The Scarecrow – submitted to WarmUp Wednesday

This field has been tilled for years, until it’s almost barren.

But spring optimism and commitment to his craft rouse the farmer from his bed.

Last year’s stubble is mixed with hopeful earth. The taste of it hangs in the air.

And, as thoughts take hold a familiar, sprouting tickle at my feet.

‘Look up’ I shout, but he does not.

‘Come see me in darkness’ I yell, but he will not.

At the field’s edge, the mocking laugh and eye of a ravening crow.

The farmer’s rough hands are empty.

The night sky full of the words he’s sown.

The Scarecrow – submitted to WarmUp Wednesday

Not Guilty – Submitted as ‘The Hit’ to Microbookends

Five of Five Audio Wire Transcript
Recording Date: 10/15/2015
Target Phone: (216)404-6786
Conversation Between:

James Rosenthal
Mario Mazzei

MAZZEI: Jimmy?

ROSENTHAL: I’m eating. What do you want?

MAZZEI: Ok. Listen. I got the golf clubs.

ROSENTHAL: You’re welcome.

MAZZEI: So everything’s good. Is it good by you?

ROSENTHAL: Sure. I need to confirm tee off time and the address. But I’ll do that tomorrow.

(portion of conversation omitted)

MAZZEI: Listen, I was wondering about the greens. Is the ball liable to run fast when I start putting or are they slow?

ROSENTHAL: As fast as Augusta.


ROSENTHAL: Okay. Bye Mario.

MAZZEI: Okay. My respects to your family.

Not Guilty – Submitted as ‘The Hit’ to Microbookends

A visit from the consigliere – submitted to MicroBookends

Five thousand dollars for the hit.

All his money, but what price his daughter’s honour?

His daughter and this bar. That’s all he had. And he would protect them.

A waiter hurried inside. ‘Hey, Rigo. Alley table. Here to see you’

Sparafucile sat outside, fat as the Toscano in his mouth, hands laid out on a briefcase.

He motioned for Rigo to sit down.

“You know what this is?”

Rigo’s mouth went dry; all he could hear was Le Donne e Mobile playing on the jukebox.

“….five G’s, doused in a hitman’s blood”

Sparafucile made to leave. The shadows of two capos drew close.

‘We’re disappointed Rigo…thought we were family.’

A visit from the consigliere – submitted to MicroBookends

Writer’s Block – submitted to

Dear x

I understand you are able obtain items of value, and that you do not ask many questions.

I am looking to acquire a story.

My preference is for arresting, insightful imagery and conflicting interpretations.

You may place a blindfold over the plot.

Although that is not to say the juxtaposition of words, or their interrogation of the subject matter, should be given free rein.

On the contrary, they must be tightly bound to accepted form and structure.

There must be no witnesses or evidence of your work.

Once procured, please supply to me unread.

With matches

And some whitewash.

Writer’s Block – submitted to

The Train Halts – Submitted to PP

The train halts. Up ahead there is wrong sort of something on the line. It’s nearly winter and through the window, although the commuting sun is low, its ebbing majesty is still enough to bathe the carriage in a heldbreath of golden possibility. I look around, but everyone is too busy on their phones. The moment passes. Unnoticed, the train inches forward. And we all hold on, blindfolded to the gravity of its inexorable momentum.

The Train Halts – Submitted to PP

Microbookends – Merry / Pranksters


“Merry Christmas!” I cry as Walt opens the door.

It’s my little joke. I know it’s not Christmas.

It’s a new room. A new place. I came here last night. By bus. I like it. They said I could eat whatever I wanted.

Walt’s sad, but smiles, leads me to another room with a doctor in it.

Mr Donaghue is there too. He’s a clever man. Uses words like ‘diminished capacity’, ‘criminal responsibility’.

Mom says he’d keep me safe until I could see her again. That was a while ago.

It sure looks like he’s been crying.

“Whassup?” I say. “Usually you guys cheer me up; C’mon you’re my pranksters…”

Microbookends – Merry / Pranksters

FlashFriday – Winner


Taking a boiled cassava root she says out loud “Fruit of the Earth”, before placing it in the the woduro.

Reaching for a plantain, “…and fruit of the sky”, then placing it in the woduro too.

Setting to work with the woma, pounding the mixture in silence, her jaw fixed in concentration.

The sun is high. Sweat begins to run freely off her brow.

But her focus remains undiminished, raising and dropping the woma, up and down, up and down until, gradually, it coalesces and from the mixing of sky and earth, a fine almost elastic dough begins to form.

With tender care, continuing to work the dough until at last the fufu is finished.

Flexing the cramp from her arms, she looks at her daughter.

“The Sun has barely risen on your marriage, my child. Do you understand?”

Her daughter nods.

“Good,” then smiling, “Do you think it was any different for your father and I? They are both good men. Now go and be reconciled.”

FlashFriday – Winner

FlashFriday – 2nd Runner up

TITLE: Cockroaches

History is not remembering who you are:

I wake to the radio. It tells me the cockroaches should be crushed to death. I recite the commandments.
Cockroaches work for themselves.
Cockroaches own everything.
To marry a cockroach is to be a traitor of the worst species.
I am expected to change the situation.
I repeat them by heart, slowly transforming bitter sentiments into a furious need to destroy.
Until I no longer know who I am.

History is hacked limbs:

Imagine loving your family
You have no family.
Imagine outraged bodies, twisted and mutilated.
Imagine torsos.
Imagine rape.
Imagine your father slain in mid-stride.
Imagine his bleached skull.
Imagine a church covered in blood.
Imagine what pity must feel like.
You have no family.

History is indifferent:

I wake to the radio.
If I am lucky I will have dreamt of the sea.
The past is still here. Every morning I pause a moment to see if it will devour me.
I live in a room without a key.
Every morning my neighbours will taunt each other with their suffering.
I will remain silent.
I know the sun is a lie
Mountains do not shake at the sound of tiny feet.
And nothing will grow from the salt tears I cry.

FlashFriday – 2nd Runner up

FLASH FRIDAY – 3rd Runner up


It’s not so much a speakeasy as a ragged carousel of illicit expectation, lit by a lurid, bleary red and green and the twisted jazz of the age.

I drag her into the restroom, hands held tight and laughing as we stagger and turn against the basin.

Standing behind her, my reflection is dark and silent in the cracked mirror.

She’s drunk.

I wait for her to find my reflection, fighting all the while the serpent in my head, gnarling at a moral it doesn’t understand. Pretending not to see a darker heart that, right now, has nothing to confess but the narrowest of innocence and a bone snap of intention.

I let the moment pass. Let her go. She’s nothing.

I look at myself again; tell myself, there ain’t gonna be no heaven for me at the end of my life.

But then again, maybe no burnin’ hell neither.

FLASH FRIDAY – 3rd Runner up