Important Updates, Announcements, and More About Submissions! – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

MAN, you guys are KILLING IT with these submissions – and I’m not exaggerating. The pieces I’ve been accepting are all SO DIFFERENT from one another, but they’re poignant, fresh, and remind me of the reason I started Sick Lit Magazine just about two years ago.

Nicole Ford Thomas has not “left the building” – she and I are still working closely together here at SLM. She’s now the Creative Director, where I let her spread her wings and expand her mind, allowing her ideas and her imagination to grow and flourish. This brings me to my next point: Nicole will be writing a regular column for SLM called Letters From Left Field. 

Along with that, we’re starting our own advice column called Ask The Redheads – When in Doubt? Bitch it out! All questions will be anonymous and will be posted on the site with both mine and Nicole’s input. Any advice questions should be sent to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com with “Ask The Redheads” in the subject line. You’ll be notified if we pick your question to be featured and also (for a few, select scenarios) enlist a group of your peers help Nicole and myself in our advice to you.

So, now, along with fresh poetry and fiction, we’ll be providing even more fun content for you to delve into!

I’m going to start posting some of your pieces for our “New Beginnings” theme either tomorrow or over the long weekend, so you’ll have something exciting and new to read. I woke up earlier this week with two fairly painful infections (of course, right? Why wouldn’t I? Ha!); I’ve received antibiotics and am hoping to be on the mend by Saturday. If not, I’ll start posting your work on Sunday.  Don’t worry, guys. We’ll get everything up and running soon.

To some of you who haven’t received a response yet: bear with me. I will get to you, I promise.

Who’s excited?

Who’s ready to write again, and actually enjoy it this time? As I’ve said before, throw out that “literary agent jargon” that’s peddled as “Professional advice.”

If I’m being completely candid, I want you to forget EVERYTHING and write me a bold, passionate piece (and then of course, send it to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com) and if nothing else, your enthusiasm and love for writing will shine through.

Be on the lookout for Nicole’s New Column, Our Advice Column, and some excellent prose and poetry.

Nicole and I sort of have an affinity for all things “fall.” We’re excited for these next few issues and what’s to come for all of us here at SLM!

 

IMG_5716

Cheers, guys! And good luck submitting!

Kelly

(Above: a photo of me ‘at the office’)

 

 

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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…..

IMG_1440

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

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

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

One Secret Thing – by DONNA DALLAS

 

One Secret Thing

 

Live in this

they said

as they placed me

neatly onto the

pink rose-budded bedspread

in the room with white

and more white

so I would be well and

release festering thoughts

that wake me in the night

sweating thick to the point of oil

shaking to some madness of hot breath

on my neck

cold hands around me

But that was one night

one time

long ago in a life

not mine but the she before I

The she that was

lovely as a lilly! they said

Death is a long haul when you wait for it

you slowly

very slowly

creep into it while no one pays attention

Shredding the malaise into parts to contain each day

it’s the rotting from the inside out

whispers just under the skin

The Screwtape demon

forming a root in the rose-budded cell

with all the girlie stuff

The beckoning is cunning

over the edge of the bedspread

it waits

I somehow love it

yet I can’t quite make out

what it is

Only death is certain

***

066

Donna Dallas studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at NYU.  She meandered about before she became a successful business woman, married and mothered 2 beautiful children.  Over The years, she has written down events from scribbles to journals.  She has documented lives growing up poor, witnessing drugs, prostitution, overdoses and death. She has bundled stories of lives that fell apart in front of her or with her.  Donna has been published Mud Fish, Nocturnal Lyric, The Café Review, The New York Quarterly and was lucky enough to study under William Packard back in the day.  She took a slight hiatus and can most recently be found in 34th Parallel, Vending Machine Press, Anti-Heroin Chic and The Opiate Magazine.

 

 

The Inexorable Lion – by CLARK ZLOTCHEW

The Inexorable Lion

Clark Zlotchew

 

We’d  descend the steep incline

At the end of Westerly Drive,

Abandoning civilization,

For the savage realm below.

 

We’d labor through trees and brush,

My three sons,

Eyes wide with anticipation,

And I,

Tribal patriarch, chief of hunters,

Filled with manly vigor.

 

We’d ford the nameless brook

That flows to Canadaway

(a raging torrent to children’s eyes),

Infiltrate the orderly labyrinth

Of McPherson’s tangled grapevines,

(a jungle in deepest Africa)

To reach the vacant lot beyond

(The plains of Serengeti)

And hunt the mighty lion.

 

For spears we’d pluck up stalks

Of tall thick grass,

Stealthily track the dreaded prey,

Tread silent-cautiously.

We were dauntless, heroic, bold.

 

One would spot the hunted hunter,

The predator turned prey,

Fit finger to lip to signal silence,

Point his lance toward our quarry.

 

We’d steal yet closer,

 holding our breaths,

And then

I’d hurl my spear and cry “Simba, eh!”

My sons would heave their javelins,

Savagely whooping, heels churning dust.

 

We alone could see the beast.

We alone could hear his roar.

We alone could smell his stinking breath.

 

Now my sons have journeyed far,

By land and sea and air.

Now they chase their own wild beasts,

Founding  tribes  their own.

 

And I,

Diminished in strength, a wizened elder,

No longer dare invade

Those  fertile fields below,

No longer stalk the lion.

 

Yet he still lurks there,

In his lair,

Heart of darkness,

Land of snares,

Tawny mane and yellow fang,

Evil breath of carnivore.

 

And he remembers, yes,

He remembers how

we stalked him.

 

He grows stronger every year,

His hunger grows apace.

He often slinks through tall grass,

Drawing near, much too near,

Sniffs the air to catch my scent,

Notes the absence of my warriors,

Knows my throwing arm grows weak…

Then he turns to yawn and doze.

 

But he will rouse himself one day,

I know,

And he will come for me.

***

clark distgd tchg prof #2

Clark Zlotchew has published an award-winning short-story collection (2011) and has had newer short fiction published in 2016 by e-magazines. He is relatively new to poetry, but two of his poems were published in The Fictional Café in December 2016 and 5 poems appeared in Baily’s Beads, literary magazine of U. of Pittsburgh, on January 25, 2017.  His story “Man of Adventure” was one the winners in the 2017 Baily’s Beads contest and was published in the same issue of that print magazine.  Zlotchew is a recent emeritus professor of literature in Spanish language with SUNY.   He and his wife Marilyn live in rural Western N.Y. State.

 

The Cookie Jar – by MICHAEL MORRIS

The Cookie Jar

 

Little Bill constantly snatched his grandmother’s homemade treats. Every day after school, he went to his grandparents’ house, and did his homework at the kitchen table while his grandmother fed him two cookies and a glass of milk. He was never allowed more than this, but too often he could not resist, and when his grandmother left the room to put up laundry or to start his grandfather’s dinner, he took the smiling head off the ceramic bear cookie jar and helped himself to more.

 

At first, he didn’t get caught, and so began to get bolder, and stole even more cookies. When his mother came to get him after work, he could not eat the dinner she brought or made for him. But she just assumed that this was just a little boy phase.

 

But more cookies taken from a cookie jar usually means a fairly empty container, and Bill’s grandfather one day asked, “What’s happened to my cookies?”

 

“Your grandson ate them.” She didn’t mind the boy getting more; for her, a boy who couldn’t stop eating her food meant a boy who would always love her.

 

As grandfathers sometimes do, Bill’s decided to teach him a lesson. So the next day, Bill was looking toward the door to make sure he was not seen. His left hand pulled the bear’s head up where the jar opened at the mouth, and his right hand slowly went inside. He heard a loud snap, and then the tips of his finger felt on fire. He let go of the head and the mouth seemed to close on his hand. A mouse trap fell from his fingers and Bill saw — for only a second — a little blood on the lips of the bear as he pulled his hand away and tried to stifle his scream.

 

From another room, the old man laughed, but Bill was certain that the sound came from the smiling bear.

***

dscn3398-2

Michael Neal Morris has published short stories, poems, and essays in a number of print and online venues. His most recent books are naked and Recital Notes, Volume I. Collections of his work are listed at Smashwords and Amazon. He lives with his family just outside the Dallas area, and teaches at Eastfield College.

This Blue Monk: http://bluemonkwrites.tumblr.com/

Monk Notes: http://mnmwrite.blogspot.com/

Walking It Off: http://mnmwalking.blogspot.com/

Chance / Woman – by THOM YOUNG

Chance

 

he gave his only son

so that a wretch

may become

a treasure

he gave his last dime

to play A2

on the jukebox

again

and again

for there was something

left

a magic

a chance

one more time

to get up

and kick life

in the teeth.


 

Woman

 

if you can love

the same woman

twice

then you’ve already

beaten death

you need to parade

your superiority

over the masses

and it won’t be hard

either

their love never arrived

and wish them luck

finding a good one.


***

thom

Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in The Commonline Journal, 3am magazine, Crack the Spine, Word Riot, 48th Street Press, and many other places. A 2008 Million Writers Award nominee for his story Perico.

Epochal / Failure / Rope – by LAWRENCE WILLIAM BERGGOETZ

Epochal

                                                                

I did not speak to you in a language we will remember;

you listened, so I waited until a vision pierced

through me with a story that would

imprint images upon your mind like a dream

you recall years later compelling you to create

your own dialogue to make sense of the dramatic,

unfolding scenes, one after another,

 

each episode exploding out of

the dissonance of the last,

almost like a cascading of archetypes

telling a surreal drama around which

you must build an iconic lyric,

 

and you open your voice into the mantra of a tribal song,

your tongue the instrument through which a new epic

tale uncoils as you birth the poem a sacred people will

transcribe onto stone tablets so that

one day everyone can trace their lineage back to us

and call what you and I do today

religion


                                                                                                         

Rope

 

A rope is unwound, falling to the floor like leaves

faded and unbound by the autumn from their trees.

The hand opens to hold a book the eyes will not read.

An archeologist uncovers a city submerged in sand,

yet no bones are found.  The dinner plates

discovered are square and depict animals we can

only claim are mythic.

 

Religion explains what we do not know.  When the

self learns how to plumb its dark waters, god is no

longer needed.  In darkness, a deity is not enough,

and loses his power to control.

 

A twilight arrives when the bird does not return

to its nest.  The tree feels alone and sways awkwardly

in the night’s wind.  At daybreak, the sounds of the forest

call unbidden in songs the deserted can hear, but no

answer returns and the sun travels alone

through the azure desert.

 

In a dream, there is a text I cannot understand

but I keep reading it aloud until its message becomes melodic

and its music sinks into me like a memory

that I suddenly remember and only now understand

the lesson of its drama, and the warning of its violence.

I call this

meaning.

 

The smoke from an ancient, molded root burning

into ash enters my mouth and changes everything

I once said…My name disappears and my family now

claims that I died as an infant

–Abruptly, I am pulled out of death to moor heaven

with hell

like two ropes twined into a cord that won’t break.


 

Failure

 

There is less to me than what you seek.

Often, I languish in wonder and accomplish little.

I awaken past midnight and stare

at a star as if I, alone, can deliver

it as our next sun.

 

I walk in circles each morning, talk to

the dead, and imagine a divine world.

As a child, I would communicate with

clouds and engage in whistling

dialogue with the afternoon birds.

 

I still do not know if love

is found in one who exhibits traits

you cherish within yourself,

or in someone who tenderly provides a

gift of something sacred missing

within you.

 

I admired a couple I knew who

only sang around their small child,

hoping that she would learn music

before language and would intuit

how to experience the poetry of

life, even within its pain.

 

Although I have never been to

Norway, I dreamed last night of walking

through Oslo, speaking about Bob Dylan

to strangers.  I awoke in struggle to

interpret this dream.  Making sense

of the unseen is the only ambition I

still possess.


***

lawrence-oct-2016

Lawrence William Berggoetz composes poetry and essays from his adopted outpost of Dallas, Texas, a place which still feels foreign to him.  He has been published this year in numerous literary journals, among them are The Bitter Oleander, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Pacific, JONAH, The Oddville Press, and Pour Vida.  He is a graduate of Purdue University and has written the book Under One Sun.

Owed to Continuation of Species – by PETER BRACKING

 

owed to continuation of species

 

banks you gotta hand it to ’em (and

you do you certainly do)

banks would slice off your testes

rip out your tubes

if

it were not for their ever grasping need

(banks) to claim your first born

and any and all subsequent birthings

***

Peter Bracking tells tall tales. Earth point: a tropical metropolis. Words have literally been published from ocean to ocean to ocean by some really great literary mags in a growing number of countries on half the inhabited continents.The only occupation is being a beach bum. Peter is the artistic director of Utter Stories. Self aggrandizement: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017AFRGEK

http://utterstories.wordpress.com

 

Poetry – from MEGAN MEALOR

Ripening

 

mother was our madness

 

and our curves

even her silhouettes were silver

 

        mother could grow marigolds

                              in November

 

she was our snake charmer

 

our static cling

 

(Previously published in the Mother’s Day 2014 issue of Broad!)

 


 

Little Punk

 

The wrathful kid with the fierce fingers

and a penchant for torturing ants won’t

stop breaking eggs on the sidewalk,

won’t respond to the vigilant old lady

shouting from across the street in the

kooky green house with lace for blinds.

He splatters the eggs like a delirious Picasso

from four or five cartoons I’m sure his mother

will miss.  I think his father works twelve hours

a day, six days a week, in some nearly-extinct

job better left to computers who don’t have

two mortgages out on some disfigured dark

eyesore with a leaf-choked lawn and a tornado-

prone roof which blocks out the sunrise.

I think his mother cleans the kitchen counter

twenty times a day.  The trampoline sags

like a heartless sonnet.  The basketball net

unthreads in self-pity.  Splat!  

Now there are no more eggs to scramble in

silent, screaming testaments, and the kid

heads home for another sapless sandwich

of a supper.

 

(Previously published in the April 2014 issue of Deep South Magazine)

 


 

Color-Coded & Iridescent

 

You dress in dogwood rose,

claret, jungle green;

chisel Chinese violet

out of bones and ebony.

 

I found a scribbled sonnet

inside your june bud jeans,

saw the way you danced in Venice,

your lines a sleek, sweet cream.

 

Your eyes could be a landscape,

its sky every shade of blue.

The instant when your heart stood still:

the most fuschia part of you.

 

(Previously published in the Spring 2013 issue of Obsessed With Pipework)

 


 

Distance

 

I allowed you

to sail me over lakebeds,

pull me up cliffs,

across broken bridges.

But I could not kiss you

with any trace of thunder,

even when the sun was

sinking into so many oceans.

You told me once

that there would never be

enough sky, but always,

always too many stars.

You wished you could

count them with your heart.

Love was the sacks

of luminous, worthless stones

you made me carry

up and down

blue mountains.

 

(Previously published in the Fall 2012 issue of Digital Americana under “Megan Hall.”)


 

the darkest art

 

cackling sonnets

inside every snare

spectral sunfalls

beneath roaring hale

unleashing calamity

these most ambrosial

of refrains

rabid moonbeats

become fancy

become flight

bloodless zion

cradled in

precarious constellations

seething grave

of gehenna

beckons

with a boil

withered wildflower witches

live on

to lament

our wintered woes

sing siren-soft melodies

into blacksmith night

hearts ablaze

as pillared wax

dripping

sonnets

on fir splinters  

windows polish

into prisms

yawning moonlight

breaking open

in the daze

between black shores

upon perfumed elms

windless waters

still remembered

from the moments

we were faultless

undiminished

in the eyes

of any god


 

To Whomever Listens Here

 

I will sustain for you in consecrated constraint,

tethered to this slatted kitchen door.

There are lesser visions, I am certain,

in your more honest reflections of me.

 

Where will you wait for me

when the yellow dahlias have finished

spinning into dawn?

 

There are never too many echoes or footfalls between us.


 

deployed

 

emily was right about you

 

from the peril and speck of jade

in your scrutiny

 

         (boozer flatfoot, a flair for us floozies)

 

to the way you yield your demonic seduction

in the murky, stained, disheveled moments

 

          (where she and I cannot exist together)


 

Relics

 

memorize me

in the slanted dawn

of your attic,

taking pictures

with my heart

 

unfind me

in the quatrain mist

outside the coffee trees

 

open up

the farmlit skies

shaking with the sea

 

lose me

in the newborn dimmet,

unlearn me in your cream

 

lie stiller

than a peony

bashful in the breeze

 

shed the solace

wrapped around

the bases of your bones:

autumnal afghans, freesia fleece

 

put away

those lost engravings

from your father

 

read to me

the only outcast star

in the tide

 

strike wilder

than a daisy

dining on its shade

 

conjure poems

from your sinew,

making all the right mistakes


 

mockings, midnights

 

the lion wants

what it still has

the warlord cat

it bides its cream

this sideshow

sun-starched calloused cleave

merciless minions

spread freelove venom

borneo black plague asps

we report paper cuts

and piranhas

us fragile inner city bees

i didn’t hollow

this canyon

between us

i didn’t carve it

from a dream

we meet at three ends

romancing embers

into echoes

so many heartbeats

later

you devour

lilac locust breeze

silicone sonnet sundae shade

baskets of billabongs

trapped in your bass

dreaming of frequencies

in the next lane

you never failed

in the phase

you waned

it only matters

when the moon is

unrehearsed

unexplained

electrifying snowflakes

branding bullets

with your everlasting

examining

our apparition

it flies solo

at the seams

shadowing a village

it pebbles

at our feet

we forget

we forgot our every father  

somewhere they trace

themselves

back to the tide

somewhere they lose

their opals

in the maze

try try try

we could never

jump-start skies

treason

your lone infatuation

mocking the martyrs

of the blaze

loose chantings

from our fingertips

the only part

of you

i take with me

into coal mines

past the bombs

wherever you flee

i feel your limerick

in my bones

however you undo

i find the starset

in my tree


 

Mapping

 

we finished in callous calligraphy

what we never felt the need to do

heart to heart

fire to frenzy to fracture

there were vast, luscious moments

we will remember in

agave Antigua whispers

Bavarian bread crumbs

winter-capped Norse summits

bleeding blue lyrics on Baltic beaches

crawling through granite and Greenland

deflowering Irish violet lullabies and

English rose sonnets in our shrieking wake

you manifested the anonymous almond shores

where I will one day overture my soul

these posturing postcards

will be our postscripts

those Nova Scotia steamship whitetips

our final coup de grace


***

me21

Megan Mealor has been writing stories since she was three years old.  Dozens of her poems and short fiction have been featured in such publications as Digital Americana, Hello Horror, Belle Reve Literary Journal, and Better Than Starbucks.  She is currently working on her first chapbook, Bipolar Lexicon, as well as a full-length royal romance novel entitled My Lady Mercedes.  She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her fiancé, three-year-old son, and two black-and-white cats.