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Photo by Bastien Jaillot on Unsplash


by Gavin Bourke

8 months old,
the untold joy,
he brought,
the clothes,
phone calls,
the smiling visits
and the time-off.

Alone, for a few
a freak accident,
a stray cord,
left, like a sleeping antelope.

Some tragedies,
are not bearable,
without a meaning,
through which,
to read, life itself.
A few months,
separated us,
said it was rare,
a baby,
caught death,

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Photo by Naim Benjelloun from Pexels


By Christina E. Petrides

Fortune turns
her spiked wheel
twisting bones
tongue in groove

soft caramel
charred red sand
glass darkly
reflects pain

needle leaves
change colors
sharp winds trace
branch edges

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Photo by Mike Szczepanski on Unsplash


by Mark A. Murphy

For every roll of the dice
someone weeps
throws the towel into the ring

For every seductive embrace
someone weeps
consents to three in a bed

For every wish upon the moon
someone weeps
opens the lid on Pandora’s box

For every cautionary tale
someone weeps
pays the piper to lead the throng

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Photo by Antoine Julien on Unsplash


by William McCann

John, a rich farmer, had two sons, Peter and Paul. When he was 21 Peter, a musician, asked for his inheritance and went out into the world where over a period of time he spent his money on dissipation, music, and drink. He had a wild, carefree, and wonderful time. Eventually, the money dwindled and was nearly gone when he met Mary who was a good singer and a great tambourinist. Rather than run out of money entirely, and perhaps be forced to eat with the pigs, Peter suggested that he and Mary go visit his father and brother.

Well, John’s farm was high on a hill-hills actually, and in the nearby valleys as well-such that John spied Peter’s speeding sports car a long way off and ordered Paul and the servants to prepare a great feast. “My son is coming home; we have to…

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


by DB Cox

There is no crime of which I cannot conceive myself guilty…
— Goethe

I’m in no hurry to leave the close-spaced security of the bus. So, I lean back in my seat and wait until everyone is out. Then I walk to the front, take two steps down — back in the “real world.”

After four years, three tours in Iraq, and two days of military psych-docs attempting to drive out the bad times with clever talk and good intentions, I am discharged — officially cut loose from a surreal scene of free-fire zones and indiscriminate killing.

Citizen X: deprogrammed, purified, and deposited on easy hometown streets. …

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Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash


by Frederick Pollack

It’s the setting for a classical painting
or drama, but not one where the king,
beneath his purple canopy,
dies in the last act, or enters
in triumph earlier,
or at all. There’s a wastefulness
about these sun-drenched plazas, towering
rooms enclosed or open, marbled
vistas, which need not be
a sign of confidence or vanity.
The people, who don’t appear,
must live in narrow chambers
and customs, obsessively neat
and punctilious; or so you sense.
They have no concept of the sword,
only of shields. And if you ask
Where are the looming, polychrome,
expected gods, the emptiness
of certain spaces is
in its way numinous and answers fully.
So that you could replace
columns with rebar, stone
with glass and lose nothing. …

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Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash


by Allison M. Palmer

The other day, while exploring publications online, I noticed a number of artfully-illustrated carcasses; a dog whose wounded side erupted with a plant, red flowers emerging from the decay; a sparrow placed amid wilted lilies on the pavement; and another bird, covered in pink and blue powdered pigment, of the kind used for Hindu festivals, an image at once tragic and off-putting. Were the depictions intended to convey nostalgia? Or, did editors wish to invoke the strange romance of demise, a favorite topic of novelists and tubercular poets? …

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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash


by Mark Niedzwiedz

Beyond the book ends of conversation
Well mannered, gentle in ebb and flow
Skeletons, holed-up in hard to reach cupboards
Laugh at their master’s voice
On the outside all seems middled
Straight lines with no kinks
Vanilla lives where only the garbage stinks
But not far from the guarded gates of insipia
Just below the waterline of words
There is ugliness, there are dirty hands
For we all bury secrets in the quiet of the night
Fearful of the day our deeds may come to light

For some, the secret is monstrous
A chamber of horrors, with no visitors bar a penitent priest
But for most of us the demon is benign
A wriggly, niggly thing without teeth or claws
Yet, we tremble, wait for the guilty finger to settle
And wide-eyed vultures to pick at our mettle
Till the unmentionable is mentioned, the hidden revealed
Then wives cry, sons disappoint, friends lower their eyes
But who is intact, who amongst can claim Lincoln’s truth
Or Jesus’ perfect divinity, not one of us
For we all bury secrets in the quiet of the night
Fearful of the day our deeds may come to…

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Photo by Ridwan RR on Unsplash


by DB Cox

most nights he slept
in the silent space
between freights
that rolled overhead
like a storm
rocking concrete pillars
planted along
hidden fault lines
under the eight-mile bridge
where gods spoke
through broken wine bottles
& drunken-tongued
stumble bums
coughed up old tales
that colored the air
blue —
haunted faces
like hopeless ghosts
tallying old mistakes
under the eight-mile bridge

his mind was gone
when they brought him
back to the county home
where he lies under nights
too quiet
staring up
restless & confused
wondering what happened
to the thunder
under the eight-mile bridge

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by Nicole Yurcaba

Hunting Season by Julia Brennan
Tarpaulin Sky Press
Pages: 174

When readers first begin Julia Brennan’s 2020 novel Hunting Season published by Tarpaulin Sky Press, they first encounter a semi-erotic italicized narrator paralleling the biblical Eve in the Garden story. After finishing this narrative, which ends with the simple sentence “She called him Knowledge,” readers might hesitantly continue into the next narrative, where they again meet two characters, A and B, and discover that A bears the name Anna, but plot and character details are few, and once again, readers must choose whether they’ll continue pursuing the narrative or close the book. Some readers will deem the first few pages too strange and may close the book and choose another from whatever shelf, stack, etc. they’re facing. …


The Nonconformist Magazine

Stories and articles from “The Nonconformist” contributors; writing about books, without compromise:

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