Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!
Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.
I think I've died. Possibly. I can't play again this week, too ill. Sorry, gang. #BREAKTHEBLOG
#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...
I'm sorry. Dying is unacceptable. You have a book to get out. Rest and feel better, please. We'll carry on as best we can. And some of us are pretty good at carrying on like crazy people.ReplyDelete
A big ditto from me! Thanks for saying this, Leland, and get better, my brother.Delete
Hope you feel better soon. I'm sick too and out for awhile but not quite dead yet. Great job Leland for keeping it together.Delete
That which doth not kill us makes us authors...Delete
I've been reading the Friday Flashes for some weeks, but this is only my second week for contributing. There seems to be an unusual commonality running through the offerings this day. I'm left wondering why.Delete
Mr. Mader, I join with the others in hoping you're feeling better soon. Take care.
My kitchen is small now, but whenever I open the jar of sage, I'm carried back through time, to a place in Colorado. Do you smell it? The rainstorm has just left and the smell of the sagebrush is amplified by the drops that glisten on the sagebrush, each capturing a perfect rainbow, even in the mud inside the barbed wire.ReplyDelete
It is between breakfast and lunch, and I sit on my haunches to have a cigarette. I watch the smoke leave my nostrils, and then slender fingers cover my eyes, and a jasmine voice whispers in my ear, "Guess who." I guess correctly and am rewarded with a gentle kiss behind the ear.
The years after were good to us. Cherry blossoms and children, paper cranes and promises, until...
Such memories from sixty years haunt me from time to time, but only when I breathe.
These days, I have memories for two, but cook only for one. But when I serve tea, it is always for two, and I pretend, and I remember, and the scent of sage lingers in the air.
OMG, Leland. I swear I didn't read yours before I wrote mine, but the merging of themes and specific mentions is uncanny, sometimes. Jasmine, sage, cigarettes, breathing. So strange. This is lovely, incidentally.Delete
So beautiful. The scent thing elevates your short work and creates a poem.Delete
Thank you both... and David, sometimes great minds seize upon the same subjects... I really liked yours!Delete
I was harvesting sage today...some for tea, some for spice and some for purity!Delete
It's so amazing to live in the midst of acres and acres of it...Delete
You will forgive me, I hope, when I tell you that I find your language ugly. There is no poetry in it. Listen to the words. Cherry blossom. In Japanese, it is sakura. And there are different words for whether the blossom is yet closed, or open, or spent. Seppuku. No, that is not a word for a flower; it is the word for an honorable death, usually self-imposed. Do not look shocked. It is the way, is it not, for a being to know when its time has passed? Does not the deer, when decrepit and frail, wander off from the herd to seek its demise?ReplyDelete
I came to this country to escape the old ways, but instead I see that they have followed me here. I read and believed the stories of freedom, of opportunity. And for a while, these stories seemed true. My small farm prospered, and I was able to put aside money, to dream of sending for a wife. But the landowners in California disapproved of my success. Twice they burned my fields, my barn, my house. Twice I rebuilt, ignoring their envy. But there was no more money left for a wife, and to be honest, no more time. I am now old, too old for a beautiful maiden to marry.
And then came the war. Foolish Japanese generals. Foolish American politicians. While they fit their war of bombs and airplanes, what is it that dies? Dreams. Common men such as myself. Hope. Those are the true casualties, no matter how many bombs fall, no matter how many homes burn.
And what is left to me? An old man in a cold place called Colorado, a place where I am unwanted and disrespected. The Nissei are more American than Japanese. Many of them cannot even speak the language. You and your kind won this war before it began by stealing our children from us. They play baseball and football even as our traditions die.
I am no warrior. But neither am I kitchen-help. Yet that is the only place the Caucasians offered me to work. Chopping vegetables, peeling potatoes. The only good thing about working in the mess halls is that there were knives. Not as sharp as they ought to be, but this one is the sharpest.
I chose this place for its beauty, near the river, near a bridge to symbolize the connection between this life and our ancestors'. None will appreciate this symbolism, but it is enough that I know it, I and my ancestors. If I cannot live with honor, then I shall die with it, and perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps seppuku is a kind of blossom, only painted in blood.
So very sad, poignant, and unknowingly appropriate...Seppuku. Thank you Leland Dirks.Delete
I want to think this piece's title is "A Kind of Blossom." It's perfect. The best writing is about "living" another's truth, and this is as empathic as it gets.Delete
Reminds me of my two years in Colorado and those far off traditions that first generation Americans struggle with. Vivid imagery and so heartfelt.Delete
Thanks so much.... and I like that title, David! This is a take on a real life story that occurred during World War II right here in Colorado, a prison camp for Japanese Americans.Delete
At dinner, as Allie chattered about her kindergarten class, Ben would mumble, “Um-hmm,” or “Really?” between glances at his phone or the second hour of the same local TV news as the first.ReplyDelete
“C’mon, Ben. Let’s take a walk,” Allie said.
“Aww, Al,“ he said, but checked his phone and saw he had a free hour. “Okay, let’s go.”
Tonight, Allie didn’t lead them past the park. Instead, they silently ambled through their old neighborhood.
Allie stopped and stared at their first rental. Ben kept walking.
“It’s still empty,” Allie said.
“What?” Ben said, looking up and not finding Allie at his side.
“This place. Since we left, it always was for sale and still looks vacant, practically abandoned.”
“Hmmph, guess so. C’mpn, let’s get back before dark.”
All the way, Allie conducted a dinner-style conversation with Ben, only in her mind.
You walked past our house like you do the homeless guys in the park, just part of the scenery, colorless, ignorable.
What’d happen if you looked into its face, its vacant window eyes veiled with webs and secrets. Would it feel haunted looking back at you?
If you stopped to consider this shell full of lonely, would you see its lively times of youth, of family, stolen by time and disinterest? Nah. That’d require recalling yesterday when you barely can grasp today.
Yeah, move along, Ben. After all, just another part of the scenery.
Breakfast was silent next morning. As the news repeated, Ben barely noticed.
heartbreaking and beautifully toldDelete
Perfectly encapsulates that proverbial quiet desperation.Delete
Good dialogue and a nice beginning, middle and end.Delete
The eloquence of silence...Delete
I wrote once that "Hate is at least an emotion, indifference is a death knell."Delete
So very sad when dispassion and detachment invade a relationship. Very well told.
The darkness never lasts, even if clouds still cover you like bedclothes come dawn. Earth still spins, sun still crawls eastish to westward.ReplyDelete
You’ll have to trust me on this. I’ve lived in shadows all my life, attempting to ignore how light, dim or bright, eats darkness like a final meal. Though it never turned out
to be that last repast, though. Like I said, darkness never lasts.
Light nips it from my shaking hands each time. Light’s insatiable, but never goes hungry. That’s because darkness is eternal, inexorable.
Darkness is the chocolate that life dips day in to lay upon your pillow in its nightly turndown service.
There's some mighty luscious language and imagery here, sir... "eats darkenss like a final meal" I think is my favorite...Delete
What a wonderful piece. "That’s because darkness is eternal, inexorable." Light is ephemeral, not lasting long enough to give surcease. For some, eventually that nightly chocolate becomes too dark and bitter.Delete
Sometimes I enjoy the comments as much as the piece. They're not always or only complimentary, they're also complementary!Delete
Thank goodness darkness doesn't last! Enjoyed your piece!Delete
She was three. Young to have the cruelties of life thrust upon her, but when had life shown fairness? Not to most, and most certainly not to her today. She ran to the bedroom closet and climbed up on the pile of old clothes stacked there. Dark. Musty. But as she was all alone in the house, she felt safer there than anywhere else. The sirens had scared her, her mother's cries of anguish still echoed. Her daddy, lying in the snow, colder now than the flakes covering him. She wanted to stay with her mother, cling to her hand, be hugged, but was ordered back into the house. Watched out the window as her mother got into the ambulance that rushed down the snow covered street, lights flashing. A neighbor, a stranger to her had finally found her, bundled her up to take her across that street to wait. As the flakes continued to fall, she clutched Teeny, her favourite doll and worried how much trouble she was going to be in. She was never allowed to cross this road unless daddy or mother took her.ReplyDelete
She was eight. The smells of the hospital made her stomach hurt. She didn't like hospitals. People went in to them and never came back home. Her mother lay gaunt in the bed, sallow skin, dried cracked lips, hair dull and tangled on the pillow. Not looking like she'd remembered her. Just a hollow shell of the mother she loved. She wasn't normally allowed to visit her, usually had to sit by herself in the big room, strangers passing by at a steady pace. Waiting downstairs while her sister sat bedside, hour upon hour. But a nice nurse, another stranger had come to get her, taken her in to mother's room. She sat engulfed in the big chair, waiting for her mother to open her eyes, glancing at the machines that beeped and hummed. Reaching out, she stroked her mother's hand, so cool to the touch.
She was thirteen. Just walking in the door from school, but sensing something wrong already. She found her sister lying on the bed, sobbing uncontrollably. She hadn't seen her big brother in a few years, he'd taken off to California just after the funeral. Her sister stumbled out the words between great hiccuping breaths. Fog...car accident, highway...a massive pileup. They didn't have enough money to attend the funeral so she grieved three thousand miles away, wishing she'd been able to see him one last time. She pulled the covers over her head, burrowing in against the cold.
She was twenty-one, listening to the doctors at Children's Hospital drone on about what they'd done, but more importantly, what they couldn't. Three months old but nothing more to do, only a matter of time. They signed the DNR order and walked back to her daughter's bedside. So still laying in the enormous bed. The nurses brought an extra chair and they kept vigil, until finally the monitor she'd watched for six weeks there began to alarm, a heart arrhythmia dancing across the machine. Kindly, a nurse came in, removed all the tubes, the IV, and let her be held. Swaddled, rocking, caressing downy soft red hair so like her own, but growing cold. So cold. So tiny, it happened quickly.
She was forty-eight and tired. Feeling once more like that three year old. Left behind, abandoned, without so much as a second thought. So easily discarded, she must be unworthy. Lacking. The ache was all over. Her head hurt, heart hurt and yet she continued to breathe, a cruel reminder of all that she'd lost, continued to lose. She thought back over the last few days, wondering what had happened, why it happened. No clarity, but worse, no closure and so she waited while the pills worked their way through her system, the aches finally, mercifully easing as the room grew cold, then colder still...
Oh man... what a piece! How you summed up a life in those brief, echoing scenes... this is really poignant!Delete
Leland, thank you. You'll never know what your words, your appreciation means. I'm late to the game, late to so many things. I've written for many years, only finding the courage to publish at the zero hour, releasing in a few weeks.Delete
Wishing you continued success in all your future endeavors.
And best wishes to you!Delete
This is so sad and touching. I'm glad you're publishing!Delete
Excellent descriptions of loss. So deep and painful. Wow!Delete
I haven't been to Pasadena, never seen its wide palm-lined streets, or smelled its faint ocean tang braided with exhaust fumes and jasmine, or heard its low night cry of someone preyed upon…ReplyDelete
…so how can I write about it?
Fittingly, her body was found in the weeds. A warm early spring evening. Some abandoned lot the penultimate resting place for a woman abandoned. She amounted to nothing to no one, yet the howls of grief echoing from the hills the night they found her corpse proved—at least—the urban coyotes cared.
Rubber-stamped by ruinous Anubis.
I've never lost anyone. This is but a tale, spun from a terrible daydream, wrapped in crepuscular fool's gold. Yet what difference does it make? If I feel the loss, the awful drop of the lower gut, the ponderous bell of my own heart a-swing in the cage of my chest, the testicular cinch, who is to say I haven't felt loss?
Who dares tell me I cannot write of it? Will anyone challenge the wisdom of the purple desert sage, of the jackal-headed gods?
Sacred rage and word games; we're all deplorable.
She was neither old nor young, had worn a white summer dress with a peach hibiscus print, had nicotine stains on her left index and middle fingers, wore her chestnut hair in a ponytail, bore week-old bruises on her legs. Her left ear was disfigured, as if it had been partially melted. Her crow's feet were tan and deep. Lukewarm semen seeped from her torn vagina. They found her wadded panties in the bed of a dry creek.
From El Monte. Telluride. Sedona. Sioux Falls. Parched places are places, and the branch work of all our pasts won't readily be untangled. How you dream of a place can sometimes be better than the place.
Night is coming. Stars are tentative in a sky half-dark. Something is trying to break through; a judgment pursues itself. A long ways east a tawdry, deficient scion implodes like a festering gourd, and America struggles to catch its breath. Look west at the snake of red lights, heading for the city, a crawling neon belly in a thirsty valley. City of tenuous angels. Specters on Mulholland. Centers not held. The embers of the long gone sun are dying. Who kicked this last campfire? What fresh threat, what tan carcinogen, imperils us anew?
Rough beast? She was nothing to me.
So why, why, why do I weep?
Wow. Crepulscular fool's gold my favorite. I've often wondered why some people aren't moved by news stories and others, myself included, take things to heart. Fortunately, it often spurs me to write but please don't weep my friend because tomorrow we'll have something new to cry over.Delete
There's a song that has the line "The garden of gorgeous language" in it... and whenever I read your writing, that phrase comes to mind... this is beautiful...Delete
Gorgeous language, IndeedDelete
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I need not know you, clasped your hand in friendship, laughed or cried with you. You existed for a time, in the same place as I. Had the same thoughts, fears, similar joys upon occasion. Simply enough that once you were, and now you are not. It comes down to empathy and a connection to humanity.Delete
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
(I've been off my stride, but noticed two typos. I can't abide my own and since there seems no edit button, deleted to correct.)