Flow

By Fiona H. Evans

In the days of bursting ripeness,
my breasts aching,
wondering how it might feel
to be swollen with child,
I yearn to surrender solitude
and drown in love,
devoted and selfless.

Then waking normal again
in the calm after the storm,
I’m relieved to be
slim and whole and vibrant,
my dreams of motherhood
and hormonal regrets
all washed away
in a red torrent of
wasted blood.

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“I write to make sense of my feelings, and I hope to help others do so, too.” – the poet

It’s Only Teenage Wasteland

By T.L. Tomljanovic

Eleanor reads the invitation again. She hasn’t seen Tom since high school. Spinning her wedding band around her finger, she checks yes to the RSVP, underlining it twice, heart thudding in her chest.

The ceremony is brief. At the reception, Eleanor’s husband taps his smartwatch with a look. She swallows a sigh and scans the crowd. Tom sees her first; their eyes lock. Pulled together by a hundred what-ifs, they embrace goodbye. The years melt away to when they were teenagers before she chose someone else, and everything was possible. They hold tight for several seconds longer than they should.

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“As a kid if I was in the middle of a good book, I would fake being sick to stay home from school and finish it. I aspire to write stories that compel readers to finish them.” – the writer

Dear Me

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By Anonymous

(Originally published 12.22.16)

You will fall in love with words and writing, and in the process, you’ll hear this a lot: “Don’t write like a victim.”

Don’t listen! Don’t let anyone else tell you how to express your truth.

Someday soon you will come to realize that things will happen that are outside of your control, and some of those things will be painful. Yet, somehow you will make it through, I promise.

I’ve written this because I love you so much, and I don’t want you to ever forget that.

Love,

Your future self

Submerged

By Josephine Rudolf

Another rejection, another sleepless night, another dagger in my heart. I stumble and fall; I don’t feel anything.
My vision ripped from me I plunge into darkness; I don’t feel scared.
I whimper, screaming inaudible; I feel numb.
Something appears in the pit of my stomach; it crawls up my throat; I feel a sensation.
As I begin to taste it, I beg my throat to keep it; I feel a tingle.
The words burning into my tongue, I cry out for you; I feel fear.
I know you won’t come; now I feel everything.

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“I write so I can breathe.” – the writer

The Fear in These Times

By Kate Mahony

My seat on the bus faces the back. A man with red and green facial tattoos, wearing a black singlet and no mask stands up. He speaks loudly as if in conversation with someone on a non-existent phone. He bends down behind a young woman in the seat in front of him. Ear buds in, she’s unaware.

He coughs over her shoulder — deliberately, dramatically — into his sleeve, near his elbow. Then he does it again, phlegm rattling. He stands up and begins to move towards the front door. No one speaks. People look away. All is quiet on the bus.

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“I write to make sense of life and sometimes my own reaction to life.” – the writer

TenderPulse.com

By James Van Pelt

Dating apps abound for everyone. FarmersD connects farmers. Bristlr for bearded men and those who love them. Sizzl joins bacon fans.

I meet her where we agreed on the app, at Cliff Notes, a bar overlooking the bay. She reads the room with predator eyes before sitting, before facing me, and I tremble.

Whose fetish do we serve?

Can she love and not devour me? That is my question.

Am I attractive as a sentient being, or a warm meal? That is hers. Can she resist?

Vampires exist, and I’m afraid, but I touch her hand and we order wine.

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“I write because I love how language works, and how the best writing somehow manages to be greater than the sum of its parts.” – the writer

The Drive

By J. Iner Souster

In a box there sits a letter from an old friend; a few words that say: I am fine, but you are not and will never be again. You need me to be gone.

That day: the last day, we went for a nice drive and laughed like maniacs. You were always good at that. Laughing is what made us close, but then life happened, and your laughter turned into sobs and tears. It wasn’t funny anymore.

On this page, the only thing that remains is the word I, which holds an unbreakable promise.

To my love, I am sorry.

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“I write to keep the wolves at bay.” – the writer

Notes from Underwater

By Alan Altany

The human mind
in perennial discontent
never fully appeased,
agitated with intensity,
perpetually stretching
itself beyond recognition
for the divine-designing
Mind of God; restless
too of heart, pained by
the sensuous world’s
fast-fading beauty
tempered with ambiguity
at every memory’s turning
towards the mysteriously
magnetic still point
pointing due north
through a crucible
of sublime melancholy
and exaltation, the crux
of soul and heart rising.

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The poet is a college professor of religious studies.

Unlocked

By Melissa Meyer

Reluctantly, he handed over the key to the treasure chest. She outranked him. Though he could use the points, hopefully this move would help unlock the next achievement.

He was fascinated by her. They’ve been playing LifeGame for months, and he still only knew her username. He was ready to take off the goggles and meet her.

The park was the same except its neon, virtual hues. Non-players appeared as themselves, but players appeared as their avatars.

He asked. She agreed.

They removed their goggles. She was just as stunning as her avatar. He was not. Achievement unlocked. Heart, shattered.

He Walks Along

By Phil Temples

He walks along the sidewalk feeling the entire weight of the world on his shoulders. There’s a terrible war raging in Europe. COVID is rearing its ugly head. The country’s economy is spiraling into a possible recession.

Underfoot is a small spider. She is faced with an equally daunting vision of the world as a gigantic shadow suddenly looms over her from above. When all seems lost, the man quickly shifts his footing and steps over the spider by several inches, sparing her from certain demise.

It’s bad luck to step on cracks in the sidewalk, he thinks.

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“I’m still trying to make sense of it all. Writing and photography help. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed telling a good yarn in as few words as possible.” – the writer