THE ABCs OF A PECULIAR LIFE // Y is for Yellow & Yogini (Yodel in Y Major)

Who cares about aging Disney princesses? Yesterday’s fans might have been ready to tear each other’s throats out for the chance of getting Ariel’s autograph, but today? Well, today they were more likely to laugh at her bloated waistline and old-fashioned seashell bikini. That’s the kind of shit that happens to nice girls who are past their prime. Sigh.

No, Ariel was never envious toward her younger sisters. She truly loved them, and wished them only the best. But… she looked at her reflection in the water and reflexively readjusted the sea flower in her hair. Frankly speaking, she was not half bad, and could still play havoc with lovelorn hearts if she wanted. Well, she wanted very much, but was rarely given the chance. And she was good, but no longer all that popular, and so the wait between casting calls had only become longer and more frequent. Otherwise, Ariel would have eagerly taught all those meridas and tianas a thing or two. (Snigger.)

This thought cheered her up a little bit. Ariel even started to hum ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ to herself. It was her Mother’s favourite song. She’d often drift into blissful slumber whenever her Mother crooned this song. And her Mother would endlessly make these pearly love beads. And twinkling freckles. These love beads and freckles, scattered all around the family grotto, were the fondest memories from Ariel’s childhood. And her Mother’s voice, of course. She would still hear it sometimes, even after so many years had passed. Another sigh.

Still humming her song, Ariel splashed at the water with her tail. Flounder, who was napping in the shallow end, flipped over but didn’t wake up. What a lazy ass! Truth be told, he was a very good friend, but not much of a receptionist. On the other hand, they didn’t get a lot of clients in ‘Athena’ either, so blaming Flounder for sleeping during work hours felt a little redundant.

“Namaste, Swami Yoko!”

A soft female voice distracted Ariel from her musings. She automatically pulled back her shoulders, widening her collarbones and lifting her sternum toward the sky, and lengthening her tailbone toward the rocks.

“Namaste, Mommy Dugong!” she said enthusiastically. “We have launched a brand new class: Alevins Yoga. A lot of fun and at a special price for mammals!”

Ariel gave Flounder’s ribs a furtive jab. Flounder sprang into the air with a wide eyed gasp, and plopped into the water again. He reappeared in moments with a wet leaflet, but Mommy Dugong had already moved on. It looked as though she’d been in a hurry.

Ariel waved, then went back to her hunched state and reached for a cigarette. She’d only just clicked the lighter when a ringing young voice sang right behind her back.

“Namaste, Swami Yoko!”

Ariel dropped her cigarette into the water. She pressed her hands together, hiding the lighter, and bowed with a suitably cosmic smile.

“Namaste, Maiden Stella! We invite you to Morning Mantra Meditations every Saturday at 5. Sunrise, subtle vibes and cut prices for students!”

This time Flounder was ready, and the leaflet almost dry. But Maiden Stella obviously wasn’t ready to get up at such an unearthly hour for some whimsical humming. She mumbled something polite, blurred and zipped off, hugging to herself a trunk with a ukulele.

Ariel took the cigarette from Flounder’s back. How had it gotten stuck there? “Yoga really isn’t all that popular along this stretch of coastline, Flounder. Don’t you find?” She looked rather exhausted, and her real age suddenly became quite apparent.

Flounder nodded sadly. Yes, he was truly an awful receptionist, but at least he was a faithful friend. He cared for Ariel a great deal. It’s why he’d agreed to accept the wearisome role of administrator for her yoga classes. But, really, the time had come for him to man up and act. He could see that he’d need to take the steering wheel and save this silly, semicentennial girl (and himself, of course) from their current, disastrous course. There had to be a Plan B.
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“C’mon, babe, don’t be shy! Show these green-ass pipsqueaks some real rock-n-roll!”

The ‘Yellow Submarine’ nightclub patrons were shaking, shimmering and screaming with delight, like a living entity. They cheered on a flushed, panting, but joyful Mommy Dugong who was stomping the dance floor with Little Dugong and his friends. Flounder was polishing a glass at the counter with an unabashedly happy grin.

After a little while, Maiden Stella walked onto the tiny stage. She had ensnared a huge, awkward guy who seemed to be totally embarrassed. A hush came over the crowd.

“Dear Mommy Dugong, today, in celebration of your big birthday, Kai and me want to sing this song. Hey, who’s going to San Francisco?”

The crowd shouted with delight. There was a standing ovation before the music had even begun to play! And it did. Flounder wisely turned the lights down a notch. The patrons at the ‘Yellow Submarine’ nightclub started to rock gently in time with the music, and most of them in couples.

Ariel was sitting on the porch of the nightclub, smoking. The stars in the sky were exactly like the love beads and twinkling freckles of her childhood. “Happy birthday, Mother,” she said softly, and blinked away a tiny, grateful tear.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

PERFECTION IN ACTION // No Niceties

“Oranges! No apples!”

She was angry. He, of course, tried not to smile at her pouty determination.

“Don’t worry, dear. Oranges then.”

He stroked her head musingly. He’d give the apples to their neighbour down the street. They had a donkey that’d be only too happy to eat them all.

“And Death! ‘Oranges and Death’!”

“Of course, dear. I will make preparations for the sacrifice tomorrow, first thing.”

With that, she ran to the kitchen where the nanny was fussing with dinner. He picked up the crayons scattered about. Maybe they shouldn’t take drawing lessons in the kindergarten so seriously?

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

Open-Source Poetry Four #3

Our Dearest Readers,

We have an important question for you. It’s so important that we must lean close and ask it in hushed tones. You’d best lean in too, lest you miss it! Ready?

BOO!

Okay, are you scared now? Yes? Now you know how we felt. We were so scared when we saw how many amazing submissions there were for the previous instalment of Open-Source Poetry! How on earth were we going to pick just one to add to this new lyrical masterpiece? It wasn’t going to be easy.

So, after a great many incantations over blood-soaked prayer beads ripped from the entrails of a satanically depressed gerbil, we eventually settled on Munira Ezzi’s sparkling contribution. Well… we’re kidding, of course. How could we rely on silly bloody incantations? Only a coin toss would do. (Although we do find it rather strange that the results matched.) Anyway, her lines felt like such a logical progression from what had gone before, so we ended up agreeing with the aforementioned incantations and coin toss outcome. How could we not use her contribution?

Now, if you would like us to agonise over your contributions for the next part of this poem in a similar fashion, we suggest you pay attention to the following rules:

1) Read the current version of this communal poetic effort below, and marvel at how scarily good it is (or is that goodily scary?). Then submit your own line or two for our consideration.
2) If we like your line (or two) the best, we’ll add it to the poem, then we’ll publish said result in a follow-up post.
3) Then you keep submitting frightening wordage aplenty in an attempt to chill us to the bone some more!
4) And so the whole process of submission and rejection is repeated until we finally have a horrifying new masterpiece!

PS: For those who may still be recovering from their New Years hangover, we remind them of the topic to the poem… It’s in the style of a good ol’ horror movie!

Вензель

hm, what should I draw?
maybe a hairy monster with a furry claw
or a demon crow that sticks in the craw
or a huge bloodstained saw

hm, what should I write?
maybe a slow growl will stir up a fright
or a girl will be twirled by a meat-eating kite
or grandma pole-dances in a bikini too tight

Вензель_нижний

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA, TONY SINGLE, TOMAS MANKUS & MUNIRA EZZI
© All rights reserved 2020

Ink Cocoon

You’re a word whisperer. I think that makes you dangerous.

You have an otherworldly gift. You can whisper the text from your pages and drink them into my soul. A strange transference of meaning. And you’re unafraid to become a blank clutch of paper as a result. I don’t know how or why you do this. Frankly, it scares me.

I think you know, don’t you, that I can’t help but lean into your presence. Your whisper is like a tocsin in the deep stillness. Too loud. It’s tearing space apart. I feel the gaps between molecules widening. Again, how do you do this? Sorcery’s too absurd an idea to entertain, surely, but how else can I possibly explain this?

I touch your spine. Are you trembling just now? Oh. It’s my fingers. My hands. Okay. It makes sense that you wouldn’t be the fearful one.

Something’s changing. The text is vanishing before my eyes, and with it all sense. And when my eyes skew across you to the pages that follow, it feels as though some inevitable prophecy is being fulfilled. If words can be so effortlessly erased then I don’t know what to do or who to be.

Your gaze is a dare. Stop looking at me! You know very well that your passivity is a challenge I cannot rise to. So… I give myself over. We deep kiss until time runs backwards. My caressing lips. The roughness of your page. Your words continue to fade off the paper into me.

I open my mouth in silent agony, but my voice won’t obey. I hiss. I croak. I dry heave and suffocate. And just at that moment when I realise I’m dying, your words begin to spill from my mouth like ink. They splat everywhere in great, vile, Rorschach patterns.

“What do you see, Herman?”

The doctor’s voice is soft and calm. She keeps the Rorschach test steady in her hands. She’s looking at me with unfeigned patience. I’m grateful, of course, but then I’m distracted by my reflection on a glossy table surface. My face has a deathly pallor. Those crazed eyes. A mouth smeared with black ink.

I wipe this off and smile at her.

“It’s a death’s-head hawkmoth, doc.”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SANTA’S REINDEER BUT WERE TOO AFRAID TO ASK // Six Word Story #71

Blitzen heads the Christmas advertising blitz.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019