Bath Time With Björk by Susanna Kittredge

Björk is offering me French fries.
Her French fries are made of chick pea batter,
cooked in goose fat, and garnished
with umeboshi pickled plum and ebullience.

Björk is wearing pajamas.
We are both wearing pajamas.
Warm water is running for a bath and the bathroom
is filling with bubbles.

I can see Björk’s reflection on the surface
of a bubble, all pink-blue iridescence
and Mona Lisa smile.
Björk pops the bubble, conjuring
a blue-pink parakeet that hops onto Björk’s finger
and into her open mouth.
Björk puts the finger to her lips and chirps.

The French fries are still warm and crispy,
but they are not for eating.
They are for atmosphere. Their warm, fatty aroma
makes me drowsy and content.
The room is pillowed with millions of bubbles.
Björk turns off the tap and opens her mouth wide.

I hop in.


Susanna Kittredge is a teacher and poet from Massachusetts. Her first full-length collection, The Future Has a Reputation, was published by CW Books in January, 2020. Susanna holds an MFA from San Francisco State University. She is a member of the Jamaica Pond Poets and the Brighton Word Factory.

Cheeks and Trumpets by Sam Rose

Yes, but look: a shock of daffodil
at the side of the road

egg yolk trumpets and
honeyed cheeks shining in

ballistic belligerence
daffodil defiance

we will be seen
they crow from their

corn-fire centres
we deserve attention

as I drive past I can almost hear
the triumphant toot sounding

from lemon lips
as I meet their demands


Sam Rose is a writer from Northamptonshire and the editor of Peeking Cat Literary. She is a three times cancer survivor and a PhD student, researching the connection between creative writing and cancer survivorship issues. She has been published in over 50 literary magazines and anthologies. Find her at https://www.writersam.co.uk and on Twitter @writersamr.

3 Poems by Eric Fisher Stone

Verses from Elmer

I’m a stuffed triceratops
with butterfly-soft fabric
teal as lagoons. My father
shimmers in my black eyes
while his breath ships my name.

Three ice-cream cone horns
nudge the air, my frill’s shamrock
rising from my neck. Some say
I’m inanimate, though I think,
therefore I am
—for all objects

house a soul. I love the world
for aardvarks I’ve not seen,
though I imagine bleat
accordion music, have seventeen eyes
and thirty snouts beyond my closet

of teddy bears. The universe
is tender. Blue ghosts wait
in the weeping wind for my father
to nurse their griefs back to joy.
I’m happy, so happy to be real.


Let There Be Light

From space, blue earth glimmers
blessed by hooves. No other world
has lovemaking and blackberries.
Everybody who lived, lives here.

Zoom to suburbs one April night.
A lone cricket rings in flickering grass.
Sheet-shawled sleepers dream
their late grandfather’s face
genuine as clay. Others dream
of baseball, their first school dance. Light comes

so white it x-rays the rooms. Cars stall
on freeways. A mushroom cloud climbs,
downtown cinders to incense

as cobs in shucks blast to popcorn,
wallpaper crisps like peeled skin,
deranged angels smearing fire through hands
of sweetgum leaves, Old Testament wrath
on fresh mown lawns where the family dog barks
and does not understand.


Frog in Amber

In Myanmar, 2018, a 99-million-year-old frog was found trapped in amber with its potential last meal, a beetle. The Cretaceous era amphibian lived contemporary with dinosaurs.

When the pine wept
syrupy resin, her tears
gummed me to death
with gold, my flesh glassed

in this bullion glacier.
My webbed hands tried
to swim the candled slurry
until I became a runestone

casting scientific magic,
to call stegosaur gods
for truth and company.
My cocoon’s caramel speaks

mysteries curators read
and cannot understand:
forests with unnamed smells,
rituals of trilobites and snails.

Do humans know the sound
of my trilling chin’s love-croak,
the taste of my last beetle?
Are my pleasures lost to time

as yours will? I sleep
in this hunk of sap, waiting
for your vision to wake me
and imagine my sipping breath.


Eric Fisher Stone is a poet from Fort Worth, Texas. He received his MFA in writing and the environment from Iowa State University. His book of poems, “The Providence of Grass” was published by Chatter House Press in 2018. His second book, “Animal Joy” is forthcoming from WordTech Editions in 2021.

SADIE’S DREAM STATE by Martina Reisz Newberry

Sadie says that she dreams
just two dreams when she sleeps:
she dreams of what lit her life on fire
and of what put that fire out,
leaving dry, bare branches
and dark, burnt earth.

The high pines are so
clearly visible when a fire
races through them,
she says.

Strong winds below the canyons*
promise a fire that cleanses as
fiercely as water. My dreams

suggest that all fires eventually
burn out and take with them
the spirit who lit that fire.

If they don’t burn out, water appears,
tries the patience of flame,
suffocates and turns it into steam.

Sadie poses with a lit cigarette
between her fingers; she inhales,
then exhales a stream of smoke
which doubles back, sits like a halo
over her head, shines off her arrow-
straight hair. It is, Sadie says,

the best that smoke can do.
These are dreams of relentless
repetition and Sadie says she favors
the first dream but knows that the second dream,
made rugged by its inevitable outcome,
is patient and waits for the water to do its duty.

*R.I.P. Larry Kramer


Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY is available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of six books. Her work has been widely published in magazines and journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.

2 Poems by Barbara Daniels

Exorcism

Who are you here at the turning?
Set aside your shaggy head,

speckled coat, ragged paws
soaked with blood.

Do you hear my voice
in the clink of spoons?

Light falls through leaves
to the ground. Won’t you stop

for tea, for toast made bright
with glittering marmalade?

Lift your cup. Still
your struggling hands.


Joseph Joseph

He wasn’t a carpenter. He was a lawyer
with a very clean desk. He was a copywriter,
gardener, travel agent. Joseph Joseph, TV cook.

A racing bike equipped him to be a messenger.
He moved to the big city, bought glamorous clothes
and became a stenographer. He wrote his dreams

in his stenographer’s notebook. He fell for
a woman who was a cheat. Shortly thereafter
he met Miss Right. Soon they married.

They’re very happy, and the book of Joseph Joseph
closes. In the night he smells sawdust. He moves
his hands as if planing rough surfaces, sliding

rhythmically till they are smooth. He falls in love
with a hammer so perfect he wants to kiss it.
Under the marriage bed, he keeps a can of nails.

Sometimes he gets up to sweep shavings
from the floor though his wife keeps it perfectly clean.
He’s never warm enough. He hardly remembers

greenfly season, fierce stalks pushing up
out of bulbous tubers. He strums his bicycle,
the wheels like guitars, little bell like a star.


Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Elephant Cookies by Joseph Buehler

Attention: to reduce the risk of fire, only use a forty watt bulb.
You can’t eat any more elephant cookies. Stop eating the
elephant cookies. Rachel stole the last one. Only zebra
cookies are left. (The pick might fly off the handle.) Beware
of the three leafed poison ivy tree. Your weeping cherry tree
has stopped weeping. (Let’s fix Henry good.) He was a lean
Kentucky farmer who married a fat Ohio woman, Jacob was.
Or maybe she became fat as time wore on. Did they have any
kids? I don’t remember. Who cares anyway? Maybe the kids
cared, if they existed. Ethel just made up a new batch of elephant
cookies. Avoid the rush. Look out for Sammy! I hear that Sammy
has it in for you because you ate almost all of the elephant cookies.
Will you please quit screwing sixty watt bulbs into all of the desk
lamps? Please?


Joseph Buehler has published poetry in Otoliths in Australia, The Tower Journal, Bumble Jacket Miscellany, Mad Swirl, Futures Trading ,Turk’s Head Review,  H.C.E.  Review in Dublin and elsewhere.  He lives in Georgia with his wife Trish and no pets.

The Manicures: Stilettos by Valerie Loveland

I went into training for this. It is called monster training. It is called how to type with claws. How to get your husband to accept you are becoming a werewolf.

Each of my stiletto nails writes advice articles for womens’ magazines but all the pitches got rejected for not matching the tone of human magazines, and also for being too feminist. They couldn’t be paid because fingernails can’t open bank accounts.

I’ll give you a preview of some of the magazine article titles: Yes you can do everything with claws! You can do that with stilettos. You can do everything better with talons. Do not listen to your viola teacher: You can still play with nails.

Do not listen to your winter gloves; we will rip right through them. A monster hand never gets cold because we are magnets. We turn one way and attract and then turn the other way and repel.

They told me I could take out my contacts, and I could.
They told my vagina: we won’t hurt unless you want us to.

I thought I felt trapped in my nails, I tried to make them disappear with acetone as if they were slugs and I could just pour salt, but it only made them angry. I clipped them blunt but they made me pay to put them back on and even made me buy them nail art.

They said, “Don’t blame us, you already had just as many typos.”

They said, “We don’t belong to you, we belong to your hand.”


Valerie Loveland is a poet and programmer living in Philadelphia. She is working on a manuscript of Unsolved Mysteries poems.

Purple Daze by Kristen Henderson

Nursing the baby had not come easily to Sheila. Chloe was born late, yet Sheila’s milk dribbled in. Other mothers in the “Mommy and Me” group would just lift or slide and the baby would latch, suck. When baby Chloe did latch, she chomped. Maybe too many days of no real nutrition made her ornery. Sheila had no sense of the days or when her baby had eaten. Or when either of them had slept.

A florescent purple flash from the refrigerator door scratched Sheila’s bloodshot eye… there must be some cheese inside — cheddar or pepper jack. Crap. Only moldy shredded parmesan. The purple flash on the closing door now shook Sheila’s head. She froze. A “Barney the Dinosaur” 1-year-old birthday party for her sister’s son was the next day at the Green Hills Mall food court. “Who the hell has a birthday party at a food court,” Sheila screamed, crumbled on the linoleum floor, her plaid flannel pajama pants hanging under her belly.

She should had listened to the warnings: “It is hard enough to have a child when you have a partner, but raising one on your own…”

That night Chloe snuggled next to Sheila, ate only twice and without gums. If Sheila went to the birthday party, she could eat and maybe Chloe would nap in the butterfly-decorated stroller she had borrowed from a neighbor.

They arrived at 12:15, only 15 minutes late, but the food court was already full of crawling, toddling, drooling, mostly hairless children. Fathers, armed with Nikon video cameras, were posed to get film of their children playing with the man impersonating a fat purple dinosaur.

Sheila now understood why her sister would have a party at a food court. Kids could run wild while their moms and dads socialized, mostly comparing developmental statistics.

Chloe was calm and oblivious to the noise and the competition; her glazed eyes ostensibly conjuring butterflies. Sheila ate pizza off of a purple plastic plate, drank punch and flirted a bit. Chloe stirred; Sheila bent to her level.

“Duck,” screamed a toddler’s father.

A purple, splintered commotion shot from Barney’s direction. His oversized hand gave way to a revolver peeking out from his stuffed belly. A bullet struck Sheila in the left chest. Breast milk sprang out. She collapsed. “Take … take care of Chloe,” she pleaded to her sister. “You’re a natural at this.”


Kristen Henderson is a former journalist whose work was published in the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek. Recently, she developed a passion for flash and short fiction, and her pieces have appeared in the Drabble, Limit Experience Journal, the 101 Word Story Journal, amongst others.