Dearest Readers,

You’ve might’ve heard the rumors by now and, unfortunately, the rumors are true. Flatmancrooked is closing its doors. The reasons for this are varied but are largely due to my decision to leave publishing in order to focus on my family and health. Various editors, including our illustrious Senior Editor Deena Drewis and Associate Editor Steve Owen shall remain in the game, producing good work with new entities. Deena will be continuing with a novella press much in keeping with LAUNCH and the novellas we put out at FMC–stay tuned here: nouvellabooks.com; Steve is starting a journal and press called Mixer, which promises all the whimsy and brains of a mixed-genre, experimental endeavor; details TBA, so keep your eyes peeled.

Starting today, April 4th, 2011, all remaining stock of FMC titles in house are deeply discounted and priced to move. Go to the store link for an opportunity to get your copies while they are still available. As of May 1st, we will close our doors permanently.

The FMC Poetry contest entries will be refunded in mid-April, so fret not all you poets, and thank you for your participation.

On a personal note, Deena and I, along with the many folks that helped make Flatmancrooked what it was, would like to thank you for all your support over the last three years; it was an incredible and unforgettable experience.


April 4, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Heather Judy

Then is something like being

in a bag of leaves. A rustling

all around, a crunching

in winter, non-existence

in spring. Time is

still, except

for the rustling. Then is

the inability to open

the bag, the lack

of interest in doing

so. The contemplation of

each single leaf.

The noticing of how

much green remains, each degree

of brittleness and veins

like maps in your


March 16, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Tom Bonfiglio

The moment Didi hears the Millers are selling their house she tells her husband the news. “Finally,” she says.

“That place across the street?” he says, crunching his salad loudly. “You’re kidding me.”

“Yes. No, I mean I’m not; it’s really for sale. I’m not kidding. It really is.”

“You’re kidding if you think I care,” he says. “Maybe someone will finally scrap it and put in something nice.”

“We talked about maybe buying it someday. We used to always talk about it.”

“That’s news to me. I never had that conversation. Hand me that pepper. This house right here has good bones,” he says and pounds his feet on the floor to prove his point. “A good foundation is key.” Everything on the table rattles.

“There might even be three stories, depending on how big the attic,” she says. “I would love to live in a house with all those stairs.”

“Try living in a house with stairs,” he says, “and you will come to hate those stairs. You will pray for a ranch.” He’s bald, Joe is, or at least four-fifths bald, with a small island of hair, a swoop, sitting in the middle of a sea of pink scalp.

“I’m in good shape,” she says. “I would love stairs.”

“Goddamnit, Jade,” he says, aiming his fork at their daughter. “How many pieces of bread is that?”

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March 2, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed

Konstantin Wakes Up Fifty

by Ronald Jackson

All of a sudden
you are not the young boy
anymore.  In your bare feet
kicking dry dead crickets
across the warm side walk.
And that unexpected rustle
leaves your ears forever.

All of a sudden
the fireflies full of pool acid
and aluminum have all died.
And the Eucalyptus is brown
bearing down on you
like a thousand churchyards.
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February 24, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by j.a. tyler

(an excerpt from the novella to be released by Aqueous Books in 2011)

This will be the story of a man who dies. This will be the story of a man who is dying. This will be the story of a girl. A girl floating in the clouds. Watching the clouds as if she is on them, riding them, a breeze. She will be a wind, motioned. And the man will be a coughing spastic body, old, dying. He will be dust. And as the girl flies above him in unspecific circles he will cough and sputter and pull death from out of his mouth. The man will become a story of death and birthing. He will be a boy who puts his finger in the plug of a drain and drowns. Finds the stuck fast buckle of skin and pipe while the water keeps coming and eventually, passing over his ears and mouth and nose and eyes, becomes the story of a lake. This will be the story of a lake, a man, a boy, death and a girl flying, spinning oars above them, churning in clouds.


There is a girl with oars, for now, flying.


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February 16, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Brendan McNally Landry

It was never part of the conversation and we conversed about almost everything. When, exactly, to discontinue the use or our preferred method of contraception. What specific days would be best to actually do the deed. What season did we want the baby to be born in? Was there, in fact, a position or two that might prove to be the most affective? The answer was yes, to my surprise. We discussed the timing of the pregnancy based upon the relative ages of our friends’ kids. We talked about star signs, and school start dates, possible girl names, possible boy names. We agreed that an epidural was out of the question, unless of course Sara felt the need to ‘call a game time audible’—her words. Every detail had been covered, it seemed, as I cradled my newborn son, coaxing his tiny, lucent fingers to curl around mine, and Sara looked on, still resting in her hospital bed, flushed and utterly exhausted, but smiling nonetheless. We had done everything right to get this butterball out of his hiding spot and into the world; and I was proud of us, proud of me, really. I found a nice rhythm, swaying my hips to keep my son quiet and happy, as the doctor ticked off his list of proof that our son was a healthy, human baby boy and assured us that we could take him home in a few hours. These were his exact words.

You should be free to take the young man home in a few hours, he said and turned quickly toward the doorway.

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February 2, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Shideh Etaat

fisherman? not what I think of when I think love, more like the smell of guts, or

wet boots.  let’s say I met a fisherman from Ecuador and in three days I could

say something like I love you.

in Peru on the beach, so close to the equator, it all unraveled, over broken

coconuts mango skins cheap rum hangovers, he pointed out

birds to me, asked me if I knew why they were flying around in circles above

us, told me things only fishermen know.

in between sandy sheets, I asked him about the scars along

his shoulders where I lay my head,

and in the quiet of a room with only a mattress

and a toilet he told me how his younger brother died. how he didn’t. but there

was still this scar, like a burnt mountain or a big empty hole inside the earth,

inside the skin of him,

and I wanted to say – how beautiful, but instead I went to sleep and hoped that

the stars wouldn’t go out just because I had shut my eyes.

I kept changing my bus ticket to the next day, and then the next, because I

started to believe that home meant wanting to let someone grow things inside

of you. but what did I know?

except that petrichor is the name for the smell released into the air after a first

rain, and that certain mushrooms can only

grow in soil that has just been badly burned. I’d be happy if I was a fish,

I think.

he took me to the ocean to say farewell, because love shouldn’t be written in

stone, but in water, and I walked along the shore like a drunken peacock.

am I beginning now? I wanted to ask him, but

instead I waited for him to not kiss me goodbye, and watched as the hungry

birds still

circled above us

by Shideh Etaat

January 26, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Theodore Wheeler

When he saw the flat-bed trailer parked at the curb in front of his mother’s house, Scott Ritter’s stomach sank. Papier-mâché sombreros and dozens of novelty Mexican flags were packed on a trailer at the curb, along with snow cone and cotton candy machines. On the side of the trailer was a hand-lettered sign that read M&M Ministries: Games, Music, Choirs. Scott crouched next to the sign, pinching the wire frames of his glasses to make sure he was reading it right, then looked at the ad again. Petting zoo, puppies, and story-telling. Silent auction. Auditions for cherub, youth, and adult choirs. Cinco de Mayo floats!

“Oh, God,” he thought, straightening to read the sign again. He took the newspaper clipping from his pocket. A man at work had shown the classified ad to him. “Listen to this,” the co-worker said. “Christ Centered Mobile Ministries. Win prizes or C.C. Bucks. Free concert. Baby items, bicycles, books, clowns and clothing. Coloring contests.” Scott had laughed himself, reading derisively, “BYOT: bring your own trike!

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January 18, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Jilly Dreadful

My mother slaughters rabbits.

My mother breaks their necks and spines,

Feels life slip between fingertips.

She played piano when she was young.

Such sturdy fingers.

An apron she wears to stave off blood.

Not that rabbits always bleed,

When she cripples them as they still breathe.

“But sometimes,” she said, “spine snags skin.”

Their mammalian hearts, so used to beating.

I had a fondness for rabbits.

Their soft fur and wet eyes.

The unexpected presence of claws.

“Blood is surprisingly thick in rabbits,”

My mother says.

by Jilly Dreadful

January 12, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed


by Geoff Schmidt


On the upper bunk awash in its moonlight, Sherm whispers to his cockroaches. He sits cross-legged; they line his legs. Franklin tosses in his sleep below. He’s been in and out lately. Never out for long. Each time back he’s a little crazier. He’s only been back for a day this time. He’s already talking about pipe bombs and poison. Sherm doesn’t want to wake him up.

The cockroaches tell him about their night, the food they’ve found, the eggs they’ve laid, the lovely cracks they’ve scuttled through, the really interesting interior wall of Warden Brown’s office with its slightly crumbling drywall.

Tell me more about that, whispers Sherm. Does Warden Brown ever hear you?

Oh no, the cockroaches chuckle. We’re very sneaky.

What is Warden Brown doing while you explore the inside of his wall?

Well, we can’t see him, but he mostly makes phone calls, anyway.

What does he say?

Who’s coming, who’s going. We knew Franklin was coming back days before he did, they say proudly.

Is anyone leaving soon?

The roaches shift uncomfortably. No, Shermie. You’re not leaving.

What about Vi?

No, Shermie. She’s not leaving either.

Sherm runs his hands through his bristly hair, looks around the moonlit cell. The walls are old stone, cool and rough, the mortar flaking onto his sheets. The bars of the window are crinkled with rust. Franklin snarls in his sleep.

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January 5, 2011 | Posted in: Fiction | Comments Closed