The Hat Lady



She smelt of oranges and cloves all year round. She had a closet filled with hats and never wore the same one for more than three hours. For long trips out of the house she brought a large hat bag and sometimes I was allowed to pick some from the closet for her.

We went to the zoo and flapped our arms at the penguins and with sticky liquorice in our hands we walked through the forest without using the paths, but never losing our way. In the forest, she told me about bog monsters and trolls and the kind of fairies that pull you off to another world to be a pet.

‘Don’t ever believe that Tinkerbell is a real fairy,’ she told me as the liquorice cloyed my tongue.

After a long time without walks, I went to church with my parents and shortly after they sold all her hats except a brown bowler which I took. When I ran off to hide it, I got lost in the woods and when I sat down and held the bowler over my nose, it only smelt of dust.


(credit: Wikipedia)

(credit: Wikipedia)

I like thinking back on your cereal ritual in the mornings. The crunching as you stuffed your face with Kellog’s. They way you held your spoon was so clumsy that it made you look younger and I felt so old.

Now I’m five years older, but my life has just begun.



A thousand bees buzz around in his head as he floats in the ever flowing river, catching glimpses of memories he thought he had forgotten and while his worries dive to the bottom and bury into the mud and honey spreads in his mouth, he lets himself be caressed by the waters and when he breathes them in, poppies stick in his nose and he smiles at their scent and as he comes up for air, he can almost touch the pleasure dome of Xanadu.


Looney Tunes

Looney Tunes

Looney Tunes always made him cry, and it was not happy tears. The shenanigans and comic sound effects provoked powerful hollow sobs and wrung streams of snot from him. It was worst when the roadrunner sped across the screen.

‘That poor thing will be running for the rest of its life,’ he said blowing his nose, ‘and the coyote must be starving. It would be better for both of them if one of them just gave up and died, but they’re both blind.’

At work he was known as the Stand-up, and he never went home without having made someone laugh.

Apples at the Fair



I wear my bare feet to the fair and dodge first livestock then farmers to get close to the tumblers. They make me smile with their cartwheels and take my breath away with their great feats of balance, so I forget looking over my shoulder for the innkeeper. When they take a rest, I find a fiddler and then two singers with lutes singing a duet. The woman from the duet dies for the sake of her love and tears spring to my eyes when they sing their goodbyes. I hardly notice when my stomach begins to rumble. After the duet, I watch some actors perform the last half of their play, then I go back to the tumblers.

When the first booth is packed away, I wonder if the innkeeper will still let me sleep in the stable even though I did not take care of the horses today. I shake my head and find a musician playing a lullaby. When he reaches the last note, a few more coins are tossed into his hat and I wish I had some to give him. He puts his harp into his bag so gently; it is like he is putting a baby to sleep. When I look up again, he is gone and it seems most of the other people have gone home too. A woman with a basket of green apples stops beside me.

‘Are you crying, dear?’ she asks and I look up into brown eyes framed by long lashes and then I see rosy cheeks just as I imagine a heroine from a song or play would have.

‘Here,’ she hands me an apple and smiles with her small mouth and large eyes, ‘you can eat it on your way home.’ She continues on her way before my throat unsticks.

When I get back, the innkeeper shouts at me a lot, but he allows me to sleep in the stable for just one more night. As I curl up in the hay and the tart taste of the apple fills my mouth, I thank God and the whole world for letting me meet an angel.

A Frame

(Credit: LIFE)

(Credit: LIFE)

Don’t you feel cold?

Will words warm you?

Will they flesh you out, give you substance?

I’ve heard it’s not a good idea to depend too much on others to define oneself,

But I understand that it must be tough just being a frame,

Waiting for someone to put in their picture.

These are my parents, and this is my childhood sweetheart whom I never saw again after the third grade.

Du you like my picture?

This is the cat I found, but was not allowed to keep.

And this is the old lady who lived next door and always waved at me, when I went to school.

Sometimes I pretended she was my grandmother.

Sometimes I pretended she was a witch and her wave was a curse.

Does this make you more you?

More me?

Does this make you more someone?

Who are you?

Pigeon Toed

Bare feet

Bare feet

‘I’ll win this time,’ said Gary to John as they ran towards the city gate, their bare feet raising dust from the street.

‘In your dreams,’ said John and sped up.

‘I’ll just wait for the sun to get to you,’ Gary moved the hair out of his eyes, and it stuck in the sweat on his forehead.

‘Wait!’ shouted a voice behind them. Gary stopped. John slowed down. When Gary turned, he saw Nadia nearing with her pigeon toed run, her brown curls bouncing on her shoulders.

‘Wait!’ she shouted again. Gary waited and John trotted back to him.

‘Can’t we just go?’ asked John.

‘It might be important,’ said Gary.

‘It’s never important,’ John put his hands on his hips and glared at Nadia as she reached them, panting, using the skirt of her dress to fan herself.

‘What is it?’ asked John.

‘Can I come play with you?’ asked Nadia.

‘No,’ said John. ‘Come on, Gary, let’s go.’ John turned, but Gary stayed.

‘Wait,’ said Nadia, ‘please, can I come?’

‘Get out of here,’ said John, ‘come on, Gary.’

Gary took a few steps and lent close to John.

‘Why won’t you let her come?’ whispered Gary.

‘She’s too small,’ said John.

‘She’s only a year younger than me,’ said Gary.

‘Yeah, but you don’t cry when you lose at fencing.’

Gary sucked at his teeth.

‘Look, we can’t fence three at a time anyway,’ said John.

‘Alright,’ Gary sighed and went back to Nadia, ‘why don’t you go play with Mary and the others?’

‘I don’t want to,’ Nadia fiddled with the hem of her dress where a long string was on its way out of the fabric.

‘Why?’ said Gary, ‘I’m sure they’re having fun.’

‘Mary’s been teasing me,’ mumbled Nadia.

‘What?’ said Gary, ‘who’s been teasing you?’

‘Mary,’ said Nadia.

‘I’ll show her,’ said John, ‘where are they?’

‘Shouldn’t we just go?’ said Gary. He turned to Nadia, ‘there’s this great place beside the river.’

‘Alright, come on,’ John grabbed Nadia’s hand and marched down the street.   

Talking to a Coffee Machine

Happy Coffee


He admired the rings around her eyes. Blue and violet, he could find a whole field of cornflowers there. But he could not see her eyes when sighing she rested her forehead in her hands and stared at the blank paper on her desk. His computer said it was seven thirty.

Walking into the kitchen, he breathed in coffee, but the liquid was gone from the pot. He filled it with water and stepped up to the coffee machine.

‘Do you know that she already has a boyfriend?’ asked the coffee machine.

‘His name is Mark,’ he said, ‘I mean, who?’

‘Coffee won’t help,’ said the machine, ‘you’ll still be a friend.’

‘I don’t care,’ he stepped closer. ‘It will help, though.’

The coffee machine strained half a millimetre away from him.

‘You’re going to lie there and wait like some crocodile?’

‘I’m not a crocodile,’ he said.

‘I refuse to be a part of it.’

‘Don’t be like that,’ he poured in the water.

‘I won’t be part of it!’

He filled a filter with coffee and put it in the machine.

‘I’m warning you,’ said the machine, ‘don’t you press that button.’

‘What are you going to do?’ He pressed the button and the machine exploded.

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