Empty Sink Publishing

Good Stories. Period.

October 2017 — “Cannonball,” by Matt McDonald

Clowns. Much like the platypus, they are a wonder of nature that can simultaneously entertain and horrify. And while clowns feature prominently in “Cannonball,” author Matt McDonald instead relies on the innocent malevolence of children to do the dirty work in his story. An interesting take on the human cycle of acquisition and abandonment, “Cannonball” will make you laugh until you realize just how far things are about to go, and by the time you’ve gotten that far, it’s too late to do anything about it, so you might as well enjoy the ride.

“Cannonball” is the final story in this iteration of Empty Sink Publishing. We are going on indefinite hiatus at this time. Adam and I are both honored to have had the opportunity to publish such incredible authors and artists over the past four years. Our contributors and their work are constant proof that the art of storytelling is not dead; it’s very much alive, has claws, and is terribly hungry.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep telling the stories people want to hear, and especially the ones they don’t.

–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 10/1/2017

September 2017 — “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” by Monica Behr

One of the things I love about the written word is that, when well crafted, it is the closest we can come with current technology to actually getting inside someone else’s head and feeling what they’re feeling. Well-crafted stories do that to you—they pull you in and make you swap places with the protagonist. You can smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel the way they feel.

Author M. Behr.

It’s always exciting to find literature that does this, which is why we are thrilled to present M. Behr‘s “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” as our story for September 2017. Without pretext or preparation, Behr plunks the reader directly into the middle of the action, and we immediately feel the weight of the situation in which the protagonist finds herself. This story has its own gravity, and we’re quickly pulled into its orbit to breathlessly circle and watch the narrative unfold until we’re ultimately released by the final words.

Behr’s “My First Trip to the Mental Hospital” is a heavy ride into the sideways world of mental health. But Behr doesn’t wallow in that. Instead, Behr uses this situation to explore the emotions related to the situation itself, and in doing so, allows the reader a direct glimpse into the protagonist’s reality and her soul.

Join us next month for one more story before Empty Sink goes on indefinite hiatus. You won’t want to miss this one—think Chuck Palahniuk meets Ringling Bros.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor—9/1/2017

August 2017 — “Opportunity Knocks,” by Rachael Levitt

The first time I read this month’s story, I couldn’t help but smile throughout. Our narrator, Mrs. Patricia Hydell, is on the hunt for a pregnancy test for her daughter, and we watch as she navigates the unfamiliar aisles of a Hispanic farmacia in an attempt to avoid being seen by someone she knows. Patricia’s fish-out-of-water antics juxtapose the serious nature of her mission, and her humorous struggle to maintain composure is one of the most endearing parts of the tale.

But upon a second read, deeper themes and questions emerge. What does it mean to be a mother? A wife? What’s the difference between the love for a daughter and the love for your husband? What kind of world is this where something so precious to one can be such a burden for the other? Author Rachael Levitt uses a light touch to explore these heavy topics, giving them the same consideration that Patricia might give to a pot luck dinner offering.

Opportunity Knocks” exposes a character with deep internal conflicts and sets her loose in a world completely outside of her control. While the results are occasionally light-hearted, the overall considerations will have you speculating the true nature of Patricia’s conflict for days.

Happy reading,

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor—8/1/2017

July 2017 — “The Sound of Trees” by Spencer K. M. Brown

Last month, we took you on a sweltering summer camping trip with “The Weebies.”

This month, we’re cooling things down with some frostier scenery.

In Spencer K. M. Brown‘s “The Sound of Trees,” our narrator, Ellis, toils in the cold of winter to take care of his ailing parents as he deals with his own internal struggles.

Having lost both his child and his wife (albeit in different ways) Ellis faces a somewhat hopeless world, which begs the question: what compels him to continue forward?

Find out in this month’s story, “The Sound of Trees,” by Spencer K. M. Brown.

Oh, and before you read “The Sound of Trees,” ask yourself these questions: if I walked out on the porch this morning and found a dead bird, would I bury it, or throw it in the garbage, and why? The answers may help you more completely understand both yourself and our narrator.

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 7/1/2017

June 2017 — “The Weebies,” by Samuel Cole

Ah, summer. It’s that glorious time of year when the kiddos are out of school and everyone lives in the water. All over the country, campsites are filled with families spending their days splashing in the river and their nights gathered around the campfire. But as we see in this month’s story, “The Weebies” by Samuel Cole, such family reunions sometimes dredge up the past, and confronting that past can be a harrowing experience. So it is for Walker Weebie, who reunites with his siblings and their children for a fourth of July camping trip. Walker journeys through the weekend like a modern-day Odysseus, and the challenges he faces grow more grueling as the trip nears its end.

So put on your sunscreen, pull up a lawn chair, and grab a Miller Lite from the red cooler next to the tent. It’s time to go camping with “The Weebies.”

–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, Empty Sink Publishing

May 2017 — “Rites of Passage,” by Victoria Barycz

Welcome back to Empty Sink Publishing.

This month, we bring you a harrowing piece of creative non-fiction by writer Victoria Barycz, who trains her eye on the heartbreaking topic of abuse and domestic violence. This is a short piece–less than 700 words–but it packs so much into those words that you’ll continue to ponder it for days to come. Raw, gritty, and to the point, we couldn’t be more pleased to publish, “Rites of Passage.”

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, EmptySinkPublishing.com

Welcome to the new Empty Sink Publishing!

For those of you who have followed us in the past, thank you for sticking around through our hiatus. We hope you enjoy our new focus on short fiction and creative non-fiction.

For those of you who are joining for the first time, let me catch you up. Empty Sink Publishing began life as an online literary and arts magazine in November 2013. Over three years, we published eighteen issues of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art, and we loved every minute of it.

Things change, as they tend to do, and for a multitude of reasons, around the three year mark, we were forced to make some decisions. After much research and discussion, we decided to narrow our focus and publish one piece of short fiction or creative non-fiction a month. This would give us more time to work with authors on their pieces and promote those pieces on social media.

For our first story, we chose “Automatically Hip” by author John McCaffrey. In “Automatically Hip,” McCaffrey reflects on the life of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk–specifically, the time when he was arrested for possession of drugs that were not his, and the subsequent impact of his incarceration on those around him. The story is told as a series of monologues, and the language and punctuation mimic a jazz solo. This story has a rhythm, and once you fall in, you’re in ’til the last note, baby.

So, please enjoy “Automatically Hip,” and when you get done reading the piece, hop over to our new Author Q & A section to learn more about the writer and the cartoon that inspired this story.

And if you want to get a sneak peek at our upcoming releases, sign up for the Empty Sink newsletter. I promise: we only write when we have something worth saying or updates worth paying attention to.

Take care, keep reading, and thank you for joining us for the relaunch of Empty Sink Publishing!
–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 04/01/2017

Welcome to Issue 18

Welcome to the final issue of Empty Sink Publishing.

Adam, Suanne and I are proud of everything we’ve done here at Empty Sink. We’ve published scores of excellent work from poets, authors, and artists from around the world. Putting out this magazine has been a labor of love for all of us, and it is with bittersweet sentiment that we bid it farewell.

On the other hand, none of us can imagine a life without Empty Sink, and we all feel like there’s still more for us to do. We knew that we needed to refocus our efforts. We also knew that we were done with the magazine format.

What we kept coming back to was the idea of publishing short stories. Both Suanne and I are passionate about the form and enjoy working with authors to edit their pieces. And with the advent of a wireless world and people using cell phones as reading devices, we know that short fiction is accessible in a way it never has been before.

We toyed with several different ideas, but in the end, we decided to abandon the magazine format in favor of publishing one quality piece of short fiction per month. This will allow us to focus our efforts on working exclusively with one author at a time to edit and publish their fiction.

We’re very excited about what the future holds and look forward to sinking our teeth into this new endeavor. More to come soon as we prepare to accept submissions again. Our goal is to have our first story out in April, so stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates about everything Empty Sink. Even better, sign up for our newsletter and get updates before anyone else!

In the meantime, and without further ado, we bring you the final issue of Empty Sink Publishing, the magazine. As a farewell surprise, we’ve welcomed back many of our favorite authors, poets and artists for this issue. And finally, a thank you to all our readers. We hope you’ve enjoyed this magazine as much as we’ve enjoyed publishing it, and look forward to seeing you with more stories in 2017!

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, December 18, 2016



Kim Farleigh — Freedom

Paul Lewellan — Ms. Primrose’s Perfect Feet

Franco Strong — Sussurros de Recurrencia

Jesse Lynn Rucilez — Epicenter

James Hanna — Sam the Poontang Man

Lewis Carter — The Constant Crypt Guard: A Retrospective Epiphany in Three Parts

Darryl Graff — The Apartment


William C. Crawford — The 18 Minute Rule Throws Jimmy Pro For A Loop In Gotham City

Suanne Schafer — Interview with author Orna Glick

Adam Dubbin — Interview with artist Vakseen


Kurt Newton — Three Poems

James B. Nicola — Four Poems

Charlie O’Hay — Two Poems

William Doreski — Four Poems

John Grey — Three Poems


W. Jack Savage — Five Images

Clint Van Inman — The Other Clint

Michelle Dalton — Five Images

Vakseen — Six Images

Jim Pollock — Seven Images

James Devlin — Alternate Take Number Five

Welcome to Issue 17

It is with mixed emotions that I welcome you to Issue 17, the penultimate issue of Empty Sink Publishing. After nearly three years of publishing some of the web’s finest prose, poetry, and visual art, Adam and I have decided to stop publishing Empty Sink as a magazine.

We’ve loved this work, as well as all of the readers and contributors we’ve gotten to know over the past few years. We’ve forged some relationships that will last a lifetime while working on this little zine, and if that’s the only thing that comes out of it, it will have all been worth it.

We are no longer accepting poetry and visual submissions, though we are still accepting submissions of fiction and non-fiction for our final issue. That being said, we are not closing down the Empty Sink brand at this time. We’ve built something here that works and has its own voice, and Suanne, Adam and I are all interested in seeing that voice continue to develop. Over the next few months, we will be exploring our options, and I intend to have a full update for you by the time we publish our final issue this fall.

Until then, though, we’ve got some fantastic work for you this month. From talking cows to backwards plane crashes to a poignant look at the impact of alcoholism, our fiction section is packed with the unique stories you’ve come to expect from us. Likewise, in our poetry section (curated again by the great Kurt Newton), the Reaper, and old man, and a Nazi mingle between the stanzas. And in our visual section, amidst some truly impressive paintings, we have some excellent collages for your viewing pleasure.

The Editor’s Choice for this month is the non-fiction story, “School is what you Make It,” and Other Lies my Parents Told Me, by Christina Berchini. This fantastic story explores the reality of our control over our own fates, and we’re proud to have it in this issue.

To everyone reading this, thank you for coming along with us for this ride. Most new literary mags don’t make it past the six-month mark, so to be able to make it three years is a great source of pride for both Adam and I. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without such impressive and dedicated readers and contributors, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor — 7/25/2016



Jack C. Buck — For Matthew and Somewhere in the Future You Are Remembering Today

Ian Johnson — Dear You

Paul de Marion — a strange and silent war

Max Orkis — Chewing the Cud

Lindsey Royce — Call Center; Watching her Neigh

Jennifer Sabin — We Have No Secrets

M.R. Tapia — Stella Reign

Giles Ward — Thaw


Christina Berchini — “School is what you Make of It” and Other Lies my Parents Told Me (Editor’s Choice)


Lana Bella — Timidity

Holly Day — Two Poems

Robert Earlywine — Come, Kind Reaper

William Keckler — Three Poems

Simon Perchik — Four Poems

Drew Pisarra — Chinese Roullette


W. Jack Savage — Four Images

Jean Wolff — Five Images

Richard Baldasty — Davey Hume, Surfer Dude

Maeve Roughton — Two Images

Michelle Dalton — Four Images


Music review: Eyelids, by Saint Jame — Reviewed by E. Branden Hart

Beyond the Blue, by Tim McBain and L.T. Vargus — Reviewed by E. Branden Hart

Welcome to Issue 16

Welcome to the 16th issue of Empty Sink Publishing!

First, we’re very pleased to introduce poet and writer Kurt Newton as the guest poetry editor for the next two issues. Kurt chose four of the poets featured in April, and all of the poetry that will be in Issue 17. He did an excellent job, and we think you’ll agree he’s found some incredible poetry to share. Thank you Kurt!

Second, Suanne Schafer continues to pick intriguing stories in her role as Fiction Editor. In this installment, she brings you six tales ranging from the surreal to the sentimental, the unhinged to the understated. Of special note is this issue’s Editor’s Choice, “Falling Leaves,” by Cheri Brackett. This is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful stories we’ve ever published, and we are very excited to feature it in this volume.

In this month’s visual section, we’ve got some fantastic pieces to energize your eyeballs. Speaking of which, we’re pleased to announce that we are now accepting video submissions for review. Spread the word: be it experimental, a short narrative film, or something in between, we’re ready to see video submissions that stretch the mind and defy convention.

But enough of us. Sit back and enjoy our latest offering of Empty Sink Publishing. Make sure to come back and see us this summer, when we’ll have even more announcements to unfurl with Issue 17!

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 4/24/2016

William Crawford -- Deserted Desert Wheels

Photography by William Crawford



Pam Plumb — “A True History (Reality Version 1100101)”

Lewis Carter — “Departures”

L.J. Kelley — “Diana”

Orna Glick — “Dy(e)ing Purple”

Cheri Brackett — “Falling Leaves” (Editor’s Choice)

Jerry McGahan — “Patroit”


Matt Kramer — “Rail Talk”


Lakshmi Mitra — “Depression as Winterkill”

Fred Rosenblum — Two Poems

Amber Sydney-Woollett — “I Wonder”

John Grey — Two poems

Sandra Kolankiewicz — Three Poems


Allen Forrest — Three Images

Fabrice Poussin — Five Images

William Crawford — Seven Images


David Klugman — Chasm of Abuse


Sausalito Poems 1959-1961 by L.G. Corey and The Nineteen Steps between Us by Darren Demaree, reviewed by Kurt Newton

Red Demolition by Juliet Cook, reviewed by A.J. Huffman

December Boys by Joe Clifford, reviewed by Suanne Schafer

The Grace of the Gingko by Michael Hardesty, reviewed by Suanne Schafer

The Memory of Us by Camille di Maio, reviewed by Suanne Schafer

Quarterly Comics Corner — Spring 2016, by E. Branden Hart

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