by Matthew P.S. Salinas
The morning dew skimmed across the ground in tiny ripples. It appeared Mother Nature was skipping stones across the mud. Lucy stood with her mother outside, waiting for the bus. She’d been absent the last three days of school and couldn’t have been happier.
Although her mother hadn’t stopped crying since Monday. As best as Lucy could understand, her mother had lost her own mother. Lucy wasn’t sure why it mattered. Lost people were found by the police. Lucy had seen it on the news.
“It’ll be okay, Mom. They’ll find her.” Lucy smiled, but her mother only cried harder.
* * *
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.
by Nelly Shulman
The veil of water drops glistened on the low concrete ceiling. Underground folk moved, using just one flashlight. A small band of travelers kept a wiry dog on the leash. The animal was busily sniffing around the broken pieces of plaster. The dogs were now even more precious than batteries.
One of the emaciated men stopped. “Look, there is something blue here. I have heard that somewhere here, someone saw the Door.”
The dog pulled the leash.
Another traveler replied, “These are all fairy tales. No Door has ever existed.”
They wearily went forward, leaving behind the glimpse of sky azure.
* * *
Nelly Shulman is a writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of five popular novels and a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared on JewishFiction.net, in the Vine Leaves Press Anthology of the Best 2021 Flash Fiction and in Sky Island Journal.
Let Me Out
by Jason P. Burnham
Captain Mariah blinks away the haze of dream. Breakfast sounds quiet at her arrival.
“Did y’all hear a scratching sound in the airlock last night?” Mariah asks her gathered crew.
“Cap, we haven’t used the airlock,” says XO Smith.
“I can’t believe you didn’t hear it,” Mariah says to blank stares. She leaves the galley and walks to the airlock.
Smith, following, reassures her. “Nothing here, Cap.”
“Check the outer door,” Mariah says.
At the bottom of the airlock’s outer door are deep, ragged claw marks.
Mariah blinks. “What is trying to get off our ship?
* * *
Jason P. Burnham is an infectious diseases physician and clinical researcher. He loves many things, among them sci-fi, his wife, sons, and dog, metal music, Rancho Gordo beans, and equality (not necessarily in that order).
by Grove Koger
“I’m not going back in.”
She was an old woman, and here she was, standing on the sidewalk in front of her house and clutching the top of her cane with gnarled hands.
“I’m not going back! There are so many of them.”
She’d been a beauty all those years ago, chased by every man in town, but now she lived alone.
“They’re all talking to me and I’m tired of hearing them.”
I looked over her shoulder at my sister, who had peeked inside and was shaking her head.
“No,” the old woman repeated. “No, I’m not going back.”
* * *
Grove Koger is the author of When the Going Was Good: A Guide to the 99 Best Narratives of Travel, Exploration, and Adventure; Assistant Editor of Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal; and former Assistant Editor of Art Patron magazine. He blogs about travel and related subjects at worldenoughblog.wordpress.com/author/gkoger/.
Mission Drawn Up
by Denny E. Marshall
Astronauts from the Mars mission are heading home.
A monitor starts beeping after detecting a disturbance. On the viewscreen, the captain sees a blue beam coming right at them. It disappears quickly. No damage to crew or ship, except communications—all channels silent.
Twelve months later, they approach Earth. Still no contact and can’t locate landing site. They land by a small town picked up by sensors.
A two-member crew departs the ship. They walk a few yards before they’re shot.
He has no idea who the creatures with strange clothes are. Billy the Kid isn’t taking any chances.
* * *
Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published. Some recent credits include cover art for The Society Of Misfit Stories June 2021 and fiction at Potato Soup Salad August 2021. In 2020 his website celebrated 20 years on the web. The website is www.dennymarshall.com.
My Best Friend
by Eugene Garone
I wasn’t like the kids in class. I was different. My grades weren’t perfect, but I had the best handwriting in third grade.
I hated arithmetic. I didn’t play any sports and I was too pudgy to tumble in gym. At night, I would talk to a stuffed puppy that Mom bought for me at a garage sale. I would tell my best friend my deepest, darkest secrets, how I hated school, and how I wish I could be like everyone else. But being different didn’t matter because, with only one eye and a little damaged, he was different too.
* * *
Dr. Eugene Garone earned a degree in education from Columbia University. He has been teaching communication, design, and writing courses at the college level for over three decades. Growing up in New Jersey, he now resides in Delaware with his soul mate of forty-two years and two very energetic dogs.
Where There's Smoke...
by Raymie Martin
Banished by the bride, nicotine addicts Celia and Alison left the marquee. Alison’s husband Brian watched her juggle handbag, glass, cigarette, and lighter. Shrugging apologetically at the bride, he followed them outside.
“Insurance? Yeah, right.” Celia lit up.
Alison raised an eyebrow.
“Cigarette smoke makes her nauseous. She’s pregnant, but not saying.”
“So? They’re married now.”
“They’re married,” Celia blew smoke, “but it’s not his. She got drunk, let it slip on the hen night.”
Celia shrugged. “All I know, she’s been playing around with someone else these past few months.”
Behind her, Brian choked on his beer.
* * *
Raymie Martin lives in France with two grateful rescue dogs, an aloof rescue cat and five contrary chickens. She has completed an MA in Creative Writing and is currently redrafting her first full-length historical murder mystery.
The Perfect Storm
by Robert Runté
Arguing? No, that's wrong.
Loud, certainly. We'd had quite a lot to drink. My wife especially, I'm afraid. She's not normally a big drinker; anyone will tell you that. But being on the cruise—well, the whole experience is about excess, isn't it?
Yes, her idea. Wanting to go up on deck to “experience the sea.” High heels on the wet deck, drink in hand. I should have recognized the danger.
I blame myself.
When she staggered toward the railing, I naturally reached for her. I can see how it must have looked, but I was reaching to save her.
* * *
Robert Runté is Senior Editor with EssentialEdits.ca. A former professor, he has won three Aurora Awards for his literary criticism. His own fiction has been published in over forty venues, four of his short stories have been reprinted in "best of" collections, such as Canadian Shorts II.
by Melissa Marie Keeping
Before school, Emma’s mother said, “You’re wearing black again today?”
At the mall, Emma’s mother said, “You’re buying more black?”
When Emma got a date for the prom, her mother said, “You should try something other than black!”
During her wedding, Emma’s mother said, “I still can’t believe you wore black!”
When her father died, Emma came to her mother’s house to pick her up for the funeral. She knocked at the door, her white dress swirling around her knees.
“Emma!” her mother cried. “You’re supposed to wear black to a funeral!”
“That’s not true, Mom,” she replied. “You’re supposed to wear black when you’re mourning.”
* * *
Melissa Marie Keeping is a writer and mom from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the author of the children's book Griffin in the Spring and a regular contributor to Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok as @keepingwriting.
by Victoria Hochman
The raindrops are streaming down the window pane, but I am far away. In your home in Canada that I have never seen.
Walking through the tall grasses of a field that slopes down, down to a marshy plain overlooking the bay.
The sun is shining and I hear the marsh birds in the distance calling, calling to one another a mating song.
I turn to head back to the house. Your hand reaches for mine, and you squeeze it as we tramp back up, up the hill.
The tea kettle is screeching in the kitchen. The rain has now turned to icy pellets bouncing, bouncing off the window pane.
* * *
Victoria Hochman is a Public Relations Manager at Thompson & Bender in Westchester. A former reporter and editor with Newsday, she received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Newsday’s coverage of the TWA 800 crash in July 1996. She enjoys playing guitar and writing songs and rescues homeless animals.
by RC deWinter
as i write i breathe in music
to keep me sane and the paper dry
the words are too fierce and raw
to confront unadulterated
but that’s how it is
when the only one who can please your body
and soothe your soul is scattered
into fragments of atomic energy
somewhere behind the glabrous sky
shielding all the secrets of the universe
so i hum and scribble as my flesh burns
and my heart struggles to keep steady
on the 924th day of life without anchor
compass or north star
* * *
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 David Henson
Years ago, blackbirds
lit on my shoulders
with cherries when I was hungry.
When I strained
the mower through tall, thick
summer heat, I could count on flapping
blue jays for a breeze.
Swallows swept down the chimney
and back up with jangling keys
if I locked myself out.
At least it all seemed that easy.
when I mow, starlings
herd biting flies to our yard.
If I take a break, redbirds
dip their beaks and steal
their fill from my lemonade.
Robins peck at my head,
flee with my hair
to line the nests
for their young.
* * *
David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years and now reside in Illinois, USA. His work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions and has appeared or is upcoming in various journals, including Fairfield Scribes, Bewildering Stories, Literally Stories, Moonpark Review, Gone Lawn, Fiction on the Web, and Brilliant Flash Fiction.
Boy Dreams of Tree House
by K.D. Barakat
Boy dreams of a house,
Not rotting rental walls,
Hiccup of a lawn.
Boy glimpses wooden tree houses
In far away real estate blips,
As his mother pays the stacks of moldy medical bills,
Counting every dollar spent at inflated grocery stores.
Boy dreams of a new bed,
Proper places to exhibit Legos creations,
Meticulously built for shelves promised for future walls,
Pride when friends come along,
A trotting bird dog happily beside him.
Father says be patient,
Costs rolling in unpredictable waves.
Mother cries behind cheap aviator sunglasses,
Not daring to tell boy
That tree house may not arrive
Before boy grows too old to enjoy it.
* * *
K.D. Barakat attended La Sorbonne, Paris, AUP Paris, and UNC-W for undergraduate, and attained an MFA in Creative Writing from UM, Florida as a fellow. K.D. has written for The Miami Herald, Florida International Magazine, Vis-à-Vis, Cucalorus International Film Magazine, Poetry Motel and others and attended Vermont Studio Center.
About Those Space Lasers
by Gene Goldfarb
Dear Miss Marjorie, I’m a Jew
and my great grandma
was a Holocaust survivor.
I think I know why a lot of my people
are angry at you.
C’mon, how could we invent or get
our hands on space lasers?
And we’d need some really talented
guys to repair them if they broke down
outside of the warranty period.
Still, I’m not that mad at you on forgetting
all these questions about forest fires.
Only, please do send me info on where
I can buy a few non-lethal lasers for
backyard fun on family get-togethers.
My little brother really wants to know.
* * *
Gene Goldfarb lives in New York City. He writes both poetry and prose. His poems have appeared in Black Fox, Sheila-Na-Gig, Green Briar, Trouvaille, Heavy Feather and elsewhere.
When I Was Ten Years Old
by John Grey
I climbed the tree
like I was clambering into sky,
each grip, a handhold
away from people,
every rasp of sneaker against rough bark,
a rejection of the earth.
Before the planet
could figure I was gone,
I was already on my back
on a thick bough,
pain of the spine
healed by a sun
that's never been so direct.
I was a cloud for all my parents knew.
I was an eagle riding thermals.
With the warm
and no distraction
between me and the blue,
I learned calm could be exciting,
that excitement could calm me.
* * *
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Page, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.
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Poetry Month Celebration