Sermon from the Church of Slashed Prices by L. Soviero

The great doors open with some of the other mothers in their Sunday best filing in dragging their children behind them. My little one, Lucy, skips ahead as I squeeze past a woman I’ve never seen before wearing one of those day at the race bonnets Queen So and So wears. Her husband, who I believe is on the board at my son’s high school, shouts from the parking lot to go ahead. He’s gotta talk to Jim about quick dry caulk. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure he’s having an affair with that woman from my hair salon.

I shuffle past the check out, where the counter boys are setting up the registers for collections. Some of them pour the blessed bottled water into plastic buckets. A man in a gray suit dips two fingers in and anoints his forehead with the sign of the dollar. The intercom crackles.

My brothers and sisters,
there were times when you fretted over your next meal,
and in that hour of need,
we were there cutting down the prices!
Can I get a rollback?

I grab my cart from the train and push it by women’s fashion, not before I stop to grab an adorable little scarf that’s only $12.99. It’ll look great with the black sweater I got last Sunday.

And when you questioned the possibility of buying everything:
electronics, groceries, diapers, pet supplies, hunting gear and home furnishings
all in one house,
we eased your troubled mind by opening our doors to each and every one of your pitiful souls!
CAN I GET A ROLLBACK?

Over in frozen foods my neighbor is holding a bag of peas, and forgive me for saying, it would do her waistline some good to get more greens in her. Her daughter is behind her on her phone. I think they call them emus or something, but I swear I have never seen that child smile. She should not be alone behind locked doors.

And when others said nay to two Hellman’s Mayonnaise for the price of one,
We said down with your tyrants and demigods!
CAN I GET A ROLLBACK?

Lucy has made a little boyfriend. They’re playing peekaboo around the shopping cart. I have to pull her away to turn down aisle seven where we stop in front of the statue of St. Colgate. I kiss his feet. There are some skinny candle thingamajiggers in a glass holder near his statue that I use to light one of the votives. Lucy and I kneel with our heads bowed.

And when you walked the aisles
turning back to see only one set of footsteps smudged in the just mopped floor,
you asked, Why have you abandoned me?

I pray.

And we responded,
Child I never abandoned you.
When you saw just one set of footsteps it was because we were carrying you through the aisles all along.
Can I get a rollback?

I pray for my family and friends.

For all those, including my Momma and Daddy, who’ve gone to the great Mart in the sky.

For people all over the world who don’t have chicken this Sunday.

For those without an entertainment system to watch the football when their bellies are full.

But most of all I pray for the protection of our great country and the freedom it gives us, especially from those who would like to take it away.

Kaching.

L. Soviero was born in Queens, New York but now resides in Melbourne. She has never been and never intends to be affiliated with the Church of Slashed Prices. Read more of her stuff at Apocrypha and Abstractions, Hobo Pancakes and Postcard Shorts.

The Things We Lose in the Forest by Seamus Brady

multitasking
office bound consciousness
tight shoulders
eye straining computer screens paper
photocopiers
more paper
goal orientated decision making
structural planning
helplessness, learned or otherwise
fire exits
fire wardens
cubicles
assembly lines
factory decibels
tyre on tarmac noise
team meetings
illusions of separation
cosmic homelessness
fragile identities
chewed up ballpoint pens

Seamus Brady lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. He has had poetry published in Dark Mountain Journal and The Trumpeter Magazine.

A Word From ExFic Actual

Douglas Adams once said ‘Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.’ And with that, we apologise for being out to lunch. The meal took a little longer than intended and here we are in August.

We do have a small backlog of submissions to get through. Sorry some of you have been waiting so long, I promise you will hear from us in the next day or two.

As always, we remain open to submissions.

Going Bowling with Mohammed – I Wanted To Write A Short Story About by Ron Riekki

Going Bowling with Mohammed—I Wanted to Write a Short Story about
Mohammed, but I live in France and Charlie Hebdo happened recently, so I thought I’d keep it safe and just go bowling with Mohammed, so I called him up and he didn’t answer, so I started wondering if he was pissed off at me, but he was just working and then had to pick up his nephew, but after that he called me back and we went to this bowling alley in Ishpeming where my dad likes to go and nobody recognized him, which surprised the shit out of me, except it’s true that you don’t see a lot of depictions of Mohammed so it sort of made sense, like the time I drove Arthur Miller to a hotel in Boston and everybody at the front desk just walked by him like he was a nobody and I asked Arthur Miller why nobody recognized him and he said that’s the beautiful thing about being a writer is that you can be famous on the page and unknown in the face, which is basically how Mohammed is—real laid back and nice, so nobody needs to get worked up about how I’m portraying him; I’m just saying that Mohammed is a pretty nice guy, I mean, we got in a fight when I was in twelfth grade and he kicked my ass pretty bad in the back of my grandma’s car, but besides that we’ve pretty much been kinda cool with the exception that I never saw him again and he didn’t come to my wedding because it was completely Christian, because my girlfriend is French, I mean wife now and her dad is all French Catholic, which means he goes to church when he’s hungry and Mohammed bowled a 93, mostly because he doesn’t bowl, because he’s way too busy being this like massive iconic figure, sort of like Sean Penn, but with a lot less scripts to read and on the way home I asked Mohammed about the terrorists and he basically said that the word homosexual doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the Bible and look how fired up the evangelicals are, so imagine a text as thick as the Qur’an and imagine how badly that can turn into a landslide and he said that the more peaceful someone is, the more they’re being Islamic and I tried to trick him with a bunch of Hitler counterargument stuff, but he just stayed all calm as a rose in a field with absolutely no wind and it was then that I realized it wasn’t Mohammed who kicked my ass, but my cousin Todd who has a bit of a temper from his cerebral palsy and that Mohammed pretty much never did anything wrong, just like Jesus, and I wish I could be like that; I wish I could be like Mohammad and Jesus, but I’m a writer and it’s only people who don’t write who are really peaceful, because writing turns you into a beach in a hurricane.

Ron Riekki’s books include:
U.P.: a novel,
The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (a 2014 Michigan Notable Book)
Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
His play “Carol” was included in The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2012 and his short story “The Family Jewel” was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2015. 

You can follow Ron Riekki on Twitter.

Talk Like a Pirate Day on D Block by SaraEve Fermin

Is that why they call me
A sullen girl, sullen girl
They don’t know
I used to sail the
Deep and tranquil sea
-Sullen Girl, Fiona Apple

1.
Call her fish out of water.
Broom unenchanted.
Pussy unpurred.
Dragon unroarred.
Bitch unvoiced.
Rage unfisted.
Cackle unsharp.
Pack separated.
Call her tame.
Call her caged.
Call her complacent.
Call her bae.
Call her wifey.
Call her domesticated.
Call her Stockholm Syndrome.
Call her statistic.
Call her get over it.
Call her ‘NOT ANOTHER’.
Call her proper.
Call her property.

2.
call her.
The power that resides in your most dormant
place, right now, it begs to sing. Call her now.
Call the Mermaid, Call the Sirens,
call the Moon and tell her the Sea wants to play.
We have yet ANOTHER story
to tell.

SaraEve is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. She is the founding editor of Wicked Banshee Press (2014) and a 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor. Her work can be found in GERM Magazine, WordsDance, Transcendence and Ghost House Review as well as sever other online journals. You can follow SaraEve on Twitter.

Ode To A Blank Page by DS Peters

Stark beauty
and vast potentiality
you are the foundation
of all that I was
all that I am
all that I ever will be
Pristine in any shade
with lines
pale grains
or absolute nothingness
you are a poem before ink
ever mars your surface
I look at you
and love you
love you
love you
for hours until my hands
shake, my spirit
bursts and I scar you
repeatedly

DS Peters earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and obtained his BA from UW-Milwaukee. He writes speculative fiction, earthbound fiction, poetry and odd bits of non-fiction. He is a traveler and currently resides in South Korea where he works as a professor, and observes human behaviour. You can keep up with DS Peters at http://www.dspeters.net

October Spotlight: NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, takes place every November. Participants from around the world bash away at their keyboards, scratch their pens across paper and drink more coffee than is medically advised in order to write 50’000 words of a novel in thirty days. And yes, I know how crazy that sounds. It’s something that garners mixed reactions from the writing world, with supporters arguing that it’s a powerful tool for getting them in gear to put words on the page without being stopped along the way by their inner editor, and detractors voicing the thought that if any of the 50k words written turn into anything good it’ll be a miracle. Having taken part in NaNoWriMo many times, some more successful than others, I can sympathise with the detractors as much as with the supporters but that’s not what I want to talk about here, though.

NaNoWriMo isn’t just a writing challenge, it’s an opportunity. I participated in NaNoWriMo several times before I finally crossed the 50k finish line in 2010 and I wouldn’t be being at all dramatic in saying it was a turning point in my life. I’d always felt like a writer on the inside, but winning NaNoWriMo that year gave me a confidence to put my writing self on the outside. Within a month I had joined my first writing group. Within a year I had joined a second writing group and started attending open mic poetry nights. When 2011 rolled around I put my name forward to be a NaNoWriMo ML for my local area. The role of an ML is essentially that of a regional organiser. In previous years our area hadn’t had any proper meet-ups so I organised one. It was terrifying and exciting and a complete surprise to me when people actually turned up. And these people were all like me – writers looking for community with other writers. We met weekly through that November and most of that original group have continued to meet on a monthly basis ever since. I’ve taken more of a back role in the group now, with another girl stepping up to the main ML role but this in itself is amazing. This is a girl who suffers major social anxiety. During that first month of meetings it took everything out of her just to come along and talk to a small group of people about a shared love of literature but we’ve all had the great honour of watching her flourish in herself to the point where she now has the confidence to run this group, meet with strangers to organise room hire and she has even started her own writing-related business. And I haven’t even mentioned the growth of her own writing.

What I’m trying to say is that NaNoWriMo isn’t about the writing. It’s not about managing to write 50k words. It’s not about pumping out a bestseller in a month, or penning the greatest bit of literature man has ever dared to dream of. NaNoWriMo is about giving people the courage to put their hand in the air and say they are a writer. It’s about shy people finding a type of confidence they never thought they had. It’s about showing writers that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary sport. NaNoWriMo is about writers and that is why I would recommend it to anyone.