ARTICLE: National Poetry Month

ulalume

“What’s your favourite poem?” a journalist recently asked me. My answer might surprise you. Read it here.

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FLASH FICTION: Somewhere Else

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We were somewhere else. The walls. We were living, in the walls.

If I moved, my mother’s voice, her whisper, grew serious. The instant I was still, she resumed her listening.

I was uncertain why she listened. For fear of what, she would even quit breathing.

I too began to listen.

One evening…

The door. It opened. We both heard it. Then the tread, the cautious tread of someone. She was stiller, my mother, and more silent, than when she slept.

Her heartbeat. I could feel my mother’s heart, in her harm. It beat faster, as the footsteps moved closer. They were soon so close…

It quivered. My mother’s heart quivered.

Someone touched the wall. I felt her hand, my mother’s hand, slide over my mouth, and hold it. Her forehead touch my own.

Her tears filled my ear. They ran, at last, down my back.

And the wall cracked open.

                                                                                                                                                          

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.

 

RECEIVED: Slice

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Received – Issue 21 of Slice. I have a short story in it. About THE END OF THE WORLD. Check it out, if you get a chance.

                                                                           

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.

THANK-YOU: Free Story

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As a thank-you present for my loyal readers, here’s a never-before-published short story. It’s about writers … and the future. Click here to read or download.

                                                                 

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.

FLASH FICTION: Vivian Jackson Bean

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I have written over two hundred novels. Two hundred and five, or six. It always startles me, the number.

When I was young and dreaming, living in the museums of books we mistreat, in libraries, both there and in my imagining, I dreamed a thing that escaped my dreams. An amphibian idea. For a year of my young life I followed it, for a mad year, a brilliant year, catching it, at last, between leaves of a book, my own, which was placed in the museums of books, for others to mistreat.

An idea begins … as a spot on water. A dark spot. If it is not washed, by a wave, away, if it does not simply change into nothing, then when the tide stands back at last, when you have done with waiting, it remains. A glistening animal. A real thing, born of nothing, and yours—to capture, if you can.

I have always dreamed so easily. In a million nights of life, there have been a million dreams. But ideas… There has been only one.

I have waited by the side of water, forever. I have watched, these nights of life, for the dark spot to reappear. I have seen the deceiving shadows of gulls, above, and the roaming fish below. And when the waters retire, finally, when I am half mad of waiting … there is nothing. There is only sand.

This is my secret. It is the secret of many. One in a million, perhaps, one in so very few, is more fortunate. Such a one will sit by the sliding water again and again, and each time will see first the spot, then the animal. Will reach for the last with that shaking, trepid reach. Will hold it. What life must be for such a one… It is beyond my imagining.

I have written over two hundred books. But really, I have written only one.

Perhaps one is all one needs.

                                                                                   

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.

FLASH FICTION: The Sweet Stripener

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The children don’t understand. What they live and scream for is not squeezed from the machine with stripes intact. No—they must be painted on, by hand, with so much care. It it almost unimaginable, the care.

My partner is a sweet turner. He holds the sweet, and turns it. I apply the stripes. He is my partner. But also, we are in love.

We work and live in the Cormack Candy Factory. Our region is Green Region 3, where sweets are painted, and nuts are shelled. At day’s end, we sweep up the shells, lay down blankets, and sleep. Mr. Cormack charges not too much rent. It is difficult to afford anything, at present.

Mr. Cormack is a powerful man. He is a great and a terrible man. But also, generous. Without him, we would have nothing. Not even a floor on which to sleep.

He is like a magician, this Cormack. I have never before seen his face. I have heard his voice, and when I turned … there was nothing. Is his a pleasing or a nightmarish face? When I gaze at the intercom, I wonder.

One evening, after the sweeping-up…

I was returning my broom to the cabinet in Hall 7. At the end of the hall was a man. His back to me. A black suit, he wore. There had been rumours of a black suit.

I moved forward, though slowly.

He was admiring a painting, this man.

I felt weak, but proceeded.

I was a few feet from him, now.

And suddenly, he turned. Hearing my light tread, he turned. The man in the black suit turned.

I looked at his face. But I did not see his face. For he wore a mask. A jewelled mask.

I trembled. And quit the hall quickly.

In the past, it was my duty to paint one hundred sweets per day, to keep my position. Now Mr. Cormack is insisting on two hundred.

My art is taxing. There is so little time. But if I cannot keep up, and work and live in this factory…

I do not even want to dream of that.

                                                                   

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.

FLASH FICTION: London Fog

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I love London fog.

Yesterday I was walking in the fog and thought why not open your mouth wide and swallow the whole bloody lot of it?

So I did. Just one huge sucking in, and I ballooned up with fog.

I floated above the city. I was light as a cloud. The view of London! The Thames was the signature on a prescription. St. Paul’s was a cold breast.

Everybody squinted at everybody, rubbing their eyes. My god, they could see London. They could see each other.

A young man was walking with a youngish woman dressed like a young woman.

You’re not seventeen!” he cried, dropping her hand.

“Tee hee!” laughed the woman, lifting up the skirts of her gown, and running off.

Two men were committing a lewd act against an alley wall. This became the Heimlich Manoeuvre. “Are you still choking, my friend?” cried the one man. “Mmm hmm,” said the other. “Just a little more, please.”

The prostitute was a good deal cleaner and prettier than the man from the bank thought she was. “I should be getting back to my wife,” he said, slinking into the shadows.

Long ant-lines of rats tracked through the streets, up the walls, across men’s brightly-polished and laced-up shoes. One rat wrapped itself in the folds of a lady’s fur coat and stuck its head out—like it was wearing a fur coat, too. This made the lady so nervous that she started chewing on her furred sleeve. Like a rat.

The ghost of Winston Churchill was chasing the ghost of a cigar. It slinked into a man’s left nostril, and out his right. When Churchill tried to follow it, he got stuck. Ghost legs dangled out of the man’s nostrils, like a phantom stache.

People were screaming and passing out, now. They were vomiting and slipping in vomit. Some of them hit their heads.

This was no good. No, no, no.

So I spat a fog ball at the youngish lady. “Hello, gorgeous,” said the young man, taking her by the hand again. “How about some sex?”

I spat another fog ball, a nice big one, at the men in the alley. They breathed faster and faster.

A ball for the prostitute, balls for the rats, a ball for Churchill’s ghost.

I belched up every last scrap of fog, patched every last crack. Then I plopped back down onto the street.

Everything was exactly as it was before. People were happy again. You could feel the happiness. It felt like sunshine. Even though it was fog.

I love London fog.

                                                                                

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.