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"Nails and spoons" & "Shutting in, shutting out", & "Le Mer"- Bonnie Meekums, Nolcha Fox

I’ve looked up at this building many times, from a cardboard city. It might as well be a different planet, made for those whose lives have been marked out from day one, sparkling with privilege. Born with a silver spoon in their mouths, whereas I was born with a rusty nail in mine.

Silver spoons, though gleaming,

Are useless on display.

I’d rather have some nails

to hold the world in place.

Occasionally, I walk through their world, but it makes me dizzy to see buildings overhanging, perched at odd angles, minimalist pretensions where possessions are hidden, not carried around, ever visible as mine are. I can count my belongings on one hand, unless someone decides to give me a new pair of boots to see out the winter.

How do I walk

in a straight line

when all the world is curved?

And so, I slope off away from their sloping roofs into the dark, where I know every crevice as if it were mine.

She looked out this window once

to watch the world go by.

The salt-air wind a magic hand

to brush the drapes aside.

Seagull cries bounced off the walls,

the sun danced through the slats.

The marks are still there under my abuela’s window, where I shimmied up, age ten, determined to join her for the night after Mama took away my best metal train because I refused to let her plait my hair. Why should I? I wanted to roam free, climb trees and bake polvorones, not dance to her tune. Abuelita sent me back through her battered window.

But now she’s gone

to warmer climes,

the shutters droop and sigh,

the wind and salt rip off the paint,

while shadows watch the sky.

The window’s one-side-shut reminds me of her lazy eye, and of the cuts and bruises and broken-off pieces she bore without comment, inked into her skin, never to be washed out, despite all the rubbing and wringing and cursing and singing on God’s earth.

She hid her pain

inside her songs.

Make-up covered bruises.

She blamed

clumsiness for cuts.

When parts of fingers


she shoved hands

in her pockets.

Finally, she packed her bags

and disappeared one night.

I miss her polvorones and her warm, soft body enveloping mine.

It took us weeks

to find her husband

buried under leaves.

As the sun slid behind the mountain we filed along the rocks. The men, full of bravado, never held the rope, but my sisters and I gripped with all our might. We would do it this time.

If you want to find

my heart, dive into

a pastel-sweet cake

of sun-kissed buildings

blush and peach,

champagne cliffs

and gem-blue ocean.

Our father told us gravely of Alfredo, who flirted with the girls, flexing his biceps and inviting them to feel his steel-hard stomach. As he ran across the concrete pathway full of beer, he sang a fisherman’s song, boasting of fish that could fill village bellies for a month.

He tossed his cap in the air and caught it in his left hand.

Alfredo threw himself off the highest point. A freak wind threw him backwards so he landed, head first, onto a sea-carved sword. His friends rushed, too late, to his aid. The doctor found him cold on his mother’s kitchen floor.

The rest of me

is in this chair.

Before holding hands, we crossed ourselves. As we fell, we prayed. Only one of us felt the depths hit our young bodies. The other two sisters met rock. The men told us later, there is only room for one child in this mother’s womb.

Bonnie is a British writer who mainly writes flash fiction, with the occasional short story or poem. She also has book-length publications in non-fiction, fiction, and memoir. Her flash fictions are published by several literary magazines and anthologies, including Roi Fainéant, Reflex Press, Ad Hoc Fiction, Briefly Zine and The Dribble Drabble Review, she has been listed in various competitions, and her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net. Bonnie lives with two hearts; one, she keeps safe in Greater Manchester, UK, where she shares a house with an unpredictable number of family members. The other rests with her whānau in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Twitter: @bonniemeekums Facebook: Bonnie Meekums Website and newsletter sign-up: Bonnie’s debut novel: A Kind of Family

Nolcha’s poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, Medusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her three chapbooks are available on Amazon. Nominee for 2023 Best of The Net. Editor for Kiss My Poetry and for Open Arts Forum. Accidental interviewer/reviewer. Faker of fake news.

Website: “My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats” “The Big Unda” “How to Get Me Up in the Morning: 2023 Best of The Net nomination: Twitter: @NolchaF Facebook:


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