from "Threnody in Three Voices"



Whooshing through one square, he opened his lungs

This started the apprehension, that a crafty

The Dr. irrigated Jule’s nose with ice water

and timid policy was getting rid of

and a syringe.  She was panicky and screamed and

to the delights of a bakery and a

begged the Dr. not to.  I nearly broke down then.

individuals, while all were suspected.

tobacconist’s; through another, he

His favored, who enjoyed an unheard of license,   

Marci loves to be picked up and dance around

shivered at a Schubert melody played upon 





brought the debaucheries of court, its intrigues, its easy

while you hold her.  She and Jule dance together 

marriages, and the other indulgences of   

a piano just slightly out of tune.


and love it.   Jule likes to try and teach Marci

and younger.  Farther down into the city, until

to talk.  She now says quite a few words for her big sister.

despotic power, before a mind passionately 

that thin rivulet of ice abruptly ended

Dr. put girls’ names on list for Salk vaccine

and he had to catch himself from hurtling headlong.

fond of such things, dwelt upon them as his if he





when available.

By this morning Jule was covered

He stood in another square and looked about.

dared to seize them, and reproached the inaction

with measles, except her legs and feet.  Her

Radiant hues had been replaced by a monochrome

that would leave them to others.

Such was the

fever was gone but returned in afternoon.

temper of men's minds, that, while there were few to venture

of lead.  The pervasive odor was of discarded

Tried to get some of my reading done.  Kids are so full

mop water.  Sounds came to him muffled as

on so atrocious a treason, many wished it done,     





those from beyond asylum walls.

And his own person?

and all were ready to acquiesce.

of mischief.  Hard to concentrate on anything.

It was as if they were demanding some spectacle  

He had become the third iteration of himself

We took Jule down for Bible School at 9 a.m.  She

 in the circus or amphitheatre. They had not indeed

in just that one morning:  this one, a functionary,

said she’d try it and if she didn’t like it,

any discrimination or sincerity,

well under average height and clothed in a gray

she didn’t want to go anymore.  She liked it.





for on that same day they would raise with equal

wrinkled suit, one size too large.

In front of him stood

Drove down to new Tastee Freeze to inquire

zeal a wholly different cry. It was their custom to flatter

a washed out three-story building that he understood

about starting one up.  No deal, I guess.

any ruler with reckless applause and meaningless fervor.

Jule won’t mind at all now unless you get

was his workplace.  Glancing at his watch,

Soon, as happens with these great fictions, men

 a strap out and threaten her with it.

he realized that he was tardy.





asserted that they had been present, and had seen

So, small as he was, he entered, took a seat in

The East cleaning up after the flash floods.  Heartbreaking

the deed; and, between the delight of some and the

the grimy anteroom, and waited to be

job.  People dead and still buried under debris.

indifference of others, the report was

summoned.  He stared at the brown door straight

Factories and towns ruined  --  people out of work.

easily received. just as belief in hatred is but too ready.

So peaceful while Jule is in school  --  must admit.

across the room;  he was not especially anxious,





Jule and Marci make so much noise when they’re

Otho did not fail to play his part; he stretched out

but merely resigned to a scolding.


his arms, and bowed to the crowd, and kissed his hands, and

playing.  Drives me crazy! 

Marci tries to act

the door opened, though he could see no one

and talk just like Jule when they’re together.  Some

inside.  And when he stepped through the doorway,

good and some bad and very fresh!  Marci is also

altogether acted the slave, to make himself

he found himself not in another interior space,

the master.  The more insincere their demonstrations, the more





beginning to hum or sing along with the

but on a sidewalk that wound its way through

they multiplied them.  A day spent in crime found its last horror

TV ads.  Tries to get right on the note.  Has

well-manicured lawns.

As he stood gazing 

in the rejoicings that concluded it.

a good ear. 

                        Jule was in a singing group for a

The Forum yet streamed with blood, when he was

about, it gradually occurred to him that he knew this place  --

minstrel show.  She got a kick out of it

borne in a litter over heaps of dead to the Capitol.

the campus of the school he’d retired from months before.



Joel Chace

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as, Tip of the Knife, Eratio, OtolithsWord For/Word, and Golden Handcuffs Review.  Most recent collections include Humors, from Paloma Press, Threnodies, from Moria Books, and fata morgana, from Unlikely Books.  Joel recommends supporting locofo chapbooks.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, November 19, 2018 - 10:02