Rain

After three sub-zero mornings it is relatively mild at 4°C. I put on one too many layers for my trip to the chemist, arriving home ringing wet. Though, so long as the rain holds off I don’t mind the cold, the relative mild, or the sweat, because the rain doesn’t “cleanse me”, as a friend describes his relationship with it, but attempts to drown me in my own guilt.

half-life…
sleeping the rest
away

Brendan Slater

Rain

A Long Night

“A gang of gay bashers!” my friend cried out while yanking my girlfriend’s wrist on our way to a nightclub as they tread and trip on sidewalk hills. After finally grabbing a hold on my buddy pulling him out of the shadows calmly as possible, I told him that “No one is chasing us, let’s grab a taxi ok.?” Shaken, he finally agreed releasing the tight grip on my startled girlfriend who then points at a tornado forming in the sky with star clusters in its hole that I also see. “This is getting ridiculous!” My mind screamed while hailing for a ride.

destination home
the cab fare I pay
for half a block

Fractled

A Long Night

New Horizons

storm clouds—
a drow dismounts
from his steed

thunder clap—
a mountain dwarf adjusts
his gauntlet

driving rain—
a frost giant marches south
toward armies

river’s bulge—
a shield maiden lets down
her golden hair

“’Valcon the Vampire,’” Ted read the title with a smirk then handed the colorfully bordered pages back to Derrick. “Not interested.”
Derrick took back the manuscript with a wounded huff. “But you haven’t even read it.”
“I told you; I get too many stories with vampires, most of them trash. I’m just sick of vampires! How about elves?”
“Santa’s little helpers in quaint green suits?”
“Not that kind of elf.”
“Well, I happen to enjoy a good vampire tale.”
“Then start your own ezine.”
“Give me one advantage elves have over vampires.”
Ted lifted his husky carcass from the office chair. “I’ll give you ten.”
“Great. I’m dying to hear this.” Derrick stood back, allowing his old friend space to pace the dusky office, hands behind his back like a philosopher.”
“Ten: Elves give hope to men.”
“Men don’t need elves to have hope.”
“Nine: Elves are three times as swift.”
“Dwarfs are stronger.”
“Eight: Their sense of hearing is fifteen times keener than a mortal’s.”
“Big deal.”
“Seven: Their sense of sight is 100 times better!”
“That doesn’t make them interesting.
“Six: Elves heal without scarring.”
“Vampires can fly.”
“Five: Elves don’t require sleep.”
“Vampires can shape shift.”
“Four: Elf blood mixes well with other ‘races.’”
“Voldur half-orcs, wonderful!”
“Three: Elf blood cures vampirism.”
Derrick rolled his eyes. “Vampires don’t need a cure, or they wouldn’t be vampires!”
“Two: Elves practice immortality without self-pity.”
“And the final reason, maestro?”
Ted clutched his abdomen. “One: Elves can consume sugar alcohols without gastrointestinal distress. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to use the restroom!”

dark road—
leading to ashes
leading to dust

black castle—
a gargoyle laps at
the starlight

bat droppings—
a white hand pries open
a coffin

mandrake—
a night woman turns
toward the moon

Anna Cates

New Horizons

Jekyll or Hyde

. . . a quattuordecillion ultramarine buckminsterfullerene hemidemisemiquavering tintinnabulations . . .

overtime—
bubbling with surprise
test tube contents

.

[Translation: a quattuordecillion (a very large number) ultramarine buckminsterfullerene (blue geometric carbon, etc.) hemidemisemiquavering (sixty-fourth note) tintinnabulations . . . (ringing, tinkling)]

Anna Cates

Jekyll or Hyde

In Spirit

It was the morning after the New Year’s bash. I was nursing a massive hangover and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot when suddenly there was a puff of smoke which had me gagging and rubbing my eyes. A gentle cough made me glance upward and there before me stood a roly poly gentleman in a tuxedo. The jacket a bit tight around the midriff.

“Who,” I asked the tuxedoed fellow, “Are you?”convinced it was an illusion.

“The genie of the champagne bottle, sir,” said the stout illusion.

“But,” I pointed out after a moment of thought, “Genies reside in brass lamps.”

“Oh,” laughed the apparition. “That is so passé. We genies moved into more comfortable quarters. Brass lamps can be very, very restrictive. However,” he went on, “As is customary with us genies, may I inform you of your rights. You have but one wish to make. And I assure you I will try my best to fulfil it. But of course there are terms and conditions.” And he conjured up a pamphlet and handed it over.

“But,” I objected, “Genies are supposed to grant three wishes.”

“Not anymore,” said the genie. “At the last Genies’ Convention at Geneva we decided to hone it down to one.”

I figured this was too good an opportunity to miss and whipping out a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen I made a list of things I always wanted. However, to every wish I put forth the genie had objections. A million dollar yacht for instance would not fit anywhere in the seas around Mumbai. A fleet of limousines would consume oceans of petrol and run up big bills. A massive mansion would be much too impractical for a single person like me.

Whatever else he might produce this genie was extremely adept at producing excuses. So finally I asked for the only thing possible and practical. I asked the genie to replace the bottle of champagne he had taken up as residence.

At least I could get drunk.

formals party
……still wondering who
is the butler

Gautam Nadkarni

In Spirit

Enough

the trouble with marbles is the rich kid doesn’t give them back when your kid brother chucks them over

three bags full
yuk, what do they
call this stuff

*

down stream the call of a bird maybe but stop at nothing while it’s still dark

grandma
you had to be
it

*

hard up against it with nowhere else to go, there’s just the crunch of gravel

they
wouldn’t
want
to be
built

walls would

if
they
could
speak

Samar Ghose

Enough