Eustace – Sandra Arnold

 

The shock of seeing Eustace in the charity shop window almost rattled Miranda out of her skin. She’d never believed her parents’ insistence that they hadn’t got rid of him. But twenty years later there he was. Eustace as he’d looked at the edge of the sea, watching her father tip grandpa’s ashes into the waves. Watching her father’s tears as the arc of grey grit hit the water. Listening to tales of grandpa’s fishing days; how he’d taught generations of boys to swim and fish and sail; how he was the best of men. While her cousins watched bits of crushed bone drift away on the tide, Miranda watched the boy. His white curls haloed around his head like the seeds of a dandelion clock before they’re blown away by the wind. She asked him who he was. “Eustace,” he said.

The psychiatrist suggested art therapy as a way to unlock whatever had caused Miranda’s mutism. However, he added, as several of her cousins exhibited the same symptoms there was probably a genetic component.

While Miranda painted Eustace he told her he knew why all the girls in her family were mute. She didn’t go back to art therapy. Instead she talked to Eustace.

The psychiatrist reassured Miranda’s parents that imaginary companions were common in solitary children, and it was simply coincidence that the boy in Miranda’s painting resembled her grandpa’s brother who’d drowned as a child, and when Miranda started socialising with real children the imaginary one would disappear. He did. And so did the painting.

“Nice painting, eh?’ said the charity shop owner.

She nodded. “I’ll take it.”

She’d show her cousins. She’d tell them about Eustace. She’d tell them everything.

 

Sandra's author photoSandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She is a novelist, essayist, short story and flash-fiction writer with a PhD in Creative Writing from CQ University, Australia. Her work has been widely published and anthologised in New Zealand and internationally and has won several awards. Her flash fiction appears in numerous journals including The Airgonaut, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Flash FrontierBlue Fifth Review and was selected for the UK 2017 National Flash Fiction Day international anthology, Sleep is a beautiful colour. Learn more at http://authors.org.nz/author/sandraarnold.

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.

Over the fence – John Grey

 

I watched the boy

struggle to climb a fence.

I don’t know whether his intent

was escape

or if he was merely retrieving a lost ball.

 

It was a tall, wooden stockade barrier

and progress could be measured

in the merest of inches

but failure was all the way back down.

 

I didn’t volunteer my help.

He was a kid

and that would have been an insult.

But he did catch my gaze

once or twice.

He must have thought my height

was unfair.

 

He could have much more easily

exited through his front gate

but that lacked the derring-do of a real option.

The fence was Mt. Everest or an opposing army

or a thick jungle or a rampaging animal.

Or maybe it was even me.

 

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.

Reel Life – Chrissi Sepe

 

Why did I choose “Dance of the Dwarfs” when my dad’s best friend, Elijah, had me perform piano for his new friend? This stranger was a glum man with a blonde bowl haircut and bangs: the spitting image of Paul Williams.

“You must listen to her play!” Elijah said. “She’s a child prodigy!”’

My piano teacher gave me the song only hours earlier. What made me think I could play it? My fingers fumbled, and I knew I was horrible.

“Always a pleasure,” Elijah said.

Elijah had heard me play dozens of times. I gazed up at Paul Williams from the piano bench. He simply nodded.

“Why don’t you sit in with us in your dad’s studio?” Elijah asked.

The studio was actually my parents’ bedroom where my dad kept his reel-to-reel machine. There were seven people already crammed around the double bed, all facing the reel-to-reel that stood to the side of the room on a small, wooden table. Everyone focused on the melodic music of trumpets, drums, guitars, and the sweetest voice that ever emanated from a woman: Marcy with the beautiful, long, blonde hair. She had a tiny brown, cut out leather purse strapped around her gold turtleneck sweater and those Indian moccasins that dominated the streets of the 1970’s. Elijah closed his eyes as we listened to the song written by my dad.

“Beautiful! Bravo!” Elijah said, eyes now open, his hands applauding loudly.

“You are an amazing singer!” my dad exclaimed, turning to Marcy.

My heart gently sank because my dad never complimented anyone on their singing. He was a singer himself, therefore a harsh critic.

Back in the living room, my mom sat on our couch, reading a magazine. I sensed that she didn’t like when musicians hung out in her bedroom on a weeknight. Why did she want to spoil the fun?

“Mom?” I asked. “Why do you think Elijah closed his eyes while the song played?”

“It helps people listen to the music better.”

I was surprised she had an answer.

Several years later when I was a teen, my dad died, and Marcy sent us a condolence card. I told Elijah how thoughtful that was.

“Oh yeah, Marcy! She blamed me for not contacting her to tell her how sick your dad was. She’d heard from someone else that he’d passed. I hadn’t heard from the woman in years, and she reams me out?!”

When my mom tossed out most of the sympathy cards, I grabbed Marcy’s from the pile and brought it into my bedroom. I cradled it in my hands.

Over the years, I’ve mostly remembered how my dad complimented Marcy’s voice and how Paul Williams only nodded after I’d played my song. What I should carry more closely in my heart is how Elijah invited me to hear my dad’s reel-to-reels. And how my mom knew exactly how to answer the question of why Elijah’s eyes were closed when he listened to the music.

 

unnamedChrissi Sepe is the author of novels, “Bliss, Bliss, Bliss,” and “Iggy Gorgess.” Her essay “Anais Nin – A Recipe for Immortality” appears in Volume 13 of the Anais Nin Literary Journal, and her short story, “Caramel Macchiatos and Conversation,” is in Volume 14, both published by Sky Blue Press.

Sinister – Maurice Devitt

 

*Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed.

 

At school I wanted to be

left-handed, so I told

the teacher my right arm

was broken, hitched it in a scarf

around my neck and proceeded

to write with my left – whispery

at first, but gradually I gained

strength and my ‘O’s became

perfectly rounded: pieces of art,

letters I could stand back from

and admire. That day over lunch

I drew one on the classroom

floor, pulled a rope-ladder

from my pocket and climbed

down, careful to cover my tracks.

It seems I tunnelled in the dark

for hours, until suddenly I saw

a circle of light, clambered

towards it to lift myself out,

only to be met by the cold stare

of my mother,

a stick of chalk in her right hand.

 

Personal PhotoRunner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017, Maurice Devitt was winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015 and has been placed or shortlisted in many competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Listowel Collection Competition, Over the Edge New Writer Competition, Cuirt New Writing Award, Cork Literary Review  and the Doire Press International Chapbook Competition. He has had poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, the US, Mexico, Romania, India and Australia, runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

How I arrived at who I am – John Grey

 

When I was seven,

my father bought me an airplane kit,

something to put together

with glue and guile

and instructions translated directly

from the Korean.

 

He did not help me in any way.

And I proved useless at the task,

would have set fire to the little

balsawood pieces

had I been allowed to play with matches.

 

There are other projects,

other details,

but they all amounted to the same thing.

My hand and my eye

were as Sanskrit is to the Ford Edsel.

 

So I grew up

surrounded by piles

of shapes and images,

and the encouraging cry of,

“Go for it, kid.”

 

That’s why I sat in the corner

building things that always fell apart,

falling apart the more

with each passing year

while I struggled to patch here,

hammer a nail there,

employ the tools

whose use I never understood.

 

Luckily, somewhere along the line,

I was able to set aside objects

and take up with words.

Sure, the sentences I constructed

were no more stable

than my cars, my castles,

my Lego giraffe.

But, as long as it was down on paper,

a Ford Edsel really was Sanskrit.

It got so not even I knew the difference.

 

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.

Door – Udit Mahalingam

 

The word of a lover.

It is the word of a hinge

That creaks to the sound

Of its own turning.

Hoarse and coarse.

It loves only to lie.

Lie and smile.

 

But, what is a door?

The secluded path

To the past?

A Jetstream of memories…

For me, it’s the way

That leads to a new beginning.

A new face. A new time.

A new lie? A new smile?

 

20170114_123337000_iOSUdit Mahalingam is a teenager from Aughton, a small town on the border between Merseyside and Lancashire. He studies at Merchant Taylors Senior Boys School in Crosby. In addition to writing poetry, he spends his free time mulling over poems from the likes of Sylvia Plath to Robert Barrett Browning. There is never a time when he doesn’t have his nose stuck in a book! He aspires to have a beneficial effect on the world in whatever way possible, whether through voluntary work or through poetry and hopes to study English at degree level.

Losing Mum – Arlene Antoinette

 

I dreamt of wild flowers

in a field filled with little girls

blowing hair off handfuls

of dandelions. Little boys chasing

two headed giraffes, and grandmother

holding up her famous peace cobbler

to the sun yelling for everyone to come

and get some.

Hungry, I headed towards the

house but stopped as I saw you there

holding baby Johnny in your arms

soothing him with one of those lullabies

you used to make up. The sound of rhythmic

clicks played just beyond your words.

When I opened my eyes, I was sitting alongside

your bed, your chest rising and falling as the

respirator forced air into your uninterested

lungs.

 

stillmyeyeArlene Antoinette enjoys writing poetry and flash fiction. More of her work may be found at: Sick Lit Mag, GIRLSENSE AND NONSENSE and Boston Accent Lit.

On Memory – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

 

Memory is a laughing girl, eager, unafraid.

See how she streaks, quick and unruly,

untrammelled as her sun-spilled hair,

with never a care in this shimmering world

nor yet a glance over her pale, freckled shoulder.

 

Now the days of half a century trouble her less

than the fuzzy recollections of a week ago.

Still she follows the path that teases and twists 
to where she will falter and stumble.

Here there waits the child who ran brave

and head-back breathless through

the skulking tea-time trees.

 

Once she thought her heart would be lost,

swallowed by that fairy tale forest.

Now she see a clearing, a shaft of light,

and a hedge as dense as a wall.

From behind it rises like the not long dead

the voices of a dozen women working.

One of them sings in clear high tones

above the clamour of their children at play.

 

It is late afternoon when the roosting sun

burnishes the slope of the roof tops.

From out the long shadows a hook-nosed crone 
comes creeping to bless the way.

 

SONY DSC

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance, Cornwall where she lives with her singer/songwriter partner David and her little dog, Percy. Formerly a teacher of English and English Literature, her work has now appeared in more than a hundred journals, magazines and anthologies and on several continents. When she is not actually writing or performing her work she is most likely to be reading, hooking rugs or walking by the ocean.

Haybalers – JD DeHart

 

Pollen shaken

into the air greets my

nostalgic nose.

What summer must have been

twenty years ago.

 

The haybalers are somewhere,

I hear them in the distance,

churning. But the sound

of birds outweighs them.

 

There will be no more rumble

when they are finished, left

with the quiet, I will only

sneeze in honor

of the child I used to be.

 

Bio pic 10JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His poems have recently appeared at Cacti Fur and Strange Poetry.  DeHart blogs at jddehartfeaturepoems.blogspot.com.

The Welder’s Song – Len Kuntz

 

This is the sound of breaking

Then melting

A sort of soldering

Smell of burnt steel lining the nostrils now

Sparks from the welder’s flame

Shooting 4th of July bright

Landing on tennis shoes

And cracked cement

Hitting skin

 

This is the sound of love

Fierce devotion

The kind of rapt attention lovers

Show one another when they can’t say

If they’ll ever see each other again

Noticing moles and blurred scars

Seeing it all again for the first time.

 

I wished he would show me that–

The love a welder has for his torch and metal

I wished he would solder me back into a boy

If only half of one

Watching him work I wished so many things

That by the time my father finished his piece

And held it up to the light with a smile

There was nothing left to wish for

 

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.

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.

The Painter – Robert Pelgrift

 

What woodland shall my vision paint today?

Like Millais, I’ll mold each leaf of this oak,

Scribe each twig, score its trunk with a fine stroke,

With sunlit drops trim lines of green and gray.

Or perhaps like Monet, I will essay

An inward sight; the folds of a green cloak,

Heedlessly strewn, in memory evoke

Wooded foothills in mists of green and gray.

 

My visions like my poem, seek the real,

Beyond the real, this wood as it should be;

As in my poem’s words, I read in my Millais

From image to image toward this ideal,

Or I glimpse wood or poem in memory,

The remembrance painted in my Monet.

 

RYP JR picRobert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr. practiced law in New York City for many years and is now an editor for a legal publisher, working in New York City.  His poems have been published in various anthologies and in The Lyric, The Rotary Dial and The Galway Review.

Imagination – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

The fog closes in

It surrounds me

It dampens my senses

It impairs my vision

But at the same time it enlivens me

I feel a tingle of excitement

I am transported to another time

To a distant shore

Into a story I once read

Where ships transverse dangerous waters

While lighthouses atop craggy rocks guide them

Back to a time of sea monsters and damsels in distress

A time of mystery and wonder

But then the fog begins to lift

And I must come back to earth

But just for one moment

Time stood still and the fantasy was real

 

13221756_10206392177779458_3188055745494222119_nAnn Christine Tabaka is better known by her middle name, Chris. She has been writing poems and rhymes since she was fourteen. She was an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. Her poems are in the Contemporary Group’s anthology “Dandelion in a Vase of Roses,” and the poetry journals “Whispers,” “The Society of Classical Poets,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Halcyon Days Magazine,” and “Scarlet Leaf Review.”

Respite – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

face, a wrinkled rustic tan

eyes, clouded faded blue

tattered, old yellow raincoat

stands, watching the sea

dog, spying hungry gulls

his boat, sits needing care

ocean, claims yet another

clouds, billow and race east

waves, crest and roll to land

memories, fade upon twilight

inhales, now more shallow

life, in respite rises higher.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms and hiking. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.