Here is a monster for you… (Micro-fiction Creature Lab # 1 – first take) WARNING: horror imagery

Here is a monster for you:  the length of a couple of cars, let’s say, tubular, covered over in spikey tines, long and tapering to needle-sharp points.  The form is slightly curved, curled this way and that, but still, dead still.

Then the tines quiver from one end to the other of the thing, as if riffled by a sudden breeze.  But the day is perfectly still and sunny.  There is no movement in the hot air and yet you are chilled by an icy finger on your spine at the sight of those giant needles shivering without wind on that curled tubular form before you.  You had seen the thing a block away when you rounded the corner on this strangely quiet street and you had noted its stillness, its complete immobility as you approached.  And now a ripple has gone through it, softly and unnervingly shaking its sharp spikes from one end to the other, a movement that makes the gooseflesh stand out on your tingling skin, even on this hot day.

It’s only now that you can begin to make out its colour.  The pointy tines that cover it had been glinting steadily in the sun all along and now they sparkle and flash with the sudden motion.  But the thick rounded form from which the spikes protrude is some kind of darkly purplish red, so dark you’d taken it to be black.  But now you see the deep blood redness in it, as if it were a translucent skin bloated with blood – tons of blood.

The thing moves again, but this time vertically.  Its entire length, still prone, appears to levitate a foot or two off the ground.  But you see in another moment this is because a chorus-line row of cold white legs have emerged from under it all along both sides of its length.  The many legs are thin but clearly strong as they kick out rapidly from one end to the other and move the form forward, its whole tubular bulk winding and seeking first this way and then that and then, unmistakably, toward you.

You’ve long since frozen to the spot and only become more rooted there in shock when you see how fast the thing closes the remaining distance between you and itself.  Your muscles and brain finally connect in the urge to flee when the thing, mere metres from you, rears up half of its double-car length, legs scrabbling at the empty sunny air of this strangely quiet and unpeopled street.

Before you can spin away and bolt, however, you’ve glimpsed its underside.  And that sight extracts your volition from you with a force that is instantaneous and absolute.  Your instinct knows it cannot flee a nightmare in daylight.

Underneath the thing you see – calling to your own, which tremble in reply underneath your living meat – the bones of your long-dead ancestors fused into horrible new shapes dense with ribs and knotted spinal columns and the conglomerated holes of empty eye-sockets and open mouths.  A concatenation of limbs-on-limbs spiders outward in every direction from that horrible centrepiece.  The whole gruesome bonework display is a formation that the last shred of your disintegrating reason tells you is too large and deep to be contained by even the huge underbelly of the many-legged thing rising up and overshadowing you.

Your own trembling bones heed the call of the ancestral bones before them and, answering back, strain underneath your skin toward the underside of the rearing thing.  You can feel your own skeleton betraying you as it makes to step rippingly right out of its ever faithful suit of flesh and leap into the ancient bone-fusion now coming down on you from the descending form above you.

And you think a final thought:  how in the world did I end up on this road, so strangely quiet and unpeopled?

(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)


Palaeontologist Jones

I saw God’s bones.

We dug into the ontic ground
and found them there.

Whilst out shepherding Being,
we tripped over the tip
of the long submerged
jagged rack
of vast ragged ribs,
knowing not just what
that jutting upthrust hid.
And when we subsequently
did, post-dig,
we were thunderstruck
at their size and cried,
‘Thunder God!’

Dinosaur deity we deemed
him from the great beams
of his bones,
every man jack of us,
every Ali, Hsu, Zilliac,
Okafor, and Jones.

And all were awed
at the Shape
the bonework took.

with fear and trembling
from the globally scattered fragments,
some shattered, some close-grouped, some whole,
divine femur, tooth, ball joint, and skull,
every segment was pieced into place,
and our mysterium tremendum
only increased, for we faced
the unmistakable
poly-faunal skeleton
of Pan-Therion.

Rapt, we observed
that the lordly horns
and claws and fangs
were apt
for both predation
and protection.
Mega-organs and hide,
we surmised,
had been hot
with pumping life
and unturnable purpose.

The wingspan
wreaked us mute.

But no one could agree
the colour or contour,
the ‘look’
we felt
such meta-ocular engines of sight
would convey.
Would they blast you away
or ravish your heart,
tear you apart
or burn you crystalline—
what would it mean
to be seen
by such a Gaze?

We museumed, for fun and terror,
a full-scale model of the mighty Theo-Saurus,
whose head touched the sky
(open-domed the museum was).
It looked a lot like the stories, the texts,
the faith handed down,
the claimed experiences
(though competing sets of eyes
were displayed in alternation).

And some are now claiming
that from time to time
(the actual bones: the vacuum-vaulted
and camera-watched skeleton, not the replica)
and for an instant
they say
the deity rears up
in livid meat and mass.

And some claim a Voice
thunders from
the sudden-fleshed revenant
words of awful love
(heard crackling through
the monitor speakers).

in protective suits
have gone in—
some confirming the reports,
others denying.
They’ve set up tests
and some say these detect
and others say they do not.

You can visit the simulations
at the Museum of Natural Theology.

Some knuckle-draggers, of course,
have been cave-art worshiping
the primate-ive deity all along,
behind our backs
and in the cracks,
openly, and yet
we had shut them out,
embarrassed for them,
though tolerant.

Ah! Forgive me.
Though I speak in present
tense with the immediacy
of the memory, this was all
long ago and I know
you Young New Worlders laugh.
Don’t worry,
I do too.


As If Shades Knew Not

This is a self-contained piece of ‘microfiction’ or ‘flash fiction’ that I attempted a while back.  I’ve now incorporated it into a larger story.  I’d love to hear from people as to whether it does or doesn’t work (on its own) and how or how not.  (The story’s title, ‘As If Shades Knew Not’, is from a 17th century poem by George Herbert called ‘Evensong’.)


Angie says this city’s a living thing and I say I already knew it ever since mom took me out the door to the places she always had to go every night after night and I felt its yellow breath in my collar and its lamp-lights fixed their dots onto  my eyes and never went away even during the day and the hard pavements hit my feet hard and became my bones all cracked and crudded for everybody to walk on every day and night under the lamp-lights on my eyes and the cries down those blind alleyways from cat-people and people-cats, torments and loves and torments and loves and all the things I thought I would never ever in a million city-years know but I know now because the city’s a living thing Angie said and I already told her I always knew it from the time I spilled onto the concrete with my mother into the night after night of walking on the pavement-bones past the skeleton-tenements full of skull-prominent tenants ranting about rents in the pavement because my bones are cracked and crudded the doctor said because he’s a mouth of the city and the city wants me to know it knows I know it lives just like Angie says this city’s a living thing and I already know it the way I know about heavy kisses in the dark and how the city takes us back into its bonework and veins like it’s taking mom the way she’s half in and half out but only heading in, her skin grey cement now and she says I did it but I didn’t because my bones are cracked and crudded for everybody to walk on, the city did it and it knows I know and never lets me go.

Image(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)


Something I’m Not Supposed to Say (draft 1)

‘holy jumping jesus!
he just… he did…
he just said that!’
God is the lover
of your body and brooks
no rivals

You enrage the Skin-
Giver when you outrage
your skin
‘o my jacked-up jesus!
he’s invoking a jealous deity!
superstitious much?’

When you assault
your temple’s
walls, sully
its entryways,
its outer courts, desecrate
its inner courts,
‘o my dear god, the purity myth!
hasn’t he read any Philip Roth?’
the gold, deface
this cherub, that palm,
stack eagle statues
out front and bring
piggy blood into

You spurn and scorn
‘damn right I do!’
the One who dwells between
the cherubim there,
‘dwell on this!’
the smoking flaming Glory
in your blood and
bones and meat

We’ve been warned
‘bloody hell, rabbi, give it a rest.’
not to tell you this, not to claim it—
not by the Holy One, nor his Son,
‘seriously, put a plug in it.’
but by the powers that be,
ABC and 123 and
all the other little
‘piss off.’
leading elementals

But sometimes this bone-fire
won’t shut up
‘shut up!’


(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)

I hugged my wee daughter and this poem came out…

The soft-firm clasp
of flesh on flesh
(bones thunked
into each other
beneath those
with the warm force
of willed love
is a touch
of ontic bedrock,
below which
no greater
or more
—your own heart
preaches this
truth to you
in sermonic
eloquence I
cannot match.
And that self-same
heart buries
its own truth
like disowned bones
and disembowels
all diggers
with the slick-flicked
fangs of the
until you clasp
again and gasp
recognition and
shove it down
once more
in spin-glitch agony,
a wrestle-wretch
sucked out
sucked in
despite your best
or handed over
to bone-wearied
dog-day masters
exacting last pennies
ever after.
(One foot in
that down-hole
you feel
a bloody hand,
raked by your own
teeth, curl fingers
in your scruff
and tug up—
do you release?)
Real and everlasting
fangs at last
are ready to rip you
true and re-skin
the soft-firm clasp
of flesh on flesh
(bones sang
into each other
beneath those
with the fierce warmth
of willed love.