Tuesday, July 07, 2020

New Poetry by Robert Nisbet

Dai’s Day

Dai prowls the town in deepest Western Wales,
finds garrulous acquaintance, becks and nods.
He buys a naughty postcard for his niece
in Ballymena, eats a bacon roll.

Spring soon, no burst of apple blossom yet,
but spring so soon, so very, very soon.
Two magazine rejections cloud no more
than twenty fleeting minutes of Dai’s day,
and on then to the Jug and Bottle bar,
two lagers with a sometime college friend.

Late afternoon, spring sun, and Dai, Dai’s girl,
meet in a quiet tea room

- © Robert Nisbet 2020

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who very much enjoys the current US poetry scene. He has been published regularly in magazines like San Pedro River Review, Panoply and Third Wednesday. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

New Short Fiction by S.F. Wright

The Cipher
Arlene Cardino lived with her mother. Before she was made a full-time cashier, she’d run the gift department, a job which allowed her to sit on a chair in the receiving area for long stretches of time while she opened and sorted merchandise. Once a year, Arlene attended the Renaissance Faire with her coworker, Katie, the latter of whom got into costume and jousted. Apart from this annual excursion, Arlene spent her free time reading romance novels.


Drew was responsible for changing out tills, counting deposits, authorizing returns, doing cash pickups, dealing with disgruntled customers, and supervising as few as one and as many as twelve cashiers at once. His day would run smoothly—even agreeably—if he had one of the efficient college girls or one of the more competent veteran employees for a cashier. On the other hand, his day could be aggravating if he were stuck with one of the garrulous housewives; the old man, Casey Fair; or Arlene Cardino.


Since corporate had rendered the position of gift department lead obsolete, Arlene had floated from one section to another: children’s, customer service, newsstand. But more and more management had put Arlene at cashwrap. Arlene was a slow ringer. However, she was always accurate, to the dime, with her till.
 She also went to the restroom often and for long periods of time, and always exceeded her allotted break time. Drew told Ryan Harris, the store manager, who told Drew that, as cashwrap supervisor, he should be the one reprimanding Arlene. Drew did. Arlene said it took two minutes just to walk to the timeclock, five if she stopped to use the restroom—and why should she use her break time to use the restroom when employees on the salesfloor didn’t? As for her fifteen-minute break—for which employees didn’t punch out—she didn’t consider the break to have started until she was in the break room. She walked as fast as she could, she shouldn’t be punished for not being able to move as quickly as others.
  Drew asked if she could be a bit more conscious of the time
Arlene huffed and returned to her register.

 One Saturday, Drew came in for the 10-6:30 shift. He’d closed the night before, and then drank Evan Williams and Coca-Cola in his room until two thirty. During the first hour, his mind was a blur; as it was two weeks before Christmas, the store was packed. He constantly approved returns, did cash pickups, counted down tills. Arlene had come in at eight thirty; the opening head cashier, Ken, had assigned Drew the register next to hers. So, throughout the day, he had to enter his numbers for her returns, restock her register tape, and do her pickups.
 At four, Ken took his till down, while the closing head cashier, Christina, set up her till in the cashroom. Drew had to authorize every return, exchange, and cancellation, and consequentially was constantly rushing around. So, he could barely suppress rolling his eyes when a man came to his register with a stack of dogeared books he didn’t have a receipt for and which he wanted to return to his credit card.
 Drew explained the return policy. The man was obdurate. Drew told him he couldn’t take the books back. The man got testy. 
 Drew called a manager. 
 Leonard showed up.
 A few minutes later, Leonard not only took the books back, but put the credit onto the man’s Visa. Drew was livid. When he asked Leonard why, Leonard shrugged. It was a judgment call; the books didn’t look that bad; he told the man he was making an exception. 
 Stewing, Drew said nothing more.
 Shortly thereafter, Arlene called Drew over. She held up a receipt, a woman at her register looked piqued. 
  She wants to return this book and put it back on her Amex. But this was from seventeen days ago.
  It’s only been three days. I was out of town and didn’t get back until last night.
  Drew, still exasperated, said, You can put it back on her card. He entered his numbers and walked over to help Violet, a twenty-two-year-old nursing student. And breathing in Violet’s perfume as he helped her with an exchange, he wished he had another life completely.


He thought nothing more about the return—he still smarted over Leonard’s approving the other one. When he took down Arlene’s till and she acted chilly, he attributed it to nothing more than her typical moodiness.  So, he was somewhat surprised, a short while later, when Ryan Harris asked to speak to him.
 In the tight, nearly claustrophobic cashroom, Drew’s mouth dropped open when Harris told him Arlene complained about the way he’d handled the return that was three days past the fourteen-day window.
  We know we tell our head cashiers to use their judgment, but you have to make an effort to enforce the policy—especially after Arlene was trying to enforce it herself. She felt you didn’t back her up.
  Drew looked at Harris. Any other day he might’ve let it go, but the frustration that had been building was too much: he told Harris he’d been very busy, that he’d just been overridden on a much more questionable return by Leonard, and that he did tell the woman the policy was fourteen days before authorizing it (a minor lie).
   Harris sighed. He said to be a bit sterner. Drew muttered, Fine, and returned to his register.


 He’d have Arlene as a cashier numerous times after that; always, there was unspoken tension between them. Drew knew he could’ve extinguished or at least assuaged the uneasiness if he apologized for—or even acknowledged—his cursory approval of the late return. But he didn’t think he had anything to apologize for.
  Less than a year later, Drew quit. He later heard Arlene left as well to take a job at the company’s customer service headquarters. He assumed the position would allow her to sit all day while answering the phone, which Drew was certain would suit her.

- © S.F. Wright 2020

S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Quarter After Eight, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His website is sfwrightwriter.com

New Poetry by Paul Koniecki

i tried on my father’s pants

i tried toughskin and corduroy
polyester chino cotton rayon

i tried on my father’s pants
and they were too long

i traced pictures of scorpions
on graph paper and hid them

in the miniature coin pockets
of his jeans folded laser tight

i tried on overalls
and the onesies mechanics wear

i tried on costumes and starch
spells spelling poison five fingered

death-touch curses nunchuck
training don’t ask me what i do

to make a living
ask me what i do to make a life

i am the still blue figure

the dead lake
the terrible mirror

typing like a moon
i am the little boy waiting

to grow eight legs
and a barbed tail

sting the sun
and the hand that placed

it there
make a desert of the sky

© Paul Koniecki 2020

Paul Koniecki lives and writes in Dallas, Texas. He was once chosen for the John Ashbery Home School Residency. He is the Associate Editor of Thimble Literary Journal. His books of poetry are available from Kleft Jaw Press, NightBallet Press, Dark Particle Press, and Spartan Press.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New Poetry by Mike James

Leaving the Parking Lot of the Comfort Food Diner, West of Vegas 

Even when you don’t count highway license plates
Time passes at a constant rate. 
That’s ok. 
Most of what we see is meant to be erased. 

The desert is good at that. 
Wait long enough, sand erases every page. 
Drive far enough, nobody knows your name. 

- © Mike James 2020

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee and has published widely. His many poetry collections include: Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) 

Monday, June 29, 2020

New Poetry by Ayodeji Otuyelu

Ungodly Feeling

We sat together under the hot Nigerian sun
Drinking palm wine and smoking weed
We laughed out so loud and free
Looking me, looking you,
eye to eye
You sipped from the calabash and so did I
Our legs gently touched and we both smiled
We both understood that forbidden fruit we craved
But I don’t want to be Eve, neither do you
Gently we let the emotions burn-out like the wrap in our fingers
As the girls joined and the conversation changed
Time never stood still, but that feeling
That ungodly feeling
remains the same

- © Ayodeji Otuyelu 2020

Ayodeji Otuyelu was born in Ogun State, Nigeria, but currently lives in New York City. He started writing poems, which he kept secret, in his diary at a young age. However, he began to perform them in public during Open Mics he hosted at Tsion Café - an Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem. It was only at this moment where Ayodeji gained confidence in sharing his writings and thoughts that captured his emotions and experiences in both Nigeria and the United States.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

New Flash Fiction by Yash Seyedbagheri


We friends have a burn party. Torch divorce papers, card statements, parking tickets, things with dark associations from last year.

We release items into the bonfire with weary rage.

Tomorrow, demands continue. Alimony? Salary cuts? Booze?

But now papers crumple. Flames rise, moon eating shadows.

We inhale smoke and relief.

- © Yash Seyedbagheri 2020

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New Poetry by Peggy Turnbull

When Mountains Shimmer

Each summer I visit the ridge to see
our abandoned mountain home, its matted grass,
the white pines wrapped in poison ivy. 

The field below glows with hay bales. 
No trace remains of the fire that blistered our idyll.
Our daughter married a local boy.

Her father still won’t speak to her. “Because
no one else wore a suit to her wedding.”
On an August day so hot the cake melted,

I watched him sweat in a three-piece suit. 
Shiny dress shoes made him slip on the steep lawn,
his composure ruffled by our daughter’s friends:

hippy homesteaders. The women wore 
broomstick skirts, publicly nursed their newborns. 
He never returned to our split rail fence. 

I think mountain’s green witness pierces him. 
On the Blue Ridge, memories hang on tree branches, 
flap like ghosts. Don’t harden yourself,

I try to tell him, but I am just a glimmer 
in the evening mist.

- © Peggy Turnbull 2020

Peggy Turnbull is a poet and neophyte wildflower enthusiast who now lives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, USA, which is on the Lake Michigan shore. Peggy worked and lived in southern West Virginia for 26 years until she moved back to her birthplace. Her poems have recently been published in Poetry Super Highway, Rats Ass Review, and Bramble.  Her micro chapbook, Rocking Chair Abstract, is available from the Origami Poem Project. You can find out more about her at https://peggyturnbull.blogspot.com/. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

New Poetry by Linda King


you put on your good sweater
your favourite pair of jeans
real shoes instead of slippers
lip gloss

you curl your hair
wear your best earrings

you make fresh coffee
from beans
bake cookies from scratch

you add lavender to launder the sheets
sweep the patio for the third time

you weep for the ward clerks
the grocery shelvers
the empty playgrounds

and you turn the hourglass over
and again

- © Linda King 2020

Linda King is the author of five poetry collections - the most recent antibodies in the alphabet ( BlazeVOX Books, 2018).  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals ( including a very early issue of Bluepepper) in Canada and internationally. King lives and writes on The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav

who goes

behind her yellow robes 
a camouflage not recognized 
its pleasantries float in search of love
like fluttering cabbage butterfly 

white wings 
dark centre
wielding strings in purity's name
lacking knowledge 
fooled in dream

against blue skies sunny rays
and shades of flowers motley pinks
equipped to soar then fall
returning cycles passing by 

seemingly congenial eye
till knowledge warns 
of hindrances
in woven golden thread

- © Jean Bohuslav 2020

Jean Bohuslav belongs to a poetry group in Torquay Victoria that is currently sharing thoughts via zoom, podcasts and emails.

New Poetry by Paul Tanner

*with no irony

there’s a big bloke bleeding on the ground 
and a couple of smaller dudes standing over him
looking bored. 
then at me – 
I shrug as if to say, none of my business
then go in.  
it’s not my usual advisor, it’s this woman with 
long nails and she says you know,
you should really widen your job search.
I’ve applied for everything from 
toilet cleaner to shelf stacker, what else is there?
she says well you know, 
everything’s online these days, there’s always call
for more drivers to deliver to customer’s houses.
I say I don’t have a licence.
and she says well maybe you should get one
and I ask: how am I paying for that?
and she says woah, woah, I’m just trying to help, 
there’s no need to get aggressive,
we won’t tolerate abuse, here at the jobcentre* so I give up. 
outside, the big bloke has gone 
but the two little ones are still there,
standing over the blood puddle where he was.
weird. there’s 
a bus stop across the way 
bent like your grandma. there’s
a flower somewhere. 
one of the little dudes, he smiles. the other doesn’t.
I wasn’t even signing on today, I took that bitch’s shit
for nothing. kind of like signing on. 
somewhere there’s a flower 
and the bus stop is still in use

- © Paul Tanner 2020

Paul Tanner's novel, “Jobseeker”, is available now at Amazon. He was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. His latest collection, “Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers”, is published by Penniless Press.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New Poetry by Japhy Mitchell

Reflection of Time

Come over
for dinner
with guests who eat the napkins
barking at the dog
Watching for the real.

Things that reflect last as long
As those that shine.
The dogs not barking and
The napkins are especially
Tasty tonight.

Is a memory real
Does it count as
A reflection?

If I remember you,
Then am I the moon?

Does it matter to
The long gone sun
If a few of its rays
Keeping bouncing on?

What about a dream
A collage of abstract

Does it count?

What does a sun care
If it explodes and grows
If on some faraway place
It is part of some nighttime
Patchwork to a
Gathering of cells
Who are just a blink in time.

- © Japhy Mitchell 2020

Japhy Mitchell's poems  have been or scheduled to be published in several print and online publications, including Spiralbridge, Scissors & Spackle, BlogNostics, streetcake, Door is Ajar, The Daily Drunk, Trouvaille Review, Down in the Dirt, First Literary Review East and The Legendary.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

New Poetry by Barbara De Franceschi

I Ask Florence Nightingale 

about the pandemic,
whether her stats would add up
in this modern day surge.
She is more concerned with comfort,
numbers and models 
fascinate her brain in the midnight hours
without surpassing the need to heal.

She explains her rebellion,
the call to a vocation
unfashionable at the time,
how marriage was considered and forsaken,
a wisp of regret flavours her tone.
I want to create a backstory:
bumpy kisses in a horse drawn cart,
bodies pressed together in a doorway
as a thunderstorm steams their blood.
Was there a tearful refusal?
Did her passion for remedies 
replace her carnal needs? 
I decide not to tamper with history
lest the agony of decision is revived.

She considers the flush of a toilet 
an exciting distraction, 
hand sanitisers a gift from God,
recalls the grief of septic wounds in wartime,
how applied hygiene could have saved 
many young lives.

She adjusts her mask, 
checks the protective gear, 
still hungry for the destiny that disables fear.

- © Barbara De Franceschi 2020

Barbara De Franceschi resides in the outback town of Broken Hill. Besides three collections of poetry her work has appeared in over 180 anthologies, newspapers and journals Australia wide, on-line and in other countries. As part of the Art in Health programme Barbara has served as artist-in-residence for the University Department of Rural Health.

New Poetry by Michael Lee Johnson

Flower Girl 

(Tears in Your Eyes)

Poems are hard to create
they live, then die, walk alone in tears,
resurrect in family mausoleums.
They walk with you alone in ghostly patterns,
memories they deliver feeling unexpectedly
through the open windows of strangers.
Silk roses lie in a potted bowl
memories seven days before Mother’s Day.
Soak those tears, patience is the poetry of love.
Plant your memories, your seeds, your passion,
once a year, maybe twice.
Jesus knows we all need more
then a vase filled with silk flowers,
poems on paper from a poet sacred,
the mystery, the love of a caretaker-
multicolored silk flowers in a basket
handed out by the flower girl

- © Michael Lee Johnson 2020

Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois.