Friday, March 23, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

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.

This is the thing you do to still your mind. You put your fingers where you know your fingers go, and you just do your thing. Flow. Don’t worry about it until somehow you’re ahead of it and even you can’t explain how it works. Or why. But it does work. And it’s always there. In any kind of whether. That’s not a typo. Don’t do that. I’m trying to tell you what it means. It’s important … for you to have a place you can plug your brain into that just empties everything out. Sometimes, it twirls it up real nice or paints it out extra pretty. But it pretty much just gets it out. And it is the thing that stills your mind. Because, when you’re doing it, you barely have time to think about anything. You’re only thinking about like seven things. Tops.

Which is nothing for you.

Don’t try to tell me about fear of the blank page. Maybe that excuse works for you. Not me. The blank page is an invitation – freshly fallen snow waiting for boot prints. Let’s go make a snowman. Maybe that’s how you still your mind, and that’s just fine with me. Whatever gets you to where you need to be. As long as it doesn’t hurt me. I’ll hurt myself – type it out and put it on the shelf. Someday, people will wonder why the fuck I bothered. If I’m lucky. But this isn’t about me. It’s not about you. POV can be tricky – trying to force someone else’s foot into your old busted shoe.

This is the place you come to celebrate. It’s also the place you come to mourn, grieve, rant, explode – fuck that snow up any way you want. That’s the beauty of it. You want to build an ice castle? Fucking do it. You want to track bloody, muddy footprints through the snow? Do that, too. Folks will judge you, say you have a twisted imagination. Meanwhile they glue themselves to screens charting our nation’s disintegration.

We’re all just stumbling along. You might find it on that blank page. You might find it in a song. You might find it on a field or in a stream or a streaming movie, but it’s always been there. All along. You gotta look for it. That’s the tricky part. You put your ass in the seat, wherever or whatever that may mean – literal or metaphorical – you show up and you plug yourself into whatever brain-reset device you prefer. I gotta warn you, though, some resets are rougher than others. And when I say I gotta warn you, I might be saying that if I had a time machine, I’d go give the young, pissed-off me a little advice. But he wouldn’t have listened. So, why should you?

Such silly, human things we do.

It’s time to leave now. To unstill my mind. To let the hornets back into the hive. You? You do whatever feels right. Them? I’m not responsible for them. I hold myself accountable to this blank page which I have sullied with my pseudo-intellectual snow fort. You can come play with me if you want. But you better bring a lot of snowballs. And don’t tell me you couldn’t make them. Because anyone can make a snowball. It may suck, but you can do it. 

If you try.

#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... 


  1. They look down on you, but they don’t hate you. They will protect you. Shade you. They will be your umbrella when you forget. If the branches are dense enough. If the dancers intense enough. The leaves are the dancers and they bounce and flounce in the wind. They are the teletype buttons for the messages the universe sends.

    If you get rid of the trees, where the heck are the birds supposed to live? If you get rid of the birds, how am I supposed to live? I need to be in the wind, winged, living vicariously – sometimes perched precariously, riding the upper boughs in a hurricane.

    Don’t worry, I can stand the strain.

    And so can the trees. We have trees on this planet older than you can even comprehend. To what end? See, that’s exactly the kind of pointless question you shouldn’t ask. A tree wouldn’t. What kind of message would that send? The tree is just there being a tree. Maybe you could learn a thing or three.

    Bend with the wind. Don’t fight nature. Sometimes cleansing fire is necessary for growth. Watch out for lightning. Think of all the lessons a tree has for you if you’d just listen.

    But for some reason, you’re happy to use the shade and miss the beat that’s being played. The shush in the leaves and the thump of branch against trunk.

    Every tree is a symphony if you’re willing to listen.

    1. Couple of great pieces to start things off. I love the creative anger in the first one, and the mix of puzzled rage and tranquility in the second. Good stuff!

    2. Love the trees. Props for the first piece, too. Damn. DAMN. It's fucking gorgeous.

    3. Yeah, I love the writing, brother. And this is the root of that silly thing called hope: "Sometimes cleansing fire is necessary for growth."

  2. Another delightful and honest example of the trademark MaderRap™... The line that will stay with me all day long: "The blank page is an invitation – freshly fallen snow waiting for boot prints." Beautiful... and I wish I had your ear for rhyme...

  3. Daddy was a rodeo cowboy. Mama was a back alley whore. And neither one of 'em much cared for the son conceived the night they met. She always told me he left without paying.
    Never met the man myself, at least that I know of. Never knew his name. Mama said that I inherited his looks and his bow legged walk, and that both would get me into trouble. Mama had a love affair with the bottle, but her worst habit was always being right.
    Least that’s the way I remember, from the time before she died. Before she was killed.
    I sorta fell into the cowboy life after that. No money for school, and nobody wanted to take the bastard child of a street walker in.
    Made me strong. Or at least it didn’t kill me, and ain’t that what they say? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?
    I reckon I took after Daddy in another way. When I did rodeo I found someone in just about every town to shack up with for a night, or sometimes even a week. Saved on hotel costs, made the nights a little less lonesome, and hell, it was a good time.
    Didn’t leave no bastards behind, though. This cowboy liked other cowboys and men who pretended to be cowboys.
    It was in Laramie when my luck ran out. Closing time at the local watering hole, and no one left in the place but me and the potbellied old barkeep.
    "Know a friendly place I can sleep for the night?"
    He looked me over as he turned up the lights. "I got a couch, if you're not the sort to make trouble."
    I looked him over. Not my type, and I didn’t think he was comin' on to me. "That’d be fine. Thank you kindly."
    I helped him clean up the place and we left by the back door.
    "I live over in the next block. Your truck'll be safe here."
    We didn’t talk much as we walked. He had a bum leg I was tryin' not to notice so we walked slow. Nice little house he had. He fumbled with the keys at the door, then held it open for me.
    "Come on in. Light's on the right side there."
    I flipped the switch and one wall was shelves and shelves of trophies. "You rode?"
    His chin jutted out. "I was a champion."
    I waited for him to tell me his cowboy story, but he just stood there, looking at the trophy that said "Frontier Days."
    "Why’d ya stop?"
    In a low voice, he answered, "Most folks'd say it was because of the accident, but that’s a lie. Yeah, it took a dozen doctors to screw me together again, but..."
    You don’t rush a man who's tellin' you endings.
    He sat in an old chair. "But it wasn’t broken bones."
    [continued in first comment]

    1. [continued]
      A clock ticked in another room.
      "It was an empty heart. I was thirty-five. Not a soul cared whether I lived or died. I knew it was time to settle down. Do something that mattered."
      "So you became a bartender?"
      "So I bought a bar. And I started listening to folks. Folks who can’t afford a head doctor’ll buy a drink and tell their stories. We’re like priests, except we don’t make 'em do penance. We just listen."
      "Sometimes a hangover is penance..."
      He chuckled at that. "Maybe it is. So what’s your story, cowboy?"
      He got up and went into the kitchen, coming back with a bottle and two glasses.
      And I told him it all, even the part about liking guys, and he just listened. By the time I was done, I was bawling my eyes out.
      One more glass for each of us. We clinked our glasses together and I looked in his eyes, eyes that looked a lot like the eyes I avoided in the mirror every morning. Tired and blue.
      "Thanks for listening, old man."
      "Reckon it’s time to get some sleep. There’s sheets in the..."
      I blurted it out. "Can I sleep with you?"
      "I don’t that that’s a good..."
      "I don’t mean fuck, I just mean sleep. I told you more than I’ve ever..."
      "What the hell, why not."
      I didn’t sleep that night, I just listened to the old man make old man noises. Snores, belches, mumbles. I pretended he was my daddy. And when the sun came up, I already had my boots on. Made him coffee.
      "Sleep okay?" he asked.
      "Slept enough. Thanks for your hospitality."
      "You figure out anything?"
      "Figured out enough. Thanks again."
      Walking back to my truck, I figured out what I figured out. I had an empty heart. And maybe I’d make an okay barkeep. I skipped the rodeo, and I headed home to Montana.

    2. Wow. The rhythm and the word choices pull you right in, and the images keep you there. Such a strong voice, talking about weakness wrapped up in strength. The ending brings old George Strait songs to my mind, and that's a good thing. Great piece!

    3. Yeah, this was sparking all kinds of things in my brain while I read. Old cowboy songs and stories. And how this story plays with the conventions. And you know how I like cowboys and bars...

      This line killed, BTW: "Sometimes a hangover is penance..."

    4. That's so beautiful and tender. Softness and strength. This line: "I looked in his eyes, eyes that looked a lot like the eyes I avoided in the mirror every morning."

    5. When you can excavate a memory like that? And still convey a sense of forgiveness? Sign my up for your church, guy! I'll come to services!

    6. These people are real, alive. Aching with life, in fact. This is some fine writing, my friend.

    7. Thank you kindly... that means a lot coming from the likes of you all. Enough to keep me writing another day.

  4. Took longer than two minutes, but they always do for me.

    -Back Roads and Beer Bottles

    I don’t recall the names of the towns that we drove through that afternoon. We stayed clear of the freeways, traveling on two-lane back highways through the springtime landscape of southern California. I never knew the names of the people in the crowds that lined the shoulders of the road - after thirty years, I can’t even tell you who I sat next to on that ride.

    I know that the bus was cramped, crowded, and that the cracked green vinyl seats looked decades old, manufactured before I was born. The only air conditioning came from the handful of windows that we managed for force down into a half-open position. Someone suggested we just smash the other ones open - he wasn’t entirely kidding, and we didn’t entirely rule out doing it. There were no bathrooms on board, but it turned out the alarm on the door in the back was either broken or turned off.

    That bus was paradise, and every bump in the road felt like freedom offering a friendly swat on my backside.

    The gleeful throngs in those little towns knew we were coming through, I never thought to ask how they found out. America was feeling gloriously patriotic, and welcomed their Marines back home from the Persian Gulf with cheers and signs. In several of the towns, as the driver slowed down to the speed of a fast walk, these strangers handed cases of beer through the accordion doors in the front, and bottles, two-by-two, through whatever windows were ajar enough for our arms to reach outside.

    Some of the beer was cold, most of it was warm, and all of it was the best beer we had ever tasted.

    We toasted each other, and we toasted those cheering residents as we passed through them. We rewarded their adulation by waiting until we were out of sight before we tossed the newly-refilled bottles of recycled beer back out the windows to shatter wetly on the faded asphalt behind us.

    I regret that my memory of that afternoon is fragmented, and largely missing. It was a span of hours where freedom and joy wrapped around me like a warm quilt that reversed gravity. Coming home with my brothers that day, I gave no thoughts to the future, I was completely living in the moment in a way that I have rarely experienced again. The future could have told me, that even when you come home, part of you will always stay away. But for that day at least, I was home.

    1. This gave me goosebumps, in a good way. And it made me remember what we ask others to do on our behalf, things we wouldn't dream of doing ourselves. Marines, soldiers, cops, nurses. And it made me glad to think that sometimes, not often enough, but sometimes, we remember to thank them. Thanks for a well-told memory.

    2. I agree with Leland. Also, the voice here reminded me a lot of Frank Conroy's 'Stop Time' - don't know why, but that's a good thing. I love that book. This line is great, BTW: "he wasn’t entirely kidding, and we didn’t entirely rule out doing it."

    3. I LOVE this!Some of the beer was cold, most of it was warm, and all of it was the best beer we had ever tasted. I too have those moments,what happinees and freedom tasted like...

    4. Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. Now I'm going to have to go read Stop Time since I've (shame) never heard of it.

  5. The cardinal, red as blood, looked in the window, and that was how she knew it was spring. It had been an unrelenting winter.

    She pushed aside the emptiness, and dared to slip on her gardening clogs. When she opened the door and felt the warm breeze touch her face, she thought of kisses, and then brushed the thought away.

    She made her way to the garden shed, grabbed the shovel, closing her eyes to the child-sized tools hanging on the wall.

    The smell of earth was good. A few earth worms squiggled in the freshly turned soil, and a robin watched as breakfast slipped back into the ground.

    She removed her sweater as the sun rose higher. Wiped the sweat from her brow, and kept on turning the earth. Row by row, her work took her closer to the apple tree, but she didn’t think about that. Didn’t think about the way her son had played beneath it when he was a baby, in springs past.

    She, the shovel, and the earth were united by her labor. She thought of the seeds waiting to be planted. Zucchini. Peas. Forget-me-nots. His favorites. Their blue flowers were the same shade of blue as his eyes.

    And there she was. At the apple tree. His little garden, where he planted what he wanted, with no adult telling him what to grow. It seemed wrong to turn the soil without him, but if not her, then who?

    The shovel sliced into the ground easily. As she flipped the soil over, a Matchbox car, only slightly rusted, came into view.

    She fell down, knees to earth, and touched it, lifted it free from the loam. And at last she wept.

    Had it only been a year since he died?

    It had been a relentless winter, and the cardinal had lied about spring but not about blood.

    1. the foreshadowing in this is chilling, and relentless as the winter. Such size in the little details.

    2. Wow. This one took me for a ride. First, because my Grandma LOVED cardinals and I always make that association. The rest IS chilling, but also beautiful and touching. The ending got me good.

    3. Holy cats. What they all said. And that ending hit me like a rock. Sad and bittersweet and...just beautiful.

  6. My brother died at 15 1/2 years of age before he "legally" got to drive the 1971 Camaro my father bought him. The car eventually came into my possession.

    I loved that car. It was a faded metallic blue with a peeling white landau top. Eight cylinders of pure muscle car motor without all the computer crap that runs current cars and no emission controls to bog it down. Just needed a few minor tweaks to get it to pass the annual smog inspections. The engine compartment was this big open space with lots of room to work when required. I swear 3 people could fit inside and the hood would still close.

    In the mid-eighties I completely restored the body & rebuilt the engine. Did some motor upgrades and would occasionally take it out to the local short track for timed laps when Saugus Speedway held their monthly Ego Challenge: Our Track---Your Car. HOW FAST CAN YOU GO?

    Maybe restore is not accurate since the engine was tricked out and in doing the interior I went for comfort instead of accuracy with new seats, an all cloth interior, and 3 point restraints. I opted for a current model Chevy metallic paint in vivid blue with a blindingly white landau top. Add a monster state of the art stereo system---complete with 8 track AND cassette player and my ride was perfect. Nothing but the best for my 'Maro.

    I remember parking way out in parking lots, taking up two spaces to prevent dings and praying no one would sideswipe it or scratch the paint. I was on eggshells until the first body marring incident happened and fortunately I caused it. After that I could relax.

    Also added an alarm and a steering wheel lock. Seemed a good idea since I sometimes went to sketchy parts of the city.

    Shortly after the work was completed, the alarm sounded in my empty, closed, locked garage. This went on for three nights before I disconnected the alarm. We could never figure out why it was going off. No shorts, it tested fine the next day. No animals or passersby could have set it off. I ended up removing it and returning it to the store.

    I'm 100% convinced that my brother's spirit was keeping watch over me and his "baby". To the best of my knowledge no one ever tried to break into it or steal it. Pretty sure any attempts were met with some ghostly shit.

    The car was a conversation piece. Everyone had to "take the tour" of the upgrades, even the cops that pulled it over. I upgraded my radar detector every time The Man upgraded their speed guns. Bless the CHP officer that pulled me over one night at 4 AM. My speedometer had me at about 120/130 on the straightaways. He said it took him 10 minutes to catch up to me. After 30 minutes of tour and car talk, he did me the supreme favor of writing the ticket for a speed that would qualify me for traffic school diversion to keep points off my record. Being female and sober probably helped too.

    I finally had to sell it. My lead foot kept me in speeding tickets and you could only do a diversion every 18 months. And, honestly? The car started to scare the hell out of me as I got older. It wasn't my brother's ghost at all. It was how easy it was to go so fast, how low to the ground it sat, and those massive blind spots to the rear from the design of the roofline. Lane changes became life or death maneuvers. Within 5 minutes of putting the sale sign in the window there was a young man drooling at my door. He came back the next day with cash and off he went. I hope he had as much fun with it as I did. I'm assuming the ghost never bothered him since I never saw or heard from him again.

    1. The heart is a muscle. There's a lot of heart in the story about a muscle car and memory. I really like this piece. Although it did remind me of the one time I went 120 on a MC. Once was enough. ;)

      The details give this story an authenticity that drives (I swear, unintentional pun) the emotion without it being contrived or sentimental. Well in!

    2. Men, cars. I don't do it myself, but I've seen it, and you captured it! Great Job!

    3. beautifully told... I have fallen victim to the obsession with cars only twice in my life... once with a 1961 Ford Sunliner convertible that belonged to my late brother, and once for a black Miata... really well done!

    4. Yes, as Dan says, the heart in the machine. Actually, in this case, the ghost in the machine too! Nice.

    5. The story is actually 100% fact. My bro was a great kid, gone far too soon. While he's always in my heart, it was nice to keep a physical piece of him around after he was gone.

      Somewhere I have the story of his last---hauntingly bizarre---day on earth. I'll have to dig it up and share it here.

  7. Carlos sipped coffee in a small café in Havana, his choice of table perfectly situated to allow a view of the street while staying in the shadows. Waiting for the man they called El Suizo. Whose sense of time, apparently, was nowhere near as accurate as a Swiss watch. This worried him. Operations such as theirs depended on accuracy, respect, and trust. If Carlos couldn’t count on him to appear when he was supposed to—

    “You would like another, guapo?” The waitress had a pretty smile, and he nodded, and she topped him up, and he followed the rhythm in her hips as she walked away. As she served the customers. As she swung back into the kitchen and returned with another patron’s order. It calmed his nerves to focus on something other than why his contact had not yet arrived.

    Maybe it was the traffic. Maybe El Suizo wasn’t the man they claimed him to be. Carlos had been disappointed before. What he had planned was nothing short of revolution, and if they weren’t victorious, or slaughtered on the battlefield, surely they would be executed for treason.

    Maybe his plan wasn’t even possible, the odds against them too great. What could a few hundred mercenaries do against the greatest army in the world?

    He took a deep breath and let it out, let the tension loose from his broad shoulders. It had been so long since he’d visited the land of his birth. Watched the women, smelled the coffee, heard the music. He felt like a youth again, skinny and poor and playing in the streets. The familiar pressure also began to return. Destiny. The weight of two generations of failure resting squarely on his back. His grandfather died fighting against Castro at the Bay of Pigs invasion. His father had been on the losing side of a cop’s gun in Miami. His mother wanted better for him. She cried when he returned to Cuba and joined the army. Somewhere in heaven, she was probably still crying.

    Moments after he set his mug down, a muffled boom rocked the building. Rattled the windows. Sloshed his coffee across the table. The waitress shouted Spanish obscenities as a tray she’d been carrying hit the floor.

    As people ran out to see what had happened, a man walked in. Dark hair. Dark clothes. His face devoid of expression as he crossed the café to Carlos’s table. He took the seat opposite his without a word. As if he had merely gone out to put more money in his parking meter and was now returning to his meal. He couldn’t have been more than twenty.

    “Sorry to be late,” he said. “Had a bit of a situation down the block.”

    He spoke Spanish well, for a man who was purportedly Swiss. He also smelled of diesel fumes and burnt hair.

    Carlos tipped his head toward the door. “Please me that wasn’t your situation.”

    El Suizo—or whatever his name really was—cast a glance over his shoulder. “That?” He picked up a paper napkin and dabbed it into the spilled coffee. “No, my friend. I believe that one was meant for you. Your rental car is totaled, but fortunately your would-be assassin is a piss-poor demolitions expert.”

    Damn it. They’d found him. Carlos started to get up. “We need to go.”

    The too-young man merely shrugged and leaned back in his chair. There was something oddly Gallic in the gesture. Maybe this El Suizo wasn’t so Suizo after all. “No need,” he said. “Not only is he a piss-poor demolitions expert, but he’s also a very slow runner. I doubt he’ll be doing more bomb making anytime soon. Or”—he sniffed—“ever.”

    And after he asked the waitress for two tequilas, the young man turned back to Carlos. “So,” he said with a crooked smile and a light in his eyes. “Tell me about this operation.”

    1. Man, this played like a movie in my mind. And I wanted it to keep going!

    2. Your scene-building skills, and character development, and storytelling... dammit, you are soooo good!

    3. Yes, what they all said. So much depth, and I always get the sense you don't tell everything you know, let the pertinent stuff drip out when needed and no more.

  8. Me and the hubs sick again... Jesu...
    First part 2nd to come tomorrow...
    Tillie Mason had been educated by her mother to allow for a certain measure of misery when it came to men. But of course, Maybelle had been born before the war and after that was over, the pickings among eligible bachelors were a lot leaner than they had been. So what with the scars and the shrapnel, the occasional missing limb, The discreet ability to over look things like violence, drunkenness drug addiction and a woeful lack of understanding of the basics of the feminine mystique went with the territory, as long as the man in question could keep food on the table and a roof over one’s head.
    “There are all kinds of heroes,” Maybelle was fond of saying. But honey, there aren’t any perfect husbands.”
    Tillie, as young girls will, took her Mama’s words very much to heart or at least, whatever is was that passed for one in her chest, and decided once she was of age to land herself the richest man she could find, a guy from up north named Lancelot Mason, real estate developer and entrepreneur.
    They had what you might call a business arrangement, a marriage of convenience, but it sure wasn’t hers. He was on his 3rd wife by the time she got there, a vulgar blowhard and 20 years older, and an history of holding women, colleagues and banks as hostages to his well branded obsessions.
    We often wondered, what made her do it? And yet as trophies go, she made herself the perfect wife. Where he was vulgar, wayward, stupid, endlessly proud and relentlessly vain; she was subtle, cultured, and always refined. She knew what he needed; and decorated his world with art and culture, validating his dirty and dirtier fortunes with a son and heir with an image refined.

    Wait for it...

    1. Oh how I love this line: “There are all kinds of heroes,” Maybelle was fond of saying. But honey, there aren’t any perfect husbands.”

    2. Agreed. And I want to see where this goes...

    3. Me too. (Ha, I didn't mean that, but it's perfect!)

  9. She was trying to be brave for her daughter, for her husband. He had an easier time of it; men can carry off the shaved-head look. Not like a woman. She was trying so hard, but outside the house she couldn’t bear it. Wigs had never fit right on her. They slipped sideways and itched and made her scalp sweat. She felt too self-conscious to go out bare-headed in public, didn’t want all those eyes on her, feeling sorry for her. Thinking their poor-baby-chemo-sucks thoughts. She wanted to be one of those women standing tall and proud with her naked head catching the breeze, her perfectly shaped skull a canvas for a stunning pair of earrings, or eyeglasses with candy pink frames.

    But she wasn’t there yet.

    When she went out alone, she’d wrap her head in a bold scarf, or a slouchy hat, content with strangers thinking she was having a bad hair day, not just a no-hair day.

    “But you look beautiful, Mama,” her daughter said, as they pushed a cart down the frozen foods aisle. “Your head is so smooth and soft.”

    Blood pulsed into her cheeks, fearing what other people might be overhearing; what they were thinking. She was trying so hard to be brave. They all were. “Thank you, baby,” she mumbled.

    “So we can be twins again?”

    A coward looked back at her from the frosted glass of the ice cream freezer. A coward hiding from the truth. “Right now and forever,” she said, and tore the scarf from her head.

  10. She smiled at him in the evening. She wanted to cry, but she laughed. Gators slipped off the banks, dropped like drab stones into the depths.

    Don't drag me. The smell of brass in the runnels of your fingertips. Make me your instrument.

    Each time you want to say "I'm sorry," say "I love you" instead. It's only a tiny thing, really. Summon the guts to say as much.

    I'm taking a guess. He might have been somewhere. Aces wild. A cascade. His dissident prayer was splashed from above, skittering over rock, shining with the refracted sun, shot with the sorrowing incandescence of sundown as it begins its lament for the day.

    "Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole."

    A secular psalm. A spasm of glory. We are all mutineers; never apologists.

    Somewhere outside Salzburg, a dove flies in the dimming valley, beneath the alpenglow, above the russet rooftops. A train attempts to follow, mostly fails. Barn doors creak. Hooves on straw like the ghosts of ancient tantrums. Darkness comes in fast, hurt and hushed, and no one is awake.

    O love. You can't even speak. The shush of a song, the breath of a woman, follicle-fragile voice carried to your quivering ear on the gossamer wing of a damselfly, right behind you, from over your hunched shoulders while you cry into the silence, wishing to puncture a vacuum, yearning for the eternal indignant, the coal-black haven unspoken.

    "You will never rue those times you watched the wide sargasso mouth from some imaginary bridge as it opened to swallow the world, one blighted, fly-blown dream at a time."

    Reptiles in water. Gulf weed. Moccasins. Choked and blinked. Vertiginous.

    He smiled at her at daybreak, wanted her to cry, but she laughed.

    1. Before anyone reads or comments, I should say that the quote midway in this piece is by Oscar Wilde, from a letter he wrote from prison, "De Profundis."

    2. Man, this is so spare and strong. And the language is on point as always. You trying to make the ghost of Oscar Wilde jealous? ;) Brilliant stuff, brother.

    3. Ha ha, I wish! ;) And thanks, brother. You too.

    4. Oscar would be proud. It is brilliant.

  11. The letter box rattled and a sheet of paper fell through. An archaic link to the past. And yet it still spoke to you; you picking it up, touching it with the fingertips you use to touch others you trust. Its words speaking to you, saying...

    "The Eye and the Ear are everywhere now. I can remember a time before them; a time before everyone succumbed to the easy appeal of connectivity. They were dark, lonely days - or at least that's what we're told now - but I believe they were better than that. It's not just nostalgia, I swear.

    Of course, you’ll scoff, disbelieving what I’m saying. You’re young and you’re naïve and you’ve not suffered enough to see the chains that bind us. You believe the news digests you’re fed every day; the people who’ve done well with their lives, most of them undeserving and rewarded beyond their worth. That could be you, they tell you, their expression earnest. You only need to dream and to give it your all. You could be the next media star; your face up on the screen alongside theirs. It doesn’t matter that you were low-born or that you’re disinterested in the mundanities of governance, it’s your worth that matters now. You only have to dream and believe - they’ll do all the rest.

    And yes, I am bitter. I’m also cynical and disenfranchised too. I’m a nobody in a world where everyone seeks an identity. A place within the matrix that defines us. The oddlings are distrusted and their views are derided. They can only speak for themselves - they’ve already said that they stand alone, isolated – so why should you listen to them? They are…I am…we are an irrelevance. You should turn away and not give us the attention we seek. It will only do you harm, draw attention to you, make others distrust you.

    You wouldn’t want that, would you?"

    You dropped it then, already infected. It wouldn't matter if you believed or not, the ideas were with you. The world would have changed and you'd never be the same again.

    1. Man. I love this one! So good. And I love this especially: "I’m a nobody in a world where everyone seeks an identity. A place within the matrix that defines us. The oddlings are distrusted and their views are derided."

    2. Excellent dystopian piece, Mark. And Dan already picked the lines I was gonna highlight!

    3. Really good... and I like the word "oddlings" more than I can say.


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