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A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no matter the location. His hometown had tainted similar places through memories of loneliness, frustration, and expected yet undeserved sympathy. Due to his small-town avoidance syndrome, Jason had missed housewarmings, weddings, and most family gatherings over the years. But this felt like a worthy sacrifice to maintain a comfortable distance from his childhood. Anxiety was an easy excuse to turn around, but he knew this time must be different. It was unavoidable.

The car’s backseat was filled with clothing & books to the point where most surrounding vehicles had been rendered invisible during the long drive north. Jason never noticed. He rarely checked his blind spots even on a good day. Water bottles were strewn across the floor in front of the passenger seat, along with a half-drunk, now spoiled fruit smoothie from earlier in the week. Burger King bags had joined this pile during his four-hour drive when Jason told himself there were no other options, but in reality, he simply couldn’t contain a craving for chicken fries.

The twenty-four-hour name-brand gas station swiftly came and went as Jason lit a cigarette for the final stretch, a Pavlovian response that kicked in once the Mobil was in his currently imperceptible rear-view. This cigarette would ordinarily last exactly until the third and final stoplight.

He slowed down as he approached the ominous sign he hadn’t seen in almost a decade: ‘Welcome to Warwick: No war, all wicks.’ The awful, outdated slogan induced a heavy, smoke-filled, somber exhale. 

The first stoplight. Just over the town line, and unnecessary for about twenty years now. In his youth, this would barely generate a speed reduction, but right now he appreciated the pause. Overpowering his instincts, Jason finally continued after the third light turned green for a third time. He passed the first house on his left and still found something shocking about the fact that this farm still functioned, with a tractor parked in the distance beyond the chicken coop right over the fence, a few yards off the road. He hadn’t seen cows or horses in years. Jason stared for a moment before realizing he was no longer used to the extreme smell that came along with their presence. Forgetting the cigarette in his hand, he quickly rolled the windows up, accidentally bathing himself with smoke, then put them back down just as fast.

The second light and first sign of human life. Another car passed on its way out of town. The fellow driver woke Jason out of his daze as he glanced down and had a moment of panic, remembering the empty gas light came on twenty minutes ago. He flicked the cigarette out, knowing the last gas station for miles was about to come up on his left. As he pulled in, there were no longer any signs of life.

This was a far cry from the station Jason passed right off the highway. It was more of a shed than anything, with multiple warped boards on every side desperately in need of a paint job, even with the half-hearted white streaks that were clearly a recent addition. He wondered if the gas station even took credit cards yet. And if it did, could it be trusted? Any chance they knew what cyber-security was out here? 

Jason got out of his car and started debating if it was self-serve when he was startled by a voice from behind the shed. 

“No gas!”

The raspy voice grew angrier, yelling “Closed!”

Standing at the clearly functional pump, Jason glanced at his watch, helplessly looked around knowing there were no other options and said: “It’s only 5:20.”

Noticing the barely legible wooden sign propped up by dripping paint cans, Jason’s recent experience made him wonder how a gas station could get any business being open nine-to-five. Then he remembered that filling up your tank was one of many mundane activities that functioned as planned family outings around here, and could hear the older generation of men who prided themselves on avoiding the dreaded ‘city-schedule.’

A woman emerged from the shed, and with a look of recognition said “I’ve got 4:59” in a soft voice.

She appeared to be in her seventies, a beautiful plump woman standing no more than five feet tall and wearing a flowery blue dress that could have been in rotation since the seventies. The current look on her face showed a lifetime’s worth of taking charge, undeterred by the deferential expectations of her youth. This was confirmed as her presumed husband hurriedly came around the corner. To see a tall man in a plaid shirt and ripped overalls cower to this woman’s hushed tone put a smile on Jason’s face. Especially this far upstate.

The husband and wife discussed something quietly before he came over to the pump.

“Cash only” he mumbled, clearly feeling demeaned as his wife watched closely. The man waited to see if Jason could comply with this restriction or would just leave them alone.

Jason opened his car and scrounged together seven dollars, figuring that would be enough to get him back to the highway and twenty-first-century commerce. He pulled his head out of the car and waved her over. “Seven dollars of regular?”

The woman in charge said, “Of course, honey” without moving a muscle. Her husband slowly dragged his feet, kicking up the dry, dusty parking lot in the process.

As he put the handle away, the man started to walk away before locking eyes with his superior and stopping dead in his tracks. He turned to give a halfhearted, “thanks for your business – please come back again,” then scurried away. Defeated.

Jason returned the thanks as he got back in his car. The woman waved stiffly, projecting an appreciation her husband had failed to even fake.

Once back on the road, the cause of the two pointless stoplights became visible. The remaining solid brown bricks were covered in an occasional streak of soot, two sides broken up by a collapsed roof in the center that had turned a once enormous building into two nearly disconnected large ones. The remaining grids of windows that faced the road contained alternately shattered or stained panes of glass, covered in smoke and/or the yellow grime of time.  

Even when Jason still lived here, no one spoke of the fire, despite remaining surrounded by remnants of their lost industry. Nothing had changed. If there was no money to replace the welcome sign, then there was certainly no way to rebuild or repurpose the old candle factory that made this a vibrant town for the first couple years of Jason’s youth.

Oddly enough, the burnt façade reminded Jason of the city and the various renovated buildings that now contained overpriced lofts.

Five miles later after a seeming eternity of driving to Jason, the enormous, nearly empty lots of land that each belonged to a single resident gave way to the center of Warwick. Route 11 turned into Main Street for about one mile. The current businesses were always a curiosity, as the revolving storefronts on the ‘outskirts’ of Main street reflected passion projects of friends the landlord currently owed a favor to. A knitting store. A very specific fish-themed jewelry maker. A gallery showcasing a decent artist that would likely remain unappreciated. These were the original Etsy shops.

What looked like a large white farmhouse in the middle of the street had a large black and white sign proclaiming ‘diner’ sitting on the front porch. The single restaurant in Warwick served just about everything and had been a constant since Jason was born, just passing through different hands as the years demanded. Randy’s had once been Ethel’s had once been Daniel’s had once been Tom’s. But this place never went out of business – the head cook just changed as others passed away, retired, or moved away. Those who passed away or retired were memorialized in a gallery on the wall.

Jason pulled over across from Randy’s to take another pause. He could not believe how far he had made it. Into Warwick. Where he had not stepped foot or rolled rubber for nine years. The memories came rushing back, and he was surprised how many of them were pleasant. Daniel always knew Jason’s favorite type of omelet – bacon & sausage, no cheese – and Becky the waitress was his first crush when he was ten. That gallery with the large street-facing window housing a large blue and yellow modernist portrait had replaced the hobby shop’s hanging model airplanes and stacks of board games. Jason had bought his first home soldering kit there and smirked thinking of the time he opened the back of the radio and tore it apart, assuming he could put it back together. It took three years and he had paid for it dearly, but the still-functioning radio now sat among the most prized possessions in his trunk. The one reminder of his childhood that had survived several small apartments.

The third and final stoplight was in view, intimidatingly awaiting his approach. Glancing over at the moderately expensive bottle of wine he bought based on Gina’s recommendation, Jason saw another excuse to further delay his arrival. He knew a three dollar six-pack of Shins would be more appreciated. Even though he couldn’t drink it anymore, remembering a favorite drink, even one he could never forget, would be a better gift than wine that would simply sit on the counter until the tag was re-written and the bottle re-gifted. Jason turned the ignition off and got out of his car. A short walk towards the general store, supermarket, pharmacy, and coffee shop seemed like the best idea.  

A loud bell attached to the door rang out as Jason walked into the hybrid store. The two high school girls behind the counter immediately looked over and silenced themselves. The stock boy never broke his momentum, continuing to fill the cooler with Shins. Jason noticed no one was wearing headphones, neither girl had a phone in her hands, and the radio – real radio, not streaming – was eerily playing Benny Goodman over the speakers. Based on this scene alone it appeared the town had kept even the children from technology and Jason couldn’t decide if that was enviable or terrifying. As he walked over to the cooler, one of the girls spoke up.

“Are you Jason Catamount?” she inquired. The other girl looked at her friend annoyed as they both stared waiting for an answer.

Yes.” Jason stated harshly, still moving but keeping an eye towards the counter.

The cashier cautiously continued, “So I guess you’re back for…,” trailing off as her friend lightly backhanded her arm behind the counter.

After a brief quizzical glance, Jason returned to his mission immediately tripping over the stock boy in the process. This boy – truly a boy of no more than fourteen – fell onto his side into the fetal position that comes from being knocked over while crouching into the bottom shelf of a cooler. As he looked down, a flash came into Jason’s mind of himself laying helpless on his bedroom floor. Frazzled, Jason instinctively leaned down and reached his hand out to help the boy up.

 ‘Oh God I’m so sorry,’ seemed a little too strong of a reaction, and Jason wasn’t sure if he would offend anyone using ‘God’ like that. Would a simple ‘I’m sorry’ sound too stiff and unapologetic? Maybe ‘my bad.’ Did kids still say that? Did kids in this town ever say that? He did. Just ‘I’m so sorry’ would be fine. Yes. A simple apology with a simple modifier. 

As Jason returned to reality, he had already helped the boy to his feet. The kid was now standing and apologizing to Jason. Silent assistance must have felt weirder than saying any of the phrases he had debated. Suddenly and rudely he blurted out, “Can I have a six-pack of Shins?”

The boy reached back into the cooler. As he handed over the beer, Jason recognized the guilt with a hint of fear on this kid’s face, especially while handing him some beers. There was an unmistakable symmetry between the two of them in that moment, both equally eager to blame themselves for any hint of disruption.

Jason now had the beer in his hand and figured it was best to leave this interaction as it was, having learned long ago that talking too much was far worse than walking away when given the choice.

Once the six-pack was dropped on the counter, the second cashier rang up the purchase on the heavy-keyed register, while her initially inquisitive friend grabbed a bag.

“No bag,” Jason stated with a forced smile and friendlier tone, immediately wondering if the young girl felt the rejected offer was due to annoyance with her questioning him after he walked in. Trying to get out of his head, Jason reached for his wallet and then started worrying if this place also took cash only.

The anxiety was getting worse the closer Jason got to his destination and the more he talked with others. He knew he would not be able to have any meaningful conversation today, but he still had no choice other than continuing his journey.

Slowly handing the cashier his card, he assumed he would have to walk out of the store empty-handed. Seemingly noticing that Jason was uncomfortable, the girl worriedly said, “We have a ten dollar minimum,” replacing one concern with another as his eyes saw $4.89 on the register then started scouring the store for any item worth more than $5.11.

She quickly added, “Don’t worry about it,” as the cashier’s friend returned the favor and hit her on the arm lightly, causing guilt to successfully reach the fourth and final person standing in this small shop.

Jason grabbed his card and headed towards the door, suddenly worried by the pattern of sympathy these girls and the woman at the gas station had shown him.

“Mr. Catamount!” He heard behind him. Jason paused without turning around, hoping there would not be any more questions.

“You forgot your beer.”

Jason silently grabbed the beer and scurried out of the store, briskly heading back to his car. He opened the door, slammed it shut and threw the six-pack next to the wine bottle among the garbage populating his passenger seat, knocking more water bottles onto the floor.

The flashbacks continued. Jason was once again sitting in his car, on Main Street in Warwick, having a minor panic attack. At least it was minor for now. He stopped. He breathed. He said to himself it would only be an hour or two before he left.

He audibly counted, “One… two… three…”

The longer Jason panicked, the longer he would be in town. This realization pushed him to start the car and place it into drive. He sat there for a moment with his foot on the brake. Still breathing heavily but slowing himself down… slowly.

A horn blared as Jason almost hit someone while pulling back into traffic. Looking before he pulled out is one of the few safe driving techniques he typically practiced, but he couldn’t think of anything but forcing himself to move forward right now.

The near accident negated all the calming breathing practices Jason’s doctor had taught him, but he pulled right into the road anyways after the other car fully passed by. He caught himself speeding towards it and suddenly hitting the brakes. Almost immediately, the car was crawling at about five miles per hour. Then he slammed the brakes again, bringing the car to a hard stop. Luckily, he was kind of close to the red light. But this wasn’t why he stopped.

The Bar had crept into view. A perfect encapsulation of everything he hated about this town. Full of lonely and frustrated drunks looking for undeserved sympathy. And it had the worst name ever. The Bar. Reflecting the laziness of Warwick even when it was thriving. In just two words. No one wanted to think, they just wanted to be told what to put where on the factory line. Then they wanted to go drink a beer at The Bar. This mindset never left, and it was what Jason hated most about his hometown. Uninspired and afraid of change.

The left blinker flashed, urging Jason to turn onto Catamount Road. At this point, his father was less than a hundred yards away. He just wasn’t sure if it was at The Bar or at his house.

Jason sat at the light as it turned green, then yellow, then red, then green, then yellow, then red. He counted five of these cycles as another ineffective attempt at meditation, trying everything to not look at The Bar or the Catamount Road sign.

Jason was lonely, frustrated, uninspired, and often drunk. Complaining constantly, craving sympathy at every turn. Afraid of leaving his beloved city, afraid of change, and now sitting in his car terrified of facing his father.

About a hundred yards away, Jason’s mother sat by herself, calmly thinking of how she would tell her son his father had died. Looking at the clock, she was not surprised he was almost three hours late but still remained hopeful.

Another horn blared behind Jason. He glanced up at the mirror and saw nothing but himself.

Bio: McCord Chapman has been using his passion for storytelling for his marketing day job for years, but has started writing fiction regularly in the past year. As an avid cinephile and critic, he has always loved bringing characters to life and watching or reading about them. Every aspect of the craft fascinates him as a perfect mix of creativity and structure. McCord joined WVU in December and is working towards his fiction MBA. He will keep writing fiction while leveraging his love of story in day to day life.


Lost and Found

by

Brigitte Whiting

Smelled: a gamey odor downstairs in the basement. Searched for its source but couldn’t find it.

Found: one dead mouse with reddish-brown legs and a white underbelly in the basement bathroom. A deer mouse. Picked it up with tongs, took it outdoors, and tossed...

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One Hundred Yards

by

McCord Chapman

 

 

A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no...

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Yearning - F2k WINNER!

by

Noel



Trish pushed her hair to the side to show off her sparkling diamond earrings. “Alvin just got these for me. I didn’t even have to drop a hint.”

Heather leaned forward for a better look. “Oh Trish, they’re beautiful. And LuAnn, did I see you drive up in a new...

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Flamenco

by

Cedar White

We’re late, of course. Won last-minute tickets to a concert at the Greek, the Gipsy Kings, but now parking is impossible. Ten years of driving in LA and the traffic makes me want to move to, I don’t know, Kansas. Then my date points to a...

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Marbles

by

Brigitte Whiting

 I had plans for that summer and everything changed because of the marbles. But I’m way ahead of myself.

My brothers, Jeff and Mick, hung around Farmer Tom’s place, feeding chickens and riding on the tractor with him, watching while he milked his yellow cow, Bess. I’d...

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Ruler of the House

by

Luann Lewis

We never should have bought this old house.  We sunk all our savings into it plus we took on a mortgage so huge that at this point I would have to pay out money just to get rid of the place.

 

I hate the sounds...

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Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

by

Albert Orejuela

You’re hearing a voice, but no one else hears a sound. It’s a deep distant whisper, soft, safe, and inviting: the words of which you can’t yet make out. The harder you listen, the softer it gets; softer and softer, deeper and deeper. The more you listen to it here, ...

Read more: Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

 

 

 

A Night in Fontana

by

TJ Marshall

Brody Carlisle halted his horse on the crest of a shrub-covered hill, slapped his Stetson twice sending dust floating skyward, and after placing it back on his head, coaxed a swallow from his canteen.

To the west, the sun slid behind a scattering of tall pillar-like plateaus. Their...

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Full

by

Luann Lewis

Food. Globes of mashed potatoes glistening with a thin layer of gravy, plump slices of pie gushing with ruby red cherries–food wassensuous. It was sensuous before Abby even knew the meaning of the word.  Sparkling Christmas goodies enticed her as a child. She would sneak from her...

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The Decision

by

Brigitte Whiting

Stan stood on the sand, crumpled by how many people and birds running and sliding into it today. Now, it was getting dark, the last of the purple, streaky clouds turning black against a pale, gray sky.

Go or stay, just two choices.

He reached down...

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Swiftwater

by

Cedar White

10

Amos stood on a thick, muscular knoll on the shoulder of a dark river. He shivered, soaking wet from his silver hair to his leather shoes, and stared, disoriented, at the pines across the river. They seemed to stand with their backs to him. Amos felt...

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Minerva Shield

by

Frank Richards

In July the monsoon rains returned and with them came the little green frogs. Price Aurigena had first seen them in the summer of 1969 when he’d arrived in Korea and now, a year later, they were once again everywhere. Frogs sprang from the ground like exploding popcorn...

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Seinfeld Moment

by

Frank Richards

I have studied martial arts all my life: Karate, Judo, Kenpo Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Hsing-I, but as I've gotten older, I pretty much stick to Tai Chi. I used to study Tai Chi at a park in Washington, D.C. called Glen Echo Park. It's an old...

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Wedding Portrait – Life Portrait

by

Glennis Hobbs

July 20, 1942


Escorted by her eldest brother Neil, Annabell walks across the front lawn to meet Bill. her groom. She is dressed in a long gown of pink net overlying pink point d’esprit. A bandeau of artificial roses secures her pink net veil. She also...

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Salvation

by

Teresa Crowe

S is for Scintillation. 

Their arms and elbows locked as they vied for control.  Major released her grip and dredged her beet-colored nails across his muscled chest.  Zane glanced at the four lines of ripped skin, blood dripped onto the rim of his pants.  He lunged forward, grabbed...

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The Explorers

by

Glennis Walker Hobbs

Black, ginger, and tortoiseshell felines zoom through the open screen door onto the deck. Black Nic pauses and surveys his domain from the top of the steps. Kittens race down the ramp and scamper into the backyard. Glory, the tortoiseshell, runs to the maple in the corner, ...

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Beckett – you asked for this

by

Joy Manné

Here am I, on this grey morning, here I am again, entering this day as I entered yesterday and the day before and unless I am spared by death will enter tomorrow and the day after, endlessly growing older with the anxiety that brings, the fear of coming...

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Reconciliation

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mattie opened the front door. "I'll be back in a while, Henry," she said, then stepped onto the porch and clicked the door shut.

It opened behind her and Henry stuck out his head. "Wait, I can come with you."

She shook her head. "I need...

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Road Trip

by

David Snyder

  The eight-year-old 1958 Chevy was purring along through rural Kansas with ease. Don smiled with pride. When it hit 180,000 miles he planned to celebrate with a smoke and an ice-cold Mountain Dew from the cooler.  It was a beautiful late April day with the sunny...

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Why I’m Failing My Innovative Fiction Course

by

Ed Kratz

   

This is from an assignment in the Innovative Fiction Course taught by Karen

I'm just not making it in my innovative fiction course.
What is innovative fiction you might ask? Well, if you have to ask, I'd say you're one of those rubes...

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Dear Don...

by

Ed Kratz

   

The Don, whose real name you do not want to know, ever, has vast experience solving problems. Our organization, Don’t Try to Find Us Press, never advocates violence. We take no responsibility for violent acts committed by those misinterpreting the Don’s recommendations.
Now for...

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Todd’s Miracle

by

Leslie

Todd shivered in the dark, seated cross-legged on the linoleum. Coats and dresses draped gently over his five-year-old shoulders. He flinched as a slit of bright light flashed through the space at the bottom of the door. Seconds later the deep, rolling rumble followed. “Mommy?”

Silence.

“Mommy?” ...

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Mad Hatter Town Planners

by

Margaret Fieland

   

I fell down the rabbit hole straight into the town planning committee meeting. A large basin of Sangria sat in the middle of the scratched wood table in the center of the room, and a keg rested against the back wall. Al, Stan, and Art...

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Dinner at Grandma's

by

Lolla Bryant

You’re at Grandma’s house again for dinner.  As always, the family is gathered together and everybody’s trying to out-talk everybody else.   You ask yourself why you continue to go through this ordeal every week, but you know why; it’s Grandma.  Also, it’s a family tradition that brings you...

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Mommy’s Little Secret

by

Leslie

At age five, Amy told her mother that the thought of swimming scared her. Not surprisingly, her mother poo-pooed the idea, and said that fear showed weakness and stupidity. From then on, Amy said she hated swimming and never admitted any fear to her mother again. I don’t...

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Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

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My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

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My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

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Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

Read more: Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

 

 

 

Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

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A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

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Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

by

Louise E. Sawyer


It is a joy to hold a lovely scene, a delightful moment, in memory.
~Marjolein Bastin

Frank was four and I was five and getting ready to start school when Dad and Mom moved us into a new house on Glasgow Avenue—a three-bedroom home that wasn't quite finished—in...

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Hazardous Happenings

by

Albert Orejuela

At some point, everything comes to an apex.  Status quo can only persist for so long before the natural balance of the universe calls for consumption, and then it all comes down to a choice.  That’s it, a lone decision that ultimately leads down a pathway to a higher level...

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Dealing with Rejection

by

Carolann Malley


Sending your writing out into the world can be scary whether you write poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. But, at some point, if you are a serious writer, you will do it. Getting a rejection letter back can be more devastating than asking a girl out as a teenager and...

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Backyard Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting


I took an hour to walk outdoors in my yard, first to clip dead honeysuckle branches, pluck dandelions, and then to fill the birdbaths and feeders. And to ponder what to write about one of my backyard neighbors, the gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolineses. Its name is derived from the...

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Betrayal

by

Angela Hess


My four-year-old son has a friend over. I overhear my son’s friend tell my two-year-old daughter, “Gracie, you can’t come in here.” Then my son’s voice: “It’s okay, she can play with us. Here, Gracie,” he says, presumably handing her one of the toys they are playing with. My mama...

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The Weight of Emotions

by

Angela Hess

  I can hear my parents’ raised voices upstairs. They are fighting again. I turn on the sink faucet, letting the sound of the running water drown out their voices. I thrust my hands in the nearly scalding hot water and methodically scrub each dish in the sink...

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An Apology

by

Brigitte Whiting

   I'm sorry that I hadn't thought of how I would take care of a puppy. It had seemed like a good idea, accept the gift of a puppy from acquaintances. She had the coloring of a coyote and was named Brindle for those tawny markings. I'd...

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Baby Precious

by

Louise E. Sawyer

It was Christmas Day 1950 and my sixth birthday. Under the tree was an unusually long, large box with my name on it. I was excited to open it. I couldn’t wait. When I finally did, I was amazed to look upon the most gorgeous doll I’d...

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Downsizing

by

M Clare Paris

 
I think about death quite a bit. Not morbidly, nor do I worry about what happens when one dies. Although I enjoy a spiritual life, I am also philosophical about the end of my life. If there is something else, it will be darned interesting. If there isn’t, ...

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Absent But Present

by

Louise E. Sawyer


My father, Thomas George Sawyer, was absent at my birth and absent the first seven months of my life.

It was Christmas Eve 1944 at the two-story white house on Beechwood Drive-my Grannie’s house in Victoria, the capital city of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Grannie Price, my...

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Gathering: A Contemplative Essay

by

Brigitte Whiting

I'm always looking for ideas to use in writing: for that prompt at which I first gulp and then slowly retrieve some thread of an idea, for the poem I need for the Monday morning poetry group, for an essay that's due in two days.

I've heeded...

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Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life

by

Brigitte Whiting

Last spring, a wild turkey hen incubated her eggs for twenty-eight days. When they hatched, she scrambled to keep up with them. Poults to scientific literature. Babies to her. She didn't need to teach them to scratch for bugs—they came with that instinct. Nighttimes during their first four weeks, ...

Read more: Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life

 

 

 

Lesson in Subtext

by

Joy Manné and Karen Barr

Roles

Teacher – Karen Barr

Student – Joy Manné

Teacher

WELCOME TO WEEK 8 OF SUBTEXT.

There is no word count, but the challenge is to get all ten types of subtext in as few words as possible. Here they are:

Show don’t...

Read more: Lesson in Subtext

 

 

 

Teenage Escape Plan

by

Danielle Dayney

I woke to warm, gooey air smothering me even though the ceiling fan was spinning on high. Dangling lightpulls smacked and banged the glass globe with each rotation of the blades. The base of the fan swayed and groaned, ready to jump from its screws in the drywall any second.

...

Read more: Teenage Escape Plan

 

 

 

Miracle Baby

by

Harry C. Hobbs

The mother and father watched as the sun rose on a cold morning in February 1945, wondering if their four-month-old son had lived through the night. Could miracles really happen? Perhaps this child they had wanted so badly wanted wasn’t meant to survive. His mother was a month past her...

Read more: Miracle Baby

 

 

 

Ylva the Úlfr

by

Cynthia Reed

When I flew to California in September, the golden archipelago summer, verdant below and mazarine above, still held sway. Twenty-three days and eleven thousand two hundred and forty miles later, if you’d sat here with me on the back deck this afternoon--you’d know, too--autumn now envelopes Sweden in...

Read more: Ylva the Úlfr

 

 

 

Late Summer

by

Debbie Noland

The winner of the April 2019 Poetry Contest!

  
Summer gasps its last hot breaths,
panting...

Read more: Late Summer

 

 

 

Teenage Turmoil - (Aged 16)

by

Miss Natalie Sackstein.

Part of the series: #1 THREE AGES OF WOMAN

TEENAGE TURMOIL
by (Aged 16)

My mind is but...

Read more: Teenage Turmoil - (Aged 16)

 

 

 

Frustration - (Aged 28)

by

Mrs. Natalie Liknaitzky

Part of the series: #2 THREE AGES OF WOMAN


FRUSTRATION
BY (Aged 28)

Creation stifled. Each...

Read more: Frustration - (Aged 28)

 

 

 

Multipotentailite - (Aged 80)

by

Natalie Knight

Part of the series: #3 THREE AGES OF WOMAN.

MULTIPOTENTAILITE
(Inspired by Lydia Davis to write...

Read more: Multipotentailite - (Aged 80)

 

 

 

By Late Winter

by

Brigitte Whiting


My unfinished deck waits beneath two feet of snow.
The driveway is one long strip of ice,
and...

Read more: By Late Winter

 

 

 

Joy Crawls Out Of Her Bag

by

Louise Sawyer




In memoriam of Joy, my animal companion, who died January 9, 2018.

Joy crawls out of her sleeping bag,
...

Read more: Joy Crawls Out Of Her Bag

 

 

 

Cyber Sisters

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

we meet in online classes,
strangers in cyber space,
we share
a love of poetry,
a desire...

Read more: Cyber Sisters

 

 

 

Winter Ballet

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs




snowflakes swirl in a dance
hurl themselves against the window
pine trees rock branches to and fro,
gently, then furiously
...

Read more: Winter Ballet

 

 

 

Computers and Catspeak

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs


I move the mouse
over the pad
type in password

mouse?
did I hear the word mouse?
where...

Read more: Computers and Catspeak

 

 

 

A Soldier’s Letter Home – A Found Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs



Based on letters by Private George Walker, written June 12, 1918-July 17, 1918

I got your letter just about lights...

Read more: A Soldier’s Letter Home – A Found Poem

 

 

 

Ottawa Reverie

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs



As I leaf through my manuscript of Ottawa poems, “In the Shadow of the Tower,” I decide to check...

Read more: Ottawa Reverie

 

 

 

The Room

by

rolly




I hear little drips the leaky faucet makes
amid violent silence of the passing night

how I long for that...

Read more: The Room

 

 

 

Speedy, My Reptilian Twin

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




The house seems different, quiet and empty
despite being filled with people, cats, and dogs.
No longer swishing or pitter-patter,
...

Read more: Speedy, My Reptilian Twin

 

 

 

Metaphorically Speaking

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




They say life is like a bowl of cherries
sweet, juicy, tasty. Watch out for the pits.
Isn’t that what...

Read more: Metaphorically Speaking

 

 

 

Ligature Ideations

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




From the doorjamb, staff had to cut her down,
now she was an amorphous, lifeless mound,
large form lying on...

Read more: Ligature Ideations

 

 

 

Never Sober, Always Arguing

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




Arguing chips away at my soul.
How can I feel half, when part of a whole?
Drink yet another beer, ...

Read more: Never Sober, Always Arguing

 

 

 

Your Call to Say Hi, Gone to Hell

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




Why call, then yell I interrupted?
To talk to you, gives me great displeasure.
My personal peace has been disrupted.
...

Read more: Your Call to Say Hi, Gone to Hell

 

 

 

Waiting for the Rain

by

Helen Rossiter



Mavis Bone with her face as crinkled as a brown paper bag sits quiet and still in the ancestor’s rocker, ...

Read more: Waiting for the Rain

 

 

 

Christmas Birds

by

Debbie Noland



Just above the power lines
that stretch along the road, the birds
on Christmas morning swarm, and then

at some...

Read more: Christmas Birds

 

 

 

Stragglers

by

Debbie Noland



Two pelicans left in the cove
this brisk November afternoon
must surely know it’s time to leave.

The dock marina...

Read more: Stragglers

 

 

 

San Luis Valley Sunshine

by

Frankie Colton




Summer sky azure
Thunderheads billow rain falls
Warm sunshine-filled days

Golden leaves falling
Fall breeze whispers winter comes
Crisp morning...

Read more: San Luis Valley Sunshine

 

 

 

Bathroom Ekphrastic

by

Debbie Noland



It’s dank and dark and dingy
in the old cabin bathroom.
The narrow steps stretch downward
with their cold, metal...

Read more: Bathroom Ekphrastic

 

 

 

Ice-Breaking Revisited

by

Christina Huizar



I met my love – my love was fair
His most chance word fascinating
His every move a mystery
I...

Read more: Ice-Breaking Revisited

 

 

 

Boardwalk Stroll – A Prose Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

My morning stroll leads me to the east end of Flinty’s Boardwalk by Del’s Cairn. A replica of ...

Read more: Boardwalk Stroll – A Prose Poem

 

 

 

Adventuring — An Unrhymed Heroic Couplet

by

Brigitte Whiting




I've been where no red squirr'l has gone before,
toheights and depths, despair. Until an opened...

Read more: Adventuring — An Unrhymed Heroic Couplet

 

 

 

Ode To A Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

you start as a blank screen
or a sheet of pristine paper,
words elude me, then
tantalize, taunt...

Read more: Ode To A Poem

 

 

 

The People’s Princess ~An Elegy

by

Louise Sawyer

There was a day never forgotten
When the world, including me, watched from afar
the fairytale wedding of...

Read more: The People’s Princess ~An Elegy

 

 

 

Crystalized Fog ~a Pastoral Poem

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

Of cold air hitting a warmer ground
Yesterday ended in a rising fog
Or was it the other...

Read more: Crystalized Fog ~a Pastoral Poem

 

 

 

Elegy for Judy

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh


I try to hear her voice; its sound has faded.
I see her hair, shining dark, brushing her...

Read more: Elegy for Judy

 

 

 

Portrait of Solitude

by

Albert Orejuela

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Break Time

by

RJ Hembree

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Colors

by

Maggie Fieland

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Wild Horses with the Snow Covered Mountains

by

RJ Hembree

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Color Cubes

by

Maggie Fieland

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Rest

by

Albert Orejuela

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Camera Smile

by

RJ Hembree

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To Relax Wild Horses Before a Photo Shoot, I Find it Helpful to Tell a Couple of Jokes

by

RJ Hembree

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First Step

by

Karen Barr

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Orchid Alone

by

Albert Orejuela

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Veg 2

by

Maggie Fieland

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All Along the Watchtower

by

RJ Hembree

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Ham

by

Karen Barr

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Winter

by

Maggie Fieland

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Backlit Great White Egret

by

RJ Hembree

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White Lightning

by

Karen Barr

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Wild Horses

by

RJ Hembree

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Cow Gossip

by

Karen Barr

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Cooper's Town

by

Albert Orejuela

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Along with the Sandhill Cranes, American Wigeons Filled the Sky

by

RJ Hembree

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Aleyne Desert

by

Maggie Fieland

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A Favorite Fishing Spot for the Ospreys

by

RJ Hembree

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Wearing a Coating of Ice

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Long Way 'Til Spring

by

Brigitte Whiting

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