Nickeled-and-Dimed – Iris N. Schwartz

 

Brooklyn, New York; 1967

In the middle of the sitcom “Love on A Rooftop,” Lenore, eight, announced she had swallowed a nickel. Her voice was low, her words measured.

Imogene rushed over. “Are you sure?”

Her sister nodded.

Imogene paced the living room, muttered, “How could this happen?” Regarding her younger sister on the sofa still watching Judy Carne, the eleven-year-old again probed, “Are you sure?”

Lenore smiled, slightly.

“Why? On the one night Mother and Dad go out!” Suddenly Imogene was speaking with an emergency operator. “I don’t know how it happened!” and “She’s breathing fine.”

She hung up, shut the TV, glared at Lenore. “You better not be making this up!”

“I’m not.”

“Because if you are…”

The doorbell rang. Two lanky young men in police uniforms were at the door. They probably hadn’t spotted the mold on the mezuzah.

“Is this the household with the coin swallower?”

“Yes, yes, oh God,” the older sibling responded.

Blond Policeman sat down by the unsteady kitchen table. Brunet Policeman stood nearby in the living room, examining the family’s antique, glass-doored bookcase. He seemed rooted there. Would he be nesting soon?

“Can I get you coffee?” asked Imogene. “Gum?”

“No, we’re fine.”

Brunet finally walked into the kitchen. He and Blond questioned Lenore about how she’d swallowed a “Buffalo nickel,” which she “collected,” and was “examining in the dark.” She “didn’t want to bother her sister” by turning on a light. When the eight-year-old held the nickel high, it tumbled from her left thumb and forefinger into her open mouth.

Blond: “Any trouble breathing since the incident?”

“No.” Lenore spotted a humongous water bug by the table leg closest to Blond. Would he notice?

Brunet asked the older sister their parents’ whereabouts.

“Oh, God… they’re at a PTA meeting, and were planning to eat out. They haven’t been out in years, and…”

Brunet: “Well, we need a family member over eighteen to tell us whether she’ll stay here or go to the hospital…”

Lenore gulped. She hadn’t been to a hospital since her tonsillectomy. They hadn’t given her ice cream afterwards like they promised. Just watery Jello. She wouldn’t go! She tried to stomp on the water bug as it neared. It sped away.

Imogene decided their parents should be called and brought home.

Dad grumbled that this was the first time in three years they’d gone out, and now they were back. Early. Mother wore makeup. The sisters knew not to look her in the eyes, hers with mascara, theirs not.

Blond told Mother and Dad that Lenore could get her stomach pumped in a hospital, or the collectible coin would come out the next couple of days if she ate fibrous food and drank lots of water.

Brunet admired out loud the glass-doored bookcase. Was it for sale? Dad and Mother shook their heads, no.

The parents let nature take its course. They didn’t yell at or spank Imogene or Lenore. Mostly Dad grunted; Mother favored silence.

Two days later a dusky Buffalo nickel was affixed to orange contact paper, accompanied by Dad’s funny words. This was taped to the door leading to the basement. Anyone who visited could read it. It hung on that door for a year.

Lenore had dreams involving Blond and Brunet till early spring.

 

ins current cropped (1)Iris N. Schwartz is the author of more than forty works of fiction. Her literary fiction has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies, including 101 Words, The Flash Fiction Press, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published widely, as well. Ms. Schwartz’s first short-short story collection, My Secret Life with Chris Noth: And Other Stories, is scheduled to be published by Poets Wear Prada in Autumn 2017.

The Return Trip – Mark Danowsky

 

My social contract

is a travelogue

 

What I can recall

must be sorted

 

Being social requires

a day to unpack

 

This is how I find

my way back home

 

Mark Danowsky bioMark Danowsky is a poet from Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Gravel, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, and elsewhere. Mark is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Founder of the poetry coaching and editing service VRS CRFT.

And Then At Times – Charles Bane, Jr

 

And then at times

the dips of our marriage are

no different than the falling

into love in Richmond Park

before we started home, and I

wrote every day until the motion

of the ship made me certain that

for every berth going out,

new souls put in, spit from

foam. If I could read Greek or

understand the errand of the

cardinal we watch for with coffee

in our hands, I could make poetry

on the tips of fence spears where

he stops and the fire of you would

go urgently from land to land.

 

charles bane jr - bustCharles Bane, Jr. is the American author of three collections of poetry including the recent “The Ends Of The Earth: Collected Poems” (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015) and “The Ascent Of Feminist Poetry”, as well as “I Meet Geronimo And Other Stories”  (Avignon Press, 2015) and “Three Seasons: Writing Donald Hall” (Collection of the Houghton Library, Harvard University). He created and contributes to The Meaning Of Poetry Series for The Gutenberg Project. See more at http://charlesbanejr.com.

The History Of Their Handprints – Len Kuntz

 

It was the second fire

Years after the garage

Had burnt down

I came home from

Night church

The light switches

Wouldn’t work

I didn’t smell smoke

Right away but heard

My kitten Christopher

Mewling downstairs

The hallway door

Leading there was closed

And in the basement

The shell of my brother’s

Bedroom had become

Charred crimson cinders

Each slat of wood

Resembling red rebar

Or long stove coils

In the smoky haze

I scooped up Chris

Went to a neighbor

Dialed the fire department

They brought an investigator

Who grilled me

Out on the damp lawn

Until it grew so dark

I could no longer see

His expression and

Determine if he was

Actually serious

He pointed questions

Was I resentful my

Parents had left me

While they lived

Somewhere in Idaho

Did I want retribution

Were there issues

I had with them

That would lead me

To set my house on fire

I said

No

No

And

Of course not

I never said how

In those years

Each day was spent

Hustling the demons

That buzzed around

My shallow skull

Like a hive of

Angry wasps

Sometimes drilling

Their stingers

Straight through

My hippocampus

I never said I

Was actually thrilled

My parents were living

Someplace other than here

Where the history

Of their handprints

Still haunted everything

Darker than

The thickest smoke

Glowing brighter

Than any oven coil

Burning everything

To ash

Again and again

And again

 

6294_1156782568787_1504415167_30412971_8075954_n (2)Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU, a story collection out from Unknown Press.  You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.

Tickling Heaven – Fabrice B. Poussin

 

What will he do, the sequoia living in the city,

to belong in the geometric skyline above the sea?

 

Can he compete, layer by layer, for a life deserved

against the structure made brick by brick, of blood?

 

Does he often cry, dislodged as his old friends

have been for so long, homeless among millions?

 

Is survival an option, for the giant without years,

who faces clones of metal and molten rock?

 

Attempting to breathe, bleeding a sweet thick sap,

how can Earth guarantee his daily meals!

 

Far from mile-long roots, unable to move,

shackled in rebar, concrete, and ill will.

 

Far above his cheap imitation of a false brother,

a single tear begins a journey to shake new grounds.

 

Me-BWFabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 200 other publications.

The searchers – John Grey

 

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

the others shouted “where?”

But he was already gone.

I was in a bunch of weary men and women

who were more than ready to pack it in,

cold and damp, and aching for their warm beds.

As the others retreated, I stayed behind,

in woods so silent and empty,

nothing rivaled my heartbeat for sound.

The trees felt like the dark walls

of an abandoned church,

the rocks, altars stained with rain.

And I was the preacher without flock.

Or was that the flock without preacher?.

Was the boy really out there?

Every square inch of forest had been trudged through

by his would-be rescuers.

The wind was bitter, clouds low and gray.

It wasn’t winter but not through lack of trying

on the weather’s part.

Maybe he’d found a secret place

out of reach of red-eyed shivering saviors.

When I ran away and hid, I wanted people to find me.

But that was a long time ago.

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

maybe that was me skirting between the trunks,

through the brush, terrified, miserable,

but enacting part of a plan to be retrieved, taken back,

squeezed even deeper into the family fold.

I stopped. I listened to the shouts.

I longed to cry out in return.

But that wasn’t how it was supposed to work.

I had to lead them on that weary chase longer,

until the anger was fully drained from my pursuers

and only the compassion remained behind.

Forty years later, I wait and watch.

The boy is probably home and safe with his mother

tor all I know.

Most likely, only I am out here now.

So do I keep searching?

Or do I go home to bed?

Wait a minute. What was that?

I thought I saw… or felt penetrate.

Small but bright. The boy. But which one?

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Spider – Natalie Crick

 

The whisper

Wicks from her lips.

A soothing salve.

 

She bends, twists,

Feet touching the walls

In eight different places.

 

Her laurels always rove.

Search.

Hold.

 

Gagging the dawn chorus

Until

The hunger moon thins.

 

Dissecting a house fly,

She commits

Murder on the brightest window,

 

At first frost

Opens the door

Without a guest to feast.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Choking – Jonathan Butcher

 

I remember you in the school

dinner room, choking on the

corned beef sandwiches that

the dinner ladies forced down

your throat; waste held no

relevance between those walls.

 

I remember you sat alone at break

times, hands and stones slapped

across your face like whiplashes,

for an injustice you were far from

capable of committing.

 

And you walked home, your head bowed,

through those orange bricked streets

that framed our morning walks, alongside

the neglected grass verges like miniature

jungles we never dared to enter.

 

Those doors opened once again, before

the sun set behind the grey roofs and dust

like trees, you stand and stare once more

in that hallway mirror that hangs rusted,

and only slightly cracked.

 

Foxglove submissionJonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield, England. He has had poetry appear in various print and online journals including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Elbow Room, Your One Phone Call, Mad Swirl, The Transnational and others. His second chapbook ‘Broken Slates’ was published by Flutter Press.

Mushrooms and Onions – Jon Bennett

 

When I first got a kitchen

I baked salmon

and decided, from then on

fish every day!

I only made it once

I’m too impatient for ovens

and still eat from the bag and can

although I do fry up

mushrooms and onions

with my eggs in the morning

I feel this kitchen

has saved my life

although maybe

it’s the soft bed

that came along with it.

 

jon bennettJon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his stuff on Pandora and iTunes. For booking contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com. Most recently his work has appeared in Degenerate Literature, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.

Ode to Bishop – Carl Boon

 

Late September means

the chickens—

 

in summer imperturbable—

scatter at the shack’s wall.

 

They sense a flesh confined

trucks moving away,

 

the ends of all things

hot and strange.

 

This evening the wind

has shifted; the vines

 

have browned, fall against

the boy’s summer plan:

 

a pyramid, a monument

to which he did not pray.

 

Mother tries the door.

The cat has perched atop

 

the Hyundai top,

a kind of porch,

 

and symbols here have pushed

away to need—tin foil

 

makes a drape, branches

of fig to fence the strays.

 

When the rains come,

the girl, barely old enough

 

to lie, will gather armfuls

of rocks, wishing they were clouds.

 

cb-picCarl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Burnt Pine, Two Peach, Lunch Ticket, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Neighborhood – Catherine Zickgraf

 

In her blue robe,

Mom would light up beacons from her woes,

flashing on the porchlight among row homes.

 

Needing safety,

I’d leave home after bedtime, and row across

sparkle-snow, and drag my footpaths through

the pines, past a creek bridge, and abandoned

railroad ties. I’d follow telegraph roads under

the ocean, seeking the eternal glow of escape.

 

me-and-grandmoms-picCatherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Amazon.com. Watch and read more of her poetry at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com.

Clothespole – Catherine Zickgraf

 

Mother used to spin from the stem of our old clothespole,

except as the paint dried at the first stirring of springtime.

 

Great-Grandpop strung rope from garage roof to porch hook

to shake out the clouds of socks and towels.

 

He built our homestead which still stands after decades—

though he’s long-buried, he’s a hero in mirrors and frames.

 

Great-Grandmom used to pin me too to swing from her lines

and I’d fling legs out and back

in the cirrus shapes stretched where wind flew her flags.

 

Circling our old clothespole in grass dark as pine,

Mother and I, both in our times, scaled the air to touch

the sunshine between us and abundant depths of sky.

 

me-and-grandmoms-picCatherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Amazon.com. Watch and read more of her poetry at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com.

Two poems of hope – Danny P. Barbare

 

Good Days

The
pavement
looks
up

it
sees
the
light

hope
is
the
streets
and
rain
that
shine.

 

The Better of a Rainy Day

Thinking
of
the
light

the
glow
of
a
home

hope
is
the
lamp
shade
beside
the
road.

 

Danny P. Barbare resides in the Upstate of the Carolinas. He has been published in Birmingham Arts Journal and Stone Coast Review. He lives with his wife and family and small dog Miley.

win_20150109_224351

Winning the tombola – Maria Sledmere

 

She turned the package over in her fingers. Silken, purple, properly gift-wrapped. The thought of what might lie inside glazed over her mind like the sweetening glow of a bar of milk chocolate, crunched alone on a cold evening.

She had a full hour to herself, before they returned. This kitchen, the room of her life, seemed transformed before her. The bread bin was open, the fridge was bursting with its hoard of treasures. She didn’t need to touch anything, though it was seductive, to think of the carrots neatly lined up like pens in a stationer’s, the orange juice, the dark bitter rye bread, the drawers chockfull of hazelnuts and brazils and the luxurious sugared lemons they’d bought for the festive season.

Earlier, he’d pinned her against the mahogany wardrobe.

“Do it like this,” he whispered. She remembers such words like a litany.

There were seven words to be said for the lottery. The old women tittered at the sight of her skirt, the hole in her tights. It was an unfair judgment; she had done nothing but turn up, as was her right. Seven words to be said. The music was harsh and synthy; dissonant, like the music they play in a mall, only slowed down to a creepy, molluscan crawl.

He poured dark muscovado sugar on her tongue, lovingly. He put his finger in her mouth, swirled it around, till the coarse stuff got sticky and wet and dissolved. It was as if he had drained the juice of her blood and here she was, dried and rasping. Come.

He used to scrunch her hair in his palms, and later it would lie a certain way against her neck, limp and curled, the filaments crushed.

He had been a jazz musician once. He had played the saxophone in her sleep, the shrill buzz of those notes swivelling through the staves of her veins, twisting her organs to a new truth.

The old women drew papers from a golden box. The one with an amethyst scarf waved a number, triumphantly, as if declaring the birth of an age.

“That’s me!” she had shrieked, leaping from her seat. Their eyes had been upon her, and maybe for a moment she had felt ashamed. Still, it didn’t last. The parcel was duly handed over; she treated herself to a taxi home.

What was the use in waiting? She had dallied long enough.

The ribbons fell apart in her fingers. Her heart backflipped, a ballerina. So this was the promise?

What she saw made her vomit.

 

author-pic-maria-s

Maria Sledmere is currently studying for an MLitt in Modernities at the University of Glasgow, and is otherwise an assistant editor for SPAMzine and part-time restaurant supervisor, a job which provides her with many ideas for strange stories. She regularly writes music reviews for RaveChild Glasgow and has had work recently accepted by publications including From Glasgow to Saturn, DataBleed, Robida and Germ Magazine.  When not obsessing over the literature of Tom McCarthy she may be found painting, making mixtapes or writing about everything from Dark Ecology, Derrida to Lana Del Rey at http://musingsbymaria.wordpress.com.

Picture this – Katie Lewington

 

Restaurant shouts from the kitchen waiter answers the phone to takeaway or to collect boss greets guest my name is Ming, yes as in the vase laughs empty tables frosted glass window waiters hover attentive to needs


love is his wine glass
on my side of the table
and his thigh where I drape my leg
and in my lap –
wine glass
and his fork in my noodles
and I am finishing his dish of beef
and he is reading over my shoulder
and I am using his shoulder as tissue –

small pocket of reality shops shut cold night air dusts red faces pubs grow louder full of celebrators crowds of people forming community which team do you support last orders creep to bed
dream.

 

kl-picKatie Lewington is a UK-based writer and has been drafting, editing and rewriting her bio since she started submitting to literary magazines and journals two years ago. It isn’t as if she doesn’t know who she is, she just isn’t sure what is relevant. Her creative writing can be read at https://katiecreativewriterblog.wordpress.com. She can be contacted through Twitter @idontwearahat.