Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali
Words and a Cipher
I want to run from words, words that define
and limit, words that fix the ever-moving,
make static the ever-changing. I want to hide
from them, exile them to some far-off place
or tear off their skin to get to missing and
meaningful marrow. Words lie behind me,
lie before me, lie with me — they say me, speak
me, break me, slay me. I’ll be misinterpreted,
misunderstood in countless more ways as words
say all in my world; all I understand and don’t.
I build upon my vast ignorance, pile ever more
words on my rankling and wretched ruins. And in
spite of words and words . . . and ever more words
I remain a cipher to myself — a curious enigma
who will neither be coded nor decoded by words.
Pamelyn Casto has articles on flash fiction in Writer’s Digest, Fiction Southeast, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading, and Critical Insights: Flash Fiction. Her poems have appeared in several publications.
2 Tanshi Noir
leaf to leaf
s t r e t c h i n g
paused to eat
Michael Mann comes from poverty, was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he embraced killing to survive. After, on his way to join a mercenary group, he fell in love, married, sired a son, and didn’t die an assassin.
The distant stars are dancing in the firmament,
like whirling leaves inside an astral elevator,
while an old chair undulates as a tired man plunks
down, thinking only of his hunger, not the sky.
Name this season of dirty kneecaps, scary bugs,
cut-off shorts and lemonade, games of volleyball.
If someone asks you, resist memory’s scouring
into things soon over, like sunsets or balloons.
I confess an oddball sense of humor, lounging
around on the clown’s day off. What if nobody
hears me holler? In the midnight hour, there are
trees with cloven feet, slit eyes like traffic signals.
Check the emergency beacon! Sort survival
outfits from light to dark; conceal yourself away.
Alison Jennings is a Seattle-based poet who began submitting her work after retiring from public school teaching. She has recently had forty poems published. Her website is https://sites.google.com/view/airandfirepoet/home.
Beneath the pall of a moonless night, my head pivots to gather the timbres of acoustic Braille:
an owl hooting,
a dog barking,
a cat screeching.
The sounds latch onto my ears and linger, dousing my thoughts.
I inhale the scent of an approaching squall when lightning flares, thunder cracks, and the spigot opens, drenching the earth.
I scramble along a pockmarked footpath. In the darkness, I stumble and fall. I wrestle to my feet, wipe mud from my knees, and quietly lament that knowing is not seeing; there is always a risk.
Paul Rousseau (he/his/him) is a semi-retired physician and writer published in sundry literary and medical journals. Nominated for The Best Small Fictions anthology from Sonder Press, 2020. Twitter: @ScribbledCoffee.
Ada unclutters table
wedlock roses nip ringlets
dotted swiss crimped
olivesheen mules ticktack
lumbar-ease chair twirls
moxie jolts the room
alcove obscures work
Christopher Barnes has won a Northern Arts writers award. Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partakes in workshops. His collection Lovebites was published by Chanticleer Press.
It’s not philosophies that put a mind at ease.
Religious dogmas often fail to comfort.
Skeptic thinkers walk the street and feel just fine.
Religious minds can kneel in church and suffer hell.
Wise men like to push their favorite consolations.
Even simple folk can mouth a platitude or two,
But in the matter of the brain’s arrangements,
Emotion chooses, words come tumbling after.
George Thomas fell in love with Hanshan’s poetry, and, while reading his lushi, he was compelled to write his own. Thomas imagines he’s painting these lushi on rocks in the wilderness where no one will see them much, like Hanshan painted his.
Geometric Forms by Jean Arp
plump and orange
bringing joy and delight
even on dark and rainy days
Peggy Gerber is a poet and short story writer whose stories and poems have appeared in many publications, including Potato Soup Journal, Spillwords, Daily Science Fiction, Paper Djinn Press, and others.
Willow-green frog on the screen,
holding on with your sucker feet,
which of us was more surprised
when I opened the shutter, stiff
with disuse, and found you clinging
in the same place as last spring?
Hope Coulter, author of The Wheel of Light, directs the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language at Hendrix College. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
I’ve Heard That Too Often
If certain rap fans had a mind and were inclined to cast one longing, lingering look behind, they’d know to go to Poe to show what hip-hop can owe to those who mined this ore before, or in Hopkins find what makes them stop conceiving rap surpassed the past in weaving sounds. Even Stevens found what fun abounds, and with the strings he spins, he brings in Lindsay. So, when Eminem and the rest of them marshal their full and partial rhymes, and pull for prime, I feel they fall into position with tradition.
Gerald Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland and now teaches physics at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. He has published poems in various journals, recently Rat’s Ass Review, Bombfire, Undertow Poetry Review / La Resaca, and Entropy.
My parents almost named me Anaheim. I don't think I’d be the same person if I was called Anaheim. I doubt I would've cut my hair so short the summer before freshman year. I doubt I would've cut it short at all. If Bridget met Anaheim, I can't imagine they'd be friends. I think they'd have a class together, maybe be friendly to one another in the halls, be comfortable in a group assignment. But they wouldn't sit together at lunch. Actually, I’m not sure they'd go to the same school. While Bridget knows roughly what she wants to do as a career – and feels pressured by no one but herself to make a decision on that – Anaheim wanders through fields of thought endlessly and without destination. Like a goose gone astray in migration, slowly but surely, making her way to somewhere she does not yet know but hopes she'll call home. Maybe she'll take pictures of cats in windowsills. Maybe she'll dance with bears in Canada. Perhaps she'll just continue to drift until she's given a reason to stop. I see Anaheim in flowing dresses with bows in the back. She listens to classical music, not because of a personal interest in classical music itself, just, it sounds pretty. The biggest thing we'd have in common, is our opinion that trains are the best mode of transportation. When Bridget daydreams of rain pattering in Washington or Maine, Anaheim would be pursuing a bright life in Vienna or Paris. Those places where pretty, long haired girls in dresses with bows in the back belong. Where classical music was at its finest. And where girls called Anaheim don't think about being called anything but.
Bridget Quinlan is a 17-year-old student at Toledo School for the Arts in Toledo, Ohio.
We despise the universal. We break everything down into smaller parts never wondering what will happen when we reach the point of no return. Instances lacking in specificity are thrown out along with examples shared by too many of us. The discards are carried away in the night by trucks emitting high-pitched beeps as they clatter and clang and empty the large bins out back. What becomes of the cast-offs no one knows and no exposé journalist cares. The general population is ignorant of the methods by which our definitions are further refined, the mysterious criteria prone to shape-shifting contortions bordering on the paranormal, the classification of detail that proliferates until classification itself is hopeless. Taking our work home with us is an accepted hazard of the job. Not this, not like that, a little more over there, that’s too much. We become impossible to live with. We can be seen wandering the park at night, longing for the long-lost days of childhood when everything had a new name, was exactly itself and nothing more.