I’ve never subscribed to an organized religion, nor am I rampantly atheist. I can understand the rationale behind why people would be interested in or committed to either seemingly polarized set of ideals and don’t really mind which camp people do or don’t belong to. I also accept that this makes me less than palatable to some people.
If people take a moment to say “God bless,” or “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy holidays, or “Have a killer day,” I’m grateful that they’re choosing to be amiable. These are moments of humanity among humans, not conversion tactics and certainly not wartime proclamations. The fact that anyone can CHOOSE to say something that they believe to be coming from a place of love, in a world too often hateful, I choose to be thankful for small kindnesses.
Life’s too damn short to be caught up in minutiae that makes us certain others are cruel and out to get us at every turn. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt–which sometimes proves to foolish, as I’ve been taken advantage of more times than I’d like to admit. It’s my life choice, and survival tactic in a world too heavily laden with cruelty, deception, and fear.
Author’s note: To check out the image inspiring this short-short, go here.
It’s not like we could plant flowers in the city, anyhow. Like, you’d see those nature shows or inspirational posters in the counselor’s office where a tiny plant poked its flower up through a crack in the dirty, steaming concrete of the sidewalk and that was supposed to make you feel good.
What they didn’t show you was three seconds later when some asshole stomped on the flower, not thinking about nature or beauty or love, but probably just hurrying home from work to make a sandwich and jerk off on the couch.
Maya wasn’t mine, but I knew she loved flowers. And because I loved her, I did what I could.
“Pose for me, baby,” I told her and she squirmed but said nothing. Maya wasn’t a talker. I made sure of that when I picked her. And I loved her so much that when I found all the floral prints for the hotel room, I put them up while she was at school, knowing she’d be happy when she returned.
I lived to make baby girl happy. She did nothing but bring me joy.
“C’mon, girl,” I told her, but still, she resisted. Stalling, she tried to get up from the bed, but she didn’t get far.
“Maya.” Just her name spoken aloud was enough. Man, I loved that child. She stuffed a pillow into her lap and beamed up at me. That white smile up against those pretty flowers was enough to make my head spin a little bit.
Author’s note: I found a fascinating website where you write short stories based on old Polaroid pictures. This is my attempt at writing a short story for this image: http://www.foundpolaroids.com/89/.
There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d be going back to the farm anytime soon, Mama and Daddy be damned. Daddy’d smack me silly if he heard the language I’m using these days, but Roy says God don’t mind the way you talk—it’s how you look that’s important. And I knew he was right. Because when Roy looked at me, and the way his hands felt—but I’m not supposed to talk about that, neither.
I got the letters from the farm the same night as the induction, so there wasn’t no time to read ‘em beforehand. I put on the white robe and waited for my Sister, Cheryl, to come and help me with my hair before the ceremony. Roy liked us all in white—says God told him that his girls should appear clean and pure as shorn cotton. I always liked white, anyways.
“Patsy?” I heard his voice, suddenly, startlingly me since I was waiting on Cheryl, not him.
“I’m coming, Roy,” my voice was shaking a just tad, an excited and terrified feeling erupting inside of me. Why was I scared? Mama always told me if I was scared, just to sing a little song, but Roy didn’t like us girls singing unless he told us to first. Said that God had certain expectations about a girl’s voice and how she should use her mouth, even if he didn’t care about your words when you were talkin’. It all seemed confusing at first, but it wasn’t hard to get it after a spell.
“Patsy, don’t keep me waiting,” he was right outside the door. Cheryl was missing—she was always running late—and my hair was all messy, but it’d be better to be punished for an appearance abuse than for keeping Roy waiting too much longer.
Music of Spheres
by Jean Follain, translated from the French by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass
He was walking a frozen road
in his pocket iron keys were jingling
and with his pointed shoe absent-mindedly
he kicked the cylinder
of an old can
which for a few seconds rolled its cold emptiness
wobbled for a while and stopped
under a sky studded with stars.
Tune of Coupling
by Devon Fulford; no translation from English necessary
She was recalling a lusty night
in her reverie carnal bodies were stirring
and with her bare body thoughtlessly
she moved the arm
of a woman longing
which for fleeting moments grazed the skin next to hers
paused for a breathless moment and retracted
under a blanket warmed with passion.
The seasons cringe; they shift and out creaks leaves’ light music.
It’s cowardly to bemoan the chills, the change, the late evening-into-night music.
Eager autumn breeze renders summer trees naked and shivering,
stark in their nude surrender, nary an effort hangs on to compose fight music.
A bird-tree relation once symbiotic and passionate in its coupling,
now merely trembles, lonely in the wake of the beating-wing flight music.
Note the merging of color: a splattered hue on leaves as a wild painting.
While the frigid dance of air-whispers sing the woeful dirge on-site music.
I bear witness to pay seasonal tribute to Nature’s measured death twirling,
as without death, there cannot exist life; therefore, this pained hum is the right music.
No one loves
the waiting game.
No passionate lover heaves
sighs teeming with that heady lust
or pens midnight professions
of just opened soul-baring longing
confessed on paper, still tear-damp
in ode to seconds crawling on all fours
in the dark.
No ticking-clock skin
flickers in anticipation
without equal loathing
of the long moments spent
watching hands that
never clasp, never touch,
only prick holes in time
and render romantics helpless
as the wounded sink softly down,
against the beating clock.
Here I go again.
Saturday—beastly good—no rest
no peace no love no truth no beautiful
sprawl in my bed because she
rides planes to the mountains
higher than I fly
and here I go again in this
bar, these bodies, this wet vacation
The satisfying night leaves me parched,
to be synapses firing through mud—
–or whiskey-hued romance and
here I go again.
Another round, no make it two,
and again I go here because too much means
This stool is like an alter
and I am God
tonight. She rides away from me
but this brain takes perfect pictures
so I know her smell
better than my own
and no love no beauty but she is gone
and here I go again.