• J.E. Crum

    The Spring / Summer 2019 Issue!

    on Jun 15, 19 with No Comments

    The Spring / Summer 2019 Issue of South 85 Journal is now available online. Creative Work We are pleased to present work by the following authors and artists: • Artwork – Amanda Barbarito, William C. Crawford, J.E. Crum, Fabio Sassi, Edward Michael Supranowicz, and...

  • Converse College MFA 10-year anniversary

    Converse MFA’s 10th Anniversary + New South 85...

    on Jun 7, 19 with No Comments

    Students, alumni, faculty, administration, and friends of the Converse College Low-Residency MFA program gathered yesterday at Ciclops Cyderie and Brewery in Spartanburg, SC, to celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary. In honor of the occasion, Ciclops General...

  • HCWP: Hub City’s Literary Hub

    on Feb 14, 19 with No Comments

    Katie P. Sherman On the corner of King and W. Main Street, in a renovated Masonic Temple, you’ll find the home of The Hub City Writers’ Project (HWCP). The building — which houses a coffee shop, bakery, independent bookstore, and the Hub City Press offices — is...

  • Reading period

    We Can’t Wait to See Your Work!

    on Feb 7, 19 with No Comments

    It’s that time again! South 85 Journal is currently reading for our Spring / Summer 2019 issue, which will come out June 15, 2019.   We are seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. We are especially interested in work that conveys a sense of place,...

  • After A Deep Dive in Writing, Don’t Be...

    on Jan 1, 19 with No Comments

    Andrea Marcusa You’ve just done a deep dive into difficult material: the death of someone dear, a trauma from childhood, a failure that cuts deep. Your editor, professor, and writing colleagues — those carefully honed beta readers — were moved by your work. You were...

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  • Pineapple by Roni Rae Robbins

    Finally! The Fall / Winter 2018 Issue!

    on Dec 15, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    We know you’ve been waiting for it. The Fall / Winter 2018 issue of South 85 Journal is now available online!

    Flash Fiction Contest Winners

    In October, we announced the winners of the 2018 Julia Peterkin Award for Flash Fiction. Now, you can read the stories!

    Winner“What You Said” by Natalie Troy
    Runners Up (listed in alphabetical order by story title) – “Dump Columbus” by Charlie Watts, “Eric Clapton’s Girlfriend” by John Mattson, “Fiesta” by Kathleen Wheaton, and “Mark 12:31” by D. Nolan Jefferson

    Other Creative Work

    We are also excited to present work by the following contributors:

    Artwork – Michelle Brooks, Bette Ridgeway, Roni Rae Robbins, Ashleigh Rosanna, Shelley Sarna, Seigar, Maria Angela Feliz Cabrera Sumadsad, and Bill Wolak
    Fiction – Lisa Bubert, Kim Farleigh, Joshua Isard, Sean Murray, and Emily Townsend
    Non-Fiction – Gabriela Denise Frank, Lori Horvitz, Anna Kaye-Rogers, and A.J. Romriell
    Poetry – Charles Cantrell, Thomas Griffin, Anna Harris-Parker, Michael Jack O’Brien, Barry Peters, Abhijit Sarmah, and Kerry Trautman


    Need something to read over the Christmas break? Read our reviews for some ideas!

    The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson – fiction review by David Hartshorne
    Too Much and Not in the Mood: Essays by Durga Chew-Bose – non-fiction review by Maya Wood
    Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God by Tony Hoagland – poetry review by Chris Menezes

    Next Reading Period

    With this issue complete, our staff is going to take a well-deserved break. We will open our reading period again on February 1, and we hope you will consider submitting then.

    About Us

    South 85 Journal is published by the Converse College Low-Residency MFA program.  Thank you to our staff of volunteers who put countless hours into making this issue happen.

    We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

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  • The Passing Landscape by Ezra Koch

    The Passing Landscape

    on Dec 6, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Ezra Koch

    “I don’t want a drink,” Camille repeated.

    “Suit yourself,” Ernest said, and walked the short distance from the couch to the fridge shakily, his high bony hips jimmying side-to-side.

    Camille felt nauseous. She didn’t ordinarily get motion sickness, but then, this wasn’t exactly ordinary.

    “Can’t believe they let us,” Ernest said, looking out the window, a can of beer sweating in his hand.  Telephone poles ticked past. “Ain’t it something?”

    Her husband’s eyes flashed with the passing landscape. There was something so vulnerable, yet so hopeful, about his face when they moved, that she found herself falling in love with him all over again, against her better judgment.

    “Yeah, babe.  It sure is.”

    They’d bought the mobile home five years back when a big deal had worked out.  Since then Ern’d stopped selling, so he said, but not before getting half his teeth knocked out when a deal went sour.  Still, she was glad they’d had the money—the freedom the mobile home had given them had proved necessary. Sure, it was a production—loading the house on the back of a tractor-trailer, the wide-load convoy, taping things up, tying things down—but once you got where you were going there was no unpacking. Everything was right where it always was. They’d moved three times since buying the home, but this was the first time Ernest had been able to convince the movers to let them stay in the house during the drive.

    Camille came to stand next to Ernest and draped her arms around him.

    “Do you think we’ll like, what is it… Manorville?”

    “Gotta be better than Brookhaven.”

    Camille bit her tongue.  A few months ago he’d said Brookhaven would have to be better than Knox. They hadn’t been run out of town or anything, but she doubted anyone was sorry to see them go. Ernest had lost his job—showed up late and hung-over one too many times—and had already gained too bad a reputation to find another. At least this time it hadn’t been her fault. The time before it had, she admitted, yes, it had, but she didn’t like to think about that, her fear and her shame, what Ernest had done to that poor boy. They’d recovered. It wasn’t as if he’d never cheated, after all. They’d forgiven each other and moved a hundred miles south.

    Outside, a barbed wire fence blurred before a range of rolling green hills. Black heifers appeared here and there like brail messages written in the landscape.  They just hadn’t hit their stride yet. She’d let herself forget how much she loved this side of him—so brave and optimistic, all of his best qualities shining through. His last job had been below him. All his jobs had. She held the name on her tongue: Manorville. Things would be different there. They went around a turn and the house leaned and she gripped Ernest’s arm and his beer fell to the floor.

    “Dammit, Cam,” Ernest said, wobbling back to the fridge.  A goat, she thought with amusement, watching his bony strut, that’s what he looks like, a damn billy goat. The house rocked back and forth, settling. Camille grabbed paper towels and wiped up the spilled beer, on her hands and knees. They hit a bump and the whole floor bucked and her stomach lurched.

    “I’m gonna be sick,” she said, and rose shakily, steadying herself against the wall as she walked to the bathroom.

    “Shoulda had a drink,” Ern said.

    She sat on the on the bathroom floor, resting her head against the cool porcelain, feeling ridiculous. Relief wouldn’t come. If she could just throw up, get it all out, she knew she’d feel better. She moaned and stretched flat on her back.  She wished they would get there. How long did the movers, laughing at them, say the trip would take? A fresh start. She couldn’t wait to get to Manorville.

    Lying on her back, staring at the off-white ceiling, she realized the mold was back. Little black spots spread from the corners, gathering in places unseen. She’d been battling that mold since they bought the house.

    “You almost done?” Ernest yelled, banging on the door.

    Camille didn’t move, didn’t make a sound.  She couldn’t believe the mold was back. She’d tried everything she could think of short of ripping the ceiling apart: bleach, sprays, airing-out the bathroom for days at a time.

    “Okay in there?”

    She could not goddamn believe that fucking mold was back.

    “Alright then,” Ernest said.  She heard his footsteps retreat and suddenly began to feel better.  As for the mold—she’d find a way to get rid of it. It was just mold, after all.  She obviously wasn’t going to toss her cookies; she should really let him use the toilet.  She hauled herself up.

    “It’s all yours,” she said, stepping out of the bathroom.  “Ern?”

    She staggered into the living room and saw her husband illuminated in the open doorway, bony hips thrust forward, pissing into the ever-changing landscape.


    Ezra KochEzra Koch recently relocated to Portland, Maine, with his wife, daughter, and son, after living as a guitar maker in Santa Cruz, California for a decade. He has an MFA from the University of San Francisco and has been published as a poet and journalist. His debut novel, The World Belongs to the Askers, is being represented by Trident Media Group.

    Featured Image Credit: Photo by Lawton Cook on Unsplash

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  • The Messiah of Coney Island

    The Messiah of Coney Island

    on Nov 29, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    Darlene Cah

    Mami is not religious. Fact is, I never even heard her say the word “God” not followed by “damn.” So when she jumps out of her chair praising Jesus, tears rolling down her face, I nearly spill my beer down my blouse. There she is on her knees, praying like a Pentecostal, arms in the air, swaying, the whole deal.

    Then I see it. The face of Jesus on the window shade. Our very own Shroud of Turin.

    I start to pull down the shade to get a closer look, but Mami lunges forward on her knees, all two hundred pounds of her, and grabs my sweater, wailing half in Spanish, half in English, saying only the pure of heart can touch Jesus.

    “Well, then, José the maintenance man must be a saint,” I say, “He fixed that shade last week.”

    Mami pounds her chest, and begs God to forgive me.

    “Sarita, Jesus loves you.”

    Yeah. Right. If he loved me, Tonio would still be alive. We’d still be living above the pizzeria on the avenue. I would be a medical assistant, working in a doctor’s office, not cleaning up piss and spit and who knows what in a cheap motel downtown.

    I put my arm around Mami, and to my surprise, she doesn’t shove me away.

    “Mami, this has to be an optical illusion. A shadow. Dirt.”

    Mami’s eyes never leave the window. I follow her gaze and he’s still there: the hair, the beard, the mournful eyes, the crown of thorns, in shades of gray to black on the shade with its years of nicotine and cooking grease stains. I half-expect to see his mouth start moving like some Saturday morning cartoon.

    I go to the kitchen, and call my friend Lucrecia in 7D. She works for a chiropractor in Williamsburg. She’d know what to do.

    “Lu, you gotta get down here. Jesus is in my window.”

    I explain that Mommy Dearest has turned into Mother Theresa.

    I pour my beer down the drain, and look out the kitchen window.

    Pleasant View Houses. Yeah, right. The pastoral scene I see is a trashed-up, dirt lot that used to be a lawn, and beyond it, another bleak high-rise building, tattooed guys huddled in puffed-up jackets under the yellow light by the bench, passing around a joint, waiting to make a sale. It was under that light Tonio and I first kissed.

    I jump when there’s pounding at my door. Lu barges in, followed by Chubby, her husband, and half the damn building.

    Amelia Flores from 6E, sick with breast cancer; Mr. Wilson from 2D, the stink of whisky wafting off him; Ruby Daniels from 1G, whose son, Ty was killed in Afghanistan; Marta and her near-blind mother from 5D. Leesha from 4H sashays in, drenched in perfume, praising the Lord, swinging a bottle of wine.

    They keep coming: Kia, the teenager from 3F, whose mother OD’d last year; Wayne, the high school basketball star; Buzz, one of the X-Boyz; Vinny and Joe from the candy store; Sasha from next door, rapping a prayer. Pilgrims, every one, kneeling before the shade, seeking hope, I imagined, a miracle, some kind of reassurance there’s more to life than this. The last place my neighbors are gonna find hope is in apartment 2B at Pleasant View Houses in Coney Island.

    I watch Mami greet everyone, shaking their hands, praying and crying with them. Most of these people avoid her. Many are victims of her tirades.

    I look at the shade and I dare Jesus to give me a sign.

    Maybe it was a breeze from the open window.

    Maybe someone jostled the lamp on the table.

    Maybe I’m, looking for a miracle, too. But I swear I see Jesus glow, golden, warm, inviting.


    Darlene CanDarlene Cah used to improvise on stage in New York. Now she improvises with words in North Carolina. Her stories have appeared in various journals including Smokelong QuarterlyReferential MagazineWilderness House Literary Review, and Red Earth Review. Among her awards is the 2018 Hub City/Emrys Writing Prize. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte.

    Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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  • The Lake by M E Fuller

    The Lake

    on Nov 8, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    M E Fuller

    Surface fog radiates from the cold whisper of icy water, calm beneath a layer of hovering warm air. A loon cries its lonesome call that belies the truth. There is a nest for the pair in that cove, not far from my porch-side perch. 

    I watch for the boat to reappear. I know he will not survive. But I watch, and I wait, all day. My legs stretch to reach the porch rail. With ankles crossed in colorful Nordic woolen socks, the chill is kept at bay. I am distracted by my coffee mug, out of reach, ice crystals forming in the bottom. I stole that mug from the local diner last week. I liked it. I took it. They billed me. 

    He won’t be back. I smile, close my eyes heavy from watching the horizon—an unbroken grey slate. I can hear his insults and I recoil against the image of his mocking sneer. 

    She’s lovely. She’s sexy. She’s compliant. His words burn.

    I feel content, well-satisfied, knowing he’ll never mock me again. His body will languish in the cold waters. Fish will sidle into his clothing to nibble on this fresh feast. He will rot with time and water wear. 

    I wish I’d had the courage to murder him in public, but I am not brave. She will be blamed. I will be consoled. 

    Life is good.


    ME-FullerM E Fuller has always imagined other worlds of thoughts and ways of being. Her writing, drawings, and paintings reflect these worlds of place and interaction. She has published flash fiction stories Crazy Dog, Winter 2016, “Shark Reef, A Literary Magazine,” and Abel March, in “Talking Stick 26, A Minnesota Literary Journal,” September 2017. Her short essay The Last Roll Call, appears in PHOTOWRITE 2018, collaborations between photographers and writers. 

    Featured Image Credit: Photo by Zoe Deal on Unsplash

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  • Flash Fiction Contest Winners

    Announcing the Winners of Our Flash Fiction Contest

    on Oct 18, 18 in Blog, Featured Blog Post by with No Comments

    During the summer, South 85 Journal relaunched Converse College’s Julia Peterkin Awards with a flash fiction contest, and we are excited to announce the results.

    Julia Peterkin Award for Flash Fiction

    “What You Said” by Natalie Troy

    Natalie TroyNatalie Troy lives near a beautiful lake in the wilds of northern New Jersey where she recently completed her first novel. Her short fiction appears or is forthcoming in Firewords Magazine and Montana Mouthful. Connect with her on Twitter @_natalietroy.

    Runners Up
    (Listed by Title in Alphabetical Order)

    “Dump Columbus” by Charlie Watts

    Charlie WattsCharlie Watts earned an MFA from Brown University in 1992. After a long detour through communications consulting, Charlie returned to writing in 2013 and has published in journals including Carve, Narrative, Storm Cellar, and Sequestrum. His story, “Arrangements,” won the 2015 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. He and his wife, a chaplain, have three grown children and live in Freedom, New Hampshire.

    “Eric Clapton’s Girlfriend” by John Mattson

    John MattsonJohn Mattson is a writer, screenwriter, songwriter, and teacher. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son. His bio is incomplete.

    “Fiesta” by Kathleen Wheaton

    Kathleen WheatonKathleen Wheaton lived and worked as a journalist in Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Her fiction has appeared in many journals; her collection, Aliens and Other Stories, won the Washington Writers Publishing House Fiction Prize. She is at work on a novel about the dictatorship in Argentina.

    “Mark 12:31” by D. Nolan Jefferson

    D Nolan JeffersonD. Nolan Jefferson is a librarian and  writer based in Washington, DC. A California native, he has earned an MFA in Film from Art Center College of Design and a MLIS from Louisiana State University. Pursuing an MFA in fiction at American University, he won the 2017 AWP Intro Journals Project Award, has been published in Tahoma Literary Review and Red Savina Review and enjoys tacos, records, and fellow introverts.

    Get excited about reading these amazing stories in our Fall / Winter issue, which we will release December 15, 2018. Also, because we received so many awesome stories in our contest, we will publish a few other entries in our blog before the release of our issue. We look forward to sharing this work with you!

    In the meantime, you can continue to submit longer fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and art for our upcoming issue through November 1 at https://south85.submittable.com/submit.

    Thank you for your continued readership and support!

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