It Takes Two

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
 
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte's Web

When Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads announced they'd be bringing back their In Tandem series (collaborations between the poets swimming in the pond) I was delighted to get a chance to work with amazing fellow poet, and (after a few years of visits and crazy phone calls) good friend, Magaly Guerrero.  We kicked around the idea of doing something Quite Serious, but realized, for various reasons, it was better for our health and happiness to go a little more lighthearted with this.

We are not terribly serious people anyway.

So I am pleased to present the product of our combined efforts, Anima and Animus, from Dream to Flesh. Click on the link to hop on over :)

Jane

I remember being not out of earshot too
and hearing words reminding me
I’m no one’s ideal of beauty.

I loved you then,
for our shared sin
of not adorning the world.

I revisited you, year after year.
One day, after a pilgrimage to a crossroad
that long had intrigued me
I found what I reverence, what I delight in –

you fell a little in my eyes.
I’d have never ran
from love to conform to a dogma
that did its best to shame me.

Then I grew a little more, realizing
you defined your own dogma
to align with the dictates of your spirit,

just as I’ve done. Though I’d go left
where you’d go right, conventionalities don’t bind us.
My spirit recognizes yours
and I’ll always love that.



This poem was created as response to the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: My Dearest Book, I Wrote You a Poem. I chose one of my all time favorites, Jane Eyre. I love the book so much, I have an infinity scarf with the text from the scene where Jane and Mr. Rochester confess their love to each other. This is also linked to Poet's United Poetry Pantry #370

The meek...

suppress joy for fear
their light might make someone uncomfortable.

They are told
to devalue their drive so not to appear immodest.

I don’t want
someone to judge my worth on how quiet I can be.

When I am dead I will be quiet enough.

I’m alive,
and not the slightest bit meek.

Song Choice: My Shot from Hamilton

I created this piece to play along with the Friday 55 challenge offered by Verse Escape. There some terrific pieces there, including the one created by the hostess, to satisfy your poetic cravings.

My Love. Crazy.

I prefer your kind of crazy
to the sanity the world tries to sell.
I prefer the sound of your tongue
whispering blessings in my sacred grove
instead of droned heartless hymns.

I have no fear of the world
through the looking-glass
as long as you are on the side
I enter into. You

have filled my head with wonders
since the day you stole
into my tower built of doubts.
You told me my hair was magic
and I believed. You

enchant and enflame me,
until I have no choice but to submit
to the mysteries you have initiated me into.
I lay as novice, but rise as priestess,
adept at the skills you have taught me. I

cannot live without your madness -
my armor against the madder reality
I must inhabit.  I must play at sterile sanity
while the eyes of the world are on me,

but when they turn away,
and the stars are the only witnesses
then I will let you kiss me, madly.
And I will kiss back.  



This poem was inspired by a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Play It Again Toads where we got to pick an older prompt to work with. I chose the Sunday Mini Challenge based on the poetry of Carilda Olivar Labra, specifically her poem, I go crazy, my love, I go crazy. I've also linked this poem up to Poet's United: Poetry Pantry #369.

Daylight Rationalist

I trace the circle around me
well salted with cynicism.
Sharpened stones lie
in every quarter,
while I’m cloaked
in rationality, secure
nothing under the sun can touch me.

Bleaching daylight gives way to the moon.
And nocturnes too subtle for day’s
cacophonous babble break
through to pierce
my too proud heart.
I cross the lines I created,
cutting myself on my own touchstones.

My cloak falls off in tatters
and I fly
until I am star drunk and well sated.
There is no shame
in my eyes
when I greet the rising sun.


This poem was created by a prompt given by me at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Meme, where I asked people to create a poem from either the 13th line on the 7th page, or the 7th line from the 13th page of a book nearby them. The book I used was Witches by Erica Jong, and the quote that provided the inspiration (line 7 on page 13) was, “The rationalist scoffs, secure in his superiority to all those who claim that intellect is not enough to take us through this life.” 

Her Magic

She is her own
kind of magic. Banishing
limitations placed
by parochial minds,
she is innocent
darkness. Her hues
are enchanted to delight
her own eyes.

She knows
where her heart is,
there is her power.
So she cherishes all
that matches its beat -
and allows
no interruptions
to its rhythms.



Alphabet R by Erté


Song Choice: Video by India Arie 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Flash 55 Plus, where we were invited to consider the art of Erté while creating our poem, as well as keeping to the 55 word limit. It is also linked to Poet's United Poetry Pantry #365.

Fall 2018

The first time I time traveled
to the fall of 2018 in my mind
was when your father whispered,
“Look around. Any one of these
could be future family.”

I saw you, with your grandfather’s smile
on your young brown skinned face,
putting down your video games with an ease
you never showed when your father or I asked
to follow a smiling face to adventures unknown.

I traveled again, to the fall of 1990,
when I smiled at your father. We didn’t know
about the spring of 1995. “Just friends,” was what we said.
After all, I was dating someone else,

and if your father(‘s family) had ever time traveled,
he (they) had never seen someone like me
standing under a canopy next to him in the future.
My family was equally surprised.

My heart got broken and mended,
just as yours probably will.
Then I time traveled again, to fall 1999

when I vowed to keep you safe, knowing
there’s only so much a mother can do,
even if she plays video games, watches Pokemon,
and makes time to talk about the small things
to make it easier to talk about the big ones.

I know in the fall of 2018, I will crack jokes.
I’ll be the laid back mom you leaned on
through every big change that came before.
We got through everything as long as we could
laugh about it, even if we cried a little too.

I’ll cry a little in 2018. But I’ll show you
this poem in the winter of 2019, once you’ve settled in.
We’ll joke, “Dear gods! What will we do
in the fall of 2021?” while having your favorite dinner.
Hopefully the taste of rosemary will remind me
to enjoy that moment, and let the future take care of itself.



This poem was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens For Real Toads: Watch the Corners which was based around the song by Dinosaur Jr of the same name. I have also linked up to Poet's United Poetry Pantry 363. 

While I could go with Watch the Corners for the song choice, instead I'm going to go with the song that had me bawling when I was pregnant with my now college-bound son, You'll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins, from the movie Tarzan, because that was really the first time I knew that someday my baby boy was going to grow up.

Unnatural Wound

Sophia’s skin pulled tighter over her shoulders and the first tears formed along either side of her spine. It was time. She threw off her pajamas and climbed onto the tree outside her window, making her way to the limb that would give her back the most exposure to the full moon’s light. Finding the branch that held her teeth marks from full moons past, she bit down. Her emerging wings pushed through, widening the tears into gashes. She bit down harder, until a pair of amethyst colored wings fully unfurled themselves.

Relaxing her jaw, Sophia pulled her mouth away from the branch and rested. She opened and closed her wings slowly and let them drink in healing moonlight while her heightened senses picked up the perfume of every flower in her backyard. Once her wings were strong enough, she pushed away from the branches and flew.

Sophia soared over her street, the feel of the wind on her skin wiping away any lingering aches she had. She flew high enough to take in most of her small town in a glance. Her high school was easy to get to, but Sophia decided she didn’t want to waste her time on pranks again. Tonight she wanted to spend every moment in the air. So she did, flying until the moon had gone down behind the hills of the next town over.

Her grin disappeared as soon as her feet touched down at home. Sophia ran her fingers along the edge of a wing. The longest she had kept them was three days, when her parents were away. But tomorrow was a school day. And they grew back every month. So she went to the shed, just as she always did, and grabbed garden sheers to cut her wings off in small enough pieces to bury them in the compost bin. 


This short story is part of Magaly Guerrero's and Emily Yardis' Beautiful Freak Fest 2017. Follow the link to meet some more beautifully freaky fun.


Daydreams and Nocturnes

Daydreams (where I feel blades
of grass, taste each grain
of sugar as it melts, blaze
from the heat of sparks
bursting from constellations
made from all the aspirations 
and imaginings too big
for small worlds)

and nocturnes (with the hungry lilt
of an unfinished love song
I can't help but sing along to,
that makes goosebumps dance
with delight, as a cool rush of air
kisses my skin and teases
with the hint of places
not yet discovered) –

these twine around my atoms
like jasmine on a trellis,
releasing its bewitching fragrance
on hot summer nights,
if you care to stay up
and witness it.



This poem was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: I Am Made Of  where Magaly asks us to contemplate what we are made of.

Sprout

I am a giant –
at least I pretend to be –
standing among seedlings.

But I know
I’m only beginning
to bloom too. I manifest

all I need
to grow into myself,
drawing from

all the good green things.
They make up my seed coat. Let’s see
what my flowering will look like.



This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Word Count With Mama Zen. She asked us to draw a tarot card as our inspiration for a short poem. I happened to have this card in my hand when I read the prompt and thought. "Why not?" I love the way the figure in the card, which is meant to be a child/youth looks like a giant because of the perspective in the picture. 

For the Sake of My Beloved

Between sighs of pleasure, I open
my eyes and see
this world has teeth.

I cannot feign surprise.
Only fools think beauty
doesn’t have roots in darkness.

(It was there I found you.)

Monsters and angels sing
in the same key, leaving the listener
to decode the lyrics of their songs.

You taught me to sing too,
with a voice I found
at the crest of delight.

(It was there I found myself.)

I can shut my senses to it all.
But the brush of your lips on my skin
is not something I want to pretend away.
And pretending it’s safe only makes me prey
for things with less innocent intentions.

The price of honey is the risk
of being stung. I didn’t forget.
That doesn’t mean I can’t
find my own stinger and teach
monsters to tremble instead. 

Song Choices: Marvelous Things by Eisley 

This poem was inspired by the prompt I created for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Of Angels and Monsters. I asked the Toads to select from a list of seven quotes related to monsters and angels. I chose two of them.  “I’m the thing monsters have nightmares about.” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and “One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.” from Doctor Who.

Worth the Fight

“Trash!” she shrieked, hurling another rotten fruit in Aiko’s direction.

After a month of this, you’d think her aim would have improved, even a little, Aiko thought as she loosened the hold between the broken china and bent cutlery that made up her body. The pieces of herself rearranged to fit between the gap between the wall and the restaurant’s industrial freezer. They didn’t resume their normal configuration until she got to her nest in the crawlspace in the wall.

Once inside Aiko examined the filleting knife that served as her sword. Satisfied her weapon was as sharp as ever, she laid it down and examined herself. She hadn’t lost too many chips this time, but the crack on her breastplate had gotten bigger. Aiko could swap it out any time she liked, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. It was a gift from the original owner of the restaurant.

Aiko kept the restaurant free from pests, from hobgoblins to roaches, for a decade. Of course she didn’t expect the new owner to salute her, or even sit and share stories and sake with her. But to have her cracks and dents earned through battle mocked! She didn’t have any other place to go, but she refused to linger where she was disrespected.

She was contemplating which of her personal effects to take with her, when she heard a rapping on the wall. Aiko picked up her knife and went out.  Tucked into the space between the freezer and the wall was a paper cup with sake, and a note. “Dear General, please stay.” It was signed by all of the kitchen staff.


Aiko folded the note as tightly as she could and tucked it in the crack of her breastplate. She took the sake home, and placed the paper cup in a place of honor among her things.

Seto-taisho by Matthew Meyer
Find more of his amazing art and fun facts about yokai



Process Note: Aiko is a type of of yokai (Japanese faery creature for lack of a better translation) known as a seto-taishoo, a little soldier made of broken kitchen things. 

This short story was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Mythical Prejudice, where we were asked to explore prejudice from the point of view of a mythical creature who is part of our modern world.

Nightingale Hours: The Read Aloud Version

Today is Beltane, which leads the mind to linger on...well, perhaps that's best expressed in some of the poetry I've written.

Nightingale Hours has been a popular piece ever since I wrote it a year ago. It certainly suits the theme of Beltane quite well, so I thought it'd be fun to record it in honor of the day.




Nightingale Hours

Wildness floats around you,
wolf wicked,
but I’m no little girl
to be dandelion led.

I am a pebble-strewer,
hoping you’d find your way
to my hidden home.

Delight-whisperer, come
find me quick
amid the mysteries
of the sentinel forest.

Bring your power
midnight mage.
I’ve plenty of my own.
Bring your passion
moon brigand,

and see that I
am just as adept at stealing
kisses and nightingale hours
as you are.

Song Choice: I Drove All Night by Roy Orbison 

Closet Monster

I wish you believed
I lived under the bed.
Dust bunnies aren’t bad
conversationalists, once
you get them talking.
and there’s a better variety
of books and toys there.

Of course it isn’t you
who decided I’d be a resident
of closets and nightmares.
Your parents did that.
Create something to fear
and you create obedience.

But what if you weren’t afraid?
What if you liked looking
into all the dark spaces
and asking hard questions
with complex answers?
What if you learned
to trust yourself in the dark?

Then child, you’d know not to fear
me. You’d have your own teeth
and voice to make the world listen.
  
Until then, I’ll pass the time
with your special occasion clothes,
giving the occasional growl
so you’ll hear how it should be done.


This poem was created by the prompt I gave over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: The Boogeyman. It is also linked to Poets United: Poetry Pantry 351

A Pirate's Last Request

You wanted the last thing
I saw with human eyes
to be faces taking satisfaction
from gasps stilled
by the crack of my neck.

I'll look to the sea instead.

A pirate’s corpse
is unfit to lay
with land bound lambs
you reminded me,
unless I renounce myself.

Keep your dirt patch.
I look to the sea.

It holds my heart and soul
with a more tender
and honest cruelty
than any you ever gave.

I want no sterilized afterlife
filled with more like you.
That would truly be hell.

The sea and I suit each other.
I belong there. 

Song Choice: He's A Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean 

Process Note: A few years ago I visited an exhibition about pirates at one of the local museums. I remember reading a blurb on one of the displays that said pirates were not allowed to be buried in graveyards among the respectable citizens. I immediately had a mental picture of a pirate scoffing at that, which was followed by an urge to write a poem. I actually didn't then, due to having to wrangle my then-young children past the gift shop. But the combination of the two prompts reminded me of what I wanted to write.

Frost on the Tombstone. Photo by Liz Young.

This flash fiction poetry was inspired by the photo prompt at this week's Friday Fictioneers and the prompt at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Outsider Art.

Photogenic Pain

Tilt your chin a little that way
so we can get the full shine
from the tears in your eyes.

Maybe you’re born with it?
Who cares. Hold the pose.

But we should check that background.
Life complicates the composition
and there is no time for color correction.

We only want the pain
that looks the prettiest on camera.
If you’re not picture perfect
get out of the way of the lens.



In Samantha's Shoes

Dinner’s in the fridge.
Don’t forget Tabitha’s bedtime story.
Make sure Darren Jr does his homework.

I’ve laced up my take-no-prisoners,
Valkyrie-on-a-broomstick, hell-yes
you’ll-hear-me-roar boots.

You smiled at me,
while I decided between
belladonna or datura -
made me want to reach
for damania instead.

I love these boots.
But I also love the slippers
we’ve made of our love -

the warm, mmm-so-cozy,
love-rare-lazy-afternoons-with-you,
strong-enough-to-go-through-the-wash,
still-sturdy-after-so-many-years slippers.

But tonight, there are great, odiferous, pestilent
hydras to contain and a coven waiting for me to rise.
“The hydra doesn’t stand a chance,” you say
before we kiss and I fly.


Shoes and Books by Magaly Guerrero


Process notes: Belladonna and datura are poisonous plants while damania has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Poetry Through the Eyes of Carol Ann Duffey and the picture prompt given over at Friday Fictioneers. It is also linked up with Poets United: Poetry Pantry 350.

Returning the Favor

Don’t cry for the kid I was.
He was weak. An old man
had to teach that kid

his eyes wouldn’t be dried
by caring hands,
and his skin needed to be trained
to be harder than the fists that hit it.

I made my own lullabies
from the cracking of skulls,
the stomping of boots,
and cries for mercy.

I made lesser things
scream the pain I didn’t allow
myself to show, peaceful
until the next time anger howled

in my brain, demanding prey. 
(i can’t punch hard enough to save her)

Heaven gave me hell.
I’m just returning the favor. 






This poem was inspired by the prompt (I created!) over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: The Villain Speaks. I chose Turk, the Neo-Nazi character from Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The poem also borrowed inspiration from a line spoken by the villain from one of my favorite animes, Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi ( "I'll have my revenge against the heaven which has only given me hell"), who, when I thought about it, had a fair bit in common with Turk, both being hurt children who grew up to do terrible things as a way to deal with their pain. This poem is also linked up to Poets United Poetry Pantry 349

Weeping With Joy

Among the boughs of the weeping birch
she discovered how far up she could climb
and which branches supported her
as she tried to touch a cloud.

Among the boughs of the weeping birch
he discovered how green looks at dawn and at dusk,
and which other colors dipped their toes
into the emerald sea he tried to capture on paper.



Under the boughs of the weeping birch
whose leaves form a curtain
giving those who love it sanctuary,
love unites, and births new loves too.




This is the sign I carry to rallies




This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Out of Standard - Signs of the Times, where we were asked to create a poem including a slogan from a protest sign and write something not political.

Fine Indefinitely

I’ve made a sort of peace
with my chimera-like self.

Yes, I’ve envied
those whose lives were made
of uniform fabric, whose seams
always lined up with each other,

until I realized the beauty
in the patchwork of all my loves
stitched into my grinning soul.

I shall never be elegant.
I shall never neatly fit
into the costume of a role
not meant for me to play.
Those itch anyway.

Singing my praises to the beautiful blue
of a sky as high as I can imagine,
or murmuring prayers to the heart of a fire
that jumps and sparks in steps known only to itself,

I know that certainty sometimes equals confinement
and prefer to stay unconfined, undefined -
unless of course that’s what I desire
at that particular moment.


This poem is linked up to the Tuesday Platform over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads. Kerry asked us to contemplate if a song has ever saved our lives. I'm not sure about saving my life, but something about this song always comforts me and feels like home.

Mad Girls Musing

Charlotte: With somber mien
                 they exhort us to mistrust our eyes.
                 I will not subject myself to their "truth".
                 My eyes and spirit remain free.

Sylvia:     Free? For how long?
                They’ll force feed us "facts"
                until we vomit up blood.
                They’ll gouge our eyes with diversions
                until our souls are hulled.

Me:         There is no way out but through.
                Alone, it is impossible.
                I breathe in the strength
                of a world that rebels by living.
                I hope it is enough.

Song Choice: I Won't Back Down covered by Dawn Landes

This piece was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Twitter Me a Gothic Poem, where Magaly asked us to create a poem from tweets from two of the writers she has listed, and our own tweet back at them. I chose Charlotte Bronte and Sylvia Plath.

Delicately Bold

Demurring by day,
true night blooms are selective
binding up allure
into beguiling scents not hues,
beckoning night visitors.


Night Perfume (1950)
Kaoro Kawano
fair use




This poem was inspired by a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Kerry Says: Let's Paint A Picture, which asked us to create a Tanka based on the art of  Japanese print maker, Kaoro Kawano

Unvanishing

Spaces between can be stretched, like shadows lengthening in the fading day. Strange magic tugs on atoms, bending and pulling objects until they vanish. She does not understand that it is herself she wishes to make gone when she says her words into the waiting air. She only speaks the words, “Make it go,” and mass, neither created nor destroyed, rearranges itself elsewhere. It is simpler to make things disappear instead of feelings.

Easy to banish
a bowl or a trinket, still
the shadows remain.


Photo by Jellico's Stationhouse

This story told in haibun came from a combination of the picture prompt given over at Friday Fictioneers and the prompt from Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Physics with Bjorn: Space time and the theory of special relativity

First Green

They look like hope-
those first buds swelling,
with all the possibilities
of a life happily started
under a warming April sky
fed by vanishing March snow.

And I still hoped,
even as my roots told me
the earth is still cold.
The sun is lying.

I cannot lie.
I felt the buds
push towards the sunlight,
and dreamed
of the first green uncurling,

only to have
the March wind screech,
pulling me from dreams
to see stillborn green

devoured by a shroud of ice.


This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Speaking For Spring's Stillborn Sprouts.

To My Dark Delight

To my dark delight I heard the susurrus
escape the restraint of your lips
before they alighted on me,
to reciprocate joy.

My bliss drunk eyes
can see no star to rival you
in the night sky, which bears reverent
witness to the adorations we bestow upon one another.

Of all the jewels found at night,
well after the sun kisses the moon
and the blushing evidence of their desire
turns from flushing scarlet and melts into indigo,

you, my love, shine brightest.  


This poem was inspired by A Dash of Sunny's Prompt Nights: It's Easy to Love the Light. Show Me Your Darkness and is linked to the Poetry Pantry 347 I was inspired by the sentence "Then to her dark delight there was a susurrus" from the book Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (although you should note the topic matter of my poem and the book are extremely different - very, very different) and the poem There Be None of Beauty's Daughters by Lord Byron.

Sadly, this is the last week of Prompt Nights, but Sanaa's wonderful energy will still be going strong over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads.

Circe

Fred flew towards the sound of her laughter. There was always food left whenever he heard it.

He swooped in through an open window of the boat, and landed on the table. Fred started gobbling the food down as his feet alighted, ignoring the gasping man.

“You bitch,” the man choked, before the arm reaching towards her shrank, growing feathers.

She strolled to the table. Fred stopped eating when she reached for a piece of bread. Instead he chased the new bird out. No matter how many she changed, he was still her first.  Fred flew to her waiting arm.



Photo by Fatima Fakier Deria



This short story was inspired by the photo prompt given by Friday Fictioneers. More flash fiction available at the link. 

Passing

The strangest thing
I’ve seen all week
is my reflection
in passing.

After pretending
I should know
the rules they have set,

after keeping worlds
trapped in my throat
underneath paper bag skin,

I see myself

smiling, like nothing
could be more natural

than bared teeth hidden
behind well rouged lips,

like it’s nothing.


This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Word Count With Mama Zen 

Memory Pressed Into A Journal

Dear Diary,

I dreamed of her again, but this time she wasn’t screaming.

I wondered if the dreams would return once I saw the sold sign on the old Williams house yesterday. I touched the wrought iron fence to see if I could feel anything besides cold metal. Nothing.

But I did hear hellos from some workmen cleaning things up before the new owners move in. I said hello, talked about the weather. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. And kept walking.

I know she’ll be back. I just need to find a way to keep her from screaming.




Song Choice: Creep by Radiohead


Gateway, photo by J Hardy Carroll

This poem was inspired by the picture prompt given over at Friday Fictioneers. To see what the other Fictioneers based on this picture, just follow the link.

Beyond the Boundaries

“Get back here!” she said.

Danny looked from his teacher, gripping the boundary rope around what she thought was a simple park exhibit, to the security guard briskly advancing towards him. It didn’t matter. He had made it to the communication cog first.


Danny stroked the spot he knew would activate it. “This is D’ynveh 5. I survived the Rylor expedition but am stranded. Send help!” His words were cut off by the guard pulling him away, but he saw the fine lines of energy light up on the cog’s surface, sending a beacon towards his home world. Danny smiled.


Photograph by Jennifer Pendergrass

This bit of Flash Fiction was inspired by the picture prompt given at Friday Fictioners

Unnatural Allies

They waited until the bruise colored sky settled into a uniformly inky color, dark enough to see the stars and dying moon clearly. Then, the rhythmic pecking began.

Every rooster and hen who was able gathered the needed ingredients, then placed them in the appropriate spots for the ritual. The high priest strutted around the perimeter of the circle. He grabbed each ingredient with his beak and dropped them into the bowl in the center. The beat of the pecking sped up as he worked, stopping completely when the last ingredient was added. Then he spoke.

“Oh infernal one, we have gathered herbs and spices pleasing to you to summon you here now. Defend us from the goblins who encroach upon the peace of our coops. Devour that which threatens our happiness!”

A wisp of smoke rose from the center of the bowl, growing larger and thicker, until it took the form of an old goateed man, clad in a crisp white suit, spectacles and a string tie.

“Well,” the demon said, “isn’t this just delicious?” He licked his lips once, then began to feed.



From the hill beyond the wall of the farm, the goblins heard the squawks of terror. They looked at each other, a few of them dropping the bags of seeds they had brought to offer the chickens, in the hopes of establishing an alliance with them.

One shook his head in disgust. “That’s just great. The chicken mages were our best hope for standing up against the trolls. What do we do now?”

The goblin elder looked at the now violently shaking coop. The wind brought the scent of the ritual’s herbs and spices to her wrinkled nose. She had a fairly good idea what had been conjured and why.

“We find other allies. Smarter ones,” she said, turning to walk back into the forest.




This story was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Title-Tale, where Magaly asked us to compose a story or poem based on a silly book title she had found. I chose Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop: And Other Practical Advice in Our Campaign Against the Fairy Kingdom, by Reginald Bakeley

.

Spring Morning

The sky tastes like a shortbread cookie
infused with that lavender feeling
of flying so high with the thermal surfing hawks.

I bite into it with my eyes
letting the crisp blue melt
from crumbly sweetness
to buttery delight
that seeps into my spirit.

Blue sky is the perfect accompaniment
to red-gold sun rising up
scented like a chai tea, peppery yet sweet.
The sun tastes like “Wake up!”
and sings “Are you ready to go?”

One last dunk of shortbread in tea,
one last glance at the morning,
and my curls bob the answer, “Yes”
as I set off on my day.


This poem was inspired by the prompt given (by me!) over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Synesthesia. It is also linked to Poetry Pantry 344 at Poets United.  

Honored Guest

“Get that thing out of my garden before any of the guests see,” she said in a harsh whisper.

“But mom,” I started.

“Don’t. I’ve worked too hard to orchestrate this. You will remove that thing. You will come back down with your best manners. And you will get into Alexandre Academy.” She turned on her heel to rejoin her party.

I nudged Mephistopheles onto my arm. He’d probably be happier with the other insects in my room, the same way I’d be happier in public school.

“I can always get kicked out,” I told Mephistopheles. He nodded.    



Song Choice:  Reflection from Mulan

Yellow Bug, picture by Shaktiki Sharma

This flash fiction story was inspired by the picture prompt given at Friday Fictioners

Recluse

The light came again, shrinking my circle of sanctuary. I shut my sun-scorched eyes and pressed my limbs into the safety of roots and earth, their presence steadying me.

You knew it would come again, and you know it will go again too, I whispered to myself, letting the pain ease before I opened my eyes again.

The light was still there, dimmer than it had been when I was pulled from my dark and tossed among these roots.


“You won’t last,” I hissed. “Night will come. I’ll see without pain, find better shelter and good hunting then. I’ll wait.”


Clouds Above the Trees, photo by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


This bit of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt given at Friday Fictioneers

Cousins

Adi inhaled deeply from the mug of chamomile tea cradled in her hands. Its scent combined with the sigh of snowfall, was the perfect end to dinner.

“Penny for your thoughts, cuz?” Nina said.

“I haven’t had lomo saltado that good in ages.” Adi said, grinning.

“Stick around,” Nina replied, reclining on the couch they had used as a fort a decade ago. “There’s more where that came from.”

“Thank you, for dinner, for letting me stay so I don’t have to drive in this… and for having my back.”


“Someone had to teach that man a lesson. De nada.”

January Snowfall Nighttime, photo by Sarah Potter



This bit of flash fiction was inspired by the photo prompt given for Friday Fictioners hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and is also linked to A Dash of Sunny's Prompt Nights: Come Chase Oh Fleeting Thoughts of the Moment.

Orgullo

Titan spirit in a five foot frame,
she yelled “Adopt me!
We’d be great together.

America, you tossed salad,
I know about the hidden wilted brown bits,
the croutons made damp with tears,
and that the rich dressing can’t always cover up
some of the bad tastes left in your mouth.

But I also know how lucky I am
to be able to stand on your shores
and tell you, ‘I see you and still want to be here’.

I want to add my words to your song.
I want to sing with duende
about an imperfect place
still struggling towards a more perfect union.

I’ll love you in the struggle
dance my part in the center of the storm
and let my words send storms dancing on their own.
I’ll be the sazón in my part of the salad.
We’ll both be the better for it."

Song Choice: My Shot from the play Hamilton


Don't Give Up, Lady Liberty by Chris Blackway
Find Chris Blackway on Instagram @sea_black_prints
More of his art can be found at seablackco.com



orgullo = pride
duende = originally referring to a diminutive goblin or dwarf-like creature in folk stories, it has grown to refer to passionate and/or inspired performance of some artistic endeavor
sazón = it can be translated as seasoning, but there's a bit more to it than that.

This piece is the result of a combination of two prompts: Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Artistic Interpretation - Immigrant Portraits and A Dash of Sunny's Prompt Nights, Through the Eyes of a Friend. It is also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #341.

History Report

Emma started playing with the poison ring on her right hand when she noticed her fidgeting had put several creases in her dress. She spent a lot of time last night picking out the perfect things to wear today and didn’t want anything to spoil them. 

She had chosen to arm herself with the pearl earrings Mother had given her after her first kill, her grandmother’s poison ring, her midnight blue dress with embroidered moon phases on the hem and of course a pin bearing the image of Synestra Nightjoy Dracul. The ache in her scalp from brushing and pulling her blonde hair into a razor sharp part before tying each side up into pigtails had finally abated, but the feeling like a hundred moths beating their wings against the inside of her head was still there.

“Miss DelSangre, it’s your turn,” Miss Garrote said, her smile pulling the bleached parchment of her skin even more tightly across her skull.

Gripping her papers, Emma walked up to the front of the class.  She looked at the picture of Torrance Dracul, mounted in the corner the teacher had claimed for her desk, took a deep breath, and started her presentation.

“My report is on Torrance Dracul, a famous prince from the noble house of Dracul. I know I’m supposed to tell you about all the important things he’s done. But that would be dumb. Besides the book Miss Garrote assigned me to read, I read a couple of others in my Mother’s library and have decided that Torrance Dracul is pretty much a disgrace to vampires everywhere.”

“Miss DelSangre,” her teacher said, glaring, with her pale skin pulling even more tautly, so that her veins stood out like the dark purple netting of a widow's mourning cap across her face.

Emma didn’t bother to glare back, but continued in an even louder voice. “It was his wife, Synestra Nightjoy Dracul, who deserves all of the credit for Torrance Dracul’s most famous deeds. The only thing he deserved was to have his blood drained out in front of a crowd.”

Emma’s delight at the gasps from her class was cut short as Miss Garrote dug her bony fingers into Emma’s arm and dragged her to the principal’s office. She shoved Emma onto the couch outside the office door, and slammed the door behind her as she swept in. The secretary, looked down at Emma from behind her desk, shook her head and went back to typing.

That small motion drained the last of her satisfaction in telling the truth about Synestra, and magnified one hundred times all the unease she had felt before getting up to speak. Not that the secretary had ever been especially nice to her, but she’d never just ignored her either. Her normally jolly principal even looked at Emma sternly when she finally opened her door to let Miss Garrote out and Emma in.

Emma barely remembered the rest of that evening at school, only that she said “yes” and “no” at the spots she knew she should say them until the principal was satisfied enough to let Emma sit on the couch outside her office again.  Eventually Bradford, her Grandmother’s butler, came to pick her up.
Emma clutched and twisted her skirt up in her hands on the ride home. Was Mother so angry that she didn’t want to come for her, so she called Grandmother to get her instead? Was Grandmother so angry she sent Bradford? Emma was afraid to ask, and Bradford didn’t volunteer any information on the drive back home. He silently let her into the house, and drove off again.

Emma ran directly to the great room, found the thickest, fluffiest, most blood red throw blanket there and cocooned herself up in it, not saying anything, until she heard her brother's footsteps walking up the hall.

“There you are,” Xander, face settling on what Emma recognized as his usual I-would-rather-be-tearing-throats-than-talking-to-you scowl. “Where were you? I was supposed to walk you home because Mother and Grandmother are at some sort of event until dinner.”

“I forgot,” Emma whispered. At Xander’s snort she said. “I got sent home from school early. Bradford had to pick me up.”

“You?” Xander arched a pale blonde eyebrow. “Are you sick or something? It’s not like you’d ever be sent home for getting in trouble.”

At that Emma started bawling, telling a flustered Xander about her plans to redeem Synestra Nightjoy Dracul’s good name and how they had gone so wrong.

“I don’t know if you’re brave or just crazy,” Xander said, putting his school bag down and sitting next to his sister. “Old Garrote would pour holy water on herself if the ghost of Torrance Dracul asked her to. Why would you do that in the middle of class?”

“To make sure everyone would hear me. Do you think Mother will be mad?” Emma said, curling further into the shelter of her blanket.

“She never got that mad at me and I’ve done way worse,” Xander said.

“Really?” She said, eyes widening. “But you never do anything wrong.”

“Shows what you know. Don’t you remember a bunch of times I was home before you and Mother said to let me be because I needed to dismember things on my own? It was because I got sent home, for way dumber things.”


“Was it because of a girl?”

“None of your business. Anyway, Torrance Dracul really was a mediocre vampire, just like you said. A rock shoved off the side of the mountain is a more inspired master of darkness than he was. But I would have left out the part about the blood draining though.” Xander paused a moment. “At least in front of Garrote.”


Emma hugged Xander who promptly squirmed away. “You really think Mother won’t be mad?” she said.

“Those were her books about Synestra that you read to write your paper weren’t they? I’ll bet you even get an extra helping of eyeballs at dinner.”


____________


Emma belched as she got off the bus. Both Mother and Father had slid her an extra serving of eyeballs at dinner last night. Even Xander, who ate enough eyeballs and innards for a flock of vampires said he was too full to finish his portion and suggested Emma take it to school with her as a snack. She couldn’t help eating a couple on the bus.

She was trying to decide if she should eat one more or save them for lunch when a girl from her class, Vincenzia, came up to her.

“Emma, I liked what you said yesterday. About Synestra. Where did you get that pin with her on it?” Vincenzia said.

“I made it,” Emma said. “And if you’d like, I’ll make you one too.”

“I’d like one,” said another girl, and several other children started asking for one of their own as well.

“I’ll make enough for all of you,” Emma said, baring her fangs in a broad grin.

Song Choice: One Girl Revolution by Superchick




This short story was created for Holly's Horrorland's Vampire's Day Soiree. Go fly over and enjoy more vampiric delights at the main page.