Ephemera By M. Stone

Venus sinks in the west:

citrine snagged on twine

as it follows the sun.


Green glass insulators

separating long-dead wires

on the old telephone pole


catch day’s last light,

and a crow hovers,

covetous of the gleam


while a planet mistaken

for a star slips from sight.

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry and fiction while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, Star 82 Review, UCity Review, and numerous other journals. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.


Story By Richard D. Campbell

He fell in love the first day he saw her.

She entranced him with her natural beauty.

She was only in a friends’ picture,

but from that moment on she was always in his dreams.

His friend told him that he knew her well;

he would introduce him to her this weekend.

For the next few days he planned his moves.

He had to know exactly what he was going to do.

Finally his dream would come true.

His friend was taking him to her place.

The drive seemed to take forever,

but he could feel her getting closer and closer.

Eventually the trip was over and the adventure began.

Her presence was absolutely breathtaking.

He spent the entire day with her.

She made him laugh, she made him cry.

He was having the best time in his life with her,

then something special happened.

They were having an emotional moment;

his hands were sweaty, his knees were shaking.

He knew he was unprepared and it could be disaster.

The outcome could be unwanted or it could be glorious.

It broke his heart, but he could not continue.

It would not have been right to go on.

He always imagined that his first time would be perfect and natural,

but something made him very cautious.

He knows he should use protection, even though it may get in the way

or lessen the intensity of reaching climax.

He has to be prepared emotionally and financially,

if something goes wrong, or if he doesn’t know when to quit.

He would like to hang on to her forever,

but he could never be strong enough; he has to let her go this time.

His friend tells him that it was a tough call,

but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

She wasn’t upset, it didn’t bother her at all.

She knew he’d be back again someday, just like all of the guys before him.

They keep coming back every weekend just to be with her.

Everyone thinks she’s really special,

even though hundreds of guys have caressed her.

You can see that the hands of time have had their way with her,

but she hasn’t worn out,

because she has a heart of stone, and no one will ever take it away.

Not even our hero will succeed in this task.

He may eventually have his way with her,

but he will never change the way she is.

Even if he takes her solo the next time they meet,

he hasn’t conquered her, only himself.

So, if by chance you get to meet her, remember to give her some respect,

or you may become just another rock climber

who let her slip through his hands.

And, she will be there waiting for another adventure to begin,

since she’s not going anywhere.

How can she?  Mountains are always grounded.

 Richard D. Campbell is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics who started teaching at HCC in 2004.  Professor Campbell has written stories and poems since grade school.  Over the years, he has  had several neat experiences that have molded him into what he is today.  Here is the short list: rock climbing, working for the family firewood business, spelunking, participating in decathlons, visiting Ireland, coaching sports, getting a negative score for his improv performance, ice climbing, marrying an English teacher, working as the Hagerstown Suns videographer, buying a new Saturn and driving it for 20 years, graduating from Bucknell University, playing semi-pro football, being the father of two boys, working for an engineering firm that improved the design of crash test dummies, being inducted into the National Darts Hall of Fame, and guarding the secret recipe at KFC.

Measuring Bees By Johanna Bulley

I keep bees. For the most part beekeeping is relatively hands-off—the bees go about on their tiny day-to-day missions of glory and adventure, and I stand at a respectful distance and watch them. Occasionally, however, we have an adventure together. For instance, the other day I had to go measure them.

More specifically I had to measure the ratio of parasitic mites in my hive. Mites are small, flat, and red. They specialize in spreading diseases and will invariably wipe out an entire colony if the mite population gets too high. Of course, nobody wants mites around but when I first heard about doing a “mite check” I was a little skeptical. First, I had been made fully aware by a number of beekeepers that although preventative measures can be prescribed, there is little to be done in terms of long-term mite management. Second, the idea of literally measuring out half a cup (three hundred) bees, putting them in a jar of rubbing alcohol, and counting the number of mites that fall off the bees seemed rather bizarre honestly. But after listening to the conversations of several beekeepers on the subject, I came to understand that the idea behind a mite check is to have a scapegoat for when a colony fails. Naturally, I wanted a scapegoat too, so I grabbed my hive tool and zipped up my full-bodied bee suit. There is nothing especially attractive about beekeeping suits (although there is a growing beekeeping fashion market), however, as an amateur beekeeper I have been concentrating more on the fundamentals—such as securing a scapegoat—than on fashionable apparel. For this reason, I have an ordinary white beekeeping suit—only, it doesn’t look normal when I wear it. You see, my dad originally bought this suit so that it would fit both of us. The only problem with this is that my dad is 6’3”and I am only 5’7”, so whenever I wear it I look like an enormous deflated marshmallow. It’s pretty embarrassing, but fortunately the neighbors don’t live too close.

So, there I was, a giant deflated marshmallow walking out to my beehive, ready to measure some bees. I pried the lid off the hive and some of the bees flew up to inspect me, gaging whether or not the person ripping the roof off their home was a threat.

Now this was the delicate part, I needed three hundred bees to conduct the test, but I couldn’t just pluck them out of the hive one-by-one and expect them to stay put until I had half a cup.

Instead, I was going to capitalize on the element of surprise.

Making sure not to disturb them, I painstakingly withdrew a frame from the hive, it was heavy and covered with little furry bee bodies that milled about confusedly in the sudden sunlight.

And then I banged the frame down into a small shallow tub that I had brought along.

Now I had read that if you’re lucky the bees will all fall off at once into a complex, wriggling, disoriented mass, but if you’re unlucky you will stand there for a moment after you have half-heartedly banged the frame down and then, with your measuring cup hanging loosely in your hand, you will watch as individual bees claw over one another, shake back their antennae and flex their wings with a determined glint in every pair of eyes.

I was unlucky, probably because I had just violated one of my last innate instincts of survival—to not provoke stinging insects with irascible temperaments. Of course, I had on my deflated marshmallow suit for protection, but still, the audacity of what I had just done was rather overwhelming. Not because I had just made three hundred bees angry, but because I had a hive of twenty-five thousand bees. Twenty-five thousand bees which were now thronging around my head in a golden haze of righteous indignation with the unified purpose of wriggling into my deflated marshmallow suit and stinging me to death.

While I was calculating how many stings it would take to kill me, most of the bees had crawled out of the tub and were now in the air. Fortunately, my desire to survive was still strong—I wasn’t about to start over—so I grabbed the tub and half-poured half-scooped the bees into my measuring cup.

I had maybe an eighth of a cup.

I didn’t want my eighth of a cup to fly away so I held my gloved hand over the top of the measuring cup, this, however, proved to be a problem. As I was preparing to transfer the bees to the jar of rubbing alcohol, the bees had mostly transferred themselves to the palm of my hand. I did my best to brush them into the jar but at this point it didn’t matter anymore—the air was thick with bees, bees flying into the jar, bees flying out of the jar, bees pacing back and forth on my face mask, wrathfully waving their tiny bee-legs through the holes—I began to doubt whether or not I would ever survive.

*                *                *                *                *

I took me a half hour of walking around the yard before they left me alone. And then it took me another half hour of walking around the yard before I was convinced that they had left me alone. However, I did eventually get to examine the results of the test—once I was sufficiently certain that the buzzing I heard was only my imagination and I had finally ventured to get out of my deflated marshmallow suit and run into the house.

I was going to need that scapegoat—the mite level in my hive was above the acceptable threshold.

But here’s the great thing about beekeeping—the rules are always changing. I did some more research and learned that if I were to administer preventative measures soon and apply them regularly, in all probability my colony would survive—that is, as long it didn’t starve, or freeze, or get mauled by a bear.

I keep bees. Its relatively hands-off—the bees go about on their tiny day-to-day missions of glory and adventure, and I sit close by and watch them.

Johanna Bulley keeps bees in the state of Maryland but often finds herself in a different state while writing. She is an editor of Hedge Apple Magazine. 


Cassiar Highway by Kersten Christianson


spins like a dervish

in this lonely road.


Cinched tunic,

the white funnel

skirt takes spherical


flight, a twister grounded

only by dancing feet,

by seed in the breeze.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  www.kerstenchristianson.com

The Garden After the Fall by Floyd Cheung

Eating the fruit flipped a switch

for Adam and Eve—

a bite and then eyes wide open.


Not so for Eden.  For a long while

edges stayed neat, shapes trim,

grass even, and bushes pruned.


But cherubim don’t wield loppers.


Clover blows small at first, green always;

smartweed’s pink blossoms charm;

vines, branches, roots

stretch where they may

breathing  felix culpa

under the light of the moon and all the sin-filled day.


Floyd Cheung was born in Hong Kong and raised in Las Vegas. He is author of the chapbook Jazz at Manzanar (Finishing Line Press, 2014). He teaches the fierce, thoughtful, and creative students of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.


From the Night’s Window by Kersten Christianson

From the Night’s Window

Bee balm & forget-me-nots,

lupine cluster bloom

by north’s long sun

Thin, white cuticle

of shape shifting moon

won’t be viewed

from this June mountain

of birch trees and burls

crinkled vellum, pregnant

belly knotted wood.

Pack up your magic & drive;

wander widely the pockmarked road.

Find the place where you think

you can translate the wind,

the silence.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  www.kerstenchristianson.com


Cabin Fever by Judy Gitterman

“Ted, are you in there? Are you alright?” It was Dennis, his father.

“Yeah, Dad. Just a minute.”

Ted took a quick look in the mirror over the dresser but barely recognized the visage staring back. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his skin was so pale it looked like he hadn’t been outdoors in months. That wasn’t far from the truth. He was at the family cabin in upstate New York for the weekend, and it was the first time he had ventured out of the City since Susan died. They had always traveled together to the annual family “Oktoberfest Weekend” near the Finger Lakes. He hadn’t wanted to go this year, but his father pressed him, and he’d finally agreed.

He had at least three days’ growth of beard. Instead of the usual thick dark curls, his hair hung in listless strands, plastered every which way on the sides of his face. Ted couldn’t remember when he had last washed his hair. He splashed his face with water from a glass on his nightstand and opened the door.

Dennis was wearing pressed corduroy pants and a new hunter’s green plaid flannel shirt. At 6’2” with broad shoulders and angular features, he always seemed so put together. He was 60 but looked ten years younger. Dennis stayed in good shape by running five days a week and working out with weights. He could be the poster boy for AARP’s “aging well” campaign. Dennis handled whatever life threw at him and made it look easy. Ted’s mother Joanne had died from breast cancer when Ted was nine. But Dennis had taken this in stride; he had never appeared bitter or angry and had taken on all the childcare responsibilities with enthusiasm. He managed to juggle Ted’s Boy Scout overnights and soccer games with his job as an engineer for Con-Edison. When Ted was twelve, Dennis married Andrea, and Ted’s twin half-brothers were born three years later.

Dennis creased his brow and frowned. Ted hated that look. He knew his father had good intentions, but Ted wasn’t in the mood for conversation. He braced himself.

“Ted, you’ve been up here at the lake three days already, and you’ve barely left your room. I know what you are going through. But Susan’s been gone eight months now. Why don’t you take your camera outside and get some fresh air? You know, today’s the perfect day to take some pictures—the foliage is at its peak. Ted, do me a favor, just try it.”

Ted looked at his father and quickly looked away as he fought to suppress the tightness welling up in his throat. He didn’t want to talk about Susan, and he didn’t want to talk about his camera. He’d brought it with him and had even charged the batteries but had yet to use it. It didn’t seem right to take pictures without Susan. Though they both worked long hours—Ted was a software engineer, and Susan was an attorney—they had shared a passion for nature and landscape photography and always made time for it on weekends and vacations. Their pictures lined the walls of the cabin.

“Hey, it’s okay, Dad. Don’t worry. I just needed to rest, that’s all. Go on back downstairs. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Ted found his clothes crumpled in a pile on the floor and put them on. No need to shave or shower. What was the point? He went downstairs. The twins Chris and Kurt were playing their new Super Mario Brothers game on the Wii.

“Hey, guys,” Ted said.

The boys did not take their eyes off the television screen. Their faces were set with resolute determination as they deftly moved the game controllers with the confidence of experienced fighter pilots. No one would guess they were related to Ted; they didn’t look anything like him. While Ted had Dennis’s build and affect, the twins were skinny as string beans and had their mother’s sandy blond hair and bright blue eyes. Ted liked the twins well enough, but he didn’t have much to say to them. At twenty-eight, Ted was fifteen years older. He could have tried harder and invited them to do things with him, but he didn’t feel like expending the effort this weekend. Anyhow, they were lost in their alternate universe of video games.

The air in the family room was dense with wafts of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Comfort food. But he wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to be comforted. The smell of a home-cooked meal just made the pain of Susan’s absence that much sharper. He was an interloper, looking in from the outside on the domestic bliss of some other family, not his own. He needed to get outdoors and clear his head. Ted found his hiking boots by the front door and laced them up.

He walked over to the kitchen doorway. Dennis and Andrea were preparing dinner. Dennis was chopping up vegetables for the salad while Andrea sliced the roast.

“Hey, I’m taking a walk,” he said. “Back in about an hour.”

Dennis glanced up. He looked relieved to see that Ted had emerged from the bedroom.

“Sure son, have a nice walk.”

Dennis turned his attention back to the carrots and lettuce.

Ted zipped up his bomber jacket. It was his favorite jacket even though it had a long gash in the left elbow and the brown leather was faded and crinkled. Susan had given it to him for his 21st birthday. He wore it every day now, and in a way that he couldn’t explain, it gave him some semblance of security.

Ted opened the front door when a photo in the front hall caught his eye, and he stopped. It was a photo of a eucalyptus tree Susan had taken in Kauai, on their last vacation together. He remembered that Susan had spent almost an hour getting close-ups of the eucalyptus grove on the North Shore. A stab of guilt hit him when he remembered that he had been impatient and had asked her to hurry up so they could go to dinner. But with her usual equanimity, she had just smiled and said she hadn’t realized the time. They ate dinner as the sun set at a small café overlooking Hanalei Bay that night, and he remembered feeling how lucky he was.

Susan had cropped the photo of the eucalyptus to magnify the rainbow colors of bark, and then she over-saturated the colors in Adobe Lightroom. The result was a stunning abstract of bright, crayon-like colors. She printed it out on their home printer, and Ted had made a white mat and cherry wood frame that made the colors pop. They gave it to Dennis and Andrea for Christmas last year.

Ted turned his attention to the open door. Outside, the sky was a brilliant blue and crystal clear after last night’s rainfall. The leaves on the maples and sycamores that surrounded the cabin were deep wine red, bright orange, and yellow. Ted held his gaze on the trees, then turned and ran back upstairs. He grabbed his camera backpack and tripod and went outside.

Almost as soon as he shut the front door behind him and walked past the property line, the tension in his head evaporated as he breathed in the crisp autumn air.

Ted took the trail that circled the lake. When he was just about halfway around, he turned off the trail and climbed through piles of leaves and underbrush until he got to the water’s edge. Setting up his tripod, pushed the claw feet into the mud to stabilize the legs and locked his camera into place. The grip of the camera in his hands felt warm and welcoming, and only then did he realize how much he missed it. Over the summer, friends from the photography club he and Susan founded had asked him many times to go on weekend shoots, but he always declined, making one excuse or another. His friends didn’t believe him and kept asking until finally they gave up and stopped calling.

The early evening light brought out the rich tones of the leaves on the white oak, red maple and river birch trees lining the lake. Ted peered through the camera’s viewfinder and adjusted the aperture setting to focus on the foreground as well as the distant trees lining the far side of the lake. He took some wide-angle shots and then switched the camera to panorama mode. The shutter clicked and whirred as he moved the camera in a 180-degree arc, the camera’s internal software stitching together the frames into a single image.

Ted took a quick look at the LCD screen and was satisfied that he’d captured the vista in optimal lighting. He sat down on a rock and gazed out over the water. The wind whistled faintly through the trees, and a lone hawk called off in the distance. Snowy cloud pillows drifted across the canvas of blue sky. Perfect solitude. Susan would have loved it.

As the sun sunk down lower in the sky, the wind picked up, and the air chilled. He slung the tripod with camera attached over his shoulder and started to walk up the hill, toward a small clearing that would give him the best view of the sunset over the lake. The incline was steeper than it looked from below. Ted was out of shape, and he had to stop several times to catch his breath before continuing the climb.

Drenched in sweat, he reached the summit just as the sun was about to set over the lake. The view was worth the effort. Pink and red streaks illuminated the sky. Ted drank in the deep red, orange, yellow, and green tapestry of trees with his eyes. It was too windy for a reflection of the trees on the lake, but as the sun hit the ripples, the light shimmered and danced on the surface of the water like Fourth of July sparklers on silver.

Just as he was about to take a shot, a double rainbow appeared, like oil pastels that mirrored the image of Susan’s eucalyptus he still held in his mind’s eye. He clicked the shutter, catching the sun as it melted into the lake.

Ted felt a gentle wave of tranquility wash over him. He smiled, packed up his gear, and turned to make his way down the hill, back to the cabin. He was hungry and looked forward to dinner.

Judy Gitterman is a writer living in Santa Monica, California. She recently received her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she was co-lead fiction editor and on the interview team of Lunch Ticket. Judy is currently working on a collection of interwoven short stories.

Signs by Kersten Christianson


Did I miss
the mile markers?
The signs? Dead
lilac bush in spring,

raspberry canes
stripped of verdancy,
their fat digit fruits
a memory from summer

past. Moss-tangled flower
beds, the wild Yukon rose
you gifted me, run amuk.
I’d give all the dandelions

pushing through hard ground,
coiled fiddleheads, the first
blush of rhododendron bloom
for one more fall with you.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017). Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak www.kerstenchristianson.com

The Gardener on Rustaveli By Timothy B. Dodd

Oh — what did he say, Tamari?
Did he ask why
every new building cuts
his work in half?
Did he ask why
the roads are black and hard?
Did he ask why
the birds must swerve
in a feast of dust?

I wanted to understand —
his soiled hands, what they had fed, freed.
For, you know, who listens today?
— to the running of the land
and the river — unless it’s to change
its course. They say he speaks gibberish
now. But not me. I wanted to say
in his old language, “Please, sir,
show me all the differences,”

your efforts, your dreams in little plants
getting stepped on, this old space hanging
a bit longer in clouds of diesel and damned
youth docked in vogue and denim, no kiss
for dirt. For, old man, your flowers and ferns,
sweetly arranged like your earned smile, soon
must run to the unwanted mountains,
abandoned lands, and narrow valleys, a last
chance to flourish, to nurture wrinkles,
to grow in soil and spring old truths.

Timothy B. Dodd is from Mink Shoals, WV. His poetry has appeared in The Roanoke Review, Stonecoast Review, Ellipsis, Broad River Review, and elsewhere. He is currently in the MFA program at the University of Texas El Paso.