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2016 Nonfiction Contest

Judge: Harrison Scott Key DEADLINE: April 9th! PRIZE: $500 and publication in Phoebe 45.2 (online issue) ENTRY FEE: $10 SUBMISSION SIZE: 1 piece per submission, up to 5,000 words. Harrison Scott Key is the author of the memoir The World’s Largest Man (HarperCollins), a true story about what it’s like to be related to insane people from Mississippi, including the surprise revelation,…

The Boy in the Hole and the Sunshine Girl

Naomi Mandel

I’m lying on my back at the bottom of this hole in the ground and I’m getting all freaked out and nervous because I can tell that the sun’s going to pass in the sky above my face and hit me right smack in the eye. I hate that. I have to squint for what seems like forever before the sun moves out of the way and the rim of the hole casts a shadow over my face, and I have a headache for hours after. Red spots in my eyes. Sure, I could turn my face away, shift in the dirt, lie on my side and face the wall for as long as it takes. But I haven’t moved in days and my bones and muscles have stiffened, and I don’t feel like peeling myself off the bottom of this hole even if I could. Besides, the ache of the cold and damp has settled inside me like a friend I don’t want to disturb.

Cover art by Susan Barnes


Jonis Agee

Around me the house, the people, the animals make decisions. The toaster produces the amount of browness it considers right; I can’t get it browner, burned almost as I like it, no matter how many times I punch it back it returns just as quickly. It makes these decisions, I am not certain that they are made in my interest, I suspect I have little to do with it, no reason to think so, I don’t want to anthropomorphize or anything, that could be foolish, assuming that the toaster oven in the corner under the cabinet to the right of the sink cared about me.

Cover art by Kathryn McDonnell

The Poem Speaks to Danger

Maggie Smith

Beautiful things fill every vacancy.
—C.D. Wright

I am a buzzard sky, late
fall, the smell of kerosene.

Cover art by Jaimie Bennati

How to Live Alone

Mike Ingram

Keep the radio on. At night, the television. Old sitcom reruns are best, the comfort food of late-night entertainment. All the sets are familiar, the laugh track a thick blanket of companionship, the characters the best sorts of friends: they dole out their love in easy one-liners; they ask for nothing in return.

Cover art by Tom Cox

distractions from the real world

Issue 13.1&2, Spring/Summer 1983 Forrest Gander Someone has been undressing in my room. She works over my body at night with long-nailed fingers. I wake with breath on my lips, a sweating hide. Things irrevocable, for me the double shits of the troubled. Next door my neighbor is also showering, cold water in the semi-light.…
Cover art by Tom Cox

The Plot

Issue 13.1&2, Spring/Summer 1983 Forrest Gander Where a man loves a woman there is an island of broken horses, stranded wheelbarrows listing with cement. Morning is a flat blaze. She boils water. Nervous hands. Early, the husband steps out on the false porch. Clouds rise. The nail of sun, it will hold. She goes in…
Cover art by Begona Lathbury


Issue 28.2, Fall 1999 Nolde Alexius Who Mae was marrying didn’t matter to anyone and, though she had other reasons, for her that was enough motivation to leave town as soon as possible. The general disinterest people had in Tom was remarkable to Mae and she could have excused it somehow, except that in its…
Cover art by Kimberly Cassidy

When I Knew Al Haig

Issue 20.2&3, Spring/Summer 1991 by John Hopkins I was working in a mailroom when John Hinkley mistook President Reagan for Jodie Foster. The number one pressman stood up and, by dragging his index finger across his throat, motioned the rest of us to turn off our machines. We all gathered around a clock radio and…
Cover art by Alexandra Gerry

the dream of dark air, running

Issue 3.1, Spring 1974 Lyn Lifshin i’m running around in the city hardly knowing anyone Someone with yr hair and accent comes asks me to have a coffee. a wind comes up a whole field of straw uprooted blackening the valley everyoneis running trying to climb the wall A door opens in the clover and…