Feel Like Starting Over? Come Explore Our “New Beginnings” Theme – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

It’s….September!

And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It might mean back-to-school (either as a student yourself, a teacher, parent, or all three), meaning unchecked road rage in the form of crowded, bitchy carpool lanes; it could bring either a markedly busier or slower work pace for you, and September always serves as a lead-in to the holiday season and the harried, frantic conclusion to the year 2017.

*Side note about unchecked road rage- what in the name of Sam Hill is going on?! Not to sound like a disgruntled older woman, but I’m seriously alarmed at the amount of people just absolutely LOSING IT while in their cars. I saw some of the most God awful road rage, of all places, at the drive thru lane at Chik-Fil-A last week. One car cut another one off; sure, they shouldn’t have done that, but the reaction from the woman who was cut off was straight up disturbing. Her blood pressure had to have been close to heart attack level. It is NOT WORTH IT to engage ANYONE like that unless they’ve literally just snatched your newborn baby out of your vehicle. End of rant. *

Whether this year has been one of strife and struggle for you or one of success and triumph, time waits for no one. And the only direction it moves is forward.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Its humor has more of a subdued, subtle dryness to it, giving it the perfect opportunity to be in the background and serve as the perfect backdrop to a realistically funny look at what the world might look like right before it ended. Dean (my husband) kept trying to figure this movie out; he was determined to break it down and find its hidden meaning and intent. He kept guessing that the ending would take a drastic turn and the world wouldn’t end at all – that the asteroid might narrowly miss earth, giving the movie “meaning.”

“No, no, no,” was my rebuttal. “The point is that it doesn’t matter how much time we have here or what we think we’re supposed to be doing. If it takes the end of the world for you to ‘find your purpose’ or if you think you need to go backpacking across Brazil in order to find yourself, then you very well could be missing out on the greatness that’s already in your life. In the end, we’ve all got what we need right in front of us. We’ve had the right tools all along, we just didn’t know how to use them. Changing your scenery won’t change your problems and it won’t change you. Being with those who love you and loving yourself are the keys to fulfillment.” (Now, don’t throw that back at me when I’m super stressed out and complain about the annoyances of day-to-day life. Ha!)

All of that being said, each day is an opportunity for us to begin again, to try harder, to live our lives a little better and be a little kinder to one another. Just because you’ve messed up, fallen down, cried in front of your boss, reacted in situations with cowardice or malice as opposed to bravery and kindness, doesn’t mean that you have to live tomorrow that way. Messing up is part of the journey, guys. You’re supposed to do that. You are supposed to bump your head – a lot – in order to find your way. And you’ll keep messing up until the day you die. That’s just what life is. It’s about realizing who and what you are, knowing your shortcomings and your strengths, and using this knowledge to not only better yourself, but hopefully those around you.

That brings me to the reason why I’ve chosen the themes I have for this fall: All of these themes hit close to home for the vast majority of us. If you don’t have one instance where you have faced adversity, wanted to start over, or actually did start over, or witnessed or experienced a good versus evil battle, then maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone.

I’ve received a lot of wonderful submissions. If I don’t get back with you five minutes after you’ve sent me an email, remember that I’m only one person. And chill out.

Here is the official theme schedule:

September: New Beginnings

October: Good VS Evil

November: Strength in the Face of Adversity

Okay, guys, now do your thing and I’ll do mine. Until next time…..

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Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, hell, go ahead. 

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

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Calling All Writers! Step “Write” up and get yourself some SLM Announcements! – Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

Here’s to Life, Literature, and bringing the spirit of SLM back!

 

Sometimes, we’re trying so hard to open a figurative closed door in our lives that we fail to look behind us to see a brand-new, shining, glassed-in sun-room. Forget that old window analogy; this time after God has closed the door, he’s opened up the entire back of your house.

The past is done; it’s gone. We cannot change it, nor can we live there. This is why it’s so important to live in the here and the now and to do your best to see that rainbow while you’re stuck in the mud.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my name change up above – I’M MARRIED! And it is a happy time for me and my family. Soon, I’ll be Kelly Faulk.

Onto the magazine!

I will officially be re-opening shop so to speak for submissions starting NOW and staying open until the end of October of 2017 for short prose (just don’t send me 30 pages) and poetry.

I do have a few themes up my sleeve:

Good VS Evil

New Beginnings

Strength in the face of Adversity 

 

You may begin to submit to any or ALL of these themes as soon as you are ready to do so to: sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com

*Now, remember: When submitting your work to the magazine, please, please, PLEASE, write the genre and theme somewhere in or on your email, write to me as yourself, and be as frank or as candid as you’d like.

Reminder: I want YOUR work. Write as YOU; write what you write best and write the hell out of it.

My mission and my intent have never been to conform to the rest of the literary world; on the contrary, I want to serve as a guide, a mentor, a coach, and a voice of reason in a world filled with chaos and closed doors. Unless I suspect you *might* be a serial killer aside from your day job, I usually make every effort to email you back as soon as I can and to provide you with my enthusiastic feedback, critiques, praises, what have you.

I’m starting this fall with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. If you’ve sent in work before and it’s gone unnoticed and you feel that it’s good and fits one of the themes, send it again. This year has scrambled us all up a bit to say the least. So let’s just start over.

Here’s to new beginnings, a brighter tomorrow, and the freedom to express ourselves.

Cheers,

dkweddingggggggg

Kelly

Moving on – Kelly Fitzharris, Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes we start out the New Year hungover, covered in glitter, in our own beds (somehow) having fallen asleep in party clothing.

 

Others, we abstain from that lifestyle altogether and don’t drink; so waking up on January the 1st  is like any other day for us, except for possible unspoken or unaddressed marital discontent.

 

It’s never an easy time.

 

Especially when you, yourself, are the recipient of said marital discontent that you were previously unaware of or not quite privy to, and also have two malleable children to take care of and comfort throughout this ordeal.

 

In short, a little over a week ago, my husband let me know that he wanted a divorce.

 

Please, please try and abstain from saying negative things about him or towards him at the time being. Just because one person is initiating the split doesn’t mean that they’re the ‘bad guy,’ so to speak. Although there’s a lot of pain and misunderstanding to go around during a time like this, negativity that is more-than-contagious, we are trying to keep everything as amicable and pleasant as we can.

 

Heartbreak is a crazy thing; it makes people go insane! It’s what makes one person throw their spouse’s clothes out on the lawn, find themselves feeling hostility that can manifest itself into unchecked rage, and can make a parent unwittingly pit their children against their mother or father. And much, much worse.

 

Or…on the other side of the coin, we can take a breath. We can step back and remember who we really are; that we pride ourselves on our humility, resilience, and are way stronger than anyone has ever given us credit for being. That there are people in our corner who not only like us, but love us, and believe in us.

 

So. All of that being said, I am here. I have a magazine to run. We have a T-shirt contest that I have to get out here on the site and let all of you vote on–hell, the entire graphic design department of Kean University in New Jersey has students who worked their TAILS off creating graphics for T-shirts for this web site, their competitive spirits helping them create the best designs they could, their professors spurring their creativity with encouragement and empowerment.

 

Although I’m not doing great at the moment, I won’t let this magazine die.

 

I may be slow-going for a while…for a long while…but, I am actively working on putting the T-shirt designs in a post for you to vote on, while making ALL of the designs available to purchase.

As the late and great David Bowie sang, “The planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…” in the song Space Oddity. In other words, he’s saying that things happen that are out of our control.

Can you hear me, Major Tom? 

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Drum Roll Please…SICK LIT MAGAZINE’S 2017 PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES ARE…..

This is the final, official, carved-in-wood, list of Sick Lit Magazine’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees

**Precursor: if you were on this list previously and are now not, I apologize. Works from 2015 are not eligible for entry – and one person has been disqualified for plagiarism.**

The very mention of the two words, Pushcart Prize, makes most literary buffs, writers and readers alike, beam with pride and happiness, while others whisper on in the background. It’s an honor to be nominated – and we, here, at Sick Lit Magazine, are honored to have you as our writers and audience. To be candid, I wish we were allotted more than SIX total nominees per year. It seems like an awfully small amount compared to how many amazing pieces of writing cross my path all year long.

**One more precursor: those that I’ve promised a Pushcart nomination who have continued to send in groundbreaking work to us are being nominated for the prize, but for a different piece of writing. A piece from 2016 – the current calendar year.**

So, take a deep breath.

Exhale.

Sick Lit Magazine’s Official and Final List of Pushcart Prize Nominees for the Current Calendar Year (in Pushcart years, that’s 2017-) are as Follows: 

1. The Tale of the Cabbage Patch – by STEVE CARR

2. Shrink – by DAVID COOK

3. Sexism Doesn’t Exist / Unburying / “That’s so like a girl!” – by PRERNA BAKSHI

4. Atavistic Lipstick / Silversword / Counting / The Chase – (a 100-word story collection) by JEFFREY H TONEY , PhD

5. The Bus / Yellow Dinghy / Muesli / He Buys Me Flowers / Impersonator / The Sea (A Collection of Flash Fiction) – by KATE JONES

6. The Blind Policeman – by TESS WALSH

If  you get a chance, congratulate each and every one of our six nominees for the 2016 / 2017 Pushcart Prize season! This year, I haven’t had the chance to contact each nominee individually before this announcement, so if you’ve contributed to us, I hope you’re reading this.

 

 

SLM Meets Oasis – Part 3 – Liam, Noel, Kate, Jamie, Gee, Melissa Libbey!, and me.

The Writers and the Gallaghers visit….1973?!

“Aaahh!!! Wait! Am I the ginger girl?!” asked Jamie.

“Are you daft? Or have you gone completely mad?”  I answered.

Silence. Crickets.

“Jamie, what has gotten into you?” asked Kate.

“I just really, really hate Blockbuster. You’ve no idea.  Those stores give me chills – and nightmares. I can’t take it! We have to get back to 2016! And not to Texas again! No offense, Kell, nice digs, but I’ve got a lot of shit to do,” he pleaded.

I shot a puzzled look to Kate, who patted Jamie on the back solidly before turning to Gee. “What year is it, love? Would you be a dear and grab frazzled Jamie’s phone and take a gander?”

She fumbled around with it for a moment. “Not really sure…”

“Oh no!”

“We can’t have…?”

“Where are we?”

“Shag carpets!!!”

“We’re back in the Gallagher house – see?” Kate reasoned, pointing to the layout. Then she glanced to the refrigerator calendar. “1973?! Oh, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad…”

“We’re back home – thank fuck!” shouted Noel.

“Bloody hell; that’s right,” Liam agreed.

Giggling and the thwacking sound of bare feet on tile and linoleum sounded in the background.

“Sh,” Gee said, “Listen. What is that?”

“Oh no! It’s them – Liam and Noel –as kids! We’ve got to get out of here now or we’ll break the space-time continuum! All of us! Now Go!” I shouted.

“What’s she say?” asked Liam.

“Dunno. House looks the same to me,” said Noel.

“Did you see the date on the fridge, mates?” asked Jamie. Noel furrowed his pronounced brow at Jamie in reply.

“I don’t like you very much, Jaaamie,” he said, drawing out the first syllable of his name and standing close to his face.

“I don’t like you very much either!” Jamie huffed back as we all pushed and shoved our way out of the Gallagher house.

Brothers Gallagher in tow (begrudgingly), we walked over to my house. It was vacant in the ‘70s, but owned by my great aunt Lacey. I thought we would try and put things together again once we got to a safe place.

“Who are you lot, really?” asked Liam.

“We’re writers,” answered Kate.

“Writers? A band of time-traveling writers? Now that is right funny. Write for the papers? Books? Poets? Come on then, what?” Asked Noel, eyeing each one of us skeptically.

I scratched my head. Gee, Kate, and Jamie all mimicked the motion. “Well, uh, see, I own a magazine and, um, Gee, Kate, and Jamie write for it.”

“Magazine, you say? Hmph. What’s it called? How do you print your copies?”

I bit my lip and stared over to my friends who were now a puzzled trio, shrugging up their shoulders and mouthing, I don’t know!!

Damn it.

“Uhh—it’s called ‘Fifteen’ and it’s for young ladies. These are my…columnists! We print monthly.” I gulped.

Noel and Liam nodded.

Jamie and Gee glared at me.

“Why don’t you try and explain to them what ‘onine’ means and give them the definition of the internet, eh?” I whispered to them angrily.

“Oh, fuck—if we’re stuck here, we are going to be so bloody old when it really is 2016 again,” Kate groaned.

“Don’t remind me,” I groaned back. “Let’s go to my – er – my aunt Lacey’s house – and try to figure out what to do.”

“Oh my god! Liam and Noel – you’re from 1990, right?” asked Gee.

They looked at each other before looking back at Gee in silence.

“Yes, you are. Right. The point is, you have British pounds!! Because all we’ve got are Euros and those won’t do a bloody thing! We are going to need food and whatnot.”

“Haven’t got any on us, but what the fuck are you talking about? Euros?”

“Listen, Lacey’s got about a million nooks and crannies stuffed full of money – she was a major pill and booze hound, too, from what I remember.”

A roar of approval erupted behind me as we walked on. They cheered, high-fived, and I think I saw Jamie and Liam hug one another? Pills and booze make people THAT happy? I shook my head.

We walked on, scattered conversation making its way through our awkward gaggle, before I looked around me and saw that everything had begun to look the same. And it was getting dark.

“Shit. Must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere…” I said, furrowing my brow, hands on my hips. “Not going to lie – we are lost…we’re officially lost.”

“Anyone’s phone working? Let’s get google maps up and running!” Jamie shouted. “Ohhhh, riiiight, it’s fucking 1973 and none of that shit works. Amazing! Let’s all of us city folk spend a night out here, with these two fuck heads – ” he glanced to Liam and Noel respectively, “and catch amoebic dysentery. Sound about right to the lot of you?”

“Yeah, basically.”

“We’re fucked.”

“Totally and utterly fucked.”

“Quick! It’s an emergency! Has anyone got a flask?” I asked.

“Kell, again, this is your story. Who’s the most likely among us to have a flask?” Jamie asked me.

“Hmm…Liam!”

“Yea, I got one. Yer not gonna like it though, Ginger…” he muttered, handing it over to me reluctantly.

I took more than a generous swig from it before saying, “Don’t call me ginger.” I handed it back to him. “Now I have to pee. Excuse me.”

*

An Hour and a Half Later

*

“Swear I’ve just seen C.C. O’Hanlon back there, swear on my life,” Jamie sputtered as he joined us around our tiny makeshift campfire.

“What—really? Did you ask him for help? Is he coming?!” I asked, hope gleaming in my eyes.

“Fuck no. I’m not daft, even though you called me that earlier today, Kell. He didn’t look too happy, either. Didn’t want to talk to the man while I was takin a piss – y’get?”

“Jamie….” Kate began, sitting close to the fire, warming her hands and rubbing them together while sharing Liam’s flask with the rest of the group. “You’ve got no pants on, am I going insane or is that right?”

“Got to find a blanket somewhere. Need a nap.”

“Bloody great – Jamie’s in his underwear, sleeping under the crotch of his pants – rolling around in the leaves and shit, and I can’t get drunk no matter how much of this shit I drink,” Gee said, pointing to Jamie’s inane behavior, rolling himself over and over again, covering himself in leaves, underwear nearly glowing in the moonlight.

Just as I was about to yell at everyone, a shadowy figure emerged from the brush, holding a flashlight.

“It’s a miracle!” Noel yelled.

“Mum?” asked Liam.

As the shadowy figure moved in closer, murmurs arose from the group.

First, Kate, “Wait, oh my god! It can’t be! Is it…?”

Then, Jamie, “Melissa…? No!”

Then, Gee, “Libbey?! Impossible!”

Then, me, “Melissa Libbey?! Is it you?! Melissa Libbey!”

“Kell, I dunno if it’s her – be careful!” Kate said as I stood up to greet this shadowy person.

The shadow stepped into the glow of the campfire, and then splashed the light from her own flashlight so that it bathed her facial features in light.

“Um, yeah, hey guys. I am here. Hey!” said Melissa, her voice chipper and even. “You guys look like hell.”

“Oh, sweet Jesus! How the bloody ‘ell did you travel back in time with us?!” Jamie asked, his voice coming from underneath his pants. He still hadn’t bothered to move.

“I dunno. It’s Kelly’s story.” She scratched her head. “I think maybe I’m supposed to have been following you or watching out for you this whole time? Maybe? Ask Kelly. She knows.”

“Melissa – I’ve got so much on my bloody mind right now! I can’t think!” I shouted.

“Why…why are you speaking in that god-awful fake British accent?” she asked, crinkling up her nose.

“Shit. Well, I couldn’t go back in time to meet the Gallagher brothers unless the story was set in Manchester, Mel,” I reasoned.

“God, you all look like hell. Except for you two – the young men – the rest of you look like you’ve been in some sort of natural disaster and then bathed in dirt! Gross! They don’t have showers in the 1970s in England?” she asked.

“Kell, you can still be in Manchester for the story to happen – but you don’t have to write yourself as being British, you know.”

“English,” I corrected. She didn’t respond so I continued, “And you can’t critique my own story while you’re in it!”

She rolled her eyes, her enviably clean, curled, shiny blonde locks falling into perfect ringlets around her collarbone.

“Okay – I’ll drop the accent, but my aunt Lacey’s house is still closeby—you coming to help us get there?”

“What the hell else am I doing in Manchester in 1973? Plus, I love Oasis. And I’ve been working six days a week – I need a fucking break!! I’m exhausted!”

“Why’s everyone keep saying the word oasis like it means something?” asked Noel.

“Oh, Noel – we’ve got a lot to talk about,” Melissa said, patting him on the shoulder.

“How are we going to get there?” asked Kate, chin in hands, face placid, words calm.

“I brought a compass. And a map,” Melissa said matter-of-factly.

“Shit, she is good,” Jamie said, “I dunno how you ran SLM without her, really.”

“What’s SLM?” asked Liam.

“Fuck. Nothing, nothing,” I said, shaking my head, glaring in Jamie’s general direction.

“Oh, and I didn’t forget about all of you – I brought a flashlight for each one of you.”

“Aww!”

“So sweet!”

“Melissa’s bloody amazing!”

“I like this one.”

“Hell yeah!”

Grumble.

The group had now grown to the seven of us, walking along, Melissa and Gee leading the way, talking shop about compasses and maps and lines and such and how we had just missed the proper turn a mile or so back.

“Knew the ginger was an American,” Liam muttered, taking another swig from his flask.

“I can hear you!” I shouted from the back.

“Don’t ca-are!” he shouted back at me.

“See? Told you. Pricks. Not even bloody famous yet and, still, they somehow manage to be absolute pricks.”

“Jamie! Shut up!” Melissa shouted back into the crowd.

“Really hope Kell was right about Lacey’s house having loads of booze and whatever else…” Kate said.

“Shit. Me too,” Noel said.

After what felt like minutes, the house was visible, finally, and only by our flashlights, as we made our way downhill.

“Nice digs!” Kate said to me, giving me a wink. “Good to be back.”

“Kate’s hair looks amazing,” Jamie whispered.

“I know—it always does,” Melissa whispered back. “Kell—one question—are there enough bedrooms, bathrooms, that sort of thing here?”

“8 total. Two living rooms. Lots of bathrooms. That good enough?”

“Yeah….can we say bitchy?” she sing-song-ed to Jamie, who let out a snort of a laugh in response.

“Worried you and Liam might have to share a bed, now?” Gee asked, evil grin on her face.

“Ugh, no! I’ve got a boyfriend, thank you.”

But she was flushing bright red.

“Okay…Lacey always had a peculiar hiding place for things. Had a bit of a knack for it…Especially with keys…hmm…” I said as I poked about the shriveling garden. I turned over stones like a madwoman, to no avail. Sweaty,  breathless and tired, I sat on the crunchy grass.

It was then that I saw it. The evil garden gnome.

“Aha!” I emerged triumphant, keys in hand.

“That garden elf looks like Gary Busey,” Gee said, giving it the stink eye.

“Christ, you’re right! It really does!” I laughed, before making the move to unlock the door and step into the known—that was now the unknown.

The door creaked.

We all clung to one another in a seven-person-hug, squinted our eyes, praying for an empty, safe house.

“’Ello?”Gee asked gently and weakly into the house.

Liam stepped to the front of the group, flashlight in each hand, and yelled, “Hey, motherfuckers!”

He turned around to us and smiled a sweet, boyish grin. “See? All clear.”

Then we all began to file in and turn on the lights.

“Nice,” Melissa mused, milling about.

“Not total crap,” said Jamie, heading straight for the kitchen in search of alcohol. “Wine! Ladies and gentlemen – er – Gallaghers, we have like a hundred fuckin bottles of wine!” He squealed.

“Whatcha into, Jamie?” asked Gee, joining him in the kitchen, all but commanding him to pour her a full glass of red.

Noel and Liam had found Lacey’s sitting room and went straight to the record player, poring over her record collection, whispering lowly and excitedly.

Melissa joined the brothers Gallagher, suggesting records here and there, turning on all of the lamps and dusting off the tabletops, placing vases where they ought to go, rearranging knick-knacks and twirling around as the Rolling stones began to play.

Meanwhile Kate and I had been able to slip away to the upstairs to freshen ourselves the hell up. We felt like death. And were also a little bit relieved to break away from the group and get a moment’s peace as we poked in around in Aunt Lacey’s knick-knacks.

I ran the hottest bath I could stand as Kate was just grateful to sit in a room filled with steam. “It’s a makeshift sauna. I’ll take it.” She sat, back flattened against the wall, closing her eyes, drifting off into the air with the steam.

Once we emerged, refreshed, from Lacey’s cozy upstairs, we found ourselves quite amused at the goings on of downstairs.

“D’ya know yer aunt Lacey was a bit of a stockpiler?” Jamie asked us as we presented ourselves, announced by us each wearing a set of Lacey’s silk pants-and-button-down pajamas. I was in pink, Kate was in blue. We were just so bloody relieved to be out of our other clothes. Filthy, time traveling, woodsy, rotten clothes.

“Lacey’s a full-on, organized hoarder, she is!” Jamie said, presenting cans upon cans of food, endless bottles of booze, and enough Quaaludes for a village.

“No shit,” I said.

“I mean, just look! I’m bloody cooking spaghetti!” Jamie said, proudly gesturing to an oversized pot full of noodles and sauce. And other things, too, probably.  I wasn’t a good cook.

“So, let’s see…” I mused. “We can have spaghetti, wine, and a couple of Quaaludes all in the same sitting?”

“Fuck yeah!” shouted Liam from the front living room.

“I quite like it here,” Gee said from the back living room, where she’d turned on the tele and was happily watching gameshows, cuddling up on the hideous velvet, flowery couch.

“I love it here!” Melissa shouted from the front, where she and Liam were doing a weird salsa-type dance to the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter.’

“Come on then, Kell, let’s get in on this!” Kate said, shoving me into the room with the three of them.

We laughed as we spun each other around and giggled, singing our hearts out, our shadows bobbing beneath the prisms on the wall made by the chandelier. The smell of spaghetti was thick in the air and the wine flowed like it would never end.

“Hey, Ginger,” Liam said. “Can I call ya Pink Pajamas instead?”

“Any time,” I said with a wink.

“This might be, like, the perfect night,” Melissa said.

“YOU SHOULD TRY IT WITH A QUAALUDE!” Jamie said, wild-eyed, coming in from the kitchen.

“Gee! Get your arse in here!” Kate shouted, wine glass in hand, blue pajamas bringing out her eyes.

“Yeah!” Liam shouted. “Ass! Here!”

“Come dip your hand into the bucket of Quaaludes!” I shouted, giggling.

Gee ran in and plopped right there on top of all of us, spilling our spaghetti.

“Hey!”

“Damn it!”

“Gee!”

“I was only doing as I was told,” she said. “Let’s stay here forever!”

Kate banged her fork on her wine glass. “A toast – to – the writers. The song makers, the dreamers. But most of all, to us. Noel, you turn out to be a huge wanker in 2016; Liam, let’s be honest, you do too.  All of us are wonderful people in 2016 – truly, beautiful, spirited, talented people. Sorry boys. I got off track there for a moment. But we shouldn’t lose sight of what’s right in front of us – each other. And pills and booze. But, mostly, each other.”

“Here, here!”

“Y’know what sounds craaazy?” Jamie asked. “Quackludes.”

“Oh bugger. Give me one of those already!” Gee shouted, laughing.

“Me too!” Melissa yelled.

Liam and Noel just both raised their hands.

I stepped out of the room a moment just to wonder into the master bedroom and poke around while the Quaalude settled in my stomach.

I switched on a few lamps and tiptoed in; and then I saw it.

“Guys! Guys!” I shouted. “Come! Come see! Quick!”

All six of them, Gee, Jamie, Kate, Melissa, Liam, and Noel, piled up behind me.

“What’s it is, then?” asked Liam.

“What’s are YOU, then?” asked Jamie.

“Look, it’s a WARDROBE!” I squealed.

“Shall we?”  asked Gee.

“We shall.”

And just like that, we became overzealous children on Christmas morning and shoved and grunted our way into the wardrobe, elbowing one another and giggling as we walked through it. We walked past Lacey’s wedding gown, fur coats, and other such heavy things, before we were hurled outward and onto the cold, hard floor.

“What happened?”

“Ouch.”

“Ah, my head!”

“Liam, your foot is in my armpit!”

“Noel’s bloody hand is stuck up my sleeve.”

“Fuck.”

Then we all jumped with a start.

“Watch your mouths!” said my mum.

“Mum!” I shouted. “What? How? Why?”

“Will the seven of you be joining me for dinner?” she asked sweetly, batting her eyes.

“What happened? What year is it?” Gee asked.

“Don’t you worry. Everything’s right where you left it, girls. It’s October 4th, 2016. And it’s dinner time. I’ll bet we have quite a lively conversation! Oh, and hello, Liam and Noel. Good to see you again, Melissa, Kate, and Jamie. And, of course, lovely Gee. Come on now! It’ll be getting cold!”

We all followed her, dumbfounded.

“Are you still high as a kite, Jamie?” asked Kate.

“QUACKlude,” Jamie said.

Melissa and Gee let out hiccups.

“I want to go back to Lacey’s house,” Liam said.

“And what makes you think we can’t?” my mum asked, holding up her iPhone, which began flashing bright colors.

“Oh bugger. Here we go again,” said Gee.

The room spun, shook and rattled. And we all braced ourselves.

To be continued….

***

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***

Stay tuned for more installments on our wacky adventure time traveling with the brothers Gallagher!!!

 

 

 

 

What Makes Someone a “Real Writer” Any More Than, Well, You? – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Editor in Chief

“Writers, by trade, tend to be more self-deprecating about their work than any other art form that exists.” 

Make no mistake, it is just as much of an art form as is painting or music. The inundation of ghost writers and self-help books topping the charts, so to speak, becoming NY Times Bestsellers, is what is killing our art form. We, the ones in the literary trenches, at SLM are here to revive it. And to spread the word that just because a person holds the title of Editor or Agent, does not give them the power to discredit your work. You don’t need a million degrees in literature or an intense session with a literary Yoda to truly “become one” with the art of writing.

I’d be lying if I said that I had the time, patience and stamina to read every single piece that crosses my path, and appreciate it for what it is, or, to even be able to see it from the writer’s perspective. Because I can’t. Hence the problem with perspective.

Shit happens. We aren’t perfect. We go through trying times and miscommunicate – but just because Melissa and I are usually quick to respond and to schedule your work, I don’t like that this is being taken advantage of by some of you. It makes me feel unappreciated and frustrated. I’m sure Melissa can agree.

From now on, the pace of things will be MUCH, MUCH SLOWER here at SLM – as I am still a full-time stay at home mom, to children who are growing up and who need parenting, who have extracurriculars, I have a husband and a marriage to sustain, and my book has just gone live in the past few weeks, giving me a lot of issues and exciting things to deal with.

Melissa is teaching FIVE (again, FIVE! Cinq! 5!!!) college classes this semester AND working a second job. She is busting her ASS trying to keep up with everything and give me a break from submissions so that I don’t go insane. I’ll be jumping back in this week, but it will be slowly.

We want to continue to love what we do here – not begrudge it or view it as a burden. It’s what we are working hard RIGHT NOW to avoid – in the future. If  we don’t take control over our own literary journal, it can swallow us up and force us to close up shop.

For now, onward and upward!

Those of you who may not know, my first book has been published and is live and available for purchase through a number of retailers. *This is not a shameless plug – I have published through a very, very small, independent press and am genuinely excited to hear your feedback on my book.*

Buy A Copy Directly From Snow Leopard Publishing!

My Author Page on Facebook

Melissa and I sort of run on fumes most days, as we are hopeless multitaskers, spinning multiple plates in the air at all times.

Happy October! I sadly looked on as all my peers shared photos of their children at various pumpkin patches across the country – and wondered when the hell it became a tradition or a mandated thing that upon crossing over into the month of October, Pumpkin Patch children photos MUST BE TAKEN! AND SHARED!!

Anyway, this month we see two themes: Dr. Jeff Toney PhD’s EPIPHANY and Paul Beckman’s It began in an elevator…

Melissa and I, a few months ago, both wrote to these themes as a workshop. I’m starting to think we should share, what do you think?

**LOOK OUT FOR OUR OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT VERY SOON FOR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES FOR SICK LIT MAGAZINE FOR 2017!!!***

Cheers, guys,

peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

 

Dear Sephora / It Must be Difficult to be a Poetry Editor / Vacancy – by MONICA FLEGG

Dear Sephora,

 

I sprayed my wrists with the

sample of perfume you sent

called Alien which should

be renamed Alienate,

because even my dog won’t

come near me, and that feels

disturbing because

he’s an Australian Shepherd

that never leaves my side.


However, this morning he bolted

out the door and self

walked 50 yards ahead of

my assaulting aroma,

best described as

Chaos of Mall, with

base note of Play-Doh,

hints of synthetic sweetness,

metallic air conditioning,

and overtones of

whatever the heck they blast out

from Abercrombie and Fitch-


likely some fake pheromone

that only attracts zombies

and teens with impaired

olfactory senses because

their parents met on Match.com

and didn’t use their own

olfactories

when choosing their mates,

which resulted in offspring with

deficient immune systems,

zillions of allergies and

insipid senses of smell.


So scents like Alien

are being mass produced,

and dogs everywhere are

running ahead,

even running away,

as the earth sprints toward

reeking stratosphere where

only aliens can exist.


I simply can’t thank you enough.

M.F.



#

 

It Must Be Difficult to Be a Poetry Editor

 

Once you’ve seen fireworks

with an orchestra


it’s hard to go back to

just the lights and bangs.


Once you’ve heard the roar

of your son’s two stroke engine


firing up a Yamaha TZ250, shooting form

forward, spraying earth behind it’s hard


to be thrilled by doggerel, tricycles or

the uneven creak of training wheels.


Speaking of two strokes,

I met a guy drinking a pint


of Rookie’s  root beer

in  the Northeast Kingdom,


He quoted Bart Simpson and Anne

Sexton in a single conversation.


Word is he’s a med student/meth head

and goes by the handle Two Stroke.


A golden haired dentist from

Long Island also showed up.


I drove her to Bread and Puppet to

hear astonishing visual voices.


She said, “Some people have

too much time on their hands.”


I have nothing more to say

to that dentist,


but I’ll spark up carbonated conversation

with Two Stroke any old time.


“He who has ears to hear, let them hear.”



#

 

Vacancy

 

Now that you’re gone, time hangs slack.

Hours swing around like a nuisance

like an untied shoelace

like a brocade curtain shifting

hoarse whispers in a windstorm.


You arrived here

straight from the Heartland

full of basketball and buoyant hopes.

From Hershey High

you graduated smack

into the Harrisburg Hood;

and you tell better stories than

the Europeans ever could.


Yes, restfulness resumes;

cards and cognac are stowed away.

The linens washed and bed remade

for a different guest

a more guestly type

with much less hype,

with deathly protocol

and decent hours

and boring stories of foreign travel.


So, I’ll fix time.

I’ll sew it into honey fabric

tucking up loss in sticky liquid stitches

hemming you into a language space

a safe circular space

for vacancy to swirl



***

IMG_3493

Monica Flegg lives on Nantucket Island where she walks dogs of various breeds and reads poetry of all creeds.  Her work has been published in numerous journals including; Rat’s Ass Review, Ruminate and Unbroken.

Coming Home / The Great Railway Station Robbery – by NICK KITTO

Coming Home?

 

We lie entwined, the silence

Between us punctuates the

Bardic tangle

Our very joining

Elemental, and now I

Feel all of me

Deep within, her

Murmured moans as

Moorland wind


The warm enclosure

Of her

Unforgettable, burned

In memories, suspended

At synapse, who could

Have known, that chance

Meeting, a poet, catalyst

To digital unfurling

“Single?” Maybe

“For you?” Definitely

Gin- trap mind

Perfectly encased, a

Porcelain shell


Living paradox

Powerful, brilliant, brave

Yet fragile, butterfly

Wings, perfect

Webs, freshly spun

Delicately poised in

Corners behind the

Weary facades of a

Long forgotten town


A star

Some other space

Long hidden in

Routine’s shadow, now

Burns bright, fierce

As flame, draws me

Now, moth-like. I drink

Your scent, touch

Your words


I know that

To bathe in the light

That’s you

Will wash

Warm

Fill me

And I will wake in

Another place, unknown

Yet familiar

I will ask myself

“Is this home?”


 

The Great Railway Station Robbery

 

Surrounded by the kind of silence

You only don’t hear at night

Broken only by thumping heart

And tinnitus hum of expectancy

Creeping to the fence with shotgun footfall

Grasping tight the tools of our temporary trade

Black bin liner to the left

Car wheel brace to the right

Something big going down the night

Of the great train station robbery


Trying to find a place to cross

We almost missed the gate

Where we could walk  right on through

And reach the platform

Sleepy enough by day

But now under an umbrella of silence

That I call palpable

And our footsteps

Turned cacophonous

Amid our sensibillia haze


Before us we see

Its dark outline

We creep up close and there

Like the golden fleece

To the munchies crazed, the very stoned

Yes,oh mechanized wish granter

The cadburys chocolate machine

Furtive looks around us

Pulses race within us

Smack………..


I bring the wheel brace down hard

For a first time shatter

We reach beyond the sharded edge

Of the jagged hole, grabbing

Furiously at the pocket sized bounty

Bin liner greedily swallows

Dairy milk, whole nut, dairy crisp

Fruit and nut and we’re off

Tachycardia cuts through the bong haze

I swear I hear the bay of the hounds

And banshee wails of sirens abound


We burst into our place

Laughing manically now

Contents spilled out onto bed

And I remember the giggle of boy men

As they watch the multi coloured cascade

And brace themselves for the sugar rush

Of the finest cadburys could offer

A  difficult journey lay ahead

Wasn’t gonna be easy I knew the risks

I’d never really liked dairy crisp


All of it was a game to me

Spent my nights smoking bongs

Snorting coke and talking shit

Listening to endless prog rock

My accomplice though

On the great train station robbery

He really was there to get a degree

Not to fuck about, playing Frisbee

At first we both went astray

But after a while it was just me


And while he knuckled down

I carried on peddling dope, going to gigs

And he didn’t want to play anymore

So I found new friends

Easy to do when you’re the dealer man

The man who can

In the end though

They didn’t want to play either

They were there for a reason

It wasn’t just about  having fun

Like it was for this one


Then years later I saw him again

The great train station robber

Settled down, married and happy

Baby on the way

They called him doctor now

Didn’t seem like my rustic mate somehow

And me, I was still mooching around

Wearing black, an enigma

In my own mind

A high plains drifter


It struck me then and now

Maybe felt my first hint of regret

Him a respectable member of society

Not my country sidekick anymore

High flying research positions

Being flown off to Singapore

Me in illicit retail management

And words from school

Came back to me

A gifted student

Could do more


***

11026025_10205715351701497_6604131366409654914_n

Nick spent most of his childhood in Cornwall, hanging out at the beach, enjoying the outdoor life, a mad- keen surfer and cyclist which he still does to this day. He is a musician and poet. Coming from a songwriting background Nick has been writing poetry with a view to performing for the past 18 months or so, although he has written simple little poems for as long as he can remember. A regular performer on the Devon poetry circuit, Nick writes on a whole variety of subjects from ecology, to food obsessions, dysfunctional upbringing, addiction, anti-Islamophobia, to an ode to a guitar. He may well not be as funny in real life as he is in his own head!

Poetry from PAUL TRISTRAM

Looking Straight Down Her Nose, Always

(She Blames The Very People She’s Being Mean To?)

 

There is an unnatural fury inside, hippopotamus size.

Cold, murderous stares

from a ridiculously unfair, judgemental mind.

Her little black book is quite fat in size, actually

and is full of victims/punch bags not lovers.

Yes, that’s a husband scolded again around her

in several different ways

over several different imaginary offences.

Mirrors are for scowling into

and to be taken on the trot,

for you cannot bend and warp the truth in them

and the eyes are a prison cell to the blackest of souls.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

That’s The 3rd Time She’s Settled This Year

 

“Well, just look at that, he’s a new one, ain’t he.

She likes the pretty, younger man, doesn’t she.

The last one wasn’t around long after the polish

had worn off but at least there wasn’t all that

police and trouble like the one before him.

Heartbroken and bewildered that poor bugger was

but violence is violence and you can’t be kicking off

like that and be expecting sympathy and the like.

Tanya…have you seen this new one’s motor yet?

…is it blue?…aw, I bet it’s bloody blue and all.

Do you think it’s on that dating site she must be

finding all these fella’s at? ‘Middle-aged Slapper

looking for pretty, young boy. Slim with no sense

at all. Must like leftovers and drive a blue car’

Oooh, you are awful Jackie, laughing at the crap

that comes out of my mouth but I know you’re

all thinking it as well, ya bunch of wicked bastards.

Anyway, here comes the 1A…Linda pass me them

other two Lidl’s bags will you, let’s get some seats

up the back so we can have some peace to gossip!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

Piss & Vinegar

 

She’s filled to the absolute brim with both,

you can hear them boiling and bubbling away

each time she opens up that vipers pit of a mouth

to hiss out vicious blasphemies.

Blames everyone but herself, it’s pathetic,

you can’t treat people mean and expect to keep them,

no lessons learnt with this one.

She wants vengeance for breaking her own heart,

dominion over other people isn’t love, it’s wickedness.

Her pretty, colourful bird flew the nest,

broke its bullshit chains and escaped

the day her chickens finally came home to roost.

Now she plots and schemes the downfall

of the one she misses so much,

have him murdered, imprisoned, destitute and broken

if only she could, and believe me, she’s tried.

But it never works and Karma

keeps slapping her back harder each time.

Stubbornness and nastiness make the ugliest

and bleakest kind of painting palettes

yet applied daily is the perfect colour for ruining your life.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

There Are Several Different Types Of Unpleasantness

And You Look Like All Of Them Wrapped Up In One Stinking Bow

 

I find myself having to look away.

What is going on inside the human being

that you call yourself? is fascinating.

It’s like most of the physical mechanics

are working properly (You can wave

your arms around in anger well enough!)

But there are other important ingredients

missing, a ‘Botch Job’ so to speak.

I have to squint my way through

your unnecessary quick-fire lies

(and you’re not even talking to me!)

All you want to do is ‘Take’ and ‘Hurt’

and ‘Control’ everyone around you,

yet you’re not happy when that’s achieved?

I feel like picking you up and shaking you

just to check that there really isn’t a soul

in there somewhere but I’m not allowed to.

I’m having less respect for Mary Shelley’s

‘Imagination’ by the day, after all I’m practically

surrounded by the damned things almost constantly.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

I Don’t Like You, Not Because I’m A Horrible Person

… But Because You Are, Silly!

 

I’ve seen you stab innocent people

both mentally and emotionally

who were minding their own business.

Sucker punching friendly folk,

cutting kindness to the quick,

and tantruming over pleasantries.

Targeting the happy and contented

then raining trouble and strife

down upon their now ruined day.

Then pointing fingers of accusation

at the freshly, disorientated victims

beneath your ‘Little Hitler’ jackboot heel

and blaming them for upsetting you?

You are ugly to be around

yet, fascinating to watch from a far.

Just imagine what it must be like

to have to live 24/7 within that skin

of squirming, disgusting fury…

ych y fi, mun… gives me the shivers!

 

© Paul Tristram 2016


 

Why Are You Asking A Liar & A Cheater

To Behave Differently?

 

“Because I want what’s best for them.

I just know deep down inside that they can change.

They simply need to see sense, is all.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Everybody has the right to love.

Besides, I’ve seen the nice side of them,

granted, it’s hidden pretty well most of the time

…but sometimes when we’re alone…it’s there.

I want to help them, I’m a good guy!”

 

“No, I don’t believe you, one iota.

You want to manipulate and passively aggressively control them.

Bind them to your will…there’s nothing ‘Good Guy’ about that.

What care you about their deceitfulness and bullshit?

If you don’t like what they are…stay away from them.

If they want help to change they’ll ask for it.

You are not a preacher, nor a saviour, nor very nice.

And your life so far is hardly a blueprint for anything, is it?

You are either like them yourself

or you are looking for love and friendship in the wrong place?

Which means you are either foolish and it’s you who needs help

or blind and should not be trying to lead anybody anywhere!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 ***

paul smoking

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.
Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096
‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ athttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036

And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope
at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204

You can also read his poems and stories here!http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dulla Bhatti – by PRERNA BAKSHI

Dulla-Bhatti

(First appeared in Pear Drop)

 

“Sundar Mundriye ho!

Tera kaun vichaara ho!

Dulla Bhatti walla ho!”

 

Catching me by surprise,

sang my father, in Punjabi on the phone,

when I called on Lohri – a harvest festival.

Excited like a young boy whose Christmas came early,

he sang the folk song that had been till then

resting on his lips for years,

until one fine afternoon

it finally awoke from siesta,

until it finally erupted from his mouth,

like a ticking bomb that suddenly explodes

after it failed to detonate.

Its first casualty – My virgin ears

that bled in joy.


The sound of the long lost folk song

pierced through my ears and into my soul.

When my father sang,

my every heartbeat danced

to the tune of ‘Dulla-Bhatti’

in perfect rhythm,

as if I knew it all along

even when I didn’t.


Papa, why did you never sing this song in front of me before?

Why did you never teach me? I asked.

He paused, thought for a while and said, I don’t know.


Post Partition things never remained the same.

Though the wise old trees of Partition,

now divided, are to be found on both sides of the border,

holding secrets of the unknown, and

many stories of the bygone era,

the horrors of humanity,

the roots of these trees

run deep.

Underground

they will intermingle.

And somehow, someway,

will find their way,

will find us, and

will not let us forget

our songs,

nor our roots.


***

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Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. It is available for purchase from – http://bit.ly/1TZwA30 For more information – http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/