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by Aaron H. Davis
In the days that gods walked loose
the mightiest of all was Zeus
from Mount Olympus he looked down
over each and every town
a king of gods in every way
the king of all he did survey
when he saw something that brought a frown
a lightning bolt he would cast down
and whatever he aimed at ceased to be
all so very, very suddenly
he was quite an electrifying guy
there in his home up in the sky
and to him all the people prayed
and every sacrifice they made
for none of them wanted to be
fried by electricity
* * *
Aaron H. Davis is approaching seventy years of age in as grouchy a manner as possible, as a proper curmudgeon should. He was born in Connecticut, adopted at one years old, and began composing poetry when he was five. He worked for the school system in East Lyme and was known as the “scrap paper poet” because of the scraps of paper used to jot down his poetry.
The Great Columbarium in the Sky
by Jason P. Burnham
Over the river
Over the woods
Over the clouds
To grandmother’s final resting place we go.
Her ashes will join the others
Too dangerous, even in death
To remain on Earth
The last of those exposed
The ultimate interment
There among the toxic dust
Waiting for one final push
Toward incineration by sun death.
We’ll wave goodbye
Safe from afar
In our hazmat suits
Aboard our hazmat ship.
Dock, release, and a homeward burn
Leaving plenty of time for quarantine
And to watch the final sunset
Before they enter the corona
As we pray a solar flare
Doesn’t start this all again
* * *
Jason P. Burnham loves spending time with his wife, kids, and dog.
by Emily Sanders
You watched Care Bears on repeat in middle school.
It was ironic, I think, or maybe you thought. It was different on purpose, I mean.
They sell Care Bears in the Walmart now.
I saw two of them, stuffed animals with shiny plastic eyes and rainbow polyester fur, on the toy aisle. I started to buy you one, then thought better of it. I’d have to send it to the sober living house, which I’m not even sure you still live in, and then what?
I started to buy you one, but when I looked into their shiny plastic eyes, I saw nothing that could bring you back to me.
* * *
Emily Sanders was born and raised in the Deep South. Her writing has appeared in Apparition Literary Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @3msander.
by Ken Poyner
The barn awaits him, barely much more than ready. The barn, like Quibble, has not been useful for years. He has forgotten all the things abandoned there, sent to the barn in lieu of being trucked to the dump. Think of all the mileage it has saved him. And he has imagined now and again fixing this or that, which went lame to the barn, yet still remembers utility. Planning a repair has often kept him peacefully occupied. Now it is time to open the door, inspect what vacuum evolved from his wife’s chartering an intervention by the disposal company.
* * *
After years of impersonating a Systems Engineer, Ken Poyner has retired to watch his wife break world raw powerlifting records. Ken’s four current poetry and four short fiction collections are available from multiple bookselling websites.
by Thompson Emate
“Remember this?” He showed him the filigree earrings he bought for his mother on her fiftieth birthday. It was one of her cherished accessories.
“I don’t think so. I can’t remember,” he said, stuttering.
“I’ll show you some other things.”
He went to a brown leather box. He dusted the top and opened it. It had many old items.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to remember these,” he said, smiling.
They went through some family pictures. His father shook his head, trying to fight back his tears.
“Why am I not feeling anything? Why am I blank?” he asks himself.
* * *
Thompson Emate is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He spends his leisure time on creative writing particularly, poetry and prose. He has a deep love for nature and the arts. His short stories can be seen in Voice.club, 50 Word Stories and Reedsy.com. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
by Jim Latham
“Let’s try a puzzle.” Langley’s counselor tipped a box. Brightly colored pieces flooded the tabletop.
Langley smoked. Puzzle pieces had smooth edges and joined up. Not lifelike. Not like Langley’s life, anyway.
But. His counselor looked so hopeful. So earnest.
Langley dropped his butt into the stale coffee at the bottom of his Styrofoam cup. What the hell? It’d get him out of talking. One by one, he turned the pieces face down. The pieces would take ages to fit together, and the picture would be drab and barren with cracks all through it.
Not lifelike, but getting closer. Like Langley.
* * *
Jim Latham lives and writes in San Pedro Cholula, Puebla. His stories have appeared in The Drabble, Spillwords, Better Than Starbucks, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. He publishes free flash fiction every Wednesday on Substack at Jim’s Shorts.
Hit & Run
by Kim kjagain Moes
The moonlight bounces off the neighbor’s swing set, causing Carrie’s eyes to water. Her shirt clings to her back, and her thighs feel chafed from the walk home. She’d left her boyfriend Jimmy behind, abandoning her car after hitting a tree in the bar’s parking lot.
It’s Jimmy’s fault, she thinks. I was happy on the wagon. Wasn’t I?
She crashes for the second time tonight, before her head even hits the pillow. Hours later, the relentless doorbell rouses her.
Apparently, there were no trees in the bar’s parking lot. The morning sunlight ricochets off the sheriff’s badge into Carrie’s eyes. This time, the tears are already there.
* * *
Kim kjagain Moes of Nanaimo, BC, has appeared in print and online journals. She unravels day-to-day events finding inspiration to meet the words climbing out of her mind. On writing, she says, “Write the life we live, explore the lessons not yet learned, and then, eat catharsis for dinner.”
I didn't help the day you drove away
by Emma Burnett
I count the boxes leaving the apartment. One, two, twelve, fifteen. Fifteen boxes of your stuff, full of books and toiletries and whatever else you need to live and take away.
There are four bags filled with clothes and shoes, and two coats that don’t fit into the bags, so you just stuff them into your car on top of everything else.
There is one sock lying in the hallway. I think it’s yours, but you say it’s mine and you step over it.
I don’t help you carry your stuff.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
Please don’t go.
* * *
Emma Burnett is a recovering academic. She’s big into cats, sports, and being introverted. Find her on twitter @slashnburnett.
by Anna Sanderson
“Robert’s gone,” Claire tells me, and the house corroborates her story. No more family photos. No football shirts hanging on the washing line. Not one drop of blood where I know Robert’s fist regularly hit the wall.
“He’s probably up north with his brother.”
Relief ripples through me. No need for further visits about petty crimes I’ll never prove; no more pretending not to see Claire’s bruises. Out of this jurisdiction, Robert’s no longer my problem.
I watch Claire’s nervous eyes scan the freshly planted flowers outside. At least he won’t be, if I can keep quiet one last time.
* * *
Anna Sanderson writes about the world as she sees it (with the odd twist and turn). You can follow her story on Twitter at @annasanderson86.
by Amita Basu
Chanchal’s always complaining about her university. The class sizes are unmanageable, the dress code ridiculous for a professor, and administrative duties leave no time for research.
She applies everywhere. She can’t wait to tell her colleagues she’s got another job. She won’t flaunt her triumph—she’ll encourage them to fly away too.
When she gets the email, it’s one a.m. Her baby’s just fallen asleep. She’s about to make the first payment on her new condo. Rereading the letter, she waits for the surge of joy. Gazing into the smog-drenched city she must leave, she realizes the joy is behind her.
* * *
Amita Basu’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in over forty magazines and anthologies including The Penn Review, The Dalhousie Review, Mid-Atlantic Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Gasher, and Fairfield Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. She lives in Bangalore, has a PhD in cognitive science, teaches undergraduate psychology, likes Captain Planet, and blogs at http://amitabasu.com/.
Penelope Moves On
by D X Lewis
Ulysses beached up last night from Troy. They say he screwed all his way home. After I recognised my husband behind the gray beard and wrinkles, he expected a welcome of hugs, kisses, and torrid sex. For twenty years I’ve frustrated handsome suitors and my own desires by knitting and re-knitting a shroud for his father. I told Ulysses he must have a bath before any frolics with me. While he wallowed in fragrant bubbles, I burned his clothes and packed my bags. I’ve seen what he is and looks like now. It’s not too late to start again.
* * *
D X Lewis has worked for Reuters, WHO, and the European Broadcasting Union. Short stories, flash and micro fictions have appeared in Story Nook, Writers’ Forum, Flash Fiction Magazine, 101words, Bath Flash Fiction, Splonk, Planet Paragraph, Fairfield Scribes, and in the 2022 Fish and Oxford anthologies. He won the 2021 Bangor 40-word competition. The first chapters of his novel Made in Hungary were published by Panorama Journal and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Ferney, France, where Voltaire spent his final years writing and cultivating his garden.
by Leo Vanderpot
She had a slight accent, my mother, and she could mispronounce a word: she said TOOBER-q-low-sess, and when I said it like that one day in grade school, some of the students in the class laughed, and I learned to say too-BERK-u-low-sess. She would say late in the afternoon on a hot summer day, there could be a cooling breeze coming from an east wind. Years later, and now, I hear her saying it, and think she is repeating what her sailor-husband used to say—for where else could she have learned about east winds?
* * *
Leo Vanderpot lives in Ossining, New York. His published work includes a letter to the editor of the London Review of Books, a balanced look at the ups and downs of gardening in The Christian Science Monitor, and a full-out-sentimental-gush to the now defunct racetrack, Suffolk Downs, published in Thoroughbred Daily News.
The Cat and the Bird
by Bianca Sanchez
I broke the news over dinner. Most parents would be proud of their son getting into NYU, but not Dad. NYU was far from his grasp.
“You’re gonna be miserable out there.”
As Dad spoke, our cat clawed at our parakeet’s cage. Sometimes I imagined setting our bird free.
“No, I won’t. My boyfriend is coming with me.”
Dad gagged. “I hope being gay is a phase.”
Our cat’s clawing opened the cage door. Our parakeet fluttered around the room and darted through an open window.
While Dad ran toward the window, I started looking for apartments in New York.
* * *
Bianca Sanchez is a writer living in San Diego. She has a BA in English from San Diego State University and currently works in publishing. Her work has appeared in 50-Word Stories, Every Day Fiction, and Mesa Visions Literary Journal. Follow her on Instagram @sanchezbianca1.
by Van Wallach
Ken read his book, but the New Haven Line commuter in the facing seat demanded conversation. Beer in hand and jacket wrinkled, he groused about inflation, property taxes, and schools ruined by demographics. Guys like him never get a break. “Guess you’re not interested,” he said to Ken’s silence.
Ken shrugged “Sorry.” The lack of engagement led to muttering about Hartford screwing taxpayers. Ken glanced around, but other riders shunned eye contact as the complaints got louder. Ken was ready to edge away when the tightly wound man stumbled off in Westport. His captive audience’s clenched shoulders finally relaxed.
* * *
Van Wallach is a writer in Katonah, NY active in blogging and open-mic performances. He is a native of Mission, Texas and a graduate of Princeton University. Van's also an avid photographer and language buff. He's the author of a 2012 Memoir, "A Kosher Dating Odyssey."
by Elizabeth Allison
He grabs her arm when they leave the curb. Says crossing Highway 1 is dicey. “Art Festival time.” She knows that. She knows aficionados clog the neighborhood en route to the amphitheater. She knows that’s where they mold people into famous paintings. “Living pictures,” they call it. Isn’t the opposite true? she wonders. Breathing souls flattened into art… Her red lacquered nails peek through his fist… posed, decorated, made inanimate… He says he likes them long… admired for their idleness and silence. His grip tightens, and she shudders at the genius of it.
* * *
A former high school teacher, Elizabeth Allison is an avid traveler and sometimes-gardener. She has
most recently been published in Intrepid Times, Burningword Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary
Journal, 50-Word Stories, Defenestrationism, 101 Words and HuffPost. Her work can be found at thewriteprofile.com.
by Robert Runté
The giant frog lifted its right front leg off the pentagram, examined its four sticky fingers, and croaked, “What the fuck, Gerry?”
Gerry backed up a few steps. “I must have said it wrong.”
Gerry examined the script again. “It’s perfect. I ran it through spellcheck and everything.”
The giant frog slapped its hand over its eyes. “Gerry, please tell me you remembered to turn off predictive text?”
“Of course. Oh, wait. I see it now. I mistyped ‘wisdom’ as sapientia and spell-check corrected it to salientia—Latin for ‘frog’—instead of sapientiae.”
“I hate you, Gerry.”
* * *
Robert Runté is Senior Editor with EssentialEdits.ca. A former professor, he has won three Aurora Awards for literary criticism. His fiction has been published in over forty venues, and six of his short stories have been reprinted in ‘best of' collections, such as Canadian Shorts II and Best of Metastellar.
by Lee Hammerschmidt
“Well, Agent Bland,” Ellis Edamame, head of MI6, said. “Are you ready to return to duty after your, uh, injury?”
“Yes, sir,” Bland said sheepishly.
“I hope you’ve learned your lesson. I mean, really, picking up an STD from a promiscuous, albeit beautiful, woman. An agent of your experience should be a little more careful.”
“It was in the line of duty, sir. I was interrogating Astra Mortadella, Agent of RECTOR, and well, one thing led to another…”
“Yes, all right. But you do have Dr. Rathbone’s clearance?”
“Yes,” Bland said, sliding over a form. “I can pee clearly now.”
* * *
Lee Hammerschmidt is a Visual Artist/Writer/ Troubadour. He is the author of the short story collections, A Hole Of My Own, It's Noir O'clock Somewhere, For Richer or Noirer, and Flash Wounds. Check out his hit parade on YouTube!
by Joem Antonio
“Priceless?” replied Bob. “But your treasure ain’t worth my treasure, much less my soul.”
The Devil said, “Let’s see about that.”
Bob answered, “If we need to play comparison, then your treasure ain’t worth my soul.”
So the Devil afflicted Bob until he looked like post-Moses Egypt.
Bob answered, “Torture? Instead of a bribe? I knew your treasure ain’t worth my soul.”
So the Devil healed Bob and offered him Solomon’s mines.
Bob answered, “Predictable. It ain’t worth my soul.”
And he left.
Decades later, the Devil overheard a dying Bob whisper, “...to regularly see the Devil so insecure... priceless!”
* * *
Joem Antonio is a Filipino Playwright and children's story author who began actively exploring microfiction in 2021. Some of his works can be seen in www.joemantonio.com, www.exesanonymous.com, www.compactshakespeare.com, and www.lovecafeproject.com. He also gives writing workshops through www.storywritingschool.com.
Lonely Is the Knight
by Matthew P.S. Salinas
Sir Obtriem had given up. Hours passed over him while lying on the road. His horse was stolen, along with the caravan.
Please, by the grace of God.
Nightfall arrived and torches pricked apart darkness down the road. Death was upon him and he had one final request. The king’s scouts arrived and gathered around him.
“Dear Lord, it’s Sir Obtriem!”
They knelt in at his beckoning.
“Take my armor. Bury it far from me. My family mustn’t know.” He coughed blood. “Tell Bonnie...” His body went limp and they began peeling away the heavy layers of all his lies.
* * *
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 Mary Kuna
“Do you remember what it was like on the island, before they brought you here?” asks the boy I work with. He’s chattier than the grownups.
I barely remember beachgrass and shifting sand dunes. Sunshine, wind in my mane, I somewhat miss. Open space to run around, I miss a lot.
We spend all day together in dark, low-ceilinged tunnels, hauling tubs of coal along the tracks. In the evenings, I eat oats in my underground stall. The boy eats salt cod at home with his family, but he’ll be back here at dawn, and he’ll never finish grade four.
* * *
Mary Kuna (they/she) is a librarian in Saint John, New Brunswick. Their work has appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Storytwigs, 101 Words, 50-Word Stories, and Queer Sci Fi's flash fiction contest anthologies Clarity and Innovation. They live with their librarian spouse and a rambunctious cat named Pippa.
Free Book Publishing Consultation
Our publisher, Alison McBain, is a freelance editor whose recent novel was published through When Words Count's Pitch Week, which you can read about in Medium's The Writing Cooperative: "How I Jumped the Line & Got a Book Deal." Email Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to her about nontraditional methods to get a traditional publishing deal.
The Poets' Salon
Check out The Poets' Salon, a free poetry workshop run by editors Edward Ahern and Alison McBain. Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon EST via Zoom.