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.

The Anthropophagi

Their barbarism is born of
idealism,
the fervor of their
cannibal appetite
compelled unto frenzy
by the holy need to achieve
ideological purity,
whether it be in the belief that
Jesus Christ would cast
nonbelievers into the pits of
Hell
or that infidels should be purged
in a jihad of chemical death
or that a man can become
a woman
by surgically inverting
his genitals,
or that ogling polygonal
tits
is a part of rape culture,
or that all billionaires—
regardless of lives saved
as doctors
or lawyers
or inventors
or even investors—
are wicked white men
that have oppressed the rest of
humanity;
they eat their own
to cull their herd
and become stronger
by becoming weaker,
refining their ranks
with a pair of neutering clippers
and a chopping block
(shoulder roast whose
seasoning sauce
is nuance)
until cleanliness-cum-godliness
elevates puritanical
savages
unto Saturn’s
apotheosis
and they are left
all alone,
gnawing their own
tongues.

Strawman Shaman

A shaman prayed over a flimsy straw doll
and wrote words on a piece of paper so as to bind
to it the woes of a woman who felt powerless, small,
and who wished to rectify all the wrongs in her mind.

The shaman said, “All of your problems are now here,
invested into this fetish that you must now take
and burn until nothing remains for you to fear.”
The woman took the doll and gave it a shake.

“I do not fear you, evil thing,” the woman swore.
“You are the Patriarchy, and you will lose.”
She laughed hatefully. “You will not exist anymore
because I can destroy you now, as I so choose.”

She then cast the paper and the doll inside the fire
and smiled as both burned away to ashen nothing,
thinking it good that the boogeyman should expire
so easily, as if a thing made of chaff stuffing.

When others heard of her story, they came to the shaman,
each hoping he could defeat his or her own evil spirit
by investing all of their evil spirits into a strawman
and burning the fetish so as to never again fear it.

Some asked that he burn away parasitic communism,
and some asked for debt-capitalism and cash,
some the GOP, and the Democrats, the whole prism
of ideology burned, inside the dolls, to ash.

Each person went away, thoroughly pleased
to think their world had somehow been bettered,
and all the while nothing they hated truly ceased
because of the words that had been lettered.

And so, in time, they found themselves fooled,
realizing that nothing had ever really changed
since the angry flames had been overruled—
their superstitious endowments deranged.

They confronted the shaman, all of them enraged
for having been fooled by a thief and a liar
and, for his crimes, they had him bound and caged,
wanting to punish him for preying upon desire.

“You blame me for your problems,” he laughed
while they all shouted at him in his cage,
“but you are the ones who are truly daft
if you think problems are only words upon a page!”

They whined: “How can we solve our problems, then?”
The shaman grinned and said, “It is so very simple.
Release me and I will show you how, my children.
Just come with me into my strawman’s temple.”

They released him, hesitantly, and followed him thereto—
to a great fire pit in an ancient ziggurat
where he stoked the flames to burn all ills heir to
humans upon a great blaze that flared bright and hot.

“You all want easy answers,” the shaman said.
“And simple evils needing simple solutions. Very well—
Life is the problem, by god, so, until you are dead
you will always be living a constant Hell.”

This said, he leapt down into the roaring flames
and all of his problems went up in easy smoke—
but his followers baulked at his bold claims,
still wanting to believe he misspoke.

Three More Rhymes

Like Father, Like Son
Cain, thus, was banished to the land of Nod
for having slain his nearest, dearest kin
in wrathful jealousy, alike to God—
emulation being the greatest sin.

The Trick Called Civilization
The mad jester kept the chainsaws spinning,
fumbling their juggle with nary a frown
as he lost fingers with each catch, grinning
until it all, at last, came crashing down.

Hunter’s Mark
Death is a master hunter, both patient and grim,
whose skills cannot be countered, or even reckoned,
and each of us is marked—a trophy of his whim,
an arrow notched for our final hour, down to the last second.