Everyday poet

When Emma was a poet, she wrote books even the least well-read listener enjoyed. She remains popular now only in academic circles and lives off her investments. She stays indoors, cloistered by agoraphobia, though she hungers for companionship. I hold the Huddleston chair at our University because I am her translator, the one person who can still walk inside and carry her words out again.

She’s moving from her house to an apartment across town, and we’ve been packing for weeks. Her psychiatrist thinks this means she’s finally coming out of isolation. But she and I know it’s merely a new phase of her particular funk.… Read the rest

In Full Bloom

pimlicoroses.jpgThe young fighter knelt before the sacred rosebush in the sanctuary. “Tomorrow, I rip it out of the ground, Adi.”

“Don’t be so sure, Maximus.” The old fighter creaked into a more comfortable position on his bench.

“These are your people. They will boo and cry out when I slice your flesh.” Maximus drew out the ‘boo’, as if he already heard that throng. “But make no mistake: tomorrow, I root my own flower.”

“Maybe defile it with the blood of a virgin or two,” Adi suggested.

“Or two. I like that. You’re a cocksure old mosquito, squeaking in my ear.”

“In seven decades, I have been defeated only once, and she was a merciful creature.”

“You let her win so you could double your kingdom.”

“Were she still living, Batari would cut you down for such remarks.… Read the rest

Corrections, corrections, corrections

This weekend, Trifecta has asked us to provide the 33 words that follow this illustration:



Typically, I don’t include other people’s pictures on my blog. It gives me the copyright heebie-jeebies. But Trifecta swears it’s OK as long as we give a link back to www.poisonedplayground.com and credit Poisoned Playground. Also, the whole entry makes no sense whatsoever without the context of the image. I have also taken wild liberties with the prompt. They said “Give us the 33 words that follow this illustration. What happens next?” They did not say that the following 33 words all had to be in the story’s TEXT.Read the rest

Under the Veil

Tamekia had no grace. None of them did. Yet even the most awkward dancers moved with an unstable kind of beauty. “No Barbie toes!” Shari, the instructor, called out. “Use the balls of your feet, Tami.” Tamekia rocked down, so her heels weren’t so high in the air.

TamekiaStoryThe class was working on the taqsim, with its gentle vertical motion. “I think I got this figure eight thing.” A woman at the end of the line herked her hips up and down.

“You’re getting there! I can tell you’ve been working on it. You’re all getting better. At the end of six weeks, you’re going to be amazing.”

Without meaning to, Tamikia let her thoughts wander away from belly dancing.… Read the rest

All My Best Friends Are Dead Rock Stars

deadrockEarlier, John Lennon wanted me to join together, or maybe that was Roger Daltry. Lennon was the guy telling me to let things be. But who can keep those old rockers straight? Half of them are dead anyway. Doesn’t stop grandma from blasting them all over the house. She’s even got LPs for Christ’s sake. I tell my friends they’re like early MP3s to save having to explain vinyl and EPs; 78s, 45s, and 33s.

She sashayed past my room an hour ago with a broom, and now she’s belting one out in the can while she scrubs the toilets. I do not want to hear about her good vibrations at this moment.… Read the rest


“It would appear that you are correct.” Shana’s lawyer studied the sheaf of papers again. “But why give it to you?”

“I’m sure he thought it was something else. He’s been handing over my home office piecemeal.”

“And you videotaped the exchange?” The lawyer scratched his head.

“I film everything I have to do with him.”

The lawyer leafed through the pages and pulled out the deeds again. Five of them, rental properties, and Shana’s ex-husband had purchased all of them during their marriage. “You think this is what happened to the savings you inherited from your mother?”

“I know it.”

“And you recorded…”

“Look.” Shana pulled out her phone and played a short clip.… Read the rest


MoonThis week finds us back in the car with Kelly and her daughters Luna and Amber. (Amber doesn’t have a role tonight. But she’s still there.) Although this should stand alone, you can follow the previous link to get the first part oft the story. Right after the last part ended, they were attacked. We return to the vehicle in the aftermath to address this week’s word from Trifecta: ecstasy.



Beast’s blood splattered Luna’s face. “Pegged him!” she cheered as Kelly braked the car.

“Good girl.” Kelly took a crystal ball from her daughter and smeared the dog’s blood on her own face and shirt, then sent her mind questing.… Read the rest


cardsAnd this, the lost century, we charge against our souls, holding aloft the future like some cosmic credit line. Reckless, we spend to abandon. We do not expect the bill to come due in our lifetimes.


Those crazy cards over at Trifecta gave us three words, asked us to add 33 more, and challenged us to post the results. Mine don’t feel very original (and yes, I’m one of those writers; I refuse to accept that all of the stories have been told;  I refuse to merely hope for a unique way to retell an old thing; I hate it when I feel repetitive or wheel-reinventive), but it was a lot of fun to dig up a ton of things we should have shredded ages ago and put them in the picture.… Read the rest



Kelly rubbed the bandage on her right leg and winced. She had no spare energy to heal the wound. She hated this stretch of 331, where there were no streetlights between podunk towns, and every reflection might be him. Hell, for all she knew, every reflection was him. He managed to infect everything. In back, Amber shifted in her carseat and Luna hummed with the radio.

“Mom, stop.”

“What, Luna?”

“He’s ten miles ahead.”

“You’re sure?”

Luna didn’t answer. Kelly didn’t know why she had asked.

There was a chance to change course, head for Destin instead of Pensacola. But he surely knew that, too.… Read the rest

What the Cat Saw

Cats in the boxYes, I’m sorry, this one has backstory. Not much. And it makes sense out of context. But if you want to know how we got here,

Start with this one

Then read this one

And then go here

Then proceed with this week’s entry


“What’s your name, child?” The queen picked up a kitten and settled it on her lap as she sat on the bed.

“Pickles.” The girl squirmed and turned her head to sneeze.

“Well… Pickles, what does the Wizard Deen do for you?” The kitten began climbing her majesty’s dress.

“Bed, two meals, sometimes three a day.… Read the rest