The Ousterbout

E.E. Rhodes The day is spike-sprackled and winter-glorious, the neighbours are primed, and Gran is squawking fit to burst her way out of the prison of the bailiff’s arms. He is new. Worried by the gutterings of the charm-sparse audience.  Every quarter the landlord lickspittles his rent book and sends an ousterbout bailiff after the […]

Dream Baby

Max Hipp Shake your heart like a half-pint of milk, blow in it, put it back in. It’s another night of playing Lost Highway, Long Gone, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, waiting for her to stumble in to find you in your boxers with the cheap guitar, like something out of a sad movie, […]

Panache

T.L. Sherwood The thinness of the envelope puzzles me. Harris has sent a slender, white, unusual feather. Days later, an email explains he broke an international law to send a penguin’s feather. On his honeymoon, he thought of me. Among other places, T. L. Sherwood’s work has appeared in New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Elm […]

Underworld

Cate West It is morning, early. Sunk on a mattress. The tube isn’t running or she’d feel the joists shaking. If she was home. She’s not home. She opens her eyes. Furrowed mattress, damp with cold. Fag-scarred carpet. An ashtray, half empty, a bottle, rolling. Smirnoff. How did she get here? Swam through the usual […]

Polyamory

Elle Shim He loved me the way an orange peeled in the next room permeates the universe for a night. In the morning   I drove back from Chicago still stinging, trying to scan ditches for deer in the dark, the glint off every mile marker mimicking the eyeshine of a shaking creature ready to […]

Three Poems: Between Two Mouths, Harm, and The Kiss of Judas

Lisa DeCastro Editor’s note: I’m drawn to Lisa’s poetry because it’s both intricate and accessible. Her poems are filled with desire, ache, love, loss and written with control and skill. They are richly written and felt. — Janice Leagra Between Two Mouths Between two mouthsAn exchange of eternityWords utteredSilently at firstWithout baring teeth Lips apart, […]

Three Poems: Lessons in Alchemy, Name Your Poison, Behold, The Universal Uterus

Seanín Hughes Editor’s Note: These poems are taken from Seanín’s debut full collection-in-progress, Reasons for Admission, wherein each poem corresponds to a reason for admission to lunatic asylums during the nineteenth century. In this selection, ‘Lessons in Alchemy’ toys with ‘hard study’, ‘Name Your Poison’ answers to ‘opium habit’, and ‘Behold, the Universal Uterus’ responds […]

So That Light Carries Through

Chris Panatier Editor’s Note: Chris has a talent for writing the uncanny, to which I am very drawn, because of how it reflects the dark mysteries of real-life. Things don’t add up. Humans and the world around us are rife with contradictions. We think we know so much, when, in fact, we know so little […]

Our Last Night (tw: abuse)

Travis Cravey Editor’s note: I am drawn to Travis’s writing because his stories are honest and memorable. He features characters the reader sees, knows, and interacts with often in real-life. These people have dreams, but their choices, misjudgments, or lack of insight can bring on their own disasters, which rings true for this reader. There […]

Between The Nail and The Skin

Hema Nataraju Editorial note from Janus Literary reader, Myna Chang, who asked Hema to submit her work: I love the way humor can heighten the emotional complexity of a story. A touch of levity, or an unexpected quirk, can capture a reader’s attention and lend more power to those poignant “gut punch” moments. “Between The […]

yellow train

Lost Property

Lynda Cowles 13:44 The last train leaves the station. Rails hiss. Cables buzz. Pigeons flap then float back down. On the platform, a suitcase waits. Ludo drags it into the station office; lugs it onto the desk with a thump. It’s old and leathery, like him. Agnes the ticket seller shuffles over, pokes it with […]

writings in a planner

Accommodation

Kim Murdock Her husband worked late and her daughter was made of clothes and music so Miranda decided to arrange the calendar to accommodate herself. That grid of numbers in a sea of unremarkable white space.  On Monday, she locked the bathroom door and ran a bath. Taps full open until musky bubbles crept up […]

pink background with speech bubble

Speech and Language Milestones

Kathryn Aldridge-Morris Between 0-6 months babies should coo, begin babbling and mimic sounds                        Heart rate dipping, something about the umbilical cord around your neck twice, a canula’s pumping pitocin into my hand to restart contractions, but all that’s contracting is my calf with a cramp Manuel says he’s seen grown footballers cry with. When you’re […]

food plate healthy restaurant

Sunshine Sugar

Amy Stone I smile. I can hear those paws in the snow, padding over to where I stand. Sure enough, he’s at my feet. He sits. The pads of his feet are thick but still, it makes me shudder to think of him out in this. Mammy says I’m not to give him the bones, […]

selective focus photography of turned on black metal framed light sconce

Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salt

Fiona J. Mackintosh In the crouch of twilight, he hums a single tuneless note under the droop of the rhododendrons. From beyond the hedge, the street air clags his throat with tar and rough metal. Her husband’s probably left for the pub by now and won’t be back till closing, but he has to be […]

healthy fashion person woman

Little Miss Buford

Edie Meade I spend a lot of time on the floor behind the deli counter at Buford’s Grocery, watching the top of the case where the heads of customers emerge between big jars to talk to Momma. Most of the jars hold bologna ropes, pickled pigs feet, snouts, ears, liver, giblet slop that old men […]

Go-Go

Marie Gethins He shouted, ‘What the hell?’ filling his boot with beer as I headed towards the exit A first date at the South American Food Fest should have tipped me off. He promised square dancing and a deep-fry banquet. I starched my best blue gingham—fifteen-layers of net under the skirt with lacy bike shorts […]

gray and black galaxy wallpaper

Trent Lock

Rachael Smart The river is black and fast legging it. High up in the bones of the trees, spring comes, pinkly, and every now and then swallows scissor across tin skies. I order builder’s brew, two twists of sugar. Inside his van, the tea man chalks up the new season’s menu. Proper calligraphy, that, I […]

food man people woman

I Don’t Want Dentures

Anika Carpenter I’m saving for implants like delft pottery, porcelain painted with windmills and flowers; teeth I’ll show off at the Kings Head pub, where a young man, a famous photographer as it happens, will be captivated by my smile, beg to take my picture. My portrait, ten foot by eight, will be hung in […]

fir tree decor

A Paranormal Dialogue

Constance Malloy He’s dead. Frozen in time. Etched forever in charcoal, posing with his arm on a chair back. But every time I sit down to watch TV, I feel his gaze. Somehow, I sense he’s letting me know She sits on the sofa, all smug, acting like this is her house. this is his […]

fashion red people woman

Halo

Meagan Johanson Your mother was in love with you. Enchanted—everyone was, she says, pulling the hair color box from the bag. Those cherub cheeks, Shirley Temple grins—as she sits you down, drapes your shoulders with a tattered old bath towel. You were born with a head full of black hair. Straight and as thick as […]

fuel dispenser

Pam’s Pantry

Shawn Van Horn I read that they’re finally tearing it down.   It has always been there, way before I moved here, way before Ike’s interstate changed everything. It was a place of brief respite for others but for me, the battered and withering staggered shake siding, with its cherry paint peeling like a sunburn,  […]

close up of hand holding pencil over white background

Biblion

Shawn Van Horn I’ve broken up with the world. Words are my new mistress. You’re my way out of here. Doors open inside you, snapping shut when I look away. Black ink fit along the page, lines like mountains hanging off the face of a bound world. I create my own worlds there, building my […]

selective color photography of orange tulip

Vanitas

Jared Beloff Stare hard enough and still edges will followthe lines of your eyes as you move away,a burst of color revealing absence in silhouette:my grandfather’s watch, tulip stalks candle thinalready loosening their skirts, glass luminousas a lit wick, shadows rimming a skull’s sockets. Tonight, my daughter sleeps still enough––I hesitate to check her breath, […]

Matisse’s Bouquet de Fleurs pour le Quatorze Juillet, 1919

Jared Beloff That summer pink flowers gave the least promise,their heads bowed down out of the vase’s slender rimrevealing green stalks shivering to expandbefore we registered the shock of purple pushing upward,crowded by sweet williams’ and asters’ stilled propellers;before we halted at the blue salvia still standing at attention,their cobalt swelling up from the porcelain […]

white and black moon with black skies and body of water photography during night time

The Man in the Moon

Joel LeBlanc The man in the moon sat down on my bed and started smoking a twisted cigarette between yellowing teeth and fingertips, while murmuring wild stories to the dark. Of men who prayed to find themselves, and turned into stags, into dogs, into owls. Of wandering salesmen who gave their hearts to the moon […]

The Business of Witches

Joel LeBlanc The business of witches is one of harvesting truths like plants of predicting babies and midwifing divorces, taking midnight phone calls from love haunted sisters and keeping omens of death to ourselves. We are not of our parents; the land made us, and cats and rats and rabbits dance in our footsteps. Young […]

Horseshoe Crabs

Joel LeBlanc I opened my mouth to say something sweet, but you may notice the briny sea that lives beneath my throat,   and all the sea monsters swimming off-map inside my belly. I wanted to say that I love you, but what comes out is horseshoe crabs in their full moon mating, thumping and […]

red boat on water near green trees

Lesson in Survival

Jamy Bond             I’d lost my lover to heroin: lips like small blue balloons, skin like frosted glass. I needed a new life. A purpose. So I quit my job and volunteered to teach English at a boys’ school in Mozambique.  I boarded at the school in a small room at the end of narrow hallway […]

bright whole ripe oranges on wooden table

every time we think of her

Christina Kapp she held an orange / probed her thumb / with enough force / to wrench skin / from flesh / nail threading / through pith / like a body / shedding skin / like the quilts / a handmade shroud / of skin / peel muscle / from membrane / a puncture / […]

closeup photo of brown and black dog face

The Muse

Simon Lee-Price My dog takes no interest in other dogs or bones. But if I have to write poetry he sits in the corner with his eyes fixed on me. I hurl bottles and pens at him to drive him away, but he always skulks back to his post and takes up watch again. I […]

When the Scarves Fell

Katie Piper               Grandad sat in the chair he always retired to after Sunday dinner. It had slender, polished arms and his fingers would curl over the ends of them. He was always a little poised, as if he was on the verge of getting up – perhaps the war did that?               Mum and […]

white dandelion flower shallow focus photography

Seeds

Jolene McIlwain               My wife leans into her pappy―Macon, she said yesterday―in this photo we found folded in a hankie in a box next to a creased paper and envelopes of dried seeds. We’d agreed she’s five then, though she didn’t need me to concur, since she still had baby teeth and it was before […]

landscape nature flowers summer

Hay Fever

Rebecca Bailey Rude as dandelion seeds, yet you still grow,  The dock leaf to my thistle counterpart. For years I reaped, could not un-sow, The perennial of my fallow heart. The bloom of time won’t stop me  Crying your name (in Latin) to the others. But if bulbs don’t thrive, then let them be. Remember, […]

woman wears gold colored blue gemstone pendant necklace

The Conifer and the North Wind

Geraldine Clarkson He gave me a gift of needles bound round in banana leaves, fragrant, folded in coconut wood.  He came to me first in wafts of October storm, a hard-nosed North wind who sliced sideways  at new growth, shook cone-buds, rocked me till, maddened,  I smelt my own fragrance flying high around. I was […]

blank business card on laptop

Windows Explorer Cannot Process This Request

Philip Charter Are you sure you want to reopen this application? [Yes]  X                                [No] C:\Users\Steve\Business\Tax Returns\2017-18 £19,446.40 in expenses even though you never spent more than twelve pounds at the barbers. You drove everywhere in fourth gear to save fuel. […]

brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime

Sturdiness

James Garza Q:   is there something erotic about destroying the environment?     A:          yes     we roll up our sleeves past the shoulder            & impishly                              plunge arms into                                                     the cow     our fingers meet by chance                           (in the reticulum)           & we look […]

close up photo of ring

Consumed

Sarah Green Gamber Sally looked from the cluttered sink to the window ledge where her sister’s diamond ring sat in a soap-dish. Outside, the setting sun flared like a solar blade and Sally stood on tip-toe to avoid its blinding glare. A ray lit the diamond solitaire and flashed a prism. That ring taunted Sally […]

The Witch Who Walked The Shore (1st Place)

Gaynor Jones Your mother used to tell you stories about the witch who walked the shore. A gnarled, mangled woman with mossy seaweed trailing from her scalp and claws where her hands ought to be. A woman who had been trapped underwater for so long that her putrefied skin rippled across her body as she […]

Interview with Gaynor Jones, First Place Winner

Interview by Sudha Balagopal The witch in your story is a powerful, albeit unseen, character. How did the idea of a witch that haunts the sea come to you? Did she arrive fully-formed or did she develop and grow as you wrote the story? Was she the figure from whom your story began or did […]

Saudade (2nd Place)

Philip Charter When Richie McManus lost his hand in the hydraulic winch, he said he screamed like a banshee, but the North Sea winds whipped the noise away. I was hauling in gear on the port side and the alarm light was the only thing that snapped me out of my own thoughts. McManus was […]

Interview with Philip Charter, Second Place Winner

Interview by Neil Clark Saudade, the concept, really got us editors gabbing away and going on all sorts of tangents when we were discussing your piece during the judging. It was a lot of fun! Could you tell us a bit about how and when you came across the word? Was it your starting point […]

Lyrics For a Life at Sea (3rd Place)

Bayveen O’Connell Manifest. Dad is the captain of my imagination. I’m from coastal people who say the sea is a gateway to other worlds. The Atlantic, the colour of shifting dragon scales, gives me something to dream of: a life beyond our little Ballyscannell crossroads. High tide, all hands on deck, set sail.  Heave away! […]

Interview with Bayveen O’Connell, Third Place Winner

Interview by Edward Bassett Why do flash and microfiction appeal to you as narrative forms? I love paring stories back to their essence, telling a tale in the most condensed way while creating movement and emotional resonance. My favourite thing about writing in this short form is the natural high of (sometimes) being able to […]

Seven Tears (shortlisted)

Nuala O’Connor To call the merrow-man to the shore, you must shed seven drops of eye-brine into the sea. This is what lonely fisherwives do, when their men are away after swordfish and beluga, away for year-halves and more. The merrow swims through your dreams, his body offering rare comfort and, on waking, you long […]

All the Broken Things (shortlisted)

Melissa Bowers VII. Afterward, every beach is vacant. Our children still race for the sand, rip at the fluttering caution tape, ignore our frantic warnings, and we scoop them up and haul them away before they can tell what has become of the ocean. The rest of us know better—we’ve seen the horrors up close, […]

A Hole in the Wing (shortlisted)

Ian O’Brien The slowboat heaved on the black ocean. The weather seemed to have followed her from Dublin, lashing the deck, the windows, the roof. A baby was crying and she forced her way out onto a sheltered part of the deck. She tried to light a cigarette and gave up, found a bench to […]

An Aversion to Popular Amusements (shortlisted – CW: SUICIDE)

J.L. Willetts It’s not my first time. There was the time I tried to hang myself but got it wrong and spent weeks wearing a polo neck jumper in the dead of summer. Then there was the paracetamol that wouldn’t stay down, came up like I’d been force fed a box of chalk. You said […]

Origami Wars (shortlisted)

Amy Barnes My father sleeps skeleton-folded in a closet box. His face is pressed against his knees, a jumble of paper bones and battles, neck bone connects to the thigh bone connects to the hand bone. We unfurl him on holidays, a faded tribute laid on an empty dining room chair while his flag hangs […]

Leviathan (shortlisted)

Sutton Strother In her last life, your mother was a whale. She makes no secret of it, so you grow up carrying this knowledge like you carry the birthmark on your left shoulder. She raises you on grilled octopus, chilled calamari, fish with all their little bones left in. “Whale food,” she calls it, though […]