Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2023
Dear Flying Island Readers: Welcome to the 9.29 Edition of the Flying Island Journal! In this edition we publish poems by Tory Pearman , Samuel Franklin , Eric Chiles , and Charlotte Melin . Inspired to send us your fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? For more info on how to submit, see the tab above. Thank you for reading, Flying Island Editors and Readers All images for this issue come from the Japanese fireworks design from a ca. 1883 catalogue of the Hirayama Fireworks company. (Source: Yokohama City Central Library).

Band Practice at the Park, a poem by Samuel Franklin

Band Practice at the Park The pipers droned to a stop  and I rolled my drum to silence when the rain came blustering   over the treeline like a swarm  of electric wasps jittering madly  against the shelter’s tin roof so overwhelming a piper struck up  a tune again but the pipe’s sound  was drowned in the howl around us ancient sound eating ancient sound   until suddenly the storm whimpered away  in a second’s span it turned to drizzle  and then dried as the sun cut clouds  around the horizon and then  a rainbow arced up and doubled  not just across the sky but from  the cornpatch across the lot  like an otherworldly waterfall crashing  quietly among Indiana’s greenness the colors rushing from and falling into  the glistening golden ears of corn.  Samuel Franklin is the author of two books of poetry: Bright Soil, Dark Sun (2019) and The God of Happiness (2016). He resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where he enjoys making useful things out of wood scraps and losing staring contests to h

Growing Up Gay in Greene County, a poem by Tory Pearman

Growing Up Gay in Greene County Indiana boys shoot hoops next to barns, in gravel driveways,  in the high school gym. They play shirts vs. skins, the smell of leather and dirt still faint on their hands after scrubbing. After dark, they hang out in garages, sliding under cars, swiping grease from their faces onto flannel sleeves. They pass metal tools or metal cans, hand to hand, laughing through woodstove smoke. Some walk the river bottoms, hunt squirrel, rabbit, quail, morel, stopping to drop a line in cold water. They can skin and hang  a deer, then skin-the-cat  on the same tree branch. In Indiana, boys grow tall and straight. They clean up for dances and dates, walk, anxious, to the front door, hiding shaky hands behind their backs,  nervously swallowing their hellos. They know how to follow the rules: don’t swim in the stripper pits don’t play on the tracks don’t stay out too late don’t race down backroads don’t veer from the route. Don’t walk into dark cornfields; you might neve

Duck eggs, a poem by Eric Chiles

Duck eggs The ducklings would start to appear two months after Easter. More mess than cuteness by then, families abandoned them in Monocacy Park. By summer's end, flotillas of white would raft the creek's rapids. Uneducated orphans, the ducks didn't know how to nest, so when the eggs came, they dropped them in the cool waters where they stood out like alabaster pebbles. My father, with hungry mouths to feed, recognized a welcomed bounty. If the ducks didn't know how to nest, my parents did. There were eight of us by then, a ravenous rabble gobbling up whatever my mother set on the table. So my father started wading the creek collecting the chilled eggs. Most of us feasted on scrambled duck eggs, pumpkin rolls and cakes all enriched with dark orange yolks. Except me. Eggs were supposed to come from chickens and in a box bought at the grocery store. Not a dirty creek. So while my siblings giggled over Mom's gooey chocolate gobs, I glared wondering why she wouldn't

Blueberry Picking, a poem by Charlotte Melin

Blueberry Picking We needed this day to remind us of abundance, of cyclical renewal— the mixture of sun and clouds, the air breathable for once, the wild clematis a white lace thick with bees. The drive to the farm leads up a wooded hill past wheat fields turned golden,  hollyhocks, mallows, poppies, the barn where swallows curl by overhead. The blueberry picking is good and children’s voices call out delight to family in the next row as they discover the prize.  Afterwards we walk the path that looks out toward the river, gleaning more time in this place, a moment of pause away from all that troubles this summer— the smoke and heat and floods. Charlotte Melin grew up in Indiana and returns to visit. Recently retired from the University of Minnesota, she lives in Northfield and has published widely about German poetry, the environmental humanities, and teaching.

Flying Island 8.25

Dear Flying Island Readers: Welcome to the 8.25 Edition of the Flying Island Journal! In this edition we publish poems by Martha Christina , Elaine Fowler Palencia , Chris Dean . Inspired to send us your fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? For more info on how to submit, see the tab above. Thank you for reading, Flying Island Editors and Readers

Ornamental, a poem by Martha Christina

Ornamental When the young sharp shinned hawk lands on the feeder,  the small song birds have already fled. It settles on the top,  immobile, almost  ornamental. Those who know  more than I about  hawks assure me  disappointment is a human emotion, not something a hawk feels, left alone with only sunflower seeds. Martha Christina was born and raised in Indiana, earned a BA in Spanish from IU Bloomington, and married in Beck Chapel there. She now lives in Bristol, RI, but considers herself a Hoosier-at-heart. She has published two full-length collections, Staying Found (Fleur de lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press), both of which contain poems set in Indiana. Individual poems appear recently in Crab Orchard Review , Star 82 Review, and Tiny Seed Journal . Image: Cyanotype of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843)

Twilight Lexus, a poem by Elaine Fowler Palencia

Twilight Lexus “The last car I will ever buy,” you said, and we laughed at this flimsy excuse to spend on luxury, for once in our lives, and drove ninety miles past winter-parched fields to Peoria to be schooled in the new vehicle’s bells and whistles pat the old car goodbye and be handed key fobs we didn’t understand. My father used to say such things— the last suit I will ever buy,  the last big trip we will take, my last lawnmower. He had a PhD in lugubriousness. On the way home, the winter sun sinking, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel  and observed how much of the wall “art”-- boxy cardboard letter files, stoneware jugs, stern ancestors discomfited in oval frames, augers, potato mashers, rusty hand saws,  cast iron cookware, mantel clocks— are still part of our daily lives, and we noted the main demographic:  women in late middle age  eating with an aged parent  who was taking most of the meal home for later and whose liver spots matched ours, and I thought, maybe you were right abou

afternoon gardening, a poem by Chris Dean

afternoon gardening I arch my feet, working tendons, bones and joints that seem to be slowly reshaping themselves into gnarled roots. My hands twist and curl more daily; stiff, bulbous knuckles no longer so much fleshy fingers as knotty branches. I pause to stretch, toes dug into earth and arms open to the sky. In the warmth of the sun, I feel the continuity of my Mothers flow through me like sweet sap. As I joyfully sway in the wind, I smile at the thought my body isn't really aging, I'm simply becoming the Family Tree.  Chris Dean , a writer from Indiana, began writing poetry in 2018. They were the featured artist for May at the Columbus Area Arts Council Monthly Open Mic Night. Their work was published in The Whiskey Mule Diner Anthology . Image: Plant forms, an Impression Figure by Margaret Watts Hughes, pigment on glass, date unknown. Courtesy of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Flying Island 7.28

Dear Flying Island Readers: Welcome to the 7.28 Edition of the Flying Island Journal! In this edition we publish a nonfiction piece by Albert Hoffmann and poems by  Laurel Smith , Mary Sexson , and  Katherine V. Wills . Inspired to send us your fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? For more info on how to submit, see the tab above. Thank you for reading, Flying Island Editors and Readers

Keeping the Sabbath, a poem by Laurel Smith

Keeping the Sabbath           My worship is a blue sky and ten thousand crickets in the deep wet       hay of the field.  My vow is the silence under their song.                    –Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Dawn The sycamore laughs, her new leaves confident before       the storm, her limbs stretched like a dancer’s ready for thunder, clapping for rain. Noon Jasmine—the real thing, though I’m still learning its first        name from bees in love with those blooms, swirling breath and nectar for their jubilee. Moment The hours fill, then spill then fill again: time itself   fluent as a cloud or tree or pebble speaking to a friend longing to listen.  Evening By the creek, a blackbird stops on the wild grass.  Does he       pause to scavenge seed or signal his mate or scan heaven for a psalm of flight? Dark Spring’s palette dims  at sundown, swallowed by shadow. Enter a million stars: all day they keep their places, all night the rainbowed world sle

Wild Peacocks, a poem by Mary Sexson

Wild Peacocks Eight-thousand miles can take a toll, even on an iPhone, and so your voice echoes, fades in and out as you tell me about the wild peacocks, their call, their strutty selves walking the grounds where you are staying.                   Our son guides you each day through this maze of newness. You, who clung to home as if it were your lifeboat, now wander on evening walks with him in the dust and heat   of southern India, washing your clothes in a bucket and scooping your food with your hand.                   I wonder at the sound of it, whether I could navigate such a distance, could listen to the peacock’s call. Mary Sexson is the author of the newly released Her Addiction An Empty Place at the Table (Finishing Line Press).  Her other books include the award-winning 103 in the Light, Selected Poems 1996-2000 (Restoration Press), and Company of Women, New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press).  She co-authored the upcoming book, Marriage Maps and Driven Destinies, to b

Clear Cut: Forester, a poem by Katherine V. Wills

Clear Cut: Forester  I told him to hire Amish loggers  Because their horses pull   Heavy logs and stumps  Not like machinery   Or skids that ravish  The forest floor.  These stout men  Read the trees,  With their loyal Bucephalus  Cutting and clearing side-by-side.     “Ya ya yaa, gee up”  Horses billowing breath  Hooves precariously slip sliding in mud.  The forester’s horses were named  Moonlight, Midnight, and Adam.    Years later you decided to trim  That one thick branch overhanging  The pine decking.  With your chainsaw hungrily   Growling into the resistant lateral,  With an engineer’s geometry,  By all dead reckoning,  The branch should have fallen  There.  You and I escaped into heartwood—  Only the beating heart of the felled tree.   Katherine V. Wills ( Katerina Tsiopos) is an English professor at Indiana University/Purdue University, Columbus, In. Her poetry has been published previously in Flying Island and she has worked with Reservoir Dogwood Poets and many south central

Cycling and Writing, nonfiction by Albert Hoffmann

When I tell people that I have cycled unsupported nearly 3,000 miles of winding roads along the west coast of the United States, along entire river paths of the South Korean peninsula, or up hopelessly steep mountains and volcanoes in Costa Rica, a common response from non-cyclists is simply, “Why?” The question echoes from voices of incredulity, faces skeptical of my motives, my self esteem, and especially my sanity. That sounds painful, like hell, they say. And there are moments in every journey in which their dubious instincts are correct, in which dehydration causes cramped, twitching quadriceps, when saddle sores on my ass burn like hellfires of my own creation. But after each of these trials, the destination comes with an enormous sense of accomplishment accompanied by the bittersweet knowledge that the journey is over. Unlike cycling, few people ask a writer upon writing their first novel, “Why did you do it?” There seems to be an automatic admiration for the talent and dedicati

Flying Island 6.23

Dear Flying Island Readers: Welcome to the 6.23 Edition of the Flying Island Journal! In this edition, we publish the third place winner of our Short Fiction Contest,  "The Long Dark" by James Matthew Lee Wilson ! In this edition, we also have three new poems and a nonfiction piece by Tony Armstrong. Inspired to send us your fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction? For more info on how to submit, see the tab above. Thank you for reading, Flying Island Editors and Readers

The Long Dark, fiction by James Matthew Lee Wilson

On a bright summer morning, smelling fresh of rain and honeysuckle, I lay in my bed, listening to the sounds of my grandmother's kitchen. Down the hall, a cabinet opened and closed. The kettle clanged into the basin and then water from the faucet rushed in to fill it. Footsteps tracked over to the stovetop. My grandmother hummed to herself, but she was not alone. "I wonder what Bill will do now that Esther is gone." A familiar voice. Joe Camacho; forever sweet on my grandmother. He came most mornings but never on Sunday. On occasion, he brought flowers, which she would fuss over before placing them in a vase. But most days they would sit at the kitchen table, sip their coffee, and chat the morning away. To my knowledge, it was never anything more than that. "I imagine Bill will stay. Don't see him as the leaving type." My grandmother answered, confident in a way that only a long-term resident of a small town can be when speaking on local matters. I heard the