July 11, 2018

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part II by Victoria Merkle

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part II by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: Here’s the second instalment in Tori Merkle’s novella, “Elephant Tadpoles,” which began on Monday. The concluding Part III appears here on Friday, July, 13. Elephant Tadpoles by Tori Merkle Part II Summers at the Hayward Estate in the British Isles were lustrous and tender. The property felt endless to me, the rows of grape trees in the vineyard stretched on and on until they blurred into the soft green hills beyond them. I wished I could trace my finger along the landscape and feel its nooks and crannies. I thought there must be entire worlds hidden in the ravines between the hills. There were more than enough ravines to explore on the property, though. The stone-walled house had three peaks like a castle, and ivy spun up the sides and the columns that…

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July 8, 2018

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part I by Victoria Merkle

“Elephant Tadpoles” Part I by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: It isn’t often we’re presented with a novella-length submission, but this one was too good to pass up. What makes it extra special is that it’s the author’s first published work. Victoria “Tori” Merkle’s “Elephant Tadpoles” will appear in three segments this week – today, Wednesday and Friday. We hope you’ll appreciate it as much as we baristas did, and will share your Comments with the author. ℘ Elephant Tadpoles by Tori Merkle Part I “Come on, girls, school in an hour!” our mother, Grace Hayward, ushered our two blonde heads down the hall. I was five steps faster, my messy pigtails bobbing up and down as I skipped into the kitchen. My bare feet slapped against the dark oak floor and my plaid skirt, its waistband folded twice over, could have slipped…

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June 26, 2018

Seasons, Identity, Longing: The Poetry of Emily Ellison

Seasons, Identity, Longing: The Poetry of Emily Ellison

    AS a leaf autumnally As a leaf autumnally pitching in wind, I am ravished by the airs of your mouth. Tumultuous I fly, bending, more corrupt with every spineless form of sin. I collapse continually, again.   With ancient hands you seasonally pour decay in my ripe buds, for, on Earth’s floor, I’d received too much tenderness of skin, more than you care to comply with. Veiny contempt spirals with pollen as a new variety to lovemaking, and hands stretch empty, brown. The petulant stem I am quakes, grainy limbs forming foliage of impiety. As your leaf, I toss like a mind in sundown.     anonymity how you do reconcile the dying breath of the flickering fluorescent young? their waning lights of ecstasy throughout weekly hazards are simulations of warmth. the impoverished…

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June 18, 2018

“Juneteenth” by Sarah Kersey

“Juneteenth” by Sarah Kersey

Editor’s Note: On June 19, 1865, the last emancipation of the black people of the United States took place. Occurring in Texas, slavery was that day finally and completely abolished. Although little known or recognized, this final act of abolition was named “Freedom Day” and is often remembered today as “Juneteenth,” for June nineteenth. We are honored to offer you this poetic narrative  entitled “Juneteenth,” commissioned especially for the Fictional Café to recognize this day, written by Sarah Kersey.   Juneteenth I must have died, because now I am free. I couldn’t have. Not today. That general—Galveston is his name?—rode in on his steed. For some reason, I pictured Michael on the white horse in Revelation. General looked defeated. A savior’s a savior, no matter what. How could my master be free, but I am…

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May 22, 2018

“The Beginning of a Tradition” by Rachael Allen

“The Beginning of a Tradition” by Rachael Allen

The Beginning of a Tradition  On Friday night, the eve of my best friend’s birthday, we all drive twenty minutes to the ocean. It is 10 p.m. and we are armed with chocolate chip cookies, hot pretzels, cubed cheese, and an assortment of chips from our college’s late night snack offerings in the dining hall. Though it is mid-May, we dress in winter coats and hats, sitting cross-legged in a circle on the dock, a blanket draped over our laps. We look at the stars and laugh about nothing, cheering for my friend when it is finally midnight. This is tradition, even though it is only the second time we have done this. Having known each other less than four years, the traditions my college friends and I practice are echoes of the ones we…

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May 8, 2018

“Seismometers Feverish & Blue” and “My Truth” by Joanne James

“Seismometers Feverish & Blue” and “My Truth” by Joanne James

SEISMOMETERS FEVERISH & BLUE the clock is black and ticking gold-flecked velvet inside this mystery earth fringed-edged mycelium push out for miles underground one mushroom the entrance to our world mycelium not fragile attuned like seismometers lacey fungal veil holding strong over molten core the core where I live there’s so much difficulty in burning I always took it for granted that your heart I’d melt those years my heart was lava in the time of the rooster in the time of the coconut when we couldn’t make it to the bed we’d take it on the kitchen floor when the ground moves in increments our hearts seismometers feverish and blue I learned that what burns with such intensity has fragility your mouth my delicacy root hairs that push us out of ourselves into another’s…

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May 3, 2018

“I am not a criminal” a poem by Lizzi Lewis

“I am not a criminal” a poem by Lizzi Lewis

I am not a criminal I am ducking my responsibility Before it comes To telling my grandchildren (For I shall have none) That I am the one who did these things;   I am the one who choked the sea With plastic, wrapped conveniently Around everything I could ever need (And some things I didn’t) To keep them sanitary, clean Never mind the lungs and eyes The breaking hearts of those unseen, Never mind the damaged soil Pits of poison, smoke’s toxic roil, Death dripping from the very pores Of those I never knew, never heard of before. It was me.   I am the one who chained the men The women, and the children when I bought the things which owned their lives Paid their captors, swallowed the lies, Ignored the truths I didn’t…

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April 30, 2018

“Haeleigh,” a Short Story by Channie Greenberg

“Haeleigh,” a Short Story by Channie Greenberg

Haeleigh was an angry flannel sheet. Until The March of Linen, she fussed and fumed, shedding copious amounts of lint and feigning an inability to have neatly matching corners. As per hospital squares, forget it. Such precision wasn’t going to happen as long as the laundry service repeatedly overstarched her. That company was cheap. It didn’t steam clothes, but washed them in tepid water. Plus, rather than apply industrial soap, that business used questionable surfactant compounds purchased through Third World middlemen. To boot, that service, which reprehensibly ran mixed loads of darks and lights, caused Haeleigh and many of her kin to become splotched with pink or grey. Additionally, that slipshod cleaner batched together orders from multiple clients, thereby sending some of Haeleigh’s nearest and dearest to foreign addresses. It was rumored that Haeleigh’s brother,…

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April 24, 2018

The Poetry of Pain by Barbara Lawrence

The Poetry of Pain by Barbara Lawrence

Breaking the Silence A boy cowers in the corner as his mother raises a belt high into the air. A girl clings to her teddy bear as Daddy enters her room in the middle of the night. A woman fights for her life as a stranger drags her into a vacant alley. So many voices Silent. One voice pierces the darkness, coaxes courage. A second voice emerges from the shadows then another then another… An angry choir swells: No longer will we remain silent. No longer will we hide in secrecy, shame, and fear. Tonight is the night we shout  NO MORE! NO MORE!     Hypervigilance She surfs the edge of dreams dares not sleep too deep the Bogeyman lurks in every shadow eager to tear flesh from bone. Snap of twig outside the…

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April 16, 2018

Barista Rachael Allen’s Literary Vacation in Italy

Barista Rachael Allen’s Literary Vacation in Italy

Who says reading is an activity limited to your couch and a cup of tea? Over spring break, I had the chance to travel around to the homes, museums, and fictional locations of authors whose works I have been reading in my Italian literature course. My class teamed up with a Latin class to travel to Sicily, Italy. Over the course of ten days, we toured around the island, visiting ancient sites as well as literary sites related to the 20th century Sicilian writers we were studying. From statues to tombs to street signs, these Sicilian towns have all chosen different ways to preserve the legacy of these writers and their fictional characters, providing ample evidence (not that any of us needed it) that characters really do live off of the page. We began in…

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