Wednesday, February 26, 2020

New Flash Fiction by Yash Seyedbagheri

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Mother sings Cole Porter to the luminous moon, Rodgers and Hammerstein to the sunlight. Head held back, she sings, voice tinged with cigarettes.
 She claims singing was the past. She gave it up to have sister Nancy and me.
 Sometimes she wears a distant look, as if hoarding what-ifs in her mind. What if she didn’t have us?  What if she’d left?

 Shame rises, a river.
 One night, when she sings, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Nancy and I clap. Clap with every note, with fervency.
 Mother smiles, smile so vast, crooked. We clap on, not wanting to let go.

- © Yash Seyedbagheri 2020

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. His story, "Soon," was nominated for a Pushcart.  Yash’s stories are forthcoming or have been published in Café Lit, Mad Swirl, 50 Word Stories, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

New Poetry by Kim Malinowski

Painted Canyon

Jagged stone,
fashioned by forgotten gods.
Time and water—eroding sunset,
stratigraphy bared by millennia. 

How does water form such wonder?

I hear the wind blowing 
five miles away,
feel it six minutes later.
Hair tangling,
there is no taming anything here.

Sitting on the rim,
listening to five o’clock crickets,
I could topple and be happy.
Sediments call to me.
I taste wildness,
ancient breeze.
Time changes the canyon each moment,
each moment the canyon changes me.

Water wears me away,
peels back layers.
My bluffs, my peaks.
The sun sets, 
shadows lengthen,
my hair molten.

My footsteps scarcely memory,
shard of the canyon’s history.

- © Kim Malinowski 2020

Kim Malinowski earned her B.A. from West Virginia University and her M.F.A. from American University. She studies with The Writers Studio. Her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work was featured in Faerie Magazine and appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts, Mookychick, Amethyst Review, and others.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

New Poetry by Marilyn Humbert

An Ordinary Day

in fevered summer dry
kids shriek and laugh in the pool
cicadas’ shrill scratches the hours
traffic rumbles on the camber
grinding through corners 
down to the tide

wired overhead
two sentinel kookaburras
feathers tickled by erratic wind
stay at home mums watch midday TV
a mud wasp hums at the back-door jamb
I doze, the fan whirrs

no-one spots 
scrimshaw swirls
on the horizon

- Marilyn Humbert 2020

Marilyn Humbert lives in Sydney Australia.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Story by Dan Sklar

Movie War Story

You get the call from your brother in New York at 9AM. It is sunny and cool and April 4th. Things happen fast when your father is ninety-six and in the ICU. You live in Massachusetts, the closest to Portland, Maine, so it falls to you to go up there. You cancel classes and get to Portland at 12 noon. After one wrong turn, you see the hospital, park the car, find the ward, sign in, get the name tag, and go to the room past all the other patients with wires and tubes and monitors and thick white mittens to keep from tearing things out. He's got all of that too. He is propped up in the bed, sleeping, breathing, snoring, cloth on his forehead, no teeth, head of white hair sticking up, feet uncovered by the sheets. You see the scars on his legs. You cover them. The nurses couldn't handle him in Augusta, so they sent him to Portland where he was sedated. He kept ripping out the tubes and saying, "Why won't you let me die? Why won't you let me die?" even though he refused to sign the do not resuscitate document. "I'm not signing that damn thing." He stopped signing things at ninety-two. He was angry about old age and let everyone know it. 

This was a guy from Brooklyn who flew in the U.S. Air Corp over Germany in World War II and was shot down and parachuted into the middle of a lake and swam to shore holding onto his new boots. He was not going to give up those boots. He was twenty-two years old, lean, square-faced, black hair, wet, alone, cold, bleeding, and hiding in a barn in Germany. Of course, he was found by a German girl, red hair, freckles, maybe seventeen. Either she would love him or turn him in. She brought him apples and cheese and bread and wine. She cleaned out his wounds. She gave him her father's old blue suit and a hat and shoes. He put the boots in a satchel and strapped it over his shoulder. She gave him a bicycle. It was the only means of transportation out. He kissed her many times before he left, and she kissed him the same. It was like in a movie, only it was real. She drew a map of a way out. He had to memorize it. They figured no one would suspect a bicycle rider in a suit with a fishing rod.

Now he was on morphine and off medicine and intravenous. Your brother gave the O.K. The nurse says it could happen anytime. Your father was ready. He was unconscious. He wasn't coming to. You tell him you are here. You tell him you love him. You thank him. You tell him it's going to be all right and wonder why you said that.

He didn't get far up the hills and winding road when he turned around. He couldn't stop thinking about the German girl. He knew the chances are he would get caught. The risk was worth it--her face, her neck, her love. He was reported missing in action.  Shot down over a lake in Germany. He didn't think of the telegram his mother and father would get in Brooklyn, how they would break down, how his sisters would cry. But you cannot hide a human for long. The German girl's parents did not want to get shot. Soldiers came and took him to a prison camp. The girl cried in her room with lace curtains. 

The war was over. In Brooklyn, he didn't leave the house for six months. His crew didn't make it home. They were all killed when the plane was shot down. He put the boots in the closet and thought about the German girl. Then he threw the boots away. 

It's like a scene in a movie, father dying, son sitting bedside, nurse comes in. You see the scars on his arm. "Go get some lunch," she says. "I'll call you if anything changes.” You figure she has control of the morphine somehow. You get an egg salad sandwich at the cafeteria. You eat half of it and go back. You ask the nurse if he can get a better room when he wakes up. She says sure but she doesn't think he will. His breathing is quiet now. You check his pulse--it's barely there.

In Brooklyn, his father bought him a new suit. He left the house and joined the world as it was. Job, marriage, children, apartment, better job, house, bigger house, business trips, new job, divorce, new wife, all of it.

A tall, thin man comes in with a blue standard poodle on a leash. He gives you a card with a picture of the dog. You put it in your pocket. The dog and the man look alike. You pet the dog; his tail is wagging. "Travels with Charlie," you say, and the man smiles. 

At 3:13 PM, April 4th, sunny and cool, your father stops breathing. You kiss his forehead and say goodbye. A doctor pronounces him dead. You try to open a window, but they are sealed shut. The nurse hugs you. Her eyes are a dark color you have never seen before. You call your brother to tell him and for a moment cannot talk. You tell him your father just died. You walk back to your car and drive through Portland and home. You guess that maybe he was thinking about the German girl when he died.

- Dan Sklar 2020

Dan Sklar teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Massachusetts. he rides a bicycle to work.

Monday, February 17, 2020

New Poetry by Diarmuid ó Maolalaí

A place with rooms and windows

I'm not sure 
that I will ever 
stand this opulence. 
in the basement
there's a place to park 
my car. I pull up, park it
and bring things
to the elevator. this
is the basement
to my building
full of cars. this is where
my car will go
when I get here now
at night. upstairs

my wife stirs curry. our dog
looks out the window
at a view like lighted 
wax. we live now
in a place with rooms
and windows. we can finally
afford it, easily
and for the first time
without help.

things have changed
so recently - 
so rapidly I can't 
understand. for years 
I lived in small rooms
with waterstains,
a bed in the corner
and fridges 
that didn't reach 
my waist.

I feel like a flower
which has grown 
to be replanted. my roots 
hang heavy, 
holding the shape 
of their pot.

Diarmuid ó Maolalaí 2020

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016) and "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

New Poetry by Doug Holder

An old cat chases an imaginary mouse

He still
plays the game
of cat and mouse.

to and fro
across the house
to capture
the stealthy
behind the brittle
bars of his
decaying teeth
the damp, dark
prison of
his mouth.

This spectral rodent
taunts the cat--
he chases his ghostly prey
paws and claws
in demented disarray.

And for all of
his feverish wanderlust
he comes up
with a jaw
of dust.

- Doug Holder 2020

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His work has appeared in the Northeast Corridor, Word Riot, Blue Pepper, First Literary East, and many other places. The " Doug Holder Papers Collection" is currently being processed at the University at Buffalo Rare Book and Poetry Collection. Holder recently published a play with Lawrence Kessenich titled, "The Patient," that is set at a psychiatric hospital outside of Boston. Holder teaches writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Ma. and Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.

Friday, February 14, 2020

New Poetry by Tug Dumbly

Two Poems Selflessly Offering no Solution

1: With Big Respect to Dylan T

O save me, save me
from embittered old age
from being some poor
old mildewed sage
always storming the beach
maintaining the rage
a toothless old dog
barking at waves
an all knowing, all naying 
em-bickered old prick             
picking through a dump
with a pair of chopsticks
in search of some last
precious ember of rage …
O save me, save me
from embittered old age.

2: An Anchorite Gives Thanks, Silently               

You get so sick
of putting things into words,
having to conceptualise, make concrete,
or concrete as words can be
as they pour forth into the formwork
of sentences

that mad stampede of tongues

So much nicer, don’t you think,
to let thoughts roam freerange,
so much more natural and humane
to let ideas peck and scratch
about the yard of the mind,
kick over a corn cob, take a dust bath,
munch dandelions unconstrained           
by the electric fence of paragraph
and sentence, the barbed wire of print,
the novelty cereal box
of all that bloody utterance.

- Tug Dumbly 2020

Tug Dumbly is a Sydney-based poet, musician and broadcaster.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New Poetry by Jonathan Beale

Cars in New York 1976 

(after the photography of Langdon Clay) 

The ice, implicit, only thought of… 
in those darkened corners
from street to meatpacking floor

someone’s Buick lays outside 
faithfully as an old mongrel
lacking class, strong as an ox 

those shadowy figures in ‘Whites’
that Hopper would have sketched;
only for some momentarily blinking eye

the beguiling scent of frying flesh…
from those cold carcasses 
they were not long before, across the street. 

Life was just cars and bars and meatpacking
As discardable as steel and rubber
That we secretly admired and took for granted 

Later we walked past ‘Pats’ Hot & Cold Hero’s
And Buick lay there (for its keeper to return)
In silent, shut up, Soho, just catching forty winks. 

- Jonathan Beale 2020

Jonathan Beale has had numerous poems published in over sixty journals including Danse Macabre, Bluepepper, Mad Swirl, Ygdrasil, Red Wolf Editions, Sheepshead Review, Poetry 24, Penwood Review, et al.  He is also published in two anthologies ‘Drowning’ and ‘The Poet as Sociopath’ (Scar publications).  And one to be published ‘Do not be afraid’ a small anthology dedicated to Seamus Heaney. His first book of poetry The Destinations of Raxiera (Hammer and Anvil) in November 2015. Jonathan lives in Surrey U.K.