Charlotte Ozment – 1 poem 

Dawning

 

In the valley

of forgotten gods

she came, bringing

her cape of stars,

a celestial choir

tucked into the seams.

 

The fabric of her

luminance out-shown

the gloom, and the elders

whispered, on edge.

 

The moon had followed

her, caught up in

the wake of her

innocence, illuminating

hidden champions,

their agendas yet worn.

 

On a cloud built

of discontent she bathed

in the cosmic lights

that erupted from

her thoughts,

and the crows came

to learn her intent

so to fill our terra

with mystery.

 

 

🍃

 

Charlotte Ozment lives on several acres in Texas.  She finds words hidden in the world around her and can sometimes put them to paper before they fade. Her work has previously appeared in “Carcinogenic Poetry”, “Kleft Jaw”, “Star*Line” and “Café Aphra”.

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Nan Wigington – Fiction

Second Chance

 

The ramshackle VW bus, its Westfalia pop top rattling and threatening to break loose, wallowed up my driveway like some battered freighter seeking harbor. It came to a stop and made a short, sharp knock, its engine unwilling. There was a lurch toward my garage door, the sound of a brake being engaged, then nothing. The windows of the bus were veiled in macrame. I thought I saw one of the veils move, hazel eyes peer out. I stood at the screen door wondering whether I should back away, close my front door, pretend I wasn’t home. Should I step out on to the porch?

 

The driver’s side door opened with a bang as if kicked. I wondered what my neighbors saw. My long lost brother, his bare foot breaching, followed by a left leg, clad only in cut off jeans. I imagined a ten-year beard tumbling down his chest, his dirty blond hair in matted ropes. The last time I’d seen him he’d only had a scruff of a beard and wore a muscle shirt and sandals along with his cut offs. Our mother was dying. I had scolded him for coming to the hospital looking like a tramp. When he stood up to go, I had stood in his way, thinking I could heal the rift between us, cover the thorns.

 

“Be responsible, for once,” I had said.

 

“I never liked the old bitch, anyway,” he had said, “Get out of the way.”

 

I wouldn’t move, so he punched me in the eye. The frames of my glasses had cut into my cheek. When I heard him leave, I thought I was crying, but I was bleeding. Our mother died without him, and, without him, I took care of the mess of her estate.

 

Now he came around the front of his van, clean shaven, in work boots, jeans, a blue denim shirt. He looked toward my screen door, then to the van. He slid the rusty skinned passenger door back to reveal a boy and a girl, the boy thin and sandy-haired, the girl fat and dark like me. The girl had some sort of bear. She squeezed it tight to her chest. It made a brief, plaintive mewl. I opened the screen door and stepped out onto the porch.

 

The trio formed at the sidewalk and approached across my grass. They stopped briefly and looked up.

 

My brother scanned my face for scars. He spoke –

 

“You gonna let us in, Ada?”

 

I looked at the girl. I looked at the boy. I nodded.

 

 

🍃

 

Nan Wigington’s recent work has been published in Pithead Chapel and Spelk.  

Stefanie Bennett – 1 poem 

FLAME      

 

 

They said, you once lived here.

Here, in this room

Where the light rarely enters.

 

They said, in the brochure,

Your fame was found

Inside that cabinet drawer and

 

Tied up with string

Were your jottings;

The aftermaths and their encores.

 

This room is a musty place;

As white as milk. Sterile.

A monk’s cell.

 

They said, you once lived here…

 

A roll-top desk. A single chair.

And… by the window

The tallow lamp.

 

You would have called that light

To your side, Emily.

As friend and confidant.

 

Once made, the pact remained

Until the last breath

Hushed it out.

 

They said, you once lived here…

 

There is no rage to speak of.

Grief, and phantoms?

Only the tallow knows.

 

Now, the century has turned;

Taking you with it. Have

Things gone according to plan?

 

Outside, the white day welcomes

More guests, and still more

Commentary

 

Simply because you

Once were – and

That is more than enough.

 

🍃

 

Stefanie Bennett has published a dozen poetry titles, a novel, & a libretto & been nominated for best of the web + the pushcart. ‘The Vanishing’ [poetry, 2015] is published by Walleah Press & available from Walleah & Amazon. Stefanie’s latest title [poetry] “Blanks From The Other World” is due late 2017. Of mixed heritage (Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee) she was born in Qld., Australia. 

Raymond Miller – 1 poem

What’s The Emoticon For This?

 

When there’s something suspect

in these tears I’ve wept;

too wet at the death of one unmet.

What’s the online grieving etiquette?

Are virtual wreaths for poets’ graves

flung silently through cyberspace

as artificial as the  blooms

on manicured, well-tended tombs?

I made you up – a mental picture,

dark and vital, bearded figure,

eyes a-blazing truth to power.

Quick then, take this token flower

thrown to follow through the shade.

Unseen faces cannot fade.

 


 

🍃

 

Raymond Miller 

Niles Reddick – Fiction

​Closer Walk

for Beverly

 

It was unusual for a Baptist minister and his wife to get a divorce, but the divorce was after the deacons had asked him to resign and after his having preached well for fifteen years, saving souls and increasing membership in the church and adding a two-story brick addition to the small church and sanctuary. When the minister didn’t resign, almost half the church left and began meeting at the Masonic lodge, bringing in a retired preacher on an interim basis until they could decide their course.  Rumor was the preacher’s wife Jessie was worried about their family and wanted to move north closer to other family and get away from the gnats, snakes, and rednecks of the deep South. 

Jessie’s sense of despair increased when the break-away group returned after they’d garnered enough support for a majority vote to boot the minister and his family from the church and the nice brick pastorium, which had recently been purchased against some of the deacons’ support. It was a humiliating and degrading experience, a hard pill for a minister’s family to swallow, especially after friendships had flourished, care and concern had been shown to parishioners, and the growth of positive momentum of the church in the community. Jessie was stoic in the business meeting, save a tear or two welling in her eyes and zig-zagging down her cheek.

Stubborn and unwilling to listen to his wife, the preacher let Jessie go and live in a trailer in another rural community not far away, where she took a job as an elementary school teacher. Rumor was they would work it out, get back together, and move away, but dreams of the night fade with the sunrise and Jessie began counseling to help her make way through the life fog she felt engulfed her.

At the end of their first session, Hugh embraced her and she began to whimper. He whispered positive messages to her about how strong she was, how she would get through it, how she had her whole life ahead. Sessions left her feeling exhilarated and the embraces became more than comforting. The first kiss happened unexpectedly, and she felt it was innocent enough and didn’t think much of his wife or family. By the time he dropped a sack of peaches by Jessie’s trailer and they became entangled in passion all the way down the hallway into her bedroom, she had come to believe he was sensitive and caring about her, had fallen in love with her. She had fantasies about their home together, two middle-aged souls finding a renewed salvation in each other, but the meetings became more fraught with promises until he began to ask for some time and she made threats to go to his wife, to go to the counseling board.

By phone, Hugh and Jessie planned to get together and talk. She was reluctant, but he reassured he’d made some decisions. She told him she’d meet him after she finished some work on her classroom, a Thanksgiving decorating session with card board cut-outs: horn of plenty, pilgrims and natives, and turkey stapled on the bulletin board framed with orange accordion border.

She was putting the finishing touches on the bulletin board when Hugh creeped into her room. Startled, Jessie turned on her heels. “You about scared me to death. I thought we agreed to meet at the café to talk.”

“Change of plans.”  Hugh pulled the revolver and pointed. “I can’t let you destroy my life.”

“Hugh, I’m not trying to destroy your life. Put that gun away.”

He moved toward her and she backed into the corner, where students had stood remorseful of their behavior, and he fired a bullet into her side, and she fell to the floor. Blood began to soak that side of her seasonal plaid dress and he pulled her to the side door, through the Bahia grass to her car, where he pulled her body into the seat, sat her up, put the pistol in her hand, pushed her hand toward her head and pulled the trigger again, allowing blood and brain splatter to cover the driver’s side window. 

He wiped where he knew he’d touched with an alcohol wipe, walked back in the same path, turning his feet sideways and raking the grass back in an upright position, cleaned a puddle of blood on the linoleum floor. Her purse he left on the desk. The pistol had been his, but he’d paid cash for it at a gun show in Atlanta several years ago before registration was required.  In the days that followed, after being discovered dead by a custodian, local law enforcement ruled Jessie’s case a suicide and her family struggled and moved away to begin a new life. 

As Jessie was in her final moments, she noticed a glow coming through the school window across the desks, and she reached for a gentle hand that comforted and walked her peacefully toward that light in the window. She was appreciative of the warmth and closeness with which they walked.

 

🍃

 

Niles Reddick is author of a novelDrifting too far from the Shore, a collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in many literary magazines including The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta StudiesSouthern ReaderLike the Dew,The Dead Mule School of Southern LiteratureThe Pomanok ReviewCorner Club PressSlice of LifeFaircloth Review, among others. His website iswww.nilesreddick.com