The Conclusion Magazine

Arts, Culture & Literature Around The World

Shamsunnahar Smriti  (born 24 October 1992), known professionally as  Pori Moni  ( পরীমনি ), is a Bangladeshi actress and model. Her firs...

Shamsunnahar Smriti (born 24 October 1992), known professionally as Pori Moni (পরীমনি), is a Bangladeshi actress and model. Her first film, Rana Plaza directed by Nazrul Islam Khan, was postponed by the censor board in 2015. Bhalobasha Shimaheen was her first film to be released on 13 February 2015. She co-produced Mohua Sundori (2015) directed by Rawshan Ara Nipa.


























Dear readers & contributors, Thank you for visiting our website. The Conclusion Magazine will move to the new URL from 11th February,...

Dear readers & contributors,

Thank you for visiting our website. The Conclusion Magazine will move to the new URL from 11th February, 2019. If you are saving the current URL in your bookmarks (favorites), please update it to the new one.


Current URL
https://theconclusionmagazine.blogspot.com

New URL
https://theconclusionmag.wordpress.com/


[ps: In future we'll keep sharing the issues link here too, but posts will be up on new url]

Thank you for your cooperation,
The Conclusion Magazine Team.



Editor's Note: Dear readers & contributors, welcome to TCM Issue #04. In this February issue we bring you some excellent poetry...



Editor's Note: Dear readers & contributors, welcome to TCM Issue #04. In this February issue we bring you some excellent poetry, artwork, story, photographs from our creative contributors. Also, we think you people seen we have made a big change in our site as google+ is going to shutdown on April. So, blogger comment section will be open from now. We think new design will be looking damn beautiful. With this redesign we brought YouTube section and from this 21st February we will up work there too. We hope redesign will be beneficial for our readers & contributors.

Go ahead and read! Don’t forget to comment too! We love seeing what you thought of the latest pieces. As the new year approaches already, more change will be coming to site. — thanks for your continued support! ~ Shahadat Hossain (instagram,twitter, wordpress)


Magazine: 
Cover by The Conclusion Magazine Team 
(writers and artists maintain ownership/copyright of all work presented here in)


Contents:

Elisabetta Bagli
Natasha Kafka
Dr. Amit Shankar Saha
Gerald Cedillo
Baktiar Alam Bulbul
Todd Mercer
Charles Joseph Albert
Melodie Corrigall
Lorraine Caputo
Sayan Aich Bhowmik 
Niles Reddick
Callum Beesley
Ben Nardolilli
Pratidhwani Biswal
Megha Sood
Stephen Venneman
Adithya Potu
L. Ward Abel
DS Maolalai 
Michael A. Griffith
Kara Goughnour
Ahmad Al-Khatat
Fotoula Reynolds
John Hicks
Linda Imbler 
Con Chapman
Joan McNerney
Aneek Chatterjee
Jeremy Nathan Marks
Shiv Sethi
John Grey
Robert Beveridge
Gerard Sarnat
Lynn Long 
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

I know a woman who is self reliant and always brilliant. She is the one who shows for family affection and for society compassion She i...


I know a woman who is self reliant and always brilliant.
She is the one who shows for family affection and for society compassion
She is the one who sacrifices her career and expects future of children to be brighter .
She's the leader who controls people with her eyes and changes the remaining with her speeches.
She's an object which sustains her pain and maintains the gain.
She's a subject that is interesting as well as boring.
She protects her family every time and updates herself time to time.
She's the one who empowers others and makes them better.
She's like a bright star who makes everyone stare but Her heart is deep and dare.
She is a Magnificent queen who gives sovereign rights and removes others fright.
She's bad for evil and amazing for excellence.
She's strong for headstrong and soft for pure heart.
She is a person who forgives nasty father , brutal husband and merciless siblings.
She is a person who reprieves  unforgivable people with kind heart.
She is an extraordinary human with morality and dignity .
She's a divine Goddess with beauty, charm, immense talent & remarkable character.
I know her prominence and governance.
She's the best.
I'm proud to say that She is my dazzling Mom.

         
("I know a woman " is about a woman and her abilities which describes her character .
The poem reflects the talent, endurance and affection of a woman at home and in society
And finally she is the poet's mother.)





About the contributor: Adithya Potu is promising writer and a poet. He  holds a masters degree, (M Tech) in Electronics Design and Technology. Motivated by his mother who is a bilingual writer in English and Telugu, he took up writing. He reads and writes stories for children and young adults. He has a unique style of writing.




ın the night ı see poor homes, their lamps war-time darkened their walls naked their rooms crowded poor homes, their window panes too...



ın the night ı see poor homes, their lamps war-time darkened
their walls naked
their rooms crowded
poor homes, their window panes too windy

ı see lonely homes in the night
their cats in front of their windows
on their walls lost lives captured in picture frames
their books autumnal
lonely homes with small tables.

ı see happy homes at night
their lamps a veritable full-moon
laughing bibelots in front of their windows
wide tables big armchairs
happy homes their drapes wide open

ı see scary homes in the night
pitch dark, lonesome homes
who lives there, ı do nor know
which weird folk
their dark colored drapes closed tight
their interiors unrevealed
sometimes shadows glide across the drapes
ı am curious
yet ı know that if ı ring the bell
ıt will be peril opening the door


About the contributor: Yeşim Ağaoğlu born in Istanbul. Studied Istanbul University, Department of Archaeology and Art History. Master of arts degree at the same university, Faculty of Communications, Department of Radio-TV-Cinema. Poems have been published in literary journals since the age of 18. Has seven poetry books published in Turkey and also two poetry books published in Azerbaijan and in 2016 and 2017  two poetry books has published in New York,USA. Poems translated into many different languages such as English, German, Spanish, Russian, etc. Also, in 1998 she has been in Bangladesh Dakha, ‘‘Dar-ül İhsan English University 1st  World Poetry Celebration Day’’ as a honor guest of Bangladesh PEN. She has a short theater play named “forbidden chirpings” staged at Hazar University, Baku,Azerbaijan.


The Empty Turn the bottle’s neck to my eye; the world clear, but far-off and sound evaporates. In the silence my mind takes over and ...

The Empty

Turn the bottle’s neck to my eye;
the world clear, but far-off and sound
evaporates.

In the silence my mind takes over
and your voice trails back to me,
bloodhound sure.

Pleading, my name, a giggle,
a hiss, my name, a lie.
A promise.

The bottle falls and I wake.
New sun, new air, new sounds.
I hold its base to my eye
and the world is an
empty blur.




December Night

We said hello.

We hoped.

We talked and we shared
as we walked on that crisp December night.

Our hands touched, entwined,
then loosened, parted as we talked
and shared some more.

We felt and we saw.

Our hands drew close again as we walked later.
They touched, then 'twined once more
as we looked into each other’s souls.

We kissed and we held each other
on that now warm December night.

We knew.

We fell in love as we said hello.



Chains

What is worth coveting?
What can you justify?
What do you rationalize?
What burns you hotter than the flame?
What breaks you whether you have it or not?
What speaks to you when no one else will?
What beckons, consoles, demands, urges, whispers?
Does is scare you, drive you, make you feel whole?
Does it protect you
or do you protect it
in an armor
of shameless
chains?



About the contributor: Michael A. Griffith’s poems and other writings have appeared in many print and online publications. His chapbooks Bloodline (The Blue Nib) and Exposed (Soma Publishing and Hidden Constellation Press) were released in fall 2018. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry in October 2018. He lives near Princeton, NJ and teaches at Raritan Valley Community College.



The Trees of Sea by Velliyodan Translated into English from Malayalam (Kadal Marangal) by P. Ramgopal New Delhi: Authorspress, 2018...



The Trees of Sea by Velliyodan
Translated into English from Malayalam (Kadal Marangal) by P. Ramgopal
New Delhi: Authorspress, 2018, Pages 94, ISBN 978-93-88008-79-2
Reviewed by Amit Shankar Saha


Velliyodan Saimudheen’s collection of ten short stories, translated from Malayalam into English by P. Ramgopal, titled The Trees of Sea takes the shorter format of fiction writing to explore the contemporary realities of life in the world today. The collection is unique not because something wonderful is presented but because it presents the ordinary vignettes from the world but in a manner that will leave behind an indelible impression on the minds of the reader. Velliyodan lays bare the harsh reality which we often see from a distance through newspaper headlines or magazine articles. He brings them close with his touch of empathy, scaring us into acknowledging that there is something wrong with the world and that we are living in denial or amnesia or escapism.

Velliyodan’s stories are not happy stories but his stories also make us think whether there can be at all any happy stories in this world. When the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova wrote the line, “It was a time when only the dead smiled, happy in their peace” she could not have imagined that how appropriate it would be for the world of a Malayalam writer born in Kerala but living abroad, who shows us that all our happiness is fraught with unacknowledged sadness. But there is also a transcendence as the title story shows. It is the story of the Rohingya refugees forced to leave the Burmese territory of Rakhine. Miasha and Fathah drifting in their boat know that borders are barricades and “any wave in love with them, would break the thin walls that existed between their Life and Death.” All they have left to throw away the oars into the sea and lie in the boat with their eyes closed in total renunciation.

Velliyodan’s stories evoke pathos. In the opening story “Death Root”, the killing of Balachandran, the twelve-year-old son of the LTTE leader becomes a sort of meditation for the assassinator. In the story “The Abandoned”, the travails of the Syrian Tamajeed in his attempts to find an asylum abroad for his family become a mock Kafkaesque parody. There is no escape from misfortune as the predicament of Dhaya shows in “The Betrayal”. Sometimes it is neither sadness nor misfortune but something more grotesque that has been chasing us for years as Kunhanandan master encounters when he finds Vasantha in the street of the old prostitutes in the story “Clay Butterflies”. Even in the love stories “Yours Wholeheartedly” and “Cinderella”, a melancholy pervades leading to their tragic conclusions. But what is interesting in Velliyodan’s style is his literariness. Nowhere the readers feel being thrust a tragedy down their throat. The reader accepts the narration as an aesthetic experience. Often the end is felt not exactly as a twist-in-the-tail kind of end but definitely an end with an epiphany.

Velliyodan is a socially conscious writer. He knows about the condition of women, how they are treated as sex slaves in certain places, he also knows how political upheavals throw human lives in tatters and there is total indifference to the dignity of human condition, as well as how the plight of refugees in the modern world increasingly desensitize human beings. Velliyodan presents from the shocking custom of Muth’a prevalent in Iran to the seedy underbelly of Guanxi, China. The span of the settings of Velliyodan’s prose crosses boundaries and links human beings in their different cultures into the universality of humanity. He is not a historian or an anthropologist or a social scientist but only a writer looking at fellow human beings and looking in a manner that is comprehensively understood. In the story “The Tsunamic Dance of God” he depicts an old bed-ridden writer who has an unfinished novel who says, “When my life emigrated into the world of writing, I realized there was no need for a separate life-story.”

The copy of the novel might be lying amidst her saris or amidst the bundle of books. When the big house was sold there was no space for keeping the books. Her saris and maxis had become book shelves.
Sometimes termites entered through the doors of the thatched house to read the books. There were snakes too, which died of reading books. The hens pecked those snakes among the books. The hens never read books! It was a surprise that he searched for the book packets and brought them before him.

The termites had already edited the words and sentences that needed editing. (62)

This is the fate of all who inhabit Velliyodan’s world of stories and if we look closely we will find that this is our world too. We are all slaves of Time. But there is always a moment of transcendence, an aesthetic jump, a revolt and a will to continue despite all, just like the invalid writer at the estuary:

The waves came fast, they became thinner and thinner as they came nearer and nearer! He walked forward in staggering steps, with his legs which had been lifeless till then! (64)



About the contributor: Dr. Amit Shankar Saha is an award-winning short story writer and poet. He has won the Poiesis Award for Excellence in Literature and Wordweavers Prize (Poetry and Short Story) amongst other awards. His articles, stories and poems have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and books nationally and internationally. He is also on the Editorial Boards of many publications including being the Fiction Editor of Ethos Literary Journal. He has co-edited a collection a short stories titled Dynami Zois: Life Force and authored a collection of poems titled Balconies of Time. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Seacom Skills University. You may checkout his blog.


What kills you everyday kills me every other night It never stops flooding and extends to my flesh What kills you everyda...













What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It never stops flooding
and extends to my flesh

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It appears from the shadow
of the sun behind the rain

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It is the stranger who dies
after chasing the fireflies

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
when the barefoot soldiers
bombed the house of dreams

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It is the stone who breaks the
mirror of the river to the moon

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It is the wheelchair who will
never take me to your doors

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
when the world was young,
I was the oldest seed in spring

What kills you everyday
kills me every other night
It is the blind who walked to
the wolves until they ate him


About the contributor : Ahmad Al-Khatat, was born in Baghdad, Iraq on May 8th. He has been published in several press publications and anthologies all over the world and has poems translated in several languages. He has published two poetry books “The Bleeding Heart Poet” and “Love On The War’s Frontline” which are available on Amazon. Most of his new and old poems are also available on his official page Bleeding Heart Poet on Facebook.

Saying Goodbye " That was the last photo I've taken with her. She was lying in her hospital bed, I was sitting close-by . Then I ...

Saying Goodbye
"
That was the last photo I've taken with her. She was lying in her hospital bed, I was sitting close-by . Then I put my hand beneath her hand.It reminded me of how long periods of time she passed , how many trees she touched , how much love she felt, how much tears she wept with this old wrinkled hand. May you'r soul be happy as always on the other side grandma!"




Solitude

"This old orange seller was sitting there .He looked tensed , maybe he was thinking how to pass this day like yesterday . No future no past. He is surviving not living."




Redemption

"Feel the grass, smell the air and talk with your soul. You can feel the true redemption lies within."

About the contributor: Baktiar Alam Bulbul from Bangladesh. He loves to Play guitar/violin, Also Traveling, Music

I’ve picked this same book from my lap seventeen times, shaking more and more words off each page as it drops down. Months, and not ...



I’ve picked this same book from my lap
seventeen times, shaking more and more
words off each page as it drops down.

Months, and not one poem has come.

If I listen to what my fortune-telling monk
says, if I don’t write by year’s end I’ll be cursed
to never write for the rest of my life.
He shuffles playing cards in an endless waterfall
on his low lacquered table in the incensed room,
tells me what he sees in the numbers.

But these long hours at my chair near
a window that overlooks memory.
And time passes in agonizing straight lines.

When better to host a rummage sale of the mind?

Before shoppers idle in their trucks,
posters with your address and crude arrows
pointing vague ‘lefts’ or ‘rights’ or straight skyward
get hammered in the wet grass of neighbors.
That brief moment you look at all the crud
it’s taken years to accumulate and, suddenly,
you want it all. You ought let nothing go.    

I miss driving night’s emptied down towns.
The ghostly look of car headlights passing
plate glass windows. Summer’s virgin air
when I learned to smoke cigarettes dangling
at the tip of your lips with slow, uninterested
drags. We smoked because we didn’t need to.

But regrets are as permanent as I want them to be.

I’m trying to be a better truth-teller.
Spending time remembering wasted time,
it’s the old trick of asking a genie for more wishes.
Of rubbing your own sore muscles and the words
don’t work to conjure back a single thing
but grief, well-worked grief.

Reminds me of the woman I saw gardening
in the middle of the night: hosing down beds,
re-planting on her hands and knees, walking fertilizers
and insecticides over the dark square of her yard.

Deep in the dirty work, unable to see its beauty.


About the contributor: Gerald Cedillo is from Houston, Texas where he attended the University of St. Thomas and studied Creative Writing at the University of Houston. He has taught theater, performance poetry, and writing. He has been a literary event organizer, was on the board of Houston's legendary week-long poetry festival, The Word Around Town, and is a part of many erstwhile writing groups such The Balcony Poets and The Shout.


My aunt was a narwhal She liked eating seaweed I put her in the closet once And forgot about that occurrence At school ki...



My aunt was a narwhal
She liked eating seaweed

I put her in the closet once
And forgot about that occurrence

At school kids keep asking 
why I`m so different

But I would have eaten my seaweed
and I just didn`t care
Then, one day in the fifth grade
a blonde girl sat beside me
She was a little fish

WAS

I snacked on her like seaweed too
The police came
They didn`t believe I`m a narwhal
They took me to the police station
 I said to them 
Please, come to my home
I can explain to you
I can show you

Because I remembered my aunt is 
a narwhal also
But actually I didn`t say anything
My aunt was a narwhal
She liked eating seaweed

I put her in the closet once
And forgot about that occurrence

At school kids keep asking 
why I`m so different

But I would have eaten my seaweed
and I just didn`t care
Then, one day in the fifth grade
a blonde girl sat beside me
She was a little fish

WAS

I snacked on her like seaweed too
The police came
They didn`t believe I`m a narwhal
They took me to the police station
 I said to them 
Please, come to my home
I can explain to you
I can show you

Because I remembered my aunt is 
a narwhal also
But actually I didn`t say anything


About the contributor: Natasha Kafka is a poet, performer and video artist from Balkans. She creates under the three heteronyms – artistic alter egos - Galadriel, Flora, and Charlie. (More about heteronyms>  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heteronym_(literature) ) Before that, Natasha was awarded artist in her country which treats artists in a not so very good way, so this summer she decided to make a fresh start in English. Her works were published or are forthcoming in Event Horizon, Credo Espoir, Tree House, Omnistoria, Visual Verse, Academy of The Heart and Mind, and One Sentence Poems.


The Niña Fighting for new memories, Sailing untouched seas And winds like breathing Of unknown lands In the suggestive laceration ...



The Niña

Fighting for new memories,
Sailing untouched seas
And winds like breathing
Of unknown lands
In the suggestive laceration
Of light and shade.
Roots, tangled
To your old gift,
Explode
As you drift slowly
Farther away and beyond,
Ploughing virgin foams
Of innocent substances.

La Pinta

You come looking for me
With the restless eye
Of one wonders
What to listen to: Urge
Or Reason,
Of one who asks his soul
Not to be afraid of reality.
You drift,
Ignoring the fate
That an ephemeral solitude
Is preparing for your arms.
Now the Land hides,
Tomorrow you will hold the Light.


About the contributor: Elisabetta Bagli was born in Rome and lives in Madrid since 2002. She’s got a degree in Economy and Commerce at the Università degli Studi “La Sapienza” in Rome. Having worked as a teacher of Italian as a foreign language at the Booklane Language Academy in Madrid, she now works privately as a teacher of Italian, translator and freelance editor. She writes poems, short stories and fairy tales. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, English, French, Albanian, Serbian and Greek. Her books are “Voce” (“Voice”), with its double version in Italian and in Spanish “Voz”, “Dietro lo sguardo” (“Behind the Gaze”), “Mina, la fatina del lago di cristallo” (“Mina, the Little Fairy of the Crystal Lake”), “Specchi” (“Mirrors”), “Le nostre due anime” (“Our two souls”). Her poems and writings have been selected for a number of anthologies in several Countries. She actively contributes reviews and interviews to different blogs. She writes for italian, spanish and english magazines.





Photo Courtesy: Satyaki Basu At lunchtime every day, I sit at a quiet corner of Park Street, And watch skin flakes falling off peop...

Photo Courtesy: Satyaki Basu

At lunchtime every day,
I sit at a quiet corner of Park Street,
And watch skin flakes falling off people,
As they rush to match the turning of the world.
I take down the names, Phone numbers
And dreams of a random passer-by.
Once done, I sit at my desk,
And stitch together
People whose songs get lost
And write about pyres that burn
All day long
And plots of land, never too small
For a new grave.
In some distant field,
A child finds a grenade pin,
In his undercooked rice
And bites into a piece of his home.
That is his lunch.
That is my poem.


About the contributor: Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Shirakole Mahavidyalaya, Kolkata. When not under the burden of answer scripts, college and departmental work and meeting deadlines, he can be found nurturing his love for watching movies and writing poetry. A published poet, he is also the editor of the blog Plato's Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature. 

(Deep to the Other Side) Through the desert I travel the hours passing with filmed violence flaying through this inside I fall...





(Deep to the Other Side)

Through the desert
I travel
the hours passing
with filmed violence
flaying through this inside

I fall in
& out of sleep
to escape
to rest, to heal
to escape

the desert bare, lifeless
except for the plywood shacks
of the poor who have fled

the taupe sand blackened
beneath swirling fog
covered thinly
by plants ... alive
or dead or just
resting

to revive, perhaps
with a rain

With a second grey dawn
I travel
through a greener landscape
of orchards & small farm fields,
climb into cloud-filled
mountain valleys, the road
winding above the fog, into
clear sky & sunshine

I feel
more awake, more clear

At the top of the pass
the landscape is
once-more sere,
nascent streams flow
the other way—
but I know
once beyond those crags,
fully on the other side
of this range,
I know
the cloud forest exists—
I have been there before

Descending, descending
into lusher heat,
clouds heavy over the jungle
that swaths the eastern slopes,
streams braid together into rivers,
goats & colts roam the gravel bars,
the earth lain
with emerald rice paddies
& thick thorn forests


but my journey is delayed
time & again, slowly
progressing down
demolished roads
being rebuilt


About the contributor: Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 150 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia(dancing girl press, 2017) and the upcoming On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019); five audio recordings and 18 anthologies. She also pens travel pieces, with stories appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women's True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012), and travel guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her verse as poem of the month. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. Ms Caputo journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. You may follow her travels. and blog.


I n the taxi heading home from the airport, Trevor prepared himself for the evening ahead. Since his wife's death, arriving home aft...


In the taxi heading home from the airport, Trevor prepared himself for the evening ahead. Since his wife's death, arriving home after a trip was challenging. Wrung out from wrangling a deal with his foreign counterparts, he'd be assailed by his two children bursting to talk or to listen. His fifteen year-old son, Wesley, would expound loudly on what he had discovered on-line, his unspoken question being, Did you get what I asked for? His eighteen-year old daughter, Kelsey, would be anxious to hear if his presentation was well received and whether his medication had eased his stomach pain. As Kelsey was skilled at reading his face, he'd have to struggle to appear optimistic about both his work and his health.

Trevor suddenly realized that in his haste to catch the plane he hadn't bought even an airport gift for Kelsey. As always he had something for his son, never a problem to shop for. Wesley had given details of the latest electronic device, which his son had insisted he needed, and thanks to his assistant, Larry, Trevor was coming home gift in hand.

Kelsey, on the other hand, was not an easy person to buy for, always insisting that she was too old for gifts and that all she wanted was that he came home safely. However, in light of her recent revelation, it was important he show his daughter, if only though gifts, that he loved her whatever her life decisions.

This was not an easy time for any of them but particularly for Kelsey. Not only was her personal life unchartered country but she was also struggling with her first year at University and continuing to volunteer as a Big Sister.

Just come home safely dad, she had said when he left, now nervous when her father went away. Of course, of course, he had said gruffly, although recent experience had i underscored that one could make no promises about mortality.

As the taxi approached their street, Trevor noticed that the hill was dangerously icy and instructed the driver to drop him at the bottom. Once out in the chilled air, he stood for a moment under the pale streetlight dithering about what to do.

As he slipped on his gloves, he noticed that a nearby bush still had a few vibrant red flowers. They seemed an appropriate token for his daughter until he could get her something more substantial. He'd just take a couple of blossoms: each was like a small bouquet in itself.  It's the thought that counts, as Brenda would have said. He leaned over the fence and snapped off two large blooms.

What the hell are you doing? a female voice squawked from the heavens. Startled, Trevor dropped his suitcase on his foot and slithered into the fence. Looking up, he caught sight of a scrawny woman leaning out the 2nd floor window.

Sorry, he called up.

He had thought the house deserted. The yard was overgrown like the illustration for Sleeping Beauty although no prince would come for the hag at the window.

That is my only blossoming bush. Go buy yourself flowers if you want them. You have enough money.

Sorry, he shouted wagging his head in a smile. He wondered how she knew about his financial situation.

Concerned that the street would soon echo with neighbors poking their noses out their front doors and asking, Can we help? Trevor moved closer to the fence and called up that he had forgotten to get his daughter a present and delighted by the wonderful blooms had on the spur of the moment thought to pick a few. I didn't know anyone lived here.

Our family's been here for thirty years. You're just too cheap to buy flowers.

No really, he protested. I'll pay you. He fumbled in his wallet and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill.

Keep your money, she said, Bring me the daughter, then I'll believe you.

I'll show you a photo.

Bring her.

The window slammed shut. He looked at the two blooms in his hand which he now saw were well past their best by date. Although they were hardly worth the trouble, the deed was done. The window opened again, And make it soon, tomorrow morning before 12 if you don't want your story on Twitter.

Twitter? That was all he needed. The CEO was already fuming when he had refused to move back east to fill in for a sick colleague. Those kids are old enough to look after themselves, she had snapped.

That evening after getting updates on the past week: Wesley's exams, Kelsey's volunteer job, his housekeeper Linda's ongoing arguments with her son, and the breakdown of the dishwasher, he told his daughter about the altercation with the woman at the bottom of the block.

The daughter came back after her mom died, Kelsey said. She's obviously distraught.

As were his children when their mother recently died. Wesley had dug a hole and spent most waking hours romancing his computer and Kelsey fretted about what she could do career wise to honor her mother. Your mom wanted you to do what you want, her father had insisted, hoping it didn't mean she'd leave him for some distant university.

Three weeks earlier, his daughter had dropped the bomb; she was gay. Apparently, she had confided in her mother but kept it from him, until an appropriate time whatever that meant.

He didn't understand why she had waited. They had friends, a single woman and a male couple who were gay although to date no one in the family was. He wondered where it came from. Was it something he had done?

Surprised and confused, he had been quick to point out the problems Kelsey would face and worried how he was to guide his daughter though a world he didn't know? Lacking Brenda's counsel, he resorted to books, but reading and action were different. Would his daughter lose out on the wonder of having children? Would he ever have a grandchild?

Tired from the trip, Trevor excused himself and headed to bed early. He had intended to sleep in the next morning but it was not to be. His daughter roused him, and a hearty breakfast of all the things his doctor had said to avoid pork sausages, fried eggs and buttered toast lured him to the kitchen. He was hurried though the feast by Kelsey's urging, Let's get this over with.

They slipped their way down the sidewalk, grabbing at fences where available, to the corner house, which looked dark and deserted. Looks like she is having a sleep in, Trevor said,  We can leave a note and bring a bouquet of flowers over this afternoon.

Da, you can't just buy things to fix problems, Kelsey said.

They knocked on the door and heard a loud shuffling.  Although they had only knocked once, an impatient coming from inside.

As the door swung open, a fuggy warm smell wafted into the cold air. The woman, younger than he had thought in fact almost as young as his daughter was leaning forward on a cane like a fairy tale witch.

So you're the daughter, she said to Kelsey smiling and bringing to the haggard face a surprising glow.  Come in, come in.  As they started forward the girl pushed him back with her cane. Not you, you can wait outside. Or go home. Your daughter is old enough to be on her own.

Go ahead, dad. You need to have a rest after your trip, his daughter insisted and the door was slammed in his face.

2Who was this woman? He paced about in front of the house and then seeing that Mrs. Bower was watching from across the street gave the old lady a wave and moved up the hill.

What did that woman & well girl want? What did Kelsey want? They obviously knew one another. Was she someone Kelsey had met at a gay club? Kelsey was naive, and always expected the best of everyone. Was this girl a suitable friend? This was new territory.

Were Brenda alive he could have gone home and talked about it. She would have laughed at him, calling him an old fuddy-duddy. He could hear her chiding him to move aside. In this part of the story you"re no longer the hero.

And, as usual, she would be right. He was a walk-on in a play that he had not read to the end. He was a walk-on who now had to walk off.

About the contributor: Melodie Corrigall is an eclectic Canadian writer who has been published in Blue Lake Review, S/tick, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Dirty Pool, The Write Place at the Right Time, Greensilk Journal, and Corner Bar Magazine.

“ Although I don't agree with what you say,  I will defend to the death your right to say it. ” - misattributed to Voltaire Unle...


Although I don't agree with what you say, 
I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-misattributed to Voltaire

Unless it’s yelling “fire” in a theater.
Or anything at KKK rallies.
And definitely no radio broadcasts
exhorting us to slaughter all the Houthi.

Nor will I defend the rights
of Nigerian widows to fleece
the elderly. Also, this should
by no means be construed to mean

that barking dogs at 4 am
deserve any protection.
Nor does that young woman talking
so loud on her cell phone, at the next table.

Indeed, Freedom of Speech
no longer looks like the hot
number I saw on cable news.
Is it only temporary, this remorse?

Or is it the chance that someday,
someone will pant, sword bloodied,
over piles of corpses, salute the balcony,
and we'll wish we thought this through

as the hoax, hate-speech, and lie
wave their handkerchiefs
from the presidential seat
and prepare to go?

About the contributor: Charles Joseph Albert lives in San Jose, California with his wife and three children, where he works as a metallurgist and writes poetry and fiction on the trolley to and fro. His work has appeared recently in Amsterdam Quarterly, Collective Unrest, First Lit Review, The Magnolia Review and The Literary Nest.


Netflix at Room Temperature  Without Chill, one’s just watching movies solo dolo, picture-stories that may uplift or lack an ov...


Netflix at Room Temperature 

Without Chill, one’s just watching movies
solo dolo, picture-stories that may uplift
or lack an overall effect. The pleasure then
is snacks. Without a warm body,
sole control of the remote is the apex benefit.
Cold comfort to the detached or the socially
un-jacked-in who respectively won’t or can’t
raise a companion who’ll land in spooning position,
start with upright intentions then miss
the rising action of the film.


The Carnie at the Switch

 It's day three paroled with Jackson Prison fading
into a bad memory. I see hardscrabble alcoholics
set up the carnival downtown. My people.
Made my own fruit liquor in lockup.
Find the boss-man. I tell him,
"I can Tilt-o-whirl like a motherfucker.
What's the meal plan?"
He says, "Quit swearing. No drugs.
Don't flirt with the women."


About the contributors: Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Mercer won 1st, 2nd & 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: Down in the Dirt, The Drabble, Praxis and Softblow.