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.

Scrambled, Not Over Easy

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No one tells you that
while you are lulled in routine,
ungratefully disgruntled by
early Monday morning traffic
and you stop behind other cars
and wait impatiently for someone to turn
that the universe will smack you
on the back of the head
at fifty miles an hour,
telling you
“WAKE THE FUCK UP”
as the car behind you
flips you over,
somersaulting you
with the world atop your
head and
flapjacking your worldview
until you see things more clearly,
even as your eyes loll in their sockets
like Magic 8 Balls
drunk on quantum
uncertainty.
No one tells you that during a
car wreck
your body will scream
involuntarily
while you ride shotgun
in your own head,
eyeing yourself coolly
while shards of glass explode as a
mandorla
all around you
and your body performs interpretive
Jazz Hands
to express the melodrama
for which you are the
embarrassed audience.
They never tell you
that you see everything in
real-time
while
Zen-detached,
as if admiring the Hollywood production
of the dynamic scene of
chaos
in which you are the
happenstance center.
And then, when the car finally slides
to a stop, resting on its roof,
and you are hanging upside-down
like a tangled marionette
from your seatbelt
and everyone is screaming their scripted lines
“Get out!
Get out of the car!”
and you smell gasoline
hemorrhaging out of the
eviscerated underbelly—
no one tells you
that you will feel
embarrassed, like some grandstanding
drama-queen
with an agent desperately gushing
flammable indulgences
trying to land you
gigs.
And so you crawl through
shattered glass and twisted metal,
searching for some lost
lyrics
to a song that was playing before
the impact.
Hopping up to your feet
you are greeted by strangers rushing to
see you
as if you are the most important person
in the upside-down world,
like a Star Baseball Player
striking the home-run to win the game,
only the bat is a car
and the ball is your
head,
adrenaline making a
manic muppet of you,
your limbs trembling wildly as you
stand aside from the aftermath
as if you weren’t at the center of it
and glancing back at your new
compact car
with gasoline threading down
upon a large book,
a Philosophy Encyclopedia
that you glanced through occasionally,
as if in search of the meaning of
Life, and now this scene of
Near-Death
pissing gasoline
all over its platitudes.
And then you look down and see
that you have been jostled, hustled,
shaken down
straight out of your brand new shoes,
walking on coolant-kissed asphalt
in damp Christmas socks
while the paramedics spread around you like
gauze around a bleeding wound,
strapping you down to a board
like a broken leg to a splint
and lifting you into an ambulance,
speeding down the interstate
to take you to the
amniotic surrealism
of the antiseptic,
bleached, blank
ER
where the ritual of
medicine
is conducted between long hours of
waiting and
wondering and
pain, they
discharge you, a healthy
human specimen no longer
interesting, and so no more
in need of their godly powers.

Adjusters are called in,
eventually,
for insurance claims
and skeletal frames,
and the towing company
vultures
swoop in, crouching upon your
ruined car, pecking at your
pockets for more cash,
more life, whatever remains
after the impact
of which you were victim
and they, now, the new
predators.
You feel like the Fool Card
strolling alongside a scenic path
only to be shoved from behind
by the Devil Card
into a gaping gorge
that you could not see before.
Later, after you have sacrificed enough
blood-money
to the vultures
and you retrieve your car,
you find odd things remaining
in the wreckage of
yesterday:
you find “The Fragile”
by NIN,
and
“The Audacity Of Hope”
by Barack Obama
and you find
“Nights From The Alhambra”
by Loreena Mckennitt,
and a collection of HP Lovecraft stories,
and a collection of MR James stories.
Poor Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar
does not survive, but
seeks oblivion as she
always had.
The handgun your father gave you
survives the collapsed
accordion trunk,
but all of your
sissy-ass coconut water cans
have erupted in an orgy to celebrate the
End-Times.
And, with great sadness, you find that your
cheery-cheeked, chubbily-grinning
Bodhisattva
has gone on to Nirvana
at long last,
taking with him his
price tag
which you left on his plastic bottom
for the love of
irony.
And, beyondhand,
comes a day divinely warm
stolen from Winter when
Summer
cheated at a game of
poker,
and you lay in your fiancee’s arms
while she cries and holds you to her
heart
and you think
“How would I like my death?
Scrambled
or over easy?”

Punctuation Marks

Poetry,
for him,
consisted of
impactful observations
which struck sharply upon mortality,
punctuating
like roadkill
here and there
the highway of life
to remind us of the
inevitable
end of the road,
and, so,
provoking our sympathies
for, and from,
what we will all become
as Death’s eighteen-wheeler
eventually overtakes us.

Frayed

This chequered quiltwork life
has many frayed edges and loose seams:
the petty coworker strife,
the disappointed career dreams,
the shivering colds and feverish flus,
the traffic delays going home,
the overtime and the insurance dues,
the snagging, yanking, tearing comb—
all frayed edges and loose seams,
all petty nuisances and annoying frets,
all rotten strawberries and spoiled creams
all lost chances and hopeless bets.
And yet it persists, this tattered thing
held together stubbornly, day to day,
despite the mud spatter and the coffee ring,
the food stains and the flea-bitten stray.
But when you were torn away from me,
so, too, was the cross-stitched heart
of that assemblage, that tapestry,
and it all unraveled, coming apart.

Free “Chloe Among The Clover” giveaway.

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This weekend I will be having a giveaway for my children’s novel “Chloe Among The Clover” on Amazon kindle. The novel follows a chick in the (literal) Summer of youth and is intended for children on a surface level, but also is intended for adults in its symbolism and subtext. I have received positive feedback from children and adults, so if you want some light reading, give it a try. There is a paperback version too, priced at $8. I hope to have the sequel, “Stormy Within The Strawberry Patch”, ready by Christmas.

Cold

Standing in the cold,
I watched snow fall last night,
white specks drifting down
from a great black height
and stared at one snowflake
twirl-tumbling down,
inevitably, its uniqueness
arrayed as a crown
lost in the distance, the dark,
obscure in its detail,
its fractals of personality,
its soul, as it fell
to the wet, glistening ground,
on the hard concrete,
and it melted upon impact,
next to my unmoved feet;
and I wondered if Someone
in that black-and-white starkness
looked on as we all fell,
from darkness to darkness,
and, bundled up warmly,
cocooned indifferently to all,
it did not deign to catch us
as it watched us fall.

The Hay Bale Heart Of Summer

The hay bale hunkered upon the hillside,
wound round within itself, tight and yet soft,
gilded with the sun gleaming along its hide
or shaded by passing clouds, fat and floating aloft.
Beneath it, a green wildfire of grass rolled like a wave
spreading downhill before relaxing as if unto a bed
below a blue sky yawning like an airy cave
and trees gathered afar, bowing each heavy head.
I am akin to you, my silent, stoic hay bale,
basking in the light of of another dawn,
like rays of the sun pooled into a funneling pail
and sleeping atop the foothills, threshed and drawn
unto a woven spool of Summer, coiled and aglow,
or soggy in the cold rains of weepy Fall,
or bearded with the white blankness of snow
when the somber black and white Winter rules over all.
And yet, even then your heart is Summery and warm,
feeding the animals as they await the Spring,
and thus feeding us all through Winter’s storm,
until ice has melted and winds no longer sting.
Kin, see how both of us, after a heavy dew,
give rise to dream mists in the cooling night,
fuming a fog of ghosts in a boggy brew
that lasts as daydreams linger in the morning light?
If only the child-hearted would delight in my mind
as they do you, climbing the curvature of your flanks,
or rolling you downhill, as they all run behind,
laughing to see you leap in joy, and in thanks.