Center City


Celia's Parade

Marsha Taylor


Just Briefs


Exalting Towers


Tough Birds

Horned Owl

Exuberant Birds


River Plunge



Trigger Sapping

Preface & Reader Response

Anxiety stains the air. Somber soil bestirs.




by Jerry Murley

Anxiety stains the air. Somber soil bestirs. "Wahhab-wahhab-wahhab," the threat – the invading scourge draws nigh.

Recrudescent Al Cicada from torpor strikes. Terror grips the land. Torment his tenebrous tune, pervasive is his claim. He crashes headlong towering symbols. He defiles his every host. He upends with his grating manner – with incessant, insistent taunts. Fear greets his approach; suffocation follows his name.

Rejecting past, he feasts upon it. Errant gossip is his clammy cave. Tortured tenets are his trail. Affront his sucking sap is – resentment his remains. On the whole a mean cast of life, interminable changeling he must be: from craven captive to transparent beast – from shifting-shape shill to cracked-skin creep.

Were he always thus, he'd sputter out still sooner: muted in secreted places, tracked down and smashed his traces. But he's a camouflaged menace, well suited to surroundings. He can wedge between a couple, blend into a party, fade into a crowd, go to ground when wanted, run away when found. For years he waits to transmutate, to spring, to shock, to sunder.

Among his kind he's not distinct. Among the meek he's feigned and fiend. Al Cicada extorts the simple virgin and drains the juices dry. Addled folk succumb to this creature of deceit, fall to his beguiling sway, mesmerized by his constant clamor, bent by his red-eyed glare. Bound to no custom but mockery, he chokes the common order.

Yet in a click deflowered, his impact is an instant. Brittle his tattered future, his barren carcass lies with his desiccated soul. Age and parasites digest him like his all-consuming bile.

Trees tremble at the onslaught. Limbs limp from fresh-laid wounds. Scars weep his festered minions. Nymphs dig their living graves. Dirt cells conceal his brood.

Though missing, he roots: his bitter seed descending. Al Cicada bores beneath our feet, his ugly cause unending. Bald habit beats the cadence – the drone that deafens quiet. Abject Al Cicada crawls again, when we have near forgot.


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