The most elegant inter- pretation of quantum mechanics states that macrophages are re- quired for a parallel reality to exist; & that can only happen if zebrafish are the sole
peer-reviewed species allowed to be taken out of captivity to become an accepted model for neuropsychiatric studies into tissue regeneration.
A spectrum is a collection of scalar values with its black curve being an analog of the momentum.
Which is why a fixed dimensional living space may wish to concede that abacus marble or rock counters
can take the place of trees when considering the cause for some cases of partially- working proteins.
Three French Horns
Winnebago shared a post on Instagram, a screenshot of some anthropologist’s tale of the deconstruction of the phrase a partridge in a pear tree by a group of pueblo dwellers. Some individual ideas were reported; but essentially the consensus rotated around two oft-repeated questions: where’s the buffalo? & why is Angela Merkel so often criticized on social media?
Another set of anterior appendages
Anchored to the hair by centipedes wearing elastic sombreros, even the most advanced anti- rain cycling accessories
cannot avoid bringing with them more than a hint of biting arthropod. It dis- plays as an inflammatory reaction similar to that
occurring when a library’s dustiest corner is disturb- ed. Only the addition of mirrored aviator goggles will work as a deterrent.
Recent poems by Mark Young have appeared or are to appear in Word For/Word, Die Leere Mitte, Home Planet News Online, experiential-experimental-literature, Utsanga.it, Hamilton Stone Review, & BlazeVOX, amongst other places.
More of Mark’s work can be found here on Ink Pantry.
Paulette was the most elegant person I had ever known, a ballet dancer, half-Swiss, half-Italian, with a British home. We walked into a cafe in Glasgow’s trendiest zone, the only friend I had made then during my studentship abroad.
It was an Italian restaurant with wooden seats and long queues, and after standing for half an hour we found a table next to the wall, not far from another where he instantly spotted me with the serenest of looks.
I always wondered what my presence in his arena provoked. His face was inscrutable and no muscles could be construed. I always said the wrong things and made the wrong moves, and I forgave him for whatever thoughts he brewed over my aloofness, my indifference, and ill-disguised fondness.
I failed to greet him and I knew he would not pardon me for being rude. How could I tell him that I always kept away from the people I valued most, for whoever I touched, I was bound to lose !
I associate the word with all that is odious and morbid, with the oppression of nations, the starvation of millions, with the Massacre of Glencoe, the Genocide of Armenians, with scepters that turn into pythons to devour an entire millennium, with sectarianism and schisms within familial unions, with blood-sheds at altars and contagious vermillion, with manipulative spouses and exploitative chameleons, with labyrinthine circumlocution and orchestrated rebellions.
Let me sing my ode for ingratitude. My palm is a cemetery of deep-dug holes, drilled by your claws in the wake of every gift and handshake I proposed.
My smiles enthuse a trickle of gall that ruffles the stillness of your stagnant soul that cannot be consoled by words or glows, devouring every ray that beams from my mouth, like an astral Black Hole.
I tread upon your discourse of thorns to partake of the pricks of a saga of wrongs, but you disdain my every groan that empathizes with your excruciating woes, spurning my solace with habitual scorn.
Pan [A Reading of Richard Le Gallienne‘s essay ‘The Spirit of the Open’]
Richard opted for a woodland, green office in the blue-eyed wilderness to conduct literary transactions, with expected diversions from celestial bodies such as the moon and morning stars, and the squirrel that haunts his wood-pile, with his thoughts often ferried by the river nearby to the sea, far-off.
He had been simply summoned by the god Pan whose death was mistakenly proclaimed by Plutarch as Christianity reigned, but Pan’s life is inextricably linked with that of the earth. There will always be little chapels to Pan on whose lintels Virgil’s words are inscribed: Blest too is he who knows the rural gods, Pan, old Silvanus, and the sister-nymphs!
There is only one creed that makes us both happy and good. It is that of the flourishing grass and the dogwood, of the cerulean sky and the brisk brook, of the blue heron and the redwing.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.
You can find more of Susie’s work here on Ink Pantry.
swinging hard like a merk half slathered with glue and doom
there will be one minute of silence after the explosion
fingers on my feet cutting polaroids from a loaf
I hit 99 and the coffee was making me talk
the soap is a little rectangle how long until my hands are clean? smells like pea sprouts
in case of emergency contact the moon pirate when you were something like a robot with ears on the planet of earth
I have the keys to the kitchen sink IT STINKS
za tree fork P/ plus staunch reptile
and that was that until the doubts started creeping in high above the city the robotic vultures were circling
we took it to the wall every night and tried to see thru it your chains dragging should tell you that
look at me now with my gills and water pants and no ocean forest grockerly until notice of federal nachos
would you prevent a cavity like crest toothpaste for astronaut powers?
a new love of the cosmic goose what is the dream number of this toast?
the rook is now a diamond of the same eye in sheets the rain was a powerful ghost and goose
that hurts our chances of learning the moon numbers time to separate the numbers from the apples
to wonder aloud about the suns a new window of the rookie forces
the saint of the clock we get that hank of the heaven
the game of the wild face the shimmering face of christ
the sports tomorrow when I am that old drac get there with that morning hand
that long acre of the simian tree for butter do you need to climb a window for the grief?
we need the green tree to stop the meteor knows why I was the heart
why is the ark of the natural earth of the egg? would you like a lark of the pumpkin?
the heart of the bagel to start with that help is the halo
the muscle of the chart of detergents the tight window of the spinning eye
to win a window the natural useless face
would you like that head of the cheddar wheel to speak? we are the rose of the caramel jump
going back to see that friend of the fridge milk or mud?
J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. More than 1,500 of his poems have appeared in many small press publications, in print and online. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Visit Madverse for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.
More of J.D.’s work can be found here on Ink Pantry.
“CE” was the hottest selling gift item that Christmas season. It was marketed as a sleep aid, but something about it caught the imagination of all sorts of buyers – sleep-deprived seniors, millennial hipsters, spiritual energy types.
Matt and Linda didn’t belong to any of those market segments. They were both middle-aged professionals who experienced occasional stress-induced insomnia. So, with all the click baiting and push marketing, it was no big surprise that “CE” ended up on Matt’s list of gift ideas. He was like that, somewhat impulsive but mostly a lazy buyer. Linda, his wife, on the other hand, was a cautious buyer. She would research a product inside out before she would commit to buying. First, she needed to know how they came up with the unusual name for the product. The product literature was just a standard regurgitation of the health benefits of sleep and the sterling accomplishments of the female founder and CEO (degree in robotics from MIT and MBA from Harvard). So Linda worked the search engines and found that the founder happened to be a Buddhist from Nepal who wanted to call the product Chakra Energy. But her marketing team found it too new-agey, so they settled on the acronym and went about creating a mystique about the name by not explaining anywhere what it stood for. She also researched the science behind the device which was basically a patch and a console. The user would stick the patch to her forehead before going to bed. The console supposedly would pick up neuromuscular signals from the patch and transmit them to a machine learning system. The system would analyze the signals and determine whether the production of melatonin was optimal. If it was below optimal, the system would stimulate the pineal gland to increase the production of melatonin. Although she found the science dubious, she decided to buy it since it sounded like a fun gift.
She also found a bunch of stuff on the web that she found oddly interesting. The product was a huge hit with the new-agey types who attached a lot of metaphysical significance to the location of the patch on the forehead which happened to be the third eye Chakra in the Tantric tradition. By unblocking the third eye Chakra, “CE” was supposedly clearing the channel to the crown Chakra (the head) which controlled sleep. Linda soon lost patience with the claptrap and turned her attention to the next item on her gift list.
They had a good laugh on Christmas day when they found out Santa had picked the same gift for both of them. They decided to try it out that very night. The next morning, Matt said “I had a strange dream last night.” “And I got one for you. But you go first,” said Linda. “Okay,” said Matt, “so I was on the golf course with Tom and a few others. One of the others was Jeff.” “Jeff who?” she wanted to know. “We don’t know anyone by that name.” “Your brother Jeff. I asked him how you were doing and he said, “Fine. She is living with mom and dad.” “In that cowpoke town? Never” she said laughing. “Okay, here is my dream” she said. “I was on the phone with you and I hear the roar of the ocean in the background. I ask where you were and you say Belize.” “Then what?” he wanted to know. “Then nothing. End of dream.” They both thought it was weird that, in both dreams, they were separate from each other. Later in the day, Linda thought back to the many times Matt had expressed a desire to live by the ocean when he retired.
It was now middle of January. They were returning from a concert. It was snowing and the visibility was poor. He was trying to stay focused on the road and she was beginning to panic by the minute. All of a sudden, he heard her scream as a semi came up thundering down on the right lane at break-neck speed. The scream and the truck’s velocity caused him to swerve to the left lane where an SUV, horns blaring, barely missed crashing into them. The rest of the way home, she was too frightened to say anything and he was too angry for words. Both went to bed that night angry. The next day, he expected her to apologize for distracting him while driving and she expected him to apologize for his reckless driving. After a couple of days, they talked about house-related stuff but neither brought up the incident that night. In the following weeks, they sniped at each other at every little irritant – dirty dishes in the sink, socks on the floor, forgetting to buy milk – until it all built up to a big blow-up fight. This time, they didn’t talk to each other for over a week. One evening, she didn’t come home. Next day, he caught a flight to Oaxaca, found a beach front condo for rent and joined the small expat community there.
A couple of weeks later, a “fastest trending story” popped up on his phone. It was about “CE”. Its users everywhere were reporting a bizarre phenomenon: their dreams were portending real life events – lost cat found, law school admission, death of a dear one. Many were calling “CE” the Coming Events device. Just as he was finishing reading the story, his phone rang and it was Linda. She wanted to know if he had read the story and where he was. She told him she was with her parents in Montana. They were both silent for a moment. Then he said, “I’m ready to come home.” She said, “Me too.”
Balu Swami is a new writer. One of his pieces is in Flash Fiction North.
I get lost in a good story. It’s always unintentional on my part, but when I dive into a good read, I can find it difficult to let that story go. I don’t mean that habit of reading until 2 in the morning because you can’t put the book down ‘lost’. I mean, ‘heart and soul lost’. I think that’s also what happened to Elizabeth Haynes when she found some papers relating to the death of Harriet Monkton whilst researching in the National Archive. Something in Harriet’s story touched Haynes and she decided to write about it.
Although fictionalised, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on incidents surrounding a true story from 1843. It’s a compelling and compassionate, all too real crime story. The body of a young woman is found behind a chapel in Bromley. The local community are appalled, but we soon learn that not everyone in the town is as innocent as they appear.
Based on written records from the time, including witness statements, press articles and documents from the coroner’s office, Haynes has produced a remarkable novel which transports you deep into the soul of Victorian society, whilst telling the previously untold story of Harriet Monckton.
I enjoyed reading this book. It made me doubt, it made me question, but most of all it made me want to keep on reading. Haynes has a clever writing style and has the ability to make the innocent appear guilty whilst giving the guilty a calm and almost composed presence on the page. But this is always changing, and nobody is who they appear to be, even Harriet has secrets which she diligently documents in her journal each evening.
The characters and suspects all appeared strong to me. We have the local Reverend George Verrall who ministers at the Chapel where the body was found; Frances Williams, a close companion and colleague of the deceased. Thomas Churcher, her would be fiancé, and Richard Field, Harriet’s former landlord and mentor. Throughout the novel, each tell their story about their relationship to Harriet, but who can we believe?
Little clues are peppered here and there, but you have to spot them. The use of language is extremely effective and precise, but not overpowering.
But when the characters start to doubt themselves and one another, as a reader you begin to suspect everyone. With lines like;
“…We both have secrets…neither of us is very good in keeping them…”
“…my voice rose and sounded guilty even to me…”
Which character can you possibly trust? And this book did make me want to trust that some of the characters were innocent, and that the guilty would eventually be brought to justice. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the story so much.
As you’d imagine from a crime story, truth is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. What is truth to one character, might not be to another. Truth and lies merge seamlessly and Harriet’s story is easily recognisable in the post #MeToo movement.
As one of the characters says, “… Trouble is, the truth is plain and easy to remember. Lies, though, that’s different. You lie once, you have to remember the lie, and the truth doesn’t fade when time passes, but a lie does…”
In real life, Harriet Monckton didn’t receive justice. We will never know what happened to her. But Haynes deals with her story with humanity and compassion. If you’re a fan of reading crime drama, then I think you’ll like this book. I would certainly read more from this author.
There is a tantalising hint in the afterword that Haynes may write another story connected to one of the characters, after she uncovered more information about them in the public records during her research. I do hope this is true, I would very much like another trip to the Victorian town of Bromley. Maybe I’ll know which characters I can really trust by then.
“…I looked at her directly. People do not challenge you when you look them in the eye…”
As one of the characters says “… Trouble is, the truth is plain and easy to remember. Lies, though, that’s different. You lie once, you have to remember the lie, and the truth doesn’t fade when time passes, but a lie does…”
When we were dating, I used to come to the fast food restaurant where you worked and eat with you on your breaks. We’d order two large fries and you would dump out both cartons on the tray, teaching me to share while I dipped my fries in mayo and ketchup and you dipped yours in sweet and sour, not knowing the sour was yet to leak out of you.
Read My Lips
I. On our one-month anniversary I learned that you could read lips. I put your powers to the test. I mouthed my order for you to transcribe for the confused waitress. I spent the whole meal mouthing my thoughts and jokes and dreams. I gladly footed the bill because for the first time, I felt solid in the world, I felt present. Seen.
II. When we would wake up together, in the soft angelic glow of morning light, I used to run my tongue down your back, blowing chills into your spine, feeling like a god as I watched goosebumps and faint hairs rise. I would spell out I LOVE YOUs and I WANT YOUs and you could sense every letter. I felt your weight in my bed, your presence, you truly and totally tethered to me. For the first time in a long time, I felt acknowledged. Heard.
III. Sometimes I lie awake in the dark, worrying about work and money, dreading the approach of death, caught up in the cacophony of this harsh world and I wonder if you are able to read my mind, because as if on cue, you rub your foot against mine, nuzzle yourself into my arms as if you know I need something to hold on to, to keep myself from floating off into my own anxiety and I know that I am seen. I am heard. I am understood.
Shower Drain Lovers
Sometimes I leave you messages on the shower wall, stray hairs molded into an I ❤ U but they are never acknowledged, never appreciated, talked about, or replied to. They are only washed down the drain as if this effort from my morning brain was all in vain.
I hope somewhere out there, there is a shower drain you, made up of your stray hairs, that is reaching out for me. I hope he is moved by little gestures, tangled up in love with a shower drain me.
Maybe we aren’t meant to put all this pressure on each other, like we are the only ones for each other, like we have to serve and fulfill and be everything for one another, we could be open to lightening the load on this lonely, heavy heart.
I fill up the car and drive to your place. Everyone’s driving slow on the highway, there must be a cop or an accident nearby, some warning to slow down.
Laugh and make jokes, flirt and flutter. It usually doesn’t happen this quick, must be something in the water wetting appetites, something calling us to speed up.
Kiss kiss him, kiss me, kiss us, kiss kissing you Touch touch us, touch him, touch you, touch touching me You were speaking in tongues of ecstasy.
We had been searching for someone who could speak our language. Someone who could tap the source of passion burrowing deep in our bones.
Like a forgotten word in a forgotten tongue, you left me feeling hopelessly incomplete, exspes. Maybe?
You were sad and liked to lie there broken, to wallow in your sad boy, boy toy misery. I was sad and I liked to fix things to distract myself from my pain, to mend things made me feel less broken. I thought it would work out perfectly, like I could help piece you back together, sew up your seems, solder your hinges, fix your fissures, clean the rust from the gears around your heart, paint the sunshine back into your eyes, that I could fix you and then you would love me, that you would lay on my lap, find a fondness for me. But boys are not toys and I am not a toymaker.
Charles K. Carter is a queer poet and educator from Iowa. He shares his home with his artist husband and his spoiled pets. He enjoys film, yoga, and live music. Melissa Etheridge is his ultimate obsession. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. His poems have appeared in several literary journals. He is the author of Chasing Sunshine (Lazy Adventurer Publishing), Splinters (Kelsay Books), and Salem Revisited (WordTech Editions).
More of Charles’ work can be found here on Ink Pantry.
Here lies Frank Ellis, ‘Who Died As He Lived: With Dignity.’ And not too far away is Gertrude Bishop, ‘The Devoted Wife Of Walter. A Long Life Of Loving And Giving.’
The town cemetery is full of these kinds of sentiments. It’s one of the main reasons I spend so much of my time here. Almost every day, I have my faith in humanity restored.
On the other hand, my religious faith, what little I had, has withered. One has only to walk around the Baby Memorial Garden to sense that a truly loving deity would not allow such tragedy. Such pain; such unnecessary pain.
I sense that most people these days feel the same. You don’t see much of this kind of thing in the newer plots: ‘His death is but a shadow cast across the walkway to the Lord.’
No, you’re more likely to find a simple commemoration like, ‘Irene Murdoch: A Genuine Lady. A Loving Mother And Good Friend To All.’
Bless you, Irene, though I never knew you in life. I hope I’ll be remembered in such a temporal and kind way. It saddens me though, to see that none of your loved ones lay flowers on your grave anymore. Everyone eventually becomes forgotten, I suppose. Time passes and the dead cannot mourn the dead. But don’t worry for now Love, I’ve brought you daffodils today. Sheila, your neighbour, is getting pansies. Sheila who was, ‘The Heart And Soul Of Her Family. She Filled Every Room With Warmth And Laughter.’ Ah, each time I read that, it tugs at my heart strings and brings tears to my eyes.
Of course, the cemetery can make you laugh as well as cry. That’s another good reason for coming. Check these out:
‘I Was Hoping For A Pyramid.’
‘Here Lies An Atheist. All Dressed Up And No Place To Go.’
‘Thanks For Visiting. Pardon Me For Not Rising.’
What a lark, eh? Cheeky devils!
However, my favourite headstone is one that poetically reminds us that there will come a day when leaving the cemetery will not be an option:
‘Remember Me As You Pass By As You Are Now So Once Was I As I Am Now So You Will Be Prepare Your Way To Follow Me.’
Nice. I do like a piece of verse. The ones in birthday cards are delightful but it’s hard to beat rhymes of remembrance.
All this talk of the life eternal might make you think I’m the morbid type; but no, not me. Not like Albert, over there, who visits his plot-to-be twice a week. No, I’m all for the here and now. I enjoy visiting my family and friends; and every Sunday an old acquaintance of mine comes round to the bungalow and we make merry, or whatever you want to call it, for an hour or two.
It’s just that the cemetery helps to keep me happy in the meantime. The positivity of the dead improves my daily living.
john e.c. is the editor for Flash Fiction North, which is devoted to publishing shorter fiction and poetry.
Looking over at Erik, I didn’t think twice about the large, well-wrapped bandage that consumed his leg. It wasn’t unusual for a patient to have a bandage covering either their wrists, thighs, calves or even their neck. It was the middle of the group, and Erik had only just reappeared. He had been present when the group started, but had been pulled out almost immediately after the moderator said, “Today we’re going to be talking about Interpersonal Skills.”
Erik was seated in the back of the room, completely alone in an oversize, heavily used bean bag chair. He kept shuffling around, his sculpted arms moving the bean bag aggressively. I noticed he even let out an occasional grunt, as he couldn’t find a suitable pose.
But the moderator wasn’t phased by Erik’s return, and asked the group, “Does anyone know what F-E-A-R stands for?” The group was heavily medicated, and I could tell not the slightest bit interested in the acronym. But then a hand was raised. It was Jess, who always held a warm glow – despite her cheeks being whiter than a piece of paper, and her dangerously sharp bones always jutting out on display.
She quickly whipped her neck around, and in a screech, pointed directly at Erik and said, “I’m afraid of him!” The group turned.
Although they moved slowly, one by one eyes began to fall on Erik. He was still adjusting himself in the bean bag chair and had yet to sit still.
My eyes also slowly shifted, but then the moderator regained our attention.
“Jess… We can discuss that later. But for now, let’s get back to F-E-A-R. Does anyone know what the F stands for?” The group was once again silent.
The moderator then added, “It stands for, ‘Be Fair’. Not only to yourself, but also to others!” The group let out a collective yawn.
“Does anyone have an example of a time they acted, ‘Fairly’?”
Jess’s voice reappeared. It was even more frantic than earlier, and now had a newfound lividness too.
“Why should I be fair to him?”
Once again her neck craned towards Erik. But this time the group didn’t follow. They remained completely slumbered, and I too began to feel the effects of my mid-day medication regimen.
The moderator also didn’t initially reply – placing her hand-book in her lap and allowing silence to calm the room.
But during this lull, Jess’s grotesquely thin frame began moving with the wind that rattled against the window of our therapy room. And with the moderators lips now seemingly glued shut, Jess didn’t hesitate before continuing her loud, now disgusted assault, “Did no-one else see The-Giant-Fucking-Swastika on his leg?”
The group of somnambulists once again began the arduous task of turning towards Erik. But before the majority could re-adjust their seats and land their eyes on him, the moderator suddenly snapped.
“That’s enough, Jess!”
Her voice stung into our ears. It was the first time I had heard it take on a serious tambour. But then a loud, heavy ringing overtook the ward, and the moderator stood and smiled. She lifted herself up in one quick motion and announced, “It’s fun-tivities time! Who’s excited?” But the group retained its sleepiness and didn’t even let out the slightest inclination of life, until Jess interrupted the moderators professional excitement with a harsh, piercing scream.
It echoed loudly throughout the room, and I noticed a small stream of blood had begun to drip from Jess’s palm. Her overgrown nails were digging deeply into her skin.
But Erik didn’t seem to mind.
Instead, I noticed he had finally found a comfortable position on the bean bag chair. And with his hands now behind his head, had no intention of moving for “Fun-tivities”.
Alex Antiuk is a writer and former vitamin salesman from New York. Alex was also a winner in author Simon Van Booy’s Short Story Competition in 2018.
I didn’t know you but I’d seen the photos in Hello, believed in the bloom of your body next to your sons’ downy skin.
I breathed the fragrance of your motherhood as you exalted breast feeding on This Morning and silenced Katie Hopkins.
I loved the sassy, savvy, baby-toting grace of you though sleepless nights shadowed your cheekbones and I ached to hug you the way
I’d hugged my daughter five years earlier; wanted to walk your boys around the park while you chilled on the sofa with a tub of chocolate Haagen-Dazs.
I thought you’d make it despite the bitter-sweetness of your last Instagram post- you in your Mum’s arms when she was still golden.
I didn’t know you but I couldn’t believe you’d return to familiar ghosts, lift the lid to your heroin stash and reach inside.
Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and lives with her husband in N.E.Wales. Since 2013 she’s had poems published in various U.K. magazines and webzines including One Hand Clapping and Atrium. In 2019 she self-published a small pamphlet of poems about her father’s short life and working-class upbringing.