Until The Light Gets In

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By Carol J Forrester

She’d stuff the teapots
with carrier bags.
Oranges, blues, yellow, and pinks,
sunsets wrapped in ceramics,
perched on window sills.

Later they came to pieces
in her hands.
Plastic wilting like dried up roses,
shuddering beneath soft touches
and wasting away to dust.

We took turns choosing,
turning them over,
shaking the remains loose
from the curved bones
of these empty shells.

I keep carrier bags
in my teapot.
Oranges, blues, yellow, and pinks,
sunsets wrapped in ceramic,
perched on a window sill.

         
Carol J Forrester “plays around with words too much to say for sure which are her favorites.”

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Map Reading

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By Helen Chambers

They saw the crossroads ahead at the same time.
-Who’s Brian?
Separate thoughts were interrupted by a beep.
He took the phone, she sighed heavily and the mechanized voice ordered them to follow the road. Forever, she thought. Retracing our steps won’t help.
-Show me the map, she said. Here, use it.
She swore, and spun the car round, spraying sand.
-We missed it, he said. Probably that junction we passed ages ago.
-You said turn left, she snapped. Ahead of them, smoky emptiness lit by the descending sun; behind them, years of resentment traveled in simmering silence.

         
Helen Chambers is a writer from North East Essex, UK, who dreams up her best ideas whilst out walking by the river. She won the Fish Short Story prize in 2018.

A Life Well Lived

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By Shane Kroetsch

I want to know what it means to live a life well lived.

I reach out for answers but like all things it’s subjective. The definition is based on our intentions and fears. My experience is not yours. Yours could never be mine.

You told me once it’s about being able to forgive or to fall in love after you’ve been hurt. I wish I had listened. I wish I could go back and stop myself from becoming cynical and isolated. I look at the faded picture in my hand and know it’s far too late for that now.

         
Shane’s first published work, a collection of short fiction, will be published in February 2019.

Purr

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By Michael Thomas Ellis

I am not a gnarled desire grasping
for a younger persuasion
nor a groomed garden cutting
to be tossed once withered.

I may have veined hands
and sweetbreads not fresh-baked
but I laugh deliciously
and live to knead your dreams.

So let me be your Persian cat
dug deep in the quilts
to be remembered
and found
without thinking

and I will reward you

with my purr.

         
Michael Thomas Ellis is looking forward to next year, trying hard to be an optimist.

The Stare

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By John L. Malone

“What are you staring at?”
“You,”
“Me? Why?”
“We are watching you unraveling.”
“There’s a word for that, a German word like watching people in road accidents.”
“Please don’t get distracted. Continue unraveling.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“We’ve been watching you. You won’t be able to prevent it.”
They were right. I was like one of those wall-mounted paper towel dispensers. Once the roll starts unraveling there’s no stopping it and I wasn’t done yet. There was still a meter or more of me to go.

         
John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.

Because

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By Dr. Debbie Engelmann

Because, if we choose to call “an issue” a challenge rather than “crisis”;
Because, we can look at hardship as an opportunity rather than an obstacle;
Because, we can ask, “what did I learn that makes me better?”;
Because, we can take a breath and do the difficult things;
Because, our courage does not depend on the weather,
the economic forecast or a whim;
Because, we choose to know the most significant
elements of life are laughter, learning, and giving our finest effort to each endeavor;
Because of these things, each morning is a pleasure and every day a success.

         
Dr. Engelmann says, “As a writer and natural intuitive healer, my purpose is to guide others on their path of finding peace within themselves through my writing and sometimes through my practice.  To help ‘wounded souls’ open their hearts and shine their unique light upon this world.”

The Bouquet

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By Dianne Moritz

When I left that last time,
You handed me a bouquet
Of roses, daisies, and
one lone bud of artichoke
Poking from its center.

After the flowers wilted,
I kept that artichoke
For many days
In a blue, ceramic bowl,
Its heart dried, brittle.

         
Dianne writes poetry and picture books for kids. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Earth’s Daughters, Long Island Quarterly, Adelaide Literary, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Universe.