August 14, 2018

“All the Rage” by Lynne Conrad

“All the Rage” by Lynne Conrad

  Cold fear seized Lucy as she mashed the Mustang’s gas pedal further down; her speed now hovered at eighty-eight. She peered into the rearview mirror, terrified by the man in the dented black Ford truck riding her bumper. She had peeled away from the curb in front of the nail salon when this truck pulled up beside her and the driver laid on the horn, waving his fist at her and shouting hoarse curses out of the open window. “Shut up and move on! I didn’t do anything to you!” Lucy screamed out her window, but this guy’s response—it had to be a guy, she thought—was to rev the truck’s engine as he drove along beside her. People walking along the sidewalks stopped and stared. The truck driver slowed and fell back, so she…

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August 10, 2018

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: The trilogy and tetralogy are commonplace in genre fiction: science-fiction, fantasy, mystery. But what of literature? Tori Merkle dissects the phenomenon and helps us understand its often unrecognized significance, not only in storytelling but in an author’s oeuvre.  Literary Chronicles: An Exploration of Trilogies and Tetralogies in Literary Fiction by Tori Merkle It’s a fact of storytelling: chronicles sell. Series novels, commonly a trilogy or tetralogy, are especially popular in genre fiction—we sit waiting and watching for the next sci-fi or fantasy saga to top the bestseller list and then hit the box office. Once we get the first luscious taste of a fictional world, we’re ravenous for more. We become attached to the characters as if they’re intimate friends. We’re eager to know what happens next. This is the same energy that…

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July 31, 2018

Thoreau Didn’t Need a God of Consolation: Six Flash Fictions by Mitch Grabois

Thoreau Didn’t Need a God of Consolation: Six Flash Fictions by Mitch Grabois

Photo credit: Beverly Bambury Editor’s Note: Mitchell Grabois’ work nearly defies naming conventions, and that’s a good thing. It’s how new plants, birds, constellations and literary genres are born. We asked Mitch what name he gave to these creative, innovative set pieces, because they transcend the commonly known genres. They are almost anti-plot; the narrating character could be the author or someone else, but we can’t be certain; the prose structure leans into the movements in a musical work. Here’s what Mitch replied: “I consider these flash fictions because they are written in prose and they tell stories (though perhaps not conventional ones). Thanks for considering the work poetic—as you know, in much literary fiction there are elements of poetry in the prose.” Infidelity  1.  I hid behind a tree, not the Tree of Knowledge or…

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July 29, 2018

“Trash Picker” by Frank Diamond

“Trash Picker” by Frank Diamond

Emma actually stopped Paul on the church steps. Blocked his way. Emma, Paul’s former sister-in-law, and her posse had been waiting, though Paul had not given indication to anyone from the old neighborhood that he’d be attending the funeral. He’d been disconnected from his troubled history for like . . . hell, forever, it seems. Still, they guessed Paul would show. And why shouldn’t he? Michael is his son. Was. Was his son. He is grieving, Paul is. Can’t they see? Maybe, but they don’t care. Here they are at the top of the steps under a bright September blue that kind of reminds Paul of the 9/11 day. Beautiful, beautiful. Emma, now a middle-age plodder, and two lugheads bulging from their Sunday best, with arms crossed upon bellies. These must be her sons; the…

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July 24, 2018

Zipporah Kuteesa’s Poetry Debut!

Zipporah Kuteesa’s Poetry Debut!

Editor’s Note: Zipporah Kuteesa, The Fictional Cafe’s 500th member, submitted her poetry to us. We are pleased to present her words, published for the first time!   I REMEMBER NOW! I was reminded of the joy That came with passing by. The toddler I was… Fascinated by the beat, That drew us out into the heat, The thundering of the drums, My grandmother holding me back And I running back. My young intrigued eyes blinking So fast I didn’t want to miss a beat.   I was reminded of the oneness That we shared in bliss, My mother and I, We never questioned why Grandma at her age was antsy And upbeat about the pulsating drums. Because we too could feel it It spoke full of meaning The ancient morals that kept us Sane, one,…

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July 20, 2018

Meditative Elements: The Poetry of William Doreski

Meditative Elements: The Poetry of William Doreski

A Postcard from the Ether The first shy dusting of snow looks too naked to threaten us with its pale, indefinite motives.   It can’t elide our visions of banana trees flourishing many-fingered hands of fruit   in suburbs littered with wrecks of nineteen-Fifties Chevys and Fords. It can’t erase our dreams of melons   bowling down sky avenues broader than aircraft carriers. It can’t persuade us that songs   about summer moonlight swelling the hearts of dancing couples can’t snuff the laugh of the dead   still standing where we left them. The eagle we saw yesterday cruised over the river,   scanned for fish and fended off the racket and teasing of crows, reminded us how negative light   falls in sheaves despite the grace and curvature of one’s narrative. The snow changes…

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July 13, 2018

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part III by Victoria Merkle

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part III by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: Here’s the conclusion to Tori’s novella, a work which Fictional Café is quite proud to have premiered. Elephant Tadpoles by Tori Merkle Part III It was amazing, for a while. There was a new adventure every day in with my gallivanting group of unchained artists. We bounced from place to place, absorbing each one and carrying its thumbprint to the next. I was pursuing my art. I was in love. I was free of rules and expectations. I was being who I wanted to be. After the first year and a half, the need for a stable income settled in. Our savings were nearly gone, put into food and camping equipment and art supplies. Aiden couldn’t find a venue for his music. I couldn’t sell my paintings. We ran out of money to…

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July 11, 2018

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part II by Victoria Merkle

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part II by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: Here’s the second instalment in Tori Merkle’s novella, “Elephant Tadpoles,” which began on Monday. The concluding Part III appears here on Friday, July, 13. Elephant Tadpoles by Tori Merkle Part II Summers at the Hayward Estate in the British Isles were lustrous and tender. The property felt endless to me, the rows of grape trees in the vineyard stretched on and on until they blurred into the soft green hills beyond them. I wished I could trace my finger along the landscape and feel its nooks and crannies. I thought there must be entire worlds hidden in the ravines between the hills. There were more than enough ravines to explore on the property, though. The stone-walled house had three peaks like a castle, and ivy spun up the sides and the columns that…

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July 8, 2018

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part I by Victoria Merkle

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part I by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: It isn’t often we’re presented with a novella-length submission, but this one was too good to pass up. What makes it extra special is that it’s the author’s first published work. Victoria “Tori” Merkle’s “Elephant Tadpoles” will appear in three segments this week – today, Wednesday and Friday. We hope you’ll appreciate it as much as we baristas did, and will share your Comments with the author. ℘ Elephant Tadpoles by Tori Merkle Part I “Come on, girls, school in an hour!” our mother, Grace Hayward, ushered our two blonde heads down the hall. I was five steps faster, my messy pigtails bobbing up and down as I skipped into the kitchen. My bare feet slapped against the dark oak floor and my plaid skirt, its waistband folded twice over, could have slipped…

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June 26, 2018

Seasons, Identity, Longing: The Poetry of Emily Ellison

Seasons, Identity, Longing: The Poetry of Emily Ellison

    AS a leaf autumnally As a leaf autumnally pitching in wind, I am ravished by the airs of your mouth. Tumultuous I fly, bending, more corrupt with every spineless form of sin. I collapse continually, again.   With ancient hands you seasonally pour decay in my ripe buds, for, on Earth’s floor, I’d received too much tenderness of skin, more than you care to comply with. Veiny contempt spirals with pollen as a new variety to lovemaking, and hands stretch empty, brown. The petulant stem I am quakes, grainy limbs forming foliage of impiety. As your leaf, I toss like a mind in sundown.     anonymity how you do reconcile the dying breath of the flickering fluorescent young? their waning lights of ecstasy throughout weekly hazards are simulations of warmth. the impoverished…

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