Leda’s Dream – Sarah A. Etlinger

I dreamed he had wings:
big, white, full wings
that he kept tucked
small, like a feathered backpack.

When he lay down
to me I slowly caressed
each weary feather
with my fingers,
my soft lips and hallow
kiss. Each sinew, spent
from flying and sore
saw breath
I didn’t know I had
and then he was inside me
and we flew
on arcs of whispers
that hold the night together.

When I awoke
he was there
with deflated wings
like broken kite ribs,
and torn, folded feathers.

As I stroked one
with my fingertip,
he turned to me
and with a blink
of sleep-drenched eyes,
he disappeared.

 

Sarah A. Etlinger is an English professor who is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee and the author of 2 chapbooks (Never One for Promises) and the forthcoming Little Human Things. Interests include cooking, baking, and learning to play the piano. Find her work and follow her: http://www.sarahetlinger.com.

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our next nominee should remember- Michael Chang

ne-VAD-da
always moisturize
hand sanitizer is your friend
and clorox, for when you get to the oval office
check what city you’re in
never wrestle with pigs. you both get dirty and the pig likes it.
look out for numero uno
avoid kitchens
lose the friends from back home
fail often
the opposite of armor is curiosity
if you do the team of rivals thing, go all in
leave the gun, take the cannoli
if you do not ask, you will not receive
squeaky wheel gets the grease
two women on the ticket is a good thing
whatever you do in life, do it well
no one else can create the art you can
if someone says “would you rather i lie,” say yes
stop living other people’s dreams
don’t go to law school
play your opponent’s cards instead of your own
you come into this world alone and leave it the same way
time heals all
trust but verify
some things stick
when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time
the real applicants never fill out an application
kill your darlings
i really don’t care, do u?

 

 

MICHAEL CHANG once played the role of spoiler in an election for Student Body President. He believes that retweets do equal endorsements. Based in the NYC metro area, he is multilingual and holds a black belt in Taekwondo.

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My Smile – Melissa Bird

My smile
I’d love to smile
Like when I was
Young and beautiful
When I was
Free and bold

Before the truth
Was innocent
Before the lies
Surfaced

Haven’t smiled
Without
Hesitation
Reservations

Soft lights
Hypnotic music
Swaying freely
Smiling sweetly
Whole hearted

To smile with joy
In my arms
My new boy

Full of fear
Nightmare
Self doubt
Begins
Will I be like her

Do I have the rage
Do I have
Deep inside
That coldness
It’s beginning to
Fill me

A sleeping demon
Must not
Can’t wake it
Protect him
A beautiful light
Life force

Not mine
To keep
He belongs
To someone
Special

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The Conch Shell Roars – Karen Schauber

The Cessna Grand Caravan 12-seat seaplane circles a tiny speck in the Andaman Sea on approach. Henrick watches the sky flare into magenta, scarlet, and saffron as dusk closes in. The island, flanked with sands the colour of Carrara marble and warm azure waters should exhilarate, but instead his heart sinks. There is no pleasure to be had here.

It has been ten years since his last visit. The familiar fragrance of cashew trees permeates the air over the gentle murmur of waves. A towering vertical mass of limestone marks the way and Henrick begins the final leg of his journey via longtail boat. A sea of spray rushes ahead foretelling of his arrival.

He and Astrid loved to come to this paradise. She came for the snorkeling, spellbound by the colourful corals and displays underwater. And, for the titan trigger fish, hawksbill turtles, blue spotted stingrays, the fabulous little nudibranchs, all within arms’ reach. He, for the stunning panoramic views aboveground: the sea shining like glass beneath a cerulean sky, where he would while away the hours beneath the faint rustling of palms, reading.

Astrid loved sea life. Even after she waded out of the water limping up the beach, leg dripping with blood, a long tentacle wound around her waist and thigh, its tiny stingers fiercely embedded in her skin, she would stop to look with fascination at the peacock-blue man-o-war bubbles resting on the sand; their intense inky colour alluring.

Henrik adored Astrid’s adventurous and playful impulses. He acquiesced of course, when she had wanted to return yet again to this paradise. He had suggested they go back to Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Each dawn they had been greeted by a blue-breasted fairywren vocalizing at the window of their bungalow; every pristine vista otherworldly. But they had many opportunities ahead, and one year here or there, they would still cover everything on their bucket list.

The longboat pulls up alongside the dock at the moonlit bay. Tiki lights stand like sentries flanking the path along the beach up to the main compound. The air eerily still and quiet. The beach, empty, save for memories. Henrick drags his feet. His flip-flops catch on nothing, but he stumbles nonetheless, releasing a cry too absurd and overblown for the tiny misstep. Grief like a heavy blanket, drags along the sand.

He smoothes down the edges of his ghost-white linen shirt, now untucked. Strands of silver and grey at his temples curl softly. His hand brushes the wayward wisps to the side, winding the longest unruly curlicue behind his ear. Bending down to pick up a pink conch shell, he rolls it in his hands, feeling its weight and heft. He clutches it to his belly loud like sorrow. There is nowhere to run. Astrid disappeared here. The tsunami pulling her down deep never to be seen again.

Henrick raises the conch to his ear listening for her roar.

 

Karen Schauber is a Flash Fiction writer obsessed with the form. Her work appears in 30 international literary magazines and anthologies, including Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bending Genres, Carpe Arte, Ekphrastic Review, Ellipsis Zine, and Fiction Southeast. The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage, 2019), celebrating the Canadian modernist landscape painters, is her first editorial/curatorial flash fiction anthology. Schauber runs ‘Vancouver Flash Fiction’, a flash fiction Resource Hub and Critique Circle, and in her spare time, is a seasoned Family Therapist. A native of Montreal, she has called Vancouver home for the past three decades.

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The Old Man – Charles Prelle

The old man is born upon the sea, his tiny boat a piece of drift wood to which he clings. His gaze falls upon his reflection as he speaks in tongue to the beast below. A spell taught to him by his father and his father before him. His eyes roll shark-like as he relays his incantation, his voice rippling like a sinking stone.

The old man’s reflection hunts him. It floats upon the surface of the sea like oil. The reflection observes the world of the old man, its long white beard stretched sagely skyward. The beast circles below, stalking the shadowy outline of its adversary. Long has been its wait. Its siren call bubbles upon the skin of the sea like boils.

The old man holds the line carefully, his coarse hands sensitive to each pull and twitch. He counts backward in his mind, steadying himself for the fight. His fists tighten and slacken in a macabre dance with the beast. One thousand sixteen, one thousand fifteen, one thousand fourteen. The beast gives an almighty tug, its flanks writhing below the surface. His hands begin to bleed from the line cutting into them. Drops of crimson fall upon cerulean like rain.

The old man’s reflection smiles up at him with lion’s teeth, its dark eyes trained upon the old man. Five hundred fifty, five hundred forty-nine, five hundred forty-eight. The beast struggles against the force from above, its primal flesh tearing, the barbed steel boring deeper within. It lashes its powerful tail, violently darting toward the deep.

The old man mops pearls of sweat from his brow with a scarlet handkerchief. Salt water laps the side of his boat. His arms grow weary from battle, his lean muscles strain and tear. The air around him grows breathless as the beast rises to meet him. He knows the sea is waiting.

Five, four, three.

The old man’s reflection morphs.

Its eyes roll back. Its ethereal flesh shimmers with glorious emerald scales.

The sea parts.

It rises weightless into the air.

 

 

Charles Prelle is a writer and playwright based in London, UK. His past theatre work has been staged at the Bread & Roses Theatre, the Old Red Lion and the Chapel Playhouse. Charles also writes short fiction and has been longlisted as part of the Flash 500. On Twitter @CharlesPrelle

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Our Language – Aldas Kruminis

The language unites; divides
the world into shaded lights.
Each nation under same roof
obtains resources from different providers.

Each window painted with blight
and doors locked in fear of privacy.
We see the pain but keep the windows shut;
knock for help but doors remain locked.

We don’t understand each other.
We look for secret passageways into the rooms
like we are treading through medieval
stone steps into the bedrooms of affairs.

Our hearts are open, but keys
are turned to hide us from the world.
We fear to be exposed, seen raw or naked
or worse, in our worn stained pyjamas in the comfort

of our bedroom. We fear to be alone.
The world does not understand. We share
the same doors. I hear your cries and screams –
I take out my key, but yours is still there

turned to lock the world away.

 

 

 

Aldas Kruminis is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. He has spent the last few years dreaming of a successful and prolific career as a writer; so he earned a Masters in Creative Writing from Loughborough University. His work has been published in Terrene, Idle Ink and more. More at: https://aldaskruminis.wordpress.com/

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Keeping Watch As My Ex-Husband Dies – Janice Northerns

I stare out the window, remembering
walks to the last soda fountain on the square
for breakfast those Saturday mornings,
our hands twined so tight it was hard to hold
the paper sack. From his hospital bed,
my ex-husband calls What are you looking at?,
wants to know what he’s missing.

Just thinking of those fountain Cokes and doughnuts
from Stinson’s Drug, I say. Remember walking
down the street, sugar on our mouths? He frowns.

He is young enough to recall the taste
of first dates, but doesn’t. Doesn’t even remember
our kids’ names when I tell him how our boy
sat the bench at yesterday’s Little League game.

What he remembers instead is last night’s dream
of a Nazi death camp, how I left him there.
And now as night falls, he begs me not to go.
How to tell him he was in a war,
but not that one? No context for his memory
but the heartbreak of my actual leaving years ago.

Those early mornings we drank our Cokes
from to-go cups, too young for coffee, ice chilling
doughnut glaze to grease slick in the back of my throat.

Now a sticky film coats his brain
as he searches for words, waste water
swirling up in black-bubbled aphasia
so that he spits out Please, I need a drink
of thirsty.
I hand him the glass, and as it shatters
to the floor, I stare once more out the window

but find against sunset’s glare dust motes streaming
into a reflecting pool of transgression: years I spent
back-pedaling, pulling away, leaving him in the dust,
dust that now waits to reclaim, settle him down
into the long dark furrow to come. He doesn’t ask again
and I don’t say that I am making a list of all he will miss.

 

 

A native Texan, Janice Northerns now lives in southwest Kansas with her husband, two dogs, and a laptop. Her poems have appeared in The Laurel Review, Chariton Review, Roanoke Review, Southwestern American Literature, descant, Cold Mountain Review, and elsewhere. Her awards include a writing residency from Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, a 2018 Tennessee Williams scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, second place in Southwest Review’s 2017 Marr Poetry Contest, and the Robert S. Newton Creative Writing Award from Texas Tech University. Read more of her poetry at http://www.janicenortherns.com or follow her on Twitter @JaniceNortherns.

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Frankenstein – Ricky Garni

Two men applied makeup to a third man in a barber chair.
As children once, playing and frolicking, none of them
would imagine that one day two of them would be standing
while the third would be seated between them as the two
who were standing would be applying makeup to the third
that was seated, and for four hours. If someone had one day
asked them: “What do the two of you imagine that you
both could be doing for four hours every day?” They would
not have said “applying makeup to a third who sits betwixt
us in a barber chair quietly dozing, afraid of becoming a star.”

 

 

Ricky Garni grew up in Miami and Maine. He works as a graphic designer by day and writes music by night. His latest work, A CONCERNED PARTY MEETS A PERSON OF INTEREST, was released in the Spring of 2019.

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1962 – Tim Suermondt

During the Florida summer
before Cuba and missiles went hand-in-hand
the alligators were still climbing
out of the canal, sunning themselves

on one side of the lawn, my brothers and I
playing ball on the other—
a sort of Cold War treaty all our own.
When the Russians took their missiles

back to their motherland, my friends and I
ate burgers at the Woolworth’s counter
before spending most of the day
in the shabby elegance of the bijou.

We never gave a thought about Khrushchev
who was deposed soon after—
we had Kennedy and the future belonged to us,
the heroes on the screen would always have our backs.

 

Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Stand Magazine, Galway Review, Bellevue Literary Review and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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