September 12, 2019

“True Blue,” Every Man’s Fantasy – A Short Story by Paul Lewellan

“True Blue,” Every Man’s Fantasy – A Short Story by Paul Lewellan

For fifty-three years the Hilltop Diner on College Street fed the academic community of the University of Southern Iowa (USI). Dr. Benjamin “Blue” Boru’s usual table occupied the back corner by the bathrooms underneath the giant wheezing room air conditioner. Blue arrived daily at six a.m. and ordered The Special: two eggs (fried hard), two slices of buttered toast, hash browns, pork sausage links, and black coffee. After breakfast, Sheila Morgan, the owner’s redheaded daughter, cleared away his plate while Blue poured over Nag-Hammadi manuscripts. She left him alone, except to refill his coffee. She waitressed mornings, cooked for the lunch crowd, then called in the produce orders. Late afternoon and evenings she studied. Sheila began a master’s degree in religion the year she turned forty-three. Her first class was Blue’s. He’d been a regular…

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

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….

Continue reading →

September 1, 2019

William Wolak, Master of Collage

William Wolak, Master of Collage

Bill Wolak has kindly consented to share his masterful collage works with Fictional Cafe, and we’re delighted to bring his work before you. As his collages take different form and shape depending upon his ideas and materials, so it is with his work and creativity. Titles are displayed beneath images. Bill Wolak teaches creative writing at William Paterson University in Paterson, New Jersey. In addition to creating collages, he is a poet and a photographer. He has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2017; The 2019 Seattle Erotic Art Festival; Poetic Illusion; The Riverside Gallery, Hackensack, NJ; the 2019 Dirty Show in Detroit; 2018 The Rochester Erotic Arts Festival and The 2018 Montreal Erotic Art Festival.  artist photo courtesy India Times

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

August 25, 2019

“Disney Rape and Other Paranoid Ramblings,” a Short Story by Kate Rose

“Disney Rape and Other Paranoid Ramblings,” a Short Story by Kate Rose

The things I want more than anything are the things others want: peace of mind. Friendship. Money, even. That’s the one that gets to me. Oh, maybe they all do. Friendship is hard because there has to be a line. You cannot let the other person take over, but you can’t take over either—you need to dance some kind of dance. Hard. Not knowing. I have a friend whose parents were guerrilla fighters. Like most people, I used to think they were named after the ape—that’s how far I was from their, and his, lived reality. He wonders about the people his mother killed—what it was like for her—before she was dragged away when he was two. He remembers her placing him in the neighbors’ care and never seeing her again. His father didn’t get…

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →