August 14, 2022

Texture by John Sheirer

Diane touched her favorite photography award, the first of many, presented forty-two years ago. She stroked the deep grooves of her name etched in the metal. Her eyes moved left and found the photo that had earned that award. She leaned forward until her breath fogged the plexiglass. After three eye surgeries, all she could make out was the basic shape of the mountain range. Diane touched the glass, and, for the first time in her life, she wished she had learned to paint. Thick, brush strokes, coarse as the mountain rock beneath her fingertips, would have been a comfort.

John Sheirer lives in Western Massachusetts and is in his 30th year of teaching at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut. His latest book is the award-winning short story collection, Stumbling Through Adulthood: Linked Stories. Find him at

August 11, 2022

When my Mother Speaks of the Moon by C.L. Liedekev

In the 1970s, I was told that birth was a night sky,
she tilted her mouth open and became the moon,
become the vector where talk of rain
becomes an announcement
over the tin radio in the ceiling:
patient mixed with light and blood,
oak floors were swollen into feet, the pollen of thunder
pounds lungs as nurse’s orders, the void of the father.

I bloomed inside her, pastels and memory,
metal and gears of labor,
the snapped twig of my sister
outside in the waiting room, as she walked
she left a trail of crayons,
tiny constellations of colors leading
straight into the dark mornings that followed.

When my mother speaks of the moon, she speaks of the past.
Before I cried for hours, before the living room walls
were bleached in yellow smoke,
dogs rested in piles
on the floor, blankets of fur, before the grace of her life waxed
and filled the apartment with its mass.

C.L. Liedekev is a confirmed poet who lives in Conshohocken, PA with his real name, wife, and children. He attended most of his life in a Southern chunk of New Jersey. His work has been published in such places as Humana Obscura, Red Fez, MacQueen's, Hare’s Paw, River Heron Review, amongst others. His poem, “November Snow. Philadelphia Children’s Hospital” is a finalist for the 2021 Best of the Net. 

August 10, 2022

Memory Woodpeckers by John Brantingham

At first, when Henry is woken out of his nap by knocking, he thinks the dog is upstairs scratching herself in a way that bangs the wall. When he turns, Lizzy is there on the floor near his chair watching him. It’s a woodpecker, he realizes, pecking into his house, trying to make a nest in the wall and insulation of Henry’s home.

His father’s first instinct would have been to grab a gun. Henry realizes that his own first instinct at this late stage in his life, is to remember his father and what he would have done. It’s strange how he can go so long without thinking of the old man, and then when his house is being slowly undone, he snaps back into that headspace.

He goes into the kitchen and takes a steel wool SOS Pad from under the sink. Outside, he shoos away the bird, who flies off to a nearby tree to watch him. The little creature has poked a dime sized hole in his wall that Henry stuffs with the wool. “This is the way you do it, Dad. It doesn’t hurt the bird and we can patch it later,” he says, and in his half-asleep state, he waits for a response, thinking his pop is ready to talk. 
Henry, who is 68, realizes he’s instructing his father; his father died in his forties, and he’s just trying to help the guy out. Strange to think of his father only just started on middle age. When Henry was a kid, his pop always looked so old, and the mistakes he made seemed so awful, but could he have known better? In his forties, Henry felt so lost, so confused.

Henry watches the bird in the tree, and remembers his dad going for a gun again and again to fix his problems. He wishes he knew then what he knows now so that he could have been there for his pop who was so alone.

John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines, Writers Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016 and 2022. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press). He is the founder and general editor of The Journal of Radical Wonder.  He lives in Jamestown, NY.

August 8, 2022

How to Burn by Yash Seyedbagheri

wrench it off widening shelves
along with its comrades
tuck it beneath plastic slipcovers
and hurl it into bruised dumpsters
after all it can’t rise

but if— and when it rises
shred its spine
and when the pages are left
cheer while lighting a conflagration
matches struck

pages hurled into the fortress of logs and flame
crumpling in perfect precision
into their graves
the words are burnt
and there is no more

a raw relief in the once charcoal-colored skies
even if a comma, a sentence,
an idea still linger, ever the seditious stranger
the next fire will be stronger

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA fiction program. His stories "Soon,''  ''How To Be A Good Episcopalian,''  "Tales From A Communion Line," and "Community Time," have been nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work  has been published in  SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others. 

August 5, 2022

Teddy by Diane D. Gillette

Her grief is so large, they contain her, a creepy-crawly insect trapped under a drinking glass. They send her away, tell her to be alone with her thoughts until she is ready to be functionally happy again. They lock the door, feed her pills, only allowing her to discuss her feelings with professionals possessing scratchy pens and phlegmy throats -- her loved ones clearly too delicate to withstand the weight of her words.

Her only company is one worn teddy bear, its velvet fur patchy from the naptime strokes of chubby toddler fingers. But it’s all she needs anyway. At night, after sleeping pills and lights out, Teddy grows and stretches and holds her in his arms. He feather strokes her back with deadly claws, lulling her into the beauty of deep, dreamless sleep. In the morning, he fetches her slippers and kisses the top of her head before transforming back into the worn toy for her to carry with her through craft time and circle time and visitor time.

Her husband sits across from her, his basset hound eyes blinking. An unfinished jigsaw puzzle of the ocean gapes between them. One small boat floats adrift in the green sea. Teddy sits propped in the chair between them. Button eyes lifeless.

“I miss you so much,” her husband tells her again. “Do you think you’ll be ready to come home soon?” he asks as if he wasn’t the one to put her there in the first place.

She snaps another piece of the puzzle into place. A critical corner piece.

“You’ve been here so long,” he sighs. “I just can’t wait forever you know.”

She tightens a fist around the puzzle piece in her hand, feels it fold in half. She turns to grab Teddy, to pull him into her lap and stroke his fuzzy ears until it’s time for her husband to go. But her son’s treasured toy has disappeared, the full-grown bear in its place.

Teddy’s eyes meet hers. “Just give me the word,” he says, “I can eat the head right off of his body.” His claws click in succession on the table.

She feels herself smile for the first time in months.Her husband sits up straighter. She sees hope lift his eyebrows as he mirrors her expression.

“Oh, forever isn’t even on the table,” she assures him as she reaches out to squeeze Teddy’s paw.

Diane D. Gillette (she/her) lives in Chicago. Her work is a Best Small Fictions selection. Her chapbook “We’re All Just Trying to Make It to January 2nd” is available through Fahmidan & Co. Publishing. She is a founding member of the Chicago Literary Writers. Read more at

August 4, 2022

Lily Pad by Judith Skillman

Already written in,
this carpet remnant,
these unseen frogs,
this moment
germane and dear,
pedestrian in its yellow leaves
beneath cornflower blue sky.

Every instant
a reflection of my mother’s hand
thumbing the pie crust—
that dear thumb
embroidered with innocence
forever rubbing two pennies
together to make a meal.

Her precise off-green
taste for a life
taken from persecution
and the gas chambers,
where her relatives
perished though she—
placid through feast
and famine—continues
to laugh and cough
and avoid the nightshades.

Judith Skillman’s poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Threepenny Review, Zyzzyva, and other literary journals. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust, and her recent collection is A Landscaped Garden for the Addict (Shanti Arts, 2021). She is the lead editor of When Home Is Not Safe: Writings on Domestic Verbal, Emotional and Physical Abuse (McFarland, 2021). Visit

August 2, 2022

Muse by Malkam A. Wyman

Her eyes are a shifting blue – like so many tones in a lakeshore sky.

Threads of fate bind us together. Her beauty inspires scenes of another time – in the land of tomorrow – when we blend our forms – at the dawn of love.

Waves of action define her. Words of truth fall from her lips.

Malkam A. Wyman is an aspiring author living in Three Oaks, MI, brewing beer by day and writing a novel by night. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Malkam is proud to be a child of deaf adults (CODA), and a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. He is a dedicated student of martial arts and has studied Taiji and Kung Fu for twenty years. Malkam is an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and has been participating in storytelling and performance art with Indigan Storyteller Workshops since 2013.