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Poem of the Day
Flash Fiction


Poetry by Richard Fein



She asked about cicadas.
She remembered from last year,
when in September the noise was loud,
but in October after bedtime, before she fell asleep,
she'd listen out the window only to rustling leaves
and heard not one shrill cicada note.
She asked about the cicada on the sidewalk
almost groveling at her feet
in yet another October.
She asked if it was going to sleep or die.
Die, I said, utterly honest.
She asked if it was lonely
with no one to sing to, or no songs to be heard.
"Probably not" I said.
Then she asked if each cicada had its own song,
like the seals she learned about in school,
where each mother knew her own pup's call,
or were the cicadas' songs all the same
so no one song mattered,
and only the big noise was important.
I said, "Probably the big noise,
now and every summer."
"All the same song," she said,
"like the school chorus where all the singers wear uniforms."
I saw a meanness grow in her eyes.
She stamped her foot,
and I heard the shell crack.



It's said the statue is in the rock,
and the sculptor merely chisels until it's found.
But the matrix can bear many siblings,
Adonis towering in one corner,
Venus beckoning in the other.
It's the chiseler that chooses.
One becomes a miracle of creativity,
the other talus and scree.
It's said that even one cell is a divine creation,
but millions die to sculpt a human form.
The webs between fingers and toes,
the community of the tail,
the skin over the eyes,
all yield to shape the image of God.
Two lonely strangers thank God they've found each other,
a fireman saves a baby,
but the one who is thanked made many choices
(like Herr Doctor Mengele pointing his finger)
selecting who should carry on the cascade of generations
to create miraculous moments.

Admirers of aesthetics, lovers of flawless symmetries,
seekers of artistic truths,
be grateful for hardness.
Talc is soft and yielding, but easily crumbles.
Marble is hard, granite harder,
the chisel sharp and efficient.
Each pleasing creation
rises above the debris of its matrix.




Exemplars of biological hardness, one of the first,
fish scales that inched forward to the jaw,
all that will remain of a fifty-foot shark.
They create
the oxymoron of a love bite,
skin tracings of frustrated possessiveness,
and consuming passion.
They're used
by mother mammals to chew away
the apron strings of birth.
They should be sheathed when kissing a child.
Baby ones create good fairy dreams
under a child's pillow,
but also dark omens when a troubled grownup sleeps:
a razor sharp vision in a nightmare
falling out one by one, an old man's worn gums,
marble tombstones that age fungal green.

Fulcrum point of contact, to puncture or caress.

Yet such easy prey to sweetness,
which eats into the pulp and scoops out the nerve;
the hardness of the ages sickened to decay
by drops of honey.



"And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch. . . .
The name of the star is Wormwood.
A third of the waters became Wormwood,
and many died from the water,
because it was made bitter."

I think about what I might think
if this plane plunged into the sea,
with all of us reduced to a fiery Wormwood searing the sky,
with sunset to the West, gathering darkness to the East
and the fast approaching blue below.
No mindless panic, no soiled pants
rather I'd practice a Zen-like focus
on memories, on actions flowering from memories.

I'd recall two days ago when we screamed divorce.
But then I'd remember this morning's parting kiss
and her saying that she'll miss me,
our recent anger an inconvenient memory.
As I, as all my fellow travelers, fall
I'd rise above myself
keeping still amid the panicky Hail Marys.
I'd smile at the oxymoron of a downward ascent,
a heavenly, hellish release of soul from body.

But most of all there'd be the paradox of the parting kiss,
not a Judas kiss but a seal of loyalty,
as the plane cracked
and the ocean rushed in salty as tears.




About the Author


More poetry by Richard Fein can be found here, and his digital photography can be found here.