Strucken

By Pete Mackey

… my little boy says,
meaning what I know
he means, the way sounds
hit you near
enough, the fox
with the frazzled tail
dashing as we approach,
its life at risk
between the hedges, so
flashes in fatherhood
strike you as worthy
of forever, which is how
long you would drive
with him remaking
the world one sound
at a time, after
the lightning that comes
and goes in storms,
vivid days like this
in between—and perhaps
it did strike that tail.
Now to find
a new word to say
not simply “life”
but much more than.

–––––––––
“(I write) for the same reason I read: for a love of words and stories that connect us.” – the writer

Cultivation of Memory

By Andrew Anderson

I fought my way through the nettles and tall grass, stepping tentatively since the flagstones were long buried now. The old greenhouse emerged, its glass shattered, with only rust holding the door upon its hinges.

A mouldy violet rosette hung from a bent nail above the forgotten plant beds:

*3rd Place Marrow, Newlands County Show, 1973*

I smiled, remembering happy hours spent outside with Grandma beside the cold frame, willing that vegetable to grow whilst Grandad battled with his own cultivars inside.

I resisted touching the decaying prize, afraid it might crumble to dust, taking my memories with it.

––––––––––
“I write to clear my mind.” – the writer

Moving On

By Mary Ellen Cowles

“Stale English Muffin,” she read with disgust, unfairly labeled in her old boyfriend’s new book. She wished he knew about her metamorphosis over the years. What would she be now – a crispy apple, an exciting enchilada?

After stewing about it for way too long, she became aware that time was no longer a commodity she could afford to waste, so she decided not to let him suck up another minute. Nostalgia, yearnings, what-ifs, were in the past, happiness was now. She put the book in with the trash and smiled as she erased him from her heart.

––––––––––
“I write for the joy of it.” – the writer

An Ode to My YouTube Home Repair Mentors

By authorpolk

Thank you to the ones who,
Before starting a repair,
Say, let me record this.

Thank you to the ones who
Act goofy, sing a song, and remind me,
In my fit of frustration,
To have a light heart.

But, thanks most of all
For explaining the smallest detail.
For making me feel that I am not alone
In not knowing how to fix what’s broken.

Thank you for all you’ve taught me,
For your generous impulse to share your expertise,
And for being there, a click away,
When I need you.

––––––––––
“During the pandemic my home has decided now is the perfect time to have an all systems breakdown … I have been tackling home improvement projects I never would’ve dreamed of trying. The generous folks on YouTube have saved the day more times than I can count.” – the writer

RomanceLvR

By Jennifer Lai

The dating app alerted Rachel of her new match: RomanceLvR. His ‘About’ section read: “Bookworm. Flip my pages?”

Cute. It reminded her of Jake, her beloved ex who, after 5 years, still couldn’t commit. She’d got tired of waiting and called it quits last year.

RomanceLvR was a perfect match. Could he be her soul mate? She thought about connecting despite a lack of pictures. She shrugged. Why not?

#

The dating app alerted Jake of his new connection. Rachel looked as beautiful as ever. He wondered if she would take him back. He was finally ready to commit.

––––––––––
Jennifer Lai writes to “escape reality, to relieve stress, and to satisfy my curiosity.”

Heart(break)

By M.J.Iuppa

Expected. One night, Across the Tracks, dancing with
arms raised over a sea of bobbing heads, the blarney
flowed — glasses of cold beer and laughter and seeing
old friends turned inside out — the angles of arms &
legs, and faces tipped back in the spin of colored lights.
A weird worship. Crowd dancing, but feeling down-
right alone; the accidental touch of shoulders, or hips,
or lips — it never happened; even though I swear it
happened — face to face, we were made restless in
heady times. We were tired of being so vulnerable.
Our hearts broken, beyond words, we danced.

––––––––––
“Writing has been my constant companion, my inner voice, trying to make sense of the world around me.” – the writer

Ambition

By Michael Bloor

Like many toddlers, John was asked what he wanted to be, when he grew up. Surprisingly, John answered that he wanted to be an Old Age Pensioner. He’d been spending time with his Grandad, who had his own shed.

In his mid-teens, John secretly decided that an ideal profession would be that of a professional sperm donor. At a student party, he told a woman that he wanted to be the person who chose the paintings for reproduction on the covers of the Penguin Modern Classics series (she was impressed).

Now he’s 66 and his world has come full circle.

––––––––––––
Michael Bloor only discovered the exhilarations of short fiction after he retired.

Balancing on the Sharp Edges of Crescent Moons

By Keith Hoerner

I have a bipolar friend who—now in our late 50s—texts me: “Who am I?”
How do I respond; do I respond?

I tell her she is a dear old friend, a beautiful, talented, and intelligent woman. When in fact, I feel like she is *past tense.* I AM her friend. WAS her friend. She is all but lost to me now. Even herself.

This is the nature of disease. The disease straddles our world and the next, leaving her to blindly balance on the sharp edges of crescent moons—offering no rounded or soft places to fall.

––––––––––
Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. His memoir, The Day The Sky Broke Open, (Adelaide Books, New York/Lisbon) is out now.

Stormy Night

By Dianne Moritz

Drunk on cheap red Gallo,

they quarreled half the night,

accusations flying like angry

wasps stinging old wounds.



Outside, snow sprinkled down,

dusting the world clean and white.



She ran out, threw herself down

in the light powder to carve snow-angels.

Soft snowflakes melted all resentment

and rage lingering there on her tongue.

––––––––––
“I write to capture indelible moments in time.” – the writer