Best of the Net 2012  



Joshua Canipe's "Dirt in the Blood" from Trigger

I need more dirt in my blood. At least, that's what my grandfather told me when I was seven, maybe eight, but I didn't remember that phrase until last Friday night when I saw a guy hit his girlfriend as she came out of the bathroom at Jackson's. It was a quick, mean slap, and then he dragged her out of the bar, past the doorman, by her wrist. It's been with me for a week now: You need more dirt in your blood.
Sharanya Manivannan's "Nine Postcards from the Pondicherry Border" from Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination
Each time I leave here, and leave I must, I number these things among those which I leave behind: waking in the quiet cool before sunlight, coffee on the round red table, the tendril of basil at the center of the open courtyard, the pepper vines curled around the trees at the porch steps, and at night, that mesmeric canopy of stars.
Catherine Parnell's "Morendo" from The Baltimore Review
My fifty-year old brother collects money from people who park their cars in chain-linked cement lots scattered around a neon city in a dry desert. Las Vegas, city of sin, where they once used camels as pack animals. My brother Jonnie looks like a camel—jowly, droopy, saggy and dusty. He's got a hump, too. You can't see the hump; it's an invisible burden. I know it's there because I have one too. It's so heavy I should be crawling on my knees. One of these days I'll unpack it, lighten my load, surprise my hard backbone with release. Jonnie—his hump is permanent. Not a thing in the world can change that.
Alix Ohlin's "Casino" from Guernica Magazine
When Trisha comes to town we have to go out. She's the bitterest soccer mom of all time and as part of her escape from home she wants to get drunk and complain about her workaholic husband and over-scheduled, ungrateful children. No one appreciates how much she does for them. All she does is give, give, give, without getting anything back, etcetera. I don't really mind—I enjoy a good martini, and while Trisha rants I don't have to worry about getting sloppy, given that she's always sloppier—except that even her complaints are part boast.
Randall Silvis's "Young Love" from Wake: Great Lakes Thought & Culture
We lived in the country in a small yellow house, with large yards in the front and back, woods on all sides, our closest neighbors a half mile away and as eager to be left alone as we were. The exterior of the house was in need of painting and there was only one chair in the living room but we seldom had visitors then and one chair was all we needed when we sat holding one another in the evening while listening to music. We had a big, frisky and sometimes obtrusively affectionate Irish Setter named Berrigan, who on hot summer afternoons when we sunbathed behind the house never failed to warn of the approach of a meter reader or salesman, and who with his resonant growl would keep the intruder at bay until we could pull on our clothes and prepare ourselves for the world again.
Frankie Thomas's "The Showrunner" from At Length
Roger hates open casting calls, but the network is being a pain in the ass about casting "real kids" in the Life According to Liberty pilot. "Viewers should look at these kids and see themselves," says the first in an increasingly inane series of memos. "Avoid overly polished child-star types." They use the words "fresh," "natural," "organic," and "raw" so often, you'd think they really just want to open a restaurant in Silverlake.
James Valvis's "The Disappearing Fathers of Jersey City" from Waccamaw
We were city boys and we had city fathers. We all knew each other. We had no choice. There was seldom more than three feet between houses, and if the curtains weren't drawn, we could look right into our neighbor's house and see what was going on. Mostly nothing was going on, but here and there some argument would break out and we got to hear the whole story. We crowded by the window with our sisters and watched it like a television show. When the arguments came to our house, we knew it was our turn to be watched and because of this we didn't cry as much as we would have when our fathers started wielding their belts like whips.