Once Upon a Time

by , , , , on Aug 9, 2016

(Watch Cristina Ortiz’s video of “Once Upon a Time” on Vimeo)

about “Once Upon a Time

The city of the dead, constructed by the living as a silent and still image of a restless and bustling city.

It has its houses, small, damp and dark; some more spacious and sunny; It has its individual apartments where the tranquil inhabitants crowd each other; it seems that they lack room … but no, what they lack is movement, why would you want more room?

Also this city has streets and gardens through which visitors pass, the future dead, amongst the present dead.

Dead people of all ages, with dead children and their dead dolls.

The schedule of this city is regulated so that essential work, crafts and ceremonies are arranged in a map corresponding to the firmament on that date: thus the days and nights on earth are reflected in the sky. Or conversely, the days in heaven and the nights on earth.

—-I understand well that you, that you feel part of an unchanging sky, meticulous clockwork gears, you bring nothing to your city and your habits change little. Yours is the only city that suits you, you remain motionless in time, the moving image of eternity… You have departed from time, you’re already in eternity, why would you want to change? Yes, I know, man prefers to want for nothing instead of wanting for something… but the sky, inspiring laws, cities and calendars, must be heard; maybe this is why you are so quiet?—

You deserve to be remembered for two virtues: secure in yourself, because nothing affects you, you tell me in your faces from those black and white photographs of serene gestures, even smiling; and prudence, convinced that all innovation in the city influences the design of heaven, before every decision you calculate the risks and benefits for themselves and for the whole city … and worlds.

–Consuelo Arredondo


Cristina Ortiz (Barcelona, Spain): Photographer specializing in using old photographic techniques and film producer. Since 1992 doing courses on techniques and creative photographic development. Since the early 1990s, her work has been part of numerous individual and group exhibitions. Web: crisortiz.com

Consuelo Arredondo (Santander, Spain) graduated in Barcelona in philosophy and philology, has devoted her professional life to teaching philosophy and also poetry writing.

Ferrie = differentieel (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) started making music in 2006 after years of painting in the expressionistic style. Around 250 tracks for art installations, dance performances, film, video and commercials. Web: audio.dailym.net

Luis Rojas (Bahia Blanca, Argentina). Composer, documentary filmmaker, researcher and instrumentalist. He has released many works for various groups, soloists and orchestra, plus electroacoustic works. Web: soundcloud.com/luisrojas2011

Johann Mynhardt. Web: youtube.com/user/johannmynhardt

and if you sketched the view from here minus

by on Jul 22, 2016

the streets and alleys, minus the motels and the three rollercoasters, minus the jetty and the lighthouse and the catamarans lined upside down on the sand, minus the evening’s surfers, the young women with their dogs, street poets, booksellers, guitars and glass jars stuffed with old dollars, minus pizza toppings, car keys, small lamps burning in windows, minus the fathers calling time to come in

and minus even this wharf where people sit with their fried clams and slices of lemon, where people fall into the sea as you draw in reverse dismantling the boards, erasing all but landscape and a pod of sea lions arcing in for the night and a few gray gulls flying toward the mountains off to the left; all that was before anyone ordered decaf for two or touched another’s face with a hand small as rain


Jeanie Tomasko is the author of a few poetry books, most recently (Prologue), the recipient of an Editor’s Choice award from Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series, and Violet Hours (Taraxia Press), a collection of the antics of a unique little girl. She can be found on her website (jeanietomasko.com), walking around somewhere near Lake Superior with her husband, Steve, or enjoying the antics of her cats at home, where she endeavors to always have a bottomless honey jar, garlic from the garden and bees in the front yard hyssop.


by on Jul 14, 2016

gos-sa-mer \  n  [ME gossomer, fr. gos  goose + somer  summer]  1 : and if wings could wing : and if summer could last : and if we could be as soft and careful as milkweed air :  as in, too soon we grab the net or nail and try to pin things down when  2 : it’s enough to know they are there1   3 : and right here in the middle of writing this, I get an e-mail from Orbitz, subject line: You’re so fly  3 : Dear Orbitz, how did you know?   4 : because the wind is blowing and the yellow leaves are flying and, I am so fly  5 : here with you under the available sky, a silver airplane2  &



1I think, as birds fly past our morning window

2two ravels of [goose + summer] geese


Jeanie Tomasko is the author of a few poetry books, most recently (Prologue), the recipient of an Editor’s Choice award from Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series, and Violet Hours (Taraxia Press), a collection of the antics of a unique little girl. She can be found on her website (jeanietomasko.com), walking around somewhere near Lake Superior with her husband, Steve, or enjoying the antics of her cats at home, where she endeavors to always have a bottomless honey jar, garlic from the garden and bees in the front yard hyssop.

I Am April

by on Jul 13, 2016

I am April, tail end of the rains. Flowers scattered askance and winking through the glassy drops. Mud tracks drying up, but still gifting a mess on the door mat. Don’t count me out for a storm or two and if Easter is in my grasp the high and holy days will dazzle, glory abounding hallelujah. That fresh breeze, floral and dank; we’re on the way into fullness and fruit, Winter’s grasp receding, but I haven’t forgotten him yet. Dim wretch, all this green and life is proof that hope is made new, anew.

I might be leaning into the sunshine, underdressed, straining toward the summer warm, but this is my favorite part. The cusp, the place in between.


Tiffany Grantom is a mother of five, doula, paralegal, wearer-of-many-hats-busy-monger who hopes for a season with time to write a book. Today, just scribbles and lists, and fly-by wording glories.

Sister Speed Racer and the Silent Brides of Christ

by on Feb 16, 2016

It’s midday, and there aren’t many other cars on the road. It’s also cloudless and sunny—if you can call Indiana’s low-altitude, watery haze sunny—and so sticky hot that I’m cursing my battered Ford’s broken air conditioning. The edge of the earth is visible in all directions, a shimmering indistinct line that barely separates land from sky. Everything looks pale and flat, even the occasional cow or tree. It’s all weathered cardboard and faded paint. A poorly done stage backdrop.

A small black dot appears on the horizon in my rearview mirror.

I glance at the dashboard. The speed limit is 75 mph, but I’ve set the cruise control to 79 because I’ve heard state troopers will overlook an extra 4 mph. Cruise control was invented in Indiana by a blind man. I think I know what inspired him. He sensed the unwavering monotony of this place in his inner ear and it frightened him. He needed to flee to a place with texture. I don’t want to be here, either. Nobody wants to be here. They want to be anywhere else, and quickly. No wonder more interstate highways connect in Indianapolis than in any other U.S. city.

The dot gets bigger, and I can see it’s a car, pale blue like the sky above me but with an unmistakable man-made metallic sheen. A Chrysler sedan. It’s gaining on me. Whoever’s behind the wheel is driving like he’s late for an appointment in hell with the rebel actor James Dean, who was born in Indiana but got out before the boredom killed him, only to die in a fiery car wreck a few years later.

I shut off the cruise control and let my speed drop to 75 without braking. Cops don’t usually drive Chryslers, but I don’t know what they do here. If it’s a trooper, I don’t want him to see my taillights blink. I don’t want a speeding ticket. Another ticket. Now I’m sweating and paying more attention to the car in the rear view mirror than the road ahead of me. That’s stupid, but I’m mesmerized by this approaching missile.

In an instant, it’s behind me, veering into the passing lane like it’s surging toward the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500. I figure it’s going 120, more if that’s possible. As it pulls beside me, a turbulent gust of air shakes my Ford. I turn my head to see the wild man who’s not afraid to drive a boxy sedan at suicidal speeds.

But it’s not a man.

It’s a nun.

Sister Speed Racer is blowing by me with split-second ferocity, but time drips like cold honey and I see everything with stop-frame accuracy. Her tunic is blue, a shade darker than the car. She’s wearing a white scapular over her shoulders and a white coif with stiff white wings similar to the ones worn by certain orders of French nuns, except shorter, and less aerodynamic looking. She’s sitting ramrod straight, eyes fixed on the road, both hands clenched on the wheel, one at 10 o’clock, the other at 2 o’clock, like they teach you in driving school. There’s another nun next to her, and two more in the back seat. They’re young. Staring straight ahead. Not talking. Looking grim.

As they pass, the nun in the passenger seat swivels her head like a mechanical doll to glare at me. Her eyes shine black, and she scowls. Scowls. I look away self-consciously. Seconds later, the car is a dot again, this time ahead of me.

I slump into my seat, confused. Why are four nuns tearing through the countryside like they’re being chased by demons? Where are they going? Why?

The highway stretches in a straight line toward an unseen abyss.

My stomach pitches and my mouth goes dry.

I don’t want to be here. I desperately want to stop the car and turn around. Yet I’m following Sister Speed Racer and the Silent Brides of Christ directly into the white-hot heart of this place.

The thought is chilling. I shiver, and suddenly notice that the stripes dotting the pavement are whipping by like bullets. I’ve absentmindedly pressed the accelerator to the floor, and I’m going 95, 96, 97. I blink and swallow hard, setting my cruise control back to 79.

The wind outside my open window growls like a hungry wolf.


Michael Whiteman-Jones is a longtime journalist and editor who has won a few press awards that he keeps hidden in a box in the basement. He believes there is more truth in fiction than in facts, and in recent years, has written several hundred thousand words of short stories and essays on an iPad with his thumbs—a feat that probably truly deserves an award, or at least a visit to the chiropractor. He lives with his wife and family in Denver, Colo.

Closed Sign at Bill’s Bait & Beer

by on Feb 5, 2016

Bill’s family came to Hawai’i from China in 1921. They settled on the worst farmland on O’ahu. Bill remembers running through parched sugar cane fields as a boy.

Saturday mornings, Bill drove the family’s Model-T to Honolulu. The back seat was loaded with papayas, coconuts, and sugar beets to sell at Waikiki hotels. Kitchen managers weighed and thumped the fruit, then counted four or five dollars into Bill’s hand. Sometimes 25 cents was added to pay for gas for the trip home.

Bill remembers Mother, Father, and Uncle drinking tea by candlelight late into the evening; talking quietly or, more often, sitting in silence.

“Go to bed, son,” Mother chided gently when Bill padded into the kitchen.

Ten years passed. Bill’s family sold the farm and opened Lock’s Bait & Beer on the North Shore. Hawaii was a territory then. Nobody cared about fishing licenses.

At sunrise, locals lined up to buy bait and beer on credit. Bill recalls seeing men and women standing by the shoreline, straw-hatted, throwing nets in the ocean.

If opah refused to bite, fishermen couldn’t pay. Nobody minded. Locals settled up when fish cooperated.

“We did things differently then,” he says.


Trish Saunders writes poems from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Three Crows and a Storm

by on Jan 21, 2016

Looking out and up from my front window I saw a yellow sky, darkened by the ominous promise of an afternoon storm. As I watched, three crows flew onto the strip of sidewalk near my yard. The large one, Leader, preened his feathers, cawed orders at the others and punctuated his pontifications with sharp pokes of his beak on the backs of his fellows.  A crow’s visit. What was it I had heard? As I watched I recalled—a group of crows is called a murder of crows.

The trio began pecking at the stubble of grass around them. A bolt of lightning cut through the yellow mists followed quickly by the rumble of thunder. Leader and then his followers raised their heads to the sky, opened their beaks to challenge the thunder with their own raucous cries. In reply, with sniper precision, sharp, large drops of water began to pelt the crows.

Lightning flashed and a curtain of water dropped from the sky. The lightening continued drawing bright victory swaths through dark sky. Thunder cheered storm’s ferocity.

The crows persisted, strutting, screeching, cawing at the sky. One tremendous flash of light sliced into the ground across the street. The house shook. Crow leader opened his wings and flapped upward. His companions followed, raucously cawing a threat to return before disappearing into the dark-again sky, flying toward the woods at the end of our street.

The summer downpour halted soon after. A bit of blue edged out from behind the clouds–yellow air gone. The crows were gone. Yet I remained uneasy. For a time.

Eventually summer’s brightness pushed away the malaise. Heat gave way to clear cool of autumn, the bright cold skies of winter, and the hazy blue skies and rainbows of spring, I completely forgot about the dark harbingers’ visit.

However, when summer’s heat again pressed hard upon me and blue skies yellowed with storms, the memory of the last crow’s shrill shriek sounded in my soul. In the space of a month that summer, one neighbor’s child died of a heart condition.

Our dear friend’s son, crumpled over in the shower and died before his father could get him to the hospital. “Undiagnosed  ‘issues’ related to a birth defect.” They said.

I waited, holding my inner breath for a third sad shadow to step across my spirit. Months passed. Just when I was sure that bad would not come in threes this time, that the number of crows had been a coincidence, a phone call shrilled near midnight on March 26, breaking the quiet of an early spring evening.

Like the crow’s caw, the call screeched out the news that our son had stepped in front of a car on a darkened campus street near his dorm, crossing subsequently into paradise. Harbingers of the angel of death had visited–a murder of crows, indeed.


Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’ 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red WolfThynksKnox Literary MagazineA Quiet CourageEastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch and Postcard Poems and Prose. In addition to her work as an award-winning journalist, short story writer, author, poet and essayist, Joan performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies and memories. Find her online at joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook.

Ghosts of Home

by on Jan 14, 2016

We were warned at seventeen that home will always haunt us. We tucked the notion in our pockets with our parents’ worry and headed East to begin. The ghosts we kept stretched long inside us, threatening to break wide the circuitry of concrete cities. Eager at twenty-five to forget how long a voice roars through miles of open space. But we couldn’t be held back from the whitest of winters, when even midnight gleams. All the shrouded land shrieking light into the night. We were stirred not by the stars, but the hollows between them. We fell flat-backed in cold fields, noses to the sky, baying at every phase of the moon. Will they say we’ve settled when our bones turn to dust?


Kim Mannix is a poet, journalist, and short fiction writer living in Sherwood Park, Alberta. More of her writing, and many of her rambles, can be read at makesmesodigress.com.

China Seagull

by on Nov 17, 2015

The least of three seagulls, you, the flightless one, yearning after your fellows, are the unlikeliest muse. But you have survived.

I remember my delight at this gift – three in a box, delicate in tissue – from my father. He understood me. We shared this soaring love, floating on the stiff sea breeze.

Wings were broken in my clumsy adolescence. Three became two, became one.

You were hidden away in dusty corners, in boxes or bags, out of sight. So when did you emerge? How did I find you, where have you been?

You perch on my windowsill, companion of stones, shells and crystals, gazing at the sunrise, the full moon, the garden birds, starling flocks. Survival brings its own contentment, you tell me. You are always looking up.


Jo Waterworth lives and writes in Glastonbury, UK, where she is a mature student studying creative Writing and Ceramics at Bath Spa University. She has been published online and in print, most recently in the anthology 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbin, and has a pamphlet with Poetry Space of Bristol. She blogs about her writing journey at Jo’swriting.


by on Nov 4, 2015

It’s been so long since it rained that she can’t register the sound. Her first thought is that a plane is flying low over the house, then that it’s traffic from the freeway. The world is ending, she’s dreaming, it’s thunder. The sky dims. Low gray clouds roll in. There’s a flicker of rain, silver veins slicing through the air, and then the whole thing is over. She’s been sitting at the table over the newspaper the entire time. The clouds recede and the sun comes back out again. She continues looking out the window. She still hasn’t told him. The letter is still tucked into the bookshelf, waiting.


Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens.  Her third chapbook, In the Chair Museum, was published by Dancing Girl Press, and her fourth is forthcoming. Browning’s fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Chagrin River ReviewFiction SoutheastToadMud Season Review, Glassworks Magazine, and with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse.  In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review. Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.