Fire God

Fire runs screaming down the hillside like an insane deity, crackling in a forgotten tongue and making believers.

Fear is catching; animals running from death. Cars blaze by, people clutching steering wheels, deer-in-the-headlights-stares lamenting pets. There was no time.

Near the mountain prisoners dig a perimeter, pretending the roaring all around can’t harm them. Fire is searing light waiting for sacrifice.

Propane tanks are flying in the sky, do-it-yourself missiles launched from backyard silos.

Beetle-blighted pines ignite, squealing sap boiling before the explosion. Smoky air and ashes trying to be everywhere, falling like dirty snowflakes.

Red lights gleam in the darkness. Ambulances sing warnings, parading down streets, offerings in their wombs fragile as porcelain.

At the gas station vehicles cram together like bumper cars, people shouting at people who can’t change a single thing.

Cell phones in hand; everyone’s uploading their video: we are safe.

All over the country, people watch the nightmare that isn’t happening to them.

Here, fires happen every year.

Children sob for toys lost; parents worry about what comes after this.

The cots are all six feet apart at the shelters. Please wear a mask the signs say, but not everyone will. Truth is point of view; beliefs are arbitrary.

Fire is truth. Everything here will burn.

Josh Price

Josh Price lives in Northern California with his wife and dogs. He has forthcoming flash with The Los Angeles Review; South Florida Poetry Journal, The Daily Drunk, 365 Tomorrows and F3LL Magazine have published his flash fiction and CNF. You can visit him at, on Twitter and Instagram @timepinto, and

Why Didn’t I Name a Parasite?

There is a rumble beneath the dormant kernels of wheat like hunger during the fast from humanity. Kernels of wheat germinate when the water content in the grain is about 35 to 45 percent by weight. The embryo struggles for food, pushing out the root searching for moisture.

There is a parasite in my mind, it pervades and perseveres and keeps me unique and alone, swimming in the blood of humanity, the words and thoughts that effuse from the wearers of flowered linen suits and dresses.

There is a whisper slicing through the bones buried deep in the mass graves in the field. Voices of the past offer words and stories forgotten beneath propaganda. Words from the grandparents are brushed off like dandruff on a black dress in October. ‘Can’t you laugh, grandma?’ ‘Can’t you smile, grandpa?’

There is an absence of memory, of history in the mind of the parasite. The parasite repeats again, and again, and again. Latch on, devour and consume, procreate and propagate, over and over, and over. The parasite is nameless.

There is a tear rushing through the heart like a kayak rolling over rapids in spring landing on the porous neutral soil. The soil absorbs the tear of the child, the grandparent, the nation, and the world. The embryo swells, its strength derived from starch, like the starched shirt props up the fearful child who grasps the hand of an unknown aunt before laying a rose on a stained wooden box.

There is a parasite in my mind that consumes my memory, my history, my heritage. The heritage is crumpled beneath the rubble and piles of twisted rebar and concrete shards. The parasite is never satiated.

There is a coleoptile to break the surface of the soil. Coleoptiles are the armor that protects the first leaf of the seedling derived from the swollen embryo. The mustiness of spring, the dank dirt filled with rows of dilapidated boxes, shudders when the surface breaks.

There is a child with my eyes, my cheekbones, and my mouth. There is a tearless child with my face beside the crushed chaff. There is a face that doesn’t know how to smile. There is a parasite that gobbles memory over and over like a cliched bottomless pit. There is a nameless parasite in your mind that is hungry.

Carol Ann Parchewsky

Carol Ann Parchewsky is a writer based in Calgary, Alberta. She received her MFA in Fiction at Queens University of Charlotte and her Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, from the University of Saskatchewan. She is working on her first novel and a short story collection. Her fiction is published in and forthcoming in On the Run, Flash Boulevard, Drunk Monkeys, Stanchion, and The Drabble Advent Calendar.

Boxed Flowers

For my sixty-ninth birthday, my husband bought me a years’ worth of flowers. FedEx dutifully delivers a box on my doorstep each month. I quickly unpack them, trim the leaves, find a vase, and add the special powder to the water.  Then I center the flowers on my kitchen table where they’ll last about a week.

That first month I thought, such extravagance! I considered all the practical things I could have used instead. A new bathrobe. A hat to hide my graying hair. But each time I walked into the kitchen, that splash of color brightened my day. It was a minor miracle. A delightful, disarming surprise. The flowers were as lovely as they were useless. I suppose that was my husband’s point.

Alongside the kitchen table sits my writing desk.  I’ve always been a writer. In high school, I wrote copy for the yearbook. In college, I majored in English. Somewhere in my closet I have piles of handwritten blue books, my term papers typed on a Smith Corona with more than one funky key. But for the last dozen years, as I turned the corner from middle-aged to more, writing has become an obsession. Short stories. Verse. A memoir.

Inside the world of literary journals, I’m doing well. I’ve learned to handle rejection. And I’ve learned to embrace the times when I’m published with a kind of giddy glee. Of course, I’m seldom paid. And on the rare occasions when I’m sent a check, it maybe covers lunch.

Only after gathering my courage do I tell my friends. Check your inbox, I’ll email. I have something posted that you’ll like.

But while I wait for their response, my stomach knots. If I could see my friends’ faces, they’d be forcing a smile. If they could reach through their screens, they’d be patting the top of my head. Like a child, I’m patronized. Very nice, they write back. Good job! But the subtext always lingers. If you’re not compensated, does your labor have value? If a writer isn’t paid, are words on a screen considered work?

I’ve always been a housewife. I had children to raise and a husband with a time-consuming job. Unlike me, most of my friends led professional lives. In their minds, writing is transactional. They’ve written law briefs, essays for medical journals, applications for grants. They view my efforts as a hobby or indulgence– like playing mahjong or knitting baby booties for the kids.

Maybe they’re right. Yes, my writing doesn’t serve a function. Yes, my writing doesn’t pay the rent.  I simply write about ordinary people who lead ordinary lives. An old lady shuffling in the supermarket.  A lost child spinning on the sidewalk.  A caretaker desperate for help.

And what takes weeks to create has a lifespan of minutes. The reader clicks the link, and it’s hello and goodbye.  A story there and not there. A blink and it’s gone! Just like a boxful of flowers.

Marlene Olin

Marlene Olin was born in Brooklyn, raised in Miami, and educated at the University of Michigan. Her short stories and essays have been published in journals such as The Massachusetts Review, Catapult, PANK, and World Literature Today. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of The Net, Best Small Fictions, and for inclusion in Best American Short Stories.

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud