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.

It’s here! WtWBT Unboxing

Hey look, we made a thing! Didn’t want to jump the gun and share anything until we got the test print back and made sure everything stuck to the paper. The first box of books arrived today, 12 in total, all shrink wrapped and ready to bring to the ArtSpace Book + Zine Fest next Saturday (Feb. 29). We’ll be frantically printing up a bunch of new art cards over the next few days to bring along as well. Website updates are next in line, but it might be a week or two before we’ll have individual prints available through Mark’s new site, we’ll make an announcement once that’s all set up. In the meantime, enjoy the brief preview!

Looking a bit battered, hope everything inside is okay!
So far so good!
Front cover, sans shrink wrap.
Shiny!
Yep, definitely sticks to the page.
Back cover. Check it out, it’s got an ISBN and everything! Like an actual real book made by people who know what they’re doing, or something.

So there you have it. That thing we said we were hoping to do for the past… er… decade? century? Just goes to show – never give up on your dreams, folks. Now if I can just get the other two things out the door before the end of the year (yeah yeah, novel, harp CD, ahem, working on it), we’ll have a perfect trifecta. Onward and upward, to infinity and beyond! And all that jazz.

Winter Update

Another Look Out the Window, Original Art by Mark A. Harrison

Another Look Out the Window by Mark Harrison

The not-so-secret Poetry/Art Project is nearing completion! Should be going to print by the time we hit the official start of winter on Dec. 21st (although if Peterborough is any indication, winter is already well underway).  We’ll be updating the Project page soon, including a sneak peak of the cover. In the meantime, here are a few shots from one of M’s recent snowy photo walks.




 

New Spaces / Waiting

Inventing_byMarkAHarrison_med

Inventing by Mark A. Harrison

Don’t know if I can
be myself in here
still trying to find
myself in the noise
The assault of perfume
climbs down my sinuses
but fails to clear them
neatly obliterating
the earlier tang
of frying bacon
This isn’t our place
anymore, but the domain
of a different generation
urbanized, plugged in, born
into a world fuelled by
blue light pulsing through
digital veins, as oblivious
to their dependence on
interconnectedness, as to
the necessity of breathing
The fading cologne clouds
make way for the clamour
of the other senses, the one
persistent metal scream
the slow, endless slide
of a fingernail on galvanized
glass; searing steel fire cuts
through the backdrop of brown noise
riding above the hiss of steam,
the warm up and down rumble
of human voices; a keen knife edge
sharpens formerly soft waves
of jumbled randomness; words
jump out of the melee, singly, or
in non-contextual bursts:
“I’ll pay whatever it takes
to stay a little longer.”
The whole city, it seems,
(or at least, all the 80’s revival
youngsters, rolled up stone wash
jeans and tucked in shirts and curly hair,
all the skinny loft dwellers recently
descended from some lofty discussion)
have all descended around me,
a vortex of motion and indecision;
The cologne waves redouble, spool
and collide, part and subside,
over the seesaw rhythms of upspeak
and vocal fry; the foam coating the bowl
of my cup (black on the outside, because
black is the new black) resembles a forest
softened by sunset fog, or morning mist,
caught on the boundary between
past and present, future possibilities
and the endless sea of ghosts
that linger in the vibrant air.

– T.H. (02.04.19, at the Cork & Bean)

Coming Home the Snow

OutThere-byMarkAHarrison-med

Out There by Mark A. Harrison

Coming home
the snow catches me
pulls at my coat
the wind tugs & pushes
impatient children
tempting me off course
arguing against
my preferred trajectory
A black cloud plunges
boils and plunges, billowing
like smoke, black in the air
white against the windshield
The air fragments
into a million starling flakes
not a murmur, but a roar
a howling tumult
that shatters around me
dissolves into
harmless flecks of white
The air becomes the snow,
the snow, air
Above, improbable patches of blue
race each other across the sky
hell bent for eternity.

– T.H. (April 4, 2018)