Little Novels

By Eric Greinke & Alison Stone

1. Blown

After you let the dog out

he whimpered at the base of the

lightning-scorched pine.

A lone crow, it’s caw the sound

of a loud drone, fluttered down.

 

2. Harvest

Leaning against the old barn

was your splintered axe handle.

The dead roses were scattered

on the ground like summer dreams,

indecipherable, shriveled hieroglyphs.

 

3. Preparations

Field mice are migrating to warm basements,

leaving droppings behind boilers, plumping up

on stashes of candy.  Even the pets

are thickening, their new fur

their only preparations for the coming winter.

 

4. Turning

Surrounded by fall’s brightest leaves

an old wooden rowboat rots

beneath a newly naked oak.

Tubers float freely on the lake,

their shadows mottle the circling fish.

 

5. Doppelganger

The day the mirror fought back was weird.

The kettle whistled battle hymns

and the Pekingese wolf-howled.

Oddest of all was the framed glass,

bulging with the reflection of my enemy.

 

6. Artifact

The poodle was the first to notice

the plastic amulet in the cereal box.

The old man felt the sudden drop

in atmospheric pressure in his left

ventricle, a command to return the treasure.

 

7. Life Mimics Art

Inside their imaginary castles, dreamers

only wake when dragon’s breath

cracks wish-curtained windows and

they’re hurtled back into the world of

artificial illuminations and expectations.

 

8. Digital Age

Needing escape from the orange

evening sky, they stare too long

into various stupid screens,

gone insipid, color-blind and

choosing this torpor over rapture or oblivion.

 

9. Sinking Fast

When all the icebergs are gone,

and the polar bears have lumbered

into extinction, and the sea has swallowed

the coast, from our submerged cities

to the mountains, will hope float?

 

10. Off Key

The out of tune guitar leaning

in the corner was a special

gift to a supposed best friend,

who left it exposed and unused.

Mice nest in it, leave droppings.

 

11. Crisis

In the Third World, bartenders and hairdressers

serve beauty and forgetfulness to dreamers

while empty stomachs twist and bright

boots echo amid whispers of another coup or

the availability of the latest cell phone.

 

12. Heavenly

After the giddy astronomers

celebrated their discovery of

water crystals on one of Saturn’s moons,

the fundamentalists recoiled in horror.

Luckily, another shooting wiped this off the news.

 

13. Legends Of The Fall

The wind whispered across the treetops,

proverbs of winter that fat squirrels

understand.  Steadily they gathered, while the last

stubborn clusters of leaves hung on and

added their sighs and rumors to the song.

 

14. Dry Enough

Western wildfires burn out of control, a

greater conflagration than predicted, proof that

anything made dry enough can burn.  News crews

and do-gooders rush to the scene, while

wealthy athletes pay fines to water their lawns.

 

15. It’s A Wrap

Turned into a movie set, the street

morphed into what it wasn’t.

Some houses transformed into candy,

while others became tombs or churches.

The star’s beagle peed on the fantasy.

 

16. Spin Doctor

Her many plates spun on wands of

fantasy, such fervent wishing almost

a religion, her costume jewelry twinkling

in desire’s spotlight. The audience gasped

as she confidently removed the wands.

 

17. Divine Intervention

After the dog ate the only copy of my thesis,

I considered trading him at the shelter

for a gecko, then wrote a better paper

on how truth hides behind cliche. The dog

accepted my apology, as Co-Author.

 

18. New Blue

Trying to find balance between the soft

underbelly of a shark and its teeth,

I reminded myself to take a break

from recreational skin-diving, then I

traded wetsuit for satin dress. Danced hard.

 

19. Infinite Fun

In an ironic twist of fate, the parrot

landed on the bird watcher’s

head, the cat chased the boxer under

the bed, and the neighbors’ piebald pony

climbed a dead oak tree like a monkey.

 

20. White Washed

After spring-warm weeks, the sudden snow

snaps us into winter, without nostalgia.

After two days of high wind and sleet,

our bodies magnetize to the South,

we eat like bears, rest under our flowered quilt.

 

21. Another Dimension

In the larger context, how could we know

if the butterfly not fluttering in Maine,

failing to bring the storm that would have

toppled the Asian dictator, was a good thing

or something weird, in another dimension.

 

22. Look Up in the Sky

When the dog ate raisins and lived, we knew

he was probably a Superdog, so we fed

him some onions and dark chocolate,

and he survived, indicating a

humble mutt can be God in disguise.

 

23. Way Down Below

At the bottom of the ocean, my

childhood tire swing sways

as fish dart through it toward

used condoms and half-eaten

memories of a sunken childhood.

 

24. Unscripted

The scent of strawberries reminded him

of his first love, and the time he took her

to see Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries,

shown in the campus theater.  They were

incompatible, he realized, when she dozed.

 

25. Sucker Punch

We should have let it go, but instead

we dressed it up in taffeta and spangled tights,

paraded it in front of friends who soon

wished to be elsewhere.  We never

even saw us coming.

 

26. Feline Intervention

Unsure if the hissing cat

was sincere, the stupid man

put his hand out and got

a deep puncture wound, but

found true love in the E.R.

 

27. Barter System

Frequent moves left Lola indebted to the

pals who kept loading and unloading

her boxes, paid only in pizza and beer,

the kind of friend she might become

if she was more into carbohydrates.

 

28. Called Back

The college reunion invitation made him

wince, as he remembered

the last one, and the enormous

blunder he’d committed when he

called his wife the class slut’s name.

 

29. The Beaten

The sad marching band ran from the field, their

plumed hats drooping, out-of-tune instruments

held to their chests. They’d practiced for weeks

but their routine had been derailed by

serial love affairs in the rhythm section.

 

30. Not On Display

The box of old photographs

gathered dust on a shelf

in the cluttered closet

of an unused guest room.

Kept the past safely contained.

 

31. Time Warp

Anomalies in the space-time continuum indicate

that too much WiFi has disrupted

the electronic frequencies of the galaxies,

causing individuals to meet their past and future

with the wrong stars in their eyes.

 

 

——————–

Eric Greinke‘s most recent books are Poets In Review and Zen Duende – Collaborative Poems (with Glenna Luschei).   His collaborative poem, Lone Bones (from Zen Duende, published originally in Forge 9.2), has received a 2017 Pushcart Prize. His work has been published in The Aurorean, California Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Ginyu (Japan), The Green Door (Belgium), The Hurricane Review, The Journal (UK), Main Street Rag, New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poem, Prosopisia (India), Schuylkill Valley Journal, The South Carolina Review, The University of Tampa Review, and many others.

Alison Stone’s latest collection, Ordinary Magic, is forthcoming from NYQ Books in 2016. She is also the author of Dangerous Enough(Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (Dancing Girl Press 2014),From the Fool to the World: Poems in the Voices of the Major Arcana of the Tarot (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. Her poems have appeared in The Paris ReviewPoetryPloughshares,Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and a variety of other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is currently editing an anthology of poems on the Persephone/Demeter myth.


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