Issue #71

Summer Issue | August 2019

In this Issue:

Three Stories by Avra Margariti



Someone cut off my hands and sewed them back on wrong. Whoever they are, they're hopeless with a needle and thread. The skin of my wrists is bunched up like folded fabric frills, like pleated schoolgirl skirt, like I'm wearing lacy opera gloves.

On the stage below, a blonde soprano in a black Breakfast at Tiffany's gown sings about people hacking themselves free from felled trees or collapsed buildings. The plump singer removes her prosthetic hand; she sings a prolonged high note as she throws the artificial appendage into the fake cardboard trees of the painted scenery. She then unscrews the bejeweled hook hand nested inside her prosthetic hand like a Matryoshka doll and tosses it, too, over the one-dimensional treetops. Read more...

Five Prose Poems by Mark Russell


Green Room

I don't know why but before I returned to my room it hit me that at some point during the previous evening I had rashly agreed to audition for my friend Yasmina's new production of King Lear. I'm no leading man, and neither am I as young as I once was, so the Fool is the perfect role for me. At least, that's how I convinced myself to accept it when she offered it to me. 'We'll be in touch,' she said after the audition. 'That's great,' I said, 'when do rehearsals start?' But she had already left the room. Now I come to think of it, I haven't been on stage for more than thirty years, and I'm petrified that I won't be able to learn the lines. I'm so worried that, as I passed a large pot in the lobby, I had to let go a small amount of vomit into the compost surrounding the base of a lovely variegated snake plant. I straightened myself up. 'I don't think anybody saw you.' I looked behind me. Two young boys wearing the uniforms of Scouts were crouching down. Read more...

Updates on T.J.'s Condition
by Nick Story


Every other day our phones Ding! and we receive an update on T.J.'s condition. He is in the billion-dollar hospital, on one of the highest floors. We don't always have time to visit him in person. We have small children, we have careers, and the hospital is not close to where we live. But we love T.J. and knew him back in the day, and are glad to get updates.


T.J. is feeling much better today.


T.J.'s sodium level is normal.


The doctor says T.J. will be out any day now. Read more...

Grades of Dream by Boris Glikman


All dreams that there are, ever were or ever will be can be divided into 61 categories, enumerated below:

  1. Prophetic dreams
  2. Non-prophetic dreams
  3. Dreams that are re-enactments, permutations, metamorphoses and transmutations of real life experiences
  4. Dreams that come true in reality
  5. Dreams that come false in reality
  6. Dreams in which reality comes true
  7. Dreams in which reality comes false
  8. Dreams that foretell the opposite of what actually happens

Two Prose Poems by Dan Gutstein


Sonnet No. 1 (for Clarice Lispector)

A young woman walked against the traffic, downhill, the breezy orbit of her scarf—the swept springs—unconcealing her, a sonorous swerve, ringlets brunette, varnished at street corners in the dipping light of eye contact. The many dress heels to pavement, the minutes and halves of a percussion compass would offer a bliss-erratic as bright as the tours of flickers, but for the directional mechanism of depletions in reverse. Those drab-dressed, vents whipping or other exodus, the day flattening. Three months later plus an hour, the weather had returned to seasonal: granular tableau above the river's widening, husk yellow.

She repaired, at the river, to the gradations of a hill, clean grass and dusty crown overlooking an eddy revolving with one styrofoam cup. Trees across the water in woolens. The sky lofted towards the coordinates of digital transmission. Read more...

Chess isn't real by Richard Berry


I met my friend on the way into class. Are you finally going to join me at chess club tonight? he asked. I said I might, and he said I should. But I can't play. It doesn't matter, he said, you'll pick it up fast. Okay, I said.

We were standing outside the room where they play when my friend pulled me aside and said hey, there's something I need to tell you before we go in. I asked what. Chess isn't real, he said. I didn't know what he meant. I mean chess isn't real, he said. When you see people playing it, they're just pretending. I don't get it, I said. It's more like performance art, he said, moving pieces around the board but never actually playing the game. You'll see. Read more...

Three Stories by JP Briggs


What Lurked Beneath His Morning's Eggs

This morning, the only thing he could remember of his disturbing dream was that it involved a journey.

At his usual diner, over his usual fried eggs and usual dry toast, a ridiculous idea popped into his head as though through a hidden trap door at the base of his skull. To paraphrase: "Hasn't the time come to peel back reality and find out what's underneath."

Seized by this absurd idea, he put down his fork and closed his eyes, falling immediately into the clutches of a reverie that was waiting for him in the dark thickets of his mind. Perhaps it had something to do with this morning's forgotten dream.

Caught in a fast undercurrent, he felt swirling and woozy. Read more...

Three Stories by Simon Collings


The Lake

The people in the next room were quietly discussing my fate. The door was ajar and I could hear the murmur of their conversation, though only the occasional word was intelligible. After a while they got up and left, locking the outside door behind them. I heard an elevator, then silence. I had only one means of escape, through a grimy skylight in the ceiling of the room they had just vacated, and which I now entered. I was soon on the roof. At the end of the building I found a fire escape, and at the bottom I emerged onto a wide tiled patio overlooking the lake. Read more...

About Our Coffee and Other Fare

Please Note: All of the coffee served at The Irreal Cafe is fair trade, organic, shade-grown and not real. All of the food served at The Irreal Cafe is organic, vegan, locally sourced and not real. See "At Our Cafe" for more about what we would serve at The Irreal Cafe and how we would serve it if there were an Irreal Cafe.