“The Sound of Metal” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize

Thank you so much to Weasel Press for nominating my poem, “The Sound of Metal,” for the Pushcart Prize. The poem, first published in Degenerates: Voices for Peace, appears in Slide a Mirror to Me (Transcendent Zero Press, 2017).

The Body

When I was 23, my brother introduced me to his corpse. After a ceremony at the medical school, he invited family to the hospital basement. We waited in a cool, dim hallway while he prepared the body. My mother grabbed my wrist, squeezing bones together.

“Ouch!” I said, and yanked my arm away to rub at invisible fingerprints.

“I’m here,” she whispered. “Remember.”

Inside the lab, the scent of formaldehyde stung my nostrils. My brother stood near a metal table where white sheets draped a human form. The subject for dissection was not overly large, only average, but fear made it massive.

“This is my body,” my brother said. He peeled the sheet down, revealing a man’s face and torso. The man was white, perhaps sixty years old, close enough that I could see pores on his face. The contrast between his waxen pallor and springy strands of hair made him look slightly fake, like a Barbie doll given a haircut.

My brother tucked the linens modestly and said words that were respectful. I don’t remember them. “Natural causes,” he added, “but that’s not science. Sometimes we don’t ask what happened, and sometimes we don’t know.”

As I looked at the man’s face, my brother began to pull at a neat seam on his forehead. As smoothly as he had removed the sheet, he peeled back the man’s scalp. It came away in a large flap—like a thick, curving orange rind. Then, I saw the inside of his head.

My brother went from college to medical school, became a neurologist, and married a psychiatrist; each step took him further away. My path to becoming a counselor was less direct. It spanned five states, nineteen jobs, a broken foot—and two or three broken hearts.

(My tally is uncertain. How do you count a heart when it breaks, and breaks again?)

There is no tradition of healing in my family; we are starting something new.

I had nightmares about the body for a long time, but postmortems are how we learn. It’s been four years since my brother stopped speaking to me. If we speak again, I’ll ask about his dreams….


“The Body” is excerpted from Slide a Mirror to Me (Transcendent Zero Press, 2017). While training as a psychotherapist, a young woman recovering from anxiety is called to counsel a girl who’s attempted suicide. Each must find a way to carry herself forward…
Slide a Mirror to Me weaves poetry & short stories woven into a loose narrative featuring villains, heroes, and hope. Buy it now at Amazon or, if cost is an issue, please contact me to request an e-ARC. A limited number of advance copies are available.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story

Last night I read an advance copy of QUIET GIRL IN A NOISY WORLD: AN INTROVERT’S STORY, a new book of cartoons by Debbie Tung.

If you like Allie Brosh’s HYPERBOLE AND A HALF comics, you might like this book, too. Its autobiographical cartoons feature a young woman (the author) as she navigates milestones of adulthood. She describes herself as an introvert and a person with anxiety. Parties are exhausting. She’s coming to terms with who she is.

The book has some lovely illustrations–line drawings and watercolor. The narrator’s stressed-out face was in a more cartoon-y style, while the single panel, full-page illustrations felt most polished (and were my favorites). Screencapping one of them would make a reassuring wallpaper.

Most of all, the book felt gentle. As I read, I thought of one of my younger cousins, a girl who’s struggled with mental health. I might give her this book. It would feel like sending a hug and a “you’re okay.”

Blue (new prose poem/flash piece for the 99%)

Blue-chip companies take their name from the color of the highest-valued chips at poker tables on October 28, 1929.

(we’re reliable, all-American, safe)

Then comes October 29, 1929: the day the stock markets crash.

Then comes October 30, 2009: me, new to a minimum-wage custodial crew, learning that the most important thing, when you clean the headquarters of a multibillion-dollar corporation, is the executive washroom…

Read the rest.

Alternatives to Pronoun: By Sai Marie Johnson – An Indie Author’s Guide to Expanded Distributors & Aggregators for Self-Publishing

Here are some other ways for indie authors to go wide, distributing books, now that Pronoun is closing…



Pronoun’s Closing:What Now?

written by Sai Marie Johnson



Today the announcement that Pronoun would be closing came as a sudden and unexpected shock to the indie publishing community. I have decided to gather together a list of places that can serve as viable alternatives for the indie author who is seeking for expanding their distribution channels with the easiest methods possible.

Here is a list of some of the great places still available to fulfill this need:

open-book-library-education-read-159621.jpgBookRix – BookRix is a free self publishing platform that offers eBook distribution services to independent writers. Our users can share their writing, connect with other readers, and discover new books and authors – all in one place. We make eBook publishing easy and indie reading fun!

Smashwords – an ebook aggregator providing ebook distribution to all markets except for Amazon/Kindle. SW offers many features and perks, including library distribution…

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What else would you like to see on this blog?

As you can see, I did a blog mini-makeover yesterday. One project I’m still working on is listing/sorting my poetry & short stories in a way that’s easier for readers to browse. Advice welcome! I’d also appreciate hearing anything else you’d like to see here. You can email me or comment below. Thanks!

P.S. The chihuahua puppy is unrelated but SO CUTE, RIGHT?