Wednesday, April 24, 2019


When Kimi was a child,
she had a dream—
no, not a dream—
a vision.
It was a vision of the end
of all human life
on Earth.
Giant alien robots
causing earthquakes
and tsunamis
and volcanic eruptions.
Kimi knew that her mission,
her very reason for being,
was to tell everyone
what she saw.

So she created a manga,
which became
a worldwide bestseller,
and it was adapted into
an award-winning anime series
and later
a blockbuster live-action film.
But no one got the message
or did anything to prevent
the end of the world
because Kimi’s vision
of doom
and global catastrophe
was actually really awesome
when you saw it.

Kindred Spirit

Elena said she’s got a ghost
in her apartment.
She doesn’t seem very concerned about it.
Her exact words were,
“It’s like, whatever,” said with a shrug
as she took a sip of beer.

“What do you mean, ‘whatever’?”
I asked incredulously.
“Is it a friendly ghost, a poltergeist?
Do you need a priest?”

“Nah,” she replied.
“It’s fine.  It’s not really a big deal.”

“Look,” I told her,
“Either you have proof of life after death
or a rat’s nest in your walls.  It is a big deal.
What does the ghost do anyway?”

“I’ll hear some banging sounds at night,
coming from the kitchen
when I’m all alone.”

“You have mice or a squirrel,” I told her.
“Not a ghost.”

“Normally, I’d agree with you,” she replied.
“But he moans sometimes.”

“It’s a he? And he moans?”


“It’s not just your upstairs neighbor jacking off?”

“No!” she laughed.  
“It’s like a faint, sad, mopey moan.”

“And the banging around.  
Every night?”

“Not every night.  
I’d say, like four or five nights a week.”

“And you’re okay with this?”

“It’s not really that big of a deal.
If I’m trying to sleep, I’ll shout 
‘Oh my God, Shut up!’,
and it all stops.
It’s just kind of like
having a depressed nocturnal roommate.”

I paused for a moment.
Our food had arrived.
I swallowed a bit of my burger and said,
“Maybe you’re supposed to do something
to free his spirit.”

Elena shrugged, looked for the waitress,
so she could get another beer.
“He hasn’t asked me
to do anything like that,
so I wouldn’t want to be rude.
He doesn’t mess with me
or my stuff.
I’ve decided to call him ‘Elmer,’”
she added brightly.

“Well, maybe that’s why he’s moaning,”
I replied.

The waitress put our check down
as she brushed past us.
“No rush,” she said absentmindedly.


After Bonnie’s mom died,
someone had to go through the house,
collect the family photographs,
roll bubble wrap around 
limited-edition porcelain figurines,
throw away stained coffee mugs
with chipped lips and cracked handles,
laugh at the ancient record collection,
cry a bit over the ancient record collection,
pack up clothes for Goodwill,
sell stacks of paperback romance novels
with yellowed pages.

She did all these chores,
mostly alone.
Her two siblings lived out of state.
Her husband had to work,
and of course the kids had their
soccer tournaments and swim meets.
She didn’t mind, though.
It was hard, dusty work,
but it was quiet in her mother’s house,
and it still felt as though
her mother was just in the other room,
washing dishes or making coffee.

No one had been in the attic
in probably over 30 years.
The door was locked,
and the gaps around the door
were long ago sealed with silver duct tape.
Bonnie had a faint memory
of toddling on the dusty floor of that attic,
being surprised by an angry adult,
crying out as she was roughly picked up
and carried away.
She never stepped inside again.
But it would need to be cleaned out,
its contents sorted,
before she had the realtor over.

She found an unlabeled set of keys
in the kitchen junk drawer
and correctly guessed that the key
marked with a black “X” in electrical tape
would open the attic door.
When she shone her flashlight inside,
she found
to her relief
that the attic was almost empty.
Dusty, yes,
and it made her sneeze three times in a row,
but not cluttered,
no dead mice or bats resting in peace
on the wooden floor.
The single naked light bulb hanging above
even dimly illuminated the space
when she pulled on the cord.
There was just one large steamer trunk,
sitting in the middle of the walnut floor.
She retrieved bolt cutters
from her father’s old toolbox in the basement
and broke the lock off the trunk.
What was inside the darkness called to her
with a voice that was enticing and vaguely familiar.
A faint trace of music
she heard only once
years before.
She smiled with happy tears
shining in her eyes.
It's you,
after all this time.
Compelled to follow,
she stepped inside the trunk,
the lid closing after her,
and she was never seen again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Cubist Conference

The meeting had been rescheduled for Wednesday.
We gathered in the small conference room at 1:30.
The walls were a dusky blue;
the long table was a sturdy indigo;
the chairs an intriguing teal.
I stared at my chair, which existed only in two dimensions.
Tried to take a seat and slipped right off.
I decided to just stand at attention,
not sure what to do with my arms.
Donna, a consulting manager, entered the room.
Each of her three faces wore a different expression.
The smiling face said,
“Hello, good to see you.  How was your vacation?”
The neutral face looked down at her notepad
as she flipped to a blank page.
The third face narrowed her eyes, bared her teeth at me,
and hissed like an animal.
“Shall we get started?” Donna’s pleasant face asked.
My coworker Sarah was already seated.
Her eyes were pointed skyward,
her toothless mouth a rictus of despair.
She held her clenched fists in the air
but otherwise remained motionless and silent.
Jackie recited the new projects that had come in,
asked me if I could take on the Seattle account.
“I know it’s not convenient,” she added,
as one of her eyes turned into a triangle
and slid to the other side of her head.
Of course it wasn’t convenient,
but I agreed to do it, of course,
with a sideways crescent-moon grin on my face.

Deep Blue

I couldn’t see
more than a few inches in front of me,
counting every breath
as the rocky walls started closing in.
All I could hear was my robotic respirations,
each second inching closer to the end.
I had to find a way through
because I wouldn’t make it back.
I reached a crevice
though which I could see
a wide-open blue space
and heavenly rays of light
shining down from above.
This glimpse of freedom
was not large enough.
So I had two choices:
To gaze out this beautiful window
at a paradise out of reach
or retreat back into the black maze.