Mike Dillon

When it Rained

You knew it was coming before it came

softly as the turning of catechism pages.


The green wood unlatched its door

and you stepped beneath the rain-whirred


leaves of alder and maple

where muddy deer tracks


made Lilliputian lakes of pewter

pocked by the rain.


Rain fell upon the afternoon silence of moss

and drummed three white trilliums.


A sword fern dripped pearls.

A nameless bird suddenly caroled.


And you stood in that familiar place

where you have never stood before.



Mike Dillon, a retired community newspaper publisher, lives on Puget Sound northwest of Seattle, USA. He is the author of four books of poetry and three books of haiku. His most recent book, “Departures,” a book of poetry and prose about the forced removal of Bainbridge Island’s Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor was published by Unsolicited Press in April 2019.

Caitlín Eilís Barrett

Excavation Report: Unidentified 20th Century Burial

Looking for Minoan ruins,

we found him in the middle of them:

someone must have dug his shallow grave

unaware they were depositing him into an ancient house,

his head crushing a Late Kamares cup.


An ivory necklace,

a used-up hearth, carnelian from the Indus Valley,

obsidian blades that can still prick skin,

rocks, pieces of plaster, scraps of pots and land-snail shells,

and his perfect skull,

without a chip or flaw.


We continue to lance the ground’s infections

with our sharp crisp trowels.

By the time we’re done, the dirt is so pure

that it stops thinking about anything.

On both sides of the blade

we excise away the excess world.



Caitlín Eilís Barrett is a professional archaeologist as well as a writer, and currently co-directs an excavation at Pompeii. She currently lives in Ithaca, NY, where she teaches at Cornell University as an Associate Professor of Classics. Her poetry has previously been published by Can We Have Our Ball Back, IthacaLit, Philadelphia Stories, Pressed Wafer Press, and Bow & Arrow Press, among others. She is also the author of two nonfiction books on archaeology: Egyptianizing Figurines from Delos: A Study in Hellenistic Religion (Brill, 2011) and Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in Pompeian Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2019). 

Caitlin Yunuen Lewis

Father’s Day 2020

Dear One

Do you know

That the world stopped with you?


The day your heart stopped,

The world stopped.

Not only my world; not only

In a metaphorical sense,

The way all who love stop

When their dear ones go

Heading too early, and forever

Into the mystery.


As your life ended

Planes were grounded

Roads were emptied

People went into their homes

Schools, shops, churches shut

Capitalism’s wheels became stiff

And the push was parked at the station.


It gave us too little time.

I wanted to be with what remained

Of your human form.

To do things properly.

But we were robbed

Of that sad basic decency.


Sometimes I wonder, though.

Always the adventurer, the storyteller

Maybe this is somehow, bittersweetly

Strangely fitting.

Instead of a wake

You got a global human pause

Fit for an unknown king.

It was both bigger

And smaller

Than what you deserved.


Something else emerged, too.

When the people stopped

Other beings of this earth

Came back, the wild remembered.

Deer on city streets

Birds and foxes, free

Dolphins in canals

Air clear.

Nature’s reclamation.


Some say

Disrespect for wildlife

Is what started this

In the first place.

“Nature is a great leveller,”

You would have said.

And it is true.


Did nature reclaim you too?

Back to join

The non-human fold

Animal vegetable mineral

Or something else.

Are you still somewhere

Out in some version

Of the wilderness?


I don’t know where you went.

But what I do know,

What I felt in my bones, and yours

Was that wherever it was,

It was somewhere peaceful

It was somewhere golden

It was the deepest, most perfect wild.  



Caitlin Yunuen Lewis is a 2006 graduate of English, Media and Cultural Studies from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She currently works at the University of Limerick. She is a facilitator and a researcher, with an interest in intersectional social justice, relationships, soul work, and the environment. Caitlin’s beloved father Michael passed away overseas in March this year, right before the Covid 19 pandemic took hold in Europe and South America. His funeral has not yet been possible due to the ongoing international coronavirus travel restrictions. In the absence of the usual mourning rituals, Caitlin has turned to writing poetry to honour him. This poem is dedicated, with eternal love and respect, to Michael.

Ian Hill

Middle West

It is my great pleasure to announce,

It’s mostly bad, all of this.


No light at the end of the

Tunnel vision flickers, flickers—then again.


No light at the end of the

The squint of this morning

The dissection of last night—or what if I had just said


After tireless searching,

I’ve found there’s nothing poetic

about the word “touchdown.”

Save for the “touch.”

And the “down.”


After tireless searching,

I’ve found something I can cherish

like your memory

or its opposite.


After tireless searching,

I’ve found the plot.

It’s right here, beside the



It’s my great pleasure to announce,

I’ve found

No light at the end

Save for the “touch.”


I left this town in 1998

And I haven’t stopped

Leaving it since.



Originally from Wisconsin, Ian Hill now lives in Colorado where he attempts to become comfortable with calling himself a “writer.”

Lanette Ware-Bushfield

Headroom, Heirloom

1839. Inoculations. Ancestral

sweat, shipped betwixt, recoiled fears 

La Amistad. Ahmaud.


Bruises, bangs, shoelaces, clangs.

Systemic shame, running blame.

Marquez. Arbory,


Patroled abductions running mutiny

Arduous games amok, numbers, names.

25. La Amistad.


Centuries canoe aboard horrid rain.

Acidic repatriation squats upon burning ankles. 

Ahmaud. Marquez.


Hierarchal threats. Invisible regret, 

equality shot, liberty whacked.

Arboury. La Amistad.


And then there was, sir,

George. Floyd. The

alpha, Omega. Beginning and.


400 years.

40 acres.

4 more years. 


End the Silence. 

No. More.




Lanette is a New York City born actor, writer and producer who has worked alongside Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Bella Thorne, Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin and James Gandolfini. Lanette has produced several film and television projects and has been directed by Spike Lee, Joel Schumacher and John Singleton to name a few. She has taught Public Speaking, Self-Empowerment, Drama and Stage Performance from New York City to Vancouver, and at The Fox Theater on Queen Street East in Toronto to Los Angeles, California. Her personal essays have been featured in The Globe and Mail, Dreamers, Chillfltr, Aaduna and Mothering Magazines. Lanette is the creator/writer of MONARCH 7, a sci-fi television series and THE MOTHER LOAD, a podcast dedicated to showcasing published authors and artists. She plays SALLY on THE WEDDING PLANNERS, CityTv and Judge Lawrence on DIGGSTOWN, CBC and BET.

Cathy Cade

All The Time In The World

Skype summoned from her mobile. Faith found her bag under a cushion on the sofa and rooted for the phone.

“Hi, Mum.”

“Hello, love. How’s it going over there?”

“We’re fine. Dinner’s in the oven, so I thought I’d give you a call while I’m waiting for Paul.”

“Is he working? Isn’t it rather late?” She tried to remember if they were currently eleven or thirteen hours behind New Zealand.

“He’s only covering emergencies, but there are plenty of those, with everyone at home using their electrics. The weather must be warming up over there.”

Faith glanced out of the window. “It keeps changing its mind. Last week was lovely – spring-like – but now it’s blowing a hurricane again. I suppose it must be cooling down where you are.”

“M-mm, still warm most days. How’s Dad? Seems ages since I spoke to him.”

“He’s fine, love. How about you? Are you working?”

“I’m working from home. Is Dad there? Put him on.”

“Oh, he’s out, love.” She glanced at the clock. “Gone shopping.”

“Shopping? Dad?”

“For DIY stuff.”

 “Are your DIY stores open? And aren’t you oldies meant to be social distancing?”

She paused. “You know your dad – hates to be told what to do.”

“He’s getting a bit old for civil disobedience, isn’t he?”

“Oh, he still likes to see himself as an eco-warrior, battling the authorities.” She remembered to smile at the screen – the camera.

Saffie chuckled back. “His finest hour… he still goes on about that link road, doesn’t he.”

“Especially when he’s had a few. Hey, that Prime Minister of yours is getting herself some good press coverage over here…”

Successfully diverted, Saffie shared lockdown anecdotes until her oven timer called.

Faith returned to the kitchen, trailed by Pickle the terrier.

“Yes, Pickle, you will get your walk – as soon as I’ve had my breakfast.” She flipped the kettle switch again. Was it too early for wine?

Faith sipped her Chardonnay as DCI Barnaby interviewed a suspect.

The Skype alert sounded.

At this time in the evening? Saffie had called already this week. She paused Midsomer Murders and reached for her mobile.

“Hi Mum?”

“Is everything alright, love?”

“Just checking in. Thought I’d have a word with Dad before I log on to work this morning.”

“He’s…” Pickle barked. “…on his phone in the bedroom.”

“I’ll hang on then, till he’s down.”

“You don’t want to be late starting work, love.”

“There’s no hurry. I can work longer if I need to. With no daily commute, I’ve got all the time in the world.”

Paul appeared behind Saffie on the screen. “Hiya Faith! How’re you keeping over there?”

“We’re fine, Paul. We’re both fine.”

“I’m heading off to work. Stay well.” He waved and disappeared. Saffie watched him go. Faith heard their door close. “Hang on, Paul. Your sandwiches! I’ve got to go, Mum. Talk soon.”

Faith was out walking Pickle when her mobile rang.

“Hello, sweetheart. It’s me.”

“Finn, I was hoping you’d call.”

“It’s a bloody nuisance – not being allowed visitors. There’s so much over-reaction about all this–”

“Saffie keeps calling and asking after you. I don’t know what to tell her.”

“Tell her I’m out.”

“At 10 o’clock at night? I can hardly say you’re in the pub.”

“Say… say I’m delivering food parcels. You’ll think of something. You’re a clever girl.”

Up ahead, the dog was joyfully rolling in something yellow… “Pickle, leave it!”

“You go and sort him out, sweetheart. We’ll talk later.”

Another evening call. Saffie got straight to the point.

“Hi, Mum. Is Dad around?”

“He’s out, love.”

“Not again?”

“He’s delivering food parcels for the local food bank.”

“Mum, it’s half-past nine where you are. I checked.”

“To be honest, love, I think the volunteers go back to the organiser’s afterwards for a crafty pint.”

“Has he got the virus, Mum?”

“Oh no – nothing like that.”

“You would tell me, wouldn’t you?”

“I promise you, love, we’re both fit and well.”

That must have looked sincere. Saffie’s expression relaxed.

“Well he won’t be if he keeps having pints with his mates.”

“That’s what I tell him, love. Your brother rang yesterday. He’s busy – the courts are still sitting.”

“Oh, how is he? I’ve not heard from Will since Christmas.” An alert trilled in the background. “Damn, work’s calling; I’ve got to go. I’ll phone you later. Tomorrow.”

Faith hung on until she got to the front of the queuing system and the ringtone replaced that awful music.

A gruff voice answered. She asked if she could possibly speak to her husband. The voice went away to consult with someone and returned to say Finn would call her in the next half hour.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang.

“Are you alright, Fay? They said it was important.”

“Finn, Saffie’s called again. She knows something’s up. I can’t keep lying to her.”

A heavy sigh carried down the telephone line.

“This is all so bloody ridiculous. Just because I was chatting to Ben in the street. I bet that nosey parker next door put them up to it. Her curtains twitched every time I stepped outside.”

“Finn, you know it wasn’t just that. It was how you reacted.”

“I only said–”

“You were out of order, Finn. No wonder they threw the book at you this time.”

“It’s not as if I hurt anyone. I only shoved the lad out of my way.”

” ‘Causing a public nuisance; obstructing a police officer; assaulting a constable in the execution of his duty; assault with intent to resist lawful apprehension; refusing to assist a constable…’ Will says they never use that one these days. You must have really got up someone’s nose.”

“Just stall her till next week, can you, sweetheart? I’ll be out by then.”

Her silence prompted that familiar wheedling tone.

“Please, Fay. I don’t want her to know her old dad’s doing time.”



Cathy Cade is a retired librarian whose stories have been published in Scribble and Flash Fiction Magazine, and in anthologies, including To Hull and Back Short Stories 2018, Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind. Cathy’s collection, Witch Way and other ambiguous stories, is available from Amazon, as is her story-verse, A Year Before Christmas.

Find her online at www.cathy-cade.com

Therese Kieran

Time Bound

I sharpen my pencil. I begin a new notebook and call it Response. I clamp a brick to my chest. My eyes well up at the sight of empty buses on walks with our dog. I pray in a procession going into M&S. I shop online, purchase: seeds, a bird-feeder, watercolours, books, a solar powered lantern, tea-tree and lavender oils, send them to my parents. I cook batches of food for them to freeze. I make pizza from scratch, including the dough, once. I make an elaborate Indian meal from the Darjeeling Express cook book, the puris puff like my enthusiasm, the coconut rice is fragrant as the lilac growing wild on our lane. I drink wine, sometimes too much. I write and draw. I clap. I write a letter to a Turkish artist imprisoned for her art. I meet people on screen and it is awkward because I can’t stop looking at myself. I make cards. I write weekly to my aunt in a nursing home, not because we are close, but because I feel sorry for her. I make buns for my uncle without knowing I’ve caused a row. I go to the Pharmacy for my son’s meds and break down because it is two weeks now and the controlled drug has not been approved by the GP, who needs to have several conversations with my son’s psychiatrist. I thank the Pharmacist profusely when he sorts it out. I blow up at my son for visiting his friend. I see my husband, feel him less. I see my husband stressed. I walk circuits of the park with one daughter, then another. I visit my hornbeam in a different park. I read To Kill A Mocking Bird, An American Marriage, American Wife, The White Book and poetry, lots of poetry. I watch a sock puppet called Claude recite poetry, beautifully, daily. I mix shades of blue, paint them on cartridge paper and make a blue wall. I visit my parents and on the way back get caught up in a high speed Garda chase on the M1 that is beyond exhilarating. I talk many hours on the phone. I make a mask from a sock, taking instructions from a smiling Dutch woman and say, “hoi, hoi” all day. I attend two funerals but only cry at one. I plant nasturtiums and hang bird feeders full of seeds that only squirrels want to eat. I am interviewed for an online literary festival and tell virtually no-one. I do as little housework as possible. I witness the blur of days; the certainty of night, wrap its torpor, tight, tight, tight around me.



Therese Kieran lives in Belfast. She writes and makes art and has proudly contributed to print journals such as The Honest Ulsterman, Coast to Coast, Iceberg Tales, Paper Clip, Valley Press. A 2020 highlight is her poem in the Poetry Jukebox’s ‘Once Barefoot’ curation, currently available in Paris and Belfast to support climate change.

Tracy Gaughan

The Ghosts of Time

She burst through the living room like a cyclone, scattering chairs, books, and loose papers into the air like weapons.

I’ve heard it again, Roger! Roger! I’ve heard it again!

Where this time dear? I think.  Within the sprung slats of the wearying bed frame? Resting inside the ruined cloth and dying cobwebs of the garret?   Those mildewed memories can rot and blight an overcharged mind such as yours, I want to say. 

Mildred and I fit together like spoons, like people holding hands.  Our love is not loud and catastrophic like cannon fire.  It is swift and lethal as an arrow.  The kind of love that pierces the skin unnoticed, hemorrhaging blood from the body like a great river from a mountain slope.

No, no, she says, I was in the garden by the east tower and I heard it.  Soft and undemanding but persistent, like a bluetit’s begging call.

We haven’t had a bird in the east garden for over a decade.  But my sweet and foolish wife, how her innocence beguiles me still.  That mind, that sharp discerning yet sensitive mind, it pains me to watch it wither and die daily like light exiting the evening hastily in winter. We have been through all this before, she and I.  And there will come the day when the provenance of her auditory hallucination reveals itself, like the face of a bride beneath a lifted veil.  She will wail and cry, an orphaned cub.  Her thoughts will muddle, her speech will falter as she uncovers the evidence:

It was you! You killed her! You bastard. She will say.  She will scream.  She will strike me with the vengeance of an angered god.  We shall flail, fall, and slip into the shadows like actors departing a darkened stage. 

Our house, Hearth House was falling to pieces.  The day Mildred’s mother disappeared, the surrounding land grew dark and arid and now lies bleak and skinless.  The very air seems to strip the little fields and gardens of vegetation, leaving the forest of ash, the great oak in the courtyard, even the ivy naked of a leaf.  There’s little lure for the sparrows and harried blackbirds and even the scavenging rooks over-fly the decaying estate.  Mildred began to experience her  ‘false perceptions of sound’ shall we say, at about the same time.  Voices or reverberations?  Neither of us really knows anymore.   She races from room to window, from defoliated tree to inert flower, tilting her head like a spaniel, seeking its source. 

It’s like an echo, Roger.  It’s audible yet indistinct.  A muffled sound.  Something like… like blurred vision when you try to read without your glasses.  I can’t quite make it out.  Come and help me find it.  It’s in every-place yet, no place!” 

I watch her turning over sap-sucked leaves and withered grasses scraped of life by maggots rummaging the undergrowth.  And everywhere, the echo.   Ricocheting off rock and bark and sombre sky; reverberating through the house like a freight train.  Over here! it seems to repeat.  Then, one morning, beyond the herb garden I observe Mildred place an ear to the ground beneath a gaunt and haggard hawthorn.   The birds who’d overflown the house were clinging to it.  Stabbed by its thorny antlers and hanging there like macabre Christmas baubles swinging in the absent breeze. The veil rises.  The echo, the voice, the hum, she finds it.  Thumping like a heart. 

What’s down there? The predicted question. 

Your mother! The eternal response. 

With the flailing, a touch of rue.  For ghosts cannot change a thing I say, poetically placing a forceful hand over my wife’s mouth, pinching the nostrils waiting for the breath to surrender itself  – we are condemned only to repeat the same thing.  We suffer interminably but at least we do it as one. For those who die in violence can never rest in peace.  In time, Mildred will forget, and we will re-enact this perpetual performance as if for the first time.  Like the seasons, the blossoms may pass but the bulb remains.



Tracy Gaughan is a writer living in Galway.  Her poetry and short fiction have featured in a variety of literary journals including Live Encounters, Boyne Berries, and The Honest Ulsterman.  She is IRL/UK Poetry Editor at The Blue Nib Magazine.

Zach Murphy

A Fair Amount of Ghosts

He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He doesn’t look like he’s from this era. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put any money into his basket.

There’s a formidable stone house that sits atop Fairmount Hill. It’s been for sale for as long as I can remember. The crooked post sinks deeper into the soil with each passing year. It isn’t a place to live in. It’s a place to dwell in. There’s a dusty rocking chair on the front porch. It’s always rocking. Always rocking. I’m not sure if the chair is occupied by an old soul or if it’s just the wind. Maybe it’s both. I guess the wind is an old soul.

This town is full of posters for Missing Cats. There’s one for a sweet, fluffy Maine Coon named “Bear.” He’s been gone for a while now. I’ve searched through every alleyway, under every porch, and inside of every bush for him. Sometimes I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. But then he’s not there. The rain has pretty much washed away the tattered posters. If he ever turns up, I worry that the posters will be missing.

I met the love of my life in Irvine Park, near the gloriously spouting water fountain, beneath the serene umbrella of oak trees. We spent a small piece of eternity there together. We talked about whether or not the world was coming to an end soon, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. After we said our goodbyes and she walked off into the distance, I never saw her again. So I left my heart in Irvine Park.



Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Ellipsis Zine, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Lotus-eater, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Levitate, Drunk Monkeys, Door Is A Jar, and Yellow Medicine Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hayley-Jenifer Brennan

Three Cups of Tea

The silence swirled its way around her as she stood in front of The House; its high walls and thick wooden door seemed intimidating now in a way they never had before. It was freezing and her hands had gone numb long ago, but she couldn’t make herself walk up the stone steps onto the large, dark porch. She couldn’t make herself go inside. Everything was different now – the magic was gone.

“Jenny,” Miriam’s voice came from behind her. “It’s okay not to want to go inside.” Miriam’s soft and comforting touch on her lower back reminded Jenny that there were still reasons to keep going. “You are allowed to pause.”

“I can’t write this one away…” Jenny’s voice sounded distant. “I can’t fix this with silly one-liners and happy endings.”

She felt reduced from woman to little girl as she looked up at The House, still flawless and pristine. The lights were off, but it wasn’t unwelcoming. It was still home.

“I’ve lost the keys,” Jenny said tonelessly. “I can’t get in.”

In the windows, they could see faint silhouettes of the stories that had taken place there. Feet bolted to the ground; one story twisted around Jenny like a never-ending nightmare. It would give no forewarning of its arrival. It would dot beautiful, painful memories in seemingly unrelated things. It would hollow her smile with ease.

She felt her phone go off in her hands, but she was lost in thought and in physicality. She wandered through the familiar space in her memory, cosy and warm in the hoodie she’d bought not ten days prior. Everything was so colourful – sometimes she couldn’t really believe she was here. She hummed contentedly and her phone vibrated again. She answered the call.

“Jenny, I’m so sorry.”

She blinked and the memory was silent. Had she made it up? Surely, she had made it up. She was always making up silly stories. This one was the silliest of all.

She looked down at her hand to find that her phone had been replaced by the key to The House.

“Can we go inside?” she asked, finally.

Miriam didn’t say anything, but the hand she had resting on Jenny’s back pushed her forward softly until they were at the door. Miriam gave her a comforting smile as they keys clicked in the lock. Jenny took a deep breath.

She switched on the lights in the kitchen. She switched on the heating. She switched on the kettle. She placed three steaming cups of tea neatly on the table that she recognised from the many times they sat around it and giggled over nothing. A big table full of inside jokes that seemed to have no origins or came free with fried noodles.

She could write endless tales and rewrite them when they didn’t read the way she had intended, but she couldn’t rewrite this one.

“I miss him,” she said, realising that she’d made three cups of tea for two people.



Hayley-Jenifer Brennan is just getting her start in writing, and has two publications under her belt so far. This is a deeply personal piece about loss, grieving, and the time it takes to move forward.