DARWINIAN // Fish ‘n’ Chips

“So, she’s telling her friend that her vagina’s beginning to smell like potato chips.”

Calix looked at him with a straight face. “Which brand?”

“What do you mean, which brand?” Darwin gave a rueful shake of his head. “Does that even make a difference to genital fragrance?”

“Of course! Every detail matters.”

“Well, they didn’t cover that, strangely enough.” He rolled his eyes. “If anything, I was more concerned with the fact that two women were openly discussing chips and vaginas on public transport!”

“I’m more concerned that you care about the bullshit people discuss on public transport.”

Darwin bristled at this. Calix had a special knack for turning his statements back on him, and he hated it. He made a point of sniffing haughtily but she took no notice. She was being all nonchalant instead, sitting there writing the next article for ‘Hooves, Horns & Rhododendrons Monthly Digest’ like she didn’t have a care in the world.

“Well, it was hard not to listen!” he muttered defensively. “They were talking loud enough.”

“Darwin, you’re lucky enough to be deaf! You get to choose if you listen or not.”

Calix’s nose was wedged firmly in her laptop. He watched her absentmindedly nibbling on a ballpoint pen, intermittently jabbing at the keyboard. How on earth had they even become friends? They disagreed on everything! And yet Darwin couldn’t imagine life without her. God, he hated that.

“I’m too dependent. That’s my problem.”

Calix looked up from the laptop and fixed her eyes on his.

“Shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?” His cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“On what?” Now Calix seemed almost interested. “What are you dependent on?”

“Erm, nothing. I’m just rambling again.”

Darwin backed away and turned to leave the room. It was time to make himself scarce before the conversation got too awkward. But Calix wasn’t having a bar of it.

“No, hang on! Where are you going? Don’t you want to talk about vaginas and chips any more?”

Darwin slumped his shoulders. Yup, that had stopped him in his tracks. She always had to have the upper hand, the final say in everything. He hated that so much. In fact, this friendship had too much hate going on. Was that normal? Perhaps ‘hate’ was too strong a word to be using in this context…

“Let’s start with chips. Could you go to the kitchen and bring me the paprika chips? I think I left an open pack on the table.”

Nope. It was the right word.

“And feed the goldfish. I think it needs to eat more than twice a week.”

“Yes, mum,” he grumbled under his breath. “Three bags full, mum.”

And suddenly Darwin recalled the night before… How had that damn goldfish ended up in his toilet bowl anyway? He wanted to ask Calix about this, but her unbearable acerbity would beat reason out of anyone. Perhaps he’d ask later when he was feeling up to the challenge.

With these thoughts swimming in his head, Darwin shuffled to the kitchen. He took up the open pack of chips, sniffed it, and shrugged his shoulders. No vagina he’d ever encountered had smelled like this. He sniffed again. Yeah, this was completely ordinary.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

the genesis flask

you slip through my fingers into the sand
and make a trail in speckle and spick
the prints of your limbs a lost dna strand

sprigs pop in your wake, magic and mayhem
ocean waves give your feet a slavish lick
comets swirl to give form your diadem

in this moment i am the creator
sower of dreams, bringer of time’s tick
standing at the edge of heaven’s crater

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

Today’s Special (March 4)

“Don’t faff around, Sally! She’s harmless, I tell ya!”

It’s a perfect spring day, shining like a new penny and smelling like a wild honey wind. On such days, sunlight reflects into people’s eyes, they’re late to work, and everyone falls in love at a glance.

Two young waitresses chirp near the back door of a little café. Cigarette smoke blends with the aroma of coffee and the smell of fresh baking. A big cat sprawls in delicate sunbeams, sharing a timeworn bench with some perky sparrows. There’s enough sun to go around!

“Hey you, young ladies! Quit slacking off! Come on, get busy!”

The manager’s shrill voice crushes this idyllic scene in the space of a clap. It shatters into a myriad of tinkling colourful pieces. The waitresses flit into the café. The sparrows scatter away like spilt sugar dragées. Only the cat continues to enjoy itself, correctly supposing that it’s busy enough anyway.

“Look! Look, Molly! It’s her again!”

Sally tugs on her girlfriend’s sleeve. Molly brushes her hand away. The new barista with his bright sapphire eyes and dazzling smile is working his magic near the old coffee machine. No one understands how he manages to get such a divine taste from third-rate beans. Every day, Molly’s all eyes and bated breath, spying on him. It feels so very close, but again and again the secret slips past Molly like a cheeky little Casper to hide in the vanilla steam puffs. The barista flashes her a wink and places some cups on a tray. Order’s up!

Molly takes the tray and rushes out into the street. She’s almost skipping. No one wants to sit inside a café on such a wonderful day!

She’s here. An old woman in a worn coat and a ridiculous straw hat, standing near an empty table. Some visitors have just left, and there are empty clay cups, dirty saucers and cutlery on the table. There’s also an ashtray with two stubs, and one of them has left a tip. The old woman carefully sweeps something from the table into a handkerchief, which she then folds and puts in her pocket. Molly looks at her. The old woman notices Molly, offers a shy smile and a nod, and walks away.

Molly stands there for a little while longer, enjoying the sweet air and its symphony of vehicle horns, then goes over to the table. She places the empty clay cups onto the tray, as well as the dirty saucers and cutlery, changes the ashtray, and drops the coins into her apron pocket. After ensuring that none of the other visitors needs her attention, Molly goes back inside the café. And just in time to see the barista grinding a new portion of coffee beans too! Another chance to distill his secret…

Sally and Molly walk down a sleepy street, eating mint ice cream and talking a mile a minute like they haven’t seen each other in ages.

“No, Molly, I can’t make it out. What is up with her?”

“Silly chickadee! I tell ya, she’s sweet. I’ll prove it to you. Let’s go!”

The girls turn into a narrow side street. It is adorned with small lanterns, sweet peas in big garden pots, and clotheslines. Sally and Molly approach a tilted shabby fence and find a hole to step through. Of course, the gate is right there—only a brick throw away—and it’s wide open, but who cares about gates when there’s such an alluring fence hole?

The old woman is here. She’s writing something on a scruffy blackboard. When she steps back, Sally and Molly see… a menu. It reads: ‘Madam Maganti’s Bird Pastry. Twenty kinds of the freshest every day cake crumbs!’

Sally stands open-mouthed. Molly smiles, pulls a small package from her pocket, and approaches the old woman.

“Twenty three, ma’am.”

Madam Maganti nods, and goes to the kitchen to put the kettle on the fire.

Day rolls under the bench, jumps one more time, and settles itself in the cozy warm dust. If you ask the cat, it tells you that the day lays tails-up. However, no one really cares.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2019

Open-Source Poetry Three #2

Dear Readers,

Look at what Von Smith, the Great and Terrible, snuck into the comments section of our previous Open-Source Poetry post:

glistened all at once as I entered the bar
then a sad, unoccupied octopus caught my eye
she could see the calamari smile flit across my lips
a tentacle snatched my leg as I turned to leave
silence gripped the bar as she reeled me in
a group of groupers laughed at my panic, as I slid by
never again will I wear “Chicken of the Sea” cologne

We’ve actually had a little argument about this.

Tony reckons that this is Von’s extremely clever attempt to raise our communal poetry making efforts to new creative heights.

But Tati is convinced that Von’s a cybernetically enhanced ex-Navy dolphin whose current aim is to hack into Open Source Poetry using SQUID technology and other sensors implanted in his skull. Tati doesn’t know much about SQUIDs, but she’s heard stories, and she makes a point of never repeating them to Tony. He’d have nightmares for weeks!

So, anyway, Tati believes that Von’s afraid we’ve gotten the drop on him, and that we’re getting too close for comfort. She thinks that he thinks that we think he’s overthinking his next move, and that we’ll capture then torture him into revealing the scary truth about dolphins and their plans for world domination.

And, if that’s what he’s worried about, then he’d be right to tremble his flippers and fins. We won’t give up our World Literature Crusade against bad rhymes and frankenmammals! Yes, Tati and Runn1n90nempty’s daughter are in the game already, and they’re here to stay. Are you in? If so, here’s how you can help:

1) We provide the next line of the poem.
2) You write the following line.
3) You submit your line via the comments section of this very post.
4) We pick the line we like most and add it to the poem.
5) We publish every line to date in a follow-up post.
6) Steps 1-5 are repeated until we have a masterpiece!

Meanwhile, Tony’s calmly sniffing chamomiles as he plays through the water dungeon in Zelda. It would be fair to say that he’s having a whale of a time!

Вензель

wet backs, sharp fangs, dangerous dolphin eyes
waves for crowns and blood in the water
they wade through utter slaughter

Вензель_нижний

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA, TONY SINGLE & RUNN1N90NEMPTY’S DAUGHTER
© All rights reserved 2019