CHILDREN’S POEM: A Very Famous Ostrich

A Very Famous Ostrich


A very famous ostrich came to town

wearing teardrop earrings and a frown.

We gave her red roses

(she tossed them in the sea)

then she bit our noses

and sang just beautifully:


“The people, the people,

I love the people,

every people I see.

O people, O people,

I love you people

but please: don’t look at me.”


She drove off in her limo and

we never saw her face again.






“How’s the wine?”

“Tastes wonderful.”

“But does it taste expensive?

“It tastes older than you. You must know Franco pretty well.”

“You look beautiful. Really. It’s not just me. The guy by the window…”

“Frog Eyes?”

“He can’t take them off you.”

“I wish he would.”

“No worries. They’ll cook him up shortly.”

“So you’re a friend of Franco’s? I mean, to get a free bottle. You must be well-acquainted?”

“Not really. I’ve known him … twenty years.”

“Old friends?”

“I never could stand the man.”

“Does he know that?”

“I’m guessing he’s knowledgeable. With a forehead like that.”

“Then why the wine?”


“And why come here?

“You’re a beautiful woman.”

“Frog Eyes seems to think so.”

“Franco, too. He keeps looking at you.”

“He doesn’t.”

“If we’re not vigilant, a duel could break out any minute.”

That I’d pay to see.”



I only noticed the masked man when he yelled something unintelligible. He pulled out a gun and…

Franco’s head exploded.

Then we were on the floor. Under the table. Madeline… I’m sure I looked just as terrified. I’m not sure who took whose hand. Who gripped harder, with every shot.

People falling. Tables. Shattering glass.

No words. No screams.

For a minute or an hour, we didn’t move.

When we crawled out…

Frog Eyes was lying in the middle of the room. In a puddle. Breathing hard.

No one else was breathing.

We knelt beside him. In the broken glass.

He was gasping.

We each took a hand. He squeezed them. I took Madeline’s.

Shots. Somewhere outside. Faint. Fainter.

Frog Eyes stopped squeezing.

One shot, far off.

Then it was quiet.


From The Big T, a flash fiction mini-collection. Order a copy.

FLASH FICTION: “The Theory of Gin”


I’m not in the mood to talk. I don’t feel like talking.

After his breakdown, Dad played the piano when he was drunk, only. When he was too drunk to play Liszt, he played Chopin. I sat under the piano. It was damn loud under there, but I liked it. I was listening to the Ramones, in those days.

Dad was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He thought … there was something mathematical about creativity, musical creativity. A formula. There were no geniuses, really, but people, lucky people, who chanced on the formula. Berlioz, Strauss…

“Imposters,” he called them. “Worse than impostors. Romantics.”

The Secret of the Secret. That’s what he named it. His theory of the formula. He spent half his life, trying to prove it.

The Secret of the Secret. That was the book, too. His colleagues… Of course they called him a lunatic. He was a lunatic. He was a musicologist.

When The Secret flopped, he bought every copy he could find. And burned them.

I just don’t feel like talking.

I was playing the piano, one night. Wagner—my favourite. By my late teens, I’d grown bored of punk. It wasn’t heavy enough.

Ride of the Valkyries. That was the piece.

I smelled gin. Dad hated Wagner.

I turned around.

Dad wasn’t… He had a strange look on his face.

He closed his eyes.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.



He kissed me—my forehead. I think … that was the first time. In years.

The Secret of the Secret.

He never proved it, of course. The theory. All he proved was the Theory of Gin. That’s how it usually is, isn’t it?

I’d rather not talk about it.

Hardly anyone went to the funeral. Not even my mother. None of his colleagues. He was an important musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist.

I found a notebook. Going through his things. Notes about the theory, mostly. Some lewd sketches. But on the last page… Under the heading AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

“Early in life, my ambition was to be a composer as great as Liszt or Chopin.”

That was it. He didn’t get any further.

It’s not easy, being the daughter of a musicologist. I could tell you stories.

I’m not in the mood to talk.



Rolli Stuff

I am a nightingale. I’m fairly certain. I enjoy singing, and when I sing, it’s generally dark out.

I lived in the city for the first year, but it was so noisy. I had to sing twice as loud, for anyone to hear. This was hard on the syrinx.

It’s an improvement, the country. The air is better. Thicker. More trees. Nice, thick bushes. I live in a bush behind Børglum Abbey. It’s pretty nice, as far as bushes go.

Monks are a peculiar species. Their song is melancholy. Brother Geestvaas walked over a cliff. Brother Godslee stopped eating. He shrunk down to the size of a child. The brothers carried him outside, and threw him in the sea. But … it didn’t revive him.

They aren’t like the city men, always moving, too busy to wonder whether they’re happy or not. They are still and sad. Like hurt birds.

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