December 20, 2023

“Plucked,” A Novel in Verse Excerpt by FC’s Vera West

“Plucked,” A Novel in Verse Excerpt by FC’s Vera West

Seventeen-year-old Iza auditioned on a whim and got accepted (on a scholarship) to a creative arts prep school. Even with just a year left until she graduates, attending this school will give her the edge she needs to be a successful classical violinist and give her more options than what she currently has in the impoverished town where she grew up; but without the support of her mother getting there will be a challenge. After convincing her best friend to drive her to school, working extra shifts to save up money and having her granny forge her father’s signature on the application, Iza is finally ready to make the great escape to Everleigh. 1 She has pluck, they say, with optimism in spades, surely all her dreams will come true.     “Iza Jones, are…

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December 5, 2023

“Happy Birthday to Us,” Poetry by Bruce McRae

“Happy Birthday to Us,” Poetry by Bruce McRae

Happy Birthday To Us I arrived mid-century. A flaw in the seamed dimensions. A stone dropped down a cistern. Already ancient, wonderstruck, fire in my gills and hair, life-naked. I was born all of a sudden. A shift in the given paradigm. A handheld globe of teeth and fur standing athwart of all of history. A faint itch, a rudimentary element, I appeared as if quite by accident. A figure blurred by the side of the road, an eleventh planet, a tiger’s teardrop, a snowman in the parson’s orchard. Heavy with dreams, I was awoken early for my rough appointment. A manic isotope in a fat-lit cavern. One of those molecular contrivances you hear so much about. A mighty atom. A coy abstraction. ** Reality The rules of the game remain couched in esoteric phrases…

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November 27, 2023

“As the Storm Arrives,” Poetry by David Dephy

“As the Storm Arrives,” Poetry by David Dephy

As the Storm Arrives Silence with its excellent syntax is so real, rhythm compensates breathe when the stream of our thoughts shapes our lives, we are the same and always seek each other when silence between us dies. Are we all identical in nature, different in degree? Children can smell the wind more than pets, as you know they prowl the streets, and the smell of the wind will color them lilac, though for now only the moon rises, and each tree, remains as the heart of a wind, each wind a string on time’s lyre, divine love reflected upon its own reflection, wickedness kindling that flame of darkness, but when the hero strikes her anvil of freedom, the vision returns, here the mist is a single thought floating within islands of silence, and the…

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November 21, 2023

“Gone,” A Short Story by Katherine Harper

“Gone,” A Short Story by Katherine Harper

I want to be gone. I want to be utterly gone. I was once gone, but now I am here, but now I am tired of being here and want to be gone. I have been here for so long and have been not gone for so long and I want to be gone like no one has been gone ever before.  I used to be a sky-watcher when I was gone. I used to be a sky-watcher and know all the shapes in the sky. I used to know everything about the night sky, and the night sky knew everything about me when I was gone. Now I am here and there is no night sky. There is no darkness here. Here has no darkness but dark times. I had no dark times when I was gone, just the…

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November 13, 2023

“Wednesday in a Factory Town,” Poetry by John Grey

“Wednesday in a Factory Town,” Poetry by John Grey

WEDNESDAY IN A FACTORY TOWN Sunlight succumbs to weather and chimney, fat gray clouds, much billowing of smoke. In a town of factories, faces stare, solemn and blackened like stove flues, through windows, as red eyes make tunnels in the gloom. Rivers wait like standing water for more dust and grime to fuel their current. Shoppers cough their way from store to store. Kids grub up without even trying. No sky as once was promised. Not even the church, chiming three o’clock, can get back God’s attention. ** EMMA, A MONTH BEYOND THE DEATH OF HER FATHER She can’t swerve to avoid the dead possum on the road without crashing through huddled sobbing mourners and braking just in time so she doesn’t topple down into the freshly dug hole, and smash headlong into her father’s…

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October 19, 2023

“Baby Rando,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

“Baby Rando,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

Walt could not be more pleased with their baby boy, now they’d had him home a couple of weeks. With his fuzz of orange hair and sparkling green eyes, the child glowed. Rando laughed almost as soon as he came from the hospital. Ginger’s Dad called when he got back from The Islands. He could hardly believe it. He had given up hope of his only child making him a grandparent.   Rando came three weeks early, fully formed, Walt informed Ginger’s Dad. Would you believe it? A father at forty-two, after a double bypass hit him wham, sucker punch to the solar plexus. Ten days later he had this fine scar down his naked chest. They took the few chest hairs he had before surgery. Never grew back. He missed them. He had given each…

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October 11, 2023

“Taking Daddy’s Photograph,” Poetry by Gopi Kottoor

“Taking Daddy’s Photograph,” Poetry by Gopi Kottoor

Taking Daddy’s Photograph Daddy’, I said, ‘Stand by those shoe flowers, there are so many of them blooming this morning’. Daddy took a step back. There is a strange beauty, in the hibiscus sheen, when, from the fresh green the hundred shoe flowers mount red. Daddy now looked like he was some God coming to me in a dream of sacrifice. He puffed hard at his cigarette, its red butt putting all the hibiscuses to shame. Looking on into the camera eye, Daddy said, ‘Be careful, son, The sun is still in front of you. Don’t let in too much light’. I remember, I knelt down, so the lens could take the shade, holding him right. Dad smiled, as though in the camera eye Lay his only woman. And in that stained Hibiscus silence, Time…

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September 29, 2023

“In the Days of the Revolution,” by David Michael Litwack

“In the Days of the Revolution,” by David Michael Litwack

Tehran, February, 1979  “So you’re a bachelor,” I ventured.  “Why do you say that, agha?”  “You wear the brown of a bachelor.”  “That is a custom for the maghrebi—the westerners. The Berbers. For me it is a good color to disguise the filth I encounter here. For example, that dog.”  “Nice taqiyah!” I was complimenting his white cap. White linen doubled over with a kind of gold filigree.  “It is an araqchin, agha.”   “Why are you sitting here?” I asked. I had had enough of the xenophobic vocabulary lesson. He’s irritated me so I decided to be irritable in return.  “I am making illustrations of the bustle and tragedy of these people. These Emricani and the Irani. Maybe some are from Afghanistan as well. They are always in the wrong place. Always the wrong time, those…

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August 22, 2023

“The Jam,” A Short Story by Joshua Britton

“The Jam,” A Short Story by Joshua Britton

A black Nissan hatchback with its lights off rolls down the street. Troy is at the wheel, and he and Brandon listen through the open windows for community unrest. But it’s dark and quiet. The lights go off at 11:00, inside and out, whether you’re ready or not.   Utopic villages like this one have sprouted up all over the country, segregation as a result of a rigorous application process. Troy had tried to be admitted just hard enough to know it was futile. These communities were designed to keep out gimps like Troy and minorities like Brandon. If discovered, how they’d snuck in would cause a panic among the residents.  Aided by light from the moon without the hindrance of light pollution, Troy slowly navigates the hatchback toward the main gate through the flat neighborhood…

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August 15, 2023

“Featherweight,” A Short Story by Avi Setiawan

“Featherweight,” A Short Story by Avi Setiawan

On a warm day in May, when only a few clouds tripped across the sky like lambs, Gertrude Stocking began to float away.   It was a clear day, with a sky so blue that it made Gertrude Stocking want to cry. She didn’t cry, though; she felt as if she was stewing in a huge pot of soup. It was that kind of day.  Gertrude Stocking didn’t notice that she was floating at first, thinking that she was particularly light on her feet on this particular May day. But as she traveled up the street, Gertrude Stocking realized that her feet were no longer touching the ground. She stopped and looked down at her brown patent leather shoes. There was a good half-inch between her soles and the pavement.  “Well,” said Gertrude Stocking. “Perhaps if…

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