice). The film adaptation of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel was released by First Pond Entertainment in 2017.

A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and a senior contributing editor of Conjunctions, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Salon, Slate, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into two dozen languages. He lives in Seattle.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

 

At the gas station, I wanted to disappear. A ghost made of tissue paper twisted from a tree branch. There wasn’t any wind, just normal air. It smelled like springtime, but it was October.

A man fell over on the sidewalk. He caused such a mess, it appeared eggs had fallen out of his pockets. I looked away.

An hour earlier I’d signed a lease on an apartment by the beach. The broker’s office had wood paneling. The world was scattered with long windows I couldn’t see through. Plastic batted against glass. Everything was a little smoke-damaged.

An SUV pulled up. A woman stepped out, messed with her purse, then got back in and drove off.

I paced a bit, picked a quarter off the ground.

I thought about trying to steal the gun from behind the counter. But what if they didn’t have a gun? I wanted to commit to something. I wanted it to be obvious.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Butterfly

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Negative One

 

In the beginning, I got born. The doctor handed me to my mother and said good luck. I was crying. My father came in the room with a handlebar mustache, and my mother said good luck to him. Out the windows, specks of dead stars were falling out of the sky, landing in the ocean, hissing. Grandma and grandpa came by and said hello, good luck. The other grandma and grandpa came by and said there was no such thing as luck, don’t be superstitious. Shortly thereafter, they died.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with T Kira Madden. Her new memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, is available from Bloomsbury. It was the official March pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

T Kira Madden is a lesbian APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an BA in design and literature from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College. She is the founding Editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art, and is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. There is no period in her name.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, Michael Earl Craig

[This is a poem from Michael Earl Craig’s new collection of poems, Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, out now from Wave Books. Order it here.]

 

 

At midnight a blinkered pony clopped up the winter road.

A single toon, weirdly amid twin rows of slippery elm.

I am called Honcho. Irrevocable have been my words.

I flick my fingertips violently, as if sprinkling a crowd.

The demitasse broods. Is alone. Is lonely.

I find I cannot go over to it.

 

The pony looked aggrieved, moved only to bossa nova

(ears perking to “Dumpling”). Flanked with trees

the road was white, and very straight. We stood

at the pie safe wanting in, some of us knocking,

while blue dream-tassels shook gently at the cuffs

of the robe of a well-meaning cad.

 

 

 

 

Bob sucked the golf ball through the garden hose, reluctantly.

Dot said she had toe-danced her entire way through college.

I had my head down, I was thinking. A hand reached casually

into my field of vision—the waiter touched my fries with his

Band-Aid. Baby chicks stepped into the clubhouse. Each one

tripped a bit on the rug’s edge. No one stopped them.

 

Bob sucked a second golf ball through in half the time.

Dot held one of her ankles beside her head like a swan song.

The season unbuttoned itself in little burps of pink and white.

They fed the racehorse pot brownies in his stall. He ate them

thoughtfully. The jockey fondled his heavy snaffle. It rained

only over Roanoke. Which I guess is why I’ve asked you here.

Fish Hook

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-Two

 

Your life is a house where you keep your memories. You built this house. Before you, and your memories, there was just a field here, with wild flowers and grass and bugs. You and your house and your memories displaced all of that, but it’s okay, when you die, the house will fall down and the rooms with your memories will collapse under the weight, and the wood that built the house will rot away and feed the ground, so grass and bugs and wild flowers return.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Lori Gottlieb. Her new memoir, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, is available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author who writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column for The Atlantic. She has written hundreds of articles related to psychology and culture, many of which have become viral sensations all over the world. A contributing editor for the Atlantic, she also writes for The New York Times Magazine, and appears as a frequent expert on relationships, parenting, and hot-button mental health topics in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dr. Phil, CNN, and NPR.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Good Luck: Episode Twenty-One

Read the first part of this story, “Birds,” right here.

 

The man from New Jersey is woken by gunshots in his apartment. He is lying on the living room couch, facing the buttoned sofa back, and here is another shot, behind him. He rolls off the couch and covers his face, cowering, “Stop.” His wife is standing in the doorway, tears streaming down her face. Out of bullets, she drops the gun on the floor. Down the hallway she flees; barricading herself in the blue room. She calls the police.