This Is Why We Can't Be In LoveThe day we first met, she was naked. The empty gallery had turned the A/C off and she said, "it's hot, too hot for clothes," and she stripped down to skin. She was pink and raw from sunburn, shiny plasma peeking out of translucent cracks in her epidermis.
"How many times have you done this today?" I asked her. "Also, hello."
I know I flushed pinker than her, fully clothed in my capris and navy fingerless gloves even though it was already July-- burning for her, because she didn't seem to notice her own skin.
She smiled, asked, "Am I beautiful?"
"I don't even know you."
"Okay," she said.
"I have to go," I said.
* * *
She was still naked, our second encounter. I was eating a blizzard in the Dairy Queen and she was sitting at the counter with the tall stools. I tried to avert my eyes, to focus on whatever was outside the window in the parking lot, but she caught my gaze in hers and trapped me. As I watched her, she grinned and twirled, bare feet on the linoleum floor,
The Price of Dying“I want to be interred after I die,” Mr. Peters said. He made that clear to his family while he was still lucid, before old age and illness rendered him unintelligible. Seventy wasn’t that old, but he recognized the symptoms that were creeping up on his ailing body – the aches, the fatigue, the feeling of helplessness and despair. Despite his daughter’s attempts to assuage his concerns, he sensed his own mortality.The Price of Dying2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The worst part about dying, Mr. Peters thought, was what happened afterwards. Even since he was a small boy, he had been afraid of fire. He could never forget the scorching heat of the orange flames searing his skin, the dark billowing smoke entering his nostrils. The time that his house burned down, the fire almost took him with it. How ironic then, to escape the fire only to be fed into it after death.
So one day, he sat his son and daughter down after dinner. “I want to be buried whole,” he said, emphasizing the
A ParenthesisYou were (a parenthesis, that pausedA Parenthesis2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the daily, mundane stuff
a bundled breath
of fresh joy,
and borne in the wonder
Gasping and grasping,
'til in quiet you laid
and I, my Child,
lie in quiet, still
And now, that is all you are,
and still so much more.
The Best is Yet to Comeif we grow oldThe Best is Yet to Come2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
there will be a sigh
an attention to the change
as your muscles slacken underneath
your faded, favorite shirt
the one that's threadbare, "holy"
in a sense less than divine
I'll have washed it for
the thousandth time
our eyes will crinkle, wrinkle
in ways that start to match
and we'll hold hands and ask:
when did the nerves and veins
begin to let our hands get cold?
-if we grow old
Nothing to See (Being Revised)I wouldn't have taken any notice if it hadn't been for the laughter. It wasn't merry or even cruel. It was the barbarous laughter of evil and vicious darkness and it chilled the marrow of my bones. Turning my head to look down the dim alley, I saw them: a semi-circle of four men focusing on their entertainment for the evening—namely, a fifth fellow and what I assumed was merely a cheap piece, some drugged up doxy earning a wage for her next fix.Nothing to See (Being Revised)3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Oh God, how I wish she had been a whore. Some pathetic moll who let herself be roughed up and down for a few bucks, but this was no whore. I wasn't innocent; I'd seen plenty of cocottes and the looks in their eyes that craved money or men or both and I'd witnessed the haunting desperation for something better, along with a resignation to what they had. This woman—so very young—this wasn't a two-bit cyprian, down on her luck, trying to make a dollar and feed a habit.
Bruises marred her
crystallophonethere is a punchcard sincrystallophone2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
like a queen of spades smoldering in an alley.
you hear how the gears churn,
singing faster than we did before
back when black magic dropped like a
pair of socks from the sky with supplies
taped to a note that said
(oh, look at you now)
such a beautiful brain:
runs on gasoline?
have a gallon
or we can call it a balloon,
and a new pair of glasses
for your tapered eyes
(you peel the bark back on the logs,
but you're not sure what you see),
and life says,
either nail jello to a tree,
or keep your
icicles hanging from the eaves,
caterpillars frolicking in the ashes,
your 'Sam, I still don't have your number,'
and your totaled passion:
someone to hang inside out with,
string you up like a steak with.
what the hunger
is trying to tell me
my brain churns like butter,
my insides aflare, my chakras combusting,
Across the Sea and Around the KotatsuSpringAcross the Sea and Around the Kotatsu2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mom starts with rice. Japanese rice, one, two, three Japanese cup-fulls of rice grains into the cooker, because Sis eats a lot of this stuff. It's one of her favorite dishes, taco rice, and Mom's always happy to make it for her because it's the only way Sis will eat her tomatoes. But back to the rice. "You want to rinse at least three or four times, until the water's kind of clear," Mom says as she cups her hand under the cooker pot, letting the cloudy water wash over her hand.
Rice cooking's easy though – just fill enough water to the point the rice's covered, punch in a time (or set it to "Quick Cook," which with our creaking rice cooker still takes about an hour) and let the cooker do its thing.
Ground meat goes into a well-greased and heated frying pan. Break up the block so that it crumbles into fine little pieces, and do this with wild abandon, because this is taco meat. Mom uses any taco seasoning that happens to be cheap; most seasonings rack up t
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and WaitI don't know when we first went underground. I don't even know if it was one mass exodus, a swarm of mankind trickling through the earth's crust so vehement we carved our own caverns by the force of trampling feet, or whether it was a gradual process, perhaps even a repetitive one, a family here, a neighborhood there. For all I know, the echo of the damp subterranean machine has always reverberated off the cave walls, created long past by the Angels, who think of our well-being even while they shake their heads helplessly at our flaws.They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They say that those who remained on the surface were raptured away in a great flash of light, like a million suns converted into raw energy all at once. While it was rumored once that the flash was our doing, our own horrid creation, we all know better now. It was the Maker who brought it forth from the void and cast it onto the earth's crust, as though shot from an immense sling, taking only those who were brave enough to trust in Him. We, who live in t
Tight jeans and Theatrical boysI pull up in his dad's drivewayTight jeans and Theatrical boys2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and the boy sitting on the stoop
looks like Saint Exupery's treasured little prince.
When he climbs inside my used Sentra,
I tell him about this quirky realization.
"You're both so cute and opinionated."
He grins and replies that it's his favorite book
to read when life is particularly rough.
Cappuccino sips and playful shoves
convert the evening into something
brilliantly unstable and devastatingly 'teenager'.
I want to kiss him violently so we can stop this
annoying game of cat and mouse.
But instead, we discuss music
and other topics that make me feel childish.
He asks where I would go if I could
teleport myself anywhere at any desired time
and I confess that I'd like to visit
someplace up north with a lot of trees and
not enough people to criticize me.
He nods like he understands but I
wonder if he secretly thinks I'm rude.
Propping himself up on the hood of the car,
he takes a long drink and I watch how his
throat works as he swallows
the caramel mi
Reverse Culture ShockFlying home was not flying home. Flying home meant grabbing the homing pigeon inside of me and twisting its imaginary magnet one hundred and eighty degrees to the north instead of southwards to Australia. The magnet still twitched stubbornly north even as the plane droned over Darwin, five hours before I finally reached home. Except it wasn't home. Sydney now looked as foreign as the glossy travel leaflets I grabbed from Singapore, its shine not quite matching the missing substance of my once childhood home.Reverse Culture Shock3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Thank you for choosing Singapore Airlines I hope you will enjoy your stay in Sydney, or a warm welcome home."
Winter air slapped me like a bucket of ice water as I emerged, searching for my parents and my sister. For eight years, their voices were tinny and masked by static on the occasional phone calls home. Today, they sounded as brittle as ever, Australian accents barely sheathing the chill emanating from them.
"Welcome home, sis," said my sister with an unusually bright v
SomedayJane and Ellis floated parallel to one another across the vast canvas of space, eyeing the marble-like planets that slowly crept past them. Their skin reflected the starlight with a dull orange sheen. Ellis had called it 'planet gazing,' an activity he apparently thought suitable for a date.Someday4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Do you see that one below us?" Ellis said, pointing to a round blue mass.
"Isn't it beautiful?" he asked. "I'll bet it's beautiful on the surface, too. Like the way the dust begins to spiral when a star is forming."
"Something like that," Jane said. She didn't understand his excitement. Planets were nothing interesting. They were just stars without the fire; black holes without the absence of color; asteroids with an atmosphere. They were just specks of light that littered the sky. The only remotely interesting thing she knew about planets was that the gas in their atmosphere were extremely lethal. Big whoop, she thought. Floating, atmospheric rocks of death. Ellis sure knew how to
RatsWhen I was a little girl, I went to church. Our church was an illegal one: the building was unregistered.Rats2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
We would sit on the benches made from stolen floorboards and listen to a man dressed in black as he read us tales of angels coming to save righteous men from evil, their swords clean and their trumpets blaring.
The man dressed in black was old. He was sick. His Bible was missing pages.
One day in March, my mother turned to me and said clearly, "Masha, I want you to remember something for when you grow up." Maybe she knew she was dying. "God loves murderers."
I just looked up at her, thumb in my mouth. My mother was still a beautiful woman. She was young when a man at an after-riot party had given her a child inside of her, a bruise on her face, and a few kopeks for her trouble before running away forever.
So I watched the dirty gray sunlight washing through her sickly blonde hair, watched it illuminate the dark hollows of her eyes, watched her face, and asked, "Why, mama?"
001. beginnings.Beginnings are vague things. Quite often you can't pin them down to one event you have to trawl back further and further through foggy past, peeling apart what ifs and untangling strands of memories.001. beginnings.3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Eventually one has to go all the way back to the start of the universe, and that's a question even the experts have to shrug their shoulders at. It's not like you can plug it into a calculator and come out with a balanced algorithm. At least, not yet.
But it is true that sometimes you can fasten down an occurrence or a moment or even just a single breath, like sticking a thumbtack through a dead butterfly, and label it as a 'beginning' in your mind. Identifying that one moment makes us feel secure, like maybe it was destined to happen instead of just being a random sequence of events that fed off each other and tripped over each other and eventually fell like dominoes to the unlikely conclusion.
Cvusscha Mistbane has pinned down a moment. Of course she knows that there are plenty of
Impact Theory"What do you want to be when you grow up?"Impact Theory2 years ago in Horror More Like This
It's a question Welknan schoolteachers ask their students every year, from the day the children enter school to the day the young adults leave. Answers are carefully catalogued and presented to the students at their graduation ceremony in a beautifully decorated scrapbook made by the teacher of each student, added to each year, growing with the child.
It's arguably a silly tradition, and perhaps even morbid to remind the adults of failed childhood dreams, but it's meant to inspire and the children love it, and it's something to do anyway.
Some kids stick to plain, safe answers- tailor, construction, banker, teacher, doctor. Others get imaginative- artist, musician, architect. Others still are painfully practical- shop assistant, office worker. Once in a while, a few are philosophical- "me" and "good" are common.
Rosalin is invariably of the plain variety, not because she isn't imaginative, practical, or philosophical (she is, at times), but be
GlassI always laugh when you refer to me as glass.Glass2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Not just because of the way you say it,
Or because I know it's a crack at my fragility.
Glass is pure.
I am like granite -
my body nullified from too many clashing traits.
Glass is transparent.
I am like clay -
illegible from all the plastered smiles.
Glass is unyielding.
I am like chalk -
easily broken and scuffed away by meagre things.
Glass is hung up on walls and in great cathedrals,
tinted for enhancement, but only ever painted on by fools.
I am hidden behind keypads and camera lenses,
coated in a thick paste of deceptiveness.
No, my love,
I was never glass. (Despite my fragility)
Call me granite or clay or chalk
and be done with me.
Apologies to LaoEach day is its own microstep--Apologies to Lao3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
since I woke from my mother's womb,
I longed to mimic new words, trammel
the sound until it blossomed
like a newborn, and oh how I birthed
stories--told them how I wanted
the author's sacrosanct title
once I've grown. But growing meant
learning the practice of citizens
and their due contribution: beast-slaying
nature of please, thank you,
an apology: sincere
or not. Then there is time--the first
breath of nine, exhalation
of five, the suffocating mandate
of overtime. You grow used to it:
the cyclical disappearance of parents,
pervasive need of sleep, a home-
cooked meal's gradual transmogrification
to a microwave's impatient beeps,
the drive-thru's static, monotoned voice
by a man who has already learned
what I am learning: to cherish
the alarm's morning hymn over my mother's--
now I'm rarely late for work--can navigate
those can-lined aisles, the cold-grey
of the warehouse with deep strides
until I lose track of every step within
my eight hours--my mind
Survival of the IllestAre those hints of lemon I detect?Survival of the Illest2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Look, I'm just here to get wasted, don't try
to make it more than that.
I'd drink motor oil if I thought
it could get me high; chase it with a shot
you can keep your survival instincts,
in that pretty velvet box (along with all
those other things
you thought you could convince yourself
you lived for). Instincts are the bare
bones of the impossibilities we wanted
to believe in,
those times you tried to tell me that
adrenaline was God's way
we were His chosen ones, we were
special, we were free.
I tried to tell you that instincts and God
can't exist side by side, but I was already
far gone, cornea constellations
spiraling and you looked at me with such pitiful
I just gave up the fight.
I told you once that my goal in life
is to kill myself slowly, immerse my organs
of whiskey and scotch
over a fifty-years-or-so period. "Just think,"
"it will be like an ocean, w
shhhwe are lurking too close to jesus,shhh2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
on the empty edge of a lightless stage,
curved nails digging into the skin of our pale palms.
he asks as an afterthought
do you believe in something holy? and i think yes,
i think this is what i believe in.
Brushing Up Against HistoryNovember 1963Brushing Up Against History3 years ago in Philosophical More Like This
I'm eight years old and sitting in class (I strangely recall that my seat was in the middle of second row, on the side away from the window), when the principal comes in to tell us that the president has been shot.
I do not know
what it means, but I know
that it scares me.
My mother meets Senator Robert F. Kennedy while he is campaigning in San Francisco and gets his autograph. I live with my father in a small town in Michigan, where every year leading up to Memorial Day, I sell paper poppies for the VFW.
blood of soldiers on the field
war has come home
I watch the news and see the body count, arranged like a scorecard. The numbers say we are winning, but one of those numbers is from our town, the only casualty that week. I don't know him, but I see his picture on the cover of Life Magazine.
I turn 17 the next month
and try to join the Marine Corp
my father will not sign
As a small-town b
Pages Found in an Old Dungeon My name is Nicholas. I know by now people may have already forgotten about me, but I used to be addressed as "Father Christmas" and "Santa Claus" among many other names. I suppose that I might be merely dismissed as a myth nowadays. I daresay it has been hundreds of years since I last brought treasures to a kind soul. Ah, but I have lost track of the ages in this wretched oubliette. There is not even a tinge of sunlight to indicate the passage of day.Pages Found in an Old Dungeon4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I cannot fathom how I could have possibly deserved such a fate. Everyday, my stomach burns of hunger, and yet I cannot die of starvation. Simply stated, I cannot die.
I never imagined that I would detest my existence. The year was 1717 and I was the happiest man in the world. As far as occupations came, mine was a most fortunate one. Riding a sleigh harnessed to flying reindeer and delivering happiness to children on the Nice List was a pu
despondenti.despondent3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"are you sleepy today?"
"but you were sleepy yesterday."
she stirs her pomegranate green-tea until it turns from clear to purple
setting it on her bedside table and climbing back into bed again.
her fingers follow the bluer-than-usual constellation veins on her wrists and down
to the freckle on her forearm and then the scar on the inside of her elbow
crossing the tendon as if it were crux.
and then she remembered that God hasn't been with her lately.
today is long and sunny but when she steps outside the humidity creaks her bones
and her skin starts to inflame.
she assumes that if getting the mail is a struggle, having a child would be too.
often times when she sets her tea down she remembers that her Bible is in the drawer beneath
along with the crucifix necklace that her mother made her.
her husband comes home late nowadays and she never questions why that may be
because she knows.
she would do the same too if she had a wife who took four different
Va'eiraThis was a lesson in just how quiet it can beVa'eira3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
when you don't make enough noise.
Me, holding a toy gun to a stranger's head
"Remember when things stopped being ridiculous?"
You, eating dandelions in a midnight field
"About the same time things stopped making sense."
A boy in church camp carved a small crucifix
for his arts and crafts project. He won the blue
ribbon and a brand new Bible. The next morning
I found it hanging over our cabin door.
A toad was nailed to the cross.
Sometimes we wake up early enough to hide the evil from our world.
SolsticeOnce upon a time, when you were still sunlighthouses and shimmering existence wherever you were needed most, you found him. He was November, shaky on his first last legs, and you saw through the mind-twistings he feigned to the mind-twistings that were really there, knotted up in his dreams.Solstice3 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You were still birdsong then, and thunderstorms, and your bodyheat melted the frost claws that held him tight. You held onto him as his November deepened. When he howled, you howled with him, and the wind played with your voices and pressed the softness of your lungs against your cageribsand then against each other's.
November became solstice, and you felt him shiver through that long night and didn't mind the coldbitten nails that grazed your skin. He slept when the moon drowned below the treeline, but the iceflakes began to drift in like small animals seeking the pulsing riverheat of your blood, and chilling you. He lay there, vulnerable as his world turned slowly towards the light, and you