Thursday, August 30, 2018

2 Minutes. Go! Yee-haw edition!

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 last light was slipping through the curtain of fog, but I didn’t want to leave. I knew the way back in the dark. I knew the whole stream like I knew the back of my hand. I could have fished it with a blindfold on. I could certainly get a few more hours in.

I didn’t want to go home. By the water, nothing existed except the burbling stream and the sighing of trees and explosions of birdsong. Home was where the trouble waited. Home was an empty place I could never seem to fill.

I had tried various times. I had loved women, but the ones I found seemed to leave awful quick. I’d tried getting a dog, but it ran away on the second day. Cats wouldn’t even stick around for food.

The stream was the only place where I could relax. So, I stayed until it was properly dark. I didn’t catch any more fish, but I wasn’t trying that hard.

#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...


  1. He stood looking at the crowd before him. They were sweating, dancing, smoking, moshing, throwing water bottles at the stage – the usual. But it didn’t matter because his guitar unleashed a tsunami. It drowned everything else out. He closed his eyes and could pretend he was the only one in the club.

    His hand was bleeding from playing as fast as possible, but he did not notice. He was waiting for the drummer to screw up a drum fill. And he did. Right on cue.

    Still, they played their guts out for thirty minutes, which was about sixteen songs. Every one they’d written that didn’t suck egregiously. When they left the stage, to applause and boos and everything in between, they were happy. Sated.

    Then the big man handed them $12.

    “Your take of the door.”

    So, they loaded up Mom's van and went to Wendy’s to spend their winnings.

    1. These first two pieces are so similar, yet so very different. You can feel the truth in them, which is one of my favorite things about your writing. It's also a nice reminder of what it's really all about. :)

    2. Water and music, two of the most healing elements I’ve ever known, and you write beautifully about both.

    3. Yeah, both pieces are about finding something to love. And about fulfilment versus "success."

  2. You can’t tell me it’s nothing. That’s not your call to make. Whether we’re talking skinned knees or heartbreak. Whether you’re talking to someone else or yourself. If you think it is something, what gives anyone the right to say different?

    'Nothing' is a weird thing anyway because by giving it a name, we’re making it into something. Something it’s not. It’s easy to get that twisted. Words can be very complicated things. There is no nothing.

    And don’t tell me ‘it’s nothing’ if I say thank you. It wasn’t nothing; that’s why I said thank you. And don’t say you have nothing to write about. There’s always something. Even if it is just writing about nothing.

    1. I got nothing to say about this one. ;) (Except that I love it, and I agree completely.)

    2. Whoa. Mind blown. Made me think of a Larkin poem: "Nothing, like something, happens anywhere."

  3. They say you need it, but it can drive you crazy. Because you can do it all you want and it means exactly nothing. Sure, it might happen. It might not. A spaceship could fall on your head and crush you; you could choke to death on a bite of burger. It happens.

    Still, you don’t want to give it up completely. That’s worse than admitting defeat. You give it up and you got no reason to get up in the morning. It’s a delicate balance.

    It’s not good or bad, it just is. How you react to it? How you use it? How you let it use you? That’s your choice to make. I made mine.

    1. "It" is confusing... especially when we’re not entirely sure of its antecedent. This piece can be read on many levels.... and we just have to create for ourselves what the "it" is...

    2. Yeah, I was getting a Hamlet vibe. :)

  4. Who am I? Who are you? I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. You don’t know nothing about my life. You don’t know what I wanted to be when I was six or how I resigned myself to being what I am now. You don’t know about the infrequent victories and omnipresent failures. You don’t know that I’m a person just like you.

    I’m not just like you. No two people are the same. That seems simple, but people seem to have trouble wrapping their brain around it. I don’t know why. Seems pretty straightforward.

    And seeing as how we’re different people and everything, I’m not sure where you get off looking at my life through your lens. That’s not cricket. You don’t want to know what I think about the choices you make – the way they look when viewed through MY lens.

    And I’m not a fool, so for the most part I keep my mouth shut.
    We are all selfish and if you can’t admit it you’re a selfish liar. Which is worse than just being selfish. We are selfish by default because our lives interest us more than the lives' of other people.

    Unless their last name is Kardashian. Which makes no sense.

    Me? I’m doing just fine. How about you worry about yourself for a while.

    1. I used to work with a guy who said, "Denial stands for 'don't even no I'm a liar.'" (It works better spoken aloud, as know begins with a k.)

    2. You do such perfect flash pieces. Tight, concise, dreamy and substantive. This is gonna sound stupid but they make me think of coins in a fountain, the way your throw them out there, like wishes.

  5. Every story has an ending. Every writer, every reader knows that. It’s just that with a book, a real book, you can tell how many pages are left.

    The storm was unexpected. He was climbing a mountain, a mountain he’d always wanted to climb, when the clouds rolled in.

    There's not a lot of shelter above tree line, but he knew the drill. If you feel the hair on the back of your neck rise not from fear but from undischarged electricity, if the air takes on a glimmer, drop down flat to the ground and pray.

    The clouds obscured the blue sky of morning, grew darker, and darker still.

    He persevered. He was not going to miss this once in a lifetime climb. Each year he grew older, his bones and muscles weaker. It was now or never.

    The rain came, cold and bigger drops than he was used to.

    He’d planned this trip all year. His gear was purchased one piece at a time after reading a hundred reviews. He knew to the ounce the weight of his pack.

    He stopped to take a sip of water. The rain turned to something like sleet. Graupel, the Germans called it. Like little bits of popcorn. Popped water, he thought, and laughed.

    He continued the climb. One foot after the other through granite rubble from millions, maybe billions of years ago. Even mountains are not eternal.

    The lichen on some of the larger rocks intrigued him. The plants engorged themselves on the unexpected deluge, doubling in size as they drank the water in, saving as much as they could for drier days.

    The graupel changed back to rain, and then to mist. He breathed easier. Maybe this was just a brief storm.

    The bolt of lightning came without warning. It struck a boulder not a hundred feet away. It shattered into a million pieces as the tiny pockets of water, trapped in cracks made over the centuries, boiled into steam.

    He did not feel pain as the granite shards pierced his eyes, his skin, his heart.

    There are no page numbers in life.

    1. Oh, that last line. Boom. And this: Even mountains are not eternal.

      I love this piece. Kind of a fable vibe which I always love, and it's so steady. Really well carved.

    2. Uh, this one almost literally hurt. The abruptness, the randomness. I was momentarily relieved that the lightning didn't get him. :(

    3. Amazingly precision again! Man "against" Nature. I still don't get those who think they can conquer it.

  6. It was a small thing. She heard the thump on the window. It startled her, but she kept at making breakfast. When she’d eaten, and when she'd finished the dishes, he stepped outside to see what it was.

    It was a small thing. A tiny bird. A humming bird. Her normal squeamishness was somehow arrested and she knelt to pick it up. Even dead, it deserved some respect.

    She nearly dropped it when she saw it blink. Not dead after all. She felt a vibration. Its heart. It tilted its head to look at her. She wondered if the bird thought she was a predator or a savior.

    From out of nowhere a small tear ran down her cheek. Why did everything beautiful have to suffer? She took the bird inside. Made a nest for it in a teacup, lined with a soft towel.

    She boiled some water and added sugar to it. Rustled through drawers to find a medicine dropper. Waited until the sugar water had cooled, and then fed the tiny creature, a drop at a time.

    Was it her imagination, or did the bird look at her differently now? With a kind of awe? Or maybe it thought the eye dropper was an ugly flower.

    When the bird stopped feeding, she took the teacup outside, in the sun, to keep the tiny fluffball warm.

    She watched as it stretched its wings, just a little. And then it lifted off and flew, hovering near her, staring her in the eye.

    It circled, it dived, and then it left.

    She went inside, and waited for the phone to ring. Waited for the doctor to call about her daughter.

    It was a small thing, but she’d made a difference.

    1. Oh man, you know you got me in the heart with this one. Love it.

    2. <3 No one does heartrending/beautiful like you do, Leland. Love this.

    3. So beautiful. I love those little critters. I love how this is so balanced—neither hurried nor abrupt. It moves in its own circle of time.

    4. Gorgeous, may we all remember that no matter the stress, the magic of small things ALWAYS makes a difference.

  7. It was the end of summer, the last week before school. County fair time. Carousels, Ferris wheels, and coin toss games.

    I was the little brother who always got in the way, even though I was seventeen. Big brother was on a date that Mom would only let him go on if he took me along.

    I spent a lot of time waiting, which I didn’t mind, to be honest. I liked watching people. Guys, mostly, but I didn’t tell anyone that.

    The carny hands fascinated me. It was the sixties, and tattoos were still dangerous and forbidden unless they were military themed. I fantasized that they were gypsies, we’d call them Roma now, but then I believed they were full of magic.

    Muscles. T-shirts without sleeves. And jeans that had holes in strategic places.

    Maybe I stared too long, or maybe he had the second sight, but one of them caught me looking. I waited for an insult, or a fist, or a burst of fire.
    But he smiled. His eyes crinkled, and he stared back. He held one finger up, telling me in sign language to wait.

    Like I could do anything else. He disappeared, not in a cloud of smoke, but around a corner, and just as suddenly reappeared, carrying a mass of blue cotton candy and walking right toward me.

    He didn’t say a word. He just held it in front of my face. I lifted my hand to take it, but he pulled it back, shaking his head. He held it in front of me again.

    I leaned toward the cotton candy and snared a bit of it with my mouth. He grinned. I leaned again, and he withdrew the candy again, this time making a gesture to follow him.

    I looked up to the top of the Ferris wheel, where my brother and his date were stopped. I caught up to him, and he pulled me close, in the shadows behind the funhouse. He let me have one more bite of cotton candy before he dropped it on the ground.

    He looked into my eyes, an unspoken question, I nodded an unspoken yes.

    And he kissed me. His hands found their way into my back pockets, and I inhaled the scent of grease and sweat.

    When, breathless, we pulled apart, he laughed, and I laughed, and we kissed again. Slower this time, and his hands moved up my back as mine found his pockets.

    Again our lips parted, and he whispered in my ear, "You are wise to carry your money in your front pocket. This way I was only able to steal your heart."

    He took my hand and pulled me back into the lights and noise, and we looked together at my brother, still at the top of the Ferris wheel.

    "Should I let them down?" he asked mischievously.

    I shook my head no. But he did anyway.

    "Sorry about the malfunction, ladies and gentlemen, but sometimes the ride pauses long enough for a kiss."

    When my brother stepped off the ride, he had lipstick on his cheeks.

    Maybe carny workers are magic after all. When I got home, I found a scrap of paper with his name in my back pocket, and the next night I went to the fair alone.

    Kriztof, I will never forget you.

    1. Ah, this is awesome. And I feel like we could write about carnies and NEVER run out of material.

    2. Ha, "long enough for a kiss." The pocket comment. This carny is wise, a full character told in a handful of words.

  8. Gonna start me a Cosmic Kool aid stand
    Change my message; change my brand
    We got so many flavors to choose from these days
    Corporate smoothies
    Hail and Kale; vegetable broth with a hint of bone.
    A religion to tell you you’re never alone.
    The world’s upside down, so come and drink up!
    Salvation served up in a red Solo cup.
    I got imitation communion wine
    Stuff with sparkle but no real kick
    Sweet tea followed up with a dash of sin.
    I got Lotus and Scotus and Sapphire gin.
    We got Christian and Nazi and nationalist too
    Sugary, harmless and made just for you.
    Become a spiritual warrior, listen to my gospel of apocalypse
    Arm yourselves with loyalty
    And a couple of sips.
    Look at the world around you, find your authority, like me.
    Cause I have the Kool aid in all of its flavors
    Follow me, follow me.
    I ain’t gonna lie, we’re all gonna die, so why stay to fight ?
    The end is near; the message is clear
    There’s too much wrong to make it right.
    Sure, I’ll tell you death ain’t dying
    And Kool aid ain’t no big.
    I’ll tell you instead, your ultimate choice is to lower your voice
    And follow your authority.
    So pick your poison , find your peace
    It comes in all flavors, I make it easy to compromise
    And you can find tranquility
    As long as you’re loyal and believe the lies.
    As your leader, I tell you, always remember.
    I am the self fulfilling prophecy.

    1. Whoa... this is so good! Maggie has an unfinished book called "Maggie's Cosmic Koolaid Stand," believe it or not... this is truly cool... my favorite line, and one you should consider for a title for your forthcoming book of verse, is "Salvation served up in a red Solo cup."

    2. Yup. I highlighted that line. And also the lower your voice. I mean this in the best possible way. I am fucking lovin this Dr Seuss/Phil Ochs mashup voice.

    3. And rhyming apocalypse with "a couple of sips" is some Wu-Tang level shit.

  9. Another beginning. Please, writing gods, give me an ending this time, ffs!

    As usual it is Jasmine who decides on a road trip on the day of the summer solstice.

    Nick is on a break from work and happy to go along; Jasmine seems to always be free. They decide to head south, more a sixty-forty this time.

    The first thing they see is a field of goats in the early morning shadow of a mountain. Small goats. Not babies. Just small. They are brown or black with white extremities and they don't move anything like sheep. They are alert and impudent.

    "Let's keep to backroads," says Jasmine.

    Languid, Nick nods.

    In some ways, morning is always suffused with expectancy, but on this June morning, the early sun is apportioned like many splayed and feminine hands reaching past mountainsides and forests, misting the cool air with warmth, with the waking breath of Earth.

    Nick chooses something ambient, desiring a proper soundtrack. Eno.

    Jasmine allows the slightest flinch to flicker on her face, a momentary veto.

    Nick chooses to ignore it.

    "So," she says.

    Seat back, almost supine, he looks her way, at her immaculate posture behind the wheel, at her habitual bright vigilance. He has no idea how to respond.

    "Say something," she urges.

    "Uh. Goats."

    That makes her laugh, and he is truly glad.

    An eagle lifts to their left on escalating thermals, its stark blacks and whites spurning the compromise of grey. Nick watches the eagle until his neck cranes too far, and Jasmine stares down the asphalt as it runs underneath their boxy old Cherokee, the road a long roll of dull torn paper hankering for a story.

    1. I don’t even have to close my eyes to see this.... beautiful.

    2. Honestly, this might be my favorite piece of yours. That last P is fucking deadly. And, oddly, this: Languid, Nick nods. Now, odd because that's not something I should like. It's great, but it just isn't my thing, but it's perfect here. You need to finish this and submit it to the New Yorker.

      Or I'm gonna finish it and send it to the New Yorker.

    3. This one I have an end and some idea of a middle, but I'm struggling to write that middle part. Glad you like the imagery, brother. Holy crap, the New Yorker! That's a little above my pay grade, no? (Although, nothing ventured...)

  10. Everything became silent when the radio clicked off. The bungs in his ears prevented any other sound from reaching him. The lenses in the mask's eye-holes were darkened too, rendering most things as either shadows or shapes. If he stared at the light that hung from the ceiling he could see its filament, the tungsten wire bright white against the grey globe that surrounded it. But this was the whole of his world.

    He'd had a body before. He still had one now, he supposed, but he wasn't certain. He had hands and he had feet, each of them lost now, stranded somewhere out in space. If he clenched his hands, there was some sense of them being there, the same with his feet but less so. It had been such a long time ago, like a dream; him walking in the country, scenting the air about him, feeling the sun's warmth on his face.

    It was almost as if it had been another man.

    He was quiet now. He'd tried to attract someone's attention before, shouting and screaming and then sobbing. The woman had come to him then, removing the scarf she'd knotted and then tied about his head, thinking it might have been enough to silence him. She'd put the mask on him then, its insert slotting between his jaws and capturing his tongue, making it impossible for him to do anything but breathe. There was another pair of inserts for his nostrils, the tubes disappearing somewhere behind his ears, the woman pinching them until it seemed he might die. She'd inserted the solid black lenses then, cutting him off from the world, so her voice was the only thing for him then, warning him of how he'd been forgotten, how he'd been presumed lost at sea, that his body was either mouldering in the mud or eaten by eels for all that anyone knew.

    That was the first time he'd wished he could die.

    1. This is terrifying. You’ve captured most of my biggest fears in this piece. Well done!

    2. Holy shit dude! I agree. Fucking intense. And super tight. Brilliant.

    3. Oh god, shutting down the senses...terrifying ain't half of it. Well done!

  11. The (Try Not) To Do List

    1. Try not to think of them.
    2. Try not to think of them so much.
    3. Try not to think of them on weekends.
    4. Try not to think of them in public.
    5. Try not to think of them when you’re alone.
    6. Try not to think of them in the rain.
    7. Try not to think of them in the shower.
    8. Try not to think of them when you try watching TV.
    9. Try not to think of them when you try reading.
    10. Try not to think of them when you look up at the sky.
    11. Try not to think of them when you look down at the sidewalk.
    12. Try not to think of them while eating.
    13. Try not to think of them when you can’t eat a bite.
    14. Try not to think of them while you’re writing.
    15. Try not to think of them while sitting in front of a blank screen.
    16. Try not to think of them even though you know you can’t.
    17. Try not to think of them when they’re all you can think of.
    18. Try not to think of them at all.
    19. Try not to think of them.
    20. Try not to think.
    21. Try not to.
    22. Try.
    23. Cry.

    1. Heartbreaking, my friend... and the contrast of the orderly numbering of the heartbreak makes it all the more poignant.

    2. Thank you, Leland. I was asked to write a story made from a list. I did one a few years ago about my last day of working and first day of retirement. I was stuck because I'm in a rough emotional patch right now. A month and a half ago my oldest and closest friend died. On Thursday his wife called me to see how *I'm* doing. Not well. Then Saturday I watched Meghan McCain eulogize her father and my sister-in-law posted a photo of my youngest brother's grave on another holiday without him. Let's say my emotional scab has been ripped again. And so I wrote this story. It's funny (not in a ha ha way) how sometimes you realize the love you had for people only when you lose them. Or maybe you realize how much they loved you. And you can't stop thinking about that for a month and a half or years and years. So you do your best to get by with the thought of them always there next to your consciousness in your head and heart. And sometimes you just cry.


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