Single or Return

 A few gondolas dangle from guideropes about the pier. At its end the tour boat in the shape of a swan. It used to ferry people for photo opportunities around the volcanic lake.

 A draggle of sepia couples hand in hand all bemoan the same topics. The still declining hours of daylight, and the accumulation of fresh curses, desiccated souls, and the entities summoned by flutes made from human bones. The pier grows quiet once they’re all on board.

 I watch the craft daily through an eyeglass in my hidden shack on the shore. Hooded shapes sell tickets to the bottom of the lake from the back of the swan for a negligible fee. The boat rarely returns with the same number of folks with whom it left.


It came like a funeral march over the fens of dry rice paddies. The beasts called from some unilluminated place just through the hedgerow and the patrons pushed their refusal and earbuds deeper.

They first arrived as envoys and company volunteers and each held on them somewhere a deed for their return. Wrapped up in pledges of reimbursement and guarantees and promises paid in full.

Distant lights of the approaching carriages preceded a horn’s cry in the dark. Everyone knew there was no going back. Not from here. Still, all huddled to board, and carried their thoughts of home.

The Bone Cabinet

 The bone cabinet stands in the living room, in an alcove away from the TV. It disturbs the occupants’ sleep. The cabinet holds them undying, in service to the family, until such a time that their remains might be released. 

 The chinoiserie tea caddy keeps the smashed assemblage of Henniwood, Father’s secretary. Mr. Kensington was pounded into dust and poured into the terracotta urn. To oversee the accounting. The small glass hummingbird? That’s Aunt Lucy. The hourglass I set there this morning is Father. The bone cabinet was his creation, after all.

 Strike the summoning bell three times and speak your command. They cannot rest until it is done.