Con(temporary) Muse, by Tonya Eberhard

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Black bile simmering in a black caldron—
acid burning in the stomach,
a fire to the heart. Like the touch of one
temporary muse.

Witches brew, she knew
of other charms besides kissing
frog to prince,
boy to man.

Mother witch, creator of muses,
making morning grow dark, darker than
black boughs snaking across the sky.

Sweeten the pot.

Here,
she pointed with a crooked finger.
There—
the temporary muse. At the stomach, the heart.
A churning, a groaning from the throat
spitting black bile, creating a muse made from the self.

Otherworldly, yes.
Of mystical powers, no.

A ghost of flesh and bone,
heart of false valor,
tongue of pure stone.

Witches brew, she knew flame to
heart makes it beat faster.

Heart palpitations are
fiery passions.

She will love him.
She loves him.
She does say, I do.


Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Algebra of Owls, The Commonline Journal, Dirty Chai, Yellow Chair Review, Open Minds Quarterly, and many others.

 

 

After Receiving the Super Power of My Choice, by James J. Stevenson

I asked my dog
which ability
she would have chosen,
and she said the power
to cry at the beauty
of a memory
of a phrase
of a chord
of a name.
That’s why she runs
to my lap whenever
she sees my eyes redden;
it’s not to offer comfort,
but to drink the potion
of tears from my face
loosened over
——–half-sick of shadows
——–Am7
——–Candace.
In choosing to speak with animals
I learned that I’ve had
a super power all along.


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

When Coyote Called Down the Stars, by Aaron Vlek

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Coyote’s sitting beside a fire pit
late one night.
It’s real dark, and his back’s to ya.
Finally, after he’s made you wait
a good long while,
he signals for you to sit yourself down.
You’re sitting right there
in front of that old varmint,
but he ain’t seeing ya.
WHAT?— Coyote yells, finally looking up at you.
You thought Coyote was a Man?
Or some kind of wild dog?
Or maybe a spirit from the Before Times?
Well I’ll tell you something.
I ain’t none of them things!

You look in Coyote’s eyes.
You’re looking for signs,
signs that tell you
Hey! It’s okay,
Coyote’s only funning with ya.
But all you see
is those two yellow eyes,
and the firelight flickering
reflecting your own face
dancing in those old yellow eyes of his.
Then Coyote starts messing
with the fire,
sending sparks and smoke
curling all the way up to the stars.
Coyote, he’s mumbling something
to himself,
and there’s the beating
of nightwings overhead.
Coyote, he starts whistling,
pulling that old blanket of his
tighter around his bony old shoulders.
Hey, Coyote! What you calling down?
But Coyote, he doesn’t answer.
He never does.
Not directly, ‘least not right away.

He just starts messing with that fire again,
rocking back and forth,
mumbling something to himself.
Faster now.
Hey Coyote! What you calling down?
Coyote, he looks up at the stars overhead
and starts grinning.
There’s those nightwings again.
Hey Coyote! What you calling down?
Finally, Coyote looks you dead in the eyes
and shakes his head like you were some sorry excuse.
Best you just sit still now,
and keep quiet, if you can—
he hisses in your general direction
as he jumps up and sets to
his medicine dance.
Coyote, he always means business.


Aaron Vlek is a storyteller who works with the trickster mythos in its role as bringer of delight and proponent of disquieting humors. Some of her (yes, her) stories center around the goings on of the jinn, and of a universal imagining of the Native American character, Coyote. Some works are historical in setting while others occupy a contemporary and urban landscape. She also indulges frequently in the reimagining of classic themes of horror and the occult. Aaron is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. Domine Canè, a short piece of speculative horror with a historic theme, appeared in the April 2015 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly, Vol. VII, Issue II.  At the Kids’ Table appeared in the 2015 Christmas Edition of Chicken Soup for the Soup. Additional stories have been accepted for publication throughout 2016.

 

 

Brighid, by Mary Soon Lee

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First published in Apex Magazine.

Six years old,
youngest of the demon’s servants,
didn’t cry when the king
roused her after the demon’s death;
nor when, an hour later, she remembered
her father’s scorched scream,
his flesh aflame;
nor when, toward evening,
a fishmonger recognized her
and offered to see her back to her aunt;
nor when, weeks later, the fishmonger
delivered her to her aunt, who hugged her–
and hugged the fishmonger–
and wept.

That night the farm tomcat,
a gray and surly mouser
not inclined to affection,
lay down on Brighid’s blanket
and matter-of-factly licked her arm,
her bare shoulder, her face,
his rough tongue rasping her skin,
and she cried,
thinking not of her father,
or their burnt home, their burnt town,
but of her mother’s voice,
a voice she’d forgotten
until the demon borrowed it,
that she’d known to be a lie
but followed anyhow.


 Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com

Requiem for E.A.P., by Notty Bumbo

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To think the death of Annabel Lee drove him mad,
Or the streets of his fair city
Pulled him into their depths
Without so much as a fair-thee-well,
And we both richer and poorer
In our too-small grasp of that dark illumination.

Or, what carrion cause the heart to race,
Hidden within the chest of our imagination,
And the horror of the faceless death
Awaiting all who tremble still,
As the pressing of time, and its swift
And terrible pendulum swings back, unbidden,

Relentless at our heels. No amount
Of wishing will change this severing of ourselves
From what fears we ourselves bring forth. He dared
Look deep, and often askew, into the frail greed
As defines our kind, trembled in his thrall
To the opiate of the unknown, it’s relentless pull

That he himself could not avoid, nor delay the day
His own sad heart would race, bellowing from his
Bricked-in chest to scream those names
Who’d driven him lost and lonely, Baltimore
No Lord nor manor awaiting his gentle entry,
But despair his roof, and alone his wail.

No red death, but black and solitary, no fine wine
To make his passing happy, no masque to honor
The tales his life created, his a solitary dance,
Not even Death herself had time to waste, to ferry
His torn and shattered spirit, into the deep oblivion
His every word promised, to we who read his dreams.


Notty Bumbo is a writer, artist, and poet living in Fort Bragg, California. He has been published in a number of small journals and presses, including the Amphigoric Sauce Factory, Words Without Walls, Poesis, Telling Our Stories Press, and Calabash Cadence’ Taisgeadan.  His novella, Tyrian Dreams, is available on Kindle via Amazon Publishing. He has recently been responsible for Questor’s Odyssey, a daily commentary on life as we seldom appreciate it, from the perspective of a Trans-Universal visitor with three green hairs.

Old Girlfriends from Across the Universe, by John Grey

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No days, no nights, out here.
just repetition, distances so far,
we’ve long since zoomed by meaningless.
My location lacks a threshold.

I’m no longer pin-pointed,
not even a speck in this great expanse.
It seems like lifetimes
since I strode Earth soil.

Old loves, I name them all,
each a cry in a lonely universe.
The ensuing silence has such starlit resonance.
There’s nobody here who knew me back then.
So how can 1 know me now.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.   

 

Tombstone Tabby, by Mark Antony Rossi

The smell of used cat litter
Is beyond the rotting flesh of humans
stinking up a condemned building.
The boldest cats don’t bury their shit
because they do not care
about your presence
and secretly hope
to leave a putrid present
on your fallen body


Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction, creative nonfiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Anak Sastra, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Brain of Forgetting, Deep Water Literary Journal, Dirty Chai, Enclave, Expound, Farther Stars Than, Flash Fiction, Gravel, Indian Periodical,  Japanophile, Journal of Microliterature,  Kulchur Creative Journal, Mad Swirl, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, Snapdragon, Syzygy Poetry Journal, The Sacrificial, Toad Suck Review, Transnational, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.Website: http://ethical-stranger.webnode.com/

Gotterdammerung, by Ed Ahern

First published in Zodiac Review.

 

Vampire paramours but vanished brides of Christ.
Allah as warmonger but warlocks as heroes.
Fashionable witches but forgotten saints.
Buddha as bracelet charm but beloved murderers.

Peculiar
To abandon Gods
And fixate on monsters.


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. 

Demon Fire, by Mary Soon Lee

First published in Tales of the Talisman.

Outside: the harbor,
the town wall, both extant.

Inside: No trace of wood.
No leather. No cloth.
No birds, no insects.
The wells dried out.
The mud burnt brick hard.
A few stone buildings.
Ash. Charred bones.
Two kings (alive),
their guards
at a short distance.

“Too few bones,” said Donal,
the Red King: red-haired,
red-handed in war.
“We think most people
were taken prisoner,
or killed elsewhere.”

“Several escaped,” said Xau,
“and fled to us eight days ago.”

“At moon dark,” said Donal.
“And last month, the same thing–
a town obliterated at moon dark.”

He led Xau to the town center.
The stone fountain bowl
had cracked in two.
On the flagstones in front:
a black circle,
wide as a man’s height,
wavy lines radiating from it.

“Demon sign,” said Xau.

“Yes.” Donal spat on the sign.
“Help us. Name your terms.”
“We’ll help. No terms,” said Xau.

“But how? What can we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Donal.
“I knew how to fight you.
I have no idea how to fight this.”

They stood, silent,
by the dry fountain
at the center of what
had once been a town.


Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at http://www.thesignofthedragon.com

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).