Interior design for fools – Demi Lloyd

 

Come and pick up your stuff by Thursday

or I’ll take it to the tip.

The voicemail repeats,

clanks round eardrums

 

I pull up, golden hour drips through,

glazes your ornaments. Bittersweet.

The white rabbit clock,

five minutes too fast.

 

I trace my fingers over the curves

of your sofa, green velvet hills

like last summer at the castle in Dover,

when we realised it might be over.

 

I look at your art for the last time,

shapes and maths, strong and clear.

My abstract dreamscape is

Decaying in a landfill

 

I collect what’s left of me.

Obnoxious orange and purple bags.

Full of the things you detested;

resting on your polished oak desk.

 

My wrist threads through the handles.

We could never thread love like that.

The cat, thrown from the cradle,

but she lands feet first.

 


Demi Lloyd recently gained a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. She is part of a poetry group based in Nottingham called GOBS and is working towards her contribution to their spoken word showcase in March. In her spare time you can find her reading, listening to podcasts or thinking about cats.

dog love – Lisa Reily

 

when, after ten years, the two of us were no longer alone

and a new man entered my life, took your seat

in the front of my car, you gnawed a seatbelt to shreds

in the backseat, freely expressing your disgust.

 

he and I thought you were sick, but it was love sickness, 

and loyalty. 

slowly, you allowed him to play with you,

granted him a ball, sometimes one of your soft toys;

you tolerated his presence at our table, if only for morsels,

traded seats without a whimper,

wagged your tail, if only briefly, upon his arrival at our door,

 

until one day, we both learned to trust him.

 


Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, The High Window, Panoplyzine, Channel Magazine, The Fenland Reed, as well as Foxglove Journal. You can find out more at lisareily.wordpress.com.

A fabulous game called “love” – Sebastián Díaz Barriga

 

Translated from Spanish by Delphine Tomes

 

as a child

my parents used to play

this fabulous game:

although the aim

is still unknown

the game arrived

to their relationship

as a forgotten quarter does

on an empty street

in Mexico City

it seemed to say:

hey!    

are you going to grab me or what?

I have been here all day

and I just wanna go back home

I´m so fucking tired.

 

back then, dad

pretended to send money

– instead of love-

to mom’s debit card.

the nearest ATM machine

was about an hour away

so we used to cross

the whole town

in our 1970 VW beetle

just to find

that there was no money

or love

or anything else

inside

mom’s card

mom

dad’s lover

or the neighbor’s dog.

 

I felt so sad

I just wanted a new pair of socks,

a green pencil

and, perhaps

a tiny little fish

whose love

wouldn’t leave

my hands.

 

 


EGO_2

Sebastián Díaz Barriga was born in Mexico City in 1998. In 2018, he wrote his first book (Un rezo para mi padre) translated into English in 2020. He achieved first place at the XII National Desiderio Macías Silva Poetry Contest in 2019. He lives in the 21th century while dreaming about life. http://fabricandopajaros.blogspot.com is his blog.

Perfect Surfaces – Geraldine McCarthy

On Saturday morning, Pam cleans the mixing-bowl at the kitchen sink while buns cook in the oven. She’s wearing rubber gloves to protect her nails. Only had them done the previous day, and they’re €30 a pop.

She’s volunteered to bake for a local coffee morning, in aid of some orphanage in South America.

The fairy cakes will take fifteen minutes. Two dozen should be enough; twelve plain and twelve with cherries. She wipes down the already spotless marble worktops, takes out the cakes, and has a quick coffee while they cool on a wire tray. The aroma of vanilla wafts through the kitchen.

Upstairs, she opts for skinny jeans, and a new baby-pink top. Her face is a little flushed from the heat of the oven, so she applies foundation, and then a little eye-shadow and lip gloss. The neighbours are all so glam, with their highlights and lowlights, their clothes always this season’s.

Fairy cakes in boxes on the back seat, Pam drives to the community centre. The Audi glides along like a dream. She’s glad she traded up this year.

Once inside, she makes sure to hand over the baking to Audrey, the head of the committee, who pecks Pam’s cheek and thanks her profusely from a cloud of Chanel No. 5. Audrey persuades Pam to stay for a cuppa, so they sit down in the far corner of the room, away from the hub-bub at other tables. Deep in conversation about the Tidy Towns contest, Pam feels a tap on her shoulder. She twirls on her chair.

Her mother. Grey roots and crumpled cardigan.

Pam’s stomach clenches. “Mam!” she says. “How did you get here?”

“Diane next door brought me,” her mother says, “thought I could do with a break.” She raises an eyebrow. “There’s only so many kitten videos you can watch on YouTube.”

Pam glances at Audrey, who averts her eyes, and nibbles her bun like a bird at a feeder.

Pam addresses her mother. “Oh, well, you know I’d have collected you, but I thought you were watching your weight, that you’d have no interest.”

Her mother twists her wedding band around her finger, as if she’s strangling a turkey. “Hmm.”

“Well, I can drop you back later.”

Her mother purses her lips. “Sure, if I came with Diane I can go home with her.”

Pam feels her face redden. “Well, I’ll call tomorrow morning then. Is there anything you need?”

“Not a bit,” her mother says. “Diane is beckoning me over. See you tomorrow.”

Audrey finishes her bun. “Well, I must mingle. Thanks so much for all your hard work, Pam.”

“Not a bother, Audrey. I’ll see you Monday night for picking up the litter. The group is meeting at the church, isn’t it?”

“Yes, see you then.”

As Pam drives home, she notices the varnish has chipped.  She’ll go to the nail bar next week for a repair job. They look so nice when they’re freshly done.


IMG_0407

Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork, Ireland.  She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry.  Her work has been published in various journals, both on-line and in print.

Fissures – Jayne Martin

 

The new people had rebuilt from our ashes, from the scarred land to which we could not bring ourselves to return. The foundation had weakened over the years and the house had begun to sink on one side. Spider web-like fissures had creeped silently across the wall above our headboard as we slept.

We stood in only our robes, our feet bare on the cold pavement. The heat of the flames blew out the window of the second-story bedroom we’d planned as a nursery for children never born. The chimney collapsed onto your study where you buried your disappointment in work, while I buried mine in the kitchen growing larger with food that never filled the void. I may have reached for your hand. They said the fire was caused by faulty wiring. It’s true we had let things go. So many things.

I sit in my car across the street from the modern new design; all glass, sharp angles, and promise. No bicycles hastily discarded in its driveway, no toys forgotten from play on its pristine lawn. A gentle psst-psst-psst of a rotating sprinkler the only hint of life.

I wonder about the people inside and who they will become when the first cracks appear.

 

 

Jayne Martin 2Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of microfiction, Tender Cuts, from Vine Leaves Press, is available now. Learn more at www.jaynemartin-writer.com.

Appearance – Antoinette Carone

 

We used to pretend that we were wealthy. After all, as we were taught in theater class, it is the appearance that counts. Keep up the illusion long enough and it becomes a reality.

We shopped in the jewelry stores uptown. We never bought anything, but we made excellent excuses for not doing so: The amber did not quite go with my eyes; I did not really like the emerald; and so on. Then one day I saw an amethyst pin. I loved it! We said we would think about it and left.

I got a second job – just temporarily. I became a telemarketer. I hated every minute of it, but I was good at it. I guess all that pretending, all that making claim to an alternate reality paid off. At the end of six months I had saved twelve-hundred dollars.

I put on my one good dress – black silk crepe but very plain – and wearing sunglasses but no make-up, I walked into the jewelry store with the cash. The pin was still there! (I imagine it was too small for someone who could afford whatever she wanted to take notice of.) I never wore jewelry when I went into that store except for the gold studs in my ears, a graduation present from my aunts. I went home wearing the pin on my black dress. The austerity of the neckline really set it off.

There was a woman sitting in our living room with David, drinking white wine. David introduced her as Margot. I guess we effectively carried off the appearance of wealth, because Margot took quite a close look at my pin. She was a dancer, or so David said. That seemed to be true from the way she held herself and from the length and tone of her legs. She looked elegant and aloof. Perhaps Margot was pretending to be beautiful.

She certainly convinced David. He left me for her the following weekend. He said that he was obsessed with her exquisite looks, that he had more in common with her that with me and that he and I weren’t really meant for each other.

 

 

IMG_1734 (2)

Antoinette Carone was born in West Virginia. She has studied theater in New York city and holds a bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages. When she and her husband decided to spend a year in Naples, she kept a journal which was later published as Ciao, Napoli – A Scrapbook of Wandering in Naples. Her short stories “The Eternal Return” appeared in the May 2018 issue and “The Demon” in the January 2019 issue of the online journal Ovunque Siamo. She is an active member of the New York Writers’ Coalition.

Breathless – Bojana Stojcic

 

A storm was raging

that afternoon.

He stopped

to breathe with me.

 

It’s starting

to thunder.

I’m learning

to breathe on my own.

 

 

Pic...Bojana Stojcic is a teacher from Serbia, living in Germany. Her poems and flash pieces have been published or are forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Down in the Dirt, Mojave Heart Review, Dodging the Rain, The Opiate, The Stray Branch, Tuck magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow and Visual Verse. She blogs regularly at Coffee and Confessions to Go.

remember – Lisa Reily

 

our dog came first in our relationship,

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

remember his tongue-wagging runs on the beach,

our cabin amid the paperbarks,

ocean mist coming through our window?

remember the soft call of the butcherbirds,

the laugh of the kookaburras

the only sound to wake us?

remember cups of Earl Grey tea on our balcony

while Henry slept in his basket;

the simple pleasure of our walks on the sand,

Henry running ahead on the empty beach,

ears wagging, sand stuck to his nose;

holding hands over rocks, limpets, starfish

and crashing waves that we thought would sweep him away,

climbing to the tops of cliffs, losing our way back down?

remember the mist that went on forever, covered everything,

took with it the cliff, the long stretch of beach,

Split Solitary Island;

remember the ashes we scattered on the sand,

the beach that took them, that took

the love of our lives,

ashes forever to float to the island;

our first child, our only child,

our Henry.

 

 

Photo - Lisa ReilyLisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Panoply, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, River Teeth Journal (Beautiful Things), and Magma. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller. You can find her at lisareily.wordpress.com.

A fist lost – Gareth Culshaw

 

The pitch was always poor in under 14s 

footie. At the start of the season the council

would send men out. Paint the lines,

mow the turf, align the goalposts.

 

I always played better when he came

standing there with his accent.

My first goal scored, smiles all round.

Jogging back, raised fist to you

 

yours pumped in the air. We got on 

back then before the stubbornness set, 

distance in years between us showed.

 

That break in the relationship a hole 

in my memory, will never be filled.

 

 

IMG_1727Gareth lives in Wales. He has his first collection out now by FutureCycle called The Miner. He hopes one day to achieve something special with the pen.

The Oblong Mirror – Adrian Slonaker

 

On one side

of the oblong mirror

framed in silver and peridot,

I am your woman.

You are my man.

We ride for hours in my cozy Packard

under Cassiopeia and the Little Bear, 

listening to staticky fados

and spot-off weather reports

while talking with touches.

It’s the way it should be,

it must be.

Or maybe you are my woman,

and I am your man,

as I piece together the shards,

the glimmers,

the nuances of the mirror’s other face.

 

 

AdrianSlonakerphotoAdrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Adrian’s poetry has appeared in Dodging the Rain, Red Fez, Amaryllis, The Remembered Arts Journal, Squawk Back and others.

Outside the window – Tony Press

 

You can’t see nothing from here but if you could, what would you want it to be? That’s what she asked the first time I ever went to her apartment. We’d met in Sioux City when I was living there on a highway crew. She lived in Correctionville. Yes, Correctionville is the real name and you’ve probably already got an idea why it’s called that. Don’t bet on it.

I thought about it. Really: what would I want to see, if there were anything to see out her kitchen window. I’d seen the rest of the place and my answer was more important than you might think, because the kitchen was the only room with a window. The living room slash bedroom was nothing but three walls and the bathroom was the same, just smaller. It had more plumbing, too, which was a good thing.

Sweetie, I said, I’d like to see one of those Venice canals.

Venice? Venice, Italy?

That’s the one.

Oh, Darrell, did you ever go to Italy? Did you ride in one of those boats there?

No. Nope. I’ve never been across the Atlantic. Or even seen the Pacific. The farthest east I’ve ever been was South Carolina and the farthest west – you’ll laugh, maybe – was Kansas. I was at Fort Riley for four years and two more in Manhattan after I got out.

Manhattan? New York Manhattan? I thought you were talking about Kansas.

I am. It’s smaller than the one with Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building and all that, but it’s got the same name. I was working at the university there: Kansas State.

Oh. Oh. Okay. Anyway, let’s just stand here and you can tell me about the canal out the window.

I poured her another glass of wine and one more for me, and then I lowered the light. I’ll give the place some credit, it had a cool dimmer switch, at least for the kitchen. I put my left arm around her shoulders and with my other I pointed outside.

Look, that’s the Grand Canal and over there … can you see it? That’s the Bridge of Sighs. If two people stand on that bridge and kiss they will be together forever. Flat-out-fucking-forever.

Really?

Really, I said. Step up onto it with me, but careful, ‘cuz it was raining so it might be slippery. I held her hand. That’s it, I said. Easy does it.

It feels real, she said. I’ve never been any place like this.

Kiss me, I said, and we’ll never be any place else, no matter where we are.

She did, and we held that kiss until I needed to breathe. She could have lasted longer, she said, and then we kissed again. I moved in that week.

I’ve still never seen the Atlantic, or the Pacific. I did – we did – get out to Nevada once. We drove to Omaha and took the train to Elko, where a buddy’s got a place. We saw mountains on that trip, so that was cool: no mountains in Iowa. I’ve got a cousin who lives in Hills, Iowa, but the name’s a joke. Maybe I ought to tell my cousin to look out her kitchen window and think about what she’d want to see, in her heart of hearts.

We have a bigger place in Correctionville now, a real house, with windows in every room, but each night before we go to bed we stand at a window, and look out at the Bridge of Sighs.

 

 

beast crawl.14.tp fotoTony Press tries to pay attention and sometimes he does. He’d be thrilled if you purchased his 2016 story collection, Crossing the Lines (Big Table). It’s available at indy bookstores, directly from him, or even from that Amazon place. He lives near the San Francisco Bay.

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.

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.