‘A Town Without a River’ by Peter Donnelly

Once a politician thought it had a beach,
perhaps because their conference was there,
in old times a watering place.

You can still bathe at the Turkish Baths,
see ducks in the pond in the Valley Gardens,
hear the ripple of tiny waterfalls

along the Elgar walk. No longer may you
drink water at the Pump Room
that tastes as salty as the sea, to be polite.

I’d like to have asked them the name of the river
they thought ran through the town, or if they
spelt it Harrowgate. Good questions for an MP.

Meet the Poet!

Peter J Donnelly lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary.  He has a degree in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, Lampeter. His poetry has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich, Black Nore Review,  High Window,  Southlight and Lothlorien. He was awarded second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival Competition in 2021 and was a joint runner up in the Buzzwords Open Poetry Competition in 2020.

‘Over the Moon’ by Swetha Amit

I asked mama how far the moon is 

from my window, if there was 

a man on the moon and she says

I don’t think so because no one 

can live on the moon, no water

no air, no place to build a home

silvery glow and milky white

like creamy cheese on some days

with my binoculars I get a closeup 

of this circular wonder, impeccable 

with its silvery glow, illuminating 

the dark streets and nights

and then I see those pockets 

like patches of dark clouds

hollow and appearing bruised

I ask mama if the moon is hurt

and she says that’s how it is

I want to comfort the moon

I want to heal it the way it has

by beaming and smiling at me

whenever I’ve felt sad 

thinking about my father

wondering if he’d come home

after performing his duty at the border

when I see the moon after a few years

no longer creamy white, 

just remnants of hollow black 

has the moon really changed I wonder

or that my eyes have lost their sheen?

Meet the Poet!

Author of her memoir, ‘A Turbulent Mind – My journey to Ironman 70.3’, Swetha Amit is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of San Francisco. She has been published in Atticus Review, JMWW journal, Oranges Journal, Gastropoda Lit, Full House literary, Amphora magazine, Grande Dame literary journal, Black Moon Magazine, Fauxmoir lit mag, Poets Choice Anthology, and has upcoming pieces in Drunk Monkeys, Agapanthus Collective, The Creative Zine, and Roi Faineant Press. She is one of the contest winners of Beyond Words literary magazine, her piece upcoming in November. She is also an alumna of Tin House Winter Workshop 2022 and the Kenyon Review Writers’ workshop 2022.

‘You Can Always Do It The Wrong Way’ by Arthur Davis

Corey came back yesterday, as a woman.

“I’m thinking of becoming an amphibian,” she said.

“Any reason?” I asked, always careful not to step on her dreams.

I have an impressive record of not stepping on the dreams of my friends. The Wall Street Journal once wrote a human-interest article about me. Not a very long piece, as one of three other people they cited about respecting the dreams of friends and family. According to a national survey, the three of us had stepped on the fewest number of dreams in our lives.

I imagine the two others, both women, were also deluged with offers to sponsor products, have movies made about their lives, and offered cash to simply put their face on the cover of a product. Lara Richardson was the most tempted of the three of us. She was quite ill and, in her late fifties, hadn’t long to live. She was appreciative, as were Karen and myself, but in the end, it just wasn’t something we wanted to pursue.

Those years were some of my best. I traveled widely because of a small stipend I had received from the Journal of Astrophysics arguing that God was left-handed, which apparently a world of reticent right-handers out there happened to agree with.

I went with Orville, as my love life was generally unreliable. Orville had been with me since I was eight. My parents were shopping for linens on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which was the heart of the linen district in the city many years ago, where I found him in an old toy store. Orville, whose biography I wrote about several years back, was, as expected, excellent company for a teddy bear and on more than one occasion seemed to be more informed about significant geopolitical issues in northern European countries than the guide we had been using at the time.

Orville suggested that I collaborate with Karen on a book entitled How Not To Step on Dreams. Karen, a shy and hesitant woman, declined and wished us the best of luck. Orville and I completed a final draft in a year. Perkins, Elmer & Ross, one of the most well-respected publishers in the country, contracted for the deal. The advances on the potential royalties were startling, as word spread that one of the last surviving members of the three who were cited in the Wall Street Journal was creating a follow-up piece that was to delve deeper into the psyche of mankind.

I believe their enthusiasm was also based on an earlier treatise Orville wrote about the fallibility of mankind titled You Can Always Do It The Wrong Way, which was picked up for reprint in 193 of the 195 nations in the world.

We had completed a strong first draft when Corey returned. I was taking that day off, as Orville was at the Smithsonian in Washington on a separate research project on cosmology, his favorite subject. A bright, sunny April day in the seventies, I took lunch to Central Park, when a tiny green lizard jumped up on the bench where I was sitting.

“Hey, I did it.”

I looked down and recognized Corey’s dark-blue eyes. “Congratulations,” I said, beaming with delight. I had faith in her to pull it off. She was that talented, and I was that convinced that if it were possible to go from a man to woman to amphibian, it would be her, or him. Whatever.

She was wearing a three-piece suit with a plaid bow tie and brightly colored ascot. Her sartorial taste was always remarkable, and even though I thought the fit a bit too snug, when you considered all the jumping around she had to do, it was nonetheless impressively British.

We chatted for a while until a patrol car pulled up. Apparently, several people grew suspicious of a middle-aged man looking like he was having an intense conversation with himself on a park bench. Central Park has what is called Controlled Conversation Codes for that kind of behavior, and I and another fellow nearby had obviously crossed that line without knowing it.

The officer was tolerant. 

“You look like a sane fellow, so I won’t give you a fine, but if you want to have a controlled conversation, try after 4 p.m, when there is less of a crowd, and not on a day that is so beautiful, where you could sing and dance in the streets and thank your maker, or makeress, for being blessed for just being alive,” he said, got back into the squad car where his partner was fast asleep, and drove off.

“I have to be going,” Corey said, poking her head up between the wooden slats on the bench where she had taken refuge when the squad car approached. Corey flipped around and jumped into the bushes, and that was the last I ever saw of her. I was unhappy to see her go and without discussing her next transformation, something I was always envious about, but we had both noticed the falcon circling overhead toward the end of the officer’s advice so I knew it was best for her to flee.

A family of peregrine falcons had recently made a roost in the upper floor of a fancy building on Fifth and Seventy-Second Street. The newspapers covered it. It was hailed as a sign that nature, in all its glory, was returning to the city.

The falcon family was growing rapidly, mostly because the park hosted a world-class buffet of fresh pigeons.

I spent another hour in the park, knowing that Orville would be back in our apartment by dusk and both of us would be eager to get back to the manuscript. Before I left the park, I decided to take a turn on the carousel, a ride which had been my favorite as a child and to this day brought back wonderful memories of a world growing up in the city.

I made my way further down into the park toward the carousel. The Central Park Carousel, officially the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel, a vintage wood-carved carousel located in Central Park in Manhattan stands at the southern end of the park, near East 65th Street. It is the fourth carousel on the site where it is located.

Children, adults, everywhere. I was beaming with delight. Then I noticed as I stood amongst the spectators that the time of the ride was running too long, and there was no one at the controls. I walked over to where the attendant should be and saw a note saying he had to go to the bathroom. I instinctively knew where the controls were and slowed the carousel. When the carousel stopped, I asked the lineup of parents and kids if they would mind if I could take a turn by myself in honor of saving the lives of terrified children and horrified parents. A quick vote was taken. Over 92.6 percent agreed that I deserved the treat.

By then, the attendant had returned, barely hitching up his pants, then brushing off the crowd for being so demanding and critical, mostly because he repeatedly said he left a note and that his handwriting was nearly perfect and they were overreacting, but grudgingly agreed that I deserved some kind of reward for my services.

I rode the carousel myself for a full cycle. In the beginning I was delighted, but as my turn continued, I started remembering all those who had made my life worth living and longed to share the ride with them.

That would have made for a perfect day.

Meet the Author!

Arthur Davies has been published in a collection, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received the 2018 Write Well Award for excellence in short fiction and, twice nominated, received Honorable Mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2017. Additional background is available at Arthur’s website, www.TalesOfOurTime.com and Author Central site on Amazon, (https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Davis/e/B00VF0GDG4).

‘The Mussel Speaks’ by Christian Ward

Though our shells

are the perfect shade of grief,

one taste of the meat

confettied with herbs 

and doused in white wine

is enough to make

even grey clouds politely bow

and head away. Yes,

naysayers will say it looks

like a wad of chewed gum,

but these are the sea’s ear bones.

Listen to its secrets,

how they can dissolve you

among the currents 

and rebirth you as a basking shark

or the humblest of anemones 

disguised as stars.

Meet the Poet!

Christian Ward is a UK-based writer whom has recently appeared in Open Minds Quarterly, Obsessed with Pipework, Primeval Monster, Clade Song, Uppagus and BlueHouse Journal.

‘Lidice’ by William Falo

Steffen felt the villagers’ hatred as they peeked out of dark windows when he walked by, and knew they despised his presence. He hoped the terrors of war would stay away from Lidice after he met Julia.

Hey, German, she called him.

Fredrick was making regular rounds in the distance, and his black helmet bobbed up and down like a crow strutting around a cornfield. The radio crackled.

“Steffen, the order has come that this village is going to be targeted.”

“Targeted for what?” 

“For extermination. Commander Heydrich was killed. A message the SS found hinted that the assassins had a link here.”

“What about the people?”

 Fredrick remained silent.

“They can’t just kill them,” Steffen said.

“I heard the orders came from the Führer himself. The woman and children will be sent to Ravensbruck. The men killed.” 

He stopped talking when Julia walked toward him. “What’s keeping you?”

“Nothing, you look beautiful.”

“You just love me because you’re lonely.”

“That is not true. It’s because you’re the prettiest girl in Czechoslovakia.”

“What about Germany?”

“Yes.” He wanted to warn her, but if she told the others, he would be killed or worse. He had seen what the SS can do.

“Can you leave here tonight? It’s going to be dangerous to stay here.”

“No. I can’t leave without telling anyone.”

“Don’t go to the town center later.”

He ran away.

A man gave instructions to bring all the residents to the center of town.

The soldiers forced the woman and children to board a truck. Julia was with them, and she was crying. 

“No,” he said. He paced while the misery spread. Children called for their fathers while mothers sobbed. 

A line formed to enter the trucks. He would never see her again if he didn’t do something now. He saw her blonde hair start to flutter when the wind increased. The line shuffled forward.

Blonde hair. Lebensborn.

“Major,” he yelled. 

“Yes, what is it?”

“That woman with blonde hair is pregnant.” He pointed at Julia.

 “From you?”


“Good job. Now she can have the baby in Ravensbruck.”

“I wanted to ask about her going into a Lebensborn home. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.”

The Major thought for a while. “You there.” He pointed at a soldier sitting on a stump. “Get that blonde hair girl and bring her here.”

“Thank you.”

 The soldier dragged her over while she struggled to get free. “Send her back to the medical unit in Prague. Tell them that she is for the Lebensborn program.”

He forced her into the jeep. 

“Steffen, where are they taking me?” Julia yelled out.

“To a safe place.”

“Why?” The jeep started forward.

“To have a baby.”

“I’m not pregnant.” The jeep drove away. He saw her look back once and hoped they wouldn’t find that out for a few months.

He heard gunshots and laughter coming from the barn. He ran toward it. 

He saw Fredrick pointing his rifle at the villagers lined up in a garden at the back of the barn.

“No,” Steffen yelled, and he knocked Fredrick to the ground. The others threw him against the wall. 

“Fredrick, help me stop them.”

He didn’t, and he heard the shots as they dragged him out.

The major shook his head. “It must be because you’re going to be a father. Instead of shooting you, I’m sending you to the Russian front.” 

Before they took him away, he saw the soldiers burn every building until nothing was left. Lidice vanished.

Four years later

Steffen limped to where Julia’s house used to stand, reached down, and picked up a clump of purple heather. It felt soft in his hand, and filled the space left by losing two of his fingers. He put it up to his nose and hoped to smell traces of Julia. 

The wind changed directions, and he heard a soft voice. A blonde-haired boy ran to him, “Mister, you want to see the garden my mother planted?”

“Steffen, leave that man alone.” It made him stop. He knew that voice. He looked up. The face looked older and the eyes emptier, but she was beautiful. 


“Steffen, this is your son.”

He fell to his knees. “I’m sorry.” He cried. “I tried to stop them. I’m sorry.”

She reached down and touched his face. “You saved my life.”

“But how?” he pointed at the boy. 

“It turns out that I was pregnant.” Julia smiled. “They put me in the program, but I was able to get my baby back when the war ended.

The boy ran over and asked, “Are you okay, mister?”

“I’m wonderful.” He looked into her eyes.

Julia smiled and helped him up, then held his hand while they walked toward the center of Lidice, where a field of wildflowers had started to bloom.

On the orders of K. H. Frank, 173 Lidice men were shot on that fateful day in the garden of the Horak farm. The women and children were taken to the gymnasium of Kladno grammar school. Three days later, the children were taken from their mothers and, except for those selected for re-education in German families and babies under one year of age, were poisoned by exhaust gas in specially adapted vehicles in the Nazi extermination camp at Chełmno upon Nerr in Poland. The women were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, which usually meant quick or lingering death for the inmates.

Having rid the village of its inhabitants, the Nazis began to destroy the village itself, first setting the houses on fire and then razing them to the ground with plastic explosives. They did not stop at that but proceeded to destroy the church and even the last place of rest – the cemetery. In 1943 all that remained was an empty space. Until the end of the war, the sight was marked by notices forbidding entry.

The news of the destruction of Lidice spread rapidly around the world. But the Nazi intention to wipe the little Czech village off the face of the Earth did not succeed. Several villages throughout the world took over the name of Lidice in memory of that village, and many women born at that time and given the name of Lidice still bear it today. Lidice continued to live in the minds of people all over the world, and after the war, the Czechoslovak government’s decision to build it again was declared at a peace demonstration on June 10, 1945, at Lidice, which was attended by Lidice women who had survived. 340 Lidice citizens were murdered by the Nazis, 143 Lidice women returned home after the war ended, and after a two-year search, 17 children were restored to their mothers.



Meet the Author

William Falo lives with his family, including a papillon named Dax. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in various literary journals. He can be found on Twitter at @williamfalo and Instagram at @william.falo


Autumn reds,
a colony of yellow tansy,
on roadsides, goldenrod,
though, when I was born,
wattle flowered 
from the day before
to the day after.

I sit on the porch
at dusk,
humored by color,
though I’d prefer to be cured,
as house shadow,
drawn out by the western sky,
crosses my face, my lap.

Sun speaks to each of us in turn –
my light is certainly worth having 
but you can’t take it with you.

A mother, father,
three sisters,
I’ve lost for good.

I prefer the sun that shines,
not the one that speaks.

Meet the Poet!

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ellipsis. Latest books, ‘Covert’, ‘Memory Outside The Head’, and ‘Guest Of Myself’ are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Red Weather.

Two Poems by Brandon McQuade


The distant smoke of burning leaves
and the heavy scent of gasoline 
smothers the late-summer air. 
He stops to watch wings scatter 
aimlessly from the trees. His forearm 
glistens in silence and the mower 
grinds to a halt as he wipes his brow, 
seated on a bench in the half-mown 
grass. Nothing but the wind 
to witness his chest tightening 
like a fist around his heart. 


in memory of David Bowring

A bright red tractor sputters and dies 
on the yellow horizon. The spider plants 

on our kitchen table died years ago—
green leaves spilling from the bowl 

like milk tongued from a saucer, 
until they folded in on themselves

like immolated sheets of paper—
the way you can almost hear them

screaming and curling like singed hair, 
the crumbling ash of something living. 

Right now, chemotherapy is tearing
at your uncle’s vitals like a controlled fire. 

The red tractor may yet turn over,
and the farmer might save his field. 

But the fire inside your uncle’s pancreas 
will never extinguish or ignite again. 

Meet the Poet!

Brandon McQuade is an award-winning poet, and founding editor of Duck Head Journal. His poetry collection, Bodies, was the recipient of the 2022 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award. He lives in Northern Wyoming with his wife and their children.