“Distrust”

The street crowd
clapped their hands
and stomped their feet
as a man in a gray hoodie
threw a jab
a right cross
an uppercut
a hook
at a non-existent opponent.

A passing patrolman
judged the man and the crowd
harmless.
He started to leave
as the boxer advanced
toward him.

The pugilist
increased his speed
and the power
behind his punches.

The tenor of the crowd
changed.
A heckler called out
“Hey, man.
Throw a real one.
Show us your stuff.”
“Yeah, your stuff,” others echoed.

The policeman’s retreat
was prevented
by onlookers
who had gathered
behind him.

“Get that cop,” a voice rang out.
“Yeah, he don’t belong here.”
“We don’t like his kind.”

The man in the hoodie
landed a jab
on the chin
of the officer of the law.
Then he reached in his pocket
flicked his thumb
and planted a hook
in his victim’s abdomen.

The policeman staggered and fell.
The boxer
pulled his switchblade
from the fallen man’s body.
“Only good cop’s
a dead cop,” he muttered
as he pushed his way
through the crowd
and disappeared.

The observers
scattered like startled geese.
Some returned home
to their TVs.
Others climbed
onto stools
at the corner pub
and pretended
they’d been there since noon.

The police questioned the locals.
No witnesses
were identified.
No informants
came forth.

However
behind closed doors
the community consensus
was
that the cop was messin’
where he didn’t belong
and maybe
he got
what he deserved.

The patrolman’s brothers in blue
took note
of the locals’ attitude
and vowed
that
from that day on
they would stay
far behind
the outer ring
of the neighborhood crowd.

(Written for dVerse, Open Link Night #159, October 29, 2015)

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

“Frozen Dreams”

The wild winds of January
spiraled o’er the gray bay
stole its mist, its frigid waters
absorbed its basest core.
The wintery gusts iced purloined beads
exhaled on sailing ships
left sleet in cracks and crevices
of cobblestones and bricks.
Half-frozen seas spat on glass panes
of crude homes, lush mansions.
They settled in the beards of gents
on bustles of their dames.

A shivering girl whose shawl embraced
yet never could repel
the bitter bite of raging winds
or winter’s frosty sting.
She waited for a man who sold
escape from life’s cruel whip.
The hope of freedom warmed her skin
as her torn wrap could not.

The bright promise of midday sun
faded in dark of night.
She stood alone as sun met sky
and blurred the great divide.
The link to Freedom Road was cut
as no one did arrive.
The spirit of the dark-skinned girl
fell with the death of hope.

Rebirth of yesterday’s clear sun
split the horizon line.
Its light shone on ice-shimmered sea
and signaled dawn anew.
No longer pensive dreamer she
the girl at last succumbed
to shackles of her servile birth
and treachery of man.
Before she died, she thanked the Lord
for lifting off her yoke
and severing her iron chains
for one sweet slice of time.

Posted in Flash Fiction, historical fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Let There Be Light….”

Heat.
Firebolt hot.
Heat.

Light.
Thunderstroke bright.
Light.

Crackle.
Sizzle.
Pop.

Dark.
Octopi ink.
Dark.

Bang.
Curtain dropped.
Bang.

Death.
Ancient father covered eyes.
Heroic mother pried them open.
Sky sequins sparkled.
Shadows sheltered.
Solitary sentinels saw.
Death.

Day breaks.
Crash.
Shatter.
Clunk.
Daybreak.

(Written for dVerse, Meeting the Bar with Time Travel. June 25, 2015.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

“The Catharsis of Song”

I start to hum.
A black tale
of
love found
and
love lost.
Slow.
Like a funeral dirge.

The inmates
in adjacent cells
join in.
Voices
up and down
the line
add
words and volume
to the
monotonous murmur.

Guards
halt their patrols
as jail-hardened
veterans
abandon
their tough facades
and allow themselves
to acknowledge their
loneliness
regrets
and lost dreams.

It is
a memorable moment
of peace
and conciliation
on Cell Block C.

The voices
of fifty
melancholy men
united
in song
cover the hum
of the battery-operated saw
I use
to cut a hole
in the wall
behind my bed.
The singing
tapers off
as I slip
into the opening.

I drop
to the catwalk
hidden
between prison walls
and softly hum
“swing low
sweet chariot
comin’
for
to carry me
home”
as I head
toward
the white light
of freedom.

(Written for dVerse Poetics: Black and White. June 9, 2015.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

“Too Late?”

Cutthroat men are slashing
bitter boys are smashing
their way through the city.
Victims of their hatred
mortals, objects sacred
destroyed without pity.

Is faith validation
for human damnation
and slaughter of the past?
Is fostered cruelty
behind brutality
and decency outcast?

Where is the word of truth
needed by man and youth
to save them from their fate?
Will they face early death
one last regretful breath
aware that it’s too late?

Written for dVerse Open Link Night #149. May 21, 2015.

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

“My Name is Bob”

(I’m not very good at writing about myself, so I thought I’d tell the story of Bob and why Bob is Bob.)

I am from
the
middle.

I’ve always been
in the
middle.

Like my name
Bob.
B on each end
with an Oh
in the middle.

Like my
life.
Words of praise
“Oh, Bob
this is beautiful!”
squeezed in
(like creme
between chocolate
in an Oreo cookie)
betwixt words
of rebuke
“Oh, Bob,
what a terrible
thing to do!”
and disappointment
“Oh, Bob
how could you
have missed
that shot/answer/turn?”

I’m the middle child.
A brother, older
brilliant.
A sister, younger
faultless.

I was in the middle
of my class.
Never first choice
for a team
but never last.

In class pictures
I was always
in the middle
of the middle row.

I am consistent.
Middle-of-the-road
university.
Middle-management
job.
Middle-aged.

In my home
today
I am still
in the middle
of everything.
Only now
I am the star.
Top basketball scorer.
Homework expert.
Handyman du jour.
Lover of woman and child.

In the long run
life is good
when you are
the Middle Man.
Especially when
your name is
Bob
(two B’s
with an Oh
in the middle).

(Written for dVerse Poetics, “Where Are You From”. April 28, 2015.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

“An Alliterative Absurdity”

The radiant rays
of a reticent sun
resolutely remain reclused
behind a resplendent
rose-colored cloud.
They refuse to reappear
as requested
by the resounding roar
of ritualistic revivalists
who seek to recruit
the reluctant rural residents
with their reinvigorated regimen
of religious sun-revering rites.

Sammy the Gat says
No sun =
No converts=
No fun, Nia.
(And that, like this poem, is an in-joke.)

(Written for dVerse, Meeting the Bar: Diaphanous Diction. April 16, 2015.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

“The Magic of Mother Carey’s Chickens”

I stand
on the bow of the ship.
The wind cleanses my face
but the rain
does not dilute
the pain in my heart.

A minor storm
on the weather chart
it rages
as a major assault
on the nucleus
of my being.

She is gone.
Taking with her
the light of my existence
and leaving in its place
rampant despair.

I lean over the rail
and watch the waves part
as the ship
reconfigures the sea.
Her face
ever-present
taunts me.
I lean further forward.

The ker-chick
ker-chick of storm petrels,
Mother Carey’s Chickens,
disrupts my self-indulgence.
Birds.
In the middle of the ocean.

I watch as they tap dance
on the surface of the sea
and duck to pluck
their prey
from under their feet.

I pull back.
If they can endure
the lack of land
to nourish them
then I can survive
the loss of love
to sustain me.

I return to my cabin
cleansed by the wind on my face
and flushed free
of the pain in my heart.

(Written for dVerse, Open Link Night #146, April 9, 2015.)

Posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

“I Can’t Think….”

I can’t think about
the sixteen teenagers
who are
but a half-generation
younger than I.

I can’t think about
the pretty young
woman
I’d like to ask
to tea.

I can’t think about
the Siegfried singers
I heard perform
so well.

I can’t think about
the chill I felt
as I clicked
the latch
on the cabin door
and activated
the descent button.

I can’t think about
the last-minute doubt
that comes before
the guilt of glory.

I can only breathe
in and out
careful to maintain
a steady
calming rhythm
during these
final moments
that are taking
so long
and passing
so quickly.

(Written for dVerse Open Link Night, March 26, 2015.)

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

“The Beauty of a Big-Boned Woman”

She is called
Mary Elizabeth
a name that conjures
dainty little ladies
with white socks
and black
patent leather
shoes.

My Mary Elizabeth
is tall
a big-boned woman.
She has a head
shaped like the globe
of the world
and it is filled
with earthly wisdom.

Her eyes
large and dark
are heavy-lidded,
the better to see
without being seen
as seeing.

Her oversized nose
detects the scents
of anger, distrust
treachery
and stimulates her
to battle back
with love, faith
sincerity
and hope.

Her mouth
wide as the river Jordan
cavernous as
the cave of Machpelah
speaks of children
recipes, world conflict
and also of Solomon
Confucius, Sophocles
and Khalil Gibran.

Her hands
with fingers thick
palms broad
catch the wounded
soothe the troubled
applaud the successful.

Her feet unfit
for black patent leather
Mary Janes
are clad in
ancient Birkenstocks
more suitable
to lead her ragtag flock
down the righteous road
to salvation.

At the end of the day
my big-boned
beneficent beauty
retires her crusader’s sash
and is content to return
to her life
as an ordinary
everyday wife
and mother.

And peace
reigns in our home.

(Written for dVerse Poetics, “Savor the Beauty and Share It”. March 24, 2015.)

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