swing swagger and sway
she bop she bop drift those feet
first one way then another
swirl round and round and back again
light up the floor fly up above
swing swagger and sway
Years later he became a professor, a scholar—wrote a well-received book on epistemology. But back then he was just a guy in love.
They’d taken a cheap room in Venice for the summer, a run-down place a couple of blocks from Dockweiler Beach. You could always smell the sea, its powerful mix of salt freshness and rot. He’d never lived with a woman before; she’d had other boyfriends. She was from back-county San Diego, told him she’d come to L.A. looking for a real life. He’d just graduated from
For showing me
That black comes in
That being corny can
I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.
“Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.
I look around. The ceiling looks like my
Yes, it is hot,
night sweats beneath
Spanish moss and the terror in trees
now knowing no cover of darkness
to greet a Sunday morning
under the stairs
16th Street Baptist Church.
and the siren wails
Wind-swept sheets of rain, notes
gusting from Oscar Peterson’s fingers, grounded,
soaked up by rock-steady Ray
She didn’t want to drink
so we walked hand-in-hand
half-way home before
it dawned on us that we had
parked behind the
Jeffrey’s fingers hovered inches above the ivory. His heart pounded. The oak bench creaked as he leaned forward, only the toes of his scuffed leather shoes making contact with the floor. The hand-written notes on the page in front of him bounced up and down with every panting breath. He recognized most of the squiggles and lines cascading up and down the staff, but he couldn’t read a single word that surrounded them. Ms. Joetta’s voice echoed in his head, reverberated out of the hole in his threadbare fedora. Play, son. The first chance you get, and don’t look back. He could feel lightning in his fingers, almost driving him past the fear deep in his
Heads up to all interested short fiction writers…The deadline for submitting your story for consideration in our 44th Short Fiction Contest is January 31. Contest details are found here.
His fingers move
with sounds of rain,
while clouds roll
within eyes of long years.
Sweat marks the work undone,
A river hammer beats
streams of jazz