fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Richard Downing

—“Couple poses for romantic photo with lion”
                                                                 – CBS

D. and C. have been identified
as the couple in the picture.

They are profiled kneeling
and kissing each other

beneath an African sky shot cerulean and still

She: short, blonde hair, windswept.
He: full arm tats, dark hair just beginning to thin

the temples.

The caption for their photo reads:
Hard work in the Kalahari sun . . . well done.

The hard work lies
before them on its stomach,

head fully maned and resting its chin
between massive forepaws

reaching out in the way that stiff limbs
must always reach out:

for the prey
of empty air.


Richard Downing has received the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize, Writecorner Press’s Editor’s Award, New Delta Review’s Matt Clark Prize, and Solstice Literary Magazine’s Editor’s Award. His work appears in such anthologies and journals as Arts & Letters, Solstice, Dire Elegies, and Potomac Review. He holds a PhD in English, has begun washing his hands with great frequency, and is an activist concerned with keeping the planet livable for all writers of fiction.

Note: We decided not to include the “romantic” photo of the couple with the lion because we found it too offensive.

March 2020