“Clearing the Brush” by Michael O’Neill

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There’s a burnpile in the neighbor’s backyard, and every week we gather around the fire and throw in our deepest secrets. The whole community arrives to decant their closets, rid themselves of their bedroom shoeboxes with false labels. We take a group approach to controlled exorcisms. No one gets hurt and everybody returns home safely. At night I see hushed whispers and scribbled letters ascending like stars, the voices trapped inside glowing with violence, rattling the night sky and keeping peace over my quiet little town.

Michael O’Neill is a fiction and poetry writer residing in Chicago. His work has appeared in Maudlin House, WhiskeyPaper, the Journal of Microliterature, Unbroken Journal and Great Lakes Review, among others.

twitter: @mt_oneill20

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