Apex is proud to share the winning stories from this year’s first annual MoCon flash fiction and poetry contest! Below are the stories and poems accompanied by the artwork that served as inspiration.
Art by Ess McKee.Drawing inspiration from urban street art, much of her work is crafted with the grunge of city culture, the sounds of shaking spray cans, and the smell of aerosol in mind, Ess McKee is a Teaching Artist with ReGeneration Indy, a High School Track and Field coach, and a full time Graphic Designer/Visual Artist/Illustrator/Photographer for her graphic design business, INAZ Dezign LLC. Check her out at https://www.iamessmckee.com/.
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by Ariane Cyusa
Ariane Cyusa is a magical light being that wants to cover the world in poetry. Check her out at feelandhealpoetry.com.
Tryna keep a smile on my face,
maaan you see my teeth?
Let them speak confidence and virtue,
let them hint strength and tranquility
Don’t look at my eyes though.
You might get a glimpse into the mess
can’t ever seem to shut these blinds.
Windows stay open.
Letting the storm out.
So just look at my smile maaan, and smile back!
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by Nicholas Bright
A science fiction and fantasy author, Nicholas Bright is the co-host of the Just Keep Writing Podcast. Check him out at https://www.brightinks.org/.
“Brothers do what brothers do. The life of a ZaZa sister can only be great if those around her give her permission to a great life.” A young black stood in front of her body length mirror.
“Fuck ‘em,” she said out loud. “I am Zo. I am what I am and I will not be torn down.”
Zo raised her hands and ripped the scarf she had wrapped around her head. The sides of her head were shaved replaced fresh ZaZa tribal tattoos in black. The rest of her hair grown into a mohawk. A tear rolled down her face.
“I will not allow myself to controlled by the insecurity of another’s emotions.” She pulled on the jade necklace around, breaking the chains of bondage she wore. “I will not bend my knee to those who demand respect but in return control you by fear.” She stripped her ceremonial clothing of red and black ZaZa tribal designs that matched her. She stood naked in front of the mirror, her eyes welling up with emotion.
“I am brave and not fearless. I am wounded but not broken,” she bite her lip to ease the pain, knowing what she needed to do for to be free.
“I will be free from the struggles of everyone,” she slipped on a sports bra and black tank top. Underwear and her military style pants. “I am free to explore the my own mind, but I want to see the world. They will no longer let them suffocate my greatness.” She sat on the edge of her bed, pulling up her boots and tying them.
“I will not sacrifice myself for the sake of tradition.” Determination was etched on her face. She knew what she needed to do. She bit her lip again, this time drawing blood and closing her eyes.
A loud crash came from her front door.
Zo knew there was no going back now. It was time. Time for her to set herself free. Opening her eyes they were filled with blood. “Good,” she said. “Let me come see me. Come see my greatness. Fear the magic that I was inherently born with.”
Zo turned from her mirror and began to march out of her bedroom towards her brothers who were rushing upstairs, her hands outstretched, glowing a faint red. “I will be free.”
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by Mechi Shakur
A 90s baby, Mechi Shakur is a Indianapolis raised and based artist. His influences include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonardo da Vinci, Bosch and Kehinde Wiley. Painting for three years now and Self taught, Mechi Shakur believes your art is a reflection of you and loves to blur the lines of reality and the imagination through an assortment of color all while diving into social and political issues touching many subjects all at once
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by Sheree Renée Thomas
Sheree Renée Thomas is a Memphis-based writer, poet, and editor whose “black pot mojo” creative work explores ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. She is the author of Sleeping Under the Tree of Life (Aqueduct Press and of Shotgun Lullabies (2011). Thomas’s Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative from the African Diaspora won the 2001 World Fantasy Award. Dark Matter: Reading the Bones won the 2005 World Fantasy Award. In 2017 Thomas was honored with the L. A. Banks Award for Outstanding Contribution to Speculative Fiction. Follow her @blackpotmojo on Twitter and on Instagram and Facebook @shereereneethomas.
Basquiat’s crown shines
through his third eye
Gold teeth glitter atop
a bag of bones
when the brick dust
on a broken throne
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Pieces of …
by Danian Jerry
Danian Jerry, a writer, teacher, and emcee, holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Memphis. His stories engage the culture and music nourished by the Bluff City and the Mississippi Delta. He teaches English at U of M and the Bowie Reading and Learning Center. He has taught fiction writing and performance reading at Memphis College of Art. Outside of class he works his first novel Son of the Iron Mic. Look for his new stories forthcoming in Trouble the Waters: Tales of the Deep Blue (Rosarium, Spring 2020) and Mojo: The Journal of Black Speculative Arts.
My sun broke
My heart. Black
the ground under
my bloody heels.
My broken face,