Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Post Traumatic Special delivery

Billy ripped the page from Phoebe's notebook, let’s face it, he thought, nobody’s ever gonna know; it’s not like anyone gives a shit anyway. The thumb-start on his faux-retro maglev Hyundai Sinner worked eventually; whacking crackle into the alleyway like some zombie bad lung trauma, and he cranked it into the high street as if he hadn’t already used up eight of his nine lives. The bipolar traffic honked resentment at his door-handle-testicle-tangling progress through the unsynchronised mind-fuck that posed itself as progress (a political viewpoint that proclaims anyone arguing with its singular premise can go fuck themselves with their left-wing anarcho-socialist values). Billy ripped the last of his credit from the slipstream of the late-running 5:37 from Hell as it side-swiped its comatose commuter cargo into a sad resemblance of awareness, hoping that the sling-shot momentum thus gained would serve to deliver the message Phoebe’d so recently, and so desperately, scrawled upon the feint of her jealously guarded, preciously teetering-on–the-brink-of-extinction, notebook.
Tales for the attention-span deficit reader

Monday, January 9, 2017

the optometrist

by nick nelson

illustrations by danny delacroix

the optometrist walked down the street.

everybody watched from their windows.

injun joe, smoking his eternal pipe, watched from the window of the smoke shop.

wang yun watched from the window of the laundry.

miss ellie williams watched from the window of the schoolhouse.

sheriff pete brown waited at the bottom of the street.

the sheriff had pulled an old battered sofa out into the street and he sat on it.

the sheriff had a shotgun on his lap.

the optometrist kept walking down the street.

slow and easy.

jessie jones and sallie may watched from the second floor window of mrs willard’s.

buck daniels and jake carter and the rest of the town good-for-nothings watched from outside the saloon.

banker solomon smith, though he did not approve of such nonsense, found himself drifting over to the window of the bank to take a look.

suddenly little bobby miller ran into the street.

“bobby miller! you get back in here this minute!” cried mrs miller.

with an “awww!”, bobby obeyed.

the optometrist kept on walking down the street.

there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

just the sun.

getting higher.

everybody had a good view.

the sheriff leaned back on his sofa and smiled.

old ulysses, in town to buy some provisions for old mrs bainbridge, watched from the door of jackson’s general store.

“a bad business.” observed mr jackson, wiping his flour-stained hands on his apron.

“sure enough,” ulysses agreed.

and the optometrist kept on coming.

“i got my money on the sheriff,” drawled buck daniels.

“everybody’s got their money on the sheriff, you dang fool!” exploded charlie matthews. “ain’t nobody going to take that bet!”

the sheriff leaned back a little easier on the sofa.

the whole town watched.

the sun got a little higher in the sky.

and the optometrist just kept on coming.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

a poem and a story

by horace p sternwall

illustrations by roy dismas

ars poetica

poetry is hard to write
and if you write some every night
most of it is hopeless glop
into the garbage to be dropped

poets who live for all time
only write one or two lines
that anyone really remembers
the rest are only ash and embers

their names are known, but ninety-nine
percent of their well-gotten rhymes
are no more read than the reports
of arizona traffic courts

no other human occupation
produces such a tiny ration
of success to total nothingness
with no excuses to profess

so, poet, persevere
the world will shed no tear
you must weep for your own self
as you moulder on the shelf

your failure to communicate
is only humans’ common fate
like all you take your lumps
as darkness triumphs

uncle william

my uncle william took a nap every afternoon.

it was what he did.

one day he declared he was not going to take his nap.

why aren’t you going to take your nap, william? asked aunt flora.

because the world is going to end at six o’clock, william declared.

word quickly spread around town that uncle william had predicted that the world would end at six o’clock.

but the world did not end, at six o’clock, or at all.

and uncle william, who had previously been a citizen regarded with some respect, became a laughingstock.

he became a recluse, and began reading the bible.

and not only the bible, but the quran, the torah, the mahabharata, the sayings of confucius and lao tzu, the essays of ralph waldo emerson and thomas carlyle, and other specimens of human wisdom.

he passed many years in this manner, rarely leaving the house.

he distilled his readings and meditations into a new synthesis, and wished to attract disciples , but in this he was not successful.

he grew old, and lay at death’s door.

he asked aunt flora to summon his disciples, to hear his last words.

but, william, flora retorted, you don’t have any disciples.

surely you can find somebody, william pleaded.

with a sigh, aunt flora went out into the street and tried to interest some passers by in hearing william’s last words.

she finally found a couple of hoboes who were willing to hear william out, in exchange for a couple of cups of coffee and a couple of slices of flora’s excellent blueberry pie.

well, william, flora told him, these gentleman are here for what you have to say, so let’s hear it.

people are bad, william said, they should be good.

and he died.

he was quickly forgotten, even by the people in the small town in which he had spent his entire life.

Monday, November 28, 2016

the turk

by anonymous

illustrations by danny delacroix

one day, when i was out of work
my mom brought home a lustful turk
the turk, she said, was rich as solomon
which was why she had decided to call on him

the turk sat down and loudly sneezed
but assured me he was easy to please
all he wanted, all day long
was for me to sing his favorite song

his favorite song turned out to be
a strange and haunting melody
from a land that time forgot
that once was, but now was not

i sang it sweet and sang it low
as mom played on the piano
outside, if sense could be believed
a gentle breeze caressed the leaves

the turk wept at my serenade
all through the afternoon he stayed
i sent him happily on his way
and so got through another day

Monday, October 31, 2016


by emily de villaincourt

illustrations by eddie el greco

cecelia’s mother came home and took off her hat and coat.

“i have some news,” she told cecelia.

“really? and what is that?” cecelia asked.

“i have found a gentleman who is willing to take you off my hands, and to marry you.”

“oh. is he a nice man?”

“i really don’t know enough about him to say. i only just met him.”

“how old is he?”

cecelia’s mother finished hanging up her coat, and sat down on the sofa. “why all these questions? he will be here in about an hour, with the money he promised me, and you can see him for yourself.”

“how much did he pay you?” cecelia asked.

“that is no concern of yours.” cecelia’s mother kicked her shoes off. “oh, my feet are killing me. i took a cab to the wrong place, and ended up walking five blocks to meet him.”

“do you think i should make myself look nice?” cecelia asked.

“that’s up to you. i could use a drink.” cecelia’s mother looked around, but made no move to get up. “to celebrate. i don’t believe it - after all these years, to finally be rid of you.”

“i am sorry you feel that way,” said cecelia.

“oh, stop your whining. he will be here soon enough, and that will be the end of it.”

“or the beginning,” cecelia said hopefully.

“oh, yes.” cecelia’s mother laughed. “or the beginning.”

Saturday, October 15, 2016

the street

by horace p sternwall

illustrations by konrad kraus

andy woke at midnight
and listened to the rain
remembrance of reality
overflowed his brain

betty lived across the hall
she had trouble sleeping
especially when andy
was awake and silent creeping

chandler was the landlord
or maybe the concierge
he had terrible dreams at night
and in daytime terrible urges

danny lived around the corner
in a cardboard box
he had seen and done it all
and was immune to shocks

eddie drove a taxi
up and down the street
he kept his brogans polished
and his fingernails filed neat

frankie was a player
for eternal fame
if coach would only put him in
he could change the game

gilda was a night person
slept but once a week
but did not take it kindly
when called out as a freak

harry was called “the horse”
for lack of imagination
among his fellow tenants
in the chambers of degradation

irma was a “floozie”
a word now obsolete
but she brooked no nonsense
when she walked the street

johnny was the leader
what he said went down
but what good did it do him
when everyone left town

karen wrote a novel
and lost it on the bus
and then went home and hanged herself
without any fuss

larry was a wino
who had once been a preacher
murder was his mama
and hard knocks was his teacher

maggie was a mother
who ran away and hid
she just couldn’t help it
she didn’t like kids

nick was a cowboy
born out of time
if he could have rode with jesse james
it would have been so fine

olive was a poet
her fingers often shook
as she wrote down her secret thoughts
in a little red notebook

pete was a dreamer
with long and hairy arms
and wished that more women
would appreciate his charms

quigley was a dreamer too
his dreams ran deep
most of his fellow humans
thought he was a creep

ricki was a sleeper
would have liked to sleep all day
but society had taught her
that that was not o k

shirley only wanted
to be left alone
all humans were her siblings
and all the world her home

toni heard voices
in the walls and in the air
inside or outside
they were always there

uncle joe had a mustache
which sometimes did droop
he was not a member
of any organized group

vinnie was a gambler
whose luck had run dry
he sat on the sidewalk
and watched the world go by

wanda was a pushy sort
who aggravated many
and when she counted up her friends
she found she had not any

excuse me for a minute
while i catch my breath
an old friend is calling
and his name is death

oh young people
hear my words
the street is for the people
and the air is for the birds

zeroes on the wheel of life
zeroes in my brain
zeroes are beyond counting
we will meet again

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

a king

adapted from the akkadian by horace p sternwall

ilustrations by palomine studios

a mighty army took the field
to no opponent did it yield
a king rode forth with upraised sword
urging on his thundering horde

cities fell like windblown flowers
nations knew their final hours
empires heard, from sea to shore
the laughter of the god of war

the victor king, whose name is lost
his enemies’ last defenses crossed
he buried them in burning waves
and made their kings and queens his slaves

upon the conquered lands laid waste
towers and castles he now placed
and monuments to his own fame
as eternal glory he did claim

philosophers rushed to his throne
sculptors etched his face in stone
artists painted him for the ages
scribes with his story filled up pages

of all the lackeys at his call
the poets had least shame of all
and sung and scripted the monarch’s praise
in endless verses all his days

eventually the great king passed
assured his memory would last
inscribed in stone, and words, and song
in archives vast, and towers strong

the years went by, then centuries
as swiftly as a summer breeze
new kings rose up, to glories new
demanding each of fame his due

our king was lost beyond time’s mist
as history’s unending list
of mighty heroes onward scrolled
and tales of him no more were told

jackals prowled, and pilgrims stumbled
through his palaces as they crumbled
the ruins fell beneath earth’s crust
and all the poems turned to dust