What Michael Found that Afternoon

The sun sets behind the old oak tree on top of the hill, branches reaching long shadow-arms
across grass that is spiky with old nettles and flowering thistles. Michael catches
grasshoppers in his tiny fist and feels them tap, tap, tap against the insides of his fingers,
trying desperately to get away. The barn cat watches from the branches, and the white-and-
black dog lies curled up in the shade, panting with a smile.
The air is colder next to the little creek. Crystal water floods over pebbles, and
Michael’s feet go numb as he sticks them in. A tweet, barely a sound at all, rises like a dream.
At its root, a baby bird, all beak and stuck-up feathers. It cries, crumbled on the ground, no
parents in sight.
Michael remembers the time the dog would not eat for days and how his mum could
fix it. Determined, he scoops up the bird and feels its clockwork heart flutter against his
palms. He rushes through late summer grass and air that smells like thunderstorms, the dog
bouncing happily at his side.
Before he arrives at his front door, the bird is dead.

Flash Fiction by Laura Martens

Image by Adam Strong

Laura Martens is based in London, UK, where she writes things and sells books. She loves skyscrapers, busy train stations, and cafés with window seats. Her writing has appeared in CP Quarterly, the Journal of Erato, and others. 


Happy Beings

Happy Beings

“Humans, attention left,” drones the android.  

I’m excited. My son? No.

“Attributed to an ancientnamed Adam Peterson, only this porch remains from Before Town.”

Projections appear: Adam smiling on the porch, then setting up a tent on green grass with a boy the same age as mine. Happy beings. 

We’re not.

“The porch survived due to the wood’s extreme levels of chromated arsenicals, fumigates that accelerated The Collapse.”

Venturers prepare to exit the transport for a closer look. They, my sad child, climb into bubble shields.

I stay behind to ask advice from long-dead Adam, great-great-grandfather to single father. 

Story by Karen Walker

Image by Adam Strong


An Outing

It’s a Sunday ritual, this absurdity─ two sets of flailing old bones trying not to injure each other─ but it’s the conduit to the weekly movie, which is what she’s really after. If the movie is bad, it still leads to a visit to the bistro. Tea and cake, cake and tea.

Husband and wife take their seats in the theater, and she recognizes the man next to her. Her cells know─ a tingle traveling along her spine into the roots of her hair─ before her brain catches on. She once slept with the man on a bed piled high with overcoats, the voice of her husband cracking his party joke in the next room. Now her husband is reaching across her lap to shake the man’s hand.

“We were neighbors thirty years ago,” he explains when the man looks confused.

“Sorry. I have trouble remembering things nowadays. My doctor has me on medication, but it’s not helping.”

The woman heaves a sigh of relief. Her one loose end, her big secret, is smothered and safe in the pocket of some overcoat somewhere.

Turning to face the silver screen, the man gives her a sidelong wink.

Story by Cheryl Snell

Image Courtesy Adam Strong

Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and a series of novels called Bombay Trilogy.

Recent pieces have appeared in Cafe Irreal, Roi Faingeant, New World Writing, and elsewhere.



When things I knew faded,
I made up facts.
Glazed with my charm, they
kept trouble away.
My stories turned emptiness
to childlike eagerness
but always devolved upon
some dragon.
Driving and sailing
over each continent,
I wasted the wealth
of my era and class (what’s
the point of wealth without
waste?). Tried to use
the most passionate words
I encountered, unsure
what they meant.
What I didn’t have,
could have used, were names.
Payphones had fled. Cities,
campuses where
I’d hypothesized contact stood
empty; temp angels
who lent me their couches
and kindness were sacked.
If I had it to do over again
I’d be a song, with unpicturesque
europoverty stamping
its feet, the river
too near, the singer
thinking to claim
the gold in the eye of a listening girl
but it’s only for me.

Poem by Frederick Pollack

Image by Adam Strong

Frederick Pollack is the author of tw0 book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), BateauFulcrumChiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review,  Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc.


Her Name

I wanted to name our daughter Nessie, partly for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland and
partly for a wild girl I dated while studying abroad in Edinburg, but my wife wanted to name her
Mildred after her grandmother who had been a lindy hop and jitterbug dancer in prominent clubs
in New York back in the 1940s, who had been on Broadway, and who had starred in a couple of
Marx brothers films. Her grandmother had died before we were married, and though I didn’t
know her, she was described as flamboyant and always had a martini glass in her hand. I
protested and said I didn’t feel that was a good image for our daughter. My wife countered that
Nessie was a monster and our daughter would be bullied in school. We settled on Elizabeth after
the Queen and hoped she had a long and wealthy life.

Flash by Niles Riddick

Image Courtesy Adam Strong

Niles Reddick is author of a novel, two collections, and a novella. His work has been featured in over four-hundred-fifty publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIFBlazeVoxNew Reader MagazineCitron Review, and The Boston Literary Magazine. He works for the University of Memphis in Tennessee.



“You have an empty heart, you know that?” he exclaimed and stared at her unblinkingly; his piercing blue eyes brimming with tears. She looked down at her plate, avoiding his gaze. She shouldn’t have ordered the Caesar salad, she thought. Even without the chicken and the croutons, the dish still had at least two hundred calories. “Unbelievable”, she could hear him murmur as he got on his feet; a stifled sob escaping his lips on his way out of the restaurant. She wasn’t fooled by his theatrics. She knew he didn’t care about her. Two years ago, before her weight loss, someone like him wouldn’t even have looked at her. Or worse, would have made fun of her. Every little comment, every little joke, seared into her brain; neatly sorted by date, location, people involved. People who looked like him, with their cheekbones, their abs, their soft hair. He didn’t care about her. She put down her fork and scanned the room; looking for the next person to fall in love with her empty stomach.

Flash Fiction by Sally Wagner

Image by Adam Strong





As they 





Image by Adam Strong

Poetry by S.F. Wright

S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is


The Ghost Unhealed

Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  He is currently working on two photography collections: ‘Lying Down With The Dead’ and ‘There Is A Beauty In Broken Things’.

He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

His blog/website can be found at


Pointer Fingers are a Nuisance

The child’s howls merged with the mother’s shrills. The infant hammered the ground and rolled into a ball like a fearful armadillo. I forced her metallic shell open, removed the blood-soaked bandage, and cleaned the wound. A smile unfurled when I hung my white coat for the last time and slipped on a smock. 

Pointer fingers lifted out of their holsters. I squatted just in time —phew—and dripped paint like Jackson Pollock. A mélange of cinereal, cobalt, and claret cascaded over stethoscope/paintbrush debates.  


My ex-husband pushed me in front of a mirror, grabbed my plump breasts, and won an erection. His fingers curled when my left breast died, and the right sagged. His fingers extended to sign divorce papers.

Pointer fingers scurried down dictionary pages, but I wrote to the editors. Beautiful can also mean scabs, stitches, and survival.


Summer dresses didn’t disguise unevenness. Scabs and stitches littered the space where my left breast used to live. A woman brushed her fingers gently across that space and planted a kiss where a nipple poked out like a cuckoo clock. 

Pointer fingers drew XX+XY on misty morning windows. Vinegar mixed with dishwashing liquid works wonders on stubborn streaks.

Flash fiction by Isabelle B.L

Illustration by Adam Strong


Sum of Their Parts

On the perambulated promenade,

Men of my own Chinese animal pass by.

They are not weighed down by life,

Dutifully pushing again, the womb fruit toward sunlight.

I once false circled their orbit before truth re-entered.

Lonely has a certain gravity to it.

These equations come with no solution

I am the remainder.

Poem by Algo Gourley

Image by Adam Strong