The ashes scattered and danced on the calm surface of the Rock River. After a quiet minute Cynthia squeezed his hand and whispered:
“But this is probably illegal, right?”
Oliver didn’t answer. Clutching his other hand was her son Jimi, now a stocky eight-year-old, and Oliver had no desire to go beyond this moment.
“Right?” She asked again.
Jimi broke free and scampered a few yards farther across the bridge, the better to watch the last of the ashes as they disappeared into the elements. Oliver turned to her and kissed her forehead. He said:
“Lady, I am indeed a real lawyer, and I’m here to tell you there’s nothing ‘probably’ about it – we have committed an exquisitely illegal act.”
“Well, then, I’ll just tell them it was my lawyer’s idea.”
“Great plan. That should work.”
They walked to Jimi. River gulls swooped in and out of the afternoon sun, their shadows on the water as graceful as their true selves in the air.
“Mom, once Grandma Millie and I saw an eagle here, a real eagle!”
“I remember, sweetie, because you wrote me a letter all about it. I still have it. I’ll always keep it with my most-important-papers.”
Oliver thought of another most-important-paper that would be waiting for them back in Janesville, the one that awarded him guardianship of Jimi. They would pick it up from the courthouse on Monday before driving Cynthia back to the women’s prison in Taycheedah. Her funeral furlough ended Monday at midnight and they were not going to be late. She still had four months on her ticket and nobody wanted an extension.
Millie had been his client for a year, a remarkable grandma taking care of the fatherless little boy while his mom served two years for selling dope. Marijuana, in fact. Nothing else. Now his client was dead and he was in charge of Jimi. They had taught him nothing of this back in law school.
“Hey,” he said, “did I ever tell you about my buddy Sean? The one who works out in Arizona?”
He gave them no opportunity to respond before beginning his story:
“Sean works in a tiny town, Sacaton, on the Gila River Reservation. After his first year they had a dinner in his honor and someone from the Tribal Council announced: ‘From this day forth, Sean shall be known as Walking Eagle. We are extremely grateful for his service.’
Sean was touched, he told me, and then the Judge of the Tribal Court stood up, and said ‘Of course, Sean, we chose that name because you’re so full of crap you’ll never fly.’
Everyone laughed, Sean told me, no one more than he did.”
Jimi giggled all the way back to the shore, followed by his mom and Oliver. There were worse things than full immersion in the music of laughter.
May it always be so, Oliver implored anyone who might be watching. Even Millie.
Tony Press tries to pay attention and sometimes he does. His short story collection, Crossing the Lines, was published in 2016 (Big Table). He’d love for you to buy it. He lives near San Francisco and has two Pushcart nominations but not one website.
Your big floppy hat that so overshadowed me –
The funky floral one that I couldn’t begin to wear –
Your Jackie shades and little pillbox –
all too sophisticated for my less confident style.
In the sun, the wide-brimmed straw hat protecting
your pale, exquisite skin
The hats you wore when
your hair thinned from the chemo
The berets when
it was finally all gone –
I couldn’t pull off any one of those looks,
and now your hat rests, accessorizing
the canister of ashes
as I take my time
your body to the wind and waters
of the world where you belong
Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly Southern California raised, formerly lapsed poet. She has returned to the fold after too long of an absence. She is a mother, educator, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. Having spent part of her childhood abroad, she has always had an interest in language and its nuances. Her work has been published by Silver Birch Press and California Quarterly, as well as in several anthologies.
She doesn’t need to tell me
the cancer has returned.
Now on daily morphine
for the pain raking her bones,
she left the window open last night
as she tried to sleep, flat and still
on her back. She let the June breeze
pass right over her body.
Bad as I feel, she says,
if someone wants to come
and get me, let them.
Anyone could slice the screen
next to her bed and reach
to touch the gossamer hair
sprouting after last year’s chemo.
Who might take her away?
Instead of the thieves and gunshots
known to this neighborhood,
let it be some feathered creature
never before seen. Let its name
be whispered into her ear.
Let any other word
be stricken from this room
once she has been lifted
with unsinkable wings
over and above
our distant streets.
Micki Blenkush lives in St. Cloud MN and works as a social worker. She is a 2015 recipient of an emerging artist grant awarded by the Central MN Arts Board, funded by the McKnight Foundation. Her writing has also appeared in: Sequestrum, Naugatuck River Review, *82 Review, and elsewhere.
fistfuls of hair
fall from her head
hope so small
it slides through
a needle’s eye
Marilyn Fleming was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. It was this small slice of life, living in nature, which often defines her work. Her poetry has been published in various international journals, and anthologies. She has a special interest in haiku and tanka, Japanese forms of poetry, and won her first prize in the Hildegarde Janzen Oriental Forms Award in 1988. She currently resides in Pewaukee, WI. Visit her online at marilynflemingpoet.wordpress.com.
I remember that party
the one where cats danced
and wolves sang
beneath a bloody moon.
The one where we all took
and neon visions bloomed
rooted in our bodies,
electric petals opening
wide enough to swallow
our lame conventions.
I remember how my heart beat
in a hard stutter
with the flash
of strobe lights
until I turned
spinning like a dizzy girl
in a game meant to break
to some bright new world
beyond the walls of reason.
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday and Three Elements Review. She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.
The boy by the river told to await his father’s
return plays with pebbles, kicks at rocks
as the night rises through water,
drops from trees to fashion a statue
cast in grey then black when the last
spark of faith flickers, falters
and goes out, the night
rushing in, floating him upright,
stiff through the woods to lie in bed
listening to water spilling from
room to room, door to door,
the whole house shivering, shaking,
breaking down under water flashing,
flooding quietly down the stairs,
pooling, stopping, crawling
past the father unseen.
After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made videos with poetry videographers Michael Dickes, Swoon, and Marie Craven.
a boy draws a bird
at an industrial station
bus window fog
Nicholas Klacsanzky is the editor of Haiku Commentary and has been published in the top haiku and tanka journals, like Modern Haiku, Ribbons, The Mainichi, and Mayfly. He lives in Ukraine.
Olivier Schopfer lives in Geneva, Switzerland. He likes to capture the moment in haiku and photography. His work has appeared in The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2014 & 2016, as well as in numerous online and print journals. He also writes articles in French about etymology and everyday expressions at Olivier Schopfer raconte les mots.
I take advantage of everything—mostly people and of these people mostly friends. I have other hobbies. Yes, I consider taking advantage a hobby and “found” items I display in my modest ranch house near the beach but the lists and the taking advantage summaries I keep hidden away in my knotty pine den with two boards that open to a secret closet by a spring opener. My found things are scattered all around the house, including my stash closet. One day in the supermarket I spotted an open purse in the baby carrier of a cart. After watching the lady shopper walk off a few aisles and no one else was in the ethnic foods aisle I snagged the wallet and hit a mother lode of cash, credit cards, even a debit card with the password written on it. I sold that for five hundred dollars to some degenerate at a bar. Outside the hardware store I took a wheel barrel on display and filled it with bags of potting soil and wheeled it to my car at the far end of the parking lot and asked some young guy with the hardware store logo on his apron if he’d help me unload the soil and get the wheel barrel in my car. He couldn’t have been nicer so I gave him a $2 tip. That’s how my collections go. My bookshelves have a bunch of library books that I was able to walk out with in my backpack and my walls have pictures I’ve taken off of doctors office walls. You’d be surprised how many doctors are good photographers and like to display their work. I list the “found objects” in a moleskin notebook and keep it in my hide-a-way along with my “taking advantage” of moleskin. Who can remember so many items? I have to make some changes because my house is filling up with things I no longer treasure, Yesterday; I started dropping my collected wallets randomly into open purses in the supermarket.
Paul Beckman’s story, “Healing Time” was one of the winners in the 2016 The Best Small Fictions and his 100 word story, “Mom’s Goodbye” was chosen as the winner of the 2016 Fiction Southeast Editor’s Prize. His stories are widely published in print and online. His published story website is paulbeckmanstories.com and his latest collection of flash stories, PEEK, is available on his site.