Yo. Sit down. Can’t nobody see past your misplaced aspirations. You’d make a better Peeping Tom than a peep hole. I paid cash money for these tickets … could have gotten braces for my kids, but this is our season. This is the one. We’re on fire. Cash in your 401K, fool – this is our year!
I’m gonna buy a new jersey to commemorate my adoration of men in shorts. I’m gonna rock this limited edition throw-back. Shit cost $400. Traded in my Mom’s silver collection. What the fuck I want with a silver serving platter, anyway?
I’m gonna drink so much overpriced beer this season. I might not remember everything, but that’s called commitment, son. Our boys are out there playing their hearts out. My liver can take a few more hits.
Small fingers open the box, and the music plays. Ghost notes and melodic zephyrs dart between the eyes – stand up, girl, like you won a prize – this is the world in here. The ballerina keeps spinning. That’s all you need to know.
Past the blasted subterfuge of no, whatever, why, and when … None of it matters, girl, watch the ballerina spin.
The other girls are talking about you. They say such awful things. Tongues like pickled lies and backtalk; they are going to get you. They are fucking killing you. But you don’t care, girl. Listen to the flute whisper, listen to the bell chime, watch the dancer spin.
Boys won’t like you if you talk too much; they’ll run from you. Boys don’t like girls that are smarter than them – did you hear him?!
Watch. The. Ballerina. Spin.
Hey sports fans, welcome to the game. In one corner, we have the decency and optimism of lore – in the other corner, a moneyed politician with blood on his teeth, looking for new meat. Don’t count the idealists out yet, sports fans, the fight is only getting started.
See that thing twitching in the corner. That’s self-respect. Yours, mine, everydamnbodies. Put on your MAGA hat to protect you from the liberals. Now they’re socialists. What’s next? Rapists? Pedophiles? Serial killers? That socialism is a gateway psychopathology. Trust.
That woman running with the blanket over her head? Lady Justice. That bitch is clean out. Done. She can’t compete at this level. There’s just not enough money in justice.
Hear the cries from the nosebleeds? Of course you don’t. Those people don’t matter. Keep looking at the boxes. Checking boxes. Keep your eyes on the brass ring. They say that magic is just misdirection. Look, a liberal!
Now let me tell you what God told me.
She is sitting under the only tree in the garden, so what can you do? You gotta go talk to her. I mean, the sun is bright and sun damage is a real thing. It’s also the only place there’s a bench, and it’s been a long day. Maybe you’ll strike up a conversation. Maybe she’ll think you’re funny. You guys might hit it off and get married and have babies and teach them to repress their desires and passions. That’s American Dream shit right there.
So go talk to her. Maybe she likes the same 80's movies as you. Maybe she has nice eyelashes. Maybe she’s secretly scared and alone and looking for someone to enjoy Shark Week with. Maybe she likes music? Maybe she has a favorite band?
You’ll never know unless you just walk over there. Be charming. Like, sure is nice to have a shady place to sit on a hot day, innit, I’d like to make love to you while the flowers watch and show their approbation.
What?!?! No. Couldn’t happen. Well, fuck love anyway. And fuck shade and gardens. Go sit on the blacktop and cook. No one will ever love you. No one will understand you.
But try. Go talk to her. The stuck up bitch. Maybe you can change her. Make her a woman.
But she’ll change you, too. And change is fucking scary. You should probably just go home. Go home and tell your online friends. She may have been pathetic, but she also might have had nice eyelashes.
We need to do something about this.ReplyDelete
I know. If this goes on much longer, I doubt he’ll ever be able to – you know – again…
Don’t even think that. If he stops for good he’ll just lose the will to go on…with anything.
Then we need to do something.
He’s tried almost everything, walks, music, reading. God, look how he just sits there. A blink, blink, a sigh.
I caught him crying the other night.
No you didn’t!
Yeah, in bed, alone, staring, like he was expecting someone to come to him from out of the ceiling. Or past. You know how he likes the room totally dark and cool.
So how do you know he was crying?
Heard him. Like a stage whisper. Said her name and then…well, a sobbing sound. Like he couldn’t catch his breath.
No kidding! Maybe we should suggest he reach out to her. And yeah, we both know she’ll eventually make him more damn paralyzed with misery than he is now. Humming away in his chair one minute and then…
I know. But he can’t go on like this. I’m afraid he might just…you know, POOF, gone. And what about us?
Okay, you go to his right and I’ll go left.
Wait. Listen. The laptop. Is he writing her? Think she’ll answer? I mean kindly? What’s he say?
Let me check. Oh… Well at least he’s trying.
Okay, but what’s he written?
It says, “We need to do something about this.”
This is very moving, Joe. I think the ONLY thing worse than experiencing that sense of loss is having everyone else discuss it!Delete
This is all the more distressing in its quiet understatement.Delete
Beautifully done. And disturbing.Delete
Ditto. Beautiful, uncomfortable, disquieting sense of foreboding in the air. Voices in the background, watching him are unsettling.Delete
Yep. Totally agree. That understated tone. This kicks ass.Delete
Dan... the first and the last touched my heart. I've often wondered how people can afford tickets to those events. Not the rich fuckers, I understand how they can, but all the little people. Breaks my heart. And eyelashes. Why don't we notice eyelashes more often? Camels have great eyelashes. They never lie. But they do spit.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the inspiration to keep writing. Thanks for writing. Thanks for being you and providing this safe place.
Dan, that ballerina music box. The curse of being the "smart" girl you ahve NO idea... Ouch SO Spot on!Delete
I can't decide which I like best of these. They're all excellent. The sports thing is weird. Used to be that you could go every Saturday if you wanted; it cost what a latte costs now. It was a working class thing. But now, if you take a family to a hockey game, or whatever, you need to take out a second mortgage. What happened? Anyway, love these, brother. They made me think and feel, which is what the best writing does.Delete
I love the Ballerina one. Keep dancing!Delete
In the sports one, this line cracked me up: I’m gonna buy a new jersey to commemorate my adoration of men in shorts!!
Eyelashes is sad. I read it that his insecurity turned his curious like of her to dislike and derision. Which is so sad, but real. Just go say hello, man!
And the image of Lady Justice. Love it. She's running. There's no justice to be found.
There are nights he wonders why he goes on. Why. Three letters. One letter if you spelled it with Y only.ReplyDelete
The night was cold. He was alone. Not exactly alone. The stars were there for company, but they didn’t talk much. He talked to them. He guessed that made them listeners.
His knees were weak. Not from fear. From age. The sleeping bag he spent the night in had seen better days.
So had he.
Once, he was almost famous. The critics loved his book. But readers never found it. Just one more bunch of pages on the rubbish pile of popular fiction.
Still, he had told truth. Through lies, but truth nonetheless.
He had one copy of the book left. Dogeared. Yellow. Pages falling from failed glue.
A fire. A fire would warm him up. He exited the sleeping bag, and looked for twigs, fallen limbs brittle enough to break with his hands. His tired, gnarly hands. Hands that looked like fallen limbs themselves.
He gathered a small pile of them, and reached, from habit, into his pocket for his Zippo lighter. He coughed, remembering thirty-two years of smoking.
He never was a Marlboro man.
The lighter was, miracle of miracles, still there. He hoped it still had a working flint, still had some fuel left in it.
All he needed now was a bit of paper to start the fire. His eye saw nothing, but his memory saw the tattered book in his rucksack. He reached for it.
He stole a page from the middle. He was proud of the beginning, and what is a book without an ending?
The sparks flew from the lighter. The paper caught. A small twig sizzled.
There. Now he was warm enough to cry. Frozen tears are no tears at all.
So vivid! The gnarled hands...The Marlboro man... a wow, definitely...Delete
Yes, the details make this! And "warm enough to cry" was unexpected and heartbreaking.Delete
Very pictoral. Great images. 'He never was a Marlboro man.' That's loaded. As I started reading it, and the dog-eared book comes up, and the flame, I could see what might happen, the suspense, the unsettling destiny of it. Sad, as if that's the only thing he had left. The end of his dreams.Delete
I really love this bit:
'The night was cold. He was alone. Not exactly alone. The stars were there for company, but they didn’t talk much. He talked to them. He guessed that made them listeners.'
Agree with all this. Also, love the first Paragraph and its simplicityDelete
Where a Heart Would BeReplyDelete
You and I are no strangers
to the inevitability of Loss.
We've held its hand together.
Like a shadow, it has clung to us,
darkened the paths before us,
dogged our steps, for all our days.
And then come the nights,
the nights when all is shadow,
and Loss lies next to you in bed,
cold and silent, stealing your rest
with tossed elbows and hogged covers.
You have lost something you cherished
and are now bereft of that
to which you gave your heart
but received a heart in kind.
I lost something I never had,
though my heart cherished nonetheless.
You lost your Love. I lost my Hope.
You still have that heart to hold.
I have shivering shadow and
a tangle of covers where I always
hoped a heart would be.
Loss--never found a cure for it, myself. There are things you don't get over, you just get through. But if you add a little something, every day and you put it in that space where the loss is, it DOES heal, eventually.Delete
I agree it can heal, but it never heals as it was. There are always scars. And I don't think there's ever (that cruel word) closure. Not fully. Not for the big losses. Brave piece, my friend.Delete
Brave, indeed. Wounds do indeed heal, with time. And often, the scars are stronger than what they replace.Delete
Ah, loss... I think it's the human condition... one of the definites... you're going to lose something you won, cherish, love, want, dream of... and it's a rich source for writing.Delete
Love the 'shivering shadow' and Loss becoming a person.
I completely agree with DA. Brave piece. I love this kind of writing. Common experiences that are hard to write about honestly.Delete
It could have been a beautiful view, if he’d been in the mood for looking. As it was, he saw nothing. It was just a place where he’d not usually be disturbed. A place with a fence he could easily climb.ReplyDelete
He’d not realised he was coming here today. It was as though his feet had minds of their own. He’d been deep in thought, like he always seemed to be these days; his eyes looking inward, his mind in turmoil. There’d been days he’d chosen to come here, days he’d remembered fondly, not knowing how special they’d been. Anise had shown him this place: it’d been one of her favourites, with the view of the sea, the beach and the sky. It’d always worked for her, whatever her mood, its combination of the elements engaging with the different aspects of her personality. The beach had been her earth, its solidity providing her with the foundation she needed at times. She’d a habit of either being too much or too little, her ambitions lifting her up but lacking the resolve that would give her the chance to make something of them. It’d been the walk to this place that had helped her find her focus, the strip beside the water arduous enough to require her attention to make progress. If her concentration ever wandered, there were pools she could step into, seaweed to trip over and soft sands which could swallow her whole. A single errant step could lead to injury and it was only the view at the top of the cliffs that kept her coming here week after week. She’d introduced him to this place on their third date, the location taking on additional significance after that day. It’d become as much their home as anywhere else, neither of them having enough money to rent a property they could feel comfortable in.
The sea was agitated today. It mirrored his feelings. He’d been aware enough to recognise that it had been beating against the shore, driving anything loose up the beach toward the rocks. The cliffs could be threatening on a day like this, blocking the escape of the unwary. Standing on the beach, the sea could sweep around behind you, closing off your way to both the north and the south. To the west, there was always the water, the sands soon dropping away to unknowable depths. And to the east, there were the cliffs; overpowering and unforgiving with only one safe way to reach the top. There was said to be another route up, but he’d never tried it, the overhangs too imposing for a casual climb.
You nailed it in that first line! I was right there!Delete
Yes, a great sense of place here.Delete
Strong writing, and I can hear the sea. Thank you.Delete
Ditto on the great opening.Delete
'It could have been a beautiful view, if he’d been in the mood for looking. As it was, he saw nothing.'
There's a sense of loss here, or I'm just picking up on it. She's gone somewhere. The relationship seems as uncertain as the sea.
Love the image of the agitated sea matching him. Really effective.
I agree about the opening, but the whole piece is rock solid. Great anchoring images.Delete
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins. But not mine.” — Patti SmithReplyDelete
Two nights ago I dreamed I was Hope Sandoval. Can you believe that? What a dream it was moments before it faded.
“Make your way to Glastonbury, and I’ll see you there, okay?”
The thing is, we’re drops of water vapour. I’m a drop of water vapour. You’re a drop of water vapour. And you and you and you. Until we have thousands of drops and then millions and we have ourselves a cloud. And even a cloud seems like nothing, floating ghostlike in a blue bubble, impossibly close to the nihilist howl of space, until those clouds become bruised purple thunderheads and one day, one moment really, they unleash their collective deluge on the thirsting flanks of a mountain, whose altitude turns them to snow, and they gather and layer for weeks and then months, and one spring day they melt and begin to cascade down channels we call rivers and then hit their limit and flood millions of hectares of land, ruining human lives and drowning livestock, all from vapour. Vapour.
Rain is a killer.
Rain is a cloud suiciding.
Disappointment at the end, written into the world’s DNA.
“I waited and waited for you, beyond the horizon, within the protected perimeter, and though I believed in you, you never came.”
The terraced mound a carved breast, its nipple erect, caressed by scarves of mist. Oh Guinevere, oh Avalon, oh holy stonemasons.
“Where were you? Why won’t you answer?”
We are generational, interstitial, living in the spaces between. Good, bad: meaningless. Spillage is unavoidable, though all of us ticks swell fat with the boiling unspilled blood of rank injustice.
The gin-soaked priest and the holy fool and the painted jezebel find their way out of the maze of alleys and enter the rain forest. New stories spin and branch from that great trunk. This is how epics begin. It’s really not much, at least not initially.
Okay, now here it was the last paragraph that got me. Bring on that epic. bro! I wanna read it!Delete
That could be fun, couldn't it?Delete
I want that epic, too! I got gloriously lost (wandering, really) in the paragraph of water vapour... exquisite.Delete
Love this: 'Rain is a cloud suiciding' - I like the word play and reinvention.Delete
I also really like the parag about water vapour and the clouds. Light and fun. Contrasting to the heavier religious tones and the descriptions of earth and more grounded stuff.
I agree again. That simple line about suicide. In the same piece as this: Spillage is unavoidable, though all of us ticks swell fat with the boiling unspilled blood of rank injustice.Delete
Boom! The language cowers in the corner. ;)
Not exactly in flash mode these days. More like snail mode. But here's a snip from W I P which some may recall from previous post. With any luck, notes and comments tomorrow!ReplyDelete
The carved oak door swung inward and I remembered to take off my hat before I flashed my badge at the woman who cowered behind it. She might have been twenty-five or she might have been fifty; the only real impression she gave came from her eyes, a bleak, greenish grey, round and dark and utterly despairing, like some spirit trapped forever in her hundred pounds of flesh.
“Detective Scott Roy, Ma’am. Homicide. I’m here to see Madame Gaspard.”
The woman tugged frantically at an old-fashioned brooch pinned to the throat of her sweater and swung the door wider before stepping aside. The foyer was pretty much the kind of museum you might expect having seen the outside of the place, all Italian marble and carved half-naked women holding up the newel posts, but it was hard not to gawk just the same. I followed her down a long corridor with an intricate blood-red, Oriental rug that stifled our footsteps, even as our breathing echoed like whispered prayers against the vaulted ceilings.
“This place must be a real sumabitch to heat in the wintertime, eh?” I said by way of conversation. The woman halted, shoulders twitching spasmodically, like I’d struck her in the back with a rock, then cautiously proceeded a few feet further before I could say anything more.
A door stood open to the left and she made a half-hearted gesture before scurrying off toward the back of the house, as though the devil himself was hard on her heels.
“Pay no mind to Lorelei, “ a throaty female voice called out. “She’s a bit shy…”
I headed in that direction, but was halted in my tracks, blinking dumbfounded at the room before me. For as much as the rest of the place oozed old money and times long gone, the space in which I found was myself was mind-boggling modern—its planes of glass and tile and rough cut limestone intersecting at sharp angles, What must have been two rooms had been transformed into a vast open space, reflecting the landscape and afternoon light and rising into what must have been the second story, like a treehouse. At one end, a fountain dribbled from a chink in the stone wall; at the other, a huge fireplace yawned, sooty and black, big enough to roast a cow. Yet the whole effect was not of embracing the Nature outdoors, but rather its opposite, as if the woods and the pond and even of sky were coming closer and if you turned your back or closed your eyes, the whole scene would encroach even more.
“Welcome to my studio, Detective Roy, we’ve been expecting you.” I watched as an old woman in a wheelchair swung herself around and rolled forward, indicating I should take a seat on a leather and chrome covered bench nearby. I was staring and I knew it, but couldn’t tear my eyes away from an array of paintings, if you could call them that. Great walls of color and blobs of shape and splatter and shadow.
“I had it remodeled when I Grace and I moved back here after my…accident. I needed studio space for my painting, you see. The upper floors had become inaccessesible.”
“Of course,” I wanted to loosen my tie, suddenly aware of the smell of turpentine and linseed oil hanging in the air, sweet and cloying at once.
She shot me a look from her raven’s eyes and pressed her mouth into an unpleasant line that might have been a smile but wound up looking more like a caved-in apple gone to rot. I fumbled for my notebook and pen. “Besides, “ she went on. “You know what they say about art, don’t you, Detective?”
“What’s that Ma’am?’’
She winked at me. “Keeps away the ghosts.”
Hell, I'd read it. And this is so good: "She shot me a look from her raven’s eyes and pressed her mouth into an unpleasant line that might have been a smile but wound up looking more like a caved-in apple gone to rot." It has flow and a kind of accelerated rhythm thanks to the lack of commas others might have been tempted to add (yet you rightly resisted).Delete
Delightful... and I can see that studio clearly, and Madame Gaspard and Detective Roy! Excellent word painting!Delete
Ditto on the apple image - that one stood out for me too. You can really see what you mean.Delete
Love the last line. As if he isn't already dead uncomfortable!
The detective takes in a lot of details about what he sees and the people, and tries to read them. Seems to be empathetic. I like that about him. Seems realistic - it's his job to penetrate exteriors. Interesting how the paint gets to him - wondering if there's a reason... And Lorelei, there's something odd going on there in the way you've drawn her character as if she's carrying secrets...
This hit just the right combo for me. I love this: like some spirit trapped forever in her hundred pounds of flesh.Delete
Reads like folk/gospel
She was shadowed so only her face was visible, but that was enough to draw him toward her. She had a harsh sort of beauty which was the type that he liked. Even now, he was imagining how she’d behave; her stern no-nonsense manner and her refusal to succumb. She was more the man than he was, he had to admit, although her androgynous mode of dress made it no surprise to anyone. Men usually shied away from her, fearing her direct, incisive questions which allowed them no illusions to how she saw herself in relation to them. If they refused to grant her the respect that she was due she would destroy them, there was no doubt of that. It was up to them to readjust, to re-evaluate their own position before they thought to speak to her.ReplyDelete
As he had done, of course. He had no illusions as to his own worth.
“Madame,” he said, inclining his head. “I have come to offer you my attention.”
She granted him a cold, indifferent glare. She was above all this, she would say, if she chose to answer his unspoken question. Instead, she just stood for him, releasing the ties that bound her clothing to her, letting them fall in a splash of fabric at her feet.
It was at this point that his service would begin. He picked up the rich Jacquard dress she’d been wearing, luxuriating in the quality of the cloth from which it had been wrought. It was of a rich burgundy, which mirrored the colour of her hair and he took a self-indulgent moment to follow the flow of the designs which chased through its weavings. There were sensuous loops and whorls there, of course, but there were other designs too, subtleties which he began to trace…
“Cadet,” she said, her voice a combination of ice and steel. “You presume too much. You have duties which you must attend to before you can take pleasures for yourself. Do I have to express my discipline onto you already? Have you forgotten what I took the time to teach you so soon?”
Oh Lordy, this looks like fun! Get that party started! lol!Delete
Ha, I love her already. :DDelete
LOL, yeah, there's defo a party coming! Party hard! :)Delete
It also amused me how she drops her clothes and instead of describing her body to the reader, he's totally taken by the material, colour, loops and whorls! Love that!
And I really like this description: 'Men usually shied away from her, fearing her direct, incisive questions which allowed them no illusions to how she saw herself in relation to them.'
Really good point, VJ. Man, this is SO smooth.Delete
Dust and sound,
And sound disintegrating
Only a silent scream,
Voices starved of
The words stolen,
Reiterated anew to
Spiral out of context,
Trodden and stamped
Upon. All these forbidden
Days watered down,
Sound exhumed dust.
Beautiful, Vickie. Not everybody can come up with a new take on dust.Delete
Gorgeous language, and as one who lives in a sea of dust, I shall contemplate more silence as a way to keep it settled.Delete
Thank you :)Delete
I think my brain is getting dusty!! :)
Yup. I like this piece a lot. Especially the flow of the closing lines.Delete
I watched The Joker last night. It's dark and uncomfortably brilliant.ReplyDelete
When the deluge breaks he lets it sweep
A burning caress he once yearned for
And now despises, invents a name.
These emotions he keeps locked inside,
Feelings wretched, still wrecking.
In this fiery red glow he will dance,
Papering limbs in this cold numbness
Scourging through him, day in, day out,
It is his tempest, his alone; a jumbled mind
Cast adrift, signing, searching for insight
He can never hope to find.
And he knows he cannot be helped.
The murmurs will never calm, be quiet.
These blurred echoes of long jagged days –
A boy, a lost mother, a yard stripped dark,
Doors locked, pain, pitch black pain
This rain whips, cleansing scars etched so
Deep, reminding him of what was once,
Who he was once, the man he failed to
Become. Becoming a little less each day.
When the deluge calls, he dances a little,
Edging away from the fire serenading him
To come outside.
The torment is palpable and finely wrought. (I haven't seen the film yet, but Phoenix is a fine actor, so I'll see it eventually.)Delete
Thanks. I liked it. It's unsettling and there are some violent bits, and it meanders, but I found it really interesting. And sad.Delete
I'll definitely see it. Plus it inspired your lovely poem!Delete
I want to see it. This is a good reflection of what I anticipate. Glad it didn't disappoint. I like the roll of this. And if I might suggest changing jagged to jaggedy, I read it wrong the first time and really liked it. :)Delete