What the Eyes Can’t By Peter Baltensperger

October 27, 2014 Comments Off on What the Eyes Can’t By Peter Baltensperger

The darkness was everything, the dwelling place of glowing red eyes in the corners, phantoms winging their ways through the rooms. Damien Cross kept all his blinds shut, his heavy curtains drawn. It was the only way for him. He never went outside when the sun was shining. He looked after his necessities on the dullest, dreariest days, wore the darkest sunglasses he could find to keep the outside world at bay.

He brought a woman into his darkness, to find out, a periodic foray into the unknown. She held herself stiff, apprehensive. He could smell her uncertainty, her fear. She began to relax when he ran his hands over her body, and the smell diminished. He took her by the hand and led her into his bedroom. He started to peel off her clothes, layer by layer, and she still shivered. He thought of onions, thought of laying bare the luscious insides and inhaling her aura. He could already smell her emanations and wondered if she could feel the phantoms, see the red eyes.

After he finished the peeling, all his emotions concentrated in his hands, in his nose, on his tongue, in his mind, he put her on the bed and took her breasts into his hands. For the first time, he tasted her skin, saturated his tongue with her strong aromas, filled his nasal cavities with her scents of pure femininity; let his hands inhale the richness of her soft skin. He could feel the red eyes peering out of their corners, could sense the phantoms in the still air. The darkness was standing him in good stead, his safety in a confused world, the retreat for his mind.

He followed the woman’s scents from her neck and her breasts all the way down along her body, delighting in his discoveries, moving from aroma to aroma over her trembling body, her trembling legs. She sighed with obvious pleasure as he started to lick her sumptuous secretions. She still quivered under his ministrations, but her body told him she was enjoying his exploratory caresses, perhaps not as much as he did, but at least more and more. He molded himself against her until her luxurious scents enveloped him in his darkness, filled him with their opulence.

Afterwards, he folded her into his arms, for his warmth and for her protection, and helped her fall asleep, one hand on her breathing breast. He stayed awake to feel the phantoms gather on the bed, envelop her with their wings, wrapping her into a cocoon. She screamed in her sleep, flailed her arms and legs in fright, even though she didn’t see the glowing eyes come creeping out of their corners. He tightened his arms around her, closed his eyes, and listened to the darkness rotate through the night.

© 2014 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His latest book is a collection of flash fiction, Inside from the Outside, A Journey in Sudden Fiction (available from amazon). His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. Most recently, he has been published in print in such publications as The Big Book of New Short Horror, The Big Book of Bizarro, and Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, and on line in Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Medulla Review, Danse Macabre, and Black Heart Magazine, among many others. He writes, and has been writing all his life, because he loves to write, and because it constitutes an integral aspect of his personal quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.

 

Paradigms Between Stepping Stones By Peter Baltensperger

July 10, 2014 Comments Off on Paradigms Between Stepping Stones By Peter Baltensperger

And then there was the river again, not the same yet still the same. It was more watery, less confined, perhaps a revelation. Argentina Delaney clapped her hands, braced herself against the night air, and jumped, surprising herself. There was a slight shift in the rotation of the universe and the river changed its course, the way things flow. She followed the river until she didn’t recognize the water anymore. It was enough to know. She had done what she could, and what she felt necessary, even though the night sky was black with clouds. She could have taken it for a significant omen, had her mind not been preoccupied with more important, more immediate considerations.

On the night of the full moon, when the moon was at its highest and the sky at its brightest, she waded into the lake fed by the two rivers and let herself float among the golden reflections. It was best not to disturb the surface of the lake. She lived with enough broken mirrors and shattered glass. She was never able to see her whole face, or the complete panorama or the entire implication. The cracked fragments refused to make any sense, no matter how hard she tried. She stared into the fractured mirrors until her eyes watered and everything blurred, the way it always was, clarity a precious premium.

Once she walked to the end of the world just to see if she could find an entire reflection. Yet all she could see was her shadow, for measuring time. It brought her some comfort, even though it kept changing all the time, as all things must, waning behind her in the morning, disappearing under her feet at noon, waxing before her in the afternoon. She never walked at night, when she could have seen so much more. It came as a surprise, even to her. She never resorted to clapping her hands. There was nothing to jump from or into on the flat road.

For the night of the new moon, when the night was at its darkest and the stars at their sharpest, she commanded the oceans to lie still and went floating in her lake. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had cracked the reflectionless surface, but she didn’t want to upset her mirrors any more than they already were. Instead, she stared up into the sky until her eyes blurred and the stars blurred and nothing made any sense at all, not even the occasional meteorite slicing its affirmation into the sky. If only she could have listened to its voice.

When she returned to the river, she could only find the water but not the bed or the bank. The water was flowing freely in all directions, as if it knew what it was doing. Argentina walked tentatively into the water, tested its significance, and let the current sweep her away into the vagueness of her night.

© 2014 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all this life, because he is driven to and because it lends a special significance to his quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their two cats and a tortoise.

Coming Off Plurality by Peter Baltensperger

October 14, 2013 Comments Off on Coming Off Plurality by Peter Baltensperger

It always began with the Ferris wheel: the tedious climb up the back to the apex, the euphoria of the gondola swinging back and forth almost close enough to the sky to touch, and then the slow, inevitable glide out and over into the nothingness that constituted the outside of the wheel. Tiernan Brewster held on for dear life, his knuckles whiter than white, his body a mass of tangled nerves. The air was thick with dread, his mind convulsing. He could taste the abyss swallowing him up, as if it were alive, a fog with tentacles tugging at him. Far below him, George Ferris Jr. himself was operating the machinery, determining his fate. Tiernan could see the inventor’s wizened face in the fog, grinning gleefully, and the eyes, the eyes. No amount of screaming was ever enough.

When he was down on solid ground again, his throat raw, his knuckles bruised, he felt he should be rubbing himself against one of the pylons keeping everything in place. He thought it would have balanced the black vertigo with the solidity, the primordial angst with the futile pretense. Instead, he climbed the girders of a shivering suspension bridge spanning a deep, lazy river, pulled himself up over the topmost beam, and let himself drop all the way down into the comforting water. It was always just enough.

A disheveled clown from some other dimension and some other time was waiting for him at the entrance to the night, the inside a chaotic confusion of warped mirrors, shattered glass. It could have been a rift in a spinning continuum, his knuckles were white enough. And then his face morphed into shards of reflections until he couldn’t look himself in the eyes anymore. At least he felt he knew where he was, despite the grimacing faces bouncing off the cracked glass. He had practiced long and hard, living among distortions.

He braced himself against the headboard of his bed, grasping the newels with both hands until his knuckles were the whitest white again and he couldn’t feel his toes anymore. They shattered into a million pieces when he stood up in the morning, as if they had spent the night in liquid nitrogen. Perhaps he forgot to turn something off. He couldn’t possibly put them back together again, any more than Humpty Dumpty, or Chicken Little the sky.

By then, his gondola was already back up at the apex again, swaying dangerously back and forth before it dropped him back between the nothingnesses of falling out of himself and not remembering how to find himself. He fused himself to the gondola and powered everything he had into his scream. The woman sitting beside him laughed so hard she dissipated into the fog and he couldn’t hold on to her anymore. He could see the tentacles embracing her, but in the end, it was the clown who was the last one to see the giant wheel.

© 2013 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His latest book is a collection of flash fiction, Inside from the Outside, A Journey in Sudden Fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. Most recently, he has been published in such publications as The Big Book of New Short Horror, The Big Book of Bizarro, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Danse Macabre, Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Medulla Review, and Black Heart Magazine, among others. He writes, and has been writing all his life, because he loves to write, and because it constitutes an integral aspect of his personal quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.

Ambiguities in Black by Peter Baltensperger

June 13, 2013 Comments Off on Ambiguities in Black by Peter Baltensperger

Sometimes a mere glimpse of light was enough to illuminate the insecurities of dark spaces. At other times, not even a wild thunderstorm fraught with lightning bolts hammering the sky could do more than pelt the emptiness with rain. Guinan Fawkes spent his nights groping through his darknesses in search of those rare glimpses into the uncertainties of existence, a desperate miner at the bottom of an endless shaft.

Once he spent an entire night in an ancient graveyard, lying on his back among the silent dead, staring up into the sky until his eyes lost themselves among the blazing stars. A couple of meteorites shifted the balance of the darkness with their flashes, but their trails were too brief to garner even the slightest of assurances.

He drove out into the countryside under a dark sky to leave even the slightest suggestion of light behind, hoping to catch a spark of recognition from the treasure trove of the night. He was letting his eyes adjust to the motionless darkness when the thunderstorm crashed through his contemplation, making thinking impossible.

The night was torn apart by lightning and thunder, but all he could see was the fragmented sky incapable of revelations. All he could hear was the bellowing aftermath of the lightning bolts and the pounding of the rain on the echoing roof of his car. The gushing water was so thick that it completely obscured his windows and he couldn’t see anything anymore at all, not even his thoughts clinging desperately to the uncertainty of the night.

Back in his apartment, he turned on the lights to banish his bewilderments from the corners, but he still couldn’t sleep. For a while, he counted goats leaping over fences with numbers on their backs, only to realize that they weren’t able to function with the lights still on. He wrapped himself back into his darkness and focused his eyes on the black ceiling until they created their own sparks fueled by his despair. The night was relentless in its darkness, unwilling to yield any secrets. Only the rain kept whipping against his window pane, as if mocking him, muttering in a language he couldn’t understand.

When he went to the ocean to watch the full moon rise out of the dark water, he was just barely able to adjust his mind to some latent possibilities of recognition. The moon emerged slowly from its lair, revealing itself gradually, like a lascivious woman, casting a lengthening, broadening duplication of itself across the ceaseless waves.

Guinan immersed himself in the lunar unveiling until he could see himself briefly in the reflection in a way he had never seen himself before. He became a glimpse of his own in the mystery of the night, in the fullness of the moon. He only regretted that he had to travel that far to discover so little, only to return to the silences of his mind.

© 2013 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. Most recently, he has been published in such publications as The Big Book of New Short Horror, The Big Book of Bizarro, Soul Reflections, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Danse Macabre, Smashed Cat, Leodegraunce, Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Medulla Review, and Black Heart Magazine, among others. He writes, and has been writing all his life, because he has to and loves to do it, and because it constitutes an integral aspect of his personal quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.

Parabola in The Rain by Peter Baltensperger

January 3, 2013 Comments Off on Parabola in The Rain by Peter Baltensperger

Harrison never carried a gun. He had many reasons, not the least of which being his deep-seated fear of gravity. He could have tripped and fallen at any time, perhaps even hurt himself, especially his pride, but he always made sure he walked along straight lines and avoided uneven surfaces. He never had any problems with that, his earth being flat and his landscape tailored to his needs. It was, as he always pointed out, merely a matter of choosing the right life at the right time. 

It was for that reason that he always wore a watch, to keep himself from falling victim to gravity. He firmly believed that a wrong step in the wrong direction would upset the cosmic balance between solidity and fluidity, between what was and what had to be, even between himself. It was a complicated life, but he felt it was well worth the time and effort, since time was an artificiality and effort a necessity, both integral aspects of complex curves. 

A man with a gun walked out into the pouring rain that pelted down on a smooth flat countryside without any houses or trees anywhere in sight. He didn’t mind, having made the choice for good reasons. He held his gun straight in front of him with both hands and fired a bullet into the rain. The bullet travelled in a perfectly straight line for the longest time, then started to curve towards the ground as it began to lose speed, finally falling into the grass. 

Harrison picked up the bullet and put it in his pocket, as a reminder. The man with the gun fired a second bullet, this one straight up into the rain-soaked air. He didn’t wait for it to come back down. He already knew. Harrison picked up the second bullet and put it in his other pocket, for balance, since the first was already a reminder. He felt it was an excellent day. 

With a bullet in each pocket, he found the courage to circumscribe a small stand of old evergreen trees, a leftover from a once majestic forest surrounded by grassland, cows grazing all around him even though cows rarely grazed in the rain. When he completed his circle around the island of trees, he resumed his straight-line progression through the landscape of his life, carefully avoiding any bumps and grooves in his path. 

His watch pulled him persistently along, time travelling in a straight line as it did, just as it pulled the man with the gun until he was back in his house. Harrison never saw the man, then or again, although he knew then, too. Somewhere at the edge of his consciousness, church bells were chiming the hour, their tintinnabulations echoing through the relentlessly falling rain. Their sounds travelled in perfectly straight lines until they, too, started to curve towards the ground, falling to the wet grass, victims themselves of the gravity Harrison so carefully tried to avoid. 

© 2012 Peter Baltensperger 

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. Most recently, he has been published in such publications as The Big Book of New Short Horror, The Big Book of Bizarro, Soul Reflections, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Danse Macabre, Smashed Cat, Leodegraunce, Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Medulla Review, and Black Heart Magazine, among others. He writes, and has been writing all his life, because he has to and loves to do it, and because it constitutes an integral aspect of his personal quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.

Halloween Special Edition 2012

October 29, 2012 Comments Off on Halloween Special Edition 2012

Alewives by Guy Yasko

There wasn’t anything on TV, at least nothing we wanted to see. The big people told us not to go past the park. But we did. It was too cool not to. Bricks, burnt up cars, burnt up buildings …

We threw bricks. Like the big people did. At Joey. He ran past the park. But so what? No one was watching. He hid in a building. We went in, too. Pretty soon, we forgot about Joey. In one building, out another. The buildings smelled like alewives and ashes.

We went around a corner where the dead fish smell was stronger. There were dead people hanging from streetlights. Birds sat on their shoulders. Their clothes were all white. Bird shit. The birds flew away when they saw us. The dead people jiggled on their ropes.

More dead people were on the ground. Alex poked one with a stick. The stick went right through. There was nothing inside. Skin over bone. Alex started running. We ran, too.

I never told anyone.

© 2012 Guy Yasko

Photo Credit: Flicker.com ky_olsen  Attribution 2.0 Generic  (CC BY 2.0)

Guy Yasko was born in Chicago and has arrived in Milwaukee via academia, Japan and Montreal. He makes a living at the intersection of Japan and the anglophone world, often as a translator.

MASK by Kenneth Pobo

James learned to breathe with his mouth rather than his nose because his hometown smelled bad. He spent much of his time in his mom’s curio shop. He felt more at ease there than most anywhere else—except the attic of his family’s home. His mom sold many odd items, but his favorites were the masks. Some made him laugh, and some resembled famous people. Many were hideous, death masks or faces contorted by anger, and he liked those best. He didn’t find them scary, and didn’t find it strange when one of them would talk to him.

“Are you paying attention in school, James?” a skeletal mask wanted to know.

“I daydream,” James replied. “I doodle all over my papers and get in trouble.”

“I’d do badly in school, too,” said the mask. “They want obedience, and I eat obedience.”

All James wanted to do was paint.

He told his parents that the masks talked to him, but they knew James had a strong imagination and humored him. James hated that, but he respected his parents and usually escaped to the street. Most of the people he saw in town looked like buffoons or sillies, driven mad by a desire to impress. He hated that too.

Tommy was the only boy James knew who believed that the masks actually spoke. He wouldn’t go in the curio shop, and the others laughed at him. James wished that he could make Tommy see that the masks didn’t hate kids, but he didn’t want to upset Tommy because he’d cry or run off.

Eventually James became a famous painter. He often painted masks or people with mask-like faces.

“Why not paint happy faces?” a lady in an ostrich-feathered hat asked him.

“They scare me,” James said.

While he was painting, he often dreamed of the curio shop. Some artists search for a muse if one doesn’t come to them. Not James. He didn’t have to. The masks had become his muse, talking to him in memory, guiding him, sliding letters written by Death under his door, letters that would terrify most of us. James found them humorous, even a comfort, full of eager advice and encouragement. He’d read the letters, set up his easel, and paint as if his life depended on it.

It did.

© 2012 Kenneth Pobo

Photo Credit: Gunawan Kartapranata Wikimedia Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported  (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Kenneth Pobo has a new chapbook of micro-fiction out from Deadly Chaps called Tiny Torn Maps. His chapbook of poetry, Ice And Gaywings, won Qarrtsiluni’s 2011 chapbook contest and came out in November 2011

Isaiah 57:15 by Jon Beight

I was billed as “The Geek,” but I knew better. I was a murderer. I murdered for money. I murdered to put food on my table, shoes on my feet, and a roof over my head. Nothing more. Nothing less. Never was I proud of this, but never did I suspect I would wind up in this wretched place in atonement for what I had done.

Ten times a day. Every day. My performances slaked a curious and exuberant crowd’s thirst for unnatural and horrific death.

My victims share a common experience: frightened anticipation boiling over into the mad rustle of wings as they struggle to escape, talons flailing in reflex to my tightening grip. Through feathers and skin, I split their bones, spray their blood, and inevitably they surrender. How I got here is not important. I was alive. I died. I am here. All that matters is I am here, amid the heads and bodies of my victims. Their blood has stained my skin. A stain that carries with it the unholy stench of violent death. It’s etched so deep that no amount of washing, of scouring, of praying, can remove it.

But I am not condemned to dwell here for eternity. Instead, I must preside over endless marriages that will make two parts as one. I must oversee the reunion of bodies, to make whole their spirits. I have but one sewing needle. I guard it with care, for if the needle is lost, then I am lost.

When the work is done, when the haunting echoes of anguish can no longer be heard, this stain will be gone, and I will be free.

© 2012 John Beight

Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown circa 1930 Free Historical Stock Photos

Jon Beight lives and works in Western New York. He is doing his best to figure out this writing thing.

Through Disarticulations by Peter Baltensperger 

Worlds explode. Mountains crash into valleys. Oceans seethe. A high-speed cross-country train rushes across a broken viaduct into nothingness. Lakes and rivers churn with imploding stars, primordial storms. Damian walks into a river of blood, looking for direction in a world without signposts, answers in a questionless panorama. He reaches into the thick darkness, groping for solutions to equations he has yet to encounter without recognizing the implications, the inherent significance of the landscape speeding by.

A solitary tree grows out of the river, its massive crown silhouetted against the black sky, long branches dangling into the blood. He grabs hold of a limb, pulls himself into the thicket of branches, grasps at stability in the insecurities of the night. A woman sits in the crook of a branch at the top of the tree, her hands balanced against the thick wood, staring up into sky. She knows about the importance of balance, the maintenance of a calculated equilibrium. Above her, constellations are shifting, crackling into unrecognizable fragments, eliminating further probabilities. She watches in silence, unperturbed.

Damian climbs up to the top of the tree, sits on the branch next to her, immerses himself in her security. She wraps him into her balance, points to the confusion in the sky until he begins to recognize the connotations, even though his eyes are blurred from the river and he can only comprehend fragments of her interpretation. She takes his mind into hers and rocks him through the equilibrium to show him the meaning of rivers, the consequences of mountains. The tree sways dangerously in a sudden blast of wind, a reminder of who they are.

The woman takes hold of his hand and they jump back into the rushing blood, fight their way across the current, climb out of the river into a field of flaming grass. She doesn’t have an answer, only cryptic messages she gathered from the top of the tree. They skirt the inferno in silence, find their way into a town without eyes. The world begins to make some sense again, even though he still can’t decipher the ultimate implication of darkness, can’t understand the impact of her balance. The woman refuses to reveal any information. She has already achieved her completion with her waiting, her attention to the voices in the wind.

A concerto for violin and flute echoes faintly through the town, bounces off the black sky. Damian reaches into the trembling air to gather insecurities for his collection, touch the equilibrium he knows exists somewhere in the void, but he can only do so much with his hands. The woman has fulfilled her purpose and dissolves into the tremolo of the first violin. Only the conductor knows of the crescendo, the final resolutions of the eddying notes.

© 2012 Peter Baltensperger

Photo Credit:  Nikolai Astrup Circa 1917  Wikimedia Commons {{PD-1923}}

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all his life, because he has to and loves to do it, and because it constitutes an integral aspect of his personal quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.

Trick or Treat by Simon Kewin

He hated Hallowe’en.

Any other time of the year he was safe. People hurried past his decaying clapperboard house, his graveyard jungle of weeds, and pulled their children along with them. Not stopping.

Everyone knew the stories. The mad old recluse in his crumbling house. Noises at night. Chewed up bodies buried in the basement. Let them talk. He saw no one, spoke to no one, and that suited him fine. That was best for everyone. Everything under control.

Until Hallowe’en.

On Hallowe’en, they lost all fear of him; thought their ridiculous costumes protected them. Up they came in giggling, laughing flocks to rap on his door. Most of them just children. Why did it have to be children? He would ignore them, of course, dowse the candles and cower in an upstairs corner where they couldn’t see him. Still, he’d hear them. They’d shout at him through his door, hurl stones against his windows. They knew he was in there. They’d vie with each other to terrify him the most, promising to set fire to his house to flush him out. The monsters. He’d crouch in the darkness, arms wrapped around his knees, shaking from fear and self-loathing.

They’d come in groups but sometimes alone. Like now. A solitary knock on his door. Perhaps their friends hadn’t turned up. Perhaps they had no friends.

He’d made a vow many years ago, swore it by his own long life. But this was too much. They were to blame. They wandered up to his house and ruined everything.

Why couldn’t they leave him alone? Every other night of the year he could control it, but not at Hallowe’en.

He threw open the door and hauled the child inside.

© 2012 Simon Kewin

Photo Credit: © Joyner Library Permission to reuse this work is granted for all non-commercial purposes.

Simon writes fiction and poetry. Some is fantasy, some SF and some can’t make its mind up. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. He lives in the UK with Alison and their two daughters Eleanor and Rose. He is currently learning to play the electric guitar.

Simon writes fiction and poetry. Some is fantasy, some SF and some can’t make its mind up. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. He lives in the UK with Alison and their two daughters Eleanor and Rose. He is currently learning to play the electric guitar.

Broken Hours by Peter Baltensperger

May 14, 2012 Comments Off on Broken Hours by Peter Baltensperger

Night of the new moon; the stars at their brightest in the dark sky; the constellations fixed in their rotations. There were no clouds, and no rain, the night soft, revolving. A man was composing a dirge in the darkness of his mind, phrase by careful phrase, trying to get through this fractured night. Notes were tumbling through his tortured mind, spilling out onto the keys of his piano, piling up on the paper under his frantic hand, bouncing off the cracked mirror on the wall. He couldn’t see himself in the glass, only in the notes, couldn’t hear himself in the silence.

A woman was lying on her bed, the dirge in her own mind keeping her awake, phallic representations her only companions: icicles, popsicles, melting in her heat — hard plastic comforting her body. If she could have looked for herself in notes, phrases, compositions, the night would have been enough. There was no mirror for her to see herself, only the impermanence of melting ice, a fleeting satisfaction, a reflection of futility in the disturbing rotation of the universe.

On a deserted street, a man ambling along the sidewalk lost himself in the shreds of a dirge floating briefly through the cool night air, and then found himself in the moans of a woman, dissipating in the dark. He looked into a fragmented mirror and saw the night for what it was. He piled thick paint on a canvas with a knife, a study in black, a small white circle in the upper right corner. Later in the night, he etched a zigzag of a lightning flash into the black paint in a gesture of resignation.

A woman was dangling upside down from a tree in a thick forest, surrounded by broken mirrors, trying to recognize herself, although there were too many shards of glass. The dirge could have been written for her, a suitable accompaniment to her reflection; the black paint exclusively for her; the forest deathly quiet underneath the constellations. When the stars were in their proper positions, she pulled herself up and tumbled into the thick moss, completing her cycle, her journey. If only it could have rained, a suffering of a different kind.

In the morning, the sharp sliver of the new moon.

© 2012 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all this life, because he is driven to and because it lends a special significance to his quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their two cats and a tortoise.

Spring Thaw by Peter Baltensperger

January 5, 2012 Comments Off on Spring Thaw by Peter Baltensperger

The snow had been piling up for weeks, the way it was want to and supposed to, in the city where Jonathan had entrenched himself. It wouldn’t have been right if it hadn’t, the city plows piling banks upon banks, maintaining the seasonal routines; people fighting their way along slippery sidewalks, themselves caught in the cycle. Or else there would never have been spring: the way the world is.

Jonathan could have had a woman with him to keep him warm, guide him through the cycle, keep his boots by the door, but he never quite made it past the fantasies— one of those things. Fantasies were much simpler than reality, and Jonathan was very good at them. He preferred the way things were, just as he preferred to be the way he was.

The woman lived only a few blocks from him, contending with her own snow banks, icy walkways, spinning tires, and not having anyone to keep her warm. When she looked into the mirror, she could have seen Jonathan and asked him to make her his fantasy, but all she could ever see was herself. Mirrors can be very fickle that way, especially with the snow being as deep as it was.

On one particular morning, Jonathan was fighting his way along one of the banked-in sidewalks. The woman was desperately trying to get out of her driveway. Although the night had been clear and quiet, the snow fell heavily again even before the sun was up, fulfilling its own part of the arrangement. Jonathan and the woman could have fought their way through the weather together, had he only been able to let go of his fantasies.

Downtown, the plows had cleared the main streets and leveled the sidewalks. A duplicate of Jonathan was hurrying from a bus stop to an office, trying to keep the snow out of his face so he could see. A duplicate of the woman was scurrying from a parking lot to the same building, an umbrella in front of her face, unable to see. They didn’t know where they were going, only that they had to be in a certain place at a certain time. They bumped into each other in the elevator, one of those missed opportunities, if there were such things.

When the snow finally melted away, the snowplows returned to anonymity, and the rivers swelled to dangerous levels. Jonathan and the woman went their separate ways, not knowing any better.

Snow does that to people.

© 2011 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all this life, because he is driven to and because it lends a special significance to his quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their two cats and a tortoise.

Elevator Rides by Peter Baltensperger

November 3, 2011 Comments Off on Elevator Rides by Peter Baltensperger

It had been raining all morning, a light spring rain. Jillian turned the corner at Rideau and Main and promptly bumped into Bronwen, one of her best college friends she hadn’t seen in years. Both had their umbrellas pulled down over their faces even though it wasn’t raining anymore. They were lucky: the collision could have been much worse than it was. So it is with chance encounters. Luck happens at the oddest times, even though there is no such thing. We all live the way we live because of the way we live.

Jillian and Bronwen decided to celebrate their reunion by going for an elevator ride. As soon as they were in the car going up, they dropped their umbrellas on the floor and flung their arms around each other. Soft music was playing from an invisible speaker. They kissed each other passionately, eager tongues intertwining like mad, hungry snakes, renewing their friendship. They pressed their bodies together so they could feel their breasts rubbing against each other through the thin fabric of their blouses and bras, still slightly damp from the rain.

Wild horses were charging across a steppe into the rising full moon. That, too, is part of the cosmic ups and downs, part of the way we live.

Nobody else bumped into anyone else that day. Hubert turned the same corner with his umbrella closed and walked past the display windows of the “Rideau Clothing Boutique”. All the mannequins were naked, waiting for the latest fashions. Although he was focused on going where he was going, as he always was, he slowed his steps and looked at the mannequins long enough to imprint the shapes of their perfect bodies on his mind. It was a typical male reaction and quite understandable, even though it wasn’t raining anymore.

When he arrived where he was going, he walked into the building through the revolving doors, through the lobby, and into the elevator. As soon as he was in the car going up, he opened his umbrella and pretended to be out in the rain. He liked playing games. He was still thinking about the mannequins.

Jillian was already in the car. She opened her own umbrella and joined him under his. She knew how to play her own games. Flinging their free arms around each other, they kissed passionately, tongues snaking, probing, tasting. Jillian moaned deep inside as she pressed her lithe body against his until he could feel her hardening nipples through her thin blouse and bra. He could smell the lingering dampness of her clothes against his chest, her crotch gyrating lustily against his. So it is, sometimes, too.

In another town, it was raining all afternoon. People were scurrying along the sidewalks underneath a varicolored sea of umbrellas, faint thunder somewhere far away. Nobody bumped into anyone turning a corner anywhere. It could have been coincidence, but things rarely are.

© 2011 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all this life, because he is driven to and because it lends a special significance to his quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their two cats and a tortoise.

Between Moments by Peter Baltensperger

August 22, 2011 Comments Off on Between Moments by Peter Baltensperger

When the moon is full, the wolves howl in the forest, and breasts swell like the tide. There’s a sense of dread, the fear of not knowing what comes next, the shivering uncertainty of being. The air is thick with trepidation, indistinct dissatisfaction, the vague apprehension of impending doom.

A woman lies on her bed, luscious breasts in her hands, trying to shut out the howling of the wolves. She conjures up a man for herself, bearing down on her breasts, on her pelvis, his masculinity full of surprises, burrowing for secrets only the moon should know.

The moon disappears behind a bank of black clouds. The wolves pad into their lairs in silence, sniffing out probabilities, baring their teeth at shifting shapes. The man shudders in his sleep, lost in a dark forest. The woman sighs, phantoms of weights bearing down on her soul.

The night is charged with ambiguities, too many meteorites, not enough resolutions. Daylight won’t resolve the dread, endless vibrations between what is and what could have been spilling over the edge. The woman sinks into a fitful sleep.

© 2011 Peter Baltensperger

Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He writes, and has been writing all this life, because he is driven to and because it lends a special significance to his quest. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their two cats and a tortoise.

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