Five Micro Stage Plays by Benjamin Niespodziany


The magus reaches into her hat. One rabbit, one gun. One water moccasin. One blunt. “It feels like fighting home,” she says. One stone, one button. “Finding home?” a cast member in the audience asks. The magus does not like that question. The audience member is encouraged to exit. The magus assembles her found objects on stage. “Like a farmer’s market,” she says. “Like a graveyard.” She places prices next to each item and waits for interested buyers that never arrive. “Alakazam,” the magus says, defeated. Her rabbit catches fire. The light guy dies.

Sunflowers and Debt

On stage, the business man is in a cafe. He tries to pay his bill with a bouquet of daisies. The magus is the waitress behind the counter. She is still wearing her tuxedo, but she has a hairnet instead of a top hat. “We do not want a bouquet of daisies,” says the magus. “We want money.” The business man does not have money. The business man is struggling. “I don’t have money,” the business man says. “I’m struggling.” The magus behind the counter walks over and hugs him. Then she stands back and with her wand she lifts the man and shakes him from his ankles. From his pockets there falls but lint and whimpers and dust. The daisies are to the side, thriving in a puddle. “I hate flowers,” says the magus. “I hate money,” says the business man. “The sun above has been above forever,” says the magus. “And yet no one knows its birthday,” says the business man.

Cake vs. Pie

On stage, the business man runs around the kitchen, waiting for his cake to finish. Bereft in mittens he walks in circles. He looks at his watch and he looks at the clock and he continues to walk in circles. “Any second now,” he says. His suit is covered in flour and batter and dough. A cast member in the audience stands and throws a pie. It hits the business man’s face. “A pie?” he says, licking his fingers. “Blueberry.” He smiles, then cries. He opens the oven and blue balloons fill the room. The audience is encouraged to be in awe. “It’s perfect,” he whispers, looking into the oven and climbing inside.

It’s All So Very Polite

On stage, Death knits dinner. Her utensils are yarn and so is her carpet. The pie she provides is made of yarn. She knits plates and napkins. She knits the table. She knits it all. When she is finished knitting a bib for her black cat, a door is brought down through the cardboard clouds. There is a knock from the other side. Death stands in front of the door. Again, there’s a knock on the other side. She sits and hums and knits a gun. It’s all so very polite.

Sitcom Laughter

On stage, the business man and the magus are on a roller coaster, hanging on to the harnesses. They hold hands. They try to kiss but they’re too far apart so they laugh it off. It appears to be a fifth or sixth date. From the sound of the consistent click, the audience knows the ride is climbing. Their feet dangle. “I can see my house,” she says. From the speakers, sitcom laughter is heard. “I don’t like how this feels,” he says. Sitcom laughter. “Maybe we can go to the water park to hide your tears,” she says. Sitcom oohs. “Every day feels like fighting life,” he says. Sitcom awws. “What if I dropped my shoes?” she says. Sitcom laughter. The coaster reaches the top and stops. She looks down and screams. He closes his eyes and prays. The cart behind them is empty. The sun, it sets. The moon arrives. The magus’ confidence and humor fades into fear. “Is this what it means to die?” she asks. “It only makes sense,” he says. Sitcom laughter. A cardboard cloud passes by with seat belts and supplies but the two can’t reach no matter how far their arms extend. “I don’t have my wand,” the magus says. She brings her legs up to her chest and looks afraid. The business man’s feet continue to swing.

Benjamin Niespodziany is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Best Microfiction nominee, and Best of the Net nominee. His writing has appeared in Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions, as well as in Cheap Pop, Maudlin House, Pithead Chapel, Tiny Molecules, and various other places. His debut, full-length poetry collection, NO FARTHER THAN THE END OF THE STREET, was released by Okay Donkey Press in 2022.

Periodic Cicada by Michele Rule

The magicicada have been living quietly
under my ribcage
in nymph form
for seventeen years
Silently observing my inner workings
my maturing

Now they emerge
with a deafening sound
a flight of musical notes
from some double forte experimental jazz gone wrong
They don’t stop with their song
until I am thoroughly unraveled

When I can’t bear another moment of the cacophony
they begin to drop to the ground
one by one
their mission complete

The missing symphony of life
that I waited for unawares
all those years
I cover my ears
to block out the silence
hope their sound might return


Michele Rule is a disabled poet from Kelowna BC. She is especially interested in the topics of chronic illness, relationships and nature. Michele is published in OYEDrum, Five Minute Lit, Pocket Lint, WordCityLit, the Lothlorien, and the anthology Poets for Ukraine, among others. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. Michele’s first chapbook is Around the World in Fifteen Haiku. She lives with a sleepy dog, two cats, and a fantastic partner.

José Martí in 2023 by Chip Livingston

José Martí shakes off a 127-year dead sleep as he wakes up on Calle José Martí, according to the street sign. José Martí checks his thin pigskin wallet for his national ID to confirm he is still José Martí. Revolutionary sycamore trees stretch from the sidewalk, shade cloud-scraping brick apartment buildings. The street’s concrete is cut in curves from iron trolley ruts, sloping to a city beach too brown to be Caribbean. Hijo de puta, the poet mutters to himself. Estoy muy lejos de los platanos. “Where am I? When am I?” José Martí asks a man walking nine canines that shine like a starburst, him the wiry stem of their dandelion. “You’re right there,” he tells the poet but is quickly pulled up Calle José Martí by the harnessed manada. “Where am I?” José Martí asks a woman overacting an enthusiastic power walk in tight and colorful elastic. She removes white metal plugs from her ears, presses her finger against a dark glass square strapped to her forearm. Pauses. “Perdón, I didn’t hear.” “The date, the year.” “You’re not from here,” she says. The poet offers her his Cuban cedula. “Oh dear,” she says. “This is not my island,” José Martí says. “This is not your island.” She shakes her head. “But you’ll certainly be a guest of honor. We take our poets and our revolutionaries very seriously in Uruguay in 2023.” La republica oriental. Dos mil veintitrés. Further away than I thought, José Martí thinks. José Martí smooths his mustache and tips a hat he doesn’t wear. “I hope I’ll see you again.” “I need to keep running, but I’d like to have you sign my first edition.” The poet smiles, a little less lost, a little less lonely. Not because he has a street named after him. But he, José Martí, has more than one edition.

Chip Livingston is the author of three books of poetry, a novel, and a story/essay collection, and editor of LOVE, LOOSHA: The Letters of Lucia Berlin and Kenward Elmslie. His short prose and poetry have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Subtropics, The Cincinnati Review, and on the Poetry Foundation’s and Academy of American Poets’ websites. Chip teaches in the low-rez MFA program at Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, and lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Aftermath by Jad Josey

The scorpion emerged from shadow, big enough to matter
and small enough to matter, the world

a dram conspiring between floated spirits,
the grain alcohol, the smoky absinthe,

the way my mother is eleven-hundred miles close and
yours is eight miles and nearly vanished,

an apparition you didn’t intend to summon, though
you might have wished her gone one sticky-hot September evening,

never divining the prophet you’d become, never mind how small her
hand felt in your palm, her heart no longer here, the goodbye gone.

The scorpion scuttled onto my foot, and I waited. Waited
for the pricking poison, waited for what comes before the aftermath.

Waited for something small to bring me to my knees again.


Jad Josey’s work has appeared in CutBank, Glimmer Train, Ninth Letter, Passages North, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions and his story, “It Finally Happened,” was selected for inclusion in the Best Microfiction 2021 anthology. Read more at, or reach out on Twitter @jadjosey.