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Distances

We’re swinging interlaced
fingers as we march past monuments 
and museums, pretending to stop

and look, I catch your eye 
instead. We paint our initials in indigo 
streaks on rocks we stole
from Olive Garden. Your finger 

traces the scars on my thigh and I
whisper you their origins. Time
pretends to stop, don’t believe

it. Tomorrow, you’ll head 
back on Route 50 and I will press 
the flowers you gave me, so they
don’t seem dead.

Poem by Julia Shorr

Photo by Adam Strong

Julia Schorr has a BA in psychology from Salisbury University. Her poetry has appeared in The Shore Poetry and The Allegheny Review. She currently works at Cornerstone Montgomery as a Supported Employment Specialist and is a reader for Poet Lore. 

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LIBERTALIA


A scurvy laugh.
Eviction one was from the crib.
Mama called my bluff.
Tonight, in the roundabout,
showing full ass,
leaning hard against these other shoved-ashore mutineers,
who burn tatters of sails till their faces burst flame into his,
the dug up, treasureless sky nearly but not really gone enough to sleep,
he hunts the blacktop’s thin scatter of past blizzard’s
sand for that lost
last drop, not
hearing over the traffic how it rattles deep
in the hull of the bottle in his hand.

Poetry by Pete Miller

Photography by Adam Strong

Pete Miller is the author of the chapbook Born Soap (H_NGM_N). A graduate of Arizona State University’s MFA program, he lives in Omaha, Nebraska where he works in homeless services. He co-edits the online poetry journal A Dozen Nothing.

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IN THE BONES


Under whisky, he forgets life expectancy,
itches for those knockoff
pills that arrive with a discount code,
some octogenarian dating site.
This lady’s dentures click
the dark fable of someone else’s mouth.
Only 64, she oozes
her tease, Make you
feel 78.
His railroad check soon mists.
The landlord’s knocks,
holstered like it’s
Waco. At the Mission now
he excites a prickling pity from a worker, who,
just 22, can’t suspect he’s
only one handful
of her bra
away from a permanent ban
and bar, from begging
time on the back porch
of his stepdaughter
who, still bearing a heart
bored clear through,
points to the doghouse.

Poetry by Pete Miller

Photograph by Adam Strong

Pete Miller is the author of the chapbook Born Soap (H_NGM_N). A graduate of Arizona State University’s MFA program, he lives in Omaha, Nebraska where he works in homeless services. He co-edits the online poetry journal A Dozen Nothing.

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Click

Slim fingers, long bones. Pale as milk, with transparent silk as hair and eyes you could look right through to the other side.

What do you want? I asked, because I didn’t know what else to say to an alien creature showing up uninvited in my bedroom. If I had ever contemplated the possibility, and I hadn’t, I would have assumed there would be panic, screaming, adrenaline, and a racing pulse. Instead I was calm-  just a little surprised.

I’m not sure, the being said, and that surprised me too. He didn’t have a mouth but I heard a kind of electric and clicking sound and somehow I understood. I didn’t plan on it, he continued. Not specifically, anyhow. We are supposed to explore the universe, but I didn’t mean to scare you while you were sleeping. 

He looked perplexed, not sure where to go next. I felt the need to reassure him. Oh, don’t worry about it, I said, patting the blankets beside me. I wasn’t sleeping, I was reading. I moved over to make room. 

Tell me a story, he said.

Story by Lorette C. Luzajic

Lorette C. Luzajic writes, edits, publishes, and teaches small fictions, from Toronto, Canada.  She is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. Lorette is also an international visual artist working with collage and mixed media to create urban, abstract, pop, and surreal works. She has collectors in thirty countries so far.

Image by Adam Strong

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 Nana’s Fruitcake


Nobody liked it but every year she made it for us. She had to take the bus downtown to buy brandy for the batter, and every year the liquor store owner teased her as if she was a fellow alcoholic. It’s my bloodshot eyes, she mused as she infused the figs and cherries with brandy. She was never wrong about these things.

When the finished cake arrived at our house, Mom would take last year’s loaf out and slide the new one into the freezer. Once I saw her give it a kiss.

This year, she mixed marzipan icing to salvage the fruitcake. That’s what she used on Nana’s wedding cake when she married the liquor store owner last Spring. The icing softened hallway through the reception, and slid right off the cake like an omen, as Nana said. It could have been worse. If the marzipan had been too hard, the cake could not have been cut at all.

Nana still blamed Mom, and as she spread the frosting on our cake, I heard her say, You kids damn well better eat this thing. It’s the last time I’m doing this.

Flash Fiction by Cheryl Snell

Image by Adam Strong

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and her Bombay Trilogy novels. Her work has been widely published and anthologized, including in a Best of the Net. Most recently her writing has appeared in journals from India, UK, Scotland, Canada, Greece, USA, Israel, and elsewhere. 

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Yoss and Finn



It took two cursing, straining fishermen the best part of half an hour to land him, flapping on the deck, and when they did they never expected him to talk.
“I haff a key,” he gasped after some moments, “the key to someffing you want.”
“Fuck me,” Yoss muttered, “a talking fish.”
“Wait, listen,” Finn snapped, stilling him. The water was smooth and quiet, no other boats to be seen or heard in the morning haze. The big salmon thrashed, looking indignantly from one old man to the other.
“Iff you set me free,” it began again, and then paused.
“What?” Yoss asked. “You’re worth eighty dollars on the quay, size of you. This better be good.”
Finn lifted the huge struggling fish and slipped the hook from its jaw, cradling it on his lap.
“What the hell?” Yoss exploded, spooked by the look on his friend’s face. And then, “You better not…”

But Yoss had already tipped the fish over the side, back into the water. There was a small cut on his thumb and without thinking he put the thumb, thick with silver-grey scales, into his mouth. His breath rattled.
“Of all the dumb-ass…” Yoss started up once more but Finn shushed him with a look, shuffled closer on the bench, and very carefully placed his thumb into the other man’s mouth.

Flash Fiction by Geoff Sawers

Photo by Adam Strong

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December, Muscle Shoals

A vehicle pulls in next to our hire car, though the carpark is otherwise empty. As
Australians, we’d call it a ute. Signage bolted to a nearby roof boasts FAME
Recording Studios is ‘WHERE IT ALL STARTED.’ People walked into this
nondescript building and revolutionized music. Wilson. Otis. Aretha. My husband
and I wait for opening, sheltering from the cold.
The driver knocks on my window. Greying stubble, puffer jacket, baseball cap.
Insistent on a chat.
He’s a bounty hunter, a rifle wedged next to his driver’s seat. He’s also a
drummer. Here for session work. There’s an ex. Kids he never sees.
The receptionist calls us inside. A pitch is made to the producer who’s leading
the morning tour. No, he can’t name any artists he’s played with. No, he doesn’t
have samples of his drumming. But he can drum right along with them, that list
of legends by the door! He could record himself playing along to some CDs?
OK then – he can clean…
The door slams behind him. I mention the rifle. The receptionist places a can of
Mace on her desk. We look at each other, uncertain whether to start the tour. A
peculiarly American suspense.

Flash Non Fiction by Liz Bennett

Image by Adam Strong

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Trilling Thrilling Teasing

Emily jumped out of bed, pulled open the window, and leaned outside.
‘Every time I’m here. How is it possible?’
The alarm of her arthritic car, sensitive to the merest of movements, had announced again
its decision to turn itself off and then on again. A two tone tu-tu. A rise and fall Emily
claimed she had started hearing in her sleep.
‘And it’s always in front of your house,’ she stated, her voice not free of accusation.

A week after Emily told me she was taking her love elsewhere, I was lying alone in bed when
I heard the sound. That unmistakable two tone signal filling me now with sudden hope. I
jumped out of bed, pulled open the window, and leaned outside. Emily’s car was nowhere to
be seen but the sound came again. And again. I looked up and saw a starling sitting on a
windowsill directly across from my own.
‘Tu-tu,’ the bird whistled in perfect imitation, ‘tu-tu.’
Was that laughter in its eyes?
Trilling, thrilling, teasing my broken heart.

Flash Fiction by Kevin Dardis

Photo by Adam Strong

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In The Wake Of Dead Soldiers

She grabbed the edge of the counter and pulled herself from the floor to something
like standing. 
The ringing in her ears would stop soon; it always did.
Her right side, though, screamed with each shallow, ragged breath. This was new.
She staggered to the table and tossed his dead soldiers—8, 9, 10— into a plastic bag.
The sour, yeasty smell from the cans wasn’t as offensive as when on his breath, when
his face was up in hers, screaming. Each clunk of a can was a reminder of that
night’s…what he called lessons.
Dinner was on the floor, smeared where her head had slammed into it. She scraped it
up, formed it into a ball, then flattened it against her palm.
He’d wanted steak. She’d laughed. When was the last time they’d been able to afford
steak? She’d offered to cook him a hamburger. He liked hamburgers. Not tonight.
She raised her palm to her face.
She’d heard raw steak was good for a black eye. How about raw hamburger?

Flash Fiction by Linda Gould

Photo by Adam Strong

Linda Gould is an American and long-time resident of Japan. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in media outlets around the world. Gould is the editor of White Enso, an online journal of creative work inspired by Japan, and host of “Kaidankai,” a podcast of supernatural stories. 

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In Traffic

The guy in the white van is taking photos of his bare feet on the dashboard. Probably for one of those Japanese websites. I’ve been told my feet are sumptuous, but I’m not interested, even at fifty quid a pop.

The car in front is spewing out black exhaust fumes. The driver’s a big unit, wide of shoulder and thick of neck. I might have magnificent feet but I’m a coward, so I say nothing.

The oncoming traffic starts to move. A truck, a bus, an ambulance inch by. The ambulance driver is picking her nose, two knuckles deep. She winks when she sees me.

Dave calls to ask how I’d dispose of a dead body.

“How big?” I say, because size is important.

“Five-ten. Twelve stone.”

The beach, I say. Definitely the beach. Wait till it’s dark and chuck it over the cliffs. You’ll need gloves, and a balaclava. Let Mother Nature do the rest: the rocks, the waves, the fish. He says, “That’ll work,” and hangs up.

Dave’s got scabby feet and doesn’t believe in washing. He tried it once and said it was over-rated, like Breaking Bad and avocados.

Flash Fiction by Gary Duncan

Image by Adam Strong

Gary Duncan’s stories have appeared in Unbroken JournalFlash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and 100 Word Story. His flash fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices.