Flash Fiction by Hope Njoku

In the Mail

​Someone tries to open the door from outside. It’s 8:00am. You wonder how many thieves rob at dawn as you unlock the door. Unexpectedly, it is your wife that walks in, staggering toward a couch. She is wearing a skirt that is many inches above her knee and a top that exposed half of her belly, the whole of her navel. She smells of alcohol and Vanilla. How could she be looking like a barmaid? Only last night, she left the house wearing a frock and a scarf all in the name of church service.

“Where did you go?” You ask.

“Night vigil,” she replies without thinking; she is half drunk.

You rush to her burgundy hand bag and unzip it. A bottle of whisky is inside. You search again and find a pack of condom. 

She gapes in surprise because she did not expect you’ll come this far.

You hold out the pack of condom. “So this is the night vigil?”

“You are screwing things up,” she says shamelessly.
Your teeth clash, your eyes becomes blood-red and your fist clenches. How could she say screwing things up when you have solid proof of her sin? You become apoplectic and want to clasp her long Brazilian hair or whatever it is called and pull it till she bit the dust. But something inside of you says: Walk away
“It’s not what you think,” she tries to explain. But you shut her up and hit her in the face.

She reaches for the bottle of whisky in her bag and strikes you with it, seriously bruising your arm.
There is a knife on the centre table. You seize it with your unwounded hand and thrust into her; first her arm, and then you start to drive the knife across her throat. She is struggling and begging for life but rage grips you until eventually she’s dead and your singlet is soaked in her deep red. Just then, rage let you be and the pulsation of your heart becomes damn loud and fast because you know that the police will rest not until you are behind bars. 

.    .    .

The alarm clangs and you rise quickly from bed, with your heart nearly in your mouth. There beside you, under the coverlet, is she, your wife, letting out her usual angelic smile as she asked about the night. You grin like a Cheshire cat, as if the night was very well. 

“We have one day vigil today in church, from dusk,” she says suddenly and you shudder. You are afraid because you think she’ll return home looking like a barmaid and you’d slit her throat like a fowl. But then you remember that she’s holy, that you have a good heart, that the nightmare was wrong about her, that you had a nightmare because you had received a mail two days before, of a man who stabbed his adulterous wife to death. 

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, in July 1994, Hope Njoku is a trainee accountant. He was long-listed for the 2015 Brilliant Flash Fiction International Prize for his first work, Running Away From Tony. He is currently working on his debut novel.

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Two Prose Poems by Darren C. Demaree

​Trump As A Fire Without Light #106

It’s a frenzy, which does not mean one of us must be eaten, and does not mean that either of us needs to shut up.  It means that this is an action game now, old man, and I don’t take days off.  You are wealthy and strong, but I am poor and stronger.  I have no name to lose anyway, so when it crosses your lips in distaste, what will that mean about you?  I’m already planning a celebration for when you relent.

Trump As A Fire Without Light #108

 Just sit at the table and give in to all of your fear.  You don’t need a pistol to do the right thing, just stand up and walk away.  You don’t need our forgiveness.  You just need to step away quickly and quietly before the houses you’ve stepped on are rebuilt.  Those people will come for you if you’re still there.

Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing). And the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

A Poem By Collin James

​FAT GUTS

                      Having grown up on
                      poorly dubbed foreign film,
                      the young woman screamed “Eh!”
                      instead of “Help!” while
                      being attacked by a pack
                      of feral city dogs.
                      Had we heard the latter plea,
                      my confused friends and I
                      may have been able to help.
                      Bundling her into a shopping cart
                      pushing it down a long hill through
                      a chaotic traffic intersection
                      delaying some postmodernism.

Colin James has a chapbook of poems, A Thoroughness Not Deprived Of Absurdity, from Pski’s Porch Publishing. He lives in Massachusetts. 

Three Poems by Rick Alley

October 20, 1933

​I’ll consider the garden reciting
daylight I can hear.
Tomato punctuation,
grammar-on-the-vine.
Bury his ashes before the rain,
the dirt seems
to say.  I cannot write
since Ben died, as if
we shared a flicker
he palmed as he went
away.  I understand
a new ghost,
but will he miss October,
the red smell of leaves?

You’re Welcome

A raven in widower’s weeds
is certain he knows
my problem.

The trouble with you
is you want to thank
God, Ben, and the ripening pears
that clip themselves
from limbs.

Why so sad and ecstatic
in your hat and Ben’s
old gloves?

The raven scratches
his branch; I’m tempted
to thank him, too.

The trouble with you
is you’re so obliged
you’ve become an astonished
fool.

Easter

Shatter the ice.
Shatter winter’s
sass-blink on
the pond.
Shatter the pond as well,
the koi like frozen
wounds.  Why not work
a hammer
against itinerant freeze?
Conjure some hot gospel,
for “melt” is shatter-slow.

My first book of poems, The Talking Book of July, was published by Eastern Washington University Press (and is now distributed by Carnegie Mellon Press) way back in 1997.  I have another book called August Machine that came out in 2013 (Finishing Line Press).  My third manuscript, Yes, The Water Trembled, has been the runner-up for the Philip Levine Award and The National Poetry Series Award (both in 2016.)  I am the slowest writer in the world. 

A Poem by Jonathan Otamere Endurance

​WOMEN UNMAKE MEMORIES OF A THOUSAND SERMON

Women are a rosy rosary beads
Praying men into a haven of hell.
Squeeze a bead or two round a fair foot,
Wrap a yoga round the thighs of a sinner,
Let those lips burn of rosy red and pink
And the roof —
a scented flowering weak dress —
Two Knights will fall into the hub of a coquette.
An Imam said we shouldn’t look a woman twice,
So when I see one, I swallow a benediction of lust
And crescent my eyes into one sitting of her sight;
No, I didn’t look twice,
I have only fulfilled our Imam’s wish
For a man does not die
In the wars he didn’t fight.
Father Francis gave a sermon yesterday:
Lust, brethren, is a soul of two hearts
Where the night steals into to build an undying abode.
Every night, I find myself in the tongue of Father Francis’ sermon
Holding a shimmer of thoughts,
But a god lies in every man
Unmaking memories of a thousand sermon.

Jonathan Otamere Endurance is a voracious reader of fine poetry. He is a student of English and Literature at the University of Benin, Benin City. 

Four Poems by Neil Ellman

​Imbalance of Time

(after the painting by Richard Pousette-Dart)

On the other side of what we know
an hour is no more an hour
than east is truly east
or light has the feel of snow.
To travel form here to there
is a matter of perspective, faith,
not time, a journey imagined,
neither short nor long,
the contents of the sea
or of a measuring cup.
The present feeds the past
like a mothering lion
feeds her young
and the past is nothing more
than the future in a shroud.
There is neither proportion
nor equivalence
nor harmony
when time, uncertain,
out of balance.

Moon Animal

(after the painting by William Baziotes)

Some will see in the craters of the moon
the face of a disapproving hawk
with the scowl of a mother on its nest
threatened by the dark
For some, its maria, vast and deep,
contain a multitude of fish
and a huge gray whale
coming to the surface for a gasp of air.
On its treeless mountains
there are bighorn sheep and grizzly bears
elk, moose and wolverines
struggling for survival in a hostile land.
On the darker side where the air is thinner
than the falling rain.

The Blue Phantom

(after the painting by Wols)

Whatever turned the phantom blue
like a chameleon
from pacific gray to malevolent blue
the air we breathe, the land and sea
to the color of a violent ghost
it knew what blue must mean
in the spectrum of the eyes and mind
like a specter clothed in blue,
a shroud in blue
the shadow of the moon
upon a peaceful earth
it knew, it knew
that blue would be the palette
of our world.


Secret Life of Plants

(painting, Rik Lina)

Is it a secret
that we have a hidden life
of limbs entwined
on ivy-colored walls,
of wanton sex
in the pitch of night
as if no one sees
our indiscretions
of leaf and life?—
surely, it is no secret
to suspicious minds
that we speak to each other
with lascivious words
in a language unheard
and unhearable
alone in the darkness
we speak our private thoughts
but never reveal them
to you
who would spread them
throughout the world.

Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has published widely throughout the world.  He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. 

A Poem by Fejiro Ibuje

Dahlia

Cinnamon skin glittering under the dazzling day,

Strides like the young gazelle in heat,
Black blood from her veins,
Voice like music from Nina Simone.
Eyes like brown silver bathing in the Nile,
Bowels like the garden in Eden before the fall
The stray daughter of Noah before the flood.
As the palm tree in the savannah rocks under the evening breeze;
So she flits to gongo drums under the moon,
Feet swifter than warriors from the Congo;
As though possessed by spirits of the white wine.
Imitated by the lioness upon a hunt,
The reverie of those virile,
The song of the morning;
As it makes love to the sun.
Skin darker than cocoa extracts,
As ivory tusks from Cote d’ivoire,
Like unseen parts of the Kilimanjaro;
She thus is.

My name is Fejiro Ibuje, a Nigerian from the urhobo tribe, 300 level law student at Babcock University in Nigeria.