Pinky Swear – Jayne Martin

 

The caustic odor of rubbing alcohol burns my nostrils, settles on my tongue. A nurse paints Vaseline on my parched lips. I can’t remember the last time I was kissed.

I am tethered to tubes, encased in a coffin of flesh and bone that ignores all commands.

The growing cries of gulls, boardwalk barkers, laughter and shrieks of excitement begin to flood the room.

I sit in the car of a rollercoaster as it chugs and bumps up the steep incline toward the point of no return. Braver kids raise their arms high over their heads. I squeeze my eyes shut until it’s over; say “I want to go again,” relieved when you do not.

The ocean breeze sends salt and sand up onto the walkway where we smoke cigarettes stolen from my mother’s purse and stroll looking for boys. We make up names, Bridgette and Marilyn. Names that sound older and sophisticated unlike our own. We fool no one.

A pipe organ bellows. With fingers still sticky from cotton candy, we board gaily-painted steeds, ride round and round, each time stretching as far as we dare for the brass ring, each time finding it just out of reach.

Our bodies distort in fun house mirrors and we wonder who we will become.

Pinky-swear friends forever.

We do not anticipate the power of decades to divide.

The nurse rolls my body onto its side to slip a fresh sheet beneath, and I see you next to my bedside. You wear our favorite sweater, the rose one we passed back and forth until it unraveled, your smile still a mouthful of braces, your hand outstretched to me. In it, a brass ring.

 

001Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

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The lost art of making friends – Claire Sexton

 

This making new friends business is 

hard. 

Nerve-wracking even. 

I’ve blundered through relationships in 

the past,

and lost a few good ones, as well as 

some not so good. 

I thought I might have lost the knack 

entirely:

the subtle, smooth, glamouring;

the sentences sung;

the harmonies hashed out with 

vivacious aplomb;

sparkling in the early hours with a 

glass of plonk;

telling the awkward truths and then 

sleeping it off. 

Waking at noon; hoarse, and good for

nothing.

 

I thought that maybe that had ended. 

That never again would I stand 

forehead to forehead in a mud-strewn 

field, listening to The Libertines. 

Or fix someone’s wedding gown, and 

watch them make their vows, and find 

another life, away from me. 

Or love their children, and twirl them 

around one hundred times in a row, 

like a human helicopter blade.  

 

But here I am exploring new friendships.   

Here I am on a train to Piccadilly, with 

the babbling hoard encroaching. 

Trying to forge the foundations of 

another faith. 

Another shared idolatry. 

Another blast of love.

 

View More: http://rupaphotography.pass.us/headshots-rcppor2015Claire Sexton is a forty something Welsh writer who has previously been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, The Stare’s Nest, and Light – a journal of photography and poetry. She often writes about her struggles with her mental health and loneliness.

Something else – Claire Sexton

 

It was like an affair, but not. There was

love in my heart, and hers, I believe.

We saw new places together, and

were inseparable, kind of.

 

She was always stronger, in ways that

men count. She knew all my

weaknesses.

 

She was diamond. And I was glass.

 

Men may count friendship as

something less, than rings on the

finger, and sonogram pictures.

 

But you were my love, and I stutter

and start, as I think of the way, and

the manner, it was lost.

 

View More: http://rupaphotography.pass.us/headshots-rcppor2015Claire Sexton is a forty something Welsh writer who has previously been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, The Stare’s Nest, and Light – a journal of photography and poetry. She often writes about her struggles with her mental health and loneliness.

dogeared inspiration – AM Roselli

 

I dogeared a page in your book

of inspirational quotes, Volume Two.

The one you keep in the nightstand

on your side of the bed.

 

The bed we never should have bought

with that money. Rather than a bamboo

pillowtop, we should have invested

in help from voices other than our own.

 

When you wake and find I’m not here

fitting into the lump our sleep pattern created

on a mattress supposedly resistant to lumps–

 

If you shuffle to the dog-eared page

of inspirational quotes, Volume Two,

perhaps you’ll figure out why

 

I was inspired to leave.

 

AM Roselli author picture b_wAM Roselli is a writer and artist who lives in the Hudson Valley, New York. She has a collection of illustrated poetry, Love of the Monster, published by Door in the Floor Publishing, 2016, available on Amazon. She previously served as an art director at Prentice Hall Educational Publishing. Since 2014 she has been sharing her writing and artwork on her blog, anntogether.com.

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.

Everything bright and illuminated – Melissa Goode

 

He sits in the back row. The concert has already begun and the stage is lit. The school orchestra plays Bach. His daughter, Joanna, is stern, focussed, behind a cello. They sound excellent, but he will tell me they dropped x, raced across y, and could have lingered at z and he will hum it a little to show me how it should have sounded. I will say, she’s seventeen. She’s a star. He will smile, probably at my ignorance, my upbringing, my haven’t-got-a-clue.

#

I stand in the doorway, my wet umbrella drips London rain onto the floor. Joanna is vivid on stage with her red hair. She is a flame. He faces straight ahead, lit by the light from the stage, a portrait. His gaze is hard, merciless, like a hawk. She dips her head over the cello and I feel the movement in my chest.

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We could lie on a beach in Hawaii, him and me, pale beneath the white blaze of the sun. Joanna plays in the water and meets American boys and girls her age who make her laugh. We drink frozen cocktails all day—strawberry, coconut, lime, pineapple. Let’s try mango. There is sand everywhere, in the carpet, the shower, under our nails, inside our ears. When he and I lie down at night, he leaves the lamp on and looks at me like he could eat me entirely. We move slowly as if we have all fucking day and night. We do.

#

He has saved a seat. I touch his shoulder and he looks up at me. Sorry, traffic, I whisper. Hello, he mouths. He smiles. I move past his sharp knees to the seat, his hands reach out and hold my waist as I go.

 

MG_WEB-7Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, Griffith Review, New World Writing, Litro Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle. You can find her here: www.melissagoode.com and at twitter.com/melgoodewriter.

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.

New Haven – Michael A. Griffith

 

I miss the flowers of our old garden,

roses, foxglove, bleeding hearts, lilacs and lilies.

 

We had a garden that,

when tended well,

looked like part of Eden.

 

I have a new “our.”

You have a new “we.”

 

Both will start new gardens

and grow new things

as well as plant familiar flowers:

roses, bleeding hearts, lilies.

But enough new will grow

to make our own new paths to Eden.

 

Same sun, different rays, different light.

Different rainbows from opposite arcs.

Stars set in different ways in the same sky,

yours night while I see day.

 

Our own clouds upon which

to build new castles,

each its own

new haven for two.

 

14203237_10154314920188046_3424560890240457416_n-1Michael Griffith turned to poetry during a long stay in a nursing-care facilty to keep his mind healthy as his body grew healthier. So far poetry is doing the trick. He resides in Somerset County, NJ.

Looking at your pictures… – Francesca Leone

 

Still feels like stepping on a grenade.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Piazza Trilussa in the morning is at its most beautiful:

the air crisp, cold like a knife,

the silence of a city who’s still in bed,

quietly stretching out in the dark.

But that night when we said goodbye,

it was truly something else.

A beauty from God’s grace.

What a blessing it was to

get my heart broken on a night

like that. I felt so alive with pain.

Will it ever stop,

I ask myself.

Let’s hope it never does.

 

fl-picFrancesca Leone is a 24-year-old living in Rome, Italy. She writes in English at https://frellification.wordpress.com. She is currently writing a fantasy novel, but poetry remains her first love.

keep your pomegranates – Linda M. Crate

 

i have no respect

for you

because you are a man

who shirks duty

and pretends love is a game,

running from his problems

as if mere demands that i be a stranger

will make it so;

a part of me will always love you

but i don’t want or need you—

you were the wolf that turned on me,

snarling and yowling like the wind you ripped

out my vital organs

leaving me to bleed in the snow beneath the pines;

i had to die to who i was to survive

acquire new feathers as i rose from the ashes

of your chaos

a white raven whose flames will never die—

i will not be defeated so easily

as that

will come back to haunt you like a ghost

since you have done this to me for many moons now

four years is enough time to torment me

especially since you’ve already moved on

i need not these memories of you because they’re more

bitter than sweet and i have never acquired the need

for pomegranates in my life.

 

2007Linda M. Crate’s works have shown up in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She has four published poetry chapbooks the latest of which is If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). She is also the author of the Magic Series and the forthcoming Phoenix Tears.

Hillside – Ella Kennett

 

I stride up the green staircase,

Its steep struggling surface

is a workout for the lungs.

Never mind the breath of the sky,

holding me hostage in its grip.

 

Adventure calls like the howling of wolves,

and though our fingertips

have conceded to the cold

Having a hand to hold,

exposes skin to expedition

and makes us immune

to the climate,

as we climb higher.

 

Laughter echoes down the rabbit hole.

I’m an animal for your attention,

clawing at your love

Like a fox in the night,

searching for prey.

 

The views up here

are high and mighty

but you, the antidote

are much more beautiful,

than what my eyes can describe.

 

ek-picElla is an 18-year-old A Level student from Kent, England who loves music and film alongside literature. She hopes to study English Literature and Creative Writing at university after she finishes her last year at school. She writes at ellagkpoetry on Instagram.

Botanica – Caitlin Johnson

 

& have we grown together –

the vine & the tree,

our own ecosystem evolving around us?

Your oxygen, my chlorophyll,

green & hushed in the sunset:

feeding the world, forming ourselves.

My garden. Your garden.

 

cj-bio-picCaitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Narrative Northeast, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and Wild Quarterly, among other outlets. A chapbook, Boomerang Girl, was published in 2015 by Tiger’s Eye Press, and a full-length collection, Gods in the Wilderness, was published in 2016 by Pink.Girl.Ink. Press.

Jellyfish – Peycho Kanev

 

Ocean glittering in deadly blue light,

filled with small phosphorescent dots,

we are bounded on the east and west

by beaches and the repetitious, drugged

sway of the ocean becomes our way of

living;

the room is empty, save for us, and your

long tentacles scattered on the bed.

This cut piece of reality is a still life

painted with pain and love.

Long hours lead to endless ages as I

dive back into the water to give you

the kiss of life or to get stung.

 

021

Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. He has won several European awards for his poetry and his poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

Slow Clapping – Richard King Perkins II

 

It would be an untrue kindness

to say it started innocently enough

 

when we both knew otherwise.

 

I asked you to walk with me

to the side of the building

hidden by shadow and irregular trees

 

where we could speak freely

about dandelions and reverse-image suns.

 

As intended, the conversation ended

and the sidelong glances

into distance and unlit corners began

 

and we became exciting people once again;

nearly glorious

 

but from the moment we caught our breath

there was a redefining;

 

a subtle sickness of stomach,

the ebb of coherence

 

so that even our false selves

had lost whatever fragment of innocence

that might still have remained.

 

And yet,

because we belonged to no one indefinitely

 

there was a steadying, a recovery,

liars made well by ill-given pardons

 

our pathetic espousals applauded

by the rhythmic clapping

of lime gloves in an artificial darkness.

 

rkpiiRichard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

solstice song – Fritz Eifrig

 

after braiding quicksilver

across our steaming skins,

whispers stilled for sleeping,

eyes closed quiet, I turn to look at you,

like I always do.

your form fixed, silent waves of wood

polished gleaming by the moonlight,

one arm sloped to shield from stars,

modesty made foolish by the heat tonight.

and I dream through open eyes

of lives beginning without endings,

like I always do.

 

fe-picFritz Eifrig has been writing poems on and off for several decades. He has been published in Poetry Quarterly, and the Hiram Poetry Review. He lives and works in Chicago.