For each issue, Five Quarterly publishes five poems and five pieces of fiction, all selected by five judges (which also change with each quarter). The judges for this issue are Stephen Paul Miller, Fernando Perez III, Jasmin Rosario, Cheryl Wilson, and Tiphanie Yanique.
“It began to burn” by Jaylee Alde is a fiction piece involving the relationship between a boy and his “mother.” When she moved in to take care of him, “the space between [them] was an empty highway littered with used furniture and blank walls.” During three occurrences, she becomes almost possessed, accusing the little boy of being the devil. By the end of the story, I’m not sure which character to like/believe. It’s perfect for the Halloween season (yes, yes I know I’m a little off on the timing again).
Leesa Cross-Smith contributes a piece titled “Hold on, Hold on,” in which a woman runs away from her husband to another man. Yet, she doesn’t (sexually) prefer one over the other. In fact, she wishes to have both men at her at the same time, not really caring about the emotional turmoil that might create: “Maybe Dom (her husband) was right,” she says. “Maybe nothing mattered to me.”
In Nicole Wolverton’s “The Earl of Beaumont,” the main character seeks a rescue from the men who come into her diner, the strangers from out of town. Stuck in a small town as a waitress, she seems desperate to find a rich man who will whisk her away: “It was a lucky day: two strangers, and all in the same hour.”
“Progress” by Michelle Malthees has wonderful lines such as “Oh yes, I’ll say, // it’s precious this progress / between birth and death’s // sunny and clean split.” As does Brent Lucia’s “The Mouth Knows” which starts “I once knew a girl dancing on the edge of a thin, white tooth.”
Matthew Kabik’s “How to Become a Perfect Living Statue” was wonderfully refreshing, breathing new life into the classic story of a character afraid to confront her fears. The main character, Andrea, makes her money by being a statue street performer. Coping her blind, death-bed-ridden mother, Andrea takes to sleeping with a man she doesn’t even find attractive and who she admits probably isn’t giving her his actual name. She lives out her life and speaks the way she would have to on the street, through body language only: practicing, “She said ‘I don’t need you’ by pulling her lips tight and putting her hands on titled hips. Andrea said a dozen other things, but the mirror got too cloudy to hear them.”
There are a lot of interesting and unique characters in this issue; I encourage you to flip through and meet them. Who knows what you’ll find in the next issue of Five Quarterly; the editors are constantly changing, allowing for new writing, viewpoints, and styles to emerge.