The Rat and the DollSome time ago there lived a Rat of fine whiskers and a finer tail who stumbled across a small porcelain Doll in a farmer's rubbish heap. Entranced by the Doll's beauty, he carried her home with him and, to the amusement of his fellow rats, instated her as his wife. Finding that she was of little assistance in his daily rambles for food, the Rat placed her upon a slight ledge of the barn in which he lived and brought her an offering of sustenance each day, as well as flowers and other pretty objects with which to enhance her loveliness.
One day the Rat returned from his foraging to find the other rats throwing pebbles at his Doll. "Stop!" he cried. "Why do you abuse my wife? What has she ever done to you?"
"She does nothing at all," said the other rats, "and that is the problem. How has she proven herself worthy of the attention you grant her, or the offerings you provide?"
"Her beauty proves her worth," claimed the Rat.
But at that moment, a gust of wind swept the Doll off her perch an
FFM 3: The Great ProcessSilence spun out on the grassy hill, and the boy analyzed his grandfather for some sign of a reaction. Cholas granted the boy a bemused half-smile, chewing on the mouthpiece of his pipe.FFM 3: The Great Process5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"It's horrible, isn't it?" Tian finally blurted. "You're not gonna tell my mom are you?"
Cholas chuckled softly. "Calm down, boy. Calm down. It's only horrible if you act upon it." He glanced down to see if it helped. It didn't. "Look, what you're feeling is perfectly natural for boys your age. Grown men get the same impulses, but we're used to it, we don't let it torture us."
"No, no. Listen for a second, child. It's just a part of nature. Like honey spiders gathering pollen in their great nets, or hawkflies snatching them away to feed their maggots. It's all a part of the great process: life, death, reproduction."
"But my own sister?"
Again, that throaty chuc
A River Measured in TimeAlberto Banks had been saving all his life. He wanted to buy a river.A River Measured in Time9 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
As a child, he had been given a ribbon by his father. A blue ribbon. His father was always this strange man who would scrutinize his past much more spontaneously than he would do with his future. When he had brought the ribbon for his child, he would have seldom thought what the boy would do with a ribbon. The consequences of his actions were never quite as important as the precedence of the consequence itself. When he handed over the ribbon to little Alberto and noticed his confused expression, he wondered why he had bought it on the first place. He wondered whether he had done it subconsciously. He wondered what particular knack or interest had he noticed in little Alberto which could have prompted him into an action so decisive for the child.
"This is a magic ribbon", he said at last "if you spread it, it'd become as long as the river."
His father's words were just as unmindful or irrelevant as was his buying of t
you'll suffer unto meI was a four-year-old fatherless pageant baby when Mother found the listing for Challenger. For weeks she complained about the California public school system. Said I wasn't fit for it, wasn't right for it. "We live in a shithole. Public school systems rely on money and the income in this area sucks. They're all hoodlums here. You'll get raped, mugged, killed, murdered and then what? All the I'm sorries in the world won't bring you back. I'm not letting that happen to you. You're getting a better foundation than I did at your age."you'll suffer unto me5 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mother always wanted the best for me, didn't care about the cost. She scoured the Yellow Pages for private schools, called them up, visited them with me in tow, dressed in pink and bouncing brown curls. Harker was the better, more expensive school, the rival to Challenger. Uppity kids wearing blouses, sweaters and in-fashion light-up shoes roamed both places. We settled on Challenger in the end. Mother didn't like the whole "boarding school" atmosphere at Ha
Trinity RoseAs a teenager, he was the artist who painted sunsets just to see them bleed their light through acrylics, dandelions beheaded in the frost to prove that you don't need hands to come out of the world scathed. He created beautiful women with their hair over their eyes and their tummies sucked in and rose vine tattoos sneaking up their thighs only because he wanted to show how you become tainted.Trinity Rose5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
His theory: you look as helpless and fragile as possible and then you open all the windows and the doors and a violent man walks in, or a vengeful wind.
That came from a sixteen-year-old mind high on hormones and a lack of experience.
That came from a young boy who believed you had to feign tragedy to be a good artist.
The older he became, the blinder he let his paintings become, perhaps literally. The only places he'd ever looked were up to the sky and down to his canvas. No elderly couple, no schoolchildren ever stumbled out of the light he stroked excessively between shadows. Their eyes always
A Song for SorrowAway on the hilltop that surveys the shore,A Song for Sorrow6 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
The sunlight shines down on the dress that she tore.
For there stands my lady with tears in her eyes--
My ship soon is leaving for stormier skies.
The daylight is fading, with promise of night.
And I from below cannot fathom the height,
The distance from hilltop to shadowy shore,
The space of the years, of a lifetime or more.
She's lovely in sorrow, but pain and despair
Last only as long as the wind in her hair,
For memory fades with the coming of frost.
(There's no one as fair as the one who has lost.)
O Captain! My Captain! There's wind in the sail,
A flurry of hats torn away in the gale.
A tempest is coming, we must not delay!
Her face in my eyelids as we sail away.
The ocean is fickle, unending, and bleak;
She torments the mighty and swallows the weak.
So why do we love her, we rashest of men?
When all of our roads lead to her yet again.
The world is too small for our changeable hearts,
No time for the wisdom perdition imparts.
MoshtarakYou came in combat shortsMoshtarak6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Speaking poetry to me
in pidgin Pashto.
I'm sure you've blown skulls
wide open with half formed words
and you frightened me
with your fearless fire.
You chased away the trouble that had
settled heavy over my shoulders and down into
every hair and pore and breath like desert dust.
You were different.
Your eyes shone with the promise
of golden gates
and red bridges to white sheets
across blue gaps and hotels and museums and forests full of God
and everything seemed possible.
I did not think you would leave me.
And it returns from the mountains, the caves,
Wherever it comes from. Whatever you call it.
Trouble. Taliban. Heartbreak. In pidgin Pashto
or any language.
I wondered where you'd gone
but then I realised -
You think you're home,
But both our homes
are static lines floating
through space and we can't
make it home without finishing
what was started, I know
a part of your head is still here, sp
The Melting ManI sat by my window, looking out over Summer Street, from the apartment Id taken after Marys death. A potted ivy wilted on the sill - green in the center, brown around the edges. I hadn't had much luck with plants since Maryd gone. My pipe needed reaming too, but I couldnt muster the energy for even that small task.The Melting Man7 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
The sky was darkening with the promise of rain as I watched the strange little man who lived down the hall come darting up the walk.
No one knew who he was. He lived in our building but his mailbox was simply emblazoned Occupied. He was a small man with merry little eyes, features indistinct beneath an incredible growth of facial hair. His nose pushed out of that forest like the stump of a tree, brown and weathered like the skin on the back of his hands. He must have spent all his time in the sun. I called him Mr. Occupied for lack of a better name.
Gravity did not seem to have the same effect on him as it did on ordinary people. He walked with
Patchouli GirlOn her front porch she had one of those little wooden step stools covered in potted flowers and various ceramic animals a frog, a squirrel, a giant ladybug. It struck me as strange, something my dead grandmother would have had on her front porch. It was definitely not the porch I had pictured as belonging to my first one night stand.Patchouli Girl5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I was a step behind her as she fumbled with her keys. I had been drinking, too much. Probably. All evening I had chewed on my fingernails, hoping the Captain and coke would give me the courage to deliver the witty, flirty lines I had rehearsed in my mind all week. I'm fairly sure it didn't work.
The door was red, and I thought again of my dead grandmother the horrid crimson sweater she knitted for me one Christmas, the one I had felt obligated to wear every December until the funeral. I think everyone has a horrid crimson sweater from their grandmother.
It seemed forever to me that she fumbled with her bulky keys, laughing and shooting me fli
PallorI cried myself sane and thenPallor5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
moved on. How strange, that a man
can split open like a rotten peach and find,
at last, nothingness. How strange to realize:
only then can sunlight enter his veins.
Death dissolves us. Nothing has changed
but everything is different. I spend an hour
pressing my fingers against a wall, the skin
whitening as blood retreats.
There is no regret, no fear. Only a man
who whitens against his final four walls,
the empty chair, the selfish and wandering grief.
Only a man whose face slowly unravels and the way
I wash my face, make dinner, let myself forget.
call timecall time8 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
alone with night i want to call up a friend
and i remember you
daughterI find her in my kitchen, one ordinary morning with the harsh winter sun tipping full through the window. I haven't seen her for six months, and yet here she is, bruised knees pulled up under her chin, the light pouring through her hair like dull bronze. Despite the cold she is only wearing shorts and an old gray t-shirt, two sizes too big. Upon hearing my footsteps she looks up from picking at her nails, covered in chipped black polish, multicolored threads and silver rings slipping down her wrists. Her hair is tangled and long; longer than I can ever remember, and she tucks it behind an ear studded with piercings that glint in the dark strands. Her face is still in the shadows but a smile breaks through the silence and for the smallest moment I am stunned by the sheer momentum of life; the scent of baby powder, fireflies in the live oaks at night, the first time I felt her weight in my arms in a hospital bed, her tiny heart beating like a butterfly against my palm.daughter5 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
I have to sift
One Way Eyes You hate that old woman. Not the least because she's your sister. You might be called "my old man" by your first son, but you're not as old as that old woman. She doesn't look particularly old and neither do you. Except for her eyes. Her eyes look way too old. Yours don't. You don't think they do.One Way Eyes5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Your eyes are bright because you focus on beautiful things. Your second wife is a beautiful young woman. She has what you call russet hair, cut in an expensive style. She has bright eyes too. They're like yours because you both adore your youngest son, the one she had with you. This son's so young his age is a single digit. His eyes are even brighter, and they look very beautiful to you.
Your sister's eyes hold only dim light at the end of a long dark tunnel. They're shot red with lines that say: "I know you. But you don't know me. It's all one way here." You wish she would close them for a lon
Emotion The noise is unbearable. It runs through your body and cracks your soul; the sound of fear. It's high pitched, like a scream from a horror movie. Primal. We've evolved in such a way that such a sound sends terror pulsing through us. It's a chain reaction.Emotion5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Your muscles clench; that's the sound of your wife dying. All the worst thoughts pulse through your head; your mind serves only to exacerbate your horror. Eventually, you can't hear the screaming anymore, not over the sound of your heartbeat. The perfect engine in your chest pumps faster and faster; this is your death as well as hers.
Paralysis comes next. That's when you notice the blood. Again your mind races. Surely, it isn't natural to lose that much blood. The paralysis worsens. Before you were tense, now it feels as though your knees are going to give way. That's when you realise i
The Arms Of RomeI met Ed when I joined the Marines for the first time. Her name is Jessica Edwin, but in the Marines she was Corporal Edwin, or Ed. It stuck. She was tough and pretty, smart, driven, and two years older than me. I was nineteen and foolish. Somehow it worked.The Arms Of Rome5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We got married when we found out she was pregnant. My parents were very nasty about it. They felt I'd somehow taken advantage of her. Good as raped her. Her parents were wonderful. They hosted the wedding, Ed and I wore our dress blues, and took an oath that meant even more than the one we swore to our nation.
Tiger was born just a few months after that. Ed's four year contract was finished, so she found us a little house near the base. She found a job, and she raised Tiger, almost by herself, while I ran PT, stood firewatch, crawled the obstacle courses, fired my rifle, shipped out on West Pac, and ca
MatthewThe silhouette in the back seat seems to say,Matthew5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
what's a few more miles per hour?
Jesus, there ain't any cops around at two AM.
The needle on that glowing green dial shivers, taunting.
After forty days of temptation in the desert,
I turned his breath bitter and blue from nicotine.
The illuminated cone of open road chokes the windshield
And he cranks the gas, feeling his back press against the seat.
A rush of lines and blue-grey pavement.
His fists were scarred, probably thought even Behemoth
was wary of his mirrored sunglasses.
And he thinks: bitch, you're gone,
You're all gone.
Bet you didn't say your prayers right.
He grips the cracked leather steering wheel
Cranks up the radio,
His feet brush crumpled cans
Of beer and Diet Coke
And he feels them holy.
I made him proud of that stain on the wall;
Made his fists bruised from scrubbing and scrubbing.
He stops when it gets light,
Wheels kicking up dust under the dead tree,
Bone-white, like fingers in the sun.
The dust scratches his lungs t
Engine of Chaos"Define problem," I said, watching my guest over steepled fingers.Engine of Chaos5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The man - he had introduced himself as Edward Carter - twisted a machine-pressed felt hat between calloused hands.
"Well, I run a warehouse in the West India docks for a Mister Hibberd," he began, and grimaced, his pale brow furrowing beneath lank, age-bleached hair. "Top gent. But... There's somethin' tha's not right."
Oil-stained fingernails bit into his hat's brim, and he wet his lips.
"The foreman - he's walked out on me. An' I can't get lightermen in for love nor money. It's me engineer..." The felt hat audibly complained at his attentions. "He's gone a bit... I think he's blown a valve - if you'll excuse the expression."
He paused, and glanced anxiously about the room. Though I doubt he found much comfort there; my study was sparsely decorated at best. His eyes paused on my coat stand, before wandering idly over my desk, and finally, relucta
I'll meet her again...Its Samhain. The line between the spiritI'll meet her again...6 years ago in Sestina-ween More Like This
world and our own is a ray of moonlight.
Its the night when the reluctant soul sticks
to our plane, hovering - a withered rose
whose beauty is the figment of a dream;
a gleam gilding the surface of the lake.
For long hours of idyll would the Lake
poets revel in letting their spirit
soar free on the nightingales wings, and dream
of glimpsing their Muse clad in pure moonlight
but tonight magics afoot: clouds just rose
to blur the moon like fumes from incense sticks.
The Romantics habit of rambling sticks
to mind tonight, as I stroll to the lake
and sit down to recall the violent rows
wed have every night, before her spirit
gave itself over to the bland moonlight
and chose to rest and die, not live and dream.
But perhaps tis I thats strayed in a dream?
For in that small nest, fashioned out of sticks,
I see her visage, painted in moonlight.
I glimpse a lady traversing the
The Hole in the FenceEveryone knew about the hole in the fence. You went to the back of the park, where the grass gave way to packed dirt, and followed the fence east until you found it. You didn't even have to crawl on the ground -- you could just walk right through the space where the chain links had been torn away from the post.The Hole in the Fence4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
When Tina was little, too young to go to the park by herself, she asked her big brother what was on the other side.
"What do you mean? You can see through the fence already."
And he was right. On the other side lay more dirt, and then rocks that eventually led to the foothills. But there was still a mystery about it all. There were rumors of a cave, and of small blind animals that lived in the crevices of the rocks.
But Tina only went through the fence once. The very first time she was allowed to go to the park alone, she found the hole and went through it. She reached the large,
Europe, Twenty-SixAnd there, to the west,Europe, Twenty-Six6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
was a skeleton
that wasnt made of bones
and carried no flesh,
stretched taut across the skyline
and motionless, as if taken surprise
by the sudden black of night.
We gazed across the city,
electrified, two small eyes
peering out from the bright skull.
You lifted your arm,
fingers splayed like dark eyelashes
to catch the bright orbs
of streetlights on the horizon
and cupped them in your hand,
like small candles burning,
flickering luminescent in the midnight pupil.
Can't Go Home Again My name is Jacob Mullins. I just turned 24 last week and got a phone call from my father telling me to come home. Now, as I get out of my car and head up the walkway, I'm not too jazzed to be walking back into the house that reminds me of my childhood. It took me a year and a half to move into an apartment and get a decent job and now I have to take a leave of absence to take care of the old codger before he croaks. If I lose my job over this there better be something phenomenal in that will of his to make up for it.Can't Go Home Again5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
As soon as I open the door the smell of dust and sickness reaches my nostrils and my lip curls. I make my way down the hallway and into the old man's bedroom and don't bother to knock before I step in. He's hooked up to a oxygen tank and his eyes look glazed over as he fixes them on me. I lean against the dresser and fold my arms across my chest.
"So I'm here."
"And insolent as ever, I see." His voice is raspy and there's a t
Hotel RulesThe lobby and front entrance are strictly out of bounds.Hotel Rules5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
In the car park, if you ask yourself any of these questions how you're going to get out of a spot, whether you're allowed to park there, if the monster truck beside you will crush your car when it leaves, if you'll crush the motor scooter in the next stall, whether your car will roll onto a different level, if you'll be able to find your car again, etc. you're behaving normally and you will almost certainly find your car in the same state and location that you left it in.
Use the service staircase and corridor to avoid surprises. The more lush and carpeted a staircase is, the more dangerous it is.
If you see anyone, do not go with them. Continue straight up to your room. It doesn't matter whether they're a pretty cleaning lady or a bizarre-looking alien. Do not step onto the official floor (carpeted, a regulation 16.7cm above the concrete service landing). Do not follow them. If you hear music, do your best.
Depressing Russian Literature.Guilt is a piano on top of youDepressing Russian Literature.5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
instead of a man. Street noises
drain you like bleach on a rainbow.
Indecision becomes a washer & dryer
you can't stop putting things into
& taking things out of all through
a painful fluorescent night. The
brain becomes smoke, a hidden stash
of dark red cigarettes, dipped in
formaldehyde, waiting for you.
Depressing Russian literature
becomes your best friend & you
can't remember what it is like
to have a flesh & bone best friend,
a soft voice at the other end, someone to cough up
pounds of dirt and flashlights and floods with you.
Fun becomes self-destruction in the form of 47 grams
or too much coffee in the blood.
Death becomes a run-on sentence
wraps its arms around you, puts its
mouth all over a frozen horse.
Health becomes a science,
frightens you with its bones,
pulls at its skin like polyester.
Today is a miracle, & yesterday
was one too.