fish shadows

144

M.J. Arcangelini
Sal Difalco
Joel Robert Ferguson
Howie Good

KJ Hannah Greenberg
J. David Harper
Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
Corey Mesler
Amy Miller
Diana Morley
Robert Nisbet
Allan Peterson
Rachel Rix
Brad Rose
K Srilata
Yoana Tosheva
Michael Dylan Welch
Robert Witmer
Lorna Wood

Fish_Shadows.JPG

KJ Hannah Greenberg

The Note

 

Friends,
 

I’ve been a bit out of sorts this week. I had an experience. I don't want to say too much about it, so let a haiku suffice.
 

fingers hooked in
large terrier’s collar . . .
my headlong fall

 

I am okay and so is Millie, the massive terrier, who is a perfectly nice dog. However, I do wonder, given their levels of energy, if they shouldn’t put a size-limit on terriers.
 

Our long-time (17 years?) fiction editor and my friend F. John Sharp also had an experience. Here’s John.

 


 

“The Second Best Place I Ran Out of Gas.”  A true story, by F. John Sharp.

I habitually play empty-tank roulette. I have grown good at knowing exactly how far below empty I can go before I really need to get gas. It has a little to do with annoyance that cars need gas and a lot to do with me not wanting to take the time to stop, especially when not that far below empty. I’ve only run out twice, once in Toledo, where we coasted into a fire station where Dad knew half the guys and they had some gas in a can. That’s the first best place.

This day, I swear the gauge said we had enough to get to the Get Go in Solon. It just didn’t look empty enough, but it was below freezing and maybe that affected the gauge. Anyway, halfway there I felt the engine shut off. I had a pretty good head of steam, and I was coasting, looking for a place to land. Ahead was an old-timey gas station on the corner, and I had enough momentum to glide right up to the pump. Perfect! And if things had turned out differently, this would have assumed the title of New First Best Place I Ever Ran Out of Gas. But the pumps were locked down and boarded up. There was light from the building and people inside but no gas. I went in and the guy, George, who will be the hero by the end of the story, said they had no gas and no gas cans. Okay. Plan B: call my lovely, forgiving, and luckily available wife.

Locals will know that I was at Nahra’s Shell Auto Repair, with the “Shell” brand being left over from when they sold gas. They let me stay inside out of the cold, waiting for my wife to rescue me, and never made fun of me (to my face) even once.

I’ll skip the details about how my wife couldn’t use the gas can we had in the garage and had to buy one at the gas station which--no doubt--makes a significant profit from selling gas cans to guys like me. Eventually she trundled into the parking lot.

The can was one of those new ones, baby-proofed and safety-shackled with anti-spill devices, and I couldn’t figure out how to use it. Sheepishly, I went back inside, where George was turning off lights, and asked if he knew how to work it. He came out, wrestled with it a minute, then went inside to get a big funnel. We took off the cap, emptied the can, and the car started right up.

George hadn’t needed to stay. All the cars had been picked up for the day, and he had sent his guy home. He could have kicked me out into the cold dark and gone home to dinner, but he didn’t. And if he hadn’t stayed, we might still be there trying to get that damned gas can to open. While I was waiting, I learned that he has three girls in college, that he’s been there 17 years, and that the city of Solon is making him move. The regulations have changed, and he was grandfathered in, as long as he sold gas. Now, as a repair-only facility, he can’t stay. He’s kind of looking for another place but he’s not sure what he’s going to do.​

All I know is this: it will be Solon’s loss if he leaves the city. You don’t everyday find guys who treat people like he treated me. He’s Goober’s garage in a Mayberry-turned-fancy. Solonites may still seek him out for repairs, but the next gas-gambling dude who rolls onto that property may be on his own.

 

 

Thanks to all the contributors to this issue and to all who submitted. As always, thanks to our editorial team: F. J. Bergmann, F. John Sharp, Bill McCloud, Annie Stenzel, Steve Klepetar, and Ina Roy-Raderman.

 

Enjoy,

 

Dale

Allan Peterson

 

They Are Suns

It’s May and I am beginning
to see longer later

Ideas of escape are widespread
in our fragrant illusions

 

For many even stars are not real
they are not even stars

 

We are actually unsavable
I can see that

Joel Robert Ferguson

 

Second Winter

What’s left
to write? Daylight
inches, a union
suit, mouths in 
a memory, snow
drifts and waiting.

 

Rachel Rix

Phone Call Where You Recount the Day:
No Trees in Kandahar

The Japanese maple leans 
a darker shade of autumn 

inside our gate. 

I can almost reach us,


pull us—home. 

Where the tree shivers


its leaves—and you

don’t place a pillow 


on the speaker 

to muffle the sound of me.

 

Amy Miller 

Lab Results

Sometimes I’d wake up
forgetting to worry. Ten 
minutes, maybe, grinding 
on a task or wishing 
I’d learned more geology.
A song could drown it out,
or reciting a series of streets.
Brannan. Bluxome. Bancroft.
Three times, the phone rang 
with something small. 
Then it rang again.

 

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco 

Thoughts on living in the murder house

You phrase it that
way once, and your dinner guests expect

to see the ghosts, when all you really have 
are wine and vegan meatballs.

Sure you think about it sometimes,
late at night.

A wall.
A window.

How you memorized the late afternoon
sun. Metallic

boom.

The night you sat out with your husband
in the heat

and watched the stars,
and only big ones made it on out past

the streetlights.

Brad Rose

 

Blue Earth, Spinning

The sun is bright, fierce as piranha. People tell me I have a very clean voice. Once, I hypnotized the sky. How do we know the universe is expanding? Maybe something went wrong? My eyes are engines. I have a theory of everything. When things are broken, they must be put back together again, like a dream. I prefer not to wake up in the same bed I went to sleep in. We have so little time. Buoyant in invisible gravity, the blue earth floats in space. There is only one silence. How did you learn to swim?

 

Diana Morley

Sounds

Before mother said
the sound
sun, such light 
playing these fingers

lighting these toes 
on that cold shiny floor.


Before mother said
the sound
water, her hand
under this head

warmth rose slow over
this bottom, this back.


Before mother said
the sound
tree, this head back,
these eyes could see

like an empty sock then—
without her, without me.

 

Michael Dylan Welch

Crisis

My eighteen-year-old son doesn’t know I know he has a piercing. I overhear him on the phone saying his grunge band may get a paying gig. “What’ll you call yourselves?” I ask him later. After he grunts, I ask again. “Not sure,” he says. “Maybe Jesus Crisis.” He grabs the OJ from the fridge. “I kinda liked Smegma, but the other guys thought no one would book us.” He bangs the door to his bedroom. Every year for Mother’s Day he still gives his mother a hand-made card. He plays lead guitar, has calluses on his fingers.

 

Lorna Wood

When You’re Away

I enter the living room to find
the people not sitting in the chairs
have turned them away from me.

Across the room, the sofa is out of control:
its expanse of chintz screams your absence;
enormous flowers gaze at me blankly.

The windows show me how pointless it would be
to go outside. The computer fills my head
with phantoms who will never

walk through the door,
drop their baggage,
hold me, and tell me
I’m beautiful.


 

 

Corey Mesler

David Spicer

David Spicer died this year
and nobody said a word.
In the darkest parts of the city
a voice cried like an old
Spanish guitar but it was nothing
like a poet dying in the forest
of the people’s mind.
David Spicer died this year
and nobody said a word.
One of his poems, laid upon his
grave, took root and, in the
waning sun, sent upward a green
shoot, one more gunslinger’s flare.

 

M. J. Arcangelini 

Holy Card

I met my mother’s body
at a funeral home and
left with a holy card

the line of cars behind
the hearse in slow procession
along suburban streets

cemetery grit caught
under my fingernails
rust in my mouth

 


 

 

Robert Nisbet

Reading the Leaves

Out on this western coast of Wales,
it darkens at four, December’s heart.
I can still read these few
remaining leaves, orange, brown,
flicked loose to skirt our hedges,
pavements, deck a fringe to winter.
In this half-light, they furl themselves
in hedgerows, borders, lanes.

Then five o’clock, the leaves embed
and at once, huge, poised, certain,
the moon lights the heart of winter,
my walk’s pavements.

 

Howie Good

Dead Rabbit

A coyote or fox must have gutted it

or maybe somebody’s dog. I didn’t

bury it. I didn’t say a prayer over it.

 

I looked down at it with a shameful

mixture of curiosity and revulsion

and then went back in the house,

 

while the day swayed like a covered

wagon on the Oregon Trail hauling

a heirloom piano over the Rockies.

 

K Srilata

second wave –
the fish in the bowl
still swimming

 

K Srilata

The Happiness of Colts

There has not been, for a long time,
a monsoon as beautiful as this one.
Windows glimmer in the after-light.
Birds drink their fill.
The skies are a runny ink.
The earth is open, hopeful.
A long poem on the rains has begun writing itself.
Look! It is bolting into the rain now, a happy colt.

 

Sal Difalco

Sister Rosemary

Humberto Pratas lifted the edge of the gauze covering his right eye and revealed an ugly purple shiner to a chorus of gasps. A bunch of us huddled around him in the schoolyard just prior to morning bell—out of a sense of mutual outrage and solidarity but also morbid curiosity. The day before, during afternoon recess, Sister Rosemary had popped Humberto—a sharp right jab—for sassing her, as she phrased it. Didn’t knock him out, but close. I’d never seen that shade of purple before. Must’ve hurt like a bastard.

When we asked Humberto what his parents thought about him getting sucker-punched by the nun, he lifted his T-shirt and showed us a livid map of welts and bruises. His father figured he must have been delinquent for the nun to take such drastic measures, so he doubled down with a little belt action of his own.

“I’ll kill her if she ever hits me again,” Humberto said bravely, but we knew he wasn’t killing anyone. Hatchet-faced, hook-nosed Sister Rosemary had a rep for taking no guff and for gooning her grade five pupils at will. Fantasies of rushing the old nun during recess and beating her up animated our conversations and kept us from despairing.

But she operated with absolute impunity; no one had the courage or power to stop her. Just the week before she had bitch-slapped Bronco Messes so hard a handprint still marked his face. And prior to that she’d ripped a clump of Rita Citino’s kinky hair right off her scalp. They called Rita’s mother to the school, and we hoped it might have led to Sister Rosemary’s arrest or dismissal, but nothing came of it.

Then one morning, during prayers, Sister Rosemary’s nose spontaneously started bleeding. Oddest thing. She bled all over her habit and her desk, and even splattered the blackboard. Never saw so much blood—and it was so red. Visibly panicked, she stuffed her nostrils with Kleenex to staunch the hemorrhaging, in vain. Eventually, her eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed. No one moved a muscle to help her or to call for help.

Questioned later by police about our muted response during the incident, most of us cited the late nun’s rule that we were never to leave our desks without her permission, though Humberto Pratas was quoted as saying, “My father should see this."

 
 

Robert Witmer 

Christmas on Main Street

Snow falls against a darkened window
A mannequin in a bridal gown
Smiles
They’ve gone away for the holidays
The headless groom
His pants on the floor

 

J. David Harper

My Old Man

There is something of winter
I can’t shake off
like my father’s heavy coat
stitched to my shoulders
and nailed
to my grave

 

Penelope Weiss

Rainbow

The monkeys in my brain bite into their apples 
and throw them out the window.

Newtonia, a young girl, 
walks by, thinking of nothing much

except a rainbow she sees in the distance 
beyond the curve of Earth.

 

Yoana Tosheva

Wolves 

What we run from we run into,
or so I’ve heard. Therefore, I am not surprised 

when I go home every woman in my grandmother’s village says
“You look just like your mother.” 

There is a saying we have:
Одрала й е кожата, 

means something like
“you tore her skin and wear it as your own.”

Which is to say, you look so much like someone 
you could truly be them. Which is to say,

they look at me and see my mother.
Which is to say, no matter how hard I try, 

I can never outrun her.

 

Allan Peterson

Global Warming

That sound is a Delta
trying to catch up with daylight
The earth is always
staying ahead of us slipping
out from under
Even the rocket on its pillar of smoke
is falling behind
and something is very wrong
among the many colored islands
the water is rising
Everyone knows who’s responsible
On the stamps not a single king
will look at us

Contributors

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144

M.J. Arcangelini (b. 1952) has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in print magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies. His five collections include What the Night Keeps, Stubborn Mule Press 2019, and A Quiet Ghost, Luchador Press 2020. He enjoys the single life.

Sal Difalco's short prose will soon appear in Cafe Irreal and Gone Lawn. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

 

Joel Robert Ferguson is a Canadian poet of working-class settler origins who lives in Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory. His poetry has recently appeared in The Columbia Review, EVENT, and Wells Street Journal, and his debut collection, The Lost Cafeteria (Signature Editions 2020), was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.

 

Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press).

 

KJ Hannah Greenberg tilts at social ills and encourages personal evolutions via poetry, prose, and visual art. Her images have appeared in various places, including in Bewildering Stories, Kissing Dynamite, Les Femmes Folles, Mused, Tuck, The Front Porch Review, vox poetica, and Yellow Mama. She uses her trusty point-and-shoot camera to capture the order of G-d's universe, and Paint 3D to capture the chaos of her universe. Sometimes, it remains insufficient for her to sate herself by applying verbal whimsy to pastures where gelatinous wildebeests roam or fey hedgehogs play.

 

J. David Harper wrote those movies you never saw and those books you didn’t read. You may have read some of his short fiction in places like Flash Fiction Magazine and Altered Reality Magazine, or some of his essays in publications like Potato Soup Journal and The Haven.

 

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley and works as a librarian. She has published four chapbooks, Various Lies, Lion Hunt, Water Weight, and The Empty Clock with Finishing Line Press, Plan B Press, and Right Hand Pointing, online and in limited print, respectively.

 

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published over 20 books of fiction and poetry. With his wife he runs Burke’s Book Store (est. 1875) in Memphis.

 

Amy Miller’s poetry and nonfiction has appeared in Barrow Street, Copper Nickel, Right Hand Pointing, RHINO, Tupelo Quarterly, and ZYZZYVA. Her full-length poetry collection The Trouble with New England Girls won the Louis Award from Concrete Wolf Press. A recipient of a 2021 Oregon Literary Fellowship, she lives in Ashland, Oregon.

 

Diana Morley is the author of Spreading Like Water, a chapbook (2019) Splashing, a poetry collection (2020). and Oregon's Almeda Fire, photo-poetry book (2021). The town ran out of water for fire—most recent show of why Diana finds water holy, blessed by priest or not.

 

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who writes most Sunday mornings in a large-windowed room looking west to the Atlantic and the Irish Sea.

 

Allan Peterson is the author of six books, most recently This Luminous, New and Selected Poems, 2019, Panhandler Books. An expanded bio is available at www.allanpeterson.net

 

Rachel Rix earned an MFA from Sierra Nevada University and has recently published work in The Ravens Perch literary magazine, as well as being shortlisted for the Billy Collins Fish Anthology 2020 poetry contest. Rachel lives in Sacramento, where she is a CMT. She lives with her husband, Adam, and their two cats.

 

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author of three full-length collections of poetry and flash fiction. Recent work is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, New York Quarterly, and Cloudbank. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com

 

K Srilata is a poet and Professor of English at IIT Madras. She was a writer- in-residence at the University of Stirling, Scotland, Yeonhui Art Space, Seoul and Sangam house. Srilata's fifth collection of poetry The Unmistakable Presence of Absent Humans was published by Poetrywala, Mumbai in 2019.

 

Yoana Tosheva is a student, an immigrant, and an artist. Her work has been published in Diminuendo, Wack Mag, Anser Journal, Sixty Inches From Center, Trampoline and elsewhere. She runs a blog about music which you may peruse at https://collectivecadence.home.blog/.

 

Michael Dylan Welch just ate a bowl of cereal for dinner. He has a habit of writing poems, sometimes sending them out for rejection. Occasionally that doesn't work and his stuff has appeared in Rattle, Hummingbird, Kyoto Journal, and in hundreds of other places. Michael's website is www.graceguts.com.

 

Robert Witmer has resided in Japan for more than 40 years. He is now a mostly retired professor. His poems have appeared in many print and online journals and books. He has also published his own collection of haiku titled Finding a Way.

 

Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama, with a Ph.D. in English from Yale. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Bookends Review, Quaranzine, and Nevermore Journal, among others. She has also published fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly essays. Find her Amazon Author Page here: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00HAGNZAE.

KJ Hannah Greenberg