"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

The Layer Cake, Afterglow, and The Ambush

The Layer Cake, Afterglow, and The Ambush

The Layer Cake

We are a skewed birthday cake,
generations of lopsided layers
baked badly by ancestors
of fervent but defective intent,
teetering atop the stale and dried out.

The layers descend into the past,
inedible and mostly forgotten
while we the temporary top deny
bad ingredients and tiltings
and frosting with crème cruel.

We concoct the next tier
with hope and even love
but use a cookbook specifying
flour of custom and bias
and spices of mistakes.

It is a mighty wonder
that the cake still stacks
and those just set in place
don’t slide off to extinction
on the icing of our failings.




In the blurred pastel focus of my dotage, my wrongs and excesses are prominent mile markers, not of evil, but of what I thought I could do without retribution. The good I’ve done, and there has been much of it, feels like retirement home grass I step on to reach for the vivid nettles of roguery growing just outside my fenced-in state. My memories of vice are so much more poignant than those of virtue.



The Ambush

I crouch hiding from self,
thoughts ambling by unassaulted.
For I ravage not from hunger,
nor maul from envy.
I dread the moments
when brittle restraints crack
and I savage the feelings
that I’m beholden to cherish.
The moments are not vicious
but I maim with the talons
of self doubt.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He's had over two hundred poems and stories published so far, and three books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors. Twitter: @bottomstripper

Cover photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash

An Apology for the Devil

An Apology for the Devil

After the asking and getting of the things

After the asking and getting of the things