Hour of the Ox

The oni considered the figure in white as she wobbled out of the mists, heading for the sacred tree.

“That one has the look of ‘he’s done me wrong for the last time’ on her face,” he said right before popping a glutinous rice ball the same shade of white as her robes into his mouth. He chewed it slowly. “What do you think, Fumihiro?”

“I think you had better share the mochi, Eiji,” Fumihiro said. His red, clawed hand pulled out several of the sweet treats from the bowl and gobbled them up.

Eiji did nothing to stop his elder brother from taking the mochi. He was used to it. Eiji wrinkled his snout. “I think there are toenails in that doll she’s carrying.”

Fumihiro sniffed the air. “Yes, that smells about right. She must be very close to her target.”

“Of course she is. You have to be close to someone to hate them this much,” Eiji said, looking at his brother. “And you truly have to hate someone to risk being out during the hour of the ox to cast a curse.”

The brothers watched as the woman balanced on her single pronged sandals and hammered a nail through the straw doll she brought with her, impaling it onto the sacred tree.

“Nice form,” Eiji said, nodding. “And she’s well prepared. She not only has the dagger and the mirror, she’s managed to keep the trivet with lit candles balanced on her head this whole time. There’s something to be said for doing things properly.”

“I guess,” Fumihiro said. He looked away from the woman and sucked on the ends of his matted hair, hoping to find any crumbs left from the mochi there. Finding none, he moved on to investigate his loin cloth for other traces of food.

Eiji leaned forward, tapping a claw on his red chin. He considered the woman, now screaming her desire to have her faithless lover’s heart devoured by jealousy. “There is something to be said about bad form though.”

“And what’s that?”

Itadekimasu,* Eiji said, flashing his fangs in the moonlight.

*Itadekimasu = “Let's eat”

This flash fiction piece was created for my prompt over at Poets and Storytellers United's Weekly Scribblings: Myth-placed.

Ushi no Koku Mairi by Matthew Meyer
Find more of his marvelous mythology work at Yokai.com 

Liner Notes for this Groove: Oni are a legendary ogre-like creatures in Japanese mythology. The only thing they like better than sweet rice balls (mochi) is human flesh. The cursing ritual described in the story has a basis in Japanese mythology. The ushi no koku mairi is a notorious spell, requiring several components to do correctly. It must be performed between 1 and 3 a.m., called the Hour of the Ox. This is the time when the border between the world of the living and dead is thinnest, and it is also the time when evil spirits have the most power.

Song Choice: I Put a Spell on You by Screaming Jay Hawkins

Song of an Apocalypse

The bugs’ skitter-scatter steps
are easier to track than the fidgets of my thoughts.
It’s simpler to eat them whole too.
Memories give me indigestion
and their taste lingers unpleasantly.

Never mind, I’ve been told
I’m too crazy to remember.
Except that I do
the world when I was young.

I had a theme song then
for those daily apocalypses
I was told would pass when I got older.

But an Armageddon came,
that left me to gather
the eggshell fragments of my mind.

Even imperfectly reassembled,
with cracks large enough
to let maggots dance through,
I haven’t forgotten

I wanted to be a light
for the ones that came after me.
Broken as I am,
I might be the only adult left

who remembers
that beautiful horror of youth
and wants to reassure them
this can be survived
even with a mouth full of spiders.  

Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was created for the very last (sob!) prompt at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, Play it Again Toads. I chose Kerry Says Find Our Poetic Voice. I knew I wanted to go with one of my "nerd poems" (poetry based on something I'm a fan of), but it took a bit to decide who's voice to go with. 

In the end I decided on going with one of my newer fandoms, the Netflix series Daybreak, which is a tongue in check look at the apocalypse with an 80's John Hughes-like tone to the whole thing (Matthew Broderick as the out of touch principal is an absolute delight). The character I chose to speak through was Miss Crumble a.k.a. The Witch.

Miss Crumble before the apocalypse

Miss Crumble after the apocalypse (yep, those are maggots)
If you followed the link to the trailer, you'll see that the apocalypse killed off most of the adults or made them into flesh eating zombies. Somehow, Miss Crumble came out of it... different. I don't want to give too many spoilers, but suffice it to say I think it's good that the kids have some adult guidance and concern in their lives, even if that adult is fairly bonkers.

Song choice:

Non spoilery one - Sing Your Life by Morrissey
Somewhat spoilery (but super pretty) - Sing Your Life sung by Miss Crumble and Angelica 

Thank you Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, for being so inspiring right up until the end. I will miss you.

Something Better

It's hard not to look at the stupidity all around and not feel angry. I am no saint. Anger tore a gash in my side and settled in my stomach. But although it tries to burble up my throat when I speak, it doesn't have my mind, nor will it ever take my heart.

I have enough rage
to burn, but it won't help us.
Love's the only way
to smash a cycle of hurt
so something better can grow.

Song Choice: For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield

This poem was created for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' prompt, Wordy Friday with Wild Woman: Staying Strong in a World of Climate Crisis.

Love by Robert Indiana