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:

 

            Guilelessness

            Brazenness

            Provocation

 

            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 www.ngjoni.com. 

Short poems part 800? by David L O’Nan

Work Breakrooms

In breakrooms
While everyone dresses their smiles for the holidays
I am feeling powerless
With poetry pounding in my head
And nowhere to turn, or write
This would have been my father's 76th birthday
Today I choke in thought
And damage my ears in music.

Little Nerves

Explosions throughout my little nerves
Blankets of skin wrap around my aching body
And my December eyes
Listen, watching the snow
As it pops on electrical wires
Holding gifts
Shake out all the air
Missing pieces

The heart needs repaired
To burn away
As ugly as money.

Revelry

Through all the revelry lay fragile ghost-skinned
Poison ivy on a frostbite
A dancing fool on a train track
A zipper away from my skeleton
A dream that became reality in the same room, the same nightmare
From nightmares before
Vaporates the idea of dream
We are all riven loners.

The Overlook

A dirty minded storm approaching
And my mind is rambling
I've got police car flashes burning my retina,
And I feel my disease is spreading
Head to the angry waters of the river in some lost park,
An overlook
For the drifters
Pen in my hand
I write my sins down to be forgiven.

Stones of Heaven

Limping through slain sand
Spreading birdseed from a cup over a Carolina beach
Life is a fool's gold
When you have a collection of photos
to get you from morning to a grave
Your love still etched into the stones of Heaven
Where is her touch, now?
Feeding the seagulls and I wait.

Statues

Shiver out my concrete heart
Crumbled statues that rest as cuts inside my glove
In mad genius hideaways
Sometimes the world stops
The mirror breaks
The reflection becomes your shadow
Rearrange my jigsaw puzzle
As it unravels, frayed and dull pieces missing.

Nameless Woman

She was the nameless woman on a Greyhound bus
Going from the twin cities to the beach
Escapes from the cold cemetery
Of all the blemishes and bruises
From the tremors and sweats
The whipping of an evening knife
Escapes to Jesus
Unite her with a breeze
To heal and to love.

Prayer Pose

Questions written in the lines of our hands
Gold implanted these answers in these lines
In codes, of language we may not know
Crooked energy, blurs our visions
bend away
our faithful devotion
Now ask another question
Do your hands respond?
Form me into a prayer pose.

The Park

The park has become a spy
Of nature
We watch as the day becomes a blur
From beauty to an armageddon
A wonder as the past to future vanishes in a flash
Our eyes are the guides
The search for mazes, 
in twists & turns
Love is all we have as we fade.

Wonderland

What are your true feelings?
A cryptic wonderland we swim in
Tears of saltwater cuts through the oceans
And now free the sharks,
to feast on our death in our shells, we hide
And hope the fog will mask our scent.
Left to feel nothing.  Pellets.

Mutual

A branding of pain hits the city sidewalks
A blind rain
A wail heard like a sting from a scorpion
Residuals heard in wind
A mutual terror shakes us all
Defamation of a storm which never materialized -
into a superiority complex
It never knew all the graves they dug.

I was Told

I was told to magnify the disease
From a scramble to a destruction
They were always telling me to
Become the evil wisp of air unseen,
And intravenously become one with the blood
Infect the roots
And feast on the freedom now
I'm a fugitive locked in a cage, silent.

Riddles

Old men speaking in riddles
On floral print recliners that their wives bought in 1974
They joke about how they used to have long Partridge Family hair,
And could drink all night and sleep 'til the afternoon
Then they cry endlessly as bbq chips spill all over the floor
A heart attack by the toilet foiled Wheel of Fortune that night.

Maine Timbers

When born to the wild
You are the comfort with sunlight
And the hell of a meteor
A vigilante disguise
Bullets for eyes
Cloudy ash tears
Death of old cigarette breath
But you are the running fawn
A run into the Maine Timbers
And they are just a sniper who stepped on a nail.

Alpha Hero or Bipolar Drifter

Growing scared like a pretender, I am
Show the tough leather skin of an alpha hero
Whilst I cry in the hands of night
When only truth, we look inside
Pull away at my mask
Begin the cuffing
The weakling survived the fight,
but inside he melted to ash.

Sunday becomes cool and drips of rain
Ripped jeans sipping in the dryness,
of the room
Gaze out of the window
Only to see clouds that look like a staggering despair,
A broken manic depressive drifter
Shooting stars of spittle meanders to the sidewalks
And he trips over a pile of bricks in the slick wind
The militant march of a hangover.

Bravo

Bravo, good job, Romeo
You smell like old fish and piss
Well aren't you a tiger?
With your emotional bullshit
I'm sure all the ladies had quivering mouths and hands
Ready to twist your chord.
Did you feed them all of these feelings?
I mean, feelings
Do you have feelings?
Never have had feelings?
Come on sting me, talking bee, sting me!

After a Mother's Funeral

Being baby talked to,
Is so annoying at her funeral.
I wanted nothing but the nausea and the feelings of
Stabbings in my own backside.
I felt like I needed to be a lone wolf now
I went into this day not expecting to cry,
Not to have a flush of memories.
To just close a chapter on an inconvenient life.
However, I felt the day feeling like I'm the only one there -
that knew anything of her.
I just stared for what seemed like an hour
At this beautiful woman who apparently was my mother.
I went home with dad around 9 p.m. that night
Dad suffering from food poison
Stomach cramps from poisoned funeral lunch meat.
Provided by an unknown family of strangers.

Omen Breath Freewriting

Capturing beauty with a blind eye
Stuck my hand out to the guiding light
I'm full of potential and set for life
But i'm caught in these blended bees buzzing in my mind.
Drained of life and drained to thought
I'm stuck here dry
Looking at dry clouds
They look so crispy
And i'm so thirsty
I want to just poke one like a cactus
And see if it is worthy.
I will climb that invisible rope,
and reach towards the hands of an unspoken leech
That'll suck away at my blood
And I will be loved
by the Omen breath that lingers above.

Fever 32 (about my dad and his battle with ALS)

I am aware of light above me
Unaware of the darkness that is eating away inside of me
Then I look at my family
Why are they full of tears?
Why has my body defeated me?
When my mind is still young
God saved me 34 years before
Now he needs me.

Flames
And we entered the flames tied in a knot,
mouth on mouth,
heartbeats tumbling like dominoes.

Battling the Roses

A wrinkling face
A cheek to the window
Electrical light now dimming
Everything used to be brighter
My head is a swimming ocean
Full of endless drownings.
I rest on the pane, inside screaming

No energy left
I can only watch
The surge of rain battling the roses.

Orange Sea

Over the plaid mountain
In the windy orange sea
with long Emerald Green drapes
For waves, for eyes 
millions of miles into
Space shuttle dreams
You meet a Bob Dylan impersonator
Playing harmonica in a wheelchair
Jim Beam bottles bouncing off the beach.

Miracle Parlors

We lament in miracle parlors
In coffee domiciles
Your neurosis becomes a camera to capture us all,
as your vision
Hiding miracles in your mind sleeves
Collision of thoughts
Deliberate in your laughter and ridicule
I am the naive wave,
and you now vigilant.

Maroon Clouds

The earth was shaking
Maroon clouds clogged with a sick mix of green
We all hoped for the unzipping of destruction,
the apocalyptic dream scenario.
Disappointed to find out no angels,
just the falsetto of fainting divorcees
hoping for a Hollywood sixpence.

Minnesota Winter

So, you image yourself a clydesdale,
Strong and free
Narcosis breakdown -
in the flattening of a Minnesota winter
Takes you by the skin,
and leaves you the dinner for a blizzard.
Stay away from your dreams of escapes with Dorothy Parker
And realize your strength is in the clear.

A Hobo and a Nun

From mud puddles it spawns -
a hobo and a nun
Chased by the breath of hornets
The hobo, smokes wet cigarettes
The nun, burned all her bridges.
They met in a spin of lightning
Near the sewer by the hustlers
Near a Gay pride parade in the conservative side of town.
And like magic, now they are one
And always were
Personalities evolved from a grip of vapor.

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios:  David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

much more posts if you just look up my name in search.


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Elliot Harper

with Elliot Harper:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Elliot: I’ve only recently found writing. I’ve been a reader all my life, but never found the time or confidence to start writing, something which has always been a dream of mine. In 2016, I moved to Houston, Texas with my wife, and this afforded me the opportunity to explore that dream. Although I don’t like to stick to any particular genre, my early influences are the Science Fiction of Ursula Le Guin and Iain M Banks, and the weird fiction of China Mieville, Jeff Vandermeer, and Steph Swainston, as well as the dream-like works of Haruki Murakami.

Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore, #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin

Q2: Who are some of your biggest influences today?

Elliot: Currently, my biggest influence is still China Mieville. His use of vocabulary and language in the Bas-lag series of books still blows me away no matter how many times I read them. I’ve recently written a dark fantasy book which is heavily influenced by his work.

Perdido Street Station: Mieville, China: 9780330534239: Amazon.com: Books

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Elliot: I grew up in a little seaside town called Scarborough, Yorkshire, in the northeast of England. My hometown is the basis for the fictional seaside town I’ve created that features in some of my writing and four of my unpublished books called Eastborough-on-Sea.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?

Elliot: Me and my wife love to travel. For our honeymoon, we went backpacking around the world in 2011-12. Seeing all those cultures first-hand changed my life and I’m always thinking about what I saw and did in that year. When I write I remember back to the bustling markets and cities and it gives me my inspiration.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Elliot: I think the pivotal moment for me was when a friend of mine was published. It was at that moment that I realised that it can happen to real people that I actually know in my life. It gave me the confidence to believe that I could possibly do it as well.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Elliot: My favorite activities when not writing are reading (currently dark fantasy), playing games (currently The Witcher 3), and watching movies and series (mostly horror, Carpenter, Cronenberg, Aster, etc, but also anything by Denis Villeneuve, and eagerly awaiting the Dune movie in November)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9xhJrPXop4 to preview Dune

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming work you’d like to promote?

Elliot: I recently won a flash fiction competition, the Flash Vision contest by The Molotov Cocktail. This was the first time I’ve ever won anything for my writing. The story will be available to read on their website, https://themolotovcocktail.com/ within the next few weeks.

Q8: What is a favorite line of yours or others?

Elliot: Favorite quote is from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Elliot: The people who have helped me most in my writing by their constant support and willingness to read my work (and listen to me talk about it endlessly) are my wife, Naomi, and my friends, Rob, John and Will.

Bio:
Elliot Harper is the author of two self-published books, the dark science-fiction novella, The City around the World, and the speculative short story collection, On Time Travel and Tardiness.

On Time Travel and Tardiness: A Collection of Speculative Stories: Harper,  Elliot: 9798644039630: Amazon.com: Books

His story, In the Garden, was the winner of the Flash Vision 2021 story contest by The Molotov Cocktail.

He has short stories in print as follows: Into the Forest appears in Air and Nothingness Press’s, The Wild Hunt: Stories of the Chase anthology, There’s a Dead Bear in the Pool features in Clash Book’s Black Telephone Issue 1, and Blackout features in Popshot Quarterly Magazine, The Protest Issue.

His fiction has appeared online in Issue 3 of Clash Book’s Black Telephone Magazine, Maudlin House, Neon Magazine’s Battery Pack Volume 4, Horrified Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine’s #thesideshow, Storgy, Queen Mobs Teahouse, the Ghost City Review, Akashic Book’s #FriSciFi, Back Patio Press, Litro Magazine’s #StorySunday, Selcouth Station’s #2 Food Edition, Dream Noir Lit Magazine, Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones Volume 8 and Riggwelter Press.

He currently lives in Houston, Texas with my wife, Naomi, but he’s originally from Scarborough, England, although he considers Leeds to be his home. He likes to write fiction that isn’t confined by any particular genre, but leans towards the dark, the transgressive and the surreal. Find him at his website, https://www.elliotharper.com/, and on Twitter, @E_Harper_Author.

Some links:

https://coffinbell.com/a-tale-from-the-terraced-ocean/

https://www.clashbooks.com/black-telephone-magazine/2020/9/29/elliot-harper

https://maudlinhouse.net/author/elliot-harper/

https://ghostcitypress.com/prose-58/2019/9/15/elliot-harper

https://dreamnoir.art/category/fiction/

https://www.yumpu.com/news/en/issue/10048-popshot-issue-30-winter-2020

Poetry/Short Story: Cash Card by Mark Anthony Smith

CASH CARD 

 

Alex Maxwell leaves his house on Morrill Street at 12.20pm. He always does, like
clock-work, for the 2 pm shift at the aerosol factory. It’s a comfortable job and they
have a laugh. He’s worked his way up over four years and gets left alone by The
Management now.
He crosses the busy road. Alex doesn’t see the Police sign asking witnesses to come
forward with details about a car accident last month. Not many do come forward.
But that’s a different story altogether.
He walks towards the betting shop and steps around a bundle on the path. He
doesn’t take much notice. The shops have their wheelie bins out for collections. It’s
Monday. He shoulders the betting shop glass door open as be rummages through his
jacket pocket. His cash card isn’t there. “Damn!” Alex panics. He checks the time on
his mobile phone. It’s 12.32 pm on Monday 20 th January 2020. Where did he last have
his card?
He last had it yesterday as he withdrew some money out at the bank. He questions
the odds of his card still being in the cash machine or of being handed into the bank.
‘Someone will have pocketed it.’ There’s no chance of it being found. He’ll have to
cancel it at the bank. He leaves the betting shop. He still has plenty of time to pop in
at the branch. Alex worries about his balance as he dashes. He had barely registered
the body he stepped around to avoid. From the corner of his eye, it could have
passed for bin bags, perhaps. He dashes past the homeless man sitting outside the
convenience store. There’s a queue in the bank.
Alex is fidgeting in line. There’s only ever one cashier serving. The older lady is
telling her life story as she’s being seen to. A child in a pram, before Alex, starts
crying. He doesn’t make eye contact with the child’s Mother. He feels an anger
growing in his chest as the older customer rambles.
Another staff member makes her way to the pedestal by the door. Alex goes over.
He doesn’t acknowledge her name badge. “I need to cancel my card,” he fumbles.
“Your name?” Alex tells the staff member his name, “Mr. Alex Maxwell,” he states.
Nadia replies, “Just one minute, please.” She heads out the back. Alex is sure his card
is missing. People aren’t as honest as they used to be. Nadia checks his date of birth
and address. “You’re a Pisces,” she smiles. Then she hands him the card. “Someone
handed it in yesterday afternoon.”
Alex is relieved. He notices how bright the sun is for an afternoon in January. He is
heading for the bus. The child is still crying. He goes over to the pram and drops to
his knees. “Can I give him one of these?” He shows the Mother a small cake from his packed lunch. She smiles and nods. Alex unwraps the bun and the little boy stops
crying. There’s plenty of time to catch the bus.

 

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16
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