She catches herself on evenings like these trying to say exactly the things she doesn't want to say, so she writes them and tears them apart instead. Her pen is forming a man-made lake on the paper as she writes A-A-A-A-A, unable to finish your name.
In the dead of night, after she tells you she is going to sleep, she sneaks out, marks her garden with a sign bearing your smile, and plants a seed. She fights her right hand as it reaches to flood ink and dirt over your picture and your seed, and she tries to describe to it what the tree will look like, but she honestly has no idea.
Sometimes she lies when you ask how she feels, like when you wanted her to tell you about the first time she saw the sea. Staring at the waves, drowning what they love and falling in love with what they drown, she almost saw the curls of her hair, the cold glint of her own eyes in the capricious, roiling water, but she told you she just grabbed some shells and went home.
You snort and say she has no idea what
The Great WallWhen papers ask me where I'm from, I write "Seattle," because they don't want to know the real answer. When people ask me where I'm from, I say "downtown," and they take a good look at me and take that to mean "Chinatown."The Great Wall5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
My parents run one of the zillion dim sum restaurants here. They're what the white kids at school call "fresh off the boat." Most of the people here are. They don't speak English at home, and they try not to at work. They don't watch anything on American TV; they read the local Chinese paper and watch the one Asian channel, pausing to turn off the TV in disgust whenever one of the five daily Korean soap operas comes on. On Saturdays they go to the market and complain about the terrible selection. When they manage to find chicken's feet, they declare a feast day and eat it with reverence, like it fell from the heavens just for us.
I try to spend as much time away from them as I can. There are only a handful of kids my age here; of those who have children, most are eit
la bataille des femmesI'm not entirely sure how I got here. I'm looking at the door to one of those tucked-away meeting rooms in the student union building. When I met Terri on the bus last week, something told me not to take the violently pink flyer she produced from her bag, yet here I am.la bataille des femmes4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I pull open one of the big doors and Terri and a couple other intimidating-looking girls are in there. I'm five minutes early. Surprisingly, none of the girls are wearing flannel shirts or combat boots or men's jeans, but they all made up for it with dramatic fashion sense, and only one of them lacks some kind of facial piercing. I've been in college for a while since my humble high school graduating class of 100, but these girls are still somewhat shocking to look at.
Terri greets me enthusiastically. She looks the way she did on the bus, wild short hair, nose stud, ripped t-shirt, not fat or disproportionate but considerably thicker than me. She smells ripe. She introduces me to the other girls present, whose na
PhaedraIt was on that night that I discovered this strange coincidence:Phaedra4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
When one lies in bed, quite alone, at three in the morning, after not having been able to sleep,
if one whispers "she loved me" and "she left me,"
the two sound exactly the same.
BloomersMichael is by no means a queer boy. Well, that's if you take "queer" to mean "homosexual." If you take "queer" to mean "strange," then Michael would seem to be a rather queer boy, and not just because he reads encyclopedias and dictionaries on summer break.Bloomers3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Michael is fourteen and going out with a very nice girl. They have been friends since third grade, and Michael likes her quite a lot. They play video games and bake cookies together. They tell each other all their secrets.
Well, almost all their secrets.
Michael knows it now, he can't tell anyone the truth. He's watched the other boys grow up and grow vicious, throw the word "fag" around like it might make their chest hair sprout faster. He's watched the girls grow up too, and he's watched them capitalize on the "fags," take them shopping and paint their nails. Some of them probably are gay. The rest are just unfortunate and hoping that someday those girls might fall in love with their GBFFs. But Michael's girlfriend had advised him
anthropomorphismI sleep inside your closet. Your old winter coats share stories with me because we have something in common: you havent touched us in years. You grew up, and you didnt need a jacket to stay warm, and you didnt need a girl to play house with.anthropomorphism6 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I remember the old adage when I wear your shoes. They are six sizes too big and they dont even have imprints of your toes in them, because they are your dress shoes, your dance shoes, your rain boots. Finally I find that I fit comfortably into the tennis shoes you outgrew eight years ago, but all I can judge from your little toeprints is that you hated show-and-tell because you never had anything to show.
I play the dusty video games in the box you put in here when their console became obsolete. They entertained you for a month, but so far they have entertained me for a year. Did you stow them away because you were done with them, but wanted to keep them around? If so, I will join their cause.
I hide behind a stack of your e
lebanonspeak to me in arabic. tell me how much you hate israel.lebanon4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
tell me i'm pretty. did i tell you that in the low light it looks like sand dunes are meandering up your arms and over your shoulders and down your back? that means there was an ocean there, once. imagine, a whole ocean! where did it go, dear? did you drown ancient civilizations with it, dear, did you bury them in the sand? oh, let me take a little look, i won't tell anyone what i found. you can keep them all secret, just share with me. did you punish them for disobeying god? are you going to put israel in there? if I press enough kisses to your shoulder, will i expose the ruins beneath the sand?
i see it in the curls that struggle to lick your face. i could imagine you holding an ak-47. you can cut your hair as short as you want but i can still see it. i can push my fingers through your hair in all directions all night but i can still see it. i listen to your gentle whispers and i could imagine you wishing death upon every chris
if this world makes you crazy.Three days before his third birthday, my brother's computer started misbehaving.if this world makes you crazy.5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He was small at birth, our little illegal boy was, and ugly as day.
Although the world's resources crumbling to its knees, no one could have denied my mother of her "accidental" embryo, even while They broke into houses and took women to the quack doctor to eliminate any suspicious growths "in the name of the law". We went through geneticists and neurologists, trying to fit an old computer from Grandma's time into the next generation. We dug deep into emergency stashes and back-up loans and "30310's College Fund", and came up with just enough to satisfy one round of bribes to keep everything [just barely] under the wraps.
Newborns are pretty things, my mother had assured, eyes bright and half to herself. It'll be worth it in the end.
His name was Ray, a pretty all-letters name to make up for his physical disproportions. I held him on the first day of his life and the last day of my [only-]childhood freed
KendraThe smell of gingerbread still makes me sick. Remembering the nights we spent watching your scented candles dance is almost enough to resurrect my meals. And I don't eat the bread or the cookies, either. I promised myself I'd never think of those things again.Kendra4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The last chick I was with told me that her favorite part of putting on fancy outfits was having a guy take them off. By the time the words reached me, they were in your voice. She was wearing one of those dresses with the skirt made all out of gauze. I almost up and left, right then and there.
I liked that new song on the radio until I heard that it was from your favorite band. After that I couldn't get rid of the image of the mix CD you made for me, the one that I snapped in half when we were done. I started having nightmares where I'd hear you singing to me, and I'd try to find you but the sound was coming from headphones and I'd think you were in my stomach so I'd reach into myself but the acid burned my hand.
Every now and th
When God Sleeps.I. So it comes to this: pangea tearing itself rawWhen God Sleeps.5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
from our throats to pour into squares of newly open sky
where the stars grew aches and darkened lakewater
once bloomed into bruised winters. Somewhere
beyond the thick of snow, prayers are strung
on moon-rattled winds
and birds' teeth tear apart the poetry
of our hands. They will raise something beautiful
from these ruined words.
Continents shift slowly. They are
dirt-bound titans, these beasts;
rootless giants that mold themselves
to fit the vision we hold inside our heads. Oceans sigh
and their tides crawl ever upward.
II. Our shadows become umbilical
in certain light. Unknown children cast
dark shapes of water
to nourish the gardens springing forth
from the dirt's wrist like a eulogy for lost sky.
Morning doves sing because they see what we cannot:
the years between us laid out like miles and our feet
that never mark the reddened earth and
the passion-trees birthing flowers of such cold, untamed souls.
We are walking in the wombs of
LevinaI dreamt of you last night.Levina5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
You danced in my front door, pulled my hand and pulled me out with you. I was making eggs in my underwear. The landscape was a field of foot-high grass in the middle of a purple bowl of mountaintops under a saran wrap lid of sky. Your sky. We were locked in a fast-paced ballroom number that had me stepping on my own toes, but you seemed to be enjoying yourself. The rim of the bowl broke, the pieces landed in our path, the saran wrap tore on the jagged skyline.
You pranced over piles of rubble, threw your hair back and threw us over the mountains. I was tangled in the grass, legs shapeshifting into green pillars. The outside of the bowl was a table of hard brown dirt with the occasional placemat farm. Your plateau throne. We were like gods sitting on a cloud to rule the floor before us, but I had a hard time believing the cloud was solid. The farms spat forth onions that we ate raw, the taste burned down our throats and out our feet, its white-hot power surge
sorryundead undone unloved,sorry4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
all of these words hold
little value to me
fifteen months and little to show for it
i am just as fierce as ever and you are
just as passionless. i used to love you
for your passion and now that it is gone,
i love a shell
if you have ever loved a shell,
you will understand that every
thing you put in it dies.
the year of the rabbitto matt:the year of the rabbit4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
calling into question every conventional way of being,
i am two or three or sevens solar poppings away from
a complete degradation into separate cells of matter
what i am really trying to say is that all this
bullshit with the dollar is making me mad. not the
sweet, rampant mad that leaves flowers in its rear
and churns the dirt into dust into dreams but the
silent, steady mad that will cause the body
to do horrible things to itself. if i was asked a
question: what is your soul's deepest desire?
i would respond: well, i would go to california
and work a shitty job and rent a shitty room that
has windows with beautiful things in them. i would
take matthew and we would smoke a lot and have a lot
of love and i would write all the time and he would
be there and encourage me to live, not believe, but just
live like there is a rabbit foot beating on the root
of my heart. and i would do it too i would live
and if the questioner were to counter: well, why don't you?
i would know the a
on being a woman'what's a pretty ladyon being a woman3 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
like you doin' smokin' cigarettes?'
'if i fucked you
for every time i've
you wouldn't think i was such
a lady anymore,
and what's a clever fella like you
doing minding my business for me,
i am not a lady-
i do not curve my appetites,
i do not curve through the waist and hips,
i please for my own pleasure,
i soak in my own sweat,
i fuck for my own glory.
tiddly tum, hidden harems and come,
i am the singular player in my play,
i am the prologue, intermission, and final act
every love i have known has been fueled by
my own fury, every discovery dug up by my own
destiny, every body of water i touched, i touched
with my own skin, i am not domestic, i am imported-
virgin beer on saintly lips, i am not comely nor
forthcoming, i offer my bed to no soldier, i take
what i can and give what i can, i do not plea or
placate or play the victim with my eyelashes-
my father says one day, i will be a lady and
take my rightful place to the left and behind
RonaFirst, admit this:Rona4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
You, too, just want to be wanted.
Now, venture timidly into your trophy room. Tell me how many are still alive. If you are looking into their eyes to see which will follow you, do not; glass eyes will not stare but instead reflect your gaze, becoming more and more frantic. If you are waiting to hear a breath, you are wasting yours. If you have found the thing with pitiful pale skin and a swollen belly― well, you're at least thinking the right way.
So you declare it all nonsense and retreat to the music room. You still didn't guess right. The answer was all of them, they are alive the way she is alive, and they will be alive as long as she is alive, if you can call that alive. If you can still see the phantom that walks through your halls, then I guess she is alive enough.
Have you ever caught a fish and left it to suffocate on the shore? Look at her and tell me she has not been locked into the same fate.
Does she still sleep in your bed? Or do you sleep with yo
the Path to Mannequin ManhoodHis first job was at Macy's. They hired him to stand there and deliver a message to every passing customer: "You can buy everything in the store, but you still won't look as good as I do. You'll never have the life I look like I should have." Girls would pass by and marvel at his carefully crafted features, admire his acting talent, then discreetly write their numbers on his hands and spend the next week waiting by the phone. Most never got a call back. If he ever called one, it was out of curiosity. Once his curiosity was satisfied, he'd tell her it was over and he'd get back to his life.the Path to Mannequin Manhood5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He lost that job shortly after falling in love with a mannequin from the ladies' section. He did everything he could think of to catch her eye: sneaked over to talk to her while the manager wasn't looking, wore her favorite brands, complimented her outfits, but no matter what, she would only ever look in one direction, and it was never his. On the day he met her fiancé, his body broke apart. His
FugueI found her in a tree, once.Fugue6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She was sittin' stuck in the uppermost branches, serene and unsurprised as an angel on Christmas morning. Dappled light inked her pretty with the shadows of leaves, and her fingers faintly tapped the rhythm of a bright hymn on the burdened limb.
"Hello!" she called, miraculously. The sun made a silhouette of her waving arm, and I breathed for the first time in hours. Her face looked so sweet, smilin' and brilliant. Though she was only a few dozen feet up, she looked down at me as though she was ages and miles away.
"Susan, get down from there," I yelled. "Momma's worried," I added in a mutter, my gaze scurrying down to my feet. I was lyin'. Our mother was no more worried for Susan's safety than she was concerned about her future prospects, certain of the prophetic glory that her elder child was gonna bring to the world, the sweet justification. I was the concerned party, sure my sister was gonna wander herself into traffic or a running crick one of these da
things that occur to meI could stop the car. I could imagine you haven't yet departed. I could call you and ask when you'll be home, and should I just go in, and did you get that laundry done because I can finish it if not. You haven't been gone so long; maybe I wouldn't even notice what was missing.things that occur to me4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I could step inside. I could imagine you haven't yet departed. I could excavate the spare key and ease open the door and breathe the familiar smell of mold, of rotting, beautiful old house. The hallways would be mine to roam; I might be a mischievous child again and pawing through your belongings while you're out grocery shopping.
I could find a bed. I could imagine you haven't yet departed. I could fall into the bed and instantly fall asleep and I could wake up in a parallel universe, the kind where only one thing is different. You'd be there when I wake up; you'd be making breakfast or reading a book but most importantly you'd be there, which is a much better place than where you are in this universe.
Ten painted momentsOne. The circumstances of her birthTen painted moments5 years ago in Write Memoirs More Like This
She was supposed to be a Christmas child. Her sister, older than her by 6 years, kept wishing for a live doll to play with. Much later, she found out that her mother cried when she first heard she was pregnant, all the way from the hospital to the house. Apparently, she had considered an abortion, but under the communist regime, it was illegal and also a very dangerous endeavour. In the end, her mother's mother, in her wisdom, convinced her to welcome the child that was to be born.
During the months of pregnancy, everyone expected her to be a boy. The shape of her belly, as well as other old wives tales, made the whole family believe that. A revolution passed by, and her mother spent the last month of pregnancy in bed. Eventually, she got sick of that, drove to the hospital in an old Skoda with her husband, and apparently said to the doctor she would give birth today, thank you very much.
She ended up being a quiet, round-faced and
MiaShe wears a plain floor-length dress, a sweatshirt and a scarf. It's the tail end of winter.Mia4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I want to hate myself for coming back here. I try and find I can't remember the drive here. Maybe I drove in reverse the whole way. The air around her tastes like maple syrup, sweet and earthy. I'm surprised by how much I like it.
I sit on her bed and marvel at how little effort she put into this. She used to wear elaborate outfits and burn incense whenever I came over. Today she's more concerned with hanging up her scarf than me. What happened to the girl who couldn't help but belong to me? Where did she go?
The sweatshirt is gone. The dress is so nondescript. Patternless, shapeless. Either my memory is awful, or she never let herself look this unremarkable before. We share a few minutes searching for conversation while I wonder why I miss her flair for showing herself off.
Amorphous, she molds to my side. She is a liquid figure and the space between my arm and my chest is the cup she lives in
CorinnaDear you,Corinna4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I cannot possibly be sorrier.
On the day I told you I had to leave and you couldn't come with me, you thought I was locking you away. That would be so like me now, to imprison an innocent maiden. No, not a maiden. A goddess. Do you remember the day the sun rose two hours early when I'd thought the cold night would kill the neighbor's dog? I've been trying so hard to forget it.
Does your hair still curl around your ears? I've been working so hard to get to a place where I can't answer that question. The truth is, I locked myself away that day. I had to go far away where you wouldn't be able to reach me. And this is what I got. My arms are empty; they roam like ghosts, looking for what belongs in them, but my hands reach out and only grasp air.
My prison has glass walls. I stare out helplessly through windows to a life that once belonged to me. If you looked through those windows, you would never find me, for I do not live here; the body around these windows is no longer my hou
on 'the Father'mr parker lined upon 'the Father'4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
his children with an ax,
lined up twelve small
disciples of hard work
and the Depression,
twelve small chickens
hollering with tremors,
twelve disciples hungry
for the Fruits of the
previously to this,
he severed many of
mrs parker's tendons and sculpted
her face with a frying pan.
she bled on the floor and
crawled somewhere, the lioness
in her made the unseen more
powerful than science
and far more previous to this,
mr parker sent mrs parker to my
great grandmother's childhood home
with a basket of vegetables and pork
and bread. my great grandmother says
that whenever her family couldn't eat,
mr parker made sure that they could
and so mr parker has lined up
his children, and mrs parker has
miraculously sent for the sheriff
and mr parker has run behind the barn.
the sheriff, thumbs tucked in the
waist of his breeches, walks
quietly in the dewy fields leading
to mr parker. mr parker has tied himself a
noose from the rafters and is standing
calmly on a stool. he
thesisi feel awful in a way.thesis4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
here, let me tell you about this-
i have a boy who is like
a needle on thread,
strung on me
like a clothesline;
he is tireless
hidden within his
a different body
whistling from down
shedding my skin
as he mends
a paper bird
like shards of glass
and a soul
like a tree,
warm roots growing
into the streets.
i have my own heart
buried halfway between
the mountains and georgia,
the only state
where even atheists
is not enough,
i can see that
neither are you.
i can't be sure
but i don't think
i will stretch my leaves
to the sun
with my roots so entangled
in sand a thousand miles
away from my petals.
all i make certain
is i can
make a love
out of titles
of every poem
i've written for you,
but i cannot
and that love
never pities the weak.
cut me open
i bleed affection,
and, oh my god,
things i knoweverybody is sadthings i know4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and it is ok to take comfort in this.
EsperanzaEsperanza5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She still has dreams sometimes about running down an alley at night, her mouth full of you. But she can't remember how to pronounce your name right, so she just spits out letters: J-J-J-J-J and she forgot the rest.
You scoff and say she doesn't know what she's talking about, doesn't know what she wants. And it's almost true, that she is a seed more than she is a tree, but seeds exist just as much as anything that ever came from one, and she trusts her heart more than her brain.
Sometimes she just knows and that's the only explanation, like when she saw the sea for the first time. She watched the waves play their capricious game of rudely tossing things aside and gently cradling them only to pitch them to the sand, and she was never more in love.
Since she came home from that trip, she's really never been the same, and she spends a great deal of time with her arms belted around her waist now, staring out the window. The problem is indecision, a decision that shapes the rest of her life,