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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Micro Fiction: 188 words
By Roberta Beary
[Featured Artist]

Up Down Sideways


The chain on the downstairs toilet flushes three times which means Mother is awake. In the half light of early morning a fox wanders the empty boulevard. He’s bathed in ghostly rays and shadows of the netherworld. The streetlamp’s glow conjures images. A bony milkman on his cart. His long whip strikes the horse’s mane. Mist swallows the cart. An old woman on a crate emerges. Her fingers fly, making daisy bouquets with string. Her teeth are scissors. Her cigarette shimmers a coded message as ashes scatter among the petals. Smoke drifts through my open casement.

The fox looks up. His bushy tail a question mark. I’d like to stroke his velvet ears. Rest my cheek against his pointy chin. Listen to his heart beat a secret of worlds we can scavenge together. But Mother’s cane bangs the bathroom tiles. I hurry to her side. Move her from bathroom to kitchen. Light the fire. Make the tea. When every task is done Mother settles into her rocker and falls asleep. I open the door and scan the boulevard. Up. Down. Sideways. The fox is gone.

—From the author’s book-in-progress, a collection of fiction (micro and flash): The Years Go By in Single File

Roberta Beary’s
Issue 12, March 2022

second collection of short poems, Carousel, is co-winner of the Snapshot Press 2019 book award contest. Her first short-form collection, The Unworn Necklace, received a finalist book award from the Poetry Society of America. Her collection of prose poetry, Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), was named a National Poetry Month Best Pick by Washington Independent Review of Books.

Long-time haibun editor of Modern Haiku, Ms. Beary is also co-editor of Wishbone Moon: An Anthology of Haiku by Women (Jacar Press, 2018), and she recently judged the Sable Books Haiku Contest for Women Book Award.

Her writing has appeared in Rattle, KYSO Flash, 100 Word Story, Cultural Weekly, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and The New York Times, and is also featured in A Companion to Poetic Genre (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) and Haiku In English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton, 2013).

Ms. Beary lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, Frank Stella, and tweets her photoku and micro-poetry on Twitter [at] shortpoemz.

Author’s website: https://robertabeary.com/news/

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Guest: Roberta Beary on Rattlecast 133 hosted by Tim Green, editor of Rattle poetry journal (YouTube, 28 February 2022)

Roberta Beary, haiku poet and editor, on writing Haibun, interview on YouTube (8 February 2021) with Mike Rehling, editor of Failed Haiku

Tiny Love Stories in The New York Times (8 January 2019); scroll five stories down the page for Roberta Beary’s “Now It’s All Fresh Fish” and her photograph of lobster traps in Clew Bay, Ireland.

The art of brevity, an interview by Ciara Moynihan in Mayo News (22 January 2019)

Lunch Break, a haibun by Beary in Rattle (#56, Summer 2017), Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness; includes audio (17 July 2017)

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