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Recommended Reads

Stories and poems that have made it into our recommended reading section are handpicked by our staff. They have been identified as exceptional pieces of writing, which warrant separate recognition.

Stories that are part of a series, or novels that have made it into this outstanding series section, are nominated by our staff and awarded by a select panel. These stories have been deemed superior as complete works and have garnered special recognition.

You are almost certainly guaranteed a good read, if you've selected a story from these offerings!

7
Recommended Read

Flanders

We lived and died on Flanders fields.

Sun-dried mud on youthful faces. Waiting for the shrill sound of whistles. Rolling thunder, foot by foot. Sending earth tossed to heaven. Drips of crimson foam splash mates, along the trench lines. Orders barked with the shrill whistles. "Over the top boys!" Being met with rat a tat from the bloody Hun guns. O what a grand sight as the Black Watch moved. Once more the youth of...Read On

14
Recommended Read

Don't Look

His tear was red, and spattered as it landed.

Dad was at work. Mom was at the grocery store. Her sister Em was at a friend’s house. El sat on her bed, playing with her kitten, Shadow. El had a feather on a string, and tossed it out like a fishing line for Shadow to chase. Something sounded from outside the room. Shadow jumped off the bed at once, his attention no longer on the feather. He bolted out of the room and took a sharp turn...Read On

18
Recommended Read

Of a Toke and a Time

Nostalgia offers a surprise sometimes

 

18
Recommended Read

Nowhere Boulevard

The road home can break a heart.

Four twenty, Sunday afternoon Baking heat, it’s late in June Abandoned in sad clouds of dust Left by departing Greyhound bus   Besieging desolation follows me This ghost town place of memories I’d broke off young, just seventeen For things I saw in magazines   Now here I am, back on Nowhere Boulevard   In beaten boots and ragged jeans, Empty pockets and black Ramones tee A...Read On

23
Recommended Read

The Penguin says...

Live your dreams

 

19
Recommended Read

Letter to a Friend

"Nothing is, but what is not" - Shakespeare, Macbeth. "Whatever... just sayin'..." - Dirty Martini

  Dear Alan, It's been a while since I wrote to you. Did you know there's a story competition in your name? I had an idea for it, started to write something. It was clever, funny, titled Jankowski's Lost'n'Found . The story got lost, but it goes something like this: Jankowski and Al were old friends, co-owners of a cab they took turns driving. They had a flat rate, 4.20, due to the...Read On

22
Recommended Read

Interstate 420

Written while listening to Live Wire Blues Power

There is no Interstate called Four Twenty, No one can tell me how to go there, now. No entry ramps, no exits one might see, But, still, I dream I'll get there, anyhow. The neon sign still glows so bright, my friend, The penguins manning toll gates ask two bits, Then lifting up the cross bar by its end They welcome in the artists and misfits. At every mileage marker on...Read On

20
Recommended Read

Black Birds

Two long lost friends team up for an old job.

  Black Birds Cold night air pinched at the darkness. Frost painted featherlike patterns on the windscreens of the parked cars along the street. Grass huddled together beneath their icing sugar coating. A neon light at the corner of the street failed to notify anyone of the great deals Joe’s Café had to offer, the street had been plunged into darkness. The power outages were getting...Read On

28
Recommended Read

A Farewell Drink

A woman has one last drink with her friend.

The glow of the neon sign lit her face as she walked into the bar with a Gibson Les Paul guitar strapped across her back and carrying an urn in her hands. She set the urn in an empty stool and sat next to it, hanging the guitar on the back of hers. “Two dirty martinis please!” she called out. The bartender mixed the drinks and placed them both in front of her. She slid one over to the urn...Read On

25
Recommended Read

One More

One man's thoughts of a friend gone

I pulled the last olive off the swizzle stick with my teeth and ate it before finishing off my drink. Looking up at the clock it, showed 4:20. It was in the AM, not the afternoon. It had been a long day. “I couldn't even begin to count the number of people at the wake,” I thought. Flipping on the TV, I found there wasn't much at this time in the morning, just talking heads, Infomercials,...Read On

22
Recommended Read

The Four Hundred and Twentieth Warden

A vision of the future. A way to say goodbye to those lost too soon.

Dear Dad, It’s Julie. This is the letter we always used to wonder about. It took much longer than expected. My timeline runs parallel to, but thirty years ahead of yours, and I’ve grown older here than you are there.  You’re approaching the point where I lost you. A time when everything fell into chaos here. You wouldn’t recognize my world, but I’m still your little girl. I miss you...Read On

24
Recommended Read

The Last Beginning

He didn’t dance. Why was he locked in a room with a ballerina, a conductor, and a photographer?

“This is like a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode!” he observed. “Four of us locked in a room, and none of us know how we got here!” “And none of us seem that concerned about it!” the photographer noted. “Mind if I get some photos of everyone with my Exakta 66?” He stood up and started looking for the best vantage point in the room. The short, portly conductor was already pacing around,...Read On

23
Recommended Read

Last Note

My friend Alan...

“What is this place?” he thought to himself. He carried only his beloved Gibson Les Paul guitar as he kept stumbling forward. His watch read 4:20 but he didn’t know if it was A.M. or P.M. A booming voice echoed through the cavern. “Step forward boy!” A figure rose from the ground. He watched as the figure stood 10 feet tall. It was grotesque in appearance with horns of a ram and a...Read On

21
Recommended Read

Shining On

I meet up with a distant friend... Sort of.

It's unfortunate when you try something new and it all goes to pot. Big Dave is only too familiar with such misfortune, his rundown bar barely covers the rent and its faulty neon sign seems rather appropriate. Although, I kinda like the way his 'Rock Bar' trade name flickers and dies periodically, because sooner or later it always lights up and shines again. Despite its obvious...Read On

4
Recommended Read

Broken Roses

The first blow of the next war of good v evil

It had started inauspiciously, much as any other day. But that sharp, cold, Thursday morning was one that would shape history. Both political and religious history. It would be wrong to say that it 'changed' history, as history is an eternally changing story. History itself cannot be changed - only the telling of it. Not a single member of the congregation of The Church of Our Lady who...Read On

11
Recommended Read

Writer's Block

A Short Tale of Seaside Serendipity

  THE CALENDAR TAUNTED JANE, its little yellow-highlighted square outlined in a bold red stroke mocking her lack of progress. ‘You’re going to miss the deadline, you know. I’m just six weeks away now,’ it scoffed. ‘Whatever made you apply for that fellowship anyhow, and what could the panel have been thinking when they gave it to you? You’re no writer; you’ve proven that over the past...Read On

13
Recommended Read

The Little Bliss

Just remember the bliss

 

14
Recommended Read

Disconnected

Leaning as far over as she dared, she peered under the lake’s gently rippling surface. She could see all the way to the silt and rock bottom but couldn’t discern a black rectangle protruding from it. The phone was gone. “Stupid, stupid,” she muttered. “Where is it?” She risked leaning even farther, searching beneath the canoe but the old wooden vessel creaked in protest and tilted...Read On

11
Recommended Read

A Day in My Life Without You

A day in my life without you is like a fog bank in the murky twilight, I see shapes and hear sounds but there is no illumination, no clarity. The mists hide the beauty of the woods and the twilight hides the day. Where is life without You bringing the Light? A day in my life without you is like a wintry day in the midst of haze, Forms are white and sounds are muffled, senses strain...Read On

9
Recommended Read

The Hotline

Do the tattoo. If you need to. 1-800-273-8255

 

5
Recommended Read

Parlor Tricks

An old man ponders the past and what he learned there so long ago

Uncle Jeff called them bear berries. That hadn't sounded right to Terrance. Now, so many years later, he recalled that long ago moment and curiosity finally lead him to search online. It didn't take long to find a picture of them. They were salmon berries. That was the succulent fruits he had found growing thickly and profusely on the briars out in the woods so long ago. He couldn't...Read On

4
Recommended Read

Five Dollar Donation

A young man finds a connection to his father through a museum exhibit

  The bus ride over to the museum was as painful as a tooth extraction without the laughing gas. Kids who were nearing adulthood acted like two year olds on Red Bull, bouncing in their seats, yelling at one another, popping gum, running down the aisle playing musical seats, ignoring the shouts from the teachers. We were on our last outing of our senior year, not that anyone cared....Read On

9
Recommended Read

When Shall We Wake?

An ode to a departed friend and poets everywhere

When shall we wake?  Shall we wait, wringing our hands, Until our last child smiles no more? Shall we wait until he’s gone to war?  Shall we wait, with a self-righteous tear,  as last he feels his mother's love, And ends his life  in the streets of our City’s  empty heart? When shall we wake? Shall we wait, clicking our tongues  as the newsman tells of the old woman who suffered in the...Read On

7
Recommended Read

Colorado Calls, Jersey Rejoices

Every story has two sides...

Note: This compilation occurred to me more than a year ago. In fact, the reason I logged on to Facebook on March 14, 2017, was to reach out to Alan and propose that we combine our efforts, merging his Colorado Calling and my Jersey Rejoicing into one poem. Instead, I learned that morning of Alan's passing a few days earlier. It threw me for a loop, and the idea got pushed to the back of...Read On

5
Recommended Read

Going Steady

Sunny days, drive-ins, and the way it goes

Old enough to drive. Old enough to own a car. Old enough to go steady. The first Saturday after Jake Terwilliger turned sixteen he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his license. He struggled a little with the written test, but he passed the driving part with no problems. It was a sunny spring day in the Ozarks. They drove his family's old '52 Ford during the test. Jake was used...Read On

9
Recommended Read

Suddenly!

Was it just lurking, waiting to take me by surprise?

 

3
Recommended Read

Hamlet and James Dean Died Young

Young couple, once in love, now estranged: they discover that Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a reckless, d

about 2200 words Hamlet and James Dean Died Young by James Foley In Virginia, an hour’s drive south of D.C., there’s a huge white house—built in the 1890s out on a point on the Chesapeake. And this summer when I drove there for a Wednesday-evening literary-club meeting, a gale was churning the water in front and on both sides of the house. And somehow on that lightning-blasted...Read On

12
Recommended Read

Honky Tonk Bar

We can dance if we want to

 

4
Recommended Read

Bugsy's Revenge

Frank Danger has two choices: Think fast or die.

I was tailing the unfaithful husband of a neurotic client down a dark alley when someone slipped behind me and put a gun to my neck. I heard Bugsy’s voice and knew I had a problem. “Frank Danger, P.I.!” he said with a delighted baritone that rumbled like a dump truck. “Bugsy.” He laid a heavy mitt on my back and sent me staggering. Bugsy was a great guy. I thought the world of him. ...Read On

11
Recommended Read

Learning to Swim

Still waters run deep