Loved To Death

Grandma smoked like a dragon on the gazebo,
hearing her estranged daughter praise a placebo—
“Love is the strongest drug a doctor knows,”
she said, fanning the fumes from her nose.
“It keeps you well and happy and strong,”
but she coughed as if sucking from a bong.
Her children, meanwhile, played in the garden,
laughing and crying and begging pardon.
“Maybe so,” the beldam said, still chugging,
“but it’s bad for your heart, all that hugging.”
“You can’t mean that, momma,” her daughter said.
Grandma meant it: “Love will kill you stone-dead.”
On cue, her grandchildren leapt onto her back—
she died of a hug, and a heart-attack.

Theatrics

He carried the pistol upon the stage
and spoke a line not on the page—
“For years I’ve been but scripted lies,”
he announced, tears rolling from his eyes.
“No more! If I cannot live as I wish…”
Someone booed before he could finish.
He scowled, keeping the pistol where it was held,
but then—“Melodrama!” someone yelled.
Pulling the trigger, his brains blew out
as the stage manager began to shout.
The audience screamed and fled the lobby
except for a couple, both jaded and snobby.
“What a tonedeaf final act,” the husband snorted.
“The whole play should have been aborted.”
“His theatrics were overblown,” the wife said.
“He always let feelings go to his head.”

But One True Law

The Queen of Privulieu said,
as she patted her little mustached Terrier,
“Fluff up Frederick’s carriage bed
to make him comfy and all the merrier.”
The footman did as he was commanded,
fluffing the pillows for that spoiled pet,
but while he did so, all gentle-handed,
he did so knowing there was always a threat
beneath everything the Queen decreed,
and so all the servants indulged that brat
and every whiny whim from that royal breed,
knowing a single word meant “That was that!”
For even the Queen’s dog could abruptly banish
a footman that displeased that little hairy lord
for nothing more than to see him vanish
from the palace because the dog was bored.
Then one day the Queen went to the Royal Park
walking through the woods for fresh air
and she took with her that canine monarch,
carried by a footman allergic to dog hair.
The footman sneezed again and again
until Frederick became furious with him
and growled and snarled and bit at his chin
until the footman ran away from them.
Now the Queen and the royal canine
were left by themselves in the Park
and a hawk shrieked high above the treeline
and Frederick began to bark.
“Worry not, my little blessed beast,”
the Queen said with a loving smile,
“When we return home you shall feast
on tenderloin and mutton while
that naughty man is tied to a tree
and flogged for being so impudent.
He will starve as well, verily,
and learn, indeed, to be more prudent.”
The hawk shrieked again and took to flight,
flying over to the Queen and circling above
and Frederick barked and barked with all his might.
The Queen said, “He shall not hurt you, my love.”
The Queen shouted an order to the hawk
using her fiercest, most regal tone,
and yet the hawk did not heed or baulk
as Frederick fled in fright, all alone.
The hawk shrieked and shot, straight and true,
and took the Queen’s dog in its claws
and, lifting upward, the large bird flew
away to eat, for it obeyed only Nature’s Laws.

Committed

The shadows from the trees stretched long
across the grass, like a black gate,
and though he was a boy, bold and strong,
he was also uncommitted, so he did not wait,
for it was the gate to Faerie, just beyond
and he knew that a people who opened a gate
at sunset were not, in truth, much overfond
when welcoming guests at an hour so late.
If they invited strangers upon their lawn
in the darkening of the Twilight
rather than the lightening of the Dawn
they were peoples of the Night,
and, so, folks a good Christian should shun—
therefore his brisk walk became a frantic run.

He heard the silver notes of the chimes
and the strumming of gold-stringed lutes;
he heard the laughter and the rhymes
and the happy piping of their flutes,
and he ran all the harder, at full sprint,
racing toward the setting sun,
coming, at length, to his tent
and entering as the day came undone.
He created a fire in the pit
of the tent, to keep himself warm,
and as his tent’s canvas was thereupon lit
he saw shadows dancing in a swarm—
saw the shadows twirl and whirl
with many a comely fairy girl.

Around and around they danced,
playing their songs and whispering,
and a curvaceous fairy laughed and pranced,
calling to him to kiss her ring.
“Come kiss me, child,” she sighed and cooed,
“do not abandon me to be forlorn.”
She promised him things most lewd,
but he held his silence until the morn.
He spoke only to say a prayer,
repeating the words ad nauseam,
denying that he wished to see them bare
even as he knew he wished to see them—
see their curves and their skin
gleaming in the sweat of sin.

When the sun rose, at last,
he heard Fairies no more ‘round his tent
and so he opened the flap, running fast
past standing stones, to his village in Kent.
As he ran away from the glade
his mind and heart ran contrariwise,
longing for a pact to be made
with a Fairy maiden with silken thighs.
Arriving in town, he found things changed
and saw a man riding a horseless carriage
and he thought himself, therefore, deranged
and regretted not accepting a Fairy in marriage—
when he told his story, with nothing omitted,
law enforcement had him committed.

Flash Fictions

Naive
“There was once a man who believed ardently in Humanism,” her father said. “He believed so utterly in Humanism that he ventured forth into the wild jungle, where it was said man-eating tigers stalked the shadows. He brought with him no protection except several books on Humanism. Once there, he preached to the jungle on the value of a human life, reading from his many books of all the merits of letting humans live and thrive. Many of the tigers passed him by, indifferently. But a few tigers began to gather around him, watching him very intently as he lectured them. He even preached to their cubs, thinking the next generation of tigers would know better than eating human beings, if only they were taught to be Humanists.
“An expedition discovered what remained of him a few weeks later, his bones surrounded by books and his skull’s sockets gaping wide, as if in abject surprise.”
“He was naive,” his daughter said. “He should have known better. Predators don’t care about that stuff when they’re hungry.”
“True,” her father said. “But you, too, should know that you are living in a jungle. That is why I want you to bring more than just books with you to ward off the tigers.”

Zen Breath
It began so simply, as many things do, and it grew unto complexity, like a sheet of paper, blankly white and smooth and flat, now folded into an origami animal. Miyazaki’s anger burgeoned from workaday irritation to blinding rage as he waited in the subway station at Shinjuku. And the irony of the situation was that as he stood waiting, steeped in his own aggravation, he attempted to take a deep, Zen-centering breath and release the rage in dissipation— he really had tried— only for the nearby commuter to breathe out a cloud of cigarette smoke which Miyazaki inadvertently breathed in, coughing uncontrollably while the other commuters stepped away from him; stepped away from him as if he had some fatal airborne illness for which he needed to be quarantined. It was then, as he coughed and cursed and chewed the grudge of that terrible year spent as a twelve-hour-a-day cubicle jockey— it was then that the yokai possessed him, at long last, and drove his fist through the smoker’s heart, tearing its vermilion core out while bystanders screamed and scrambled to flee from the horrific carnage wrought by the long-horned demon that suddenly stood amongst them, glaring with red eyes as he rushed about, in gorilla-fisted fashion, rampaging throughout silver-edged, neon-lit Shinjuku until later that afternoon, killing many people in his wake until finally finding himself at Hanazono Shrine and, by entering it, expelling the demon so Miyazaki could sit down and empty himself of his negative emotions. Indeed, he emptied himself so completely of negative emotions after that terrible indulgence that he transcended the mortal plane and passed on to a higher plane of Enlightenment. Many people, consequently, have since concluded that Enlightenment could be achieved as much through devastating debauchery, excess, and sin as much as through years of abstinence, purification, and meditation. Zen Buddhists and Shinto Priests cannot reconcile themselves either way and, it is feared, many such esteemed personages were denied Enlightenment because of this troublesome anecdote.

La Petite Mort

“Touch my breasts, not my heart,” she demanded as she gyrated atop him to the crescendo of Stairway To Heaven. Impatiently, her hand sought his, the latter crouching timidly between her breasts like a meek, trembling gerbil, and slammed it over her left nipple; her most sex-sensitive nipple.
“Oh, don’t you fucking finish yet!” she growled, feeling him erupt inside of her.
“Sorry!” he moaned, his face contorting ridiculously with orgasm. “You’re…just…so…beautiful!”
Angry, she grinded down on him harder, trying to reach climax herself. It did not work. He went limp and shriveled, vacating whatever iota of pleasure she felt in tandem measure to his manhood. He was like all of the others, then; selfish in sex, even with all of his kisses and promises of love and his priming cunnilingus foreplay. True, he had attempted to sway her heart with love, but only because he wanted sex. She looked down at him, or what remained of him now. He looked like a mummified corpse over a thousand years old. Beef jerky, like the countless others. The ancient curse, thus, persisted, as it had since Hatshepsut had placed it upon her for fornicating with her priest in her royal temple. And she would not die and go on to the land of Duat until a man had pleased her fully.
“Ammit!” she called.
The bedroom door opened and a fat bulldog entered on stiff-jointed, squat legs.
She dismounted from the leathery corpse, almost crudely, and flicked her hand in a gesture of mild irritation.
“Another one unworthy,” she said. She walked into the adjacent bathroom to take a shower and clean up. The bulldog hopped up onto the bed and looked down at the corpse. There was, faintly, the sound of a scream— as quiet as if it came from a great distance down in the shriveled throat of the inert cadaver, barely audible above the sound of the shower faucet and Robert Plant’s mewling conclusion to his magnum opus. Then again, it could have been a pigeon’s feather brushing against the highrise apartment window. If Ammit heard it, he did not care. He opened his jowl-underlined jaws and swallowed the corpse whole, as if there unfolded in his small, pudgy body a whole dimension of oblivion belied by his ostensible size.
She sighed irritably as she reentered the bedroom, walking briskly to her clothes and scooping them up. She began to dress herself hurriedly; preparing her makeup and her favorite black dress and her golden jewelry with its sapphire scarab.
“Looks like I’m going out tonight, Ammit,” she said, huffing and puffing in princess annoyance. “I feel like the Sisyphean dung beetle, pushing his ball uphill. I will never land a good man.”
She turned off the radio, as it began to play Heart’s What About Love. She sat down in front of a long, ornate mirror, applying mascara to darken her already dark eyes. She had feline eyes, like a lioness, which she inherited from her mother. Her rounded cheeks, too, were feline and inherited from her mother’s blood, as were her full lips which always appeared puckered. Her mother had been an African consort from Ghana. Her Egyptian father gave her his long black hair and dusky skin. He had been a royal priest, much like the man she had coupled with in Hatshepsut’s temple. She wondered, sardonically, if she had daddy issues and whether this whole cursed life had stemmed from a need to fulfill an Electra complex. But she hated the Greeks, and she hated Freud, so she pushed such disgusting thoughts away lest they lead to madness.
She looked glumly into her reflection with a sense of doom. She had been cursed by beauty and desirability. No man, through the centuries, had survived a night with her. Hatshepsut had devised the most consummately ironic punishment for the trespass against her divinity. By cursing her with her boons she had guaranteed a persistent curse, seemingly without deliverance. Consequently, she lived a life of one night stands and hopeless bedside regrets. And while many men willingly died for one night with her, she had hoped one of them would overcome the curse so that she could die, at long last, and escape dull eternity as it stretched out upon the infinite horizon of Time.
She braided her black hair in a complex pattern of knots; quickly, to one side. She then sighed, hissing through clenched teeth.
“The Nile is more than just a river in Egypt,” she said.
She stood up, glancing over her comely curves in profile, beneath the black dress. She ran her fingers down the black sheer gown— over her breasts, down her belly and into the valley of her womanhood. She then slapped her hip. She shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“Seduction has lost all of its savor,” she said.
Ammit barked breathlessly, once. She glanced back at him.
“Oh, I am sure you do not mind my bounty,” she said. “I keep you well fed.”
She fetched a pair of black stilettos from her closet. They were angled like pyramids beneath the arches of her feet, raising her buttocks high with an elevated “come hither” posture. When she walked in them it was with a slow, graceful flamingo poise, even as her eyes flashed with feline predation.
Glancing once more in the long mirror—and appraising herself bodily— she nodded and headed into the hall and toward the front door. Ammit followed her eagerly, breathing laboriously. He was a very old bulldog.
“I’ll be back later,” she said to him. She opened the door and stepped out into the outer hallway. “Here’s to finding Mr. Right.”
She closed the door behind her and set off for another day of hunting for hearts.

The True Spirit Of Christmas

When they think of their holly-jolly season
have they not the wherewithal of reckoning or reason
to think of the jolly fat man with his rosy-cheeked smile
but an avatar of delusion, an effigy of denial?
Think back to our ancestors and their bitter winters
that bit with winds and snows, the icy splinters
of that fanged desolation with its arctic blasts
and the famine and the silence, the starvation that lasts
much overlong, as a cruel-clawed hag of want
whose every kiss leaves us shivering and gaunt;
and so do not deceive yourself with dazzling lights
or warm fireside carols, or candied chocolate bites,
nor smile in cheer of a frosty-bearded elf—
rather, see it from the distant ancestral self;
look back through the cold and the darkness
to see black and white, life and death, in all its starkness:
see this wendigo calamity of each passing year
returning round again with the gift of fear,
and humility, and the keen awareness of Death
as they huddled in huts together, their communal breath
heavy with cold, an apparition of prayer
frosting upon our lips, stillborn upon the air,
and recall, too, the jolly saint withered, frost-bitten,
his fingers fallen off after he has eaten each mitten
and his red suit now white with the furious blizzard
while he wanders, snowblind, like a deranged wizard.
See him burn down a whole forest of Christmas trees
to raise his body temperature by a few degrees,
and now he calls out to children, shakes his sleigh bells,
and hungers for youthful meat while the wind wails.
His reindeer shun him, for they all wisely know
not to trust a starving man, or his laughing “Ho ho ho…”
I suppose we ought feel merry for a bellyful of Christmas hog
rather than long-pig roasting over the cruel yuletide log.