By Hannah England
He was four when she lost him, tomorrow he will be eight.
Her own mother had died, a loss she cushioned with increasing alcohol before being dismissed from work, excused from her marriage, and barred from motherhood. Without the strength to claw her way back, he has been without her for half his life. He probably has no memories of her, just fleeting glimpses of the shadows she cast during his babyhood.
As she darts down dark alleyways, she hopes his dad is wrapping birthday presents in colored paper. She doesn’t know what she would give him, if she could.
Hannah England has written for The Guardian, the Same journal, SpillWords Press and Our Queer Stories.
By J. Hardy Carroll
After the funeral, I made arrangements for the bills to come to my office.
Every month, I paid her rent, her electric, even her phone.
At least once a day I would call her number and pretend she might answer it, hear her voice on the answering machine.
At first I left messages, but then I couldn’t.
I’d turned her apartment into a time capsule.
In September I got a letter that her lease was up.
Time to face it.
I needed to move on.
I stood at her door a long time, key poised in my hand.
By Ron. Lavalette
Hanging out with the fictionauts and the prosers, he fears, may have damaged his poetry.
These days, instead of concentrating on linebreaks and imagery, he worries about commas and semicolons; thinks in dependent clauses; ponders parallel constructions and parenthetical prepositional phrases.
When he writes, he no longer recites each phrase aloud to hear it sing.
Instead, he declaims his work from start to finish, paragraph by dreary paragraph, from beginning to end to ensure that it makes sense; conforms to the norms of grammar’s logic.
Sometimes it puts him to sleep.
He’s afraid of writing a nightmare.
By Deb Whittam
To the counter she marched
resolute, chin held high as
she looked the shopkeeper
directly in the eye.
That painting, there, the one
above the door, I’ll give
you twenty dollars,
not a penny more.
Silence met her words
but with a nod he agreed
and painting in her hand, she smirked,
there had been no need to plead.
At home she unwrapped
her highly sought after prize
only to discover on the frame
a notation that made shock arise.
twenty she had paid,
twenty she had offered,
but the tag clearly stated
clearance – just one dollar.
By John Davis Frain
She started in Vaudeville. “Disappearing nightly,” she’d say. Cinema arrived, and absent the beauty of a Mae West, she departed.
A Red Cross nurse, she was ribboned for saving thirty-two Yanks one night in Nazi-occupied France. “They were soldiers, and young.”
She returned home after the 91st Evacuation Hospital. Raised four successful daughters. “My most delightful job.”
Making ends meet proved slippery until she invented bottle caps that preserved beverages. “Pepsi purchased the patent.”
Today, her 100th birthday, her youngest, Elizabeth, said, “Mama, you should write your memoir.”
“Oh, dear,” she blushed. “I’d have nothing to say.”
By Pat Brunson
The worst part is the forgetting,
If I remember correctly.
At the Dollar Tree, for eight dollars I buy eight pairs of reading glasses.
I see old faces, my mind races through the Rolodex, “Hi, Cindy.”
My keys are always in the last place I look.
The button on my car key shows me where I parked.
Waiting for my prescription at CVS and being told Walgreens is across the street.
Called my daughter about losing my cell phone, she said, “Daddy, look in your hand.”
But my socks always match. I bought 22 pairs, all black.
By Sean D. Layton
You took my hand, and we slipped away from Karen’s party like we’d known each other forever.
Later, I scribbled down my number, then a lingering, predawn kiss at your front door.
All week I lived on memories. Brown, pliable curves and wine-dark nipples stiffening under the brush of my fingertips. My phone sat stubbornly silent.
On Wednesday, your dusty pickup pulled up to Karen’s.
Streaming sunlight turned your sundress to gossamer revealing the silhouette of your secrets. Your surprised smile was frayed, your eyes anxiously pleading as some guy touched the small of your back, then shook my hand.