Monday, October 14, 2019

Killing Your Ghost by Linda M. Crate

the remnants
of your ghost
hang upon my flesh
even though i told you
i wouldn't be your haunted house,
and so now the monster in me
has risen;
she is an ancient beast
i have all the strengths and none of the weaknesses
of my monstrous father
fight the damphyr,
and you will find your folly;
because you do not possess the strength to defeat me
no one ever does
because immortality can never be slain
you, however, will fall beneath my black boots,
and i will remind you that you aren't driven pure white as
the snow as you once so kindly reminded me.

Linda M. Crate's poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines both online and in print. She has six published chapbooks, a microchap, and a novel titled Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Productions, June 2018).

Sunday, October 13, 2019

In a Motel Room in New Mexico by John Grey

Men and women
cluster about, all in dark robes,
the ones that gather automatically
when there's been some kind
of unrest in the realm of the spirit.

Hands reach into you,
grasp bloody and raw.
They get the pain out of the way
so the trembling can begin.

You see the blade
like a grinning star in the heavens,
the foil of the one the shepherds saw.

Cut away from you,
the child is passed
from hand to hand,
interrogated with a knowing glance.

Everyone but you
can hold the newcomer
to their dark chest.

These are doctors, nurses.
You are a new mother.
He is a baby, red-faced and hungry.
Shame about the horns.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Mourners by Jan Darrow

It was on the hillside above the orchard when the light was just right that he could see the mourners in their black hats and coats.  The despair only heightened when they pulled the coffin from the carriage and placed the lid – sealing the body forever.  And then in the blink of an eye they were gone, leaving only wild sweet peas and ivy shimmering under the sun.

He had bought the house and property months earlier from a second cousin who moved to Boston.  Apparently, it had been in his family for generations.  Now, in the peace and solitude he liked to walk around the grounds with his dogs planning gardens for next year.  He felt like a gentleman farmer.
But this business above the orchard bothered him and one day he climbed up the hillside searching for headstones.  He found nothing except several patches of black raspberries growing among the flowers and ivy.  Who was this person they were grieving? 
He telephoned his cousin that afternoon to ask about any family member that might be buried on the property, but his cousin knew of none.

And so, at first as time moved on, he decided to forget the hillside and began repairs on the house. 
Maybe it was the day light growing shorter, who knows, but the house began to take on the same despair he felt when he saw the mourners and he wondered if he could live out the rest of his life in such a lonesome place.

Yet he stayed.

He gradually forgot the house and became so drawn to the hillside that he often wept with the mourners.  And as each day passed, he saw their faces more clearly and recognized them as his own.  But surely not, as they were nothing more than ghosts.  Something that comes and goes in the blink of an eye - like dust.

Weeks went by until one morning in October, when the leaves had changed into brilliant colors, he woke from a terrible dream.  He knew that he had to leave
As he packed his car, he looked up and saw them in the haze, tangled brush, horse stamping, and carriage rocking.  The mourners were watching him.

But he collapsed before he could start the engine.

It might have been minutes or hours later when he opened his eyes, their sour breath so close standing over him.  Dressed in black silk funeral attire.  Grieving time passing.
His arms were trapped now within the confines of a wooden box.  The mourners’ sad eyes covering him in darkness; sliding the heavy wooden lid - drowning out his screams.  

Jan Darrow is a poet from Michigan who connected with the natural world at an early age.  She has been published online and in print and finds abandoned places utterly beautiful.  You can see more of her work at

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Eerie Loveliness by Frances Daggar Roberts

Poplars and hawthorns lining the road through Berridale
are sinister as witch fingers in late afternoon light
though the air itself seems full of shimmering gold.
Where the country opens wide again beyond the town
the poplars’ wintery spikes are stencilled
on the dun coloured fields and the great mounds
of the glacial moraine.
Every so often
the verge of the road is curiously exposed
for twenty metres or more
before needles of desolate winter grass resume.
The emptiness has a harsh beauty
and we travel in silence, you and I.
We should be mellow in this golden afternoon
but instead a wordless sorrow keeps us company.

Frances Daggar Roberts’s poems have been published in Verity La, Eureka Street, Other Terrain, and other journals. Frances’s work has been included in two Australian anthologies- A Patch of Sun, and The Intimacy of Strangers. She is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project. Frances works as a psychologist.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Grey by Andrew McAuley

Simon sucked in damp moorland air. Panting, he turned to look back the way he’d come. The carpark was a smudge in the distance. Wind ruffled his greying hair and threatened to dislodge him from the rocky highpoint of the tor. He braced himself against his hiking stick. Regaining control over exhausted lungs he tugged his water bottle from his rucksack and took a swig. 

He consulted the hiking app on his smartphone. He’d walked three kilometres. It felt like more. The route was 45% complete. The app showed an abrupt turn West. Simon pivoted, getting his bearings and turned into a swift thrust of wind. 

He stumbled, trying to steady himself with his stick. The sudden shift in weight sent the stick spinning off the granite boulders. Flailing, Simon followed. 

Looking up at the sky, he patted himself down, satisfied that nothing hurt. Not even his usual aches. Propping himself up on his elbows he looked about. He’d fallen about ten feet onto grass. He was lucky, if clumsy. 

‘Thought I’d kicked the bucket,’ he muttered. 

A thick grey fog surrounded the tor. Had he been unconscious? He wasn’t sure but had no recollection of the impact with the ground. He took out his phone. Dead. Either damaged in the fall or he’d been unconscious for some time. 

‘Guess I’ll just head back the way I came.’ He stood and took a few careful steps. Legs and lungs felt ok. The walking stick was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he’d be able to walk back without it. The carpark was downhill. He took a first few steps when he became aware of a figure walking up toward the Tor. 

‘Hello!’ Simon called. The echo of his voice seemed to carry forever through the greyness. 

The figure made no acknowledgement but marched directly toward him with a purposeful stride. Simon waved. The fog seemed to swirl more thickly around this black silhouette of a man. Its arms remained rigid, not even swinging with the motion of walking. As the figure neared the fog around the tor seemed to grow denser. 

Where was that damn walking stick? Simon looked about for it. Anything he could hold onto for security. He dashed a few steps, finding only rocks and damp grass he turned one way then another, searching. Daring to look back at the stranger he found him mere metres away. Not a man. A black man-shaped mass. Dark matter yet slightly opaque. A dark shadow. A void given life. 

Simon scrambled over rocks. The shadow followed. Its footfalls making no sound. 

‘What do you want?’ Simon threw a handful of small stones at the figure. They passed right through. Still the shadow advanced. 

Simon fled. Heedless of snags on the ground or to direction or purpose other than distance between himself and pursuer. A flash of colour caught his attention through the fog- a hiker! Resting on the grass below a plateau of granite.

‘Help!’ Simon pleaded, hurrying to hiker. The man lay on his back. Hiking stick at his side. Simon halted beside him. Gaping down at the sight of his own pale, lifeless face. Dead eyes staring up into the grey. He became aware of his shadow behind him. Simon shut his eyes. 

Andrew McAuley is the author of a novel and numerous shorter pieces of varying genres including comedy, historical, horror and children’s stories. He lives in Devon, UK. His work features in an anthology of Devon writers. He is currently working on a historical novel and wargaming rulebook.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Adams Street by David Gross

nothing good ever happened there
ratty row of shotgun shacks

backed up to Illinois Central tracks
wrong side of town

where locomotives groaned loads
through bituminous nights

dragging souls of the slowly dying
family and friends

down the same moonlit rails
we used to escape

David Gross' most recent collection is Little Egypt (Flutter Press, 2017), recent work in Contemporary Haibun Online, Haibun Today, and Otata. He and his wife Linda, live near the center of the Big Muddy watershed in southern Illinois where they enjoy grandchildren, gardening, birding, and hiking.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Wake by Ed Ahern

There you are at last,
On the far side of the kneeler.
Finely dressed as always, 
Poker faced as ever.
There’s so much I need to tell you.

I know you got her pregnant,
And made me grow a stranger.
I know you bribed our clients
And sold their loyalty off.
I know you wrecked my life.

And I held my silence.
For her sake.
For the business.
For your ever-breeding wife.
For my pathetic image.

But here you are at last,
Plump and pasty,
Dead to me now.
Oblivious of the wrongs,
Uncaring of the hurts.

No, don’t stand up yet.
Hold that bogus sadness
Just a few seconds more
While I savor the thought
Of watching your arrival.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and five books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of four review editors.