a. He was 13 going on Einstein but she didn’t figure out the Ruse, a military grade lockpick in the guise of an IQ puzzle. An opportunity to get laid overcame her professionalism & while she was gone the kid lost the cuffs, stole her car, and crash-decapitated her Ken-bot.
b. Her paragliding partner armed w/ a meaningless gold band & bad-boy charisma recognizes her & she says “I was a TV celeb way back.” She sips her 3rd (lavender-lime) martini as his fingers play the music of abandon on hers. He’s mantled in the mythos of Jupiter, but is she up for playing Io?
c. I’m yoked into the Heston family drama, the glitterati of high tech. Their smarty-pants kid has to be driven cross-country for rehab, and I want to keep my autonomous car so I’m cop for the duration. I assumed he had a drug habit. Boy, did I underestimate him!
a. Imperfect of form, a tripartite creation of human, hawk, & koi, she strives to make the most of her allotted span, in turn a flyer in azure heights or swimmer in green deeps, and in between she struggles in the sanatorium to paint-by-numbers w/ fin and talon.
b. The cells fused & multiplied before the lens & the genetic mix of E. coli, mosquito, and tsetse fly crawled from the petrie dish. His thumb flexed over the winged chimera, a self-delivering lethal weapon. Either way, it was murder. (40)
c. Full Moon hollers in joy then waves to her cosmic BFFs. She zooms earthside & burns lakes to hissing craters as lover query her absence. She lets the tides roil and rides the wayward crests. Until Gravity drags her home & spanks her bum red.
FAE: a. Wings lamed by thorns, her heart a tom-tom, she scrabbled up the scree bare yards ahead of Hunter & his hound whose fangs slipped thru fae flesh like razors. Trapped atop the cliff, she sang for her vassals. In fury & thirst they came for blood.
b. The shifting silver sheen of a myriad fae wakes the girl hiding in a rowboat, nameless victim escaped from a thriller and fallen into a fantasy. The long diaphanous wings of fae cut her face like nails, but she expected trouble. Mace will dull their shine.
c. Samwell is yanked from a sweet reverie over his abundant harvest when he sees that every grape has been gnawed. His head pounds. Blasted fairies, glittery layabouts w/ shameful sexual practices and a bellyful of addictions. His wine is gonna knock their socks into migraines. (51)
a. Whatever the science of it, she’s lived for millennia & saved the residue of each joy & danger inside fragments of leaf or linen. 1st, the bundle filled her arms, then a barrow, now a wobbly grocery cart. Unwrapped, a shred of the past comforts her w/ hot tears. (42)
b. Princess Lilac’s a crucible of pique & perfumed. Her Redwood army dwarfs her, her Boxerwood war-dogs are lovable scamps, & her Jack pines wink at her. How she longs to blaze bright! Witch Elm oblige, and Lilac becomes the 1st ornamental bush-comet to eclipse the sun (39).
c. My kid’s eyes start leaking but the rain bleeding from her skin worries me most. She wakes on a soaked mattress, puddles on the floor. Doctors can’t treat her: she’s a water nymph not sick. In winter we hurl snowball out her window & cheer w/ every target hit. (42)
d. A dating blurb. I cross out ROMANCE and substitute LOVE. A gull unfurls & soars as I wrangle dreams with inchoate words. I give up and sketch the guy I have in mind. A lone figure on the beach, bare feet, chinos rolled. A surge of surf near drowns me, snatches my notebook.
I wipe my face and open my eyes to a man’s hand reaching toward me. The image is ebbing with the wave, but here he is helping me stand up. Bringing love into my life.
e. The synapses dilly-dally, chanting about vitamins and brain-strengthening exercises. I reach into my cortex for a thread of knowledge mastered and preserved w/ mothballs. The catalog spins. Data cackles as it slips off and hides. Guess I’ll google it. (50)
f. Their banner of arcane symbols furled and unfurled without a breath of wind as the invaders’ darts each found and stilled a living heart. Bravery was an ideal defeated, and the survivors decamped to the familiar perils of the swamp.
a. Trite’s Reality is chock full of balloons marked with winking eyes. Mr. Trite turns catalog pages for the young couple new to town.
He says, ‘Here’s a block on Main Street you’ll need to go round a few times; lover’s lane with a permanent full-moon set-up.’
‘What about starter homes?’
‘Yep. All sold with a black lab and l.5 kids.’
b. –Fishbowl’s a town going places. Yessir. Precious little unemployment & schools produce astronauts like there’s no tomorrow.
–Isn’t it bizarre there’s only one industry?’
–That’s on our mayor. He’s repairing his spacecraft before ICE gets wind of him.
a. Eaze blunts the anxiety & I sack out, a level B miner on my 15th cloning & no rebel. Tho genes do go rogue they say. My Sensitive spoons with me; this Matt Model favors my ex-husband whose genes perished on Homeworld. Matt’s AI’s corrupted but I’m game.
b. The shipbound High Lord provides his rare-earth miners w/ every necessity. Much beloved are the opportunity trees whose giant bubble fruit allows any daring soul to enter & be lofted into his awesome presence. As his emissaries, they rule the galaxy.
c. Nitric acid couldn’t bit thru her boots and survival gear lay heavy on her back. No way to move fast under the night’s pelting rain but she needed shelter before sunrise, before the scent of petrichor rose from the wasteland & the sun rendered her a column of ash. (54)
d. In the safe zone, algorithms had assessed the risk of all behaviors likely to promote injury or death. Children, cars, sports, & alcohol were banned. Diet & exercise were prescribed. Despite the absence of weapons, the death rate held steady at 100%.
a. Bonfires of the slaughtered bodies smoldered, smoke impenetrable, & stink so foul & otherworldly Zara had no name for it. Whipping movements caught her eye, for where fire failed, human flesh was become ground zero to alien terror.
b. Zara’s energy is low, and Mom rushes her to Dr. ***, a hero medic of WWIII whose care is exceptional but whose telomeres are fatally short. She analyzes Zara’s bio samples in her lab, diagnoses epigenetic distress, not the wasting plague! And prescribes hormones.
SHORT MYSTICAL/POSSESSION: Panto season draws all homeless emotions but by far the keenest is Anguish, the audience so caught up in the razzle-dazzle absurdity the target is unaware of the osmosis of possession. Hoping the kids are asleep, Mary unlocks the door to a blood splatter horror.
HOME: Coal-fire warmth & a pall of cigarette smoke w/ news buzz on TV. Dad lights up & watches a newscaster while I’m in an armchair, legs wrapped around Mam in front. My cheek rests on the Persil-scented cotton of her dress as, one by one, she snips my toenails.
a. EVICTION: Missy is quick in the figurative sense, her twin sister dead, head-shell cracked like a soft-boiled when Missy pushed her downstairs 50 years ago. Missy & the ghost dwell in bitter acrimony in an apt in Papa’s house, where he haunts the upper floor bordello.
b. THE KILLING: The vivid bustle of daily life had dimmed in an instant to dreary gray, a sense of sleepwalking thru a bladed mist, moist & cutting. Shrouded and hurt, she wound thru a cemetery’s store of forgotten tombstones until, at last, she lay in her own fresh-dug grave.
LOST DOG: A vicious stinging rain soaking thru your Burberry right off the bat, and you should’ve worn wellies, but the dog’s run off & he’s a dope in traffic. Hours you roam, find a shivering mat of fur in a shop doorway. Nose to nose, the static shocks you both.
PHILADELPHIA: That part of the city had been a white-flight casualty, w/ its vacant factories & lots overgrown w/ garbage trees & rubble. But even before gentrification the dour frontage of rowhouses might hide postage-stamp paradises of peony, river-stone pond, and gnarled wisteria.
SERVITUDE: The guilty verdict condemns the blanket thief to transportation. Sickness and maggoty food near kill her, & in the colony it’s field labor ‘mid the slaves. But she dwells in paradise, cosseted by warmth & fragrance & gold-eyed Sampson’s nectar kisses.
a. The frogs were gone, now water and song birds. Profound silence where once was a chorale of vibrant life. Here comes the miasma, carrion-foul, descending from a bruised & sunless sky. Its advance tendrils uproot the trees, and we smother the children before it takes us too.
b. All that’s left of him is the love patch. He sang in a band & girls crawled over him he was that cute, my kid, before the crash. Now I wheel him up to the lake & I survey the glassy stillness that is my life. If a movement ever catches his eye, I’ll let him go.
c. A peek at the 21st century & journo Angel vows to sit out time in Paradise w/ Milton & other serious poets, a Babel of tongues, but she has them all by heart. The Big Guy doesn’t notice the end of her coverage on war, slavery, pollution & corruption, he’s bingeing Netflex.
d. Mostly you ignore the aging husband rooster-pecking you in the kitchen as he re-arranges the dishwasher, buffs the silverware, and moans if you drink ‘his’ red wine, but the cure is pure simplicity. Coq-au-vin needs only a butcher’s knife and his wine. (40+)
e. She saw vividly how he used to race along the beach imprinted with the day’s footsteps & silvered by lingering dusk. He whipped sandpipers into looping flight & drew raucous screams from gulls watchful on the pilings. On & on he ran from her. Into the bittersweet shadows. (47)
f. In this epoch, we are prey and my inanimate bones will soon molder under layers of this river’s silt. The birds’ brouhaha at gray dawn clarions their hunger, but no raptors yet. A bare chance I’ll survive if I slip back into the water now. (pic).
Despite the name, the Jolly-Rogers were a dispirited lot, too timid to loot w/cannonball & cutlass, yet they lived like kings on salvage goods thanks to a plate-tectonics phantasm that endlessly shifted Shipwreck Reef & destroyed more vessels than Dany’s dragon.
AN ABBREVIATED AND SORRY HISTORY OF ENGLAND
After a trial republic, Charles Stuart won 1st place in the game of thrones. Enamored of spaniels & courtesans, he caught the disease of world domination from his Portuguese in-laws. The infection was chronic tho the regime ended in a trifling squabble about a pop.