Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after a rewarding career in public health research. With graduate degree from Howard University, in seven years he’s published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, hybrid, and plays in over 175 journals and anthologies on five continents. Photo publications include Bombay Gin, Burningword, Camas, Columbia Journal, Feral, Stoneboat, and Stonecoast. Photo essays include Barren, Kestrel, Ilanot Review, New World Writing, Sweet, and Typehouse. Jim and his wife—parents of two hard-working nurses and grandparents of five little ones—split their time between city and mountains.
oak and leather corner pub
warm glow of Guinness
tensions softly fold to sighs
beyond these walls
That widen in surprise
Tear in sympathy
That writes of playful things
Whose ink spills out in flourishes
Drawing pictures in words
That clicks with musical beat
Whose letters speak to screen
In engineered friendship
That explodes, whispers, cries
a tale I don’t want to hear
but I can’t turn off
That speak of love
With the softest caress
on the cheek
Muffled by mask
That can’t hide the smile
In the eyes
Ode to Candle Stub
Wax almost spent, wick bent and blackened
dripping life blood of self in service
sleeping old soldier
bivouacked in the back of the drawer
found when pawing for pen or twist tie
always ready, willing to accept
the sweet kiss of fire, illumine
the great pool of dark as strong as
younger, taller, more fortified
Service to the end of life
Service to the depths of self
Service highly valued
to the stubby end
Cathy Hollister is an older writer whose poetry often explores the treasures embedded in age, isolation, and continual readjustments. When not writing you might find her on the dance floor enjoying the company of friends or deep in the woods basking in the peace of solitude. Her work has been in Silent Spark Press, Humans of the World Blog, Open Door Magazine, Beyond Words Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, Poet’s Choiceanthologies, and others. She lives in middle Tennessee.
Would love to bake chocolate chip cookies again with you. Do not
care if we ate all the dough and had no cookies to eat. Miss you.
Come as you are. Do not care if there’s bones, skin, or nothing. As long
as it’s you. I will know you by your laugh or simply your touch. Miss
you. We never did get to run that half marathon together.
Was run in your honor. A full too. When you come please bring that
cheesy pepperoni bread. Soooo delicious. Have not been
able to duplicate it. The cheese melts into the dough and it’s terrible
re-heated. Think it’s the wrong kind of dough. You would know.
Miss you. Heartbreaking life experiences shatter. I’m sorry.
I am sorry I failed you. Would love to hug you. Hard. Kiss your check.
Your forehead. Hug you again. To many unsaid goodbyes. I know
you said goodbye before you left forever. Knew it. Felt it.
Here. Inside. Look for you in my dreams … into that wide darkness … can’t
find you. Will forever Miss You. Riding brought you so much joy … exuberance.
You wanted to go faster and faster … as fast as the horse’s hooves would
run … which now pound my heart … my head. It’s almost spring.
Daffodils sprouting and covered in snow. You loved their yellow happiness.
I remember you telling me how pissed you were with your mom for making
you pick the ones in the field. Planting time. Dogs running through the
garden … playfully trampling all your plants. We are all dog hoarders now. Miss you.
The sea is calling. We can walk on the beach. Looking for sand dollars, shells,
and starfish. Let me know where to meet. We’ll both show up. Bring that
blue jean hat we all loved. The one where your white blond uncontrollable curls
tumble out. We have so much to catch up on. I want to hear all about
Heaven … how you’re doing. I’ll bring the cheesy pepperoni bread and flowers.
Daffodils or Sunflowers? The new dog will be on a leash. You’ll love him.
He’s a foodie too. Any time. Any place. Or just the dining room table.
That’s fine too. Just come.
MD Bier is a binge reader and you’ll always find a book with her. Her writing reflects her passion for social change and social issues. Being part of the Project Write Now Community is where she writes and studies poetry. She has been published in the Write Launch, Humans of the World, New Brunswick Poetry Anthology, and the New Brunswick Windows on the World. MD Bier lives in NJ with her family and dog.
Kevin’s father stares out the window at the clouds rolling in instead of the photo album Kevin brings today, cracking it open next to his bed, thinking it would help. Plastic pages unstick from each other as he turns the frozen moments, but no one is watching. The nurse says tomorrow might be better, that he’s not having a good day. Yesterday was worse. Day-to-day is hard to predict at this point. Strangely, month-to-month is easier. The coming years, if he gets them, all but certain.
Not that any day now is anywhere near good. The forgetting is getting worse. Good days, Kevin knows, are just quieter, pass faster. Bad days feel endless, are full of outbursts and fits—tantrums from a grown man stuck in a present he no longer feels welcome in. It’s not his fault. Kevin knows this. It’s not anyone’s fault. Kevin thinks to himself It is what it is and hates it less than when others say it, though he can’t recall if anyone has said it about his father. It’s after visiting hours now, and he needs to come back another time. He isn’t sure what the hours are, when he can, or if he wants to just yet.
A mist begins to fall as he walks to the car. He stops, remembers the forgotten album on the check-in desk left on his way out, looks back and sighs—the nurse already holding it up, blurred through the wet window next to the revolving door. She’s waving. If time froze, it would look like saying hello or goodbye, though it’s really neither—the same with these visits.
Back home across the couch, bathed in the TV’s bright-then-dim splashes he isn’t watching, Kevin calls his dog’s name. The dog lifts her head in the dull glow, meets his eyes, waits to see what happens next. But Kevin has nothing more to say, is tired, is out of words and ideas. He can’t remember when she last went out and it worries him. He can’t remember how many things he’s forgotten recently. It’s a cold and steady rain outside anyway, and he doesn’t know if he wants to walk her just yet. He hopes it’ll blow over or clear up soon.
In the silence that lingers, the dog lays her head back down between her paws, lets out a sigh. For now, something left in Kevin’s life remembers its own name. On the TV, the weather forecast drones. It predicts the rain will freeze to ice overnight and into the morning. A green, blue, and purple shape slides over the state line getting closer as it grows across the screen—a widening bruise blotting out what’s waiting below. It is, he knows, what it is.
Kevin sighs too and tries, for a moment, to forget what tonight or what tomorrow—or what any future—might bring.
Aaron Sandberg will remember memento mori later. He’s appeared or is forthcoming in Asimov’s, No Contact, I-70 Review, Alien Magazine, The Shore, Plainsongs, West Trade Review, The Offing, Sporklet, Right Hand Pointing, Halfway Down the Stairs, and elsewhere. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, you can see him—and his writing posts—on Instagram @aarondsandberg
Zero is a beginning and one is a beginning too. I was once a zero and became one after one year. It was then I began to walk and talk. Early, they said, but for me not soon enough.
At five I was flying, off to other States, which gave me a taste for adventure. When I was only one decade old, I spent most of my time in the woods, eating wild plants and hiding, having developed a knack for hating indoor school, which continued for many more aggregates.
At 16, I became what they call a professional (got paid) and at 1 and an 8, left home for good. Off to the big city of New York to become a ‘real’ actress, where I mostly stumbled and stopped flying. I found it difficult to maintain flight throughout my 20s and 30s with so many men telling me what to do. Directors and producers all had so much to say, like lie down and don’t tell anyone.
At 3 followed by an 8, I found God, only later to discover it was a cult. This was after 16 grueling years of hardcore belief. I was now in my fifth decade ‒ 5 followed by another 5. At this point, I fell in love and rediscovered I had a body with desires. This sent me flying again, back into my body and remembering I hated school, however disguised.
Now in my 7s followed by a zero, seven decades, I mostly live outdoors again, riffling through weeds, kissing peonies, writing essays, and witnessing too much death. Friends and otherwise. But I still have love, my body, and trees.
I may live to a one followed by two zeros. Ten decades! Back to one, followed this time by two zeros. Hopefully I’ll still be in my body on hands and knees in the dirt. Or, lying in the earth, scarred and resting, with all those zeros and ones spent.
Dian Parker’s essays and short stories have been published in 3:AM Magazine, The Rupture, Critical Read, Adelaide, Epiphany, Memoir Monday, Anomaly, Westerly, Channel, Capsule, Tiny Molecules, Sky Island Journal, Hotazel Review, among others, and nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and lives now in the hills of Vermont.
Thursday, 12:20 p.m.
Tug is listening to music at his desk.
“What’s that instrument that sounds
like a washing machine?” asks Claire.
Tug says “That’s what we in the industry
call a ‘drum,’ Claire.”
A single eyelash falls from my face,
into my yogurt cup.
A redbird taps its head against the window.
Saturday, 2:22 p.m.
I’m deep in the forest right now.
I have no time to listen
to grown men argue
whether Bib Fortuna
survived Jedi or not.
I want the forest in this poem
to function like the forest
in Shakespeare comedies:
A place of working things out,
unencumbered by social constraints.
But I may have learned that wrong.
Thursday, 3:25 p.m.
No one talks about Jane’s Addiction anymore.
Their admixture of heart and decadence.
They seemed so important at the time.
I wish a machine would take me back.
Spring is here with its dampness
and smell of shit.
A guy balancing on a skateboard
with an armful of flowers.
Justin Lacour lives in New Orleans and edits Trampoline: A Journal of Poetry. He is the author of the chapbook My Heart is Shaped Like a Bed: 46 Sonnets (Fjords 2022).