Bastet

The archeologist labored in the hot sun.

Lionel Pantheon, expert archeologist, dug

with his flunky, Doctor Simeon Watkins.

 

“Oh, pray tell.” said Simeon Watkins.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Look at the treasure I found. A statue of

Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess. This must

be worth millions! We’re going to be rich!”

 

“No, I’m going to be rich.” said Lionel

Pantheon, producing a handgun, and shooting

a bullet through Simeon’s skull.

 

Lionel looked around to make sure nobody

was looking, and shoved Simeon’s body into

the hole in the desert sand. Continue reading “Bastet”

Loch Ness Monster, reincarnated

Simon Jones was born to wealthy parents in the suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Growing up, his parents showered him with all kinds of fancy but expensive gifts.  But what interested Simon most was reading the science fiction as well as stories of unusual mysterious creatures from around the world.  He was always fascinated by the tale of the existence of the Loch Ness monster, called Nessie, that reputedly inhabited the water around the Scottish Highlands.  Throughout his academic career Simon excelled not only in his studies but also in extra-curricular activities.  He wrote for the school newspaper, eventually becoming one of the co-editors.  At the same time, he took part in several athletics programs.  With such an all-rounder profile, Simon’s parents expected that he would be interested in the academic program of an Ivy League institute like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. Continue reading “Loch Ness Monster, reincarnated”

Henrietta

She ran away with a man when she was seventeen,

a farmer’s son who knew about curing tobacco

but not much else. Grab the stalks, strip the leaves,

then twist those leaves into ropes…that was the extent of it.

 

Didn’t earn no money at it not with the drop in prices

that year. And besides, he was a drinker, always at

the worst kind of rotgut: home-made corn-liquor

that could strip the paint off a car.

 

But it was her decision to run away with him,

first one she’d ever made in her lifetime.

And choices in a small town are as thin on the ground

as the soil once the tobacco’s been through with it.

 

He figured he’d get a job on one of the big plantations

down south but what with his overall laziness and

drinking and her always tagging behind him, they ended

up in hovel somewhere in mid-Georgia, begging for change Continue reading “Henrietta”

Scrub

I love Jesus but so do a lot of

other folks so even if He is God

Almighty and Himself as well He’s spread

pretty thin or is that thinly but how

can He give us all individual

attention no matter how powerful

He is and after Sunday School I posed

the question, posed is fancy for asked, to

Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher, and

she answered Never underestimate

your Father who art in Heaven and for

a moment I thought she was telling me

that mine had died, my daddy, but

she meant God, everybody’s father and

He couldn’t die though some folks say God is

dead but then that’s how grownups talk sometimes,

they’re got to do something with their brains, but

so I said Yes ma’am, after all, if God

is God then He might as well be pretty

damn powerful but I forgot to o

-mit the damnomit means leave out, say on

purpose, and her face went red like a rose Continue reading “Scrub”

May you live in interesting times

As a little girl, her father, Zhao Shaoqi, walked her to school every morning, even though the elementary school was only a few kilometers from their apartment in Shanghai.  Born in nineteen-sixty, Zhao Xiao Jun came of age in the tumultuous times of the Cultural Revolution.  What was the inherent purpose of the Cultural Revolution?  No one really seemed to know.  Falling on the heels of the failed Great Leap Forward, where thirty million died, many thought it was Mao’s attempt, not only to stay in power, but to keep the revolution proceeding forward in Red China.  Where her parents were once highly respected civil engineers in the Middle Kingdom, now, because of the revolution, they were the prey to other Chinese of lesser stature, particularly the Red Guard, which was largely composed by the young, high school or college-aged, true believers in Mao and his Communist regime.  Openly taunted as he walked Xiao Jun to class by the Red Guard, they beat her father on at least a score of occasions, depending if their blood was up.  Once her father had been beaten senseless, and other times the Red Guard threw stones at him.  Once, Zhao Shaoqi was struck on the vertex of his skull by a large rock thrown by a young cadre who appeared no older than a junior high school student.  This was the second time he was knocked unconscious.  Her mother, Tao Fei, cleaned and bandaged the ghastly wound without taking him for formal evaluation at a local hospital simply fearing that it would incur further retribution.  Such was the flint of China during these times. Continue reading “May you live in interesting times”

The Snowman

Alan Fredericks was a New England teacher, a single

parent who had custody of his three daughters, Ella, Greta,

and Jan, who he loved dearly but feared the day that they

would be the spitting image of their mother.

 

Not unlike New England, there was so much

snow towards the end of the school year that the schools

had no choice but to close down the schools a week

early. The kids were excited, till they groaned when

all teachers gave their kids homework to do during

the holidays.

 

Alan Fredericks had to do the same thing

to his students, but his daughters went to a different

school. Ella was in sixth grade, Greta in third, and

Jan in first.

 

So Alan Fredericks had taken his kids to

a cabin in the Vermont woods, a little hole in the

wall that was better used for summer. He’d never

been there in winter, and didn’t realize he wasn’t

prepared for staying. Continue reading “The Snowman”

Wet market

Its eyes were murky, the last gasped for air,

the fish was prepared for the chopping boards.

The butcher grabbed a fowl, he said his prayer.

Best served with Choysum[1], the tiny yellow cords!

 

Ah je[2] invited us over to take a closer look

at the USA plums she had sprayed water on,

housewives fought for those without a flaw

and chaffered, they smiled, then happily gone.

 

The Red A lamps hovered above the eggs,

credentials both Arabic and Chinese.

Bottles of soy sauce were loaded onto the truck.

Some asked the coolie why he had tried so hard.

 

Some kids ran and shoved past him.

(Fai d lah)

He shrugged and worked and waited for home.


[1] Chinese flowering cabbage.

[2] A Middle-aged woman

 

 

By Pamela Ho

 

That arrowhead

I found it while digging in the back yard.

It could have been an arrowhead.

But, then again, it might have been nothing

but a stone coincidentally shaped that way.

Who’s to say it didn’t pierce an enemy’s chest?

Only the elements, perhaps,

the wind, the rain, that hone so much.

 

It sat on the dresser of my room

along with posters of my movie heroes –

did they really risk their lives fighting bad guys

or were they merely Hollywood lounge lizards,

wife beaters, war-dodgers, drunkards?

a couple of sporting trophies—

was it talent or mere luck?

 

My father said he couldn’t be more proud of me

did that mean he could be less proud?

and, every night, like maternal clockwork,

my mother kissed me goodnight—

through duty or genuine affection?

 

I still have that arrowhead. Or that rock.

It’s hard to be comforted

when it’s one thing or the other.

 

 

By John Grey

 

Boo

One day when I’m dead I’ll be all over

with except for memory if that counts

and the life to come which I’ve come to then

and if there’s a third way I’m not so sure

that I know it but maybe I’ll find out

when finding out’s too late, it’s right funny

how that works, at least from life’s side and if

not from the other then I expect to

 

know if one can know anything, I know

I can’t be alive forever, enjoy

good and avoid bad even as I make

bad happen, somehow I just can’t help it

and if there’s such as thing as sin that’s it

though I should know more when I’m no longer Continue reading “Boo”

Pasture statues

Millie mooed.

Cate mooed with her.

The cow stared at them.

Millie giggled at the old joke, a pure, authentic song.

Cate giggled with her, exaggerated, trembling notes.

The cow stared at them.

Millie continued to pet the cow’s cheek. Cate stroked the other, looking for signs of impatience in the otherwise stoic animal, searching its blank yet somehow knowing eyes for knowledge of her charade. What made her want to release the scream that had been lodged in her throat for inconceivable minutes was how Millie, sitting comfortably in her numb arms, was so far away from screaming; Millie, who had every justification for adding her shrill voice to the one behind them.

She hadn’t asked Millie if she was all right; doing so would have given her the impression something was wrong. She hadn’t asked Millie her actual name; as far as the little girl’s amiable behavior indicated, they had known each other all their lives, and names didn’t matter. She hadn’t asked Millie her age; from the moment she took the little girl into her arms, she could tell the small human being was no older than her career. Continue reading “Pasture statues”