The Homecoming

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By Trenda Berryhill

Windows down in her hunk-of-junk car, Val cursed the humid gusts tangling her hair. Her black suit stuck to her skin like a fly to the gummy strip nailed to her porch. She guided the car left onto the dirt road. Ahead, the one-room, whitewashed church awaited. Val parked. Accustomed to the sneakers she wore as a preschool teacher, she wobbled on three-inch heels. Inside, the preacher asked if anyone wanted to speak. All heads turned to her. She walked to the pulpit. She smiled as she’d been taught and lied, “My daddy wouldn’t have hurt a fly.”

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Morning

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By D. Bankson

Martha visits me every Sunday, as she has for seven years. Today is that anniversary.
Rain is engraving rivulets in her makeup, scarring her face, a break in a mask so well constructed. She carries flowers, but they droop with her bearing.

She huddles her shoulders into her jacket. I see her green eyes buried there. Too much fabric, too much mask.

She knows where I stay. The walkway is slick, and she can’t see through the tears. But her footing is solid, experienced.

“Hello, Dad,” she whispers as she places primrose on my grave.

     
David Bankson’s work can be found in concis, (b)oink, Anti-Heroin Chic, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Antinarrative Journal, among others.

My Camera Never Lies

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By Kelvin M. Knight

Where my camera looks, I look, into the tangle-wood of other’s lives. Snapping their misfortunes, photoshopping their mistrust, airbrushing beauty into their moments of ugliness – this is my life.

My camera never lies, only me. What would I sell if I turned my lens around? This pocketful of patience. This flask of cold forgiveness. This plastic bag of humility scrunched around my fist.

These things aren’t newsworthy, yet I wrestle with my camera everyday. One day I’ll flash its light into my soul. One day I’ll discover who I really am.

But not today. Today the rent is due.

Steam

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By Michael Griffith

Another man’s woman is making me breakfast. She says it’s the reverse-supper she needs to make for her night-shift husband anyway.

She’s telling me something else, some story I’m meant to follow, but I’m not really listening.

I needed last night as much as she did.

I don’t feel sorry or wrong, exactly. I feel empty.

Steam rises from the pan next to her. She turns to stir the eggs and I wish I’d left ten minutes ago.

Coffee? No, thank you.

Bus Routes

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By Barry Basden

Christmases, I listened wide-eyed to my father’s tales of having to stop his Trailways Scenicruiser when Santa landed his packed sleigh in the roadway. Daddy brought me comics, too, left behind by debarking passengers. Mother, though, wasn’t nearly as pleased. There’s a street photo of me holding her hand, dressed in our finest, walking in downtown Dallas. She often shopped at Sanger, Bros., piqued, when he laid over out of town. But even that didn’t satisfy. “You’ll arrange to be home every night or I’m leaving.” He complied straightaway with her ultimatum. Later, of course, that created many other problems.

Always Remember I Love You

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By Robina Rader

I may forget.
In a cruel game of hide and seek,
hard-earned knowledge and a lifetime of memories
prove ever more elusive.

I get confused in parking lots,
can’t find things in my kitchen,
get lost in the middle of a thought.
Doors are closing in my mind,
locking me out – out of my past, out of my self.

And worst of all, the day will come
when I look at you with blank eyes
and push you away, unaware
that I love you.
So promise that you will remember
when I forget.

Monkey Bars

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By stevieslaw

The old playground
was fenced off years ago.
The rusted frames
of sliding pond
and see-saw
stand silhouetted in the setting sun.
The swing set—seatless now
where young mothers
took their toddlers
on weekday afternoons—
and where we,
barely teen-age,
first made acquaintance with longing.

We fought on the monkey bars
for world domination,
screeched like chimpanzees,
pounded our chests,
and beat each other silly.
We ranked each other out
in words we hardly understood
and screamed
“I”ll murder ya”
“I’ll break ya neck”
at the top of our lungs
until one day we did.

     
Steve Deutsch’s work has most recently appeared in Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, Perhaps You Can, will be published next year by Kelsay Press.