Future City Future City By: Steven Clifford

A past reviving gall lifts up a long skirt: romance climbs legs of blurry connection.
We attend a funeral separately,
and meet at the after party, tears aflame with laughter, dancing

in the fallout of never more. On a bar’s deck,
drenched with exerted loneliness, we tease insanity
as sanity drizzles. Against us,
a lake of the unpredictable rushes daydream-currents.
“I’ll jump, you know,” she threatens, smiling.
“Not on my watch.”
“I’ll protect you.”
A storm ruffles my safe house, thrusting the door open: electricity tangles discomfort.

Uncertainty magnetizes the floor, ratting my roof of
solitary dreaming, caving in, and exposure soaring.

Nervousness collapses; she sits cross-legged, a wilderness of impulse expanding.
waiting for me to get the check. She grafts herself to my arm on a

breathless street,
slivering under our feet.
Over our (traffic zipping, zipping) walking embrace (Traffic zipping, zipping)
traffic lights flash (flash).
A fork: shotgun bliss or passion in dribs and drabs.
We walk on the sidewalk’s edge, traffic a breath away, and scurry across chanciness.

On the other side,
she tells me of a future city, “Will it flourish, crumble or…never be?”

“I’ll build a house there.”
We rub insecurity together, sparking a faint glow outside an abandoned church. A nun
snubs it out before an explosion

devours everything.
Wish I told her how I doubt my future city. I told of a great economy,
dazzling lights, and tall buildings.
I never told her of the boy who sits in a tub on a nameless dirt road awaiting pavement.

_____

Steven Leonardo Clifford is a Long Island native. He has schizoaffective disorder from which he draws his inspiration.

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Hello Writers!

Hi All,

I know you’ve been waiting for the next issue so I wanted to provide an update. I plan on publishing this month. Hopefully it will be out in the next week. I apologize for such a long delay. This issue will be much longer than the past two! So I’m excited to say it’ll be worth the wait.

Thank you all for your patience,

Katie Karambelas

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Call for Submissions!

Hello writers,

We are currently accepting submissions for online publication in our fourth issue. We hope to publish by the end of August if we receive enough submissions of quality work. Please follow the submission guidelines and submit your best work. We look forward to reading!

On another note, we are currently looking for a new poetry editor. If you are interested in gaining experience working with an online literary magazine, please send a resume to foreveronwardreview@gmail.com with the title “Poetry Editor” in the subject line. If you are able to receive college credit for the work, we would be happy to work with your university. This a part time, unpaid volunteer position for experience only.

Lastly, we are also looking for submissions for artwork for our upcoming issues and for possible print or ebook publication. If you are an artist, photographer, graphic designer, etc and you would like to submit some of your work, please email submissions to foreveronwardreview@gmail.com with subject line “Artwork submission”. We are requesting that these be related to our YA/NA audience in some way.

Thanks,
Forever Onward! Review staff

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Issue Three – Mini Issue

Paradox Tempestuous by: Hillora Lang

TRAVELING AFTER THE BREAKUP  by: John Grey

The Straight & Narrow by: James D. Reed

KISSING COUPLE by: John Grey

 

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Paradox Tempestuous by Hillora Lang

     The flashing red lights were sleek as candy apples in the rain. I could see the reflection on the white metal ceiling of the ambulance as it raced down the hills towards town. Everything seemed sleek, crisp—the beeps from the heart monitor, the clipped voice of the EMT, the knife-edged white sheet covering the leads which snaked out from beneath my running bra, Mom’s taut face hanging in the air above me.
     “Say something, Mira, please!” she begged, refusing to release my hand and get out of the EMT’s way.
     “Mira, can you tell me what year it is?” the heavyset woman asked, checking the monitor again. “Who’s the president?”
     “Why doesn’t she say something?” Mom demanded, as if my inability to answer was a personal affront.
     “It’s probably just temporary, ma’am,” the EMT tried to reassure her. She turned and shouted to the driver, “What’s our ETA?”
     “Two minutes,” he yelled back over the revolving wail of the siren. “There’s a team ready to go!”
     “We’re lucky this storm died out so quickly,” the EMT muttered under her breath. She glanced up at Mom. “It was a supercell, ya’ know. They were expecting it throw out a mean big ol’ twister. Lucky…”

     Dad met us at the entrance to the ER, where he and Mom were quickly shuffled off into a waiting area. The nurses swiftly sliced through my scorched jeans, prying my melted sneakers off and throwing everything in a corner. A doctor in blue scrubs and a white coat kept barking vital signs to an intern with an iPad, flashing a penlight in my eyes, checking the leads to the heart monitor, bending my elbows and knees to see if everything still worked.
     “Open,” he ordered, penlight held steady as he waited for me to open my mouth.
     I shook my head.
     I refused.
     I would not open my mouth. I couldn’t.

     “We’re going to keep her overnight,” the doctor said from his station at the end of my hospital bed. “We just want to make sure her heart keeps working like it should. All her vitals are good, but there’s always the chance of an arrhythmia, or the possibility of convulsions. If everything goes all right tonight, we should be able to release Mira in the morning.”
     I fought to control the tension in my legs, working to keep them from shaking with excess energy beneath the pink cotton blanket. The power was building, and I didn’t know if I had the strength to contain it.
     “Thank you, doctor,” Mom said. Dad stopped stroking my hair and patted me on the shoulder. Could he feel the energy blazing beneath his hand?
     Mom kept pushing for answers. “But why hasn’t she spoken? She hasn’t said a word since we found her.”
     “It’s probably just the shock of the accident. We’ll let her rest, and see how things look in the morning.”
     He flicked off the overhead light as they left the room, leaving just a small lamp burning beside the bed. I tried to sleep, but the energy jolted me awake every time I came close to dropping off. By three a.m. I knew that I could do it, had to do it. It was just too much for me.
     Slipping out of bed I slid through the half-open door and into the hallway. The tiled floor was chill against my feet, thankfully; anything that cooled the fire raging inside me was a relief. I made my way down the hall, avoiding the nurse’s station, and found a supply closet with a stack of freshly washed blue cotton scrubs. Dropping my hospital gown behind a set of steel shelves I pulled on a pair of loose-fitting pants and a floppy top, then grabbed a couple of papery slippers from an open box. Not the nicest outfit, but it was better than the open-backed hospital gown. Maybe I looked enough like staff that no one would notice my escape.
     I made my way downstairs and slipped out a side door into the rain-soaked parking lot. There was lightning dancing far away across the sky, a new storm moving in across the nearby hills. My feet slapped loudly against the wet sidewalk in the soggy paper slippers; I wouldn’t get far like this. And I didn’t have much time—
     About half a mile from the hospital, down a quiet residential street, I spotted a pair of bicycles propped up on the front porch of a small house. The front light was on, but the windows were dark. Getting busted for grand theft bike didn’t worry me—if I didn’t get out of town in a hurry this night wasn’t going to end well, for me or anyone else nearby. I’d return the stolen bike later, if I lived long enough. If not, they could put “Mira Bascomb: Beloved Daughter and Bike Thief” on my tombstone.

     It didn’t take long to get out of town and up into the hills, not with all that energy racing through me. I headed for the big rock outcropping on the west side of Derecho Hill, dropping the stolen bicycle on the shoulder of the road and scrambling up the scree slope. My hands were burning, and the paper slippers had dissolved in the rain and heat from my flesh. But I didn’t notice anything beyond the slippery rocks in front of me, illuminated by the near-constant lightning now flashing above.
     I made it to the flat top of the rock shield and stretched out, breathing heavily through my nose. I didn’t dare open my mouth yet. It wouldn’t be long, though.

     When the storm blew up earlier that afternoon I had been in my favorite hiding place, at the top of the old live oak tree in the backyard, concealed by the foliage. Mom had insisted that I go shopping with her, for designer lightbulbs, or diamond-encrusted pie tins, or limited edition cat toys—I can’t remember what exactly. I was hiding out to avoid another miserable afternoon. I had lived in that old tree since I was big enough to climb the wooden crosspieces Dad hammered in for steps. The tree had grown with me, its limbs expanding to support my dreams of faraway places and the cache of fantasy novels I stored in a five-pound butter cookie box and dangling strands of seashells, rocks with holes, glass beads, and origami animals. It was my home, far more than the Frank Lloyd Wright-wannabe we lived in.
     The sky had been brooding for hours while Mom called for me; she’d given up when it started to rain. Huge gray clouds shaggy as mastodons blundered across the sky, lighting up from within with the power of the gods, coming closer to my hiding place. I climbed down out of the cover of the leaves to stand with my sneakers spread wide on a thick limb. As the wind started to blow the storm closer I grabbed onto a branch above my head and tight roped out towards the end of the limb.
     I don’t have a death wish, honestly, but the power of the storm was flooding through me and I wouldn’t flee to safety like a scared kid. I had never felt such power. The storm wanted me, and I wanted it!
     Balanced near the end of the limb, T-shirt and shorts plastered against my skin by the icy rain, my long hair hanging in wet strings, I laughed, crowed, screamed with joy as the storm descended from the hills and swept over me. Opening my mouth wide enough to fit a whole summer-ripe watermelon inside—
I swallowed the storm.
     They found me lying beneath the lightning-splintered tree, called the rescue squad, and the rest you know. But not all the rest…
     That storm was still inside me, and if I opened my mouth it would come blasting out, destroying everything in its path. I’d held it in as long as I could, trying to figure out what to do with it. There weren’t a lot of options. If I’d opened my mouth in the ambulance, or in the hospital, it would have torn everything apart, or at least leveled a couple of streets. I couldn’t keep it inside me much longer—I wasn’t that strong. I’d begun to realize what a mess I’d created, lying there in that hospital bed long after midnight.
     Then I remembered a story I’d read about a Chinese guy who was trying to sell a spear and a shield. He’d claimed the spear was sharp enough to pierce any shield, and the shield was strong enough to stop any spear. The old “unstoppable force meets an immovable object” paradox. There was only one thing I could do with the tempest I’d swallowed, the wind, the lightning, the pounding rain. And the time had come—
     I stood atop the granite shield on the side of Derecho Hill in the face of the new storm racing towards me. Inside the lightning flowed through my veins, the rain lashed my blood, the wind forced my lips apart and I opened my mouth—
     The twin storms blasted into each other, one trying to pull my insides out while the other tried to fight through it and shred me into memories. It was a force stronger than any tornado could ever have produced according to the laws of physics. It was forever; it was never; it was no time at all before the furor died away into distant rumbles and fairy lights flashing behind the dissolving clouds. I dragged my tattered body upright, each bruised muscle screaming with ecstasy. It was too far down in the rain-dark night, too far back to the road, too far to go home again.
     I slumped down, back against a boulder slick with my storm’s gift, and laughed myself into sleep.
     

Hillora Lang grew up in New York State’s Hudson Valley. Born with Asperger Syndrome, her developmental disability was undiagnosed until adulthood. As a result of the social deficiencies caused by her condition, her most trusted friends were always the books she read and the dreams she wove out of spidersilk and moonbeams. After years spent reading the books of others, she decided it was time to give back to the world by writing down her own stories. She is currently at work on a series of magical dystopian novels about the crystalline Chaelli race and their human symbionts, as well as a series of novels set in ancient Scotland, loosely based on James MacPherson’s 1700s publication of the Ossian Cycle of poems.
With a BFA in Creative Writing and a BA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Hillora is currently working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. During her career as an undergraduate she produced the English Departmental Honors thesis From Ancient Myth to Modern Fiction: How Humanity’s Stories Live On, and the Directed Individual Study thesis Dark Futures: The Lure of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction. Her short story “Paradox Tempestuous” has been published in the online literary magazine Forever Onwards! Review.
Hillora lives in southeastern North Carolina with her tribe of rescued feral cats, and at times goes a little feral herself.

     
Interesting fact about the author: I have collected so many books that I had to give them their own place (no more room in my home!) called “The Place Where Books Live;” my library now resides in a 10′ x 20′ white shed in the backyard, lined with 14 floor-to-ceiling bookcases. I visit often.

     

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TRAVELING AFTER THE BREAKUP by John Grey

A blur or two from a desolate hunger
bend and hook and circle a mountain,
scream across a vast flat plain,
almost drown in a white water river.
By night, you’re reaching far out of yourself
to grasp what isn’t there.
By day, you wrap your arms around
whatever moves you – local bus,
the sixteen wheeler you flag down.
But eventually the journey settles
into what is best for you.
You dangle off the edge of the scenery.
You get by on tourist food.
Cheery table cloths and countryside –
they really lay it on for solitude.
Life’s like those tunnels cut through
mountains, you reckon.
There looks like no way possible
and suddenly you’re out the other side.
Heat of desert and 1.99 special,
canyons and buttes and turquoise trinkets,
cowboys and rattle snakes,
and what about those poor farms
with rich faces?
You call a truce with how you’re feeling.
Other lives will do that to you.

John Grey is Australian born poet, playwright, musician, Providence RI resident since late seventies. . Has been published in numerous magazines including Weird Tales, Christian Science Monitor, Greensboro Poetry Review, Poem, Agni, Poet Lore and Journal Of The American Medical Association as well as the horror anthology “What Fears Become” and the science fiction anthology “Futuredaze.” Has had plays produced in Los Angeles and off-off Broadway in New York. Winner of Rhysling Award for short genre poetry in 1999. I collect early editions of MaAd Magazine.

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The Straight & Narrow by James D. Reed

     Before we moved, we lived in a farm house that began coasting slowly downhill like a glacier. The house had a front deck that Dad called “a downhill porch”. The house was so old that Dad said it must have been built back when dinosaurs roamed the hills and valleys of Southeastern Ohio. Flat, level land was at a premium hereabouts.
When I was younger I learned to ride my tricycle on the porch. There wasn’t a level spot to practice anywhere in the yard so I’d coast the trike from one end of the porch to the other. Dad would catch me as I sailed off the low end; it was like my own personal amusement park ride.
     Of course, the house tilted as well as the porch. Along with the garden, the barn, and a goliath maple tree out back. All of it slip-sliding down the hill.
     After we’d lived there a couple years the downhill flow rapidly picked up speed. When Mom planted a garden, she hadn’t considered she’d harvest her tomatoes and cucumbers fifty yards below the spot where they’d sprouted.

     Friends took to launching hang gliders off the porch during the fourth summer at the farm. By then our garden was nearly down on the road below. Inside, we rearranged furniture on the walls—which by now had become our floors.
Our main entrance was the widow’s walk across the roof. Dad invested heavily in ladders. Meanwhile we all slept cuddled in our beds between the windows on the walls of our rooms.

     By year five we could no longer sit on the porch without careening off into the yard
The maple tree, a dazzling explosion of orange each fall, was at least sixty feet tall, and stuck out like a sprouting thumb from the hillside. As everything rolled rapidly down to the road the tree kept pace with us, faithfully shading the house.
     But open windows had become a hazard. Mom warned us to watch where we stepped because of the ten foot drop out our new floors to the yard below.
     The real hassle was the kitchen. The water still worked because the well and the pipes were traveling along with the house. In fact, the water pressure increased as the tilting angle of the farm sharpened. Turning on a spigot shot water directly into your face. So Dad invested another fortune in buckets.
The refrigerator, on its side, became a food chest, and the stove sat on the wall next to it. Bread shot out of the toaster sideways. Mom became expert at launching her muffins from across the kitchen onto the bulls-eye of our plates.
     Luckily, the chimney was on the low end of the house. One winter we piled logs in the fireplace (which was now a fire pit) and pretended we were camping. We gathered around the grate, feet propped up on the mantel, and roasted hotdogs and s’mores over the crackling flames. Dad spun ghost stories about all the people he imagined had lived in this house before us, over the past three million years. With maybe mastodons as pets.

     Fall was up instead of down that last year. When before it had been such hard work to rake up the maple’s autumn shedding, imagine what a treat it was to see thousands of parchment leaves being swept aside by the traffic on the road. Which, of course, was now above us.
     By November the house was completely upside down. Mom and Dad nailed all the furniture to the ceiling. We took the ladders inside to reach the kitchen and the living room, and the roof pitch was parallel to the ground. Our kitchen was two flights up. A bottoms-up stove was worthless, so we cooked on a Coleman camp stove in the attic where we were now living. The fireplace was entirely topsy-turvy but, amazingly, the chimney still drew. However, a source of heat two floors above the living quarters just wasn’t doing the job anymore.
     On New Year’s Eve we tumbled out of the old place just as the maple tree nestled into the porch, and the chimney stones—as ancient as the hill itself—touched to earth once again. The well broke loose behind the house and spilled over the perpendicular lane. Mom had packed all our stuff and was stowing it into our van. Dad rented a U-Haul truck and strapped my new ten-speed Schwinn—a Christmas present—to the back of it .
     “How fast,” I asked him, “how really fast can I ride a bike on something straight?”
     “You mean on level ground?” he replied.
     “Yeah,” I said. “Whatever that is. Straight, level ground.”
     We were moving to Kansas, where I intended to find out.
     
My stories have appeared in The Nebraska Review, Perceptions Magazine of the Arts, Midwestern Gothic, Nazar’s Looking Back Anthology, Flights, and 4th Floor, among others. Upcoming acceptances so far include stories in Lorelei Signal, Hardboiled Anthology, and Big Pulp Magazine. Writing is a hermetic effort for me, so I spend most of the time with a mellow rescued cat in my camper and write these stories in state park campgrounds on weekdays when there is hardly anyone else around to interrupt.
     
Interesting Fact about the author: Well, the story has some basis in real life. I lived in a rented farmhouse out on the drummond fields of Southcentral Ohio; the house did seem to be leaning downhill, and the porch listed at a 20 degree angle to one side causing my 3 year old daughter to roll off on her trike one afternoon…unhurt, thankfully.

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