"Help" by prose finalist Nona Caspers


Sometimes, I sat at my small table by the window and imagined a man older than me, but still young, sitting with me, his long fingers holding my best teacup. The alley below empty, the windows in the building across the alley empty, the plant on the table blooming its purple flowers in the morning light and then the afternoon light and then the evening light. He steadily returned my gaze. I had not felt that kind of love since childhood, certainly not since I lived in that apartment, but during that time, the man really did help me. I told him about the sounds of grief in the alley, the malleability of time, shifting shadows and light, isolation, dreams, the sewage system, broken things, colors, closets, phone calls, stains making shapes on carpet, my red pants, ants and squirrels, the materialization of cornbread, the gaps between people, the company of furniture. I would say, the lover becomes memory and memory becomes an artifact, a sacred tomb.

I offered him more tea.

It’s nice to have someone to listen to, he said, gazing steadily back at me, something in his expression more ample than realism. He told me the good news, our hearts cradled in sacrificial light, shepherds braying with sheep, bread and fish, buoyancy of water, two palms open to us, vast skies, pearly gates, corpses rising, birds in flight, the feeling of acceptance for all beings, this feeling sometimes so insistent he felt he would explode. The lover lives in us, he said.  In the seas, in the fur of horses and dogs and bears, in the fins of fish, in grass and seeds,lamp light and sunlight and lungs and sidewalks. 

Sometimes we didn’t even talk. Sometimes I think those times were the best.

And now, so many years later, as I sit at my computer in my office, I think how soothing that would be, to have Jesus in my imagination again. What is the harm, really? To be accompanied by his enormous good will and kindness, even for a little while. And even if it isn’t real.


Nona Caspers is the author of Heavier Than Air, which received the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She has received a NEA Fellowship and an Iowa ReviewFiction Award, among others.  Stories from Alley Stories have appeared in Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, Cimarron Review, Epoch, and other literary reviews.  She is also the author of cross genre Little Book of Days and recently co-edited with Joell Hallowell a nonfiction book Lawfully Wedded Wives:  Rethinking Marriage in the 21st Century.  She teaches Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.  www.nonacaspers.com

Randall Horton's Hook on Literary Hub

This week, Literary Hub posted an excerpt from Randall Horton’s Hook on their website. The selection, a prime example of Horton’s dynamic voice, is titled “1990: theater of the absurd.”

Horton writes,

One guy stayed by the van and held his elbow chest-high to me as if to prevent the contemplation of retaliation. Drake did not move. Not a breathing human in sight. Odds dictated I freeze and watch those chasing arms grab Stump about the waist, stopping and then twirling his torso. He could’ve been in a modern ballet, ripped shirt and all. But more importantly, the package tore, and white powder trailed Stump everywhere he was flung. Call it Theatre of the Absurd. Call it early American vaudeville. To call it a rag doll disintegrating into yarn does not do the metaphor justice. It took one minute for the five men to take the package off Stump’s body, leaving him swinging, clutching, and grabbing at the wind. Stump resurrected himself from the ground, dazed and breathless. No police. We hopped back in the van, negotiating the curve at almost fifty, not in pursuit, but in gettin ghost. We were victim and perpetrator at the same time.

To read more of the excerpt, visit Lit Hub.

As always, you may purchase Hook and other Augury titles through Small Press Distribution.

More of Randall Horton:

Randall Horton’s author page.

"Doctor Caliban, Peeping Tom" by poetry finalist Ben Gantcher

Drawing of Doctor Caliban

“Doctor Caliban, Peeping Tom” 

The train was crowded with actors

I couldn’t tell the extras from the characters

or who would have a part in the evening show

that plays in every dazzled window

under the umbrella of rain-slick trees

or so it seems


The saturated colors of those TVs

wouldn’t exist if not for me

minder of the Tunnel

my wormhole

a channel

that broadcasts the bric-a-brac of minutes

as if the world were sending postcards to one not in it


Doctor Caliban the sun & the moon are setting the table

Doctor Caliban the sureness of loss has left me unable

to care about anything I have not lost

Doctor C you gotta taste this sauce

Doctor Caliban is it more ghoulish

to be like me a taxidermist

and whistle on my hands to wit to woo

or be an ironist like you?


Ben Gantcher’s collection of poems, Snow Farmer, was a finalist in several book contests. His poems have appeared in many journals, including Slate, Tin House, Guernica and The Brooklyn Rail. His first chapbook, Strings of Math and Custom, was published by Beard of Bees Press. If a Lettuce, his first full-length collection, was a finalist in the National Poetry Series and Bright Hill Press contests. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, was a resident at Ucross and Omi, and a fellow at LABA. He teaches math, Language Structures and an interdisciplinary writing and visual art studio course at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY, where he lives with his wife and three children. 

An Excerpt from Sara Schaff’s "Say Something Nice About Me"

Say Something Nice About Me

After six indecisive years together, I told Gregory, “If we don’t have a kid, I’m leaving.” He worried about overpopulating the earth, but I knew he also feared being alone. So we had this ravenous infant, a fitful sleeper, and I was sure the marriage wouldn’t last anyway.

Naomi was almost ten months old when I invited my college roommate and her fiancé down from Ontario. I was lonely in Helena but didn’t say so; instead I said I wanted to meet Freddie before the wedding. I wanted them to see how beautiful my girl was. My life felt small and unremarkable in most ways, but having a baby still seemed like an accomplishment worth bragging about.

Kim’s silkscreens of densely populated cityscapes were hanging in corporate offices all around the US, but she rarely talked about her own accomplishments. Even so, Gregory had never thought she was as fun or talented as I did. He was not thrilled about the visit, but at least he was willing to watch Naomi crawl through the unkempt grass in the backyard while I put clean sheets on the guestroom bed.


Sara Schaff’s fiction has appeared in FiveChapters, Southern Indiana Review, Carve Magazine, and elsewhere. A graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at the University of Michigan, she has taught in China, Colombia, and Northern Ireland, where she also studied storytelling. Sara is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Oberlin College. Find links to her work at saraschaff.com.

"Professor Moriarty: I’m Not Ok, You’re Not Ok" by poetry finalist Patrick Moran

Patrick Moran is the author of four collections of poetry, Tell A Pitiful Story (2012), Doppelgangster (2013), The Book Of Lost Things (2013), Rumors Of Organized Crime (2014 Winner of the Tennessee Chapbook Prize). He also has published translations of the French poet, Eugene Guillivec, and essays on poetics and poetry. His most recent essay, The Ampersand: Casual Vortex or Engraver’s Shortcut, appear in the 2013 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle. He currently a professor of poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.


Randall Horton’s Hook: A Memoir to Launch Friday, November 20th


This Friday, November 20th, from 6:30-8:00 PM, join Augury Books and author Randall Horton for a celebration and launch of Hook: A Memoir. The event will take place at African Voices Magazine on the Upper West Side and will feature food, wine, music, and several special guests. Hook: A Memoir will be available for purchase and signing and, as always, can be found online at Small Press Distribution. We’re very much looking forward to this event and hope to see you there!

Randall Horton is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His previous work includes the poetry collection Pitch Dark Anarchy (Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2013). Horton serves on the Board of Directors for Pen America’s Pen Prison Writing Program and teaches at the University of New Haven. He is a Cave Canem Fellow, and a member of both the Affrilachian Poets and the experimental performance group: Heroes are Gang Leaders. Horton is also a senior editor at Willow Books, an independent literary press he helped found in 2006. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he now resides in Harlem, New York.

"the consequence of light—" by poetry finalist Joe Jiménez

Joe Jiménez is the author of The Possibilities of Mud (Kórima 2014) and Bloodline (Arte Público 2016).  Jiménez holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.  The short film “El Abuelo,” based on Jiménez’s poem, has been screened in Belgium, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Argentina, Ireland, England, and the US. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, and is a member of the Macondo Workshops.  For more, visit joejimenez.net.

Our Prose Selection for 2016

London coffeehouse c. 1705 via Public Domain Review

After announcing our poetry selections last month, Augury is happy to reveal its selections for prose today. The editors’ reading period for prose submissions was equally intense, but also equally gratifying. To be sure, selecting one manuscript out of dozens of strong submissions never gets easier. It is with pleasure that we announce Sara Schaff’s short story collection Say Something Nice About Me as our prose selection for 2016. Below are the finalists whose work we will feature in the coming weeks:

Alley Stories—Nona Caspers

Everything Beautiful—Sarah Pape

Girl with a Goat’s Voice—Nate Liederbach

Grieving for Guava—Cecilia Fernandez

Home for Wayward Girls—Melanie Bishop

In Josaphat’s Valley—Joshua Bernstein

Mick Jagger’s Green Eyed Daughter…—Elizabeth Denton

Stick-Light—Joshua Bernstein

Swarm—Harmony Button

The Heart is a Slow Learner—Mary Larkin Phd

The World is All that Does Befall Us—Thomas Walton—Too Smart for her Own Good—Evelyn Somers

True Love and Other Dreams of…—Micah Perks

Wee Hours—Ellen Winter

Woman, Running Late, in a Dress—Dallas Woodburn

Stay tuned for excerpts from each of our fourteen finalists, as well as from Sara Schaff!

PSA’s Annual Awards and Chapbook Fellowships: Accepting Submissions Through December 22nd

The Poetry Society of America has announced that it is currently accepting a variety of submissions for poets at all stages in their career now through December 22nd. Submissions are free for members and you are welcome to submit work to all seven categories with no more than one entry for each.

From a recent PSA message:

Annual Awards judges include:
Cyrus Cassells, Eduardo Corral, Elaine Equi, Yona Harvey, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Laura Kasischke, Jennifer Moxley, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Carmen Giménez Smith, and others

Chapbook judges:
Rigoberto González, Linda Gregerson, Major Jackson, and Marilyn Nelson

Each year from October to December the Poetry Society offers contests for poets at all stages of their careers, from a prize for high school students, to our Chapbook Fellowships for poets who have not yet published a full-length collection, to our first book contest, and our award for a poet over forty who has published no more than one book.

We’re thrilled to announce we’re currently accepting submissions, which are free to members.

Begin your submission today. Good luck!


See the PSA’s website for more information on individual contests and submission guidelines.

Joe Pan’s Hiccups Reviewed in Publishers Weekly and Luna Luna Magazine

November has brought several pieces of news for Joe Pan’s Hiccups: favorable reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Luna Luna Magazine, as well as a #2 spot on Small Press Distribution’s best seller list last month (pictured below).

Meanwhile, the Publishers Weekly review focuses on Pan’s imagery in the form of “striking cinematography and use of perspective” and ends with the claim that Hiccups “presents new rewards with each reading.”

In Joanna C. Valente’s lengthier review, she points to Pan’s use of both directness and irony as a means of expressing colloquial tragedies native to his own city, New York, and beyond.

Everything in this collection is about nuance, contrasting the different selves and times, where human interaction is juxtaposed by nature both physical and intangible. Basically, Pan gracefully and poignantly connects and interweaves all the mysteries of our lives in such a way where it’s not just keenly observant, but fiercely unforgiving of the world around us.

Hiccups is available for purchase through Small Press Distribution online.

More of Joe Pan:

Joe Pan’s author page.