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

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

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

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 The awful, outdated slogan induced a heavy, smoke-filled, somber exhale. 

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

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

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

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

“No gas!”

The raspy voice grew angrier, yelling “Closed!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You forgot your beer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


One Precious Day

by

Paul K. McWilliams

“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.”
                                                                                                                     -Walker Percy

                                                                   

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

by

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

by

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

by

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”

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

by

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

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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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.

...

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...

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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...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

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

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

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Farley vs Apricot

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Remembering Char

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

Last night
I saw Daniel O’Donnell’s concert advertised,
looked forward to watching it.
I phoned our “fan club,”
...

Read more: Remembering Char

 

 

 

Stop Look Listen

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

poems originate
in the wink
of an eye

the flash
of a phrase
spoken in soft voices

the...

Read more: Stop Look Listen

 

 

 

Romancing Richard

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

Richard and I
meet in the YWCA cafeteria

when I inquire about his book on Hitler,
we introduce...

Read more: Romancing Richard

 

 

 

The Dollies

by

Holly Miller

Where have all the dollies gone, babes and Barbies too?
The last time I saw them was while...

Read more: The Dollies

 

 

 

Reading Deprivation Week

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

week 4 of my creative writing course
is designated as Reading Deprivation week,
reading is taboo

it is...

Read more: Reading Deprivation Week

 

 

 

The Waves

by

Louise E. Sawyer

Little baby waves,
you call me to your home
where you softly swish
up on the beach
nudging...

Read more: The Waves

 

 

 

Women Out To Dinner

by

Luann Lewis

Women step out to dinner.
Just women. Just “the girls.”
Out they go,
in perfume,
fluffy neck scarves,
...

Read more: Women Out To Dinner

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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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