George Cassidy Payne – 3 poems

Self-Portrait as a Sea Turtle


They say that all vertebrate embryos
look alike. But only my shoulder bones
slide inside the rib cage, and only my
shell is made from the empty space of


those ribs fusing to become a wall
that will keep me hidden from the world.


A philosopher once asked me, in front
of an entire galaxy of fishes, why I don’t
grow my shoulders inside the rib cage
from the beginning? “I don’t know,” I replied.
“Like you, I am a mystery of evolution.”



Scorpio in Tarot


You bore me.
Detached. Peeled
off. You tease me
like a key that does
not fit the lock. You
chain me. Tossed to
the wind. Rising. From
the perky filth. You
squander me. Even if
there are things to learn.
You pulled me. The death




Watching you
keep my time


The mind wears
only language.


Simple words.
words. A hand


rising on the
chest. Clothes
kicked off the bed.


Black ion plated
stainless with a
green leather strap.




George Cassidy Payne is interested in the intersection of poetry, social justice, representations of spirituality and concepts of self. He’s a part-time professor of philosophy at the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches workshops focusing on writing and philosophy. He holds a master’s degree in philosophical theology from Emory University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Barnstorm JournalChronogram MagazineAdelaide, the Adirondack AlmanacTea HouseThe Mindful WordInk, Sweat, and Tears, the Scarlet Leaf ReviewThe Writing DisorderCalifragileZingara Poetry ReviewDeep South MagazineAllegro Poetry Review and several others. His debut full-length collection, A Time Before Teachers, was released in 2019 from Cholla Needles Literary Press.

Amy Finlay – fiction

The Recital


My name is Vincent Roberts and I am recounting to you the events that happened several years ago in the summer of 1998. My psychiatrist says that if I write it all down things might begin to make sense – as though I haven’t replayed it in my head hundreds, even thousands of times before. Oh and by the way, in case you are wondering, no, I am not crazy. My test results show that I have no signs of psychosis. I have been recommended several doctors, neurologists and mental health experts over the years and they all conclude I am certifiably in sound mind. No one believes my story – heck I wouldn’t either. Because it defies belief. I wish it were a lie, an elaborate fabrication, but those who know me best know I have no flair for imagination. I am committing my story to paper and I will be as detailed as I can. I invite you to judge for yourself the events that took place that strange summer of 98.

I had recently moved from Boston to the small town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. I have, had, been a classical pianist with the Boston symphony orchestra but an unfortunate repetitive back injury meant I had to take a period of leave to recover properly. This was a short-term arrangement, a sabbatical of sorts. I was annoyed. I had worked ceaselessly for several years and I am not being boastful when I say I had a growing reputation as a celebrated classical pianist. My injury however required time for recovery. Wanting a fresh start following a recent break up with my girlfriend Susan, I decided I needed a change of scenery so I asked around and before I knew it I had accepted a job as a professor at the Falmouth musical conservatoire. So that July I packed up my tiny apartment and headed to the cape, to the picturesque town of Falmouth.

I settled into life in Falmouth quickly. My colleagues were mostly like me, ex orchestral musicians, easy to get on with, the job undemanding. Sure, it wasn’t ground breaking work, I wasn’t teaching musical protegees, but I enjoyed this new pace of life compared to the demands of the orchestra back in the big city. I was beginning to see the appeal of the cape. On my free days I went swimming and surfing, heck I even started composing my own music with ambitions to record an album. A change is as good as a rest so they say. Life was good. That was until a phone call from Susan. We had split up a while back so I was surprised to hear from her. Her mother was sick. Very sick. She needed to see a cancer specialist in Canada but her health insurance wouldn’t cover it. In short Susan needed money and I knew it was serious because she was a proud woman who wouldn’t ask unless absolutely necessary. I wasn’t wealthy by any means but I told her I would do what I could. So when I saw a notice requiring a piano tutor for an eight grade student in the college one day I did not hesitate to apply. What I would give to turn back the clock and not apply for the job.

That evening I called the number on the advert and after a few rings a husky voice answered. It was a strange voice, unlike one I had ever heard before, female, raspy. She sounded old, perhaps retired. I said: ‘Hi my name is Vincent Roberts and I saw your advert for music tuition in the music school. I am a piano professor there and am interested in the position.’ There was a strangely long pause and finally the voice said ‘Mr Roberts, I am so glad you called. My name is Mrs Hale. I require a teacher for my niece – she is nine years old and plays at a level exception for her years.’

We discussed the details. Mrs Hale and her niece lived half an hour away in a house called ‘The Rectory’, on the other side of the cape where I had not been before. I was to come and meet them that Friday after work. Being new to town I didn’t exactly have a thriving social life so I didn’t mind working on the weekend. So off I set for The Rectory. Having lived in the city for so long I didn’t have a car so I resolved to get a bus after work. Packing up my desk around 6, the janitor Karl asked me what I was doing this weekend. He was polite, feigning an interest in me, a newcomer.

‘I got a tutoring job at The Rectory, west side of the cape,’ I replied.

With hindsight Karl’s reaction should have alerted me. His friendly face seemed to suddenly stiffen as though he had seen a ghost.

‘I thought that house was empty after the accident.’

‘What happened?’ I said, my interest piqued. Continue reading

Kitty Coles – 2 poems



He turns the crank which makes the bellows pump.

Air travels to the pipes.  The barrel turns.

The pins and staples lift the wooden keys.

Now music plays, quick, high and flutingly.

You, poor bedraggled fool, are still and listen.

Your yellow head is tilted so, just so.

Your seed-like eyes remain uncurious.

Your little hook-feet clench around your perch.

Then, dutifully, you open your small bill

and churn the tune out, chirpingly, just so.

You sing, as if with feeling, ‘la petite chasse’.

Your feathers quiver with liquid vibrato,

your frail tongue trembling on those top notes,

your heartbeat visible through dirty plumage.






I didn’t begin as a way of letting the bones through

but the further I go the more they rise from the deep

furrows of flesh and I trace their shining lines,

mapping the sunken nuggets of their gold.


I grow an appetite for mouthfuls of air,

a bellyful of water, a head where the cosmos

whirls in its spangly nothing behind my eyes.

The taste on my lips is sweeter than honey or wine.




Kitty Coles’ poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and have been nominated for the Forward Prize, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife (2017), was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize. Her first collection, Visiting Hours, will be published in 2020 by The High Window.

R. Gerry Fabian – 1 poem

Farewell Children



As the faces disappear

the eternal memories begin:

Of crabgrass children

who flower in summer’s heat

and are blown toward tomorrow

by the west wind.

Of spider web girls

who balance threads

waiting for love to stick

or snap.

Of granite gruffs

who go as they came

and are never missed.

Of blacktop boys

whose headlight eyes and piston hands

never found the exact timing.

Of insecure jesters

who knew all the words

to obscene songs but

never the meaning.


Of the two or three unicorns

thought to be extinct

who reveal their rare magic

to a select few;

share a special mystery

and like all the others

are too soon – gone.



R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor.  He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. His web page is  
He has published two books of his published poems, Parallels and Coming Out Of The Atlantic. His novels, Memphis Masquerade, Getting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense
are available at all ebook publishers including Amazon, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble. He is currently working on His fourth novel, Ghost Girl. is scheduled for publication in 2020.