15 days 15 minutes---flash fiction, flash poetry
Items written for Legerdemain's 15 for 15 contest. Written in response to a picture prompt, 15 minutes of writing. These pieces need polishing, revision, editing. But 15 minutes for 15 days, it's a good thing!|
I actually won this round....by three points....but I won!
Sister Petra entered the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Waterloo Street through one of its inconspicuous side doors. Her parishoners from the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul would find it odd that she was praying here tonight and not surrounded by the familiar walls of her home church.
In truth, she had found her way here many times, finding comfort in a sacred space dedicated to a female deity, Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy. Of course, like any good Catholic she revered Mother Mary, but despite all the theology, and all the doctrine she continued to long for a faith wild enough to conceive of God as female.
It comforted Sister Petra that this temple served to house refugees during the Japenese occupation of China, and was now always buzzing with philanthropic activities for the needy and sick.
Tonight the temple was quiet, there was no clacking of the Quian, divining sticks used to read the future.
Sister had no use for divination tonight, only silent prayer to a foreign female deity. The summons from Rome had arrived. She , one of the first cadre of female priests, then rising to the rank of Cardinal, she was being summoned to Conclave.
She asked Kwan Yin for compassion and guidance should she become the next Pope.
Don't look away when you walk past, look closely, I wasn't always an unemployed,homeless hag. Not so long ago I was a fearsome, ferocious hag of the forest. A lean,
mean, green, old-fashioned witch. My cauldron was always bubbling with a fine broth of bones and livers from the children that I enticed to my enchanted cottage. It was that broth that kept me healthy and strong through the years. You remember those apocryphal tales of Hansel and Gretal? All true, all true.
Recently though, things started to change. Children on a runaway from their parents, or on a ramble through the woods would come by my enchanted cottage as always. In my best enticing voice I would offer, "Break a piece of the house my dear, have some gingerbread, my sweet child." And instead of gobbling down the sweet they would demur, "No, no, Mom says I can't have sweets,thank you , it makes me hyper active."
Or I'd tell some fine plump boy to break off a piece of the peanut brittle roof, and he would say, "No thank you, Miss, but I have a severe peanut allergy."
Or I would offer to a passing stray child a bit of pickled pheasant off the fence post, and they would reply in shock and horror, "Never, I am a vegan!".
It was that wonderful broth that gave me my magical powers, and as I couldn't find willing children to replenish it, my powers dwindled, too.
Witches don't have entitlement programs you know. No social security card, no ID, no employment history. So now I live on the street, in a box, and wait for handouts from the local soup kitchen.
I've been eyeing that stockpot at the shelter.
I'll be back....I'll be back.
Geraldo Rivera here, tonight, at summer solstice, I am in the Russian city of Murmansk, north of the Arctic Circle, enjoying days of 24 hours of sunshine. Here in Murmansk, Russian scientist Snezhana Gorski plans to honor the solstice by being the first person to compute the power of pi to 1 plus a hundred zeroes, or a googol.
GERALDO: "Snezhana, what first inspired you to a career in computer science?''
SNEZHANA: "Well. Geraldo, as a child my grandmother told me that the translation of my name meant snowflake. She told me that of all the billion snowflakes in the world, there were none alike, each was unique. I was fascinated by that fact and became determined to learn all I could of science and the natural world."
GERALDO: "What has fascinated you about the number pi, and can you explain what exactly pi is?''.
SNEZHANA: "Pi is a mathmatical calculation it is the ratio of a circle's area to the square of its' radius. The decimal representation of pi never ends or repeats, as far as we know. I am looking for a pattern a repetition, a consistency in the chaos, it would be like touching the face of God, or an explanation of why every snowflake is unique."
GERALDO: "Have you encountered any resistance from the government in your research?"
SNEZHANA: "No, here in Murmansk we are far enough away from the central government of Moscow that we are not generally bothered. I have ben able to create my supercomputer
and conduct my resarch in relative obscurity."
GERALDO: "Viewers, it is now midnight here in Murmansk and the final calculations of pi to googol, almost infinity ,is ready to be revealed. Snezhana, do you have a result?"
SNEZHANA: "Geraldo, something odd has happened, the computer is no longer processing strings of numbers, but printing a message in Cyrillic. Let me check and translate."
a few minutes pass
SNEZHANA: It says, "Behold, the lilies of the field....."
Terese rolls over, stretches and reaches to turn off the soft chimes of the Zen alarm clock beside her bed. At 6:00 AM soft morning light is beginning to spill through the windows, painting her white, organic, Egyptian cotton duvet with rosy tones.
Out in the kitchen, she can hear Rob bustling with the sounds of breakfast, and the aroma of Jamaicam Blue Mountain coffee fills the apartment.
Throwing back the covers, she slips on a T-shirt, yoga pants, puts on her MBT sneakers, crosses to the 50 lb. weight bag hanging in the corner, and carefully laces up her specially made pink velvet hand-embroidered boxing gloves.
Slam! Crunch! Her first few throws are always weak and tentative, but they quickly gain power and force.
Whap! Thunk! That one's for the rude receptionist at the doctor's office yesterday.
Splat! That's for the neighbor's dog who shits all over the driveway.
Bam! Bam! A good one lands for her 30-year old unmarried daughter who is still trying to find herself and calls home too frequently for money.
Picking up speed and finding her rhythym she lands a punch for Rob's lingering glances at the waitress last night, fires a volley of throws for her father's advancing dementia, delivers a furious round for rising gas prices, the state of the economy, Hilary's loss....finishing in a flurry of jabs at her anger at life as it is.
Thirty minutes later, sweating and spent, she showers quickly and dresses for the day.
In the kitchen, she gives Rob a quick morning kiss, grabs her thermos of coffee and prepares for the commute to her job as a therapist specializing in anger management issues and conflict resolution.
A fellow bus rider who knows what she does for a living smiles at Terese this morning and wonders that she is always serene, always calm,
"What's your secret ?", she asks, "how do you do it?'.
Terese smiles fingering the tiny gold boxing glove charm around her neck, "Oh, I manage."
Joanna paced up and down the length of her office. From her window she could see the lights of the nighttime skyline of the city. The pressure was on to come up with a sizzling campaign for the cosmetic companies new perfume. The fragrance was supposed to appeal to the mature woman....something Samantha from Sex and the City might want to wear. She dabbed the fragrance again along her wrists, her neck, her cleavage....something familiar, nostalgic......green, a little leather, full of hope....
The ad---a simple smacker---a football alone sitting in the grass
BALL! Splash this on before you head out for a night at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill.
When he leans in close he will remember being young and in love, rolling around the football field, a grass-stained prom dress, and you, wearing a corsage on your wrist.
Well, thought Joanna, it was all she had....maybe Adrienne Barbeau might be interested in being the spokesperson....
Writer Annie Lamott calls herself a "renegade Christian", wears dreadlocks, and is a left-leaning political liberal. She keeps a picture of George W. Bush on her home altar, and admits that while she does not like his policies, she prays for him, and asks God to forgive her hatred of the current Republican administration.
I am a nominal Catholic, but embrace Buddhism, Judaism, paganism and whatever else resonates with my mystical heart. On my home altar I have a statue of St. Terese of Lisieux,a double terminated crystal, dried rose buds in a seashell, a prayer box, and a photograph of a teary-eyed little girl.
Friends who have seen my altar have thought it is a photo of me, and that I am working through issues of a wounded childhood. Another friend thought it might be a picture of my mother as a child, and I am working through mother-daughter issues.
The girl in the photo is in fact, my ex-daughter-in-law, the mother of my four grandchildren. She and my son are in the process of a bitter divorce. And she is currently pregnant with another man's child.
To me, she often feels like the enemy.
But every day, I look at her as a sad, lost, lonely child and I ask God to forgive my hatred.
If Annie Lamott can pray for George Bush, I can pray for Melinda.
The monks of Samudara Monastery in Orlando, Florida woke daily at 4:00 am to a meager breakfast of tea and rice. By 5:00 am they were ready for an hour of sitting meditation. But by 6:00 am they were out the door , ready for their paying jobs as roller coaster testers for Disneyland and the other theme parks in the area.
The only Zen you find at the top of the roller coaster
is the Zen you bring with you.
When the monks had left their home country of Bhutan for America, they had assumed their meager needs would be met by funds from devotees and students attending retreats at the monastery. Being more spiritual, than practical, they had not considered the high-cost of living in the Orlando area. Nor had they anticipated the supermarket spirituality of most Americans, and the number of Zen centers, ashrams, retreat vacations that the Orlando area offered to seekers of enlightenment.
When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit.
When riding a roller coaster, don't wobble.
Tengpo Rinpoche, the master of the abbey, was disturbed when he discovered that the monastery was six months behind in paying the rent and that their checking account had dwindled to a few hundred dollars. Seeking a solution he had gone into deep meditation and a time of fasting. One morning after zazen he briefly turned on the television and heard A JobSpot advertisement from Disney for amusement park ride safety testers. It would only require a few early morning hours and the pay was sufficient that their needs would be met.
Great things are seen in the valley,
small things from the peak.
At first the monks were reluctant to support themselves in such an odd fashion. They quickly realized, though, that it did not interfere with their usual rituals. It was also a perfect practice for learning to stay centered and focused in the midst of pure terror.
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
What the monks never anticipated was the runaway success of their book Zen and the Art of Roller-Coaster Riding.
Paying the rent was no longer an issue, deciding where to best use their considerable financial assets was now a primary concern.
Author's note: All quotes taken from Zen and the Art of Roller-Coaster Riding.
Leave my bones
in the desert
to be bleached white
all light and high albedo.
Like a cow's skull
with a calico rose,
an elk tooth,
Heaven is vast,
cold, empty, untouchable.
It knows no kindness.
We need worlds, and worlds.
This one always fails.
The world is full
of a number of things
we should all
be happy as kings.
I will wrap you my baby,
you'll grow to be a lady.
God dwells on the mountain,
God dwells in heaven,
we will travel there together,
again and again.
I will carry you my baby,
you'll grow to be a lady.
Wangari planted one million trees,
for firewood, food, and lasting peace.
I will wrap you my baby,
you'll grow to be a lady.
You will wrap me , my baby,
when I am an old lady.
Note: I can imagine Kenyan mothers of the Kikuyu tribe, singing this to their daughters, in honor of Wangari Matthie, Nobel Prize winner.
Remy Joseph tried to be inconspicous and nonchalant as he walked into the Caribbean Grocery Mart . His mother had sent him to buy some sodas and juice, but his hands were shaking and his palms were sweaty from his true intentions for being here.
He inched closer to the revolving rack of comic books that Mr. Balmir kept well-stocked in the store. There were Archies, and Superman, but what Remy loved most was the adventures of the Red Knight. He was powerful and supreme, a true super hero, but under the costume, his real identity was a young Haitian teenager, living in South Florida. A few years older perhaps, but Haitian, just like him.
Remy couldn't afford the comic books and tried reading as much as he dared before Mr. Balmir shooed him out of the store. But he wanted this issue, and acting quickly, seeing no one around, he shoved the comic book into his backpack, then went to gather the items his mother had requested.
Nervously, he finished at the cash register, sure he was going to get away with his theft. But just at the door Mr. Balmir placed himself at that door and said, "Remy, can you show me what's in your backpack today?".
"Oh, I really must get back home," Remy sputtered.
"Remy", said Carl Balmir, "I know what is in your pack, your maman would not be happy to know how it got there, oui?".
Remy hung his head feeling himself turning as red from shame as the armor of the Red Knight himself.
"Remy, if you want those comic books so badly, I will let you have them for free, in exchange for something I want you to do for me. My wife teaches at your school and she tells me you are a bright but lazy student. She tells me you are the best speller in the school. I want you to come every week for spelling lessons and drills. In exchange you may have every new issue of your beloved Red Knight.
And so an agreement was reached.
Six months later, Remy Joseph, stood at the podium of the National Spelling Bee in Washinton D.C. It was the final round, he had gone through words like synecdoche, sacerdotal, phlebotomy, effluent. Now there was him and one opponent, the word
The girl before him stood and spelled, S-H-E-E-V-A-L--I-E-R---the buzzer sounded---"that is incorrect."
Remy stepped to the microphone. In the front row he could see his maman and Mr. and Mrs. Balmir. But he looked further to the very back, and in the distance could see the red armor, the sword, as he spelled C-H-E-V-A-L-I-E-R, and the Red Knight smiled.
My wife and I sit holding hands, outside the emergency room cubicle where burn specialists are assessing the wounds of our four-year old child.
A grease fire had started in the kitchen, rapidly blazing out of control. We had all been on the lanai when the fire started, and we had grabbed Riley and raced out the doors.
But four-year old Riley, stubborn and strong-willed had wiggled out of my arms and run back to the house, back to the bedroom , to retrieve a cherished possession.
We all managed to escape but Riley had suffered severe burns on the legs and arms.
The plastic surgeon came to speak to us looking grim, "The burns are extensive, and will require intensive treatment. But Riley is tough, and will survive."
We breathed sighs of relief and then the tears began to spill.
"What on earth, would have made Riley go back into a burning house?", the doctor wondered.
Alice and I looked at each other, and I slowly began to speak.
"Doctor, almost since Riley has been born, he has insisted he is agirl. He prefers Barbies to trucks, and dresses to jeans. We have been to counselors and they have suggested that there is a gender confusion. Riley has a boy's body, but the mind and soul of a girl. We have been advised to allow him to be raised as a girl. Alice felt we should do this, but I have been adamantly against this. Riley ran back to the house for the brown towel he wears on his head, his "girl's hair". I had forbidden him to wear it."
The surgeon glanced at us both and merely said, "Your son is going to live."
"No doctor," I mused, "my daughter is."