In every sense of the phrase, 2014 was a hell of a year. Usually when I write these intros I look over the issue and find the theme we didn’t know we had in mind. This time, though, Sarah and I both looked at the stories in every order and from every angle, and damned if either of us know what was going on. But we love every one of them. Maybe that’s just right for wrapping up this ridiculous year. We just wanted things that made us happy. And I’m not sure what Katie had in mind when she was reading for the poetry section, but I know these are all poems that made her happy. Which, I think, is what literature should do in the end. It may not make you feel happy when you’re reading it, it may make you feel downright heartbroken, but the best literature will, in the end, make you happy you read it. We’re happy we read all of these stories and poems. We hope you’ll feel the same. Thank you for being with us as we wrap up our third year of publishing. We’ll see you in 2015 for Year Four of Devilfish Review.
Mermaid Café by Jilly Dreadful – Mermaids are good luck, said the menu says. The story goes that, when The Captain grew too old and too weathered and too jaded by the sea, he docked his ship and opened Mermaid Café right in the harbor, complete with cargo nets and aquariums filled with neon fish, all too tropical for the likes of Dublin.
Responsible Interested Party by Phoebe Reeves-Murray – It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. The letters on the sign on the interviewer’s wall were made of eyes—at least, that’s how they first looked. While I waited, I stared right at the eyes, and realized they were actually “eyespots,”—that one “eye” was a leopard’s spot, another an octopus’s ring, another a butterfly’s wing.
Hell’s Belles by Allie Marini Batts – The air is green, like corroded copper, and smells of it too. I sit down at the kitchen table, after double checking to make sure I remembered to latch every window shut and draw the drapes together, double knotting the sash to keep them closed, and rattled every doorknob twice, to make sure the locks were secure.
Ivan and the Bird by Nathan Elwood – Ivan tripped over a root and splashed heavily into a mud puddle. He got up sputtering, cursing the day he’d ventured out to find his fortune. He wiped the mud he could off his face and clothes, but the dampness had already set in.
Ice by Ann Mary Gamble – Lane Arcturus no longer opened the chatty messages from the people she’d known planetside. They had subject headings like “Update!” or “Birthday Bash,” but the contents were always random lists of events or closed with some statement of disbelief that she could stand it alone on the orbiter without going crazy.
My Ragged Claws by T. M. Tomilson – Despite the years between us—it’s been decades and decades since we were children—I still came. I still came, even though his voice was unsteady on the telephone, at times demanding and at others hesitant.
Survivor of the Grizzly Wars by Jason Bougger – Robert Stevens tapped the last drops of oil onto his left arm. With any luck, he’d still be able to use it for a couple more days before it completely rusted over. And if he couldn’t get the kill in a couple more days, then he didn’t deserve to.
Wheel in the Sky by Sara Backer – The boy was strapped to the bed. His pale blue eyes darted side-to-side, as if trying to read graffiti on speeding train cars. His right wrist jerked, slamming his hand against the sheets, as it had for the past hour. Rimona Rose continued reading in her low, calm voice.
America Redux by Bruce Boston – for the Tercentennial Revolution, 2076 Past cordons and radiation placards in refugee defiles where genes are crimped but not broken
The Wander Years by Bob Sykora – Tell me about your condition. This perpetual state of raveling – the inability to hear your inner monologues over your inner dialogues.
Bird Beak Man by Kelda Crich – Crushed concrete temple, inelegant noisome, emotionally sterile antiseptic compassion gloved in plastic. Comfort starched everything is paid for in coin and even the rich are not wealthy here.
Surfacing by Sara Krueger – Today, the bulbous silver heads of the cleaners snapped back to the sky. When they fell, they sent along such a rumbling like no one had ever heard. The sound of making space for beginnings.
A Brief History of Slumber Parties by Glen Armstrong – This time of year our daughters gather in basements, bedrooms and rec rooms to celebrate the solstice in fireproof pajamas.
Showdown by John Grey – God’s got empty chambers in the pistol of the universe, black holes that kill without the trigger being pulled.
After the Apocalypse by Alison McBain – Concrete precipitates out of freeway overpasses, creating sand dunes from eroding metal shells of forgotten transportation.
Cambrian Flashback by Bruce Boston – Asleep in the crocuses on a cloudy afternoon, riding aquatic dreams of lapsed genetic memory to the salt-laced shallows of some ancient sea