Monthly Archives: May 2016

‘Reminiscing’ by Andrew Bradford

Yeah, we were all so stupid back then

that it seems a shame

to watch as grown men cry over the pain of another lost day

Seen a lotta bad shit, the man said as he handed back the bottle

none of it makes much sense when you look at it in the clear

light of day

Maybe we can buy ourselves another shot at redemption and then

all will be good, all will be right for another night

of shakes and howls

Got to the last lesson and found myself stumped

by the physics of how we’re ever meant to be

the tiniest bit human or humane

Sitting here about half asleep

another half about stoned

but it won’t matter one iota

when the daylight breaks and exposes us all

as the frauds we always knew we were

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

‘First Light, Soft Quiet Of Peace,’ by Michael Millwood

Any moment now, she will cease to breathe. It’s only a matter of minutes before the injection takes effect and all the pain is finally, mercifully gone.

It’s for the best, Nicky tells himself as he lights a cigarette and fixes himself a bourbon and Coke. Had to be this way. Was never gonna change for the bettter, so might as well get it done and not pretend otherwise. Nothing was ever accomplished by trying to put back together what’s been broken from almost the beginning. Nicky raises his glass and makes a silent toast: To me. To having the balls to do what has to be done.

He should be crying right about now, he knows, but he’s not gonna. He’s made a pact with himself and he won’t back away from the promise now. Tears aren’t gonna make things any different, not to mention any better. He takes a puff of the cigarette and inhales deeply, as if the smoke can push down the deeper hurts he’s been carrying his whole life.

Shoulda never made the promise six months ago. Seems so long now that it starts to feel more like six years, but it was just January when he nodded and sealed his fate. Well, to be honest, their fate. In a matter of a few minutes, fate will no longer exist for her, and he will be left to sweep up the memories, dispose of the dreams, and call for assistance. Doesn’t really matter now, does it? Nope. Not in the least.

Nicky shakes his head and starts to chuckle. To you, old gal, he says under his breath. You were a good mom, but sooner or later we all reach the end of our lines. Best part about it all is this time tomorrow all your pain will be gone and the house will be mine. Then he can invite his friends over and party as much and as late as he’s always wanted.

No more disapproval. No more shame. No more hiding. If only he’d known sooner this moment would be so freeing. Makes him wish he’d been braver,  more bold.

He drinks to the moment and picks up the phone to begin making the calls.

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

‘A Blood Ritual On The Fountain Of Youth’ by Robert L. Franklin

On a balmy May night, amidst a flurry of insect choruses performing great symphonies in the towering grass, I sat in my chair and had what I can only assume to be a dramatic revelation. All writers, I said to myself while striking the flint of my trusty windproof lighter and immolating the end of a cigarette, are time-travelers.

I had never considered such a notion before, as it essentially neatly sidesteps my mantra of living in whatever moment is currently taking place. But in pondering the great literary minds of the past and having ethanol-soaked conversations with their ghosts, I came to realize that regardless of their popularity at the time of their deaths, their existence persists in the further indulgence of their work. Their words act like the machine of Wells’ design, each read of Infinite Jest, Ulysses, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, to name just a few of the many examples, placing their respective composer firmly within the moment in which their texts begin a classical waltz with the reader.

For the sake of full disclosure, I cannot say why it took me so long to realize this. I have spent the last three decades composing in some form and it seems to have only just now hit me that compositions live on long after their author withers away entombed in the soggy, malodorous kingdom of worms.

Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact I am finally starting to get the first gentle, supple tastes of success? Perhaps it has something to do with suddenly approaching the age of thirty? Perhaps both?

In my extreme youth, I feverishly put pedestrian diction to wide-ruled notebook paper, rending scores of number two pencils until only the frail ferrule surrounding what was left of the pink rubber eraser survived. Those were carefree days; I never looked at writing as a career choice. At the time, I believe I wanted to be doctor, or a veterinarian, or a taxidermist (I had some strange childhood aspirations). Yet, I received so much pleasure from writing one-page short stories about ghosts, goblins, and interpretations of slasher movie plots (I had some strange childhood interests), I devoted a considerable portion of my free time to doing just that. Then, I would seal them closed with Crayola wax conveniently liquefied by my intense desk lamp that in retrospect may have actually been a fire hazard.

In my adolescence, I had become interested in music and by my early-20’s, I found myself in a new part of the country every other day performing textured, ether-drenched guitar riffs, reverb-rich bass notes, and sharp, shimmering percussion of my own composition to people I didn’t know in places I had previously never been. I cannot say whether youthful naiveté or the perpetual, ambient fog of marijuana and acid had anything to do with my lack of comprehension that my masterpieces, my art, would last forever, but as I quickly creep on the thirtieth anniversary of my birth, I now fully realize that everyone who witnessed the shows I performed with my band mates will always have some memory of that intimacy we shared, and it is in that memory that I will live on even after I turn to dust.

In the present, I am in the process of building a brand. Taking cues from the great minds who came before me, I craft fictional tales of inconsistent quality and provide sociopolitical commentary to hundreds of thousands of unique readers. In being a novelist and poet, I have come to realize that the men and women who have inspired me continue to live on not only through their own words, but also through mine. As a journalist, I now understand that even men and women who are not among the ranks of literary composers enjoy the time-bending perks as well, for their influence is felt to this day in morality, legislation, and jurisprudence.

So, maybe to restrict these musings solely to those who contribute to the finer arts is dishonest. Perhaps any contribution, even those in the realms of politics, social sciences, history, mathematics, and the empirical sciences also time-travel? Perhaps these men and women also live on, even long after their bodies have been returned to the Earth and recycled for reuse in the creation of someone else who, perhaps, may live on in defiance of time as well?

When I consider these notions, opening a book to engage the mind of someone else existing in a different point in time, it is difficult for me to not contemplate if I, too, will live on long after I am dead, joining the ranks of thousands who came before me and maybe even welcoming thousands more who will follow. Everything I put to paper will exist ad infinitum, which is, at least to me, a daunting insight.

But I would be Herodotus if I said it was not an enticing one and I would be James Frey if I stated I wouldn’t become comfortable with the notion of continuing to live on long after I am dead through the integrity of my work.

So at the end of the day, not only do those who write time-travel, but they also cheat death. Extinguishing my cigarette in a unique, handcrafted ashtray, I stand from my chair, as if to applaud the symphonic efforts of the insects below, and say to myself: to write is to take a blade to your palm and slowly drip crimson life in the brisk waters of the Fountain of Youth.

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

‘Just Waiting’ by Andrew Bradford

Thinking back now, seems like all those late evenings spent wasting my life in some kind of self-induced revelry

Only really served to amuse me for a second or two, then it was back to norm

When I hit forty I started to see things in a way I never had before

Guess that’s what they mean by a mid-life crisis, but it felt more like an awakening

So I found my calling at long last, and it just so happened it had nothing to do with career

It was all built on a foundation of straw, and when it nearly tumbled down it left me shaken

Picked myself up, looked around, and learned to care unconditionally for another born from a slice of my soul

The good is always lighter than the ill, the perfect is never as sweet as the slightly imperfect

Sitting alone one night not long ago, I heard a distant voice I could almost translate

It came up slowly, wrapped its arms around me in a soft embrace

Told me not to worry, not to fret, not to pace

But to only trust that the wait is worth the effort of the reward

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

‘How To Tame Time’ by Mileva Anastasiadou

The headaches that used to accompany morning awakenings have now vanished, so instead of running for a pain killer, I am going directly to the bathroom to take a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I recognize my face as I have known it since the era I was living in the normal world, at the age I was forced to abandon it and be placed in this strange place where time flows according to the author’s will, who has been given the right to write about my life, or perhaps the reader’s moods, who reads the story unwillingly, jumping from one chapter to another, without caring about regularity disturbances that may be caused by jumping chapters and paragraphs. A shadow on the rear of the mirror seems to be watching me in silence. It is the first time I see it and I can even detect traces of tenderness and sympathy, but I attribute the feeling to the general sensation that somebody has been watching me since I have been trapped in this strange book that claims to be narrating my life.

It all began some months ago, when I accepted the proposal of the strange man, who introduced himself as a journalist or a writer or something like that, and suggested that he should write my biography. I thought he was joking, since biographies are written about important people, who have offered much to humanity or about persons that have influenced its course for better or worse at the very least. Despite my humble objections though, he insisted on the project.

Unwillingly, I answer the phone that persistently rings.

“I hope you did not regret it, sir,” he states in excitement. I have not heard of him for a really long time, but I quickly realize that to him, it was just last night that we signed the contract.
“I have most certainly regretted it. I really do not feel like participating in your project at all.”
Silence on the other end of the line.
“Do you hear me? I changed my mind. I want my life back,” I shout angrily, unable to control myself or my nerves.
“But you did sign the contract sir. You cannot back out now.”
“There must be a price. Name it and save yourself the trouble,” I tell him in a desperate effort to negotiate.
“I am terribly sorry, sir. With or without your help, the book has already started,” he says and hangs up.
He did not have to tell me that. I already know firsthand.

So, this is how I got trapped in this bizarre world, where time does not flow in the usual linear way, but on the contrary, every single day that dawns finds me in a different season of my life. I could not realize this immediately. In the beginning, I thought somebody turned back time in order to give me a second chance at life, so that I could accomplish all the big achievements I had been destined to complete, and I was truly grateful and happy about it.
It took me some time to realize that days did not succeed one another like it happened in my previous life, but it was as if some one was really trying to write my biography, recounting only the most important days of my life. In time, instead of slipping from one significant moment to the next, it was as if some one was reading the book of my life, skipping chapters according to his mood, or even returning to previous chapters from time to time in order to properly understand what happened, thus making time travelling back and forth a part of my routine. In the beginning, all those long time distance trips I was forced to endure from one day to the next caused severe headaches, similar to those that one acquires while travelling long distance trips, until one gets used to time difference. In time though, my body got used to temporal trips and headaches subsided.
The important days of my life came one after another, not necessarily in the linear chronological order I remembered but it was proved later on that something even worse was happening. Not only did they not seem that important any more, but also there was nothing I could do to make them more important either. My life simply repeated itself, as a patchwork, yet still in the same exact way it had happened before. I made the same decisions, chose the same roads, talked to the same persons, without the ability to change anything in order to thrive and prove myself worthy of the writer’s effort.

Our gazes cross for a second, but all it takes is one single moment for me to recognize her. She holds a book in her hand and immediately looks away, as if to defend a space that rightfully belongs to her, which I invaded by mistake. This woman has the same tender eyes I detected earlier today on the mirror. It is definitely her. The reader of a book that has not been written yet, so it cannot have been read either, but she is certainly the one to read it in the future and she will be the one to see below the surface, the man whose story is being written so that he can finally meet her.
The lights in the bar are low and you can barely hear the music. I do not wish to scare her away, but I cannot hold back either, so I tell her the truth. She laughs.
“The opposite is not so unusual,” she says.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that it is not so unusual for the reader to develop feelings for the main character of a book, while you say that you fell in love with the reader of a book of which you happen to be the main character, or you will be for that matter.”
I hear her even louder laughter now, as if she said the most amusing joke and I laugh along, because my story really seems like a silly joke, although at least now I have the impression that it may lead somewhere nice, to some kind of happy ending to say the least.
“It does not really make any sense at all. None of this sounds valid,” I tell her, realizing how absurd my story sounds, now that I speak of it, instead of just thinking about it.
“It all may be valid. However there is no reason for us to waste time. You can tell me all about your life, instead of waiting for me to read it in the book.”
I do not want to sleep tonight. I fear that I could wake up to an irrelevant time and space and that it will take lots of time for me to find her again. I will stay awake and recite all I recall from my life, even the most insignificant details. I suspect I could be more significant than I ever though I would be. At least I can be significant to her. In my metric system, this is more than enough.

We wake up embraced. Relieved to find her by my side, yet still in agony about the continuity of time, I run to the bathroom mirror once more, as discreetly as possible, in an effort not to disturb her. It is all true. Time counts normally again. Or this may be happening for the first time, I cannot be certain of that. I look at the calendar to confirm my suspicion. The calendar says what I already know. That time flows as it is supposed to flow. Or perhaps this is the first time it flows forward, full of moments that will not vanish into insignificance, but will be filled instead with love and shared experiences. Time counts when you begin to love. Or at least, this is the only way to tame it.

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

Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, living and working in Athens, Greece. She has published two books. Her work can be found in Ofi press magazine, Infective Ink, the Molotov Cocktail, Foliate Oak, HFC journal, Down in the Dirt magazine, and soon in Menacing Hedge, Massacre magazine, the Wolfian, Pendora magazine and the Fear of Monkeys.

‘Bastard City’ by Robert L. Franklin

Pale streetlights cast eerie halos over the blackened cement stained by the blood of the victimized,
the tears of the homeless, the cum volleyed by johns,
and the wine of the white-collar overseers.

Its denizens are in avoidance of the dark pathways
to nowhere consumed by the labors of existing
within decrepit, cockroach-infested walls
and under compromised, weeping gables,
all the while dwarfed by oppressive lords of human ingenuity, whose bones are fortified steel and whose skin
is tempered glass and whose eyes are
the judgmental porcelain orbs of a married old-money
beneficiary with a Cuban cigar in his left hand,
a scotch in his right, and a fifteen-dollar per hour
set of rouge lips rhythmically slurping between his legs.

He doesn’t concern himself with the serfs,
whose prosperity stands next to him
no more competitive than a struggling toddler,
vassals whose “American Dream” yields
barely more than nothing, whose skin automatically
designates them an enemy combatant
to state-funded figures of authority,
automatically retards full ascent
up every corporate ladder,
and whose world — composed primarily of black markets, institutional poverty, and senseless loss of life –-
is nothing more than a pipeline
from kindergarten to death row.

Their plights are largely ignored
by the courts gathered in greenback towers,
whose pen is mightier than the gun,
whose lapel is more revered than the flag,
and whose tongue is sharper than any blade used
to twist in freedom’s back while
darkness aids pale streetlights
casting eerie halos
on the blackened cement pathways to nowhere
that separate the lords from the peasants
in a sanctuary of brutality known as Bastard City.

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

‘Found Along The Windcrest’ by Andrew Bradford

Startled and smitten by the sheer beauty of the moment,

I completely missed the true import of what was taking place.

Seems my whole life has been spent in some vain attempt,

To curry favor with my own soul.

Given a gift from birth, told to take up my pen and write,

But it only raises more questions I cannot hope to answer.

One day, they have told us,

All will be made clear.

But the same ones who make such claims,

Wear lenses painted ebony and red.

Someday we will all be transformed into purest light,

And reabsorbed into the final shards of fading sunset.

For now we wait

For now we sit quietly

And we make our plans.

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

‘An Occurrence At Pole 69’ by Gregory Adams

The jump began, as so many things have before, on Haight Street, specifically in a brief alley where Rob, Gasper, Lincoln and Calf were sitting on the concrete, lighting up their reward for a hard day’s begging.

Gasper, a longhaired Midwesterner with a wheezing laugh that earned him his nickname, seemed to know more than the rest of them, which is why he always got the girls. Gasper had Calf now. Calf was too smart to be living out of dumpsters, but Gasper had already convinced her that she was too smart for anything else, so she stayed, and she was his.

Lincoln, a tall, thin teenager with a beard more Amish than Presidential, was Gasper’s sounding wall. He phrased Gasper’s ramblings onto cohesive thoughts, without trying to claim the ideas for his own.

Rob was still Rob, for now. He’d been on the street in San Francisco for two weeks, and no one had given him a name yet. He came West to find himself, but the only thing he had turned up so far was Calf, and Gasper wasn’t about to give her up.

“How do you know?” Calf asked her melodious voice unbearably out of place in the alley.

“Oh it’s true,” Gasper went on. “I’ve felt it.”

“Felt what?” Rob said. He hadn’t been listening until Calf spoke.

“Pole 69 isn’t where the most jumpers jump. The ones who jump from Pole 69 didn’t go out there to kill themselves. But once they get to that place, something pushes them over. Not with hands against their backs, but pushes just the same.”

“You’re suggesting an incorporeal malevolent spiritual consciousness?” Lincoln asked.

“He’s suggesting bullshit,” Rob said. He was high and tired of Gasper’s voice.

“Let’s go out there now,” Calf said, her enthusiasm lighting up the dark corner they were filling up with smoke.

Gasper shook his head. “Not me. Not at night.”

“I’ll go,” Rob said.

“Bridge is closed at night,” Lincoln said. “No pedestrians.”

“So?” Calf said.

“I’ll go,” Rob repeated. He felt kind of melted to the street, but he bet he could stand, walk to the bridge, and hoof it to Pole 69, if Calf wanted to go with him.

Calf ended up not going.

Rob wasn’t certain how it happened. Gasper didn’t want her to go, so Calf got mad and stormed off. When Rob moved to follow her, Gasper tried to stop him, but Gasper had been eating out of dumpsters too long to fight Rob. By then, Calf was gone.

Rob headed for the bridge. As he had left the Haight and peeled off over fences and through the shadows of Golden Gate Park, he saw fewer and fewer people, and as the fog gathered, the people he did see became less and less substantial. He began to feel as if he were walking through a dream. The sensation passed when he made the bridge. He was soon again focused on realities, beginning with not being seen, and ending with being alone with Calf.

When he reached Pole 69, Calf wasn’t there. Cars hissed by, but Rob was alone on the bridge. The wild thought came to him that Calf had jumped, victim to Gasper’s incorporeal malevolent spiritual consciousness, but he soon dismissed the notion. Calf was probably half-crazy, but he doubted she’d kill herself over Gasper, and there was certainly no force here. Nothing but wind, fog, and far down below, the waters of the bay.

Rob stood, hands in his pockets. His high had long since worn off. He had come out here for a girl and had found nothing. When no other purpose suggested itself, he looked over the railing. The night was dark, but he could still see the whitecaps as they occurred beneath him. They seemed a long way away.

Rob had read somewhere that a person falling from such a height passed out before reaching the bottom; that the mind, seeing the end rushing forward, closed down. Rob didn’t believe it. The mind is tuned to survival: it would be alert, looking for a way out right until the hard smack at the end.

The hitting would be like striking concrete: the water was settled in place and would be reluctant to allow a falling body in. The jumper would certainly die; might even break apart.
Vertigo came as a sickening, spine-melting, heels-over-head twisting that radiated out from Rob’s center of gravity and shot ice through his bones. His fingers gripped the railing so hard he imagined he could feel the layers of paint compress.

The moment passed. Rob’s head cleared. He leaned back from the railing, steadying himself upon the cold steel spine of Pole 69.

Rob shook his head and began walking back towards San Francisco. It had been a silly errand. He had come to the bridge, risking arrest, to play a game with kids who had nothing better to do. When had his life become so empty?

Rob didn’t know what he would do when the morning came, but he promised that tomorrow would be about something different than begging and getting high. He might even go home.
By the time his boots were kicking through the wet grass of the embankment, he was certain of it.
When the Coast Guard fished Rob’s body from the waters of the bay, he had no identification on him. They posted notices with his description, and it was Calf who came forward and gave him a name. It was a brave thing for her to do, as she was held as a runaway and sent home.

Calf couldn’t tell them why Rob had jumped. She insisted that he hadn’t gone out there to jump, but the Pole 69 security camera told a different story.

The video showed a young man who vaulted over the railing without a moment’s hesitation; as if he expected something solid to be there and catch him on the other side.

 Gregory Adams lives and writes near Boston. He has published two collections of strange stories One Day in Hell and The River

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


‘The Falls’ by Nathan Corredo

We wander around the days and

lose our souls at night.

Suppose it doesn’t amount to much

but damned if I still am not so proud.

Frantic discoveries of what lies deep within

so we claw along the contours of our flesh to be remade.

Somehow all life must find the moment of repose

until then we can playact around the scenery.

Now ends the lesson of one moment

taken hostage to a crushing end.

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