Summer 2021

The Coachella Review

Interview: Spiral screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger talk to The Coachella Review

By Katie Gilligan   I was lucky enough to sit down (via Zoom) with writing team Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger to talk about their new movie, Spiral, the ninth installment of Saw, one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. The latest piece of the puzzle (pun intended) follows police veteran Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson), brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock), and rookie detective William (Max Minghella) as they fall into a grisly investigation of murders eerily reminiscent of the city’s violent past. We talked about the challenges of satisfying die-hard fans, the effects of COVID…

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Moving to Maine by Pamela Stutch

One morning, my atheist mother walked into her assisted living facility’s church service irate and naked. The attendees gasped. The reverend summoned a nurse’s assistant who quickly escorted my mother back to her room. When the head nurse called me to report the incident, she did not need to give me details: I could clearly picture my mother charging into a room full of people, oblivious to her surroundings, her sharp chin out, her hunched back exposed, her bare breasts swaying, and yelling, “What the fuck’s going on? Why can’t I get any help around here?” “She couldn’t locate her…

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What My Mother Remembers by Krista Varela Posell

  “So what classes are you teaching this year?” my mother asks. I take a breath, my hands gripping the steering wheel. “Actually,” I say, “I’m not teaching anymore.” “Oh,” she says, with a hint of disappointment in her voice that any daughter could recognize. She was so proud when I told her five years ago that I’d be teaching college writing. That I’d be a professor, straight out of graduate school, barely twenty-four years old. It seemed to her that I had achieved an incredible status for someone my age. “So what are you doing now?” “I still work…

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Starter Marriage by Chelsey Drysdale

    “I love that you can’t remember to turn the light off in the garage, but you can remember what Hamlet said. I love that I can’t beat you at Scrabble. I love that you have enough college degrees to make you a true scholar, and yet you’ll dress like a skater kid and listen to punk music until you’re 80,” I said, facing Troy, holding a microphone, wearing a layered ivory gown and beige leather flip flops. I recounted the reasons I’d loved him for three years, the majority of which we’d lived together. It was July 31,…

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The Pilot by Catherine Johnson

    The Pilot noun: 1. a person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft 2. a television program made to test audience reaction with a view to the production of a series adjective: done as an experiment or test before introducing something more widely     It wasn’t until I had sex with the pilot that I learned how to ask for what I wanted in bed. I realized that what I really wanted couldn’t be asked for, or found there, especially if I kept lying to myself.   I met the pilot at the beginning of 2019…

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Satin Wrap for Sale. Never Worn. by Shelley Berg

  A pandemic is a good time to clean out your closet, especially if you baked and drank your way through it and are five (ten?) pounds farther away from ever wearing that black skirt again. Closets are also good places to hide from your husband and children under the guise of being productive and busy. And while you’re in there, look into the secret passage to your past that is The Bin of Clothes You’ll Never Wear Again. My Bin is extra large and airtight, which ensures that the clothes I’ll never wear again stay wearable. If anything is…

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Over the Archipelagoes to You by Sarah E. Ruhlen

  These are the things Walt will eat: Mondays: Box macaroni and cheese, the macaroni shaped like Pac-Man and ghosts. Tuesdays: Personal-size frozen pizza. Mel cuts a thin wedge from the pizza and arranges the pepperoni so that it looks like an eye. Wednesdays: Frozen burritos. Mel cuts a circle out of a slice of orange cheese, cuts a wedge and an eye into the circle, and lays it on the pale skin of the burrito when it is hot from the microwave. Thursdays: Canned Pac-Man pasta in spaghetti sauce. Fridays: Round fish patties with a wedge cut out for…

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The Airbnb Guest by Sevde Kaldiroglu

    Mana was happy that her Airbnb listing got booked the day she put it up. His name was Alex. He hadn’t asked any questions prior to booking, even about the location or amenities. It was surprising, given the many inquisitive guests she’d had in the past at her old apartment. Perhaps she’d done a better job with the listing photos this time. The moment the booking notification popped up on her phone, she started rushing through her online meeting with her manager. There was so much to do to get the place ready. Yes, yes, she nodded to…

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A History of Heartache by Patrick Strickland

  When Ma starts in on me again, she’s splashing gas station cabernet into an old, cracked coffee mug, flipping the bottle top-down and filling it to the lip. The springs from the pullout couch dig into my ass, and I can’t get comfortable. Ma grabs the remote and hits mute. A guy on the tube sobs silently, his head in his hands. He lost someone he loves, I guess, but who hasn’t? I listen to noise claw all about the trailer—dishwasher whooshing, dryer thumping, strays scraping at the back door. Nothing’s out of the ordinary, not really, but it’s…

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Lobsters by Dean Jamieson

  Here’s how it happened: They were all packed tight inside a tiny apartment. Lena, Milo, August and the others, all the girls in children’s shirts and all the guys in pants four sizes too big. They drank rum and Cokes first, sipping out of mugs, spilling brown liquid on the rug, laughing it up, “ha, ha.” Milo brought coke, more baby laxative than coke, but it was pretty good anyway. Lena saw ghosts in her peripheral and talked with feeling and eloquence about absolutely nothing. She liked Milo. He had an awkward kind of grace, like he knew how…

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Burnt by Alison Bullock

  by Alison Bullock   When the silver-embossed envelope arrives in the mail, Eleanor’s husband Gerald is practically giddy. It’s from the chief of thoracic surgery over at the hospital where he works as a cardiologist. An invitation to a house-warming party. “This is it,” Gerald says, rising up on his toes. “It’s happening.” The invitation isn’t personal—everyone in the department has been invited, even the nurses, but this doesn’t register with Gerald, who keeps mentioning what an honor it is. “All of the other wives are going,” he tells her. Eleanor sighs in resignation. She hates parties. People always stare…

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Daughtered Out by Toni Ann Johnson

              You’re growing your first child inside; it’s a girl, and your father is visiting for Thanksgiving. He wears a chocolate-brown ascot with a white shirt under a multicolored Pucci jacket. You wonder when he began wearing ascots, and you curse under your breath because you’ve already purchased his Christmas gifts, which include an insanely-expensive silk tie you took forty minutes to select on the first Saturday of November when, on rare occasion, you weren’t working. Why didn’t he tell you he’d switched to ascots? He sits across from you and your handsome husband in downtown Boston, where you…

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Where the Ladybugs Go by Dahlia Garofalo

    We painted little red circles for the ladybugs strewn across the windowsill legs tucked up into their dry bellies for the baby ladybugs, small specks of red kids on the playground smashed between rocks   We painted round black spots for the ladybugs grandma pinched between her cracked fingers and the ladybugs she flicked from the raspberries into buckets of sour bleach   We painted bulbous antennae for the ladybugs auntie smashed against her ceiling with the end of her broom handle for the ladybugs who fortuitously flew into the rainwater buckets on the side of the garage…

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Soup Bone Says by Fred Shaw

    Put a fan on it, because that’s how we parch what spills here, caged metal blades carving the air, blowing loose scraps into crumb-lined corners. A recipe for disaster is what we call this place, built on fried zucchini and foot-size fish sandwiches, its brown kitchen tiles iced tea-slick. Septuagenarian, Soup Bone moves bear-hunched and bowlegged, surveying his dining room with its walls decked in gimcrack, tables ringed with those teal leather chairs our aging regulars love, his red tie swinging from a starched shirt steeped in woodsy cologne. He greets everyone by name before chirping, kick it…

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Space by Ray DiZazzo

SPACE (Mistakenly untethered at the of rear of the craft, she leaned away to view the earth.)   The slightest turn.            An unintended push            and                   suddenly              you are                        out of touch                 out                     of                           reach                                                            rolling                                   slowly    in a muffled crackling of    radio static    and a depth of night              …

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May’s Onion Moon by Emma Lee

    I hold a slice of onion to the only window in this reduced world. The rainbow opposite acts as a reminder this isn’t a prison. Watch the slice turn translucent, transform into an opalescent sphere. Light pollution has been diminished by people settling into more natural rhythms. I crack the window open for the first time and steal a breath of purer air.     Emma Lee’s publications include The Significance of a Dress (Arachne Press, 2020) and Ghosts in the Desert (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015). She co-edited Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge, (Five…

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I Brought My Pitchfork to Dinner by Maria Santa Poggi

  Because I wasn’t in the mood for agreeable conversation. My ancestors, who summoned me here, are drunk. They are slurring their words. Someone at this table committed murder. I’m betting it’s my distant uncle, Andy, who is also a third cousin. My parents are dead but still are fighting about a trip my dad took to the red-light district when I was five. Some things never change. The Italians are yelling, while the Polish are playing cards. There always have been tensions on both aisles of my bloodline. Another great uncle just called me a horse’s ass for sucking…

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Dark Violet by Daniel Romo and Steve Castro

    Eggplant or plum or the shade of an index finger tightly woven with string. Restricting circulation in body parts deemed trivial is a favorite activity of young men simply hoping to stay afloat. After all, boys will be buoyant. A surplus of blood is a matter of breadth and breath. A surplus of blood also helps to spread the undead curse. Vampiros lining up victims like groceries, drained purple, then white like a bone picked clean, lying in powder snow. A string, like human hair, can be used to sever limbs. Some people think breathing is underrated. Some…

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A Thousand Miles Deep by Yvonne Higgins Leach

    Fifteen years, she’s still cleaning shit out of the kennels at minimum wage. Still saving the dogs too far gone. The biters. The aggressors. The overly anxious.  Hello, Chance, she’d whisper into his dark cage after work. I’m here for you, shutting quietly her truck door. Come along now, singing the long road home.  Scraps-of-life dogs. Year after year, more hay-laden makeshift kennels. Word of “the dog lady” spread. Dogfight-dogs. Amputees. The dogs of PTSD. Hello, Kona. I’m here for you, Hank. Come along, sweet Gunner.  Under the stars, or in the rain, or among the arrowleaf balsamroot…

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2002 (When Ryan Dies) by Kindall Fredricks

    We are moon-smacked cheeks all sugared up with candied Presbytaria and boys’ names stranding tooth to tooth like taffy   When we tangle our bodies around the collective love letter to Ryan the silver legs of the desk are as cool as peeled fruit against our skin still brandied with sun from PE    Ryan sits next to Tanav a name Mrs. Liam flicks from her mouth with an ear- tipped smile         Who delivers it? We are supposed to laugh at Tanav when he stubs his tongue on redcoats at the way his shirt gums “M cha l Jack on”…

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