Current Issue

A Letter to the Philadelphia Stories Readers

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m joining the Philadelphia Stories team as the new Creative Nonfiction Editor. Susette Brooks, my predecessor, has moved to Baltimore for a job opportunity.

Spear Side

Your lopsided father stuck the loose stars to your sky one summer. Even now they glow up there, as if, like you, they are still dumbstruck by the memory of his hulking grace. With one foot on the bed, one on the chest of drawers, his finger pressed each phosphorescent shard into eternity, too high [...]

I Have a Father, I Have a Thousand Fathers

They were telling jokes on T.V. late at night. They were driving the school bus, lifting me to drinking fountains I couldn’t reach. They were talking too much, telling us to quiet down, they were fixing broken stairs, they danced when they were drunk, cried when no one was around.  They sounded like smoking lungs, [...]

Race Was Not a Factor,

they said. He said, It looked like a demon. It charged [him], like [he] was five, It Hulk Hogan—   two legacies ghost-stenciled into concrete, one shadow sifted into ash. He sleeps at night—No regrets. His family certain as the closed lid of a coffin they will be safe.   It happened, he says, It [...]


Two days later, the surgery is already a moon landing, and I’m its plowed landscape of proof. In the bathroom mirror, my belly’s all unwavering flags and stitched tracks on an aching, windless set.  The Betadine sticks – a mustard slick – for a week, and I don’t know what to do with the photos: [...]


at pathmark, you would sneak bottles of pantene pro v shampoo and conditioner into your momma’s shopping cart and each time, at the register, your momma would notice and tell the cashier you can take that one off, and each time you would scream, I wanna have hair like those women in the commercials! and [...]

The Last Time I Hung Out With Baby D and Them

The twins— those grinning gangsters never seen without chains tethered around their necks and wrists, hold gold guns that glisten against the clever silver sky. Do you want to hold one? I grip the grip and for a moment I get deer hunting—that transition from boy to man or even girl to woman, like Latonia [...]


1.   When my Father was moving from being to being nothing I was about to go for a bike ride.   His right hand rose up from under the blue blanket as he patted the bed for me to sit.   I sat and stroked his face so thin and unshaven it appeared slender [...]


By the roots of my hair some god got hold of me. I survived that voltage and barbed wire. Now each day is clerestory, each night a palimpsest of scars. The militia pulls on its boots and waits. On the altars, doves peck each other bloody.   A spider traverses its unseen wire in the [...]

Ode to a Flamingo Bag

It’s a comfort to know someone who’s as neurotic as I am. My friend and coworker Jane gives me that particular solace. Jane, like me, tends to get too attached to inanimate objects. I am, however, trying to change. My husband, Walt, and I married three years ago—a first marriage late in life for both [...]

The Receipt

Like I usually do at the end of every day, before making the climb up my apartment building’s steps, I reach into the breast pocket of my denim jacket to find my apartment key. Sifting through loose change and tangled headphones, my hand wades through my pocket until the cool brass surface of the key [...]

The Lucky Ones

On my last day of radiation, I sat eagerly awaiting my release from six months of treatment. In anticipation, my eyes scanned the fluorescently lit, crowded waiting room of Abramson Cancer Center. As I waited for my name to be called for the last time, I thought about the young girl—about five years old—who I [...]

Field of Rye at Twilight

How do you explain to your six-year-old daughter, who stays with you two weekends a month, that you killed a dog?  That while you were returning from market in the van—you driving, she sleeping—a dog ran into the road, and you hit it. The driver has just turned thirty and thought the number would protect [...]

I Consider a Twitter Follow

I pendulum on whether to press the button. I pause. I ponder the little blue birdie that tells all of our thoughts to the world, wonder if bald eagles have already gone extinct―dropped dead to the earth like bombs built of bone, beak and feather.   To say I’m living in a time without symbols [...]

Also They Are Families Too

In the apartment there is smoke.  Margarita comes to sit and packs feet into shoes.  Time for the next shift.  It’s original sin if you believe it.   They have begun to round us up, vienen para nosotros, in Jersey, in LA nos esperan en Wal-Mars, escuelas and hospitals. We won’t be there to pick [...]

Dawn Manning Packs a Subtle Punch in Postcards from the Dead Letter Office

Philadelphia poet Dawn Manning brings a historic influence to her writing in Postcards from the Dead Letter Office, using a form of Japanese lyric poetry called the Tanka to create quick, hard-hitting poems that float on the tongue and leave lasting images on small pieces of page. In an engrossing debut, Manning weaves snippets of [...]

Emily Rose Cole, Love & a Loaded Gun (Minerva Rising Press, 2017)

Emily Rose Cole won the 2014 Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry for the poem “Self-Portrait as Rapunzel,” selected by judge Jeffrey Ethan Lee. Her poem considers the relationship between Rapunzel and her mother and how a person accepts or rejects various aspects of abuse or isolation because of the attention or even affection that [...]

George Saunders: My Imaginary Boyfriend

George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and several excellent short story collections, visited Rutgers the other day to do a reading. I went to his master class, which was an informal-ish discussion and Q&A for students and rabid Saunders fans like me.  He showed up, this ordinary man in jeans and a button [...]

An Interview with Philadelphia Writer Larry Loebell

Philadelphia writer Larry Loebell, who placed third in Philadelphia Stories’ 2015 Marguerite McGlinn Fiction Award for his story 49 Seconds in the Box, has just published a collection of novellas. Titled Seven Steps Ahead, it is his second collection of stories in as many years. In a recent interview, Loebell described these works of fiction [...]

Review of Nathan Alling Long’s The Origin of Doubt

The Origin of Doubt, Nathan Alling Long’s glorious debut collection of short fictions, is dedicated ‘to those who don’t quite fit in.’ Its fifty stories, some no more than a paragraph long, could serve as a missal for a vast congregation of outcasts and wanderers; angst-ridden adolescents, erotic explorers, and philosophical self-searchers. These stories – [...]