Friday, July 6, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

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.


The spigot is old and rusted - bound to break if you force it. Wrap it in an oily rag. Spray some WD-40 on it. Pray on it. Tell God you'd appreciate it if he'd help you out. With the rusted spigot and all. The rest of the stuff - well, you're probably on your own. No one is ever going to clean up your messes. 

Least of all you.

I got this feeling, and I know it ain't right. Not one bit. I try not to think about it, but it sneaks into my brain and nests up in there. It collects twigs and twine and shiny things. 

Quit fucking talking about me. I'll hide in this stench, horrid, wondering where did Mommy go? Where did Mommy go? Mommy, you were right there and then black and then white and then doctors and then police. 

Did Jimmy go to the police, yet? They're bound to know he did it. Because of the rope. 

Thanks, tip your writer.

You hit your face on reality. That shit stings. I get it. We all do it. Smash the fucking computer with a hammer. You'll be delighted by the sound. 

Tell everybody.

The old man with the anxious hands sits at the back of the BART train and closes his eyes. And folks wonder what he thinks about. Moist, humid things. Fetid. They don't know that he is dreaming rivers, blue and deep. So deep you can sink into the cool waters forever, become water. 

I want to be a firefly inside your youthful jar. I want to be that spark of excitement. That magic bit of something. Nature. That gift that we are given on warm nights when the world smells like honeysuckle and looks like a light show. 

Even if just for a minute.

#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...#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...

36 comments:

  1. I love this piece, brother. It somehow manages to combine wistfulness with a kind of unease, as if there are unpleasant things seething under the surface sadness. And it's damn lyrical.

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    1. A brilliant metaphor (or is it an allegory?) of us old-timers passing on the torch to the younger... and we are all desperate to hold on to those moments of honeysuckle and light.

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    2. The bit about the spigot...vivid! And who hasn't dreamed of the sound the hammer would make as it splinters the uncooperative silicon?

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  2. She is bound on a cold stone floor in a spare cottage by a crag, the wind a tuneless piccolo through cryptic slits.

    A flurry of dark birds arc jagged across a slate sky past twilight.

    The ink upon her arms and chest echo both flocks and sundown: three tiny boiling hearts on her inner right forearm and a stutter of crows below her clavicle, above her breast.

    Outside, some black and odious structure silhouetted on the cliff edge: pitiless, stark, and mannish.

    Pricks. If they are going to deem her a witch, then she will damn well rise witchlike.

    A beetle meanders by her feet pursuing crumbs, flakes, specks.

    These are fragmentary things, these moments, what she sees, hears, smells, feels. Nothing good will happen if she resists, but things far worse are pledged by her compliance.

    The beetle is by the wall now, still seeking and vacuuming tiny morsels. She envies its autonomy, its thralldom to its own rudimentary will.

    Her will is more wilt than heft. She stares between her legs at the stone and shudders. Imagines something ludicrous. Some unruly erection. Resistance. She must resist. Weakness now is unconscionable.

    She is a woman not some failed man.

    As if in answer, heart all slashed and ragged, Blossom appears in the murky air, her friend long slain by similar hands, twirling a familiar dance.

    Speaks.

    "Oh, Blanche, this is it. The inevitable. The moment you decide how to leave this aching world. I urge you to choose well. Its about you now, not them. They are filled with impotence, choked redundant by hate and unwarranted envy. Believing they're the heart, they are the true outcasts of our tribe. The overarch, the arc is in our favour. Even when they kill us, they don't win."

    "Yeah, yeah. You always knew how to speak, my poet. I appreciate the pep talk, hon, but I ain't ready to die."

    Sudden silence. No sound. The wind itself has swooned. Even the surf has ceased its assault on the rocks. No Blossom, no beetle, no beating heart. For a moment, no battery. A hush. This is the cold edge at the end of things, the blood loss, the muffled aftershocks.

    However grim the lookout, love—love—is the thing.

    The throng is coming, my brave and blissful amour, with their whetted instruments and their senseless rage, frail and pitiful as the keening of birds.

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    1. Such dark, deep images, painted with such skill. And sadly, I hear the throng coming, too. Thanks for a story well-told.

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    2. This line: "Her will is more wilt than heft." So good. And Leland is dead right. This is painting. The imagery is astoundingly effective. It's like getting beaten to death with imagery (in an awesome way). Really dig this one, G.

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    3. 'their whetted instruments and their senseless rage' - great piece!

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    4. Thank you, my good friends. I was spurred on to writing this after watching a couple episodes of The Handmaid's Tale. And by the obvious parallels in Trump's America, of course.

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    5. I love the images, the rhythm, the music. "...their whetted instruments and their senseless rage..." Man.

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  3. You awake suddenly, not entirely sure what you’ve heard. Afternoon naps are like that, first you fall into Morpheus’ arms, and then something jolts you awake.

    The dogs are awake, too; ears pricked, so you know it wasn’t your imagination.

    It comes again. Thunder. You almost think it must be a car accident. It’s been so very long since the last rain.

    You, and the dogs, sniff the air. The smoke from the fire seems to have changed its scent somehow. You go outside, wary, and, unusually, the dogs follow you instead of leading.

    The eastern sky is dark, not from smoke, but from clouds heavy with water, water desperately needed.

    Now certain of the sound, knowing it for thunder, not for a car crash, not for a gunshot, the dogs start barking.

    A mosquito lands on your face, and your hand brushes it aside, and then you put your hand back on your face. You want to run back into the house and look into a mirror, because your fingers trace something unfamiliar on your face.

    A smile. Maybe this fire will be over.

    The rain begins. First gentle as butterfly kisses, then large cold drops. One lands beneath your right eye. It feels like a frigid tear as it falls down your face. And then it is followed by a warm tear.

    You strip off your shirt, and you feel the glorious water touch your skin, one drop at a time. You shiver, from the cold and from the excitement.

    The dogs chase each other in circles, collecting mud between their paws and not caring.

    And you dance with two dogs, and hope falls from the sky, and for one day, for this day, all is good.

    Sometimes the rain comes because of a dance, and sometimes the dance comes because of the rain.

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    1. Oooh, that last sentence. Brother, I am FEELING this one. Literally. It rained on my drive into work. If you've never been near wildfires, you don't know how much you crushed this one. Perfect.

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    2. Yeah, this last week has been a reminder... they're finally getting containment on the fire... 35%, something over 105,000 acres. And the rain yesterday was glorious.

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    3. Wonderful capture of this moment for those of us not there. Glorious, pagan celebration!

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    4. Yeah, this is visceral and, as Gry says, pagan in its immersion.

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    5. So visceral and marvelous. Feeling the end of that long, dry spell, and the joy as the rain returns. Excellent!

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  4. Thunder rolls from cloud to cloud where fireworks boomed clear their cannonades last night. The flash of any electric pyrotechnic hides in the hazy sunlight, whereas darkness embellished the rainbow blooms of July 4th’s aerial party favors. But where’s the rain? Perhaps it’s pausing for thunder to clear its path, warning to shelter those savoring the mid afternoon air, warm and wet as a lover’s kiss. Another rumble and I turn away, thinking this storm might be all bark and no bite. That's when something rat-tat-tats at my window, startling me, and its fangs begin chewing away at the sill.

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    1. Ohhh... that went into a beautifully dark direction... I like the simplicity leading to the darkness.

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    2. Yeah, me too! Now what happens???!!! ;)

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    3. I enjoyed how this builds as you draw us in. Finish :)

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    4. Yeah, like a poem grew into a threat. I love it!

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  5. Quilt with the Soul of Winter

    Someone’s grandmother, huge flowers on her dress,
    stepped to the bakery counter at the Fall Quilting Fair.
    Snarled at the faceless barista,
    asked if he served the overpriced coffee In mugs of gold.

    Getting up a head of steam,
    the dowager scowled at the tip jar.
    The yellow note saying “Thanks!”
    wrapped around thirty-seven cents at the bottom.

    She nudged me with her fleshy elbow,
    thinking me a fellow complainant.
    Grunted about guilt money, and turned away,
    clutching every penny of her change.

    I nodded to “Hi, I’m Josh!”
    when he handed me my blueberry scone.
    Caught his eye, and folded my change,
    as I dropped it onto the pile of coins.

    Made him my conspirator
    as I slid knife-edged words
    into her departing character.
    Loud enough for her to hear.

    Strolling through the crafting aisles,
    I found the elderly woman again.
    Her bitter coffee set aside,
    for a smile as sweet as rat poison.

    Bright red lipstick
    framed teeth that flashed wide
    Wide as the wooden quilt racks
    covered with her handmade showpieces.

    Marvelous squares of winter scenes-
    pine trees, pheasants and swooping birds.
    But my eyes heard the ugly threads she sewed.
    Nibbling at my pastry, I moved on.

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    1. Beautiful... I'm partial to quilts, and your use of one here is perfect. There's a wonderful book called How to Make an American Quilt, by Whitney Otto, that might inspire you as well. Loved the colors and the human contrasts you used in this one.

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    2. Wow, this is awesome. I grew up around quilters, too. They were much cooler, though! ;) I seriously love this piece though. The imagery - and there are so many lines I love I'd have to copy the whole thing. Super strong.

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  6. Whenever he came to town, Ike Biggs could feel their eyes on him. Some folks would step off the sidewalk into the street to avoid him, or move clean to its other side.

    He knew some would be saying something like, “The boy ain’t been right since that day,” just as Abner Klein whispered to no one as he leaned on a broom inside the doorway of his mercantile. And then Ike walked turned and headed right for Klein’s doorway.

    “Oh shit,” the old man said as he tripped over his broom and stumbled to the floor. He didn’t make it to lock the door and turn its CLOSED sign before Ike stepped inside.

    “You all right, Mr. Klein?” Ike asked as the old man picked himself up from beside the door and kneeled in a forlorn posture, as if God Himself had just given him the bad news he wouldn’t be saved that day.

    “Oh, good morning, Ike. I’m just, uh, looking for my pencil.”

    “You mean the one behind your ear?”

    “Well land’s sakes, there it is. Now, um, what is it I can do for you today? No, you just stay there. I can get myself up,” Klein said, grasping the door knob and hefting himself to his feet with a profound sigh.

    “I’s wondering if my order came in yet. That wire and linen canvas and feathers,” Ike said. Klein couldn’t help but see the large oval scar atop the young man’s head and how his eyes never quite looked in exactly the same direction at the same time.

    “The canvas and feathers got here just day afore yesterday. But the wire I had to special order from Chicago. The kind you wanted ain’t thick enough for fencing. In fact, about the only thing it’s good for is stringing pianos. Cattle would just bust right through it,” the old man said with a nervous laugh.

    “Ain’t for no corral. It’s gonna hold together something more grand than anything anyone in this town or even them White Mountain Apache have ever seen. And I don’t mean no grand pianee, either.” Ike said, raising his voice.

    Ike then rubbed at his scar and closed his eyes, which suited Old Man Klein because he never could figure out which one to look at when he had to talk to Ike.

    “Now don’t get yourself all riled up, Ike. Let me fetch that canvas for you. This is going to make some giant tent, I’ll tell you,” Klein said as he headed to his storeroom.

    “It ain’t for a tent, you know,” Ike said. “You’ll all see the day I come back to town and I ain’t walking.”

    “A’course, son,” Klein said as he hefted a huge roll of off-white canvas onto the counter. “You’ll be riding that buckskin pony you lit out of the White Mountains with, no doubt. Fine little piece of…”

    “No,” Ike shouted. “Won’t be ridin’ Jlin-Litzoque neither.”

    “Well, if you ain’t walkin’, and you ain’t ridin’, I got no idea how you’re gonna get into town except maybe…”

    “When you expecting that wire to come in, Mr. Klein? I’m gonna need it to finish my łigai-itsá.”

    “Was told it was in Scottsdale yesterday. Your licorice?”

    “My łigai-itsá. White eagle.”

    “Oh, sure, Ike. White eagle. I’ll let you know when you can come down and pick up your wire,” Klein said.

    “Thank you, Mr. Klein. I’ll be down to pick it up lickety split. And in another week or so I’ll be coming here even faster. Certainly grander. Why, I’ll go back to Escudilla and I'll come a’soar…”

    Sheriff Ben Benson knocked on the door frame of Klein’s store and said, “Morning, Abner. Ike. Everything all right in here today?”

    “Yep, Sheriff, just fine,” Ike said as he rushed past, his roll of canvas and a sack of feathers locked in a bearhug.

    “Will you look at that, Abner. Sidewalk clears of folks like it was the Red Sea and Ike was Moses himself carrying the Commandments. Boy looks like he’s seen the Burning Bush itself, too. A’course poor Ike ain’t been right since them White Mountain Apaches tossed him over that cliff on Escudilla Mountain. Would’ve been kinder for the poor sumbitch if he hadn’t hit that eagle nest on the way down. Some days he talks like he wishes he’s one of them eagle young’uns that fell with him.”

    “Yeah, but they were able to fly away and poor Ike just sorta fell like a sack of… Wait a minute!”

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    1. "Ike" - I see what you did there ;) I like the tale!

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    2. This is one of my favorite kinds of flash. Interesting character. Good backstory. Nailed the voice. Really good stuff. I hope he flies.

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  8. These are the secrets we’ll tell each other in the night, when the night is dark and the moon has yet to rise. We’ll speak of promises and love everlasting, of childhood dreams, of monsters under beds, of battles fiercely won. Words like forever and never will flow from our lips like careless water and our hands will find each other under down comforters, fingers wrapped in fingers, strength flowing from one to the other, and then back again.

    We'll name the stars we know, and lie about the ones we don’t, making up names like Felixus and Balthar and Eusebius, and we’ll see constellations of trains and cars and trees and hoovers.

    A meteor will shoot across the sky, and one of us will see it as a good omen, and the other bad luck, and we'll argue about it until the moon comes up, and then we will wait in breathless silence as her argentine light casts gray shadows on the wall, and we will watch our shadows kiss, and wonder at the beauty of it all.

    And in the morning, we will avoid talking about politics and religion and anything that hints of the world we live in, of anything that might threaten the safety of the fragile secrets we whisper in the night.

    And one day we will fall out of love or die or lose our minds or our memories, but neither of us will forget, never lose, those two shadows kissing.

    And I will name a star for you, and it will be our last secret.

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    1. Wow. Now that's a bedtime story. Beautiful.

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    2. Bedtime story. Letter to the universe. Affirmation. It is many things. Beautiful, certainly.

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  10. A longer piece - I won't pretend I finished in two minutes :)

    Unfolding Rapunzel

    A tale in the old style.
    Not meant for children, or fragile ears.
    A quest where the kingdom cheered for my failure,
    the princess didn’t want to be rescued,
    and a monster hid inside my armored suit.

    I journeyed to her modern tower.
    Seven hundred stories burnt against the cornfield sky.
    Built of cell phone antennas,
    angry voices woven like razor wire,
    and the shattered plate mail of her king.

    I called to her, my voice echoed against the stillness of time.
    The solitary princess closed blue-green eyes, and wept.
    Stone rain hammered me, shattered my legs.
    I crawled from the rubble,
    to see some magical wormhole take her away.

    I sought the wisdom of mad-eyed philosophers,
    gentle knowledge of libraries,
    poets howling against the wind.
    Their fuzzy chatter like the whispers
    of a dying moth trapped between my ears.

    In desperation,
    I rode to the badlands.
    Found a stilted goblin
    crouched in the length of my shadow
    A familiar who seemed familiar.

    The creature offered riddles in the guise of advice.
    Sly murmurs in the language of butterfly wings.
    If I understood their stained glass flight here,
    I could stop the earth from crumbling a thousand tears away.
    But the Babel’s tower was as shattered as Rapunzel’s was high.

    I strained to hear as the rattle ghost spoke again:
    “The princess endures a private eternity.
    She waits by not waiting.
    Don’t let life live you, or the bargain you make will be your unmaking.
    Seek an earlier self. The nights she knew, with her knight that was you.”

    A veil lifted, I knew the dusky thing at last,
    its murk-ridden reflection of my own face.
    It sought my brown-haired treasure as well.
    Voices in trees cried shame upon me.
    I withered beneath their contempt.

    Biting at my feet to sever the connection.
    The sun went dark, absence of light untethers me.
    Unfolding myself to worthiness,
    I cry out for the ladder only she can provide.
    Yet I fear my hands will stain her.

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    1. Woah! What an interesting twist. This one really works for me. Fairy tale mindfuck!

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  11. One swift flick of the blade and the skin opened, white and pale beneath the summer's tan. Just a beat. Or a few beats. And then the heart pumped slick, beautiful crimson blood.

    In the blood, you could see everything. Every story ever written. In rich tones of viscous life. The room cleared. Your mind cleared. A smile mangled your face and you laughed, feeling light.

    There was a pounding on the door, but you knew it would stop. It was like a lost pony. Clip Clop. Fucking make it stop. Blood coagulates. Unless you're royalty and been fucking your family for long enough.

    You are ugly. Worthless. Your therapist is a liar. She wants you to die because she's sick of listening to your useless bitching. You can tell. The way she taps her foot near the end of the hour.

    Why don't you climb as high as you can. Split the air in one everlasting scream. Let the wind be torn from your lungs. You will be free, I promise.

    Who are you going to listen to? Them? Or yourself?

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  12. I never wanted to be chosen. I couldn’t seem to get that through anyone’s head, no matter how hard I tried. But I was chosen. Over and over again. They never stopped choosing me. Sometimes, late at night, when my abused body and battered mind kept me awake I wondered what would happen if I just up and left. If I went to a new place and got a new name and changed my hair and scarred my face. Would I still be chosen, then? Would they still want me to put my life on the line all the damn time? Then I would sigh and turn over and realize that they probably would.

    The real problem wasn’t that I kept getting chosen. It was that I kept surviving then things I was chosen to do. Granted, during those “adventures” – in the heat of the moment – I wanted nothing more than to survive. That was pretty much my only goal. It was after, when I’d lived, even if my allies didn’t always, that I thought about what a fool I was to aim for survival. If I could fail, not even die just fail, maybe they would stop wanting me then. Of course, so often dying and failing were one in the same. But not all the time. Maybe I should have picked one of those times when I wasn’t in life-threatening peril to lose. Or just give up. Yeah, that’d do it. If I gave up they would stop wanting me.

    My best friend thought it was great to be wanted. He never was. Wanted. Needed. To save everyone. I tried to turn him into the guy they called on to save the day. It didn’t work. He got over it, at least. Found a wife. Had some kids. Made peace with who he was.
    I suppose this is me making peace with my lot. I finally did it. Finally failed. I’m dying. Wish I could say I was surprised. When you’re the man they always call when there is an unsolvable problem you get to the point where you understand that one of those problems will be one you can’t solve. There’s an adventure that will lead to your end. No matter what little, insignificant people are at home, needing you, counting on you to walk through the door, you know you’ll leave them and they will be the true losers. Because you became an adrenaline junkie. Because your ego grew with every stupid, useless fete you accomplished. Because you started believing your own hype. You can do anything. You never fail. But you’re human. You knew you’d eventually fail. So why’d you go and fall in love? Why’d you have kids? Why on earth did you set the people you love most up for that kind of hurt?

    Because you’re a selfish prick, that’s why. You thought you could have it all, even if in the back of your head you knew you couldn’t really. Now you’re dying and they’re going to suffer for your arrogance. Some hero. Some tough guy. Stupid, useless git. Didn’t even say goodbye. I should have just told the world to take a flying leap.

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