The ending of your poem is thought-provoking and flows naturally from the progression of ideas, yet it still feels like a twist. In a way, we’re all faced with the finite—things that can be counted—rather than the infinite in our daily lives. What takeaway do you hope readers will bring with them?
Life is short. Cherish what you are choosing to do with it. I’m not suggesting that you must go out to save the world in order (forgive the pun) to give your life importance. I’m hoping to give permission to reevaluate what is good. The smallest kindnesses. The unexpected joys.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
My poem “Dancing” was just published by the Ekphrastic Review in the anthology Starry, Starry Night. Right now, I’m working on a collection of short stories, many of which center around the lives of the immigrant generation of my grandparents. It’s a world that is gone, but the displacement and uncertainty they lived through has a sometimes frightening resonance with today’s world. Writing is a great way to connect the present with the past!
by Matthew P.S. Salinas
“Pardon me Madame,” William smiled, “I don’t mean to be too forward. But I can’t seem to help myself. I’m completely lost in your lovely eyes.”
“You don’t say?” Cheryl eyed him up and down. “Well why didn’t you say so, silly?” She smiled back.
William’s ears perked up and he smoothed his hair back. He kept his eyes fixed on her.
Cheryl’s smile abruptly faded and she pointed off to the left. “Let me help you then, go left and you’ll be all the way over there. Away from me.” She continued on her morning walk around the park.
* * *
Matthew P.S. Salinas is an author from Illinois who writes short stories in all genres and poetry. He has two published works and is continuing to publish two more books by the end of the year. He lives with his wife Jordana and their two cats.
The Price of Life
by Halimah S. Dilazak
A woman stands inside a store, contemplating the breadth of choice she has before her. A variety of vibrant plants take shelter there, waiting for someone to choose one of them. Just outside, in the rain, sits a man who has been there for days, his clothes fading, his face showing signs of numbness from the incessant winds of a difficult life. She ignores the interfering pricks of a conscious, and pays for the young money plant, then leaves, walking past him. His dull stare bores into her disappearing back, and she hopes—whilst clutching the life in her hands—that someone else might choose to save him instead.
* * *
Halimah S. Dilazak is a horror writer born and raised in Birmingham, UK. Much like her cats, she loves to watch the world go by, and often writes short fiction thematic of social issues, and poor mental health which her housemates kindly approve of. You can find her tweeting @Dilazak_HS29.
by Terri Mullholland
His hair was a tangle of black curls in her hands.
She would twist her fingers up into the roots when they made love.
On nights of winter darkness, she would burrow her face deep, breathing into it.
She knew his hair better than her own, could shut her eyes and imagine touching it, the crackle of static electricity, the tingling sensation.
When treatment started it was too late to save him, only his hair survived.
Even now, years later, she still finds abandoned tangles of grey curls clinging to her clothing, clogging up the plughole, resting on her pillow.
* * *
Terri Mullholland (she / her) is a writer and researcher living in London, UK. Her flash fiction has appeared in various journals and anthologies and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2021 was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction.
by Clara Frank
Last night, I dreamt about Mother.
In the dream, it was my birthday, and she was reading a poem she wrote for me, pretending that it was from my baby daughter.
She often did this on behalf of the baby, or my father who wouldn’t bother to sign a card, or my Down syndrome sister who couldn’t write, or the dog, the cat, my dolls.
These poems were embarrassing, full of cliché, and I never listened.
This time, in the dream, I listened. It was beautiful.
I hugged her. “I love you, Anyu.” She hugged me back.
“It’s from your daughter. Love her.”
* * *
Clara Frank was born in Budapest, Hungary. She is a retired Hospital Epidemiologist, a Red Cross Volunteer, and a proud grandmother of two grandsons. Clara has published short stories and essays in literary magazines and is currently working on a collection of essays.
by Peggy Gerber
Dani cradled her newborn in her arms and stifled a gigantic yawn. Her friends and family warned her that when the baby came, she would be exhausted all the time. They were right.
Being tired, though, was not a new thing for Dani. Just one year earlier, she had spent every night racing around the COVID ICU adjusting ventilators, giving CPR, and holding patients’ hands as they gasped their final breath. The long shifts, magnified by vivid nightmares and flashbacks, left her feeling perpetually weary.
Dani used to be called a hero. Now, she cherished her role as sleep-deprived mama.
* * *
Peggy Gerber is a poet and short story writer from Northern, New Jersey. Her works have appeared in many publications, including Potato Soup Journal, Everyday Fiction and many others. She likes to write about aliens and time machines and is very proud of her newly released poetry chapbook Stumbling in CrazyTown.
by Julia LaFond
“About your manuscript.”
“Did you like it?”
“Yes, of course. But at the end, when Prince Elbon defeats Overlord Dekciw—”
“—freeing the princess, restoring the kingdom, and conquering his self-doubt.”
“Right, right. I just had a… question.”
“Earlier, the wizard who chose the Prince informed him that the Sword of Doogerup only harms those of demonic descent.”
“Which is why Sir Rotiart was unharmed by it—”
“—despite being evil, yes. But the wizard demonstrated by swinging it at Elbon.”
“Then Prince Elbon vanquishes the Overlord with it.”
“But Dekciw is actually the Prince’s father?”
* * *
Julia LaFond is a geoscience/astrobiology PhD candidate at Penn State University, where she regularly attended the Creative Writing Club pre-pandemic. Her poem "The Dullahan" was recently published via a collaboration between Short Edition and the PSU library system. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gaming, and cuddling cats.
by Lee Hammerschmidt
The executioner put me down on the chopping block, just short of where my neck was supposed to be. Another head still occupied the front.
“Listen,” he whispered. “You’re being spared. But the King is not to know. He’s super pissed about your dalliance with Queen Valerian. But she wants to continue your relationship. When I bring my axe down, the other head will fall into the basket. You will be whisked away and taken to her country hideaway.”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“I am the Queen’s illegitimate son. My Momma told me I better chop around.”
* * *
Lee Hammerschmidt is a Visual Artist/Writer/Troubadour who lives in Oregon. He is the author of the short story collections, A Hole Of My Own and It’s Noir O’clock Somewhere. Check out his hit parade on YouTube!
by Michael Brodin
Rocco had always taken pride in his work, and today was no different. Using a wood-handled straight razor, he shaved Vincenzo using the four basic strokes everyone learned in barber school: freehand, backhand, reverse freehand, and reverse backhand.
He was careful and took his time, even though it was risky. He had this thing about neatness. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, one psychiatrist had said. But that's what made him a professional.
He also gave Vincenzo a nice haircut, one that went with his round face.
Yes, Rocco thought, it costs nothing to make a man presentable after you've killed him.
* * *
Michael Brodin is a physician and writer living in Florida.
by Marla Sterling
Numbers are important
I calculate how many times
I have folded the soft indigo throw
that sits beside the couch
Fewer times than I have folded
hampers-full of underwear and tees
emerging fresh scented and clean,
whites and darks together
The scoured floor below the family table
where I deliver our meals whispers
scratch by scratch how often we’ve hiked
ourselves close first, apart after
Like the winter birds I wait for, still, to see
who and how many will flock to the feeder
It’s important to divide the sums fairly
when it’s time so soon for an accounting
* * *
Marla Sterling’s writing is another passion in her life following careers as actor, storyteller, and teacher, with degrees from NYU in Education and MFA from Manhattanville College in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in Plum Tree Tavern, Scribes Micro, Connecticut Bards Poetry Anthology, and elsewhere. She lives in Connecticut, where contact with the garden, woods, and beach invigorate and inspire her daily.
by Mary Keating
A tyrant’s power rises from below.
Imagine when he wages war
if every soldier just said, No!
Instant peace, even though
not grasped before:
a tyrant’s power rises from below.
Imagine hate fallow,
impossible to flourish more
if every soldier just said, No!
To follow Father Moscow
the military must ignore their core.
A tyrant’s power rises from below
when brother fires countless rounds of live ammo,
kills comrade, mother, sovereign neighbor.
If every soldier just said, No!
the world would quash this crazed ego;
and peace might reign forevermore.
A tyrant’s power rises from below.
Imagine—every soldier just said, No!
* * *
Mary Keating is a disabled writer and lawyer with a solo practice in Darien, CT. Her writing appears in New Mobility magazine, Wordgathering, and Medium.com. Mary lives with her husband Dan in Connecticut.
by RC deWinter
the day dissolves
in a diaspora of confusion
i shiver in the arms of uncertainty
sure of nothing but more uncertainty
as all my unanswered
and unanswerable questions
join hands and circle my brain
dancing ring around the rosy
in time with the hollow thump of my heart
once upon another life i knew how to live
but sorrow swallowed
that instruction manual
leaving me nothing
but a rucksack full of motheaten dreams
the fierce desire to sleep untroubled
by what could have been and this body
determined to live despite the desert
stretching out before me
* * *
RC deWinter’s poetry is widely anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku, easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles, The Connecticut Shakespeare Festival Anthology, in print: 2River, Event, Gargoyle Magazine, the minnesota review, Night Picnic Journal, Plainsongs, Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Ogham Stone, Twelve Mile Review, York Literary Review among many others and appears in numerous online literary journals.
by Guy Belleranti
I was very old
when the splashing sound of water
pulled me off a forest trail
and into my discovery
of the one and only Fountain of Youth.
Now, I am young again,
and family and friends
and neighbors and strangers
for a map to the Fountain.
But I supply no map,
so they follow me
day and night,
month after month,
hoping I will lead them to the site.
But I never will,
for those miraculous waters
made me who I am today,
a younger me with no memory
of where the old me discovered the Fountain.
* * *
Guy Belleranti writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and more for adults and children. His work has been published in print, online and as a podcast. Guy worked for many years in school libraries. His author's website is www.guybelleranti.com/.
by Karen Southall Watts
Why did it happen this day?
Perhaps he was tired of hearing me say,
“I’m tough enough.”
“It’s all going to be okay.”
Maybe it was the call last night to my friend,
When I told her how he cajoled and lied
Again and again,
Every time he thought I was leaving.
Or it could be some complex part of grieving
I just don’t understand yet.
I felt him warm and breathing
Curled up next to me.
Whispering, “I will always love you”
And me helpless to do anything but agree.
Then waking, my eyes glued shut with tears.
* * *
Karen Southall Watts is teaching, writing and reinventing her life. Her flash fiction and poetry have been featured at Fairfield Scribes, Free Flash Fiction, The Drabble, Sledgehammer Lit, 101Words, Soren Lit and The Chamber Magazine. She is also the author of several business books and articles. Karen is a 2021 Pushcart nominee. Reach her at @askkaren on Twitter.
That Led To
by Clive Aaron Gill
During our sixth-grade soccer game, Juan tripped me
That led to me punching him in the face
Blood sprayed from his nose.
That led to Coach Garcia sending me home.
In the kitchen, I found Papi and a strange woman with a heavy belly.
She was making chicken tacos.
That led to me telling Mami when she came home from her job at Rubio’s.
That led to Mami crying and telling my grandma.
That led to Mami divorcing Papi.
That led to a strict stepmother.
That led to a baby sister.
That led to…
* * *
Fifty-five stories by Clive Aaron Gill have appeared in literary journals and in People of Few Words Anthology. He tells his stories at public and private gatherings. Born in Zimbabwe, Clive has lived and worked in Southern Africa, North America and Europe. He received a degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and lives in San Diego.
The Poets' Salon
If you're looking for more poetry, including a place to read your work, receive critiques, and explore poetic forms, check out The Poets' Salon. Two editors of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, Edward Ahern and Alison McBain, run this free poetry workshop.
Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon EST via Zoom. More info, including how to sign up for the poetry workshop, can be found on The Poets' Salon website or via Meetup.