“If you can write about how you feel, you can publish it. No dream is too big and no story too small.” – Farrah Fray
Where Do We Go?
At a Halloween party, a man in a horrific Scream Ghostface mask tells Jane he’s on his way to collect “an unfortunate soul from Scotland.” In Maria Savva’s “Where Do We Go?”, the divide between life and death is as slim as to be nothing at all.
Today’s Edition of the End of the World
A call puts Harry in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis his wife Joyce and an old girlfriend. He’s never cheated on his wife but he can’t help himself. Consulting her on-line profile beforehand, he goes looking. In “Today’s Edition of the End of the World” by Andrew James Talbot, “the past has broken into the present.”
The Winning Fish
In “The Winning Fish” by Natalli Amato, the narrator Lindsey lives in the kind of town where everyone notices everything, even the addition of just one more. Read the first paragraph carefully. Clues abound and the ending satisfies.
In Neil McGowan’s story “Pic,” “a wee man” comforts eighty-year-old Audrey, who has suffered two strokes and is confined to her bedroom. In her final moments, Pic stays with her until the owl lifts her into the sky. Fantasy and reality are one.
“Old Blue” by Bryn Chamberlain is a tender coming-of-age story about a teenager; his black Labrador “Blue”; and a power lawn mower, also named “Blue.” This trio makes the difference after his father leaves. Love and ambition—“inextricably entwined.”
How to Name and Claim Romance
She leaves Radhika to explore the mountains of Andhra Pradesh—not a travelogue kind of adventure—and finds Sandeep a quasi-willing partner in a preordained exercise. Read how it ends in Karen Bell’s “How To Name and Claim Romance.”
A long-haul truck driver, Nathan sees only ghosts—“robots”—on I-70. The loneliness gets to him until he meets Gail at the OGALLAH PUMP ‘N’ SNACK, an emergency pit stop. “Haul” by Alex Nichols is an everyday story—except for the robots.
With anti-depressants in hand, Anthony Capitanio catches the bus to attend a Catholic High school. His severe anxiety disorder ramps up when he sees Joe, the best pitcher in the little league. Then things go haywire in Chris Pellizzari’s “Game-Winning Hit.”
Flight of the Valkyries
His fingers “as strong as steel,” Carlos the Uncanny performs out-of-this-world flips on the trapeze bar when he hears Wagner’s music. Then he starts losing years and life isn’t the same in “Flight of the Valkyries” by Amanda Pampuro.
Dialogues with Your Notebook
In the oblique and dreamlike style of Marguerite Duras, Viviane Vives weaves memories of her ancestors and place—Nice, Barcelona, Perth, New South Wales, Texas—in “Dialogues With Your Notebook,” a stunning literary achievement.
Aunt Mathilda holds the snowflake charm in her hand; her sixth sense takes charge; she places it in a drawer. A woman visits her niece’s consignment store with check in hand and Mathilda puts two and two together. “Christmas Charm” is a story in the wonderful Mathilda series by Piper Templeton.
“Whence”, “With Mother” and “All Alert”
Breslin White’s poetry is matter-of-fact, yet the irony in “Whence” plays with this pragmatism. “With Mother,” the line, “Some of these shapes look suspicious” injects a contrary interpretation. And the poem “All Alert”? Readers, like the swans, are “placated with the transformation.”
“Trash-Burning”, “National Bohemian Pastoral” and “Memory Tree”
Take the alleged mundanity in “Trash-Burning”—“Out here it’s most weekends in the summer”; the personification of the “chair-back straight” tree in “Memory Tree”; and the Latin “vocat/aestus in umbra” in “National Bohemian Pastoral,” and you glimpse Mercer Bufter’s poetic philosophy.
“The Leftovers”, “Tuesday” and “Simulation”
Unmistakable in Adam Que’s poetry is his down-to-earth perspective, as presented in the narrative of Reye’s syndrome in “The Leftovers”; the concrete image of “Chaco shredding the pollo” in “Tuesday”; and the rich irony between “real” nature and “a downloaded app” in “Simulation.”
“The Land I Knew”, “Tangles” and “1941 / 2017”
Nostalgia has a significant influence on humanity, and the wistfulness in Maya Roe’s poetry is poignant. The three stanzas “In Land I Knew” illuminate the poet’s remembrances as if you the reader were experiencing the land itself; so too in “Tangles” and “1941/2017” as entrances to the inner heart of memory.
“My own key slotted in your door”, “Survival” and “On life’s meaningful pauses”
An unambiguous pathos permeates Clara Burghelea’s poetry in, for example, this line: “I would have grown forgetful, had I stayed” in “My Own Key Slotted in Your Door.” Then, in “Survival” “love gave its sorrow a name/and drowned it.” And “how can I breathe breathless into the air of you?” in “On Life’s Meaningful Pauses.”
“My Apple”, “Volcanoes in Antarctica” and “Garden”
Personification meets allegory in Luciana Erregue-Sacchi’s poem “My Apple”—“Eve,/Stands, unrepentant/Venus Pudica”; and metaphor meets personification in “Garden”—“my garden is a map of my brain/Cobalt, cadmium, coral, kidney shaped.” “Volcanoes In Antarctica?” Read the poem to see poetry as analysis.
“Instinct”, “Cherry Horses” and “Epiglottis”
It’s hard to match Samuel E. Cole’s lyricism. In “Instinct,” it’s the visualization of the child’s “heartbeat adrift/among the sounds of/cosmic collision”; the natural imagery as foreground in “Cherry Horses”; and the narrative of poverty wailing “multitude horrors” in “Epiglottis.”
“Funabulism”, “Click” and “Chrysalis”
In each of Mart-Matteus Kampus’ poems visualization is key. In “Funabulism” a cat devours a mouse, “his red/whiskers/tightrope/walked/in the clear/morning air.” In “Click” the camera eye embraces all of what it sees—“sky,” shy moon,” “gentle summer.” And then there is “Chrysalis”—a feast of imagistic verse.
“Fairer Hands”, “Dotted or Solid” and “Diploma for Daedalus”
Leigh Fisher shows how the art of poetic narration works in “Fairer Hands,” in which the poet tries “to scale a ladder that was never made to be climbed”; and in “Diploma for Daedalus,” where no labyrinth prevents her success “with this degree in hand.” In “Dotted or Solid” she learns “the goal/is obeying the road’s lines.”
“Envelope”, “Morning Papers Waltz” and “Auction”
Read Renoir Gaither’s poems out loud and catch the meaning collapsing into rhythmic meter, as in this tercet in “Morning Papers Waltz”: “Salutations to subway dreams and spearmint gum./Salutations to asphyxiating oil addition and asthmatic Raqqa streets./Salutations to corporate welfare recipients mewing at public troughs.” The same is true of “Envelope” and “Auction.”
“Cutting Through the Fog”, “Eternal Game” and “Brokenness”
A spiritual passion awakens in Ann Christine Tabaka’s poetry. The titles instruct: in “Cutting Through the Fog” the brume swallows the poet whole; in “Eternal Games” the story, like uroboros, eternally chases “its own tail”; and in “Brokenness” emptiness reaches out, “searching.”
“County Fair, Senior Year”, “Genealogy” and “Hallelujah, Hallelujah”
E. Merrill Brouder’s poetry is not limited in style or meaning. See the poet professing his love on the Ferris wheel in “County Fair, Senior Year”; delivering an encomium to the natural world in “Hallelujah, Hallelujah”; and asking, “What will become/ of the MERRILL lot/now that everyone has left?” in Genealogy.
“Community College of Vermont, the Early Days”, “When I Awake” and “Sunday Morning”
There is a special resonance in Louis LoRe’s poems. In “Community College of Vermont, the Early Days,” you hear the girl think “with hopes of becoming.” In “When I Awake” you feel the fear as “he rises to his haunches” and escapes. And you realize the boy can no longer be innocent of the apocalypse of nuclear war in “Sunday Morning.”
“12 Ways of Looking at a Woman”, “Skyless Sky” and “A Poem Is”
Elizabeth Luchniski shows us how to see women as individuals in “12 Ways of Looking At a Woman,” just as she does two men who “share a laugh/Discuss the unknown” in “Skyless Sky.” And “A Poem Is” a poem “That you may need,/But only if/You can feel it.
Why I Am a Writer
It’s a summer afternoon and Maya Roe can’t write. The “overdramatic and rambling” prose hitting the page isn’t working. So, she goes out intentionally looking and seeing and feeling. Nature is not symbolism or metaphor. It just is. Stream and Forest. Bees and Moss. Cattails and Blueberry trees. All of this an “inexplicable world” to love.
The Greatest Scientist of a Generation
“The Greatest Scientist of of a Generation” is Scott Wilson’s satirical take on what is the serious problem, CCD, or colony collapse disorder. Scientists couldn’t agree on the source of honeybee deaths, a real problem because honeybees are the pollinators of fruits like blueberries, vegetables like broccoli, and nuts like almonds. Scientists, corporations, and the INTERNET are tagged here.
Sophia DuRose says it loud and clear in her essay “And.” She refuses to be labeled, having learned a lesson of discrimination against her Jewish faith when she was a teenager. Rather than taking the opinions of others at face value, she writes that we must “create our own opinions of worthiness and self-assurance.” Taking a line from Maya Angelou as her axiom, Sophia DuRose will, “like the air,” rise.
With All Our Faults
Part 2, Chapter 1 of Daniel Talamantes’ novel With All Our Faults begins agreeably, with the nameless narrator indulging in a burrito while watching a World Cup match on his computer. Yet, Talamantes mixes up his observation of the game with his reflection about life—“somewhat like a burrito, the more you indulge, the more you unwrap, it is nearly impossible to recover”—leaving you in a state of unsuspected suspense: What is really happening here?
Tadhg and the Seven Dragons: Story Three
The third story in Michael Radcliff’s series Tadhg and the Seven Dragons takes us to the island of Hawaii where Tadhg must stop Duana, his young friend who has been possesed by the "Other", and find Greatwing’s relatives. Braving molten lava, Merlin’s traps, and dark tunnels, Tadhg journeys into the depths of the volcano to face the unknown and save his friend.
Strangers You Know: Chapter One
Vanessa Christie introduces us to her noir mystery novel, Strangers You Know, and what an introduction it is. The story opens forcefully as we are introduced to the criminal and the cop; the details of the crime; and what we anticipate will be an intricate and fast-paced plot. You anticipate these characters facing difficult decisions as they track each other down—and consequences that will upend both of their lives.
Life Sentence: Chapter One
Read the first chapter of Barry Potyondi’s novel Life Sentence before reading the preface. This is merely a suggestion, but it allows you to read Chapter 1 without presumption or judgment. Thus unfettered, you will be struck by the raw emotion that builds from the first sentence to the last, and, so engaged, anticipate the consequence of rejection and hardship in a combustible mix. Then, return to the preface. It will open your eyes to the eugenics movement during the 20th century in Alberta, Canada, that destroyed thousands of individual lives.
In a Time of Monsters
This excerpt from Banerjea’s debut novel begins with a gang arrest in a neighborhood in south London, but the focus of the chapter is the immigrant woman who reminisces about her happy childhood in pre-partition Bengal. She implores her professor father, her Baba, to allow her older brother, her dada, to take her to the cinema. The wish is granted, and she experiences for the first time the Mukul cinema, “its well-decorated marquee at the entrance and walls pasted with big posters announcing forthcoming features.” Along with other girls chaperoned by older brothers, she and her dada sit in the very front row and watch the giant gorilla carry Ann in his huge hand and disappear into the jungle, as the Mukul cinema is “filled with the shrieks and cries of children.”
I’m Not Asking
“I’m Not Asking” is excerpted from Elizabeth Richardson’s science fiction novel, SportHacked, A Game of Emotional Halloween, about a woman whose life has been destroyed after it’s been taken over by computer hacking and what she does to put her life back together. Rory Scott was an accredited counselor, but “after six months of daily sabotage, my life taken from me,…I am now ready to do something extreme.” And what Rory does is extreme, but what choice does she have?