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August 28, 2018 / hbrowne4

Moonrise on Hernadez by Shea Walsh

moonriselead

The cold mirror of the sun
Illuminating the vast desert plain
Broken by a distant mountain chain
The fixed frigid light
In a motionless night
The modest village
Forlorn in the immensity
Of earth and sky
Accentuating the loneliness
And harshness of existence
In that isolated place
Remnants still of the
Ancient Indian race
Linger
The adobe buildings
Cliff dwelling structures
Abandoned before the white influx
A mystery to this day
One thought was that
It might have been
Climate change
Yet this landscape
Has been the inspiration
Of many artists designers
And architects
Ansel Adams Georgia O’Keefe
To name a few
Santa Fe Style resurrecting
Indigenous designs
Still the endless sky
Pulls the inner eye back
To that photograph
Reflecting on yet another
Reminder of the smallness
Of our presence in space

©Shea Walsh 2018

 

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August 28, 2018 / hbrowne4

Seven Trickles Of Water by Heloisa Prieto

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Translated by Ellen Heyward

Once upon a time, a boy was found at the edges of an igarapé. A beautiful, chubby, smiley baby left there for someone to love.
In that part of the Brazilian state of Pará, most women had dark skin and very dark eyes. With the baby’s blonde hair and eyes the color of water, many young women wanted to adopt him. A wet nurse was put in charge of looking after the baby while all the mothers fought over him.
After much arguing in the village, the boy’s nurse, who already considered herself his mother, felt a long trickle of water flow through her hands, and she had an idea, declaring:
“The baby will choose his own mother. The house where the baby is happiest will be his home”
As soon as she said these words, the baby waved his little hand to another young woman. The nurse had to hand him over so as not to contradict herself.
The second mother was very young. Her baby boy had died in his sleep, but she had kept the cradle, the bedroom, the embroidered clothes.
The baby with water-colored eyes smiled when she picked him up. As soon as she lay him down in his cradle, he fell soundly asleep. Before, where longing and sadness had taken over the young woman’s house, now it was filled again with colors and happiness.
The young woman and her husband had grown apart during their suffering, but their love for the water baby brought them back together. Each moment of the day was a happy one for the mother: the time to feed her wonderful baby, the time to sit with him in the morning sun, and most of all, the time to bathe him.
The baby loved water above all things. He would laugh and play in the bathtub, splashing water in the air, making beautiful little rainbows.

2

With all that happiness, the mother fell pregnant again,and so the first birthday celebrations of the igarapé boy were twice as festive. To everyone’s great surprise, after the water baby blew out his first candle, he clambered onto the lap of another young mother, and no one could take him from her.
The young pregnant mother grew jealous and tried to wrench him from the other woman’s lap. The second mother had fallen in love with the baby and she fled to the courtyard, trying to keep him close. When the two mothers confronted each other, a small trickle of water flowed through the pregnant mother’s hair, and she realized though her new son the water baby had brought her much happiness, her time with him was over.
“Why would he want a third mother?”, the second mother thought to herself.
The third mother took the boy home with her. Unlike the second mother’s house, hers was full of children. She had become a widow when she was very young.Her husband had died in a boat accident.
Just like before, with the arrival of the new baby, the happiness grew inside the house. Joy made the young widow’s wrinkles disappear, her hair shine and her eyes sparkle. In no time, she had a line of suitors asking for her hand.
The widow chose a good husband: honest, kind and hard-working. And at the wedding party, lo and behold, the water baby, who had now grown into a little boy, chose another mother’s lap. And no one could pull him away from her.
“Why does he want a fourth mother?”, the third mother thought to herself.
The two mothers squabbled, but when they were really starting to argue, a trickle of water flowed down the arm of the widow, and she simply handed the little boy over to the other young woman.
The fourth mother did not have any children yet. Her husband loved her very much, but the young woman deeply missed her mother, who had died when she was very young.
Once more, the little boy filled the house with joy. The couple loved to see him taking his first steps, saying his first words and eating off a beautiful little silver spoon.
While happiness filled the house of the young orphan mother, a sweet old lady came to the village. Her eyes were kind and she had skillful hands. The old lady and the fourth mother met at the market and immediately became friends, deciding to help each other. As time went by, they became so close that everyone thought they were mother and daughter.

3

On the water boy’s birthday, there were plenty of sweets at the party, the cake was the most fluffy, delicious cake that anyone had ever tasted. Suddenly, the boy jumped onto a fifth mother’s lap.
The fifth mother was not well-regarded in the village. Full of mysteries and always casting magic spells, she would wander in the moonlight and pick herbs in the woods. People said she knew more secrets than she should.
When the boy went to live at her house, the mother of mysteries made little toys for him: small cars and animals for her son to play with.
Watching the water boy play was pure joy. He would take a bag to the middle of the street, spread out his toys and there wasn’t a child in the village who didn’t covet them.
Over time, parents started buying the fifth mother’s handmade toys. She crafted them with such love that she won over all the children’s hearts. Delighted by the miniature castles, horses and princesses, even the parents started to respect her.
On the water boy’s birthday, the mother of mysteries decided to put on a play, so all the children could show their parents just how creative they were.
The show was a huge success, and at the end there was a big party. While everyone was congratulating the mother of mysteries, the boy ran to another person’s side.
Crying, the fifth mother knew what was going to happen to her.

4

She kneeled before the boy as water trickled down her face. The boy pointed to all the people surrounding him. She knew her time with him was over, that happiness had come into her life. She hugged the boy and gave him to the sixth mother.
At the water boy’s sixth mother’s house, lived a boy who no one in the village understood. Even though he was the son of a happy couple, the boy would hit people when he meant to hug them, be silent when he wished to speak, and utter words that were exactly the opposite of what he wanted to express.
Even though the sixth mother told all the children in the village that her son had a good heart, they avoided him, and the boy grew up friendless and alone.
Shortly after the water boy moved into the other boy’s house, however, things started to improve. If his brother hit him, the water boy would give him a big hug. If the boy said aggressive things, the water boy would respond with giggles, and when he was silent, the water boy would provoke him until he spoke.
The friendship between the two brothers grew so strong that other children started to draw near. Nobody had as many fun games as those two. After a few months, the village children started to accept the clumsy ways of the boy and understood what he meant when he spoke in “the language of opposites”.

5

During a local football match, the clumsy boy scored a lot of goals and was carried on the shoulders of the village children. It was in that exact moment that his water-eyed brother left.
No one ever really knew when or how he disappeared. It was only known that he walked in the direction of the same igarapé where he had been found. But to this day in that little village in the state of Pará, it is said that the night the boy left, all who had met him and every child in the village dreamed exactly the same dream at the same time.
In the dream, the seven-year old boy walked towards the roots of a tree, and from the water rose his real mother. She was beautiful with a slender, elegant body, golden eyes and shiny hair like multicolored water trickles. The water mother hugged the water boy, the strands of her long hair wrapping around him like living vines, and they both disappeared, leaving behind only a beautiful trace of happiness.

August 26, 2018 / hbrowne4

“Prologue” by Russell-Oliver Brooklands

This is a prologue to a work in progress entitled ‘Self Possession’.  Its subtitle is ‘Healing the incurable’.  And it’s a true story which took 22 years to run its course.

Damian Prescott raised his head from the office floor and gazed up at his desk, some five feet away. It was the one solid, dependable object on which he could focus in a reality which, three seconds earlier, had totally lost the plot. That reality had started slipping a little under two months ago, but this sudden irruption had blown it apart, and more completely than he could have imagined possible. In his bewildered state, the recumbent young man hardly dared acknowledge what he could see out of the corner of his eye, but his upturned chair was just visible – seeming almost to mock him as it lay drunkenly on its side. It had tumbled in the opposite direction when he’d been violently thrown out of it. By himself.

Seven weeks since his random tics had begun, they were no longer content to afflict just his arms and neck; clearly his whole body was now in full scale revolt against him. And he had no idea how this was even possible, nor why it was happening to him. Surely bodies weren’t supposed to do this sort of thing. What the heck had he done to himself? And when?

As he lay there, curled up in the foetal position into which he’d been shocked when that massive abdominal convulsion had blasted him from his seat, he found he was shaking with a combination of fear, injustice and uncomprehending frustration. And just one clear thought came to him: “Shit. You’re fucked. You really are so much more fucked than you could ever have imagined, aren’t you.”

He was right; a quick personal inventory showed the precariousness of his situation.

He was a single 34 year-old, who’d only recently left the safe bosom of the corporate world to go self-employed. He had a substantial mortgage to pay, was still looking for his first clients, and now found himself living in a body that had seemingly chosen to take on a bit part in The Exorcist. Blunt though his analysis was, then, there was no getting away from the magnitude of his fuckedness, nor what his options were.

Out of control though his physiology was, he must somehow find a way to heal himself. But there was a problem. He hadn’t the remotest clue as to what it was that even needed healing, nor how to find out. It was, after all, 1996: traditional western medicine had nothing useful to offer, the internet had barely been born, and ‘broadband’ was just a twinkle in BT’s ‘to do’ list; even spellcheck didn’t recognise it yet.

But his healing was evidently going to take some serious detective work and, given its apparent unfathomability, quite a bit of time. Two more problems, then; for he wasn’t a detective, and – the way his body seemed hell bent on escalating its own self-destruction – he had no idea how much time he might have left.

“But what option do I have?” he thought as, ever so tentatively, he started moving his legs “I simply have to try.”

August 2, 2018 / hbrowne4

King of Schadenfreude by Axel James Johnston Kelly

“Shall I elucidate your many, nay indeed, your  manifold mistakes?” Blaggard, Dark Wizard and King of Schadenfreude, gloated nastily over the fallen barbarian swordsman lying on the floor before him.

Maya the Merciless, co-ruler of Schadenfreude – a result of the realm’s extremely stringent equality legislation – produced her pocket watch. She considered swiftly. If this piece of gloating were to continue for more than ten minutes, then she’d be outside her official core hours and into overtime. After her last renegotiation with her boss, that could work out very nicely indeed. “Tell him, boss,” she said cheerfully. “He should know just how stupid he’s been.” Blaggard looked at her with slight puzzlement, then grinned.

“As you say,” he twirled his moustache with a diabolical flourish. He addressed the fallen swordsman. “Your first mistake was opening the package,” he said. “I mean, really? You’ve infiltrated a land ruled by a dark wizard; you manage to intercept a parcel he’s sent to someone else… and, rather than get a wizard to examine it, you decide, ‘I’m going to open it’.”

The swordsman groaned, “Thought it might have gold inside…” he managed.

“If I were sending gold around, you may rest assured that I would not send it second-class post.”

“I’d heard you were famously mean – that you fought your employees for every pay raise.”

Maya did her best not to look embarrassed as Blaggard glared at her.

“Quite the opposite. I don’t think I’ve ever known minions who’re so quick to quote the Dark Plain of Croak Agreements at me. Or equal pay legislation.” He cleared his throat. “You were fortunate indeed that the package merely teleported you into my fortress, rather than exploding. But, to continue. Your second mistake was…”

A sloshing sound from the large pool of carnivorous fish below the audience chamber interrupted his flow. One of the enchanted sharks that called the pool home stuck his head over the side.

“Are you going to be much longer? When’s our pay arriving?”

Blaggard went red with sheerest indignation, “You’ll wait until I’m good and ready, you cartilaginous cretin!”

“We’ve got a contract!” The shark dived down, then came back up with a sadly-disintegrating piece of paper. “So okay, this copy’s a bit on the damp side, but the ink on the copy with our lawyer is still dry! And it’s very clear – we get paid with your shrieking enemies. And we get paid on-time. If you can’t hold to that, maybe it’s time to renegotiate.”

“Silence!” Maya snapped, “Go on, boss. Really lay it on thick.”

“Thank you.” The wizard drew himself up. “Now. Your second mistake was that, rather than attempting to slip through the quieter parts of the castle – my wine-cellar, the old dungeons, and so on and so on – you instead decided to head straight for the living quarters of both myself and my minions.”

The barbarian shrugged, “Thought they might have gold inside.”

Blaggard sighed, “I do use the banks, you know! Now, the third mistake…”

The shark chose this moment to interject again, “For one thing, we’ve been thinking about some variety. Your enemies are all very well, but something different now and again would be nice. Maybe chicken, or steak and eggs?”

“I couldn’t rob the banks, I’m a hero!” The barbarian spoke up again.

Maya blinked. “So, you have a problem with robbing banks, but you don’t mind robbing the personal wealth of the rightful king of Schadenfreude?”

“He’s just a dark wizard who stole the throne!”

Maya shrugged. “Everyone around here recognises him as the rightful king –  and myself as rightful co-ruler.”

“Because they don’t dare to say otherwise!”

“Hey now, free speech is allowed here, if people don’t want to use it then that’s their business. Point is – you’re entirely fine with robbing people you see as evil, even if they’re publicly recognised as the rightful rulers of a large kingdom. But banks, that probably cause far more evil and suffering than anything a dark wizard can…”

“Hey!” Blaggard exclaimed.

“Sorry, boss, but it’s true.”

“I…” He shook his head, “Anyway, your third mistake…

“But banks are supposedly a step too far?” Maya interrupted, as she sneaked a look at her watch. Excellent! She was well into overtime territory now.

“Of course, that’s the same as always with you hero types. You say you’re all about justice and freedom and whatever, but all you do is maintain the status quo. Whereas people who actually try to affect real, lasting change get called villains!”

“Whose monologue is this again?” Blaggard demanded icily.

“Are you people even listening to me?” the shark demanded. “We demand variety! And a larger pool with more coral would be appreciated.”

“I am trying,” Blaggard growled, “to make this person-thing quail appropriately in fear and loss before throwing him to you. You may wait. And all of you,  kindly remember who delivers the monologues around here. So, your third mistake…”

The shark drew himself upright, “In that case, as shop steward of the Union of Aquatic Carnivores, Menacing Fish and Poisonous Rays, I must inform you that you may consider us on strike.”

Several other sharks, along with stingrays and large piranhas, bobbed up around him, holding signs that might have been legible once but were now just covered in running black ink.

“Not another one of your enemies will we devour or sting until such time as you provide us with a more varied range of victuals. Until that time, we shall subsist on the smaller fish you added to the pool for the sake of colour.”

What? I forbid you to consume my goldfish!”

“Too late. The strike starts now.”

The fish began circling, holding their signs up high above the water.

Blaggard turned to Maya. “Do something!”

“Well – settling union disputes is outside my normal duties. And I’ll have to work on top of the usual overtime, which means I’ll be missing college classes.” She considered for a moment, before adding, “I’ll expect time and a half.”

She eyed her watch. Overtime, plus time-and-a-half ­– this was looking really excellent.

 

July 20, 2018 / hbrowne4

Secret Writing by Heloisa Prieto

Running through empty alleys in the quiet of the night. Was it the darkness or my fears that drew long shadows, residues of old dwellers and passerbyes, or maybe ripped pieces of their lost souls?
I stepped, by accident, over insects, I was frightened by night cats leaping, I was terrified by the noises of the Wind tapping on trash cans. Deprived of any sense of orientation, I felt lost, helpless.
Suddenly, these haunted labyrinths were filled with rumours, not a soothing sound. I could glimpse at the shadow walkers turning on the corners.
I want to lie down in Green pastures, I thought.
I want to walk through the right paths, I wished
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil.
I tried to recall the verses I had heard as a child, but only a number kept coming to my mind: 23. 23. 23.
To reach the avenue and find my way back home, I would have to turn on the corner. The same corner where I had seen shadows.
I want a table before me, and the presence of my dear friends, I Said out loud. I looked down at my own feet, at least these I knew so well. I concentrated my thoughts trying to remember the Day I had bought those shoes. I focused on the sound of my own breathing, because it was the most familiar sound, after all.
Dawn. Sun light hit my eyes fully. I closed my lids and walked quickly, I turned on the empty, silent corner. I left the alley. I reached the street. Trees in the Center of the avenue. Large treetops projecting their shadows. I Sat down on the bench under the largest tree. All I had to do now was to wait for the bus to come. Not all shadows are dark.

July 20, 2018 / hbrowne4

Trying New Things! by Stephen Brady

Brigid and Michael had gone out to dinner for their thirtieth anniversary. When it came to food, Michael had always been conservative – a meat-and-spuds man. Brigid blamed his rural background. But she was determined: tonight, of all nights, her fuddy-duddy husband was going to try Something Different.
She decided not to book anywhere, and just go where the fancy took them. Dressed in their finest, they trawled a slightly shady part of town. She’d heard that all the best ethnic restaurants could be found here. They wandered the dimly-lit streets, where neon signs blinked in language incomprehensible.
“I’m not so sure about this,” said Michael, donning his glasses. He squinted at the signs, and then looked sidelong at his wife. “Are you sure we can’t go for a bit o’steak or the like?”
“Give over.” Brigid took his elbow. “Don’t be such an oul stick-in-the-mud. You’re having something different tonight, Michael Finnegan. If it’s the last thing you do!”
They found a place down a dark side-street. A sign flickered green, with strange pictograms. A number of posters in different languages were tacked to the alley wall below. Only one was in English, and it read: “FOR ALL PEOPLES. FINEST FOOD OF MACAO.”
“This is it!” she said, and snapped the entrance with her phone.
“I don’t know,” said Michael. “It doesn’t look the cleanest, Bridge.”
“It’s the real thing. That’s what we want.”
“Are you sure…”
“Get in there, before I give you a clout.”
She shoved him through the door.
Inside was a gloomy antechamber. It was lit with a weak, greenish light. It made the bare counter and naked fixtures look slightly ill. Smells were coming from somewhere, faintly redolent of a distant sea.
“Hello?” Brigid yelled, as loudly as she thought polite. “Is anyone home? A table for two, please!”
An Oriental appeared. He was small and slim, his hair and beard braided in a style neither of them had ever seen before. Not even on the National Geographic, of which Michael was so fond.
The host ushered them through a curtained partition. Beyond was a dim, tiny room with perhaps half a dozen tables. They were the only customers. The piquant sea-smell was stronger here. Brigid felt a surge of excitement. This was the real thing, alright.
They were led to a table in the corner. It was covered in an old pink tablecloth, but was otherwise bare.
Michael took the host by the shoulder.
“Listen to me now, chum. This here is my wife, and it’s our anniversary. Thirty years and we’re still talkin. So give us the dearest thing on the menu. I don’t care what it is. D’you get me?”
The Oriental bowed, inscrutably.
“Good man. And two Smithwicks, as well.”
The fellow hurried away. Brigid and Michael sat at the table. She took his hand in both of hers.
“I’m proud of you, love. Trying something different, for the once.”
“Ah, sure.” He was pleased, abashed. “Might as well. Special occasion, what?”
It took a long time for their food to arrive, and when it did, it wasn’t quite what Brigid was expecting.
They were given a plate each. No cutlery, no side dishes, no drinks. On each plate was a… creature. They had never seen the like before.
They were sort of like crabs, and sort of like lobsters. But they also had tentacles, like those of an octopus. Their bodies were strangely jointed, almost insectoid. It was like something you’d see in a nightmare. They were covered in thin, greenish sauce that gave off an odour which reminded Brigid of a harbour at low tide.
“Jesus,” she whispered. “What in the name of God is this?”
“Looks alright to me,” said Michael.
“For God’s sake. Put your glasses back on.”
“Sure feck it,” he shrugged. “You’re right, what you’re always sayin. You only live once. I’m goin to give it a go!”
He picked up the strange creature and bit into it.
At the moment he did, the creature on Brigid’s plate moved.
Startled, she looked down. The thing on her plate had rolled over. In the middle of it’s stomach, a single eye opened and stared into her own.
“Don’t, Michael!” She pushed back from the table. “Jesus, they’re still alive!”
“It’s grand,” said her husband. He bit off a part of the creature’s midsection that had a limb attached. Brigid saw, with mounting horror, that the appendage protruding from her husband’s mouth was kicking weakly at the air.
“Michael!” She clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh, God. This was a mistake. Let’s go to Supermac’s!”
“Naw, naw.” He was chewing with relish. “It’s not bad at all. Bit different is all. Do you know, I actually think I-”
He froze. His face went blank. He had a lump in his throat, and it was moving.
“Michael-?”
He collapsed on the floor and began to scream. Brigid staggered back, numb with horror. A piece of flesh spilled from her husband’s mouth, and wriggled across the restaurant floor.
Some time later, she was in the alley speaking to a policeman. An ambulance was parked nearby, and she could hear him in the back, crying out: “I shouldn’t have eaten it! Oh Jesus God, I shouldn’t have eaten it!”
“Tell me again,” the policeman said. He was very young, and very bored. “There was a man in there, you said?”
“I told you already.” She dabbed her eyes. “A man brought us in. I described him to you. I want him arrested. He’s after poisoning my husband with some class of a… mutant sea creature. On our anniversary!”
“OK,” the copper sighed. “We looked in there and we couldn’t find anybody. Take me through it again.”
Just then, a blood-curdling scream came from the back of the ambulance. One of the paramedics yelled, “Oh fuck! Get back, get back!”
A sound of tearing flesh, and a splash as some sort of liquid hit the inside wall of the ambulance. The cop looked over, prodded by a mild concern.
“Trying new things,” Bridgid sobbed, as she collapsed against the wall of the alleyway. “Trying new things!”

July 6, 2018 / hbrowne4

Concentrate by Shea Walsh

A boy was born a bubbly bouncy happy boy an occasional ear ache but what a joy playful smiling learning to walk and talk asking if its time for bed? Kindergarten passed disarming first grade waylaid sitting on the floor in a circle not for him frustrated teacher have him tested University diagnosed Asperger Syndrome something unknown what to do where to go differing opinions no one really seemed to know neurodevelopemental department one on one is suggested who is going to make an argument with such an impressive recommendation how to do it is another question no resources in the schools worth the mention a therapist came to the house to guide us towards a workable plan helpful well intentioned but limited by the short time that this resources was available through it all this little boy tried his best charm to get a rest

The beginning was confusing sights sounds textures sparkling jewels toy to be disassembled cars trucks trains tractors ships boats submarines and airplanes animals snakes alligators splashed by an elephant at the Zoo

Life whirling by with an incredible velocity sounds sounds everywhere around clamoring through his acute hearing

Everything flickering by in glimpses trying not to miss one thing a bird a leaf a person with a limp undiscerning attitude unable to detect a change of mood unaware if someone is rude or crude

Naive trusting all are good no matter what their facial expression a slow sense obtained when explained again and again and again and again times a thousand or two won’t get in to personal hygiene

Also smart and sometimes savvy with an ambidextrous aptitude yet cautious walking down the stairs

Trying to develop an education a never ending labour labour with a ton of frustration a task for a very special person hard to find an Asperger angel an endless struggle at home and at school trying to find a way a system that is workable tiny steps forward and back persistence consistence try not to over pressure all the time remember you are trying to teach a treasure frequent breaks try whatever it takes

Through all this he sits and smiles using all his innate wiles to receive approval get a responding smile to take away the awful pressure  to concentrate a mind in flight in some forest of stimulation can’t imagine the effort it takes the exhausting effort to try and concentrate

This is full of contradictions airplanes fishing things that interest them then his focus is complete where their strengths are can be a good place to start driving down the road what car is that a Ford what are  the letters FORD just keep it up you will be so happy when you get to Lamborghini They don’t come with an instruction manual what child does basic math how many boats airplanes toys stuffed animals you have to learn to think out of the box take them with you as much as you can encourage them to direct you home yes left and right can be a challenge find a way to help them manage turn to your side or mine keep in a straight line try to make it a game that is not constantly pounding at their brain each step will be a blessing especially when you see their pride in achievement this is what you try and do trial and error yes it seems to go on and on but with time you will see the progress it will make your heart grow large to realize how much you have learnt sometimes you will wonder who is teaching who

This may seem to go on for ever then one day to your surprise you realize this child has grown into a person of their own.

©Shea Walsh 2017