Kenneth Pobo: Two Flash Fictions

Stone in the Lapidary

When you’re a stone in this museum, people stop and stare at you.  They either say nothing and move along or they say, often under their breath, that I am beautiful.  I guess that’s meant as a compliment, but I feel naked, like they are comparing me to other stones and rocks.  Do I make the grade?  I’m originally from southern New Zealand.  The Maori love me—but not like passersby in the museum.  I’m put to use.  They carve me and I am even more beautiful.  I lose parts of me to gain a better self.

Pounamou is my name.  You can see it written on the white card where I’m placed.  In New Zealand I knew the sun well.  Now fluorescent lights rain down on me like fine silt.  Bored children barely give me a glance.  They wait for rock candy.  I don’t understand rock candy.  How sad for anyone who becomes candy.

A few months ago a woman said I’d be perfect if someone smashed me so she could use my pieces in a necklace.  As a stone I am silent.  That doesn’t mean I don’t scream.  When she said that I screamed so loud that I almost made the museum walls collapse.  She heard nothing.  It’s easy to scream and not be heard.  It happens all the time.

I can tell you’re tired of me.  You’re thinking that a few stones away you’ll see jade.  The museum prides itself on the jade.  I’m not jealous, okay, maybe a little, but it’s just jade.  It may as well be sandstone. The best time of day is when they turn the lights out and everyone goes home.  Human eyes drop off me so I sleep well.  Until tomorrow.  Light on.  Door open.  I’m seen.   


Lenny drives almost forty miles to a lapidary.  No one he knows likes rocks.  He goes from stone to stone, a monk before stained glass.  He dreams of beautiful stones.  Jade carvings rest securely on a stand inside his head.  In the morning he wakes up refreshed. With jade you have nothing to hide.  You admire it.  The sun sees the Earth as a precious stone.  Someday the sun will take the stone completely in.  For now, the sun keeps distant.  The jade shines under artificial light. 

Lenny wants to shrink in order to fit inside the jade, own a house there.  He mourns his bloaty self stuffed behind a wheel or a computer screen, a stone-less world, not even drab pebbles that long ago lost their souls to erosion.


Kenneth Pobo is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections.  Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), and Uneven Steven (Assure Press). Opening is forthcoming from Rectos Y Versos Editions. Human rights issues, especially as they relate to the LGBTQIA+ community, are also a constant presence in his work. For the past thirty-plus years he taught at Widener University and retired in 2020.

Ronald J. Pelias: “For Sale”

For Sale

One old man, used,
in acceptable condition.
Balding, but presentable.
Does light housekeeping
and yard work. Limited
cooking skills but willing
to learn. Clean, sufficient
bank account. Comes with
wardrobe, car, and some
scarring. Maintenance
minimal, requiring only
occasional kindness.
Will consider all bids.


Ronald J. Pelias spent most of his career writing books (e.g., If the Truth Be ToldThe Creative Qualitative Researcher, and Lessons on Aging and Dying) that call upon the literary as a research strategy. Now he just lets poems lead him where they want to go.

Alan Cohen: “Revolution: A Youthful Rite of Passage”

Revolution: A Youthful Rite of Passage

Slowly the squall blew in across the water
We saw it gathering, knew it gathered for us
While youth sat crimson on our foreheads
The indigo turmoil milled in the distant sky
You, eyes screaming
Breasts prouder than sails’ bellies or eagles’ wings
Stroked your gleaming flank
Lips longing for the hush and violence
I was hopeless
Too lost in you to notice my own transfiguration
Hearts glowing lemon with birefringent passion
We longed upward like dust motes
Peaceably floating on sunlit air
For the sudden updraught towards madness

As the funnel neared
We narrowed
Drawn, swept
Losing toeholds
Streaking skyward
Our tears of rage and gladness
Splitting wide our eyes to nourish the parched earth
Shaken whirling
Down the night sky
Like fragile, dwindling petals
We rode our certainty and abandon
To the edge of our sane desires
And left them
Weightless in the anarchy of our omnipotence


Alan Cohen/Poet first/Then PCMD, teacher, manager/Living a full varied life/To optimize time and influence/Deferred publication, wrote/Average 3 poems a month/For 60 years/Beginning now to share some of his discoveries/105 poems accepted for publication so far this year/Married to Anita 41 years/in Eugene, OR these past 11

John Grey: “To One Hoping to Find Himself on Mount Washington”

To One Hoping to Find Himself on Mount Washington

The only certainty in these parts
is the untrustworthiness of Mount Washington.
Weather is an alchemist making storm from blue sky,
a breeze into hurricane wind,
a modest temperature drop into a bungee plunge.

If the summit’s where you’re headed
in some back-packer’s quest 
to find yourself,
then turn back.

But maybe you just wish 
for an insanely tangible representation 
of the maelstrom 
in which you’ve gone missing.
If so, then head on up.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review, and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, Leaves On Pages, is available through Amazon.

Richard Dinges, Jr.: “Orphans”


Yellowed newspaper
wrapped and wrinkled
around cracked glass
figurines of cats and
poodles exudes sour
odors of mildew and TV
dinners. Brittle paper
crinkles sounds
into words, echoes
from when she collected
unwanted treasures 
in lieu of children,
that I now remove
from an empty room.


Richard Dinges, Jr., lives and works by a pond among trees and grassland, along with his wife, one dog, three cats, and seven chickens. Pennsylvania English, Stickman Review, North Dakota Review, Talking River Review, and William and Mary Review most recently accepted his poems for their publications.

Thomas Piekarski: “In Vogue”

In Vogue                                                                                                                              

My fascination with plants goes back to days
when I wondered where we all came from.
When I watered fruit trees and rose bushes
I made no distinction between their existence
yours or mine, deeming all objects measures
of sublimity, subordination or death on arrival.
And I mused about this magnetism people had
for life on a sphere spinning toward oblivion.

In those days I lacked sufficient force
as if I needed a bullhorn to be heard
above the big crowds of protestors
vilifying war and social injustice. 

And then I disintegrated in a bitty microwave
slightly above gravity’s undertow
where trolls multiply amid snow drifts
and werewolves howl to an azure moon
_____________________convincing myself
I could do much better
___would save the guts for when glory
___reveals itself in the buff
___until then call any bluffs      resist
___bellicose demands of the bourgeoisie.                                            

I would add more light to the room
push darkness aside     collect metaphors
extol equanimity      uncompromised.      

______________And now serene yet cruel
______________winter    you    swindler
______________blissful      but you plunder
___and everyone pays the price
so we must get busy
stack wood in our sheds
rub babies with protective ointments.

Industrialists swear deliverance lies ahead
if we stay on track    devoted
to the empire’s schadenfreude.

Cascading toward spring the river quickens
propelled by runoff       it passes through
the delta then bay unto Pacific currents.
Distance ourselves from distain I say
lighten up     seek closure
on animus and pain.        

__________Inside monkey glucose
__________the elephantine recluse
__________empowered entity
__________lacking majesty
__________glows alone
__________in a vacant cosmos
__________wanting not to be
__________obfuscated by reality.

Every dead rose petal lets out a scent
utopian        myopic        capricious
winged phantasm trailing light. 


“Mea culpa!” I cried. “Guilty!” I pled
when the Grim Reaper arrived
on a silver sled       his bald head gleamed
teeth shiny bright        he promised to lessen
my load that very night.

His halcyon words encouraged me to rest
free of perdition    feckless      prepared
for the best time I’ve ever had.                                                            


At such a time in life when you bid farewell
take your last swill of nectar     final gulp of air
flowers withered nuclear winter come and gone
shallow waters surround         owls extinct
few herons left            you anticipate aftermath.  

________________Fish but faintly lit on ocean’s
________________horizon and an amber sunset
________________suggests you’re at equilibrium
________________experience tells you otherwise
________________and not likely to be forgotten
________________you cede the talisman worn
________________steadfastly around your neck
________________but they say that doesn’t float
________________because you continue to think
________________a thought is a thing and a thing
________________inexcusable blasphemy in fact
________________an idea that went up in flames
________________when Constantine declared gods
________________void then in their place installed
________________truth and light one Jesus Christ.                                          


At Locke again beside the thrashing river I’m hushed.
Not a sound     that rudimentary Chinese encampment
built after racists burned them out of Walnut Grove.
Once a thriving gambling haven       welcome retreat
for the indigent     the dispossessed     those reprobates
bet their daily bread not to be denied universal rights.
Pink azaleas in bloom for this is winter    red camellias
voluminous     I walk the long block    decrepit shanties
could become but shambles should an earthquake hit.

If you haven’t visited Xanadu lately   the Parthenon
Machu Picchu   Sistine Chapel try Locke’s mysterious
little Dai Loy museum     recently profiled    exposed
on the Discovery Channel. Equipped with the latest
high tech monitoring devices   ghost voice detector
light meter     motion sensor     the doughty explorers
set out to contact spirits of murdered Chinese
who once lingered there. It’s risky and yet I enter
the creepy museum     this may prove a blunder since
the floor’s so warped I lose balance and almost topple.   


Adumbrations compound      my wanderlust
sparked by claims that God is good
and God is evil     both impossibly irrational.

______________At vintage Sutter Creek
______________mid Gold Country
______________bikers park beside
______________a bridge    seem high
______________debate the best route
______________meanwhile below
______________mountain water roils
______________splashes on its way
______________to an insightful sea.
___Pressure as to elicit international concern
ratchets      tightens brain bolts
____while hidden from view our planetary retreat
________looms afar         the future transfixed
_____________hordes neutron stars    black holes
and quasars    gestating      poised
_______________for the instant it will birth
_______a new universe.


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Quarterly, Literature Today, Poetry Salzburg, and South African Literary Journal. He has published three books of poetry, Ballad of Billy the Kid, Monterey Bay Adventures, and Mercurial World.

Allan Peterson: Three Poems

Wrong Division                                      
Prolate is oblate on its side after a hard day
of arcane political geometries 
I can visualize the planet but cannot 
see how to solve equations of loss
Some cancel humanity from foreign policy
but I was never good at that 
I always remember in their calculations 
the numerator was always divided by the detonator 


They were all witnesses  They had eyes  They all saw it 
and all agreed wheels because they knew wheels and yes 
something of it turned on itself  Like an island it was said
and yes isolated certainly and fogged over  Well something like fog 
an indistinctness and a rushing like a train  If not train then fire  
that whooshing of outside air drawn to it  Some said it entered
from the right some said left some like pop pop pop 

Every poem an opportunity to say more than expected
like night is day with the sound turned down
assisted by a certain obscurity and no that is not heaven
that is the original emptiness characteristic of wishes
the origin of cycles so slow we deny change
in dismissive sentences because we expected stability
Imagine our surprise 


A visual artist and poet, Allan Peterson’s most recent book is This Luminous, New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.  Other titles include Precarious; All the Lavish in Common (Juniper Prize); and Fragile Acts, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Sophia Vesely: “A week in the life of a teenager:”

A week in the life of a teenager:
I ate aged lo mein for breakfast.
   The gas pump was too far from my car.
      I ripped a hole in my favorite turtleneck sweater.
         I fell down the stairs in new heels.
            I carried the bones of a mastodon to a secure location.
               I pretended to mop up the water from the hurricane.
                  A pitbull chased me down the block. 


Sophia Vesely, 19, is from St. Petersburg, Florida. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Girls Right the World, Bridge Ink, Route 7 ReviewOddville PressTriggerfish Critical Review, and Delmarva Review, among othersShe also has a published poetry collection on entitled “The Road to Amour de Soi” that explores the complexities of first loves and heartbreak in order to empower young women through the notion of self-love.

Allison Whittenberg: “Jane’s Veins”

Jane’s Veins
Two diaries: one lies, the other dreams until reality
Loops into illusion.  
Neither records terrorist attacks, murder rates, or evolving leaders.  
One contains measurements of her bust size; one holds friendship and love,   
     pursued, sustained, or in need of resuscitation.   
Both contain hate for prettier girls.  
Each smells soft as if sprinkled with powder.
One is black and plain, that’s kept under her bed.
The other is pink and has birds and flowers on the cover that’s often on 
     her desk.
The world is microscopic. Each night as her wrist moves the pages, she 
     scripts with red juice. 


Allison Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author, she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored, and The Sane Asylum.