Alex Andy Phuong

Kate Winslet

This short story has been previously published in Barking Sycamores in 2017.

On one Labor Day afternoon, while driving down a Revolutionary Road, a simple, all-American girl named Kate Winslet was searching for something to do for her summer vacation.  After driving for several hours, she saw a billboard with the headline, “TITANIC SAILS ONCE MORE!”  She hesitantly resisted the urge to buy tickets for a summer cruise because of her fear of drowning.  After stopping by Laguna Beach, she went into a library to check out a copy of her favorite novel, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Kate often identified with Marianne Dashwood because of their romantic sensibilities.  She also enjoyed Shakespeare, and her favorite fictional character from the Bard was Ophelia from Hamlet.  After returning home from the library, she became not just A reader, but The Reader.  As she read a book about Steve Jobs, she pondered what life would be like if she were to have Little Children.  She also feared Carnage because she wants to live happily ever after rather than suffer a miserable demise (which could have happened if she boarded that Titanic replica).  As night began to present itself, she went to bed while letting her mind expand with the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Curiously, this simple young woman is still nothing like the famous British actress because the Hollywood legend has green eyes while Kate’s Irises were hazel.

Resisting Arrest

Uniting uniformed unity

You and I defy the sky

Team work and collaboration

Up to personal discretion

Civil Rights


Minorities against majorities

Stick to the status quo

But should we…?


Defy thy stars

And seek new avenues

Harness the power of creativity

And merge sense with sensibility

“Utopia” was conceived by Thomas More

But all must still must strive for more

For he was A Man for All Seasons

Arrests might be criminal

But people cannot be subliminal

If they want to break free

Listen to words of wisdom from me

“Know thyself, be thyself, harmoniously”

Short Bio: Alex Andy Phuong graduated from California State University-Los Angeles with his Bachelor of Arts in English in 2015, and was an editor for Statement Magazine. He currently writes articles and film reviews online. His writing has appeared in The Bookends ReviewSociety of Classical Poets, and Wilderness House Literary Review #12/4.

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Joan McNerney 

Songs for Four Seasons … for Bertha

Spring Equinox

 This is when we search for

color to transform cold grey.

Rainfall begins its magic 

high lighting sky blue.


We see stacks of luminous clouds

as plants pop out emerald buds

and forsythia busts open with

sparkling yellow stalks.

Trees dressed up in chic green 

boogie through noon breezes.


Aromatic lilac bushes cluster 

in soft bunches. Just today a 

breath of warmth brought alive

pink crepe myrtle branches. 


Summer Solstice

Trees outline the 

horizon in green lace.

Beneath boughs float

galaxies of blue bugs.

Listen to swish of 

branches as cicada

swell and swarm.

Hiding under shadow

beating their wings,

hissing their mating calls.

Evening is coming…

the dawn of darkness.

We are suspended now

between light and shade.

Clouds rushing over heaven.

Sun drops from sky.

The air is fragrant with  

sweet blooming jasmine

as star after star

sets nighttime on fire.


Fall Equinox

Morning light reveals

silhouettes of branches

against a dove grey sky.

Hurry, pick gardens of bright

vegetables. Time to cook 

big pots of soup, yeasty breads.

Wearing red, orange, 

yellow leaves, trees 

sashaying in the wind. 

Countless shades of leaves, 

shapes of leaves,

sounds of leaves.

Children come from school

jumping in piles of foliage

shouting with delight.

Flying carpets of sugar maple 

leaves unfurl along our road 

as frost draws closer.

Amazing how many stars

fit inside my windowpane

alongside a harvest moon.


Winter Solstice

Hurry, short days are here, 

too much to do.

Get ready, find gloves,

hats, scarves, sweaters.

Stopping to see the 

shape of a snowflake.

Coming home to luxuriate

in dim light listening

to heat hissing and finding

warmth from hot teas.

Bundled in bed comforted by

mounds of blankets, books.

Finally succumbing to 

our northern goddess,

whose black nights are long

and silent as evergreens. 






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Michael Lee Johnson


 In the rain,

this thunder

on his way home

he rebelled.

He a disco dancer,

single Friday night award winner

on the floor.  High school dropout.

He drove off the road edge.

He was drunk, Jack Daniel’s

was his driving instructor.

Jack Daniel bottle left at grave.

It never rains in a dry casket.

Shelter under this roof,

no worries about cops-


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Nancy Scott-McBride


When you’re by yourself too much, and you’re

just as lonely when he’s in the house as when he’s out,

when his life is all about work, and there are no

weekends, as such, and no vacations at all,

when he spends more time googling than talking to you

and you can’t remember the last time you made love,

when you realize that all your dreams for the future

will not come true,

and when you thought you knew him,

but found you didn’t,

you might look the same on the outside,

but deep down inside, where it counts,

you’re a whole other thing.

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Paweł Markiewicz

The dog and I

as well as some sounds

one dreamy spring day

I looked in to brilliant eyes of my pal-dog

in to his tender ocular dominance of eternity

so that my gentle poem was in the soul perfect delicate

now the most marvelous words are awaiting it

to be put on paper – well

You apollonianly ecstatic ontology

please carry out a melancholy of mariners

a former being become a being-now!

the being become a future being!

there is on earth a Someone

that can feel ancient legends and new fairy-tales

it is my tender hound-spaniel

he knows all fairy-tale-like beings in person

enchanted fairies wonderful mermaid-She and melancholic Merman

Herculean winged Erl-kings – his lovely friends

they extol him in some poem

as if the dog were meek a embellished herder of clover

which is searching for a four-leaves trefoil

by feeling the rosy or olive eternity

and I was present with the cyan soul

I heard the most beautiful sounds of the muse-likeness

at the beginning there was a tune of the oak leaves in wind

I feel as if I were the rider of melancholy in the spring-tide

then a sound of singing bird was heard

I wanted to be like this peaceful bird in the eternity – fledged

afterwards a clang of bells came to me

as if it were felt an enchanted time of many angelets

hereupon I heard profoundly a tune of the pigeons

my dog recognized in my poem a blaze of the magical sparks

now my dog is sitting in the grass

the day-dreaming and the sounds of the melancholy are in druidical souls dreamy

thus the ontology fulfilled with magic Osiris must take place

as if shooting-stars metamorphosed in light-esque scintillas

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Fabrice Poussin

Feeding the monsters

 Imagine cutting through the trap of that aching cage ripping skin and bone to take out the rusty machine to softly place it on the tray, so desired by the ravenous one.

Offer the warm mass still titillating to the kind hands and let them hold it near the loving lips.

Let them massage the past pains with warm palms gentle providers of life as she gives so compassionate a gaze.

Close those eyes to a present made of many perils so you may feel her as she touches your very life within.

There is no need to keep the flesh inside the ivory prison safety does not come from the privacy of those cold walls it is time indeed to feed it to the world hungry for a respite.

Risk it all in the ultimate meekness of the humble lamb lower your glance to await the penalty for innocence and come to life through the gift of elegant suffering.

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Bobbi Troy

My Heart Was Hurting

(For a friend)

By Bobbie Troy

my heart was hurting

when I heard the news

that my sister’s head pains

required testing

my heart was hurting

and I wished I could

remove it for a rest

from all the stress

my heart was hurting

and I wanted to give it a hug

to return it to normal

if there is such a thing


I had to remain calm

and wait

just wait

for the diagnosis

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