Black Petals Issue #76 Summer, 2016

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Anniversary-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Flirting with the Alley-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gone Astray-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Surviving Montezuma-Serialized Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Road-Fiction by Walter Kwiatkowski
The Watchers-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Honey Island Swamp Monster-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Skin Walker-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Ucu-Poem by Richard Stevenson


Editor A.M. Stickel’s Mini Message for BP #76 (Summer 2016)

Lady Poverty’s Lover



800 years have passed since a quiet revolution. This one was begun by a 20ish disabled vet from a small local war, sidelined first by injury, then by illness. In the midst of town he threw off his former identity and bravado along with his clothes, his scars lividly displayed. He was a protester and an activist in an age of atrocities so vile that the modern mind would be boggled. Just like today, they really knew how to do violence back then, and simply revel in it, expecting to become legends by doing it well. But the town’s more bloodthirsty citizens decided that this one guy, disowned by his embarrassed merchant dad, was just too crazy to kill. After all, who would willingly bring about their own humiliation? He was as good as dead, and an outcast.

The skinny nutcase in rags ended up barefoot, begging, and homeless on the streets. When the guards closed the city gates at night to protect the productive populace, they made sure that loser was left outside with the rest of the riffraff to be disposed of by the local gangs.

Most youths back then took up swords and went on to risk their guts for glory. The little man took the leavings tossed to him and shared them with the needy, whether human or animal. He healed sickness of body and soul, more by his actions than by his words. He believed in taking his nothingness and making it into something beautiful. This object of scorn for his cowardly peace-mongering ended up admired for his mercy, purity, service, and miracles.

Some youths began to follow the example of this one man. A few were women, mostly his childhood friends. Soon there were thousands. They formed three groups (orders), had meetings, admitted mistakes, and occasionally set up humble homes (cloisters) for rest, labor, and meditation. A few were ordained ministers, but most were just ordinary folks who wanted to do better. Their leader journeyed to Jerusalem at one point, earning not kudos but wounds. Stigmatized by the marks of crucifixion, he went blind too. He died at sunset on Oct. 3, 1226, singing, “Lead me forth from prison that I may give thanks to Your Name.”


If I were a halfway decent writer, I could convince you to act on the belief in an afterlife in a sane way, without violence. Senseless bloodshed leads to ignominy, not fame and a reward in the hereafter. I am sure that what we do in this life is vital to the next. Horror is meant to show us how we can fail in this life, not how to succeed. Our natural tendencies to commit evil upon our brothers and sisters can be replaced by a commitment to love and support one another instead, regardless of our differences. Think about it. Write about it. If you must compete, why not compete to see who can work the most miracles of love as we move beyond our planet out into the universe? If Francis did it 800 years ago, why can’t we?

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