Does Nature Love Soccer Better? My French Friend Thinks So. (creative nonfiction)

(Written October, 2022)

“How Nature loves the incomplete. She knows if she drew a conclusion it would finish her.” -Christopher Fry

I tried to watch soccer last night. I was watching it after I watched an hour and a half of baseball. I had been watching baseball for days, had been getting a little restless with it, and thought soccer might be a little less boring. I watched fifteen minutes of soccer and thought, man, this is boring as fuck. Back and forth and back and forth and absolutely nothing happens. Hypnotic in an I’d-like-to-blow -my-hypnotized-brains-out kind of way. So I turned back to baseball—a scoreless game.

And you have to think, man, that soccer really did have to be boring as fuck if it was boring as fuck after seven straight nights plus an hour and a half of baseball.

But I’m determined to like soccer for my French friend’s sake.

I got a notification on my phone when the game ended that the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake had tied. One to one and I thought, man… I would have been mad as fuck had I watched that whole boring as fuck game and it ended up in a fucking tie! Fuck me!

It’s incomplete. At least the baseball guys play until something happens. Some thing… a one sided thing. At least they play until some one-sided thing happens and it is lopsided for one set of guys or the other, but it is at least complete and we can all go home knowing that one half of the fans or the other had an orgasm and one half of the fans or the other have earned their post game cigarette.

A fucking tie. Incomplete!

Does that mean Nature loves soccer better? My French friend thinks so. He is also sure Nature loves France better because, I think, France has the best boring ass soccer player at this moment.

-M. Ashley

Rib Tat (poetry)

My bestie’s cousin–they call him Sketch
Pad–has a tattoo on his penis
But was too pain-shy to finish
The right half of his left-right
Two word rib tat. He was supposed
To be “Black Sheep.” He ended up

(Ellipsis implied, not actually tatted.)

-M. Ashley

Tongue (Flash Fiction)

There is a man on a gallows whose tongue lolled out of his mouth even before he was hanged. He is unsympathetic because of his tongue and other oddities, such as walking with a left foot hitch and speaking as if he can’t get that lolling tongue out of his way, which wouldn’t have been so bad—we can have sympathy for a defective—but what he said through his obtrusive tongue was usually lies, so we are not so disturbed that he is getting hanged today. Lied about the wrong person, we assume. Offended the wrong ears. Or maybe it was that one time he told the truth and the one time somebody believed him that got him on the gallows today. In any case, we are glad to be rid of him.

We see he has a note in his pocket. It’s about to fall out as the hangman tightens the noose around his neck. He inclines his head toward it and says something urgently through his tongue. He is terrified, naturally, we give him that, so he’s making even less sense than usual, but we know, and the hangman knows, he wants someone to read that note.

Dead men, or just-about-to-be dead men, deserve one final wish, so long as it’s not an evil wish, so the hangman obliges, grabs the note and reads:

“I am Lucifer in the flesh and God has got my tongue. He pulled it so hard the last time I teased him for losing at checkers that he ripped the muscle and I haven’t been able to draw it back in the whole life I have been trapped in this limping body. I thank the hangman in advance and I thank all of you watching for giving me this dramatic new beginning. Out of this ugly carcass I will be restored a handsome devil with a silver tongue I can keep in my mouth, for heaven’s sake, and I can tease and tattle again as eloquently as I was made to do. You all do me a favor this day and I thank you. Hang me quickly! My tongue is sandpaper dry and I’m dying to be dead!”

The hangman frowns and we see the paper trembling in his hand. We are a superstitious people, we don’t mind telling you. We won’t even have decorative devils on our damper pulls because we worry so much about inviting him into our houses. Though those damper pulls are awfully cute, we can’t risk it! So how can we risk releasing the very devil now? What do we do with him? He’s probably lying, but the devil is the best liar, isn’t he? And this would be the very best lie.

We are a God fearing, fearing people too, and if God trapped that rascal in this body and pulled his tongue out, who are we to kill him and have the undertaker respectfully lay that tongue back in the empty corpse’s mouth?

The hangman looks out over us and we look at each other and back at him, and though we are looking at him and not each other now, we all know we are nodding our heads. Let him go. Let God’s punishment stand. Let the flesh be a prison. Let the tongue go so dry it eventually altogether falls off. Up with God’s will and down with this man off the gallows which, we think, must be the hard way God intended.

The hangman, his name is Collin incidentally, nice fellow, lifts the noose from around Lucifer-in-the-Flesh’s neck and Lucifer jumps down off the gallows, spritely as a schoolboy playing hooky. “Don’t worry,” he says, “I can untie my hands myself.” We hear that perfectly despite his tongue. We also hear perfectly his rattling laugh as he hightails it, long fingers working the knot, off into the desert.

-M. Ashley

(No one would believe it, so I had to take a picture. When I originally wrote this, before editing, it came out to exactly 666 words! All by itself. Ha! Wicked cool!)

Uber Gangster Heaven

In an Uber, coming home from an appointment an hour away, stuck in traffic, the driver spent the first half of the ride telling us how important unions are and how he went around stumping for the union all the time when he worked at the Albertson’s warehouse, and then in the second half of the ride, he told us how he wants to get a collage of American gangsters tattooed on his leg (he had tats all over, including his face). He wanted everyone from Al Capone to El Chapo (not an American gangster, but I kept that to myself), to all these relatively current drug lords I’ve never heard of, and then somehow we ended up with him telling me how crack is made (or so he’s heard) and how much Percs and Fentanyl cost on the street (or so he’s heard). When we got to the destination, I told him that that ride was the most fun I’ve ever had in an Uber by far, which is a fact! I told him he was fantastic and gave him a big fat tip. My male friend, more conservative than I, was not thrilled, but I was in Michelle heaven!

I love people so much.

My only regret is that I forget to tell him he needed to add Jimmy Hoffa to his tattoo. Dang it!

-M. Ashley

Authentic African Musical Tiger Says

In a moment a pain, crying and praying, my god brought me this. The radio playing mysterious drums and me… I had to look. Authentic African music surely… with a tiger on the cover. A tiger.

Hard to pain cry and SMH cry laughing at the same time.

And if that weren’t enough: That look in the authentic African music tiger’s eye: “You… Hey you… Hey you there lady, crying. You! Authentic African musical tiger says, RELAX!!!”

And buddy, you’d better fucking relax.

-M. Ashley

Yogi Poodle (poem)

My poodle does downward dog
Ten times a day at least
Farts a slow fart
Presses her narrow chest back
Yawns with a long lolling tongue

Lord Shiva—First Yogi—Master
In a curly coat showing us all
How life and farts should be done

-M. Ashley

Caramel Vodka Cocktail at 3am (poem)

Dreamtime craving for alcohol
when you’re not a drunk
means Bacchus is having a crisis
of consciousness tossing
the nymphs and turning
the maenads out of his bed


they hit the floor and


he comes to your window

because you have your own bed
and won’t sleep with him in it
gravity isn’t a threat then
and he has the whole carpet to himself

because he enjoys thrusting
his head under your box
spring and tying your
mismatched and long-
forgotten shoelaces together.

Also, he thinks you’re fun to drink with
mostly because you don’t much,
don’t have the stuff for proper cocktails,
and while you’re craving his liquor
he’s craving the sexy way
you pour it into a diet root beer
and drink it all down.

-M. Ashley

Poetry Goals (poem)

I would love to swan around and
say dusty things about poetry and
have everyone give a damn and
have groupies who show me their boobs
and read at Carnegie Hall to 53,000
screaming teeny boppers in poodle skirts

and all that other shit
that real poets do
and don’t actually do

but always do
in my sweaty
glory hogging
little mind.

-M. Ashley