Thursday, January 31, 2013

A.J. Huffman


Watching a Waving That Might Be a Drowning

I wade in the shallow
[end] of your subconscious.
onto my sanity and the salt-
ed waves trying to break
my head. Hurts/fears/falls.
Black is not the shade
of any sun I choose to remember.
[And yet] There you are, back-
lit by embers I gave up
understanding. Bathed/bowed/bouyed
to a memory that may never have been
more than a flicker-
ing thought, we rise. Together,
breaking the calm
that echoes like glass.


I think about it, even as I sit
at my desk, juggling phones, files,
faxes. I hear the antique, claw-footed,
ceramic basin calling me
home. I walk straight through
the front door, up the stairs, shedding layers
of clothes and stress as I go. The sound
of water, warming, filling, is intoxicating.
I add a handful of salts, watch them
dissolve. Sunlight dying behind pulled
curtains calls for candles, lavender, the scent
consumes the room and my mind. I cannot
think as I sink into the welcome embrace
of the tub. Ardorous nothing flows
through me. I am at peace by the time
the sponge caresses my skin.

Stopping for Tea
for Aleksey Chernyshov

near the corner prayer station, I was
pondering the meaning of randomly tagged string
bags steeped in questionably sanitized water, when
I met a man who could be perfect
ly cast as a teen vampire dream if he lost
his tan and his mind. As it turns
out, he was an angel in a daddy suit, bulging
from slightly weighted wings. He flew
through the drizzle of everyday on the rainbow
of his daughter’s smile. The affectation of their journey
was palpable. They held
their own gravity. Showering sparks of genuine
warmth into every anonymous shadow that happened
to cross their paths.

© A.J. Huffman 2013

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously publishedsix collections of poetry all available on She has also published her work in numerous national and international literary journals. She has is the editor for six online poetry journals for Kind of a Hurricane Press. Find more about A.J. Huffman,including additional information and links to her work at Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Harris Tobias


   I was wondering about the old man. I hadn't seen him for several days. He was usually as regular as clockwork walking that little dog of his. What was that dog? A chijuajua I guess. That would make sense since he was Mexican. Or am I stereotyping? That triggered a furious internal debate about prejudice and racial factors and how they influence our decisions. I thought about actually going over there and seeing if the old man was all right but that would mean actually invading someone else's space and I don't think I was ready to take on the heavy mantle of Good Samaritan without some serious thought.

   So instead of going over there, I sat in my thinking chair and made a list of the pros and cons of getting involved with strangers. That triggered a whole inner discussion about list making. I wondered whether I should list the pros first or let my natural pessimism take over and do the cons first. I have a tendency to favor the cons but then I feel bad for the pros because the mean old cons are such bullies. Then I had the idea of writing the pros and cons of visiting my neighbor on 3 x 5 cards in the order they occurred to me. That way I wouldn't be concentrating on the negative and influencing the outcome. It took me a day or two to get the cards but I was determined to do a proper job. It was worth the extra effort.

   After another day of scribbling reasons for and against being a good neighbor, the decision seemed weighted pretty heavily in favor of going over there. Then I remembered the little dog. What if the man needed hospitalization? Then I'd be responsible for taking care of the dog. That created a whole other set of problems which I had to work through. After several hours of thinking, which digressed into animal rights issues and a close examination of comparative religion, I reached a decision. I would go over there first thing in the morning and see if the old guy was okay.

   I got there just as the paramedics were loading the body of the old man into the ambulance. "What happened," I asked someone in the small crowd of onlookers.

   "It looks like he fell a couple of days ago. He must have been lying there for days. Finally he just died. They say he probably tripped on the dog's leash. The dog was hurt too. They both must have suffered terribly."

   Well, that was that. I felt good that I had made the right decision to help but I felt bad that I was too late. That got me thinking about the dualistic nature of good and evil and the nature of suffering itself. It was an exciting morning. I'm inspired to go back and blog about it. There are a lot of lessons I can teach.

© Harris Tobias 2013

Harris Tobias was raised by robots disguised as New Yorkers, and despite an awkward childhood he learned to read and write. He has published novels, The Greer Agency and A Felony of Birds, to critical acclaim, short stories in Down in the Dirt Magazine, Literal Translations, Electric Flash and Ray Gun Revival, and is a favorite here on MuDJoB. He currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Donal Mahoney

Father Spoke in Code

Father spoke in code
Mother understood.
She would cry
once he went to bed.
I never understood the code.
My sister didn't either.
As we got older, we quit
asking Mother what he said.

A feral cat claimed our yard.
It would leap the fence
when anyone appeared.
Except, of course, Father.
When he came out to walk
around the garden after supper,
the cat would sit straight up,
then rub against his leg
and look at him as if it understood
what others never could.

My sister used to say
the two of us were proof
Father and Mother
got together twice.
I told her I wasn't so certain.
I looked a lot like Mr. Brompton,
the next-door neighbor.
He used to buy us sugar cones
from the ice cream truck.

My sister, by the way, didn't look
like anyone in the family either,
but that was 40 years ago
when I last saw her.
I went away to college
and she got married.
We were never close after that.
Not even Christmas cards.

Forty years is a long time.
Now, we plan to get together
for a weekend this summer
before one of us dies.
I suggested we wait
till one of us is terminal.
What's the rush, I said.
But my wife told her
I was only kidding,
that we'll be coming
and not to make a fuss.
Burgers and hot dogs
will do just fine.

I know what Sis and I
will talk about that weekend,
the two people we'll always
have in common, no matter
how many years and miles
may lie between us.
Father and Mother have been
dead for decades now
but they're still alive in us.
I talk in code, my wife says,
and my sister cries a lot,
now that her husband's dead.
The one thing I want to know
is if my sister knows
what happened to the cat.
It knew the code,
may have had some answers.

© Donal Mahoney 2013

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ed Strand


When they ran into each other in Barcelona, they recalled their time together, some of it good, some not so good, but she forgave him. Afterwards, Penn asked Vi to walk along Las Ramblas with Cassie at a certain hour so he could see what his daughter looked like.
She took Cassie shopping, at the designated time. The crowd and the heat unwittingly maneuvered a separation he used to his advantage. In a souvenir shop, he made her acquaintance. His Spanish accent was by then convincing to a young American. He gave the girl a package and told her it was the ashes of his mistress. He begged her to bury it under a particular tree in Central Park. He told her his mistress had died with a broken heart because she had not been able to return to the States. “I know this is illegal,” he said, “but nobody would suspect a beautiful young woman like you. The reward for your discretion will be great.”
She refused the money saying she was moved by the expression of his undying love.
When she met her mother later, she told her she had gone shopping for souvenirs, and was carrying several similarly wrapped packages.

* * *

On the return voyage, at first, Cassie did not tell her mother of the strange man's request. Eventually, however, a mother-daughter conversation brought out the tale of Cassie's mission.
Vi put two and two together and came up with her ex-husband. Her first reaction was to grow furious thinking he had duped her into bringing Cassie into his realm because he must have known she would never have agreed to transport his lover's ashes, but then she thought she understood his pain. The fear of a confrontation with the customs authorities, however, gave rise to her decision to bury her rival at sea, quietly one evening, without telling Cassie.
When he saw her at the hotel in New York, he brazenly asked her if he could have the package. Realizing she had been duped, she seemed to barely stifle laughter when telling him of the sentimental private service she had performed while under the impression she was tossing the ashes of a dead person into the briny deep. “What was in that package?” she asked, but without waiting for his answer, she slapped him, and dared him to follow her out of the hotel lobby.

* * *

While he was being scorned by Vi in the hotel lobby, Cassie was burying his package under the tree she thought he had designated.
It was not until her mother's birthday several weeks later, when Cassie discovered the gift she had bought in Barcelona was missing. That evening her mother told her she must have accidentally thrown the wrong package overboard and the next day they took the train down to Manhattan to try to retrieve the parcel in Central Park, now certain that it held something more intriguing than a fictitious somebody's ashes.
They located the tree and dug until they were given a summons by a park ranger, but they could not find the package. Apparently, someone else had, and a sniffing mongrel was suspected in having led to its unearthing.
“May I ask what my gift was to have been?” Vi said.
Cassie remained silent, looking from the summons to the dog and back again, wishing she had accepted some of the money her father had offered her.

© Edward V. Strand 2013

Ed Strand has written on the Six Sentence Social Network and Thinking Ten, and also tried his hand at blogging a semi-journal called Stranded Online before his muse went on hiatus.

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