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140 and Counting
Upper Rubber Boot Books
Upper Rubber Boot Publishing, 162 pages

140 and Counting
Upper Rubber Boot Books
Upper Rubber Boot Books publishes literary and speculative poetry and fiction from (metaphorically) remote places in ebook format.

Upper Rubber Boot Books Website

A review by Sandra Scholes

140 and Counting is an online poetry magazine that started out on Twitter where writers would post up such poetry as haiku, cinquains and American sentences that would fit in a tweet. They also publish very short stories that reach 140 characters and nothing more. This could be seen by some as limiting, yet for many of us it is a challenge that we might readily accept. There is nothing quite like trying to write to a deadline, but in this case each writer is using a set character count that for some would be almost impossible.

The magazine is extremely versatile as it can be read at home or on several popular mobile devices. It was published way back in July of 2009, and has poetry such as cinquains, haiku, senryu and American sentences. They do like to feature very, very short stories when they can so they can have a change from the norm in the magazine. 140 and Counting is a collection of what they consider to be the best Twitter poetry from the first two years. It can be about almost anything, but in this they do have themes of fantasy, science fiction, seasons, animals, and relationships. This is 141 short poems by 119 authors in one book. It is perfect to read on the train to work, on a long car journey with a friend, or on campus at night if you can't sleep.

I have reviewed poetry books before, some big, some small, but this one was quite a surprise. To give everyone an idea of what I mean; here are a few of the poems that made the book worth reading. The poems are made up of seven sections; 1. The Morse code sent from you, 2. Black sky roll in, 3. all the maps lied to us, 4. paper birds, 5. days fall like apples, 6. jurassic sushi, 7. the lifetime aspect.

Mike Donoghue uses his keen sense of humour to deflect the demonic evil in this story:

  "No mortal weapon can harm me," laughed the demon. "Eat this!" I said, swinging my
baseball bat autographed by Babe Ruth.

Marge Simon's haiku has a very distinct sci-fi flavour that gives it a sense of mystique:

  Galileo's ghost
is a comet currently
orbiting Jupiter

Chuck Von Nordheim's haiku runs along similar lines with the aftermath of what looks like an alien invasion:

  purple slobber makes
colonists' bones glistenó
space marines tardy

Jax's offering made me laugh out loud, so it might have the same effect on others:

  The time travelling Vikings hummed their favourite Abba songs as they looted and
burned. And then they danced back to the long ship.

Ken Liu is another one who likes to tickle the reader's funny bone:

  "I should have thought more about the lifetime aspect of this choice," the President
muttered as Justice FAIRBOT was sworn in.

Julia Patt comments on what would happen when zombies ran riot in the US.

  In Vegas and Atlantic City, the zombies still play the slot machines, pumping the
quarters. I guess addictions come back, too.

Kevin Wolf Stone's horrific story of a primitive god ruling over an island has a humorous streak I enjoyed:

  Every time the Volcano God threatened anger, all the girls on the island seemed much more receptive to Pupualo's pick-up lines.  

Peter Newton's haiku seems to sing along in a melodic tune like thread:

  day-dreaming at night
fooled again
by a satellite

Richard Kriheli's character has a time problem he would like to solve:

  time. Night after night he's up, restless. What if she knew his plans? If only he'd bypass
his miscalculations and slip through

Nathalie Boisard-Beudin is a delicious tale of what happens when a rogue fae gets his or her own back:

  I was bitten by a faery as a child. Since then, I sparkle every full moon and go out to play
tricks on naughty children.

Beth Katte's haiku seems cold and matter-of-fact, but reads well:

  Perched in pine, crows caw
algorithmic dominion,
yet termites laugh last.

Ana Cristina Rodrigues sounds a little Harry Potter here with hers. I loved the impression of colour and beauty it evoked:

  The alchemist burned a red feather, hoping for a Phoenix to make him king. The scarlet
beast that appeared made him a feast.

Whether readers like serious poetry or stories, fantasy, horror, science fiction or something in between, they will laugh, think hard about culture and other issues or marvel at the use of the English language in all of these very, very short works.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has had her work featured in Fantasy Book Review, Rainbow Book Reviews, and The British Fantasy Society. She still Tweets, but loves to draw caricature Spock and Luke Skywalker characters on coloured paper. Magazine.

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