“He’s the last of the protest singers,
Selling truth and commitment,
He don’t get much work these days,
He’s billed as a novelty act,
And he stands there with his thumb out,
Hitching a ride towards the rainbow,
That only he sees shining there,
They say he’s a fool, and that’s a fact.”
– Harry Chapin

An independent press is a protest. A rock band is a protest. A painting, a poem, a song, a story, a dance, a photograph, each of these represents a form of protest, an artful expression, a wink to the wise, a finger to the establishment.

A startling sound, a calculated movement of free will, a stream of consciousness in a world strangling itself with rules and regulations, a population hobbled by conventions, overcome with fear.

Atticus Review has no patience for safety nets, comfort zones, and standard operating procedures. We don’t know how to lie low, play it safe, and accept the way things are. (Frankly, that sounds like a brutal existence.) Five years ago this week, in an act of protest, we launched our first issue. For five years we have stuck out our chins, taunted our oppressors and detractors to slug and slander us, and embraced our journal’s original mission: to strive for artistic merit in a world gone raving mad.

We ask you to join us in celebrating creative protest and we look forward to using our voice as an instrument of protest for the next five years.

Welcome to The Protest Issue.

From Nick Kocz’s story, “After the Riots”: “As word spreads that we’ve cornered one of the child killers, our numbers swell. Compatriots throughout the neighborhood rush to join us, dashing across streets, bridges, highway underpasses with mallets, kitchen knives, aluminum baseball bats, tire irons that we’ve never yet used for anything but their intended purpose. We are butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. We are doctors, administrative assistants, inefficient waiters at dilapidated Italian restaurants—not people normally prone to violence—but now we seethe, swarm, feed off each other’s pent-up aggression. We are not beyond forgiving him, but first we want to maim, smash, disembowel him; we are a mob of cold-hearted yet hyper-vigilant citizens with severe law-and-order inclinations, the kind of citizens whom Citizen Duck would appreciate.”

From Glen Pourciau’s flash fiction story, “Pick”: “He intends to discourage me by acting as if I’m spinning my wheels for nothing. His favorite comment after I try to get under his skin at the dinners is: ‘Something from nothing,’ which he’s shortened to: ‘SFN.’ I’m left to imagine the inner glow Master Pick enjoys after supposedly nullifying me with three letters. His lofty perspective is that I never change, though he’s the one who never changes.”

From Jonathan Frank’s story, “Fifty Reasons Not to Talk”: “49. I will not talk about our Perfect Miss McCloskey. But if you show these fifty reasons to anyone, even one person, even Mr. Howard or even my parents, I swear I will tell everyone in the whole diocese how you’ve been seen everyday STEALING THE PINK PACKAGES OF SWEET AND LOW from the Teachers Lunchroom and slipping them into your purse. Yes, YOU, Miss Margaret McCloskey, 7th grade teacher at Our Lady of Eternal Goodness.”

From Travis McDonald’s story, “An Ambitious Télécabine Ride”: “‘I’m not even sure how this happened,’ the operator says. ‘Usually we can fit twelve to fifteen people in there max. I know they’re children, but a couple hundred is ridiculous. Frankly, it boggles the mind.’ The chaperone refills his pipe. ‘Yes, it must seem quite alarming to you, but I will assure you, here and now, that my children are not only the best behaved students I have ever had the pleasure of chaperoning, but due to their remarkable family breeding, and the school’s strict callisthenic program, they are paper-thin and unafraid of being packed into small spaces. Furthermore, they would never, under any circumstances, complain, amongst themselves, or to their parents. So, if it is a lawsuit you are worried about, then let me put your mind at ease. I repeat, once again, the children, under my supervision, will be absolutely fine.’”

From Jared Yates Sexton’s latest Atticus On The Trail dispatch, “The Locked Door”: “For the first time since ’72, the process has been overtaken by the parties in order to weed out ‘disruptive elements,’ or rather, both parties are dedicated this go-round to weed out any possible interruptions that might interfere, including independent persons, critical media, focused groups like Black Lives Matter and The Never Trump movement, a move that, while steeped in history, has rarely been enforced to such excessive lengths.”

Photo by Thomas Hawk