Have You Heard This One?

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Two wolves walk into a bar. The first says, “What a day.”

The second buys the drinks.

First one gets to talking. “I install air conditioners. My first job, the place is straw. When I test the unit, the whole place falls down. The pig’s suing me.

“The second house is twigs. I say I’m not doing it. Too dangerous. So he yells, ‘Breach of contract.’

“At the brick house, the guy’s a lawyer. Rants at me about how his brothers are taking me to court. So I eat him. Now I’ve got indigestion.”

The second says, “Have an antacid.”

Equinox

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Eostre surveys the protestors at the Vernal Equinox Picnic. Signs read, “Change the name.” But there’s no consensus. Norwuz, Passover, Holi, Easter, Zhonghe…

Eostre gathers morning light and scatters its rays. It dawns on the participants that there’s better things to do. They discover Eostre’s hares laying eggs. Ashanti boils the eggs and Saraswati prepares dyes to color them. The feathered serpent, Kulkulkan, paints designs across the shells. Soon everyone wants a chance.

Eostre finds the old goddesses, Cybele, Wang Mu Niang Niang, Beorc, and Ishtar. Together, they lead the Rebirth Parade around the world, stopping to toast new beginnings.

Crow

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My wife swore the UFOs had landed because green men were digging in the garden in the rain. But she’s a little daft and not Irish. It was leprechauns, for sure, wearing black boots, work clothes and trademark top hats. The rainbows bring them and the blarney keeps you from catching them green handed with the goods.

So when the rains came again, I made a trap baited with shiny things and kept an eye on the potato field. And I was there to see a big crow fly away, the gold chain I set out dangling from its beak.

Goldilocks Gets Ahead of Herself

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House Sitter Wanted: April in our charming wooded cottage. A place for contemplation, close to hiking and river adventures. Feel free to entertain in our spacious three bedroom home.

Goldie pushed the door open. She’d expected a key under the rock near the entry. What a relief to find the house unlocked. The second surprise: There were three bowls of cereal on the table. Had the bears engaged her for a different time? She checked her phone. New mail. “See you April first. The Bears.” She sat down to rest, the cinnamon smell of porridge enticing her. They wouldn’t mind.

Use Your Head, John.

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Little John put down his bible. That story, David and Goliath, ‘minded him of his own troubles with Big John who’d killed LJ’s horse and his grandmother; woulda killed LJ except LJ told a sleight of hand story that BJ took hook, line, and sinker. It was the sinker that killed BJ. That man was so greedy, he pleaded to be tied up in a sack and dumped in the deepest part of the ocean. LJ’d convinced BJ there was a herd of cows underwater for the taking. BJ deserved the lie. LJ deserved the peace that came from it.

Inspired by a black Portuguese folktale in Virginia Hamilton’s, The People Could Fly.

Tower of the Moon

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An impossible quest. To marry the Moon Tower princess, Anton earns the help of four animal spirits- Eagle, Ant, Lion, and Dove. As an Eagle, the African prince persuades the Wind Witch, to help. Treacherous mother, she pries the location of the Tower from her Wind son’s lips. Becoming a dove, then an ant, then himself Anton enters the Princess’s bedroom.

But Papa refuses to negotiate. Becoming a Lion, Anton disembowels the fierce guardian pig who hides the father’s life inside an eggshell. And when Papa’s gone, good and gone, the hero rules the land, his princess wife as queen.

Condensed from an African folktale in Virginia Hamilton’s, The People Could Fly.

Br’er Rabbit Wins

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I knowed it were all over when that smart ass, Br’er Rabbit, fooled me ag’in. Boss gonna think to hire that rabbit. What am I saying? “Don’t nobody hire no rabbit when they’s a fox to do the job.”

Then that sly trickster pops out the bushes . “Well, Br’er Fox, you wrong ag’in.” Br’er Rabbit swung his fine cane in a circle, its fine brass knob shining in the sun. “No, times they be a changin’ and the world be too, though it be slow as molasses in January.”

“You know somethin’ I don’t?”

“More than you’d guess. Way more.”

The People Could Fly

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When Jesse said his people could fly, we spent the afternoon leaping from boulders, arms spread, rolling into the water instead of digging crawdads for supper. Though he fled to D.C. after the Klan burned Wilmington in 1898, we kept in touch.

In 1965, both ninety-five years old, we rode to Montgomery to hear Dr. King speak. Afterwards, Jesse said, “The moral arc of the universe must be a rainbow. Takes faith to find the end of it.”

“Helps to fly, doesn’t it.”

He nodded, picked up his two-year old great-granddaughter, who spread her arms, laughing and flapping. “This one’s in training.”

To: The New York Review of Books From: The Kraken Community

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Kraken poised his eight arms above the laptop keys.

“Fellow Being,” he typed, “Please be informed that your recent review of Monster Tales by George Scholar is deeply injurious to the Cephalopod community, as is the book. Krakens are intelligent creatures whose large size and shy nature provoke unfair depictions in Eurocentric myth. New World cultures recognize our helpful, magical and spiritual natures. Na Kika, an octopus god, built the Pacific Islands and it is a fact that octopuses alone populated our postdiluvian world, not an arkful of animals. In future, please select reviewers with diverse viewpoints.”

Sincerely,

Caleb Kraken

Bluebeard’s Seventh Wife

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Bette kicked her spiked heels to the side of the bed. The man she married had lost six wives under suspicious circumstances. One was her dear cousin, hence revenge was on the table. Rumor had it that secrets lay buried in a locked room deep in the castle dungeons. Bette had the key.

There were guards she would need to trick. Three in all. The first surveilled her bedroom door. A glutton, he was tempted by poisoned wine. The second took a bribe. The third let her through, happy to help her stab the evil prince with a carving knife.