KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Micro-Fiction: 432 words


by Tim Hawkins

Her first gift to me was the gilt-framed landscape photograph that reminds me of one of my grandmother’s jigsaw puzzles she kept stashed in her closet to ward off a rainy day. Residing in three hinged sections—an anonymous mountain, picturesque yet mundane in its grandeur, vaulting into an impossibly blue airbrushed sky, and a symmetrical stand of pines in the foreground as lifelike as train-set accessories. There might even be an eagle or two flying around. The thought that passes through my mind is, “at least it matches the couch.”

As art, I wouldn’t quite know how to categorize it, and I suppose neither would she. She’s never heard of Romanticism, the Pre-Raphaelites, or Abstract Expressionism, and yet tonight as we walk home from the movie she speaks of the night breeze lifting her soul up to the sky.

Next came the ceramic figures; first singly, then, as if to the ark, in pairs. The first was an enormous black bull, his comic member nearly dragging the ground. What to do with such a thing? She suggested the coffee table, but I tactfully mentioned my concern about friends and their large drunken feet. The dusty shelves of the spare bedroom, I felt, might provide a more discreet curio cabinet. We compromised on the living room shelves, and Being and Nothingness, Critique of Pure Reason, and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding now live out their natural, unread lives in the spare bedroom.

Later came the swans, each wearing the kind of corsage that you might have expected your great-aunt Edna to have lost in the back seat of a 1947 Packard; each with the painted eyes of a carnival barker suggesting with a wink, “I know this is rigged, but you bought the ticket.” Come to think of it, they look like the kind of prize you might expect to win for knocking over a milk bottle or popping three balloons. Those same eyes seem to be laughing at me, implying, “You won me. Now what the hell are you going to do with me?”

Judging from her mother’s living room, which includes a transparent nude wrapped around an ashtray and a velvet Madonna and Child, I’m sure there are other such gifts to come. But I don’t mind. Tonight, she dances merengue and salsa around the apartment, oblivious to my so-called trappings of good taste: the Vermeer print, the Tang Dynasty watercolor, the beer-can ashtrays littering the coffee table.

Tonight, with her soul in the sky, she dances only for me, somewhere between the bull, the swans, and the mountain.

Tim Hawkins
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is the author of Wanderings at Deadline, his debut collection of poems released in 2012 by Aldrich Press. More than 100 of his poems and fictions have been published in a number of notable print and online venues, including Blueline, Dogzplot, Eclectica, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Literary Bohemian, The Midwest Quarterly, and The Pedestal Magazine, among others. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net (2018), Best Microfiction (the debut issue 2019), and the Pushcart Prize: in 2011, and in 2017 when KYSO Flash nominated his poem Elegy Within Earshot of Howling, which is also reprinted in the 2017 KYSO Flash anthology, A Trembling of Finches.

Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout North America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America, where he has worked as a journalist, technical writer, and teacher in international schools. He currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more at his website:

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