REVERBERATION, THE NOVEL, has a new cover.

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Posted in historical, historical fiction, historical novel | 15 Comments

“Human Cargo”

The African sun burns deep into my aching back and limbs; it sears my skin, stretched taut over bones weary from gathering crops six days a week; it dries the sweat which flows from the roots of my hair to the soles of my feet. West Africa is a harsh home. When her people can no longer tolerate the unrelenting assault of the sun, the rains come. Months of deluge leave us praying for the return of its heat, its scorching bright light, and the chance again, to work on the land.

It is 1830, the year of my arrival in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. I have exhausted the monies I brought with me and am forced to work for another as a common field hand. Today, I am but one of a crew of ten free men working to fill the never-ending number of boxes which await the yield of our harvest. I have emptied my collection bag many times, and so far, escaped the wrath of the overseer.

Familiar sounds coming from the jungle roust us from the fields. We hide our pickings under low-growing bushes and steal off to flatten our bodies on the ground behind scattered thickets. The overseer drops his wary watch as he knows we’d choose crop-picking under him over the fate facing the advancing hordes.

The caravan comes into view: men, necks circled by crude wooden yokes which bind one to another, walk in single file. Their captors energize laggards with cutting flicks from flashing whips. Dispirited women and children, strung together with rope, struggle to keep up, knowing the fallen will die. I have seen, firsthand, the cruel life of plantation slave that awaits these people. It was my life in America before my owner set me free.

We hold our silence, aware that if we are seen we will be overwhelmed, captured and added to the human cargo bound for slave ships waiting in the harbor.

As the parade of the vanquished passes and fades in the distance, I remain face down in the dirt. The sun continues to burn deep, but my mind rejoices that my suffering body is free. There is no yoke around my neck; there are no shackles on my ankles.

I stand and extend my arms toward the heavens and chastise not the Lord, but thank him, as the sores on my back have been inflicted by the sun and not the whip. I may be black; I may be poor and burdened; but here in Africa, the home of my ancestors, I am a free man.

Posted in Flash Fiction, historical, historical fiction, Micro Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“Ballad of the Dancing Girls”

Two small girls swaying with the wind
Circling throughout the trees
Slowly turning hither and yon
They’re dancing with the breeze.

Long black hair, eyes of darkest brown
No blemish to be seen.
One just over, one just under
The sweet age of thirteen.

One night at dusk, the fields they trod
In search of some relief.
Five evil men who waited there
Did bring the girls to grief.

Their mothers cried, their fathers sought
Their daughters’ whereabouts.
The local law waved off the folk
And overrode their shouts.

Their uncle saw three men afoot
Carrying his nieces.
Tried to stop them until a gun
Tore his nerve to pieces.

Next morning the police did find
Corpses of the two
Suspended from the mango tree
Twirling their last adieu.

The families left the bodies there
To keep the memories
Of lives of innocence unlived
Still dancing with the breeze

In memory of two young girls raped and hung in Katara Sadatganj, India.

 

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Boko Haram Comes!”

“Boko Haram comes!”
“Boko Haram comes!”

Terrifying words
Screamed into the wind
Translate into reality
When shouted into cell phones.

Warnings received
And acted upon
By all who hear.
The villagers
Flee to the mountains
Hide themselves
In ancient caves
In tops of trees
Behind dense bushes.

The observers
Safe in the arms
Of Mother Nature
Watch from afar
As pickup trucks
Race toward the school
Where hundreds of girls
Have been abandoned
By their leaders
By the local police
By the government soldiers
Who fled at the sight
Of the raging riffraff.

The deserted
Huddle together
And fear death
From the rockets
The machine-gun fire
Outside their door
Or the hands
Of the jihad-crazed
Young men
Whose boots
Tramp the floors
Inside their quarters.

Why has no one
Led the girls
To safety?
Why has no one
Remained
To protect them?

Is it because
The escapees know
That the hordes
Of frenzied invaders
Are there to muzzle
These girls
These educated
Free-thinking
Women-to-be
Who themselves
May not want to follow
Ten paces behind
Their men
Who themselves
May not want to hide
Behind the burka
Who themselves
May not want to remain
Silent
In the presence of men?

Do the rabid
Religious zealots
Think that enslaving
These awakening spirits
Will deaden forever
The hope for equality
That education
Has instilled in them?

Do these malcontents
Feed their fires
With delusions
Of physical
And intellectual
Male dominance?

Far worse
Than the treatment
The girls may have received
At the hands
Of their abductors
Is the knowledge
They must live with
Forever:
That the ones
Who take a stand on
The educated
Female future
Of their country
Are the ones
Who want to
Eradicate the learned.

The fate
Of the girls
Is unknown.
Are they slaves
Forced to toil
For barbarians?
Are they
Coerced concubines
Or polygamous wives
Of abusive thugs?
Are they corpses?
Deteriorating skeletal remains
Of would-be
Biochemists?
Nurses?
Economists?
Are they still
Women
Destined
To urge
Their backward country
Into the present
And then forward
To the future?

How long can
The kidnapped
Survive
Before their
Purloined spirits
Fade
Into subservience?

Governing leaders talk
As their inaction
Sanctions the brutality
Of rampant terrorism
Flaunting the flag
Of religious zeal.

We the outsiders
The free-for-the-moment
Watch as this horror
Flourishes
In pockets across our planet.

How long
Before we withdraw
And hide behind
The blanket
Of fear?

How long
Before we see
History repeat itself
And those pockets
Of Dark Age suppression
Connect
And cover
The globe.

Posted in Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“The Red Rose of Rage”

The kettle-drum thrum of my heartbeat
Sends a plea for assault not retreat
My fingers splay then contract
My soul cries out to react
My brain cautions this might mean defeat.

The red rose of rage colors my skin
My lips tighten from full into thin
My pop eyes narrow to slits
My placid stomach has fits
I breathe deep, try to gin up a grin.

This time, no grin, no bowing my head
This time, the fireworks flash instead
Caution succumbs to folly
I blast off with my volley
And depart with my ego well fed.

(Written for dVerse Poets, Meeting the Bar, Emotion in Poetry. April 3, 2014.)

 

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

“Debut Performance”

 

Copyrigth Kent Bonham

(Photo copyright: Kent Bonham)

My first time on stage and I’m prepared to deliver my speech.

My lines have been memorized; my body language and facial expressions choreographed to express emotion as my hands are tied behind my back and my ankles bound together.

Sightless behind a blindfold, I hear the boots of men as they line up on the stage before me. I feel the heat of the spot which illuminates my body.

“Freedom!” I shout. “Liberty! Justice for all!”

Curses mix with the rifle shots which end my debut performance. I fall into a pool of my own blood in front of an enemy kangaroo court.

(Written for Friday Fictioneers, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. april 4, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

“Enough with the Precipitation”

I stop at the red light at tenth and Vine.
Cars bunch together and pass in a line.
Torrents of rain obscure my view
Form swirling pools I can’t get through.
I’m stuck at the red light at tenth and Vine.

Folks gather behind me some people cross.
My eyes fill with tears I think of my loss.
If I brave the puddles I’ll lose
My treasured pair of Jimmy Choos.
Folks gather behind me but I don’t cross.

There goes my chance for the job interview.
My opportunity to start anew.
However, I know if I dare
To cross that’s the end of my pair
Of Choo’s shoes bought for the job interview.

(Written for dVerse Poets, Open Link Night, March 29, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“The Power of White”

Foreground, middle ground, background
copper-penny brown with hints of loden green
brave shoots rising from an earth
laid bare by dingy drifts of talcum-powder white
still lurking
in burnt-timber shaded corners
still hugging ashen bush bases.

These ghostly-white remainders
deny nature’s rebirth
smother the brilliance
of sun-splashed daffodils
Persian blue hyacinths
splotch the purple cloak of crocus
spread wide across the terrain.

And you.
enveloped in fire-engine red
bright-cut emerald green
deep-sea cerulean blue
you fight the inevitable.
Ever crowned by the golden aureole
of optimism
you soldier on
your irridescent glow marking the way
until it fades
as fresh flakes dim your radiance
and you melt
into the reinstated whitescape.

(Written for dVerse Poets. March 25, 2014. Describing with color.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments