Friday, 29 May 2020


Elegy

by Tobi Alfier


I don’t remember much.
Arrivals and departures blur
like an outdoor square on market day
some place, some lovely place,
where the language is not mine.
It is finally warm after a winter
both wicked and perilous.
Hand-knit scarves the color of forests
and brambled berries now replaced
by headscarves in fruited hues.

Willows bend, applaud their reflections
in quiet rivers, still but for the splash
of dragonfly, the sound of graceful
herons landing among lilypads
and algae. They check the sun,
fly off again.

I know the calendar, welcome
new growth in the fields,
turn of the waterwheel, melody
of tractors and trains from miles
away. But I did not know how much,
how much the weight his final
departure would leave on the hearts
of all, no matter the memories,
each different and owned without
disgrace, like quicksilver mirages
widening in the unaccompanied sun.


* * * * *

"Elegy" was first published in Main Street Rag (2019/2020).

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies was published by Cholla Needles Press. Symmetry: earth and sky is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

Thursday, 28 May 2020


High Tea
            For Amy

by Tobi Alfier


Shoulders and biceps tough,
shapely as a wrought iron
balustrade on a Bourbon Street
balcony, from thousands
of pushups in 5:00am PT,
flushed face a match for the rise
of dawn, always the count
inside her head—forty, fifty,
sixty, controlled face lowered
onto cool grass.

Now she is at tea,
a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” frock,
off the shoulder, over the knee,
I am a lovely woman she thinks,
her reflection poised in the many mirrors.
Legs crossed, patent-leather pumps,
tiny earrings peep through hair
delicately placed over her ears.
A pot of Earl Grey at her elbow,
sweets and sandwiches to the side.

No stripes, no boots, no salutes.
This is a day to remember the quiet
goodness of daily blessings, the definition
of friend. This man—this gentleman—
who doesn’t keep score, or harbor resentment
like a plague…She could get a PhD
in disappointment, but no fieldwork
will be done today. The only decisions—
wildflower honey or acacia, and which flowers
to bring home to grace both their houses.


* * * * *

"High Tea" was first published in Cholla Needles (Issue 33) and is part of Tobi Alfier's new collection Symmetry: earth and sky (forthcoming from Main Street Rag).

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies was published by Cholla Needles Press. Symmetry: earth and sky is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).


Wednesday, 27 May 2020


YOU OK?

by Anita S Pulier


In this quarantine marathon
morning is evening.
Hours poorly punctuated,
like a run-on sentence,
suffer from adjective flooding.

long
frightening
sad
sunny
dreary
endless 

Innocent verbs 
face the danger 
of domestic abuse

wake
cook
sleep
shower
wash
eat

The family chatters
on a zoom-packed screen,
eyeglasses steam up over masks,
droplets and aerosols
swarm like summer’s no-see-ums.

April arrives,
cherry and apple trees bloom,
daffodils sparkle in exhaust free air,
mockingbirds imitate screaming sirens.

How small the difference
between noise and song.

My love, look up!
The sun rises and sets,
the moon reassures,
we’re okay.


* * * * *

After retiring from her law practice, Anita served as a U. S. representative for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom at the United Nations.

Her chapbooks Perfect Diet, The Lovely Mundane and Sounds Of Morning as well as her book The Butchers Diamond were published by Finishing Line Press. Anita’s poems have appeared both online and in print in many journals and several anthologies. Recently she has been the featured poet on The Writers Almanac.

Anita's website address is http://psymeet.com/anitaspulier/.



Tuesday, 26 May 2020



UNKNOWING

by Vera Kewes Salter


At fifteen she had no language to describe
her own body when the man lured her

into his cabin and caused unknown
sensations to radiate through her.

She tried to write about this in her green leather
diary with the gold lock. Her boyfriend made her

shred it and pitch it into the waste bin at the underground
station because she was not able to say

if she had real sex. She sobbed every evening
as he harangued her on the phone.

She is glad her three-year old granddaughters know 
to say they wash their vaginas each night in the tub.


* * * * *

Raised in England to parents who were refugees from Europe, Vera Kewes Salter moved to the United States in 1969 and married into an African American family. Together with a PhD in sociology these varied perspectives inform her work. She writes at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center. She has been published recently in Right Hand Pointing, Writers Circle 2, and Red Eft Review.

Monday, 25 May 2020


Her Feet

by Tamara Madison


She wore mules with maribou poufs,
clear plastic high-heels to show off
toned calves, slim ankles, high arches.
Now she wears flat shoes in two sizes,
a brace on one foot, compression socks.
There are thick calluses on the braced foot.
I cut her nails, work the scissors under
the thick keratin to clip the bent-under tips.
I put lotion on her feet and legs; skin
flakes off, skin that hasn’t seen the sun
in tens of years. I help her dress for breakfast,
clean up when she doesn’t make it
to the toilet. She jokes about being dressed
like a baby by her daughter. How awful
to have lived too long! she says.
Before she goes to bed she lays out
tomorrow’s knit pants and top,
lines up the brace and two-sized shoes,
and says a prayer for everyone on her list
before falling asleep with the thought
that maybe this will be the night when He
comes to bear her away in his chariot of air.


* * * * *                     

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac, Sheila-Na-Gig, and many other publications. She has recently retired from teaching English and French in Los Angeles and is happy to finally get some sleep. More about Tamara can be found at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.



Sunday, 24 May 2020


Homeless Shelter Lamentation 

by D.C. Buschmann


You come to me drunk,
expect me to pretend
I like your drunk self.
I don’t

know how to pretend
you aren’t drunk,
that you don’t remember
what I just told you
five minutes ago,

that you don’t repeat
what you just said
four or five times.

I don’t know how to
pretend I don’t notice
your alternate personality
IQ’s 80 points lower.

You say I’m to blame.
I tear into you 
when you’re the one
tearing.

I don’t know how to 
pretend I don’t notice
you’ve gone into a rage
because I’m watching
a show you don’t like.
Why not just ask me
to turn it?

You expect me to pretend
I don’t have a threshold
and this isn’t beyond it.

You expect me to pretend
with you 
that you don’t drink.

You expect me to pretend
I like you drunk.
I don’t.


* * * * *

D.C. Buschmann is a retired editor and reading specialist. She was a finalist in the 2018 Poetry Society of Indiana’s Ogdon Award. Her poem, “Death Comes for a Friend,” was the Editor’s Choice in Poetry Quarterly, Winter 2018. In 2016, she was a finalist in the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize contest and the Pride in Poetry Prize contest. She has been published in literary magazines in the US, the UK, Australia, Iraq, and India. She lives in Carmel, Indiana, with husband Nick and miniature schnauzers Cupcake and Coco. Her first full collection of poetry will be published in 2020.

Saturday, 23 May 2020


Mustard Flowers Falling

by Tanya Ko Hong


            1

a yellow cab stops in the dark
dark clouds cover half the moon
water is boiling in the rusty kettle

she smells like peppermint
the cat's eyes like a neon sign
outside the rainy window

you are reading a line in a poem
slowly
            slowly

petals of dried flowers
drop on your knees

a woman leaves 
after brushing her teeth
with your old tooth brush 

            2

with your old toothbrush
after brushing her teeth
a woman leaves

drop on your knees
petals of dried flowers

            slowly
slowly
you are reading a line in a poem

outside the rainy window
the cat's eyes like a neon sign
she smells like peppermint

water is boiling in the rusty kettle
dark clouds cover half the moon
a yellow cab stops in the dark 


* * * * *

"Mustard Flowers Falling" was first published by Berkeley Korean Literature Society (2016) and reprinted by the Los Angeles Poet Society (2018) and is part of Tanya Ko Hong's collection The WAR still within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)

Tanya Ko Hong (Hyonhye) is a poet, translator, and cultural curator who champions bilingual poetry and poets. Born and raised in Suk Su Dong, South Korea, she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eighteen. She is the author of five books: The War Still Within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019); Mother to Myself, a collection of poems in Korean (Prunsasang Press, 2015); Yellow Flowers on a Rainy Day (Oma Books of the Pacific, 2003); Mother’s Diary of Generation 1.5 (Qumran, 2002); and Generation 1.5 (Korea: Esprit Books, 1993).

Author’s website: http://www.tanyakohong.com

Friday, 22 May 2020


The Way to Cross the Desert 

by Tanya Ko Hong

Do not think about
the oasis. 


* * * * *

"The Way to Cross the Desert" was first published in Yellow Flowers on a Rainy Day, Oma Books of the Pacific, 2003, and is part of Tanya Ko Hong's collection The WAR still within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)

Tanya Ko Hong (Hyonhye) is a poet, translator, and cultural curator who champions bilingual poetry and poets. Born and raised in Suk Su Dong, South Korea, she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eighteen. She is the author of five books: The War Still Within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019); Mother to Myself, a collection of poems in Korean (Prunsasang Press, 2015); Yellow Flowers on a Rainy Day (Oma Books of the Pacific, 2003); Mother’s Diary of Generation 1.5 (Qumran, 2002); and Generation 1.5 (Korea: Esprit Books, 1993).

Author’s website: http://www.tanyakohong.com



Thursday, 21 May 2020


Boundaries

by Peggy Carter


boundaries all tucked up  around me
everything neatly surrounded safely guarded
my hands no longer visible
my eyes closed so I may not see

everything’s folded away not one hiding place is left
even my hair is tucked up no flying strands
lips sealed against you
like a granite wall you cannot find a crevice to catch me
not this time, not with me
I am safe here inside my
boundaries
and here I will stay
no further entry permitted

even my heart has gone into hiding


* * * * *

Peggy Carter has been writing since 2006, and now takes workshops which she finds invigorating. Her mentors include Brendan Constantine, Tresha Haefner, Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) and Kelly Grace Thomas. Her style is free verse and her own life has provided plenty of inspiration. Her work has appeared in The Stray Branch, Fourth & Sycamore, Bellowing Ark and Decanto, among others. 
 


Wednesday, 20 May 2020


The Love Song of Helen Delacroix

by Laura Saint Martin


There is room enough for romance in these bones, rationed as they are, all the screws and plates and breaks perfect places for love, or disease, to flourish. My only problem being, I’ve never learned the difference.

Room enough…

World enough and time…

Who said that?

As a single mother on the autism spectrum, I have world in abundance, in all its fierce, screaming-neon, knife-faceted fecundity.

Time? A noble gas.

I’m plastered like a diplomat’s passport with diagnoses, a regular walking DSM V, with just enough sense to feel like shit about it. If my bones are porous, my ego’s worse, gapped as a tweaker’s teeth and sucking twice as hard at every form of abuse known to humankind.

What is my savant? As though I am required to have one, the sole quantification of my existence. Lebensunwertes Leben. Life unworthy of life. Isn’t it enough to love life? Must it love you back? I am more alive, I think, than most, as though I can reach into the earth and feel all of humanity, all of life, and synchronize every beating heart. I am the watcher, purveyor of the bigger picture, apart, but part of. I’m more connected than all the social butterflies with their short attention spans, their constant search for a bigger flower, a brighter sun. I have world enough and time to feel all that life, to soothe it into one giant pulse.


* * * * *

Laura Saint Martin is an emerging writer, working on a mystery series set in the foothills of Southern California, featuring horses and their eccentric but brave owners. She also writes poetry about life on the autism spectrum, mental health, blue collar struggles, and animals and nature.





Tuesday, 19 May 2020


Care and Feeding

 by Lisa Finch


My fifteen year old son, Brennan, had barely nibbled at his cheeseburger. Now I watched him pick half-heartedly at his fries.
“Not hungry?”
A shrug. Barely audible words that might have been “not really.”
When Brennan’s dad, Jeff, had walked out on us six months ago, it had been a painful surprise, like stepping into a bear trap that had been set just for me. Except, of course, Brennan had been caught in it, too.
Over the months, Brennan silently raged against me. Somehow, it had all become my fault. Each day he inched further and further from me, the space between us growing exponentially. Counselling hadn’t helped. But then, everyone involved had to show up and Jeff hadn’t. Or wouldn’t.
            Now Brennan sat across from me; he might have well been on the other side of the world. I remembered the last big fight Jeff and I had. Brennan and I wanted a dog. I’d visited our local pet store who’d recently started re-homing rescue dogs. It would be perfect. But Jeff had refused and that was that. Even then, he’d been planning his escape.
Jeff left, and the dog project deflated.
Now here in the restaurant, the idea resurfaced. No sooner was it in my thoughts than it popped out of my mouth: an olive branch. A trip to the pet store.
Brennan’s eyes were bright as they met mine. “Really?”
A dog. What had I just done?
I swallowed hard and forced a smile. “Really.”

                                                                        #

I followed Brennan into the store, mentally calculating the price of dog food, vet bills and other expenses. A little late, I chastised myself silently.
Another thought dawned on me: what if Brennan didn’t find a dog he wanted here, tonight. I imagined his stony silence on the drive home.
“Hey wait, I said. “We just passed the dogs—”
I ran to keep up. He led me past the cats, hamsters, birds, and tropical fish.
Brennan ran over to the dimly lit terrariums. “Aren’t they cool?” He pointed at the sign on the glass enclosure. (Female) Brachypelma Smithi. The Mexican Red Knee Tarantula.
He was putting me on, right? Surely he remembered. Me, near hysterics whenever a spider of any size invaded our home. It’s hard to forget a shrieking woman, doing the Funky Chicken, levying a broom or sometimes a can of Raid. Once I’d used a glass and had left said glass for a week before I ventured near it.
            Iit’s a spider…”
“Yeah, but Mom, just look at her! My friend Jared has one. Did you know that the tarantula is actually a low-maintenance pet?”
Oh?” A full body shiver reminded me of that old saying. Someone had just walked over my grave.
“Yeah, you feed them like once a week,” Brennan said, faced pressed up to the glass.
I asked him what they ate, feeling vaguely queasy that somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I already knew.
“They eat crickets, live ones.”
“Yeah, I think I read that somewhere.” I forced myself to look inside the terrarium. The spider moved its hairy orangey-red and black legs with exaggerated slowness, like something from a horror movie where things have gone terribly wrong.
Brennan looked at my horrified expression. “But you won’t let me get one, will you?” He shook his head and stormed away. “I should’ve known.”
Wait!
He turned, his cheeks splotchy, the universe compressed into a choice: be a cool mom or watch Brennan move farther and farther away. Bridge the distance, right now. Or don’t.
Let’s talk about this,” I ventured.
He folded his arms across his chest. “So you can tell me all the reasons why I can’t have one.”
No.” I plucked a pamphlet out of the stand, The Care and Feeding of Your Tarantula, and stalled for time. “It means I have questions.”
“Ask away.” He gave me a tight smile. “I’ve researched.”
News to me.
“Okay, what’s this stuff?” I pointed at the sand at the bottom of the spider’s enclosure.
Substrate. It’s a mixture of sand and peat moss. You only have to remove the dead crickets—I mean I would have to—and change the sand a couple of times a year. Spiders are pretty clean.”
“Do you have to, uh, exercise her?” My arm bristled just thinking about her crawling on my son.
“No, and that’s the great thing, too. You can handle her, if you want to. This specific breed isn’t very aggressive and if you just relax, she’s won’t spook and throw her hairs at you or bite.”
Now I was in full body shiver mode. Try as I might, I couldn’t stop. “Yeah, the venom. Doesn’t that freak you out a little?”
He shook his head. “She’s got venom but only a limited supply so she’ll really only ever use it in a life-threatening situation. Mostly, she keeps to herself in her little hide.”
“Hide? Exactly how it sounds I guess…”
“Yeah, she needs a place to just hang out, you know, unseen.” He turned back to the glass. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
A place to hide out, unseen. Flashes of my ex showing up at the door unexpected, just when I was having a good day, or when I was having a very bad, weepy day. Imagine never having to see him. Ever. Just staying in my dark little hide, my needs all being taken care of.
I realized I’d just missed something Brennan had said.                                
“Sorry,” I prompted.
“I said I’ll take care of her. I’ll do everything. I promise.”   
So: payback for every spider I’d ever squished. This was it, a hundred fold. A kind of chill fell over me. I ran my hand through my hair, sure I felt something moving around in there.
“Okay, this next part is a deal breaker: you will make sure she never escapes. I mean never ever.
“I swear!”
                                                            #

That had been three month ago. I’d gained some grudging respect that I’d allowed the spider in, but not much. Certainly not as much as I’d hoped for.
Lately I’d taken to avoiding this room, and its sinister posters, its darkness. More and more I couldn’t help compare the choice of a spider with Brennan’s rebellion, his constant testing of me.
I didn’t expect to actually care whether the spider lived or died. But it mattered to Brennan and somehow keeping her alive meant maybe I hadn’t completely failed as a parent.    
Brennan had worried about the spider when she remained motionless for days, without eating, and then one day she shed her old skin. Like Lazarus, she had emerged. Her body was soft and she was vulnerable at first, so she’d stay put until her new skin hardened and she had protection. Huh. A kind of inertia until she was ready to face the world again.
Now I stared at the terrarium; something was different. New light? No, it was the same red light. The water looked recently changed, there were no cricket bodies. Brennan had kept his word.                                                                                    
Then I noticed it. The lid, it was askew.
And the spider was nowhere to be found.

                                                                        #

I picturing myself giving into my old pattern: I’d run out of the house, call Brennan out of class, get him to come home and take care of this.
No. I was stronger now: I put my hair up in a ponytail, rolled up my sleeves, slipped on a pair of high latex gloves, and got down on my hands and knees to find her. After all, I was Mom, Finder of All Lost Things. I could do this.

                                                                        #

Three hours after Brennan had stepped off the school bus, with both of us now on the hunt, I had to admit it. Even I couldn’t locate her.
“She’s lost, isn’t she, Mom?”
Yes, she’s lost. And now maybe she’ll die.
I hated myself for doing it, but I sat down on the step and put my head in my hands. Hot salty tears sprang to my eyes.
I couldn’t even keep a damned spider alive let alone maintain a relationship with my only son.
“Hey, it’s okay,” he said.
This only made me cry harder.
“It’s not that.” I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. “I feel like I’ve lost you.” My words came out in a whisper. “We used to be so close.”
We’re still close.” As he said it, his mouth turned down; even he didn’t believe it.
We sat in silence for a few minutes. Finally he said, “It’s just that things are all messed up now.”                                       
I nodded.
Mom?
I reached for a crumpled tissue in my pocket. “Yeah.”
“It’s not your fault.” He turned his face away. This is something he used to do when he was little and he didn’t want me to see him cry. “I mean what happened with Dad.”
I took in a long shaky breath. “What if it is? What if it’s all my fault?”
I imagined Dr. Phil admonishing me that grown up issues shouldn’t be discussed in front of the children. Now I’d probably make Brennan feel all sorts of emotions he couldn’t sort out. Another failure on the pile.
How many ways could one mom fail?
“If I’ve been a shit, I’m sorry,” he said.
I sighed and let the language slide.
“I have, haven’t I?
“Well, maybe a little,” I said.
We both laughed. When I put my arm on his shoulder, he didn’t slip out of it.
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s put on Netflix and watch a really bad horror movie. She’ll come out eventually.”
Just this morning, that statement would’ve sent me into the full on heebie jeebies. I’d grown my own hard shell.
Let’s just hope I find her first or you’ll have a heart attack.” But I could see he didn’t mean it. He saw the changes, too.
Later, watching a really campy zombie flick, out of the shadows, something moved in the glow of the TV with exaggerated slowness.
“Mom! Look! She’s back!”
Back. Back was good.
I could relate. My own inertia after Jeff’s exit, had made me want to curl up into myself, away from the world and its light.
After months of staying in my hide, now I emerged, ready.
Brennan picked up the spider. “Want to hold her?” He grinned wickedly at me.
“Well.” The hair stood up on the back of my neck. “Maybe later. After all, the female Mexican Red Knee can live up to 25 years, so I’ve got some time to work up to it.”
Brennan’s mouth dropped open. So, his mom knew a thing or two about spiders.
Impressive,” he said, watching the spider crawl along his arm, with exaggerated slowness.


* * * * *

“Care and Feeding” was originally published in Wild Musette Journal #1901: Frog Porridge (November 2019). 

Lisa Finch lives and writes in Forest, Ontario. Her work has appeared in over 25 publications. You can dig deeper here: amazon.com/author/lisa_finch and here: www.finchtales.webs.com. She is blessed with a wonderful family, friends, a full calendar, various pets, and many books.

Monday, 18 May 2020


Different Kinds of Darkness    

by Evan Guilford-Blake


The war that is the background for what is described in the “letter” that follows, the woman who describes it and the incidents to which she refers are, all, entirely fictional. The physical setting is willfully indefinite. War is not a thing of time, place, generation or specific circumstance. It is, and has always been.

And, regretful to say, will always be.


Dear Rikki –

Good news at long last. They’re sending me home! I tried to call you but I got the goddamn voicemail – we have got to get rid of that message. First thing we do after I walk in the door. After you kiss me, of course, for what will probably be the thousandth time since I get off the plane. That message sounds sooooo sweet. So instead of me – live from 5,000 miles away – you get this. E-mail isn’t the comforting sound of your voice, and I’ll try again later, but I’m so excited I couldn’t wait to tell you. And, besides, I need to practice my typing. Ignore the errors: This keyboard is really small and no way I’m gonna let anyone proofread it.

The other good news, I suppose, is that you won’t have to come. And I’m grateful for that. I mean, it would’ve been awful goddamn hard for you to get in here, let alone just get here, and we couldn’t’ve afforded for you to stay long enough to make the trip worth it.

And besides, I figure I still don’t look so good. I don’t know if I’m ready to have the world see me like this – however this looks. There’s still some pain – the doctor says there will be some pain at least a few more months, maybe now and then after that, because of the nerves. You remember.

            But, really, I’m a lot better. The bandages came off this morning! For good! When they said they were going to do it? I kept thinking: The nurse is gonna gasp like in that Twilight Zone show. I’ll never know if she did. I thought they’d let me be awake for the unveiling but, no, I was under. And groggy as hell when I woke up. But now I get to feel my face again. Rik – there are lots of scars. Lots. More than I guessed there was. I mean, I knew there’d be scars, it hurt so much, it was like my skin was getting tore up again and again, but God, I’m so afraid of what I look like. I’m afraid for you to see me. I know I’m ugly, and they can’t do anything reconstructive for years, maybe never, and I don’t want to look like this, I don’t want to look like someone little kids will scream at when they see, like someone you’ll have to hide what you’re feeling when you see. I know you didn’t want me for my looks in the first place, and 19 years is a long time, but, you’re so goddamn beautiful and hey, how people look, it’s always made a difference to me.

I guess it won’t any more, huh?

I guess it’s good I never had kids.

Anyway. I’m making progress in Braille. I still can’t read much, but I got through a whole page today. Took me an hour, I had to go over some of the words 3 or 4 times, but there’s what the therapist calls context: If you figure out the first letter is e and the last one is t you can figure the one between them is probably an a. If it’s a 3 letter word, anyway. I get confused on the longer ones. I forget what letters I read. It’s probably good I’m reading Stephen King. I think the longest word in Salem’s Lot is vampire. And feeling that word – it conjures up lots of images. All of them having to do with darkness. Different kinds of darkness.

I think a lot about darkness. Like being in a tunnel that’s too long to know there is a light at the end. Before I came here, before the explosion and the pain and the wanting to die, I loved it. Lying there with you, late at night, pitch black and all the sounds magnified. Every breath you took, every rustle of the sheets, the tiny tiny sound of my finger tracing the circle around your areola, the licking of your lips before you kissed me. It’s true, you are more aware of sounds when you can’t see. Here, I hear planes, footsteps in the hall, the other women crying, crying out. Sometimes I hear people die. I’m not going to die, Rikki, not for a long time. The doctor says I’m in surprisingly good shape. I oughta be. You can’t train other soldiers for 16 years if you’re not. But it’s gonna be hard to live, I know that. For both of us. When I get back? we should go right away, someplace where they’ll let us really tie the knot. You think? If you’re still willing. And I believe you when you say you are. That’s what’s been keeping me going the last 4 months, knowing there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I might not be able to see it, but I can feel it. It’s warm and it feels safe. I love you, Rik. Thanks for loving me – not because of, not in spite of. Just loving.

I’ll see you soon.

Yours, Yasmina


* * * * *

"Different Kinds of Darkness," © Guilford-Blake Corp., was podcast in 2016 by No Extra Words (under the title "Yasmina") and was chosen as the winner of the 2015 Green River Writers short-short fiction competition.

Evan Guilford-Blake writes prose, poetry and plays. His work has appeared in more than 100 journals and anthologies. His prose has won 27 awards and garnered four Pushcart Prize nominations. His scripts have won 46 competitions. Thirty-three are published.

Evan’s published long-form prose includes the novels Animation, The Bluebird Prince, and the award-winning story collection American Blues. He and his wife (and inspiration) Roxanna, a talented jewelry designer and business writer, live in the southeastern US with their beloved rescue mutts, Baldrick and Pip.