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