KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Haibun Story: 225 words

The Summer After Eleventh Grade

by Alexandra Umlas

Miss Maben put me in charge of the class African pixie frog. Miss Maben knew I was heartless enough to buy the mice it would want to eat, to drop them, red-eyed and warm, through the lifting square of the plastic aquarium lid, to keep my eyes, unblinking, on the frog’s wide mouth.

sidewalks swallow sun
worms tunnel toward what’s wet
the earth loosening

The mouse, unafraid, sniffs the frog’s mossy back until the frog turns, impels his tongue out so that it sticks to the mouse’s fur. After the frog whips the mouse into his mouth, everything of the mouse is inside but the tail, thrashing like a pink worm flung into the sun. The frog keeps his knowing mouth shut, the tail wilting, then slackening, then nothing at all.

afternoon invites
shadows into the girl’s room
everything turns blue

Miss Maben knew the experience she gave—the chance to play God for a good reason. To decide what would live and how. To choose the mouse, the beetle, the cricket. To be young and in charge of something. To feel that tiny mouse heart beating into the palm. She knew who would, at the end of the summer, bring the frog back alive and full.

crickets scrape their songs
toward the moonlit windows
the frog’s lonesome croak


Alexandra Umlas
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is author of the poetry collection At the Table of the Unknown (Moon Tide Press, June 2019). You can find her work in Rattle, New Limestone Review, and Cultural Weekly, among others.

Author’s website:

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Dead Kid Poems, a review of Alexis Rhone Fancher’s most recent chapbook, in Ragazine (1 June 2019)

Jane Roe, a poem about Norma McCorvey (Roe of the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling, who passed away in 2017), in Rise Up Review (Issue 12, Spring 2018)

Touring the B-17 Bomber at the Palm Springs Air Museum, a golden shovel poem in Rattle (Poets Respond: 28 November 2017)

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