Category Archives: Maude Larke

Insistence by Maude Larke

Dad said it was better. He didn’t explain why. He never did. But since he was the one going through the bother, Elaine stopped arguing.

The hole he cut in the garden shed wall was big enough for the cat, but too small for the beavers that could wander up from the marsh. The old rubber mudflap that he nailed to the inside curled away just enough so that Starbright could push her nose under and lift it. When he pulled the cardboard box lined with old towels out from under the folded ping-pong table in the garage, he made sure that Starbright was watching.

“See, Starbright? I haven’t touched your kittens. I’m just moving them.”

He walked purposefully out of the back garage door to the garden shed. Starbright walked purposefully behind him. Elaine followed, sulking.

Later Elaine went into the garage to get an ice cream from the freezer. In through the back garage door came Starbright with a ball of orange fluff dangling from her jaws. She stared at Elaine with hard gold eyes, then plopped the fluffball down under the ping-pong table next to two others that were mewling on the concrete.

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Immobilized by Maude Larke

Adèle shifted – yet again – in her seat. Her neighbor had apparently given up glancing and humphing at each of her movements. She glanced at him. His forehead was against the window. She wondered if he had succeeded in falling asleep. She wished she could.

Her eyes ached. It seemed to her that the ache came from the surrounding darkness. And that darkness also seemed to ooze out the cold that gauzed her legs. Adèle wished she hadn’t worn a skirt. Even though a skirt went best with the new bottines that she was so proud of. She pondered taking off her coat and laying it upside-down over her, to allow the fake fur of the collar to warm her ankles. She decided against it. It was not done to wear one’s coat upside-down.

A snore rose from the end of the car. Long, sonorous, enthusiastic. It began a regular rhythm that would have been lulling in any other sound.

From the other end of the car, a small flashlight beam arrived, angled to the floor. A felted voice gently displaced the silence.

“Monsieur l’Agent, n’y a-t-il aucune nouvelle?”

“Sir, is there no news?”

“Still none.” Adèle recognized in the answer the adenoidal voice of the gray-haired conductor who had stamped her ticket when the train was moving, how long ago?

The other voice rose again. “But we’ve been here how long?”

“We have a delay of five hours,” the conductor articulated in a characteristic professional tone.

The voice muttered indistinctly. A female one muttered back. A “Shh!” resettled the silence.

The beam walked forward. As it arrived at her seat, Adèle spoke.

“Excuse me, sir, is there no way to have some little heat?”

She felt the conductor bend over her, and smelled again his bizarre after-shave. The beam slid to the waistline of her coat, then down her legs.

“Sorry – madame? mademoiselle? – but the entire train is electric, and we can have no heat until we reestablish the current.”

He bent farther down, and spoke still more softly.

“But I’m sure I could find a way of warming you.”

Adèle’s cheeks tingled.

“Thank you,” she replied coldly.

The conductor straightened, the beam walked on. The snore was interrupted by a swallow, then recommenced.

Adèle humphed to herself.

She began to feel the need for a toilet. But she wasn’t sure if the toilets could work without electricity. It wasn’t done to use soiled toilets.

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99.99/100 by Maude Larke

When 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999% of me
says “it can never be”
and this one fragment of a nail paring

of a sliver of a % says “but . . . ”

Is it best to root out the sliver?
How is it best to root out the sliver?
Who is best to root out the sliver?

And will that return the whole?

100

You are an exhaustion of questions
but I am adamantly empty of answers.
My eyes are eternally lowered
and street corners are for flinching.

And who can say that there ever was a whole?

Find a way to sweep the parings.

Make it so.

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Beyond (Within) by Maude Larke

In a gray land a magenta wall rose and traversed the waste and the gray folk lived away from it in fear: “Beyond that wall the wind lurks; it will sweep you through the crack between the sky and the earth,” they told their dappled children. One day a yellow boy was entranced by the color and dared to climb the magenta wall and stand against the sky. Beyond the wall were gardens of flowers and butterflies and trees that sprouted color and he knew that those who crossed the wall were swept into smiling rainbows for them to use as hammocks. He brought some of the beauties back to show the gray folk; but all they could see were wilted buds, a dead butterfly and an eccentric boy.

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Mothers Cried by Maude Larke

Mothers cried inside me today. I sat between two megaphones and waited for the harpies. And my nerves pulled themselves apart like babies yanked from mothers’ arms, my nerves shrieked like mothers and cold, floating babies. My insides stretched their talons, a mock combat with mock pain and the mock spectators, mute. I put another head in one hand and said “stop” to the external.

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Crowded Limo by Maude Lark

A dull ache between the shoulder blades; sitting in the jump seat and the back’s too low. A great dread of the elderly driver who doesn’t seem to know what a steering wheel is for and two simultaneous sniffs, mine and the fellow’s behind me – everyone is silent because he’s sitting too close to a stranger’s shoulder.

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Qualms by Maude Larke

Writers often turn to music for inspiration. From it they can conceive very lyrical or complex works. But this is the first time when I feel that I cannot at all claim to have truly created any of this work. How much of the text is mine, how much the music’s?

At best, I can perhaps only be the equivalent of the interpretive artist who receives the work beautifully conceived from the composer and simply plays it. If I did not have that image to save me, I would feel that I was merely a thief. And perhaps I am.

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