Friday, September 22, 2017



I couldn’t see. I felt around my eyes. My lids were sewn shut! I screamed, but no sound came out. My lips were sewn shut too. I started to run, hands out in front to ward off obstacles. It was night, I felt sure, because no tiniest bit of light came through my lids, and it was silent. I stopped and felt my ears. They were folded forward and sewn shut too. I hugged myself. I’d have wet my pants but for two things: I was naked and I couldn’t pee. What’s happening to me?! I screamed silently and ran again. I struck something and flew backward. I felt wooden planks beneath me. There was no knot on my forehead—there was a crack. But no blood. I huddled on the floor, blind, deaf, mute, and naked. A sudden suspicion made me feel my nose. Sewn shut, just like my other orifices. Dreading what I would find, I felt again. I now knew why I couldn’t pee. Misery overcame me and I bowed my head.

I started violently when a hand firmly grasped my shoulder. A small pair of scissors cut the thread binding my right ear. I could feel lips there, and I could hear breathing. A woman whispered:

It’s alright, I will free you.” She snipped the thread binding my left ear and my eyes. She was a dusky young woman dressed in a black body suit. I touched my lips, my nose. She smiled and shook her head. Then she whispered again. I listened for a long time, shrinking from the sibilance of those antediluvian words. I shouldn’t have understood them, for she spoke the language of the dead, which is the second oldest language. She told me what I must do. If I succeeded, then she would free me.

I strangled the judge. When it was over, I left the message she had dictated, and returned to the tumble-down warehouse where she’d found me. She cut the threads from my lips and I told her how it went.

Free me,” I begged. She smiled and I knew fear again. “You promised!”

I will,” she said, and spoke again the language of death. I collapsed like a masterless puppet. I could not move. She went away then—I heard her footsteps. I endured a kind of living death for such a long time. Weeks? Months?

A long time later some men came and wrapped me in a bag. They picked me up, threw me in the back of a pickup truck, and drove for at least half an hour. Later, they threw me down in a hole and shoveled dirt on top of me. I think they have buried me alive.

Publ. Drowning Atlantis, 2007

Thursday, September 21, 2017


My poem, Traces, in the latest Mithila Review. It is in excellent company.

Fossils of the Black Belt teacher field workshop

the workshop roster is almost full. If you would like to attend, and have not signed up yet, get in touch with me right away.


imperishable fruit
still on rust-spotted shelves
doesn’t smell ripe


stealing a bookcase
from a colleague
how low can you go?


Still contagious?

Roxane drew Steve's attention to them. She leaned on her hands. "Put down the paper."
His eyes were conveyed by her low-cut top to the tanned shapes within. "Very nice," he thought, as always, and then noticed a large freckle that seemed to be sliding towards her cleavage.
"What the hell is that, Dr. Stevens?" she demanded.
He took of his glasses and leaned forward for a closer look. It appeared to be some kind of crude drawing of a monster, complete with green scales.
"A new tattoo?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Later, she admitted that she should not have slugged him, but maintained that it was his fault they'd lost track of the migrating blot.
Close examination of Roxane's epidermis (and Steve's) turned up nothing unexpected, but two days later a herd (pack?) of the creatures were observed gliding all over the kitchen cabinets.
Roxane ushered Joey and his friends outside ("Cool cabinets, Ms. Stevens!") and set about dealing with the infestation. A fly swatter had no perceptible effect, nor did pesticide spray. Paint remover repelled the vermin, but the cabinets just didn't look the same afterwards. After about an hour they were just … gone.
"As if they turned and went into the cabinets," she told Steve that night, "but they weren't inside at all."

Steve decided that the next step was to photograph the "Space Invaders." The next morning he came rushing in from the bathroom. "The sink! They're on the sink!" Steve grabbed the camera and dashed back out of the room. He took one photo of the sink and the invaders were gone. Disappointed, he downloaded the lone image to his computer and sent it to a few colleagues.

In retrospect, he admitted that he should not have used the digital camera.

Publ. Drowning Atlantis, 2007

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Nyarlathotep, messenger of the Old Ones, walked the world, reaching into the skulls of several world leaders, and gently stirring the contents thereof. He didn't bother with the leaders of the United States and North Korea, they were already ready for the stars to be aligned.