Come stay with me and be my night – Michael H. Brownstein

 

Come stay with me and be my night,

We’re done with dinner’s clutter

As stars blister through the moonlit light.

 

Water anchors moon streams white

Across the wake, across the cutter.

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

The children at peace, everything’s right,

Goat milk, huckleberry bread, apple butter.

Stars blister into pimpled light.

 

The children dream, the wind grows slight,

The storm is but a mutter,

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

Now comes a fullness full and bright,

Leaves skip across the gutter

As stars blister into moons of light.

 

My love is strong. It knows to fight.

I no longer need to stutter.

Stars blister through the moonlit light.

Come stay with me and be my night.

 

 

unnamed (3)Michael H. Brownstein has had his work appear in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). His book, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia, was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).

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Pumpkin pie – Cath Barton

 

In the dark street the window of the sweetshop shone out. Maisie, aged nine and three-quarters, had taken a detour on her way home from school. She pressed her nose up against the shop window; there were meringues iced to look like ghosts, witches’ hats made of chocolate and little marzipan pumpkins. Maisie pushed her hands deep into the pockets of her coat as she continued to stare at the sweets. In the right-hand pocket her hand closed on something unexpected and she pulled it out. It looked like a small, hard, shiny nut. She held it in the palm of her right hand and touched it, very gently, with her left index finger. Would a fairy appear in a puff of smoke and offer her three wishes, or at least her pick from the sweets? Nothing happened. She touched it again, said one of her own magic spells under her breath and waited. Still nothing happened. She put the nut back in her pocket and turned, reluctantly, from the bright window.

When she arrived home her mother was in the kitchen, looking flustered as she always seemed to be these days.

“Tea’s nearly ready,” she said. “I wondered where on earth you’d got to, Maisie. Wash your hands quickly now.”

They had bread and butter and jam for tea, as usual. Maisie had a cup of milk and her mother drank tea, weak tea. The two of them sat in silence, each lost in her own thoughts, but after a while the warmth from the food and the one-bar gas fire made them easier with one another.

“I’ve got a surprise,” the woman said, and the girl looked up, uncertain whether to ask what it was. Her mother was unpredictable, and Maisie didn’t understand what made her upset.

“It’s a pumpkin. Your dad brought it round. I’m going to make a pie.” She smiled at her daughter in an entreating way.

Maisie found it difficult thinking about her dad, so she thought about the marzipan pumpkins in the sweetshop window instead. She had never eaten pumpkin pie, but she had had marzipan on Christmas cake and she knew she liked that. She managed a wobbly smile

“Tomorrow,” said her mother, “We’ll have it tomorrow. It’ll be a treat.”

That night, when she knelt by her bed to say her prayers, Maisie held the shiny nut between her hands.

“I’m giving you a third chance,” she said, and then, surprising herself with her boldness.

“And just so as you know, this isn’t for me. I want you to make things better for my mum and dad.”

Next day Maisie stopped at the sweetshop window again on her way home from school. The marzipan pumpkins seemed to be winking at her. When she put her hand on the nut in her pocket it felt different. She pulled it out and gasped: it had turned into a coin, as bright and shiny as the shop window. Maisie pushed open the shop door, a bell tinkled and a little old man appeared from a back room.

She ran home with her bag of sweets. At the door she hesitated, hearing voices in the kitchen, but there were no shouts, no tears. Just soft talking.

They had tea together, Maisie and her mother and father. Pumpkin pie. Which, actually, the girl did not like. But she didn’t say so, just smiled. As they all did. Later, Maisie looked in the bag for a marzipan pumpkin. But the bag was empty, apart from a small, hard, empty nutshell.

 

 

Author pic.CathBarton.smallCath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, now published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Cath was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. She tweets @CathBarton1. Find out more at https://cathbarton.com.

Seven sleeper/thruddle-crump/hazel mouse – Rebecca Gethin

 

Under leaves a furry apple of a one-ounce-mouse

sleeps fast in a cup woven with honeysuckle bark.

gaps darned with moss and grass blades.

 

Before sleep it gorges on rosehips, hawthorn

and blackberries, or hazel nuts, leaving little round holes

in the shells. Before seven months of sleep it must be fat.

 

With cold growing thicker, its metabolism slows to a tick over

inside its core. The furred tail is a scarf wound across its face,

as it curls itself into the pips of its heartbeat.

 

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Afterthought – Beth O’Brien

 

I’ve recycled the packaging before I thought

To check the calories.

 

Half way to the bin, I made myself stop and I’m

Standing in the middle of the kitchen,

Battling the need to know, with the words:

It doesn’t matter.

 

But just wanting to look feels like I’m

Walking backwards, and

The words: ‘Just looking won’t hurt’

Already do.

 

Turning around, I sit back down and

Tell myself to just be proud

That calories are now an afterthought.

 

 

unnamed (3)Beth O’Brien is currently studying a degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. She loves reading, writing, food and seeing the world – when any of these overlap, she loves them even more!

Spectacular Toaster – Steven Translateur

 

“That’s the fifth slice of toast burnt,” lamented Brad to his mother.

He tried to toast whole wheat bread and got nothing but chards of carbon.

“Let’s go to the Appliance Emporium for a real toaster this time!” exclaimed Lodia. “Let’s splurge.”

So she and Brad rode down to the store to browse.

They found aisles and aisles of distinct devices from the budget cost to the extravagant.

“May I help you?” inquired Ginrey, a salesman.

“Yes,” said Lodia. “We want a toaster with a guarantee – the best.”

“Then you may be interested in our Jet 5000 – it is the greatest toaster machine ever built. It is so good that we guarantee a perfect slice of toast each utilization. If this does not happen, we refund your money and give you another free toaster. All you have to do is bring the crumbs of a failed toast in for the refund.”

“How much is it?”

“200 pounds.”

“It is worth it. We’ll take it.”

And so they did.

And they used it for a month before it began malfunctioning. It started burning toast just like their previous model.

So they returned to the Appliance Emporium with two slices of charcoal toast crumbs in a bag to show the salesman.

He was not impressed. He said that they were manufacturing the failure and that their toaster would work fine if used properly. He gave them the runaround and argued for all the virtues of the Jet 5000 and said that rarely does anybody actually return it – only if they cannot get it to function properly despite trying every approach.

Then they spoke to a supervisor and he agreed to give the refund plus a free toaster. The free toaster was a budget model called the Economy Toaster.

The Economy Toaster never worked right, but because it was free, they used it anyway, for a few months, until it began malfunctioning and they got sick of it. Instead of toast it began over cooking bread to the point of near disintegration. They tried repairing it but the contraption just got worse and worse. It destroyed several loaves of bread and burnt otherwise good pastries.

Then they returned to the Appliance shop for more help.

This time they purchased a brand new model called the Jet 8000. It had the same guarantee as the Jet 5000 but was more advanced. It had every feature one could imagine for such an invention – three timers, a heat sensor, a toast evaluator that rated the toast from mediocre to excellent, a mechanical voice that could give instructions in 15 languages, a jam dispenser doohickey, a battery power backup, two solar panels power grid, a television for watching the best shows, a video camera for recording cooking fun, a melted cheese releaser, a two way transmitter for contacting the store’s 24 hour help-line, a spare bread holder, and rows and rows of multi-colored blinking light indicators.

They loved it!

They now know it costs 800 pounds for a perfect toaster.

 

 

Steven Translateur’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including
MEMES, MIND IN MOTION, and NEXT PHASE.

Gone – Kenneth Pobo

 

While eating at a diner just north

of Shreveport,

the world ended.

I hadn’t even gotten

my cherry pie yet.

A drizzly day, clouds

had many vacancies.

 

I’d like to remember Earth

at seventy-five degrees,

an abundance of Winston Churchill

fuchsias blooming

in a window box

held to a wooden garage.

Instead,

 

a confused moon mourns

tides it can no longer turn.

 

 

imagejpeg_0_2 (2)Kenneth Pobo had a book of ekphrastic poems published in 2017 by Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. Forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House is a book of his prose poems called The Antlantis Hit Parade. Check out Ink Pantry, Brittle Star, and West Texas Literary Review to find more of his work.

A Problem Shared – Laura Muetzelfeldt

 

Everything important Mum ever told me she told me while cracking eggs. The news was always followed by a business-like tap, freeing wobbly flying saucers from their shells. Mum could crack eggs and open them with one-handed, something I tried to get the hang of, but couldn’t; I always ended up having to rescue tiny triangles of shell from the goo. Making cupcakes to sell at school she told me once they found a lump inside her which turned out to be her twin, dead and swallowed before she was born. Her stories always lasted as long as the recipe took to make, then we would sit down with Dad, and the secrets would fizz inside me as he tucked into whatever we’d just baked, not knowing what I now knew.

Most of the secrets she told me were to do with love. Once, whilst making an almond cake for someone’s birthday, she said:

‘It was only when I met your father that I realised my whole life up to then I’d mistaken lust for love.’

I wasn’t sure what lust was, but it sounded dangerous, creeping – liable to spread when you turned your back.

Mum looked less like a mum when she was baking, like she was just playing at being a grown up. That day, she had flour smudged above her eyebrow and her sleeves rolled up so that they kept drooping, nearly getting in the mixing bowl. I pushed up my sleeves but they kept falling down and getting messy.

All the times we baked, I never told Mum my secrets. I never got that thing where telling other people made your problems seem smaller. For me, it always made them double not halve: like kisses or a punch, they were something you could never take back.

 

 

 

unnamed (4)Laura is a teacher, writer and silversmith who lives in Glasgow with her family. She writes short stories and has been published in journals such as The International Literary QuarterlyBandit Fiction, and Ink, Sweat and Tears; her story, ‘Anna on the Wing’, was highly commended in The Federation of Writers Scotland Competition 2018. She also writes young adult fiction and her novel, Perfect Memory, was longlisted for Fish Publishing’s Young Adult Novel Contest.

Chocolate – Robert Beveridge

 

If I could take a drop

of honey from the tongue of Satan,

 

or dip my silver chalice

in an Erewhon river of chocolate,

 

I would feed you, my lips to yours.

 

Instead I have filled my mouth

with words, my cup

with water from a mudpuddle

 

still I ask you

take your nourishment

from me

 

 

20160903225845_IMG_2924_20160903230828315Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Savant-Garde, Other People’s Flowers, and The Indiana Horror Review, among others.

Jammed in Provence – Deborah Guzzi

 

The December countryside purrs sun-drenched.

Dazed by a barrage of rays, Lourmarin’s

buildings, cut-sandstone cream, curl entrenched

in quietude; local folk are sleeping in.

 

The roads of cobblestone, tail-twist, and weave;

centuries of frost and footfalls mark the place

where Medici royalty ruled and reaved.

Ghosts prowl unwilling to leave last night’s trace.

Shop doors open with a creak; vendors peek

outside and beam, the smell of coffee breezes.

Tea seeps near pitchers of cream on antiques;

the market opens early—just to tease.

 

On the trail of delights in Lourmarin,

baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

 

Baguette in hand, I search out a jam man.

Up and up, I walk, eyes sharp, my head cocked,

to reach the clock for time here ticks unplanned,

past signs of local art, but the door’s locked.

 

I’m awake too early this Sunday morn.

Down I run: on a crooked trail, past a crèche,

in a chair of birch, on a seat well worn;

the manger awaits the birth of the blessed,

beneath a golden star; the story’s told.

 

But, I am off to a town called Bonnieux.

The road’s clear; we climb as the Alps unfold

bare vines, fruitless orchards fill the view.

 

There’s but a moment’s rest and so, I sigh;

Roussillon and its red cliffs are nearby.

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

Worlds Apart – Deborah Guzzi

 

beneath my skin

milk flows like fire:

today I have eaten

 

my daughter’s mouth pulls

her hands knead my breast, her world

deep brown eyes hidden

long black lashes flutter closed

no more but she suckles on

 

in the shade we sit

beside the hotel’s grand door:

no coins in my bowl

 

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

The Sun and the Moon Dance – Deborah Guzzi

 

Father sits zashiki* across from mother

at a low table in a rice paper walled room—

the moon, Tsuki-Yomi, to her sun.

His eyes crinkle—rays on ice in moonlight.

Mother, Amaterasu, named for the Goddess

returns his smile. Her newlywed

countenance warms him.

 

snow slides from

the ryokan’s roof:

udon steams

 

His chopsticks dance

to and fro, from the sushi to her

lips in an ageless ritual,

pink roe from an ivory stalk,

she licks.

 

the inside door

to the bathhouse stands open:

the hall is too long

 

 

*zashiki – in the tatami room

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time and travels for inspiration. Her third book The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press and at aleezadelta@aol.com. Her poetry appears in: Allegro Poetry Magazine and Artificium in the UK, Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature and Scarlet Leaf Review, Canada – Tincture, Australia – Cha: Asian Literary Review, China – Eunoia in Singapore – Vine Leaves Literary Journal – Greece, mgv2>publishing – France, and Ribbons: Tanka Society of America, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, Shooter, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Concis, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. the-hurricanedg.com.

Morning Song – Susan Richardson

 

Mornings begin with the scratch

and rattle of claws against wood,

chaos seeping with fervor

into the void of night.

He plants his feet reluctantly

onto a floor bathed in the chill

of a disappearing moon,

tails sweeping in and out of

precarious spaces between his ankles.

It is a long walk to the kitchen,

where the hiss of an opening

can awakens a cacophony of hunger,

mingled with chords of impatience.

A spoon clanking against glass sets

the rhythm for notes of anticipation.

He fills the bowls and places

them on the branches of the tree.

Quiet settles into plump warm fullness.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

olio d’oliva – Diana Devlin

 

she pours oil

into a fancy bottle

tiny golden globules rise

like fish coming to feed

and all at once she hears

nonna’s laughter

ancient church bells peal

invite the pebbled path

and its people

up to the duomo

plump tomatoes

figs

and frogs caught

in coffee tins

home

 

 

IMG_4511Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living near Loch Lomond. A former translator, lexicographer and teacher, Diana now writes full time and shares her life with a husband, two daughters, a Jack Russell and two eccentric cats. Her work has been published both online and in print and she is working towards her first collection. She is a member of several writing groups and enjoys sharing her poetry at public events.

Man in the house – Claire Sexton

 

Man in the house and all normal routines stop. We are asked to watch man-programmes, and eat man-sized food and drink.

Twittering and lounging is curtailed, and threadbare togs abandoned wholesale. Legs are shaved, and a new self consciousness prevails.

Once again I am trapped in between male and female spaces. Weighing in and holding back. Gallantry and equal pay. The devil or the nephilim.

Aware of my delinquency, I take to my bed. Not wanting to unbalance either. Not wanting to uncover the gaping hole beneath the smiles and flowers.

Terrified of offending the ying or the yang, I socialise with the under fives. Sing theme tunes and nursery rhymes. Become intimately acquainted with the Twirlywoos.

The truth is I like neither steak nor rabbit food. I am neither cocksure or human snail. I form my own opinions and calculate my own share of the bill.

I prefer my toast brown, but not burnt.

 

 

View More: http://rupaphotography.pass.us/headshots-rcppor2015Claire Sexton is a Welsh writer and librarian living in London. She has previously been published in Peeking Cat Poetry, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Hedgerow, Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, and Light – a journal of photography & poetry.

Missing You – Lisa Reily

 

Raspberry and mango bougainvilleas, the tang of guava,

an orange and silver carp on a Balinese path, breathing

its last breath of hope, for someone to save it.

 

Pomegranate seeds popped into your mouth

dribble down your cheek to stain your new white pants;

your snow-teeth bite into watermelon, crumbling

from its watery pink into water itself.

 

My love for you is a crisp yellow pineapple, pale seaweed

dabbled in sunlight, the musky pink of my fingernails;

blue-grey dolphins, white baby seal love, the emerald sun

and the cool green sky; a tortoise underwater, an ache of forever,

 

a smiling purple dog; a yearning unresolved.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. She is now a budget traveller with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com.