Village Square Logo

Red Bull is engraving the Eye of God on your chest. “It’s a private tattoo over my soul and conscience,” you murmur. “I’m an atheist, bro,” you continue, thinking of the Chotta Bheem rakhi on your wrist eons back in time. I will be brave like Bheem someday, will fight for dharma, you had pledged at the marble mandir at home, in Pune. “I only need myself to keep a check on my actions. You know what I mean?” you now whisper.

Your mom had smiled at you as she had placed the thali of prasad at the feet of the Gods all those years back. Bikram Uncle had visited that day. He had sworn your mother as a sister when they were children. “Bikram Uncle had to cut his hair during the 1984 riots against the Sikhs,” she had whispered, shaking her head in sorrow.

“It’s a good tattoo man, it’s deep,” Red Bull reaffirms. It’s the fifth time this past hour, but you’re lost in all that’s gone. On his right arm charges a bull in red. It has wings on either side, and when the muscle twitches, the bull seems to amass energy in its wings. “You’ll never tire of it. Only make sure you don’t beef up on the chest. You don’t want a bulbous eye of God,” Red Bull continues. “And of course, the chest cannot become breasts.” Red Bull, what a cool name. It would suit a Marine Engineer, you tell yourself.

In the living room, Avni is lowering her tight derriere onto a bean bag. “That looks awesome, Neel,” she says sipping Kiwi juice from a bottle. Her grey office skirt rides up her thigh and the red silk blouse comes loose around her waist where it’s been tucked into the skirt. She has silky, toned legs.

You need to protect your tattoo. “It’s still tender Avni,” you say pushing those legs back and weaving your fingers into hers instead. You are determined to catch what Pablo is saying on screen to Colonel Carillo.

“You son of a bitch,” Pablo bellows and then drives two bullets into Carillo. “Go Pablo, go,” you murmur. You’ve been following the series together. It’s time for dinner; you let go of those fingers. She needs to get back home. She pulls out her office ID tag from the front pocket of her laptop backpack where she tucks it in every evening at your door. Hanging it around her neck, she tidies her clothes and leaves to dine with her parents. No goodbye kiss today.

You can’t wait to hit the gym, but the earliest you’re permitted is a week later. That day, your vest hangs loose around your neck. For the remainder of the month, you wear a loose-hanging vest to the gym. And for the remainder of the month and, well, later too, you measure your chest each morning, after the dead lifts, of course. The end of the measuring tape creeps toward the 40th inch each day and you are delighted. Your workout buddies look at your tattoo. At first, they look discreetly. Then they ask you to exhibit it, “For new members, Dude!” You do. You have a chiseled chest after all, and a sharp tattoo.

Your parents visit the next weekend. Pune celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi and your parents have decided to include you in the celebrations, albeit in Gurgaon. On the TV screen, a red ticker ticks with news about some Father Tom who has been brought back to India from the clutches of ISIS. You put up your hand in refusal at your mom who is standing there with a thali, holy smoke rising from the dhup. You tap your forefinger on the eye over your heart instead. You pick the prasad, swallow the laddoo in one gulp, then run to work, leaving your mom standing there marveling at your ideology.

You worked at the shipping line the year after getting your Marine Engineering degree at Bangalore. That’s where you had met Avni while sharing an Uber ride. She had hailed it from a neighbouring college where she was studying Electronics. You now prefer onshore roles and so you move to Gurgaon.

While walking down the corridor towards your desk, Amrita notices the ink of your tattoo through your light cotton shirt. You left your vests in the laundry basket for Mom to wash. You flex your chest muscle in pride. There are other pretty eyes that notice throughout the day as well. Some male eyes too.

You decide its best to wear white shirts to work, without a vest. You do own a chiseled body.

So, you get the next tattoo imprinted on your left shoulder. Poseidon, God of the Sea; thunderbolt, trident and sea waves. Avni isn’t pleased. “He looks blind,” she cries. “You’ve got a blind figure coming at me with a trident. How should I react, Neel?”

“Its Poseidon Avni. You know nothing girl.” You shrug.

There they crash, the waves, at the narrow of your bicep brachii, visible from under the sleeve of your fitted shirt, the sleeve with a fold and a triangular cut at the tendon, a cut that seems to clinch a million stares, you’ve realized.

Arey, does the goddess Ganga not pour enough blessings on you? Why do you need Poseidon?” your mother asks that Dussehra. “Arey, don’t you remember when we’d gone to Haridwar for the Ganga arti, you were about to slip and flow away, the chain was coming lose. Goddess Ganga saved you that day.”

“Yes, and we were stuck there for days due to the Muzaffarnagar riots.”

“He’s a boy, he needs a macho figure,” shouts your father from the balcony where he sits sipping his cup of morning wakefulness and reading the newspaper. “It’s under his shirt Bhawna. Go forth Son, but not too many okay?”

“We need to come more often to Gurgaon,” your mother mumbles. She’s chopping a potato into determined chunks—a modern mother with a chef’s knife and a chopping board. She bought them from one of the hundreds of gourmet grocery stores dotting modern Gurgaon. “Who knows what he’ll have the next holiday we come.”

You get Ganga on a lotus atop a crocodile; this one you get etched on your right shoulder; its Thai art style adds just the required sharpness to the edges. The crocodile seems to slither down the arm towards the elbow and you delight in its shiny green when it reflects on women’s sunglasses. One of them turns around to catch a glimpse. She’s on the foot over bridge at Cyber City, the one you need to take to work.

Avni is upset again. Neither makara nor dragon, she perhaps thinks, but she does not voice it. She knows what people will say over chai and samosas if they hear of her fragmented fundamentals. “What a girl, sleeps around with boys with tattoos. At least the boy emblazons the goddess.”

You’re aware of the speech of the world, the one that’s always reserved for the weaker lot. “They can keep multiple wives,” your mother had said when your friend Ahmad brought his girlfriend home back in Pune. “Didn’t he come home with another girl last time?”

“She was a common friend, Mom,” you defended them vociferously, once they left. But your words had been drowned under the whirr of the mixer-grinder grating pudina chutney. “They eat beef,” Mom had whispered in the kitchen while pouring out Coke for Ahmad and his girlfriend. Ahmad and Pooja had excused themselves saying they were on a diet.

“Doesn’t my opinion count?” Avni asks looking at the Thai crocodile. “Could you not even ask?”

You do not. The next summer, you bear Shiva on your right arm. The holy Ganges spouting atop his head unifies into waves that flow under the goddess. Avni disapproves. Her Profile picture is avant-garde. “But you’re an atheist,” she attempts. “All these God’s sliding below your sleeves.”

“I am,” you state. “But girl, it’s Shiva under Ganga. Ain’t there a story there? The aesthetics Avni? Appreciate the shades of blue on Shiva’s skin, lady, and Shiva’s abs give my arms the look I have been trying to chisel out for years at the gym. Show the love, pumpkin.”

“Oh! All right. What the heck.” And then she is beside you as Parvati.

You’re lucky, winter arrives late to Gurgaon. Your team takes to the tattoo like a toddler to glittery wrapping paper. Even Poonam, at work, bows before it as she heads for a presentation with that difficult Arnab in his glass cabin. All goes well for her. She returns relieved and then she bows again before you, in mock gratitude.

That Diwali, at home in Pune, your mom strips you naked to check for new tattoos. The Diwali gift overwhelms her and when you leave, she slips a picture of the lovable Maakhan Chor in your duffel bag so you can pray to the natkhat Lord who will protect you from all evil. You keep the picture in your wallet. Avni never checks your wallet.

It is now the turn of the Sudarshan Chakra; this one you want on your back. The hand of Krishna to guide you. “You’re changing, Neel. You can see the ruckus religion is creating in our country. Let’s keep away from overt symbolism,” she cries.

“It’s in the back. Look, it’s like a wheel, honey.”

“It’s not a wheel, Neel, and you know it. You’re a namesake.”

“Okay, chill. I’ll get a sword on my forearm. That’ll balance it out. What do you think, pumpkin?”

“Whatever. I need to leave. Remember, you can’t undo it,” she says, as if murmuring a threat. She hangs the office ID tag around her neck and leaves.

Ahmad and Pooja had separated too after they had left your home that day. You heard it from another friend. “Their love could not tide over Pehlu Khan’s lynching for carrying a cow,” Gautam had said, and you knew that Ahmad had stopped talking to you since the day he had left your home with Pooja. He had probably been embarrassed about the beef revelation in front of Pooja.

Years ago, you first spoke with Ahmad outside the Std. IV classroom. He had also been punished by the Math teacher. After that, he joined you every time. Your mother didn’t know. Ahmad didn’t tell on you.

You get a sword on your left forearm, and that March, at Le Havre, where you’d gone to a work conference, you change the sword to a cross on French Good Friday and decide to take a day off from work. It bleeds—the cross—black blood from black wood. Gothic, man!

Back in Gurgaon, Poonam is offended and refuses to pay obeisance to your Shiva. “Unless you dedicate tattoos to Brahma and Vishnu too,” she says, pouting. “On your right arm where it belongs, Neel; your left you can decorate with Gothic or Avant-garde or whatever,” Gauri admonishes too. That summer you get the Trimurti on your right forearm which is by now sleeved in colour.

This brings Poonam back and, like Iron Man, your favourite superhero, you announce, “I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I have more to offer this world…” The men on your office floor ask details; they envy you.

You etch symbols of rage and love on your legs: the trident, the om, Celtic symbols, dream catchers. Your left arm, you adorn with Anubis and Ra, the Sun God. “In a world of ordinary mortals, I am Wonder Man,” you whisper at the mirror one morning as you flex your muscle and Anubis on your forearm pouts in approval.

Poonam adores the Gods on your right arm. And the lady you pass daily now on the Cyber City foot over bridge adores the colours, the shapes and the dreams, the vision they perhaps conjure up in her mortal brain.

“She was asking about you,” Ramesh at the cigarette kiosk whispers. “She buys her smoke from me since she saw you here the other day. Her name’s Teesa, Tessa, something like that, in case you want to know. I heard her friend call her. I don’t think he’s a special friend like that,” continues Ramesh tightening the lid on his PearlPET jar of mint.

Arey Ramesh, I’m only glad to bring you business,” you say. He needed to hear it, the poor man.

There she is, Tessa, on the foot over bridge again. As you walk back towards your office building, she turns to look at your arm and you hear a faint prayer twinkle from her lips. Definitely, a prayer. What you don’t notice is the one on yours, after you walk forward.

“Let not an inch lack divinity. You were made to rise,” you whisper into the mirror at the Men’s.

On your glutes, you go for a phoenix, the one that rises from the ashes. For you’re rising, like the glory of the Tattooist who holds the potions to give life in his hands; who with the words he etches, slights.

Life is nothing but fantasy, after all. An Arabic text you get designed on your left ankle. And Om Shanti on your right in Devanagari alphabets.

On your right palm, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, it is. Again, in Devanagari. You hold it out every so often now.

In queue behind Poonam, who’s heading to a meeting with Arnab, is puny Divya. She feigns desire to seek your blessings. “What for baalike?” you overplay. “For your shipment’s safe arrival? For wit to respond to Arnab?” You list them out, as if you possess a menu of blessings to bestow.

“For the shipment,” she petitions.

“Poseidon blesses you.”

“Oh! Please ask Poseidon to bless my shipment too,” prays Rahul. “Ask Ra, the Sun God, Rahul. Isn’t your shipment coming from Africa?”

"Do you possess upon you, the Almighty, any God who can help me with problems in love?” Veer seems to joke. You pull open your shirt and turn around to show him the Sudarshan Chakra on your back—for Krishna who loved his Radha so.

“Mulmul shirts from now on,” you decide. The Gods need to be visible to their devotees.

Your mother can’t help but adore you, your divinity. You also raise your palm for peace when she rebukes you for dirty clothes. And you raise your palm after your belly is satisfied with the flavourful daal offered by her loving hands. You raise your palm at the maid who in a moment of hurry swipes your foot with the mop.  And you raise your palm when your father waves from the cab leaving for the airport. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. On the streets, eyes look up towards the balustrade on which you lean. They adore you. Your body, your art, your aesthetic. You think.

“The universe is so big; it has no center. I am the center,” you marvel, raising your palm in blessing.

On the foot over bridge, you hold your palm up to a bewildered Tessa. “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,” you say, the tattoo and not the Tattooist.

Bio: It was while fighting over the corporate ladder that Donna Abraham Tijo’s first short story won a contest and was published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul, Indian College Students’ (Westland Ltd, 2011). She then went on to publish her first novella 'Or Forever Hold Your Peace' (AuthorsUpfront, 2014) on a whim. With learnings gathered over the following years, she contributed a short story ‘My Mama’s Girl’ to ‘Escape Velocity’ (Write&Beyond, 2018). These days she’s adding final truths to her second novel, 'The Pheeki Lives of Geetanjali and Maryann.'


Safe

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Brian Hunt

Everyone wore a mask now, but why they did was no longer a question. Those who asked either disappeared or, after a suitable period of re-education, joined their faceless colleagues. The masks kept us free not just from airborne threats to health but from the complexities of signalling...

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Eagles’ Run

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Sandra Niedzialek

Sarah Jensen works at the county morgue. It’s the only job available, her probation officer tells her. She’s a lousy thief, it seems. Gah, she hates scrubbing stainless steel. She’s the only one in the morgue because her shift is from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. As she...

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How Horrible the Moon

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How horrible the moon. How horrible the pale light it cast upon my grave as it called me to my duty.

In a few short hours I would leave the comfort of my grave to walk among the living. I scared most of them, but now after over...

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The Woman in the Mirror

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Miriam Manglani

Jack pulled the comforter over his head and clamped his hands over his ears, but it did
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“I told you I wanted shrimp for dinner,” Amit, Jack’s father, scowled and...

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To the Moon

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"How terrible the moon," Mr. Abrams said each time there was a full moon. "There's sadness with beauty."

At first, when the future Mrs. Abrams met him, she thought it was odd. When he was young, he'd wanted to ride on the back of his older brother's motorcycle...

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One Precious Day

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Paul K. McWilliams

“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.”
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Mike Hanlon, an old childhood friend of mine, had cultivated the pot, not for kicks or profit, but expressly for relief.  He was a poor and suffering soul growing...

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SkippyGraycoat

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Peter Mancusi

Skippy Graycoat woke up early to the chirping of birds. It had been a long night for the young squirrel. He spent hours fixing up his new apartment, a fancy little hollow inside of an old, maple tree, and he was happy to finally have some privacy. No...

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A Pot Full of Beans

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Clara Beth didn't remember that she'd promised to fill the cast iron bean pot for the Smithville Annual Bean Hole Bean Pot supper until late Friday afternoon when she received the call that the bean hole was prepared, the embers hot and ready. "Almost ready," she lied. What...

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How You Can Go Wrong

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Lisa Benwitz

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Angelina scoffed at Sam, her husband of sixty years. “You’re not leaving. You won’t last a day without me.”

“I can’t deal with you anymore,” he said as he walked out the door. As if she’d been the one to disappoint, to betray.

Angelina’s sagging...

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The Piano

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Nitin Mishra

The old grand piano sat in lonely corner of the room. Dust covered the piano body, and insects crept in through the keys. For the house’s inhabitants, the grand piano was merely a dead wooden sound-making device mechanically operated. No one ever tried to infuse life into the...

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Makers and Takers

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Kim Bundy

Jake dropped the baby off at daycare early that morning and replaced three water heaters by lunch. There were two HVAC systems left to service, so he wolfed down a sandwich as he drove between jobs. When he got back to the shop that afternoon, his boss called...

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The “Ely Kay”

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Paul K. McWilliams

It’s my boat yard, and I don’t much care for the look of her. It’s a point of pride. You should be able to take a level to a boat up on lumber. Every day with her list, she stares me down. She looks guilty and sad with...

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What We Long For

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Cyril Dabydeen

Creating an imaginary garden
                            with real toads in it.
                                    --Marianne Moore


Frogs circle the yellow-and-black snake in the trout stream by instinct, no less. Mr. Yorick, tall, but roundish, ...

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Emerson

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Paul K. McWilliams

He hurts, body, mind, and soul. Death has made its introduction and he has given it a knowing nod. At this moment he’s in a hospice unit. The head of his bed is elevated and he’s in the consoling company of his dog, Emerson. The dog proved quickly...

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Blunt Trauma

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Paul K. McWilliams

To all, excepting only Annie, Charles W. Durgin fell while fishing and drowned.  It has been nearly ten years since she struck him with his own club, the club he affectionately called “the priest.” Nightmares still waken her upright and screaming. Not the stifled screams into his calloused...

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Man in the Mirror

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Nitin Mishra

It may have been the sultriest day of the decade, who knows, maybe two or even three decades and the excessive humidity had invited swarms of insects. In such a sweltering afternoon people were destined to stay indoors, and if anyone ventured out, the insects would certainly torment...

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The Impostor

by

Mick Clark

I was amazed by how many people were stuffed inside my uncle Henry’s corpse.

My aunt clung to me for the first time in her life, bird-bone brittle and ashen pale, while the mourners breathed crowds of ghosts into the icy morning air.

The coffin swayed...

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21 Days of Lockdown

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Donna Abraham Tijo

Day 1:
When Coronavirus Comes Calling
A five-year-old declares, 'I wish to always have my favourite pancake in my world.'

Day 2:
An E-mail of Hope
He sent the e-mail to the school reserving seats for his daughter for the fall session. It’s in the new city they...

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Sugar Daddy Dreams

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Burnt toast, avocado, honey, two poached eggs laced with turmeric and garlic, and a new vitamin concoction that makes my stomach churn, and still, I guzzle half of it down with gusto, as if it’s our first Godfather Cocktail at Carlo’s Bar.

Why, you ask?

Because...

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The Visitor

by

Brigitte Whiting

Madeleine saw the visitor in her Sunday school class, a man her age, maybe fortyish —she considered herself a youthful fifty —with a deep dimple in the middle of his chin. He wore no wedding ring. He introduced himself as having just moved to Cannington, and was the...

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Chickens

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Brigitte Whiting

First, there was dust everywhere, but now, far worse, there were chickens everywhere. They were pecking through the yard, leaving puffs of dust. They were roosting in the pine trees. And they clucked from morning to night. The five roosters vied for which was loudest and shrillest. Amanda...

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Desiree

by

Joe Cappello

I buried him in the backyard one night after a rainstorm. The soil I removed from the hole was thick and sticky and clung stubbornly to the surface of my shovel.

I connected the hose to the backyard spigot and used it to clean off the shovel. Then...

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The Anointing of Mary Ballard

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Joe Cappello

The young lady entered the laboratory with her eyes cast down reverently, as though entering a church. When she reached the gurney, she pulled a chair close to it and placed the things she was carrying on a nearby table. She removed the sheet covering the body and...

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Beginning at the End

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Joe Cappello

I am in a meeting at our England location in a typical rectangular conference room walled off from the real world of work taking place outside. Suddenly, I am a spirit floating above my colleagues, as though I had died only seconds earlier and am waiting to be...

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Hope Held My Heart

by

Chel Talleyrand

We were isolated that summer from the rest of the world. The excessive rains had pounded the fields into mosquito-infested pools, destroying our harvests of corn and beans. We heard it was worse in the cities. As food supplies depleted, guns decided distribution. Friends and families banded together...

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Bibliosmia

by

Penny Camp

My love for reading started early. I traveled the world and rode dragons, fought knights, stormed castles, stole treasure with pirates and rescued kidnapped princesses. I floated down rivers in the deepest regions of unexplored lands. I climbed trees and mountains and flew on clouds.

Mom read to...

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To Thwart a Wild Turkey Hen

by

Brigitte Whiting

A flock of wild turkeys has wandered in and out of my yard for years. I have a raised deck so my birdfeeders stand ten feet off the ground and the turkeys graze under them. They are timid birds, and typically when I step out onto the deck, ...

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The Style of No Style

by

Frank Richards

I must be the Charlie Brown of writers because I’ve never been able to figure out what “style” is all about. What does that word, ‘style,’ mean? I’ve always had a problem with it. If there were such a thing as “styleblindness,” a disease like colorblindness, I’d be...

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Corona Clean

by

Fran Schumer

The Corona virus presents new challenges. Stuck at home, and with more of us sleeping, eating and working here, and a dirtier house, I was finally going to have to figure out how to use my new vacuum cleaner. Ordered a year ago, it mostly sat in its...

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Occasional Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting

I understand a little bit about wild turkeys. They're on a constant hunt for food, drifting through the neighborhood scrounging what they can. But I don't know how it happens that a few will either be left behind by the flock or leave it. This past fall, I'd...

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Enjoy the Ride

by

Penny Camp

Get up early. You can’t ride all day if you sleep in. Braid your hair tight — you don’t want it flapping in the wind. Make sure you don’t wear the undies with the seams down the back because after a long day of riding they will make...

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Cocoa and Biscuits

by

Penny Camp

Saturday mornings were special occasions at our house when we were growing up. My friends begged to spend the night so they could be part of the Saturday morning ritual.

Mom would take out her green plastic bowl and splash in a little water, a little cocoa powder, ...

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Livin’ the Dream

by

Holly Miller

When I was a child, my mom and Aunt Leona would pack us six kids into our blue Chevy Belair and drive to a local mobile home dealer (they were known as trailers back then). We would walk through the new homes, just for something to do. How...

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Fall in Maine

by

Brigitte Whiting

Autumn is falling in Maine, harder this year than I remember over the last few falls. We've had two nights of close to freezing temperatures, not enough to ice over the birdfeeders or kill any of my plants yet, but cold enough to turn the furnace on. My...

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Best Laid Plans

by

Penny Devlin

Every year shortly before spring, the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. catalog shows up on my doorstep. The cover is plastered with a WARNING label in big black letters informing me that if I don’t order now, this will be my last catalog. It also has coupons: $100...

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One January Morning

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mornings, I like to have a Kindle eBook open on the dining room table so I can read and look out into the backyard to see what might be happening. 

I live in a raised ranch with an attached two-car garage. My deck, which is off the kitchen...

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The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

by

Sarah Yasin

A book club I’m part of recently discussed The Ruinsby Scott Smith. It’s not a book I would have finished reading based on the first 50 pages, but sticking with it afforded me insight into what a narrative voice can do. The story is about a group...

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A River of Words

by

Penny Devlin

Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.

Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through...

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Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

by

Jen Lowry

On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.

...

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Monarch Butterflies

by

Brigitte Whiting

I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.


For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing...

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A Monarch Chrysalis

by

Brigitte Whiting

The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another...

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Truth

by

Angela Hess

I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim...

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The Goldfinch

by

Brigitte Whiting

On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was...

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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...

Read more: Of Heroes and Holiness

 

 

 

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...

Read more: My Mobile Space

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A Fear of Broken Things

 

 

 

Neighborhood Walk Meditation

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Vultures gather on the old man’s neighbor’s barn,
‘decorated with ravens and barren trees.
A small cottontail stirs...

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Dream Metaphor

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I shiver in the darkened room,
stretch, try to pull the covers higher,
suddenly I am floating near...

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A Whitmanesque Inventory: Spring

by

Phebe Beiser

So glad it rained last night. Now, late morning, sun shines,
an unexpectedly warm early March. What a...

Read more: A Whitmanesque Inventory: Spring

 

 

 

Solitary

by

Malkeet Kaur

For eons now, the very core of my being
has become inaccessible.

Solitary.

Once it used to be...

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The Blanket Hugs Me

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I’m grateful that I have a daybed
downstairs where I can rest during the day
with my Guinea...

Read more: The Blanket Hugs Me

 

 

 

On Love and Dreams

by

Miriam Manglani

1.
Love is a beast and angel and dream on fire.

2.
Your soul wakes in your dreams.

...

Read more: On Love and Dreams

 

 

 

The Writer’s Breastplate

by

Louise E. Sawyer

…apologies to St. Patrick


Creative Spirit with me,
Creative Spirit before me,
Creative Spirit behind me,
Creative Spirit...

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The Sweater

by

Malkeet Kaur

As I rummage through the clothes,
I spot it, the well-worn white sweater
that now had aging spots...

Read more: The Sweater

 

 

 

The Holly Tree

by

Nolo Segundo

We have a large holly tree
in our backyard—
is it foolish to say
you love a tree?

...

Read more: The Holly Tree

 

 

 

waiting on an email

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

rain beats against the metal awning.
winds whipped up against two storms
racing each other over the Mississippi
...

Read more: waiting on an email

 

 

 

Looking for Weeds

by

Louise E. Sawyer

Pushing my walker with the purple
pet carrier propped up on the seat,
I walk down the driveway.
...

Read more: Looking for Weeds

 

 

 

Ocean Mood

by

Malkeet Kaur

The roaring, crashing surf summon us.
Soft and damp ecru sand lies beneath our bare soles.
The sun-baked...

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The Beetle in the Sink

by

Miriam Manglani

There is a beetle in the sink.  
A big fat one,
shiny and black
with sharp needle...

Read more: The Beetle in the Sink

 

 

 

Four Cats – Four Friends

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I
the painting of four cats
hangs on my living room wall


II
you can see
Glory Barrie...

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On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

by

Nolo Segundo

I miss the big navels, the big navels when they are not in season,
but almost any orange...

Read more: On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

 

 

 

Summer – A Pantoum

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I sit on my deck and enjoy summer sun.
Zephyrs caress my cheeks with soft kisses.
Bombay cat...

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Your Broken Heart

by

Miriam Manglani

I found your heart’s hinge —
I knew it could open!
Inside, I saw all of its broken...

Read more: Your Broken Heart

 

 

 

Who Is Margaret?

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I find the small black and white picture in a box
of old letters untouched for twenty years.
...

Read more: Who Is Margaret?

 

 

 

Made Whole by Others

by

Miriam Manglani

Some people fill deep holes in us
the space that’s left when our loved ones leave
they plug...

Read more: Made Whole by Others

 

 

 

Autumn Villanelle

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

leaves don orange, crimson and yellow gowns
as they prepare for Cinderella’s autumn ball,
soon the leaves will...

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Sunny Day Epiphany

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Umberto, my Golden Retriever is sad,
Sparkie and Sal, his companions, have died

I wanted to adopt a...

Read more: Sunny Day Epiphany

 

 

 

Ocean City

by

Nolo Segundo

I saw it then as my own little Shangri-la,
for I was very small and knew nothing
of...

Read more: Ocean City

 

 

 

All The Dead I Know

by

Nolo Segundo

Let’s start with Eric—a nerdy-looking kid before
nerds were invented, and only 18 when he crashed
his funny...

Read more: All The Dead I Know

 

 

 

The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

by

Miriam Manglani

She talks of makeovers with friends,
using contour sticks and beauty blenders,
making “Tiktoks” with dance moves
called...

Read more: The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

 

 

 

Fireplace Camping

by

Louise E. Sawyer

After supper, my brother Frank and I beg Dad,
“Tell us a story in front of the fireplace.”
...

Read more: Fireplace Camping

 

 

 

My Love

by

Miriam Manglani

My love for you was tentative and tender
Now it blazes like wildfire through dry fields
Cuts through...

Read more: My Love

 

 

 

The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

by

Miriam Manglani

I never doubted that he loved me
even after he died from dementia —
There were tight hugs...

Read more: The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

 

 

 

Farley vs Apricot

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

Apricot the Beanie cat
perches atop the bookcase,
guards the books,
taunts the ginger kitten down below

Farley’s...

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Define Self Truth

by

Gerardine Gail (Esterday) Baugh

How blind are we with
wishes that bite; with
memories that burn;
that we choose, to be
trapped, ...

Read more: Define Self Truth

 

 

 

Invisible Lines

by

Miriam Manglani

When I first saw their formless
bodies on screen,
worlds unfurled
in their grainy black and white images,
...

Read more: Invisible Lines

 

 

 

She Bikes for the First Time

by

Miriam Manglani

“Keep peddling!” I call.
Not prepared to watch her fall.
I hold the bike steady
and let it...

Read more: She Bikes for the First Time

 

 

 

The Stranger

by

Miriam Manglani

You were always quiet but
grew quieter.
Unable to retrieve basic words like “cat”.
There were other small...

Read more: The Stranger

 

 

 

A New Day Begins

by

Bob Hembree

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Angst

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Fly on the Wall

by

Bob Hembree

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Glancing Vulnerably

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Fowl Squabbling

by

Bob Hembree

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A Mid-Photo's Daydream

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Solar Reflection

by

Bob Hembree

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Being Held Up

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Reflections

by

Paula Parker

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Jack

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hollister

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evelyn

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Curiosity

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rebecca

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hazel

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Working Hands

by

Paula Parker

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Maya

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Birds in the Flower

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Pst... Hey

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The World in Her Hands

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Oak

by

Craig Gettman

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Flower

by

Craig Gettman

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Berries

by

Craig Gettman

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Winding Road

by

Craig Gettman

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Sunset - April 2020

by

Craig Gettman

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