A Magpie Season

A neighbour tells me a laser pointer scares the magpies away. A Buddhist friend confesses he uses a slingshot. A birder instructs me to addle the eggs. A quick shake or two will do the trick. The parents will continue to sit on the eggs, she assures me, but nothing will hatch. If that fails, string a dead magpie up in the yard. She hears it works like a charm.

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The Cat and the Cradle

Besides his appreciation of confinement, Casey the cat had another puzzling instinct: at times he needed to kill the very thing that kept him alive – us. Leah believes this was a bonafide disorder, calling it a failure in “aggression control.” Marielle goes with “aggression misplacement,” noting that Casey was “the runt of the litter.” Both variants, however, suggest an inherent, even natural, tendency toward violence. The animal in pets is the problem we want domestication to solve, when, really, taming has only succeeded in burying it at varying depths, none sufficient to prevent resurfacing.

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The Witness

The week before she left her father died. He was murdered. Some said that it had to do with his wife’s mental state; others said it that he’d been caught in some affair with another woman. When word got around, people said that if anyone should have been murdered in that family it should have been Laura’s mother.

House of Mirrors

It was then I heard it, a kind of moaning or weeping outside my door. I was afraid to open it for fear it was some kind of animal that might leap inside, circle the house in a rage if I didn’t feed it. But the moans gradually subsided into a kind of keening. Now, I thought, such a creature could hardly be dangerous. Pressing myself against the door, I opened it slowly, just a crack at first. And there, staring at herself in the mirrored doorway was a creature neither young nor old. Her face had been so badly burned it was difficult to tell her age.


The great bell groans, smokey log, falsetto,
Duets with grandfather clock struck by flu:
Afterplay is the name of the game and must

Inherited from some dropsical old maid,
Where darling knave of hearts and the queen of spades
Rake over affairs since come to dust.

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