Interlocking Bricks, Disconnected by Catherine Chiarella Domonkos
There you are in the corner under the window behind the shelf crammed with board games: Monopoly, checkers, Settlers of Catan. Most of the black checkers are missing and I never understood Catan; Joey explained it to me each time. There you are, his square green Lego, swaddled within a tuft of carpet fuzzing, my hair and his. You that tortured my arch when I stepped on you and I cursed every blessed thing that came to mind. Now I tuck you with reverence into the pocket of my jogging shorts. I tap you to be sure you’re with me as I run across Bleecker Street, pass the ice cream shop where I’d stop with him for chocolate chocolate chip cones on Fridays, marveling at the sticky brown river pooling in his left dimple – never the right – and it was all I could do not to bend down to lick it clean. I laugh out loud. I cradle you in my palm as I swing onto the footpath along the Hudson, sweep into the Pier 40 fields where he played Little League, shortstop or second because he was so quick, ears popped out at right angles from under a blue cap and he danced a little samba of sorts while waiting for the next batter. When I stop at the rusty water fountain, Coach Santana asks how Joey’s settling into college in Boston. He’s just fine, I say. I hold you tight, pretend the tears on my cheeks are the work of a wayward fountain. You press against my palm. Tonight I toy with placing you in my jewelry box for safekeeping, instead tuck you back in the family room.
Cloud-Bird by Peter Cherches
Sometime in the distance, a cloud fell from the sky into a lake of feathers, pinfeathers, hardly suitable for a feather boa, so left alone by the boa poachers, who had bigger fish to fry. Upon meeting the feather lake, the cloud laid an egg. The cloud chick, featherless, could not distinguish itself from the body of feathers in which it hatched. The cloud had disavowed it, so the chick was left to its own devices, to fend for itself. The cloud reverted to water and soaked the feathers. The chick floated, treading wet feathers. Looking skyward, the chick could make out the fuzzy outline of a cloud. It dreamed of flight, believing the cloud above to be its mother. Gulls would stop by with small fish for the chick to feed upon, having resolved, at an emergency meeting of the flock, to care for it. The chick thrived. Emulating its guardian angels, the gulls, it taught itself to fly, this cloud-bird. It flew, far and high, to the cloud above, but the cloud turned a blind eye. So the bird became its own cloud.
Ra’s Acolytes in Twilight by Gregory Dally
A tone in search of a melody lived in her singing. It carried relics from a code devised by the traveller as she attempted to learn the art of being human.
The girl shed dots of meaning, hoping that ones she met would come rife with sympathy – or at least enough mercy to construe her as benign. She knew that those whose minds held love could take her stutters, then unscramble them and recognise her sincerity.
According homilies, she played the raconteuse, telling ancient legends in the cast of truth. Spectres lurched from her tales, Hell’s exports keen to sob. The Ahaura River played grace notes under its gurgles, augmenting her sermon.
Around a camp fire, drifters roared like judges overcome. They saluted the gall of a copyist extolling herself as original. Regaling them, she caused grins to remain in situ on admiring faces.
Jags of moonshine spilled from cans that never emptied. The contents of those vessels kept replenishing, as if by makutu. A visitor who said he’d once played a messiah led her, jigging through the centre of the ruckus.
Inspired, the girl told them, “The moon can cinder all hearts,” insisting that the lull of any hum could rake up a morning.
Full scarlet, the mist from her ghost tribe’s howling made their jeers a patois. Smooth tempers upgraded the drunks’ quotes, inflecting their ranting until it had the eloquence of lingual connoisseurs.
Their huddle of lives seemed correct, actualised from a dream. They carried the tiredness innate to mirages about to grow sentience. In fading light she invented adjectives and revamped the clan, giving music through synonyms to replace ‘nice.’
Outside/ Inside by Reihana Robinson
Outside—what to see
Let’s start with the rusted trailer still in use Chooks resting in its shade
The shadow cast is short right now It’s morning on the South Pacific east coast
Far from towns and villages—the sea clasping a quiet sky filling half the picture
The chooks beginning to get ‘in the zone’ Dazed and post-coital
Conjuring an egg into te ao marama
Inside—what to see
A swift transition to an iPhone she’s holding Holy Cow— the latest Bollywood images
The iPhone belongs to a random ‘fighter’—17 years old Door kicked in at 3.00am
Dragged off his mattress by death-dealers Mother and sisters shoved Shamed
Foreign-trained fellow Afghani humiliate him to life everafter And the returned
soldier tweets After handing him over After opening his phone…
How she hates this war
This nonsensical war
And she tweets
No more pretending it meant anything It didn’t
It didn’t mean a fucking thing
Aromatherapy by Sara Lippmann
That June, we went to the desert for a girls’ getaway. We were hardly girls. One of us was dying, Meredith had died; all of us had lost someone. It was a silent retreat. What was there to say? We were newly divorced and perennially single, we were stuck in marriages and dating online and pregnant with a – surprise! – third kid. For days we feasted on goji berries and posed as trees and paid gobs of money for strangers to touch us. For every ailment there was an oil. Remember the time we cut school and hitched down the shore for what’s his name? Nobody said. Our skin cracked in the sauna and shriveled in group baths, but before leaving, we swaddled ourselves like babies in robes and sampled high-end products to take home, greasing our hands in jasmine and lavender and sandalwood, holding out fingers for each other to smell.
Called ‘one of the innovators of the short short story’ by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches is also a jazz singer and lyricist. His latest book is Masks: Stories from a Pandemic (Bamboo Dart Press). He is a native of Brooklyn, New York.
Gregory Dally has had poetry, fiction and other material published in various journals, including Meanjin, Meniscus and Popshot Quarterly.
Catherine Chiarella Domonkos’ recent short fiction appears or is forthcoming in Flash Frontier, Heavy Feather Review, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine and other literary places. It will be anthologized in Best Small Fictions 2022. She lives in Greenwich Village, NYC.
Sara Lippmann is the author of the story collections JERKS (Mason Jar Press) and Doll Palace (re-released by 713 Books.) Her work has been honored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has appeared in The Washington Post, The Millions, Best Small Fictions, Diagram and elsewhere. Raised outside of Philadelphia, she teaches with Jericho Writers and lives with her family in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, LECH, will be published by Tortoise Books this fall.
Reihana Robinson is a writer, artist and farmer living in the wilderness of the Coromandel in Aotearoa New Zealand. She has written two collections, Aue Rona and Her Limitless Her, has had work published in Aotearoa, Australia, France and USA.