Friday, May 31, 2013

the groundskeeper - 3. a wise child

by nanette nanao

illustrations by danny delacroix

i considered myself a wise child, one who at least knew which side my bread was buttered on. and i felt, early on, that i had the measure of mademoiselle, my benefactress. i had no illusions as to my status - i was a pet, to be turned out of doors at a moment's notice, like a cat or dog or parrot.

in the early days of my ascension to the lofty position of pet, despite the comforts attending it (offset to some extent by occasional privations, to be sure) i often found myself wishing to be back in the kitchen under berthe's feet. i instinctively knew that berthe and charles, with their simple faith, would never think of casting me out on to the highway, whereas the capricious and absent minded mademoiselle might very well do just that.

it is difficult, if not impossible in one's later years to recall the passage of time as it filtered through the mind of a child - so it might have been months, or only a week or a few days, that i divined that mademoiselle did not need my company every minute of the day and that i was quite free to seek berthe's company in the kitchen, or charles's in the stable, almost any time i pleased. considering the matter as i pen these lines, it indeed seems more likely that it was a few days!

for a time then, all should have been well. it is easy enough now to look back and say that i was getting the best of two worlds, and that my four year old self should have been philosopher enough to realize it and be grateful for it. but gratitude is a poor conduit and a poorer barometer for dealing with our creaturely existence, and it was with the trepidations of an abandoned and hunted creature that i continued to greet each new day.

it pains me even now to say that i did not appreciate the kindness of charles and berthe, but what child is truly satisfied with the company of adults? naturally, it was with creatures closer to my own age and size that i sought companionship. as there were no other human children on the grounds of mademoiselle's residence, my first encounters with such were with the dog, balthazar, and the cat, marthe, who inhabited the kitchen, as well as some of the mice who at that time were all too able to avoid the elderly marthe's perfunctory attentions.

for complete episode, click here

Thursday, May 30, 2013

the flower

by pamba*

translated from the akkadian by horace p sternwall

illustrations by danny delacroix

there is a flower
that will only open
when time stops

o traveler do not wait
upon the sun
but hasten from this place

this wall of the dreams of kings
this palace of beggars
this council house of skulls

did you dream of stopping time
it has already devoured you
as the sand devours the sea

as tilgath devoured babylon
as nabopolassar devoured assyria
as alexander devoured egypt

as the owl devours the mouse
o traveler do not wait
but hasten from this place

that those who laugh
at the wanderings of men
may send you a drop of rain

a tear from the eye
of the beast
that devours you

* pamba (c 1 ad - 50 ad) was one of the last poets to write in akkadian. nothing is known of him (her?)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the aesthete

by horace p sternwall

illustrations by konrad kraus

i awoke quite weak and weary
from a dream of aesthetic theory
heard cats fighting in the street
and the windows rattle with wind and sleet

the leering, winking night
was a symphony of fright
the radiators cold as death
the air filled with my frozen breath

i put on my shoes and socks
took a dollar from my cigar box
though my debts i could not tally
from my garret did i sally

to the street so dark and drear
with no companion but my fear
and the lights of kentucky fried chicken
toward which my steps did quicken

and found the street so dark and fearsome
oh if only i could hear some
of the voices from the past
to wash away my guilt at last

some fragments of long ago
which with the wind would blow
my all-encompassing despair
through my wet and whispering air

and leave me just a shell
on the dark doorstep of hell
happily devouring my share
of the colonel's crispy golden fare

a basket of legs and wings
to my journey finally brings
the glow of stilled and final time
i never found in art or crime

Monday, May 27, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 111: "speaking of kefauver"

by manfred skyline

illustrated by konrad kraus and eddie el greco

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for complete episode, click here

Saturday, May 25, 2013

l'amour, part 40

by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

part forty of seventy-eight

for previous chapter, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

part 41

Monday, May 20, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 110: a pair of brown shoes

by manfred skyline

illustrated by konrad kraus and rhoda penmarq

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

"where to, pal?"

"prince and broadway." fortescue opened the cab door for carol and she got in, then he followed and closed the door.

"corner of prince and broadway?"

"yes, that will do nicely."

the cab moved off. "nicely." said the cab driver. "you don't hear that word much any more. you used to hear it all the time."

"yes," fortescue agreed. "words, like everything else, go out of fashion, i am afraid."

"like that hat you're wearing. don't get me wrong, it's a great hat, i love it. but it's not quite the latest style, you know?"

"a little wider in the brim than is the current fashion, you mean?" fortescue answered politely.


"but i'm fond of it."

"it's got sentimental value, you mean?"

"a bit, perhaps."

" i can understand that. i'm a sentimental guy myself. the least little thing, i start crying like a little girl. my wife, my mother, they make fun of me, but it's just the way i am."

"sentiment is perhaps unappreciated in today's world."

"that's nicely put. very nicely. i had an uncle who used that word all the time -nicely - and 'very nice' everything was 'very nice'."

jesus christ, carol thought, is this guy going to flap his gums the whole ride downtown? she wanted to get a word in so she could make her pitch to fortescue about being his girl friday. if she told the guy to shut his yap that might sound rude and were not girl fridays supposed to bright and cheerful at all times?

"i mean," the driver continued, "if you are going to say the same thing over and over it might as well be something nice, right? and what's nicer than 'very nice'?"

for complete episode, click here

Saturday, May 18, 2013

the adventures of pandora paddington, gentlewoman - 3. the wicked king

by laurene de lampeduse

illustrated by danny delacroix

the rain continued to beat against the kitchen window, a little harder.

bikes' pipe went out and he re-lit it.

sal finished chopping her potatoes, and yawning, went to a small rocking chair in the corner, away from the fire.

"hard work, eh?" dennis asked her. this was some kind of private joke, and he laughed at it, but sal and bikes did not.

"you're sure, now, you don't want to hear me new poem?'" dennis asked.

"positively not," sal answered without looking at him or raising her voice.

"what was that?"

"she said she didn't want to hear your poem," bikes told him.

"well how about a tale, then," dennis persisted. "a rousing tale of old times."

"who wants to be roused?" sale asked him. "not i. i want a little nap before i have to light the stove."

"then dennis's tale might be just the thing," bikes told her. go ahead, dennis," bikes turned to him, "if my pipe doesn't put me to sleep, your story surely will. i only ask one thing."

"and what might that be?"

"if your tale puts me to sleep, and my pipe is still lit, put it out for me, so the house doesn't catch on fire."

"i can do that." dennis settled himself a little more comfortably beside the window.

bikes and dennis both looked up as the wind shook the window a little harder.

then dennis began:

"once upon a time, long ago but maybe not that far away, there lived a wicked king. and he was the wickedest king that ever was, so he must have been an englishman."

for complete episode, click here

Sunday, May 12, 2013

mother's day: 4 takes

illustrations provided by penmarq studios


by ali blue

moms are nice
not once or twice
but day after day
in every way

they are old and wise
and bake cookies and pies
and look you in the eyes
without surprise

because they have seen it all
and like you to call
and give them a smile
once in a while

and send them a card
is that so hard?
and call a little more often
before they occupy a coffin

moms are nice
not once or twice
but day after day
in every way

cookies and brownies

by jerri brown

my mom was nice.

i liked her a lot.

most people didn't, though.

she was kind of boring.

and had kind of a silly laugh, and suddenly laughed at strange moments, which disconcerted people.

when she was younger she was proud of having raised five children, and of being a good cook and baker, especially of cookies and brownies.

as she got older she started to feel that people laughed at her for these very accomplishments.

i told her not to worry about it, because times changed, and what could you do?

when i tried to ask her if any particular people had said anything to her or made fun of her, i could never get a straight answer. she would change the subject.

she started watching television a lot, especially reality shows.

despite my hints and urgings, she stopped baking, even brownies, which was too bad, because they were really good.

and it wasn't like i even lost any weight, because i just went to a bakery and bought brownies anyway.

well, that's about it.

mother's day

by hetti green

my mom was nice.

i liked her.

when i was growing up i didn't pay much attention to her.

she was the classic mad housewife (on speed) betty friedan generation feminist, and after my sister and i left home she started writing poetry and got very active in various movements, especially the pro-choice movement.

one day my sister said something kind of sneering to her about this. this was not long after we moved out, and the three of us were back in the apartment for some reason - mother's day? i didn't have a tape recorder with me, she said something like "what a way to spend your life."

and mom said something like "what, don't you believe in a woman's right to her own body?"

and geraldine said something like "i just think there's something disgusting about dedicating your whole existence to the slaughter of helpless creatures. even ted bundy or idi amin took a day off once in a while."

this probably sounds more dramatic than it was. geraldine was always snippy and liked to argue, nobody took her that seriously.

anyway, after that we never saw a whole lot of each other. but people drift apart.

they just do. they don't need any reasons.

it is just the way it is.


by timmy t jones

originally posted in all humans are the same on june 17, 2009

my mom was a nice lady
i really liked her a lot
we went for long rides together
when it was cool, and when it was hot

one day we went for a drive
further than we usually went
we came to an old gas station
its sign was faded and bent

there beside the station
was an old fashioned general store
i had the strangest feeling
that i had never been there before

inside was an old cooler
filled with sasparilla and coke
i put my hand in the freezing water
and a voice from the shadows spoke

"you got to pay up, mister
before you put your hand in there"
the proprietor lurched like a grizzly
from a quivering rocking chair

i had never encountered such behavior
in all my pristine days
the terrible creature glared at me
i could not hold his gaze

i bought a bottle of ginger ale for mom
and a royal crown cola for myself
i thought i saw two yellow eyes
high up on a dusty shelf

the sun was shining like an oil slick
on the roof of battered tin
though we traveled the whole state over
we never went there again