by Fabrice Poussin
It is hard to catch up with the character she plays
running from word to word, passing a period
down to another paragraph to the end of a chapter
so eager she is to reach the grand finale of her own story.
Always she wants to close the cover and find refuge
within the sheets of the unfinished romance
in a perilous cliff-hanger safe from the rest of us
alone in the dark corner of our unwanted thoughts.
Timid to the outsider she never looks from the page
dark spectacles give shelter to those disturbing gazes
hearing not a sound, she awaits the moment
when she too will commune with her dreams.
Peace is the only aim of this trembling soul
once trapped in the vise of a frenzied mob
life flows in her crimson rivers as in torrents
and all she wanted was an instant with her knight.
Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.
by Heather Bellinger
Light curves like a question mark
as it enters a stranger’s mouth.
It dives, like a confident downstroke,
and commas to kiss the tongue.
It soothes the throat with assonance,
alliteration, drops ellipses of rhyme,
reminding him he’s more than a forlorn epithet.
Heather Bellinger is a recent Corban University graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in English. She enjoys writing poetry of all sorts, flash fiction, and plays, and can be found roaming around in bookstores, theatres, or her kitchen pantry as she attempts another British dessert. She plans to continue writing as she pursues teaching, graduate school, and theatre.
by John Grey
I was intrigued by
an asymmetrical surface
shaped by the quirks
of ancestral DNA.
A combination of forehead,
cheeks, ears, nose, mouth
with a neck base,
and bordered by long brown locks.
It operated with some kind
of hinge mechanism,
because it proved capable
of both looking in my direction
and then turning completely away.
The back view
was smooth, covered over,
and far less detailed.
It wasn’t capable of smiling.
Or of much beyond a resounding “No.”
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.
by Helen Chambers
The face of tomorrow slides away from my grasp, like catching a glass rainbow on a tablecloth. Tuesday? Wednesday? I expect you told me, but the cobwebs in my brain tangle the connections. In bright shafts of sunlight, I recall the hiss and flick of grasses scratching on my boots. We walk and willow trees dip their fingers into the river where the blue sky and our reflections are trapped gazing back at us. I am warm, too warm and I try to take off my shawl, but the others push it back on my shoulders.
I’m singing, with the others, crowded together, too hot. That song – you’ll know its name. You watch us. They say I mustn’t wave. I must pretend I don’t know you. So silly. Just sing. I know all the words. I was something then. I sang solos, proud and alone, with a strong voice. I have to stand behind the others now and I can’t see.
No more singing, that’s sad. I’m too hot. You take off my shawl, tuck my hand under your arm. Perhaps this is where the man’s daughter leaves. He looks old and sad. My daughter went. Lying in her pram watching the sun fluttering through the leaves. Tiny fingers, big round eyes.
You look old and sad. Did your daughter leave too?
Helen Chambers is a short story and flash fiction writer from North East Essex, UK, who dreams up ideas whilst out walking by the river. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex and she won the Fish Short Story prize in 2018. Helen has several publications, many of which you can read on her blog: https://helenchamberswriter.wordpress.com
by Abigail Barnett
A spectacled woman sat at the counter this evening. She handed Garrett the art museum’s friends-and-family-discount slip.
You’re here far too often, she said through her thin lipstick smile. You’re practically an exhibit yourself. They both laughed.
Garrett brought the slip of paper into his pocket and back out again. In and out it went as he passed the marble sculptures and empty stairwells. Garrett liked the new mixed media exhibit. He told the dragon carving so.
Garrett paused at the impressionist paintings, tracing the pattern of their curling frames with his eyes.
It’s too cold outside for you, he told them. His boyish fingers hovered above their white and citrus strokes like an orchestra conductor.
Then his hand jerked and he was pulled by the weight of his own body down the hallways. Shoulders swaying, eyes open to all the colors he knew that he knew. His body lilted from wall to wall, as if floating homeward around the corners.
Perhaps the last visitors saw him: one green coat swimming past the last guests. Perhaps a bejeweled grandmother glimpsed his white shoes flash on the hardwood floor. Perhaps the intercom announcing five more minutes didn’t reach the far corners of the museum. Perhaps there was one pair of gleeful footsteps echoing off the metal sculptures. Echoing off the glass cases. Echoing between the massive canvases. Echoing echoes. Perhaps it was only an echo.
Perhaps that’s why a stray man in blue uniform paused. He hovered over the last light switch. He couldn’t remember the install of a new exhibit back here: a life-size young man frozen mid-stride beneath the red glow of an Exit sign. The figure’s eyes were closed, one hand in his pocket, glancing backward as if he’d heard the security guard approaching. His other hand glinted, clearly made of plastic, above his shoulder; a sort of final wave.
Modern art, muttered the security guard. His own footsteps echoed away. They were the only sound for a long while afterward.
Abigail Barnett is a senior Psychology major at Corban University in Oregon. She didn’t know she enjoyed writing so much until she took a Creative Writing class on a whim last year. You can find her at one of Oregon’s many coffee shops (in the next two weeks before graduation), probably pretending to be a hipster and drinking far too much espresso.