I step off the flamingo colored bus and walk into the middle ages with mountains hovering in the background while lots of vapors hit depending on which way you turn, charcoal smoke, dried dung, piss, nothing remotely romantic as the universe you’ve been living in has been flicked and brought you back to the time of camels and donkeys into the back of beyond sans electricity but rosy glow kerosene lanterns show off local vendors’ fruit in brown one story buildings down the dried mud thoroughfare where small piles of oranges are arranged like pyramids of precious gems and lanterns put out thin beams of shaky light so walking down the street into darkness you hear a clip-clopping echo and see a flickering pin prick light and jump out of the way of a donkey cart headed right at you with the driver sitting on top smoking kif next to a kerosene lamp unable to see you in the pitch black air though you might smell donkey and driver if the dung laced breeze blows up your nose as my body quivers with new found knowledge of time so I pour sand from one hand to the other in order to anchor me to the earth and settle into a leathery haunch and breathe in the remnants of the old ways through worn slats of the oldest door in the world hanging in entrance of a mud compound where bakers hook their flat dough pieces the size of small pillows with a black rod onto the roof of a beehive shaped oven with a flick of their wrists bakers’ limbs having an intelligence of their own needing no concentration after 1,000 years of repetition while turban wrapped men pass as if in parade out of the bible faces not quite Asian not quite European dark beards hollow cheeks gazing into space until throwing out pieces of conversation into the air stepping past dried creek beds with cratered walls of sand on either side of you the chaos of the crust of earth as if some mad god of sculpture troweled along their rims in ecstatic abandon jubilating in the peculiar sense of sand surrounding you in a protective snake shaped womb as you listen to the high wailing voices from the tendrils of the wind a song slithering among dunes carved from alleys of sand melody and lyric complete while a woman’s mating ritual of belly jiggling, pelvic thrusts vibrate and stretch in filthy angelic writhing in the mud unleashing a gale of erotic energy as drums carry her through different symphonies of movement causing the skin of the soldier of peace to split like a serpent’s egg to reveal the tinkle of a goat’s bell.
Leap of Faith
I’m a dead frog and I don’t say this with any pity or understanding or shame it’s just an observation that people seem to like us, like us a bit too much because they like to push hooks through our jaws and cast us out to sea, as well as amputate us for fine dining and draw us as a cartoon shuffling cigar smoking smart ass, and they like to blame us when they choke on the phlegm in their throats, and they swear that some of us give them hideous skin infections while the evil ones enjoy tossing us into their steamy potions as the younger ones imitate us with a game of leaps and crashes, perhaps because we abandon our young and we larger ones like to eat the smaller ones, and some of us are poisonous and have arrows dipped in our blood for killing others, and snakes like to slide along with our swallowed bulges straining inside their bellies, and we are stunned and frozen and sliced alive by school children with sharp tools, yet we still swim and splash and smile because the sun warms our cold blood and reflects our moist green that gives summer its most vibrant color, and the Chinese believe there is a toad in the moon not a man, and the Japanese consider us good luck, and that luck includes the growing of long legs to hop away from dinosaurs which is why we are the best leapers on earth and millions of years ago became the first animal with any backbone to live on land, and Shakespeare wrote that we wear a precious jewel in our head, and best of all, beneath the summer stars, the sky is filled with our clucks and clicks and croaks of romance and camaraderie, sprinkled within a flying feast of buzzing wings and microscopic swimmers, and so this is what dead frogs will do just given the chance, a chance that will always destroy us.
Mark Blickley's latest book is the short story collection, Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press). His play, The Milkman's Sister, premieres at New York City's 13th Street Repertory Theater. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center.