I am air and fire


The night wrapped its arms around Beijing.  As they sat on the patio of the Pearl Street Market Restaurant dining on grilled lamb and gently fried rice, the stars swam in the firmament above them, coalescing in the seas of constellations.  The three of them, Jack Willoughby, Jerry Heard, and Dr. Abel sat quietly, musing on all that had transpired since their days at the Intercontinental Clinic.  Perhaps a decade had passed since they walked the hallways together; more likely it was fifteen years.  Now, only Dr. Abel remained, the others going their separate ways, John to another clinic in Beijing, Jerry to a practice back in the States.  Dr. Abel held on at Intercontinental by his fingertips doing all he could to bolster his rolls of patients.  As a psychologist who’d attained a doctorate from a prestigious school in the States, Dr. Abel was a rare commodity in Beijing, rare as a cab driver in the city who didn’t smoke.  More than once, John and Jerry discussed their colleague’s predicament.  To them, the problem was Abel himself.  Continue reading “I am air and fire”

In Heaven’s Cafe Galactic


Finding him drinking coffee alone, Hawking pulled his wheelchair next to Einstein.

Hawing (yawning):  Boy, was it a long time-consuming space-travel?

Einstein:  Oh, no, that space-time conundrum, again?  So, how you’re so wrong about “once entered, nothing could come out of a black hole-” theory, challenged later?

Hawking:  Theories emerge, theories fall.  At least, I accepted the new development.  But, you were never comfortable with the uncertainty principle inherent in later years’ quantum theories!

Einstein:  Yah, shaky theories of young upstarts!  I used to imagine traveling alongside light, while developing my equation.

Hawing:  Stubbornness!  Anyway, I’ll buy your next cup.


By Sankar Chatterjee


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Step over


People stepped over the body

thinking he was just sleeping it off

     (whatever it was)

until he’d been there for days

and stinking worse than the neighborhood.


That’s when they called the cops.

Not 911.

They figured he didn’t deserve rescue.

But if he could only be moved.

Besides, the crows had been taking a

long and interested look at his corpse.

Hot day.

Everything smelled like piss.

Exposed innards was the last thing

folks wanted to see from their windows.

Continue reading “Step over”

The last mission


Flying, falling, unfurling, tumbling towards earth.  For a moment, I know I was out, but then I was awake and there I was, freezing before the parachute unfolded.  Senses back, I watched jungle rise up as though it were coming to embrace me.  Already I felt the ribs that were broken from being catapulted from the jet.  Hanging there in the parachute harness, I could feel the nylon rubbing against the fractured ribs on my right side.  It hurt to take a deep breath.  With the jungle coming up to meet me like a welcoming wagon to the highlands of Vietnam, I took inventory.  My eyes felt swollen.  In my mouth, I could taste blood.  I ran my tongue across my upper lip.  I had bit my tongue ejecting, but none of my teeth seemed to be chipped.  From my left ankle I felt pain.  Somehow, I had sprained it in the ejection of my Phantom F-4.  Dangling next to me, tied to a line in the parachute harness was my survival kit.  In it, I knew I’d find a two-way radio, a small caliber gun, a K-Bar, a canteen of water, ready-to-eat meals, power bars, as well as Snicker’s candy bars I put in with twenty tablets of Percocet in two foil packets.  Continue reading “The last mission”

The Beautiful Belle


Twice a week I beheld a sound

And this sound resounds so well

It’s educational music for those who would use it

The notes of the melodic Belle


With a perfect shape she looks so smooth

And if I had to walk through Hell

I would barely escape and could hardly wait

To lay eyes on this wonderful Belle


Every time that I hear her voice

My heart begins to swell

As I begin to believe in this angelic dream

This dream of my Southern Belle


With unparalleled attractiveness

And personality that gleams so well

Her eyes they shine like ideas in my mind

The brown eyes of my elegant Belle


If I ever bought her flowers

She’d get the best that they would sell

I cannot un-start what I feel in my heart

For the angel, my muse, my Belle


With soft eyes, skin and glorious tones

She’s a rose with a fragrant smell

This flower, this siren, this object of love

The beautiful, indisputable…Belle!


By Thomas Alexander Friday


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Delicate is her soul and soft is her heart

Her wilt is stronger than most go

Scratches and tears will repair

But plucking, don’t you dare

For loving her is a sacred share

Only the brave crumble in despair

*     *     *

I once planted a garden filled with flowers from my youth

Soil turned in spring and held the fearful seedlings

I once grew a garden in my youth

Slowly spring turned to summer with blooms

I once was a definition of youth

Impatience for life bloomed in dullness

For no one ever told me to relax

Before too long, life will leave you wilting Continue reading “Roses”

Wheatfield with crows


Inside Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Mark noticed the painting “Wheatfield with crows”.  “What a riot of colors of yellow, green, brown, and intense blue with those black crows flying away. What’s the inspiration?” pondered Mark. 

The art suddenly started to evolve, depicting a chaotic war-scene from the narrative of a holy book of Hinduism. The Lord was chiding the hero reluctant to fight enemies (his relatives), displaying a futuristic vision of the pre-destined demise of every creation. Mark came back to senses, wondering about the connection.

He approached the art, painted mid-July, 1890. Van Gogh fatally shot himself on July 29th.


By Sankar Chatterjee


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The promise keeper


Looking back on my long career in emergency medicine, the one thing I’d tell you: you’re nobody’s friend manning the emergency room.  It’s in the emergency department that the politics of the hospital begin.  The staff of doctors is always unhappy when they receive that call for an admission at three in the morning.  They are the first to find failure in your care and the last to help you out.  It’s always, “Dr. Norris never told me he was this sick,” or “Dr. Norris missed that hairline fracture in the emergency room.”  And the nurses are just as bad.  To them, an empty emergency room is a happy emergency room.  They won’t have to face the family members or lawyers when you miss something in their loved one.  And where the doctors are more direct at going after you, the nurses are slyer as they stab you in the back.  Continue reading “The promise keeper”



When Jamaal arrived at his father’s house Friday evening, he saw the old man standing on the front stoop, facing the door.

Something didn’t look quite right as Jamaal approached. His father wore one of his droopy old jackets, one of the five he had alternated each weekday for the last how-ever-many years of teaching math to kids who sometimes paid attention at the local public school, sometimes stared into space as the numbers flew above their heads and out the windows. The droopy jacket seemed to vibrate at a slow pace, almost imperceptible, as his father’s right arm, a right angle at the elbow, pulsed slightly as if keeping time to snappy jazz no one else could hear.

“Dad?” Jamaal called softly as he approached his father.

The old man turned, his expression a mix of surprise and frustration. “The goddamned door won’t unlock,” he said, clipping the words like the chalk strokes of another equation on another Friday afternoon. Continue reading “Keys”

Summer’s look


This season’s bikini rocked the clubhouse pool. Sarah’s classmates drank in her look with slow smiles and calls for Sarah’s attention. She strategized, her choice dependent on popularity, and didn’t notice their focus veer.

Then she did. On someone behind her.

Turning slowly Sarah saw Lily flip her auburn layers and heard her throaty laugh. Sarah knew then her star status had waned as the newly mature Lily was fully aware hers had arrived.

The boys’ gazes sliding past her, Sarah felt forgotten, just one of summer’s past idols.  Seasonal depression took over, her joy and anticipation shattered. She slunk to her chaise lounge, secretly ogling the new babe.


By Pamela Raleigh


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