Salt Tears

Sue Dawes He never takes his shoes off to walk along the beach, says he hates the way sand invades every crease without his permission.   ‘When’s dinner?’ he asks. Sophia washes the ocean from her fingers. ‘Not long.’ He walks to the window where she keeps driftwood and fragments of sea-polished glass.  On a sunny […]

The Last Prophet

Lisa Blackwell The bird stands at least a foot taller than any of the other birds on the rocky outpost. It’s head and shoulders bolt upright, a prophet in black and white. It’s large razorbill beak, as big as its head. We take it alive, the three of us, we think it will fetch a […]

Sea Animals

Sharon Boyle I am a butcher by trade. That’s what I tell my fellow passengers of merchants, their wives, soldiers, and able-bodied seamen – not that you would ken they were able after letting our mother ship, a French frigate by the name of Medusa, run aground in an exercise of high negligence. So we […]

The Sea Change

Jan Kaneen When hunger’s making your insides growl, and rain’s a-rattling your midnight window, and you’re lying in your driftwood bunk waiting for the door to whine open and your Ma to lean inside to tell you it’s time – the very second she does you whip yourself upright, shove Greymalkin onto the good-earth floor, […]

It Had Been Calling to Her

Peggy Riley It had been calling to her.   She could hear it from the water.  Revenge, it said.  Take back what was taken.   Its cries drew her up from the sea.  Out from the waves she heaved herself, onto this shingle beach to pull its empty air into her lungs.   Night here had its own […]

A Celestial Undoing

Sara Dobbie Henry is obsessed and there is nothing Celeste can do about it. She emerges from below deck, fraught with disappointment. Sees him standing starboard side, aiming his telescope into the ebony blanket of night sky swathing the sea.  High above them Orion mirrors Henry’s intent, and Celeste envies the constellation this kinship with […]

Winter 2020

by Anuja Ghimire A wintry Texas morning, I wait for the sunThe full moon, a star, or two by the windowGolden Pothos I’ve tended to since JulyLeans closer and closer to me by the windowA quiet neighbor’s roof is a leaf’s fall awayI never see her when I dream by the windowThe tips of leaves […]

Grief Is A Story I Was Told On Rosary Beads

by Electra Rhodes Mam was laid out cotton-starched on the bed. The stillest I’d ever seen her. She’d not like to be known this way so I made a bit of busy noise at the door. As if I’d only just arrived. She struggled and gained no real purchase against the slip of the sheets, […]

What Is or Is Not True

by Laurie Marshall While it is true I did not accept his proposal, that did not prove that I did not love him. I was raised by an independent woman raised by an independent woman raised by a survivor of war and famine and things that may or may not have been true but which […]

Parent and Child

by Rebecca Ruvinsky A sense of living alreadyin the past. He is lookingat a dying woman whileshe is breathing. Eating.She can only eat soft food,but she tries some of his.Chews. Spits out what shecan’t swallow, but she livesoff of the flavor. Jokes, I don’t needthe calories anyway. Five years after the funeral, herson wonders if […]

My Rooster Booster

by Frances Gapper Skipping most stages of poultry production including death, he’d blagged a ride in the delivery truck. He was free-range organic, farm fresh. Howdy Ma’am! We often danced in the kitchen, a wild whirl we called Rooster Booster. Laughing our heads off. We cried cock-a-doodle-do! As he was pecking morsels of oat crunch […]

Sun in Our Eyes

by Rebecca Ruvinsky The audacitywas circumstantial: we didn’t know we wereflying until it was toolate to stop. Then, we’re hopeless, trippingover each other, fawn-like with our fresh wings. Gangly never suited youso well. We got used tothe shedding, to waking up with feathers in our hair.Your head was always upin the clouds in those days, […]

The Light Falls Through

by Jared Povanda With angular gaps in the branches. Light everywhere. In my hair, on my skin, claws of it and petals. A bullet went through a person last night, exit wound in the back, and as I walk the quarantine weight away day after day, I think of the fragility of bodies. I think […]

Rama Lama Ding Dong

by Sutton Strother On the album cover the Rock Star reaches out, so you take his hand and pull him free, out of the picture and into the rose glow of your bedroom. He coaxes you into a sloppy slow dance as he sings along to his own music in an off-key slur. His hair […]

Sitting on a Stool by a Bar

by Jesse Millner Once I saw a man punch a homeless guy in the face.It was afternoon. It was the mid-1980s. It was a baron the near West Side of Chicago. It was Charlie’son Randolph. It was winter and when the homelessman walked in, the cold followed him the way it does,bringing that brief shiver […]

The Avenue of Slurred Dreams

by Jesse Millner It was cold then, mid-1980s, Chicago—authentic winter with below zero daysand the wizardry of turquoise ice alongthe lake, shaped into sheets and bergs,rising and falling with the water’s rollingbreath. A walk along the Lake, northboundon Sheridan Road, ice-glazed and shiningwith the light of that distant late 20th centurysun. A treacherous walk past […]

What Butch Says

by Tania Hershman            Butch says I need to watch everything you do. I say, But he’s just sitting there. Butch slaps my back. Exactly! says Butch. He brings me pens and notepads. He moves my chair to the window. Butch says it’s like spying. He says I have the skills for this. He says it’s […]

Cosmic Lovecraftian Love

by Wyatt Winnie Saturn ringsaround cul-de-sacs,adhesive radio wavesjamming, jamming transmissions fromNeptune to Mercury searchingfor staticky reception andconfirmation of alien life. She’s wrapped hertentacles around hisenchiladas, somethinghis friends can’t believe, not on Monday or Tuesday,despite the Wednesdayproclamation of his love. They’re just feelings,he says.They’ll go away. But on Thursdayhe’s swimming onhis motorbike ina giant spacesuit and […]

Corona Legal

by Wyatt Winnie They’re out of horchata againand I don’t know how to tellthe othersI’m not Corona legal,at least not in this state anyway, seeing ashow I’m the only 17-year-old chillingat the adult school. But Laura knows,all 23 years of candy appleMexican lipstick and single-motherhoodpushing her stroller down Alhambraavenue with the vatos cat-calling herdespite her […]

Each Breath a Chain

by Sara Hills After school and on Saturdays we couple up and make-out under the overpass in the middle of town—under shirts, over jeans. Our parents say the tunnels are full of rats. They tell us to take the long way round, warn us about gang violence and drugs, but we laugh them off. The […]

Addressing her inner voices

by Shannon Kenny I have a thick skinbut the patriots and bigotsare wearing it thin.The blood of the world is all over my phoneand laptopand my kid’s waking up.Be nice, assholesI’ve got a day to get through. Shannon Kenny is a writer and actor from Durban, South Africa. She and her family love to laugh. […]

U.I.

by Frank McHugh Universal indicator of right, wrong,good, bad, life or death. Of course,no-one nowadays can make a decisionso the digit wavers, not committing. Hitch-hiker’s appeal, texter, gamer,licked and sticked to seal the deal:pudding-prodder, opposable, appositegripper of handlebars and pushchairs,the more rounded of the brothers,Peter’s apostle, pollex, a page-turner. The mighty thumb has replaced conversation […]

Running

by Julia Kelly And we ran through the streets, stars like comets streaking the black sky, two girls  laughing,  pounding the concrete through the ugly beauty of the city, the arcing bridge over the black glitter of the river, breath cold and clear, painless, tireless, high above the pavement now from whatever drug we’d taken, […]

Plastic

by Nora Nadjarian I’ve spoken to thousands of art dealers listed in the yellow pages. I’ve turned the thin pages and made over a thousand calls asking for art made of plastic, which will keep for a thousand years. The art dealers call back and say the Ocean, the Ocean. I suppose they mean dive […]

Star Fall

by Joyce Wheatley There was the “fall.” “Dropped on her head as a baby,” Mama said. Nothing congenital. Nothing genetic. An accident. Story retold at every family gathering. “Dropped on my head as a baby,” Aunt Vivienne said, twanging like Loretta Lynn. “I don’t remember none of it.”  Her caramel voice melted, southern-refined as Blanche […]

The Vampire Visits The Bog

by Meg Mulcahy We sit ditch-side in curdled breeze and watch as curlews tango in briar and thorn. Bodies like mine are made of bogland, stacked and drying. Wind song of the rushes tussle breathes for me, stifled lest the world end. The vampire’s disembodied hands tell me nothing except that the curlew dwindles because […]

There; Fixed.

by Amanda Wilkins Our dirt smelled different, I say.Rust and library paste,Ground up talons and the blood of mice.Sure, it had the same grind, same weight, same color as mostBut,Ah –That distinct smell.“Chuh,” goes my shovel,And that sound takes me backTo the time you tore your yellow Sunday dress on the bridge,Over the creek, behind […]

Last Night I Dreamed

by Jesse Millner of Chicago back in the 1980s when I drank shots and beers with Polacks and Puerto Ricans in West Side bars, sometimes until dawn licked the city skyline, bringing meaning to the Sears Tower, 1454 feet tall, 110 stories of glass and steel rising above downtown as I lowered myself into the […]

The Chair

by Jesse Millner The neighbors are Labor Day loud now that the rain has driven them in from the golf course. Why must they yell and smoke cigarettes? I avoid everyone on my way to my car or the occasional trip to the dumpster where I see discarded chairs and mattresses piled up next to […]

The Salvation of the Loud Refrigerator

by Jesse Millner Having your wife leave you is exhausting.The moon still rises and falls outside& the Florida heat kicks your ass & allthe lawns are brown with expectationof the next tropical system that mayor may not destroy everything you love& hate & hold onto. Holding on is so stupid.You know that, but you can’t […]

Four Houses Ago, Early Morning

by Sidney Dritz Ugly little dinosaurs, thoseprehistoric wonders onthe back porch, thosethree-toed feet pebbled andstrange in the sun, bobbingalong with those stunted,immobile wings, useless untilI open the back doorand the cat bursts outand feathers flutter in eddiesas they scatter and for a few feet, loud andungainly,those chickens fly. Sidney Dritz is (currently, constantly) reevaluating what […]

The Hill We Die On

by Sara Hills Daddy says it’s every man’s right to have a guru, and more’s the pity if you only have one. Used to be that gurus were just for show, perfect for scaring off a snake or rattling your enemy’s chain. Used to be that you had to be close enough to a man […]

Gavel

by Eoin Devereux From the rough slanted fieldA streel of a scarecrowBears witness,To a brimful cup left on the doorstep,An extra place at the kitchen table,An empty chair by the fire,A crossed, still-warm, loaf on the slender windowsill,An offering to lost soulsWho sometimes passIn the night,Straying,Between here and there. Darkness drops early,In these quarter days,But, […]

Sharpest Teeth in the Swamp

by Myna Chang Every morning, Uncle Leon’s out there baby-talkin’ his favorite gator, Ethyl. “Who’s the smartest girl? Yes, you are,” he coos in his old-man grull. I’d pull the pillow over my head but Cousin Tommy Dob’s already bouncing his dodgeball, boing on the kitchen floor, boing on the porch, boingboingboing against my bedroom […]

The Vagaries of Her Plot

by Melissa Ostrom Will the child know what to watch forWhen she leaves her tame homeOf rosebud cup, glass ballerinaAnd broaches the forestWith her mission? Or did her father notWarn her, for fear of inciting her fear? Will your wolf exercise his duplicityWith flattery, an eleganceThat invites the girl’s vanityTo defeat her, or will he […]

Revenge, Via Knitwear

by David Cook The dog had been moulting again, but that was okay because it gave Lily more material to knit with. Click-clack went her needles, stitching strands of hair from Kevin, her bearded collie, to make a scarf for Kelvin, her bearded husband. Kelvin watched her from the sofa. He didn’t want a scarf […]

Night Cricket

by Susmita Bhattacharya The lines are drawn with chalkon the tennis court. A temporary pitchis created. Lights hang from bamboo poles.Boys from across the neighbourhoodappear in hordes. Teams are drawn up.The summer of night cricket begins. The lads from Hindu colonyswagger in – defending champions. War linesdrawn with face paint,their bodies like coiled spring,swinging their […]

River Mother

by Emily Devane This river is a careless mother. She sets out with good intentions, singing The Hills Are Alive at the top of her bubbling, babbling voice. She tickles our feet as we play, pulls and tugs while we throw sticks from bridges, begs us to dance the time-step on summer evenings. When our […]

Faster than Fairies

by Frank McHugh The little burnt hands of the saintheld on tight to the railway power lineshis charred and tatty remains flying out behind himlooking fresh from some Sicilian catacomb,he was laughing and so was I.When I looked across the aisle he was sittingbeside a girl wearing a coat and a crucifixdrawing crosses and butterflieson […]

If Only

by Gina Harlow In another life I would have lived in Manhattanpoor but pores oozing with interpretation and trepidation,In exhilaration of the opera singer next doorIn another life I would have been born in Franceand made cheese on a farm,I would have drank good wine at a young age,and foraged for mushrooms and cooked stewsIn […]

Dr. Audubon Will See Me Now

by Amy Barnes My therapist is a bird woman. When I arrive, a caged parakeet sits in her office. Carrier pigeons arrive and leave with rolled-up charts. The walls are covered with large framed bird prints. Rows of bottles filled with beige seeds march on window-sills. The hunched woman who leaves before me clutches a […]

The House on Chicken Legs

by Stephanie Parent Her cottage prowls the forestOn legs of rubbery fleshClacking bonesPrehistoric claws It leaves footprints large enoughTo swallow a girlHood and boots and all Don’t bother to follow the tracks— The house finds you And when Baba Yaga beckons you insideThe birch tree by the door will tear at your fleshThe dog will […]

Daytrip

by Jan Simpson The sandwiches would stink the car up long before they reached the seaside.  But it wasn’t a picnic without egg and salad cream sandwiches, apparently.  Gave Mhairi the boak.  She’d wanted to buy free-range eggs instead of the cheapest, the ones with ‘Eggs from caged hens’ on the box.  Caged hens.  So […]

En Caul

by Bayveen O’Connell A mighty grunt, then a smooth slither out. The midwife gasped and in the next breath, giggled. “In all my years!” She cradled the glistening bubble, gazing into the newborn’s eyes within. “What? What is it? What’s wrong?” The young mother, still panting, tried to crane her neck over her belly. “Quite […]

Chicken

Kinneson Lalor I’m about to click the shutter when Henry-Robert ruffles his feathers again, the ripple of something in the space where his skin stretches between man and chicken. My wife mused she wasn’t sure if it was sadder Henry-Robert dressed like a chicken to hide who he was or that people wanted to read […]

What Makes a Good Story?

Maybe you’ve been wondering what our editors will be looking for once we start reading entries for our anthology competition that launches October 14th. Here are our short takes on what makes a good (flash) story. We hope this helps! Sara Chansarkar Siddiqui – An effective flash must be a singular story, not a confused […]

Meet the Team

by Janice Leagra I thought it would be a good idea to post links to some of the writing published by our stellar Janus Literary team, as a way of introducing them to our future contributors and readers. You can read more about each of these talented people on the masthead page. In alphabetical order, […]

WELCOME

This is the home of Janus Literary and the Janus Literary Story Prize.