The 2River View 28.4 (Summer 2024)

Pablo Piñero Stillmann


The man is only in the antique shop to kill time before doing something he actually wants to do. Walking in there was a mistake, in fact, as evidenced by the sneezing fit that overtakes him. Heading to the exit he notices a Victorian walnut frame displaying a photograph of his grandparents, somehow glamorous, at a black-tie event. Next to that one is a brass art nouveau frame inside of which the man’s mother & her four brothers are enjoying a trip to what seems to be Los Angeles. Yes: locked in every frame on the table full of them there’s at least one member of his family. His sister graduating high school in a silver oval, for example. His cousin, as a child, with a cockatoo perched on his hand. It’s not that the young are free, the man thinks, just that their cages remain invisible. Except that this is not an antique store. The man is sitting out on the curb holding an ornate rococo frame. Behind the glass is the man’s father when he was younger than the man. The man’s father is holding a baby: the man. It’s dark out. No curb. No frame. No picture & no man.


She Asks, “Why Doesn’t Anyone Like Me?”

& I’m forced to admit, probably
too soon, that no one really likes anyone else,
that all our bad ideas seem to be fixed
like the tiny handprint on the cement block
outside my childhood home. Every single day
every person is having an argument
inside their own head. The argument
can only come to be against another, different
argument & both are inevitably born defective.
I tell her it’s like that movie we watched
(probably too soon): Jeff Goldblum
in a tweed jacket attempts teleportation,
messes up & turns into a giant fly
with thick, little dorsal hairs, milky blisters
peppering the face. He becomes violent & evil,
goes mad. But at least the fly never wondered
why it was that no one liked him.

Pablo Piñero Stillmann has appeared in, among other places, Bennington Review, Best New Poets, Gettysburg Review, and Mississippi Review. His book of short stories, Our Brains and the Brains of Miniature Sharks, won the Moon City Short Fiction Award and was published in 2020 by Moon City Press. website
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