Avni Vyas: Mud


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We bike to the mudhole and I’m pedaling as fast as anyone,
and my new nickname has become Chicken. We strip
to shorts and bikinis and plunge off a bridge into a spring bed
where locals hide beer under the bridge and rest there like trolls.
A pit bull called Achilles guards the embankment for cops.
“You had sex with Dominique?” screams a girl. Not more
than twelve, her eyelashes are a thick line of knowing too much.
A boy, bird-chested, shouts back, “Chill your nipples
and quit talking lies about my fucking.” We are in our thirties
and guess that boy is maybe thirteen. He has a tattoo

in ballpoint ink reading Raymond Sucks Ballz and one of us says to another,
“They’re older than we think,” but he’s doing backflips off state road 98,
and when it’s my turn, one of us says, “Jump shallow, tuck up,
protect your skull,” which is a lot to remember. The boy and girl
bully us. “Y’all on fucking vacation?” as we unclip our helmets,
hide our wallets. We can’t even begin to spread lies
about our own fucking. Who has, who hasn’t, who wants to, who can’t
stop thinking about it, who should and shouldn’t, who is cliché
by wanting it. Let’s just say I sleep empty. Let’s just say
later at night, I check myself for ticks, find a strange bump
in my panties, and extrude a tick. I think again of that kid
and his mouth an angry bullet hole.


FICTION: Lisa Beebe, Karl Harshbarger, Lauren Johnson, J. Robert Lennon

NONFICTION: Matthew Gavin Frank, Deborah Thompson

POETRY: Melissa Barrett, Thea Brown, Lauren Camp, Sampurna Chattarji, MRB Chelko, Patrick Culliton, John Gallaher, Ricky Garni, Meghan Lee, Kristen Orser, slp, Meghan Privitello, Megan Pugh, Amelia Salisbury, Matt Shears, Raena Shirali, Dolsy Smith, Avni Vyas, Elizabeth Whittlesey, Nicholas Wong

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