Oonah V Joslin, Ricki Hunsinger

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Oonah V Joslin won a Micro Horror Trophy in 2007 for her Drabble, Autumn Fruits. She has had works chosen for three consecutive Quarterly Reviews at Bewildering Stories and a 50 word definition of flash, placed in The Smokelong Quarterly.  Her flash ‘Trap’ is to appear in Short Humour's anthology, 'A Man of a Few More Words'.

A Matter of Taste


Bella came back into the room, carrying the pudding.  At least they’d got to the pudding this year. But she knew the signs; the in-your-face posturing, expressions of aggression and elation. 


“Do you two have to have the same argument every year?”
“Yes, we bloody do, ‘cos he’s wrong!” said Fred vehemently, getting right into his stride.


Bella put the dish on the table and went to fetch the brandy and matches.

“How can you possibly say that?” countered James.  “Aha! You see? You can’t answer that can you?  Because you don’t have a logical argument.”

“I don’t see that you have either.  In fact I don’t see where logic comes into it.  It’s just obvious.”
“It’s obvious the Sun rises and sets – only it doesn’t.”

“That’s something you can prove scientifically.  This isn’t the same.”
“But there are standards by which it can be judged.”


“No, complexity, intricacy and beauty.”

“Beauty is subjective and the complex isn’t always beautiful or popular.  Take Berg.  It’s as obvious as…you.”

“Oooh, obvious am I?”

“Boys, boys!  Play fair, Fred,” Bella intervened. “I don’t mind a good argument but I will not have my brother insulted in this house, do you hear?”

She lit a match and the brandy flared over the surface of the pudding.  Fred applauded and James gave a shriek of delight.  “Oh, well done Bella!”

“Now apologize, Fred.”
“Okay, I didn’t mean it, but I still think time will bear me out.”


Cream oozed down the side of his portion of steaming hot pudding, cooling it.

“Time is exactly my point,” said James, accepting his plateful. “We won’t ever know either way, because by the time enough time has passed to ‘bear you out,’ we’ll all be long gone.”

“James really, do you have to be so morbid?  It’s Christmas, both of you.  You’re the only family I have and every year you have this puerile argument.  I have a good mind to stop doing Christmas altogether.”


The two men eyed each other in agreement. There are some standards of excellence that are incontrovertibly best, in the here and now.

“Sorry, Sis.”
“Me too, Bella. That was a smashing meal. You improved on perfection.” 

“Why, thank you darling.”
“But he’s still wrong. The Beatles will be remembered every bit as long as Beethoven or Mozart.”
Bella signaled James to be quiet.  "Whatever you say, dear but I think I’ll choose the music for now.”

Both men groaned as strains of Johnny Dankworth filled the air.



Ricki Hunsinger is an assistant librarian from Baltimore and a graduate with a B.A. in English from Chatham University. 




I gripped firmly and shook hands

with the language of his glove.

It speaks to the hand it suits.


Fingertips emerge

in the summer;

those fingertips unsheathe

like the pink parts of dogs.


For one who feels too much,

the glove is a blanket to silence

the anger residing within the knuckles. 


Rejecting the suffocating

envelope of complete touch;

the glove is a mask

to blind the eye of the palm.


With no visible lines to label,

his fortune cannot be read. 


The print left by his hand

is a series of spirals,

never a solid pressing—

the animal, untraceable.




From Ground Back to Sky Again


The normal life slips out from under me

with just a few words from my doctor.

I undress my former guise—

she’s just an amateur actress

who refuses to think in screams.

Mother drags me from the car into the yard.  A woman rushes

out of her house; finds me sprawled

like a child making snow angels. 

My legs are empty in my pants; my uterus

lives somewhere rented by another tenant

—a telling bump incapable of speaking.

Gray drops of heavy rain fall cold

on my forehead from way up high;

so high that a silver string from my

navel connects them

from ground back to sky again. 

I follow them to where I might

be able to find you.

The circle of pine trees look down

with proud sorrow;

the wounded eying their scars. 

Their lack of conversation is proof

of what they know,

and they might be angels. 

Their dialogue prompts me.

I can truly say now

that I am sorry,

with more conviction

than I feel when I write

my own first and last name,

and that is something I have been doing

since I have been able to hold a pen. 





Naked Like a Tree


Smiling in the cold breath of December, everything is dripping.  The snow-water wets our pants near the ankles and travels up, heavy and damp like disease.  Like thirsty roots.  But I’m naked like a tree, and I think of you when I peel the skin from my fingers, astonished at the shiny thin-skin layer protecting the inner flesh.


My fingers make men cry like onions.  He stands with a knife in hand, sobbing at the discovery of his own center.  And he arrives with nothing but his ordinary self and the sadness of an uncooperative organ, shaking his head in disbelief in the midst of a twisted plot carried out by the cutting board.  And I’m open and have been.  Suddenly he can’t remember anything but the imaginary confessions of my love for him, which he’s assigned to me.  With each word I harden.


He loves me crazy and strips my bark, searching for worms to feed on; pecking a hole to build a home.  I don’t think of him when I am in the checkout line, or reading a book by the light of the bedside lamp; when I’m deciding what sweater to wear, or whether or not it’s excessive to use perfumed soap with a scented deodorant.  There is only the absence of leaves, the ghost of his voice, the stark, callous nudity I’ve cut open inside him.





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