Monthly Archives: January 2016

‘Tests’ by Art Metzger

Here I sit,
newborn and old…
older than old…
a crone,
ugly and wrinkled as a gutter plum.
I sit, in this new old chair,
rickety and rocking,
in front of a hovel minutes old,

Soon hoof-beats I’ll hear.
Far off,
then closer,
splashing across a stream,
until a white horse will appear
galloping through the gorse,
and, on his back,
a Hero, questing.
Mail glinting in the sun,
sword shining
(useless in the end,
though he knows it not, yet.)

I will beckon him then.
He will stop, dismount, and ask me, politely,
(though his quest calls to him)
what he can do for an old goody like me.
Three favors I’ll ask of him,
simple tasks.
Fetch me water from the well.
Build a fire in the old stove.
Catch me a fish.

All these he’ll do, and gladly,
asking nothing in return,
and when he turns to leave
I’ll stop him
and give to him three gifts:
a tortoise shell,
a stalk of wheat,
and a tiny, tiny cage.
I’ll tell him that, when the time comes,
he’ll know their use.
Then, thanking me, he’ll ride off,
hoof-beats fading in the distance,
and, when I hear them no longer
I will be gone…
hovel, well, stream, and crone,
gone in the blink of an eye,
leaving the land bleak and empty
as it had always been.
My task will be done,
and the ending will be well.

Copyright 2016 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.


‘The Canine Interrogatory’ by Andrew Bradford

Sarah’s Observations:

She looks at the dog and is immediately comforted. They had told her at the shelter that the dog was gentle and loving, one of the best they had available for adoption. Sarah had been sold from the moment the cinnamon-tinted canine walked up, wagged her tail, and licked her hand. Love at first sight, and yet as she rubs the dog’s soft fur, she feels the tears starting in her eyes.

Her friends had begged her to return the dog. “You got a Rottweiler?” her BFF Candace had asked as she ever-so-slightly began to look around for the door to leave the house in case the dog made a sudden move toward her. “Why in God’s name would you get a killer dog, Sarah? What were you thinking?”

What am I ever thinking, she wonders as she strokes the dog’s velveteen ears and lets the tears flow.

Ginger Talks:

She’s a good owner. All in all, I consider this to be a good forever home. OK, so sometimes she cries for no reason, but that’s just what humans do. They get all emotional and seem to have a need to cry. It’s not the worst thing in the world.

Sarah is a nice person, constantly talking to me, feeding me twice a day: morning and evening. She’s generous with the treats and even lets me share the bed. I can’t complain, but I wish I understood why there’s so much sadness inside of her.

Sarah’s Late Evening Reflection:

Maybe that last glass of wine was a bit too much, she thinks as she collapses on the sofa. The dog is right there too, hopping up and resting at her feet. This was a good idea, she realizes. Dogs are such wonderful creatures, and after all she endured with Roger–the verbal arrows, the lies, the physical violence that finally made her realize she had to get away from him–it’s nice to have someone to trust again. A dog will never let you down, her father always said, and he was so very right.

For a moment she understands that her life is quite a good one. She has a great job with a major accounting firm, a lovely house she bought with the money her aunt left her, several wonderful friends, good health, and now a pet. All the rest will fall into place in time, she assures herself. There’s no rush. Time is her friend.

The dog looks at her with warmth and it makes her more optimistic than she’s been in months.

Ginger Wonders:

Why does life seem so complicated for humans? At the shelter, I saw so many potential adopters with sad eyes and the pain of a wounded past etched upon their faces and hearts. Seems to be a waste of a life if it’s spent enduring hurt, merely surviving, failing to celebrate every moment of the goodness that’s been laid before us all. Why stay locked in a state of self-torture when there’s so much to love to receive, so much love to give, to be shared?

I will never fully know what it means to be human, and that doesn’t bother me in the least. It doesn’t leave me feeling unfulfilled. Life is for living.

Sarah’s Tuesday Evening Call:

When she sees the number on caller ID, she knows it’s Roger. No need to answer, she tells herself. Let the bastard leave a voice mail and she can erase it later. But almost by rote, guided by some deeper reflex, she answers on the fourth ring and hears him say for the fifty millionth time that he’s sorry.

He’s been drinking. She can tell by how he slurs some of the syllables in his apology. She hardens her thoughts, steels her heart, tells him it’s far too late for it all. What has been done cannot be undone, and then he gets angry, accuses her of being a heartless bitch, a pricktease, a hateful shrew.

She hangs up.


More tears from Sarah. These are deep, soul-wounded sobs that shake her body. I nuzzle closer to her and lick her face. This makes her smile. She hugs me close and tells me she loves me. Yes! Love! Love is what the world is meant to be. Not the bad, not the dark. It may be raining outside, but there is always sunshine inside where we live in our hearts.

I feel Sarah’s heart beating against me and understand that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. This was all destiny.

Ginger Hears All:

Because he’s called only hours before, I know the sound emanating from the front door must be Roger. As I hop off the bed and ease down the hallway toward the living area, I can hear him breathing. When I draw closer, I can smell the alcohol on his breath. It stinks, and he has a sweat of fear and anger coating his skin.

I peer around the corner and into the room where he stands. He looks around in the darkness, clutching a thick piece of bent metal in his hands. When he trips on the ottoman and tumbles to the ground, I know the time is right.

I pounce, my teeth penetrating the softness of his neck.

His blood is like poison, and his cries make me feel dead inside. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t there be more love?

Sarah begins to laugh as she takes me by the collar and leads me away from Roger’s still-twitching body.

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘The Beat Goes On’ by Gloria Christie

My second-grade teacher asked to borrow my wooden ruler, and I knew someone was destined for pain. That someone was a miniature criminal who could not stay seated in the first-grade row just to my left. He was a beginner. I knew the ropes.

And I was secretly glad he was getting paddled, because for once, it wasn’t me. I got in trouble at home — a lot. (But never at school.)

As I sat in my desk I could hear the thwack, thwack, thwack of his punishment over Miss Stillabauer’s knee.

That little boy came from the poorest family in the school, transient farmers. His sister, named after a desolate city, was a sullen fifth-grader who without a word made me want to turn away. And the oldest daughter, named after one of the characters in The Wizard of Oz, spent her free time combing her chestnut hair. I thought she was beautiful.

My mother had just learned to drive and volunteered to give any child a ride. The day of the boy’s reckoning, she scooped up the whole family in her screaming turquoise Nash and headed down an unfamiliar gravel road. We all sat leaning forward to watch the road peter into dirt.

Without warning sister elder said, “My dad ran over our little brother with his truck. He said it’s our fault, because we weren’t watching him.”

The entire car fell silent. We knew this was a Big Thing. But I had to ask, “Did he die?”

“Oh yes,” she said. I listened to her voice for any emotional markers. But she sounded as she always did.

Now I understand that their feelings were invisible. The little boy beaten with my metal-lined ruler was acting out kinetically. Sister younger was sitting on a rickety stack of undead furies. And sister elder interred her grief on a remote formation built of past torments, already a calcified monolith.

FYI, I’m never going to die. No, really. I’m pretty sure of that now. I have no proof to the contrary. But just to make certain, I celebrate each of my birthdays for a month.
Last week as spring blossomed her way past the cold, three people I knew passed away through that opaque curtain most of us fear.

And I find myself thinking more frequently than usual of my youngest sister, Barbara. She and I shared a bed, because in wood-burning families, it was the warm thing to do. It occurs to me how closely our hearts beat, how comforting that was. When I most miss her, she comes in a dream to remind me of her laughter or her wit or her integrity.
At the inner-city high school where I taught ninth grade, many of my kids lived in unrelenting grief. Occasionally they stepped into the safe space I was to share their sorrows, just as that child of years ago had.

Grief is a heavy weight almost too heavy to move, but we do.

Copyright 2016 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

’21st Century Ulysses’ by Andrew Bradford

Valuing himself not at all worthy to travel the distance seen in dreams

He considers leaving his wife who is racked with typhus

Even money says the ship will sink if a man so much as moves an inch

When does it seem likely we shall come upon the house which holds the keys?

Let him alone, they hissed, he is just back from a long journey to the other worlds unknown

It’s a beautiful language, and there was at time when I knew it well

Before I was a boy, long back when I was but a still-forming babe

She took me to see the blessed fireworks

Oh what times we had, Mr. Bloom. Oh the joy in such simple pleasures

With barreltone voice he does proclaim,

Sea, wind, leaves, thunder, and the arc of a fireball rising in yonder dirty sky

The blonde-haired lady who appeared in his bed was more than just a siren come to lure him away

You have taken the full advantage of me, she said blankly

Shall I put a rose in my hair and enchant you, she began to ask

Let us consider the constellations and navigate the stars

Take a long drink from this hookah and see the universe unfold before us

What of redemption, did ask the good minister

What of the next life and then next and the one after that to be

Oh so lightly, he was told as he began to descend into reverie

Would you gently touch me where my third eye does reside, she asked

Yes I said yes I will Yes

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.



‘If Memory Serves’ by Andrew Bradford

In thinking of the days yet to never arrive

Various words reached far into the tendrils of my half-intoxicated limbic imagination

It was all an innocent beginning quite auspicious for the time of morning

Impossible to ever list the sensory overloads captured in a single photo of her

And behind it lies a patchwork quilt of denials and fabrications

Autumn came early that year, and with it the recriminations of older memory

Such a horrible lie to all I see that I fear I may not even know myself anymore

Farther on along down that way it can be seen in evidence

That summer is not to be had in this parallel way of inverse truth

There will be no banquets when we arrive,

No singing, no dance

Only the eternal burning of our buried hatred released in a spontaneous moment of


Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Enigmatic Sparks’ by Gloria Christie

They are enigmatic flashes of light in the night’s heat, sparks of little spirits that lift my heart for some reason.

My first sighting of these natural engines of energy reminds me of the promise of another summer’s hope. So much I attribute to the diminutive, luminescent firefly.

Yet they seem to flourish under the weight of such anticipation. And with each arrival of the evening, I continue to watch for the fireflies to blink into my existence. To lift my spirits and to remind me of other lights in my life.

One of my good friends recalls how her just-older brother used to put a firefly in his mouth, making her laugh at his back-lit blinking teeth. And then as he, too, laughed, he released the little beacon back to the night. A cherished memory that brings her brother back to life for a few moments.

It appears that fireflies take oxygen and transform it into light via their special light organs. That’s how we should power our cars. And rather than appearing randomly, lightning bugs fly in unique patterns called, “optical signals.” But scientists still cannot explain how these light-emitting creatures manage their on-off switch.
Where I grew up just outside of a small town, in firefly-filled nights, the sound of quiet is absolute and calming. At times I could stand beneath a sliver of new moon and hear nothing. Oh, the occasional distant neighbor dog’s lone bark might interrupt the stillness, but that was all.

And integral to that quiet was the liquid dark that flowed from horizon to horizon, adorned with a multitude of stars, soft lights against the true black. No artificial city lights. No honking horns nor fire sirens. No staccato of car beams. No cacophony of dogs. Just silence. Just the quiet. Just peace.

Now homes hum to the tune of our electric meters running ever faster. And it’s not good enough to turn off an appliance; now we have to be rude and unplug them. Of course, that initiates electronic lights flashing for immediate time-change attention and disconnects us from cable and might even cause the silent alarm to go off.

No, even with the TV and radio turned off, we are assaulted with the air-conditioner’s compressor, the refrigerator’s motor and the hum of various semi-sleeping electronic devices. Every time I take out my toaster, I wonder how much energy it will manage to suck down as the toasting bread ticks ever browner.

Apparently in the not-too-distant future, every person will have seven digitized items. OK, that’s a cell phone and a pad, a laptop and a tabletop, a fake book and a… What else could we have? Maybe we’ll carry a miniaturized, personal microwave?

Maybe our cars will be so light and energy-efficient they can fold up and fit in a pocket? Or maybe we will tote around inflatable personal pods to catch a quick nap, necessary after all that digital effort? Or not.
Maybe we will take a little time for the silence. Maybe we can find a moment to sit outside in the summer night’s breeze.

And then the coming of the magical fireflies, as they light our night, can engender reminders of what is really important.

We can remember the other lights in our lives, the other remarkable beings who live in the homes near and not-so-near. When life is dark, we are not alone.

Copyright 2016 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘A Love For All’ by Olumide Oluwasegun

Perhaps all you need for time, just time
Is to stand and choose to fight it out
Belief with a true heart brings forth peace.
Then you learn the love that conquers all.

When time is measured all that’ll last will be
The will to fight and stand for a cause
Your aim in life will be measured by
The number of souls that value you

Soar on wings of the Eagle’s span
Send pure laughter the way of men.
At the end of all what counts will be
If truly you found love for yourself indeed

Copyright 2016 by Olumide Oluwasegun. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Hotel Leitmotif’ by Andrew Bradford

All at once I felt utterly isolated

Then just as suddenly the words changed yet again

In the trees at night I think I hear her cries

It will stop, she told him,

It will all one day cease

Now that we are hopelessly lost

Will there be a place for the hidden toys?

In the courtyard they did stand in quiet solemnity

But is too much to think of now, too much to ever possibly


I want so much for her to tell me how I make the pain disappear

More glad with each passing moment

To be waiting for sleep to bathe me in the shared silence of nothing

To find the reasons for the searching

And arrive back at a place that has not yet been invented.

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘To Cross The Mist’ by Gloria Christie

(Dedicated to Barbara Christie Mansfield)
Your fingers reached across,
The chasm between life and death,
To warm my imploded senses
To comfort my bereaved heart.
At first, I barely dared to hope
That you could bridge back,
And yet you persisted in act
Expressing your spirit, yourself.
Showing me that you still are
Laughter, mischief and love
Gentle touches across the mist
Where you stand just out of sight.

(My youngest sister, Barbara Christie Mansfield, who was also my best friend and wisest advisor, died without warning on Nov 5, 1996.)

Copyright 2016 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.