Recently by Brian Birnbaum:

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There’s nothing to indicate that this evening’s 20-minute amble to the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum will end differently. We take to the block like another of our twilight strolls. Down 150th, greeting neighbors and their dogs. Up Broadway, passing the flower shop, Taqueria San Pedro, a bodega that smells inexorably of frying bacon. Along 153rd, the cemetery to our left walled off by gothic concrete and iron-slat gates. And back down Amsterdam, the litter of Styrofoam, plastic bags, empties, trees clotted by discarded wrappers and shit, except for the church by 152nd whose constituents are invariably kind and welcoming and who make a concerted effort to maintain their area.

Rosetta does quick piss-upons, mawkish marks her spot, seeming almost sad or ashamed to be asserting her presence. She sniffs at noisome interests. She raises her hackles at unassuming brothers and sisters.

It could’ve been anything, really. It could’ve been a cat in the road. It could’ve been miscommunicated direction. It could’ve been my fault. It could’ve been my finest hour. More… “The Canon of Guilt”

Brian Birnbaum grew up just outside Baltimore. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, his work has been published or is forthcoming in The Collagist, Atticus Review, 3AM Magazine, and more. Brian is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) working in development for the family communications access business. He lives in Harlem with MK Rainey and their dog.

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As a writer, I’m only anything if observant. And yet I have frightening blind spots. Despite the low square footage of my Harlem apartment, too often I can’t find things in it. Clothes, shoes, the remote. Even the can opener, which has only one place of keeping, the utensils drawer, which I search through and swear doesn’t contain the utensil it inevitably must. On the other hand, things I can find easily — and know I can find easily — I waste my time finding (my wallet, keys, and phone), a vestige of my childhood compulsions.

Such as knowing the location of my security animals. As a child I had a stuffed Tigger which I brought on sleepovers and errands with my mother. Around the third grade I added a rhinoceros named Rhino.

The night I couldn’t find Rhino, we were shacked up in a transitional apartment; we were moving about an hour away from where I had great friends and awesome sports teams and a sense of home. I wasn’t inconsolable, but unconsciously desperate. Searching not my room, but some proxy box-with-bed, I felt poles of sick hope and futility pulling from each end of me, with the magnetic force of an ultimatum I hadn’t agreed to. Too young to question the imperative of Rhino’s presence, my dread that he was still missing bemused me. Childhood is rife with navigating conflicting feelings. Most of the time, that’s when you called for Mom. More… “A Year in Psychoanalysis”

Brian Birnbaum grew up just outside Baltimore. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, his work has been published or is forthcoming in The Collagist, Atticus Review, 3AM Magazine, and more. Brian is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) working in development for the family communications access business. He lives in Harlem with MK Rainey and their dog.

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