Monday, January 25, 2010

Flash Fiction: "All Girl Band"

My all girl band is in trouble. Not musical trouble, not financial trouble, not boy trouble, not even the trouble of looking like beautiful vampires every night and every day. We have simply done something wrong. We do not know what it is, and I am sure we did not mean to do it. Nevertheless, we are in trouble.

My father looks at me nervously. How can I be so white-skinned, ebony-haired, red-lipped and ethereal, when my mother, at my age with the same face and body, was suntanned, golden-haired, peach-lipped and earthbound? I believe I make him nervous. Yes, I make him nervous, and it's about time.

I am back in our old house, bad house, in my old room, changing clothes. What does one wear to jail? I am frightened.

The other three "Four Whores of the Apocalypse" arrive and we console one another. As we walk through the family room past the loud football game, my father looks at us without moving his mouth or turning his head. As I say good-bye he nods once, chin down, hold a beat, chin level. That is all.

We climb into the red Ford Fairlane, slide our own CD into the player and sing. I know through the terror in my stomach that we have never been so on, so hot, so perfect.

Of course we are right to turn ourselves in.

* * *

First published in The Cafe Irreal.
Reprinted in the Norton Anthology Flash Fiction Forward.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Flash Fiction: Lifeline

"It's called Whisk," Alex said. He looked proud of knowing this. She told him his shirt smelled good as she hugged him. She felt his razor stubbled cheek against her forehead. The shirt was faded red and had a small logo with a crown and the letter A.

"A for Alex," he said, the first time he met her. It wasn't his only shirt, just his favorite.

The next day they floated on rafts tied together and looked from one another to the close close blueberry sky, felt the yellow heat stirring latent melanin. The bay held off waves and winds, but allowed breezes.

Her house was on one point of the bay, one tip of the horseshoe. She was happy to see seagulls now instead of geese. Goodbye childhood. Her room-mate heaved free weights about in the living room and drank eggs in milkshakes. He looked at her too long sometimes, as though waiting for secret feelings to ripen. She brought Alex home as soon as she found him. He did not lift iron, or eat raw eggs. He smoked weed and drank beer from thin cans he dented slightly afterward. The room-mate scowled at him but lessened the lengths of his stares.

The night she and Alex dropped acid she could hear the rain falling in the rainforest miles away, hitting every leaf, approaching, taking all the time in the world, taking the best decades of her lifeline.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Peek but don't out, please...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Flash at 3:AM

A new flash fiction story, Lucky, is up at 3:AM.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Haiti

A New York Times article about the snarl of difficulties in getting aid to those who are suffering:

New Orleans and Haiti

This all looks too familiar. Haiti. New Orleans.

In 2005, watching CNN from Austin, I kept thinking, the city I had just fled, the scene I had almost participated in, looked like a poverty-stricken, dictator-destroyed third world Carribean Island. Looked like Haiti.

Now, again, the photos, dead bodies in blistering sun, arms stretching for water, the background of happy tropical colors.

Here is an article focussing on the similarities and the cultural connections, including a specific family:

We're television-free, so I haven't seen the major network coverage of the Haiti disaster, have only been following it on the NYT website and

But I can imagine the type of overdo discussed in the following article, that I found by googling "Haiti and New Orleans". This one reminds of the differences, especially regarding the responsibility of the U.S. government, the huge Bush f-up, the heck of a job. New Orleans is part of the United States; those people on the roofs, those babies held overhead in flooding attics, those cracked lips and upstreatched arms on the freeway overpasses five days post-disaster, were American citizens.

And now on to the we're-all-citizens-of-the-world portion...

Ways to Help Haiti

Text the word "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross' Haiti relief efforts, and/or visit for more information

More info and aid links at NPR, here.

How to help Haiti without money? Find the Haitian community in your neighborhood, by an online search, word of mouth, visiting Haitian-owned shops or restaurants. Offer to help by listening, making phone calls, doing research, or whatever is needed. Any other ideas, for how to help without money?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flash Fiction: Cauldron

They went hiking in the Santa Monica mountains and she pulled a branch from an oak tree to make a wand. She carved away at the rough spots while he unpacked their picnic from a high-tech basket. He wasn't much of a lover so far, in her opinion, but he was very much of one, and more, in his own. He didn't understand the wand, or the iron cauldron in her fireplace off Fairfax Avenue, or her tiny silver pentagrams, or the ace of cups. He smirked at things he didn't understand, and she was one of them. He spread out the gourmet items, telling where he had purchased each one, how much it cost, reminding her again how to slice an avocado properly, how to trim the rind from brie, how to tap a hole in a coconut. How to dress and speak and move and breathe. She was carving, floating above, imagining. In her haste to leave him she would take an entire year. She would have drunken sex after an Irish bar on Saint Patrick's night with her future husband.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Selective Serotonin Pudding Instructions, or How to Make Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Okay, so it's not selective, and what do we really know about all that anyway? But this pudding makes me happy.

This pudding is not sweet. It is not for sweet-tooth types; it is for chocoloate lovers.

Here's what you do.

Mix the following ingredients, dry, in a medium-small cooking pot:

3 heaping (and I mean heaping!) tablespoons of unsweetened bakers' cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch (Don't have any cornstarch? Hike yourself over to the grocery baking aisle or the food co-op bins, and get you some.)
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix up those dry ingredients with a whisk or a fork.

Measure out 2 3/4 cups milk and set aside.

In a separate cup, measure out 2 tablespoons butter and a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract. Set aside.

Warm a burner to medium heat, put the pot with dry ingredients on the stove, add the milk, and stir and stir and stir with a big metal spoon. Keep stirring for about 10 minutes, until you see the mixture start to boil. It should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Keep stirring and let it boil for a few seconds longer.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla mixture. Stir it all up. Let it sit a few minutes.

Eat and be happy.


Woke at 5:30 to the hydraulic alarm of the garbage truck. Can scraping on the sidewalk, garbage tumbling, thunking, close and crush and grind. I used to hear the workers shouting, years ago back in the Quarter. They are not vocal now, here.

I remember one day, walking with two pretty friends on Royal, near CC's, Fifi Mahoney's, the galleries. A garbage collector shouted to us, as he tossed cans and leapt from sidewalk to running board, not politely but with admiration. Obscenely flattering, let us say. One friend was haughty. "He thinks we'd go out with a garbage collecter?" "At least he has a job," the other said.

One flood-infused item I have held onto the past four plus years is on its way now, to the dump or wherever the can contents go. (I should find out just where they go, shouldn't I? It doesn't seem quite ethical not to know, and besides my son will soon be asking.) A wool and satin Irish cloak, from the pre-Seinfeld and pre-corporate buyout J. Peterman. A birthday gift from my mother one winter back in college. Way back in college. It was soaked in the post-K floods and marinated in sludge and heat for six weeks, until look and leave. I looked and cried and didn't leave, not immediately. Most of the soaked and molded items were bagged up, by me, by a couple of kind acquaintances, by my future husband. Mostly by me. The Irish cloak I kept, hoping. It was dry cleaned twice in evacuation Austin. No good. Reeked of flood, sludge, cat piss, mold. That particular knock-you-on-you-ass smell that met each of us who came back with a floodline marked door to open. I tried cold water gentle cycle in the washing machine. Once, twice, three times. Still the flood smell. Dried it in the hot Texas sunshine. Flood smell still. Stuffed it in yet another big black garbage bag, tied the whole thing shut, stuck it on a garage shelf (Austin has garages), and forgot about it. Brought it back eventually in the POD. Finally worked up to opening the bag again last week. Washed again, herbal laundry soap, triple rinses, more sunshine, dim and wintery though it was. Still the flood smell.

Good-bye handmade embarrassingly expensive wool and satin Irish quilt that was an impulse gift from my mother once upon a time when I was young. I enjoyed you. I miss you. But you smell like the flood.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I googled freelance writing jobs; got sideswiped by AC. "Assignment", they called it. Write about a memory. Fiction. Keywords. Upload an image.

I did it, all at once, obsessively, while my man and babyboy were out chasing trains in the sunshine.

When I stepped back to see where I was tossing my lifeline, I realized the truth of the situation, or at least the most likely suspicion. Times are tough, and who was it said, "We are all whores"?

I'm back to some sense at the moment, and on my way to delete my start at AC.

Here is the story, in all its suddeness, and afterward the drawing. Maybe we'll work on it together one day.


I remember the fresh and bitter smell of the dieffenbachia plant. I remember the acrid taste of cleaning that felt like punishment, the rough and sudsy experience of Lava soap.

My crib was in my parents' room. I could stand in it easily by the time of this story. I figured I could climb right out anytime if I wanted to, but I liked the crib, with a butter-yellow quilt pieced by my mother, soft baby blue sheets, tucked neatly each morning after I was on to breakfast. A goose feather pillow packed with fluff from an auntie's farm. I could see out two windows from my crib. I could see wheat fields, hay bales, grass pastures with Angus cattle grazing, staring, standing in one another's messing range, content.

I could see my mother's daffodils, much-awaited crocuses, purple iris blooms that smelled like grape popsicles.

In the room I could lean over my rails and look down at hardwood floors, across at a dark wood dresser. Near the head of my bed, but previously out of reach, was a dieffenbachia plant. My mother and I called it Deefy. We liked to humanize things, like that.

I had stretched toward Deefy many times when no one was looking. Tiptoes. Straining. Fingers stretched long. She was six feet tall in her redwood pot, 10 inches taller than my mother. As tall as my father. Her leaves curved and swooped, palmlike, reaching. This time I could reach her.

I pulled at her frond, falling on my bottom when a section of leaf broke away. I stared at the broken leaf edge that was weeping pale green. I saw the tiny cells, holding nourishment, supporting Deefy's existence, creating her body.

I pulled and twisted and tore, making the pieces into smaller and smaller pieces, into threads, into moist green confetti.

My mother walked in.

She gasped; her wide and lovely eyes went even wider. A shout must have brought my father, unusually responsive.

They argued. Why was the plant so close to the crib? Why was I in there alone for so long? Why was it only one's responsibility?

Amidst it all they pulled me from the crib and carried me though the living room, the kitchen, the utility room, to the bathroom.

It could make her dumb, they kept saying, dumb cane, the common name of the dieffenbachia plant. I knew I wasn't dumb, and I soon realized this meant, in context, unable to speak. They were washing my mouth, inside it, with Lava soap. The soap sat sink-side everyday for the cleanup from my mother's gardening, my father and brother's farm work, everyone's digging and planting and harvesting, livestock feeding. It was rough and hideous. I arched and screamed, tears streaming. Spit. Flailing.

I had not learned to talk yet, more than a few words: mama, daddy, want some. No.

And I screamed no over and over, no, no, don't want. Don't want, don't wan't, don't want. It was too soon for me to be able to tell them, I had only torn, but not tasted, the dieffenbachia plant.

I fear it is schmaltzy. Cringe-worthy.

Too hard on myself?

We'll work on it together, one day.

An Afternoon in Winter

There were more murders last night. The sun is weak in strength but stunning in it's wash over the Saint Roch Market. Someone has tagged the market again--swirly white on black, the look of another alphabet in another language, another part of the world. Perhaps one even more violent than this one. We wait for the Grey Ghost to blot it out.

My boy is napping, and my man is searching for a permit. To build, not to carry. We want to put up a gate, afront our walkway. Security, please.

Any second a second line will pop out from nowhere. We'll bundle in sweaters and spill out onto the steps, remembering summer. "Stoop sitting. Let's do stoop sitting," our little one will say.