Thursday, 19 July 2018

Where do I start?

by Mary Wescott

The Bible is the word of man.
God is not a Father.
Human bodies, once dead, do not return to life.
I am alone and afraid to die without doing what I came here
To do.

But what is that?
Once I asked a teacher the purpose of human life.
He said, “it’s faith.”
Faith in what?
Someone else’s story?

* * * * *

Mary Wescott Riser worked in Virginia independent schools for 30 years, most recently as Head of School at James River Day School, a K-8 day co-ed day school in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she served as Head for ten years. Mary received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Georgetown University and her M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Oregon.  She writes the education blog “What’s Best For the Children?” Mary and her husband, George, live in Covesville, Virginia and have two adult children.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The first evening on earth

by Mary Wescott

The first evening on earth
Finds you walking the outskirts
Of a mining town in Montana.
Moonrise baubles over the Divide
Chasing the indigo clouds.
A quickening breeze from the western valley
Meets you where you stand.
No one praises your footsteps.

* * * * *

Mary Wescott Riser worked in Virginia independent schools for 30 years, most recently as Head of School at James River Day School, a K-8 day co-ed day school in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she served as Head for ten years. Mary received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Georgetown University and her M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Oregon.  She writes the education blog “What’s Best For the Children?” Mary and her husband, George, live in Covesville, Virginia and have two adult children.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Broken Connections

by Myra King                                 

Abby dips her toe in the bath like someone testing the water at the beach. But she does not stop, and plunges in with the rest of her body. The water smells of vinegar (her mother had told her it was the best disinfectant) and she glances at the empty bottle sitting on the floor. White brand from the supermarket. Everything she buys is on special or home brand. When there are eight to feed it is a struggle to make any money stretch far enough.
The latest hit song echoes from her transistor radio like applause. We shall overcome, we shall overcome…we shall overcome…someday…
Abby shivers and lays back, sees her stomach, which is slightly swollen, sitting above the water like a tiny white island.
The water is so cold. The sort of cold you could only find down south. Like her mother would say when the tourists came for their warm winters in her home town of Leonora, Western Australia. ‘Look at those people, off to the swimming pool and its only twenty-five degrees. They must be from down south.’
When Abby met Brandon, one of those visitors from South Australia, and he told her his profession she thought it was the most romantic thing she had ever heard. A lighthouse keeper. Such a noble calling. Saving all those people.

Now she hunches in the bath with her knees drawn up under her chin, arms wrapped around them in a sort of sitting foetal position. Immobilized. But she knows she has to move soon, make her arm reach out for her bag, the one with the paisley tapestry design, the one chattering with pins, needles, reels of cotton of every hue and all the buttons of her lifetime. Lost shirt buttons found long after the shirt had been made into rags. Buttons unpicked from babies’ garments little more than dust-cloths. Material covered buttons so big that she had let her children teethe on them. Everything has its use. Some have several. Her mother taught her that too.  

Before running the bath and getting the vinegar from the pantry, Abby had waited until her youngest boy, Hamish, was tucked up in his cot. Everything normal. The same bedtime story: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. ‘So much food he eats, mama.’ Then the plaintive and predictable, I’m hungry, so she’d gone to the kitchen, hoping she wouldn’t wake any of the other five children while she looked for something she could bring him. She prayed Hamish would be asleep, and he was, by the time she returned with a half cup of watered down milk. Then she’d put her mind on hold, readying it for the final task of the evening.

They live so far from anywhere. A white stone cottage coupling with a lighthouse of the same construction, on an island outcrop. Twenty acres wide. And they have been ‘working for the lights’ for so long now that Abby has almost forgotten what before was like. The only other people living on the island are an old couple, inured and comfortable in their seclusion. They rarely socialise.
Their only communication is a thin radio connection in predetermined hours. The operator on the mainland goes home after 7pm.
Abby’s husband, Brandon, is up in the tower. Checking, always checking. The light, with its many facets has to be kept burning. The ships have to be saved. He is their lifeline.

Abby presses her lips together and leans forward in the icy bath. She grabs the bag of many buttons and it slips from her grasp. She is mildly grateful that it remains closed and the contents have not been spilled. She retrieves the bag and places it on her knees. With hands which do not feel like they belong to her, Abby takes out one of the large cloth-covered buttons and places it between her teeth. Then she reaches in and takes out what else she needs.
Now she is someone else. She recalls what her mother told her to do. Her fingers delve and open, and she tries, with the rug-hook held tightly, to find the same pain she had felt when the doctor inserted that IUD four years ago.
It had not worked. Hamish was born with it grown onto his wrist like a bracelet.
He still bears the scar. But now, and she closes her eyes at this thought, it looks like a tiny question mark, whiter than his skin.
Abby clamps her teeth on the button. She feels the material slip a little, senses the structure of hardness beneath. Her jaw aches.
With fingers stretching, she pushes against herself, feels something burst in a lightning of pain and then it is over and just beginning all at the same time.
She lies back and watches the red, swirling from her as it warms the water. Her mother was wrong, she thinks distractedly, the cold water has not slowed the bleeding.
The batteries in her transistor seem to be fading, the voices like broken connections. But she sees the face of Brandon above her and, as if in a vacuum, she hears his cry. Now he is her lifeline.

Later she learns how he climbs the tower, flashes the light… three short, three long, three short… and thanks god that those he has saved so often are still familiar with the Code.

* * * * *

"Broken Connections" is part of Myra King's collection City Paddock & other stories.

Myra King lives along the coast of South Australia with her writer husband, David, and their greyhound, Sparky. Her poems and short stories, some of which have won awards, have been published in the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia in many literary magazines, books and anthologies. Myra has another short story collection, Uneasy Castles, and two YA novels: The Journey of Velvet Brown, and The Diaries of Velvet Brown, all published by Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, Australia. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys UK.

Monday, 16 July 2018

How I Learned to Cook

by Susan Tepper

1 cup long hair
tsp of tea (British blend)
3 generous strips silk ribbon
Wire whisk
2 eggs
White candles
Fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Set the table in advance using a nice cloth.  
Put out your best white candles. 
Blanch cloves in a saucepan on slow heat.  
Drain the cloves. 
Take a bath in scented clove water then shower for double cleanliness.
Rinse your hair with the fresh squeezed lemon. 
Towel dry. 
Slice off enough hair to fill a porcelain cup
add a teaspoon of tea
and place on the dresser to cool.  
Wind strips of silk ribbon around yourself fashionably. 
Salt and pepper to taste. 
Sift the loneliness. 
Using the wire whisk, beat the adultery with 2 eggs. 

* * * * *

More about Susan Tepper and her widely published work can be found at

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Drinking From the Rock               

by Lisa Fields

Driving toward 
mountain peaks                          
wreathed in pale gray fluff
we arrive inside drizzling rain,
and climb the steep path
Fog moves
in filmy tatters-
to reveal wondrous towers of rock
by curtain folds
as the fog exhales

Surrounded by stone shoulders
one conifer stands
straight-spined, vibrant
it explains to us
the hidden water
it sips from veins
of rock

A memory arrives
I am a young woman
in a pretty summer dress
trying on sophistication-
borrowed from somewhere
in calculated flattery
I sip from the tall glass
re-filled beyond my comfort-
to please

Returning to the present
I wonder
if --
I will learn to wear my limbs with ease,
and like the lone tree in its reaching,
select only the essential

* * * * *

Lisa Fields lives in Southwestern New Mexico. Writing poetry expresses her desire to be immersed in a state of balance. Her inspiration comes from the joy of wild places and the challenge to live happily in the domesticated world. She is a contract writer for Quirine Ketterings, Professor of Nutrient Management in Agricultural Systems, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. In her home state of NY, Lisa served the farming community as an Extension educator for 10 years, and then worked for 10 years as a self-employed advisor.

Saturday, 14 July 2018


by deb y felio

Be gentle, be kind, they leave very soon;
the days may be long, but short are the years,
presence is precious in late afternoon.

The journey requires a house over strewn
with toys and laughter and tantruming tears
Be gentle, be kind, they leave very soon.

The setting sun, the rising of the moon
require the comfort and assuaging the fears.
Presence is precious in late afternoon.

They become daring for risks opportune
ignoring you, seeking friends’ loudest cheers.
Be gentle, be kind, they leave very soon

Celebrating graduations in June, 
insistence on independence one hears.
Presence is precious in late afternoon

The years are passing, a familiar tune
yet something has changed in the tone, my dears,
the voices are theirs in late afternoon,
Be gentle, be kind, they leave very soon.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Hit and Run

by Riham Adly

FYI, no astronaut launches in space with his fingers crossed, and people won’t follow you on twitter based on your Myers-Briggs personality type. Tea-time and time-travel don’t mix; it’s just not how it goes. You think my life’s an eternal night lit by the ghost lights of perished stars? You know what I am? I am the fish that ended up on your plate Mr. Consumer, a sea-bass in an ice-slurry knocked unconscious. Whatever happened to mammalian pain? You enjoyed watching my live gutting, didn’t you? Admit it. Admit it! All those meditations on motherhood and those failed attempts to dazzle them gods, and OMG, those peanuts that I keep telling you ARE NOT NUTS---Again, I repeat, NOT NUTS! Roots, it’s always been those roots missing, those slow riveting fingers no longer thrust deep into the earth--- Severed. You think I’m a modern tomato when I’ve always been a spring-time cherry---a real-time cherry, not a cherry tomato. You taste me and think: Cardboard. It’s this love-hate thing I have for you and this hate-love thing you have for me. Piano man, I’m telling you, I don’t approve of the colors of leaving, and I don’t like jailbreaks. The clock reads 11:11 again, then 4:11 then 5:11 then 7:11. You are tiresome and exasperating like an ulcer, like that incomprehensible whiteness on my MRI scans. I’m tired of riding my bicycle up your walls.  I want you back home, but:
   1) Not without those waterproof boots.
   2) Not until you burn that “Lazy Benders Grunt in Sex” poem you gave me for our anniversary.
   3) And not before you admit that the LangKawi percussionists are awesome and that the Earth is flat---
         As flat as those pee- nuts…