Unbroken #40: The Hope Museum Is Now Open
The Hope Museum
A dozen purple-dotted butterflies, dead and papery and pinned through their slender middles. When you lean in, eye an inch from the glass bubble dome, they twitch, as if the life is not completely strangled from their antennas. Then a pair of newborn booties, pristine and hand-kit and cloud-blue. A still-wet life buoy. A shooting star inside a dark snowless snow globe. A dove with a branch in its beak, stuffed like an olive. A letter from overseas, still sealed. A note, once football-folded, now opened and crinkly: “Do you like me? Check YES [ ] or NO [ ].” A wedding band. A white flag. A rainbow, recreated with a lightbulb and humidifier. A wallet bursting with crinkled black-and-white photos. A paystub, a passport, a train ticket. A candle, always lit, except when it’s not. A wishing well with hundreds of pennies green with wrinkles. A blueprint for an invention, its use unknown. A dozen IVF needles. A dropper frozen mid-drop with a once-believed cancer cure. A hand-sized lighthouse with battery-powered light. An umbrella, a rain jacket, and artificial rain. A maroon rabbit’s foot and dozens of four-leaf clovers, dried. An assortment of rosary beads and prayer shawls and prayer mats of all colors. A 90-day sober token. A giant drill that once saved 22 miners stuck underground. A peace treaty, unsigned, with a leaking pen.
Bethany Jarmul is the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection. Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023, nominated for Best of the Net and Wigleaf Top 50, and published in more than 70 magazines. She lives near Pittsburgh. Connect with her at bethanyjarmul.com or @BethanyJarmul.
The day after you were born…
I couldn’t find you. I pulled back the curtain to check on the family car and it was drowning in sewage. I lost my keys. I wanted to buy you a pocket-sized Pegasus pony, just in case. I remember daydreaming about a safer country, a new home, where the people have more empathy and fewer weapons. I read an article about another country changing the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16 and I thought about buying your first bra. Nothing red or black. Probably plain white or boring beige. I perused online options for baby French and baby Spanish classes. I wish you could tell me which you’d prefer.
Sara Cosgrove is an award-winning journalist and emerging poet. Her poems have appeared or are scheduled to appear in The Seventh Quarry, Meniscus, Osiris, Frogpond (Haiku Society of America), Notre Dame Review, San Antonio Review, ONE ART, In Parentheses, and Roi Fainéant. She has worked as an editor for 15 years and has studied in the United States, Cuba, and France.
F. J. Bergmann
The first thing I remember is the baby carriage with my younger twin sisters in it levitating, then bouncing down the stone steps to the street. Nobody told me I was supposed to hold on to it. The yellow curtains with the orange ducklings on them vibrated gently even though the windows were closed. I watched them in a trance. If I listened closely, I could hear faint splashing, quacking. A boy wanted to be king, and pushed me down a small hill. I wanted to be the queen of an empire that rose up against him. I wanted an army before I knew what an army was. I wanted a sword. I overthrew him. My babysitters made a castle of giant boxes in the garage. More like a maze than a castle. Time within it took far longer than time outside. Hours or years spent in silent revelry. I believed that if I went far enough inside it, I would never come out.
F. J. Bergmann lives in Wisconsin and often fantasizes about tragedies on or near exoplanets. Her work has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. She thinks imagination can compensate for anything.
Below this world, and now and then indistinguishable from it, is another, no place anyone would choose to go if they had a choice, where objects of longing recede ever further and memories blow apart like smoke, where timelines have been indefinitely suspended and basic moral concepts are conveyed, when conveyed at all, in conspiratorial whispers, where streets belong to the cold and fog and people appear only vaguely, where I can remember playing by myself in a patch of dirt as a small child and the sun would be shining or it would be summer, but there was always darkness.
Howie Good is the author of FROWNY FACE, a collection of his prose poems and handmade collages published by Redhawk Publications.
People Keep Falling Up
And no one knows why. One minute they’re walking down the street and the next they’re shooting up into the sky, arms flailing and feet kicking, shrinking to a speck before the clouds consume them. The rest of the day their cries crawl in your ears like fleas. What happens to them? Do they gradually suffocate and freeze? Do they rocket through space like human popsicles, becoming comets to be viewed by lifeforms on different worlds? How long will it be before they fizzle down to nothing? Will their dust trail spawn new worlds? Or at some point when they’re out of view do they lapse into a different realm where they land on the same street they fell up from and continue their old life only in reverse? Or do they pick up right where they left off, thinking ooh, deja-vu. Or maybe they return to the same spot thousands of years in the future when our lemur-like descendants leap over the ruins of our pride, howling ho-kay, ho-kay. Do they become gods? It’s just one or two people a day, mind you. Nothing to get carried away about. The experts point out that every day ten people vanish in our national parks.
Ian Willey's poems and flash fiction pieces can be found drifting on the Internet like summer clouds. He has been nominated for several Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes.