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

Friday

For a long time this is my day off.
Well, I don’t go to work, but I have to clean the house, wash and iron my clothes, do some shopping and when the weather is fine I work in my garden.
But now pupils and students, instead of attending their school, use this day to go out and demonstrate for our climate and a better future.
When I was young I skipped school just for fun.
I should join them. Yes, I really should …
but in the basement my tumble dryer has finished and the iron is hot.

neighbour’s apple tree
as we were heroes
of the summer

Eva Limbach

Friday

Buried

They look into my eyes, and ask me my name.
At this question, I shift uncomfortably, my ankles continuously rub the ground, and my toes claw at the earth, trying to excavate an answer.

beneath this cover
of autumn leaves
…a footprint

Praniti Gulyani

Buried

The Helpers

Aunt Maria Pura is a pious woman. Religious practice is deeply rooted in her life: everyday she goes to the first mass in the morning and she confesses regularly. The knowledge of the holy texts makes her feel strong and secure. The weight of the Church’s condemnation is a stigma. Surely, she never gets to the point of questioning miracles, oracles or prophecies  or Satan, even if all these things oppose reason decisively.
During times of crisis she always knows what Saint to call upon for help: she has one for every occasion.
St. Geraldo Maiella who intercedes for pregnant women;
St. Zita, for the fatigue of the housework;
for desperate and difficult wedding cases, St. Rita da Cascia;
St. Margherita da Cortona, whose lover refused to marry her even after she gave birth to a child, for the unwed mothers;
St. Elizabeth of Hungary for problems with in-laws;
St. Elena, whose husband put an end to their marriage in order to marry a Roman princess, for cases of divorce;
St. Alfonso Maria de Liguori, one of the busiest among the Saints that the Church has ever known, for those who basically struggle to make a good use of their time.
“And as long as the house keys are misplaced, St. Antony will never miss his devotees” she uses to say.
She can never get enough. And when someone tries to talk to her about the world outside, Maria Pura’s laughing expression is immediately dark.
Some days, although I pass in front of her, she doesn’t see me.  She stands there, immobile, with open arms, as  though in expectancy of stigmata …

in procession
Saint Anthony’s  face  fills
facebook walls

Antonietta Losito

The Helpers