Sunday 30 June 2019


by Mary Wescott Riser

Often, but not always,
I watch the clouds outside
My window.
Sometimes, but not always,
I don’t notice them.

Murky at dawn, the sky
Does not clear so much
As resolve into dollops
Of cloud, processing across
The royal dome of the
Earth’s ceiling.

Another day, a spill of gold
Beneath the palest silk,
A nebula, disintegrates below
The endless blue.

One morning, grey tufts
Drift along, bumping on the buttercream.

Keels heavy with rain rush over.
A ragged edge of continent
Slides past.

Broad skim of spider web or
Trailing corner cobweb
Dangles, fragile.

Daubs of flamingo pink
Heat the Eastern sky.

A quilt of bossy chevrons roughly stitched,
A riverbed of cobbles flows unstopped
Through hairy moss,
A shred of pebbled skin,
So much is made of water, light, and mind.

* * * * *

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.

Saturday 29 June 2019

It’s a Long Walk Home

by Annette Edwards-Hill 


They walk to the hospital, the men are working on the path outside the house, he holds her arm as she steps over broken concrete and string tied to stakes. The men stop to watch her. She feels full and overflowing. She wishes they'd finish the path. 
At the hospital the midwife shows her a chart and runs her finger down the longest line, she holds up a small hook and scrapes at the air with it.
She is told to walk. They walk the corridors, up and down the stairs, they walk outside through the courtyard. The backache starts outside the children’s ward. 
The pain is an avalanche, she hides in the bathroom and slaps the wall with her hands. She comes out and they strap a monitor around her. The heartbeat fills the room. And then it’s gone.  
There are three, then five, then ten people in the room, they chase her as she is wheeled away. She realises her husband is part of the pack that follows her down the corridor.
‘What happened to the afternoon?’ she asks. 
Under the bright light, they listen again, there’s something and then there’s nothing. She watches the nurse point to the door and her husband leaves. 
Then she is awake. Her mouth is like sand, there is pressure on her eyelids. She fights to open her eyes. Her husband walks towards her. Is that mine? she asks.
They drive home. She follows her husband out of the car. He doesn’t hold her hand, his arms are full. She takes tiny steps, with each step she feels like she has been cut in half and put back together again.
The path is still in pieces. The men gone.

* * * * *

Annette Edwards-Hill lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her writing has appeared in Flash Frontier, Bonsai: The Big Book of Small Stories (Canterbury University Press, 2018), Headland, Fictive Dream, Gravel, Brilliant Flash Fiction and others. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions. She was shortlisted for the New Zealand Heritage Book and Writing Awards (prose) in 2018 and was the 2017 winner of the Flash Frontier Winter Writing Award.

Friday 28 June 2019

I love you and please don’t die

by Lynne Zotalis

how I dread the next loss  
it will happen as sure as the blinding sun rises    
I know
the anguish it brings,  
but have to risk it 
or give up
on life      

how I dread the next loss,
it will happen like sand washing out to sea
is it defeatist and morbid
or realistic and pragmatic? I choose the latter 
I know what I know   
just as the waves roll in…    out,
pummeling the shoreline
the undertow overpowering

how I dread the next loss,
it will happen as sure as monarchs migrate
[here’s what it’s like]  
as strong as their presence was,
that’s how strong the absence is felt,
powerful and profound as that life lived,
the depth of grief will surpass, continuing…

with deleterious consequences to one’s psyche,
as well as body
one may mask emotions
but try as you might,
it will not be assuaged, ignored or minimized  
one cannot skip ahead or waylay the inevitable
it will happen,
how I dread
the next loss

* * * * *

As a freelance contributor and member in the Iowa Poetry Association, Lynne Zotalis’s poetry has been published in Lyrical Iowa for ten years running. She is a member of the Peace and Social Justice Writers Group at the Loft in Minneapolis, MN, with contributions to their chapbook and Turning Points: Discovering Meaning and Passion in Turbulent Times. Her poetry has appeared in Tuck Magazine and Poetic Bond VII, and Lynne was one of six winners of the RH Cunningham short story contest published in the book Life Dances. All available on Amazon.

Thursday 27 June 2019


by Shikhandin

Here lives a very young girl
in an old woman’s body.
Don’t mock me. Please don’t.
Why are all your senses
focused on the façade alone?
Aren’t you curious? Don’t you
want to know what lies
behind? What lies behind is
a very long life stitched
all over this ravaged body.
The soul though sits unscathed.
That’s why my soul sings in spring
and thrashes about
when winter howls; murmurs
seduction in the blind heat of summer.
My body dies. Every day, ashamed
of my soul that refuses to grow old.
Don’t mock me. Please don’t.
I am troubled as it is. My wrinkles mock
me enough. They are vicious busy bodies
slyly peeping through
the cracks. They gossip.
They can never understand
How wonderful it feels to feel so young,
even as this body dissipates.

* * * * *

"Mind Over Time" was first published in 2001 in the now closed poetry journal Poetry Niederngasse edited by Pasquale Capocasa.

Shikhandin is the nom de plume of an award-winning Indian writer who writes for both adults and children. Books include, among others, Immoderate Men: Stories published by Speaking Tiger, India, and Vibhuti Cat, an illustrated book for children, published by Duckbill. For more on Shikhandin you can visit her Amazon page: and her Facebook page:

Wednesday 26 June 2019


by Brittney Deaton

First, write off the idea of ever starting a family of your own. After a day or two of cleaning poop out of the bathtub and vomit off the living room carpet, the very thought of children will make you shudder. Accept the fact that you will neither sleep again, nor will you understand the concept of “going out with friends.” No more coffee dates. No more midnight movie premiers. No more spontaneous drives into the city when you need some retail therapy. Actually, you should probably forget about friends altogether.

What should occupy your thoughts is what you will feed the kids for dinner (probably mac ’n cheese and chicken nuggets as usual), who has what practice on what day this week (swim is Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Or maybe that is gymnastics... or maybe soccer...), and which uniforms need washing first. (Oh, and don’t wash a red dance leotard with white football pants. Apparently, Coach doesn’t approve of his players wearing pink.)

The next thing you need to do is memorize the schedule. Life’s easier when you know what to expect. Every school day should start at 5 a.m. with you fixing lunches (but don’t forget Ella can’t have peanut butter or she will literally swell up and die; after his turkey hunting incident Zach will only eat ham; and make sure you ALWAYS cut off the crusts).

When the lunches are made, they go in backpacks, along with last night’s homework. Oh, and never forget to sign their daily planner. When they say that they read for thirty minutes last night before they turned on the Xbox, pretend that you believe them and sign away.

Before they wake up, make sure you set out a clean outfit for the day. This includes underwear (the boys will never change their underwear if you leave it up to them). Don’t get upset when Charlotte comes out in something completely different and probably all black. While the clothing will match her lips, it will be a stark contrast to her pale skin and recently bleached hair. This is merely a phase according to her parents. When 6 a.m. rolls around and it is time to wake them up, give them no choice but to get up the first time you ask. Turn on every light in the house, let light flood in from every window, leave their doors open, and turn Disney Junior all the way up. Then they will have no other option but to crawl out of bed, even if it is just to close the blinds and doors so they can go back to sleep. Either way, they are up and now you can feel confident that sometime within the next hour they will be awake and dressed.

After you get them moving, start on breakfast (and don’t go out of your way to be quiet). Make pancakes, eggs, fry up some bacon, and get out the orange juice. Have it all sitting out on the table and ready to go when they drag themselves out of their bedrooms (and don’t worry, they will come out eventually). Try not to be frustrated when they grab a granola bar and head out the door instead of sitting down to eat.

Make sure they are outside at the end of the driveway no later than 7:05 a.m. so they don’t miss the bus. Again. But make sure they aren’t actually in the road. Otherwise, the school will call you and explain why they have a policy against preteen boys playing chicken with school buses. Once they are gone and you finally have a moment to yourself, don’t sit down. As soon as you start to relax, the little ones will wake up. With two of them at the ages of two and three, potty-training will still be a daily struggle. This means that there is probably at least one bed in the house that will need the Doc McStuffins sheets to be changed.

After you take care of the beds, make sure the kids are clothed. Jack has a knack for stripping off his clothes and wandering the house naked. People always talk about his cute, round cheeks, but I really don’t think those are the ones they expect to see. Most likely, they will spend the day in a Mickey Mouse pull-up and a superhero cape or a Cinderella dress and heels that are too big. Sometime before lunch they will call you to come sit on the couch and watch their show with them. They will sing and dance along and you have to pretend that listening to “The Little Einsteins” for the 713th time doesn’t make you want to die. Eventually, they will want to go outside, so you must prepare yourself for at least one of them to end up crying and bleeding. They will trip while chasing butterflies. They will face-plant off the swings. Riding bikes never seems to go well either. Sometimes, “Walk it off!” works really well. Other times it takes a good cry and a snuggle before Sophie realizes that a scraped knee doesn’t mean that she can’t be a princess anymore.

Hopefully, soon after lunch they will hit their wall and fall to the ground out of exhaustion. Then comes the most precious time of the day: nap time. Chances are they will sleep for a little over an hour, except for Noah. He hasn’t napped in two years. This is mainly due to the fact that he is an eighty-year-old man in a four-year-old’s body and he “don’t need no nap!” However, he will sit quietly and watch a movie (probably Despicable Me, yet again) while he waits for his partners in crime to wake up. This usually happens at 3:46 p.m. when the older kids burst through the front door after a long day at school, and then immediately lock themselves in their bedrooms.

The evenings are usually the calmest part of the day. After dinner, the older kids head to their rooms to do their homework (supposedly), and the younger kids will inform you that they are retiring to the playroom to play “Harry Potter” and from now on wish to be addressed as their character counterparts (usually known as Harry, the girl, and the orange boy). When it is time for bed, make sure the little ones are bathed and asleep by 8 p.m., which, if you are lucky, will actually happen. After they are all tucked in, clean up the kitchen and the playroom, readying them once more for destruction. Then go to each of the older kids, telling Zach to turn off the video games, Ella to put the book away, and telling them both “Don’t forget to brush your teeth!”

It isn’t until you reach Charlotte’s room that you will hear the stifled sobs. Open the door and see her lying on her bed, face buried in a pillow. Approach cautiously and ask why she is crying. Learn that, as it turns out, teenage drama hasn’t changed much since you were her age.

She will tell you a very detailed story, with way too many uses of the word “like,” about how Eli was supposed to ask her to go to the movies this Friday but instead he asked Olivia and “Why would he ask Olivia? She is such a stupid bitch!” Calmly explain to her that (a) she really shouldn’t be using that language, and (b) if Eli is dumb enough to ask Olivia out then he is the one that is stuck with that stupid bitch and they probably deserve each other. A small smile will appear on her face, and she might even try to laugh through the tears. But one thing is certain. She will wrap her arms around your neck and you will simply hold her until her breathing becomes even and the tears have ceased.

In this moment, stop and realize that step one may have perhaps been wrong. The thoughts that once made you shudder will now be met with a fond smile as you think about the memories you have had together. The time Ella brought home arts and crafts with your name scribbled almost illegibly across the top and smiled wide as she presented her handprint turkey to you proudly. The time Sophie and Jack crawled into your bed at 2 a.m. and pressed their icy little fingers into your side. The time Zach tried to make you a birthday dinner and the fire department ended up joining you for takeout. The time you picked Charlotte up from her first day of eighth grade and she introduced you to her friends as her nanny, cutting their laughing short with a death glare so powerful the room practically went cold. The time Noah curled up in your lap and drifted to sleep, but not before whispering almost inaudibly that you were his best friend.

These moments make the shudders worth every second. You will slowly come to realize that maybe having kids of your own is exactly what you want. After all, if you can grow to love someone else’s children that much, just imagine how much you will love your own.

* * * * *

"How to Be a Nanny" was originally published by Fabula Argentea:

Brittney Deaton is a recent graduate of Central Washington University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English: Professional and Creative Writing. She lives in Naches, Washington, where she works as a part-time nanny and substitute teacher. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Here's a photo (Chaco Canyon, NM) to try to make sure Facebook doesn't capture
other photos that belong to other authors in future posts.

when her son is dead seven years

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

after a photograph by the author, “woman/dance 4”

a woman is dancing on the moon,
a barefoot adagio of lilting beams.
she didn’t know the light was so addictive.
her feet are cooking.
her arms are empty.

she thinks there is someone to feed.

a woman is dancing on a cake plate
in her kitchen
call her angel food. she skirts the frosting’s edge
skates straight to the bone-white middle.

she has a persistent memory.
she has a penchant for truth.
she has a life that is slipping away.

a woman is skating barefoot on her sorrow
her brain awash in the smell of his skin,
her arms shackled to the stars, a
pirouette of unmet promises
regret. if she blames it on herself
she can fix it.

a woman is taking her dead boy’s eyes
to the moon
she wants to show him the whole earth
before he finally gets some sleep.

a woman is sleepwalking on the moon,
stardust clinging to her heels.
she’s carrying life inside her
a luminescent, big-bellied Madonna.

she once loved a Russian poem
about a pregnant girl, chasing the moon;
but now shes forgotten who wrote it
and how the poem ends.
she just keeps chasing the moon.

and the moon, with her big belly, complicit,
out in the darkness, lighting the way. 

* * * * *

©Alexis Rhone Fancher 2015, "when her son is dead seven years" was first published in Blotterature and nominated for Best of The Net, 2015. It is also part of her collection State of Grave: The Joshua Elegies (KYSO Flash Press, 2015).

L.A. poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, Plume, The 
American Journal of Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Diode, Nashville ReviewWide Awake, Poets of Los 
Angeles, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She’s the author of 5 poetry collections; How I 
Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (2015), Enter 
Here (2017), Junkie Wife (2018)and The Dead Kid Poems (2019). EROTIC, New & Selected, 
publishes in 2020 from New York Quarterly. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 
nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.

Monday 24 June 2019

Keeping Things Cold

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

I’ve hung on to what’s left over -
what you touched, what fed you,

taken stock of the refrigerator’s gelid interior,
sought evidence you were here.

Behind the yellow mustard,
and a half-squeezed tube of disappointment,

that Tiger Sauce you loved.
Best Before: Sept. 2007.

Some things I needed to keep.

Today, in the mail, an invitation.
Your Amy is getting married in the fall.

You’ll be gone eleven years.

Who invites the dead fiancé’s mother to her wedding?

She must have weighed the pros and cons as I do,
afraid I’ll put a damper on the day for those who knew you,

and burden those who ask: And how do you know the bride?

Afraid she’ll hurt if I don’t show.
Afraid she’ll hurt if I do.

I search online for the perfect gift,
compose my best excuse.

Tonight, I’ll make French onion soup (your favorite),
globules of butterfat dancing on its surface,

like I would have danced at your wedding.

* * * * *

“Keeping Things Cold” is from The Dead Kid Poems, just published by KYSO FLASH Press. AVAILABLE ON AMAZON:; it was first published in Diode (July 2018)

L.A. poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, Plume, The 
American Journal of Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Diode, Nashville ReviewWide Awake, Poets of Los 
Angeles, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She’s the author of 5 poetry collections; How I 
Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (2015), Enter 
Here (2017), Junkie Wife (2018)and The Dead Kid Poems (2019). EROTIC, New & Selected, 
publishes in 2020 from New York Quarterly. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 
nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.