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Tag: literature

Brief Encounter: Shake the Pollen Free

by Treehouse Editors

Sophia Hyland-Wolzak

Beatrice’s oldest impulse is the need to be as physically close to Donovan as he’ll allow. They met in their cul-de-sac: he, with his brother’s hand-me-downs, and she, with her brother’s hand-me-downs.

“Want to build a mud float?” Beatrice asked. Donovan looked around and shrugged.

Gathering reeds, twigs, and pinecones, they set up their scaffolding on her front lawn. Her mother chased them off and they fled to the woods. Knees stained, they peeped through the punctures of life between the leaves.

“Your mom’s intense,” Donovan said. Beatrice nodded.

They led each other into dares neither one wanted to be in. As they progressed in life, risks went from kick-pushing the swing to the water tower to toking a joint out the window of his stepdad’s car.

Donovan is sewn into the textiles of Beatrice’s character—a connection more profound than any other relationship she understands to be hers.

However, Beatrice encourages herself to forget him. The plasticine doll of Donovan sits on a small stool next to candle light, in a windowless room, at the very back of her mind.

Years past puberty, minutes before midnight on a Thursday in Autumn, Beatrice and her colleagues roll up their sleeves to soak their fingers in a bucket of fried chicken. Their day felt below sea level and fast food propped them up on a skyscraper for an hour.

A hand rests on her shoulder and Beatrice jerks away. Donovan stands over her with the imposition of his denture-perfect teeth and down jacket.

Her lips and chin are glossy with a vaseline of fryer grease.

They leave to a bar close by. She fantasises about their future, listening intermittently to their conversation. The same tree sap that smoothed them together at the cul-de-sac envelops the two. Beatrice is dewy with nostalgia, pouring herself into the feeling with her beer. She kisses him and he stops.

Both hands on her shoulders, Donovan gently presses Beatrice off of him.

“Huh,” she says.


When Beatrice stumbles home and shakes herself free from her clogs, she tucks herself behind her partner and kisses him on his temple.

She separates the oil of the night from this moment and it leaks into the narrow spaces between the files of trivia and family birthdays.

As Beatrice exhales, the toy Donovan takes his final breath and the candle blows out.

Sophia Hyland-Wolzak is an American expat that lives and works in Adelaide, Australia. She is currently a contributing writer and editor for a national caravanning and camping travel magazine, G’DAY Magazine.

Brief Encounter: Conceit of Reincarnation

by Treehouse Editors

A.C. Bohleber

The grasshopper needs a home but

Not an afterlife. It is content

It drowns in the rain, falls under the boot of a man


Under the claws of a cat, possum, bird

It becomes dirt.

It did such a good job being a grasshopper


Perhaps it will become a worm

Then an atom

Then free.

A.C. Bohleber is a recent college graduate located in Louisville, Kentucky. Originally from the South, she attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she won the Ken Smith Fiction Award. She now works a day job, so she can spend money on books, travel, and, of course, rent. In the chaos she makes time to write prose and occasionally poetry.

Found Letter

by Treehouse Editors

Charles Kell

The name looked
familiar, blotted out
by a faint smear
of rain. I stand
in the water, watch
the moving river. Breathe
the silver air. Hold
it there.

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s ReviewIthacaLit, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.


by Treehouse Editors

Charles Kell

I live alone in a shadow
on the outskirts of town.
Keep a small jar of lights
        in a dark hole.
Handful of wet clay I call “Arkansas.”
Sleep on a pile of old German newspaper.
Eat green plants all day.
Wear a blue shirt like a night magnet.
Say happenstance is the child of illusion.
Build cities from the ground up.
Then burn them down.
Wend wire into Os for electricity.
Name old things after ghosts. This key is Cardinal,
that yellow string is Will-O-Wisp.
My hands are dry, gnarled branches
from a crab apple tree.
They make the sweetest music ever heard.

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s ReviewIthacaLit, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

See more poetry from Charles tomorrow.

Mannequin Hat

by Treehouse Editors

Charles Kell

A door is half dented with light.
The carburetor’s clogged with
Your music box stops each time
the ballerina’s arms cut glass.
I’ve made you a mannequin hat to match
your mannequin mask.
To begin where there’s no hair, a scar
snags a floating strand.
What looks like white is really sand
colored skin.
It’s silly now to ever wipe
the drop of blood from the alphabet.
Each eye is a helixed black hole.
Like Adorno, it inhabits more than one part
        of speech.
Arc of the angle looks almost to fall.
You can wear the two with nothing else.
Microwave ding the smell of plastic
melting closes your nose.
The drum’s high-hat, spider perched
on your shoulder. The hat box
from sick paste & used newspapers.
Handed it, chicly, to you in the ferment-
ing moonlight. Your black eyes
are ventriloquists. The saké on your raw
lips taste of rust.

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s ReviewIthacaLit, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

See more poetry from Charles tomorrow.

A Letter to Whoever is Wearing My Boots

by Treehouse Editors

Yael Hacochen

Each year in Ramat Hagolan, at least 1,200 cattle produce milk, feed on grain and oats, give birth, and die when their time comes. When the cows were under Syrian control they were spoken to in Arabic, and after Israel took control of the land in 1973, in the war of Yom Kipor, the cows of that region were spoken to in Hebrew, or Arabic. Depending on the farmer.

In the year 1997 a calf was born. She was the second-born heifer of a prize-winning cow and died by stepping on a mine. This could be where the story ended, if not for a change in the family business. It was exactly the month that the family that owned the calf decided its skin would be used for leather.

They called in a specialist, who was missing half a pinky from his days as an apprentice. The specialist stood in the middle of the green field and produced a sheathed knife. The knife was curved like a quarter moon. He worked with the utmost care so as not to leave a scratch. The skin came off in a single thin sheet, like the parting of red petals.

The leather was loaded onto a truck. It was removed and spread in a large metal container by the two agile hands of the craftsman. He noted that the skin was small in size and heavy in weight: perfect for a small woman’s combat boots.

The leather was laid out on a black rubber cutting mat, and a pattern was drawn. Using a trimming knife, the craftsman traced the leather as one would trace a lover’s back, until four symmetrical pieces lay detached.

The pieces were handed over to a young shoemaker who worked the leather into shape and attached it to a rubber sole. The letter “צ” was stamped at the top, where it was closest to God. A small pocket for dog-tags was added into the strip. Finally, they were shipped to a base in HaKiryaa.

It happened that in the year 2006, a bushy-browed Nagad chose them off the shelf, tied the shoelaces together in a timely manner and threw them in the back of his truck. Fate called me in to see the Nagad, who whispered like a boy with a crush: “I have a surprise for you”.

Friends died in that time. But they wore different shoes. My boots were never shot, never punctured, were never crushed. They only lifted one foot after the other, or both at once.

Yael Hacohen is a PhD student at UC Berkeley. She has an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where she was an ‎NYU Veterans Workshop Fellow, International Editor at Washington Square Literary ‎Review, and Editor-in-Chief at Nine Lines Literary Review. Her poems appear or forthcoming in The Poetry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Every Day ‎Poets Magazine, Nine Lines, and many more. She was a finalist in the 2015 Glimmer Train Very Short Story Competition, the 2015 ‎Consequence Prize in Poetry, and the 2013 MSLexia Poetry Prize for Women.‎


Brief Encounter: Resolution

by Treehouse Editors

Elizabeth Poreba

The trick is
tight focus.

Look down. Stay

The dropped
stitch, the spot,
the knick, the note,
the knot, the twist—
small things
can be fixed.

When Jesus
at the Jordan
looked up,
all he saw
was heaven
torn apart.

Staying busy
is better.

When wading,
keep your eyes
on the river.

Elizabeth Poreba taught English in New York City high schools for 35 years and now volunteers for environmental groups. Her poems have appeared in, Feminist Studies in Religion, and Commonweal, among others. She has published a chapbook, The Family Calling (Finishing Line Press), and two collections of poems, Vexed and Self Help (Wipf and Stock).