March 29, 2020

“Crimson,” A Short Story by Zach Lattman

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“Crimson,” A Short Story by Zach Lattman

Ester hated that dress. But it was the only thing she had for tonight. Since graduating law school, she, and four other classmates would get together once a month. Supposedly, they were all such great friends, and they didn’t want graduation to pull them apart. But to Ester, it felt fake—almost coerced. It felt more like preemptive networking; everyone was keeping tabs on each other in case they needed a favor down the road. Ester never voiced that concern to anyone. Surely, it was all in her head, she told herself. But still, in her more cynical, or rather, her more honest moments, she doubted everyone’s authenticity—even her own.  She leaned back against the living room wall and stared out the window into the late-spring evening. Chicago looked beautiful at night. From Ginny’s 21st-floor condo, it looked like…

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March 24, 2020

“Deep Fried,” A Short Story by Matt Kolbet

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“Deep Fried,” A Short Story by Matt Kolbet

“Candy bars?  “Of course. Snickers mainly. That’s what people have heard, so it rings true if they hear it again. Easy enough to envision something held in wires, dropped down in hot oil.”  “Had it.”  Dan eyed the man from Texas and felt a flash of home-grown pride. Travel had brought the two men together and Dan realized everything could be a competition: grilling techniques, the tang of a sauce, the cut of the meat. In other states they touted how high food could grow relative to elephants. Ridiculous, except when it wasn’t. Presently, they discussed state fairs and what could be fried at home. This prompted a lengthy litany and an appreciative silence.  “You ever try Rolos?”  “Haven’t. Gives me an idea though.” Dan pulled out his phone and punched in a string of numbers. “Hey Jed. No, I’m on a business trip. Met up with this other fellow. I want you to…

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March 19, 2020

“The Woman of Kutch,” Poetry by Jonathan Lloyd

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“The Woman of Kutch,” Poetry by Jonathan Lloyd

The Woman of Kutch    The woman of Kutch,  Living in grasslands  Favored by raj  And ibis, flees   The earthquake and  Monsoon that leveled  The Gujarat  Three or four   Thousand years ago.    For this occasion  She wears a dress  Embroidered in red  And yellow cotton  An aba covers  The sakral which  Begins the stem   Of a sunflower rising   To a shower   Of light, all in  Mirrors, surrounded   By grassy fields.    She carries three  Steel pots of water  On her head and   With her left arm  She caresses another.  With her right arm   She shields her eyes   Against the sun,  Into which she races.    ** At  the Track  She crosses her legs, this girl of twelve, her hat  A crown, brim bouncing in a breeze. She reads  Her book, maybe–maybe not–lost in thought  Or reverie, a boy…

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March 12, 2020

Our New Baristas! Welcome Michael, Amanda & Yong

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Our New Baristas! Welcome Michael, Amanda & Yong

Please join us in welcoming our new baristas to The Fictional Café! These three talented additions to our staff have rolled up their sleeves to help us brew the tastiest “fresh java” this side of Pluto. Michael Piekny has joined our Editorial Board, which also includes our editor and all-star submissions manager Ruth Simon and our editor and anthology barista, Mike Mavilia Rochester. As an Editorial Board Barista, Michael brings a robust enthusiasm for editing based upon years of practice, and the work he does at his own company, Hub Edits. If you’ve recently been published on FC, you’ve surely enjoyed working with him. Our new Visual Arts Barista is Amanda Grafe. She’ll be curating our visual art offerings, which includes anything from paintings to sculptures to photography. An artist herself, Amanda’s passion for art…

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March 10, 2020

“Wordsmithing Past the Editor,” CNF* by Philip Gabbard

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“Wordsmithing Past the Editor,” CNF* by Philip Gabbard

Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from: THISday-Words for the Vulnerable and the Venerable by Philip Gabbard, a book of essays and *creative nonfiction.   Wordsmithing Past The Editor  Could you imagine if Mark Twain or Pink Floyd wrote ad copy today? Although, while  sixty-second ad copy wasn’t a “thing” in Twain’s day—he was widely heralded for penning some poignant one-liners back in the late 1800s, like saying that  common sense ain’t so common. But even Twain had his  influencers. Perhaps it was Voltaire who similarly wrote the same line a century and a half earlier. Then in truth, the fact that common sense hasn’t been, well, common has been common since AD 130, when the Roman poet Juvenal first wrote that there was  not a more uncommon thing in the world than common sense. And I can only think that that was something Juvenal  heard…

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March 8, 2020

“Jacob the Lion Hearted,” Poetry by Thomas Piekarski

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“Jacob the Lion Hearted,” Poetry by Thomas Piekarski

Jacob the Lion Hearted  He started out trying to climb too high a ladder,  fell off, smacked his head, knocked unconscious.  But he wouldn’t give up just because the ladder  was an obstacle. He wouldn’t give in although  he had no grip on any world outside his head.    Jacob took advantage of this transcendent state   to luxuriate in the expanse of his imagination.  He ventured like Alice through fabulous realms  clinging to his unique ideals. No one else would  ever understand what thoughts were propagated.    Nor would he, for memory had fled in a flash.  His mind a dream machine, body in suspension,  Jacob manufactured fantasies, myths, religions,  gave them life, far beyond anything he’d known  during this his tenuous tenure on the road of life.  ** Andronicus Returns to Earth    A smooth landing, the toes…

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March 5, 2020

Katherine Coons: An Autobiographical Journey

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Katherine Coons: An Autobiographical Journey

Artist’s Statement: “My work embraces several concepts simultaneously. The images in this proposal portray an autobiographical picture of my life, my travels, and the places that I have inhabited. I make creations that fit my mood, energy, and temperament. My inspiration comes from the nature that surrounds me, and I am deeply influenced by differences of culture, color, and the diversity of attitudes and ideas gleaned from these aspects. Numerous travels abroad to Europe and Asia have greatly influenced my artworks, having spent much time observing different peoples and their cultures.  Documenting my daily thoughts in sketchbooks, and subsequent ruminations on, and drawings from my daily excursions evolve into greater arenas of art making. Collected curios from these places are infused into my mixed media artworks and installations. My creations are derived from these experiences, while my art exhibitions illustrate these memories.” “I am greatly inspired by large, sprawling landscapes such as those of Alaska where I lived for seventeen years. I describe the paintings that evolve from these landscapes as gestural, fleeting sensations of transitory time and place. I would describe my work as expressionistic. Newer paintings include…

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March 3, 2020

“I Shipped Myself Out of Folsom,” by Townsend Walker

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“I Shipped Myself Out of Folsom,” by Townsend Walker

Probably ought to start with how I got there.   Driving up 395, stopped for coffee in Olancha. Tall, weathered man came into the diner, pulled up a stool like he owned the place. We started chatting—horses, construction, steel work. I’d done it all. Will Thornton had a big ranch out there in the high desert, east of the Sierras. He was looking for help and hired me on.  That’s how I met his daughter Holly, not a pretty girl, but with a daddy owning fifteen hundred acres . . .  I courted her, but she didn’t take to me much. With Will, I was getting along real well. He liked my work, we chatted about what I’d done, what he’d done, about desert life. One day setting fence posts, he eased into talking about his daughter. Too much a stay-at-home, would never find a man in their town of 192 people. I wasn’t shy about telling him I was sweet on Holly, “be happy to oblige” and he helped me convince her. We got hitched in Reno with Will and Holly’s sister as witnesses.  Real soon it started not to…

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March 1, 2020

Milton P. Ehrlich — Poems of Rumination

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Milton P. Ehrlich — Poems of Rumination

ONCE Following orders   on the battlefield,  it was kill or be killed   my sergeant said,  no different than   when he taught me  to thrust and parry   with fixed bayonet.  The young soldier  wore thick glasses  and looked a lot like    one of my classmates.  Sergeant claimed  Gooks don’t belong  to the human race.  Don’t ever feel sorry   for killing an enemy,  I can’t forgive myself.  I look down at my finger,  ready to squeeze the trigger,  and hear my mother asking:  What has become of you?  ** THE MARITAL HAPPINESS QUOTIENT    I Uber my way across the country  in my Hugh Hefner silk pajamas  to study happiness in marriages  of all my old friends who are still   walking and talking coherently.  Computer porn ended a few bonds  that had once bloomed like a flower.  For those that served breakfast in bed,  a lotus blossom was…

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February 25, 2020

“Broken Hearts & Dead Flowers,” by Michael Summerleigh

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“Broken Hearts & Dead Flowers,” by Michael Summerleigh

BROKEN HEARTS & DEAD FLOWERS (February 1970 – upstate New York)  Josh stepped out into the beginning of the day, heard the steel door slam behind him as he pitched the black garbage bag into the dumpster.  He checked the door once to make sure it had locked, buttoned his denim jacket up around the paper sack of unsold apple crisps and burgers, jammed his hands down into the pockets of his jeans.  It had been a slow shift, some heavy wind and a couple of inches of snow discouraging the stoners from boarding the Midnight Munchie train that usually kept the Jack-in-the-Box busy through the night. He’d sent Kyle and Donnie home at two, started shutting everything down around three-thirty. . .picking up wax paper burger wraps and empty Zig Zag sleeves in the small…

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