The Foreign Cinema

One day in those first months after her mother’s death, Cenem resolved to finally see Los Angeles. She’d spent the afternoon at one of the cheap matinees, seeing Casablanca yet again, and after, went directly to the used bookstore off Taksim Square in search of a copy of Baedecker’s California.


I don’t mind the night shift. I’m still new here, granted, so it doesn’t really matter whether or not I mind it.

The Room of Small Gods

They have carried his bed downstairs to the study where he can see the garden as he dies, with you, his collection of small gods, around him.

Avtomat Kalashnikova

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov wakes in gray light to the sounds of the injured soldiers in the cots beside him moaning, crying out.

Failed Treaties

Danny used to open the door and let me into his apartment downstairs at seven a.m. every Saturday. My mother would already be up, stooped over the kitchen table in our upstairs apartment, wearing her pale-blue nightdress, spreading tangy lebanah on a plate for my father before he left to open his grocery store.


Ammu has never known anyone who died. Not a grandparent or a rickety neighbor or anyone struck by what Ammu’s tightlipped mother, Nina, referred to (after six months of her own successful chemotherapy) as the C word. Ammu’s mother swatted away death as if it were a mosquito and marched forward into a robust if unchartered future.

The Facts

Occasional lapses in taste or discretion within this narrative are entirely intentional. So, if it seems inappropriate to interrupt a tragic drowning with observations about the nesting habits of local birds, then consider this…

Halfway to the Afterlife

I had come into the hospital as I came into the world—twitching, foaming, groaning. I was almost brain-dead, they said, yet here I was, good as reborn.

Off The Page: BLR@20 – The Mona Lisa

Actor Kelly AuCoin reads the short story “The Mona Lisa” by Robert Oldshue as part of BLR’s 20th Anniversary Celebration.