Adulting at the Dawn of Coulrophobia

I hadn’t dealt with coulrophobia.
Certainly arachnophobia and the curse of itchy tags
were among the chief commanding concerns.
This is different.

They are half Latinx from my side
and go to temple with their father.
They’ve been surrounded by the hygge
of a small diverse town. They slept well.

What do I say now that they’re woke
by klaxons in a post-truth world?

You are worth fighting for.   

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Word Count With Mama Zen

Untitled (175)

One hundred and seventy-five
pounds nibbled away.
Like a pulp fiction horror story,
except this one was real.

The artist chose candy.
What would I chose,
to represent you?

Two hundred pilfered chocolate bars.
Three thousand shelled mussels.
Four hundred thousand juggling balls.
A million errant dice.

Or would I need just forty-three candles
that would never be blown out?
The dice landed on forty-two.

And just like that
one hundred seventy-five pounds
(it may have been more)
disintegrated to little more than bone.

You’d be the first to joke
you aren’t a number but a free man.
Old friend, I hope you are free,
now that the pain is over. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Skyflower Saturday - Untitled We were to select one of the works of artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres for our inspiration. I chose "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). The piece was intended as "an allegorical representation of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991." The description reminded me very much of an old friend who had passed away due to Lou Gherig's Disease (ALS) and today happens to be his birthday. He would have been forty six this year.

Camouflaged Colors Don't Please My Heart

I wanted to paint with bubbles,
slap new colors over thorns and roses.
But my palette wasn't right.

Artificial bright washing
drains an already weary heart
that needs to make its aching known,
despite attempts to force my mouth
into saying, "This is fine."

Things hide in false light. And they bite
leaving marks bleached away by lack of contrast,
so that we don't know we've been poisoned.

No. I need to reach for the right colors
to tell the truth waiting patiently amid the grays.

Perhaps the mood for brighter hues will return again.
But, when they do, they will be real,
not camouflage for what I don't want to see.

Linked to the Tuesday Platform for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads and Poetry Pantry 342 at Poet's United

Process Notes:  Recently it was my turn to create a prompt for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads. I came up with one I thought I was happy with, but when the day arrived, I found there was no way I could honestly get into the child-like spirit I had envisioned. The final product was more cynical teen than wide-eyed kid.

The truth is that after November 8th, it's not going to be easy for me to be upbeat on demand, even if I'm the one doing the demanding. As a wise friend and I later discussed, putting up a false self makes for lousy art. The only way I'm going to grow as a poet and a writer, is to be willing to work with the truth of who I am and write that.

Song Choice: Paint It Black covered by Ciara

Cryptic Diversion

To hear the whispers
of ferns as they unroll
is nothing short of a lalamity,

causing me to hum
the hymn of unrolling,
heedless if it clashes
with the rambangle monotone
of cogs busy at grinding

everything deaf
to sylvan movement
into a snarfdiffanous powder
that settles into
indifferent drifts.

This poem was created from a prompt at Imaginary Gardens For Real Toads: Stuff and Nonsense. It's also linked to Poet's United, Poet's Pantry 333

Pixilated Kingdom

Kevin didn’t breathe easy until he saw the snow sticking to the ground. Nothing can find me here, he thought. The road leading to the cabin wound though the hilliest, most remote parts of the state. He turned from the window to sit on the grungy bed, looking at the primitive excuse of a kitchen and rickety table that took up the remainder of the one room cabin’s interior.

This armpit of a room, in this dung hole of a town, looked like paradise to him. A two light fixture, two outlet, wi-fi free paradise.  He felt the corners of his mouth pull up into the first genuine smile he had for a week, and lay down, enjoying the sound of nothing but wind.

There was no crunch of foot falls on snow to prepare him for the hammering of fists on the doors. Kevin dove under the bed, hoping nothing had seen him through the window. His hand touched something furry and he suppressed a yelp as he scuttled away from the mummified mouse, its head dislocated in the trap that killed it.

From outside the cabin, the sound of the wind was joined by raspy voices. Low at first, they built up until they competed in volume with the banging of the door. “King. King!”

Kevin couldn’t stand it for more than a few minutes before he started screaming. “Leave me alone! I told you, I’m not your king!”

“Lead us! Lead us!” came the roars from outside the cabin.

“I’m not one of you. I’m human not an actual troll. It’s just what some people call themselves on the ‘net,” Kevin sobbed. “I swear I’ll never touch a computer or cell phone again.”

The lights in the cabin flickered and Kevin shrieked. When the lights came on again, the dead mouse was the cabin’s only occupant.

This short story was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Snow Birthed Tales, using the following picture as inspiration:

Snow Birthed Tales by Leslie Jenny

Between the Structure

There is no comfort
in this partitioned place
you’ve allowed me to inhabit.

I breathe through clay
trying to find
a caricature of humanity that pleases

Laughter tastes like ash,
but it’s the only freedom
allowed here.

I laugh until my throat is raw,
convulsing, finally wheezing,
in the space I’ve partitioned for me. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Flash 55. In addition to the 55 word limit, Kerry asked us to consider part of the film Samsara, The Angst of Sagazan, for our work. 

Refining Silence

My breath floats around me like a veil
and the world is silent,
save for the sighs in the snow’s descent.

The waning sun still has enough strength
to bring out the glitter in winter’s icy jewels.
Winter’s court is a dark beauty,
hiding nothing.

All the extraneous has been shed,
leaving the trees’ bones to sway
in a danse macabre
orchestrated by frigid winds.

There is strength as well as elegance
to this starkest of seasons,

inspiring us to remember the peace
in the quiet cores of our souls,
to rest, and cherish them
for the blooming season to come.

Faded, Not Forgotten

I ironed the r’s from my tongue
as forcefully as I ironed the curls from my hair.
Musical o’s were subdued and bleached
to help disguise caramel hues to an innocuous beige.

I never questioned it, or the intent behind it.
It was just expected of me. I complied.

Storms came.
Rain revealed the rotting things shallowly buried
with lightning bright enough to highlight all the decay.
Rancid revelations threatened 
to cut me open and leave me hollow.

As I choked, I remembered 
that even before the first clouds gathered
I had already started to question
the wisdom of that childhood advice.
What was chosen for me? What was truly me?

And in the storm’s fury,
though there is much that was lost already,
I let my curls fly around me like a banner
reminding me of the embers at the core of my soul
that could not be bleached away.

This poem was created in response to a prompt given over at A Dash of Sunny - Prompt Nights: Life is a Masquerade 

Ao Andon

I need the words to slide from your lips.
I’ve waited to hear them shaped by your tongue.
By the flickering light of one hundred candles,
oh, how I’ve longed for the release you bring.

All night, you’ve teased and toyed with me,
speaking the names of other demons.
I’ve tried not to pout, knowing my turn is coming.

Instead, I’ve watched you tremble,
your eyes wide with fear.
You’re irresistible when you’re terrified.

I know, with every story you start,
you want the feel of my claws on your skin
just as much as I do.

Because as each story gets told,
as each candle’s light dies,
you hear my breath behind you more clearly.
I am close enough to tangle your hair with my horns.

You know your words bring me ever closer.
And still you don’t stop. Closer, and closer I come,
until you finish all one hundred stories,
and at last, you are mine. 

Ao Andon by Matt Meyer

This poem was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Creatures of the Night and the work of Yokai expert extraordinaire, Matt Meyer (if you love learning about Japanese creatures that go bump in the night, his website, as well as either of his books is a wonderful resource). I was fortunate enough to attend a Japanese Ghost Story lecture he gave at Shofuso, (the Japanese House at Philadelphia) earlier this evening. So when I got home and saw this prompt, I knew I'd have to write about one of the wonderfully eerie creatures he spoke about.

The ao andon is a creature intimately linked with traditional Japanese ghost story telling parties from the Edo period. The well-to-do would gather in a room with one hundred candle-lit lanterns. For every ghost story told, one candle would get extinguished. Once the last candle was put out, the ao andon would appear, and the gods only knew what terror she had planned for guests bold enough to go that far.

Odd Girls: A Halloween Treat

From time to time I like to record some of the poems I write. The most recent Prompt Nights had Halloween as it's theme and I remembered a fun piece I created back in April that really suited it well, Odd Girls. I had so much fun re-reading it, I thought it'd be fun to record it and share it again in time for Halloween. Just click on the link below to listen to the poem. Enjoy!

Odd Girls

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Follow me, follow me to the forest where it’s dark.
Don’t be afraid of the teeth that are sharp,
for I have sharp teeth of my own,
and those that bite me will never go home.

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Please come play. I have stories to tell,
ones that are familiar and some you don’t know so well.
Stories like wind through ancient bones.
Stories that cause screaming in stones.

Come and play where the odd girls go
Run to the place between delight and woe.
Some come home, wiser than they left
and some linger on as permanent guests. 

Song Choice: Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

The Darkest Kiss

Kareena’s limp became more pronounced as she made her way up the mountain. Her worn, stout walking stick could only help so much when she was in this state. The only things she noticed in her climb up were the tendrils of her salt and pepper hair that had affixed themselves onto her sweaty face, shoving them only when they impeded her sight. Her steps may have slowed down, but by the gods she was going to keep them as steady as she could.

She stopped at an opening in the side of the mountain, a scant few feet just below its summit. Kareena indulged in a look back at the setting sun creating a deep red backdrop behind the village she was responsible for. Before she could think about it too much longer, she stepped into the cave and walked off the ledge of the pit inside it.

She fell, and the pit’s darkness engulfed her completely. The air rushing past her scourged the sweat from her exertions off her body. Only after she took several deep breaths did she begin to shout.

“I ache and I am angry. I listen to every complaint put before me. I mend every broken body laid in my hut. I sometimes don’t eat because I have no time to. And no one tends to me. No one nurses me in my pains. But they notice if it makes me slow in caring for theirs. I am angry and I need my anger to be heard.”

The pit’s darkness wrapped itself around her like a lover, slowing the feeling of falling. It held her close and whispered comforting words to her. Some of them she didn’t understand, because she wasn’t meant to at that moment. Others she did. And she reached back out into the Darkness, too tired to whisper back her gratitude for all of its words and for its understanding. For a brief moment she and it were one, no longer falling but flying.

Then her feet touched ground. Kareena walked back out towards the light of the outside world, shining a few feet ahead of her. She stepped out again though the same entrance she came through, but this time her village was illuminated in the light of the rising sun behind her.

Kareena looked at it, breathing deeply again, just enjoying the feel of the air flowing in and out of her lungs. When she was ready, she started walking down the mountain path, swinging her walking stick back and forth as she went. In all her years of coming here, she had never needed to use it when she returned home.   

This short story was created for the amazing Magaly Guererro's Witches In Fiction 2016:Spelling Healing Into a Rotten World

Silver Suits Me Best

Silver suits me best,
the kind found in starlight and moon glow.

Night’s indigo makes a fine gown,
and the chill is perfect
to bring color to my lips and cheeks.

It might be easier
to don borrowed feathers,
on a night when people try
to put a false self in the spotlight.

I shall be me,
swaying to a dusky waltz.
No mask needed. 

Song Choice: How Soon Is Now by The Smiths

I just wanted an excuse to use this image I created again

This poem was inspired by a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Word Count With Mama Zen, where she asks us to contemplate our Halloween Costumes.

Exalted in Scarlet

The wind acts as herald,
as sharp as the sound of a hand clap
calling you to pay attention,
because the procession is about to begin.

Summer enjoys a few last tumbles,
as Autumn promenades onward
to the sound of cricket minstrels.

The swish of Autumn’s robes
is heard in the rustling of the leaves,
who have donned their festival colors
in honor of its arrival.

Autumn waves starlight trimmed sleeves
while the nights grow longer
and nature's din dims to
sighs and susurrations.

I can't help slowing down too,
swept up in the pageantry
of Autumn's regal progression.

Song Choice: Kamigama-Sama from Spirited Away

Molly Grue

I had rosy-cheeks and sparkling eyes
when I was eight years old.
I loved to dance, feeling the swirl
of imaginary gowns around my ankles.

I almost thought I saw you then,
until adult voices called me out
to tell me about chores left undone.

There was still gold in my hair at sixteen.
But I swayed to different songs,
all about moonlight promises that I knew
would evaporate faster than dew.

Did believing in you 
make me more gullible
to frivolous songs 
sung by unskilled bards?

I know that I tried not to believe,
as sixteen faded into the distance,
and gold turned the color of the dishwater
I had my hands in every day.

Disappointment makes an excellent whetstone
for a tongue that wants to hide a tender heart,
still moved by tales of legendary bandits, 
still intrigued by a magician’s words.

Then you arrived,
to fan the cinder of my belief,
when the bags under my eyes
were more noticeable than my lashes.

How could I not scream at you,
for all those times I needed wonder,
looked for it, and all I found
was the sound of my stubborn heartbeat?

Should I start believing again
when the world has almost convinced me
that faith is pointless,
and magic isn’t real?

since the world has done an incomplete job,

I will try to trust 
in what my eyes see
and my heart knows,
and start dancing again. 

Still from the movie The Last Unicorn

Liner Notes for this Groove: This poem was inspired by a prompt (I came up with!) over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Sidekicks in the Spotlight. I based it on a character from the cult classic, The Last Unicorn. 

Stage Fright

Dad’s sweatshirt transforms into a velvet cape,
draped over my shoulders.
I flourish a stick I found in the yard
in front of an appreciative plush audience.
Passing it over a hat I found
for a quarter at a garage sale,

I conjure flying silk squares,
and moon white rabbits
that do somersaults,
and sing songs dryads taught them
back when the world had plenty of magic beans.

But when I bring my wand, hat, and cape
to the school talent show,
when I stand alone on the stage,
all that I find in my hat is rabbit poo.

This poem was inspired by a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens for Real Toads: Weekend Mini Challenge, Following a Thread

Hipster's Darling

I made grown men quake,
far from home and at the mercy
of the deep blue unknown.

Today their descendants sip lattes,
waxing their mustaches
as they tenderize my tentacles.
Megafauna made micro
to blend into a background.

The background is moving to the fore
and my domain sips away at theirs -
another thing they tried to sanitize, then forget,
until it was part of the wallpaper.

“Release the kraken,” they say.
Release me –
and then I’ll remind you
what happens when things you try to forget

remember themselves.

This poem was inspired by a prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Fashion Me Your Words - To A Megafauna 


I remember its birthday.
OK, not the day it was born,
but the year.

It was the Why Are You Fat,
Why Are You Strange,
Why Aren’t You Pretty,
You Can’t Sit With Us Year.

It got bigger every year,
until I could paint a face on it
with a big, red rubber nose
and a wide grin.
It was magic, you see.
It had power to bend laughter.

It grew even bigger after that,
and thicker, like redwood rings,

if you know the right words,
maybe arrive in an enchanted whirlwind,
or conjure up the perfect enlightening glow,

you might find a small knot in the bark.
I might be so startled you found it
that I'd invite you in,
where you'll sit down,
and have a cup of tea with me,

This poem was created from a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads Little Tiny, write a poem inspired by the song Little Tiny. 

Bee Adventurous

Follow the patterns. Follow the flight.
Follow to where the others went,
where the flowers are known,
and no surprises lie.

But I – I fly on daydream wings,
to fields my fellows did not try,
to sip exotic nectars under bright blue skies.

And should misfortune meet their flight,
should their flowers fail to thrive,
I’ll share my fortune with them too,
and again seek delight
in the revelations I have yet to find.

Photo by Magaly Guerrero,
 graciously offered to the Toads participating in this week's challenge.

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Which Bee?

The Tower

After –
shrieks gave way to whimpers,
and those who could
stumbled among the splinters
of the lives they thought
could never be shaken.

Before –
the sun shone down,
on the fairest city,
on the most immaculate hill,

except on the shadowed spot
rotting at the foundation,
which would be lightning struck

one moment later.

This poem was a response to two prompts. The 55 Word Challenge at Imaginary Garden for Real Toads and A Dash of Sunny's Prompt Nights: Let's Take A Look at the Cards, Shall We? Sanaa asked us to take inspiration from the tarot. I'm a tarot enthusiast and love collecting decks as well as doing readings with them, so I pulled a card from one of my favorite decks, The Shadowscapes Tarot and worked with that. I pulled the Tower, which was much darker than my current mood (I'm enjoying a lazy day after a month filled with travels - more on that in a later post), but I made it work. I might revisit a tarot inspired prompt again, since it was fun to play with.

Nonsense Cloud

Myriads of fantasies
always billow about in my brain,
as easily contained as dandelion fluff.

They promenade in by the score
vying for attention day and night,
brightly feathered and chirping,
heedless of my need
to deal with terra firma.

But if you were to ask,
not just about my imaginings,
but of desires and aspirations –

I want
my children to know
happiness from knowing oneself,
my husband to feel
at ease in the comfort of our love,
my friends to have
peace of heart, mind and body,

a good cup of tea,
a story to tell,
and to find people
who’d like to hear that story.

This poem was created from the prompt given over at A Dash of Sunny, Prompt Nights: Dreams

Alarmingly Fearless

The center ring is my home.
My dance always draws a crowd.
Dancing in darkness is my specialty,
and it’s getting darker now.

I’m funny.
Laugh. Remember
how good it sounds?

Laugh, look into my mirror,
which no distortion can mar.
It’s alarming, I know,
to see how strong glee can be.

Don’t look away now!
Be fearless. Understand
you are powerful in your joy.

Fashion a sword and shield
from laughter in the dark.
Protect the one in the mirror’s reflection.
Their joy is needed.

This poem marks a first in that I hit all three suggested prompts for the Toads's Play It Again Toads. The first one was Word Count With Mama Zen (Is Your Life a Circus/ 90 words or less). The second was the Way of Tea (base a poem on a poem by famous tea master Sen Rikyu. I chose, "See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete."). The third was Kerry's Word Challenge, Gods In Nature (write from the point of view of an old god). I took a little poetic license with the original assignment as written, and went with a different pantheon from the ones suggested. I chose Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto (sometimes known simply as Uzume) from Japanese Shinto lore. She was the goddess who got Amaterasu (the sun goddess) to come out of the cave in which she was hiding by performing a bawdy dance. One of her epithets was Alarming Heavenly Female.


The air feels cleaner in my lungs
when I’m there.
I taste mint as I gulp it down,
and the tingle of it runs
down the ley lines of my body.

Did a lamppost in the snow guide me there?
I probably already knew the way,
before stumbling across a worn book,
unnumbered, and hidden on a high shelf.

It is there I go, to remember what matters.
I drink from the well of heroes,
fan the spark of resolve inside me
until I know my heart again.

Perhaps it is strange to find comfort there.
Though unlike faerie gold, that spends true.
It costs me nothing, dispensing largess
in the form of words and verse,
leaving my version of a lamppost in the snow
to guide others in their travels as well.

This poem is in response to A Dash of Sunny's prompt, The Hidden Realm

Soul's Sanguisuge

It’d be nice if garlic could ward it off.
Or a holy symbol. Sadly,
it not only developed a tolerance
for those, it absorbs them, sometimes,
uses them as armor.

Keep all beauty away from it,
because there is nothing too pure
for it to devour.

And oh, how it loves to bite,
loves to gnaw, and tear.
It drains you dry,
while it whispers promises.

You can fill the hollowness  -
as long as you are willing
to thrust the ache into another.

It’s so easy, stealing strength,
so you can overpower reason.
Cannibalize your humanity,
so you never have to look in the mirror.

This poem is in response to the prompt given by A Dash of Sunny: Hate's A Parasite That Robs the Soul.

Kingdom Come

The lines of my life were crisp and clean,
delineated by rulers,
as straight as the hair I wished I was born with.

Habit wound around me,
wrapping wool around my senses,
and attempting to limit
my mind to the parochial.

Heaven knows how I got loose.
Heaven knows how I found myself here.
Heaven knows what was ignited

the first time we touched,
the first time your breath
was at one with mine.

The sharp lines were banished,
leaving you and I
to curl around one another
like wisps of incense rising ever higher.

I found my voice again, and sing
oh love, I sing.

I sing with my voice.
I sing with my skin.
I sing with my soul.
I sing of you, you

and drink in starlight
to shine like the moon.

And when moonset comes,
we find we crave each other still.

Our fingers trace sigils onto each other’s’ skin –
the culmination of the quixotic magic
that brought us to this moment.

Song Choice: Angels by The Xx

Liner Notes For This Groove: This is actually an expansion of one of the micropoems I created back in April. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given by A Dash of Sunny, Prompt Nights: Passion Makes the World Go 'Round

Simple Gentility

To discerning hearts,
meek field strewn peasants ascend
to tea house nobles.

 My flower arrangement for tea ceremony. 

Process note: The art of arranging flowers for tea is called chabana, and it is customary to use simple seasonal flowers, even weeds and grass so long as they aren't fragrant, in the arrangement. 

This poem is in response to the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens for Real Toads: Weeds in the Garden.

Summer's Charm

Summer is a show off.
Draped in vines encircling hips,
and occulting flowers,
Summer stretches out an arm
drawing you in.

Drawing you in, seedling in full quiver,
and insisting you bear the heat
as glitter tongued Summer
licks each longing leaf and petal.

You wait your turn for Adam Eve kisses,
murmuring lily oaths
into Summer’s bejeweled ears.

“Oh dear love,” Summer whispers
with lupine lips brushing your skin.
“Speak to me in snapdragon sighs.
Be bold when you kiss back,
and I will withhold nothing.”

And you do. You kiss back,
until your firefly eyes see clear
after the poppy bliss of daylight.
And the night wind carries
chamomile caresses after a day
well spent, with Summer’s promise
of “Again, at dawn’s first light.” 

This poem was inspired by Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Bits of Inspiration - Amber Rose Tamblyn

Odd Girls

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Follow me, follow me to the forest where it’s dark.
Don’t be afraid of the teeth that are sharp,
for I have sharp teeth of my own,
and those that bite me will never go home.

Come and play where the odd girls go.
Come, play the games that only they know.
Fall down, follow down, do come soon.
Come play along in the light of the moon.

Please come play. I have stories to tell,
ones that are familiar and some you don’t know so well.
Stories like wind through ancient bones.
Stories that cause screaming in stones.

Come and play where the odd girls go
Run to the place between delight and woe.
Some come home, wiser than they left
and some linger on as permanent guests. 

This post is in response to a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Eerie Nursery Rhymes

Lessons from Roses

“I come from latkes and empanadas,”
she said, waving her assignment high for me to see.
She wears her crown of in-between so well,
no doubting or worrying where she belongs.

I smile. It won’t be too long before
some teen woe sets us at odds.
But, she still wants to show me 
how she can be like me.
I want to learn to be like her.

I’ll put down the chore list
and listen to where her words took her,
because motherhood isn’t measured out
in laundry baskets or coffee spoons.  
It’s more like preserved rose beads
made of memories strung together.

This poem was in response to the prompt given over at a Dash of Sunny, Prompt Nights: Stop and Smell the Roses and is part of the Tuesday Platform at Imaginary Gardens for Real Toads

Laughing in Purgatory

You’re no angel.
Shining down on me from heaven?
You’re laughing your ass off
in purgatory at best.

No twee robes for you.
Now I’m laughing too
thinking of you
forced to float to harp song.

I want to call you to explain
how funny you would look.

Then I remember I can’t.
That’s when I cry.

A prompt so great, I had to play with it twice. Another one for Imaginary Gardens for Real Toads: Flash 55, Sad Song edition. I saw the video clip included One Sweet Day and it hit me so hard, this came out of it. The line I worked with was "Shining down on me from heaven".


I fled
only to find myself
in the same spot

my mother escaped.
Can I
put behind
my teenage thrill
of adrenaline and lights?

Here are your bags.
I’ve made my decision.
Maybe you’ll find peace
going your own way.

Or not.
That’s not my concern anymore.

I have work to do 
to find mine.

This poem was inspired by Imaginary Gardens for Real Toads: Flash 55, Sad Songs I chose to base my poem on Fast Car by Tracey Chapman working with the last two lines of it, "You've got to make a decision. Leave tonight or live and die this way."

The Opposite of Indifference

Yuuki yawned, opened his eyes, and again was amused by the pains taken to make the room look more like a guest suite than a hospital. He supposed there must be some initial comfort to the humans who entered here, but looking at the young couple’s tired and strained faces, he imagined whatever soothing effects the pastel print wallpaper or ruffled duvet offered were forgotten hours ago.

He helped himself to a discarded glass of water, hoping it wouldn’t be much longer. Yuuki had never been to a human birth before, even though he had plenty of opportunity. Births were reminders he was still a captive, still bound to a family he detested and who grew to detest him back. Hatred eventually faded to forgetfulness on the humans’ part.

Yuuki could never forget – there was no getting around the oath he swore - though he too had let go of hate, for the most part, decades ago. His oath required him to serve one hundred generations of this family, whether they acknowledged his existence or not. Three centuries to the day he made his promise the newest in the family line was about to make her grand entrance.

“Do you know how many of your kin’s deaths I’m responsible for, small one?” Yuuki said out loud. 

No one in the room noticed, as none had the skill to hear him. Though one nurse must have had a small sensitivity to fae creatures as she gave a tiny shudder and crossed herself after he spoke.

Yuuki smirked under his kitsune’s mask, pleased to see any reaction, even a small one. Being ignored for over a century was demoralizing. If the nurse could truly see him, kimono clad with a sharp toothed smile painted on his fox’s mask, she’d probably run out of the room screaming prayers. So would the young man holding the hand of his laboring wife. It was not an unwise choice when dealing with kitsune.

But fae-blind Fernando had never once in his life seen Yuuki for what he was, and likely never would. Yuuki slumped on a plump chair, resting his face in his hand and addressed an unaware Fernando. “To be fair, I’m responsible for saving a few lives too, as well as helping you look away from your books long enough to find a woman to create this one.” Yuuki nodded towards Angela’s swollen belly. “Fernando you are a good, but sublimely boring and unimaginative man. I don’t hate you, but I certainly won’t miss you. Hopefully your spawn will be somewhat more interesting, though that is hardly a high bar to reach.”

By the fussing of the various hospital staff and yelling coming from Angela, Yuuki realized the time had come at last. A few moments later, what looked like a slimy gore and membrane covered raisin emerged and shrieked her first cries into the world. The staff jumped to clean off most of the mess, and once that was done, laid the child in her mother’s arms.

“God has been good to us Angela,” Fernando said.

Yuuki rolled his eyes behind his mask. “You’d never have met your wife if it wasn’t for me. I’ll let you call me Jesus Christ if you promise to give me some sake every now and again. Or tea. I’ll accept tea,” he said.

“He has. Look at our little princesita  Fernando, our little princess,” Angela said.

“I’m a lucky man," Fernando said, stroking the fuzzy patch of  hair on the baby's head. "I've always felt like I've had more than my fair share of good fortune. But whatever luck or divine grace has guided me to this moment, I wish it all go to our little Ana. May whatever saint or guardian angel that has been watching over me give themselves completely to the care of her. I want nothing else from life.”

Yuuki felt a strange shift at Fernando’s words. He looked from him to the baby girl and realized that his time protecting Fernando had come to an end.

“If you wish for a diaper change, I am not doing it. That is still your parents’ job,” he said, making a horrible face appear on his mask.

The girl child looked up at Yuuki and smiled. Yuuki blinked and waved his hand in front of her. A tiny fist grasped his finger tight.

“You see me,” Yuuki whispered.

“Look at that Fernando,” Angela said. “Our girl is smiling!”

“It’s not a real smile,” one nurse said. “She’s too young for that. It’s likely gas.”

“It’s not gas, you simpleton,” Yuuki said as the nurse walked out of the room. “This girl sees me. After all these years…”

When a plush fox doll appeared among the gifts for Angela and Fernando’s new daughter, no one noticed it among the sea of toys that arrived from family and friends. By the time she could walk, it was a joke among her family that you could offer her the fanciest doll in the world, but the only thing that could calm her was that toy fox. Once she was old enough to talk, Ana practiced most of her new skills babbling to her favorite toy.  The plush fox presided over every tea party Ana held, though she insisted on serving real tea instead of pretending over empty cups.

“Tell me again about the day I was born,” Ana often asked.

“You were covered in blood and guts, not minding it a bit. And you were smiling. That is how I knew we would be friends,” Yuuki always replied.

"Cool," Ana said.

This blog post is part of May Monster Madness, hosted this year by Little Gothic HorrorsMagaly GuerreroHolly's HorrorlandMaynard's Horror Movie Diary, and Not This Time, Nayland Smith. Be sure to follow the link and enjoy more monstrous fun with the other party goers.