Thursday, March 5, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

Ready. Set. Go.

Open up the shit tap. Let. It. Flow. You might just want company, but I. Can't. Go. I've been reaping mad rewards that I. Ain't. Sow.

What's it got me? Spry dichotomies. You can step to us, but accept that there's a lot of me's.

I just saw a blackbird, bitch was crazy loud. I've got lots of friends to call, but I'm. Too. Proud. I'll sidle up beside you, but no touching allowed. By the time you get to Memphis, I'll be lost in the crowd.

And call me when you're crying, when you're dying, lying low. Curse me when you wake up and ain't got no place to go. Tell my story when I'm gone, the folks have a right to know. I'll be floating like a spider silk when the cold wind blows.

Don't you lose no sleep about it; I'll be good and gone. I'll be sitting on the devil's shoulder, singing him a song. And you won't shed a tear for me, no, you'll be strong. The days are sad and lonesome when the nights are long.

Burn a candle by the window, girl, and smile when you sing. Open up the shutters to the wonders that they bring. Tie yourself in circles like a silly, drunken string. You've made it through the winter, and it's almost time for Spring.


  1. You're like a modern-day Dylan, Dan. I'd love to hear you spit these monologues out. Maybe you should perform some of these in front of a camera and upload them somewhere!

    1. Yes! Love that idea! And the MaderRapTM.

    2. I love that idea, too! I think you've done that once or twice, and I loved it.

    3. I’m sure it’s your musical background, but I felt the tempo and flow of this piece like it was a piece of music. Which it IS!

  2. So this was life now. Go to bed early. Have odd dreams. Wake up. Piss. Go back to bed. Try not to wake the dog. Check social media. Close eyes. Try to sleep without dreaming. Wake up after sunrise. Listen to bones creak while getting out of bed. Walk dog. Stare at blank screen, willing words to appear. Avoid the news like the plague. Avoid the news of the plague.


    What was the point of writing if there would be no one to read? Hell, it didn’t take a plague to make that happen. If the words wouldn’t fit in a graphic, no one read them any more.

    Hemingway had it right. Give ‘em a story in six words.

    Dogs love. Humans lie. Words fail.

    And life, if this is what life is, goes on.

    1. If I still had a dog, this could be a close reading of my life, Leland. And your six-word story...Boom!

    2. Wow! I fucking LOVE this. The rhythm. The almost repeated line. There's so much swagger in the voice. It's real. I love thiS- you should submit this to some mags. JD

  3. From Vickie Johnstone

    Chase the wind
    I’ll chase it if I can feel it
    The rush
    The gratitude in being
    This simplicity of grace.
    I’ll dream if allowed
    If given this gift to sow
    If imagination nurtures me
    And fortune smiles.
    We follow time’s voice
    In its ebb and flow
    Its dance of the trees
    Lifting branches in play
    Forever grounded
    Forever wrapt in awe.

    1. You've pretty much captured the way I feel on a MC or bicycle, awash in wind.

  4. From Vickie Johnstone:

    His grandmother’s things
    John knew it was how things needed to be, how they were, how they would not, could not be otherwise. He would never speak to her again, never see her again; his roots in this world, the woman who raised him. And he would never change anything unless he set his mind to it. She always reminded him of that.
    Just as the key in his hand wouldn’t open anything unless he tried. The accompanying note told him so. Neatly spidered across the sheet of pink notepaper; his grandmother’s favourite for writing anything from birthday wishes to instructions to the milkman. She walked in another time, John was sure of it, parasol raised high and hitching silk skirts to race against the wind in as unladylike a fashion as was possible, with Lily snapping at her heels.
    John had ignored the letter for over a month while he took care of things. The notepaper still smelled of lavender and vanilla. At the end his grandmother had signed a middle name he didn’t recognise, one she’d never used. Perhaps she disliked it? The mystery would lie unsolved. He folded the paper and placed it back in his pocket, careful not to crease it, careful not to insult her memory.
    If she was here, she would nudge him to stand straight, set his shoulders back, raise his head. Not in a nagging way, but softly. She got away with kindly telling anyone to do anything, with the gentlest prod. Even if it perturbed them, like this key worried him now. It was made of silver, he was sure, not iron, and engraved with a subtle intricacy of flowers that must have been expensive; a rare heirloom and he felt the burden of trust heavily. Along with his loss. He almost expected her to walk in, a gust of summery air.
    John glanced at the door in front of him. This was the first time it was open that he could remember; the first time a key perched in the lock. It had always been off-limits. The fine key in his hand was a curious thing, bent in such a way that it couldn’t possibly fit anything. Perhaps a Pandora’s box of secret love letters or his grandmother’s jewellery. He reached out his hand and opened the door.
    When he was a child his mother had always told him the basement was haunted by a little girl who was strictly told not to go down there, and she disobeyed. But he was no longer a child. The door yawned open, revealing a steep staircase into pitch. The note clearly stated to enter.
    A scuffle made John look back at the worktops to Bob, but the ginger cat stared back blankly, his expression unreadable. As always. He’d never warmed to John. They just tolerated each other; the feeder and the eater. Setting his shoulders back, John turned on the stair light and made his way down, the wood creaking at every footfall. When he reached the bottom, he turned to see the ginger cat perched at the top, watching him. Unreadable.
    A cord dangled by his head and he pulled it, flooding the area with blue light. A little ostentatious, even for his grandmother. The space was long and oblong, running the length of the house, filled with boxes, all dusted down, neat and labelled. Right at the end sat a door, tall, thin and carved with intricate flowers and trees. It was a thing of beauty, but no one in his family had ever mentioned its existence, not even the note. John studied the room. It pulled his curiosity.
    [continued in comment]

    1. [continued]

      The key in his hand warmed. Without testing it, John knew where it would fit. As he stared, the walls crept in towards him, closing the distance between himself and that solitary door. Or was it moving towards him? A high-pitched giggle pierced the silence, a streak of white light flashing past him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Someone was here. He stared around, unsteady. His common sense told him he was alone, but he’d felt the energy shift. It was the same feeling he had when his grandmother read the tea leaves for visitors. He wasn’t supposed to listen.
      A brush against his leg made him jolt. John looked down to meet a pair of golden eyes. Bob nuzzled his ankle before sitting back and staring up at him. He never came this close. Was he actually grinning at him? The cat looked from John to the door and back again. Lavender and vanilla oozed out from the walls, almost stifling, and the wood of the door began to bow inwards, towards John. It begged to be opened.

    2. This is awesome! So rich with sensual details... I can smell the lavender and feel the cat brushing against my ankles. I'll wait patiently here for the next chapter.

    3. Yeah, you're really good at writing for all 5 senses. It's really fun, lush writing.

  5. 1919 ~ A Peacetime Story
    PART 1
    As Alice put another cold compress on Frankie’s forehead, I had my hand on her shoulder and felt it heaving up and down.

    “Don’t cry, Alice,” I said. But when I looked in her eyes, they were dry. What I felt was not sobbing. She’d been suppressing her coughs, so she wouldn’t wake Frankie.

    “It’s okay, honey. I’ll take over now,” I said.

    “Thank you, Frank,“ Alice said, pressing her burning cheek to mine. As she left the room, I heard her cough…hard.

    For a year, I’d seen buddies die in front of me, nearly ripped in half by German Maxim machine guns, wrong place/wrong time in an artillery barrage, and now a cold that killed in only a few days. I’d seen it France. I was told by some of the boys soldiers were dropping like flies at Fort Riley in Kansas. We slid more than twenty over the side of the Liberty ship bringing us home to the States. They told me it had hit New York City, too.

    I was beginning to feel guilty about how some folks were saying we Doughboys brought the sickness back to America, this Spanish Influenza. I didn’t need that kind of help. War can make a guy feel guilty all on his own.

    Frankie murmured something and started coughing, a weak, choking sound, so I propped him up a little more. But I knew even that wouldn’t help much.

    I’d gone to France because I was drafted, not to make the world safe for democracy.

    I fought there to take care of my buddies, but you can’t take care of someone vaporized by an 88mm shell dropped on his head.

    I stayed alive to get home to Alice and Frankie, to see my boy grow up. To feel the warmth of my wife again. Tonight I felt feverish heat.

    I heard the bed springs ring in the next room, then heard Alice cough again. And again. And again.

    You feel so helpless at a time like this, no matter who you are or what you’ve experienced in life. How do you prepare for this? How do you prepare for dying by the hundreds and thousands? Or one at a time.

    Frankie tried coughing again and he sounded like he was drowning and I could barely take it anymore. Such suffering for a kid. He opened his eyes and looked at me that same way. And that day broke through the thin crust I’d try to grow over the memory. (Cont.)

  6. 1919 Part 2
    I saw that German kid in the middle of that shell hole again. It was full of water that had this yellow-green scum on top of it – the residue of their mustard gas.

    Me and my buddy Charlie Oakley had him covered with our Springfields and motioned for him to come out. But he wouldn’t. He just kept yelling – no, screaming – “Hilf mir, bitte.”

    Then the boy, he wasn’t more than seventeen, I’d guess, he kind of fell over and his face went into the water. And he looked like he had shrunk by about a foot. He fell again and between the stagnant water in the shell hole and that Mustard residue, he started choking, drowning really.

    Charlie said, “Shit, the kid’s stuck in there. Bottom of the hole must be all mud. I’ll fetch him.”

    “Let him go, Charlie. He’s just another Kraut,” I said and spit into the water.

    But Charlie was a preacher’s kid from North Carolina and it was obvious since all the way back in training at Fort Slocum that his mama raised him a real Christian gentleman.

    Charlie slogged around to the far side of the crater and slid about halfway down. You could see how he was trying to figure out how he could reach the kid.

    “Hey, Frank, come over here. Hold my hand and I think I can grab this kid’s collar,” he said.

    The mud in France is a living thing, you know, a monster that’ll suck your boots right off your feet and then eat your toes for dessert. As I clopped-plopped over to Charlie, the mud in that shell hole must have had enough of the German kid and it decided to try an American.

    Charlie’s feet slid out from under him and, like on a sliding board, he flew out over the edge and fell flat on his back in that poison water and sticky mud. I ran over as fast as I could, but I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t see the German kid anymore, either.

    “Charlie!” I screamed. I mean I screamed. Then I saw his head bob back above the water. But that was all I saw.

    “Frank! Help me! I don’t want to die like this. Help me, buddy.” Then he went under again.

    He came back up, but all I could hear was this gurgling in his throat. His eyes were wild then they settled down. Just his face was above the water now. He stared at me like a yellow-green picture of Jesus in Gethsemane. Kind of pleading. And I knew what he wanted me to do.

    I remembered what Jesus said that night. I looked into Charlie’s eyes and said, “Father, remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

    Charlie sort of nodded and I raised my rifle and squeezed off the most difficult shot I ever took, even though my target was only seven feet away. Charlie disappeared, but the image of his face didn’t. Never will.

    Frankie stirred again, shaking me out of this memory. I saw the whole thing in but a second or two. This time Frankie’s breath came like a fingernail swiped on a washboard. It sounded so much like guys who’d caught just enough gas to singe their throat and lungs, but not kill them. Not until they got to the hospital in Étaples. Then they’d get sick, dying there a day or two later. Fever. Lungs giving out.

    Like Frankie’s did that night. Honest, they did. Alice lasted two more days. I’d been home three weeks and I can’t help but wonder. Did the influenza kill them or did the war?

    Last night, I had that nightmare again where Frankie and Alice are neck-deep in the water and mud of that shell hole and pleading with me to save them. I raise my rifle, but just as i bring my rifle to my shoulder, I woke up. I eventually fell back asleep.

    But then, a new dream. I hear the scream of that 88mm shell and it’s falling on top of me instead. I wake up and I realize it’s been me screaming. Again. But that 88mm falling on me?

    Oh, how I wish.

    1. I never write historical stuff because it takes work and discipline but you make it look easy.

  7. The black flag flew.

    I hastened, knowing time was running out. The birds were flying, no longer soaring, but racing, arrowing toward the horizon. There would now be no stopping them. No mortal man could stay their flight.

    The black flag flew, pulling to be free.

    Below me, the stones were rumbling, titanic energies moving. Darkness and shadows, together at last, moon-dark and eclipse in harmony.

    The black flag writhed; an ink-stain seeking release. Passion and dread would ensue.

    And the world would remember my name.

    1. Below me, the stones... - I like the whole thing, but that paragraph is so tight. It's like expert masonry.

  8. I haven't found an ending yet for this story, but Vickie dared me to post it anyway, so...


    Mark loped up to Denise and hooked a thumb over his shoulder toward housewares. “Some crazy lady’s in the closet aisle, talking to random customers about some female shit or other.”

    Denise rolled her eyes and returned to sorting the discount swimwear, but he didn’t leave. She didn’t have the patience to put up with his nonsense today. Her favorite presidential candidate had left the race and Denise was still reeling from the news in a way she hadn’t anticipated. The candidate’s image was still on her computer screen. “So…what do you expect me to do about it?”

    “Denise.” The tone he had! Dripping with what he probably considered to be logic. The tone of “you’re a woman so it’s your job to keep your sisters in line.” She put a rogue size six bikini back in the twelves. It would have been cruel to leave it there. “Come on,” he whined. “She’s seriously freaking me out. You know I’m no good with that shit.”

    Maybe you should go back to the shipping department, where you don’t have to deal with customers, Denise thought, and paused on a not-too-pornographic suit in her size, intending to tuck it deep into a thick clump of skirted one-pieces for retrieval after her shift was over.

    “I didn’t want to play this card”—he paused for dramatic effect—“but you owe me for when you went to that rally.”

    She wheeled on him, the bathing suit still in her hand. She knew she’d regret asking him to cover for her that one time. But how often would she get a chance to meet her favorite presidential candidate, let alone take a selfie with her? It was her screen saver, and she hadn’t had the heart to take it down yet. She didn’t have the heart to do battle today either.

    “Fine,” she said. “But then we’re even.”

    Mark smirked and raised his hands as if indicating surrender. “Fine.”

    Denise spun away and took off for housewares. After blowing out a few deep breaths, she thought that maybe it would do her good, to help someone. To help this woman. After all, she’d learned from her training that some customers weren’t “problems” at all, but hurting human beings trying to cope with other stuff that had nothing to do with the store.

    She stuck on what she hoped was a helpful and empathetic expression and turned down the closet aisle. And froze. This was no crazy woman. This woman was on Denise’s computer screen. This woman was surrounded by other women, and girls, and they were chatting and taking pictures and giving each other comfort.

    “Now, we’re all going to be okay,” the woman was saying, and reached a hand toward a girl of maybe ten or eleven. “Pinky swear.”

    1. Oh, no fair. I was so ready to vote for her. Now, I'm sad again. 😉 Deftly told!


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