Monday, 20 August 2018


A Day by the Sea

by Leah Gage


As she sits peacefully
Staring out at the sea
Deep feelings washing over me

Feelings of loves lost
At so steep a cost
Today’s sorrows
That are gone tomorrow
Adoration leads to temptation

Gossiping and frolicking
Best friends forever, Always together
Her heart is so pure
Yet so unsure of what she’s in for

So young and strong
It won’t be long
And she’ll be gone

I must cherish this

Sunday, 19 August 2018


Muscle Memory

by Traci Mullins


Two o’clock in the morning was the worst time of Connie’s day—too many hours before any sensible person would start her morning but not enough hours to get a good night’s sleep. Yet how could any mother sleep like a baby when her only son was living on the streets? Connie couldn’t.

Mark was twenty-five, a man according to most, but he would always be her little boy. He’d been drinking since he was fifteen. She blamed herself. Maybe she shouldn’t have left his dad, paid closer attention to the kids he was hanging out with. She’d lost count of the number of times she’d grounded him, made excuses when he missed school, called his employer of the day when he was too “sick” to go to work, spent what little she had to bail him out of jail. There was no high school graduation, no steady job, not even a girlfriend who would put up with him for more than a few months. He wasn’t a mean drunk, but booze took him to places no one wanted to go.

Connie had spent years pleading, bribing, threatening, punishing, coddling. She’d gotten Mark into rehab—twice—but he was drunk within days. His dad was disgusted. “Kick him out!” Dave said. But even when he was still living in her basement at twenty-two, she didn’t have the heart. Surely there was something more she could do—should do—to help him.

“You have to get out of the way,” her Al-Anon friends told her. “Detach with love.” It sounded so heartless, but she had to admit that nothing she’d ever done had saved her son from himself.
So shortly after his twenty-third birthday, she told him he was on his own. She gave him $100 and changed the locks. Then she sobbed for two days.

The months since then had been filled with drunken phone calls, pleas for money, tears and fury. Connie rarely slept past two a.m. Was her boy cold? Hungry? Living under a bridge?

One night she gave up on sleep and paced into the kitchen. Glancing out the window toward the back yard, she was startled, then frightened, to see someone lying on the lawn swing. Should she call the police?

But then she recognized his yellow windbreaker, his huge white sneakers. Her heart flooded with relief. She longed to throw her arms around her son and lead him into the house. But in the same moment she felt a resolve that surprised her. Months of practicing letting go had become muscle memory. For his sake—for her sake—she knew she had to accept what she had never been able to change.

Connie went to Mark’s bedroom and gathered up his bedspread. Carrying it out into the starlit night, she covered her boy tenderly. “I know you’ll find your way,” she whispered.

And then she slept—like a baby.       


* * * * *

"Muscle Memory" was previously published by Palm-Sized Press on 6/22/18.

Saturday, 18 August 2018


Other women don't tell you

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach


some days, cleaning the bathroom will feel
like enough. Some days, washing out every bottle
and scrubbing the milk residue rings until their white
is in your skin and under your nails, some days, letting
the plastic dry until it shines like expensive China, some days,
that too will feel like enough. And when you’re squatting
on the bathroom floor across from your son, making noises
that are animal and beast and mother in one, watching him
scrunch his face into a prune to make those same sounds
back at you without result, some days, when he picks up
a magazine about wood building and stays seated and looks
so much like his father and grandfather and likely theirs
and you are there to see this, those days feel like so much more
than enough. But others, most days even, after you’ve hidden 
every roll of toilet paper and every spillable and breakable
and chokeable, after you’ve folded and tucked and verbed
through those things other women told you
make you woman or warm or worn out man or maybe
just womb, after you’ve done more with your body
than your body has ever done, nothing feels like enough
or like anything at all. 

* * * * *

This installment of "Other women don't tell you" was also previously published in DIALOGIST. It is part of Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach's book, The Many Names for Mother, which was recently selected by Ellen Bass as the winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, and will be published by Kent State University Press in the Fall of 2019.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry about the Holocaust. Julia is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014) and her recent poems appear in Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine (www.constructionlitmag.com) and when not busy chasing her toddler around the playgrounds of Philadelphia, she writes a blog about motherhood (https://otherwomendonttellyou.wordpress.com/).

Friday, 17 August 2018

Other women don't tell you

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach


there is shrinking too, once milk and need
are gone, once flood is history
and you remember what it’s like
to sleep again, naked, your hands heavy
against a frame that is more you
now that so little of yourself is left, but wait,
the body isn’t first—that grows or stays
or shifts weight awkwardly
like the aging man you’ve never met
whose loneliness you wear as yours—
first is space, inside your mouth, that list
of things you never thought you’d do
like let your child cry
himself to sleep or fall
when you’re not looking or choose
to look away or mention
breasts so many times
in casual conversation
you’d think that they
were never yours, that space
you never thought to count,
39 plastic balls (the kind you’d seen
in McDonald’s commercials that taught you
English long ago), 23 dirty dishes, 17 bibs
(5 plastic, 12 cloth, and yes, the distinction
matters), 4 piles of laundry (one more
than the people living in your house, so how
is there so much cover for so few bodies?)
2 strollers and 2 car seats and 2 others
whose purpose you are still unsure of,
and 1 you, because there is still you, shrinking
underneath or next to or maybe outside,
looking at your house like a neighbor passing by
who thinks, it sure seems warm inside. 


* * * * *
  
"Other women don't tell you" was previously published in DIALOGIST. It is part of Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach's book, The Many Names for Mother, which was recently selected by Ellen Bass as the winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, and will be published by Kent State University Press in the Fall of 2019.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry about the Holocaust. Julia is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014) and her recent poems appear in Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine (www.constructionlitmag.com) and when not busy chasing her toddler around the playgrounds of Philadelphia, she writes a blog about motherhood (https://otherwomendonttellyou.wordpress.com/).


Thursday, 16 August 2018


Inn, San Francisco

by Nancy Gerber


Ghostly faces stare at us --
sepia eyes imprisoned
in glass mahogany frames.

Grim lips speak of mourning.
Sons and daughters lost to typhus, 
ravages of the expedition west.

Women wearing stiff poplin dresses, 
men dressed in midnight suits
gaze from the walls in envy  

while we recline.  On crimson sofas,
we drink coffee from porcelain 
mugs, plan the rest of our day.


* * * * *


Nancy Gerber writes fiction, poetry, and essays.  Her most recent book, A Way Out of Nowhere (Big Table Publishing), is a collection of short stories featuring female protagonists negotiating the complexities of relationships, and is available on Amazon.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Athena Has a Sit-Down, Goddess-to-Woman Talk with Sarah Huckabee Sanders

by Kathleen Murphey


SHS:                “The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged
                        violence.”

Athena:           “What is this nonsense that has escaped the barrier of your teeth?
                        In Cedar Rapids, he told supporters to ‘knock the crap out’ of protesters.
                        He said that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and still get elected.
                        His platform, America First, comes from a 1930s white supremacist movement
                                    that promoted appeasement with Hitler and the Nazis, people okay with
                                    the torture and murder of Jews.
                        He made excuses for white supremacists in Charlottesville. He bemoaned the
                                    taking down of Confederate monuments, thereby endorsing white
                                    supremacists and violence and/or intimidation of African Americans by
                                    such public statues.
                        He accused NFL players taking the knee during the national anthem of being
                                    unpatriotic for supporting Black Lives Matter and using their First
                                    Amendment rights to freedom of expression—meaning that they should
                                    abdicate their positions of public spotlight to highlight the injustice of
                                    innocent and unarmed Black men and boys being shot dead by police. 
                                    AKA not condemning violence done to unarmed Black men and boys and
                                    slandering NFL players who want to bring attention to this injustice.
                        He is systematically dismantling the legacy of the first Black president of the
                                    USA—which sends the covert message that African Americans are not to
                                    be valued and respected in this country—which supports a white
                                    supremacist agenda of targeting Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, Jews, and
                                    “others” including the LGBTQ+ community for violence and hate. Just
                                    ask the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League about
                                    the rise of hate crimes since Trump became president.
            In failing to stand up to the NRA, he has become complicit in gun violence that
happens in your country, whether in your inner cities or in mass shootings like Parkland, Florida, and others.”
           

SHS:                “Trump can’t be expected to be held to a higher standard.”

Athena:           “What are these words that have broken through the fence of your teeth?
                        The President of the United States of American can’t be expected to be held to a
                                    higher standard? Since when? Apparently since Trump—every other
                                    president of the USA has understood the responsibility of the office and
                                    his need to set a higher standard. Twitter Troll, Bully in the Pulpit, trash-
                                    talking Angry Trump Baby—the first president in history that no one
                                    should want their children to try to emulate. How has your country come
                                    to this?”

SHS:                “It’s our responsibility to keep the American dream alive for kids like Frank,
                        immigrants who are already here and those who dream of immigrating here in the
                        future.”

Athena:           “What is this talk that’s escaped the barrier of your teeth?
Travel Ban, Border Wall, Zero Tolerance (separating children from their parents)!
Rapists, drug dealers, bad hombres! Dehumanized people who will ‘infest’ your country like insects or vermin.”

SHS:                “I don’t think it’s appropriate to lie from the podium or any other place…my job
                        is to communicate the president’s agenda.”

Athena:           “What are these words that have broken through the fence of your teeth? 
Your own people know that you lie about his lies. Listen to them!”

“You know what? [Huckabee] does work for Donald Trump, but she also works
            for us… She works for everybody who pays taxes, and even for people
            who don’t pay taxes—like, I guess, her boss. If you can’t do the minimal
            requirements of the job, you become complicit in the lie and in the
            degradation of the podium, the White House, the office of the president
            and ultimately the democracy.” Joe Lockhart

                        “The general proposition is that either the president or someone on the president’s
                                    behalf ought to stand up and be accountable to the American people every
                                    day…That’s a fundamental aspect of our democracy. It is broken now. 
                                    And I don’t think it’s broken beyond repair. It’s just broken beyond
                                    Trump. I hope we restore some kind of regular order when this whole
                                    episode is done.” Mike McCurry


SHS:                “Look, no matter how much phony controversy the Democrats generate, it’s a
                        simple fact that illegal alien criminals this young are still developing the part of
                        the brain that feels pain, goes through emotional trauma, and retains memories.”

Athena:          “What utter nonsense has just escape the barrier of your teeth?

                        It is a staggering set of lies which reduces innocent children to criminal, senseless
                                    animals. Unbelievable! Everyone knows that children feel pain from the
                                    time they are born (if not before) and for the rest of their lives. When
                                    small children wake up with ear infections crying, they are crying because
                                    they are in pain. When small children wake up from nightmares crying,
                                    they are crying in fear which is a kind of pain. When small children break
                                    their bones or cut themselves and cry, they are crying because they are in
                                    pain. When children are sexually abused by teachers and priests before
                                    they are fourteen, they understand and are impacted for their whole lives
                                    by those memories and those traumas as the Sandusky and Catholic
                                    Church priest scandals have made clear. Children—helpless children—
                                    dehumanized by you as “illegal alien criminals”—how is a four year old,
                                    “illegal” or “criminal”? What kind of country criminalizes and outlaws
                                    children? Apparently Trump country.”

SHS:                “Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that we are talking about foreign
                        Children—even if they somehow manage to see their families again,
                        environmental factors may prevent them from developing the capacity to even
                        recognize them. I mean, they live in cages, for God’s sake.”



Athena:           [Athena is visible agitated and annoyed.] “O, Father above, Zeus, the
                                    shamelessness of these lies and falsehoods is staggering! Sisyphus’
                                    duplicity was an insult that delivered him to eternal torment in Hades,
                                    pushing the boulder up the hill over and over because it was never allowed
                                    to reach the summit. But this! Sadly, our power is gone from this world,
                                    or I would beg you to smite this outrageous liar with a thunder bolt as a
                                    just and fitting warning. I can only hope, that their gods now will deliver
                                    her to eternal torment for her lies and complicity with this government or
                                    that her people will shake off the haze of this poisoning propaganda and
                                    send her to prison!
                        Environmental factors—like traumatizing them by separating them from their
                                    parents. ‘For God’s sake,’ you put them in cages!”



SHS:                [Sarah Huckabee Sanders remains wholly committed to the lies she has been
                        prepped to repeat. She does not flinch under the anger of the goddess. Brazenly,
                        she parrots the words:] “The president is not a liar.”

Athena:           “What trash talk has just escaped your mouth?

                        Trump lies all the time. Call it whatever you want—deception, falsehoods, lies,
                                    deceit, poppycock, bull, bullsh*t, rubbish, nonsense, bunk, falsification,
                                    falseness, fable, detraction, defamation, calumny, fraudulence, guile,
                                    hyperbole, invention, libel, mendacity, dishonesty, evasion, fabrication,
                                    distortion, aspersion, backbiting, fib, fantasy, fiction, forgery, inaccuracy,
                                    misrepresentation, myth, perjury, slander, bluff, equivocation,
                                    exaggeration, fallacy, half-truth, humbug, jive, babble, untruth, white lie,
                                    tall story, whopper, subterfuge, revilement, prevarication, balderdash,
                                    baloney, drivel, foolery, gibberish, hogwash, hooey, malarkey, prattle,
                                    vilification. 
He calls news he doesn’t like ‘FAKE NEWS’. He creates Fake News with his
                                    lies. You create Fake News with your lies about his lies!” [Athena throws
                                    up her arms in exasperation.] “Maybe you’ll let him lie his way into
                                    World War III, and the earth can be purged of the wretchedness of
                                    humankind. 
I thought I might be able to talk some sense in to you, but clearly you don’t care
                                    about the damage you are doing, to your own people, to your government,
                                    to other governments, and to the people of the world. Shame on you!”
[And Athena walks away.]


SHS:                [Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks stricken for moment. But then Athena
                        disappears, and she shrugs her shoulders and goes to prepare for the next round
                        of White House lies.]


* * * * *

Kathleen Murphey is an Associate Professor at Community College of Philadelphia.  She will have her first play performed as part the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, P Pan and Beyondland, with performances at the German Society of Pennsylvania on Saturday September 15th and Sunday September 16th.  More information about her and the play can be found at her Website, www.kathleenmurphey.com


Tuesday, 14 August 2018


I Hear Music

by deb y felio


The band of miniatures 
is marching down the hall. 
I hear the drummer drumming
cake pans and then the wall,
the woodwinds are blowing
through toilet paper tubes,
and waxed wrapped combs
are the new found flutes.

So proud they are
they march and play
in their own parade

I cherish these moments
and the days
the memories music made.

Monday, 13 August 2018


The Two Cassandras

by Russell Hemmell


History lies. 
So do myths. 
People? They can’t,
they don’t know enough 
to manipulate the truth. 
 -I don’t, either. 

Her eyes go blank when the visions come,
but she can’t foresee the future, 
and I can just make sense of the past. 
What I say is my opinion only, 
not of the elusive deities that inhabit this temple. 
Warriors bow, 
warriors leave, 
and go back to battle. 

Lies. Lies. 
Otherwise, how has nobody ever heard of Taraxandra, 
and what she has done for the Trojans? 
Hidden behind the mad Cassandra, 
I lie on the ground, 
my breast equally untouched, 
sweat on my face.


* * * * *

"The Two Cassandras" first appeared in Visions with Voices, July 2017.

Russell Hemmell is a statistician and social scientist from the U.K, passionate about astrophysics and speculative fiction. Recent Fiction in Argot Magazine, The Grievous Angel, New Myths, and others.