October 12, 2019

“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

“Confession of an Accidental Theocrat,” by Jacquelyn Tufts

The door to Carol’s bedroom swung shut behind her with a bang. The late-afternoon light streaming in through her window highlighted every wrinkle and mote of dust that had accumulated on her pantsuit over the course of her walk home from work, but she wouldn’t be dealing with that now. She had come to a decision. It was one that she had been slowly working her way towards not just since she’d woken up that morning, or since the week had begun, but for one full calendar month — and it wasn’t a February either. It was one of the respectable months.  “Okay, listen,” she said to the figure sitting on top of the table beside her bed. “I didn’t know all this would happen between us. But it did, and I love you, and…

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September 9, 2019

The Mechanics of Melancholy: Engaging Poetry by Rick Ratliff

The Mechanics of Melancholy: Engaging Poetry by Rick Ratliff

Dark hallways  Long hallway, doors on either side Like the departure platform at a rail station. No eye contact, everyone looking down, Shuffling along the bland grey floor.  Away from the new arrivals  Lighting is always dimmed like perpetual twilight   And darkness creeps out of some doors like a black fog  We come to say goodbye to those who no longer hear, And who stare blankly at the ceiling: While we are looking at the floor.  Departure time is slowly approaching,  Breathing is mechanical like worn breaks And the smell, the odor that’s hard to describe–  Body odor with musty deodorant  Exhalation is pungent.   No talking now  It goes quiet at departure  As we silently stand in ovation as we exit  FORGOTTEN SONG   FORGET ME NOT  She’s not you — yet, neither are you, (anymore) You would like her; I think. Flaxen hair (like yours)   And I trust all the understanding  A widow has of memories and loss.            That helps, as I am daily learning  To be the reluctant guardian…

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September 5, 2019

Jennifer Judge’s Poetry Tells Us The Way Things Just Are

Jennifer Judge’s Poetry Tells Us The Way Things Just Are

PEOPLE Always say you know what to do when your child cries, you just know, like some parent gene kicks in, the knowledge springs up in your brain like it’s always been there, a priori knowledge.  But that’s a load of bullshit.  Watch a baby fall backwards and drop a chair on herself. You see the chair going but you can’t get there in time to stop it, and you can’t control the gasp that escapes you. You’re not supposed to gasp, have to remain calm so that the child does. And when there’s nothing, nothing, nothing that calms her after the fall—walking, talking, hugging, singing, kissing—you know your love is not strong enough now for anyone, that you are what you are, failure of a parent, and you know this is your life now….

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August 28, 2019

Aphrodite’s Revenge: Two Poems by Madison Culpepper

Aphrodite’s Revenge: Two Poems by Madison Culpepper

Even Aphrodite Has Lazy Days  I apologize for the days I don’t wear make-up or dress in tight gowns, and for the days I don’t try to seduce a man to feel worthy.  I used to bathe myself in lavender to attract men. Right now, I’m tired and alone. My confidence wilts when I don’t plaster my face with a glow brighter than the sun.  Today, I’m lying beneath blankets in nothing but sweats and skin. My hair is tied into a bun, purple scoops under my eyes. I wish a man could see that even without my highlight I’m still beautiful.  Most days, I may appear  like the pink sunsets pouring into violet streams. But beneath the gloss and glow and goddess sheen, I’m just a woman, a person. Someone who is more than vanity. And with my face bare, I hope my soul can finally shine, lilac light blooming freely through my skin after all this time.  Citrus Grief  Rows of oranges make a masterpiece in…

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August 27, 2019

The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson

The Women: Poems by Stephen Jackson

The Back of Trudy’s Head  Everything, at once  came to Trudy on the bus, the world through a window  smeared with hair grease came in clear, she  looked around at all the other passengers and knew us —  felt our tension in her  shoulders, drew a breath of  body odor, smelled our fear.  And the thick, pink man  who sat ahead of Trudy leaned back to scratch his mat  of ratted graying hair releasing flakes of skin  down his back and in the air,  then turned to smile a  crooked-tooth smile at himself  in the window, that at night  is both a window and a mirror.  Trudy pulled the cord  to make the driver stop, as it was all that she could  think to do, and when he did  the doors swung open  but Trudy could not  get off — no one did  but me, and I watched  the back of Trudy’s head  till the bus drove out of view.   Bridgette | Since the Accident  Friday’s the new Thursday  for Bridgette, since she  moves with sudden grace  at such an elementary pace through space and…

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August 24, 2019

“Castel Gandolfo,” by Susan Taylor Brand

“Castel Gandolfo,” by Susan Taylor Brand

     There are different kinds of parachutes in this world, different ways of escaping a life which resembles a crashing plane, and eight years ago my parachute was taking a quick trip to the Eternal and making that trip last forever. They say a wolf will chew its own leg off to get out of a trap, and I was like that then. But Rome is the perfect place for an American woman remaking herself.        Today my neighborhood is called Colle Albani, White Hills. It’s just by the Aurelian walls, and our mailing address is still Roma.       Only once has the veneer I pulled over my remade life slipped to the side to reveal the truth. The day I’m speaking of, I was walking home after dropping by the…

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August 22, 2019

“Water,” A Fiction by Rob Swigart

“Water,” A Fiction by Rob Swigart

“Water? What do I think about water? I’ll tell you what I think about water.”  Lyman was angry.  The silence went on.  “Well?” Alford prompted. “What do you think about water?” He tried to keep his question flat, so as not to acknowledge Lyman’s fit of pique.  “I try not to,” Lyman said, at last, deflated. He put his head back and closed his eyes.  Alford did not see how this was possible. Lyman sat in it. Or rather, he lay in it. Was lying. He was lying too. Alford knew that as well.  Lyman did not try not to think about water. To try to not think about water would have meant humming meaningless jingles or reciting nursery rhymes or doing advanced algebra in his head or most likely doing nothing but think about not thinking about water, which Lyman, for one, was unprepared…

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August 19, 2019

Karen Toralba’s Flash Fiction, “Pragmatic Spirituality”

Karen Toralba’s Flash Fiction, “Pragmatic Spirituality”

     “I’m sensing you’re burdened,” she closed her eyes tightly. “Can I pray for you?”        Well, this seemed appropriate, Carrie mused, in a church of all places. “Sure.”       The sensor, young and fresh, placed her hand firmly on Carrie’s shoulder and held it in a grip deep with passion as she closed in to a personal space intended for more intimate persons.       Her eyes still bound without earthly vision, the woman began: “I’m feeling you’re burdened. Yes, a heavy burden. I’m sensing someone’s hurt you. Someone stabbed you in the back.”       Carrie’s mind shot to one or two people, then more. Yes, she had been hurt, within the past year even. But, burdened? Perhaps if she had thought about it more, one might label it as a burden. Stabbed in…

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August 18, 2019

The Resilience of Life – Captivating Poetry by Marianne Brems

The Resilience of Life – Captivating Poetry by Marianne Brems

Flower Stems If heaven were a place  to walk without fear before an audience  jaded in judgement,  a place to love without concern  about running alone on earth’s curve, a place to rise in the morning  without tripping on stones by evening, a place to play in dangerous rivers without swallowing water, a place to carry wood to a fire  that never burns out, a place to throw out regrets  with the dust swirls of empty rooms  A place where traffic lights are all green, the sun sets peacefully after dinner,  and sleeves are never too short.  Then resilience would wither, muscles atrophy, bones relinquish their density  without resistance to strengthen them in a field where flowers fill every space and their stems, though succulent, are the sturdiest pillars.   Night Siren  The too near wail of an ambulance  assaults the quiet core of night, its rising then falling crescendo repeating repeating  unsettling all that’s settled as it announces  an unidentified human incident rife with pain or loss or both.  Yet this ambulance,  defying disruption and speed limits,  delivers with singular purpose  a medical team  eager to serve, to make whole, to mend the punctures of sharp protrusions or the malfunction of a dusty heart  and to begin a restitution  that even in darkness has…

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August 15, 2019

Linnea Skoglöv: Portraits of Love

Linnea Skoglöv: Portraits of Love

Cigarette  Waking up slowly to a room set in darkness, eyes searching for light but finding nothing buta silhouette.  You on one side of the bed and I on the other, not touching but I still feel you on my skinlike my mouth senses the aftertaste of a cigarette.  A cigarette you smoked even though I begged you not to, I turned and said I won’t kiss youever again but you hugged me from behind and what was I supposed to do.  So I kissed you.  And you tasted worse than when you apologise for your breath in the morning, but the secondyour lips touched mine I had already forgiven you.  Because when you look at me my heart suddenly belongs to a hummingbird, beating right out of my chest. And I need to feel your fingers…

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