Author, Afia Atakora
by Jarad Johnson
“Freedom was a word with weights. It meant deciding to stay or go.”
First novels are, by and large, a toss up. Some authors are most known for their first novels. Some authors prefer not to talk about them. They can be revelatory or they can fall short of the expectations for that genre. After reading Conjure Women, I can definitively say that Afia Atakora should be proud of her first novel.
by Nick Dunkenstein
Cain could feel his insides twitch the deeper he got into the winter abyss encompassing around him, the squelching under each foot seemed to echo against the naked trees that almost mocked him with their ability to stay still through the bitter chill, “I wish I stayed home.”
Looking behind him, he could see his little red car through the panorama of birch trees, mostly because it was the only colourful thing within miles. He sighed, his millionth sigh, and kept moving forward, “Damn, tires,” he mumbled. His roommate told him that he needed to look at replacing the doughnut he was riding on for weeks, “should’a listened…” he kicked what looked like a pile of snow, which turned out to be a branch rimed with hoarfrost.
A Different Light
by Paul Ilechko
There is a high road and a low road
that parallel the creek between them
meandering apart until they close as one
the high road made of dirt
climbing rapid then dropping down
and from such height has visibility
at certain seasons of the low road
through the yellow autumn
or the sparsity of winter to where the low
is pinned against the cliff beyond it
rising such that steepness melts from it
and dribbling back to pool and filter
on the asphalt a road of Pennsylvania rotten
a crumbling coverage of constant liquid
curved and black against the earth as cutting
its tracery through the hills it finds
its termination point a village center
pinned in place and anchored by terrain.
Leopard At the Door
Author, Jennifer McVeigh
by Jarad Johnson
“Authority is not a substitute for the truth.”
As readers, I feel like we can get a little burnt out at times. I certainly have been burnt out on fiction lately. I’ve been preferring to read more information-based texts, usually on plants or some other nerdy garden topic. I began to feel like I was reading the same story over and over again, perhaps because I was buying the same type of books. My shelves are telling me that I need to branch out. I just felt tired and worn out on what seemed to be repetitive plot points and characters that didn’t resonate with me. Part of the problem is that I’m picky and I go through phases. I also have been steering away from depressing and/or darker things lately. The world is dark enough, and my emotional investment can only go so far. Sometimes when you finish a really good book, you feel exhausted. Its similar to physical exhaustion, or a hangover. Perhaps I should just throw myself into it, but I’d rather escape, and I’m tending to steer towards more comforting or light stories. It’s strange how things shift like that, isn’t it?
Once A Day
by Lane Mochow
Once A Day
when I was little,
we left the house once a day:
the gas station on the corner for diet coke,
the mall for making up stories
about what the teenagers
meant by their foreign lingo.
the grocery store for bagels, black beans, burritos.
the restaurant for filling long-gurgling stomachs
egg rolls, dollar burgers, ice water with lemon.
the greenway to name edible plants
in case the economy collapsed and I
a lone child without moccasins, turquoise, teepees
(as i imagined my ancestors had)
were left to collect watercress,
pick the leaves from dandelions,
dig up sassafras root with my nimble fingers.
the bank to wear my nicest ankle length skirt
to stand behind her in silence
as mommy cashed her check
stuffing the cash in her billfold
as though her life depended on it
i never noticed the knowing look in the cashier's eye,
the wag of his buzz cut at our arrival,
the wipe of her minimum wage saltwater,
when mommy's beaded braids
the ever-present rustling of a brooding hurricane
came upon the horizon.
mommy's rage would white knuckle grip
their great black oaks at the trunk,
plead into Jesus' dime per minute payphone
they drown in a clawfoot of their own blood.
"Say amen! Say amen! Say amen!"
Lane Mochow is the author of the chapbook, "Ink." He won first place in the 2018 Tennessee Magazine Poet's Playground in the 19-22 category. He has contributed poetry reviews at Sacred Chickens.
A Wolf At the Door
by Julie Carpenter
“First you live forever then you die”
And before you go, you should listen to Roy Peak’s new album. For this album, Roy slows down just a little. Like the aging wolf in “Walk with Me Now” he brings the reader along for a slow walk with some dark turns. In the meantime, there is beauty.
As a writer, I find that I appreciate Roy’s music on a narrative level. Every album creates a mood and tells me a story. Someday, I’m going to just sit down and listen to each of Roy’s albums, follow the character he creates in my mind and do a series of short stories based solely on his music. Until that day, let me assure you that the mood of this album is right for reflection here at the end of the world.
This Other Me
by Roy Peak
Here's another original story by our friend and music editor, Roy Peak! Happy Peak Week Chickens!
Monday sucked. Kyle was late with the files I'd ordered which put me late for my meeting with Henderson which made me miss lunch which upset my stomach which caused me to spew all over Kolbinskie's shoes as he passed by my cube which made him order me to go home early. "Big meeting with Holpatrick and Ferguson tomorrow. Get some rest, Julia," and when I went outside to my car it was gone. Stolen.
I waited forty-five minutes in the coffee shop for an officer to fill out a report. My cell was in the car and my husband ignored the forty calls I made to his cell from the payphone at the coffee shop--he never answered unknown numbers--so I had to catch a cab home. Twenty-one dollars and fifty-cents plus tip. It was dark when I finally walked up the driveway. In the garage sat Dan's BMW--he was always forgetting to close the garage door--and my Volvo wagon sat in the drive. Had the police already recovered it? Weird.
As I walked toward the front steps I fished the house keys out of my purse. Something caught my eye as I passed by the window. I took two steps back and stared. There was a woman in my kitchen and she was washing the dishes. What the hell?
Animal Tales of the
by Roy Peak
Once again chicks and chickens, it’s Peak Week! This week Music Editor Roy Peak is taking over the coop. Here’s a brand-new original story to start things out.
Later this week, look for links to his music, some of his other original creative writing, and all the music he’s reviewed. As a special treat, we’re reviewing his new Album A Wolf at the Door!
Anyway, without further delay: Here’s Roy's newest original story!
From his perch on the branch of the big oak tree that stood near the pond, the big black crow could see that the buzzards were circling again. They were doing that more frequently, ever since the humans had all gotten sick, and started dying in the streets. The weird part is some of the dead humans got back up and kept on going, eating other humans or whatever unfortunate creatures that got too close to them. Weird.
The crow knew better than to eat sick humans. That was a good way to get sick yourself, but the buzzards didn't care, and had been enjoying their feasts. Until they too started getting sick. Just yesterday he had seen four sick buzzards, no longer able to fly, attacking each other until there was nothing left but broken beaks and a lot of blood and feathers.
So the old crow stayed away from the sick humans, hunted the occasional frog or mouse, ate from the cornfields to the east, and scavenged nuts that fell from the trees in the park. He was an old crow, all his hatchling siblings were long gone, scattered like leaves in the wind, so he spent most of his days alone—eating, flying, watching. He used to enjoy watching the humans. They did the most interesting things: Walk their dog companions in the park. Race their metal boxes around the city streets. Spend hours in their nests, staring at their talking bright-light boxes. Coddle some of the plants in their yards, while chopping and killing others. Some of the things the humans did made no sense to the crow, maybe that’s what made them interesting.
A Day Without Love
WTF Parts 1 and 2
by Roy Peak
A Day Without Love is the diverse musical project of Brian Walker, a Philadelphia musician who fearlessly crosses genre boundaries with his music. Walker has played numerous shows in nearly half the states across America, and sees his calling in music as a way to inspire hope and support to others in need.
His newest musical project was born out of the frustration he sees in a divided and inherently racist America, fiscal inequality, and voter rights. Titled WTF, and divided into two parts, Walker's vision is timely, and dares to not hold back its punches one bit.
by Jarad Johnson
I like to think that I appreciate every season for what it is. Spring is lush and abundant and full of excitement, summer is hot and sticky and a time of production, fall is a time of putting things to rest and bringing in the last harvest, and winter is a time of stillness. But, if I’m honest, spring and fall are my favorites. Summer is too hot, and winter is too cold. And if I had to pick between spring and fall? After much hemming and hawing, I’d say spring. Watching all the perennials emerge from the ground, sowing seeds, and planning my gardening year is a delight unlike any other. But there is something magical about the leaves turning, and the world winding down.