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Signora Giuseppina
Lois Elaine Heckman

     We went to visit her once more in the sad hermitage for the aging, where she had been put aside. She was no longer in her tiny room of trinkets, but on death row, in a bed beside other ranting women. She begged us to take her home, and sorrow overcame, remembering the presence of that self-confident lady behind the counter, adding each grocery tally in her head with split second accuracy, the brilliant now a derelict. Nurses called her “Grandma,” this once commanding personality who had never been a mother. The humiliation rankled, its reality an assassination of memories.

Lois Elaine Heckman grew up in Los Angeles, receiving a degree in Italian from UCLA. She now lives in Milan, Italy. Her works have been in previous issues of Boston Literary Magazine and appear, or are forthcoming, in Tilt-a-Whirl, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Sonnet Scroll, Persimmon Tree and Prole, among others. In 2010, she won the New England Shakespeare Festival Rubber Ducky Sonnet Contest and placed in the 2012 Poetry on the Lake Competition, short poem category.

The Dark and Familiar
Mercedes Lawry

     He shed his skin and what did it get him? No reincarnation, no fresh start, only a clammy body, easily chilled, and less tolerance for the rough humor of the usual, tedious crowd. The heartbreak he was accustomed to. The steady parade of shiny, black ants. Choice and necessity, the philosophical fug those two created when he was at the crossroads, willing to sell his soul for pretty much any shingle of hope. But sometimes there are no takers and you’re left with the dark and familiar, as he was, the long hours of the night circling like peckish wolves.

Over the past 35 years, Mercedes Lawry’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seattle Review, and others. She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children. She’s published two chapbooks: “There are Crows in My Blood” and “Happy Darkness.” She lives in Seattle.

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