Sunday, September 30, 2012

Purple Words: Hot & Poisoned Soup?

Hot & Poisoned Soup?

As in the saying: one man’s pleasure is another
man’s poison; so too with the hot stuff.
Just because the guy next to you can eat it,
doesn’t mean you can do the same thing:
it could be the poison which does you in.
Like the tea-like Shui-Mang plant of the Hunan
Province which can cause death within three days.
The Ghosts of the Shui-Mang would trick the
innocent people into being poisoned as substitutes,
enabling the Ghost Murderers to be reborn as people.
Thus, the poison became their pleasure and
that Hot & Sour soup just might be your ticket
to a one-way boat ride with Charon across the Styx.
“Do you have any of those cursed crullers left?”
“I hear they’re killers,” one guy asks as if
volunteering for some scientific experiment:
Food Poisoning as a form of Russian Roulette.
‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’:
a popular mantra for the Fugu-eaters and
risk takers around the world.

---Purple Mark 09/15/2012

Purple Prompts:                                                                         

  1. Cho hated the custom whereby the Shui-Mang ghost tricked innocent people into being poisoned as substitutes, enabling the Ghost Murderers to be reborn as people.” Tom Te-Wu Ma. Chinese Ghost Stories For Adults: Sex, Love & Murder between Spirits and Mortals. (Barricade Books, 2000) Page 63.
  2. The moral of the story: just because the guy next to you can eat a hot food, doesn’t mean you can.” Janet Hazen. Hot, Hotter, Hottest. (Chronicle Books, 1992) Page 11.
  3. Do you have any of those cursed crullers left” he asked, “I hear they’re killers.” Jessica Beck. Killer Crullers. (Minotaur Books, 2012) Page 53.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Carla's Birds: Freedom of Choice

Freedom of Choice

       “If it involves swimming, I should tell you I don’t have a bathing suit.” Heads turned to check whether or not we wanted to see her in a bathing suit and then went back to minding their own business.
       I took another sip of my Americano and looked over at Yaweh.
       “Ouch,” said Bishop. Carstairs nodded.
       Yaweh continued. “Three days later he was murdered, but he must have started moving them toward Mexico City before then.
       We were all shocked silent for a moment; then I put the thought out there.
       “It seems that way. I’m not certain yet.”
       “It’s hard to believe.”
       “I know,” agreed Yaweh. “What should we do?”
       “I’m in First Chapters,” said a woman ending with an up-tilted note, clearly indicating that while she knew she was in First Chapters, she didn’t know what to do next. The receptionist told her to go upstairs and turn right. We listened to her clomp up the stairs as we contemplated our dilemma.
       “O then the Baron forgot his age / His noble heart swelled up with rage;
       He swore by the wounds in Jesus’ side / he would proclaim it far and wide.”
       Carstairs was looking at the Baron with a gleam in his eye. It was hard not to exclaim in verse when dealing with the Baron. He had a classical education and declaimed pronouncements as if Boswell was trailing after him, writing down his every word. He tended to drag in quotes whether they wanted to come or not. Carstairs made fun of him quite mercilessly.
       The Baron scowled at him, recognizing the mockery but quoted away anyway: “Or, if the music sticks, if the anecdote is false, if Crispin is a profitless philosopher, beginning with green brag and concluding fadedly, if as a man prone to distemper.” he said, between his teeth, pointing out to us our information source was a jealous, spiteful old man who may not be telling the truth.
       We looked at him. He caught our stares.
       “Well, we all thought Lucifer had such promise, a shiny light in our firmament. It’s quite hard to believe he would try and keep anyone hidden, away from the light, and encourage murder.” he finished sadly.
       We did have high hopes for Lucifier until he stopped believing in the common good and decided individuals had a right to do what they liked. *That was all very well; but it was his timing that was off. It was one thing to grant everyone free will; it was another to keep them in the dark so they never knew they had a choice.
       We had a report he was trafficking in human misery, and had gathered to discuss what to do. We angels had various techniques in our toolkit, ranging from a mass visitation seen by many to the still small voice in the ear. But the more we altered events, the more we poured flame into someone’s heart to get them to do what we needed doing, the more we risked taking away their free will. Fortunately, there were still those who said “yes,” and “yes,” again when they heard those voices, but it was always a fine line between getting someone to do what we needed doing and having them do it at the expense of their life. Being an angel to a martyr was not an easy task. We saw them in glory on the other side, of course, and their joy at being in the presence of God; but still, how much choice did you give someone when you poured the Holy Spirit into their heart? I had seen men and women leap into the fire and embrace their own death at its merest touch.
       I shook my head. It didn’t do to over think it. Jesus showed God’s sorrow at the cost, and the joy of the reward. Love glued the universe together, I was certain of its worth.
       We went back to discussing how to rescue another lost sheep, how to give another soul the choice between life and death.

---Carla Blaschka, 7/14/12 Written at Richard Hugo House alongside PurpleMark Wirth.

    (*Finished 8/9/12)

Purple Prompts:                                                                         

  1. O then the Baron forgot his age / His noble heart swelled up with rage; He swore by the wounds in Jesus’ side / he would proclaim it far and wide.” General Editor Richard Wilbur. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “Christabel” in Coleridge: Laurel Poetry Series. (Dell, 1959) Page 75.
  2. Or, if the music sticks, if the anecdote is false, if Crispin is a profitless philosopher, beginning with green brag and concluding fadedly, if as a man prone to distemper.” Wallace Stevens. ‘The Comedian as the Letter C” in The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play. (Vintage Books, 1967) Page 75.
  3. Lucifer?” “It seems that way. I’m not certain yet.” “It’s hard to believe.” “I know,” said Yaweh. “What should we do? Steven Brust. To Reign in Hell. (Ace Books, 1984) Page 75.
  4. Ouch,” said Bishop. Carstairs nodded. “Three days later we was murdered, but he must have started moving them toward Mexico City before then.” Dorothy Gilman. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. (Fawcett, 1966). Page 75

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Children by Afzal Moolla

They left so abruptly

The valiant ones
many known
many more nameless

the truest sons and singers
husbands and poets
lovers and wives
daughters and farmers
workers and sisters
brothers and friends

they left so abruptly
with quiet pride
steely courage
gentle dignity

they left so abruptly
leaving us our tomorrows
filled with promise

they left so abruptly
so that we may breathe
the breath of liberty
the air of freedom
the warmth of justice

they left so abruptly
leaving with us their parting gift


they left so abruptly
yet we remember them all
in the days that slipped away
and in the many more that we await

they left so abruptly
yet they remain
hewed into our memories
etched in our consciences
engraved in our hearts
they left so abruptly
and yet they endure
with us
within us
now and forever more

(For the countless South Africans who were in exile during the struggle against Aoartheid).

Copyright © 2012 by Afzal Moolla

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A wisp of nebulae slugs across the midnight sky

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I wonder when (or why) I wrote this?

Oddball Bowling with Frankenstein I’m a writer a poet a thinker Offside the page I'm a simple guy My life grinds verbs out at a slow pace I love space long stretches of unencumbered time I enjoy simple activities I'm not sculpted out of marble like Adonis or Fabio but I can be found on a dance floor, I don’t like a lot of chaos I’m not into drugs nor do I want to be around them you're free to use them but nowhere near me I don’t care for expensive things either I have no desire to own property I simply loathe wasting time keeping up a spacious dwelling mowing lawns and gardening don’t get me wrong, I like green things and I’m happy that other people like to grow them I've had enough of milking goats and pulling weeds back on the farm I’ll watch though with a notebook and pen from afar I've not always been such serious an ideologue I do have a silly side I love to watch stupid comedies roll on the floor in a laugh play Scrabble or chess or a game of chance bet on thoroughbreds spinning around a track I like sharing life, my life with your life or whomever chances by a meal a conversation a long walk a trance gaze into eyes an exchange of nonverbal knowing a look-back into a journey faces and shapes of DNA this may sound alien did I mention that I love to dance a caller beautifies squares or cooks up a heated contra or to wind a partner into a slow mesmerizing waltz

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Penhead Theater Presents: The Emperor Bonaparte

Waiter. Check, please

Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Studenroth

I am a knight:

       the ones that people say
       go searching for adventures.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Children by Afzal Moola


Civilization by the bullet,
the sting of the whip.

Descending upon us,
with fearsome piety.

Bringing The Book,
sweeping our collective pasts aside.

Scavenging for ore,
snouts in the trough,
the pillaging rarely ceased.

Gold. Women. Diamonds. People.

All commodities,
stripped and raped and sold and bought.

The of colonialism,
left us battered and bruised and almost broken.


But not quite.


the tides began turning,
winds of indignant defiance began rolling,
up through the hinterland,
and down to the sea.

The rising began,
in pockets,
then in swathes of the plundered country.

The rising took shape,
and found its coherent voice.

They were chased,
from our shores,
back to the northern lands that craved the sun.

And the gold. Women. Diamonds. Men.

This was centuries ago.


the craving persists.


they scavenge still,
never sated.

Till the rising shouts out,
once again,


Copyright © 2012 by Afzal Moolla

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Purple Words: Hotel Atlantis

Hotel Atlantis

The Travel Agent used his best whiney,
wheedling voice to relay his spiel.
It was of course the Truth which made it
that much better to lie with.
“Down there, you will know nothing
but peace in her mansions
in the endless night of her coils.”
She was being offered the vacation
of a lifetime: the chance to stay in Atlantis
or what was being billed as Atlantis anyway
in a deep-water Hotel that rested
on the Continental Shelf off Mexico.
Her last vacation had been to the Wild,
Wild West where the wildness had primarily
come from the crowd of Streakers
with their unorthodox approach to style,
fashion and even the necessity of clothing.
She wasn’t that kind of person and Atlantis
seemed considerably calmer: the perfect place
to recuperate from her too too busy life.
She just hoped that it wasn’t claustrophobic
under all that water, below the Sun’s weak rays
beneath the fish, sharks and manta rays:
it wasn’t the place to go to get a tan.
There was the nearby sunken human sculpture
garden becoming more reef-like by the day.
She got the literature and said she would
think about it: The Hotel Atlantis wasn’t
easy to get to and was quite expensive.
She thought of another Hotel which was easy
to get into, but difficult to get out of:
which was figured into her vacation plans.
The amenities were splendid, but would she
feel like a prisoner instead of as a guest?

---Purple Mark 08/25/2012

Purple Prompts:                                                                         

  1. It was, of course, the truth, which made it that much better to lie with.” Susan Schwartz from the story ‘Revolts In The Desert’ Dark Destiny III: Children Of Dracula, (White Wolf Publishing 1996). Page 350.
  2. Down there,” Jacova whispers, “you will know nothing but peace, in her mansions, in the endless night of her coils.” Edited by Ellen Datlow. CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan from the story ‘Houses Under The Sea’ Lovecraft Unbound. (Dark Horse Books, 2009) Page 193.
  3. It is not unusual, here in the wild, wild west to come across free-spirited individuals with an unorthodox approach to style, fashion, and, yes, even the necessity of clothes.” Rebecca M. Hale. How To Moon A Cat (Berkley Prime Crime, 2011). Page 147.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carla's Birds: Heroes Show

Heroes Show Up

If the monster wins, can the ending still be upbeat? I wondered as I listened, wondered if the long years of struggle to free myself from past pain were for naught.

“How do you spell your last name?” I alpha’d and he data’d, writing it down. “The way we understand it,” said the short detective, “your mother only met Lou a few weeks ago. How intimately could she have known him?”

I paused. Notions of family loyalty raised their limp tentacles but I ignored them.

“My mother was a drunk, Detective. I don’t know how well she could know anyone intimately but I know she would have given you a shag at the drop of some interest. I hadn’t heard about Lou but my mother’s lovers changed pretty fast.”

I had been woken up at 2 a.m. by a noise. I jerked up, expecting them to be thieves, but they weren’t. At least not of anything I would care about. Instead they took my life. They told me my mother had been found dead, murdered. They were trying to track down this Lou, who signed a paper they showed me: ‘Just a short note to say thanks a bundle for letting me stay on an extra night,’ it read.

“You think he murdered her?” I asked, unfocused, not understanding why they would be pursuing someone so polite.

The detectives were patient. “Maybe, maybe not, but we’d like to talk to him.”

“Or her,” I said.

I got a raised eyebrow.

“She wasn’t picky,” I said. “Don’t assume anything.”

“Oh.” He made a note.

“Well, we want to see if Lou can shed light on any difficulties she may have had with anyone recently, on what her plans were.”

“Oh.” I gave him back the plastic-sheathed note. A line from Yeats crossed my mind.

Suffer as your mother suffered / Be as broken in the end.

Of course, I hadn’t died, but how broken do you have to be before it doesn’t matter anymore?

*                            *                            *

A few days later they were back, giving me a small envelope of personal effects found on her body. I had opened the flap when the phone rang. It was Lou.

“Hello, this is Andrea Carter,” I said.

“My I speak with Andrea Carter?” she said.

I rolled my eyes. “This is Andrea Carter,” I said.

“Oh…you don’t know me, but I met your mother at Charlie’s. My name is Lou.”

Charlie’s was Mom’s favorite hang out, her body had been found a block away. Due to the bruising on her chest, the police had figured she’d been pushed over the railing and fell into the creek bed below. Her neck was broken and she hadn’t even been drunk.

“What can I do for you, Lou?” I signaled to the detectives by pointing at the phone and making my eyes wide.

“Well,” she hesitated. I heard a swallow. “Your mom was real nice to me. She knew I was going through a rough patch, and let me stay at her apartment for a few days. She also was kind enough to help me out, you know, with a little money.” I rolled my eyes again but Mom was always generous.

“I was a little short this month, but I told her I was going to get a check…” She was practically gabbling and I was losing interest, another drunk who needed a hand-out, big whoop, when she told me something that froze me where I stood.

“She didn’t have much money, your mom, but she said she’d let me pawn her necklace, as long as I got it back to her.” She was crying now. “I’m so sorry about what happened. My check came, and I rushed right over to get it out of hock. I have it, and I’d like to give it back.” She was sobbing louder. “I’m so, so sorry she’s dead. I want so much to give it back and make everything right.” Her sobs were causing her to hiccup.

I dumped the contents of the envelope on the table and pawed through it quickly. Not there. I took a deep breath, couldn’t talk… took another deep breath, and then said: “That’s nice of you. Can you come over right now?”

She said she could and I gave her the address and hung up.

I was so upset I had to put my head between my knees. The detectives looked a little taken aback.

“Miss?” said one.

I held up a hand indicating I would be alright.

“What’s wrong?” the other asked.

“Are you sure I have all my mother’s personal effects?” I asked.

They nodded yes.

I got up and retrieved a picture of my mother from the dresser. It showed her cleavage, wearing a necklace with a rather large diamond set in a gold circular setting. Rather like a diamond in the middle of a ring, which it was.

This is my mother’s engagement ring. She had it made into a necklace and gave it to my older sister upon her graduation from college. Laura was wearing it the night she was killed. She was getting money from an ATM when my mom stepped away to light a cigarette. They knifed her in the back,” my voice nearly broke at that point, but I went on, “and she died in Mom’s arms. My mom never took this necklace off except to shower, and she certainly would not have given it to some drunk to pawn. If Lou pawned it, then she stole it while Mom was in the shower.” I added, “and Mom would have definitely gone looking for it.”

The two detectives looked at each other. “It could be what the fight was about,” said one. She turned to me. “We have a report two women were arguing about that time, about that place. You think she’ll come?”

I shrugged.

“What we’d like you to do, is answer the door, invite her inside, then step outside until we come out. We’ll ask her a few questions to see if she’s a possible. You can go get coffee or something. We’ll call you when it’s safe to come back.” He stood up, not anticipating any problem with those perfectly reasonable instructions when the doorbell rang.

I didn’t answer, but opened the door to face an onslaught of grief.

“Andrea,” she cried and took one step in to throw her arms around me and sob, “I’m so sorry.”

I had my arms braced on the door and door frame. When she recognized she wasn’t getting the response she was looking for, she loosed me, but still held my shoulders. She looked into my eyes, saying: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overwhelm you. I know how hard this must be for you. Your mother told me about the trouble.”

“Gee, thanks Mom,” I thought. Stepping aside to let her in, Lou finally saw the two other people in the room.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you had company. I won’t take up your time then, I just wanted to come and give you this.” She handed me Mom’s necklace, the same one in the photo. I held it up for the detective’s to see.

“Lou, we’re detectives in charge of Rachel’s murder.”

She went white at that and stepped back. “It was an accident.” She swallowed. “I mean, I thought it was an accident.”

“We need to ask you a few questions.” She looked at me. “Andrea, can we have a minute?”

I shrugged helplessly. It was a studio loft, there wasn’t anyway I could go, except the bathroom.

Lou looked astonished. “You can’t ask her to leave, don’t you know that?”

The detectives looked puzzled.

Lou was indignant. “She hasn’t left this place for five years, every since the shooting, you know the one, at the Jewish center. She saved all those people.” Lou was getting really worked up about it.

“Perhaps, detectives, you should take Lou to the station instead. I’m sure she’s eager to get this sorted out.”

Lou didn’t look eager, but resigned. I reluctantly handed the necklace to the detective, knowing it would be needed as evidence, and they left, promising to call with news.

Lou was right; I hadn’t left here in five years. My mom had been my lifeline to the outside world. She saw her daughter die in her arms, and had become a drunk, but she still lived her life. She had coped. I had folded. Anger at my sister’s death had made me reckless that day. When Ian “Naveed” Holmes started shooting, I was in the copy room. At the sound of gun shot, I opened the door. Seeing his back to me, I took a flying leap. My speed and weight drove his head into the corner of the desk, and nearly took it off. I was covered in blood. Everyone praised me, thought I was a hero, but I wasn’t, I was just angry. The heroes were the ones who showed up the next day to sort it out, to do the work. My mom was a hero, and now she was dead and I could not even go to her funeral.

I shut the door, shutting out the sun, and wept.

---By Carla Blaschka, 7/21/12

   Written at Richard Hugo House alongside PurpleMark Wirth & Philip Bernier-Smith (*finished 8/8/12)

Carla's Bird Prompts:                                                                         

  1. Suffer as your mother suffered / Be as broken in the end W.B. Yeats. ‘Two Years Later’ The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. (Wordsworth Poetry Library, 1994). Page 100.
  2. Just a short note to say thanks a bundle for letting me stay on an extra night.” Bill Richardson. Bachelor Brothers Bed & Breakfast Pillowbook. (Wyatt Book for St Martin’s Press, 1995). Page 100.
  3. I jerked up, expecting them to be thieves, but they weren’t." Michael Lane. Pink Highways. (Birch Lane Press, 1995). Page 100.
  4. If the monster wins, can the ending still be upbeat? William Nolan." How to Write Horror Fiction. (Writers Digest Books, 1990). Page 100.
  5. The way we understand it,” said the short detective, “your mother only met Lou a few weeks ago. How intimately could she have known him?” Author. Book. (Publisher, Year). Page 100.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Children by Afzal Moolla

Under starless skies,

beneath the waning moon,
streaks of drying tears,
whisper away all your fears.

May your mornings to come be peaceful,
may the coming days be filled with light,
may what has passed be in the past,
so that the future may have brighter moments that may last.

In silences filled with reflection,
your thoughts may linger back,
to times that were harsh,


may your heart always guide you,
away from memories so blue.

And when you find your feet again,
when you walk tall once more,
keep your soul and nourish it well,
and if the past rears its poisoned self,
be brave and tell them all to go to hell.

you are worthy of so much better,
without the feelings of being beat down,

you're exhausted of being strong,
when it was they who did you wrong.

You will grow,
in spirit,
in strength,
in believing in yourself yet again,

for you must never, ever, find yourself out alone, in the cold, slicing rain.

Life will go on, memories will fade,
faces will blur, scars will heal,
and above all else, you will stand upright,

Never, ever again,

will you bow and kneel.

So, go with the pureness that is wrapped in your heart,
and hush the voices of doom,

and know that when one rose withers,
another one must also bloom.

Copyright © 2012 by Afzal Moolla

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Penhead Theater Presents: The Emperor Bonaparte

I say one more, and then we go get ice cream or something

Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Studenroth

I am a knight:

       the ones that people say
       go searching for adventures.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's Children by Afzal Moolla

Why I Cannot Stay

Dim images, grainy memories,
of walking down empty cobblestone alleys,
seeking elusive shadows,
trawling through teary depths,
finding a faint sliver here,
a solitary footprint there.

Crawling, limbs flailing,
needing traction, sliding on slippery thoughts, fluid memories,
cascading down windowless mirrors,
hidden from oneself.

Lost, desolate, alone,
buoyed by whispers caught on the breeze,
hushed murmurs, quiet pleas,
like driftwood in streams,
distilling a few splintered dreams.

Glancing over curled locks,
staring into deep chasms,
looking for the colour red,
in harmony, tuned-in, softly,
wearing scars, wishing inside stony fortresses,
knowing that hope slipped away, and fled.

Lost, I am unable to see, to breathe,
to feel, to touch, to sense,
to raise a spirited defense.

Desolate, I have slipped in sensing a feeling of touch,
in breathing a heartfelt ache.
Alone, I walk on, shuffling my winter coat,
wiping my dripping eyes, scratching my itching soul,
picking at a scab festering in my mind,
knowing that only further blindness will I find.

Wasting away, they laugh and say,
he's torn and twisted and he has lost his way,
while they point and kneel and pray,
the demon of their apathy they will fail to slay,
and I can never in such a place stay,
my brain stews in a mothballed tray,
and I leave, Ieaving to make my own way,
down through passages of rotten decay,
sliding in colours of muted gray,

it is I, myself. Lost.

How can I ever find my way?

Copyright © 2012 by Afzal Moolla

Also check out my other wordpress website. It's a literary journal called Randomly Accessed Poetics! Submissions are open. We Publish continually. Lastly, Penhead Press's first publication: Randomly Accessed Poetics, Issue 1: The Texture of Words came out. If you're interested you can find it in the kindle store.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Guest Author: Valentina Cano -- Purgatory Around a Table

Purgatory Around a Table

How is it this feeling has taken
over my very veins?
I am thrown out,
disposed of myself,
and filled with swamp water,
dark and brimming with flies.
I cannot sit still,
but rising burns my toes, my calves.
Even breathing has lost its charm.
My hands are stiff
and held at my sides like plates,
ready to smash themselves
to pieces against the wall.
My voice slashes upward in a scream.
The only sign of its sound,
the teetering of wine glasses.

Copyright © 2012 by Valentina Cano

If you haven't already, check out Penhead Press's first publication: Randomly Accessed Poetics, Issue 1: The Texture of Words.