i left my glasses in the cretaceous period

A traveler of time, all chagrined,
Requested to borrow a pen.
“My troubles all spring
From that Heisenberg thing:
I know where my things are, but not when.”

My entry for the Scottish Book Trust’s March 50-word fiction competition. Prompt: Write a story featuring a time traveler.

Pocket watch in sand

Image by annca, Pixabay


i can climb a mountain


18-03-11 I Can Climb a Mountain


“I can climb a mountain,”
Said the young boy, looking up.
“A heap of rocks is no big deal
So long’s I don’t let up.”

Yet though undaunted he did climb,
The slopes were slick and steep.
Again, again, he slipped and fell
And landed in a heap.

With fierce determination
He sprang back to his feet.
“One day,” he vowed, “I’ll reach the top.
No mountain’s got me beat.”

“I can climb a mountain,”
Said the young man, narrow-eyed,
“But first I need some numbers
on other who have tried.”

“I need the cost analysis,
the value and reward.
Else what’s the point in climbing,
If there’s no win in store?”

“Besides, I have some chores to run
And overtime at do.
But let me check my schedule
And I’ll get back to you.”

“I can climb a mountain,”
Said the old man, thin and grey.
“Or once upon a time, at least,
I thought there was a way.”

“It’s all because of others
Who tried to hold me down.
It’s not my fault, I swear to God,
I never left the ground.”

“In fact I still would climb it,
Except my memory’s no good.
You see, I can’t quite recollect
Just where that mountain stood.”

secondhand smoke

i know you can taste it,
the poison that I swallowed down.
you like it, don’t you?
(i know you do.)

the bitter taste that coats your throat
(but so good, it burns so sweet)?
how it makes your stomach burn
(but warm, like whiskey neat)?
yeah i know you like it,
this medicine i drink.

you feel it, don’t you,
how i tingle when we kiss,
i make your sense going dead,
just like you like it, no?
you want more? (i know you do.)
come here, baby, i’ve got something else to show you.

dinner with my mother’s daughter

how undeniably correct we sit,
elbows off the linen and backs molded into the shapes of our chairs.
face to face for the first time in years, we reach out across a gulf of soup tureens.
see: you and i, our glasses laced with cultured rot,
and our mouths pressed tight against an accidental intake of nourishment.
between us lies an immutable hardwood slab and its forest of china,
candle flames wide-accusing eyes glaring in all directions.

the invitation, extended; the acceptance, inevitable.
decorum dictated our responses.
we did not want to be here, we could not refuse.
the careful avoidance of bad taste, the manners that offended and enraged–
overwhelming trivialities that cannot, that have to be, ignored.
hunger gnawing me to the bone, i had to relearn how to play nice,
and all the while sharpened silverware inches from my hand.

how easy to to sip in small spoonfuls, to remember which hand holds the knife.
you–the flawless visitor, the perfect dinner guest–
are so exactly the way i remember.
your manners make it so very easy to be polite,
so very easy to scoop you onto the flawless tablecloth and serve you whole,
my steak knife carving roasts from your thighs,
my dessert spoon gouging sweetbreads and viscera for a palate cleanser,
my salad fork buried in flesh that shrieks, writhes, and erupts with an aroma of mesquite-grilled pork.
no, it doesn’t pain me at all.

i devour you in small, neat bites, exactly as we’d both been taught.
it’s not murder, it’s an act of mercy,
your skin flensed back in artful patterns
and your flesh floating in red wine sauce pungent with too few years.
pain toughens the meat to bitter string and yet i choke you down,
weeping, belly bloating until i can’t stand the taste of you.

how still you lay, how neatly arranged for my consumption.
unresisting but reproachful, eyes accusing as you smile and chant,
it’s okay/i don’t blame you/it’s all your fault.

i never wanted to do this to you, but it had to be done.
i didn’t choose to be here, but mother made me come.


drag me
fold me into your deliberations
the frothing flute in hands linked arm in arm
buttercream on my tongue
magnolias touched to the wrists

shake the beasts of burdens from our skins
become large, extrasolar
candled and sleek in the firelight
sugar castles in humid Southern air

the very first day
just like any other day
a day is a day is yet another day
and tomorrow, tonight, today
kinked ever so slightly
into an elevated plane of being


global warming, incandescent, swallows oceans,
punishes innocents
blind-swimming in double-cupped handfuls.
salt scales crust earth
newly raw to light and sting in the open air.
seas, evaporated,
residual scarring:
the junction of thirst and bloat
puckering gravel beds to
suppurated seams, strained stitches, ruptured weaves.
net the shallows, haul up, and count.
there’s a bulge of bodies to triumph at,
never mind how cursory the trawl, how still they lie.
never mind how deliquesced the skin over meat still aquiver with pulse.