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Petrichor Picks #1

Emma’s Picks

“The Wormhole, a Romance”

by Margaret Patton Chapman
(from Diagram 10.3)

If you’ve ever felt fundamentally out of place, you’ll feel a kinship with Chapman’s nameless narrator. Threaded together with repeating imagery and scientific details, these vignettes create a picture of profound displacement that is simultaneously discomfiting and entertaining.

“An Assessment of Fast Food Hamburgers in the Southeastern Unites States (Parts 1-4)”

by Joseph R. Worthen
(from Hobart)

This pseudo-scientific assessment of fast food hamburgers is endearingly ironic and utterly thorough. Worthen gives equal focus to his burger, his surroundings, and the feelings that both produce—which include, but are not limited to: self-abuse, nostalgia, deep satisfaction, and existential despair. I read this four part review more than a year ago, and I still find myself recalling it with fondness and delight every time I pass a Five Guys.

Pete’s Picks

“The List (But Not the Wishes)”

by Cate McLaughlin
(from Bodega Issue 21)

With a fishhook for a first line (“not grace, / but torque and gristle”), this piece wastes no time establishing its raw, candid energy. This is the animating force of art, the physics guiding the pirouette, the life beneath the artifice. McLaughlin’s poem is a frank look at a lapsed relationship, and a commentary on the very nature of partnership: “The truth: that / I don’t miss you, / but would feel relieved / to see you again”

“Silent Film”
by Patrick Ryan Frank

(from Boxcar Poetry Review Issue 33)

While the first two stanzas are essentially a summary of dramatic action in film, this poem truly peaks with its concluding stanza. The litany of war-film tropes is an insane march toward ruin, but the poet brings us back to a moment of grace. As the engine turns over, the young hero is suspended in time, at the emotional peak of his sure-to-be-brief life. Confused. Eager. Animated.

Sean’s Picks

“Snow Fallen” 

by Dolly Reynolds
(from decomP magazinE)

“Snow Fallen” is an efficient, affective character piece. It forces the reader to juggle hatred and sympathy for Henry, a recent father and more recent murderer. Reynolds tells this brief story with a calm, measured pace—the speed of early morning thoughts in a slowly warming house while everyone else is asleep. The accompanying audio is highly recommended, as the story’s genesis renders it even more engaging.

“Fish” 

by Alexandra Kessler
(from Fiddleback Issue 17)

“Fish” is a funny, angsty, yet serious piece. Kessler’s Jenna narrates with a detached cynicism, and the reader feels she’s observing her life from outside herself. Dissatisfied and depressed, but too numb to actively change her circumstances, Jenna is resigned to her ugly and obnoxious boyfriend, her vapid best friend, and a well-meaning town that only makes her feel worse about her brutal run-in with a shark a year prior. Indeed, the shark seems to be the only entity in which Jenna can place any real feeling. Having consumed her flesh, the animal becomes an avatar of sorts.

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