Category Archives: Issue #19

Valerie Fox

Blue Horses

I’m petting eight tiny horses, vinegar-scented, at the pop-up estate sale. Some turn noses down, some up. Some twist their blue necks.

A guarded woman, in tears and puffy jacket, covets and cradles antique doll-babies. Pretend babies animate all rooms. This woman had been close with the dedicated Papal dish and plate collecting person who once lived here where the estate sale is occurring. I count 156 wine glasses and photograph an accordion in its original box.

I sneak into “Keep Out” rooms like the yarn-ridden bathroom—mid-century scraps, not the kind I’m into.

There’s a leather expandable classic attaché, well cared for, between a bedframe slats. You would have liked it. That’s another self-deception I keep falling for, like saying everyone I meet is mildly depressed (and not me).

I buy a thousand sewing needles. I should take up sewing, so I will never have to run out of things to do. And, well, I did hope to see someone here that I knew, maybe you—but you’re not here.

A dealer hunting for picture frames and stereo speakers points to major ceiling decay, says—My brother and I went through this one house, the people had a giant hole in the kitchen floor, smoke stains, cat-piss. But the porn room was tidy and alphabetized.

I’ll take these blue horses. We belong with each other.

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Recent fiction by Valerie Fox was included in Best Microfiction 2019 , as well as in The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Painting s (edited by Karen Schauber).  Her writing has appeared in Juked, Cleaver, Ellipsis Zine, Reflex, Okay Donkey, The Cafe Irreal, Across the Margin and other journals . With artist Jacklynn Niemiec, Fox recently created The Real Sky (an art/word collaborative book), in a handmade, limited edition of 26.

Theresa Wyatt

The Raisin River

War of 1812

The name of the bloodletting capture was The Battle of Raisin River – an immense chapter of fire, a fierce British counterattack that left no truce – only flaming houses, hundreds massacred, captured or maimed. How does a river get a name like that, so benign and homespun, lyrical and free? What lies inside words like Wounded Knee, Bull Run or Normandy is not hard to say. There lies memory, honor, and sometimes sacred water like Raisin River, which flows off the tongue like a song. A name and a river so pretty, even the crows waited an extra day.

                                                                                                                               

To A Lighthouse                                                                   

Just because I’ve never really been shipwrecked, doesn’t mean my mind and body haven’t felt it so. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t pardon crashing waves for tossing me about a raspy schooner lost at sea fighting off an evil cancer’s damnation. Because then, I could meet you up close when daybreak comes, land dazed at your feet, awaken the mariner’s tale and conquer the bluffs. I could rise up from the shoal, shield my eyes from the sun and cherish the rescue. I could open your wooden door – pass through divides of oil and coal, spiral upwards on iron stairs, steady myself at the dizzy top, watch waves riot forth washing Earth’s face and muscle below a dark and wild foam – where I’d raise the courage of second chances, shine your prisms and set the wicks, steer your beams of light against a purging sea – where I’d fold my fears, Lighthouse, into your illuminations, balance myself spent against the rails, and then, ready to tell my story, disappear by dawn.

                                                                                                                  

Chronically Lost Syndrome

You could try breathing in, follow the strong pine scent flanking the whiteout road up the hill, but maybe your sense of smell is diminished along with that of direction, no matter to you these things called maps. Blindsided before – your phone always dead, dear friends evenly worried, you chafe at subtle suggestion, hang on to false claims – But there were no signs! Saving its energy, no longer willing to squander its talent, the moon dims when it sees you coming, shelters in place, rides out the storm that was forecast days in advance.

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Theresa Wyatt is the author of Hurled Into Gettysburg (BlazeVox Books, 2018), her first collection of historically based poem stories. Recent work appears in New Micro (W.W. Norton, 2018), The Healing Muse, and Spillway. Theresa was a finalist in Prime Number Magazine’s Award for Poetry and The Best Small Fictions in 2017. Her poetry is forthcoming in a new “narrative poetic medicine” anthology, Still You, (Wolf Ridge Press). The author resides near Buffalo, New York

Alec Prevett

The Window

I am revising the catalog when the bird meets the glass of my living room window.

Thud.

Recently I’d come to believe birds didn’t do that anymore.

Walking home from work last week, I watched a different bird, a simple, brush-colored one, hop through the chain links of a fence.

I had been as taken by this bird as I would had it passed effortlessly through a hard stone.

As if to mock me, it did it again.

Hop, hop.

Since then I’d assumed that birds could pass through anything if they really wanted to.

It seemed the right thing.

Just then I’d been cataloging all the kinds of animals that surprised me.

Birds. Termites. Polyps.

A catalog that had started last week, with the different bird. The one like a wad of dead leaves.

Like a sign from god.

And now this bird is here, dead and broken on my windowsill.

Broken the way windows break.

No ounce of it passed through the glass.

Not a single glossy feather.

Some of which are indigo.

It has a sunset chest and a newsnow belly.

And it is perfectly still.

Rigid as earth.

Why hadn’t it passed through the window?

Why hadn’t it?

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Alec Prevett is a poet, flash-fiction writer, and human from Atlanta. Their recent prose and poetry has been featured in or is forthcoming from Pithead Chapel, Hobart, Puerto del Sol, and others. At least a third of their work concerns birds in some fashion. They are pursuing an MFA from Georgia State University.

Louella Lester

Three Prose Poems

Stopped on Bridge

Everything stopped—cop’s car/citizen’s car/loud music playing through a cracked window/the joint flicked into a strip of muddy water along the curb. Well—not everything—some things kept moving though they did slow down—cars going the same direction/cars going the opposite direction/pedestrians crossing the bridge/the airplane circling for a landing but too far up for its pilot to really take in the drama unfolding down below. And some things turned—cop car’s blue light/cop’s head as he got out of his vehicle/cop’s head again as he spoke to the driver/turn signal of a car waiting to change lanes/heads in a passing bus/heads of pedestrians/the heads of the pigeons squatting on streetlights lining the sidewalk. Reassurance came from—driver’s hand as it reached to pull the car registration from behind the visor/passenger’s hand blocking the light from spoiling her view/pedestrian’s hand as it tucked a lock of hair behind his ear/the cop’s hand as it touched something hanging from his belt

Girls on Bridge

Rarely alone always following some guys some guys following them you know how it is. Things change clothing vocabulary hair but you still recognize them now you then your friends. They might be on this bridge that bus in someone else’s car giggling talking over one another shouting silly phrases. They might want it sort of not at all cigarettes beer dope the kisses the rubbing the in and out. It’s always one shy-quiet one swagger-confident one posturing-vacillating as she runs her hand along the rails that keep girls from falling into the river on purpose by accident you know how it is.

Bike On Bridge

He’s always liked this bridge even when people were whining about their tax dollars and the cost of the big sail-like structure on top. He peddles faster and switches gears. Over the years he’s argued about such things saying he’d sometimes give up lunch if it meant there’d be beauty in the world. He slows down and the bike begins to wobble. To him the wind playing on the bridge has always sounded like music and he wonders why he can’t hear the cables sing today. He pulls over and sits. Now he feels the weight of the bolt cutters in his backpack and he considers the splash they would make if he threw them over the rail right now. Then he shrugs and continues on his way.

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Louella Lester is a writer and amateur photographer in Winnipeg, Canada. Her work has appeared in Spelk, Reflex Fiction, Flash Fiction North, Microfiction Monday Magazine, Vallum, Fewer Than 500, Prairie Fire, Lemon Hound, Flash:The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Antigonish Review, CBC News Manitoba Online, and in the anthology Gush: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House, 2018). https://louellalester.blog

Lorette C. Luzajic

Two Prose Poems

The Limestone Angel

“I saw the angel in the marble, and carved, until I set him free.” Is that Michelangelo’s story of David, pale, proud puer, metamorphic, metaphoric masterpiece? This limestone angel, what was it like to sweep aside the stone and chisel him to life, tentatively, carefully, coaxing him to standing? Did the artist tremble at his touch, contouring calcaneus, mazza to mandible, scalpel to sinew, fingertips brushing across the tender loins of the boy who would be king?

Drive

On the tenderest day of September, we pulled the rental Mustang over to the side of the forlorn road.  I opened your Levis right there under the bluest sky, and took you out. You stood there, so naked against the vines heavy with wine, purple and hungry and so uncertain as to what it was I wanted. It was only this behind this unruly impulse of mine, to feel that absurd, wonderful warmth for a moment before  the long drive home.

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Lorette C. Luzajic is the founder and editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. Her poetry is widely published, and recently in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Nine Muses, Misfit Magazine, Indelible, Wild Word, L.A. Cultural Weekly, and more. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.