Charles Wall subtly weaves the themes of loss, love, and renewal in "Anchors." A father and son who have lost a wife and mother, respectively, teeter on losing each other but it is the model ship - a memory displayed on a wooden shelf - that offers their moment of renewal.
Speaking PolitelyHelen Wurthmann
Helen Wurthmann puts the spotlight on two siblings - and in turn, on us - in her story "Speaking Politely." It’s Christmas and siblings Moe and Halo are on a grocery run, for wine and other festive items, and to get Halo out of the house before she picks another fight. It is during their time together on this seemingly benign errand that much is revealed about their relationship, Moe’s past, and our manufactured limits on compassion.
Wrong NumberJamie Grove
In “Wrong Number,” Jamie Grove explores the oft whispered topic of aging. Marilyn is alone and scared, having been taken to a hospital for reasons she cannot remember. Her aging body betrays her resolute spirit and she reaches out to Father Jones for solace, leaving a message. But she has dialed the wrong number and instead leaves a desperate message on Kirby’s voicemail. Kirby’s initial disregard for the caller wears at her and she eventually decides to visit, with fateful consequences.
The Storm TrooperTyler Pesek
Tyler Pesek is a self-proclaimed fan of Star Wars so it seems fitting that he would create "The Storm Trooper," a Star Wars fan fiction story. The story begins when a solitary man discovers a lone helmet in a humble shelter and, with a touch, he enters a trance and sees the story of clone soldier 017. But below the surface of the storytelling is an intriguing and thoughtful examination of the fine line between being human and being AI.
Midnight RideVanessa Christie
The setting for Vanessa Christie’s short story “Midnight Ride” is San Diego and the action centers on finding a serial killer who is targeting cyclists. But frankly, you will have to read it to find out more. Built into the intrigue and action of the story is also a slow revelation of characters. As with her novel excerpt Strangers You Know, Christie does not disappoint.
“Dimensional Detachment Therapy”, “Silver Linings” and “Like a Secret”James Knapp
Conversational in style, James Knapp’s poetry revels in irony in “Dimensional Detachment Therapy”— “I walk around department stores/in my pajamas”— and employs the consequential in “Silver Linings”— “Somewhere/past the flickering/yellow light I know/you’re waiting for me.”
“Solar Subjugation”, “Sun-Shattered Bird” and “Sunrise at the Mall”Toni La Ree Bennett
Read “Solar Subjugation” or “Sun-Shattered Bird” by Toni La Ree Bennett and heed the poet’s warning of humanity’s demise on Earth: “And as eons pass, our descendants, if we have any,/will look back at our broadcasts and streaming/and twitters and posts and smile wistfully/at our childish excitement.”
“Swans”, “Playplace” and “Nana Stares Out the Window”Claudia Glenn
Claudia Glenn’s poetry envelops a quiet nostalgia, but in “Nana Stares Out the Window” nostalgia becomes wisdom: “Every morning the bird returns/And every morning she is greeted/By the wonder of a child/Who just saw their first snow/And the wisdom of a woman/Who decides to make a snow angel/Knowing it could be her last.”
“Moths”, “Meet Me At the Stairs” and “Change Will Come?”Emily Wong
Emily Wong draws poetic sustenance from nature’s presence. Whether in “Moths,” “Meet Me At the Stairs,” or “Change Will Come?,” natural metaphors ground the poems: moon becomes an “empress,”; dawn “the birth of light/after a long misty night,”; and day when “the light is bland,/and the colours don't dance.”
“Caracas”, “The Milky Way as Path to the Otherworld” and “Mirrorland”Mari Pack
Figurative language is the essence of poetry, but its timbre is varied from poem to poem—“energetic,” “vital,” “arousing” are descriptors in Mari Pack’s poetry. See “The Milky Way As Path to the Other World”: “a life of too many sugar syrups/meat caught in a blender, coughing up/nothing but dust --/high pitched notes/ shattering in round, operatic soprano holes.”
“Portrait: Woodbury, Indiana”, “What Happens to Dealership Cars During a Hurricane” and “Aubade with the Red Door”Paige Leland
Page Leland’s prose poem “Portrait: Woodbury, Indiana” is a poetic journey of narration, rhythm, and metaphor in three stanzas with lines such as these: “When we close our eyes, the sky rips open, sounds like bones breaking”; “Pass the time by searching white clouds for a sign of something divine—“; “9 pm, when the sky is dead and black and the moon is only an outstretched hand away.”
“Of Van Gogh”, “Pescador Beach” and “Beginning Piano”Somnath Ganapa
The sense of touch is valued in Somnath Ganapa’s poetry: the poems resonate whether the subject is Van Gogh, the beach, or the piano. An example of this gift in “Beginning Piano”: “I gingerly lifted her upper lip with gentle fingers,/ Revealing white and black teeth underneath./Back straight, reverent fingers on middle C,/It was my first time.
“Pebbles”, “The Books” and “My Father”Sandeep Kumar Mishra
Sandeep Kumar Mishra tells stories in his poetry but he never abandons the poetic line. “Pebbles” exemplifies the skillfully crafted narration and metaphorical voice: “But patient jeweller of tides;/Volcano-born, earthquake-quarried,/Heat-cracked, wind-carved,/Death shapes compact among the rocks.”
“Dilettante”, “Visiting Hours” and “The Nice Guy Awards 2017”August Ritchart
The concrete image is principal in August Ritchart’s poetry, but don’t mistake it for simplicity, as the image absorbs meaning. See “Visiting Hours”: “You mailed me an Easter basket this year/Inside were some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups/The special egg-shaped ones/I ate them/And these eyes can’t see far enough outside myself to know/ Which parts of me are your hand-me-downs.”
“Some Privileges”, “Burial Feathers” and “Slovak Smelling Salts”Sara Marron
Conjoining the language of music and the agency of poetry, Sara Marron ponders the depth of humanity’s touch. It reverberates in “Some Privileges”: “Putting my arm around your waist, taking your backpack from you to descend the subway/ platform, walking:/In relievo, sotto voce; subito triofale/A direction to make the melody stand out, voices in undertone; suddenly/triumphant.”
“My Birthday is Around the Corner”, “New Words for Poems” and “Gift of Love”Jerrice J. Baptiste
There is no escaping the gentle, fully in control poetic voice of Jerrice J. Bapiste. No matter the theme, her poetry blesses with meditative meaning: “My heart knows a deeper/truth. I open/the bag let some air in,/place the stone on my/wooden desk, remember/my mother loves me when/eyes tear up at sunrise/ at the old monastery.”
“I have tenuous connections to famous literary men and they haven’t helped me to become a famous poet” and “Get It Together”Rebecca Larkin
Rebecca Larkin knows the powerful play of irony, nowhere more so than in her poem “Get It Together”—personification and metaphor as vehicles: “We're all rooting for him/ TO GET IT TOGETHER,/He's basically a tree that had its feet cut off/And its nose washed out by acid rain/and its leaves of personality waxed up so hard/they can't photo-synthesize.”
With courage and honesty, Leilani Squire writes of a life-changing event in her stunning piece "Wonderland" - "I can’t go back to that place before I was married. That part of my life is dead and buried, and covered with too much shame and grief." The narrative grabs you and the raw emotion and truth revealed lingers.
A Story I Know By HeartGlenn Schiffman
"I’m going to tell you a story, parts of which I’ve kept in my heart for nearly fifty years, and other parts I’ve been silent about for seventeen years, and have not written about until today, December 31, 2017." This is the introduction to Glenn Schiffman’s piece "A Story I Know By Heart" - an odyssey of personal decisions, truth, and action that began in 1968. It is an intense and intriguing journey, for both writer and reader.
The End of the Natural KillingErez Majerantz
"The End of the Natural Killing" by Erez Majerantz draws the story of Yuval, a minister in the government who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Memories of his past and yearnings in his present haunt how he manages the illness. Yuval is not the most virtuous of men, and his slow death exposes these complex layers of his humanness.
Too Much Information: Chapter ThreeK. Alan Leitch
K. Alan Leitch introduces us to a modern-day Nancy Drew in his novel “Too Much Information.” Teenager Jessica awakens from a coma with a special ability - she can see in a person’s eyes the evil they have done, but not the act itself, just a word. By Chapter 3, Jessica has seen the word “murderer” in the eyes of her psychiatrist and with the help of her friend Marnie, they are on a mission to discover who, when, and why.
The Perfect Beauty: Chapter OneDarlow Safley
Mariela writes for the Stockholm Free Press, stories with click-bait headlines and gulp worthy details. But as she laments to her copy editor Torsten, she needs a change — “I need to see how the insect and lizard sees. I need to witness the little things and feel big things about little things. Right?” And as we discover in Chapter 1 of Darlow Safley’s novel "The Perfect Beauty," she also needs to find her father.
Heart Mighty PowerLukasz Drobnik
Mirka has fallen into a coma and Przemek, her boyfriend, injects himself and the bathyscaphe he has built into her bloodstream to try and save her. “Heart Mighty Power,” a fragment of Lukasz Drobnik’s novella “Nocturine,” takes the reader on a powerful and surrealistic journey through the spaces and soul of her heart.