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Brian Phillip Whalen selected for “Fragmented” micro-chap

Last month, Melissa Reddish guest edited a special “Fragmented” call for submissions. After careful deliberation, Melissa selected Brian Phillip Whalen‘s “And It Will Be Called the Highway of Holiness” for publication. The piece will be made into a limited-run micro-chapbook, and it will be delivered as a free pre-order bonus with Melissa’s new book, Girl & Flame.

Brian Phillip Whalen’s poems and stories have appeared in Beecher’s, The Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, J Journal, Lake EffectMid-American Review, North American Review, RHINO, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Iowa State University and a PhD from SUNY-Albany. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and baby daughter.

Here’s what Melissa had to say about her final selection:

“Brian Phillip Whalen’s story, ‘And It Will be Called the Highway of Holiness,’ is part-hymn, part-celebration, part-dirge for Georgia, poor pup with staples in her gut who eats everything, babies and tinsel and foxes and trikes and Christmas trees, until her inevitable end.  The people who orbit around Georgia have a particular feel: blue-collar rural Americans with F-150 flat-bed trucks and tractors and percolators and steel wool under cupboards, each battling their own particular demons.  More circular than linear, more poetry than prose, the piece skips and glides with linguistic playfulness and clever asides, the format fragmenting then reassembling, creating meaning even as it dismantles it, all while retaining the emotional heart at the center.”

—Melissa Reddish, author of Girl & Flame

“The Conium Review: Vol. 3” and “Vol. 4” ebooks on sale this weekend!

TCR Volume 4 Ebook Cover

The Conium Review: Vol. 4 Kindle edition cover

The Conium Review: Vol. 3 Kindle edition cover

The Conium Review: Vol. 3 Kindle edition cover

Alongside the ebook release of Souvenirs and Other Stories, we’re offering ebook versions of The Conium Review: Vol. 3 and The Conium Review: Vol. 4 for just 99 cents! That’s right, get the two most recent issues for less than a buck each. This sale is valid Saturday, July 16th through Sunday, July 17th. Get the instant discount through Amazon.com.

“A Partial List of Things Lost in the Fire,” by Melissa Reddish

House Fire Sketch (large BW)

Taking out the trash; taking out the recycling; rolling the trash to the curb on Sunday night; the leaking dishwasher; the water spots on the glasses; the mismatched pull chains on the bedroom fan; all the burned-out light bulbs; all the used paper towels; all the socks with holes in them; the four broken glasses and the tiny shards of leftover glass beneath the fridge; the empty ice-cube tray that no one remembered to fill; the hum-dinga-ding of the dryer when it was finished; the broken front step; the broken back step; the fallen branches from last night’s storm; the leaves in the gutter; the leaves on the lawn; the leaf inexplicably in my bed; The Land Before Time on video cassette; my mother’s gold wedding ring; the dusty blinds; the family photos leading up the staircase; my father’s favorite coffee mug; the broom in the hall closet; the bottles of Clorox, Bam!, and Windex, mostly full; the twenty-eight pairs of shoes; the thirty-one pairs of pants; the eighteen neckties; the single pair of cufflinks, never worn; the upstairs hamper (for shirts, pants, and other outerwear); the downstairs hamper (for underwear, socks, and towels); the set of Nutcracker decorations passed down from my grandmother; the set of nice cloth placemats for company; the dress I wore to Junior prom; my mother’s jewelry box; my brother’s stack of Maxims; the chipped clay pot from middle school used to collect coins; the box of extra cords nobody properly understood but kept out of a misguided sense of propriety; the alarm clock; the blue and yellow and pink sheets from each bed; what was on the sheets from each bed; the answering machine asking you to leave a message after the—

About the Author:

Melissa Reddish is the author of the forthcoming Conium Press title, Girl & Flame: A Novella. Melissa’s short story collection, My Father is an Angry Storm Cloud, was published by Tailwinds Press in 2015. Her flash fiction chapbook, The Distance Between Us, was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2013. Her work has appeared in decomP, Prick of the Spindle, and Northwind, among others. She teaches English and directs the Honors Program at Wor-Wic Community College.

Special Note:

This story is an excerpt from Melissa Reddish’s forthcoming novella-in-flashes, Girl & Flame, scheduled for release on August 15th, 2016 and currently available for pre-order.

Image Credit: © WavebreakmediaMicro – stock.adobe.com

“The Hen of God,” by Ashley Hutson

Egg Sketch (BW)

Sister Catherine began holding an egg in her mouth during Mass to feel closer to God. Her tongue smoothed over its cool roundness before the Lord’s Prayer; she pressed it against the roof of her mouth during benediction. After two weeks of this, in a fit of faith and daring, she began using her teeth to maneuver it in and out of her cheek.

At the end of the third week, she felt the Holy Trinity enter her. A back molar, cracked in childhood and jagged as a pysanky needle, slit open the egg’s hard shell on a Sunday morning. God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit oozed down her throat, warmed by the heat of her mouth.

When she returned to the abbey after the service, she plucked the pierced shell from between her lips and placed it under her bed. At lunchtime, she walked through the kitchen and picked up another egg, concealing it in the folds of her sleeve.

After entering the nearest restroom and locking the door, she pulled up her underskirts, pulled out a tampon, and slipped the fresh egg inside her. All the nuns bled together, but her blood would mingle with Christ’s. The thought filled her with a swoony kind of love, the kind of love she felt when swallowed wafers became the fingers of God. She dreamed the egg would be subsumed by her body, traveling inward, upward, until it reached the heart.

At evening Mass, she sat carefully. There was talk of Jesus sucking a sponge of vinegar, of bleeding, dying, resurrecting. When it came time to genuflect, she bowed on one knee.

Sister Catherine heard the muffled crack before her body felt it. As she knelt by the pew, she felt the egg crumble inside her, releasing its thick, yellow yolk in a slow, searing gush.

She did not move. She wept. This was God’s rebuke, she was sure. There was no way she could keep him carefully enough: her body would not hold him.

She prayed with shut eyes, but God did not answer. He only touched her blood and slid out, wetting her thighs, staining her tunic, leaving her empty.

About the Author:

Ashley Hutson lives in rural Western Maryland. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, DOGZPLOT, theEEEL, and elsewhere. Find her on the web at www.aahutson.com.

Special Notes:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce.

This story was selected by Ross McMeekin for the Ploughshares feature “Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week.”

Image Credit: © VIGE.co/ Dollar Photo Club