Archive for the ‘What Pegman Saw’ Category

Today Pegman took us to Pripyat, Ukraine. Years ago I met a Greek couple who had been affected by the Chernobyl Disaster. Although they were elderly, they were frailer than their age warranted. “Chernobyl,” the husband said, “was a very bad thing.” I’m dedicating this story to them.

 

Oh, such a racket! Men shouting, babies whimpering, feet stomping, horns honking, dogs barking!
The eerie sound of gears grinding to a halt.

“Enough noise to wake the dead,” someone said. But the dead did not wake up.
Thirty-two years later the bodies are no longer counted because after all this time
there is no proof that The Disaster still causes the aches and pains that drag people toward death then allow them to plunge into darkness.

No proof?

For nine days heat from the fire spilled poison up into the sky where it drifted like a bevy of black angels hiding inside the wind. How far? Who knows?

Tourists come to view the remains of our town, snap pictures of themselves in front of the decaying Ferris wheel, dust-covered dolls hiding behind gas masks, empty beds, blackened toys.

But no one can take a selfie beside the acrid scent of destruction.

 

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Come to  باغ وحش تهران.”
The map didn’t help. Joshua couldn’t find one point reading باغ وحش تهران.

3 p.m. Don’t be late
He turned to a passer-by. “Time?”
The man made no eye-contact.

The bleat of horns, santour music, giggling women in hijabs,
and the sickly sweet smell of liver kabobs muddled his brain.
He couldn’t think, didn’t want to.
Action was needed. Now.

Or she will be sold to another.

Joshua spun in a circle.
A small boy stepped out of the crowd. “Need help, Mister?”
Joshua jabbed a finger on باغ وحش تهران.
“Oh!” The child pointed a finger toward a compound across the street.
“My favorite place.”

Joshua dodged through traffic, between the gates, down a concrete pathway.
When handed the money, Garshasp grinned.
“Almost too late. Almost.”

Tomorrow Eram Park Zoo’s elephant compound would be minus one baby.
Still, Joshua’s work had just begun.

 

When I saw the Google map of Tehran, I thought, “Heck, why not just use the map itself for today’s What Pegman Saw?” My eyes focused on the Eram Park Zoo and an idea spun out from there. While visiting their website, I felt really sad about the animal’s environments and wished I could free every one of them. I’m sure the caretakers are kind and do the best they can, but the animals don’t look very happy.

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Today Pegman took us to Coniston Water, Lake District, England. I took a stroll around and found this picture. Thanks, Karen and Josh, for providing another great idea for a 150-word challenge.

As children, my sisters and I danced among these stones, singing the praises of gods we did not know while wondering why anyone should be guided by spirits they could not see.

Rayana, the eldest. A beauty with a voice filled with the music of one-hundred crystalline bells.
And a mind that held world-knowledge that surpassed each of our elders.
Oh, her many qualities swayed armies.

Clarene, the brave. Villagers compared her strength to that of our most powerful axman. Her gentleness to the heart of a dove.
When war broke out, she was our fiercest defender and most compassionate healer.

What were my qualities? Selfishness. Anger. Revenge. All wrapped up in ocean-blue eyes and golden hair. As were we all.

So, I warn you, the next time you sit, mead in hand, do not ask our elders how the village survived for lies will drip from their tongues.

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Ghosts

Posted: June 16, 2018 in What Pegman Saw
Tags: , , , ,

Today Pegman took us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. I scrolled around pictures for a while before finding this wonderful picture of blowing snow.

The old people say there are no ghosts left
that they disappeared after the great famine
took more than half the population of the village.
They are wrong.

On the edge of fields
I see ghosts
dancing in clothes so bright
they put the sun to shame.

Or, I hear them in the barn
telling jokes and laughing
until I think their sides might split.
If only they still had sides.
If only.

Sometimes these fragile ghosts
sit at my kitchen table.
I drink tea while listening to their stories.
Often I reach out to touch them.
Futile, I know.
I need no reminder.

They leave notes
We love you
Kindness is the root of happiness
Go to bed early
Feed the dog

I no longer have a dog.
But my children don’t know that.
Their memories are
from the times before
the soldiers came,
starving and mean.

 

Today Pegman took us to Armenia. I got lost in the beautiful photographs of the country then absorbed by the sad history.

You assumed I died in the Sheykhalan fire.
No.
I am still here.
And so are you for I recorded your stories
of hatred and stored them in my memory boxes,
each marked with a name.

Aslan (Lion): Broke into our home to slit the throats of our men.
Erol (Courage): Coward. Stuck my father’s head on a spike beside our kitchen door.
Tutku (Desire): Raped my mother and me then forced us to walk naked under the Mesopotamian sun.
Haluk (Happy): When we cried out for water, you gave us vinegar instead.

I stored thousands of your hate-stories but now, for balance, I must pull out a few of our own.

Aeron: Danced across the sand in silvery moonlight until we clapped and began to sing.
Havik: Sheltered the smallest of us within his enormous, naked shadow.
Poghos: Threw me out the window and saved me from the flames.

 

Today Pegman took our merry band of flash fiction writers to Gwynedd, Wales. Thanks, Karen, for taking me up on my suggestion! A couple of weeks ago a picture of Gwynedd was the wallpaper on my computer and I thought it looked fascinating. I’ve gone over my word-count by one after whittling fifteen words out of the story (sorry).

Had you been lucky, you would have seen
nineteen barefoot girls slip into the glen,
flowers in hand, hearts full of joy.

Perhaps you would have averted your eyes
as they removed blouses and corsets
before lacing the hems
of their striped linen skirts
over rabbit skin belts round their waists.

Without a doubt
the desire
to gently touch a shoulder or knee,
would have overwhelmed you
for their skin glistened
whiter than the inside of an oyster shell
dropped upon the sand.

And your heart would have soared
when the glen filled with laughter
as the girls braided ferns
through silken blonde hair,
their own or that of their sisters’.

One step closer
you could have admired
the silver-blue fire of their wide-set eyes.
Now it’s too late,
that color is lost to the world.

What a day you missed
simply because you were
too many centuries away.

Today, on Cinco de Mayo, Pegman took us to Tulum, Mexico where I discovered a lagune. While wading, I met Carmen who told me her story. Thanks, Karen, for posting another good idea for a 150-word tall tale.

Two-hundred years have passed since Carmen was nominated “Keeper-of-Souls.”
Oh, how she rues the day,
for now, time moves so slowly she can divide seconds into quarter segments
then each of those into thirds.

The Not-Dead don’t realize that
the Truly-Dead are an unruly bunch.
All day, Abuela Maria fights with Tío Ricardo.
Gato Isabella continually tries to re-kill Tortuga Mateo.
The Gemelos, Poco and Pica, are weary of their conjoined hips
and often draw knives from the shadows.

Solace comes on Día de Muertos when every soul is required to spend the day with the living.
Carmen doesn’t care if they visit people they loved or people they despised
as long as every abuela, gato, tio, twin, and tortuga disappear.

Then, very quietly, she removes her dress,
pours a glass of chilled wine and
slips into the soothing waters of her secret cave
and screams until her throat goes dry.