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.

The Farmer and The Dog by Christine Brandel

On the way home today, I passed a farmer, walking back to the house after collecting his mail, trying to coerce his dog into carrying the envelopes in her mouth. An old dog, a new trick.

It is safe to assume this man was twice my age.

I wondered had he ever clasped his head in his hands, wailing “My God, what have I done?” Had he ever fallen to the floor, spilling photographs, pleading to be given another chance? Had he made a life changing decision that in his heart he knew was wrong?

Although less safe to assume, I decided no.

(He should have taught her when she was just a pup.)

Christine Brandel is a writer and photographer. In 2013, she published her first collection, Tell This To Girls: The Panic Annie Poems, which the IndieReader described as a “well-crafted, heartbreakingly vivid set of poems, well worth a read by anyone whose heart can bear it.” To balance that, she also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rights the world’s wrongs via her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at clbwrites.com. You can also follow Christine on Twitter.

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.

He’s Going To Kill You by Sara Dobie Bauer

She: He’s going to kill you, of course.
He: Only if I finish writing this sentence.
She: You’ve been at it for hours. Years.
He: But which is it? Hours or years?
She: Does it matter, if he’s going to kill you?
He: I wonder if “dissuade” is the right word. Do you think “dissuade” is the right word?
She: Would “deter” be easier?
He: Easier, perhaps, but is it right?
She: Why does a man kill, I wonder?
He: Does a man need a reason?
She: He waits for the sentence to be written.
He: Which is perhaps the reason I cannot choose the proper word. “Discourage.” That is a good word.
She: It is.
He: But is it the right word?
She: How can a word be right or wrong? It’s a word. What makes one better than the other?
He: The sound. The sibilance.
She: He’s outside. He’s been waiting for months.
He: Why doesn’t he just kill someone else?
She: Because no one else can finish writing the sentence.
He: Fine. Not “discourage.” Perhaps “dissuade” is the right word.
She: If you say it enough, the word loses meaning. Say it.
He: Dissuade.
She: What does it mean?
He: I’ve forgotten.
She: Read the sentence.
He: “Intellect does not dissuade nightmares.”
She: The sentence is wrong. It will never be right.
He: So the killer will wait?
She: You would have to ask him.
He: You said he’s outside?
She: Has been for days.
He: Have we been here so long?
She: Perhaps years.
He: So he will wait.
She: Because the sentence is wrong.
He: What makes it wrong? How can you be sure?
She: How can you be sure it’s right?
He: I can’t, which is why I write more. Maybe someday it will be right. Maybe I will find the right word.
She: Or never.
He: Then, I will never die.

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer and prison volunteer in Phoenix, Arizona, with an honor’s degree in creative writing from Ohio University. She is a book nerd and sex-pert at SheKnows.com, and her short fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Stoneslide Corrective, Blank Fiction, and Solarcide. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. You can read more about Sara HERE or follow her on Twitter.

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.

Molly Gone Cold by Michael Garrett Ashby II

Slipped into a solution of clear
and teary white,
those egg-soaked left-over waters.
It’s a vessel or a test subject,
a body plunged into
salt and soil dissolved.
Are the results as you planned?
Or did life itself turn belly-up
gargling the spices, irritating the throat
closing in rapid contractions sending shockwaves
through the cities and skies.
Each subject envies the deaf
and fears the mute,
and the salt brings out the suburbs in me.

Michael Garrett Ashby II is a writer and poet based in South Florida. His works have been published in literary magazines and journals such as Spark Anthology, Digital Papercuts, eFiction India, Touchstone Magazine, and Coastlines Literary Magazine. You can keep up with his current projects and publications on his website at Mute Publishing

You can also follow Mute Publishing on Twitter.

Forgotten Promise by Bruce McRae

After the rainbow,
a pillow stuffed with dreams and mites.
A carnation dipped in gun oil.
A request from Death’s neighbour.

After the rainbow, a meteor.
Scuffling among the cutlery.
A village swallowed by the countryside.
Spectres sparring.

The rainbow, painted on a cellar wall
by the blind sorcerer’s daughter.
Under a tin bucket of milk.
Remote and indifferent
to men’s strife and the causes of suffering.

After the storm, a rainbow.
Walking a tightrope. Twisting a wire.
Mocking the sounds we make
before nightly retiring.
As peculiar as lost money.
Like finding a finger in the snow.

The one that shows itself at night.
The deer’s god and raven’s deformity.
What the prisoner on the gallows saw
through the folds of his departure.

Pushcart-nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 publications, including Poetry.com and The North American Review. His first book, ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ is available from the Silenced Press website or via Amazon books. To hear his music and view more poems visit ‘TheBruceMcRaeChannel’ on Youtube.