“They Knew What They Signed up For”

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By Robert Krenzel

They knew what they signed up for.

The young man signed up to protect and defend. He knew there would be a price to pay. He knew, perhaps this would be the day.

The young woman signed up to love and support her man. She knew he would go away and perhaps not return. She knew the knock on the door might come that day.

They knew what they signed up for.

You wanted loyalty. You wanted adoration. Who knew you were supposed to care?

They knew what they signed up for.
Did you?

     
Bob Krenzel is a veteran of the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has been the soldier who knocks on the door to bring the news.

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A Friend Drops By

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By Christine Goodnough

I made camp by a wilderness lake to enjoy some solitude. Almost. I did make friends with a curious skunk who found my frypan drippings appealing.

Next evening a motorboat roared in. Three hunters unloaded their gear, made camp, guzzled beer. Finally crawled into their tent to snore.

Later I heard sneezing; the skunk was nosing among the ashes. When he headed for the newcomers’ tent, I whispered. “Wrong way, Moufette.”

His visit incited shouts, then three splashes as our reeking visitors hit the lake.

I fried extra bacon the next night. It’s nice to have friends drop in.

Fata Morgana

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By Stevieslaw

That’s me I see in the distance,
upheld by an inverted sky
preternaturally twirling and twisting
to the throb of an unwritten psalm.
I float in the sorcerer’s future
a smudge on the frightening sky
spinning faster and faster and faster
till I blink and the mirage is gone.
     
Steve Deutsch writes poetry, and short fiction. His most recent publications have been in Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, and Misfit Magazine.

Your Secret is Safe with Me

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By Brad Rose

Gravity is neither human nor animal, so close to the ground, it frightens the trees. Those clouds, lawless, out of control, like school children who aced the test.

I slacken now, into sleep’s box canyon. It’s fun at first, but its theme is damnation. Even if you give it the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard to get that bullet back into the barrel.

Burned bones buried in numerical order, cool dusk quiet as stars, until I startle, punching air, screaming like a rip saw.

But don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. I won’t confess, until I’m dead.

     
Brad Rose is the author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015.) His new book of poems, Momentary Turbulence, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.

The Finger

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By Maura Yzmore

When I met Jenny, she worked as a waitress at the diner where I often ate after my shift.

The day I fell in love with her, she gave me the middle finger—the whole middle finger, with the telltale writer’s callus and both knuckles. It floated alongside chunks of chicken in the creamy soup that she served me.

I was more curious than appalled. “How does one get the whole middle finger chopped off?”

“By flipping off a ninja,” said Jenny, deadpan. At that moment, I knew she was the one.

The settlement I received paid for our honeymoon.

    
Bio: Maura’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fiction Pool, Storyland, Microfiction Monday Magazine, The Dirty Pool, and 50-Word Stories.

Old Love Letters

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By John Grey

frayed yellowing testimonials
to long neglected innocence
pressed sadly to the lips
while crumbling in the fingers

WOMAN ON A NUDE BEACH
her color
deepens
in all directions

MORNING
a high wire
greeting card
of crows

ALONE IN THE CITY
when there’s no one else
the city must be my lover –
in lieu of flesh
I stroke the darkness

___
John Grey’s work has recently appeared in The Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review. He has work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.

Eroded

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By Jacob

Philosophy, theology, gods, God, love
Hearts pump blood, disregarding the soul
You can’t write these things down
Much less understand them
Cue existential crisis
A month of oversmoking Marlboro Golds
And drinking God knows how many pots of coffee

So show me loggers cutting down forests
And sandstorms burying ancient cities
Built by forgotten peoples to please forgotten gods
In fifty thousand years, Niagara Falls will erode away to bedrock
And biology will evolve into Intel-powered digital organisms where
Faulty biological memories of love, God, death, etc.
Are heavily edited and stored in stunning 4k HD