REVERBERATION, THE NOVEL, has a new cover.

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

“The Slave Raid”

I
a man of peace
am kept close
under jungle guard
as the thud
of war clubs
crushing bone
intermingles
with the terrified
screams
of women and children
and commanding
baritone voices
cut short mid-sentence
and involuntary moans
which resonate
around me.

My guards
stomp back and forth
shaking their bodies
swinging their arms
in mock combat
as they mimic
their clansmen
who run wild
murdering
beating
raping
torturing
the unprepared denizens
of the native village.

The cacophony
of battle
and stench
of ever-mounting
numbers
of wounded
and dying
cause me to gag.
My guards stop
their imaginary
participation
in the massacre
and watch me closely
for signs
of weakness.

Aware of their vigilance
I straighten
swallow the bile
which fills
the back of my throat
and once again
turn my face
toward the
atrocities.

I know
the survivors
of the massacre
will be corralled
and marched
to the sea
to be sold
into slavery.
I also know
I too
will be yoked
chained
and subject
to the slaver’s whip.

They will be careful.
I will not
be allowed
to die
as I am
an educated man
and
will bring
a premium price
at auction.

(Written for dVerse Poetics—War Poetry. October 28, 2014.)

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

“I Get My News from the Talking Heads”

Al
is going to
Ferguson
MO
to stir up
interest
in the
Michael Brown
case.

Sarah
proclaims
“ISIS
is a
monumental
threat
to
everyone’s security….”

Chris
tries to
startle
with
“Ebola is
here
and it’s
lethal”.

And Rush
warns
“Regime
prepares for
surge
of 9 million
illegal
immigrant
I.D.
cards”.

As for me
I’ve had enough.
I switch
to
“Frasier” reruns
and go to bed
with
a smile
on my face.

Written for dVerse Poetics, “Good News, Bad News, Your News!” October 21, 2014.

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

“Embracing America”

Early each morning
I walk with my friend
from next door.
She is stunning.
Long black hair
parted in the middle
covers her shoulders
like an ermine stole
and hangs to her waist
like the thick tail
of a show horse.

The men on our street
watch through splayed fingers
as she strides by
her purposeful gait
unique and positive.
She’s an untouchable
poster child
for the modern
American beauty
in her cropped top
and hip-hugging
short jean cutoffs.
I sometimes wonder
if she’s chosen me
as a foil
for her splendor.

As we walk
we talk of America
the miraculous advantages
unknown
in her war-torn country.
I help her study
for her citizenship test.
We car pool.
Our boys sleep over.

A few minutes ago
I brought her son
home from Boy Scouts.
I was in a hurry
but I waited
until the door opened
and he slipped inside.
Out of the corner of my eye
I saw the men
eight of them
seated in front
of a large map.
They listened to a speaker
bearded and kaftanned
who pointed
to a bull’s eye
in the middle
of the projected image.
They nodded their agreement.

Then I saw my friend
her beauty
black-robed
burka-drab
obsequiously
pouring coffee into their cups.
It was the flash
of her glorious hair
and the spring in her step
that could not be disguised
by the trappings
of subservience.

Is she part of the conspiracy?
Is this what she really wants?
I ask myself these questions
as I pull my car
into my driveway.
I will soon get the answers
as two men
have exited her house
and are waiting for me
by my front door.

They, too,
had seen something
out of the corners
of their eyes
and that was the look
of comprehension
that inadvertently
crossed my face
as I recognized the truth
of my neighbor’s
feigned acceptance
of American ways
and her fairy-tale participation
in the daily routines
of a suburban housewife.

Now I wonder
who she will choose
to replace me
and my patriotism
as the unsuspecting foil
for her treachery.

(Written for dVerse Poetics: In the Corner of Your Eye. October 07, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

“Lying in Wait”

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(Photo: “Between”, copyright by Brooke Shaden)

I lie on my bed waiting.
Waiting for the evil
Which haunts the space
In my desecrated home
To strike.

It sits at my kitchen table.
It eats the food from my cupboard.
It drinks the forbidden wine from my cellar.
It sharpens its sword on my whetstone.
It laughs at my agony.

It has slashed my body
Violated my sanctum
Shattered my mind
Taken my present
Determined my future.

My evil is a young boy
Barely sixteen.
A hairless sycophant
Who follows not his god
But the disembodied voice
Of a rabble-rousing
Power-hungry
Desert rat
Whose current purpose
Is to release hate tapes
Admonishing dreamy-eyed naïfs
To maim and kill
The “infidels”
The same people who have
Opened their arms
And accepted him
The immigrant intruder
Into their homes
Their schools
Their hospitals
Their welfare system.

He comes to me brandishing
His cheap war-surplus sword
And pricks the skin
Of my neck
With the point.

“On your knees,” he cries
The tremor in his voice
Caused by the bobbing
Of his Adam’s apple.
I do not move.

He pulls me from the bed
His hands slipping
On the blood
From the wounds
He has inflicted.
He pulls out his iPhone
Kneels next to my body
And snaps a selfie.
“Next shot,” he says
“I’ll be holding your head.”

The sword cuts the air
The boy becomes a man.

As he poses
For the camera
He plans his next act
Of false heroism
In the name of his god
And the malevolent
Puppet master
Who is pulling his strings.

(Written for dVerse Poetics. September 23, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

“Tea with Mrs. Bee”

The day Mrs. Bee came to tea with me
Gossip flew ’round the room in a torrent.
Then she and me, we agreed to agree
To deem gossip by others abhorrent.

Mr. Turtle doth churtle with Myrtle
Bee said, but you did not hear it from me.
Fertile news is curtal, wife’s a hurdle
Mrs. T. will ne’er set that tortoise free.

Rob Rabbit does flit among does a bit
Bee notes, his rep as roué is well-earned.
He’ll admit to a snit, right proper fit
Unless the head of his prey he has turned.

Queen Bee left my tea and rushed off to see
Dee Flea so she could tee-hee about me.

(Written for dVerse Poets: Nonsense Poetry. September 18, 2014.)
[curtal, adj., obsolete: brief]
[churtle, verb, obscure: as used here, it’s open to individual interpretation]

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

“Andes Adventure”

As we leave the city of Caracas
we pass armed soldiers on street corners
a policeman who answered a query
with the threat of arrest.
We circle the roundabout
in the commercial center
view elegant mansions
glimpse designer-draped matrons
men in suits of silk and linen.

We skirt the barrios of tin-roofed shacks
decoupaged on hillsides
with their threadbare inhabitants
and bare-naked children,
three-dimensional survivors
of flesh-packed hovels
who wait to pounce
on the incautious tourist
who neglects to guard
his wallet and his life.

Seeking adventure
on a sun-blessed day
we drive from the city
up the steep mountainside
through Colinia Tovar
with its alpine architecture
flowers
vegetable gardens
tourist shops.

On our way high into the mountains
we pass an unattended stand
with insect-infested carcasses
bereft of their skin
each a week’s worth of meals
for extended families.

We are alone
as we begin our descent
into a bottomless valley.
The road drops off
next to the pitted macadam.
A downward glance
warns of the fate
that awaits the distracted driver
whose tire leaves the tarmac.

Vegetation proliferates
while pockets of smoke
dot the landscape.
It is forest-fire time in the Andes.
We see the glow of flames
flickering in the valley below.
The road is narrow
mountainside to the left
thousand-foot drop to the right
no room to turn around.

We soldier on
until a meager indent
allows us to change direction.
The road we have traveled
is steep and the rusty Fiat
protests on its return trip.

We overtake a battered Jeep
with four men
hanging out the sides and back.
Brandishing machetes
and flashing third-finger insults
they slow to fifteen-miles an hour.

We cannot pass.
Our tortured vehicle
hiccoughs along behind.
One false move
and we drive over the precipice
if they don’t
get us first.

Classic case of fear
engulfs us as time passes
and they play on our demons.

With a final barrage
of derogatory shouts
they pull to the side
and let us pass.
Not done with us
they follow close behind
until we reach Colinia Tovar.
Then we are free.

But not from the memory
which returns
in the night
and leaves one
or both of us
bathed in perspiration
and murmuring
“We’ll never be found
We’ll never be found.”

(Written for dVerse Poetics: Travel Poetry. September 16, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

“Nightcat”

On soft padded paws, the black cat treads
slowly infiltrating the night.
Cautiously stalking his perceived dreads
lips part, teeth flash, ready to fight.

The cat pulls back, his spine hairs alert
he pauses ’fore slithering on.
Slit eyes of gold, on guard!, they assert
feigning cool, he stifles a yawn.

He’s prey or it’s prey, he knows not which
fear propels him to take a stand.
Back arched, ears flat, the tail starts to twitch
one pounce, and I’m back from dreamland.

(Written for dVerse, Meeting The Bar: Following Through On Metaphor. September 11, 2014.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments