Biscocho

twice baked Spanish bread

twice sweetened twice buttered up

twice removed from history’s gaze

twice baked Iloilo province bread hard as steel

twice baked Balikbayan biscotti brittle as dried mub

twice used to sweeten morning’s black coffee stained tired goodbyes

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“Hello, Mom.”

7 AM rolls around and my alarm clock lets out an electronic buzzing sound. It sounds like what an AI might think of buzzing bees without ever having been fed a recording of them. I am already awake. I was awake when my next-door neighbors began arguing in Spanish about who the real father of little Ana is. I was awake when an old Chevy pickup with a blown-out exhaust pipe made donuts in the parking lot. I was awake while a group of teenagers smoked underneath the no-smoking sign outside the apartment complex. I was awake when my mother called and left a voice mail message, saying “I love you, call me.”

I was awake, but I simply did not move. Not until the alarm went off.

Silencing the buzzer, I swung my legs off the bed, stood up, and walked to the bathroom. I disrobed, throwing my underwear into the laundry hamper, turned on the shower, and went on with the business of scrubbing yesterday off of me. After I dressed, I drove my car to the Park-and-Ride and took the 7:30 train to downtown. I got off at the 5th and Market station and walked into Jackson & Son’s Marketing Firm. A mirror monolith of a building, Jackson & Son’s Marketing Firm towered over the other sky crappers, reflecting only dark grey concrete and a florescent bulb sky. I walked in and merged with the other workers inside one of the six elevators on the first floor. I got off on the 7th floor, clocked in with my ID, and went to my cubicle. On my desk was an envelope with only one word written on it: “Dorothy Burns.” I took the envelope off the desk and placed it in my dark brown leather handbag. It was time to work.

At 12PM, I took out my lunch box and ate the cold cob salad I made last night. My cubicle neighbor, Ruth, came over and tapped me on my shoulder.

“There’s cupcakes in the break room. You want some?” she said.

With a mouth full of Romaine lettuce and ranch dressing, I nodded.

“Okay, I’ll go grab you one,” she said.

I swallowed the masticated morsel and took a sip out of my water bottle before continuing on an Excel Spreadsheet, documenting the change in consumer engagement. My cob salad, my bottle was empty, and the lunch hour was over by the time Ruth came back, holding two chocolate cupcakes.

She handed me one and starting munching on the other as she went back to work. I looked at the cupcake. Someone with very calm hands had painstakingly wrote the words “Happy Birthday” with royal icing on the cupcake. I placed the cupcake aside and continued typing.

By 7:00 PM everyone except me and the janitorial staff remained I continued to work until my cell phone began to buzz. I picked it up and turn off the alarm. I saved my progress and sent out the last report before logging off the computer and clocking out. I remembered to place the cupcake in my empty Tupperware before exiting the building.

I repeated this morning’s commute in reverse and in the streetlight-speckled darkness. Once back at the apartment, I checked the mail. There were many cards, all with “Dorothy Burns” written on them. But no bills and no tickets. Just cards. I emptied the mailbox into my handbag and went upstairs.

I undressed and threw my cloths into the laundry hamper. I emptied my bag and prepared lunch for tomorrow. I placed the cupcake with the cards scattered on the table. I took out a glass and filled it with sherry and stood for a while looking at the cupcake and the cards.

I downed the glass of sherry in one gulp, sat down, and read each card. One from Mom, one from Big Bro, one from a classmate from college, another from a classmate form high school, one from that guy who lives two hours away, and some from people I don’t remember. After reading them, I organized the pile on the table and took out some pens and paper. I wrote a thank you note to each sender, using a thank you note template I had found on my phone, and sealed each with the same white envelope I use to send checks. I poured myself another glass of sherry and I checked my phone. There was only one message, still. I hit redial and waited for three beeps. At the third beep, my mother answered. I said, “Hello, mom.”

Setting the Price

Please sit down to fill your form
and try to be precise.
I know you just started today
but we must set the price.

Section one determines the base
we need your ancestry
mother, father, grandma and
all the way down the tree.

Don’t skip your gender or your name
Do you plan to change them?
You don’t know? Well, that’s okay.
You can modify them.

Examine sections three to five
Are there any questions?
What is a job? A spouse? A child?
Here are a few suggestions:

Go for healthy decisions first.
Avoid all addictions.
Go to college, get a job, and
avoid causing friction.

If that sounds boring, don’t dispair
we have many options
choose to follow a dream or wish
but do so with caution.

What you decide will cause a stir
even some fluctuation
depending on factors, stocks, bonds,
even the ruling nations.

So much data goes into how
we determine the cost
before sending you on you way
into a lifetime of loss.

African-American Writers’ Alliance

Hello, my dragons and dragon-lovers,

Occasionally, I plan to share information regarding literary and artistic organizations that I feel deserve more widespread acknowledgments. For that purpose, I would like to introduce you to an organization I have found through the grapevine: the Seattle-based African-American Writers’ Alliance (AAWA).

AAWA is a collective of Seattle writers of African descent that provides an informal and supportive forum for new and published writers. They host literary events, workshops, weekly readings and more in the surrounding Seattle Area.

Randee Eddins founded the organization in 1991, where she encouraged an exchange of ideas through the written word. In a mutually supportive setting, writers listened and shared their work without censure. AAWA has monthly meetings (Saturdays, Columbia City Branch of the Seattle Library, library opening until noon). For up-to-date information, please check out their website and consider becoming a member of this wonderful organization.

If you know of any other writing organizations in Washington or anywhere on the planet, please let me know to by commenting down below.

Thank you for reading and, as always, may you have peace, love, and pancakes my literary dragons!

Sweet

My addiction to sweetness is killing
my body’s ability to produce
glucose regulating bland insulin.
Simultaneously, my need to know
what our politician are doing to
our air, our land, our water, our planet
is killing my ability to taste
the sweetness in a smile, in a laugh in
a clear sunny day, so I drown myself
in vapid suga.

Call Me Grandma

Human blood is my favorite drink, especially, young warm fresh blood. Thirty years old is just young enough to still have that sweetness of infantile wonder but old enough to have a tinge of disillusionment and a splash of mundane fears. On this day, I was finishing a thirty-year-old graduate student from the University of Washington. His blood was a mixture of one-night stands, homesickness, and too many bottles of mountain dew. Yet, his fear as I drained his body was worth the trip and I do love playing with my food.

They are so cute when they beg.

As I was about to leave through the pentagram on his hands (why do “edgy” humans make it so easy for us?), I heard a knock at the door. Usually, that was my cue to hurry up and leave but I was still thirsty. Maybe it was that girl he was texting. She was twenty-five and therefore so much sweeter.

I listened as the faint knocking continued. After the third rendition of “Shave and a Hair Cut,” I heard a feeble voice.

“Larry, Larry, it’s your grandmother, can I come in?”

A grandmother! Grandmothers are terrifying. They are so close to death, that they know not to fear it. Worst of all, the wisest ones know how to deal with demons…The last one I dealt with sprayed me with holy water and threw a saddle at me.

I began rushing to open the gate through Larry’s hands when I heard the door unlock. My foot was halfway inside the gate when Larry’s grandmother came walking in. She was bent over like a cane and have a pink floral shawl draped over her shoulders. In her hands she carried a casserole dish that smelled of tomatoes and cheese. Her face was leathered and creased like a good book that has been read too often, but her eyes were tiny blue dots behind huge thick glasses.

I stood frozen. Not sure how she would respond to seeing her dead grandson and a red naked demon.

But she didn’t even look my way.

Instead, she beelined straight to the kitchen and began fiddling with the dirty dishes.

“Larry, honey, where did you place the soap? Oh, never mind, I think I found it.”

There was a crash and I started to smell blood.

“Oh, Nancy look what you did not.”

Against, my better judgement, I took my foot out of Larry and left the living room. I took a peak into the kitchen and saw Nancy holding a dirty towel to her hand.

“Larry, I think I need a Band-Aid. Can you go get one for me dear?”

Without thinking, I looked around the kitchen and found a first-aid kit above the fridge. That was the only thing I found easily. The kitchen was a mess, dirty dishes piled high to the ceiling, a fold out chair covered in dirty clothes, and empty boxes of Mountain Dew assembled around a tattered table. I pushed the clothes to the floor, and guided Larry’s grandmother to the chair.

She had not looked up at my since she cut her hand.

I took her hand, cleaned the wound, and bandaged it up. How would Larry let his grandmother see the state of his domicile? Shameful.

By the time I was done bandaging her wound and patting myself on the back for getting rid of yet another neckbeard, I finally realized that Nancy had shifted her gaze upon me.

She was smiling at me. The sweetest smile I had ever seen.

“Thank you, dear. My eyes are not what they use to be and there seems to be a lot of sharp objects in the sink.”

I stumbled backwards and ran back to the living room.

“Wait!”

I stopped as I reached Larry’s lifeless body.

She was standing in the kitchen doorway, her tiny blue eyes locked onto my back. I could feel them burn into me like dry ice. The floor boards creaked as she walks towards me.

I spun around. My pride already dashed. Who ever heard of a Hell Spawn Demon being afraid of a hunched back grandmother?

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” I say, staring right into her eyes and raising my claws into the air.

“I am so lonely. Larry lives right in my apartment complex, ignores me every day despite living rent free, and you see how he lives? I was hoping you might want to stay instead.”

I lowered my claws closer to her and tilted by head.

“WHAT?!”

“Stay. Live here rent free and take care of security around here. Larry was supposed to do that but, well, he never was good at anything was he? Except for tattoos. He was good at getting them. I designed the pentagram on his hand. Told him it would be his birthday present.”

At this point, my arms fell to my sides.

“You’re telling me you wrote the pentagram?”

“Yes.”

“To invite a demon, like me…”

“Yes.”

“To replace your deadbeat grandson?”

“Yes.”

I looked down at Larry’s body and gave it a good kick.

“Heh.”

I haven’t heard something that crazy in centuries. I knew I could kill her and leave her to rot by her grandson but the last time I said no to a crazy scheme I ended up being the only demon not apart of the music industry. Maybe security is the next best thing.

“How many young’uns cause you trouble here?”

“Too many to count.”

“And I get free reign over how security is run here?”

“And all my other apartments in the city.”

“And the catch?”

“Visit with me every week and for every holiday.”

I quickly drafted up a contract, with the regular Deals with The Devil clauses. I signed it in and had Nancy signed with the blood from her hand.

“I look forward to working with you, Nancy.” I smiled as I shook her hand, sealing the deal.

“Oh, please, call me grandma.”