ISSUE 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Editor:

     Welcome to the Inaugural Issue of The Dribble Drabble Review; I am honored to be part of a new team contributing such a heartfelt effort to the enduring field of literature shorts or little-ature, as we endearingly call it. 

      Another term, metaphorically, for this endeavor might be dollhouse literature. Beyond the doll on this issue's cover, I've been thinking a lot lately about the historical, worldwide fascination with all things diminutive. We peer into the doors and windows of dollhouses and marvel at scaled-down reconstructions of our known world—all boiled down to their very essence. 

   The similarities are enough, such that these micro visuals or like-kinded writings influence our intellects, imaginations, and even visceral sensibilities.

    Can a piece of prose, a poem, or a prose poem for that matter—achieve such distinctions in a mere 50 or 100 words? The answer is, unequivocally, yes (as you will clearly see demonstrated within the pages of this review). From the gossamer trappings of an abandoned home, to a mother's hidden desire that an impending flood swallow up her and her child, to a young girl who enthralls herself with books in a stunningly unexpected way, 35 authorial perspectives representing eight countries from around the globe—bring a cumulative 50 stories and poems to raise the roof on the dollhouse of your mind.

  Which rooms will they occupy and why? What memories will meld with your consciousness / sub-consciousness to again prove it is not the size of a story that matters but the sheer craft in its telling. Be it through prosaics or prosody, whether through palm-size verbiage or a handful of precisely chosen and ever-accountable words—true, fully formed tales await you.

      And that's about the small and short of it. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Keith Hoerner, Founding Editor (BS, MFA)

 

Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois, USA. He has been featured numerous national / international literary journals, anthologies, and other publications. His memoir, The Day The Sky Broke Open, is forthcoming from Adelaide Books, New York / Lisbon, in early 2021. This is his first book.

FEATURED DRIBBLERS

 

Life

by Brandon Daily, USA  

 

     “It’s this realization that life happens, time moves on; the moments of now, they’re just memories tomorrow. And by the time you realize that, it’s too late. It’s hard, but that’s what life is. How it’s meant to be.”

     “I know,” he says, “but I don’t want to forget you.”

Afternoon Storm

by Brandon Daily, USA

     While voices on the radio tell of dropping pressures, of a storm that will not stop anytime soon, Mary holds her baby tight to her chest. The river will rise, and the water will come and lap at her ankles. Maybe, she hopes, it will come and cover us entirely.

 

Brandon Daily is the author of two novels A Murder Country and The Valley, as well as Darkening, a collection of short fiction. His fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, and his one-act play South of Salvation was performed and won first prize in the CAST Players One Act Play Festival in 2012. Brandon currently lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.

***

The Van Gogh Hotel

by Bronwen Griffiths, England

     The Van Gogh Hotel stands alone on a wooded knoll, a twenty-minute bus ride from the city. The hotel bears no relation to Van Gogh, except for a tatty poster of his sunflowers and a vase of yellow plastic flowers. But later, a starry, starry night; a blossoming moon.

Behind the Sofa

by Bronwen Griffiths, England

     She is searching for your shoe. Perhaps it’s behind the sofa or in the cupboard where her mother keeps the cleaning stuff. She will not find it because you are long gone. Now she gazes out of the window, at the smoke rising, and this is the price she pays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two published novels, A Bird in the House and Here Casts No Shadow, and two collections of flash fiction, Not Here, Not Usstories of Syria and Listen with Mother. Her flash fiction has been published in Barren Magazine, Flashback Fiction, and Spelk, among others. She lives in East Sussex, UK.

***

Cold Comfort

by Gail Ingram, New Zealand

     He sends us text messages–skin pinker today, bp 145 over 91–an obsession–streaming her health, his greatest desire, for her to get well. He’s wishing on the midday sun, the words he writes grow darker, blot the screen.

     She looks away, grapples for his jittery hand, the electricity

Rose Red Would Stare at the Illustrations for a Very Long Time

by Gail Ingram, New Zealand

Here is an angel-child watching her on a precipice, who gives her conviction she can cross motorways blind, for she is chosen, she chooses, she comes from a river of dust where each person is a star, or a garden of roses so red they're almost black with longing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gail Ingram is the author of Contents Under Pressure (Pūkeko Publications 2019) a novella told in poetry. Her work has been widely published and anthologized. She has won the Caselberg International Poetry Competition, the NZPS International Poetry Competition, and the Third Poets Meet Politics Poetry Competition. She is also an editor and teacher of creative writing in New Zealand. More at https://www.the seventhletter.nz/

 

ISSUE 1 - OTHER DRIBBLERS

Ella Sees Something; Ella Says Something

by Paul Beckman, USA

Ella sees something, so she walks up to the Metro Cop in the subway, speaks to him, and points to the fire extinguisher. The cop laughs and sends her away. But, she’s seen a man off in the corner connecting wires, then hanging the extinguisher back on the steel post.

Paul Beckman’s latest flash collection, Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019/2020 Indie Book Awards. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, and The Lost Balloon. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly in the KGB’s Red Room.

Lately

by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, USA

 

Who spools such soft-eyed gruel? Pages

flip on niche and cubbyhole: bloated

poems, bigwig professorships, who’s

eiderdowning whom?

WORDSWORDSWORDS

Penned, perused, picked over.

And then there’s the curbside lily in hot July,

defiantly orange and ordinary. Lines

that bloom between the mailbox

and recycling bin.

Singing us back to life!

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a longtime editor, slowly publishing poet, and author of six picture books, including From Apple Trees to Cider, Please! and The Boy Who Said Nonsense (Albert Whitman). In 2018, she left the masthead of an academic quarterly to work with people who want to share their stories, ideas, and poems in print. Felicia lives with her family in Flemington, New Jersey. Find her online, with links to recent publications, at www.feliciachernesky.com.

Dust to Dust

by Dreena Collins, England

Behind the chest of drawers, I find a garden of you. Your sunflower pendant, searching for the sky. Bobby pins scattered as a cloud of tadpoles. Two hairbands looped together in a kiss. And the ring you say was stolen, wrapped in mottled tissue, now crumbling to ashes and dust.

Dreena Collins is a UK writer who also works in education. She has been listed and placed in numerous writing competitions, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award and The Bridport Prize. She has three published collections of stories and flash fiction. Her hobbies include unintentionally waking at 2.30 a.m., and falling over.

First Date

by Lori Cramer, USA

Parked outside my apartment with you, I can tell you’re eagerly awaiting our first kiss, but I can’t stop talking about the game we just witnessed, a no-hitter broken up in the ninth. Tears fill my eyes. You look confused. Oops, did I forget to mention the pitcher’s my ex?

Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Mojave Heart Review, (mac)ro(mic), and Splonk, among others. Links to her writing can be found in New Jersey and at

https://loricramerfiction.wordpress.com. Twitter: @LCramer29.

Kickboxer

by Michael Estabrook, USA

As you get older, after sleeping 8 hours, you do not wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—like when you were only 18—but instead stiff, sore, stuffy, and groggy. But what to do about it? Googling tells me get up, hydrate, take a kickboxing class, and I laugh and laugh.

     Michael Estabrook is now retired and writing more poems outside…  just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it, which

explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks.

     The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (ThePoetry Box, 2019) is a recent collection.

Sour Notes

by Joe Giordano, USA

Silvia’s smile in the photograph shines like a mirror in sunlight. Match strike... I watch the image curl black with flame as I tinkle sour notes on the old piano. In winter’s moonlight, I sprinkle the ashes like unmelted snow and sigh. If only I could fall in love again.

     Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn; he and his wife Jane now live in Texas.    

     Joe’s stories have appeared in more than one-hundred magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post,and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (2015), and Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller (2017) were published by Harvard Square Editions. Rogue Phoenix Press published Drone Strike in 2019 and will publish his short-story

collection, Stories and Places I Remember, in 2020.

     Joe was among one-hundred Italian American authors honored by Barnes & Noble Chairman Len Riggio to march in the 2017 Manhattan, Columbus Day Parade. Read the first chapter of Joe's novels, and sign up for his blog at ‪http://joe-giordano.com/

Tree of Life

by Howie Good, USA

The town clock is frozen at half past, but no matter the true time, or where at this moment we think we are, you, me, even people we don’t know, we’re all in the same place, under the overhang of a sheltering tree. It’s what makes the dark so dark.

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Human Versus Gods, It's a Probable 12 to 7

by Andrew Paul Grell, USA

Sisyphus does what he does best, cheat Prometheus, Hercules, and Atlas come to the poker game. Sisyphus draws to an inside straight and, somehow, manages to fill it. He wins Prometheus’s liver, then wagers for the punished Titans’s labors. Hercules, overjoyed, gives Atlas the stables in exchange for the world.

Andrew Paul Grell lives in Manhattan with Melody, his wife, and their Malti-poo puppy, Cyrus King of Persia.  At 60, he is an “emerging writer,” author of the recently released science fiction novel SCAPEGOATS: The Goat Protocols, which has just been entered into the Sacred Cannon of the New York Public Library. Andrew has been anthologized in American Writers Review, Surprised by Joy, Grumpy Old Gods 2, and What Sort of Fuckery is This.  He also makes appearances in Writers Newsletter and is proud to be an Ugly Writer.  By day he uses mathematical models to ferret out fraud, and he gets everywhere by bicycle.  Lately he & Mel have sponsored and published a print run of ELIXIR MAGAZINE, an online journal out of Yemen because the women running it are trying to maintain culture and normalcy while literally having the crap bombed out of them.

A Summer Romance

by John Grey, USA

Saying goodbye
while waves crash all around us.

Should be melodramatic

but it comes out feeling blah.

No kiss.

No hug.

A turn.

Slow trudge across deep sand

in opposite directions.

Brief fling.

Nothing deep.

Nothing serious.

Summer romance,

you might call it.

Strange, how even nothing

has a name.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review, and Qwerty (with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Clade Song).

Mother's Heirlooms

by Lynnnette Cruz Honiker, USA

My sisters? Your roses. Me?

Only bramble. My inheritance:

a life

 

weeding, pruning, fertilizing

your

growth.

 

I can’t get the sweet stench from my nostrils,

the thorns from my skin,

the dirt from my nails when run

 

under the spigot of memory.

Only scars remain. From cuts

caring

for you.

Lynette Cruz Honiker was born and raised on the West Coast but now calls America's Midwest home (as much as a San-Fran girl ever can). She wants her husband, Jim, to cut down the rose bushes in the backyard to make way for a blazingly extravagant fire pit. 

Hamed Looks Up at Michael Jordan

by Blake Kirkland, USA

Hamed looks up at Michael Jordan. Forty-five, not twenty-three. That’d be too unlucky. Worse. Worse than what was? Bombs overhead. Nothing is ever right since they came, but he doesn’t blame them—Americans. He doesn’t know much about Chicago. Windy City, he’s heard—like Jinn swirling against mountainsides.

Residing in South St. Louis, a Lindenwood MFA graduate and son to a rural white father and Mexican migrant mother, Blake feels the time for voices like his own is here and now. Blake is currently seeking a publisher for his novel debut.

Nameless Poem

by Jack e Lorts, USA

We got two free lunches today at Xtapa

Restaurante, 

while listening to a man talk about

cremation.

He said that for two-thousand three-

hundred thirty-eight dollars,

they would take care of everything:

from flying our bodies home from

Greece,

to giving the kids our ashes in a

cardboard box.

Jack e Lorts, a retired educator, lives in rural Eastern Oregon. His poems have appeared widely, if infrequently, over the past 40+ years in such places as Arizona Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly, English Journal, High Desert Journal, Chiron Review, Arsenic Lobster, and more recently online at Haggard and Halloo, Locust, Literary Juice, Poetry Breakfast, Zombie Logic Review, etc. Author of three earlier chapbooks, Uttered Chaos Press of Eugene recently published his The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt.

Before After

by Geoffrey Miller, Canada

The Christmas decorations in the yard aren’t ironic; Sam just doesn't realize it is March. Phebe mentions it to him just before the semi-finals, but that night he throws seven strikes—and it never happens again. By June, the snowman's faded enough to camouflage its new bird’s nest.

By early morning, Geoffrey Miller is a writer of flash and science fiction, some of which has appeared in PANK, Crack the Spine, Midway Journal, and The Ilanot Review. By night, he is the editor of NUNUM and a very slow jogger.

Equipment List

by Chris Moss, Australia

To Bring:

Backpack

Tent

Pegs and Rope

Torch

Sleeping Bag

Water (5L)

Rice

Jerky

Vitamin Pills

Medical Kit

Shovel

Belt Knife

Axe

Hunting Rifle

Bullets

Helmet

Combat Armor

Shield

Note: Poison has no effect. The brain must be destroyed. If bitten, amputate the limb or shoot into roof of mouth.

An award-winning author and professional archaeologist, Chris Moss is a West Australian who has worked with historical groups, Aboriginal cultural sites, and currently spends his days wandering the bush tracking down old ruins. When not at work, Chris enjoys dancing around the house with his wife and three daughters.  

Inside the Montana State Penitentiary

by Leah Mueller, USA

Rows of barren, abandoned cells… Prisoners free or barricaded elsewhere. A noose hangs overhead, immobile. We stop walking, stare up at the frayed rope. Soon our relationship will die, too. Its neck will break in an instant, and no one will be around to scoop its body from the floor.

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny's (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Blue Nib, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest.

This Christmas

by Amanda Quinn, England

Bill would have joined in once. Been first to grab the microphone or don an amusing hat. Today, he sits staring at a twist of tinsel. He’s wearing a shirt bought some twenty parties ago. In all of this, she thinks, his collar size is the thing that hasn’t changed.

Amanda Quinn lives in the north-east of England where she works as a freelance writer and tutor. Her writing has been published by Shooter Literary Magazine, Open Pen, Ellipsis Zine, Butcher’s Dog, and Spelk Fiction among others. She can be found online at www.amandaquinn.co.uk  and on Twitter @amandaqwriter

The Trees

by Austin Shirey, USA

The thin, tangled arms of barren trees reach spindly fingers to a blinding, nectarine sky—as if pleading, begging for rain. But, the rain does not come. Now, these withering, skeletal fingers reach out to rake our flesh and draw the water from our blood—desperate to slake their thirst.

Austin Shirey lives and writes in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter. He is currently completing his MFA in creative writing online through Lindenwood University.

Flown Away

by Pete Tonery, USA

It’s been too cold and damp for Shelby to struggle with the high-up bird feeders, so they’ve been empty for almost a week. Her ‘flock,’ as she calls them, returns the first two days, searches frantically—then resignedly—for seed and suet. Afterward, they are gone: like her husband Robin.

Pete is retired from marketing. He made a lot of commercials back in the day. He now curates a small farm in Western NYS. He's had a few plays staged, some photographs published and a few 100 word stories picked up. He's in love with the form.

Collateral Damage

by Lynn White, Wales

Once they were cities

noisy

alive

lived in.

Now

only blackened carcasses

remain

still

standing

where all else has fallen.

Jagged towers

the bare bones

of dreams

standing

still.

Still as the lost dreams

stopped in their tracks.

Standing

still

the graveyard of the lost

the lost

dreams and dreamers.

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal and So It Goes. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

Best Microfiction
& Pushcart Prize
Nominee

ISSUE 1 - FEATURED DRABBLERS

Mourning

by Brandon Daily, USA

    From the car, you watch the door, expecting someone to walk outside, light a cigarette, catch air. But no one comes.

    You miss her more than ever. Her hand on yours. Soft skin. Warmth. If she were next to you, she’d hold you close and wipe away your tears. 

    But she’s gone, and you are here, waiting outside her parents’ house.

   You take a deep breath and turn away, knowing that someday it’ll be your turn. Someday, someone will wait outside your house. And then they’ll climb the steps and walk inside, not knowing what to say to anyone there.

Canvas Wall

by Brandon Daily, USA

 

Paint me over in blood so that veins form

and show beneath my paper skin.

Cover my wounds, the tears in my flesh.

And breathe life into me with

Whispers you dare not share.

Trust in me your secrets of time and

Make love against my palm so that

My fingers caress your back and tangle your hair

While your sweat drips down my body.

 

I have been witness to births and deaths,

Bedtimes and shadowdreams.

I have felt the warmth of breath,

The cold of grief, 

And I have studied laughter and joy,

Hoping to become real with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Daily is the author of two novels A Murder Country and The Valley, as well as Darkening, a collection of short fiction. His fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, and his one-act play South of Salvation was performed and won first prize in the CAST Players One Act Play Festival in 2012. Brandon currently lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.

***

The House of Gauze

by Bronwen Griffiths, England

The house is shrouded in pale yellow gauze.

'How many years has it stood like this?’  

Mary says 'twenty.' Evie says 'longer.' 

‘Why is it still vacant?’

Mary and Evie look at each other. Birds twitter. I can’t tell from where. 

'We were just kids,’ Mary says.

'She was murdered. Carved up like a chick-en,’ Evie says. ‘In that room. The husband disappeared after.'

I stare at the house. Nothing but the yellow gauze. As if the place is waiting for renovation. 

An unexpected noise. Like a garment rend apart. And suddenly–from up there–a shower of black birds. 

The Dead Fox

by Bronwen Griffiths, England

     When you kill the fox on the road—do you not think of the girl in her red boots, her leg splayed out at an impossible angle? As the bones of the fox snap under the car wheels, what are you thinking? Are you thinking of its soul, or how the crows will come later to feast on its entrails? Do you wonder how long the girl will lie there in the street, in the broken city, dead in her red boots? Or are you thinking only of the long road home, your carelessness something you do not care about?

Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two published novels, A Bird in the House and Here Casts No Shadow, and two collections of flash fiction, Not Here, Not Usstories of Syria and Listen with Mother. Her flash fiction has been published in Barren Magazine, Flashback Fiction, and Spelk, among others. She lives in East Sussex, UK.

***

Kurangaituku (the bird woman)

by Gail Ingram, New Zealand

 

She might have the bones of moa

to set her hair up, and the wings of a falcon;

she’s naked, except for the tattoo

decorating her buttocks, her calves.

She keeps a dwarf, imprisoned

in the cave of fantails and king-

fisher; he taunts her; she hunts him,

flares up

in the steam of a geyser.

 

                              *

 

It might be the dreams of flying

that stalk my waking, and the claws,

the monstrous deeds she does with her mouth.

But how she drops hard little seeds

into the palms of so many leafy hands

that we may understand the wind,

screaming.

Invisible Woman

by Gail Ingram, New Zealand

Dressed to the nines in my new red salmar kameez, I dreamwalk into the oldest temple in Kerala, imagining glances from men other than my husband.   

                              I remember

the worn stone walls and the throng of male tourists bumping my shoulders and view,

                               and when

the only other white woman on our tour floated in too–her new blue sari, long blonde hair, and youth back lit by the entrance,

                             and the men

ran from their viewing, exclaiming please madam, can we take your picture?

 

and I stood outside the circle, frozen in a clear space I had never known.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gail Ingram is the author of Contents Under Pressure (Pūkeko Publications 2019) a novella told in poetry. Her work has been widely published and anthologized. She has won the Caselberg International Poetry Competition, the NZPS International Poetry Competition, and the Third Poets Meet Politics Poetry Competition. She is also an editor and teacher of creative writing in New Zealand. More at https://www.the seventhletter.nz

ISSUE 1 - OTHER DRABBLERS

The Strong Man Breaks Down

by Jesse Bradley, USA

“This could save our marriage” is how your wife wins the argument. You are used to lifting things five times your size. What is one more thing to heft into the heavens? You smile when so many new women marvel at your body. “Can you lift all of us,” one giggles; the black light makes her teeth look like the moon. You are about to answer, until you see your wife kissing someone else. You have the women fawning over you—follow you outside. “Watch this,” you say, as you grab the corner of the building and begin to lift.

J. Bradley is the author of Greetings from America: Letters from the Trade War (Whiskey Tit Books, 2019). His flash fiction piece, “How to Burn a Bridge Job Aid” was selected for Best Small Fictions 2019. He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

There are no dogs in this story,

no ambassadors, no vintage cars, no Yukon Gold potatoes. Likewise, no sepia memories, bagpiped dirges, or panting lurking in the loving shadows. Simple tact requires mention of the sullied socks tumbling down cellar steps, various mismatched nonce verse forms, and the overdue water bill leaking all over the desk. But then again, isn’t  (even the messiest) imagery right at home—here—signifying nobler purpose? Nonetheless, no purebred, no mix, no mutt. For this isn’t some couch or cartoon doghouse or carefree Frisbee fête. It’s a fidgety, friendly, slightly smelly, shedding story that urgently needs to be taken for a walk.

by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, USA

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a longtime editor, slowly publishing poet, and author of six picture books, including From Apple Trees to Cider, Please! and The Boy Who Said Nonsense (Albert Whitman). In 2018 she left the masthead of an academic quarterly to work with people who want to share their stories, ideas, and poems in print. Felicia lives with her family in Flemington, New Jersey. Find her online, with links to recent publications, at www.feliciachernesky.com.

Medusa

by Dreena Collins, England

    Do not look at her. Do not catch her eye. Ignore her mewling, hissing cries. If you must look in the cot, if you really must, you will see her slither and squirm: limbs tangled, skin scaled, gummy teeth surprisingly hard, mauling her own hand.

    One day, you will be allies. I promise. You will stand together, Gorgons, immortal. She will shield you and you her; men will quake, turn to stone.

    But no, not now. For now, you will bow to her demands. And you must stand, oppressed with hormones, fog, fatiguesobbing and leaking beside the bed.

Dreena Collins is a writer who also works in education from Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. She has been listed and placed in numerous writing competitions, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award and The Bridport Prize. She has three published collections of stories and flash fiction. Her hobbies include unintentionally waking at 2.30 a.m. and falling over.

Indecision

by Michael Estabrook, USA

Of everything over the millennia in the history of the earth, I would have loved most to have walked among the dinosaurs or met Abe Lincoln or Albert Einstein or witnessed Jesus raising Lazareth or handed some paints to Michelangelo for his ceiling or heard Cleopatra’s voice or watched Mozart conducting Don Giovanni or acted in the first performance of Hamlet or kissed Marilyn or helped Dante proof a canto or two of his Commedia or shook hands with Julius Caesar or Vincent van Gogh or marched with Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King or helped dig the Panama Canal.

Michael Estabrook is now retired and writing more poems outside… just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it, which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks.

     The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019) is a recent collection.

Sexy Donut

by H.A. Eugene, USA

     This place used to be weird. Time was, if you drove this way, you’d see elaborate murals or even a couch or a toilet or a car sticking out of the side of a building. Like aliens stuck it there.

     In fact, you shoulda seen what was on the roof of that donut shop over there. Here’s a picture. Hoo-wee, legs from here to we-bop-a-loo-bop, am

I right?  

     Instead, these days—it’s condos, ten-dollar coffees, twenty-dollar burgers, and rent that would make Jay Gatsby blush. And I think that’s great. 

     Because I hate laughing, smiling, and feeling good.

H. A. Eugene writes strange stories about food and death and pretty music about homicide and fascism. Most recently, his short stories have appeared in the anthologies Thuggish Itch: Hospitality, by Gypsum Sound Stories, as well as Through Death’s Door, by Monnath Books.

     He currently resides in beautiful Brooklyn, New York, where he is a staff member of the Bushwick Writer’s Group. Find him at www.haeugene.tv, and on Twitter @haeugene.

 

March Break at Airport Security

by Martina Freitag, Canada

My mother leaves a partner, a language, a life in Austria. I can't leave the two-portion porridge pot. The zipper bulges on my flight bag, but the pot and a shoebox of photos fit. In her borrowed wheelchair, my mother hunches tiny into her baggy blazer, eyes closed, but she grips the MRI that finally shows the cancer. I will translate German remarks to Canadian oncologists. For herI will interpret the specialists, the food, the jokes. The jigsaw of my life intersecting with hers. Cooking oatmeal with cream each day until she gains weight, walks, and laughs again.

Martina Freitag lives in Guelph, Ontario, where she writes in various shapes and sizes.

Love Note

by Howie Good, USA

Even though the sign says, “Do not swim near seals,” we'll have fun, go on a picnic in the hills, maybe spend the whole night there, so many stars that the sky looks perforated by cosmic buckshot, or we’ll sleep in and then helicopter over traffic jams, moving, breathing, shining from rehab center to wedding-cake palace, while the angel of death rolls a cigarette and the border wall sinks another quarter of an inch, and this will happen again and again and again, people turning up at all hours to complain bitterly about being written out of our story.

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Tit-for-Tat

by M.J. Iuppa, USA

She sits on her porch with a bowl of pistachios in her lap and a cold can of Straw-ber-Rita within reach. It is Happy Hour, and she is alone, having feigned a migraine to get out of watching—yet another—baseball game with her neighbors. She grimaces as she cracks open a pistachio and pops the green nut into her mouth. Just as she hears cheers roaring down the street, she takes a sip from the can & it catches in her throat—she starts to sputter & choke—no one there to slap her hard on the back—

                                     Attagirl.

M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 31 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life's stew.

Visiting Albany

by Jack e Lorts, USA

Passing through Albany on the Coast Starlight heading for SLO, the young woman in front of us was getting a little mouthy, somewhat rowdy, flirting with the guy she was seated with. The conductor approached, tried to settle her down. She cussed him out, told him, “Go to hell.” We saw him returna little laterwith an Albany policeman, ordered her off the train. She refused; the cop had to drag her off, not a pretty sight. Outside on the pavement, surrounded by Albany’s finest, she was twitching from the

                               

                         Taser.

We think of this whenever we’re in Albany.

Jack e Lorts, a retired educator, lives in rural Eastern Oregon. His poems have appeared widely, if infrequently, over the past 40+ years in such places as Arizona Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly, English Journal, High Desert Journal, Chiron Review, Arsenic Lobster, and more recently online at Haggard and Halloo, Locust, Literary Juice, Poetry Breakfast, Zombie Logic Review, etc. Author of three earlier chapbooks, Uttered Chaos Press of Eugene recently published his The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt.

In the Ruins of the Forgotten

by Will May, USA

     And so it is said that in the ruins of another city, whether set in the former Yugoslavia or warring Syria or right here in the United States, the children continue to play, the lovers continue to make love, and the healthy continue to tend the maimed… While all dreams are set in motion against the starry sky and an old man plays the piano well—in the upper floor of a building without electricity or water.

     Outside all the doors, the dying goes on, the people learn the language of hate, the gunfire rages. And love dies another day.

Will Mayo resides in Frederick, Maryland. He is the author of two books, Hoodoo Voodoo and Dreams of Mongolia.

The Zombie Learns a New Language

by W.E. Pasquini, USA

The Zombie is clumsy, but fast, and by walking at nightcovers several counties. On the twelfth night, a storm bathes him, so he drifts into a diner for eggs and bacon. The yolks stream golden through his fork, so he uses a spoon. The bacon isn’t pigs’ brains, but it has a pleasant bony crunch. Afterwards, he visits the local library and reads a magazine. There’s an article about typography and Ipsum Lorem that seems tasty. He mumbles, “Vestibulum ut laoreet mi.” He doesn’t know what it means, but he loves the meaty thump it makes within his mouth.

W. E. Pasquini’s poetry has appeared in Magma, Cider Press Review, and Fourth River, among others. Pasquini has been a finalist in various competitions including: New Rivers Press’s MVP and Concrete Wolf Poetry Contest. Pasquini completed an MFA in creative writing at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, USA.

Present of a Lifetime

by Fabrice Poussin, USA

Made of many secrets 

the world touches her in infinite ways

to a shiver, a tremble, a murmur of the flesh.

 

A dialogue begins through the air

unheard languages speak to her fibers

syllables penetrate her whispers.

 

A plea strives to survive in the ether

shapeless child seeking a life

silent scream for a moment of her world.

 

Offerings at her naked feet the inform mass

the pieces rest for her to embrace

supreme gift to the last breath.

 

Pondering ways to a language

he kneels in the face of the grand monument

submitting to her as she continues on. 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

Birthday Present

by Manoshi Roy, India

Last week was my 9th birthday. Dad missed it this year. I got so many presents—but I'm waiting for the best one—to be sent from my Dad. I see Mom on the phone, her face turned toward the wall. I know my gift has already arrived; Mom is trying to keep it a surprise. I let her continue the act. After all, I’m a big girl now. When we reach the collection point, there are soooo many boxes. I ask Mom which is mine. She quietly points to the one at the end… wrapped in our national flag.

Manoshi Roy is a children's book author; she also writes short stories and articles for various magazines. She

writes and directs short films on social awareness and loves cooking, sketching, and traveling during her free

time.

Transported

by R.E. Rule, USA

Each day the book becomes more vivid; the scenes materialize around me. I think it only my imagination until the antagonist frowns, asks who I am. Today, I step inside to close the cover and stay forever. Words blur by; the clash of swords rises up—then pain. I stare at the arrow embedded in my belly; blood spills from my mouth onto the page. “Fool forgot armor,” the valiant hero sighs, kneeling next to me. “Be you friend or foe?” I have no words to speak, and the book falls shut as he drives his sword into my chest.

R. E. Rule is a tech firm operations manager, professional musician, and piano instructor. Originally from rural Michigan, she now resides in the Kansas City Area after receiving a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also an active blogger on In the Writing Studio, a blog dedicated to writing prompts and short stories.

The Guest

by James Russell, Spain

They all stop trying. Lethargy, indifference, seeps into the cabin like a dense fog. The air… heavier to breathe, heavier to move through. The weather colludes. The wind and rain hem them in. Chocolatesthe guest has broughtlay open on the table, untouched since the first obligatory taste on arrival, when it was still smiles and expectation. Taking one could perhaps reset time, taking the three of them back to a sunnier, more tolerant place, but they realize they don't want that. Conversation stalls; will exhausts. They just want this to be over, but time will pass no quicker.

James has two previous short fiction publications. He is looking for a publisher or agent for his new novel. He currently lives and works in Spain.

Gentle Fierceness

by Christopher Scribner, USA

Two faces pass close, musky, bristly. A neck extends, draping over the guillotine-block of a shoulder. The gushing warmth of relief when no blade falls. Next time, they grapple... whose arms over, whose arms under? The clench commences: too stifftoo strong, then relaxes as the heart of one thumps in the other’s chest, and they smile. Next time, eyes close, baritone vibrations rumble deep in those chests as they growl. Every time, they’re surprised, their arms don’t reach all the way around, and they smile. Here, duration conveys significance; handshakes just grow strange and stale the longer they linger.  

Christopher Scribner is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose poetry, satire, and humor has appeared in The Quarterday Review, Euphony, Light, Parody, Untamed Ink, Rat’s Ass Review, Survey of Ophthalmology, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Journal of Irreproducible Results, and several anthologies of The Poetry Box. A former psychotherapist, he completed his MFA at Lindenwood University, where he also teaches psychology.

Shoes

by John Scheirer, USA

Jackson’s dress shoes squeak on the tile hallways at work like a toy in a puppy’s mouth. It is worse on rainy days. He wipes his feet but can't completely dry the soles. New coworkers snicker when he walks by, also eyeballing the small stains on his tie and threadbare cuffs of his slacks. But his longtime colleagues ignore the clown-like noises and decaying wardrobe. Jackson himself knows his shoes squeak. How could he not? But his wife had given him those shoes for Christmas five-years ago. That was the Christmas just before her diagnosis, decline, and inevitable departure.

John Sheirer (pronounced “shy-er”) lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wonderful wife Betsy and happy dog Libby. He has taught writing and communications for 27 years at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, where he also serves as editor and faculty advisor for Freshwater Literary Journal (submissions welcome). He writes a monthly column on current events for his hometown newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and his books include memoir, fiction, poetry, essays, political satire, and photography. His most recent books are a flash fiction collection, Too Wild, and a fictional thriller, Uncorrected. Find him at JohnSheirer.com.

Suitor

byTeek Spectrum, USA

He says, “What’s it like to be you?” I start rapid- fire talking about empty spaces lined up

like doorways, distinct, invisible... chatter on about times I’ve spent gazing at rusty barrels, rolling and oxidizing in the dirty water under the rickety pier, counting all the shades of orange, considering myself very discerning. Despite all this, he sticks around, ends up reaching for irony at the back of my throat, hoping against hope his d**k can reach that far. Dull eyed, I stretch my lips over my teeth, gagging on the need to bite down and let him

find it.

From Oakland, CA, Teek Spectrum’s short fiction and poems have appeared in Bi Woman Quarterly, Anything That Moves Magazine, and Fnord Literary Magazine. They prefer gender neutral pronouns. The name, “Teek,” came in a dream.

Holy Satyrday

by Pete Tonery, USA

     Lydia gripped the subway strap hard, marveling at her path. She’d been wildly passionate and eagerly naïve entering the convent at seventeen: destined to become a ‘Bride of Jesus!’

     She regretted the lost years of her self-important virginity. Happily, hormones and curiosity surmounted ignorance and embarrassment. She cherished the cloistered secrecy, the nervous moist risk;

her gentle mentor with the penetrating touch. But women had been the gateway, not the answer. 

     Full circle, she thought, pursed lips yielding to a soft, sacrilegious smile; I can barely wait to get home and screw my big brown Jay-suse!’ Halleluiah! He is risen!

Pete is retired from marketing. He made a lot of commercials back in the day. He now curates a small farm in Western NYS. He's had a few plays staged, some photographs published, and a few 100-word stories picked up. He's in love with the form.

***

Best Microfiction
& Pushcart Prize
Nominee
Best Microfiction
& Pushcart Prize
Nominee
Best Microfiction
& Pushcart Prize
Nominee

 "On Being Brief"  by Robert Swartwood from His Anthology Hint Fiction

For sale, baby shoes, never worn.

Although Ernest Hemingway is credited for creating the first six-word story, some believe the story of its creation is a myth. The truth is there is no written account of those six words anywhere. They are, as one Hemingway scholar puts it, apocryphal.

Regardless, those six simple words have managed to change the landscape of the short story. There are anthologies and online magazines [like The Dribble Drabble Review] devoted to [little-ature.] They are a testament to the paradox facing every writer: less is more.

I was inspired the first time I heard about the story. Not so much the six words themselves--though they are quite impressive--but by the idea of writing a story in the fewest number of words possible. I  knew each word had to be just right. I tried my hand at these stories but [...] I didn't know in what category to place [them.] The hierarchy of fiction goes something like this: novel, novella, novelette, short story, sudden fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, drabble, dribble. (At what point does sudden fiction become flash fiction? At what point does flash fiction become micro fiction?) Only two types have clear word distinctions: a drabble is a story of exactly one-hundred words; a dribble of fifty words. [...]

I [propose] that the very best storytelling [is] the kind where the writer and reader meet halfway, the writer only painting fifty percent of the picture and forcing the reader to fill in the rest. That way, the reader truly becomes engaged in the process. Very, very, very short stories, however,  like Hemingway's, do not meet the [reader] halfway. In fact, they really meet the reader a tenth of the way. A reader would be lucky if he or she were to get  one percent of the story. And that's why I called [this anthology Hint Fiction]--because the reader is only given a hint of a much larger, more complex story.

As you can imagine, there [is] resistance. You see, there is a school of thought that doesn't appreciate these very, very, very short stories. These people don't even see them as stories. For them, the stories contain no beginning, no middle, no end. No protagonist, no conflict. Also, predictably, other people [complain] about the length. How can something so brief be taken seriously? If a story is that short, couldn't anyone be called a writer?

It's my belief that the length of a story does not determine the credentials of a writer.  After all, at what point does a story stop being a story? It's always a slippery slope when people begin placing limitations on art, and to immediately dismiss one form because of its length is simply shortsighted.

For me, a story should do four basic things: obviously it should tell a story; it should be entertaining; it should be thought-provoking; and, if done well enough, it should evoke an emotional response.

Now, if those four basic principles can be applied to a story of twenty-five hundred words, why can't they be applied to [fifty or a hundred words? ...]

There are some who will see the popularity of these stories as an indication of our short attention spans. Yes, people have short attention spans nowadays, but should that be any reason to disregard or dismiss [...] other short forms? If anything, [they are] an exercise in brevity, with the writer trying to affect the reader in as few words as possible.

There's a reason why Hemingway's story has survived so long and become so popular. [It is even said that Hemingway, himself, believed it to be the best story he had ever written!] 

 

It seems very, very, very short stories [written to their bare essentials] speak to something deep inside readers [and authors alike.]

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