Grandma June by Mara Beneway

Winner of the 2021 Flume Press Chapbook Contest

Dreamlike and deeply moving, Grandma June, a collection of connected stories, is a portal into the otherworldly life shared by the titular character and her granddaughter. The two navigate a rich world of natural beauty and persistence in the face of great loss. This chapbook includes original illustrations by the author.

Mara Beneway is a writer, visual artist, and teacher from New York. Her work has appeared in Foglifter, Bodega MagazineHobart, Vagabond CityBread Loaf Journal, and elsewhere. She is currently a graduate student studying Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and English Literature at the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English. 

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Excerpt from Grandma June

First it was teeth. Molars and wisdom and baby teeth. All around us was the tinkle of hail hitting the barn’s tin roof, Grandma’s tractor, bouncing off garden tools. But it wasn’t hail falling from the sky, it wasn’t rain, it was teeth. Grandma looked around like she just arrived at her favorite museum and was deciding which exhibit to view first. All pleasure, not a whisper of surprise on her plump, milky face. 

We caught teeth in buckets, picked out our favorites and made jewelry out of them. I made Grandma a necklace alternating baby teeth with old, rotted ones. She really loved it. Said it reminded her of life itself. Told me, in this necklace, you have portrayed the human experience. 

When we picked the last of the teeth from the gutters, turned the best molars into chairs and couches for the fairy gardens, swept each canine from the front porch, rid the chicken coop of mouth-bones, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and Grandma’s eyes turned to the horizon. 

It started to drizzle fish hooks. Not a deluge but a drizzle, soft clinking. Grandma showed me how to catch hooks on my tongue. I knew about snow from books, knew Grandma was remembering the taste of snowflakes. I closed my eyes and stuck my tongue out, let the hooks wet metal fall in my mouth. 

Don’t swallow

The sky opened up then, and whole fish, hooks in their mouths like braces, came crashing down from the heavens like lightning. We stopped catching hooks on our tongues and ran to the shelter of the front porch. Every time a particularly fat fish landed on the pavement in front of Grandma’s house, we laughed and shouted and clapped our hands, as the fish exploded into a pulpy pink mass. 

We are having fun, Grandma said. 

We are having fun, I agreed. 

That night we sat by the fire and made colorful lures from fallen hooks and feathers. The house was filled with our art and songs and stories.  We were always making things. Creation, Grandma said, was good for the soul. 

Do you miss being a girl? I asked. 

I still am one, she said. 

Sixteen Stories By Jeff Whitney

Winner of the 2021 Flume Press Chapbook Contest

Improvisational. Imaginal. A bestiary of familial revision and dark hope, Sixteen Stories is a collection of poems that challenges our commonplace understanding of narrative, of fable, and the potential healing found in new ways of telling.

Jeff Whitney is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Sixteen Stories (Flume Press, 2022). With Philip Schaefer, he co-authored Radio Silence (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. His poems can be found in 32 PoemsAdroitKenyon ReviewPleiadesPoetry NorthwestPrairie Schooner, and Sixth Finch. He volunteers as a reader for Black Lawrence Press, and has served on the staff for CutBank literary magazine. He lives in Portland.

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The Animal

It was growing wings, the animal between us.
It was grey, and large, and mistaken for anything—
a pair of tombstones, movie theater seats.
So there was this thing between us, this animal,
and as it grew wings it got bigger. In fact,
the house we lived in was starting to break,
first a window pop, then splintered beam. The sun was raining
red cherries and thousands of miles in another direction
men took turns kissing landmines on a beach.
The animal kept growing, and we didn’t know
if we should be impressed or worried. You sat
in your favorite chair, I in my second-favorite chair,
and we each had something important to say
but instead said how about those stars? We do not think
to mention the animal that is growing. It has, in fact,
already grown wings, and now it’s the size of one
football field. The house is destroyed. We are in
some crease in the animal’s belly, hugged warm
like rodents. It has in fact grown wings and yet keeps
growing. Actually, it is the size of two football fields.
Three. It is the size of the boat history books forget
because it was smaller than the Titanic and kept the ocean
below it. It is growing because we won’t say what
it is. It is growing and people in the neighborhood can tell
that even it is surprised. Eventually a brigade of
lesser animals formed. They were worried or awed
or both. They needed a king or punching bag or tremendous
calamity. They carried leaves in slings on their backs.
They wanted to bless something. We kept sitting
there, the animal now the size of One Dakota. It was learning
language. It ignored the brigade of animals below. It was lonely
as a sky before an air show, it was a tornado stripped of venom.
It was, in fact, still growing, but those wings it grew first,
they stayed the same size, which made the animal sad. We could hear
something that must have been its first word but we don’t
speak that language. Suddenly we were being carried
by the brigade of smaller animals trying to follow
where the large animal went, the one that was still growing
between us that we could not understand, though now
it was speaking whole sentences and the sound that came
forth was like wind in space or the quiet after the asteroid
hits. We were being carried by these small animals
who were following the larger animal, blessing the ground
it covered. The house was long pulverized. We had no home.
The neighbors formed a caravan behind us doing something
amazing with their tongues that has no translation in English.
The whole world was becoming very small. At any moment,
we were certain, our chests would open and out we would tumble, stunned
as time travellers or a green bird charging the shoulder of god.
Our chests would open and we would tumble out believing
the antlers we wore had grown from us, not into.
Had set us free, and not the other way around.

Alive, Today, Again! Poems and Lyric Essays from the Middlelands by Kimberly Ramos

2022 Flume Press Chapbook Contest (Runner Up)

Alive, Today, Again! Poems and Lyric Essays from the Middlelands dazzles and bites through Kimberly Ramos’ experiences of the past, present, and future in rural America. Interspersed with moments of tenderness, fear, and desperation, Alive, Today. Again! is a stand-out hybrid collection that supersedes borders and explores the Asian American identity in Kimberly Ramos’s cinching, unmistakable voice.

From our contest judge, José Antonio Rodríguez: “Sometimes lyric essay, sometimes prose poem, sometimes verse, this collection plays with form to imagine the histories of white and Asian that shaped the biracial speaker’s sense of place and displacement. In referencing Filipino folklore, American pop culture, and family history, the poems here reach out as both celebration and inquiry. In the penultimate poem, the speaker imagines herself fossilized and then unearthed in the distant future, thus rising above the particulars to offer the reader an expansive view of the relationship between the individual and the imagined community.”

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Kimberly Ramos is a rabbit in giant’s clothing. They are continually pulled back to their birthplace in Southern Missouri, though they currently reside in Providence, Rhode Island, as a graduate student of philosophy at Brown University. Before pursuing their PhD, they earned a BA in Philosophy and a BFA in Creative Writing from Truman State University. They are also the author of the chapbook The Beginner’s Guide to Minor Gods and Other Small Spirits published by Unsolicited Press. They served as the Managing Editor of the 2022-2023 lineup of CLASH!, an Imprint of Mouthfeel Press. They dream of becoming a cryptid and haunting the Midwest.

Ode to the &

for mixed kids

even the name
sounds musical, three-syllable
conducted by the devil-points
of my half-tongue—

i am fur & feather &
salt & sugar & blood & bloodletter,
orange & flower & gold & digger
& space & smother, holding
thrice as much

per hand these days, my arms
blissful in their burden,
ghost & devil & glass
& shadow & bone & sorrow,
song & chant & boulder &

sand, let me loose to the fields
crying &, &, &,
arms pinwheeling, skirt fluttering
over my unshaven legs—
this body a multitude, as are you

& you
& you
& you

Readers of Alive, Today, Again! may also be fans of:

Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzladúa

Soft Science by Franny Choi

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Apocalypse Darling by Barrie Jean Borich 

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui 

Chapbook Archive

Original Flume Chapbook Series (not available for sale)

At Dusk On Naskeag Point by Tina Barr  

Running Patterns by Randall Freisinger  

Common Waters by David Graham  

The Centralia Mine Fire by Leonard Kress  

Lost Stone by Carol Gordon 

Concentric Circles by Gayle Kaune  

Without Birds, Without Flowers, Without Trees by Pamela Uschuk 

Follower of Dusk by Luis Omar Salinas 

Shovel Point by Judy Lindberg  

Staving Off Rapture by Ava Leavell Haymon 

Cinnabar by Martha M. Vertreace 

Whetstone by Joanne Allred 

As Close as Possible by Mary Matthews  

The Corner of Absence by Lynne Kuderko  

Eating Nasturtiums by Mary Makofske  

Stutter Monk by David Graham 

The Way Water Moves by John Brehm

The One Blue Thread by Naomi F. Chase

I Call This Flirting, Sherrie Flick (fiction)

Bad Girl at the Altar Rail, Sharon L. Charde

The Sheep Breeders Dance, Aine Greeney (fiction)

And Still the Music, Alison Townsend

Mad to Live, Randall Brown (fiction)

Our Kingdom of Need, R. Elliot

From Dusk to Need, 25 Years of Flume Press Chapbooks

Praise for Flume Books

“In twentieth-century poetry, discerning readers have always paid close attention to chapbooks, for it is often in the pages of those concentrated volumes that one finds the true work, the harbinger of great things to come. So it is with Lynne Kuderko’s The Corner of Absence.”

–Robert McDowell

In The One Blue Thread, Naomi Chase gives us Gittel, a character so lively, so rambunctious, so splendid in her reasoning, the poems in this chapbook also read as a novel-in-verse. Chase’s on-target wit and verbal agility do more than challenge religious iconography. These poems transform a tender and vulnerable human emotion and lift them into the political. A completely engaging series of poems!

–Denise Duhamel

“I have long regarded David Graham as on of the most moving and able poets of his generation. In Stutter Monk, his best work to date, he proves his mastery and soul again.”

–Sydney Lea

“The natural world was not named and ordered by Adam, rather it names us daily, as Uschuk proves in these fine-crafted poems.”

–Joy Harjo

“In Joann Allred’s poems, the air hums with lives which serve as the poet’s ‘whetstone to sharpen vision.’…I admire the range and complexity of the poems, their textured language, the feel and sound of them in my mouth and my inner ear.”

–Carole Simmons Oles

“Ava Leavell Haymon’s work, redolent of tropical gold leaf and flesh, is the Baptist projection of St. Theresa’s passions into contemporary America. Her fruits of spirit and flesh are exquisitely halved on the communication/collection plate. Go ahead, eat them. I mean it.”

–Andrei Codrescu

“Vertreace’s  work is rich with subtleties, careful imagery, agreeable varieties of music. It is obvious that she is committed to her positives, and will say nothing that she does not feel. She is a steadily growing artist, with an impressive future.”

–Gwendolyn Brooks