Posted tagged ‘stories’

– the latest

June 5, 2016

The wonderful Rat’s Ass Revue included me in their April Love and Ensuing Madness with Fifty but not yet fifty

giving up chocolate
was as easy
as a doctor’s warning

but I never
thought I could

you gave me up as
easily though
we were iron
cobalt nickel

but riveted . . .

Read the rest on site.
The lovely folk over at the Font published two short stories of mine. Four Days first appeared on this blog, and was a Seattle encounter.

I spent four days in jail. A little drunk. A little too much to drink. That was down in Missouri. You know, it was a Friday and the judge didn’t work Mondays. That was the first time I read a book.

Rubber Gloves was from way back when I didn’t even know that I was young, set in Japan

I ate a banana like I do every morning. They come from the Philippines here, or Ecuador and it doesn’t take them long to go mouldy in the humidity, so I don’t buy too many at any time. Then I wrote out my list. That wasn’t easy to do because I was wearing my green rubber gloves, the ones I wash the dishes with. It’s not so easy to eat a banana either when you’re wearing them.

I’ve got some more work coming out soon – hopefully – whoever knows with publications run on donations and good will. I’ll keep you updated.


– the font

May 5, 2014

The Font, Spring 2014 edition is now out. It features one of my stories, Jii, an earlier version of which can be found on this blog. Some really good creative stuff there dealing with language learning and teaching. Check it out, and why not think of submitting for their fall edition?

– elroy is ferocious

September 14, 2010

– a mean snarly gnarly beast. What he doesn’t have in size he makes up in pugnacity.

Hhnnph. Busy work keeping the neighbourhood safe. No, no, no, no! No need to thank me. Really.

Hhnnph he hnnphs through his nose as he chases off another towering beast. A Malemute, an Irish Setter, a German Shepherd, a Doberman who was doing nothing wrong but minding its own business. Sorry dude. Wrong place, wrong time. Intimidate me? Intimidate Elroy? Intimidate Elroy the Great? Hhnnph, he says, shaking his head. Can you believe the cheek of some people? A brigadier strut. A brigadier swagger. I gave them a Right Proper Trouncing. A Thrashing. A Walloping. Strung them up by their goolies and left them out  to dry! They had it coming. And if you’ve got it coming, you’ve got it coming. Not much you can do about it, except to turn and face the music. Elroy’s music. Hhnnph.

He looks at me. Look rose. I chased him off! Did you see what I did? The cheek. Did you see him? How dare he be taller than me? The ignominy! But I chased him off. I. I Elroy! I saved the day. I laid my life down for you! And you’re not the first, but we  don’t brag, dogs like me. It’s not becoming.

I know, I know, love. I’m the one holding leash. And how brave you are. How swoonworthy when you growl and snap at the Weimaraner on the corner ensconced behind that fence. Your little tail pointing due north. Or the conniptions you have inside the house while I investigate the things that go-bump-in-the-night outside. How loyal you are. Sticking just behind me, right behind my knees, barking loudly. At least until the doorway. I mean, a watch dog watches, right? Rouses the bigger creature and sends them out to tackle the problem. After all, bravery doesn’t equal stupidity and discretion is the better part of valour , isn’t that right, love?

Hhnnph! Well, thank you for the recognition but I don’t see the point chatting merely to move the air around. It’s time to sleep and think about important things. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. Time for bed.  Unless you’ve got a treat or two in your pockets. No? Oh well, then. No? Stiff upper lip and all. I don’t expect any reward for what I do, though a little something might be nice. No? Hhnnph! Ungrateful  wencHhnnphzzmmpp. ZZZzzzmmmPPp. ZZZZzzzz…

– coffe & tea

February 4, 2010

Something I wrote a long time ago which was part of a larger piece of work. I was reading Anne Tyler the other day (The Ladder of Years) and she had any number of characters talking about when they saw in all reality, for the first time, the person they knew and loved. For one character, it was at the sickbed of his wife when her face had become hollowed and gaunt.

I think I know that feeling. I have experienced it, and it is written in the third paragraph below.

The first person narrator in this is not me, but a character, Josephine. The other character is Joachim.  Joachim was a jeweller, Josephine is returning home, they share a house, but are only housemates.  She thinks she is carrying the spirit, or actuality, of her dead twin inside of her.

I (the writer of this blog) would love to know what you think.

Coffee and Tea

Today is not a good day. My wings birr. Turning in the light, flashes of red shine through their shellacked black. Resin collected from twigs where coccid insects sit and shit and mate, coats my skin. I don’t move with their scrabbly alacrity, nor their scarab-certainty, am more like the cautious lawn beetle slowly lifting one wing and then the other, trailing two of my six legs against the plaster wall. If I fall I’ll never get up.

He doesn’t notice as he leans in towards his work. I don’t want him to. Stories of washing machines and babies and twins. What must he think? He holds a ring in the fingers of one hand, and chisels a fine groove into it with the other, blows filings across the kitchen table.

So different to the other night when I saw his skin spread across his face as if it were wetted-down newspaper pasted over chicken-wire. Laugher, like ball-bearings, rolled below its surface, distended his flesh, and the laugh, the emotion, was more real than the thing that contained it, as if his skin was nothing more than the scrape of bitumen over gravel. And for that second Joachim was almost ugly, for that second, almost plain.

Now though, hair tied back, strands arcing like finger-scattered rainbows,* he is anything but. Thoracic legs mangled and tangled and awry, my handbag hits the edge of the table. “Sorry,” I mumble as he jumps and – eyes not quite focused – looks a little past my shoulder. It takes him time to register the four walls, the Formica smooth under his elbows. “You’re right,**” he says, already looking down, his thumb smoothing the ring, tracing its pattern round and round.

*Not so keen on this expression any more, but haven’t got around to thrashing it out.
**An Australian expression which means, “No problems”, “No worries”.

– Jī

August 10, 2009

Flirting and fighting and fucking, the dragonflies hover over the water, diving into their reflections, debris; confusing them for co-procreationers, adversaries.

Jī hasn’t come to shore yet, or he’s hiding out.  Fair enough. He plays hard to get. And Saeko hasn’t arrived yet, and oji said he would be late.

Even for the bread he doesn’t come in. Not often. Sometimes, which is why we always bring it. We know that our strike-rate is about one in fifteen. That one time is better than nothing.

The cicadas are loud as always at this time of year. Walking along, if you didn’t know, you’d mistake them for the steady hum of a creek, or maybe not. Maybe you’d recognise the sawing of limbs and wings and other things . Maybe you could even identify the spinning  eee-eee-eee-eee atop it all.  I’m not sure what that is.  Dad would have known. It seems to keep the cicada din on track, to coagulate, coalesce, cohere. Conductor, or just a queen cicada looking to mate?

We’d collect them in summer when we were kids, keep them in small plastic insect houses especially designed for hot weather creepy crawlies, but I never learnt too much about them. Mum made sure those containers remained outside. I guess she liked her sleep.

Jī is a duck – brown and cream, and a light brown at that, caffe au lait. Much whiter than the other ducks who are all some form of grey, and bigger.  Not a goose, though, not a mallard, nor the lone swan which paddles the circumference of this pond waiting for winter, waiting for its mates to come back from Russia.

Jī. Jī used to live in our backyard. He was funny, cantankerous,  droll – If that’s at all possible for a duck. Sometimes he liked being chucked under the chin, under the beak?,  like a cat, other times he’d just as likely bite off your finger.

jii2    jii  

 Jī had a waddle on him that reminded us of Dad. No-one would ever tell Dad that, of course. I mean, I’m sure he’d heard that he stuck his feet outwards as if they were covered in webbing, and that his backside seemed to always be slightly stuck into the air as he toddled along, checking the rice-fields, looking for something in the supermarket, I’m sure he’d heard all that ever since he’d learnt how to walk. Old news and tired news. For him. Funny thing was that he liked to run, in his bow-legged way, he liked to jog, around this very path.

When Saeko and I were younger we sometimes joined him, but then I went onto basketball and she went onto volleyball; me onto getting married and having kids, and she followed suit. He could run though, he certainly clocked up the miles. He used to circle the path five times or so, and I think it stretches for a good three kilometres or more.

Even when we’d outgrown the park, Dad still used to jog. You think he’d be too tired, but running and reading the newspaper, or pretending to, were two things he did come hell or high water.  If it was humid and raining he’d put a white towel over his head like a veil, and it would kind of work to keep the rain off, and he’d use it to wipe down after he finished. If it was rainy season, Dad and his towel would  get soaked through, but he’d wear it anyway, out there doggedly splashing through the puddles, dirtying up his calves with mud. As if he didn’t see enough of it every day as was. When he finished, he’d wring out the rain that had soaked his towel,  and use the sodden cloth to wipe himself down. He  added more to the moisture caught between hair folicles, dripping down his back  than he took off.

Sometimes his brother, oji, our uncle, would join him.  They’d  jog five times around the pond, the straight man and splay-legged brother.  Even in athletic prowess there was no saving grace in his gait.

The only time his way of walking was ever mentioned directly to him was when Mum was angry. “What am I doing trying to talk to you anyway? You walk and talk like a duck! Quack, quack, quack, quack, that’s all I hear. You think you’re so wise, but all you say is quack, quack, quack. Why should I take advice from someone who eats weeds and snails for breakfast? Why did I have the misfortune to marry a duck?” Her off the wall rants  might have been okay, even the avian nuptials,  Dad was easy-going, but at any mention of his walk  he would fly into a rage and bow-leg it out the house down to the bar. Still, he was very rarely an angry duck. We knew his mood wouldn’t last long.

Like Dad, Jī was funny. Even though he was brown and cream and Dad’s hair was salt and pepper, and Dad was scrawny and tan from working outside on the family’s rice fields, and Jī was fluffy and soft and lived a good life, loved by us kids and Mum, Jī held himself the same way my father did.

jii2            jii2

Dad would read his newspaper in the evening when the news was already old, but you never tried telling him that. The surface of the table had to be clean, and he made sure it was, washing it down, wiping it down, then he’d shake out the paper and lay it on the table with great reverence. If there was a damp patch, he’d get up again. Wash and wipe the table until  satisfied. No-one could interrupt him at any stage of the ritual. It was newspaper reading time, and he’d send you off on a chore to make sure you were out of the room, or that you sat quietly if you were nearby. All except mum.  No-one could tell mum to be quiet and not expect to get hit on the head with one of her heavier pots.

It was the time he set aside to comb his hair, too. For whatever reason. He would pull a comb out of a small plastic case and run it through his hair,  the other hand following the comb, smoothing his short bristly cut. Turn a page, and start again.  Only for the first few pages, though. He didn’t have so much hair.

Jī too. He’d chase everyone out of his area. He didn’t like the other ducks. Now that we see him in the middle of the pond, he is exactly the same. Paddling along in his own air of importance, all the other ducks and other birds leave him alone, seeming to think this splendid isolation is his due. When his home was our home, after making sure there were no ducks or people in the general vicinity, he’d fossick through the soil; turn up a clod of grass and earth here, a weed there, throw away empty snail shells (I guess he was particular about his escargot, or they were the ones that just dropped from his beak, the molluscs perishing anyway). After his surroundings had measured up to his impeccable standards, he’d ruffle his feathers and preen. Just like Dad and his paper. Halfway through preening, beak half burrowed, Jī would nod off.

Dad used to like to pretend that he read all the news, that he knew what was happening in Tokyo, Kyoto, New York even, but his glasses would begin to slip, his head dip, his chin touch his chest, his comb fall from his hand – then he’d wake suddenly with a rustle of the paper, a cough, in the way that Jī would suddenly flap his wings, shake his duck’s tail, let out a quack to alert everyone that he was wide awake.


Asleep? Me? On the job? Get outta here! I mean it, get outta my territory! And sometimes if Jī felt you’d somehow shamed him by catching him in an non-statesmanlike state, though who knows what that is for a duck, he’d chase you right out of the garden to the back door.  Other times he’d just look at you, one eye open, measuring you up. Then he’d tuck his beak under his wing and sleep for good, because he was good and ready and the time for sleeping was now damn it.

“You’re falling asleep, old man.”


“Never. Just thinking.”

“Go to bed, father.”

“Not yet, not yet.” Crackle, crinkle, picking up the comb, a sip of sake, pouring some more. “Only yokels go to bed before nine.”

He worked hard – he got up early – he jogged around the park – he’d go to the bar, sometimes. He should have gone to bed early. Mum worked hard too, but she never jogged around the park, or went to the bar, though she’d have the occasional chu-hai on a hot summer’s night. She worked shoulder to shoulder with Dad, but some say a woman’s disposition is just that much stronger.

He died of a heart attack two years ago. Jī had left us long before. Long before Saeko and I met our husbands and had our children. We were going to call Jī, Chi, short for chichi – father – but we always threw the affectionate chan on the end, and if we called out chi-chan, chi-chan, Dad probably would have thought we were being disrespectful.  After all, we never called Dad chichi to his face, only when speaking about him to others, as is the custom. So, Jī-chan it was. Luckily in a way that our grandfather was no longer with us.

As I say,  Jī-chan, long before Dad died, long, long, long, long, long before Dad died, flew the coop, literally. Well, he was never in a coop but anyway. We kept his wings clipped, but I guess not clipped enough. There were no flurries or clumps of feathers left behind, no tell-tale red, no streaks of excrement or entrails, no slaying of the other birds, or devouring of the eggs, so we knew that he’d gone and that a fox had not got him. We figured he’d just decided to see the greater world. A duck unclipped can fly anywhere after all. Maybe he’d got tired of us making fun of his waddley ways, or actually didn’t like getting chucked under the chin – ducks can be contrary like that and Jī was for sure.

Last year Saeko took her kids to the park and she swore that out of a flock of birds that only came to the park in summer – though how you can tell most of the migrant ducks from the local ducks is beyond me, most of them, that is – out of them all she swore that she saw Jī.

Ane, ducks don’t live so long.

“I saw him. I don’t pay attention, you know, making sure the kids don’t fall into the water, get bitten by a snake, but Ryu-chan was standing on the edge of the pond just looking out.”

“Ryu-chan?” I imagined her six year old, the kind to deliberately accidentally on purpose tumble into the not shallow water of the pond,  just standing on its edge, my sister’s panicked and frazzled expression.

She nodded. “I was going to yell, move away, move away, Be careful! Don’t stand there. But I held my tongue and looked out to see what he was staring at. This brown and cream bird, and then Ryu turned and looked at me. Not a word.”

I nodded.

“Well, we had the bread cos’ you know the kids like to feed the ducks, but no other ducks would come up. This one though, and I want to tell you, we were standing at the place where Papa used to take us fishing, made a beeline for us, pecked up the few bits of bread we’d thrown in the water, left the others as if they weren’t good enough, and then it looked at me.”

“Looked at you.”

Saeko nodded, adamant.

“Then it ruffled its feathers…”

“Like rustling a newspaper…”

“And it foraged its down, its beak smoothing feathers here, fluffing them  there…”

“Like styling its hair with an old plastic comb…”

We laughed.

It was August, the time for ancestors to return, to revisit the living. Why not? Why not in the park he loved?


Our mother thought we were bonkers of course, stark raving mad were her exact words,  and she wouldn’t join us. She has her own way of doing things, and since Dad died it usually involves going to the health club and gossiping with the other old ladies, taking a long hot bath and discovering all there is to know in the town. I don’t think she repeated our news, though. Oji’s son takes care of the ricefields now, and of course Mum is always close enough to contribute her two-cents worth, whether that be via phone, or physically, but now she does enjoy plenty of time away from that back-breaking work too.

Oji comes to the park though.  He still goes jogging, but he says it’s lonely running by himself.

Jī flew away when the weather got cold last year, but he is back this year for the summer. At first we came at a few different times of the day, but we couldn’t see him, but then oji said that he’d seen him just in the half hour before the sun set. So, we decided that was the best time of day, and we have two places where we wait for him. One is the fishing spot, and the other is in front of the ryokan-hotel where he would often stop, and share a smoke and a chat with the owner.

We always bring bread. The swan always comes in , but  Jī only sometimes. Just like Dad. Dad would never do something if he knew you expected him to do it, or wanted him to do it. Something that you thought he might enjoy. You could trick him into enjoying himself occasionally though, trick him into joining in. Sometimes he’d realise and wake up with a, ‘Huh! I know what you guys are up to’ look and he’d ruffle himself back into the serious stance that he seemed to think he needed to adopt with his family. Other times he didn’t realise he’d been tricked and his enjoyment would continue and with it, our own.

Bread crumbs, bits of bread, weren’t really good enough for Jī. Like I said before, apart from that one time when he came straight up to Ryu and Saeko, he would rarely come to the edges of the pond, but he’d nearly always make sure we saw him, for sustained periods of time mind you, looking out at us swatting away the mosquitoes, ignoring the curious glances of passers-by.  He probably wanted us to catch live frogs for him. Then he’d come in!  Until he’d decide that frogs weren’t good enough, either.  Oh well, it’s a duck’s life.

He sits out in the middle of the pond – a little empire to himself – and ruffles and smooths his feathers. Occasionally dives for some weeds, a snail. It isn’t enough, but it is better than nothing.

A foreigner walks past. I’m sure she’s thinking, what is this rare brown and cream duck? It looks pretty ordinary to me. If she could speak Japanese, I wonder what I would say?

“That’s Jī, our household pet. He flew away many years ago.” She would think I meant my household now, with my kids now. I wouldn’t set her right. It would only confuse her. Or maybe I’d tell her it was the rarest of birds from the imperial, celestial skies and it visited this pond and park once every thousand years. Occasionally it enjoyed eating stale bread, and it is rumoured that it could read anything you put in front of it, if you could only entice it to shore. A feather from its tail guaranteed a lifetime of health and happiness, and maybe a few riches as well. If you kissed it on the beak, a beautiful prince would be swimming in the pond where once there had been a duck. The only downside was that he was rumoured to be as bow-legged as he was handsome.

She actually scares Jī away. She’s got a heavy tread, but so do others, loud voices. When Dad jogged around the park he loved everyone he came across – the kids squealing, hunting for dragonflies, snails, frogs, the soccer players using the athletic course, the middle-aged ladies power-walking, zipped up in track suits, the dog walkers and shit-scoopers, the dogs themselves, the shit depositors, the dreamers under the trees.

It’s eight o’clock, dark but warm. The mosquitoes are biting. Jī has turned in for the night, or there is no moon and it’s too dim to see him. I’ll grab a ride home with Saeko. Oji will go his own way. Domo,  he says – thank you, goodbye, goodnight. Oyasumi, ki o tsukete, we say – good night, take care. We will meet again tomorrow, three of us, or two of us, or perhaps just Jī and me. We haven’t used up all the bread yet and it will be some time before it grows mouldy.


© 2009 lizardrinking

– mariam reflects on ms. pringle’s typing school

May 14, 2009

Belonging to the Very Good School of Touch Typing Without Looking, from which I graduated with honours in 1981, from Ms. Pringle’s Very Good School of Touch Typing, I find I can do all manner of things such as sitting in my office looking out the window, while typing. Some might call it some form of genius, but I wouldn’t go so far, though Ms. Pringle did call me to the front of the class and present me with a certificate.

I did a cute little mime, like playing the piano, except it was a keyboard and hit the return when I accepted it. Oh. In those days when you hit the return, you hit the return, and the whole world knew it. We would sit, back’s straight, corrector at hand (not that I ever needed it) and typed out the quick gay fox jumped over the lazy dog with an aptitude that left many mouths agape, lips flapping like guppies in the wind. In fact, once I turned around to see Ms. Pringle standing behind me, as that was how she assessed whether you were great or one of the merely competent. You could have picked her jaw up from the floor. Not only was I quite good at being able to spin my head 360 ° , I didn’t miss a key.

Anyone who has learnt to touch type on a manual type writer, and really, what other kind is there, will know the hardest thing to do is the numbers and the second hardest is the punctuation marks above the numbers, or maybe that order should be reversed. Why is that difficult? Oh, I know you modern kids won’t know – because it was quite a stretch and you had to press down hard! Further to that, you needed to use your pinkie, right or left, depending on the punctuation needed, to push down the shift key. What else is the pinkie used for in our times, or even in that sadly missed era? I think one reason we really should be encouraged to maintain our manual typewriter writing skills is to make sure our pinkies get a good workout. After all, you know how it goes. Healthy body, healthy mind.

Anyway, I’ll have you know that I was going for the percent key when I left I Ms. Pringle catching flies. This is quite and intricate operation, especially as the other key I was going for was ‘b’, in lowere case, and, liket he punctuation keys, you’ve really got to stretch for that one. Why was I writing b%? Well, who really knows, but no, I am being falsely modest, a trait which I cannot stand in others so I will own up to my greatness. Credit should be given where credit is due, as the dear Lord wished.

It was one of those tests where you demonstrate your dexterity and flexibility in typing. I can even remember the order of letters and characters. Some say a photographic memory is a curse, but I have always found it to work in my favour. b%@#c!. Oh, she used to come up with some funny combinations. Well, as Ms. Pringle told us, and I will attest, Tough Typing is a skill and talent that never leaves you and it has opened many a pathway down the long doorway of opportunity, not only for me, but others, too.

Let me demonstrate, and excuse me if I don’t sound quite myself, but as well as being quite the typist, I dabble a bit in the arts. When you do this, in a different voice, it’s called being a narrator. I am blessed in so many ways. In fact, Ms. Pringle often used to praise me to the high heavens, especially when I twisted my head around to look at her, and she would exclaim, ‘Mariam, you really are a work of art’, or something equally complimentary. I’m sure we was referring to something as breathtaking as the Venus de Milo, except I had arms and I was wearing clothes. Of course. It’s silly to imagine that one can type without them. So, here goes. Boy are you in for a treat.

I am in my office overlooking the rice fields filled with water, as the seedlings spike the water and the rice fields are piked. Car lights on parallel road which means the road parallel to my office which means it runs alongside of, not poking out (I was good at maths, too, well everything, really, and so is my narrator). Muted sky like that thing that they put on trumpets to make them all whiny like a mosquito. Evening.

Summer is a blessing with its long days, and isn’t it just? Those of great diligence and ability like to greet the day with a smile, and wonder what it holds for them, at 4 a.m. It has been proven that this is the best time to practice your touch typing, and though the people in th flat above mine sometimes pound their floor, other people sometimes have to make sacrifices for great art.

Cherry blossoms all gone. Trees now green now leaves now there now so yesterday , i wait for a letter, my next letter, the letter I will type, and this will be fun, and others will weep with gratitude. i will be grateful. A red light flashes on my right, so far away, near a telephone tower. If Homer Simpson lived somewhere, it would probably be here, however, ti’s prettier, I think, than Springfield (I never watch that programme, but my niece told me that, so, for the sake of whimsy and typing practise, let’s throw it in!). More rustic. And it’s all in the phrasing. Moical Boulton is so good because it’s all in the phrasing. And you can trhow in surnmes so you can keep the rhyme scheme going. What do you think about rhymes without poems? Well, I’m all for them. Free form it’s called, anw we free wheeling typists know that greatness is often not recognised. I guess it7s not such a bad thing.

Staring out this window I am strin out of, typing, just checked to see my hands were on the keys, Ain’t is a disappointment when they are not, though that rrely happens to me. I do feel sorry for some, though. or maybe it’s a blessing for the reading public7s eyes when you read some of the dross that is written out there. Of course, some might think that this too is dross, but my fans assure me it is pure spite on their parts. If they had put as much time and effort in learning how to trip their fingers across the keyboards like a buzzy, busy, bbee, then they too would be able to fly in the kitchen at 4 in the morning, clacking away on an old Remington.

A bat flit by, a red light zoomed along the highway like a bat, iris look like butterflies abotu to take flight. I wonder if the bat is chasing mosquitoes, dipping and diving like a muted trumpet. Why do I want to write here mor than see my neighbour. I like my neighbour. Very nice mwoman. Though she always seems to have a headache. The tawny frogmouthlooks at me, (it’s in a celndar) it7s body like knotted wood. Such a strange looking bird. It gets cold, colder, the night get’s colder.

A toothpaste heart, excess squeezed out, fiscally viable. ( I used that expression in everyone of my typing tests, and I must say, while turning my head 360 ° to look at Ms. Pringle as she was looking at me, that I often saw an awestruck tear trickle down her face. It made me so excited, and I felt so validated, that sometimes a bit of drool would spill from the side of my face,. But that cannot be helped, because the truly dedicated must never lifte their fingers from the keys).

O heaven, oh heaven, oh heaven of mine, to where do you wander when you wander on down?,. Ac tually, I don’t know why I aske that question, for the answer surely is into my kitchen at 4 in the morning to find me perfecting the skills that God gave me (I’m not really in the office. We poetic people call that a licence). Skills so grate and pure, at their zentih , that I shall not even check this before I send it out. It would be as if I had spat in the face of the creator.

In fact, my ehad is twisted 360 at the moment, as i look at the light pouring in the window, and the shape I can see there, forming, oh yes, it looks like the late, great ms. pringle, and there trickles a tear down her face. The saliva gathers at one side of my mouth and continues down over my chin, and spills onto the bow of my secretary&s blouse, and thenstains my heaving bosom. But do I care about such mundanity, such small details of insconsequential consequence? Oh hno, the truly dedicated must soldier on. And so we do, a qwerty good morning to one and all.

For: Dena Anwar Khalil Ba’lousha (7), North Gaza