Saturday, July 31, 2021


by horace p sternwall

let me introduce myself.

my name is rawley - richard rawley, and i am a poet and a dreamer.

i had a strange dream this afternoon, as i was dozing in my chair at my club.

my whole life - or perhaps i should say, what i took at the time to be my whole life - floated by me in a somewhat indistinct haze.

how shall i describe it? in a few words, i mean.

after all, i do not have all night, nor would i presume on your good nature to listen to a lengthy account.

when i was a child my twin sister had a particularly ugly doll, which she. persisted in carrying with her always.

fortunately, i did not remain a child forever.

but my sister, whose name by the way was kesterwick - a curious name for a child - never did get beyond being a child.

the doll’s name was trash. yes, trash. no amount of persuasion could induce kesterwick to change it to somethig more tasteful.

i considered the doll to be the consolidation of all the malevolence in the universe, and was deathly afraid of of it.

our governess’s name was miss froth. she regarded kesterwick and trash with amusement, and myself with undisguised contempt.

kesterwick and i had a birthday party, when we reached the age of ten, which was attended only by ourselves, as the guests of honor, trash, and miss froth .

there are several versions of what transpired. i can only give my own.

i was greatly overcome by melancholy at the sad affair, and burst into a flood of tears.

kesterwick and miss froth were inspired to seize me and bind and gag me, laughing uproariously the whole time.

but the doll, trash, took pity on me.

in the blink of an eye she - or perhaps i should say it - struck both of my tormentors dead.

eventually, their dead bodies, my bound one, and the doll’s apparently innocent one, were discovered by the housekeeper.

a gentleman from scotland yard entered the grounds and took charge of the investigation.

his name, if i recall, was st james.

he took a somewhat jaundiced view of the whole affair, and dismissed my hysterical testimony out of hand.

despite my hysteria, i was careful not to implicate trash, my savior, to whom i felt eternally grateful.

the incident was classified as “an unfortunate occurence” and forgotten.

the dream? i do not recall mentioning a dream. it was all only too real.

excuse me, it is time for my exercises.

Friday, July 30, 2021


by corinne delmonico

everybody knew lucy lee.

she was the fairest maiden in the village.

they remembered the day the king had ridden through the village.

the king had pointed to lucy and exclaimed, that is the fairest maiden i have ever seen.

naturally, this gave the villagers ideas.

they nodded sagely to each other, and expected the king to return at any time to claim lucy and make her queen.

they expected that lucy, when she was crowned queen, would remember them and shower them with blessings and favors.

joshua smith, the miller’s apprentice, did not share in the enthusiasm.

joshua had strong opinions as to lucy’s destiny.

he had long indulged in visions of making lucy his own.

smitten with jealousy, joshua began going for long walks in the woods at night, heedless of bears or bandits or demons.

but he knew in his heart he was doomed, one way or another.

years passed. the villagers began to get restless.

lucy, fair as she was, did not get any younger.

but the remembrance of the king’s visit died hard.

at last, joshua could bear it no longer.

encountering lucy one morning, as he was returning from his restless night in the woods, and she was setting out on the high road to the county market with her basket, joshua confessed his burning passion.

i am very sorry, joshua, lucy replied plaintively, but i can not disappoint the devout hope of my poor widowed mother, that the king will return and make me his queen.

suddenly joshua and lucy both heard loud laughter coming from the woods beside the high road.

they had no idea who or what could be producing the mocking sounds.

an owl flew out of a tree, up into the blue morning sky.

joshua deduced that the creature was st matthew, laughing at lucy’s and her mother’s foolish faith in the king’s honorable intentions.

but lucy deduced that the owl was telling her to laugh at her fears, and that the king was even then on his way on a white horse, with a ring of gold for her finger…

Thursday, July 29, 2021

clown for hire

by genghis gilgamesh

i don’t know what you are talking about.

i am talking about the clown you hired to entertain at your wife’s birthday party three years ago.

that’s the second time i have been asked about that this week.

well then don’t keep us in suspense, just tell us what you know,

i don’t even remember a clown, i thought i hired a piano player , a disc jockey, and a stripper.

according to our records, you hired a clown.

i don’t remember a clown. you must have me mixed up with somebody else.

we know what we know,

i am confused, i am sorry, i am confused.

does the name harry johnson mean anything to you?

not off the top of my head.

how about george johnson? do you remember him?

is he some kind of politician?

we think he was a friend of yours.

i don;’t recall any george johnson. or harry johnson either. were they brothers?

they were identical twins.

let me guess - one of them was the clown.

you jknow perfectly well, mr yarborough, that they were both the clown.

i don’t have a very good memory.

why don’t you make it easy on yourself, and stop playing these foolish games.

i don’t understand any of this.

oh, you don’t understand any of this. but you remembered the piano player, the disc jockey, and the stripper well enough, didn’t you?

i feel a great emptiness devouring me. and you gentlemen, if i may say so, are the veritable embodiment of that emptiness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

the friendly stranger

by nick nelson

it is time, thought sidney, to take a stand.

all or nothing.

the path lies open before me.

i am out of options.

i never thought it would come to this.

it all comes down to this moment.

excuse me, a friendly voice broke his reverie.

who could this be? sidney wondered.

it was a person he had never seen before!

was fate playing some sort of joke on him?

the friendly voice continued, oblivious to sidney’s astonishment.

i was just passing by, and i thought i recognized you.

i don’t think so, sidney managed to reply.

aren’t you ken jones? the stranger asked.

no, sidney retorted sharply, and i am not bill entwhistle either.

but you are bill entwhistle! the stranger cried gleefully.

you mean i have been bill entwhistle all my life, but never suspected it?

you begin to understand.

tell me, what is bill entwhistle’s favorite occupation?

reacting to various stimulations, the stranger replied promptly.

the same could be said for many people.

but there is no mistaking you, bill. i could pick you out of a crowd at the biggest bus station in the world.

and with a cheerful wave of his hand, the friendly stranger went on his way.

i may as well make the best of it, bill thought, as he watched the stranger disappear down the street.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


by genghis gilgamesh

i am special
and so are you
adolf hitler was special
and ted bundy was too

some people are more special than others
and that is a natural fact
they teach you different at harvard
but they are smoking crack

everybody is special
in their own special way
some never stop talking
and others have nothing to say

<> the ones who talk the most
say the same things again and again
the words fall like raindrops
on a roof of cardboard or tin

i remember the silence
when the world was first invented
then a special person spoke up
and he could not be prevented

then the second special person
added his voice to the chorus
now everybody talks at once
and that is the prospect before us

i wish i was not special
but only a blade of grass
among a trillion others just like me
watching the clouds above me pass

Monday, July 26, 2021

important message

this is an important message from the department of safety.

we urge all citizens to stay in their place of residence.

social toxicity has been declared a permanent health hazard.

racism, sexiism, homophobia, transphobia, alienation, appropriation, oppression, exploitation, abuse, injustice, inequality, ignorance, hatred, and bigotry combine to form social toxicity.

you may believe that you are immune to some of these elements, but it has been determined by the department of safety that the probability of any one person being immune to them all, as well as being protected from viruses and other physical hazards, is unacceptably low, and that therefore the policy of zero tolerance adopted by the department requires that all citizens remain permanently in their residences.

power, water, oxygen, and protein will be provided to all citizens by smart networks. all maintenance work that might be required will be carried out by smart assistants.

a new generation of smart safety monitors is being developed that will absolutely insure that the new regulations are followed. until then, we ask that all citizens observe the new regulations.

violators who are caught will be subject to fines, and repeat offenders will be subject to more severe penalties.

the information networks have been combined into a single provider administered by the department of safety. a new series of streamed programs will shortly be introduced. mostly they will celebrate the heroes of the safety revolution. we are sure you will find them enjoyable and inspirational.

in closing, we again urge all citizens to observe the new regulations. we ask you, even if you do not care about your own safety, to think of the safety of others.

stay home. and stay safe.

thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

damned fine

by nick nelson

i am afraid i have no idea what you are talking about.

perhaps we can refresh your memory.

i quiver with expectation.

i never met anybody who talked like you before.

remberton sighed and turned as if to look out the window.

but there was no window.

you understand, it doesn’t matter to me how you talk, just what you actually say.

remberton turned back from the nonexistent window.

can we get on with it, please?

we are getting on with it, grover replied with a smile.

i would not have known it.

what do you know about mrs bradley?

mrs bradley? you mean joanna?

that is exactly who i mean.

all this fuss could have been avoided if you had asked me about her from the outset.

you know what happened to the poor woman?

i know exactly what happened to her.

what a fool i have been, grover thought.

oh what a lot of bother about nothing, rembertion thought.

why don’t you tell me what you know about mrs bradlley?

she was what my grandfather would have called a damned fine woman.

an old fashioned expression, grover noted.

not a politically correct one, to use a term which has already come and gone.

like damned fine woman.

how the time goes by.

yes, it’s sad, isn’t it?

Saturday, July 24, 2021

the deep end

by nick nelson

are you staying for arthur’s speech? i understand it will be a stirring one.

there is nothing i would like better than to stay for arthur’s speech.

but are you, in point of fact, going to stay for arthur’s speech?

i am afraid i don’t understand the import of your question.

i merely asked if you were actually going to stay for arthur’s speech, as opposed to quote liking nothing better unquote than staying for arthur’s speech.

i would be happy to stay for arthur’s speech.

damn it all, are you actually going to stay - stay here on these premises - and sit through arthur’s speech about the need for a moral regeneration of human society?

i, too, care deeply about the moral regeneration of human society.

do you care enough to actually stay and sit through arthur’s speech about the need for a moral regeneration of human society?

tell me, are you always this tendentious?

are you deliberately trying to provoke me?

i don’t care for your attitude.

well, excuse me.

i just have no tolerance for people who can’t just accept a simple statement without putting it under a microscope.

and i , in my turn, get a bit frustrated by mealy mouthed personages who refuse to give a straight answer to a straight question.

i think you should take a deep breath and get hold of yourself before you go completely off the deep end.

i don’t quite see what you are getting at.

do you not understand the meaning of the terms “deep breath” and “deep end”?

i think i am beginning to understand everything.

can i butt in here? what the devil are you two running on about?

we were having a civilized conversation about arthur’s speech.

get away! arthur is making a speech? about what?

i have been told on good authority that it is about the need for the moral regeneration of human society.

oh. will it touch on any other topics?

he might have a few remarks on the unholy love of gain.

Friday, July 23, 2021


by horace p sternwall

georgie and kathy were bad people
they burned everyone in sight
they got on a bus to tulsa
and rode through the american night

they packed their bags and hit the road
rather than take their lumps
and left behind a smoldering trail
of angry marks and chumps

georgie and kathy got off the bus
at the station on the outskirts of town
but the station was closed for the night
causing georgie to frown

are there any crosstown buses running
he asked of an elderly bum
who was crouched beside the station
awaiting the morning sun

the bum looked up at georgie
through eyeballs red and dim
but addressed his reply to kathy
so graceful and so slim

the bum was pontius pilate
atoning for his sin
but when he made his statement
he could not help but grin

ain’t no buses at all, he quoth
in this part of the world
i am sorry to tell you so
because you look like a nice girl

you should go back where you came from
and marry a nice young man
and have ten or twelve children
because that is the master plan

now you may think i am only a bum
and know not whereof i speak
but i have seen it all and more
when the world was not so bleak

kathy considered the withered wretch
and her lips curved in a smile
she could have cussed him out
but that was not her style

thank you for your advice, she said
i know it is sincerely meant
the road has many turnings
but in only one direction is bent

empires have risen and fallen
since humans crawled out of the slime
but there will be a final judgment
and now happens to be the time

meanwhile we poor rounders
must wander as we will
bound to the wheel of fate
as it rolls up and down the hill

if there is no one here to take us
we must walk the road alone
taking no prisoners
and never going home

never going home because
a home we never had
some are born to sing and pray
but we were born to be bad

hearing these unrepentant words
pontius disappeared
and a flower by the roadside
shed a silent tear

every day is judgment day
and every night a witches fest
the road runs on forever
and mother knows best

Thursday, July 22, 2021

annoying harold

by bofa xesjum

by the way, harold, you left your hat here when you went home the other night.

but i had it on my head when i got home.

you only thought you had it on your head.

are you questioning the efficiency of my brain?

very well, have it your way.

your idea of fun is limited.

what, do you want me to lie to you?

did you read about the volcano in russia?

there are no volcanoes in russia.

i understand. you don’t want to change the subject, but to go on belittling me.

harold, harold, harold.

i think i shall go home.

it’s cold outside. don’t forget your scarf. or your hat.

forgive me if i have no devastating response.

don’t trip over the rug on your way out.

at last, thought peter paul, he is gone.

quiet pervaded the room, interrupted only by jasper’s soft breathing.

it had been a long day for both peter paul and jasper.

peter paul went to the refrigerator rand took out a kumquat

this kumquat is mine, he thought.

i should stay in more, unless i have to go out more.

jasper eyed peter paul warily.

he had no love of kumquats himself

outside, a dull explosion could be heard.

nothing had been decided.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

smith and sue

by genghis gilgamesh

mr smith was a busy man
with a master plan
to reconstruct humanity
into the way it ought to be

he had a castle on a hill
that embodied his iron will
and estates scattered over the planet
like flowers embedded in granite

where he could on occasion relax
and leave behind numbers and facts
and when he was feeling sated
with the harsh world he had created

he had a secretary named sue
who did not have much to do
and whose function was to please the eye
of petitioners and passers by

sue wandered around the castle grounds
and her eyes grew very round
her constitution was quite sound
and she weighed one hundred pounds

she saw a frog sitting on a rock
sipping a glass of bock
sue felt neither pleasure nor shock
but engaged the frog in small talk

do you not think life is strange
and could be better rearranged?
of the amphibian sue enquired
for an answer she desired

you seem without guile
the frog replied with a smile
choose your own style
it won’t last but a while

you see that lawn chair
over there?
you can put it in another place
neither smile nor frown will grace its face

living creatures are much the same
it’s all in the game
they can be moved around
but it is all the same ground

just then the sky grew dark
and a bolt of lightning hit its mark
on the frog’s wagging head
and he was dead

miss sue was perplexed
and wondered what would happen next
as she ran for shelter through the rain
she vowed never to ask questions again

she served mr smith quite faithfully
for about a year, and then she
got the sack for being too old
a familiar story, quickly told

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

the blue raincoat

by nick nelson

excuse me, the woman in the blue raincoat murmured.

no, pardon me! the man in the brown hat rejoindered.

except for the woman in the blue raincoat and the man in the brown hat, the concourse was deserted.

where had they come from? where were they going?

an observer, if there had been any, might well have wondered.

but worse was to come.

despite his outward show of politeness, the man in the brown hat was discomfited and terrified.

his name was harold hutchinson, and he led a secret life.

oh, you laughingly reply, everybody leads a secret life.

actually, this is only partially true.

give yourself a moment to consider the proposition.

under every exterior there is another exterior.

i refuse to be a party to such nonsense.

i understand perfectly. excuse me for bringing the subject up.

i knew you were a blithering pusyfooting gasbag.

there is no need to get personal, my friend.

forgive me, but isn’t addressing me as “my friend” somewhat personal?

please join me in saying a prayer for the man in the brown hat, the unintentional cause of all this grief.

i beg your pardon, what about the woman in the blue raincoat?

yes? what about her?

you seen to know all about her.

i know precisely nothing at all about her.

oh, come now, old man, it just won’t do.

what a diva you are.

next week, then. same time, same place?