52|250's Third Quarter Review

Week #29 – The palm of your hand

Magic Land by Eliq & Kids
Poet by Catherine Russell 

Blake imagined infinity in the palm of his hand-
Whitman sang the body electric-
What next will poets spy
hidden within the bodies of saints or sinners?
In the mind that witnesses the miraculous
in the mundane,
the ordinary does not exist.
There’s poetry in a grain of sand.

It Stops by Claire King 

Your temper was part of the fabric of our house, a stain between the coving and the flock. At night your foul, beer soaked threats and my pleas for mercy were ghosts floating through walls into the kids’ dreams. In the morning we’d breakfast on silence and bruises. I felt sorry for that child inside you still fighting some painful injustice – a beating handed down along with patched up clothes, a rationing of wartime love. Until years later, when the kids told me how you’d take your belt to their bare backsides behind closed doors. Bastard.

We made our escape on grimy streets under skies filled with crows, flapping like litter in the wind.

For years you drifted angrily alone. Then the grandchildren were born.

“A new start”, you thought, packing your narcissistic bags and dumping them on her kitchen floor. You were soon boiling over again, but her husband stepped in.

“Not in our house.”

How you raged then, the world proven to be as cruel as you’d painted it. Everyone against you, you angry little man.

She says she feels it too sometimes: the chemical rush of fury in flesh, telling her to grab their arms, shake and bellow and slap. When it comes she falls prostrate, pressing her face to the floor, waiting urgently for it to pass. “Here,” she says, “it stops.”

Crumbling Bridges by Jane Banning 

“The bridge footing gave way. Just crumbled like sand,” said the man from the semitruck in front of me. His eyes were clear as quartz and he laid a warm palm on my arm as I sat in my car. Traffic was backed up for miles.

“Who the hell you talking to?” my husband asked, on the other end of the cell phone. His voice sounded murky, miles away at home.

“Just a guy,” I said. “I’ll call you back.”

The man took his hand away and eased it into his pocket, rocked back on his heels, exhaling a languid breath.

“How long will we be stuck here?” I asked him.

“CB radio says it’ll be a while. Long as it takes for this whole line to get turned around.” His forearms glinted with golden hairs, lying down flat and silky.

“It’ll be hours, won’t it?” I asked, feeling my face glow with an expected heat.

“Probably. Nothing anyone can do but wait and make the best of it.”

My phone buzzed again like an angry insect in my lap.

“Can’t you tell me what’s going on?” my husband asked. “Jeez.”

“Nope,” I said, something settling in me like warm pebbles finding their places. “All anyone can do is wait and make the best of it.”

Disappearing Inc. by Randal Houle 

You won’t like this story. It’s the most frightening story I have ever imagined.

It’s not the story about the merits of eReaders versus paper books. As long as you feel good about it and it’s convenient and the price is right and it doesn’t ultimately wind up in landfill with all that corrosive acid eating through it not to mention the unit itself, which will outlive your great grandchildren….

But this story isn’t about that, it’s about freedom.

Remember the flames of hate that consumed piles of books? They weren’t books, they were words. Tyranny’s greatest weapon is the power to destroy words, and the greatest enemy of tyranny is words – especially words organized into books – the pages like phalanx against ignorance.

Despite tyranny’s best efforts, a few tomes escape, hidden away by cooler heads under the penalty of death. I hold these noble people up to you as the true heroes of history.

I told you this would be frightening, but it gets worse.

Take your electronic device, the one manufactured by a handful of companies, which has hidden deep within the architecture the ability to delete at the push of a button. Where will you hide your words when they come for you? There will be no warning. One day, your device will log on to the air and the deed will be done. Your story gone from the tomes of history, and with it, your freedom, snatched from the palm of your hand.

Let me whisper in your ear by Bernard Heise 

When I hold in the palm of my hand the life of someone like you, about whom I’ve learned everything I need to know from the pronouncements you have splattered across television, radio, and the internet, and whom I now have before me in the puffy flesh, sweaty and pale, wheeled by frantic paramedics into the soul-scorching lights of my operating room after a hell-bent ambulance ride because the cumulative effects of a bad diet, lack of exercise, and vitriol finally sprang the corroded springs of your blackened heart, knocking you flat and breathless just as you were raising a glass of expensive chardonnay to your thin lips to toast the jackals who have made and kept you fat in exchange for promises to create laws that will assure vast profits for the few by perpetuating the misfortune of the many, and I look into your predatory eyes, still very conscious, and glimpse a flicker of fear but also the demand that I save you, I suddenly become a man of faith, knowing that the good Lord himself has delivered you to this table beneath my scalpel, and I wonder whether I should say a prayer that my fingers might slip, which they never do, or that a random infection might take hold, which rarely happens, or if I should simply show my gratitude for the opportunity I now have to serve my country and fellow citizens and apply the blade decisively, remembering that God helps those who help themselves.

Guy Fawkes by Heather Taylor 

Stubby fingers greased the shank of the sparkler as Bernice held it as tightly as a five year old could well past her bedtime and her stomach full of saveloys and half a pint of her Uncle George’s Export. Sparks ripped from the tip as she waved it in circles, tracing yellow lines of fire in the night. She passed wind as she twirled. Her sister Alice made a face and poked her tongue out, pinching her nose. The adults sat in lawn chairs watching and laughing, piles of beer cans growing under their feet, voices raised to beat the yells from their children.

A collision with her brother chipped a burning chunk from the sparkler. It fell onto the crease of Bernice’s hand between thumb and index finger where it buried itself into her flesh. Skin melted and a curl of smoke rose. Bernice stood still to enjoy the sweet smell.

Then Alice screamed and Mother yanked Bernice into the house. Savage and dry eyed, the little girl fought, twisting in Mother’s grip. Unable to escape, she lashed out at Mother’s shin and connected.

When the palm of Mother’s hand found her cheek, the amount of illicit beer Bernice had consumed outweighed the saveloys and she threw up. It was only then, at exactly midnight, that Bernice started to howl. Somewhere a long way from that suburb, hidden in the dark scrub far from the lights, a wild dog heard the little girl’s calls and joined in.

Back to Wk #28 – The postcard
Forward to Wk #30 – Urban convert

One response

  1. Pingback: Week #40 – The money’s all gone « fiftytwo

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