Short Story Sunday: Pete & Florence

Keeping it light this week, with a little story I wrote back in my university days.

Pete watched Florence climb up the wall and across the ceiling, sipping his chocolate, and thinking of spring. Spring was one of those things that most people knew existed, somewhere, but had never seen. Like the North Pole, or whales, or giant squid.

Florence never used to climb walls; it was something she’d just taken up recently, on account of a phrase she’d read in a book: “Bob was so stir crazy, trapped in that godforsaken bunker buried twelve stories deep, he was practically climbing the walls.”

So Florence decided to try this new pastime of practically climbing the dull aged stucco. The key, she said, was to think each move through methodically. Otherwise, it would be more of a chaotic scramble than a practical ascent.

Once she got going, she just couldn’t stop.

Read the Full Story…

Angels with Tommy Guns

Jax by Mark A. Harrison
Photo: Jax by Mark A. Harrison

Wrote this one after seeing a hilariously bad B movie that featured, as you might guess, angels with BFGs.

I dreamed I saw Gabriel
holding a Tommy gun
who knew he fought gangsters
in his spare time
his eyes changing colour in the
shifting light
he walks through the mist like
some dime-store cowboy, like
an anime demon hunter
black coat flapping in the breeze
breaking the rhythm with his
thrift store army boots
scars cover his body like
a maze of tattoos, his
story etched in blood and skin
and ink dark as sin
shedding light, leaking goodness
into darkest corners, from
countless ancient wounds, he’s
an avenger, and a saviour, and
a damn good shot, so you’d
best be on your game
he can see right through your soul
if he lays his hands upon you
you’ll never be the same, so you’d
better run, run and hide
‘cuz luck is something you ain’t got
when god is on the other side.

T.H.

Flash Fiction Friday: Nine Ambiguous Cats

Thought I’d mix things up a bit on Fridays and Sundays with the occasional flash fiction / short story to complement the daily poetry posts. This is a fun one from a while back, following a three-word prompt. I’m betting you can guess what one of the three words was!

Nine ambiguous cats looked out over the night from their perch on the low stone wall. Their yellow eyes stared down at the city lights spread out like a child’s Lite Brite, all the gaudy colours of the casinos and X-rated movie parlours mere innocent winking baubles at this distance. The cats’ tails swished in unison. They were silent for a long time, still shadows in deeper darkness. They waited until the full moon had cleared the horizon, and then they began to sing. While the families slept in their cozy suburban nests; while the shift workers grunted and swore over broken machinery in the sheet metal factory; while the night walkers prowled and preened, the cats sang. It was not the usual nails-on-blackboard skirling wail that wakes you up in the middle of the night. It was beautiful, perfect, nine-part harmony. The cats believed, you see, that they were singing the moon across the sky. And perhaps they were right. One never knows about these kind of things.

T.H.

Starfish Supernova

Asteroid Field by Mark A. Harrison
Image: Asteroid Field by Mark A. Harrison

Another one from the archives, for Day 2 of National Poetry Month. This one is clearly meant to be spoken out loud. Imagine a curly-haired beat poet on a cramped stage in some underground dive, with free-form bongos in the background.

Parting the waves for the starfish supernova
oriental carpet fish tickling my toes
Dancing the raves down through asteroid alley
girls holding hands drive the boys insane
You hold your ideals too close to your heart
suffocating them in your tight embrace
You feel too much, so you curl up inside
dwarf star material waiting to explode
You could be birthing galaxies, exhaling nebulae
dangling your feet over the lips of black holes
You could be skating the event horizon
look ma, no hands, no training wheels here
But instead you hunch over this dull white page
gripping the pen like it might try to run
try to make an escape Houdini would be proud of
leaving you only with a ghost of an echo
of a memory of a dream
No way to capture it, bottle it, seal it with wax
But what does it matter?
You weren’t going to share it with anyone anyway
Don’t Bogart those neurons, baby
I want my share, want to go down singing
to the county fair in the wide blue sky
Look out world, here I come
the invisible one with the bitten tongue
and a page full of squiggly black lines.

T.H.

The First Breath of Spring

Photo by Mark A. Harrison

Starting off the first day of National Poetry Month with one that didn’t make it into WTWBT, but feels right for the first day of April, when the snow has receded into only the darkest, coldest corners, the birds are singing non-stop, squirrels are running rampant, and green is sprouting everywhere. But at the same time, in the back of your mind, you know there’s still an ice storm or two on the way before the month is over.

[Original title: Fifteen degrees of February]

When the first breath of spring
catches you up, teases your
heart with false promises,
blushing green peeking from
fresh damp earth, emerging
islands amidst the fast
melting snow; when even
discarded skins of chocolate
bars and dollar store bags
seem to herald new beginnings:
life from destruction, devouring
the old bones, bleeding
ice from the river’s edge.

Even the birds are deceived,
filling the air with distracted chatter,
while free roaming dogs and
preschool children run madly through
the squelching mud, feeling the shift;
and yet, the cynical voice reminds
you that it’s far too soon, winter
won’t let us go that easily.

To hell, you say, with rationality,
and walk faster, as if by
sheer defiance you can escape
the warning howl of the cold
grey clouds, wind pushing you
back into the inevitable grip
of winter.

T.H.