All posts by Joseph P. O'Brien

About Joseph P. O'Brien

Based on a true story, and numerous big fat lies.

Our Nominations for The Best Small Fictions 2018 Are…


Small Worlds – Wassily Kandinsky, 1922

The Best Small Fictions honors fiction of 6 to 1,000 words published in a calendar year. As we are eligible to nominate up to 5 pieces for inclusion in their 2018 anthology, we have selected:

“Picnic” by A. E. Weisgerber (560 words), from our Spring 2017 issue.

“Mission Concept” by Peter H.Z. Hsu (716 words), from our Summer 2017 issue.

“Left Behind” by Kaj Tanaka (512 words), from our Summer 2017 issue.

“Drought” by Kim Coleman Foote (390 words), from our Fall 2017 issue.

and “X-Ray” by Rosie Adams (474 words), from our Winter 2018 issue.

Best of luck to all our nominees, and thanks as ever for contributing your extraordinary small fictions to our weird little zine!


FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #19, In Pictures

A towering bonfire of gratitude to everyone who helped make our 19th reading such a toasty & crackling evening: Kwame, Valerie, William, Monica, and Gabriela for performing your flappy lits; Alibi Jones for your scintillating singing & photography; Pacific Standard for the ever-gracious hospitality; and all you lovely humans who came out on a Winter’s night to witness it all.  Let’s do this again on February 21 for our 20th (!) Reading / Year Four Flight Party…

photos by Alibi Jones

 Kwame Opoku-Duku reads some of his Ecclesiastes-inspired poetry

Valerie Hsiung shares some powerful excerpts from in her own words

William Lessard performs some of his brilliantly surreal “Facebook” poems
Continue reading FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #19, In Pictures

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #19 / Issue 16 Flight Party

Join us at Brooklyn’s Pacific Standard on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 as we axe through the frozen seas of our souls & celebrate the flight of our Winter 2018 issue with our 19th reading!


Admission is FREE, and you can buy copies of FLAPPERHOUSE #16 for the special reading price of $5US~

For the Facebook event page, click here.

Our Most-Viewed Pieces of 2017 Were…

Eyes – Nuri Iyem, 1979

Before we set our sights completely on 2018, let’s look at the pieces from 2017 that attracted the most eyeballs to our site…

10. “When I Die Someone Just Fuck My Body Please,” Ian Kappos’ punker-than-hell poem from our Summer 2017 issue.

9. “Picnic” A. E. Weisgerber’s potent & evocative flash fiction which served as the opening piece of our killer & cinematic Spring 2017 issue.

8. “Drought,” Kim Coleman Foote’s eerily surreal & fable-like flash prose which kicked off our Fall 2017 issue.

7. “Summer Water,” one of two witty & intoxicating poems by Sarah Bridgins in our Summer 2017 issue.

6. “Mission Concept,” Pete H.Z. Hsu’s trippy & unearthly (and Best of the Net-nominated) flash fiction that launched our Summer 2017 issue.

5. “Caulking the Wagon,” Devin Kelly’s poetic meditation on suffering & classic computer games, from our Summer 2017 issue.

4. “Love Song of a Femme Fatale on Scholarship,” Maria Pinto’s frisky & infatuating flash fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

3. “Torture Game”, Ryan Bradford’s fiendish short fiction about a dark night at the drive-in, from our Spring 2017 issue.

2. “Left Behind,” Kaj Tanaka’s brief yet profoundly haunting flash fiction, and the grand finale of our Summer 2017 issue.

1. “The Cake,” Jonathan Wlodarski’s deliciously disturbing (and Pushcart Prize-nominated) short fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

“I Ask the Netherworld if Lizzie Borden Did It & This is What it Says” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

Our Winter 2018 issue, FLAPPERHOUSE #16, is a magically experimental swarm of strange frequencies, like Kailey Tedesco‘s poem “I Ask the Netherworld if Lizzie Borden Did It & This is What it Says.” If your interest is sufficiently piqued, you may order a digital (PDF) copy of FLAPPERHOUSE #16 for $3US through PayPal & see it fly into your emailbox  within minutes (or possibly hours, if we’re temporarily away from our devices). Print copies are also available for $6US via Amazon.

{ X }



II. Tarot: (Eight of Wands):

This can refer to swiftly
unfolding events whether
or intentional ( Just see
those staffs through the kitchen sink
or a little bit of
coffee. Things are not okay,
but it’s not too much
for you to eat.

III. iOS X Predictive:

Lizzie Borden hurt my face
and now I feel better.

I think it’s a bad thing
but that’s what happened last night

so I’m going to call her tomorrow.

Face the way of your life
and then
I’ll be there.

{ X }

KAILEY TEDESCO‘s debut collection of poetry, She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing) will be available this winter. She is the editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. She also performs with the Poetry Brothel. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Prelude, Phoebe, OCCULUMYes, Poetry, and more. For more information, please visit 

Print & Digital (PDF) Copies of FLAPPERHOUSE #16 Now Available

Radio waves, headless mules, forbidden books, lost cities, dark moon missions, lousy philosophers, Sycorax, Selena, Lizzie Borden: FLAPPERHOUSE #16

DECEMBER 21, 2017
Digital (PDF) copies now available for $3US via PayPal

PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately we are currently unable to email PDFs immediately upon order. Delivery of your PDF may take anywhere from several seconds to several hours, but rest assured, we will complete your purchase as soon as humanly possible.

We apologize profusely for any inconvenience or delayed gratification.

Print copies available for $6US via Amazon 


“X-Ray” – Rosie Adams
“Disclaimer” – Hussain Ahmed
“Betula nigra” – Avee Chaudhuri
“Sycorax Martinez is a witch from Corpus Christi, Texas” – Luis Galindo
“Polis” – Gary W. Hartley
four excerpts from in her own words – Valerie Hsiung
“The Louse” – Ian Kappos
“The Dead/s of My DNA” – Nooks Krannie
“Facebook – 4/3/17,” “Facebook – 4/12/17,” “Facebook – 4/15/17,” “Facebook – 4/20/17,” and “Facebook – 8/21/17”  William Lessard
“moon-cleansed,” “louis, carol: love story,” and “star kin” – Monica Lewis
“after a beating like that/ any other fighter would’ve chosen to disappear”
and “the old head verses (ecclesiastes) 21-25” by Kwame Opoku-Duku
“The Headless Mule” – H. Pueyo
“Apollo 10: The Dark Side Tapes,” “Blame it on the moon,”
and “The Ammi Wright House, Circa 1888” – E.B. Schnepp
“The Forbidden Book of Uziah Greiss” – Abhishek Sengupta
“I Ask the Netherworld if Lizzie Borden Did It & This is What it Says” – Kailey Tedesco

“Ecotone” – Fiction by Chelsea Laine Wells

A Bear in a Moon Night – Niko Pirosmani, 1913

The grand finale of our Fall 2017 issue is “Ecotone,” Chelsea Laine Wells’ haunting & heartbreaking story of a young woman who feels “the edge of what she wants fitted close and suffocating against the edge of what she has.”

{ X }

SHE THROWS UP IN THE MOTEL BATHROOM with the light off so the crack in the toilet and the constellation of toothpaste spit on the mirror are hidden. Then she wafts out all slow languid like women in the movies stricken with love or fever, and drapes her body over the bed. Breathes. Flutter of the eyelids. Imagine what it looks like. Looks glamorous. Beleaguered by life. Like the bathroom, she is better with less light. Everything here is better with less light. The room is small and dirty but the bad details fade to nothing in the yellow bedside lamp glow.

She loves to throw up. The ritual of it, the euphoria of emptying, like turning back time. Redemption. You can change yourself and become new, if you reach far enough into yourself, turn inside out. After there is the fever of ache that comes with deprivation and physical strain and that too is a relief. Something to sink into and grow still inside of, sainted by sacrifice. Holy holy. Stomach flat under the fat and mouth sour. She lies moored in the forever inescapable horror of her body, pacified for now, stewing in heavy heartbeat bodyheat. She thinks of the throwing up and the reverse communion of it and then the cartoonish juvenile words boys have for it. Calling the dinosaurs on the big white phone. What does this mean? Worshipping at the porcelain God. She prefers that, but they say it with a backwards twist of sarcasm that denigrates the ritual. The toilet is not really godlike. Worship implies profanity. Everything pure must touch edges with impurity and in that lose meaning and significance.

Ecotone. This is the term for the point of contact between the natural world and the manmade one. She turns this word like a warmed coin in her fingers. Like the border between what is sacred and what is embarrassing and corrupted. Like the border between the holiness of purging and the ugly reality of vomit in a toilet. Even her internal use of the word ecotone embodies this idea – knowing this beautiful word, but in an unfortunate way as opposed to from a smart book she’d never read or a sophisticated conversation she’d never had. She knows it from a television show she watched at a birthday party she wasn’t really invited to, but overheard about, and then was reluctantly included in, and she went knowing she wasn’t wanted there but somehow her self-awareness did not extend to a behavior that prevented social pain. This was another ecotone. Understanding herself and her frailties with the separateness of a child you cared for and looked down on, but not possessing the ability to change anything.

Being here is beautiful. She is the one he chose to come with him, in spite of all her sickness and flaws, her body that stubbornly persists in a gelatinous layer of fat no matter how much she purges. This body, big and squared off, round broad shoulders, thick jaw. She isn’t pretty. But he looks past it and he touches her like she is small and sometimes she feels it, the smallness that might exist within her if she was able to carve herself physically away as strategically as meat for consumption. This is an ecotone of self, the way he makes her feel with his hands and mouth and body, rubbing itself sore against her offensive corporeal reality. His worship, the sacredness. Her body, the vomit in the toilet. Pure against impure.

Right now he is out getting something, which is how she was able to throw up. He would be mad, she thinks instinctively, for her to waste food. They don’t have much. They ran so fast and immediate. No time to think. Not that she would have arrived at any other conclusion, had she been given time to think, had the question been asked of her. There was nothing to stay for.

Her eyes wander up from the bleached light of old television shows to the painting above. It is a forest, a bear, dark colors and blunt forms. Unbeautiful, inelegant. A rough ugly version of something meant by design to be lovely. Girls are meant to be lovely, and loved. Nature is meant to be lovely. She, like this painting, is a crude representation. She wonders about the artist, if he thought the painting was good, if it looked different in his mind than it did on the canvas, from the outside. Ecotone: the border where your biased perception and understanding met with unforgiving reality. The border where what you wanted met with what was. Continue reading “Ecotone” – Fiction by Chelsea Laine Wells