Keith Roma, the 344th Firefighter


By Douglas J. Lanzo

Found on Christmas Eve, 2001,
alongside nine evacuees
he was striving to save,
the 344th firefighter
and sole member of New York’s Fire Patrol
lost on 9-11…
after rescuing over 200 people,
including a barefoot woman
he carried over tower lobby glass
from the inferno raging inside,
whose retired patrol father,
apprehending from his son the situation,
geared up to meet at Ground Zero,
but never got the chance;

Omitted as a fire patrol member
from some 9-11 annals
that remember the brave firefighters
who gave their lives that day,
but who deserves to be honored
among his fallen brethren.

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“I write when I feel inspired; I wrote this piece to honor a fallen hero.” – the writer

The Beggar by the Taco Cart

By Jim Latham

The beggar huddled near the taco cart. His skin was dirty, his clothes ragged.
When the old lady offered him tacos, he refused.
She insisted; he accepted.
She passed him a plate with a shaking hand.
He rose, his skin glowing, his rags radiant.
The beggar took the old lady’s hand. Her back straightened, her aches disappeared, her face became smooth.
She attempted to kneel, but he refused the worship.
“Eat with me,” he said.
They ate sitting on a bench.
“Look,” he said, indicating the setting sun.
She looked. When she turned back to the bench, he had vanished.

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“I write because my life goes to hell if I don’t.” – the writer

That Was Then

By Dianne Moritz

I was always athletic: fastest runner in 6th grade, on the gymnastics team in 8th, cheerleader for four years of high school, and in the Iowa University Dance Theater at college.
After graduating, I skied all over the US, often participated in Nastar ski races, and won a few medals, mostly bronze and one silver in Aspen.
I swam, bodysurfed, and boogie boarded till I had a mini stroke at 70.
Last year, I fell down a flight of stairs.
Now I hobble around like a centenarian, but as the adage goes, it’s better than the alternative.

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“Sometimes I write to express my dismay with aging.” – the writer

The Maple Leaf

By Jim Bates

I was one of thousands of scarlet-orange maple leaves hanging in the tree that fall. I fell to the ground ready to decay and turn to dust. But that little girl saved me when she picked me up and showed her mother. “It’s so pretty!” They brought me home, pressed me in waxed paper and hung me in a lovely frame on her bedroom wall. Now, years later, her daughter has left home. Her mother sits heartbroken and alone on her daughter’s bed. She looks at me and cries. I wish there was something more I could do to help.

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“I write to try and bring a bit of happiness to people.” – the writer

Small Talk

By Holley Cornetto

You ask how my day was, but before my vocal cords can make the vibrations necessary to respond, you’ve launched into a story about how you’re pretty sure it’s Bill in accounting who has been microwaving fish in the break room. At dinner, I turn to tell you a funny story I heard at work, but the words don’t quite leave my lips before you are summarizing today’s headlines and lamenting the state of world affairs. In bed, I roll over to tell you goodnight, but the only thing that escapes my open mouth is the sound of your voice.

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“I write because the only thing better than reading stories is to create them myself.” – the writer

Sunday Visits, a Haibun

By Dianne Moritz

My Gramma loved baking cookies. A favorite were Swedish rolls: balls of sugared dough, filled with pecans, and covered in confectioner’s sugar. These were often served on Sunday afternoons when the great-aunts and uncles drove in to visit us from their nearby Iowa farms.

Everyone gathered in the living room, but when they started speaking Swedish, I got annoyed.

Sunday afternoons
relatives visit
speaking Swedish
telling secrets
I never learned

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“I write to capture indelible moments in time, but wish I had asked more questions about my family.” – the writer

O75

By Emma Foster

Mabel eyed her grandmother’s neon orange sheet. She needed what the Palm Shore Country Club ladies referred to as “the grandfather.” Mabel noted the aquamarine splotches, illuminating her numbers: B3, I22, N36, G57.
“How’s it going?”
Mabel shook her head, silently vowing to herself to never visit her grandmother on Sundays again. It was her mother who egged her on for tonight, who insisted she socialize with Grandma and her “friends.”
A ball rattled up the tube, into the caller’s hands.
“O75.”
“BINGO!”
Mabel watched the corner of the billboard ignite. Next week, she’d schedule for Tuesday.

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“I write because little things need to be noticed.” – the writer

Junior’s Quick Stop

By Ran Walker

My wife doesn’t trust gas station fried chicken, but, dammit, I do. In fact, I rank it among the best food in town, including those fancy chains, where they keep laying off the spices and seasonings every year.

I tell her that they lovingly marinate those breasts, before gently battering them and patiently submerging them into the hot oil.

She stops and contemplates this, then remembers we are talking about fried chicken.

“I just can’t get my chicken from the same place I buy gas for my car,” she finally says, never once considering the convenience of such a thing.

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Ran Walker is the author of twenty-four books. He writes “because there are millions of stories that need to be told.”

Adding Worms Can Be Beneficial

By Annie Soilleux

He flings his wedding ring out of the window as he drives off. It rattles down the roof of the shed and lands in the leaf litter on top of her compost bin.

The worms do their work, casting orange pith and lettuce slime into rich, crumbling humus. She turns the heap, changes the locks, cuts her hair. Buys a new bed.

Come spring, she’s pressing well-rotted compost into terracotta pots when her fingers stumble on something unforgiving. She digs it out and turns it over, examines it a moment before tucking it away. She’ll put it on Ebay later.

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“I live in Berkshire and write to try and entertain.” – the writer

Suburban Stay-at-Home Mom

By Sharon Waller Knutson

She squints as sunshine slants
and her five-year-old sails
through the room, drags
her out of bed and up the hill,
her bad breath blowing
in the air, hands trembling.
Her nightgown is plastered
to her blossoming bosom
and baby bump. The flu,
she explains. Last week
It was Covid. Her son’s
teacher doesn’t buy it,
gives her the same
disapproving evil eye
as her baby daddy,
his family, hers and her pastor
who preaches about sinners
like her, but all she wants
is to crawl under the covers
with her lover, Jim Beam.

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Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist living in Arizona where she now writes poetry because writing is like breathing fresh air.