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When I was a boy, caught in my mischief, my father would sit me down and ad-lib a story with a not-so-subtle moral attached. The protagonist had a different name, a different appearance, sometimes committed even a different infraction. The antagonist never changed. He was the one who lured Pete or Billy or Nicky off the path where the honest and self-respecting walked, heads high, posture straight, conscience specklessly clean.

Papa pitted one against the other as if to say, “Sal, I know why you took that pencil sharpener, but look at what you need to do now to make things right.” Then he’d touch my shoulder or wink at me. I had disappointed him, but that touch, that wink, were reminders that Papa still loved me no matter what. “Pete’s a good boy,” Papa would say, “but he’s got lessons to learn so he can become a very good boy.” Or “Billy loves his sister and didn’t mean to hurt her. He claims he’s sorry, but words are cheap if Billy can’t back them up by not hurting Maria again.”

I learned much about writing stories from my father. Though unschooled in the craft, he had an innate ability to weave characters in and out of conflicts. He knew how to cleverly move the action, give believable voices in dialogue, create suspense, and effectively resolve the conflict with a powerful last sentence or two that remained with me long after the telling. He orally fabricated those stories without hesitation, without an uh-uh pause filler, without unnecessary words. To this day I carry those writing lessons and life lessons Papa taught me.

My mother likewise unwittingly taught me how to tell a story in as few words as possible. Before we closed down the day, the last of evening before sleep, Mama would tell us Bible bedtime stories from the Old and New Testaments. Brought up in Sicily, she had never learned about Sleeping Beauty or any of the fairy-tale characters that so delight American children. I did not know about nursery rhymes either. Jack Horner? Miss Muffet? And just what was that tuffet she was sitting on anyway? Curds and Whey? Whatever they were, no way would I ever eat them!

In 2007 I retired after nearly thirty years of teaching English from 6th grade elementary to senior college classes. What I enjoyed most during those years was helping students improve their writing skills and encouraging them to submit their work for publication. It seemed the logical progression: create it and share it. An essential by-product of seeing one’s words in print was a bolstering self-confidence that riveted young writers to the literary track beyond school years. I am pleased to say many of my former students since 1966 continue to write, a good number of whom have become English teachers.

Writing poetry and fiction, especially the flashy shorts, is the love of my life, second only to my wonderful wife Sharon. I try not to let the sun go down on a day without writing, even if all I write are see-you-later notes in my pad or a poetic line to build upon or a sentence I suspect could and often does serve as the opener, the hook, for the rest of the story.

As a child I dreamed of becoming Batman’s new sidekick in the event Robin lost interest in fighting crime. Then I envisioned myself in the cockpit of fighter planes. At fifteen I learned how to box for the Police Athletic League, I saw myself as Kid Tuff, champion in the ring and future Lothario in the field, but in my second fight a better boxer knocked me out. Goodbye, Kid Tuff.

One day I told Papa I wanted to be a comedian. He punched my arm and said, “Don’t make me laugh!” He wanted a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer for his son. I became a teacher, but I never stopped writing. Did I dream of becoming a bestselling author like my literary heroes? I just wanted to write. After all these years, my first and foremost dream remains: to continue typing out of me those frisky pre-poems, those hopping hyper flashes driving me to the keyboard or the pen.

Philip Harris, the publisher of All Things That Matter Press, took a chance on my first flash collection, Flashing My Shorts. After that he took another chance and published my second: 200 Shorts. For his faith in me I will always be indebted and to all who have read and reviewed both books, finding neither one a flash in the pan.

I also wrote a book in 1998 called A Family of Sicilians: Stories and Poems, which I self-published and personally sold nearly all of a 1,000-copy first run. I wrote it to show readers the true image of Sicilians and Sicilian Americans in response to the gangster portrayal of the biased media. In 2008 I made it available at and copies continue to sell.

A Family of Sicilians…

Flashing My Shorts

200 Shorts                  Buttaci/dp/0984639241?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0




Sal Buttaci has been writing since childhood. His first published work, an essay entitled “Presidential Timber,” appeared in the Sunday New York News when he was sixteen. Since then his poems, articles, letters, flash and short stories have been widely published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Writer, Cats Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, and numerous others here and abroad. In 2007 he was the recipient of the $500.00 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. He lives in West Virginia with his wife Sharon, the love of his life and his work’s inspiration.

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An Introduction to What I Found in the Dark by Clayton Clifford Bye

These 12 poems are the first of 50 thematic poems that can be found in my collection called What I Found in the Dark. Available on Amazon, through most stores and at


1. The dark between this life and the next, between past and future or between mind and matter haunts all of us at one time or another. Yet… there is beauty in what we can’t see and must imagine.


at contiguous depths
send blue lightning
across clouded voids
to be caught
by red-laced fingers
that recreate
the perfect sound
of a drop of water
splashing on skin.


  1. Too often we look inward where shadowed rooms filled with sideshow mirrors bend the “I” to fit what we expect and want to see. Thus, it is the rare person who can state “this is who and where I am.”


Happenstance is but a way of words,
the stumbling path of fools;
yet a trail met in the wooded night
cares not for weathered rules.

Deaf and dumb goes the traveler
toward the outer shape;
glancing not beneath the rock and leaf,
a sketch of the human ape.

But in vapid searching one still learns
to scratch the inner vein.
Eyes roll and bangles burn in that light,
the answers seem insane…

For piercing the learning dark we see
new visions clear and clean,
struggling with our ever-cluttered minds
to grasp what they might mean:

I can’t speak for you my passing friend—
what beauty lies inside;
my own journey is answered below
but still seems a fair ride…

A white-winged horse and a graceful moon
seek form in mountain fire,
while I, the fool, not too simple yet
of ornaments do tire.


  1. The excitement of a child stumbling upon one of the miracles we adults have become too jaded to enjoy and often too blind to see emphasizes the veil—darkness between one generation and the next, between past and present, and between each and every one of us.

A Hole in the Clouds

radiant beams
a hole in the clouds
gossamer strands
speak out loud
warmed heart
a child’s eyes aglow
soul is livened
I drive slow


  1. It’s said we realize the extent of a loss only after the thing has gone into the dark, and even though we might wish with all of our being to go back, it just doesn’t seem possible.


A crystal passage from here to there
but no light with which to see.
“So what?” he asks with bitterness,
that door is closed to me.


  1. I was playing with words when I was given a brief look at how my thoughts could touch another, one who had traveled through the dark and found me after a quarter of a century.


Secret longings, mind-burnt,
now loosed from my soul,
are sweet knives outward slicing,
host-bound on the wind;

Diamond ice, time-picked clean,
will melt asunder,
a heart met in morning hours,
her dark eyes of joy.


  1. Sometimes the veil wraps around a life, keeping all who would see out, and leaving you to walk alone in the metaphoric dark.

The Town of Me

My days have been
the passing of dreams,
not quite real clouds
built of smoke and dust,
marking each pained
but gritty footstep
with rasping laughter
to steal away
the life-blood of
this aging ghost town,
while colourless
thoughts raised without form
walk through my halls,
echoes of silence.


  1. When love is brought to an empty, monotone life it may, at first, be difficult to see the changes wrought.

An Awakening

The heart loomed
royal purple
in a life of faded hues.
“What manner of beast is this?”
asked the startled soul,
ripped from living death;
fresh blood dripping from flat eyes
to colour white, wrinkled skin:
new growth to come.


  1. An old farm has slipped into the dark, yet the golden glow of life in a child resurrects it—if only for a little while…

The Farm

Down to the chicken coop,
played inside,
ghost birds chuckle
as white eggs gleam
between shadow and sun.

The silver of rooftop tin
beckons me
to gray barn boards,
twisted, bent, proud—
old scents of animal hay.

Swing do I on hand coiled hemp,
bright new wings
challenge horse flies
over watching
Calico cat named Queenie.

Heavy drops of summer rain
chase me quick
to dusty tomes,
above Grandad’s model-A.

Space Operas call my name;
I visit:
Tycho on moon;
fight for my life
in airless dust;
Saved! by alien contact.

Gram’s voice floats high in the wind,
brings me back
through cedar smells:
shavings, raw wood,
to bubbling tang
of strawberry-rhubarb pie.


  1. Love is a powerful thing: it can shine light where naught but dark has reigned for an eternity, and it can crack open the black casket of a broken heart.

Mind Places

soft steps,
veritas upon dark soil
alive with
light moves;
pale, warm breath undulating
catches fire
branches, perse and ardent trees.

I look up:
ripped wings
wind-sung in endless heaven,
in sun,
an abeyant but hungered
watching soul—
marking the path before me.

She calls me,
hard fought,
sweet pains of life taken in
without charge:
now to shine upon my heart,
a sentence once self-bestowed.

beasts of emotion vie for
a warm place
in light;
moors of heather bleeding a
desire seeks
to found a knoll of power.

Home at last:
flesh opened to spoken love,
beating hard,
butterfly wings God-given;
all tinges
hinting of wondrous eras to come.


  1. I was lost, yet unknown to me, she had already traveled the same dark road, following a light I didn’t believe existed.


Her darkness beckons to me
from the distance of a winter night,
to walk upon ancient and unknown shores
without the use of seeing eyes.

Her grace is cast on the moon,
black hair glistens in the light,
and with the cold, harsh wind
a teardrop falls into my dream.

Ease by rock so wet and black,
taste the salt upon her lips;
keep those hard-found treasures:
the ice-cold stone becomes so thin.

Oh, I can see the beauty,
and find warmth beneath the darkened land,
but will I ever know from what still pool
came that pure water in her hand?


  1. I’ve found that what we perceive as darkness can actually contain the most brilliant of lights: love.

I’m loved

There is a deepness,
not dark,
an inner universe
emotional suns
of brilliant blue;

these freely given
soul orbs
keep alive my dreaming
life wish:
the two hearts I have—
oh, such wonder.


  1. If a heart closes, whatever good is hidden there doesn’t die: it waits in the dark, sometimes quietly, other times raging for release. The lucky ones are found, their hearts cracked like chestnuts, to reveal that which has been saved for all time.

God Smiled

God smiled upon me yesterday:
a voice from the past
was sweet water
on a dry and dusty evening;

the voice of a resurrected
angel with dark hair
came soft and warm
from across the digital heavens;

reciting stories of sunsets,
salty ocean air,
halibut steaks,
The Barra MacNeils and clams to dig.

And love, true, pure, glistening, free;
polished by the years,
honed with worry,
then set loose with faith and dignity.

I take it in with gratitude,
open my locked heart,

speak the words there
and hope what’s revealed can make things right.


Clayton Bye is a specialist writer. And while he has written many of hisclay own books, stories and reviews he now focuses on his work as a ghostwriter (40 books and counting) who listens carefully to the customer and then skillfully draws out the story they want to get on paper. Contact him directly to
discuss the book you want to write and to inquire about rates:

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Reflections on life—a grouping of poems by Kenneth Weene

Early Breakfast

The worm – half eaten – burrows deeper
The robin’s beak is even fleeter.
Regrets the worm that he must eat her;
the apple makes her that much sweeter.



With a sneeze of nostalgia
I go antiquing.
I like things made of bronze, brass, copper –
Shiny memories that whir and clang.
I don’t want to buy –
Only to look.
I create new memories –
Reminiscences never lived.
It terrifies me when I find
My childhood in a shop,
Reminding my mortality
That I am getting old.
Wheezing with historic dust
I go antiquing
Only to see me in a mirror
Abandoned on a musty shelf.



Sprung full boobed
Ready role model
For a generation
Willing to die
Of self-starvation
For flatter stomachs
For thinner thighs.


in time

the sweet mary and joseph flow of life
lost itself
as she wandering from man to man
sitting in the parlors of wheelchairs
touching each upon the head
in sweet caress
was lost



crossing herself with nervousness
wearing away the bodice nap
of the off-purple robe
that the angel of death
seeing such proof
might pass her by

stopping to preen her close-cropped gray
gazing in a mirror of empty air
and then again
the rounds renew
at once the sinner and the saint
without the bit
to pay her freight
across the river of her doom


I wouldn’t want to anthropomorphize

I wouldn’t want to anthropomorphize –
Not about penguins at the Chicago aquarium.
I wouldn’t want to over-identify
With the Rockhopper
Trapped on the highest ledge –
Marching un-surefooted back and forth
Not quite learning the narrow passage
Or perhaps inhibited by the Magelenites
Playing house and talking about the weather,
Which they could no longer remember
Never changes when one lives in glass cages.
I wouldn’t want to over-interpret
Her trapped marching back and forth,
Unaware of the desperation
A lesser species – such as man –
Might feel in her place.


While Love Sleeps

You stir in the dark, and I waken.
Strands of light poking through the blinds
outline your body curled beneath the covers.
Controlling my urge to reach into your dreams,
I watch – counting your breaths –
until sleep again descends.
In our sleep we breathe as one.


Ken Weene observes, “Every now and again I find poetry rather than prose expresses my mood and vision.”  Ken’s poetry, essays, and prose often reflect on the irony of life. Still he celebrates the humor and the intimacy that we can salvage from the only experience of which we can be sure, our earthly existence. You can find more of Ken’s work and view at

Kenneth Weene

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Who I Am, and What I Do by John B. Rosenman

2nd photo for john

In 1952, when I was eleven, I sat in a theater watching “The War of the Worlds.” When the scene came where three men were left alone with a smoldering meteor that started to unscrew, I got scared to death. What was in that meteor? What would it look like and do? It took all my courage to stay in my seat and not run.

Originally I wanted (implausibly) to be an opera star, but I think that movie, plus others like “Them!” and “The Thing,” influenced me to follow a more gruesome path. Also, I became addicted to horror comics such as “Tales From The Crypt.” Around this time, a friend introduced me to Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson, and I quickly Biographydevoured  “The Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man,” “I Am Legend,” and “The Shrinking Man.” These science-fiction books lived inside me, fired my imagination. I’ll never forget the episode in “Chronicles” in which Earthmen discover a town on Mars with all their dead loved ones WAITING FOR THEM.

Besides enjoying such movies, comics, and books, I received Poe’s collected works from a family friend. Even better was a birthday gift–-a year’s subscription to the SF magazine “Amazing”!

Looking back, I find it’s not easy to determine just when my psychic twig received its first weird bent. Much earlier, when I was seven, I loved to turn the lights out, go to bed early, and listen to “The Shadow” and other programs on the radio. In the dark, my imagination swept me along in ways that even later TV shows like “Thriller” couldn’t match. Who knows, perhaps my original ‘warping’ took place listening to such eerie tales, or even earlier-–in the womb! Oddly, while I liked creepy books, I went through stages when I read primarily other genres. First it was mysteries, especially those by Ellery Queen. Then in my early teens, I read enough westerns to die of lead poisoning. It’s not always easy to look back and trace a clear path to the present, perhaps because there isn’t one.

But one thing I always did like to do was write. As a little kid, I scribbled stories and drew cartoon panels in crayon rather than go out to play. Later, I crafted a never-ending novel with a fistfight every ten pages. Nope, The Twisted Years wasn’t about a space pirate or psychopath but a gunslinger with a tough childhood. I still remember that masterful first sentence: “Jeff Stancher didn’t pay any attention to the Abilene stage as it bumped and rattled into town.”

While I liked to write, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. My father, a lawyer, insisted I be practical. Yes, he thought I had a knack for writing, but one didn’t count on making a living that way. As a student, I was lazy and lousy. Somehow, my father got me into Hiram College where I belatedly learned to take notes and study. I majored in Political Science with a vague idea of becoming a lawyer, and graduated in three years. After that I attended Western Reserve Law School. Soon, bored by classes, I stayed away, writing stories and reading things like Mill’s “On Liberty.” Then one day I sold all my law books and hopped a bus to New Orleans, a “romantic” destination where I wrote bad stories in a cheap, $8 a week room and slung hamburgers for a buck an hour.

Cut to the future. I returned to Hiram, took some English courses, then received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Kent State in English, my dissertation being written on William Faulkner. What a background for a speculative-fiction writer, right?

After teaching in Canada for three years, I found myself out of work. I landed a job at a Southern black college where, at the age of thirty-nine, I completed my first novel, Down From Oz in 1980. It reveals how our educational system, which is a long way down from beautiful Oz, fails minority students, and it ultimately cost me two jobs and rattled away like the skeleton it was in my closet for years. Though it won McPherson & Company’s First Book Award, the publisher wanted a different title because he thought “Down” was a downer. So we settled on “The Best Laugh Last,” which ain’t as good.

In 1982 I was hired by Norfolk State University and moved to Virginia with my wife Jane and two kids. And here, my life changed forever, for I discovered SPWAO and the small press. For two decades I’d collected umpteen rejection slips by submitting stuff to blueblood magazines like The New Yorker and The Sewanee Review. Now I learned there were other, spikier magazines whose editors actually gave you feedback. If you were unendingly persistent (and I was!), you could serve an apprenticeship and polish your craft.

Soon, I finally began to see what my true direction was, and in years to come, I sold H/SF/F/Paranormal fiction (and a little poetry) to over 150 magazines, including Iniquities, Weird Tales, The Horror Show, Aboriginal SF, Cemetery Dance, Terminal Fright, The Blood Review, New Blood, Starshore, Galaxy, Offworld, Figment, Nova SF, and Yankee. My fiction can also be found in such places as “Hot Blood,” #’s 6 and 8 (erotic horror), Whitley Strieber’s “Aliens” (where a high roller in Las Vegas takes an unplanned galactic journey), A Horror Story A Day: 365 Scary Stories, and Treachery and Treason.  Plus many more. My imagination just seems to be strange or askew. Even a space-opera novel which I published with Mundania Press, Beyond Those Distant Stars, contains a sinister, godlike menace. I suppose it’s not surprising that one of my stories killed five magazines that accepted it.

     Ask me why some of the fiction I write is horror/dark fantasy, and I’ll say I do it because life itself is horror. Health and happiness are anomalies. Either nature or circumstance is always trying to kill or maim you, as when my wife developed breast cancer. (She’s fine now, thank you.)  I love all kinds of horror, from splatterpunk to erotic to psychological to Lovecraftian supernatural. In general, I think subtle, suggestive horror that is ambiguous and open to interpretation is the best. But hey, I’m not proud, and will be glad to gross you out if necessary. I do like to write about religion. “The Last Snowman,” for example, appeared in Iniquities and features a young boy who fights Satan in order to save the world.

            In recent years, I’ve published several novels, including my Inspector of the Cross science fiction-adventure series (now in its fourth and fifth books) and the YA novel The Merry-Go-Round Man, which is drawn from my childhood. I’ve tried to range afield in other ways, too. For example, when I went to Rome, I was so awed by the Sistine Chapel, I wrote ”A Spark from God’s Finger,” a story about an American art teacher in Rome who has a vision that he’s the reincarnation of Michelangelo. I’ve also published stories that take place in 19th and 25th century Nigeria (part of a novel, A Senseless Act of Beauty published by Crossroad Press); in the New Hebrides in 1946; and in Nauru, sometime in the past. Who knows? Perhaps it will be Russia next, or I’ll cook up my own dark country


Going Away by John B. Rosenman

photo for john

            “I don’t love you anymore,” Marvin said. “I’m leaving.”

Agnes had heard her husband say the same thing three or four times before in her thirty-year marriage. She had always shrugged and ignored it. After all, she knew she was a good wife and had done her duty to Marvin. She had borne him three children and kept a nice home. What more could he want?

So she did just what she had on those other occasions. She advised him to take a warm coat and enough money.

This time it was different, though. He did not blow up and tell her how cold and selfish she was and how sorry she’d be. Nor did he storm out, slamming the door behind him. He simply sighed, turned around, and left the room.

She picked up her knitting, sighed in return, and forgot the matter.

An hour later she smiled as she looked out the window, remembering the other times Marvin had acted like a child and threatened to leave her. Each time, she had just waited calmly, and he had soon returned.

Agnes’s smile faded when she noticed Marvin’s Toyota parked in the driveway. In the past, when he’d left, hadn’t he always taken his car?

Puzzled, she poked about the house, searching for Marvin. She finally located him in the spare bedroom. He was lying in bed, the cover raised to his chin.

“I thought you were leaving,” she said.

He looked at her. “I have left.”

“But you’re still here.”

He turned his head to the wall, ignoring her.

Mid-age tantrum, that’s what it was, she decided. Marvin was just being difficult, probably because she insisted on being sensible and wouldn’t give in to his pleas to buy a new car.

At lunchtime she made his favorite, chili and cheese sandwiches, and called upstairs. “MARVIN!”

No answer. She tried again with the same results.

Finally, she went back upstairs. He was lying in the exact same position, his head turned to the wall.

“Marvin, lunch is ready.”

No answer.

She started to speak again, when she noticed that Marvin seemed smaller, more distant somehow. It was as if he were ten feet away even though she was standing right by the bed. She blinked and tried again.

“Marvin, it’s your favorite. Chili and cheese sandwiches.”

Still no response. Marvin stared silently at the blank white wall.

She sighed audibly and left. Downstairs she did some washing, then decided to go shopping. Leave Marvin alone for a while and let him see how foolish he was being. Maybe then he’d appreciate her better and come back to her like always with that same hangdog look. She smiled in anticipation. As usual, she’d play with him a little just to teach him a lesson, and wouldn’t forgive him for days.

Why, though, had Marvin seemed so small and distant? She shook her head. It must be the lighting in that room, she thought. Or perhaps she needed to have her eyes examined.

She returned with a trunk full of groceries. After she put them away, she stood listening to the house. It felt empty. Before it had always been easy when Marvin left, because she knew he was elsewhere and would soon return. But this time Marvin hadn’t left. He was still here, and she knew just where to find him. And yet there was no sound of him moving around, perhaps writing one of those silly stories which he always insisted she read. For all it mattered, he had left her, just as he said he would.

Nervously, she went upstairs. Marvin was just as she’d left him. And yet he wasn’t. Though she could touch the bed, the walls at his end of the room seemed to be retreating and fading off into space, becoming less distinct. Marvin himself now appeared to be at least twenty feet away. She swallowed, troubled by a strange thought. If she moved closer and reached out to touch him, would she be able to?

Her fingers twitched. She started to move toward him, then turned and fled the room.

Downstairs, she had three cups of her favorite herb tea. What was happening?  Marvin was here and yet, he was leaving. Or had already left. He just kept getting smaller and smaller, more and more distant. Could she be losing her mind?

During the following week, Marvin drew farther and farther away. When his boss called, she made excuses. Marvin had the flu. He had tried to call in, but their phone had been on the blink. Yes, he should be returning to work soon.

Going upstairs, she stopped just outside the bedroom. Please let Marvin come back, she thought. When I go inside, let me find him the way he always is, full-sized and eager to go to work. She decided that this time, if he returned to her, she wouldn’t act coy but would forgive him at once.

Taking a deep breath, Agnes entered the bedroom.

It was even worse than before. His end of the bedroom appeared to have faded and retreated even more, acquiring an ethereal quality that belonged to another realm. That was ridiculous, of course. She knew Marvin was still in this bedroom. Still, he did seem immeasurably distant. His tiny form now floated surrounded by stars, as if he were in deep space.

“Marvin?” she cried.

Silence. He lay with his head turned to a wall that was perhaps a hundred light-years away.

“Marvin,” she pleaded, “you haven’t eaten a thing all week. Aren’t you getting hungry?”

A shooting star fell across his face. She made a strangled sound and ran from the room.

Downstairs she choked on her tea and broke into tears for the first time since she was a little girl. Oh Lord, what was happening? How could Marvin do this to her? She thought of going to the police, but imagined how it would sound. “Marvin’s left me. He just lies up there in that room and gets smaller and smaller, farther and farther away. This morning I saw a comet shoot across his face.”

She lowered her head to the kitchen table and let self-pity claim her. She’d been such a good wife. How could Marvin treat her like this?

After a while, a thought rose. Was it possible the fault was hers? That she was to blame for Marvin’s leaving?  She scoffed at the idea but started to recall things she’d said to him.

You’ll just have to cancel your hunting trip, Marvin. We’re going to my cousin’s wedding.

She raised her head. Had she said that?

Marvin, forget those golf clubs. We can’t afford them.

After a while, such occasions cascaded in her memory. Time after time after time she’d said such things! In fact, now that she thought of it, she had even overruled him by insisting that they go to Niagra Falls on their honeymoon. She frowned, trying to remember where Marvin had wanted to go.

Finally she rose and went to the phone. She cancelled their newspaper subscription, saying she was going away, then turned down the thermostat.

Next, she mailed out house, insurance, and other payments, and made sure all the windows and doors were locked.

Then, slowly, she marched upstairs.

In the bed, Marvin was a mere speck, located someplace beyond the Milky Way. Yet, though he had traveled perhaps ten billion light-years, she could still see him. In a way he hadn’t moved an inch.

“Marvin,” she said, “won’t you come back?”

His tiny, distant figure didn’t stir. He lay staring at the wall as always.

“Marvin.” She hesitated, then leaned toward him. “I’m sorry.”

Still no response. It was as if she hadn’t spoken. Even worse, he had gotten so small that for the first time, she couldn’t see him clearly.

Agnes sobbed, realizing that soon she would lose him completely. “Marvin,” she said. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you. Won’t you come back and give me another chance?”

She waited, but as she’d expected when she’d come up here, he wouldn’t respond. This time, Marvin had been serious. He had left for good, entering a whole different realm that she knew was immeasurably remote from her own.

Wiping away her tears, she climbed onto the bed. She hesitated a moment, shivering in the distant cold. Then, ever so slowly, she began to crawl after him.

(Previously published in Space and Time, Spring 2007).


Author BIO:

A retired English professor from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., John has published three hundred stories in The Speed of Dark, Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Galaxy, The Age of Wonders, and elsewhere. He is the author of The Turtan Trilogy, the first three novels of his Scifi-Adventure series, available at




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History, and his story by Jon Magee

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Is it an accident that history is made of letters that remind us of “his story”? There is much within history, but we learn lessons when we see the people in the midst

As we reflect through the ages there are some things that will strike us for differing reasons. In the UK the 2nd of June will be remembered for the coronation of the Queen in 1953. Following the death of her father Queen Elizabeth II was formally crowned as The Queen with hundreds of millions listening on radio and for the first time people watched the coronation proceedings on live television. After the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, millions of rain-drenched spectators cheered the 27-year-old queen born in 1926 and her husband, the 30-year-old duke of Edinburgh, as they passed along a five-mile procession route in a gilded horse-drawn carriage. I wonder if it was part of cementing the connection of my family in history that I have a family photo taken whilst in Singapore, dated on the back was the 2nd June 1953. My own father-in-law, a soldier with the Black Watch regiment, was flown back from his service in Korea to take part in the procession and celebrations in London. Once again, it was a personal role in history and a part of history in “his story”.

The same date will also be remembered for the Surveyor 1 moon landing on the 2nd June 1966. This was the first US space probe to land on the moon as “Surveyor 1” had a soft landing on Moon. Though the Russians had landed earlier, the newspapers headlines, internationally, were full of the event. I lived in Aden, Yemen, at the time during the military conflict and terrorism at the end of the British presence. We listened as the news came on the radio. It was a time of celebration as man reached to the stars, yet down the road from where we listened to the radio could be heard the sound of explosions and gun fire.

In my previous post, you will have noted the 2nd June was also the date on which my wife Joan and I were married. It was a landmark day for us as a couple, whatever may be happening in the history of the world. I recall talking with Joan, noting that my youth had been lived in the military hot spots of the world. However, things will be different now, I said. Our 1st posting together would be in a romantic Mediterranean island, with all the stories of Aphrodite. Is there any better way to start married life, it must be like an extended honeymoon? That was 1973, however, we were there a year and there was a military coup and the Turkish invasion.

Life does not always develop how we intend it to do. We look back and reflect, seeking to learn the lessons of history. We look forward and make our plans, even if we do not know what surprises or shocks will appear on the way. Life inevitably is full of lessons to learn and steps of faith, even if we do not consider ourselves to be people of faith, not knowing what the future will gift to us.

There are times when we personally have known the tragedy of death, and the joy of new life. I do not know how you plan to face the unknown, but for us it has been one where the faith in the God of life has been the source of enabling as we reached the turning points of history, both in the cradle of the world as well as our family life. My writings have been demonstrations of life in tough times, yet they have sought to find ways of showing the possibility of hopefulness, even when life may seem hopeless. My hope is that the reader will also discover hope, wherever you may be in history or reaching to the future.


Jon Magee is the author of 2 books, “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, heavenly Journey”. The books come with the experience of life lived in a variety of countries throughout the world, often in the midst of military conflict and terrorism, which was the heart of his life from an early age. He is the wife of Joan, the father of 3 daughters, 2 sons and the grandfather of 7 children.

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Weddings by Jn Magee


Is there anyone that does not have a wedding story that is hanging around in their heads? Maybe it is that moment when the bride first appears walking down the aisle, the time when the rings were lost, the joyous moments as well as the unexpected tragedies. Very often there are the times of nervousness.

The story has been told of a nervous bride who was concerned that her nerves would spoil the day. The Minster took her on one side and sought to encourage her. He explained to her that when he felt like that he found it helpful to have key words to remind him of what he should be doing. She could do the same.

“Remember that you are the star of the show, everyone will be looking for the bride because they know she will be the best sight of the day. The first thing you need to do is to stand at the top of the aisle and let everyone encourage you with looks of admiration. Up till that moment, remember the key word “Aisle”. Second, the love of your life is standing at the front by the altar. As you make your way down the aisle no one else matters except your love by the altar, focus on him and the altar. So, the 2nd keyword is “Altar” as you make your way toward him. Then, the wedding service will begin with a hymn, your groom will hold the hymn book ready for you so you can enjoy your special day as it begins. So, the second key word is “hymn”.

Sounds like good advice and so she memorised her keywords. As she began the procession so the keywords were repeated in her mind, “Aisle altar hymn. Aisle altar hymn. I’ll alter him. I’ll altar him.”That’s not perhaps what the minister had in mind, and maybe not necessarily the phrase she should have been remembering on her wedding day.

As I write this item for the blog, my own wedding anniversary is approaching. We were married on the 2nd June 1973 in the Scottish highland town of Forres. I was in the air force at the time, and as often happens with one in the military, once you make your mind up you know you have to strike while the iron is hot, as they say, because once posted to the other side of the world there may never be another opportunity. We met in a mutual friends home while I was in the north on an exercise detachment. My base was 500 miles to the south. Each weekend I would drive the 500 miles north, and then return the 500 miles south. As such, we only had contact with each other a matter of days before I decided to pop the question. It was a dark wet night as we sheltered in a telephone box, no room to bend down on one knee, but it was the words that mattered. As I watched my bride coming down the aisle, I had no idea what lay ahead. There were going to be times of joy and laughter. There were going to be the times tragedy and tears. Yet, 43 years later we are together, and yes, like any other couple the years will alter us as we mould into the characters that experience will shape us into. But, the shape of the mould comes best when it comes in the form of love.



Jon Magee is the author of 2 books, “From Barren Rocks to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, heavenly Journey”. The books come with the experience of life lived in a variety of countries throughout the world, often in the midst of military conflict and terrorism, which was the heart of his life from an early age. He is the wife of Joan, the father of 3 daughters, 2 sons and the grandfather of 7 children.



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Look a flower! By Yves Johnson


My wife and I just purchased a Fitbit. The device measures your steps and it allows you to join in fitness competitions with others throughout the world.  My wife and I have worked out together for 20 years. It has been great. Now we have a device to help us become more physically fit.  We decided to go for a walk.  Two of our grandchildren wanted to “walk” with us because they’re fast walkers.

I have learned “fast” is a relative word. Our two-year old granddaughter decided to stroll, I mean walk with us. Mind you, we were on a bit of a time schedule. Our fast paced 10-minute walk got us at least 30 feet from the starting point.  Yeah, we were blazing a trail.

Admittedly, I like to stop and look at my surroundings. I want to marvel at God’s creation. Today was not one of those days. It had been a long day and I wanted to simply get in a workout. My granddaughter had other ideas.  She looked at every flower on the ground. She tried to pick up every flower on the ground. Did I say, “Flower?” I should’ve said, “Weed!”  Yet, those flowers were new to her. In fact, they fascinated her.

As the ingenious grandfather, I hatched a plan to encourage her to start running or at least walk fast with us. I played the, “Hey, let’s catch Nana” game with her. It lasted about 1.2 seconds. I bet you saw it coming. She said, “Look, a flower.”  Thus we stopped yet again to pick up weeds. I think I might just send a bill to the city since we cleaned up half the city.

The story I just told you is true. Yet, it has a real life application to everyone. First, enjoy the time you can with your loved ones. Schedules are great and so are accomplishments. Yet, they cannot compare to the memories created when spending quality time with loved ones.  Second, there is beauty in most things. My granddaughter, like her sister, saw beauty in weeds that laced the ground before us.  They found beauty in things that I walked right past.  I encourage you to make some memories with your loved ones. Cherish those moments. I encourage you to see the beauty in your surrounding. I encourage you to, “Hey, look….a flower!”


Yves Johnson is a Speaker an Author.  He has written two books and a varied collection of articles and blogs. He is the President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Consutling.  He’s a sought out speaker and offers a wide range of leadership and development seminars for both Faith Based and non-Faith Based organizations. You can find his books at



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Once I put on my glasses by Yves Johnson

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I was trying to read the bible today without my reading glasses. I must rely upon my reading glasses much more now that I have entered the third quarter of life. One thing occurred to me as I struggled to read the words on the pages. I realized that I saw the words but they weren’t clear. As such, I guessed at what some things said. I realized an important life lesson that I’d like to share with you.

As Christians, we must clearly see the Lord in our lives.  We must clearly show people the true Christian life. If not, those who watch us will be looking at a fuzzy image of Christianity. How do you represent Christ in your life? Are you clearly following biblical teaching on financial stewardship, tithing, love of neighbor, marriage, purity, and a host of other things? We must love our neighbor. Love isn’t always agreeing with your loved one. Scripture tells us to comfort our brother when they are in the wrong. If we don’t confront them when they are doing wrong then we don’t love them.

Are you seeing clearly? Are you now following what non-believers say is true? To put it another way, is your life aligned to the Word of God? Remember, we must conform to the bible. Regrettably, some people, even Christians, are conforming the bible to fit their lifestyle and needs.

Prayerfully you will help show people the true image of Christ.



Yves Johnson is a Speaker and Author.  He has written two books and a varied collection of articles and blogs. He is the President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Consulting.  He’s a sought out speaker and offers a wide range of leadership and development seminars for both Faith Based and non-Faith Based organizations. You can find his books at


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 By Micki Peluso


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Rita counted the days. Her mental competency hearing was a week away. Convince these morons I am sane and I am outta here, she thought. Of course she was sane, no doubt of it. Imprisoned by a biased Judge and a jury of rednecks. Just let me get out of this hellhole and they will see how sane I am. These thoughts kept her calm.

          She pretended to take her mind-altering prescription drugs from the prison matron, then spit them in the toilet of her small cubicle. One more week. She could wait. Years had passed, waiting. Soon a trip home to see her husband, ex actually, since the bastard chose to divorce her while she was incarcerated. Like he hadn’t helped her beat up the kid. Rita had told him she never wanted a brat anyway. But she was here and he was out free. It ate at her like a canker sore, but not for long-not for long. And their little girl, grown now after five years. What would she be now? Ten years old, about. Probably don’t remember her dear ole Mom, Rita thought. She will when I get out. Oh she will. and her father more so.

Rita faced the panel of parole officers, the Warden, social worker, shrink, etc., on the date of her hearing. Her once rosy complexion was pale from years of prison life-her drab green prison garb accentuated it. Still the glitter from her steely gray-blue eyes,held a madness she fought to conceal. Beneath a mop of ash-blonde hair, her face held a reminder of cruel beauty, not quite lost.

The panel was a somber group. Suited men, suited women, wearing a facade of importance and fake concern. God how Rita hated these hypocrites. She hid it well, sitting demurely before them, with as much innocence as she could portray and still be believable. This had to work. She must get out-there were debts to pay, and Rita was never one not to meet her responsibilities. Dick and Melissa first on her list, then her parents. Could she stop then? Rita had no idea but just the idea of killing gave her an orgasm of such intensity that she had to cross her legs to keep from crying out.

The snob panel did not seem to notice. They sorted and shifted paperwork, in preparation for her question and answer session that would decide her fate. Rita was ready. Let the inquisition begin.

“Rita,” asked the psycho therapist. “Have you learned from your years with us?”

“Yes Ma’am, so much that it would take a month of Sundays just to tell ya about it.”

“I see. And do you think you can live outside and be a credit to the community? When you answer, please give me details.”

” Ma’am, I know I can. I have learnt so much from you and everyone here. I have become a new woman. I’ve been thinkin’
 on how much my baby girl needs her Mama. I’ve lost so many years I intend to make up for them if I can, in the best way I know how.” Rita lowered her head at the appropriate moment.

“Rita, it will not be easy to establish a relationship with your daughter,” the social worker, interjected. “you will need a lot of support.”

“I realize that Ma’am, a big job, I reckon, and it will take time, but I got plenty of that.”

The Warden spoke next. “You do understand, Rita, that on parole, you will be required to report to your parole officer once a week, should we agree to return you to society?”

“Yes sir, I know that. I will comply with anything you want me to do.”

“You realize that we have petitions from your family asking us not to let you go.”

“No Sir, I didn’t know that. I will promise to stay away from them if that is your wish, much as I love them.”

“Rita,” the Warden added, rising from his seat. “We expect you to do just that. If you go anywhere near them, except for monitored visits with your daughter, you will be immediately brought back, in violation of parole. Is this perfectly clear ?”

” Yes Sir,” Rita nodded, with a face sincere and sad enough to convince them. She was edgy now. Her freedom was at stake.

“Leave us now, Rita,” the Warden advised her. “We will discuss your parole request and inform you of our decision by the latter part of the week.”

The news came to Rita as she was folding prison laundry. Her psychologist brought her the answer.

“Rita, the panel has decided in your favor. I am happy to bring this news and hope you will make a worthwhile life for yourself.”

“Thanks, Ma’am, this means so much to me. I won’t disappoint you.”

The therapist smiled, shook her hand and told her to call her if she had any problems. It was done. Rita was free. Her breast swelled with emotion. At long last, her revenge would begin. And after killing those who had rejected her, Rita would be happy. If not, there were always more to kill.


Micki Peluso began writing after a personal tragedy, which lead to  publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. She’s been staff writer for one major newspaper and freelanced for two more. Twelve of her award winning short fiction and slice of life stories are published in anthologies, magazines and e-zines. Her debut book was published in 2012; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC Silver Award for writing that builds character. She is presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK. Her debut children’s book, ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog’ will be released in May, 2016.


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When Doing the Right Thing Turns out Wrong by Micki Peluso

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The day, like the week preceding it, started out dreary and overcast, but patches of blue soon poked through the dense clouds, offering a promise of bright sunshine. Then the doorbell rang and the weather was no longer a concern, as the safety of my small grandson became threatened and the lives of those who loved him, thrown into panic.

My 20-year-old daughter was in the downstairs den and answered the doorbell. She seemed to be speaking at great length and I assumed it was another magazine salesman spouting his pitch. Curiosity overcame me and I glanced out the front window in time to see a police car pulling out of my driveway. As I turned around, Nicole and 4-year-old Jesse, who had spent the night with us were coming up the stairs.

“What did the policeman want?” I asked.

“He wanted to see Jesse,” Nicole answered. “Someone reported him as a missing child.”


“Don’t get upset. I explained that Jesse’s been with us since he was born. But you should have seen the picture of the missing boy. He looks exactly like Jesse.”

“You should have called me.”

“Don’t worry, Mom, it’s all taken care of.”

But it wasn’t. Half an hour later, two police cars pulled up and six policemen, including a sergeant, were at my door. By the time I got downstairs, they were crowded inside the living room of my other daughter’s downstairs apartment. Jesse, who had been visiting his aunt, was backed up flat against the back of her recliner, his face masked with fear. I reached for him and as I picked him up, he whispered, “Grandma, get these guys outta here and lock the door. They think I’m some missing boy.”

“It’s all right, Jess,” I said out loud. “We’ll just tell them that they have the wrong little boy.”

“They won’t believe us, Grandma,” he whispered back.

“Of course they will. Don’t be frightened. You know that policemen help people.”

I put him down and he returned to his previous stance, backed as far into the recliner as his small body would allow; his expression guarded and apprehensive. I would not realize until later that Jesse’s instincts for self-preservation were far stronger than my own.

My two daughters and I spent nearly an hour speaking with the policemen, who were all pleasant and non-threatening. Apparently a young couple in our neighborhood had seen a poster of a missing child at the post office and then saw Jesse riding his tricycle up and down my block and reported him to the police.

The resemblance to the missing boy was uncanny. In the picture he was even wearing a cowboy hat similar to the Australian bush hat that Jesse wore and coveted. We gathered up pictures of Jesse and pointed out to the policemen that while Jesse resembled the missing boy, who was two-years-old in the picture, when Jesse was two he had looked entirely different. They seemed to agree.

I gave them a run-down on Jesse’s life; how he had come to Staten Island at six-weeks-old with his mother and older brother after his parent’s divorce; how I had babysat the boys while their mother worked and how, until recently, when she remarried, the three of them had lived in the downstairs apartment. I was confident that they believed me.

Then the sergeant looked at Jesse, who was no more relaxed than before and said, “Would you like to take a ride with me?”

“No!” Jesse answered, a stony look on his face.

“Jess,” I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to ride in a police car?”

“No, it wouldn’t,” Jesse stated emphatically, pressing himself even further into the back of the chair.

“Listen,” I said to the sergeant. “Why don’t you drive over to our daughter’s home and she can show you his birth certificate and answer any other questions?”

They agreed and wrote down the directions. Jesse, clinging tightly to my leg, watched them leave, then insisted that I close and lock all the doors. I called his mother and told her what had happened.

“My God!” she said. “How can I prove he’s my child? Birth certificates can be forged. Mom, don’t let Jesse out of your sight!”

Eventually the matter was cleared up and the police were convinced that a mistake had been made. But the nightmare was far from over. Ironically, my daughter also resembled the description of the missing boy’s mother, who had taken her son and disappeared.

I remembered having asked one of the policemen if it was possible that a private detective was looking for the missing boy and if we would have to watch Jesse carefully for some time. The man had looked at me somberly and said, “If he was mine, I would.”

By the day’s end the entire family was a nervous wreck, as the ramifications of what had happened and still might occur, became increasingly clear. Only then did we realize that the police, upon returning with extra men and a superior officer could have and probably would have taken Jesse from us if they believed that he was the missing child. Had my child been missing, I would have expected them to do no less. And only then did we realize that the boy’s family and/or hired detective might still take him first and ask questions later.

What scared us the most was that the father of the missing boy had not seen his son since he was two-years-old. Jesse, at four, looked just like what the father would expect his son to look like. Jesse, was frightened, acutely aware of what had nearly happened. He feared realistically for his safety.

“Nicole,” he said to his aunt, ” If I get taken somewhere and I can’t get back home, I’ll always remember you.” He had nightmares for weeks, clinging to his mother and me, and often cried for no apparent reason.

Jesse’s mother called the Missing Children Hotline, and explained the situation, begging them to explain to the missing boy’s father that a mistake had been made, and that he was welcome to come to New York and see for himself that Jesse was not his son. The person she spoke to told her that he was aware of that particular case and that he would handle it. My daughter asked that he please get back to her. He never did. We also tried to contact the boy’s father ourselves, with no success. We felt as if we were fighting an invisible threat with no means to protect ourselves. Were we believed, or were we being watched?

From that day on, we guarded Jesse carefully, watched him every moment and never left him alone; always careful not to let him sense our fear. But as time passed and Jesse forgot the incident, we were never able to relax completely, never again able to feel secure.

The paradox to this story is that the couple reporting Jesse as a missing child did precisely the right thing for the right reasons. The police responding to the report took exactly the right action. Anyone spotting a possible missing child has a moral obligation to report it. I would not have hesitated notifying the authorities if I thought I had spotted a missing child. And if, God forbid, my own child was missing, I would demand and expect immediate police action, willing to go to any lengths to recover my child. Yet in doing all the right things, a family was given the scare of their lives, and a small boy was made to feel frightened and insecure. That day, which had shown so much promise turned, albeit through the best intentions, into an ominous nightmare from which we would be a long time awakening.


Micki Peluso began writing after a personal tragedy, which lead to publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25-year career in Journalism. She’s been staff writer for one major newspaper and freelanced for two more. Twelve of her award winning short fiction and slice of life stories are published in anthologies, magazines and e-zines. Her debut book was published in 2012; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC Silver Award for writing that builds character. She is presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK. Her debut children’s book, ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog’ will be released in May, 2016.

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