January 24, 2020

The Fall by Seth Jani

Long ago a shadow fell
over the house
and all the gold
turned the color of stone.
The stairs led nowhere
and the twin daughters
flaked away
like the burnt ends
of two cigarettes
left in the parlor.
The trees outside
twisted like the hands
of crones,
too thin to hold
the moon’s dark face,
which burned between
their fingers,
between the silent branches.
Abandoned even by time
the house moved beyond
the ken of mortal thought
and entered the other realm of stillness.
The garden remained
in the middle of the aborted spring,
almost blooming,
almost risen from the dead.

Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (sevencirclepress.com). Their work has appeared in Chiron ReviewThe Comstock ReviewRust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about them and their work can be found at www.sethjani.com.    

January 22, 2020

Pinballed by Paul Beckman

Martin looked at his wife as he would look at any other woman sitting at the conference table. “I’m sorry, I don’t know this person,” he said.
“Marty, you know me. We’ve been married for 38 years. Here, look at our wedding album.”
“I’m sorry.”
Ellen and Martin opted to go out for a quiet dinner—just the two of them—to celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary. Elaine made reservations at Chateau Greenbaum or Chateau Greenbacks as the locals called. It happed to be the finest and most expensive restaurant in their county.
Drinks, appetizers, a gorgeous and filling entre and though neither really could handle dessert they were putting off leaving so they decided to share a blood orange crème Brule and one more after dinner drink.
“Marty, there’s no easy way to say this,” Ellen said tasting a half spoon of the crème Brule, “so I’m just going to come out with it.”
“Wait a sec,” Marty said. “Don’t you want your anniversary present first?”
“I want a divorce for my anniversary, that’s what will make me happy. We haven’t been a good couple for many years.”
“Ellen, it’s the wine talking. What will our friends say?”
“This is about us and not our friends.”
Hurt, Marty put down his spoon and didn’t touch his coffee but waved the waiter over. Could I have our check, and would you call Lyft for us. I’ll pick up my car in the morning.
Martin and Ellen held hands on the drive home, not out of affection, but because the driver was a mad man—speeding up, jamming on the brakes, cutting off cars, honking and flipping the bird. When he got them in sight of their house they realized they were holding hands and released each other in time for the driver to stomp on the gas to make a left turn into their driveway and to beat a car speeding down the street and their road rage driver hit him broadside. 
Ellen was fine, just shook up, but Martin, who was in the process of unbuckling his seat belt got pin-balled around the car and was knocked out with a concussion.
Martin couldn’t answer any of the questions at the hospital, including his name so Ellen checked him in and went home to sleep after washing two Ambiens down with wine.
The next day she visited Martin, but he asked her who she was, so she left. She gathered up their wedding album and other pictures along with their Ketubah and when he was released, he checked into a hotel with a bag she packed for him.
Things were not going well with their lawyers and Ellen finally decided she wanted out and didn’t need everything she’d been asking for. They came to a settlement and Ellen signed it and Martin said he’d take it back home to read.
They all met at the lawyers the next day and Ellen’s lawyer kept asking if she was sure and she dejectedly said yes and when Martin was asked the question, he just stared so his lawyer answered in the affirmative.
Not only were the settlement papers signed but so were the divorce papers. At the courthouse it took but minutes to finalize everything and before they parted Martin looked at Ellen and shook her hand and wished her luck finding her husband.
The next day Martin checked into a spa for three days and had a mani-pedi, a $200 haircut, and had his men’s store bring clothes by for him to pick out a new wardrobe.
Martin walked out looking like a new man but inside the clothes he was the same Martin as always, only now a little more care-free and anxious to re-connect with his former sister-in-law. 

Paul Beckman is a retired air traffic controller. His latest flash collection, Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press) was a finalist for the 2019 Indie Book Awards. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, and The Lost Balloon. His published story web site is Http://www.paulbeckmanstories.com.

January 21, 2020

You're Just Not There Anymore by GJ Hart

Will tommow be
Wonderful and how many?
I'll pare off bark

Till Its green and glistening, 
Or bounding from the train,
every upstairs dark. 

Today the rain stretches
Out, clicks for its 
Ducks and geese 

And beneath
Golded clouds, my future
At its banks.

It sinks like two silver coins
As moonlight
Floods the room.

My word, darkness is easy.

GJ Hart currently lives in London and has had pieces published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, the Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.

January 20, 2020

Ty Mawr, Nantyglo by Byron Beynon

The raked past uncovered
from clenched decades of neglect,
worn dentures of stone
which survive above
the hardened gums of earth,
resolute steps and vanished walls
inside the cavities of a master's plan.
Here the mountain air
reclaims space,
the fist of history
in the pockets of contrived men
shivers under a silver
nightfall of electric moon.
Hearing the concealed scream
from the nearby woodland,
nocturnal wings steal
above the sighs of branches
as a roof of stars 
set fire to the imagination
in a furrowed house.

Byron Beynon was brought up in the Welsh village of Pembrey.  Published widely in Britain and overseas, he coordinated the Wales' section of the anthology Fifty Strong (Heinemann).  He has published 11 collections of poetry including The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions) and The Sundial (Flutter Press).

January 19, 2020

Photo by James Sanchez

She woke early today.
She traveled to the beach near the lighthouse,
To gather seashells.
I imagine her young; her black hair glistening with rainwater near the volcano.
Not a dream-- a photo of a happy girl
Gathering stones while seagulls cut triangles into the dark sky.
I walk towards her, hands clasped against my back
A preacher walking to the pulpit
Sermon memorized, but will the words come.
Love --innocent, wondering
Not a photo-- a dream memorialized.

James Sanchez is a poet and teacher from Hialeah, Florida. He holds a B.A. in English from Florida International University. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Ronald W. Reagan Senior High School in Doral, Florida. He resides in Miami, Florida with his wife and son. His work has been published in The Acentos Review, The Apeiron Review, Mother is a Verb: a Red Paint Hill Anthology, The Circle Review, Blue Heron Review, and Lost Coast Review.

January 16, 2020

Sky in My Pocket by Brian Rihlmann

Her cold breath hisses
through the dried leaves
as I stroll through 
my neighborhood 
this morning,

a gentle reminder
of the hundred mile per hour
gusts that will soon
scour Sierra summits
and pile snowdrifts 30 feet high.

No one else is out walking,
and scarcely a car passes,
as though everyone’s left their houses 
and flew south like migratory birds.

And Autumn seems
like abandonment this year,
as if she says—
“I am not here
just to provide you
with warm sunny days,
bright flowers and ripe fruit.”

But I enjoy snooping 
in abandoned places—
in the silence a voice 
seems to whisper a secret
that everyone else has missed
a secret, hidden 
like the sky in my pocket.

Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. His first poetry collection, “Ordinary Trauma,” (2019) was published by Alien Buddha Press.

January 15, 2020

Twilight Jest by Colette Tennant

The quarter notes look like black
eyes to her.

The whole notes –
hollow bones uncertain how they
tumbled there caught on the
barbed-wire treble staff.

The piano stool creaks
an ancient complaint.

The opera of evening
tunes up just outside her window,
that one window
leaning toward night.

Colette Tennant has two poetry collections: Commotion of Wings (2010) and Eden and After (2015), as well as the commentary Religion in the Handmaid’s Tale: a brief guide (2019).  Her poem “Rehearsals” was awarded third by Billy Collins in the 2019 Fish Publishing International Writing Contest.