August 29, 2022

African Safari Campfire Stories by Lesley Mukwacha

African Safari Campfire Stories by Lesley Mukwacha

“17 guides and a lioness”  Being the head ranger at a fast-growing game reserve in Zimbabwe, I was assigned the duty to take seventeen young aspiring newly recruited guides and game scouts for a seven-day intense training program in the Victoria falls national park, something I enjoyed and was very good at. Something I was passionate about. I was excited beyond measure.  The seventeen young men were also just as excited as this would be their first such experience and would certainly shape them into remarkable safari guides, tour leaders, game rangers, and anti-poaching scouts. We were all ready to get the show on the road. The company had given us two vehicles for the trip into the heart of the park, a 4×4 22-seater overland truck for the seventeen boys and a 4×4 Land…

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August 25, 2022

“Blue Ridge Autumn,” A Poem by Reed Venrick

“Blue Ridge Autumn,” A Poem by Reed Venrick

“Blue Ridge Autumn” ONE On a cold but sunny afternoon, late autumn, Wendy hurries up a chilly, pine-shaded sidewalk. And as she hurries, she memorizes her favorite poem from that semester’s study and strife; she, sounding out dee-dum, the stresses of iambic rhythm, while inhaling the rich aroma of pine boughs hanging over her ascending walk. After another week of classes, just a few weeks more, at the university across the ridge, but now Wendy hurries on up to her waitressing job at the restaurant and hotel called “The Grove Park Inn,” where Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda dined, where Thomas Wolfe rushed to write—gazing out to Mount Pisgah. Hopkin’s “Spring and Fall,” the sounds stepping inside Wendy’s fresh-air brain, as she recites the lines on an autumn day cold enough to need a woolen sweater,…

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August 9, 2022

“The Guacamole Incident,” by William Torphy

“The Guacamole Incident,” by William Torphy

Horace reaches for the party-sized plastic tub, hits it with his thumb and pushes it off the coffee table. The tub falls face-down, sending gobs of guacamole exploding across the new cream-colored Berber carpeting, instantly transforming its surface into an abstract painting of green clods and speckling red.   He slides off his lounge chair and kneels next to the goopy mess. Silvia will be home soon from her therapy appointment. There’s going to be hell to pay and he needs to think quickly. Grab something to sop up the carnage— a rag, a towel, a sponge. Maybe something like a trowel to first scoop up the worst of it. Armed with a spatula, he attempts to spoon up the chunky clumps but he only manages to spread the catastrophe further. He tosses the guac-covered spatula…

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August 4, 2022

“I’ll Have Water Overnice,” by Kaeli Dinh

“I’ll Have Water Overnice,” by Kaeli Dinh

I’ll have water overnice Freedom was getting to sleep over at our uncle’s. Fridays consisted of squirting ketchup into our waters and Saturdays with blankets over our eyes from the late-night horror films. We were three spoiled children that slept with sugar running through our veins and nightmares we didn’t tell our mother. Then the pencil marks on the wall got higher and our hands started to grab more. But uncle was still squirting ketchup into his water. Freedom was forgetting to answer his calls and taking cash out of the birthday cards he made. Keeping us healthy costs more than his insulin shots. But his hand kept feeding until he lost his sight. He was fooled humbling himself a Giving Tree. We took his only good apples and now his eyes. When he wanted…

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July 28, 2022

“Algorithms and Lies,” A Short Story by Dave Swan

“Algorithms and Lies,” A Short Story by Dave Swan

Mick Sanford stared at the screen, blinked, and shook his head, thinking his editor had lost her millennial mind. She’d just sent an email telling him to submit his new manuscript, “Murder By Desire,” for review—not by her, but by some artificial intelligence bot. Unbelievable.  Muttering about the young punks wrecking the business, he started his video meeting app. “Good afternoon, Mick,” Lindsey Parrish said pleasantly a minute later. “I thought I might hear from you today.”  She was going to hear plenty. “You’ve got to be kidding me. What the hell is this?”  “The principle is really no different from spellcheck,” Lindsey said, unruffled. “It gives us metrics that affect the quality of the story. I’m not saying I’ll accept all of Max’s advice—”  “Who?”  “That’s what the bot is called. A lot of…

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July 26, 2022

“Spare Parts,” Poetry by John Kucera

“Spare Parts,” Poetry by John Kucera

Spare Parts I like best the ones that change: Elephant. Tiger. Bear. Old books on the shelves reflecting every self I’ve ever been. The boy who thought he’d do much better to the man who got fired for correcting his boss. The trips to the zoo and the trips to Europe and the trips back home during midterms where I carried the books in cardboard boxes up staircases to rooms that were long ago abandoned. I’ve outgrown this old house and want to let my old selves breathe. I can’t stand to leave them stacked on the shelves. Or in boxes. I open the small ones last and count the contents. I recount them later because if one went missing it would leave a hollow space. ** Determinism Boxing isn’t really about pain. To hurt…

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July 14, 2022

“What You Said About Me,” Poetry by Eric Forsbergh

“What You Said About Me,” Poetry by Eric Forsbergh

What You Said About Me The first two sips of beer are the best, you tease good-naturedly as we huddle on a second date -the dark eddy of a railway station bar. First, foam annoys the upper lip. Then bubbles bristle in the throat. On brew, the stomach bloats. But, oh, those first two draughts. A river of passengers flows past, head-on toward destinations, delays, side-tracks, cancellations. How we like to overlay our futures onto those of passersby, guessing at their plunges into rapids, cascades, often jutting rocks, hoping for a pool of calm. How are they a match? you laugh. A season on, and now you banter with me smilingly. Maybe this is more like wine, slow to unfold complexity in the us we’re tasting every day. ** Pursuit of Food The sea breathes…

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July 11, 2022

“Beauty and the Gym” by Colton Vandermade

“Beauty and the Gym” by Colton Vandermade

The gym is for the apartment complex. A majority of the gym’s population includes moms reaching back towards their fitter past and young childless men who will one day give up on fitness altogether once they begin their own child rearing.  On a given Wednesday afternoon, the random assortment of moms and bros fills the small space. Moms on ellipticals and bros on the weights. Everyone has headphones in, everyone in the same room, but everyone’s individual music tastes transport them to immensely varying experiences.  That is, until a mother of three and soon to be four cries out in alarm. A small puddle forms at her feet and she knows immediately that she is going to be a mother of four a whole lot sooner than she expected. The cry draws the attention of…

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