Month: June 2016

Featured: Sorrows

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios


Who would believe they could swim
in warm waters with us

brushing against our legs?
Who would believe

that they are so winged and fierce,

to peck at our bones?
They crack us open to the light

to burn away fat satisfaction.
They are the water-wings,

the darning needles, the measuring stick,
the constant tick of the clock at midnight.

They are the broken dolls, the extinguished candles.
the suitcase packed,

the train dragging its long syllable over the hill.

They live in our palms and behind our knees,
at the bottom of our prayers.

They sing with us.
They bless us. They lean
their pitchforks against the wall.


07835-xmed-ROW-2012 copyElizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios, professor emerita from American University, was recently featured in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 challenge. She has been published in many publications including Clementine, Cumberland River Review, The Feminine Collective, The Kentucky Review, and Edison Literary Review. Her chapbook Special Delivery, Yellow Chair Press prize winner will be published this spring.

Featured: Newlyweds, First Night

W. Vandoren Wheeler

Read the poem below:

My first time
on a motorcycle,
just after I found
the heft and swoop

of its balance, a wasp
struck, clung to,
then crawled inside
my sunglasses.

As I wobbled the machine
onto the narrow
shoulder, the insect straddled

my left eyeball. Its legs inter-
laced with my lashes.

I can still see, but
every other thin thing
looks half wasp.

My new wife, mid-sentence,
walked out—our first night
apart. I can’t sleep.

I tangle our sheets imagining
her swerving, bleary-eyed,
through our neighborhood,
through a guardrail…

Insect feet prick
my eyelids as the lights
of an ambulance I imagine
carrying her to the quiet

hospital bed I’ll wait
beside until she wakes.

I hate that
I want her
even sort of
hurt, but

it cuts away the stained
clothes she agonizes over.

Our bodies know each other.

Since my lips re-
member her skin,
I can imagine it torn…

Let’s admire these carefully
arranged flowers together!

I am sick in so many ways.

I ask our imaginary
nurse for extra gauze,
and I bind my eyes.


author photo VanW. Vandoren Wheeler has been published in H_ngM_n, Lunch Ticket, Clackamas Literary Review, Forklift, DMQ Review, and Swink. His manuscript The Accidentalist won the Dorothy Brunsman Prize and was published by Bear Star Press in late 2012. He has an English/Spanish dual BA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. He currently teaches in Portland, Oregon.

From Issue 10: Self-Portrait


Noor Dhingra

I spend my days sketching hands and
Quaint French cafes, and scribbling on
Watercolour paper,
I spend my nights between pages of
Old sketchbooks and diaries, and
Doodling my way to sleep.

But last night when you asked me to
Draw myself, and put my being onto paper,
It troubled my fire, and turned it static,
And left me deep in thought.

I can draw the stars in the night sky, the
Dandelions and butterflies, and
The smiles on strangers’ faces;

I can create
So long as I get to be the artist,
But never,

The art.


Noor Dhingra is a 17-year old high school student from New Delhi, India. She has a passion for writing and reading – and literature in general excites her. When she isn’t contemplating life and existence, you can find her walking her dog, traveling, or painting a canvas.

Letter from the Editors, Issue 10, Summer 2016

tcissue_200x285Dear Readers,


If we had to pick a watch-word for this issue, we’d select EXPOSURE. A young artist is ambivalent about becoming the subject of her art; boys find themselves exposed to the leery eye of a stepmother at a swimming pool; girls and boys alike put on bathing suits, exchanging their staid, ordinary lives for the lives of beach dwellers. Our talented writers are mixing it up in this issue, using mixed media such as the incorporation of photographs, and at the same time they’re peeling back the layers from their characters and themselves. We couldn’t be more excited for this very summery, very bare-it-all issue.

As for Two Cities, we’ve got our fingers in many pies these days. Our audience for the TWO CITIES REVIEW PODCAST continues to grow; check us out on iTunes for our book reviews, insights into the editorial process, and thoughts on the literary life. And please leave us a review and let us know what you think!

We’re also expanding our readership by opening all pieces of the current issue to be read online. Now you just have to visit our current issue page to access all the great poems, essays, and stories of the issue. To access back issues, you can subscribe.

Finally, we’re opening submissions this summer; they are free all summer long! Send us your best work, and follow us on Twitter @twocitiesreview to hear exclusive info about our upcoming issues. We’re especially interested in pieces with the theme of DYSTOPIA for our special fall issue.

Enjoy this sweaty, sun-soaked, and thoroughly over-exposed issue, readers.

Happy reading!

Blair Hurley & Olivia Tandon

Submissions are Free and Open for the Summer

We’re happy to report that we are opening our magazine for free submissions for the summer! We are particularly looking for a few more pieces to fill our special themed fall issue, with the theme of DYSTOPIA. Send us your dark visions of the future, whether in the form of poetry, nonfiction, or fiction.

Have you been thinking about sending us work? Now that pesky little $3 submission fee is temporarily waived, so don’t hesitate to send us your best work. Of course, if you’d like to support our growing magazine, we’d still greatly appreciate the $3 if you can spare it.

Writing on other topics? We’re reading for future unthemed issues as well. If it’s good, we want to read it.

Submit now!

Featured: Why Sampson Loved Delilah

Blake Lynch


Why did she promise to
sit in my hospital room
until I fell asleep
and run her hand
across my head
to feel where
the hair was gone
when she was only
going to leave early
and drive home
by the Allegheny
along row houses
where people lived
in things called families
and were never hurt
or at least not for very long?

Maybe because I would
only know she left early
when I woke up alone
the next morning
which was more than I wanted
listening to my blood
singing into a machine
which sat by a windowsill
with purple flowers,
a color she loved.


10429244_10206053852569616_1564983186032164840_nBlake Lynch is a young lawyer and cancer survivor whose poems have appeared in Turk’s Head ReviewLines + Stars Journal, POPLORISH, Commonline Journal, The Foundling Review, The Brooklyner, Chelsea, King Log, 2River, The Stray Branch, The Oakbend Review, Stone Highway Review, The Potomac, Zygote in My Coffee, Forge, 491 Magazine, Pif Magazine,and Shampoo, among others. His plays have been performed at Tisch School of the Arts in New York City and The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, England.