Crying Over Spilt Milk, by J.J. Steinfeld

“Crying Over Spilt Milk” was first published in Space and Time (Issue #119, Summer/Fall 2013).

Why are you crying, Mister?
the little animal asks
and to say I am taken aback
is an understatement to the tenth power.
BecauseI clear my throat
and think about a long-ago lecture
on theology and the paranormal
I missed to see a foreign film —
because in a poem I wrote
when I was fifteen
and learning about metaphors
I made the souls of the lost milky
encased them in a fragile urn
bought at an antique store
and now I see that milk
from long ago on the sidewalk
and I cry for the milk
and all the lost metaphors
of my youth equally lost.
A metaphor is a trick, I explain,
a trick of the mind and the eye —
milk and soul, soul and milk.
Are you not thirsty? the animal asks
then I wonder if it too is a metaphor
an artificial construct of mine
or merely a little animal
who has learned to speak from
a distance-education course
on the all-too-real internet.


Canadian writer J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published seventeen books, including Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), and An Unauthorized Biography of Being (110 Short Fictions Hovering Between the Absurd and the Existential, Ekstasis Editions).

Heresy, by Tonya Eberhard

Speeding down the road, past
mausoleum and trailer park.
The house of candlestick and
mirror, reflections of fire and
flame. These illusions are real.
Four boys, one girl. The refri—
gerator is empty and the table
is set for two. Who?

There is a witch in the base—
ment, among her potions
and brew. Shelves of pottery
and broken glass, sewn together
as a mirror mask. Simple as a
spinning wheel, wooden Ferris
wheel around and around,
wheel of fortune. Luck reverses
at some point, for ill-omened
or good. These crafts and pots
sold for one loaf a week.

The boys are running a barefoot
marathon on broken glass. Because
their existences were not planned,
life was not prepared to offer much.
For no child asks to be born.

No supervision. No nanny, no governess
to tell them not to dip fingertips
in candlewax and press them to
the mirror. They molded wax
into hardened holy hosts, pressing
them to the roof of the mouth,
waiting to become divine.

Sisters are what the girl wanted.
Three fates, three Bronte’s, not
that clunky sounding ‘four
brothers’ phrase. Sisters would
come someday, through the form of
a resurrected doll, a Latin incantation.

The closest thing she
could get to a boyfriend, a
brother’s friend. A sister,
his oafish girlfriend.

Mausoleum, trailer park, home.
Past these two, to the house of
bone. Cauldron fire, tame flame
in the mirror, all of this, thin sliver—
of the moon. Table set for two?
Somewhere, a phone ringing.
Is it for me, for you?


Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Algebra of OwlsThe Commonline JournalDirty ChaiYellow Chair ReviewOpen Minds Quarterly, and many others.

Finish the Job, by J.A. Grier

The boy is tired, and his hands
feel too stiff to move. But he
knows what he has to do. It’s
been days, and no one has
come to wrap him. The strips
are there by the bed. With effort,
the boy picks one up, and begins,
starting at his feet. A thin, white
ribbon winding over and over.
The hips take time, shifting weight
back and forth, until he can
sit, so weak, so wearied, and
wrap around his chest. He then
wraps up each arm, four fingers
in a group, and the thumbs
separate. Finally, finally he
wraps around his head and
face, over and over until all
the light, the air, the sound is
beyond him. He lays back,
exhausted, and waits patiently –
relieved he can no longer smell the
incense the priests keep burning.


J.A. Grier is a scientist, educator, poet, and fiction writer who loves hiking, wine tasting, arts and crafts, and cats.  Dr. Grier’s poems and stories have been published in venues such as:  Mad Scientist Journal, Liquid Imagination, Eye to the Telescope, Mirror Dance, and an anthology of the Maryland Writer’s Association entitled Life in Me Like Grass on Fire.  She shares posts and tweets of astronomical facts and strange fictions at jagrier.com and @grierja on Twitter.

Princess Takane and the Raven, by James J. Stevenson

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The fairest fairy living in the forest realm of fey,
trapped in her prism tower, was known as Princess Takane.

She envied every Eagle, Elk, and Elm that she could see
for finding love with matching birds and beasts and even trees.

She thought herself a little bird who’d somehow lost her voice,
condemned to marry for her throne regardless of her choice,

but then she met a Raven who alighted on her bed;
he’d flown in through the window fleeing rain and cold, he said.

She let him rest and dry his wings but once the sun returned,
she asked for him to stay a while and sing a tale he’d learned.

He sang of floods and secret isles, of tricks and lies he spoke,
of all the trees he’d known before, of Bonsai, Spruce, and Oak.

He sang all day until the sun relented to the moon,
but Takane, who wanted more, asked for another tune.

The ballads became bleaker as he sang into the night,
the odes were now of tragedies, of arrogance and blight.

He wrapped his wings around her when the Princess seemed to cry,
thinking that his stories were the only reason why.

But Takane surprised him with a kiss upon his beak,
explained the marriage that she’d have in just another week.

She knew she loved the Raven and was sure he loved her too;
he’d been her hero, and for men, that’s all they need to do.

His tales had been the kindling for the fire in her heart,
but forest fires must be contained or all else falls apart.

The fairy realm required her to wed another fey,
and so she told the Raven that he must now fly away.

She knew he’d find more branches where he’d stay a little spell
and tell his tales and stay the night and fall in love as well,

but she’d make her heart an Ash Tree if he ever needed rest:
to sing to her and mourn new loss and have his war wounds dressed.

So if you ever see a Raven who’s flying on his own,
direct him to an Ash Tree so they both won’t feel alone.

But don’t lament the morning when the Raven flies away;
for a night know he was happy with the Princess Takane.


My poems, stories, and comics have been published in a bunch of anthologies and journals, but the quickest way to see what I’m up to is @writelightning on most social media. I frequently post haiku+photography (often of my Star Wars action figures…) with over 400 in my archive. All my social media links are at writewithlightning.com 

 

Liar, by E. F. Schraeder

Two truths and a lie, two lies and a truth.
Even now, I can’t decipher the lines of a face
or distinguish one mood or another.

Nothing predicts fight or flight,
fist or fuck, once life and death
skinny dip in the same pool.

You don’t have to silence me.
I’m still as a corpse.

Like the wings of the dead bird,
this heart refuses to beat. See there?
How the organ won’t spark to any attention?

The brain stalls. Years of bad guidance
like malware infected the hard drive.

Keep playing.
Don’t worry if you forget the rules.
There aren’t any.


Author of a poetry chapbook, Schraeder holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D., teaches and works at a library part time. Schraeder’s work has appeared in Dark Moon Digest, Allegro, Four Chambers, Glitterwolf, Slink Chunk Press, Hoax, the HWA Poetry Showcase, vol. III, and other journals and anthologies.  Find more online at www.efschraeder.com

Divination, by Tonya Eberhard

Fragile fall, night comes on so early.
Sets on slow, like ink spreading through water.

November of rotten pumpkins,
obsessive compulsive ritual prayers.

Moving her pottery from kiln
to garage. Thick bowls, decorative leaves of clay.

Tamed wet earth and air, its shape birthed in
dizzying turns by a pumping petal.

Precision, conciseness in creation.
How lovely to think everyone is made this way.

Last bowl lifted by thin arms.
How curious, staring into its endless depths.

Wait—here is what is seen.
Two separate shadows merging into one, bold black

spreading to form a gallows tree.
Tasting a spoonful of stars from a soup ladle.

Then smoke, thunderous crack of a gun.
The last supper splitting into stone halves.

Sheets twisted into ropes of wrinkled skin,
umbilical cord of sleep.

Arms outstretched, beckoning a figure to
dive from a cliff. Jump, I will catch you.

Thin fingers from thin arms startle,
beginning to silently count, tapping the index finger.

A prayer to the patron saint of repetition,
a signing of the cross against all evil.


Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Algebra of OwlsThe Commonline JournalDirty ChaiYellow Chair ReviewOpen Minds Quarterly, and many others.

Theda Bara, by Melinda Giordano

The twilight came
Shuttering like an eyelid
Languid and full of lavender
Stained with kohl and twilight
Like Theda Bara stretched across the sky

Her golden cobras
Spat and curled across the sunset
The gilded animal horizon
Her venomous hair crawling
Her dark vanity and vampire perfume

Sparking through her curls
Stars pierced her dangerous skin
Lacerations becoming constellations
Blood dripping into the sun
And bubbling like a witches’ brew

And then the moon came
To scold her errant minions
The bright delinquents who should know better
Than to make her rise
To defend a fellow goddess in pain

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(Image from the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Melinda Giordano is a native of Los Angeles, California.  Her written pieces have appeared in the Lake Effect Magazine, Scheherazade’s Bequest, Whisperings, Circa Magazine and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. She was also a regular poetry contributor to CalamitiesPress.com with her own column, ‘I Wandered and Listened’ and was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. She writes flash fiction and poetry that speculates on the possibility of remarkable things – the secret lives of the natural world.  Melinda is interested in history and anything to do with Aubrey Beardsley, her favorite artist.

Rules, by Ed Ahern

First published in Ealin.

The rules change at night
When coyotes prowl the gardens
And walled-in huddlers cringe
At shattered panes of glass.
No one steps into darkness
To answer dying animal cries
Or the screams of the stranded.
The rules change at night.


Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty seven years they are both out of warranty. Ed has had over fifty stories published thus far, most also reprinted. 

Hard-forked, by Matthew Harrison

If things are looking a little blurry today –
Better hope that it’s your hangover,
Or something in your eye,
Or even (if you are older)
That cataract finally coming through,
And not a sign
That our simulated universe
Is breaking down
And that we’re all about to be
Hard-forked.


Matthew Harrison lives in Hong Kong, and whether because of that or some other reason entirely his writing has veered from to literary to science fiction and he is currently writing poetry.  He has published pieces in all of these genres.  Matthew is married with two children but no pets as there is no space for these in Hong Kong.

mharrison@netvigator.com

www.matthewharrison.hk

Only When the Moon Wanes Can Rapunzal Sleep, by Tonya Eberhard

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There is a recurring dream,
Filled with white sheets and knives,
A nocturnal reality, not what it seems,
Paper-thin men, contrived.

Filled with white sheets and knives
The mouth can only gape; stifled O.
Paper-thin men, contrived,
Transform into a murder of crows.

The mouth can only gape; stifled O,
As blue candlesticks dance in a mirror,
Transforming into a murder of crows.
A voice calls to stir, stir.

As blue candlesticks dance in a mirror,
The figure wrapped in white rises from the bed.
A voice calls to stir, stir.
To follow, to be led.

The figure wrapped in white rises from the bed,
Leaves the tower into the snow.
To follow, to be led.
Outside, a stark white doe.

Leaving the tower into the snow,
Barefoot, lungs inhaling pure air, life—
Look! A stark white doe.
In the snow, a knife.

Barefoot, lungs inhaling pure air, life.
The men, the crows, the doe, speak: Cut off your hair.
In the snow, a knife.
She reaches, to poise the blade in the air—

Men, crows, doe, speak: Let down your hair.
A nocturnal reality, not what it seems.
She reaches, the blade now poised midair
In a recurring dream


Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Algebra of OwlsThe Commonline JournalDirty ChaiYellow Chair ReviewOpen Minds Quarterly, and many others.