Tag Archive: mark


            I’m in a land of porcupines with bristling bodies and all eyes. They move before me in circles but never touch me, banging solidly against each other. I see the guy who loves his pistol and always polishes it and if a girl defeats him he lets her die. The mosquito dude lets you live but you lose your hopeful berry. Then there’s iron neck guy who’s worse than triangle head and as I’m watching them all I’m thinking `What’s that horrible music in the background? And who started all of this?’

            Lollipops with musical notes on them float above my head. I’m sitting in a puddle of I don’t know and I don’t know why when here comes the Danger Clown swinging across the floor toward Godiva who stands impassively and doesn’t even shake her head when he shimmies up to her.

            There seems no really controlling any of this.

            If anyone could see me I would feel unwelcome here. I’d feel like a complete creep. Confetti leaves of artificial trees dance down delicately between me and the world. Another porcupine boy, all hands and eyes on stilt legs, asks the chair beside me to dance. She smiles and shakes her head. He says, “But you need to. We have to get out of here” and she shrugs and takes his hand. He yanks her to her feet and pulls her from the room. Everyone is still banging into each other wide-eyed.  It’s not so much a dance as a collision. My mushroom silence strands me safely. The band plays as the room rises and falls.

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Free Soup by Joshua J. Mark

Every night Ralph heard the sounds from the kitchen – pots drawn out from cabinets and the doors softly closing – but when he got down the stairs there was no one. A pot or pan of soup would be steaming on the stove in the morning. It was a mystery. He even slept one night on the kitchen floor but it made no difference. In the morning there was a pan of butternut squash soup simmering on the stove top and all the dishes done and shining brightly in the rack by the sink. He knew he wasn’t sleep cooking as he couldn’t manage cooking anything more than toast while awake and he hadn’t washed a dish in the house since his wife died a month earlier.

Sleeping on the couch in the living room one night he heard the sound of a pot moving on the stove and footsteps on the kitchen floor. Water ran in the sink, filling something, and then the footsteps sounded again across the linoleum moving toward the stove. He had wanted to rise, to run out and seize whoever was there, but his legs would not move and his heart was beating so loudly he was sure they could hear it in the kitchen – whoever `they’ were. The next morning he found a pot of vegetable soup waiting for him on the front burner.

He took to sleeping in the attic where he couldn’t hear the sounds from the kitchen. When he came down the stairs in the morning, always, there was his pot of soup. It was beyond puzzling. He never bought any ingredients. After six months of this Ralph finally told his brother about the situation. “You ought to get out of there. The place sounds haunted.”

“I know,” Ralph said. “But free soup is free soup.”

When the orange monkey finally found Jesus cringing behind the toilet he yelled, “Woah, man! Where’s my crackers?”

Jesus just shrugged and pointed – grinning mysteriously.

The monkey knew he’d been beaten by the best, and no shame in that, but, still, it irked him that he should so suddenly be deprived of something which he loved so well. He beat his chest angrily and punched his fist through the mirror above the bathroom sink, sending shards of glass flying through the room. Jesus hunched his shoulders and pulled back more snugly beneath the toilet.

The blue and white tiled floor was a mosaic of glittering images. The monkey stared down at a hundred different reflections of his face. No image on the floor was whole, he noticed, and there was a nose here below his feet and an ear over there and, when he waggled his fingers, too many fingers waggled back from all across the floor. He looked darkly over to where Jesus was smiling weakly up at him from behind the toilet. Jesus waggled his fingers at the monkey and smiled.

“Where’s my crackers?”

Jesus shrugged again and said, “In the end, they all come back to the room where the beans are roasted.”

“What?”

“Also, if you would, remember the bat. Not the whiffle-ball bat you used to play with when you were a kid but the large, black, winged creature who danced down the wall juggling those lemons you thought were impossibly round, singing that `Impossible Dream’ song. This bat, you know, he never even had a juggling lesson, didn’t even have hands, but he still got that blonde chick in the skin-tight cat suit to feed him bread and wine after the show.”

“What the hell does that have to do with my crackers?”

“Well – everything,” Jesus said, smiling brightly.