Friday, February 1, 2019

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.

They sat in silence, passing stories with their eyes - three months on the trail and they didn't need words; the snow fell steadily and Slim was trying to drink enough to die. He looked dead. He wasn't. He wasn't alive either. He was caught in the empty space between the two; his eyes were rheumy, his skin pale, and he did not know that this would be his last ride. They would kill him, leave him bleeding - they would kill him for nothing. Boredom. Spite. Profit. Most likely the last.

The fire spit sparks into the night, sending them to dance with the stars. There was a wind that smelled of coyote - the night rang with their song. Dawn was far off, and the men had a long way to ride in the morning, but no one felt like closing their eyes. Death was in the air. It choked them; they knew the taste but could not place it. 

The dogs were half dead and long past caring. They would soon run off in a cannibalistic sprint; now they sniffed for coyote and pretended they were brave. 

The miners would find the body and they'd wonder. Love or gold. It always came down to love or gold. Or hate. But hate doesn't fill the belly. Hate isn't something you can wrap your frantic arms around. Nope, they would know. Love or gold. 

In country like that, you can have one or the other. And neither comes cheap.

#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. White light. Uncomfortable. Hot. Sweltering. She craved the dark and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the cocoon she was buxom buddies with. But they pried her loose. Crowbars in words. Not dripping, sticky sweet, or covered with lipstick promises.

    She was more familiar with the unfamiliar and gnashed her teeth, ripping chunks from their own comfortable familiarity.

    Soon. She would find her way back into the inky black. Soon.

    1. I really like the use of language in this piece: creates a palpable anxiety. Very tight construction.

    2. Thank you JD. :) That means a lot!

    3. I hadn't participated in a long while and thought it was time to shake the dust off. Your pieces always seem so polished. As I am trying to get my new book finished by March and 30th, this helped propel the imagination and further a scene I was working on.

    4. I Love this, evocative yet use of language is so concise.

  2. Great piece, Dan-o. Vividly and bleakly painted. I especially like the passage about being neither alive nor dead.

  3. She rested his hand on his arm. His skin was warm, smooth, and dry. Perfect, like all of him.

    He smiled at her, a flash of slightly crooked teeth that deepened the crinkles by his eyes, eyes alight with amusement. He didn’t cover her hand with his, like in some schmoopy movie or romance novel, and he didn’t shake her off. Instead, he poked her in the ribs. She glared at him, and his smile grew, wider at the mouth, deeper around the eyes.

    A few heartbeats later, she lifted her hand from his arm, resisted the urge to stroke the salt-and-pepper bristle along his jaw, and turned her attention to whatever their friends had been talking about.

    No more than two minutes passed before he jabbed at her again, this time with words, a gentle tease. She glared at him; he smiled. She kicked him under the table, and he laughed. She wondered, sometimes, what it would be like to shut him up with a kiss instead, but she wasn’t going to try that here, now. Not with an audience. Maybe one day soon. Or maybe one day later. Maybe, just maybe, he would even kiss her, instead, so she didn’t have to make the first move.

    One thing she did know—whenever it happened, it would be perfect. Just like him.

    1. Super tactile. I like the poking/prodding - this felt intimate to me. Heads up, typo in the first sentence. ;)

    2. Oooh. That was like a game of footsies between your ears!

  4. Big As All Winter, Small As a Snowflake

    10:00 AM
    It’s been a light,
    excuse-me snow fallen all morning.
    The kind you may not notice
    if you look out the window
    through these sheer white curtains,
    because that’s what’s happening
    outside, too.
    But after a couple of hours
    or so, your upstate New York
    genetic wiring kicks in
    and you part the curtains
    to see what you’ll need to
    shovel away as soon as
    “Excuse me. Don’t get up”
    turns into
    “It’s been nice, see ya.”

    12:00 Noon
    It’s still snowing,
    and Winter’s great eraser
    has softened most of
    the jagged debris left
    by the plows from the last snow,
    like Nature’s own Photoshop app.
    Even the stains the dog next door
    left to certify my driveway
    is really his, have disappeared
    behind today’s gentle white curtains.

    2:00 PM
    It's time to close the sheers
    and let Nature take her course,
    or teach it,
    because snow is always better
    seen and not yet herded
    into Man's gray boundaries.
    Of course, that’s only if you can
    just watch it from a poet’s perch,
    where everything looks smooth
    and clean as this paper
    before I buried it under
    flurries of worries about things
    that can feel big as all Winter
    and small as a snowflake.

    1. There's a whole lot of spare, tight beauty in this piece brother. This made me think of Raymond Chandler. Not sure why exactly?

    2. Thanks, partner. More than likely the personal, spare and procedural timeline it's hung on. And Chandler? You blush me, man!

    3. It takes a very wise man not to fight with Mother Nature.

    4. I love the images you create. I love the "excuse-me snow."

  5. I'm not trying to distract me, but goddamn there is a lot of noise inside my head. Shit's like a beehive on meth and mescaline. MAGA hats and screams and tears. And I've started to have that old man mentality. Not a cheerful old man either, but the kind of old man who is surly to people he doesn't know anything about, wondering what skeletons dance in folks' closets.

    I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't want to be an American, but my parents were, and they didn't ask for any input from me. They fucked in America, birthed me in America, and they expected me to think being American meant something.


    It means something all right. It means a hell of a lot. It's just that right now it means we're all simpleton assholes because we let politicians and corporations fuck every thing up. Fuck you and your flag. I'll pledge allegiance to no one.

    It's getting harder not to hate rich folks. I work with kids, and that's important. My dreams for the future? Shit, they're dormant. They're not allowed in the building, braced by the door man.

    I don't want to pick sides. Or if I do, why red and blue? I want to pick the side with the free-thinking shit-disturbers. Where did they all go. They started selling real estate because the devil didn't want their souls.

    Yeah, I'm bitter. Yeah, I'm old.

    I'm just ready to wake up from the American Nightmare now. The clowns have taken over, and they're scary clowns, not funny. They're made of lies and misplaced money.

    And I, for one, don't find it funny. Not one bit.

    1. Word. But you can't let it make you feel old much less defeated. Even if all we got is our rage to keep us warm, use it!

  6. Oh dear, another one that seems to have some legs. I can't quite master this flash thing, but I'll try to post more tomorrow...

    When you move to a town called Justice, the first thing you’re going to need is one of them caller IDs. Because, believe me, no matter what anybody tells you about community and neighbors and so forth, no one ever calls just to say hello.
    Nobody ever told me that before we came here, and naturally, I didn’t think too much about it, but Tom’s job insisted he help build up their new industrial business park, just outside the city limits and since the kids were just out of school that summer, it seemed as good a time as any to relocate, since we couldn’t afford the rents where we were, anyhow. I’d never been too much for the whole picket fence thing personally, but the company found us a realtor and before we knew it, we had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch, a half acre of back yard with an above-ground pool and a hot tub, and a 30 year mortgage that still left us enough to buy shoes and food at the end of the month.
    Of course, I’d always been pretty much of a city girl. To my untrained eye, the long low ranch at the end of the cul de sac had all the architectural charm of your average Federal penitentiary, but everybody else seemed to think life in Justice was all very novel and American dreamish, so I counted my blessings as best I could and tried to put down some roots, as they say, since that was where the gods had seen fit to plant me. What I didn’t know about Justice was how they felt about transplants; I’d never quite noticed how all the native plants and flowers also had thorns.
    Once the kids were in school and my Tom had disappeared into his job, I looked around for something to get more involved with than I was with HGTV. Maybe I wasn’t really paying attention when I toured the Justice Downtown Historic District and read the plaques. I don’t know, on the surface of it, Justice looked a lot like a hundred thousand other American cities with historic downtowns. Which was just not all that interesting , if you ask me. The bronze ware was all about how it was founded by some preacher named Ezekiel T. Justice, who foraged to the west and then the south, seeking refuge from persecution by the Huguenots, or the Presbyterians or the Catholics or the Yankees and this brave band of pioneers killed a lot of Indians with their brave band of etcetera and got his brother-in-law, famed architect nobody ever heard of to build this courthouse in the Grecian style, blah blah blah. We did all go to the Historic Downtown Christmas tree lighting, but it was about 65 that night and despite the carolers and the manger and all the applause, at the end of the day, what can I tell you? There wasn’t a wet eye in the house. Not even mine.
    So, not being much interested in the local lore, I spent a lot of time that winter on my laptop in the coffee shop on Main. If there’s one thing you can say about a town like Justice, it’s a great place to observe the human condition. Assuming you’re fascinated by things like that. Having lived there, I have mixed feelings, myself.

  7. She remembers more joyful winters than the one she’s experiencing at the moment. Of bundling up in snow suits and sledding and pelting her brothers with snowballs stored in the arsenal of her fort. Coming inside for hot chocolate, abandoning all the wet, dripping gear in its appointed place. Of stomping atop iced-over puddles, fascinated by the rivulets of water that cut through the melting snow. Who said it had to stop? Who said winter now had to be freeing cars from stuck places, living in fear of a fall on ice, consumed with how much the next repair to the things that keep her warm is going to cost?

    She wonders about that now, as she crawls into the passenger side of her car, aiming her body for a good kick at the frozen-stuck driver’s side door. After a couple of blows, it opens, and she lets out a good long breath, the white vapor dissipating toward the car’s roof.

    But that’s only the first part of her adventure. Next is getting out of the ditch she’d slid into the night before. Her brother said to wait until he and his friend could get there with the tow truck and his gear—why bother waiting around in the cold—but it irked her that she needed to be rescued, for one, and she doubly hated that she had to be rescued by men. By now she’s gotten herself into the driver’s seat, and leans back against the headrest, feeling a good cry coming on.

    No. This is not going to happen. Plus, she isn’t sure that her tears wouldn’t freeze on her cheeks, in her eyelashes, leading to frostbite. She blinks, and blinks, and presses a slightly-used tissue from her pocket to her closed eyelids.

    Then checks her phone again, to see what might be causing the delay. No message. No signal. She stares blankly out the window of her semi-sideways car, staring at the meadow across the road from the ditch. All that fluffy snow, its thin crust broken only by deer tracks. She starts to laugh.

    And that meadow is where they find her, fifteen minutes later, the proud queen of one damn impressive snow fort, rearing up to pelt the tow truck driver and her brother with the contents of her arsenal.

    1. Your writing always pulls me into the scene, visually and emotionally. This is no exception. And I adore her reclaiming winter (and especially like her unleashing frozen hell on her unsuspecting brother :) )

  8. Paper people

    Pieces of a life,
    Of a person,
    Walking in parts,
    A cut-out kind of thing;
    Words, pictures, phrases
    Spun as in a dance,
    And so we begin
    To wander in,
    Trying on the sounds,
    Fumbling with expressions,
    Colours ripped and bodied,
    Rainbows cut adrift,
    Parting, so revealing
    A life in parts,
    Dismembered, remembered.

  9. The tigress

    She loves the light,
    This silent torn play;
    A dance with leopards
    Skinned and unmasked.

    It grins with a grim cadence,
    This sensation of despair.
    The curtain splits deep red
    And my feet are dripping wet.

    I cannot breathe this in,
    I cannot breathe it out.

    This legendary staged adieu
    Is caught and I am split in two,
    But she loves the light so,
    And the dark knows its lovers.

  10. His mustache had ice on it. His hands were numb. And he stood, with guitar on his back, on the sidewalk across the street from two establishments.

    On the left, the sign said Patty’s Pawn Shop, in pretty pink neon script, flickering just a little. The windows were barred and filled with lost dreams: Cameras, musical instruments, power tools.

    On the right, the Linger Longer Tavern. White neon, bright, but the “er” was unlit in Longer. Linger Long, he thought to himself, that might work in a song. Not much for windows in the tavern, just a small one at eye level, with a poster.

    “Open Mic Night,” it promised. “Hundred dolar prize,” it said in misspelled glory.

    It was a night of choices. His girlfriend told him they needed money for diapers and formula. He knew they needed money for food, too.

    “You gonna pawn that thing so we can eat?” she screeched at him.

    He grabbed the guitar that his granddaddy gave him twenty years ago and fled without answering.
    He knew where the pawnshop was. Half the things they owned were already there. Playstation. Amps. Mics. Her engagement ring. He walked there and wondered how it had all come to this.

    And now, he was faced with a decision. Sing a song, and maybe earn a prize, or hock the guitar and get home with some money.

    The wind stopped, and for a moment, he felt warm, or at least less cold.

    What should I do, Granddaddy? he asked silently.
    And in a whisper, he heard the answer, “Do the right thing.”

    He looked both ways before crossing the street, and headed into the tavern, humming a little tune and imagining the chords he’d use.

    A Night Filled with Choices didn’t bring the house down that night, but it did win him the money, and while he sang it, the bar went quiet, and when he was done, there was applause.

    He bought a rose for his girlfriend, and picked up diapers and formula on the way home.

    When he unlocked the door, he shouted, “I’m home!”

    But there was only darkness and silence; they were gone.

    Darkness and Silence charted a year later, but Granddaddy never whispered from beyond the grave again.

    1. Wow. I love this. I love the twist, and the choices, and even the sadness. So well done. I feel like I know this guy.

  11. Welp.Loved the linger longer.Loved the whole thing. Only I wanted the story to linger longer just because he really did do the right thing...


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