By Philip Hess
Have you ever been to a bonfire
Of acoustic guitars, strings pinging
Like when your spokes went out?
Once I went to a piano burn,
Keys and pedals already stripped,
Just the hulking dark shells set ablaze.
Another time when I lit an old drum,
The taut leather across the top
Swelled way up before bursting with a bang.
And whenever I torch a pile of scores,
I think of broiling wienies in the smoky flames
On a conductor’s stand turned skillet.
By David Berger
This morning I woke up invisible. It took a minute or two to get used to. Wife and kids away. Wow!
It’s freakin’ 50° outside, but I don’t care. Glass and dog shit on the sidewalk Who cares? I’m headed for that house nearby no one talks about. I knock on the door. The lady opens up and I slip by her.
For an hour, I watch girls do odd things with gentlemen. It gets boring rapidly.
Back on the street headed home, I bang into something hard. It’s another invisible person.
“Who is that?” I hear my wife say.
Dave Berger is a union organizer living in New York City. His wife is a “stupendous jazz singer.”
By Hannah Clark
It’s time to prove your worth, kid. Dig deep and find something within yourself that no one can be certain is there until you reach in and drag it out, hand over fist. Deeper. Go deeper. It has to be in there because your parents assured everyone they put it there. In every act of kindness that they showed you and in every criticism they withheld from your hearing; they have instilled compassion in you. Now it’s time, you hopeless golden child, even if hunched and panting from the effort, to lower your phone and say: Can I help?
Hannah Clark is an MA student at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in Spelk Fiction, Litro, Reflex Fiction, and been shortlisted for The Short Story Flash 400 Autumn 2018 competition.
When I finally walked away, years ago, I could hear her telling me all about her upcoming descent into hell; how it was all my fault.
If I turned my back, she said, I turned my back on any chance we’d ever meet again. But I knew it wasn’t true.
Even as I walked away, I could sense her reaching for the pint I know she always carries in her bag.
I wake up, years later.
The phone is still buzzing.
Ron. Lavalette lives on the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. His debut chapbook, Fallen Away, is now available from Finishing Line Press.
By Michael Bloor
In 1507, Father John Damian (aka Giovanni Damiano de Falcucci), alchemist to James IV of Scotland, announced that he had discovered the secret of flight. Festooned in hen feathers, he stood on the battlements of James’ Royal Castle on Stirling Rock, declared that he was bound for France, and launched himself into space.
He fell straight into the castle midden, breaking his thigh bone. A truly spectacular miscalculation, but the king forgave him.
So could you maybe follow Good King James’ example, and forgive my failure to stop before I’d hit the back-wall of the garage?
Michael Bloor is a retired sociologist living in Dunblane, Scotland. His recent publications include The Cabinet of Heed, Ink Sweat & Tears, Occulum, The Copperfield Review, Scribble, Dodging the Rain, Everyday Fiction, The Fiction Pool, Firewords, and Spelk.
By John L. Malone
I’ve got a poem for you, a very short one, he promised with a garrulous grin, and then, in a long-winded introduction in which all the masters of brevity were cited from Basho to Lydia Davis, he proceeded to demolish all notions of shortness. The poem took ten seconds, the intro five minutes.
John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
By Khalilah Okeke
The forbidden land is a theater and I was invited. I arrived discovering toddlers crying under gum trees, lampblack skins dusted red with earth – their mothers weren’t searching for food. My room had a mattress stuffed with the feathery fiber of a kapok tree, it sagged with the impression of resting bodies.
In morning I traveled to Kakadu’s edges, its tides threatened with man devouring crocodiles.
In evening the stage bobbed on the river beneath bursting stars, I watched Erre-speaking descendants spray white ochre from their throats—painting the faces of boys becoming men.
Khalilah Okeke’s work has appeared in The Plum Tree Tavern, Down in the Dirt magazine, The Red Eft Review, The Orissa Society of the Americas Journal, and 50-Word Stories.