And when I was putting together my chapbook, I was just a poem or two shy of the length requirement for the contest I was entering it in, but I thought of two songs that would be poetic enough for the lyrics to be included. They were sort of siblings of some of the poems that were in the book, about the same subjects, so there was definitely crossover and it was easy to figure out which ones to include.
These are the two songs that I included in the chapbook:
The Gazelle Sits Alone on Mercury
Blood Moon, Blue Moon
They are two of my favorites to listen to because the production, by Nicholas Matta, is so brilliant!
You write in a number of genres, from poetry to fiction to nonfiction. What do you find inspires not only your poetry but your writing in general?
I am obsessed with a few themes right now: the different names of the full moons for every month, songs about my friends, and love songs/poems for whomever I happen to be dating. With all of my projects, it gets harder and harder to find the time for dating though!
I am also writing a nonfiction piece about surrogacy, after being a surrogate last year and giving birth this January. I thought it was going to be a book but I might condense it down to an article. I think I was putting the energy that usually goes into nesting into writing it, and then when my hormones settled down, I realized that I have done surrogacy once so maybe I don't need to write a whole book about it! I would love to share my experience though.
My novel is partly inspired by my time as a freelance model and also the experiences of some of my girlfriends who were in the business. It was a strange journey that I needed to process, even just seeing some of the things that were happening around me and not necessarily to me.
For readers who enjoy this poem, where else can they find more of your work?
My novel, In My Secret Life, is coming out through Woodhall Press on October 3rd, and you can preorder a copy from Amazon.
My chapbook, Petrichor & Other Scents, is going to be pretty underground, but if you are in Portland, Oregon, you can swing by Wedfty Media and pick up a copy! It is going to be printed later this month. Or just send me a Facebook message if you really want one and I will send you one for just the cost of shipping. They are going to be given out for free at the shop, as part of an arts-for-everyone sort of deal.
I have a spoken word album on my music site as well.
I will be on my book tour sporadically from September until the end of the year. Most of my dates are up on my calendar on my website, although I am still planning to add dates in the Bay area in December. I will be sharing music, poetry, prose and doing signings at the shows. I can't wait! The dates are all listed here.
Where Dreams Die
by Matthew P.S. Salinas
Eustis had an old leather-bound journal. Inside wasn’t anything he considered worth sharing. The contents were all scribbles, bad drawings, and even worse stories that he had penned over the years. Now, as an adult, he only brought the journal out for nostalgia’s sake.
Eustis lamented it. It was uniquely unsettling, looking at his effort towards those dreams he never accomplished. He never became an author or an artist. He had progressed and changed with the years, but all of those works stayed preserved in time within his journal. They were dead dreams permanently confined to their leather graveyard.
* * *
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 Coco Jane
Delores smiled and buttoned her robe when the doorbell rang. Her fourth visitor this week! She’d never had so much company.
It was Irene from her church. “How are you doing since your surgery, Delores?”
“Getting along okay.”
“No complications, I hope. Those can delay recovery.”
“None so far.”
“I brought pumpkin bread.”
The ladies chatted the afternoon away before Irene said, “I’ll let you rest. I hope you’re back to normal soon.”
“Normal. Yes—unless there are complications.”
“Let’s hope not. I’ll check on you again next week.”
Delores closed the door, smiling. Yes, there definitely would be complications.
* * *
Coco Jane is a retired English teacher in Minnesota. She specializes in microfiction and has published multiple thirty stories. She also has helped a friend write his memoir.
In Body Only
by Mel Fawcett
I no longer know the man who shares my bed. He’s a stranger who shouts at me for no reason, and sometimes cries. He looks like an older/thinner version of Ted, the man I married fifty-three years ago, but it isn’t him. Ted was kind and loving and always made me laugh.
This man frightens me. I would never have married him. And yet I know he can’t help being the way he is, and I know I will care for him for as long as I am able. But I do so wish Ted would come back.
* * *
Mel Fawcett lives in London. His stories have appeared widely in print and online, most recently in Microfiction Monday Magazine. He can be seen reading one of his stories on YouTube at the launch of a Solid Gold anthology.
Fragments of You
by Michael Stroh
You left pieces of yourself everywhere, like breadcrumbs, so I would never forget. And now your memory haunts me. You are there, in your chair, sipping your morning tea. There, at the window, watching your hydrangeas bloom. There when I close my eyes.
Maybe it’s better to have loved and lost, but all I have is loss, these fragments, the welling pain of your absence. So one by one, I remove them, all traces along every path that lead me back to you.
But every day I find more, springing up like weeds, because they are part of me too.
* * *
Michael Stroh is a pastor and writer in the Dallas area. His stories have appeared in Shoreline of Infinity, Microfiction Monday Magazine, and SQ Mag, among other publications. He and his wife Libby have three kids.
Such Sweet Sorrow, Jeeves
by Susan Taitel
“I say, Jeeves!”
“Not to toot my own whatsit but I’ve done something rather brilliant.”
“Remember my old chum Eo of the Devonshire Monties?”
“Romeo Montague, sir?”
“The very chap! He was mooning over that stuffy old Roz again, so I introduced him to my little cousin Julie. They got on like a cat on fire! I left them with the vicar.”
“She wouldn’t be one of your Capulet cousins?”
“I’m sure I need not remind you of a certain blood vendetta, sir.”
“I don’t suppose you’d…?”
“Allow me, sir.”
“Good man, Jeeves.”
* * *
Susan Taitel is a writer of speculative fiction living in Minnesota. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and mcsweeneys.net among others. Find her on Twitter as @susantaitel.
by Edward Voeller
“Well?” The cop glared at me. He repeated his question, “Did you do it?”
I was afraid to say no. I’d appear nervous and guilty if I spoke.
“You wanna come with us? Huh?”
I worried how the words would come out of my mouth. Words that began with an N or an I or…
“Well?” The cop put on his jacket. “Gonna tell us?” He adjusted his police cap. “Let’s go.”
“Wh-wh-wh—” began my mouth. I gasped. It wouldn’t allow me to explain. I knew the words wouldn’t come out smoothly. I struggled to control my stutter.
* * *
Edward Voeller has a background in journalism and college English teaching. His writing includes fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Recent work appears in NUNUM, A Story in 100 Words, Good Age Minnesota (CNF), others. He is currently revising a novel set in Manhattan in 1822.
by Donna Williams
I did not tell my colleague it was a trigger for me, a remnant of my growing up in the Jim Crow South. I considered him a friend and I loved our conversations, his stories, and the laughter that ensued. He was from the South too. He was white. I am Black. It was all good.
But this one day, I’d had more than enough of the greeting, “Hey, girl.” I was tired of gritting my teeth and letting it pass. I reeled in my courage that day and said, “Please don’t call me girl.”
He honored my request… and never spoke to me again.
* * *
Donna Williams is a self-published author who still struggles with the nakedness of sharing what she writes. She is new to flash fiction, but loves the challenge of creating 100-500 word pieces. She has had pieces published at fiveminutelit.com and a short story, “Just Trying To Make A Living,” is pending publication at Literally Stories. She is currently at work on a memoir about her upbringing in the Jim Crow South. Blogs: Life Pain Laughter & Donna Not Diva.
The Season of Oranges
by Jim Anderson
We were shopping for produce.
“Do you remember when there was a season for oranges?” Nina asked.
“There still is. Look at the prices.”
“Yet there are oranges. It’s a miracle!”
“Buy them. I love it when you eat one and the juice dribbles down your chin.”
“Like the night we met?”
“Just like that.”
Fifty years ago, I had a blind date scheduled with her roommate. Nina answered my knock with a sticky mouth and a bowl of orange wedges. She was alone. So I asked her out.
“She was too good for you, anyway.”
“Now you tell me.”
* * *
Jim Anderson lives in southeast Michigan with his spouse and five cats.
How the Wind Works
by Simon Kewin
“And did you know the wind is caused by all the trees flapping their branches at the same time?”
I nod, and Jake considers my words while we walk hand-in-hand through the woods. Occasionally, we stop to pick more blackberries. The juice stains our fingers purple.
“Then how come it was windy when we went to London?”
“Well, in cities, they’ve had to build giant machines because there aren’t enough trees anymore. It’s a great shame.”
“Can we go and see the wind machines?”
I tousle his soft hair, return his wide smile.
“I’d like that very much.”
* * *
Simon Kewin is the author of over 100 published short and flash stories. His works have appeared in Analog, Nature, Daily Science Fiction and many more. He is also the author of the Cloven Land fantasy trilogy, cyberpunk thriller The Genehunter, steampunk Gormenghast saga Engn, the Triple Stars sci/fi trilogy and the Office of the Witchfinder General books, published by Elsewhen Press. In 2022, he was an SPSFC semi-finalist and had a short story shortlisted for a Utopia award. He lives deep in the English countryside. Find him at simonkewin.co.uk and at @SimonKewin on Twitter.
by Lee Hammerschmidt
The two cannibals dragged the remains of the female pilot from the crashed airplane, the body severed in half horizontally through the rib cage.
“Okay, Keto,” Paleo said. “I’ll take the top half.”
“Hold on a second,” Keto said. “You got the breast meat the last two times. It’s my turn.”
“Yeah, true, but you know I love the fattier cuts.”
“Which is why your cholesterol is way out of control. You need to eat the leaner cuts, like the sides.”
“I guess so,” Paleo sighed.
“So, we’ll trade this time?” Keto asked. “Deal?”
“Alright, deal. Flanks for the mammeries.”
* * *
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 Joseph Dunnigan
Tap, tap, tap, the keyboard sounded. He was in his tenth hour of coding. White letters scrolled up and down the black screen.
“Alright. First, home page. Check. Next, links. Looks good,” he said.
He smiled as he reviewed the trail of code and carried on deeper into the forest of his work. He tapped away, looking down at his hands.
Suddenly, the screen went black. Green letters scrolled over the codes and erased them from the page.
“No. No. No,” he said, slamming his fist.
The witch’s face appeared and smiled back.
He pressed the keys. Ctrl-Alt-Del.
* * *
While studying for his undergraduate degree, Joseph Dunnigan was a finalist in the Beacon Essay Contest and presented his work to a panel of judges. This sparked his love for storytelling. Currently, Joseph works for the City of New York as a Firefighter but has taken up the pen once again. He hopes one day to follow in the footsteps of his idols and become a published author.
A Looking Glass Tale
by Joyce Jacobo
She came to the desolate kingdom after sensing a powerful spell. So reminiscent of her late sister’s magic. Oh, Lucinda—tricked into marrying that demonic Silver King and erecting a barrier to keep out all intruders.
Now the barrier was gone.
An amber-haired child sat before a looking glass in the palace study. “I’ve done something terrible,” the young princess sobbed, pointing at a wicked face trapped in the glass.
“Only what he deserved.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m your… Fairy Godmother.”
“Are you here to punish me?”
“I’m here to help you start a brighter fairy tale.”
And she did.
* * *
Joyce Jacobo is a freelance writer with an MA in Literature & Writing Studies. She loves to make people smile through her work.
Waiting in the Sand
by Jason P. Burnham
The movies suggested first alien contact was no biggie if you had a good translator. Never saw one where aliens came, made everyone into living statues, and left without anybody figuring out what the hell they were doing. Yet here I am, watching the ineffable march of the cacti, centimeter by centimeter—today is the day the march overtakes me.
I feared creeping cacti growing up—Mom said I needn’t be afraid. Looks like I was right. Damn.
A spine pierces my skin and the mescaline seeps in alongside the pain.
Will this trip be any more absurd than reality?
* * *
Jason P. Burnham is an infectious diseases physician by day. He loves spending time with his wife, kids, and dog.
When We Are Reclaimed
by Hazel J. Hall
Slow-dancing to jazz, they waltz down the street, framed by an orange sky.
It's the end of the world; the cries of deep voices mix indiscriminately with shrill ones, reverberating endlessly down the road. Dark figures, veiled in the unknown of shadow, watch from buildings far back as the lovers dance across the asphalt. The sight of the two bodies, holding each other, is the onlookers’ last; it’s the end of the world.
Millions die meaningless deaths in one singular moment. Billions feel pain beyond description. Every living thing vanishes. Evaporates.
But the couple smiles, looking into each other’s eyes and seeing the final fires of their love reflected back.
* * *
Irena races horseback, a cart behind bumping over unplowed fields. The road has checkpoints. If she’s caught smuggling, she’s dead.
She breathlessly passed the guards, her horse jittering, sensing her fear. The guards sensed nothing. That was the problem, wasn’t it? Desensitization.
To life. To death.
She adjusted her habit, offering a halfhearted benediction that stuck in her throat. Praying soiled blankets and typhus medication would stop them investigating boxes underneath. Boxes containing a precious cargo worth dying for.
She reaches the convent in a flurry, horse skittering on stones. Nuns rush to hide her smuggled treasure.
Twenty-six Jewish children.
* * *
Nicola Russell Johnson has a PhD in Creative Writing, specialising in WW2 fiction. She lives in Cheshire with her husband, two kids, pet ducks and the rice cracker crumbs under her couch that are slowly gaining sentience.
by Amy Bleu
Give me your mahogany skin
And I’ll trace your limbs
With my lithe fingers
On the curve of your hip
And then I’ll bring my lips to your full lips
All of the world comes alive
With all its colors turning bright
Burning like a fire’s light
All the while quieting like
The fall of night
There is nothing but
Your voluptuous figure
So I figure
I’ll linger here a little longer
Until our song crescendos into a cacophony
And then our dissonance blends into harmony
You keep charming me
Without saying words
Is for the birds
* * *
Amy Bleu is a writer, musician, social worker, booking agent and mother. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines such as BUST, and her poetry has been featured in anthologies such as Quarter Passed and Flatmancrooked's Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics. Her first two books, a novel and a chapbook of poetry, will be out later this year. She is currently working on nonfiction and songs in Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her son and her cat.
by Mary Keating
* * *
Mary Keating is one of our featured authors (issue 18). In addition to Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, her writing appears in New Mobility magazine, Wordgathering, Sante Fe Writer’s Project, Poetry for Ukraine and Medium.com. She is a Pushcart nominee. Mary practices law as a real estate and probate attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut where she lives with her husband Dan.
To the Next Tenant
by Karen Southall Watts
You may want to replace the ugly white plastic over the windows.
It was all I could find at the time.
Then again, when you realize how often the landlady peeks in,
maybe you won't.
The cleaning service took out the mouse traps.
Just pack up the kitchen like a campground at night
to keep the beasts at bay.
It’s a dismal dump, but the floors are easy to clean.
You know, provided you don’t mind killing a few spiders.
I hope you’re not here too long.
Soon, your mind will change quirky and funky
to dreary and not up to code.
Create an escape plan before then.
* * *
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.
by Renny Barrett
You drive your truck into this melting-pot town and park outside a bar.
You go in. Groups of people.
And the loners.
You recall your grandparents’ chocolate box.
You picked from the white, beige, and brown.
Sucking and swallowing as your grandparents decided who would remove your underwear.
You choose. White tonight.
Surreptitiously, three drops from your little bottle.
The bottle comes with a warning label. You do not.
Your latest acquaintance stumbles out of your truck.
Bruises will fade. Stains will wash out. One of you will remember.
Tomorrow—another town, another bar. Another choice.
* * *
Renny Barrett—full time computer whisperer, occasional writer, actor, musician and mathematician.
by RC deWinter
almost asleep in the blackness
i reach out to stroke your skin
in the braille of love
but my fingertips touch dead air
then i remember there is no you
and rising pace the room
stumbling over magazines
yesterday’s clothes and empty bottles
the broken landscape of afterlove
my wanting crests in a tsunami
of heartbreak and desire
rolling in great waves
sucking me out to the neverland of broken dreams
the salttinged wind singing my heartache
in a wordless dirge
and rising from the cold wet sand
i stand staring out the curtainless window
at the empty landscape of a moonless night
* * *
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.
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.