i was asked to speak, later in the week.

bring in a theme, they said, but address it extemporaneously.

off the cuff.

improvised. unrehearsed.

later, after i had taken the dais and utter silence ensued, i explained to everyone that they had witnessed the spontaneous combustion of an impromptu speech.

our apples

Photo by Annie Spratt

one bad apple spoils the whole barrel

so let’s get rid of the barrel

make all not some classrooms  clean and well-lit

pay our teachers

at a level commensurate with their importance

the importance of teachers always being high

support them in their on-going training

lay in and replenish teaching materials


rotten apples cannot be made fresh

but bad children

whatever bad means exactly

can be helped

supported, guided


doctors heal

we appreciate and reward them

teachers heal too


For 100 Week Wednsday

getting away from it all


It’s not as hard to sit on the edge of a tall building as you might think. Philippe Petit did it before wire-walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Every building is different, but one way or another, most are not perfectly secure.

I have sat on the edge of buildings higher than fifty stories in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit (the easiest), Atlanta, Los Angeles (money had to change hands). and San Francisco (where I was the highest).

I never lost concentration, slipping off, and a sudden gust of wind only caught me once.


Photo by Yeshi Kangrang
For 100 Word Wednesday

unlikely partners

it’s time to draw up the papers.

ok. we’re a partnership. do it like that.

all right. a partnership. you and me.

hang on. what about him? he’s a partner too.

he’s your partner but that’s different papers.

he’s your partner too.

yes, but that’s a third set of papers.

listen you two. as far as i’m concerned i’m your partner but not your partner.

ok, then. that’s just two sets of papers.

what about number four over there. we’re partners.

i agree.

not with me.

so that’s… fives sets of papers.

i am only drawing up one set of papers, period.

we don’t have to be a partnership.

can we be a fellowship?

can a girl be a fellow?

how about an association?

i won’t associate with you.

how about a collaboration?

not legal enough.

how about a union?

too much like a marriage.

enough already. we’ll all be partners with whomever we’re partners with. for the papers, let’s be a company.

i’ll be in a company with you but i’m not going to keep your company.

for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

The History of Courage

“Son, you either have courage or you don’t. You don’t.”

“How do you know that?”

“You ran away from Chuck at school. You said so yourself.”

“I ran away because he’s a bully twice my size.”

“If you had courage, you would have stood up to him.”

“Why? That would have been stupid.”

“Because it’s the right thing to do with a bully. You can stop him from being a bully.”

“How is that going to stop him? Because he’ll get kicked out of school after beating the crap out of me? He doesn’t care about that. He’d like it. I’d be doing him a favor.”

“What about your self-respect?”

“My self-respect is fine. It’s your respect I’m worried about. Do I need to come home missing some teeth to earn it?”

“What if Chuck is bullying a kid even smaller than you?”

“Well, Dad, now that you mention it, let me remind you. Chuck was bullying me. Whose job is it to look after me?”

“I’m an adult. I can’t come to your school and beat up a kid.”

“You can come to school with me and speak to the principal. You can come with me to Chuck’s house and speak to his dad.”

“That’s… I’m… I’m not much of a… Your mother might…”


For terribleminds

Maybe it’s time.

“Maybe it’s time.”

“You know it’s time. It’s been time. I’m tired of waiting.”

“Whoa there. Slow down. I’m saying, look, I’m thinking about it.”

“Stop thinking. Start doing.”

“The thing is, maybe it’s not time. I’m thinking it’s almost time. Not quite time.”

“How many times have we had this conversation?”

“What about you? It’s not time for a lot of your things.”

“You want to trade? I’ll do some of my not-time things if you’ll do this.”

“This is a big thing. You’d have to do lots of yours.”

“Shall we make a list?”

“Look, it’s not the same. You can just do your things. But the time has to be right to do this thing. Just right.”

“The time was right from the beginning. It’s right now. The only thing wrong is you.”

“That’s not fair.”

“For you, the time will never be right. Or maybe it will. Or maybe it’ll be too late when it’s right for you, too late for me, the wrong time for me. I need someone whose time is now, whose time is right for me.”

“Look, slow down. Take it easy. Yes, we’ve talked about this a lot. Yes, I’ve dragged my feet a little. But ok, maybe it is time. I just said that.”

“You know it’s time.”

“Ok. Ok. It’s time. Happy? It’s time. I agree with you. It’s time.”

“Now it’s time. Now. Right now.”

“Yes. Right now. I’m thinking about it right now. About it being now. I’m thinking about it seriously now. Right now. Considering it.”


For Everyday Gyaan

Blue Serpent

It’s difficult to train a snake but it can be done. I’ve spent years at the task. My efforts eventually brought me to the final round of the Snake Olympics.

My prize competitor, my greatest training accomplishment, and if I may say so, my friend, Blue Serpent, versus the great Russian speedster, черный гигант (Chernyy Gigant, or Black Giant).

Of course, Blue was a massive underdog, or undersnake, to the multiple-race winner. How is a humble Coluber constrictor to beat a Dendroaspis polylepis, fastest snake on the planet?

Training is key. Your snake has to know what’s at stake. Your snake has to want it and want it bad.

The training involves accustoming your animal to the ways of race tracks and ensuring that he or she is sufficiently hungry. You must also know just which prey will be most attractive to your charge, which prey, waiting there at the finish line. Note: Training a snake that prefers other snakes for dinner is never a good idea, as they race side-by-side.

Blue has a taste for mice of a certain size and color.

To keep the competitor on a straight line, light electric shocks are employed during training.

Blue Serpent learned quickly. Off the track, he was adorable. Snuggly. On race days, hungry, he grew still, composing his mind.

Did I mention that Blue is a blue racer. Sure, mambas are supposedly the world’s fastest snake, but with money on the line (no mouse for Blue if he loses), not all ophidians have the heart to triumph, especially after competing in multiple heats to reach that final challenge.

Black Giant had the heart, the will to win, of course. Blue and Black knew each other well. Black 0wned Blue when Blue first came up. That was before I took over Blue’s training. Now Black was confident, proud, perhaps a little hubristic.

The start was clean. At the other end of the course, Blue’s mouse and Black’s yellow-spotted rock hyrax waited in fear. The black viper sprang out to a quick lead. Most snakes can use lateral undulation, rectilinear movement, concertina movement, and  sidewinding, sometimes two-at-a-time in different parts of the body. Competitors must learn which mode(s) of locomotion are most effective in their particular race.

Blue maintained contact through the first half of the race, then began to move up. At the crucial moment in the final stretch, Black’s trainer shouted from the pit the traditional “STOP! STOP!” at Blue. This is allowed, as the snakes must ignore crowd noise. I then shouted “стоп! стоп!” and because I had been practicing the commanding tone of Putin ordering his minions around, (a famous soundbite in Russia), Black hesitated for a fraction of a second, just enough time for Blue to grab the lead and, soon thereafter, the mouse.

The glow of the victory has endured, even now, after Blue has been put out to stud.


For Flash Fiction Challenge