"Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie"
  Wendy N. Wagner

"All My Pretty Chickens"
  Josh Rountree

"And a Pinch of Salt"
  Hal Duncan

"Wunderkammern Castle"
  Krista Hoeppner Leahy

"Eating Persimmons"
  Michael Kellichner

"Pantoum with Reverb"
  Jen Schalliol

  F.J. Bergmann

"All the Saints are Looking Through Your Trash"
  Teresa Milbrodt


All the Saints are Looking Through Your Trash

by Teresa Milbrodt

Claire of Assissi, patron saint of telephones, mourns

the passing of her beloved cords. You enjoyed the stretch

from the wall, recalling springs, vines of your angry words

twirling. You talk less now. Sebaldus, saint who protects

against cold, inspects a box that contained your space

heater, marveling that suns have become square. His halo

is still round, traditional, why not a holy triangle? The halo

of silence in your yard prevents that question. He mourns

days when saints never quit talking, the world a space

for protest. Now they lament your trash. You don't stretch

each dollar, a sin, thinks Lawrence, saint who protects

restaurant owners and invented the doggie bag, those words

a misnomer. You should eat that food, not waste words

on how you live alone and hate leftovers. Look, a donut, halo

of dough untouched, you throw away feasts, say it protects

your waistline. The ex said you were fat. Gertrude mourns

the fate of your cat—you're a cheapskate, though you stretch

for sales, Fluffy never likes food you buy, one income, no space

in your budget to feed her well. You wonder at the new space

on your bed, why she doesn't curl there, but cats have no words

to explain these dilemmas and hungers, they must stretch

their furry arms to the saints, plead for intercession, a halo

of meows. You fail to translate the needs of others, she mourns.

Apollonia counts cans of diet pop in your recycling bin, protects

supplicants from tooth decay. While your recycling protects

the planet, you don't brush often, claiming there's no space

at the end of the day, you'll do it in the morning. Your dentist mourns

people like you, there is no conversion. Your (former) lover's words

were harsh, suggested you'd need dentures. You sprouted a halo

of wrath, not repentance. It was bad, a rut that wouldn't stretch.

Jude examines empty boxes of hair dye, an attempt to stretch

out fragile youth. The patron of lost causes, he vainly protects

your ego with makeup, discarded containers of blush, a halo

of rouge on your cheeks. You tried a few books, seeking a space

of comfort in the self-help texts Helena finds, those bright words

checked out from libraries. Patron of divorced people, she mourns

you, drifting in a halo of loneliness. Your comfort must stretch

to solitude. Woe to you who mourns a wedding ring, protects

memories in a sacred space. Toss them out, write new words.

Teresa Milbrodt has published a short story collection, Bearded Women: Stories (ChiZine Publications), a novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People (Boxfire Press) and a flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories (Pressgang). Her stories, poems, and flash fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. Read more of her work here.