Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
It is that twilight hour of orange sun
sparkling across an August lake.
My father watches this familiar postcard
from a faded raft close to shore,
as awed as I am observing him
in this dazzling, dimming light.
Shadowed by the glare,
he is near skeletal,
bare skin covered loosely
by a sun-bleached bathing suit tied
with knotted string impossible for hands
now incapable of stillness.
Once, his athletic swimmer’s frame
carried me effortlessly to bed
despite my struggle against the day’s fatigue
and the thought of letting him go,
secure in the nestle of his woolen sweater
thin at the elbows with mixtured hints
of Old Spice and cedar chest,
his soft voice lulling me into childhood sleep
when ten uninterrupted hours,
a window’s moon, and the safe innocence
of cotton sheets promised our
Mary Warren Foulk has been published in VoiceCatcher, Cathexis Northwest Press, Yes Poetry, Arlington Literary Journal (ArLiJo, Gival Press), and Palette Poetry, among other publications. Her work has also appeared in (M)othering Anthology (Inanna Publications) and My Loves: A Digital Anthology of Queer Love Poems (Ghost City Press). Her chapbook, If I Could Write You a Happier Ending, is forthcoming from dancing girl press (2021). A graduate of the MFA Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Mary lives in western Massachusetts with her wife and two children. She is an educator, writer, and activist.
In the future, some will likely say it need not have happened. Others will say it was inevitable. History may refer to it as the War for Water, but that will be a misnomer. The true causes of the war had simmered for centuries, the pressure steadily building until it exploded like a volcanic eruption. Water merely brought the endless conflict between The Collaborators and the Awethu to a head. I know these things are true, for I was an eyewitness. - Bookman
Except for the chirp of crickets and the occasional splash from a leaping fish, all was quiet. The pine and deciduous trees surrounding the reservoir cast tall fractured shadows on the land and along the water’s edge. Crouching behind a pair of fallen trees with fan-shaped mushroom conks growing out of crevasses in their gray trunks, I stared at the water. I couldn’t recall when I last bathed, but for a moment, I imagined feeling its refreshing coolness on my skin.
The life I now lead is unlike anything I could have imagined. By training, I am a historian. Before the war, reading, researching, and writing filled my days. Hence they call me, Bookman. But now, with matted hair hanging below my brown shoulders in thick black coils, a shaggy beard covering my face, and crusty patches of dried blood on my sweat-stained, mud-caked denim shirt and pants, I am a freedom fighter among the Awethu for justice and equality.
The Collaborators say we are criminals, lawbreakers. They whip up fear of us by saying we will rape and murder their women and children. But such things are lies, have never been true, and are products of their acute paranoia, self-induced hysteria, wild imaginings, and completely baseless fears. Many Awethu who have challenged injustice; Medgar, Viola, Martin, Addie Mae, Cynthia, Carole, Carol Denise, James, Andrew, Michael, and countless others have been killed. Breonna, Ali, Ahmaud, Dominique, Trayvon, Eric, Natasha, Michael, Atatiana, and George are among the latest of the recently martyred.
For many years, scientists had warned that the amount of potable water on the planet was declining. Those living on some of the continents heeded the warnings and took serious steps to address climate change, pollution, and the other factors creating the problem. On others, half-hearted measures were taken. But directly below Canada, on the North American continent, the T.W.S., the latest incarnation of a cult-like sub-group that has always existed within The Collaborators and traffics in conspiracy theories, had disparaged and attacked scientists and environmental advocates for years. They convinced corporations there was no quick profit to be made addressing the water issue, so it was ignored.
When the water shortage began, The Collaborators, with the T.W.S. ensconced throughout the political system, claimed ownership of every significant public source of water. Overnight, armed guards cordoned off dams, reservoirs, town wells, water treatment facilities, etc... leaving only rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and other water sources of questionable health safety unclaimed.
6/26/2021 2 Comments
Think of all the things to save:
those sheets of shirt cardboard,
the Rabbit, rabbits I say aloud
to no one on the first day
of every month, the embroidered fabric
I found in the night market of Chiang Mai,
pens with thin nibs, what my mind finds
like a planet devoted to spinning,
that miniature metal sculpture of a woman
riding a bicycle the black flap of her dress
curled from imagined wind in Vietnam,
pockets of letters, the tile from Istanbul
symmetrical and filled with hues of blues
like my daughter’s eyes & her voice in the dark
at four-years-old, I don’t want to die
alone, and the fact that each kernel
of corn is attached to a thread of silk
under the husk. Maybe the end
will be like diving into a channel
with a shore on the other side
that we don’t know is reachable.
Maybe we’ll carry what we’ve saved
as we fall into water or become water
falling or at least feel touched
by its weight, its glistening,
that last breath unribbed.
Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has three poetry collections, The Human Contract (2017), Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera (2019). Recently, poems appeared in Rattle, Lily Poetry Review, and RHINO. She has been a 30/30 poet for Tupelo Press, nominated for Best of Net, the Poetry Prize Winner of Art on the Trails 2020, and a 2021 Finalist and Semi-Finalist in the Iron Horse Literary Review’s National Poetry Month contest. She lives in the hills of Vermont. sarahdickensonsnyder.com
To Marie Antoinette, from a Woman Who Also Was
the Talk of
In the corridor back when
and in the in-between.
He said people are too busy to care about anything
but themselves, but
he was wrong.
The illustrations did you harm.
And all the salon talk:
Did you hear?
Did you know?
As if they did.
Sticks and stones.
Sticks and stones.
Later: another woman’s
head on a spike.
6/16/2021 1 Comment
Kyle Wright (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based writer, musician and visual artist. His short chapbook Videodrome was featured in Really Serious Literature’s Disappearing Chapbook Series, and his first novella, In Control, is forthcoming from Bizarro Pulp Press. His work has appeared most recently in After Hours Press, New Feathers Anthology, and is forthcoming in Defunkt Magazine. He has surfed couches across Europe, lived on a mountain in Colorado, worked as a wedding DJ, and played folk music at old folks’ homes. He lives with his partner and their cat, Chickpea.
Instead of Bad News
She pours some coffee, pets the dog,
and holds him off with snacks until
her second cup. The headlines crawl
across the bottom of the TV
screen: it’s murder, scandal, mostly
cloudy, and Dow Jones. “I will
not waste my life,” she tells herself.
“I’m finding meaning; giving and
receiving love.” Her irony
ambiguous as Lilith myths.
The coffee’s gone, it’s still damn cold
outside: 16 degrees. She clicks
the dog leash, zips up tight: full armor
for a skirmish with the world.