issue five

Issue 5, Autumn 2021

5 Heather Ballmer, Soo Yeon Chun, Betty J. Cotter, Christi Krug, Katherine Kubarski, Adam Graham, Laurie Guerin, Caitlin Matheis, John Rudoy, Todd Robinson, Michael Wesner, and Brian Yapko
Featuring our 2021 Honeybee Prize Winner for Stage & Screen Farewell Burn by Kara Davidson

The cherub watched from its spot on the lawn. A sprinkler coughed to life, draping it in mist. I imagined a child’s mitten reflected in its resin eye.

– What the Cherub Saw

You’re lucky, he says. To have three. Three kids he means, of course. Their fleshy thighs press against you, their sopping hair and wrinkled suits graze your arms. Know they worship you. Know the weight of their expectations. Heavy as a stream.

– Blinding

The dog and I return with the rescue van, which is parked close by on the road, and we pull it beneath the tree. I boost both boys up on top of the van. They’re not only lighter than me and easier on the roof, they’re also thrilled to be standing there.

– Into the Stratosphere

in that last school schooling
on the 10 o’clock news it was a magnet
high school where you just do not expect
that sort of thing like you might at a regular
school or a massage parlor in a strip mall
or at the mall so the big they call it The Galleria

– April is the Cruelest Month

twin streams of birdsong ripple
rows of wheat
teasing apart the meaning
from the music

– From the Stem

My mother tells me of men
measuring the land with their
teeth, mistaking the earth for
bread. Hunger will make every man
into resilience. Or at least, into everything
we weren’t meant to be.

– American Diorama

Yes, you’ve uncovered my diabolical scheme. I kidnapped Curious George in there so I could seduce you into taking me back. Curses! Foiled again! And I’d have gotten away with it if not for you pesky kids and your dog… Is that really what you think?

– Caged

One thing about the thing on the other side of composing is this: the mossy stone leads to the bird, and the bird gives way to the crunch and the chirp. The clearing leads, once again, to the woods. The thing we’ve found–precious and specific–keeps moving, slipping away, becoming something else.

– Here, Gone, Again

We each build up our grievances, like an osprey building its protective nest. Stick after stick. It’s easier to hate than love. Jeff tells me that he despises opera. I leave them an expensive bottle of wine to apologize. They never say thank you.

– Fences for Neighbours

A more common urge was the need to break things, an impulse to smash a vase of dried flowers, to drop a glass lamp, or to hurl dinner plates at the wall. I never acted on it, but the desire was strong and lingered.

– Everything in the Middle

The baby likes to roll on this carpet. I think it reminds her of grass. She ignores me when I tell her that it is haunted. Maybe when she is older, she will start to feel how scratchy the carpet really is. At least the cat understands–she is reluctant to come into this room.

– Inspection Checklist

Thank you to all who submitted to our 2021 contest and to our wonderful guest judge Michael Oatman! We are pleased to present the finalists and this years winner for this year’s Honeybee Literature Prize in Stage & Screen


  • The Farewell Burn by Kara Davidson 
  • Suburbanaut by Alexander Jones
  • Parallax by LN Lewis
  • Self Flagellating Lily by Claire Natale

Kara Davidson is an actor, playwright, and teaching artist currently pursuing her MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Previously, she has worked with Manual Cinema, The House Theatre of Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, ABLE Ensemble, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, and Flatwater Shakespeare, among others. She is a co-founder and director of a monthly virtual workshop called The Lab which aids in developing new works-in-progress by artists from all across the country (

from the archives:

“Famous Checkmates in Grabowski Family History” by KP Vogell – Issue III

I.  Kevin Grabowski vs. Food

Kevin Grabowski, age three, is toddling around his parents’ kitchen. A half-open cabinet reveals a large, crinkly paper bag filled with two pounds of white granulated heaven. He shoves it by the fistful into his small mouth only to taste not sugar, but salt, and vomits immediately. The vomit is, for some reason, bright orange.

Read more

“Go Get the Gun” by Jim Peterson – Issue II

I took off my reading glasses and put on my far-sighted glasses.  She came into better focus.  Yes, I could now see that she was trembling.  Her eyes were glassy with fear.  “But Martha,” I said, “it’s dangerous to run around with a loaded gun unless you really need it,” I said.  

Read more

“Extra Large for the Lord” by Tomas Baiza – Issue I

Joey, tragically White and clueless. Joey who’s in my English and P.E. classes, but thank God not Trigonometry or Health, well, homeboy yanks the half-burnt order ticket from under the sizzling pizza. He squints at it and twists up his face, pale fingers wrapped round the intercom mic. Beyond him, a packed dining room of Friday-night customers.

Read more

read all the archived good stuff here


We are currently open for submissions for our Winter issue. The deadline for this submission window is November 30, 2021.

The Good Life Review accepts previously unpublished work in fiction, nonfiction, flash, poetry, stage & screen, translations, and everything in between, and we are always looking for original art. We nominate for Best of the Net and the Pushcart. Check out our submission guidelines here or on Submittable.

Photo cred: Zac Bunch

The Good Life Review is a literary journal made with ♥ from Omaha, Nebraska. We are committed to exploring the overlooked and are taking active steps toward a more diverse and equitable publishing platform. About us

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