Republished Poetry/writing: Move on Up by Jacqueline Doyle

Move on Up

previously published in Rhythm n Bones Lit Issue 6 Love


On my 18th birthday my friends threw a party in my room in a big high-rise dorm in Ann Arbor and someone gave me a new LP by Curtis Mayfield. He was wearing shades and beads and yellow bell-bottoms on the album cover. I don’t remember who gave me the record, just that there were still turntables then, and there was a candle burning, and patchouli incense, and I went out in the snow that December night after the party with a boy I liked and left the candle burning and the record playing and we took a long, long walk and we could see our breath in the air, the snow was heavy and wet, and when I pressed my nose against a store window, the glass fogged up, and I turned to him and laughed and then he kissed me. I can’t remember the boy’s name, just that he had blue eyes and a cleft in his chin, and I know he didn’t become my boyfriend, but that was the year of boys, lots of boys. When we got back to my empty room, wool coats sodden with melting snow, the LP was still turning and it was covered with candle wax, a perfect circle. I kept it because the flip side was still fine. “Move on up,” Curtis Mayfield sang, “Just move on up.”


I was wearing purple bell bottoms with a front flap and two rows of buttons instead of a zippered fly when I met my first husband, who later gave me The Eagles’ Hotel California for my birthday, mostly because of the song that started “She came from Providence,” because he came to Providence to visit me and then stayed for two years. I vividly remember a party at the clapboard three-story house where we were living with six or seven people and two dogs and a lot of cats. That is, I remember candles flickering on the windowsills and the skunky-sweet smell of marijuana and dancing with him to “Hotel California” in the dark, almost empty living room after the party, but I must have the soundtrack to that memory wrong because we were living in Germany by the time that album came out, not in Providence. The candle melts, the record spins. My heart broke, my heart healed, the memories went round and round until I fell in love again and ended up in California.


My second husband and I were in grad school in upstate New York when we fell in love. We went out every Monday night to hear live blues, and when his hand brushed the bare skin on my neck near my shoulder, the hairs on my arms stood up, electrified, and I knew that I would sleep with him, but not that we’d fall in love and move to California and marry and have a son and still be together more than thirty years later. During those decades I stopped listening to LPs and switched to tapes and then CDs. Last Christmas our son gave us a new turntable and we’re listening to our old LPs again—Santana, Muddy Waters, The Doors, Chuck Berry, Curtis Mayfield (side A), others I’d long since forgotten. We never give parties, not big parties, but on my husband’s 49th birthday we threw an “Almost 50” party with catered barbeque and plenty of drink and long tables with candles in the back yard and a DJ who played oldies and as twilight fell we danced to Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You” together. The August night air was warm, fragrant from the waxy white blossoms on our lemon tree, his arms around me familiar, his touch on the bare skin between my t-shirt and faded jeans still electric. Fifty must have felt like some kind of destination, but the records spin, the years go round and round, good years and hard years, everything’s the same but unexpected, the candle burns, we move on up.

Bio from 2019: Jacqueline Doyle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her award-winning flash fiction chapbook The Missing Girl was published by Black Lawrence Press. She has recent flash in Little Fiction/Big Truths, Ellipsis Zine, Juked, Sweet, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Find her online at and on twitter @doylejacq.

Republished Poetry: Godiva Leaves Town by Nikoletta Gjoni

Woman, Field, Hot Air Balloons, Balloons
photo from pixabay

Godiva Leaves Town

first published in Rhythm N Bones Lit Issue 6 : Love

In an effort to erase the shame, stories will later say she roamed through empty streets under a canopy of darkened clouds, head down, arms limp. Perhaps her husband demanded that version of the story be told. Perhaps he killed anyone who looked upon her, snuffing out the truth of what had happened, more for his sake than his wife’s.

           What had happened was this:

 There was no cloud in the sky that day.

            The streets were lined with men, women, children. Eyes roamed hungrily, curiously, disgustingly, shyly.

            Her skin rippled with goosebumps in the morning chill, nipples hardening like daggers against the intrusive stares. Her hair, the color of rust or copper, swayed against her bare body like a curtain in front of an open window.

            Once out of the castle’s sight, the lady took out the long knife hidden in the horse’s saddle.

            “She’s going to kill herself,” screamed a woman from the crowd, before a chorus of spectators began chiming in unison, urging her to turn back.

            But the blade didn’t so much as touch her pink skin. Drowning in her nerves, her throat moved like waves lapped beneath the surface. Then, just as suddenly as she appeared on the street, she kicked her horse and clicked her tongue, motioning for him to turn a tight corner into an alleyway.

            Hidden in the shadow of two stone buildings, she stretched out, her fingers and toes brushing the soft, warm hide of her beloved pet. Her hair fell over the horse’s flank and she imagined herself fusing with him; melting into his body to become some mythical creature. What life she could lead outside the city walls.

            Sitting up again, she felt a warmness spread between her legs at the thought of uninhibited freedom. She pulled the knife out again and held it up to her earlobe, her free hand grabbing and holding down a handful of hair as the blade violently kissed the lumped strands.

            She repeated until the sun sat high between the two buildings.

            Until sweat trickled down her body like new springs having risen to the surface.

            She repeated until most of her hair lay in wispy clumps around her horse’s hooves.

When her horse stepped out from the shadows, the townspeople stared in disbelief. Beneath the sky’s watchful eye, bathed in the sun’s mid-morning light, Godiva clicked her tongue again and made her horse move towards the crowd. Her hair sat lop-sided and frayed around her ears; the curtains were torn down from the window so that everyone could look in.

            She let her horse find his own way through the town until the main gates came into view. Her back reddened in the open air with no swaying hair to protect it.

            Perhaps this is where the story dissolves into falsehoods of scarlet skin brought on by shame. The story shared is never as simple as a hot sun on a spring day;

            a woman spiting her husband with little fear to show;

            defiance being mistaken for its distant cousin, embarrassment, instead of any of its other sisters:






            Behind her, the kingdom disappeared over the horizon as her horse stepped out into the world with little ceremony—the only way animals know how to maneuver through a world made lawless through man’s laws.

Bio from 2019: Nikoletta Gjoni is a fiction and creative nonfiction writer living outside of Washington, DC. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Kindling Volume III, Cleaver Magazine, New Flash Fiction Review, and Riggwelter Press, among others. Her work has been previously nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau prize and Best of the Net. You can follow her on Twitter @NikiGjoni or her website at