Thursday, August 30, 2012


a goldfish bowl, a train, and a man in black...story three


This is a reprint of flash fiction I did from a few years back. It was a challenge..the prompt was to write something including a goldfish bowl, a train, and a man in black. And to push myself harder, I wrote one each day for five days. Here is one of my favorites, from day three.

The train bound for the work camp rumbled through the night. Shem leaned back against someone, grateful for that person's warmth and for the counterbalance that provided his aching legs relief. He wished he could eat; the Nazis had promised to feed them at the next large town. Instead, the door was thrown open and more Jews were herded in as a black jacketed S.S. officer good-naturedly called out instruction.

"Shem?" The voice belonged to Ari, a neighbor who hated Communists more than he hated Nazis. "Do you remember Anna's goldfish?"

Shem didn't respond.

"You want to hear something funny?" Ari continued. "I remember every little detail about them. It's uncanny. But Shem, I can't remember my Anna's face. It's a blur. Why? Why do you think that is?"

It seemed several people held their breaths to catch his response, as if his answer would give them something to cling to. The burden was unforgiving.

"You remember because the goldfish don't matter," said Shem. "Later, when this nightmare ends, you'll remember."

"And if the rumors about the camp are true?"

"Then someone else will have to remember."

Thursday, August 09, 2012

This Ain't Poetry, This Is Suicide, Baby!

Poetry reading held in northern Detroit suburb. Art is in the air. I settle into one of the uncomfortable metal folding chairs and look around. Mostly middle-aged people and I sense something else...self-satisfaction. Give them a moment and they'll start purring.

The first woman reads. She's dressed in black; her strange yellow hair is highlighted with purple edges. She's been published in different literary journals (you know, the sort where writers read other writers, because readers won't), and she's even had her work acknowledged by Garrison  Keillor, so what the hell.  She reads..something about Cambodia and children. The audience leans forward. And as she ends a string of words soulfully enunciated, a choir of "hmmms" sound around me. Hmmms?

Yes, the audience appreciation has reached a zenith and can no longer be contained. The only appropriate outburst of such yuppihood is a heartfelt hmmm, expressed with profound meaning to try and connect with the poet, to show her how deeply she has touched them. HMMMMMM.  I wonder how such an expression of appreciation would sound in the midst of a sexual encounter.

HMMMMM. SLAP!

Another poet approaches the stage. The bar has been set high. How do you match this level of intensity and soulfulness? Damn it. I see the fear in her eyes. What began as a reading is now a competition which has escalated to dizzying heights. Hmmmm.

Her eyes tear.

What? Yes! She's playing the moist eyes card. There's a quiver in her voice as she delivers a bit of word soup, a jumble of consonants dripping with angst. A pause. Electricity crackles in the air and....it begins with one small "Hmmmm," tentatively expressed, but quickly picked up by someone in the back. "Hmmmm."  "Hmmmm"  It builds. The moment is magic. The incoherent mumblings around me are evidence that this isn't just poetry, this is mind-numbing genius which energizes the shakra and dances through the cosmos. The challenge has been met and she is triumphant!

And the next poet? Why bother. Really. Why bother? It takes everything I have not to say that out loud. Instead I shake my head, cringe a little at the indigestion I'm suffering from having eaten too much spice, and mumble "hmmm."


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Back From Oz and I Ain't Dorothy

Friends, it has been a long strange road, but I'm back, and I promise to be more outrageous than ever. Where have I been? For the last few months I've been in a dream where I am campaigning for local office, taking on a candidate backed by the Van Trapp family and managed by Up With People. Seriously. Small town politics have never been creepier. At any time I expected to see Kevin McCarthy running down Main Street crying out.."They're here! Listen to me, they're everywhere!!!" And in the center of the dream? A diminutive man with a little well-manicured hands and an unsettling smile reminiscent of one of Willy Wonka's helpers.

And when I woke up, I was grinning, and that can't be a good thing. I only wish I were a team player. Look for future posts, and look out for the pods..I understand they can be anywhere. In your back yard. In your basement. In your local political party.

Next? I go to a poetry reading. You won't want to miss this.