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Announcing the Vol. 6 authors

The Conium Review: Vol. 6 comes out in December, 2017. We’ve finalized the table of contents, and we’re pleased to introduce the authors and stories slated for this issue:

  • “Ramune,” by Tamara K. Walker
  • “Holy Water,” by Jay Vera Summer
  • “Something Like Feeling,” by Matt Kirkpatrick
  • “A Hunger,” by Rebekah Bergman
  • “I Am Me,” by Kevin Finucane (winner of the 2017 Innovative Short Fiction Contest)
  • “Time Travel for Beginners,” by Stephanie Wang
  • “Maurice,” by Simone Person
  • “Naming Maura Maura,” by Rachel Lyon
  • “Extraterrestrial Science,” by J. L. Montavon

ABOUT THE CONIUM REVIEW: VOL. 6 AUTHORS

Tamara K. Walker resides in Colorado and writes short fiction and poetry, often of a surreal, irreal, magical realist, experimental, speculative or otherwise unusual nature. Her fiction has previously appeared in The Cafe Irreal, A cappella Zoo, Melusine, Peculiar Mormyrid, ink&coda, Three Minute Plastic, and others. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Star*Line, Lavender Review, Scifaikuest, and indefinite space, among others. Her short story, “Camisole”, which appeared in The Conium Review: Vol. 4, was a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee. She may be found online at http://tamarakwalker.weebly.com

Jay Vera Summer is a Chicagoan living in Florida. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction, and co-founded weirderary, an online literary magazine, and First Draft, a monthly live literary event in Tampa. Her writing has been published in marieclaire.com, Proximity, LimeHawk, theEEEL, and Chicago Literati.

Matthew Kirkpatrick is the author of Diary of a Pennsylvania Farmer (Throwback Books, forthcoming), The Exiles (Ricochet Editions), and Light Without Heat (FC2). His fiction and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Common, Puerto del Sol, Denver Quarterly, Believer Logger, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. His audio collage and hypertext, “The Silent Numbers” is anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3, and was part of the “Shapeshifting Texts” exhibit at the University of Bremen. He is an assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches fiction and new media writing.

Rebekah Bergman’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Hobart, Joyland, Passages North, Poor Claudia, Two Serious Ladies, and The Nashville Review, among other journals. She holds an MFA from The New School and is a contributing editor of NOON.

Kevin Finucane was awarded a bronze Solas Award by Travelers’ Tales in creative nonfiction in 2009 and was named a Finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition in the novella category for 2010.

Stephanie Wang is a Beijing-born Australian writer currently living in Melbourne. She can travel in time, but only in one direction. She is currently working on a novel.

Simone Person grew up in small Michigan towns and Toledo, Ohio. She is a dual MFA/MA in Fiction and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University. Her work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse and Puerto del Sol, among others, and has been anthologized in Crab Fat Magazine: Best of Year Three. Her chapbook is a semifinalist selection for Honeysuckle Press’s 2017 Chapbook Contest. She occasionally uses Twitter and Instagram at @princxporkchop.

Rachel Lyon‘s debut novel Self-Portrait with Boy is forthcoming from Scribner in February 2018. Her short work has appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, McSweeney’s, and other publications. Rachel teaches for Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, and elsewhere and is a cofounder of the reading series Ditmas Lit in her native Brooklyn. Visit her at www.rachellyon.work.

J. L. Montavon was born and raised in Denver and lives in San Francisco. Her story “Recursions” was chosen by Joan Wickersham as the winner of the 2016 Salamander Fiction Prize.

“Empty Nest,” by Jillian Jackson

Rabbit sketch

The day her youngest left for college, she came home with two cats. A boy and a girl, just like her children. Everyone understood. The nest was empty. It’s that thing. It’s only natural.

“You’re such a little peanut,” she said to one of the cats. “My little Peanut. Peanut Butter. Peanut Butt.”

“Biscuit,” she said to the other. “Bisquick. Little Bisque. Bisque-Kitten. Biscuit-Tin. Lobster Bisque. My little Lobster, sweet Lobster Claw.”

She bought them beds and toys and treats. She let them scratch her couch. She scooped their poop twice a day. She liked the crunching sounds they made when they ate their dry food with their precise little teeth. The metal tinkling of the tags on their collars, like tiny bells, joyful sounds that let her know they were close.

It wasn’t enough. While her husband was at work, she went to the pet store and bought some rabbits. The rabbits proceeded to do it like rabbits. More rabbits. Her husband helped her build hutches around the house. She fed them each their own head of lettuce. She stuck her fingers through the wire cages. They were soft, impossibly soft, so soft, eight, sixteen, twenty-four soft little feet, lucky feet.

Too many rabbits, her husband said. The nest was too full. He made her put an ad in the local paper: bunnies for sale. But then he had a heart attack, and when the house was dark and her children had left again and all the flowers had wilted and she put the cards away and there weren’t any more casseroles in the freezer, she was grateful she still had the rabbits, and it seemed to her, in fact, that she did not have enough rabbits.

Maybe it wasn’t rabbits, precisely. Maybe it was something else she needed. Hamsters. Hamsters were small. They could fit in your pocket. That could be her new thing. Now that she was not all the things she used to be, she could be the lady who did that, who went around town with a hamster in her pocket.

The hamster did not like her pocket. It did not mind its cage: the wood chips, the brightly colored tubes, sucking from the metal tip of the water bottle. The sound of its nails against the plastic, its feet scrambling through the loops, comforted her. “Silly hamster,” she said. “Hamster-Ham. You are my smoky little Ham.”

When she got the hamsters she also got two goldfish. Impulse buy at the checkout line. The same way she would sometimes buy a candy bar, or a trashy magazine. Two fish, a tank, a filter, fish flakes, pink pebbles, seaweed plants, a castle, a plastic diving man, a Jacques Costeau. She wondered what they would do if she stroked their glittering scales with the pads of her fingers.

Weeks later she was out running errands. She was buying food for herself and for the cats and the fish and the hamster and the rabbits. When she got to the dairy section, she thought, how silly. How silly to spend money when there are creatures that will give these things to you for free.

She bought a full-grown chicken and a couple of chicks. She named the chicken Pokey. “Little Poke,” she said. “Hey there, Pokey-Partner.”

She put the chicken in a coop in the yard and the chicks under heat lamps in the living room. Their yellow feathers glowed under the hot red lights. She cupped a chick in her hands and said, “What a lovely fluff. Fluffy baby.”

Then, of course: a cow for the milk. A couple horses, because, why not?

To the horses, she said: “Beautiful. Perfect,” and she ran her palm over their wet velvet noses, kissed the wide hard plane of their foreheads.

Birds: lovebirds, parrot, parakeets. She gave them their own room. “This is for the birds!” she punned. Soon, she joked to no one in particular, she would need an ark. But, she laughed, there were sometimes more and sometimes less than two of every kind.

But when she fell asleep at night, she thought: this is not what I want. How have I strayed so far from what I want?

What she really wanted was to lock herself inside a cage. For someone to feed her, bathe her, pet her, brush her. She wanted someone to make up nicknames for her, call her sweet diminutives, to hold her, tightly, so tightly she could not breathe, and tell her that she was beautiful, perfect, perfect; that she was the best thing in the whole world, the only thing, and she wanted to go limp in that warm embrace, to know nothing except the sound of a soft voice singing her praises, unintelligible words of comfort, murmurs of endless, boundless love.

About the Author:

Jillian Jackson is a graduate of the MFA program in Fiction at Boston University, where she received the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award. She’s also the recipient of a St. Botolph Club Foundation’s Emerging Artist Grant. Her work appears in Smokelong Quarterly and Misadventures Magazine.

Special Note:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2016 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Leesa Cross-Smith.

Image Credit: © Vadim Gnidash – stock.adobe.com

Editor Update: James R. Gapinski published in Psychopomp

winter2017thumbJames R. Gapinski has a new flash fiction, “The Devil’s Mark,” published in the Winter 2017 issue of Psychopomp Magazine. You can read it here.

James is the managing editor of The Conium Review and associate faculty at Ashford University. His work has also appeared in The CollapsarNANO FictionWord Riot, and other places.

Vol. 5 Collector’s Edition Box Set Preview

The Conium Review: Vol. 5 paperback edition officially launched on December 15th. The Vol. 5 collector’s edition is slated for December 30th.

Like the Vol. 3 collector’s edition and the Vol. 4 collector’s edition, we’re loading up a wooden box with individual handmade objects. Each story will be represented as its own micro-chapbook.

This year’s box will actually be more box-ish than previous years (rather than resembling a wooden book). It’s roughly a 3.5-inch cube (not quite a cube — one side is around 4 inches — but close enough). It’s fitted with a metal latch and hinges. This box will be hand-stamped with the title, ISBN, and price.

Over the next few days, will show other pieces of the collector’s edition, leading up to its reveal and sale on December 30th. Stay tuned!