by G.J. Williams
Like the Buddha, I’m held together by the forces of electromagnetism.
Like Queen Nefertiti, I take approximately 20,000 breaths of air every single day.
Like Florence Nightingale, I talk at the rate of about 180 words a minute.
I walk like Shakespeare and make the same sound as Jesus when I laugh.
Who am I?
300 Miles of Obligation
I rush to your bedside, secretly lamenting the things I will have to cancel. Important meetings, a long overdue haircut, a weekend away.
All it took was a call from the doctor. I probably would not have answered if it had come from you.
“I’m at work! Why are you calling?” I’ve complained countless times. Only blood and societal pressures compel us to come together. Christmas festivities have become quieter over the years as we have both chosen to endure endless silence to avoid any drama.
I rush to your bedside, not because I want to, but because I should.
So That’s Who You Are
by Mel Fawcett
There’s a young woman sitting next to me on the park bench. She’s been talking to me for ages, but I haven’t been listening to what she’s saying–I’ve been too busy wondering who she is. I’m getting annoyed by her incessant chatter.
I’ve been annoyed a lot lately. One day last week, when I went to the corner shop, I couldn’t remember how to get home and started haranguing passers-by until someone showed me the way.
Now, finally unable to take any more, I stand up to leave. The woman leans forward and says, “Where’re you going, Dad?”
by Ege Gurdeniz
A linden tree watched over our house when I was a kid. Honey. A hint of citrus. A bouquet so sweet you could taste it on humid days. It paired well with Mom’s mint lemonade. The Beatles on Dad’s radio. My sister splashing around in the pool. Daisy barking at some cardinals conspiring on a branch.
That’s the thing about smells – they turn into memories if you’re not careful.
30 years later. I am back to say goodbye. This time to Dad.
It’s a humid one. The house is quiet, but I can hear Paul singing it’s alright, little darling.
by Kris Faatz
One morning, your skin is the color of peacock feathers. It glitters in sunlight, diamond-dusted.
You’ve always folded your soul up small and tucked it away. Now you tug your shirtsleeves over your hands. Smother your face with makeup. You needn’t: your husband only sees your shape. He kisses you goodbye, not noticing when your blue fingertips pluck lint from his collar.
In the empty house, silence coils around your feet and legs, your chest and face.
You strip off your clothes. Flick on the lamps. When he comes home, that’s how he finds you: naked, breathtaking, covered in light.
Old Man River
by David Henson
He becomes a river to provide respite from job and family but, enjoying wandering, loses track of time.
After years of silt and drought reduce him to a trickle, he seeks human reconciliation, returns to find his wife has died. His daughter, now adult, damns him from her family’s life.
Can one stalk with love? Grandson to school at eight. His daughter to work by nine. Lights out at ten p.m. One Saturday the father takes the boy fishing. When his grandson whoops with glee, the man who was once a river feels the hook set in his heart.
The Little Mermaid
It was the little things. The way she was always at the water tray in nursery, her pockets full of stolen pebbles and seashells.
She spent hours watching Ponyo, hands pressed against the screen, puckered mouth blowing spit-bubbles.
When she was quiet, I knew where to find her: sitting naked on a pillow, brushing her hair with a silver comb, my mother’s pearls draped around her neck.
She was happiest on her stomach in the bath, legs kicking, toes flicking, head submerged like there was something only she could see.
And then, one day, we took her to the ocean.
Xavier Lee Martin Jr.’s mother swore that he could unhinge his jaw to finish dinner before the six o’clock news opening theme song. He idolized Lead Anchorman Perry Williamson down to the argyle bowtie. Xavier’s clipped on.
Perry’s tone was electric. “Good evening. In the biggest drug sting in Montgomery County history, police apprehended Xavier Lee Martin, Sr. who smuggled 6,000 pounds of . . .”
Live on air, officers escorted Xavier Sr. and Bruno who helped manage their “produce warehouse.”
The next day, a tieless Junior called his favorite teacher, Miss Tracy, a fucking bitch for the first time.
The Smiths Spice Things Up
by David Henson
“How would you like a pet snake, dear?” pops out of Mr. Smith and the blue one day even though snakes tremble him. Turning from her burners, Mrs. Smith says “Fine” as a shiver slithers up her spine. They surround a deadly coral with glass, bring home Saturday sacks of milk, butter, eggs, toads, and mice. One evening the cage is blank. A broom searches under the sofa, behind drapes, dangles galoshes. Finding nothing, the Smiths crawl into bed, pull the covers to their chins, and stare at each other wild-eyed. Smiling.
Your Body Is Gone but You Never Left Me
You’re the bird that comes to see me. The bird that perches on the power line above my letterbox and looks in. Your arrogant tweet pierces the air at random. You just watch me, stick your nosy beak into my private affairs as if I don’t know it’s you. I confront you, tell you I know who you are. You deny it. But I can see through your feathered cloak.
Who would’ve thought you’d be reincarnated into a starling? That you’d make your nest in the neighbors unmaintained spouting. Make your new life at the bottom of the sky.
Season of Lights
by Jeremy Nathan Marks
It is the season of lights.
In my window is a nine-fingered lamp. It is powered not by coal, hydro, oil, or gas. It is a lamp of feathers.
Blue jay. Cardinal. Junco. Chickadee.
Some feathers in my lamp repeat.
Finch. Finch. Tweet-tweet.
My neighbors prefer electric lights. They say Jesus was swaddled in a dream coat of electric colors. They cover their home with so many bulbs no bird can sleep. The lights wink like beaks.
Our street has become a mosaic of tails which, when stood upright, could be mistaken for candles.
by Sarah Dabous
I used to crave an adventure that I never got to embark on, for there was nothing to seek out to begin with.
The mysteries faded like a fine layer of mist abating under the unforgiving heat of the sun. Rather than being surprised by a rewarding revelation, I was met with disappointment. There was nothing waiting there to begin with.
There is no mystery, there is no grand adventure waiting to begin. There is only nothingness under a scorching sun.
The Almost Invisible Man
by Tom Baldwin
He was short, with untidy hair and nondescript clothes. Few people noticed him, and women ignored him. He didn’t mind.
He found it hard to catch the eye of waiters and barmen, who usually served him last, if they noticed him at all. He didn’t mind.
When he spoke to people they soon forgot him, or at best would be hard-pushed to describe him. That pleased him.
Only he, and a shadowy government department, knew he had infiltrated and foiled the worst terrorist plot the country had ever faced. Now he was looking forward to his next assignment.