"Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" - Danelle Lejeune



"Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" - Danelle Lejeune


Red like the Mardi Gras beads that turn
under my fingers. Father brought
them home from a bar on Bourbon Street.
I wrap them around my head, body; and dance
around the kitchen. Red like the garnet rosary beads
nailed up over her bed to warn spirits away.
Convinced the house was full of ghosts.
Poker-playing demons taunt her from the corner.
Feufollet blinking in the darkness when she closes
her eyes. In the kitchen, a pot of gumbo boils
through her mother’s aluminum pot, cracks
and spills into the flames. The kitchen fills
with smoke. Blood-red tomatoes washing
over white enamel. Red, like the fear she gave.
Mother Mary Full of Grace, protect us from this
battered lace. Red. Red. Red and lovely, scared
and curled on the kitchen floor, pregnant
with her third, fourth, if you count the one
never born. The red, spilled and sticky
on the floor. So red.



Danelle Lejeune was a featured reader at Word, January 2019. "Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers" appeared online at Literary Mama in 2017.

"Bliss" - Dennis Bagwell



"Bliss" - Dennis Bagwell

Poor Monsters bride!
Resurrected from the dead by massive electrocution
Feeling faint and unsteady on her feet
That awful gown
Face all scarred
The worst bad hair day in history
 
And what’s in it for her?
 
No bride’s maids
An arranged marriage
By a deranged doctor
To a poorly dressed, hideous monster with a drinking problem and no manners
A smoker with an unreasonable aversion to fire and limited conversational skills
Not to mention he’s prone to occasional fits of murder and he expects her to live in his damp, moldy dungeon in wedded bliss
Naturally, she rejects his romantic advances and this unreasonable imposition on her pursuit of happiness
So he mumbles an incoherent threat and blows up the laboratory in a murder-suicide 10 minutes after he meets her
What a dick!