A journal of narrative writing.

Though the back-to-school sales have already begun despite the sweltering haze, we're glad to disrupt your August malaise with the wonderful poems and stories in this fifteenth issue of Conte!

Brandon Courtney begins this issue’s offering of verse with rough lyricism in “Cutting Toward the Body,” followed by Mark McCaig’s vehement and wrathful “Beadles.” Next, we are pleased to feature three poems by Eric Anderson, and his prominence in this issue is a testament to the range and power of his work. Katherine Hoerth and Casey Thayer show us two sides of Texas, followed by Joe Wilkins’ “Colic,” which captures the exhaustive sublime of parenting. Karen Skolfield’s “Sturm und Drang” is full of barbs and puns, whereas Susan Grimm and Jonathan H. Scott both contribute somber reflections that probe the bonds between grief and landscape. Finally, Keith Montesano’s “Watching Ghost at the Ritz-Carlton” and Betsy Brown’s “Santa Monica” juxtapose and jump-cut their way through the dangerous terrain of love while simultaneously reckoning with notions of place.

Our fiction section contains its own healthy shares of new writers and choice cuts. Marcus Pactor’s “Hoping To” brings us a short and haunting moment from a tragedy that keeps unfolding. Its brevity makes this glimpse into the internal abyss all the more poigninant; like ghosts ourselves, the reader can neither comfort, affect, nor give warning. ”Hoping To“ is succeeded by another story which runs on similar rails; “Waldemar,” by Corinne Smith, brings us fully into the mind and life of its titular character, daring us to see what's around the corner he (stubbornly or rightfully) refuses to acknowledge. We can almost reach out and touch Waldemar's struggle, but the inevitability of it all still twinges like a day-old sock in the gut. Max Gray's “Look Where You’re Going, Boy” starts out typically enough, with a student turning the tables on his mentor, but quickly proceeds into unconventional territory when events turn the tables on both of them. “Equinox Crashing,” by Billy Thorpe is tale of a stylish, crackling romance, in which both characters and circumstances belie the depths lurking just out of sight but only footfalls away from where the real action is. Rounding out our prose quintet with a strong finish is Tosha Rachelle Taylor’s “The Painter, She Smiles Like Sunbeams,” by Tosha Rachelle Taylor, within whose skillful prose we are led through the tale of a coupling which is in equal measure one of thirst and of resignation. In the author's own apt words, it's a “mildly grotesque” exploration of a romance that is destructive but not necessarily dysfunctional.” We couldn't have put it any better ourselves.

In addition to the exceptional work by these many new contributors, you may notice that we've spruced the place up a bit. We hope you relish the fiery hues of this new issue as well as the redesign of our home site, which has been a long-awaited labor of love to provide you a crisper, more enjoyable reading experience, regardless of your preferred browser or device. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce that starting with Conte 7.2, our forthcoming winter issue, we will migrate to an integrated submissions system and will no longer accept work via email. We hope this will provide greater ease and transparency in the submissions process, so look for more details on our submissions page by September 15th, when we will officially begin our next reading period. You can also receive updates on Facebook if you haven't found us there already.

We thank you for bearing with these growing pains. As we bring our sixth year of publication to a close, please know how honored we are here at Conte to have you grace our digital cookout. So clank your glass full of ice and claim what shade you can, dear reader, because this issue is a scorcher.

Adam, Robert, & Ashley