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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 box while I made do with sweeping and a little hand-held vacuum I'd bought for $19.99. At one point, I'd figured out the basics, how to plug it in and how to get the cord to fly back into its hard, sturdy self. But that was six months ago, and being of an age where I'd be triaged out if I had Covid-19 in Italy, I no longer remembered any of it. After coffee, I re-figured out how to plug it in and turn it on, but what about all these attachments? For some reason, the company had sent us additional accessories. No one in this house would ever be thorough enough to use them, I knew, and they only confused me.    

"What do you suppose you use this for?" I asked my husband, waving a plastic wand with tentacles.

"I don't know," he said, looking up from his crossword puzzle (he, too, was working at home). "Try it."

After hours of Googling and YouTubes (men are the best at explaining household gadgets, I'd discovered, after Dad Cooks Dinner helped me figure out how to use an Instant Pot), I was actually vacuuming.

Frankly, it was fun. Having struggled as a writer for many years, I felt here was a task at which I was actually accomplishing something. Guided in between cushions, my Dyson sucked up dust, crumbs, two quarters, and an embarrassing number of discarded flossing pics. When later that night, my husband and I sat on the couch for our usual numbing out in front of Netflix, I felt cleaner, brighter, empowered. I was sitting on a clean cushion on a clean couch on a clean floor that I had vacuumed. I wasn't just a victim of my fears, at least not my fears of new gadgets.

Earlier that day, I pondered how the virus was affecting the rest of my loved ones. My first thought was the saddest. Aged 91 and 96, my parents are well cared for, but deprived of weekly visits from any of their three children or six grandchildren, and who knows for how long? And what will become of the brisket my mother already made (and froze) for this year's Seder, which now will not happen. Without trips to their many doctors, the days are long, and with television news their only source of entertainment, frightening. "Where is everyone?" my mother called to ask me one afternoon. "What is it you aren't telling me?"

Then there is my adult son in Manhattan, and his girlfriend, both informed that people they had seen recently tested positive. And although I communicate with my son more than usual, I feel his absence more keenly now that I can no longer hop on a train to see him. I want him with us, but that’s impossible.

I tried to think of positive aspects of this plague as well. If you were among the very fortunate, as I was, you could accomplish things. Time slowed. As when camping, even routine chores consumed more time, and concentration. All the hand washing, the sanitizing, having to open packages from Amazon as if they contained a nuclear bomb. Wasn't this what mindfulness was all about? Paying attention to even the little things? And I had company. All my life, I'd worked at home alone, but here we were, my husband, my daughter and myself, snug in our own little We Work universe. Instead of rushing off to the gym, I took lengthy walks with my husband, who gave a cheerful 'hello', especially to the child who darted away from his apologetic mother, or the distracted runner who strayed within the inviolate six feet. "I don't want to add to the fear," my husband said. We called and received calls from friends we hadn't seen in a while or friends we knew lived alone. Trying to reduce our trips to anywhere, we made do with what provisions we had, including food my daughter brought home with her from Boston after her university shut down. Having endured a life of 'healthy' salt free, sugar free peanut butter, I looked forward to using her Skippy.

There loomed, of course, a larger fear. When I was a child, I'd read about Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp. He knew that although he could not control the horrors around him, he could retain his humanity. He could be brave, kind and generous. Would I exhibit those qualities? Will I?

In the meantime, I vacuum. Like meditating, it calms me. In a month, the house will be clean. Then what will I do?
 

BIO: Fran Schumer's poetry, fiction, personal essays and articles have appeared in various sections of The New York Times, including Op Ed, Book Review and Sunday Magazine; and in Vogue, The Nation, The North American Review, The New Verse News and other publications. She is the winner of a Goodman Loan Grant Award for Fiction from the City University of New York. She is the author of Powerplay (Simon and Schuster; NYT bestseller) and Most Likely to Succeed (Random House). She lives and teaches in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

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 walk around the garage and before I even saw them, I'd hear their shrieks and the loud scuttle of their wings. They've remained in my neighborhood all winter, two toms and a hen.

At this point in early March, I view them as neighbors and look for what they're up to. They pick through the sunflower seeds that fall from the birdfeeders, and hunt throughout the yards for anything edible. A couple of times I've accidentally dropped a small chunk of suet and when I looked a short time later, it was gone, presumably snatched by a wild turkey

I try to figure out how close they are to each other. Wild turkeys take turns standing guard, remaining absolutely still for a few minutes before they move again, and that continues with the three. They'll fuss a bit with each other when one has found a good hunting spot. They fend for themselves, but seem to gain a sense of safety from being with the others. If I catch sight of one, I can be quite sure the other two are straggling somewhere not too far away.

About an hour before sunset, the three wander back into the trees, only to have one and sometimes all three change their minds and run back to that spot under the birdfeeders, hopeful that this time there'll be more seeds. I keep hoping to see them lift into the trees to roost for the night, but for as large birds as they are, they'll stroll back into the trees, and then just disappear.

It's the same in the morning. I hope to see them fly down and in for breakfast, and twice this winter, I've seen one arrive. They can fly but they don't fly with a lot of grace, and when they land, they often trip, catch their footing, and then run.

The hens are often running. The toms mostly walk, seeming to need to carry themselves with dignity even when they aren't in full feather and pomp. My three, though, run expectantly toward their spot under the feeders only to walk away, heads down, hunting for some morsel in the grass or now on top of the solid layer of snow. I'll step out onto the snow-crusted deck to see them run for their lives, yelping and dodging trees, their bulky bodies swaying from side to side on their thin stick legs. They always return. I don't know about the toms because I've never been close to them — they can be aggressive — but the hens talk all the time, curring and whirring and murmuring.

Some winters back during a particularly snowy winter, I'd pushed so much snow off the raised deck that it was mountained almost as high as the deck. One day the small head and long neck of a wild turkey bobbed up and down while he was eating the sunflower seeds that had scattered from the birdfeeders. I named him Bobble. Somehow, he must have been abandoned by the flock or dawdled too far behind to catch up. It must be nearly impossible for a wild turkey to guess which direction the flock has drifted off to on their rounds and then try to catch up. The flock happened by again a few weeks later and he didn't leave with them. Instead, a second turkey stayed behind, one with such thick eyebrow ridges that I named her Wattle. They stayed for the rest of winter.

Their flock returned during spring thaw, and I wondered if those two would rejoin them. And there the two were, straggling behind the rest of the wild turkeys, Bobble holding back, reluctant to continue while Wattle kept returning to him, cajoling and encouraging him to come, and he taking timid steps to follow, till finally like an old couple, they slowly made their way along the pathway through the trees. That was the last time I saw them.

One day soon, my three's flock will wander this way, the turkey toms fluffing up into puff and splendor and strutting among the hens. I halfway hope mine don't rejoin the others because they've come to feel like close neighbors.


BIO: Brigitte Whiting lives in Maine. She has completed both the Nonfiction and 3-Year Fiction MFAs at Writers' Village University. Her work has appeared in Village Square and Literary Yard online journals, and in Wit, Wisdom and Whimsy, a collection of poems by her local poetry group, Monday Morning Poets.

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, some flour and sugar, stir it all up, put it in a pan on the stove, and then add a little milk and stir some more.

While the cocoa was heating up, the soft dough biscuits were baking in the oven. She made them from scratch — no boxes or mixes.

When the cocoa was taken off the stove and the biscuits removed from the oven, we eagerly grabbed a biscuit and tore it into bite-size pieces. In our hurry to devour the world’s best breakfast, we'd burn our fingers. Mom would laugh and tell us to wait.

We smothered the torn-up bits of biscuit with cocoa and topped it all off with a pat of butter. The butter melted into the cocoa, leaving a yellow smear on top. If there was any cocoa left on the plate, we'd grab another biscuit and mop up the remaining cocoa with it.

Afterwards my friends would go home and tell their moms about the wonderful breakfast we'd eaten and beg them to make it. They'd call my mom for the recipe, but there wasn’t one. Mom learned to make it from my Dad’s Mom, and she didn’t have a recipe either. Mom tried to explain how to make it to the other moms, but it was never quite right.

Dad shared a similar story when he was growing up. His friends all thought he was rich because Grandma made cocoa and biscuits every Saturday morning. In the Arkansas Ozarks in the thirties, this was a Christmas morning treat, or a birthday tradition, not an every-weekend occasion.

The cocoa and biscuit mornings slowly disappeared as I grew older. Sometimes they were used as bribery if I lounged in bed too long on a Saturday morning. Mom would pop her head in my room and ask if I wanted them and I'd eagerly jump up to help, or else the smell of warm cocoa lured me out.

Many a tear was shed over these breakfasts. It was our time to sit down together and share stories, heartaches, and triumphs.

Pretty soon the “made from scratch” biscuits transitioned into biscuits stirred up from a box. Then the whole treat disappeared from the Saturday morning menu and was replaced with cereal. They occasionally made an appearance when Mom didn’t feel like cooking a “real” meal. It faded away altogether when Dad couldn’t eat them any longer.

One day Mom bought a cookbook from a church having a fund raiser and the magic recipe was in it. It was called “Chocolate Gravy.” The recipe didn’t turn out quite the same, but it gave us a starting point for perfecting it. We worked on the perfect combination for several weeks. Each week we tried something different.

We didn’t use two tablespoons of flour like the recipe indicated, but instead two heaping tablespoons. The cocoa was also two tablespoons, but not quite heaping. The recipe called for a cup of sugar, but half a cup was plenty. Milk took the place of water, and it had to be watched carefully or it would get too thick. Finally, we had a decent plate of cocoa and biscuits.

I posted a picture on Facebook and my close friends immediately knew what it was. They started posting memories about staying at my house on Friday nights and being treated to cocoa and biscuits for breakfast on Saturday mornings. They still raved about it.

One morning on Facebook one of my cousins posted a picture of her family sitting around the table with her mom, their plates in front of them. They had the same ritual growing up, and she had finally conquered the recipe and made it for them. We reminisced about the Saturday morning memories and eating at little Grandma’s house in the small town of Yellville, Arkansas. We called her little Grandma because she was under five feet tall.

I started making it for my husband and me on Saturday mornings. We seldom sat down together for meals, but the Saturday morning cocoa and biscuits became something we looked forward to before the day's busyness began.

When Mom got sick and couldn’t cook any longer, I made the 600-mile round trip every weekend to help take care of her. It was my turn to make her breakfast. Once in a while she asked for cocoa and biscuits and we laughed at how I was cooking for her now. Sometimes it was even used as bribery to get her out of bed.

Now I make cocoa and biscuits in Mom’s green bowl and I can see her comforting smile in my mind’s eye.

*

Recipe for Mom’s Cocoa and Biscuits

The biscuits can be made from scratch using your favorite recipe or from a box or tube. While they are baking, make the cocoa. One batch of sauce is enough for 8-12 biscuits.

Cocoa:
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
2 heaping tablespoons flour
¾ cup granulated sugar (some recipes say 1 cup or more, but I find it’s too sweet)

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter

Mix the cocoa, flour, and sugar together in a bowl. Warm the milk and butter on the stove over medium heat. Whisk the dry ingredients into the warm milk and stir continuously until the sauce has the consistency of thin pudding or gravy. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan while stirring.

Tear a biscuit into bite-size pieces and cover with the cocoa mixture, or pour the cocoa mixture on top of a whole biscuit. Top with a pat of butter. Enjoy!

Bio: Penny Camp is a lifetime member of Writers' Village University where she started working toward her MFA in February of 2019. She has taken many writing classes over the years, mostly in creative nonfiction. She has been published in Village Square.

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 your bum sore. If it’s hot, wear shorts under your gear. It’s nice to get the sweaty pants off when you take a break. Wear the comfortable boots you can walk in. You don’t know for sure that you’ll get a parking spot right outside of your destination. Make sure you bring a snack and some water. It’s nice to take a break and have something to eat. Bring a sweater or long sleeve shirt. The weather can change fast when you’re on a bike. Make sure you have rain gear. If you don’t, it will certainly rain. Always wear a scarf or bandanna around your neck. You don’t want a wasp stinging you in the gap between the helmet and jacket. Wasp stings hurt much more when you have to put your gear back on.

Check the air pressure in your tires before you leave. Top off the oil. Make sure everything is strapped down tight. Fuel up before you meet the group. Don’t be offended if the guys don’t want to ride behind you. They still don’t understand that women can ride just as fast as men. If you do beat them, don’t gloat too much.

Stop and take pictures. Breathe the fresh air. Remember, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. People will look at you funny when you take off your helmet and they see you are a woman. That’s okay. Be proud. You worked hard for this. Not everyone understands the feeling of fresh air blowing through your helmet. Or how the temperature cools when you ride through the shade. Or heats up when you enter a long straight stretch where there are no trees to cover the road.

Watch out for crazy drivers. They don’t see motorcycles. Have a nice lunch, but don’t overindulge. It’s not fun to ride with a full tummy. Take in the scenery. Stop at a local diner for a piece of pie. Take the long way home. Enjoy the way your body leans into the curves. Feel one with the bike, moving with the ease of a dancer.

Fuel the bike up before you park it. That way you can take right off for your next ride. If it’s going to be a while, hook up the battery tender. Dead batteries are not fun. If you hang your gear up when you get home, it’s easier to get ready for the next ride. Clean the bugs off your visor before you stow your helmet. They clean off better when they’re still soft. If you don’t, use a wet rag and let it sit on the visor until the bugs soften back up.

But most of all, enjoy the ride.


BIO: Penny Camp lives in Pendleton, Oregon. She is a lifetime member of WVU and is working on her Nonfiction MFA. Her work has appeared in Village Square online journal and Women Rider online magazine.

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 I loved the new-home smell, the pristine floors, countertops, curtains, décor, and furniture. It was great fun to see the different options and imagine living in one of them. Since they were not connected to water and sewer, toilets were all taped shut so nobody would use them. When I became a mom, I enjoyed taking my own kids to the dealers to look at new trailers. Great, cheap fun.

Fast forward forty years to when my husband and I were looking at RVs. Our purpose then was less about entertainment and more about finding a suitable RV to live in with our one-year-old son while we toured the country. My husband had been saving for years for this day, when he could retire from a full-time busy medical practice and forty years of being on-call. I love to travel, but I wasn’t sure about leaving Lincoln County, Maine where I had spent my entire fifty-two years; and where our adult children, eight grandchildren, and my family of origin still lived.

Our first decision was choosing which type of RV would be most suitable for us. There are motorized class A, B, C and Super Cs. There are two options for a tow behind camper, a standard trailer which can be towed with any vehicle large enough, or the fifth-wheel which needs a special hitch in the back of a truck to pull it.

After doing a lot of research, we decided a Class A motorhome would be the most appropriate and comfortable. Within that class there are many makes and models to choose from with various features and levels of quality. Should the motorhome have a diesel, diesel pusher or gas engine? Should we buy a rig with a tag axle (a third axle placed far back of the bus) or a standard axle? Our first priority was the safety rating for driving down the road. The diesel pusher with a tag axle was rated #1 for safety among Class A motorhomes. This means the diesel engine is in the back of the bus instead of the front, thus reducing the noise level in the cab. Having a tag axle adds a lot of stability.

We had rented a 30-foot gas-powered, standard axle, class A motorhome just weeks before. The purpose was twofold: to give ourselves a reality check before making this large investment and for the sheer pleasure of hitting the open road. That RV had a gasoline engine and a standard rear axle. Because the rear axle was closer to the front axle than is really safe, it was blown around the road easily by the wind and by the passing eighteen wheelers. One day, we climbed a steep bridge driving 35 miles per hour with our four-ways flashing. The wind was so strong, we felt we would be blown into the ocean before we reached the other side.

Having a GPS created specifically for RV users is important. Not only does it guide us to RV-friendly gas stations, it also warns about upcoming routes that are too busy or narrow for a big rig or roads with tunnels. A little-known fact: a vehicle with propane on board is considered a HazMat (hazardous materials) danger and not allowed in tunnels. Many RVs, like the one we rented, have propane to power generators and appliances when the rig is neither running nor connected to electricity.

When we finally began walking through the motorhomes in one of the many RV dealers in Florida, my mind returned to my childhood and young adult memories of walking through mobile homes. As before, I loved the new home smell, the decor and the furniture. In addition, these motorhomes had slide outs to create extra living space. Like designing Tiny Houses, the architects use every bit of space, including creating lots of storage. Like the trailers of my past, the toilet seats were all taped shut. We (my husband) decided on a huge 45-foot bus (really), diesel pusher with a tag axle, which was as beautiful on the inside as any five-star hotel. On the outside, it was similar to the commercial buses which Concord and Greyhound use. Unlike those busses, ours has awnings, porch lights and slide outs. Inside there is a full-sized refrigerator/freezer, a washer and dryer, heated tile floors, a working fireplace, four TVs, including one outside, central air and heat and lots of storage including a huge basement.

Since I’m the-penny pinching, practical, live simply, do less with more, make do or do without one in our family, I reluctantly agreed; after all it was his dream. We hired an instructor to meet us at the dealer’s lot to provide driving lessons, which included backing up and maneuvering in tight spaces around orange cones. Then we went out on the road. I was so concerned about the width of the bus because from the driver’s seat, it seemed I was too close to the other lane, when in fact I was too close to the shoulder. The instructor showed me how to line the accelerator pedal up with the oil stain in the center of my lane that's created over time from other vehicles. Scary, scary, but it worked. So far, I have driven twice for a couple of hours, but my husband does most of the road driving and all of the ‘getting into campgrounds via narrow roads, overhanging trees, etc.’ driving. This suits me fine, but I plan to drive occasionally to keep up my limited skills.

It surprises people to find that in most states, no special license, experience or education is required to drive an RV, making it so important to do the research before driving or buying one. Our bus drives and rides like a dream and is very quiet going down the road. In the RV we rented, we could barely hear each other talk because the engine was in front and the RV was not well-built or insulated.

Living on the road has been really fun. Fellow travelers are so friendly and helpful, AND happy to exchange information from the best places to stay, to all the various how-to knowledge they’ve acquired. There is the information that the dealers and service departments give you; then there is the tried and true information that folks on the road share. We found boondocking, also called dry camping, very nice when traveling a long distance. Depending on the size and style of the RV, one can live for a few days self-sufficiently with the use of batteries, fuel and a generator to power lights, appliances, heat and air conditioners. Our bus holds one hundred gallons of fresh water, and can store sixty gallons of ‘grey water’ from the shower and sinks, and forty gallons of ‘black water’ which comes from the toilets. (Yes, it has two bathrooms.)

Have you wondered why there are often RVs parked in the far end of Walmart, Kmart or Cracker Barrel lots? These businesses offer a free place to spend the night, with the store manager’s permission. Because human nature compels a few people to abuse the generosity of these business owners or to be disruptive, some places no longer allow boondocking. The ones that do often have security guards all night who are very pleasant and helpful in guiding us to the best place to park. They encourage boondockers to park perpendicular rather than parallel to the normal parking spaces. This minimizes the opportunity for someone with nefarious (my husband gave me that word) intentions to hide behind the bus, thus avoiding security cameras. Most responsible people patronize the store or restaurant while they are there.

The RV park where we are living this winter offers doughnuts and coffee each Monday morning THAT'S sponsored by various organizations. A common sponsor is a local RV dealer who brings two new Class A motorhomes and one fifth wheel for all to walk through. I enjoy walking through them with my husband and son. Coming full circle, I look forward to maintaining the family tradition by taking my grandchildren to visit mobile home dealers, and starting a new one of visiting RV dealers. Just part of Livin’ the Dream!
Summer 2017


Bio: Holly Miller enjoys writing short stories and is currently working on a memoir. Her sometimes humorous stories demonstrate victory over a difficult past. She lives on Whidbey Island, Washington with her husband and young son. Her nine adult children and ten grandchildren are spread along the East coast.

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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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My Carousal of Life

by

Chel Talleyrand

As a little girl, I had this recurring dream that would cause me to wake up in a cold sweat. A grand celebration was going on in a great hall, where my mother and father sat on gold thrones at the end of the room overseeing their subjects...

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The Tattoo

by

Donna Abraham Tijo

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, ...

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Booklovers’ Paradise

by

Donna Abraham Tijo


‘I am a writer, but I wish I could write like that,’ said Durga, seated at the head of the rustic green, rectangular table. There were nineteen women on the sides, who turned to look. Then, some picked up their beverages and sipped them. In the background, a...

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My Car, My Friend

by

Leona Pence

Tony Spencer applied the first coat of wax to his prized possession, a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix. Oh, sure, it had flaws, like a smashed door and a dragging muffler, but the interior was a beaut. It had bright-red bucket seats with a gleaming silver gear mount between...

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Brother Bastion

by

Linda Murray

The rain that had pelted the high mountain jungle all morning stopped abruptly, and the sun gradually dissolved the lingering clouds. Insects hummed again, birds burst forth in joyous song and flowers lifted their dripping heads, spreading their petals wide to receive the sun’s bright blessing. The People, ...

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Standard Police Report

by

Frank Richards

Standard Police Report - Inventory of Possessions - Portbou, Catalonia, Republic of Spain

27 Sep. 1940

Location: Hotel De Francia


Noted contents of subject’s hotel room as follows:


- a large steamer trunk containing books in various foreign languages, for example, Les Fleurs du mal, ...

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Starburst

by

Brigitte Whiting

We sat, you and I, alongside the lake, watching the sky spread above us in an immense starburst, the Milky Way threaded through its center, seeming to beckon us to follow it.

"A reverse inkblot," you said.

I thought, no, no, nothing as mundane as that, but all...

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There Are No More Pets in My House

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

 

There is death in my house.

“It's gone to a better place,” she says. "Now flush it down the toilet and wash your hands. Breakfast is ready."

Like that, she cans Juju, our goldfish. She did the same with Didi, Ma’s parrot, ...

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Revenge of the Fishy

by

Leona Pence & Tom Whitehead

 

 

 

Tom Whitehead: (In the deep husky Marlboro movie guys voice) HEEEEEEEEEEEER FISHY, FISHY, FISHY!

It was an early Saturday morning. He thought it was just another day of fishing, then all of a sudden out of nowhere he...

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Temp-Tation

by

Leona Pence

 

 

David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.

...

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Free Range Souls

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Samael and Malachi, two brothers working for different bosses, sit on the fence dangling their booted feet each on their side of the divide. One pair of boots is caked in white droppings; the other scrubbed clean. It’s like a dare. Trespassing? Not quite. ...

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Einaudi

by

Luann Lewis



An elderly woman shuffled up the sidewalk and took a seat on the bench across the way from me. I watched her slow steps and noticed her feet stuck in matted slippers and her swollen discolored ankles. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt grateful...

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Campfire

by

Brigitte Whiting


We sat around a campfire in the backyard that evening, our parents and us four kids, aged four to fifteen. Dan, the oldest at nineteen, was in the Army serving somewhere that Mother didn't want to tell us. "You don't need to worry," she said. "I'll...

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Jack and the Beanstalk

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

The global wealth distribution has been heavily off balance, the scales of capitalism have plunged so far into disproportion they will fall before they will be fair again.  Jack and his widowed mother have economically crammed a century of mourning into an egregious year but failed...

Read more: Jack and the Beanstalk

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Lost and Found

 

 

 

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...

Read more: One Hundred Yards

 

 

 

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, ...

Read more: Cocoa and Biscuits

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Livin’ the Dream

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Fall in Maine

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Best Laid Plans

 

 

 

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...

Read more: One January Morning

 

 

 

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...

Read more: The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A River of Words

 

 

 

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.

...

Read more: Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Monarch Butterflies

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A Monarch Chrysalis

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Truth

 

 

 

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...

Read more: The Goldfinch

 

 

 

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, ...

Read more: My Desk

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A Red Squirrel's Narrative

 

 

 

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. ...

Read more: Reunion

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

 

 

 

Hazardous Happenings

by

Alberto Rodriguez 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...

Read more: Hazardous Happenings

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Dealing with Rejection

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Backyard Neighbors

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Betrayal

 

 

 

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...

Read more: The Weight of Emotions

 

 

 

With Emily on the Death Carriage

by

Nitin Mishra

After a hard day of labor
As I was hurrying my way back home.
A black Carriage stopped...

Read more: With Emily on the Death Carriage

 

 

 

2020 Time of Haiku

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

DNA's protein coat-
Stripped me of maskless days, now
I eat popcorn alone


Are you kidding me!
No...

Read more: 2020 Time of Haiku

 

 

 

The Nature of Time

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

Time flows from infinity to infinity,
with no beginning or end in sight,
unlike men and women who...

Read more: The Nature of Time

 

 

 

Some Heart-felt Emotions about My Motherland

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

Oh! My motherland, my heart and soul,
as I watch dark clouds hover in your skies,
my eyes...

Read more: Some Heart-felt Emotions about My Motherland

 

 

 

A Dream, A Fantasy, Flying into The Unknown

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

I am once again a youth in my teens,
dreaming of flying high up into the clouds.
I...

Read more: A Dream, A Fantasy, Flying into The Unknown

 

 

 

Missing Miss Pickle

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I miss the way
you sat on your stool
by the kitchen window,
meowing goodbye when I left,
...

Read more: Missing Miss Pickle

 

 

 

Surprised by Joy

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I stare outside my window
as snowflakes swirl,
cover my garden
with another white blanket

my Vancouver Island...

Read more: Surprised by Joy

 

 

 

Definition of a Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

A poem is a spark sprung to life.
A poem is a magic inspiration.
A poem is a...

Read more: Definition of a Poem

 

 

 

Lessons from History

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

reading about the 1918 Spanish flu
shows mistakes made by history:
parades, train trips, troopships,
overcrowded hospitals
pandemics...

Read more: Lessons from History

 

 

 

I Go Picking Seashells

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

I look at the deep blue sea,
stretching endlessly before me,
as I sit on the sands, alone, ...

Read more: I Go Picking Seashells

 

 

 

Moments of Silence

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

sometimes social isolation  
is a requirement
to write a poem
 
in times of self-quarantine,
loneliness hovers...

Read more: Moments of Silence

 

 

 

The Lockdown Cyber Trip

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I.  New York City

Around the world, we few gals hunkered down
around our computers, tablets, and phones,
...

Read more: The Lockdown Cyber Trip

 

 

 

On the Farm

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

Greene’s’ farmhouse
took on smells of hay and silage
cow and sheep scents brought in
on men’s overalls and
...

Read more: On the Farm

 

 

 

The Estate

by

KG Newman

One day after I die I’ll have a shiny dedication plate nailed to a bench
along a trail...

Read more: The Estate

 

 

 

Thankful

by

Samantha Vincent

I can taste you in my coffee,
So I no longer drink it black.
I can feel your...

Read more: Thankful

 

 

 

Our Neighbourhood Playground

by

Louise E. Sawyer

We neighbourhood children gravitate
in the late afternoon to the large empty lot
at the corner of Scotia...

Read more: Our Neighbourhood Playground

 

 

 

Immediate Action Required

by

KG Newman

It’s 100 seconds to midnight
with nuclear arms re-normalized and
climate change addressed by fine speeches,
while on...

Read more: Immediate Action Required

 

 

 

About It

by

KG Newman

For years I tried to remember the moment
as less heartbreaking, somehow —
the day a dad realizes...

Read more: About It

 

 

 

American Refugees

by

KG Newman

At the foreign arboretum
we zigzag among species
which may or may not
be poisonous to our love
...

Read more: American Refugees

 

 

 

Monday/Wednesday/Friday And Every Other Weekend

by

KG Newman

Half the week you live a very full life. The other half you pretend not to care, swallow...

Read more: Monday/Wednesday/Friday And Every Other Weekend

 

 

 

Sadness

by

Michael Scanlon

Oh, what I'd give for a peaceful soul;
my mind at rest I'd want no more,
content amid...

Read more: Sadness

 

 

 

First Impressions – Walter

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

today I meet Walter
for the first time

I know my brother-in-law
only through pictures,
from his mother’s...

Read more: First Impressions – Walter

 

 

 

Abandoned House

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

lichen covered, grey
boards, paint free,
the old house sits
surrounded by poplar trees,
and overgrown grass

doors, ...

Read more: Abandoned House

 

 

 

Good Intentions

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I sat down to do my work today,
but a visitor came calling
and distracted me

I meant...

Read more: Good Intentions

 

 

 

How to Define a Cat

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

(with input from Farley, Yanni, Glory and Blake)

A cat is a stylist who licks your locks.
A cat is...

Read more: How to Define a Cat

 

 

 

I Am Old Now

by

Chel Talleyrand

I am old now.
I drag myself to greet my day now filled with the fog of medicines...

Read more: I Am Old Now

 

 

 

The Wind Excites Me

by

Chel Talleyrand

The wind excites me.
It speaks of adventures
I dare not journey.

It visits me
to speak to...

Read more: The Wind Excites Me

 

 

 

listen to the wind words

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

we learned to lie
in the garden
behind the mask
discarded innocence
aware now of space between

bride...

Read more: listen to the wind words

 

 

 

Commandment VIII Hiawatha/Geronimo/Sitting Bull

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

I will be the people’s tears

I cry for justice
freedom
respect denied

I cry for lies
told...

Read more: Commandment VIII Hiawatha/Geronimo/Sitting Bull

 

 

 

Submontane Home

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

I followed the familiar trail
through maple and pine
along old logging ruts
crossing Plank Road at the...

Read more: Submontane Home

 

 

 

Awake

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

the day I under

stood

the birds echoing chirps to the squirrels
chittering to the trees and to...

Read more: Awake

 

 

 

Think

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

You cannot take someone else's land,
because you stripped and overpopulated your own.

You cannot spew poison in...

Read more: Think

 

 

 

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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Portrait of Her

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Beach at Dusk

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Lonesome Horses

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Get Out the Penitentiary

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Tulips or Three?

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rock and Roll

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Garden of Hearts

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evil Eye-pad

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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