Hammer and Company

Listed here are recently published or forthcoming stories. Some links are provided for online versions though publishers' links can change without warning.

Recently Published Fiction

Antioch ReviewFall 2013
When you envy somebody you walk around in her panties, leave your own on the floor. You get an extra life for a while.

Blessed Harry
Harvard Reviewforthcoming
What counts is how you behave while death lets you live and how you meet death when life releases you.

Imaginary Oklahoma2013
One afternoon I turned up at Miss de Mille’s. OK she said. She yelled all the time. Flagellation had nothing on her.

Wait and See
The American Scholar Winter 2013
His man-made glasses, his trickster specs, had made life less sorrowful, but at a cost.   They had deprived him of this sheen of blue blue blue violet seeping into blue blue violet violet pressing itself into blue violet violet violet which yearns to become shadow.  Vaniilla hectored its neighbor papyrus.  There was moss concealing like a mother its multi-greened offspring.  There were squirming nacreous snakes, slightly nauseating.  Much is properly hidden from the eyes of men.

The Ax Forgets, The Tree Remembers
Ecotone #14 2012
The thing was done for my good and for my future husband.  This was believed.  I believed it too.  I was held down, yes, the body fights back, it is its nature, no one scolded me for struggling.  But they had to restrain me.  My … area was swabbed with something cold and wet.  The cutting was swift.  Painful.  A small curved knife cuts away a portion of your flesh, it could happen by accident in the garden or while preparing food, that tiny slice I mean, though not in that … area.  The wound was salved.  There was no shame.  All the women in the hut had gone through the cutting.

“Leonard suggested that the next major stage of human development, of punctuated evolution, would not be a superorganism but rather a pared down individual, hermaphroditic and self-fertilizing and a twin to everybody else in the universe. He called these creatures Epsteins."
From Just So

Just So
Virginia Quarterly Review Summer 2012
They didn’t look like brothers then, and even less now. Anthony Herbst at seventy-two was compact, fit, smooth-skinned, bald. His sharp mouth could snap, yes, though never at little Nate. The thin lips could also loosen into a tender smile. His sons counted on this. “You compassionate people,” said the younger just last week, making compassionate rhyme with terminate.
“You’re verbing an adjective,” smiled Tony, verbing a noun.

The Gentle Girl
Iron Horse Review 2012
At the Catharine Deare School Barbara wasn’t anybody’s pal, for intimacy between Christian and Jew was understood to be unseemly; but she enjoyed an occasional after-school ice-cream with Emma Dimond and trips to the downtown library with Mercedes Halsey. There was a small Boarding Section on the fourth floor. Barbara and other smokers used an empty bedroom there. Barbara suspected that teachers knew of the habit and the sanctuary. In the teachers’ Room they smoked, too, though outside of its protection they dutifully warned the girls of its unattractiveness. This insincerity pleased Barbara. She was, after all, practicing an insincerity of her own. She was singing hymns and repeating phrases that she disbelieved – Jesus Christ was not her Lord. She pretended respect for the School’s motto – Love, Loyalty, Humility – whereas her own clan’s motto, never spoken, might have been Love, Limited Loyalty, and Getting Ahead.

The Antioch Review Summer 2012
Rhoda sketched Aunt Selma’s face, working from a studio photograph. She considered the sizeable nose. “I disdain rhinoplasty,” Selma had said. “I turn up my nose at it.” Rhoda shortened the nose anyway by lengthening the rectangle of light reflected from the upper lip, and she thereby provided a view of nostrils – two black ovals leaning towards each other -- that the cantilevered schnozz had almost hidden. She did pencil-surgery on herself too -- drew a self-portrait with the old caterpillar brows and a narrowed nose. The change made her prettier. Years ago her mother had talked about having Rhoda’s nose fixed, as if it were an ill-fitting coat; but Selma turned thumbs down. Rhoda’s opinion wasn’t sought.

The Kargman Affliction
Moment July 2012
Recently young Simon Kargman, just graduated from medical school, experienced a vaso-vagal syncope while in line at a Manhattan restaurant. He lowered his head to his knees and, maintaining that posture – buttocks in air, hands grasping ankles – staggered into the Gentlemen’s. Reclining on the tiles he arranged his limbs in a semblance of authority. Everyone who entered peered down. “Shall I call a doctor?”
     “I am a doctor,” he could not refrain from saying.
     “Oh, in that case,” the New Yorkers said, stepped over him, and went about their business.

Agni 75 2012
They walked along various paths. Just yesterday they had followed a trail to a little pond. Ingrid pointed to the knobs on the willows. Each was a tightly curled leaf, saving itself for next spring. “What goes round comes round,” Ingrid heard herself saying. “Death is the gate of life.” “Don’t you ever die, Aunt Giraffe,” ordered Chloe. “I’ll die in my time, darling. Like everyone else.” The child shook her head. “You belong to us,” as if that conferred immortality.

S. faux
The American Scholar Winter 2012
After a particular evening that struck him as promising, she did not deign to invite him into the house where, already orphaned, she lived alone; merely looked up at him under her lashes with a deceptively inviting expression, her blind fingers deftly locating key ring in her pouch of a bag … He raised his elbow and struck her with the back of his hand. “You're a fake, Dorothy. Merely a mimic,” he said. “Sedutrix faux,” he said, breaking several rules of Linnaean taxonomy. He stomped down the three rounded stairs between the front columns, not noticing that his unexpected blow had knocked her to her knees. In a reverent position she kneeled, listening to his irritated departure.

“... she dined among her dead insects, admiring chitinous exoskeletons while she put one of three carrot sticks into her mouth. Chitin was not part of mammal physiology, though she had read that after death and before decomposition the epidermis of a deceased human developed a leathery hardness, chitin-like it could be called, which begins to resemble the beetles who gorge on the decaying corpse and defecate at the same time, turning flesh into compost. The uses of shit were many.”
From Honeydew

Last Words
Shenandoah Winter/Spring 2012
The most popular Eulogists were Brother Herbert the basso, Brother Cecil the Classicist, and Brother Mick, who was mastering Gaelic.  At first Tommy imitated these experienced Brothers, rolling out unspecific praise, tacking on a few pretty falsities, and delivering the thing in sonorous tones.  He too became popular.  People detected his acrobat’s grace within the Eulogist’s heavy garment.

Orion September-October 2011
On the shelves in a makeshift closet near the science lab Emily had placed her specimen collection equipment and the specimens themselves. She was permitted to take her meager lunch here. So she dined among dead insects, admiring chitinous exoskeletons while she put one of three carrot sticks into her mouth.

Life Lessons
Cincinnati Review Winter-Spring 2012
When he had to stop at a red light Poppa didn't look at the car mirror. He looked at me. It was a look thick with love. It was quite unlike, I was sure, the shallow glances he gave the hospital nurses. Everybody knew about his flirtatiousness, a habit he couldn't break. Even I knew about it, I who was so young for my age. But, really, he flirted with everyone – our cleaning woman, all dogs he met, the vegetable man whose truck had no doors. He flirted even with his sisters, who disapproved of his easy ways though not enough to refuse to make their home with him. Aunt Muriel and Aunt Fan said that twenty years earlier he had done more than flirt with certain nurses. That was before he met Momma I might have reminded them except they didn't know I was behind the couch.

Lake Effect Spring 2011
Then in January there materialized a woman, a girl, a little piece of sharp Russian gold. She wore a shearling coat and a sheep's hat to match. Beneath that woolly cylinder flowed a mass of pale curls. Her face contained some unimportant features. She had entered the house at Avram's invitation through the back door, and he'd guided her into the front hall and then into the dining room. She leaned backwards and accepted our greetings. Avram-the-chaste extended his sweatered limb and encircled her shoulders. She rested her head on his shoulder. I attended this little tableau, ready to vomit.

Idaho Review 2011
They were driving in a snowstorm… Whiter and whiter became their medium, and all the cars within it a pastier white, white spread with a knife. Suddenly, on the other side of the median strip, a bit of humped purple spun like a dancer, lifted itself like an animal, groped in the air with its four round feet, and fell back onto its roof.

Sentimental Ballads
Passages North 2011
On Grandma’s face played dozens of worries, one after the other, as if projected there by a revolving lantern. They included but were not limited to the probable peril of her son my Uncle Harry, a Navy Lieutenant; the threat of cholera; the treachery of telephone poles; and the capacity of a cheerful dog to turn murderously insane in thirty seconds.