January 29, 2023

“Man Does Not Live By Words Alone”

“Man Does Not Live By Words Alone”

Poetry by Dana Yost Rainbow   Through the window  the sun blew into  a glass of white wine  then refracted into a rainbow  upon the skin of lemon-pepper chicken  as we talked about Nazi death camps  and soldiers killed by sniper fire  in Vietnam. A teacher dead  in the recent derecho.  It was such a peaceful  setting for death, wasn’t it?  The seven of us around the table  and one finally mentioned  amnesty for draft-dodgers,  and no one went berserk,  no one even disagreed.  We shook our heads  at the insanity of war,  at the cruelty of death,  and my classmate  posted photos on Facebook  of herself in hospice,  ready to die from cancer.  “I’ll be here for the end,”  she said from her living room  couch, under a blanket. I looked   for a rainbow but…

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January 20, 2023

“Paper Dolls” by Rachel Gonzalez

“Paper Dolls” by Rachel Gonzalez

A Short Story by Our New Writer in Residence He has a collection of paper dolls and a workshop dedicated to them. It’s a perfectly maintained and organized room filled with tools of his trade. Xacto knives and self-healing mats, tacky spray for stubborn pages, creasing tools for the ideal line. There are no unruly folds or crinkled edges in his workshop. He’s a sentimental man. His favorite paper dolls live in a box on the highest shelf.  Sometimes he pulls them out to admire them, or to take inspiration for his newest project. His process is very thorough: First comes the raw material. He can spot the potential of a page from a mile away. Be it the pattern or the texture or the pliability, he knows a good page when he gets his…

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May 14, 2020

“Process,” An Essay and Poetry by Mbizo Chirasha

“Process,” An Essay and Poetry by Mbizo Chirasha

Editor’s Note: Featured here is work from The Fictional Café’s 2020 Poet in Residence, Mbizo Chirasha. We begin with the first of two images (above) from his collection entitled “Locked Paddocks,” followed by “Process,” an essay about Mbizo’s search for identity and becoming a “born again human.” Next, we have the second image from “Locked Paddocks” and finally a poem, simply titled “2.” We hope you enjoy the creative work of Mbizo. “Process,” an Essay  Immersed in the cauldron of swirling floods, I flap my weighted wings with a singular drive carrying my dreams in a perforated duffle bag. My feet seek the sun at midnight in the land processing its abortion of tomorrow under the sniper’s telescope so no truth escapes unpunished. I am a child of the South thrown further South where oceans crash with…

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February 6, 2020

Brett Stout – Deep, Dark Paintings

Brett Stout – Deep, Dark Paintings

All images copyright, Brett Stout. *** Brett Stout is a 40-year-old artist and writer. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and paramedic. He creates mostly controversial work usually while breathing toxic paint fumes from a small cramped apartment known as “The Nerd Lab” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His work has appeared in a vast range of diverse media, from international indie zines like Litro Magazine UK to Brown University. This is his first feature in The Fictional Café.

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February 4, 2020

“Insect People,” Flash Fiction by Rich Ives

“Insect People,” Flash Fiction by Rich Ives

The Thoughts I Live in Seem to Accept My Flight European Mining Bee  Dear Chomsky,  My colon’s gone semi. I thought telling you would explain my recent uncharacteristic lack of correspondence. Yesterday I tithed my toilet. Today I’m 90% certain I agree with what’s left. If you’d send me an opinion on breakfasting, I’d certainly think about it.  I’m still being serviced by two membranous wings, joined in flight by tiny hooks at my narrow waist. I have a saw-like ovipositor, long and slender like in parasitic wasps. I’m told that my egg was fertilized though the males’ aren’t. I’m a very social gal, and you can rely on me to spread the word about your genius. You probably get that all the time. What I mean is I’ll help explain why you’re right.  My pollen collection…

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January 30, 2020

“Kung Fu Crack Baby,” by John Reedburg

“Kung Fu Crack Baby,” by John Reedburg

Editor’s Note March 2022: We featured John’s story back in 2020 when it was still just a short story. It has since blossomed into a full-fledged novel and we are happy to hear the news! This is an excerpt from the book Cracks of Light, copyright (c) 2021, by John Charles Reedburg. Published by Valorous Books. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. My elementary school was an off-white graffiti spectacle of a building that looked like it was a semester or two from dying of old age. Walking down the halls made me feel I’d become swallowed alive, passing down into the belly of a fire-breathing dragon until defecated into my 4th-grade class that smelled like urine. I hated going to school. My mother was a drug addict who only made sure I went so she could get a welfare check. While most kids went to learn,…

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January 28, 2020

“Go Blow,” a Short Story by Alan Berger

“Go Blow,” a Short Story by Alan Berger

He would have said how the fuck could they make a trumpet out of plastic and have come forth out of it with such beautiful sounds. Sounds like he heard his father play on his brass trumpet. But Gabriel was only four years of age when he got it and didn’t know yet what plastic was.  Gabe’s mother and father were always fighting. With her doing most of the fighting and him doing most of the ignoring. She was jealous of his trumpet, which he played all the time.  Gabe would listen to his father play in the next room and play along with him from his room.  That duo would harmonize until mom started hitting dad and if Gabe was still playing after a few smacks at dad, she would go into his room and smack on him.  By that time dad would start playing his horn…

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January 26, 2020

“Junk Mail,” a Short Story by T.R. Healy

“Junk Mail,” a Short Story by T.R. Healy

As he waited in line to order a cappuccino, Poston was surprised how crowded the Java Station was this late in the morning. Generally, it was less than half full at this time but, for whatever reason, every table was occupied. He couldn’t sit outside because it was still raining so he supposed he would have to share a table with another patron which was not something he liked to do. “Do you mind if I join you?” he asked an older woman with spiky auburn hair that made it appear as if she were in a constant state of fear.  “Sorry?” she replied, looking up from the spiral writing tablet next to her espresso.  He pulled out the opposite chair. “It’s so crowded in here.”  “Oh, yes, of course. It is busy, isn’t it?”  Nodding, he sat down…

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January 22, 2020

“That Finals Hour,” Poetry by John Grey

“That Finals Hour,” Poetry by John Grey

THAT FINALS HOURIt’s not complacency. It’s stupefaction.The final is in an hour. And I’m notsucking this pen like a popsicle.Behind my lips, I’m in a chewing frenzy.Yes, I’m sipping coffee. And peelingand orange. But the activity requiredis like a drug. My frayed nerves deserveno less. Some friends stroll by.Trades looks tell all. Once eyesadopt a principle of honesty,self-confidence falls flat on its own face.In a room to the building on my right,it’s not a simple mathematics test thatawaits but the labors of Hercules.A growling Nemean lion of an algebrapuzzle. A geometrical hydra. Astamping, snorting, trigonometryCretan Bull. Compared to me,the ancient strongman had it easy.He could stop at twelve. Ah, if onlythe test were on mythology. Allthose contradictory characteristics.Gods and heroes. The supernatural.The bloody. The inspiring. Themiraculous. Best of all, one plus oneonly had to equal…

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January 15, 2020

“Hue,” Colorful Flash Fiction by Kasondra Perez

“Hue,” Colorful Flash Fiction by Kasondra Perez

Southern California is the same hue as your eyes. Brown rutted brush where the goats will chew out the fire breaks so maybe we won’t burn up like your rage on a Saturday night after maple colored scotch.   I remember white blankets of soft ice covered the town where I went to school. Everything was touch and go, where winds would pick up like a whip and snap you forward on the walk from your dormitory, coming up again on the return like a violent slap to the face of pitch cold, kind of like last night with your words, never actually, but reaching into my grey matter and thumbing at the tabs of files until pulling out one labeled Insecurities. You took that folder and studied it like admissions counselors studied my manuscripts. Scrutinized and memorized. …

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