Those who serve humanity

In a trip through various South-East Asian nations, American John Stuart was traveling by bus from Phonm Penh, the capital of Cambodia to ancient city of Siem Reap to explore iconic Angkor Wat Temple complex.  In a rest stop, he got acquainted with a fellow traveler Mike Thomas, a millennial German youth.  After exchanging pleasantries, John learned that besides English, Mike also spoke fluent Chinese (mandarin).  After graduating from the university in Frankfurt, he landed a job with a multinational organization, subsequently migrating to Shanghai.  This was the time when the celebration of a Lunar New Year just started in China.  Like his fellow Chinese colleagues, Mike was also allowed to take a week off.  Instead of going back to Germany to visit family, he’d decided to visit this part of Asia, now heading to explore Angkor Wat complex

Next day, in a coincidence, John again met Mike, both of them being signed up with the same tour company to guide them through the mammoth temple complex.  Over next few days the duo bonded more while exploring the ruins, spread over several kilometers.  They also began to hear news coming out of China about a new virus causing flu-like symptoms and in some cases mortality.  Not surprisingly, international traveling, a byproduct of globalization was beginning to ferry out this new virus across the international borders.  Mike remembered hearing a rumor about the emergence of this new virus at his workplace.  Soon the sight of populace wearing face-masks became ubiquitous in various tourist sites as the fear of a pandemic began to prevail. Continue reading “Those who serve humanity”

I don’t want to grow old

Steve Hale, a forty-year-old billionaire, lay on a couch in the office of Dr. Mark Carr, a psychiatrist. “So, Mr. Hale, what brings you here?”

“Worry. Anxiety. Fear.”

“What do you worry about?”

“My fortune. I’m afraid I’m going to grow old and die and have to leave my estates and my yacht and everything I’ve worked for behind. What I have belongs to me and I don’t want old age and death to take what’s mine away from me. Dr. Carr, I grew up with nothing. My father ran off, and my mother cleaned houses to put food on the table. Sometimes, we went without food, and I swore that I would never be poor again. I worked hard and finally made a fortune, and I want to keep my fortune.”

“Mr. Hale, I understand why you feel the way you do, but everybody grows old and dies. It’s inevitable. Can’t you just enjoy what you have while you’re young?”

“I do enjoy what I have, but my fear of growing old and dying is always on my mind. I don’t know what to do?” Continue reading “I don’t want to grow old”

Laksa soup

The soup

is of golden glow.


break in against the shore,

beancurd puffs are exuding

like doormats on a rainy day.


It is a tropical fiesta.

Coconut breeze from a nearby island

is stealing spicy ripples under sporadic leaves.

Prawns leap

and immediately dive

to join the fish of white flesh.


Sail a boat of egg yolk,

snug as a baby dreaming

of a mythical creature

in her cradle.



By Pamela Ho


Bad luck at Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

Valentine’s Day, 2020, Bachelor’s Grove,

Cemetery, Midlothian, Illinois.


It was Valentine’s Day, 2020,

and a newlywed couple, George and Annabelle

Henderson were looking for something fun

to do for a special date for Valentine’s

Day. George wanted to take his new wife

to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, a cemetery

in Midlothian, Illinois, that had been rumored

to be haunted. Many ghost sightings had been

reported over the years, where two hundred

graves existed.


Nobody knew why it was called

Bachelor’s Grove. But when George was a

bachelor, he used to go there with all his

buddies and get drunk in the cemetery.

They never saw any ghosts, and they

would be drunk and laugh at the old

wives tales of the past. Continue reading “Bad luck at Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery”

The flood and its aftermath

Brown waters sweep over the banks,

flood the farms on one side of the river,

the town, on the other.


Squirrels scramble to the tops of trees.

Families eye the rooftops for possible safe harbor.

They wonder, should we leave or stay?

The answer is a cop going door to door.


It’s too late to save

the bedding, the stuffed animals,

the books, the photographs.

The orders are

if it doesn’t breathe

it has no place

on higher ground. Continue reading “The flood and its aftermath”


One day when I’m dead maybe I won’t be

so naughty but in Sunday School today

I fell asleep again, up too late last

night reading Wonder Woman comic books,

my sister’s, I prefer Superman and

Batman but Diana Prince will do in


a pinch and she’s got that magic lasso

that she wraps around your waist and you must

do her bidding and those bracelets that break

the speed of approaching bullets and she’s

as strong as an . . . Amazon, I guess strong


-er, and if she can’t fly she surely can

leap but anyway when I woke in Sun

-day School standing there before me as if

I was God and she a new, dead soul was Continue reading “Wonderful”

Lemon Meringue

Kelly’s boyfriend dropped her at Vancouver International; they were off to visit their respective parents for the long weekend. Kelly flew to Sault St. Marie, Aaron drove to Kelowna. On Tuesday evening she would return to the west coast for her next shift as a rookie police officer in the city, a different world from her years growing up in Northern Ontario.

Aaron’s parting comment was, “Enjoy the home cooking!”

Kelly’s mom, Clara, was a wonderful cook. In Kelowna, it would be snacks, Timmy’s coffee and Swiss Chalet for her boyfriend. Continue reading “Lemon Meringue”

A letter for Carver

The letter slides through the tarnished brass mail slot onto the floor of Dorothy Carver’s compact shotgun row house along with all the others. In its plain white business envelope, the letter does not stand out from the gas and electric bill or the worthless junk mail that comes along for the same ride. It does not distance itself from the folded grocery circulars that merely, and innocently, offer you a dollar off on Mott’s applesauce. No, the letter possesses no innate powers enabling it to stand up on edge and spin around, begging for special attention. And only much later does Carver—as she likes to be called—wonder why anybody would think it’s OK to share bad news, life-changing news, so quietly and unobtrusively. Such things should come with a warning—red flashing lights, perhaps, or, at the very least, a deeply revealing dream. Better still if someone were to show up at your front door and begin yelling at you. At least then, Carver decides, after the whole business had spun itself out, you’d have the illusion that everything happening to you is somehow connected with real people, and not just a faceless system. Continue reading “A letter for Carver”

Harley Dome

Hemmed in by low-lying clouds that lay along the towering brow of the Elk Mountains on the Gunnison River drainage of the White River National Forest, Eldon Merrill trailed his father as they traipsed up the game trail that threaded through the tall, spindly Blue Spruce trees.  It was Eldon’s first elk hunt.  Now fourteen years old, Eldon was no longer a child.  Having waited for this day for years, the boy, tall and lanky for his age, looked like a grotesque scarecrow swallowed up by his hunter’s vest.  Though lanky for his age, he was still a full head shorter than his father.  Mincing forward, carefully planting his feet in his father’s footsteps, he crept forward trying to make as little noise as possible, which was not easy in the ice-crusted snow that covered the slope they were ascending, the boreal forest.  As if soldiers storming an enemy stronghold, they were both approaching the prey bent at the waist.  He cradled the old Remington Model 700 rifle his father had presented him his last birthday.  The rifle had been Peter Merrill’s for years, one which he proudly displayed in his study when not hunting elk on his annual sacramental pilgrimages.  Though old, it still shot true.  Many were the hours he had spent on the family farm outside Riverton target shooting, the empty beer bottles exploding, and the corroded tin cups – corrupted like the constellation of acne covering his face – crumpling into the arroyo that formed his practice range.  The detritus of the impact of the Remington 200 bullets left little after their impact.  Despite the red, checkered wool coat, the wool pants, high-top leather boots, the long-johns and the fleece-lined leather gloves and cap, Eldon’s teeth were chattering and his fingers and toes were numb in the freezing front that made for perfect hunting weather in the West Elk Mountains of Colorado.  Only two days before, a northwesterly front had blustered through, depositing its burden of precipitation as rain in Riverton, as snow in the higher elevations where the elk browsed, driving them down lower, far below the timberline. Continue reading “Harley Dome”