At Home - Ray Greenblatt
Not a Groundhog - Ray Greenblatt
Freezing pipes cancel school - Anna Peerbolt
Wedding bells - Anna Peerbolt
Small Round Pill - Jeff Friedman
Nearly Dodged a Bullet - Brad Rose
Long Haul - Brad Rose
What the Willow Wants - Stacy Post
Treading Water - C.G. Thompson
Sitting on her patio looking over the streets and rooftops of (insert any city name here), she imagines they are the streets and rooftops of Paris. Would this cappuccino taste better if they were? Would her words hold more artistic weight?
Renee Podunovich, MA, is a psychotherapist and freelance writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. She has published two chapbooks of poetry; “If There is a Center No One Knows Where It Begins” (Art Juice Press, 2008) and “Let the Scaffolding Collapse” (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Renee facilitates writing workshops that are designed to use creative writing as a tool for centering, reflecting and for personal growth. ReneePodunovich.com.
The warmth from the fireplace feels so good. The crackling flames send out shadows which resemble primitive beasts. I ease back in my overstuffed chair to light a fragrant pipeful of latakia. Now what should I imbibe—a single malt or brandy instead? Chunks of fresh baked bread and imported cheeses. Bach plays softly in the room as my cat climbs onto my lap for a nap. Snow steadily falls to make an ideal picture through the window, but I have more than a sufficient supply of logs. A perfect day in a snug cottage for a contented bachelor . . .
Not a Groundhog
I meet my wife quite often at the train. I park to wait for her on the lot across from a house in which a single older man lives. When a groundhog emerges from his burrow in February, we have to admire his thick full length fur coat. But after he squats to chew on roots, his routine becomes boringly predictable. Not so the man. Many older people grow plump, but this man became Jack Spratt thin. His complexion pale, blue veins lie close to the surface in his face—cheeks, nose, forehead—even along his arms. His sparse air is combed straight back. I sometimes watch him in his kitchen. He sits drinking something at table or wanders to fridge or cabinet or sink or out of the frame. Other times he exits the house and walks away. Or gets into his car and leaves. Once he carried out a long indefinable tube to the car, pushed it through a front window until it stuck out a rear one, then he drove away. If this were a detective novel, I would have so many unexplained loose ends which I could not tie up.
Ray Greenblatt's crossover novel Twenty Years on Graysheep Bay will soon be an ebook published by Moon Press.
Freezing pipes cancel school
We wait for the yellow bus, snow piled higher than the rooftops, dagger icicles point at the yellow pits left by wandering dogs. Bye kids, said Ma, who stood on the heat vent to warm her toes, heat waves blossoming her silk robe. Just you and me, I told Billy, it won’t be long. Tears like jewels crawled down his cheeks. He hugged his too-thin jacket, too cold, he whimpered. A branch loaded with ice fell near us. I held him close to protect and warm us both. If we returned now, Ma would only snap at us, her whisky breath floating about her like smoke from the fire within.
I unwrapped her secrets—wild flings while on an African safari and indiscretions at home. Leaked them to her husband a drop at a time. Precious fluid, an aquifer of deceit, a pond of musk and sweat, a trickle in his ear, his head averted, his mouth agape. He was a brokenhearted branch heavy with collected sorrow, ready to fall. And me supportive, an arm to lean on, a shoulder to rest against, an auditor for his pain, a true friend, his next wife.
Anna lives in Oregon and writes when it rains. Her flash and short stories have appeared in Drunken Boat, Prick of the Spindle, Apollo's Lyre, The Legendary, Long Story Short, DOGZPLOT, and elsewhere online.
Small Round Pill
“Take this,” she said, and he swallowed a small round pill. Warm waves of air brushed against his body. He waited for something to happen, but nothing did, so he laughed. “I told you it wouldn’t work on me,” he said. But now a large red flower blossomed from her navel, and a fat black bee clung to the pistils, and the blossoms spread around him, lifting him, and the bee rose from the flower and hovered over him, turning into a dark cloud, and from the cloud, stingers rained into the flower. He covered up, but the stingers pierced his skin again and again until blood oozed from the pores of his body. He called out to her. “Take this,” she said and he swallowed another pill. And now he clung to the chandelier with no hope of getting down.
Jeff Friedman’s sixth collection of poetry, Pretenders, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2014. His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, 5 AM, Agni Online, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Solstice, Antioch Review, Quick Fiction, New England Review, 100-Word Story, Pr Contra, New England Review Digital, Sentence, North American Review, Boulevard, Missouri Review, Big Bridge, Storyscape, Anthem, Vestal Review, Flash Fiction Funny and The New Republic. He is currently a guest editor for the fall issue of Storyscape and a contributing editor for Anthem Literary Journal.
Nearly Dodged a Bullet
The doctor’s initial diagnosis had been wrong, and now, as he explained the “regrettable, but understandable” medical error—it had been a false negative—Denton’s physician couldn’t hide his cowish demeanor and litigation-avoiding tone of medical sympathy. But all Denton could hear at the end of what must have been a three-minute exposition filled with technical jargon and deadly acronyms, were the words, “I’m really very sorry Denton, but these kinds of errors are bound to happen every once in a while.”
The coffee smells like roadkill skunk. The booths are ass-smooth, marbled green Naugahyde. Smoking is outlawed by the state (behind the counter, you can see a big orange hanging sign that says “NO SMOKING”), but the air is thick with Camel and Winston smoke, because armed representatives of the state (like county health inspectors) seldom visit Jackie’s Highway Hideaway.
Brad Rose was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine; The Baltimore Review; San Pedro River Review; Off the Coast; Third Wednesday; The Potomac; Santa Fe Literary Review; Right Hand Pointing; Sleetmagazine; Monkeybicycle; Camroc Press Review; MadHat Lit; Burning Word, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com. His chapbook of miniature fiction, “Coyotes Circle the Party Store,” can be read at: https://sites.google.com/sit/bradroserhpchapbook/. Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1.
What the Willow Wants
Willow doesn’t know the year. Willow doesn’t care. Not really. But when the realtor pulls into the grass-filled gravel drive and parks, Willow gets excited. For the first time in a very long time. The house behind Willow, a stalwart brick Federal-style behemoth, looms, abandoned.
Stacy Post, a native Hoosier and librarian, resides in the heartland with her adorable family. A Pushcart Prize nominee for short fiction, her stories have appeared in moonShine review, Fiction365, One Forty Fiction, Referential Magazine, Rose & Thorn Journal, WOW! Women on Writing and Every Day Fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Sleet Magazine, Kansas City Voices, 4 & 20 Poetry, Pearl, Iodine Poetry Journal, Referential Magazine, Every Day Poets and Skylark. One of her poems was also featured on city buses in Lafayette, Indiana through the GLPTC: Words on the Go program. Her first chapbook of poetry, Sudden Departures (Finishing Line Press) debuted in spring of 2013.
Diandra calls from downstairs, asking when she’ll see the PowerPoint presentation I’m giving tomorrow. No matter how well I‘ve prepared, she’ll critique my stance, my voice. Every few months, she pulls out my office’s organizational chart and points to where she thinks I should be.
C.G. Thompson was recently a finalist for the James Applewhite Poetry Prize and has poetry upcoming in North Carolina Literary Review. Her short stories have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, and The Bitter Oleander, among others.