Friday, March 22, 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....

Yellow, the sun sits in the elbow of the day. The clouds rest their bulk on the forearm’s strength. The blue sky covers the periphery, and Jack sits with his back against the rough bark of a streamside tree. He has fished enough. There was no objective. No timeline. Freedom...


From the canopy of trees, the sound of a meadowlark erupts clean and distinct. The sound stills the air, but it cannot occupy the space. The birdsong is stolen by the sky and the trees. 


Sitting against the tree, Jack thinks about the woman he lost. He cannot remember her name. Not now. Fifty years have passed; his mind is going. Sometimes, he remembers, sometimes, he does not. 


The smell of rot is thick in the air. A thick, growing smell. The smell of life, of soil being turned.


Jack closes his eyes and breathes into the tree. He is ready to join the current. He is ready to be part of it all. 

#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..  

49 comments:

  1. Such moments, on the cusp between the seasons, on the cusp between life and death. I know them.

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    1. Yes. I love the parallel of nature and the body, all winding together. Nice.

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    2. From the arresting opening image on, this is a lovely, lyrical piece.

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    3. Inevitably sad but oh so beautifully written.

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  2. Why is it always cowboys?

    Why can’t I fall in love with a nice banker or an insurance salesman?

    Carleen—she’s my therapist—says it’s because I crave adventure. That I’m used to being left behind. That abandonment is what I’m most comfortable with.

    Maybe Carleen is right. Daddy left Mama when I was five. Her second husband left when I was seven. I kinda lost track after that. None of them were cowboys, though, don’t get me wrong. Now that I think about it, I think her third husband was a banker. Or maybe just a bank teller.

    Maybe Carleen is wrong. Maybe I need to look at it as me doing the abandoning. I mean, a couple of the guys I’ve dated—I mean, been with—have asked me to come along with them. On the circuit. The rodeo circuit. But what kind of life would that be? I always say no.

    But when the rodeo comes to town, I always check the roster to see if my favorites have come back. Not many do.
    But last night, at Charlie’s—that’s a dance bar—I ran into Beau again. Seen him the last four years. We had some good times. Knew it was him before he even turned around. You get to the point where you can recognize a cowboy by how he wears his Wranglers, well, you’re in some kinda trouble. Carleen would call it a fixation.

    ‘Course, it also helped that his belt had BEAU spelled out on the back. But I knew it was him. He turned halfway around, to order another beer, and I saw something had happened to his face. Not a bruise. A big ol’ scar. From his eye down to his lip.

    I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. He turned all the way around, and damn his smile was even sexier with the scar.

    “I was hopin’ you’d be here tonight,” he said.

    “I was hopin’, too.” Which was a lie. Sort of. I was hoping he, or Lester, or Reggie, or... well, I was hoping for a familiar face, that’s all I’m sayin’.

    “This is my last rodeo.”

    “Why? You gettin’ married and settlin’ down or something?” I can go from zero to flirt in less than ten seconds.

    “I hope so, but I haven’t asked yet.”

    “You pretty sure the answer’s gonna be yes?” My hand dropped a little lower on his back.

    And I’ll be damned, Beau got down on his knees, in his painted-on Wranglers, looked up at me while he held my hand, and asked me to marry him.

    And I said yes.

    We found a justice of the peace that night, and made it all legal.

    And my only regret, as I sip my coffee in our house in Montana? That I didn’t get to invite Carleen to the wedding so I could tell her she was full of shit.

    It’s not always cowboys. Sometimes it’s just one cowboy. All the others were just practice.

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  3. You wanna know why I gave up talk radio? Let me tell you about a show I hosted one night. No, let me play you the tape. Maybe then you’ll understand.

    “Thank you for calling Tell It to Jesus on KRSS, here in Humboldt, Nebra...”

    “I’m going to kill myself.”

    “Whoa, hold on caller, take a deep...”

    “And it’s because of you. You said I was going to hell, so I wanna see if you’re right.”

    “Jesus loves us all...”

    “All except the perverts, you said.”

    “Well, now, son...”

    “I’m not your son. I am anathema, you said...”

    “It’s never too late to repent, unless you kill yourself...”

    “I can’t repent what I am. Who I am. God knows I’ve tried.”

    “God does know all, caller. Hey, can I get your name?”

    “You can call me Earl. Or anything else you want.”

    “Earl. A good, strong name. Stay with me Earl, tell me where you are.”

    “So you can send someone to talk me out of it? Cops, maybe? No. And this won’t be a long call, I know you’re probably tracing it. I just want you to know that you’re a killer, sure as if you were holding the gun I’ve got in my hand...”

    “Earl, listen to me, nothing is worth...”

    “Killing myself over? Didn’t you say all fags should be put to death?”

    “Well, I never meant that literally, Earl, now...”

    “Jesus loves me, and he knows I’m gay, Rev. It’s you going to hell...”

    BOOM

    And that was my last show. My manager wanted to run with it, get press coverage on it. I said no.

    Don’t you wanna know why?

    Because every night, I hear that kid in my head, and every night, I’m a little more sure he’s right. I am going to hell.

    And you wanna know the kicker? My own son, my own flesh and blood. Turns out he’s gay, too. Was.

    Wanna know how I found out?

    Yeah, he told me in his suicide note. And he signed it “Earl.”

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  4. Part 1

    I was putting his nine iron back in the bag when the thunder started. Which was weird because the sky was almost totally clear. But in Florida, you never knew. You’d think we’d be used to the changing weather, but there was something different about this rumble. It almost sounded like a warning.

    At least he thought so because I swear he flinched.

    I’d only caddied for him a few times, when his regular guy couldn’t make it. “Everything all right, sir?”

    “Yeah. Yeah, fine.” Making a tight fit in the passenger seat of his golf cart, he wiggled a hand into the front pocket of his khakis and came out with a sweaty ten-dollar bill and shoved it at me. “Kid, take a walk, okay?”

    I took a walk. I’m not stupid. The pay there was shitty. I only worked for tips. And, occasionally, whatever food was left over.

    Still, I had this sense of something not quite right. If his heart finally exploded (and among the caddies we were taking bets as to when) I didn’t want to be the guy who walked off and left his charge in trouble on the back nine. I’d never work in this town again. So I took a few steps away and hid behind a bunker.

    “What?” he said, seemingly to no one. “Seriously, in the middle of one of my best games—”

    Lightning flashed. Like that sky-to-ground shit. So close I nearly pissed myself.

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. You want me to stop lying so much. Sure. I can do that.”

    Thunder. It sounded like the sky was laughing.

    “Watch me, loser. I got this.”

    Loser. He’d called God loser? Because that was another thing discussed among the caddies. That while he played the course, he talked to God. And it wasn’t always respectful. He talked to God like he was someone who worked for him. I never called myself that religious, but even I knew that wasn’t right. You don’t call bullshit on God. If you want to live.

    Another rumble came like a question.

    He threw his hands up. “Because it’s easier than the truth,” he said. “Hell, nobody cares what you tell them. I know what they wanna hear. And it ain’t the truth. If I went out and told the truth I’d lose a million Twitter followers, easy. I’d never sign a boob again.”

    The sky responded. The clouds darkening. “For fuck’s sake, how can you be that naïve? You must be a Democrat.”

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  5. Part 2

    I totally expected lightning after that. Like, for the whole club to get blasted off the face of the earth. I even put my arms up over my head.

    Nothing.

    He shot his middle finger toward the sky. “Pussy. Loser. I don’t know what those evangelicals see in you. Maybe they’re smoking something. I think you fucked it up, and you fucked it up big, and now you’re trying to blame it on someone else.”

    I’d never heard thunder that loud before. It shook the ground.

    But the man only chuckled. “Obviously you’ve forgotten we had a deal. And that you signed a solid NDA. I’ll have your ass in court so fast you won’t believe it. Acosta won’t even believe it.”

    The sky responded and the man laughed louder.

    That was when I saw it. The dark spot at the edge of the rough. He was facing away from me, and the words flooded my brain, as insistent as a command from…well, Him. “You know what to do,” I swore it was saying, and for some reason I could not take my eyes from the iron sticking farther out of the bag than the others.

    I crawled over there—fortunately he was occupied with whatever trash-talk he was doing with the Big Guy—inched it out of the bag and, employing skills I’d honed playing pool and darts in many, many bars, I sailed it true and it landed near the dark spot.

    Thunder sounded like a snort of amusement.

    “What?” The man turned. I ducked away, back behind the bunker. “Aw, who the fuck left that over there. Caddy. Caddy? Hey. Pablo!”

    My name is Juan.

    He worked his cell phone out of his pocket. “No fucking signal. We had a deal. We had a deal! Five fucking big shiny bars wherever the hell I am.” A slow, rolling peal of thunder. “Fine. Be that way. I’ll just have to get it myself. No thanks to you.”

    He tossed the phone onto the seat next to him and struggled to pull his bulk from the cart. Scowling, he lumbered across the green toward the rough. As he was bending, he clutched his chest, dropped to the grass, and it seemed the earth, through that dark spot, opened up to swallow him.

    I could do nothing but stare for what felt like minutes. Then I snuck out from behind my hiding space, got the club, cleaned it up pretty, and put it back in the bag. The sky looked a little lighter. The dark spot was just as green as the rest of the thirteenth hole. I thought it best to leave the cell phone where he’d dropped it.

    I felt something then, like a hand in my shirt pocket. Very slowly, I checked it and found a crisp new twenty.

    I’m not stupid. I dropped that twenty into the first church collection bin I saw.

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    1. Wow... really well told, and riveting. And is it wrong that I laughed at the end? Thanks for sharing this.

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    2. I laughed myself. I enjoyed this piece. I could hear the sky growl!

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    3. Thank you! I laughed, too. (Is that thunder I hear?)

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    4. If it's wrong to laugh, here's another one lining up for the gates of hell.

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    5. Visual and yes, absolutely totally laugh out loud several times like @ We had a deal! Five fucking big shiny bars wherever the hell I am.”

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    6. It also amuses me that even though eblogger calls it "anonymous," I knew exactly whose it was.

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  6. Angry. So many wasted moments over the last five-years. When I thought I found the love of my life, everything inexplicably changed. For me.

    I didn't think I would be the one with the heart ripped open, laying on the floor, feeling dead to the world. The love I had trickled slowly from the papercuts wounded from the lies. White lies. Fibs. Untold tells. I hemorrhaged the so-called-forever. Bled out when he blamed me.

    The greatest conman ever known. Placing blame away from himself to hide in plain sight the inside-darkness he camouflaged.

    I fell for it. Almost drowned in it. Suffocated slowly, choking. And now I rise.

    From the ash I will begin anew as his world burns on the pyre. I'll watch as the flames char black the guard he mounted slowly disintegrates.

    Forever will have a different meaning. Always .

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    1. Ah, painful, yet full of hope, too. “And now I rise” is one of the most powerful and true sentences I’ve read in a long time. The Phoenix rises, and never looks back at the ashes left behind.

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    2. Thanks Leland. I am the Phoenix!

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    3. I like the hope in the pain. And "I hemorrhaged the so-called-forever."

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    4. Totally been there. And not unhappy to look back there with this fresh and taut perspective.

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  7. She was not beautiful in a conventional way. There was a mole, not a beauty mark, just to one side of her nose. Her eyelashes, never plucked, sat like woolybear caterpillars above her mousy gray eyes.
    If you looked closely, you could see the beginnings of a mustache above her lips.

    But there is where her beauty began. Her lips, permanently set in a smile. Not a fake one, either. It reflected joy and humor and a sort of hope that was contagious.

    And contagious it was, for her otherwise unremarkable eyes sparkled with the same good nature.

    As her doctor, I looked forward to her visits, usually just once a year, unless she came down with the flu. I was supposed to be the healer, but he laughter was a tonic that carried me.

    But not this year.

    Slightly chubby since her first visit eleven years ago, I was surprised to see she’d lost fifteen pounds.

    “New love in your life? You’re right at the weight we talked about last year.”

    She looked down at the floor. “I’ve been having some problems with my stomach. Can’t keep anything down.”

    “How long has this been going on?”

    “A couple months, I guess.”

    “Any other problems? Changes?”

    “My mole. I think it’s growing.”

    I ordered tests, for the mole, and for her stomach.

    “On the plus side, though, you don’t have to give me the lose-some-weight lecture, right?” Her laughter was as hardy as ever.

    And today I give her the results of the tests. The bloodwork, the biopsy of the mole, and the rest, all point to the ugliest word in a doctor’s vocabulary. Yeah, cancer.

    “What’s up, Doc,” she said with a grin, same as every other visit.

    I didn’t have a funny answer, didn’t have any answer.

    “Why the long face? Hey, I haven’t used that line since I told the horse-walked-into-a-bar joke.”

    “I don’t have good news, I’m afraid.”

    “Just give it to me straight, Doc, I can take it.” I’d never seen her without a smile before.

    “We want to run some more tests, but...”

    “I’m gonna tell you something, Doc. Something you should be aware of. Whenever you docs give bad news, you slip into first person plural. Good news, you use ‘I,’ bad news you use ‘we.’”

    I looked into her eyes, and I saw she knew. “It looks like cancer. And it looks like it’s spread.”

    “And when the news is really bad, you slip into passive. Six months then?”

    “We won’t know until we run more tests.”

    The room was quiet. Only her breathing and mine.

    “No more tests, Doc. I’m gonna make these six months the best ever.”

    “But...”

    She was already on her feet and headed to the door. She stopped and turned around. “And you’re going to speak at my funeral. Only no ‘we’ and no passive voice. That shit’ll kill you.”

    Her laughter rang out as she closed the door, and I was left alone in the exam room. And damned if i wasn’t smiling through the tears.

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    1. I loved her grammatical life lessons. Made the piece stunningly real for me.

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  8. Woebegone

    we’re so alone we’re so lonely we’re so alone and callow
    so alone moving along moaning along so don’t follow
    us we’re lost yes
    we’re so lonely so alone we’re so lonely we’re so
    solo
    we’re so bygone
    we’re so alone we’re so alone we’re so lost we’re so last
    we’re so alone we’re so alone we throw the bones we sew the bone
    in sorrow
    so over above and below
    we so hope we’re alone
    we’re so alone we’re so alone we’re so alone please
    pick up the phone
    we’re so gone we’re so unloved we’re so lost
    we’re so alone we’re so once-loved and doleful
    so lonely we’re so woeful
    o leave it alone
    we’re so lonesome dove girl woe be gone girl
    so unlovely we’re so last we’re so left we’re so love
    the love that loves to love yet
    we’re so left and so bereft so woe be gone and
    we’re so longing so unliving so unlaundered
    so wordless shambling far from home and long ago
    so homeless and unholy we know that bird has flown
    we’re so hollow and forlorn
    so wholly mournfully undone
    no no we can’t go home.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. Experimenting here, as if the dolorous bell in my head made actual sounds.

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    2. I was kind of rolling on the waves.

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    3. Bleak and beautiful, captivating rhythm...and I love your wordplay.

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    4. So you're a song(psalm)writer too. I might have known. <3

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  9. Memories of a You I Can't Recall

    I’d ask your name, but I already know.
    It’s who you are behind it I forget.
    Or perhaps I never really knew, so…
    Maybe you are someone I’ve never met.

    I’ve forgotten so many old faces,
    their names have nothing to hang onto there.
    Though sometimes I’ll enter some old places
    and recall how that light danced in your hair.

    Some tell me this is part of growing old,
    losing the treasure of recollection.
    But that faculty has long since grown cold
    since I felt the sting of your rejection.

    So here by this window I sit and write,
    of you nonexistent, and our times so bright.

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    1. a lovely sonnet, my friend, filled with just the right amount of longing.

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    2. Wow. This is pitched so delicately and perfectly.

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  10. Part One:

    “Back up a little.”

    “What? Why?”

    “Because, Genius if I open the door now it will bang right into the tree pit.”

    “You don’t have to lecture or insult me; I can’t see what you see.”

    “Truer words have never been spoken.”

    Luckily it was a quiet time of day in his neighborhood. When Kyle stopped the car in the middle of a backward curve parking job, leaving his front end in the middle of Dean street, there wasn’t another car or driver in sight to pass judgment. Turning off the ignition, he stared out the window clearly refusing to move. Julie turned to stare at him.

    “Are you going to park?”

    “Nope, fight first. You’ve been snarky with me ever since we left Leila’s hospital room.”

    Julie sat back in her seat trying to remember the last time she had a simple uncomplicated conversation with anyone – even her brother. Her pale unblemished skin and heart-shaped face were near perfect, marred only by the streaked and dark smoky eyeshadow and now dry, caked on blood red lipstick she wore.

    “This is not about you and me. I already don’t think I can fight, much less win enough battles in the world to fix what’s broken between me and Leila.”

    “Now you’re just being dramatic. You sound like Dad pontificating right after one of his quarterly trips back into therapy.”

    Julie side-eyed her brother. The fact that Kyle needed a haircut did little to taint his handsomeness. In fact, the problem just became another charming part of his affect. His dark blond layered hair fell into his face occasionally shading his cerulean blue orbs when he talked. Compensating he’d casually slide the back of his hand across his forehead tossing the hair back on top of his head.

    “You and Leila have been friends for ever. It will get better with you and her. And she’ll get better. She has too.”

    “I mean it KK. Did you see her? What they did to her? This is all my fault. We fought. That’s why she left the bar without me. That’s why that fucktard was able to get at her.”

    The tears had begun in earnest, but they weren’t leaving trails on her face. Instead they plopped from Julie’s eyes like a leaky faucet down into the v neck she was wearing and puddled into her sparse, but definitive cleavage.

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  11. Part Two

    “What did you fight about?”

    Julie sniffed loudly. “I…I told her she was stupid.”

    “Niiice.” He said, drawing the word out. “But, not altogether new, Sis. You call everybody stupid. If any of us were going to get mad at you about that, you’d have been setting off triggers, with many more people than just your best friend, years ago.”

    When Julie wouldn’t look at him or respond, Kyle reached over, and put his hand over hers.

    “There must have been more to it Jules. You don’t have to share but I wish you would.”

    “She was complaining about Brian. How they broke up AGAIN and I…I told her she…she was stupid for not giving us a shot. For not realizing it was me and her that were supposed to be together. I told her she was an idiot for pretending she didn’t know I wanted her, and even dumber for not knowing she wanted me too.”

    It was Kyle’s turn to sit back in his seat with a long sputtering sigh. Julie turned to gauge his reaction.

    “What are you thinking?”

    “Honestly?”

    “Of course. Dammit, spit it out.”

    “Well my first thought was how stupid I’ve been to ever ask you for dating advice.”

    “Fuck you.”

    “You wanna know my second thought?”

    Julie sniffed again, nodding vigorously.

    “I was thinking how glad I am you’ve stopped carrying that load.” Julie’s head whipped back to her brother, so he got to say the next part looking directly into her eyes. “I seriously think getting it off your chest. Even, like that? That alone is going to make things a whole lot better for you Sis.”

    “How long have you known?”

    “Probably as long as you. You know it’s funny you and Dad are a lot alike except when it comes to me. He always thinks I’ve got rainbows and skittles shooting outta my ass.”

    “Nice imagery, Squirt.”

    “You, on the other hand, always underestimate me. That’s why it makes me super happy to hand you even the hard truths. So here goes.”

    Kyle takes his sister’s hand in his and places them both over his heart before he speaks again.

    “Jules, the way you’ve been pining for that girl all this time is not only obvious; it’s made you mean. The most embarrassing thing about it is that someone as smart and usually together as you are is just coming to grips with it all now, so of course you had to do your big reveal with the grace of a blind and wounded rhino.”

    Kyle gently kisses the back of Julie’s hand before giving it back to her, then sits back and turns the key in the ignition.

    “Now, I’ll park the car.

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    1. That just makes me smile. I love coming out stories, and I love when they're told to someone who's loving. You done good.

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  12. This is so touching, the tenderness between them. Your dialogue is always so authentic, and I love the subtle touches: "Nope, fight first" and "Kyle gently kisses the back of Julie’s hand before giving it back to her."

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