Announcing the Finalists for the 2023 FLASH SUITE Contest

November 28th, 2022

The Contest is now live, and
our finalists are announced.
Go straight to the contest, here

you can always also access the contest on
our retro Navigation Panel,
site left,
somewhere around… here

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October Nights Lyrics 2022 reading

October 31st, 2022

by Paul-Newell Reaves

the 2022 reading is dedicated
to Steve Garland (1970-2020)
Steve Hunt (1976-2022)
“turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream”

2022 reading

October Nights Lyrics

No, it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
The Moon hums sillily on the sides
of slumbering edifices, declaring willingly
the nature of her vamp metaphysics.
The first fog ghosts steal through gorges and under
bridges as our fingers move through
their freshly shampooed hair.
There’s a mischief on this air.
Callow ghouls
stride and stagger
along the crowded
pedestrian streets;
flippant fairies
vivisect the sidewalks;
vampires with plastic
teeth transact
with their bank accounts―
crossing their fingers,
sticking out their tongues.
They curse their invisible gods.
Behind Cheshire Cat
eyes and eyebrows painted to
outrageous angles,
underdeveloped faces hide crack
infested minds. Lingering
on pouty tragi-comedy lips,
that condemnablest fear— of unknown.

I said no,
no, it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
Only they― truly tremulous― dare supplicate
at Alters of Chance and Change, dare
lift a prayer to preserve those shallow memories,
re-live them once more, ever one
time more, and so, ascend
to inalterable Eden. While we,
the wiser, wisend damned―
left behind this Day of the Dead Eve―
cursed with myth-making arts of memory, will
stumble on and stumble on and stumble on.
While we turn keys and juggle dice, they
dance to an unconquerable, sugar-coated rhythm!—
let them play, I say, at immortality.
I envy them not.
For we know first tossed spades
closing a close friend’s death, know,
unaccroachably our failures; know of
diving from cliffs into different seas, and
rocketing through and beyond the atmosphere
toward endless numbers of empty infinities.

No. I said no,
no, it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
Dressed as their most disconsolable desires,
ever greedy as first suckled,
candy-gobblers pain unto
the French word for bread.
We know, soberly, that distinction,
possess the instinct to retain,
and aspire to know totally;
our pen ink’s read; our desires
known, if only as unattainable.
Gloaming arises, morning mounts,
Questions often answered then seemed notionless—
lightning remained motionless—
the tide thundered, oceanless:
acorns yet crushed
— underlined twice.
And repeats,
acorns which
have yet
to be crushed
— underlined twice.
Yet how I enjoy their crushing.
Each age of excess
soon descends.
They will soon enjoy
inaccurately remembering.
candles sputter out.
One less roll down
the hill.
Another year,
another night…

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The Djinni’s Song

October 30th, 2022

by Rev. Joe Kelly

When the summer moon at night has set
and the Rub’ al Khali’s black as pitch,
black as the deep oblivion
which broods behind the twinkling stars;

When the freezing winds of desert night
batter and bellow upon the tents
of the Beduin, huddled all together
in fear of the denizens of the dark,

Then do the djinn howl through the night,
howl to promise foul delights;
and he, whose fright is overcome,
into the night, he plunges on,
driven mad by demon’s lust;
and he’s never seen again.

Upon those nights, the Beduin cry,
“There is no god but God! From him,
all things arise, and hence return;
preserve our souls until that day!”

But one among them does not heed;
he is farangi–an Englishman,
a whimsied traveler in those lands,
and all he hears is sweet melody.

So he bids his hosts, good-night, and throws
a heavy cloak about his back,
and takes a skin of wine, for he thinks
his journey shall not last the night.

The Beduin cry, “Friend, do not go!
‘Tis a honeyed lie, which draws you so,
not maidens comely will you find,
but only ravenous daemonkind!”
To this, the English traveler laughs,
delighted by his friends.

He travels long, his wineskin’s spent;
but now, at last the mournful howls
are but a dune or two away,
and so he plunges further on;

And soon, the sun’s begun to rise,
and breaks the eerie spell of night
and the traveler heeds his growing thirst
and turns to walk back on his trail–

But the trail’s gone! What trick is this?
Whence did the tracks which he just made,
that just a moment ago, he saw–
how did they melt into the sands?!

In panic, now, he stumbles back,
backwards, where he must have walked–
but there’s no telling where he may
have turned, again and again, that night.

The sun grows high, it sears his skin,
thirst swells his tongue within his mouth;
his head soon feels as if it will burst;
his vision blurs, his limbs grow limp.

Too late, he sees the meaning of
the words of warning with which his hosts
sought to restrain him; now he laughs
the sardonic laugh of a man condemned.

But now he ceases to laugh, and stops,
and listens, for he hears again
that siren melody of the sands
which drew him on to his perdition;

But where before, the sound had seemed
to dance ahead, beyond his reach,
now it grows swiftly close and clear–
and suddenly, he sees its source!

A vision of voluptuous beauty,
dressed in vibrant, filmy silk,
her amber eyes are curled by a smile,
and now, her plum-red, plump lips part:

“You poor, dear boy, you’ve gone astray!
Come, let me steer you on your way–
but first, you’ll stay awhile with me;
we’ll spend the day in ecstasy!”
And he runs to her, and praises God
for the angel which He sends.

In time, a Beduin will cross
the spot where the ill-fated Englishman
found his fate among the djinn;
and there, he’ll see the evil sign:

A polished skull, on an ivory post,
the djinni-woman’s grinning trophy;
the Beduin will shudder, and
make haste to leave the thing behind.

But if he’s brave, he might draw close
enough to see upon the skull,
the marks of claws, with which the djinni
rent the flesh clean from the bone.

So if you travel to Araby,
and spend a night in the Rub’ al Khali,
and if you are the kind who seeks
pleasures strange and dangerous,

Heed well the words of the Beduin,
and stop your ears to the song of the djinn;
their sultry sins are sugar-sweet,
and tempt indeed world-wise effetes;

But wander not into the night,
or you’ll never be seen again.

Submission Period for the 2023 FLASH SUITE Contest
ends Tuesday, November 1st

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Four Fools in a Marketplace Plaza

October 26th, 2022

by Rev. Joe Kelly

Fast the night is driven, morning shines upon the cobbles;
Merchants, landsknechts, artisans, all hurry on their way:
There’s coin to pass, hands to shake, deals to be made.
In the gutters beggars hold up pans and stare with deadened eyes,
While broke-back peasants haul their grain, earn pennies to stay alive.

Above them all there looms a monument,
A marble statue, silent in its triumph,
Frozen in an age whose bones are dust.
Imperial glory shines yet from its eyes,
Glistening cold and lifeless, void of paint
That men forget once made its visage gaudy.
A relic of imperium, yet looms
Amid an age of petty counts and bishops;
And daily, four fools gather at its base.

The rebel points and shrieks:
He is mightier than the glowering figure frozen in the marble,
For his is the age of enlightenment, of humanism and progress,
And he rejects the stern and stoic atavism of the statue.
He grins with glee–one day, they’ll carve a monument to him!
But they’ll make it of a warmer stone, more human, with a smile
To remind the passers-by of his wisdom and compassion.
And the rebel rails and screams.

The sycophant grovels and wails:
The rebel, he mocks the honor and the grace
Of this reminder of a mightier race!
He glares about at all those who forget,
And thinks, my lord, I’ll remind them yet:
Of the honor, faith and glory which were yours–
Not to be found amid the reign of whores!
For I alone, I know your ancient pride;
I see you standing proud, in days gone by,
The gleaming marble, naked majesty–
And knights in shining armor–chivalry!
I’ll make these sinners hang their heads in shame,
And then they’ll know the rebel’s the one to blame–
And we’ll tie him to a stake, and burn him–revel in his screams!
And the sycophant scrapes and whines.

The student frowns and nods:
For he knows every crack, every crevice of the marble;
He’s studied all its contours, learned the chisel marks by heart.
He’s read as well the piteous scraps that reached him from that age,
The fragments of the poems and the plays still half-remembered,
And from these scraps, he’s weaved a cheap and gaudy tapestry.
At the rebel and the sycophant, he smiles and shakes his head,
For they’ve read not the tapestry–all they know is fables!
The student, he’s seen the truth, stitched together all macabre.
And the student squints and purses.

The artist laughs and dances:
For he alone’s the equal of the man trapped in the statue!
The spirit of that age runs through his blood!
And he alone, among the four, can resurrect its glory!
And so, he makes a statue of his own:
A parody in dung, already crumbling in his hands–
A monument to last the ages through!
The rebel sneers and scoffs; the sycophant snarls indignant;
And the student smiles, shakes his head and tuts.
The artist laughs at all of them, and basks now in his glory!
And the artist cavorts and plays.

Soon the day is done, the evening cools the cobblestones;
The rich and poor alike depart, and drift back to their homes;
And the beggars look to find their nightly lodging in a gutter.
Soon a darker breed emerge to stalk the alleys stark:
Rats and thieves and killers, and devotees of the Outer Dark;

And the statue stands lifeless and cold.

Submission Period for the 2023 FLASH SUITE Contest
ends Tuesday, November 1st

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home/ Bonafides

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Concept Albums Explained

October 17th, 2022

by Saul-Newell Reaves

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
2pac (Makaveli)

“In no way is this portrait an expression of disrespect for Jesus Christ”– Tupac Shakur

Sometimes all it takes to establish a powerful concept album is the cover.  

For Tupac Shakur’s album “the Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory”, the cover image depicts 2pac nailed to a crucifix.  

Death Row records, released this– his first posthumous album and his last authorial album– within two months of the artist’s murder, under the pseudonym Makaveli.

Upon close inspection of the cover image, it is a crucifix of geography that Pac is nailed to.  On the cross, itself, appear the names of ghetto neighborhoods stretching from “SO CENTRAL” and “WATTS” all the way  to “BROOKLYN”, “BRONX”, and “HARLEM”.  Although this geographical cross may be understood as a representation of the so-called East Coast/ West Coast hip-hop war, I offer a different interpretation.

For the Makaveli album is truly open literature, and sustains multiple, subjective literary interpretations.  No interpretation of this text can ignore, however, the primary statement of this album, that 2pac is crucified by something,  just as Jesus the Nazarene was, some 1,963 years prior.  So– considering the album’s multitudinous biblical references in songs such as “Hail Mary” and “Blasphemy”, along with the provocative cover art– let us see what happens when we compare and contrast the first prophesied Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, with Tupac Shakur. [read more]

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Concept Albums Explained

October 2nd, 2022

by Paul-Newell Reaves

The Rambler
Johnny Cash

A lesser known Cash album, “The Rambler” isn’t full of hits, that’s a-sure.  “Wednesday Car” is as close as this album comes to making it on a Best Of collection.  But the scope of this mediocre album is apparent on the cover, where it reads “Directed by Johnny Cash”.  Directed by is not music speak: it’s usually produced by, engineered by, mixed and mastered by– those are the roles that usually appear on album credits.  With the two words directed by, Cash tells us we are in for a cinematic experience. [read more]

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Judges Confirmed for 2023 FLASH SUITE Contest

September 26th, 2022

Judging Process:

Our contests are judged by our four Judge Panel, with two weeks of online Fan Voting counted as an additional Judge vote. 

One Grand Prize vote counts as two Runner-Up votes.

In the event of a draw, the fan-vote becomes the tie-breaker.

Meet the Judges:

Glenn A. Bruce, MFA, was associate fiction editor for The Lindenwood Review. He has published nine novels and two collections of short stories. He wrote Kickboxer, episodes of Walker: Texas Ranger and Baywatch, and was a sketch-writer for Cinemax’s Assaulted Nuts. His stories, poems, and essays have been published internationally. He won About That’s “Down and Dirty” short story contest and was a two-time finalist in the Defenstrationism annual short story contest. He has judged film contests, art shows, and short story contests. He was the final judge for Brilliant Flash Fictionin 2015 (which has included one of his stories in their first print collection) and currently for Defenstrationism (2016-2019). Glenn left 12.5 wonderful years of teaching Screenwriting at Appalachian State University to concentrate on fiction.

Lady Moet Beast, the Beast From Southeast. What can’t be said about this interesting lady? Godmother of D.C. Rap, multi-genre lyricist, producer, poet, musician, writer, singer, actress, and the list goes on. Performing live since the age of 5, determined to be heard, adored and admired, Lady Moet Beast has performed all over the U.S. for the past 25 years. Not your average HipHop Femcee she has grown along with her husband obtaining her own band The Cruddy Crankerz, Beast & Monster Ink,  Drama City Records/Draztick Measurez., Cruddy Rite Publishing, Cruddy Rite Radio, Monster Graphix, and Lioness Filmz. Lady Moet Beast has set a lot of trends from green dreadlocks to hardcore femcees in Washington, D.C. and abroad.

Cedar Danger Block (they/them) is currently a grad student of English literature, usually focusing on trans theory, comic book studies, and medieval lit. They love finding creative ways to mix the three topics and are more excited than they should be about going back to academia.

Aditya Gautam is a writer from India who believes very much in the power of fiction beyond entertaining—for instance, in throwing people out of windows. Among the many things he loves in this world are roasted peanuts, the sound of rain, thick books, toy trains, and weak sunlight. 
His short stories and poems have been published in Singapore, the USA, and the UK.  A speculative short story by him was included in the Best Asian Fiction Anthology, 2018 by Kitaab, Singapore. Most recently, he has been published in the June 2020 issue of The Bombay Review. 
His debut novel, A Dream of Duplicity, will also be published sometime later this year.

Go Straight to the Contest
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Concept Albums Explained

September 18th, 2022

by Paul-Newell Reaves

Emilie Autumn

Enter Ophelia [distracted]… (She sings.)
— Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5

It’s 2006: black is in, Industrial music is having a moment, and– 10 years after the Baz Lehrmann’s blockbuster film “Romeo+Juliet”– Shakespeare is still pretty cool. 

And child violin prodigy Emilie Autumn has a sickness.  She might be a hypochondriac, she might be an insomniac, she’s definitely a megalomaniac– as she proudly claims in the “Interview With EA” appearing at the end of the album.  However, for this album she has a more literary diagnosis in mind: Opheliac– a direct reference to the Ophelia character in the Shakespeare play Hamlet.

Just as a refresher, Ophelia is the love interest of the young Hamlet. They’re both going through some tough times, poor kids, and Ophelia goes mad, then drowns herself. So as we journey through Emilie Autumn’s masterwork– track by track, lyric by lyric– let us pay special attention to what Autumn does with her water imagery. [read more]

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Join us for our 2022 Autumnal Publication Schedule

September 11th, 2022

only on

Posting Sundays,
usually around 3pm EST.

September 18th
Concept Albums Explained: Emilie Autumn’s “Opheliac”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

September 25th
Concept Albums Explained: Johnny Cash’s “The Rambler”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

October 2nd
Concept Albums Explained: Tom Waits’ “The Heart of Saturday Night”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

October 9th
Concept Albums Explained: 2pac (Makaveli)’s “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

October 16th
Concept Albums Explained: My Chemical Romance’s “The Black Parade”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

October 23rd
Concept Albums Explained: Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”
by Paul-Newell Reaves

October 26th
Four Fools in a Marketplace Plaza
by Reverend Joe Kelly

October 30th
The Djinni’s Song
by Revered Joe Kelly

October 31st– Halloween Special
October Nights’ Lyrics (audio reading)

What’s New
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2022 !Short Story Contest! Winners

September 5th, 2022

What a contest.

Every single story got a Judge Vote, and
our second runner up was decided by 2 FAN VOTES.

Never one to waste time:

Grand Prize Winner:
50 Miles South of Disney

Runner Ups:
If Anything Changes
Dream Valuation

View How the Judges Voted
but here’s the recap:

the Judge voting was extremely varied, none of them voted the same– and every story got at least one Judge Vote. That often doesn’t happen.

“50 Miles South of Disney” got votes from three Judges, including two Grand Prizes. A clear winner.

“If Anything Changes” ran off with the FAN VOTE– 1619 votes were cast for it, more than double that of any other story. Although only one of the Judging Panel gave it a vote, they selected it for the Grand Prize. “If Anything Changes” also has two Grand Prize votes, easily in as a Runner-Up.

As FAN VOTING came to its conclusion, the suspense quickly rose. By Judging Panel alone, there were three contenders: “The Advantage is Decadent and Depraved” had a Grand Prize vote, while “Dream Valuation” and “Batwoman on the Brink” each had two Runner-Up votes. All three were tied in contention for the final Runner-Up spot.

The voting closed. “Dream Valuation” had 667 votes, and “Batwoman on the Brink” had 665, while “The Advantage is Decadent and Depraved” had 127. “Dream Valuation” and “Batwoman on the Brink” were still tied, both with three equal Runner-Up votes.

But, in the case of a tie, FAN VOTING settles the draw. “Dream Valuation” was our second Runner-Up. By two votes. Wowweee.

Thanks for joining us, Lovers of Literature.

Keep surfing through for our Autumnal publication lineup, posting
every Sunday, usually around 3pm EST.

And remember us next time
— we do this every year.

How the Judges Voted
Read the Stories

What’s New
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