Friday, March 20, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!


The dust motes flirt through the gaps in the curtains; the air is ripe with potential. The trout are surfacing like a promise that things will never change, even though you know they will. The fish, the sun, the smell of wildflowers on the breeze. These spring salutations are what keep us going. Be like the dust motes; they’re just dancing.

Warm on your skin, the sun is the comforting arm of a loved one. The sun is holding you up. It is revealing the whole world in golden splendor. And the sun belongs to everyone. Rich, poor, black, white, happy or sad. The sun don’t care. It’s just there.

So let’s sing a song of wonder. Point our voices toward the heavens and call the sun right down. Say, hey man, it’s cold down here. It’s lonely. We need every ally we can get. Bring on the sun.



It’s time to hit the voting booth, let’s send in the clowns. They’re painted up and ready, white teeth behind fake tans and optimistic hairstyles. How many of them can you pack into this little car? How many riders can we fit on this bill? How much bullshit can I shove down the throats of the working class?

Send. In. The. Clowns.

They’re juggling half-truths and taking pie charts to the face. They’re all together and it’s one big race. There’s money to be made, motherfucker. It’s ace.

Send. In. The. Clowns.

This one’s short and this one’s fat and this one’s a woman and this one’s black.

Send. In. The. Clowns.

It’s all a ruse. It’s all a con. It’s suspension of disbelief and it’s gone all wrong, but they’re coming for you – won’t be long…

Send. In. The. Clowns.

And when it’s all said and done … when they tear the big top down … hell, you can’t complain. You bought your ticket and you got your show. We’ve got overhead. We’ve got to buy more face paint. A trillion dollars’ worth. You wouldn’t want us clowns to go away, right? That’s right.

Send. In. The. Clowns.


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    1. Dan, I LOVED the sun piece. It actually made my heart sing a little because you're right of course it's for everybody.

      Send in the clowns was always one of my least favorite songs even when sung by several of my favorite singers. You use it so well and accurately here though for my tastes especially.

    2. Send it the Clowns is truth in MaderRap. It's absolutely on point, in both content and style.

      Sunlight is the other side of what the world needs from writing right now. It's hopeful and pure and I love it to pieces.

    3. The sun piece was so sweet and evocative; I loved that one. As for the clowns; there's so much truth in that. The current situation is like either a circus or ghost train ride, the only problem being that we're not guaranteed to be able to step off it before it swings round into another circuit. Great writing, as always, Dan!

  2. Spring came slowly that year, not until November. Gardens, long untended and often unnoticed, found they could manage themselves. Riots of color, buffets for bees, seeds for birds.

    The humans, weakened and domesticated by so many months indoors, feared to approach the wildness.

    Except for Maury. Maury had been recovering from a skin disorder for two years, and she finally had enough strength and smooth enough skin on her hands to dare to touch the earth.

    She kept her gloves on for pulling the weeds. Pausing every few minutes, she listened to the wind. Sough. That was the word she learned from some crossword puzzle.

    Like a symphony, the birds layered their song onto the wind. A wind chime was percussion.

    Row by row, the overgrown vegetable garden yielded to her will. When at last it was naked, she sipped a glass of herbal tea.

    What to plant? So late in the year. Soon it would be winter, and a white blanket would cover the ground.

    She rustled through the seed cupboard. Ah, there they were. A smile graced her lips as she looked at the picture on the cover.

    Back outside, she knelt in the soil. She knew she should turn the soil over with a spade before she planted, but she doubted she had the strength.

    She removed her gloves. Looking at her knotty fingers, she wondered when they had grown so old. She closed her eyes, and her hands touched the top of the soil. The earth’s energy fed into her.

    Carefully, she poked one finger into the dirt. Something wriggled. She opened her eyes. The sun was already approaching the horizon. She should hurry.

    She dropped a seed into the hole and covered it. A hundred times in the first row she repeated this, scooting along on her knees. At the end of the row, she stood.

    Suddenly dizzy, she could imagine the colors, the shapes of the leaves, the perfume of the flowers. Nearly dark skies were above her. She should go inside. Should have not tried to do so much the first day. Still, she smiled.

    She would sleep well this night, for it was not sunflowers she had planted. It was hope. And it was good.

    1. Jeez, Leland that was beautiful. Just beautiful.

    2. What I said to Dan applies here, too. This is the kind of thing that needs to be in the world right now. Thank you for sharing this.

    3. Fabulous, and as Lily said, beautiful, Leland. We all need to sow a little hope. There are so many who're actively destroying it these days, so we need more people who'll take the time to rebuild it for us all.

  3. Dan, love both of your pieces for totally different reasons. They remind me of the broad swath of fiction you create, of hope, of despair, of humor, and of cynicism. We need that, we need it all. Keep that trademark MaderRap coming!

  4. The battered hat hid his eyes, but the face beneath it was kind. He looked like a favourite uncle, someone who'd be equally adept at tying fishing flies or shoelaces, with a pair of gentle hands and a lap which was always ready.

    "They think I don’t hear them, but I do. Every single one. It doesn't matter if they go to church or not; it's all the same to me. They could be reaching out for Yahweh or Allah; I hear them all, every message coming directly to me, the ones with the quietest voices booming out the loudest, their integrity and passion melding together into a single plea. I wish I could do more; it just keeps getting harder, the pledge that I made to not interfere making it impossible to help them as much as I'd want. It's such a mess, but it's a mess of their own making, the free will of their leaders creating every problem they face. It used to be so simple; shamans and offerings, the decisions they made smaller in scale, more localised. I could grant them their wishes, knowing that the rains they wanted would bring them the harvests they needed, whilst rewarding the faith of another tribe the next year, spreading my favours everywhere."

    The other man was insignificant, a hint of a shadow in the night. He was a melange of sharp edges which suggested teeth or horns.

    "Then I come along and press 'reset'," he said, grinning darkly.

    1. Ohhhh... Metaphysical! dark and cool!

    2. Deep. And deeply scary all at once. Nice work.

    3. "The other man was insignificant, a hint of a shadow in the night. He was a melange of sharp edges which suggested teeth or horns."

      That is such a wonderfully worded bit of description. Brings the contrast to life.

  5. Clarissa waited. She could hear nothing but the curtains, their folds of Nottingham lace pulling at the bar that secured them. Although; there was more to it than that. Beyond them, through the window and across the fields, she could hear men at work, cutting back the lavender which pervaded everything. She wouldn't ever forget where she was, this farm the place which had witnessed her metamorphosis, the ugly duckling shedding its drab plumage and learning to fly.

    She smiled now. One of those men knew her well, knew her preferences and delighted in satisfying her. They hadn't known one another a month ago, but this was Provence, the land where burgeoning passion inflamed people such as her; where staid, unassuming virginal maids became women overnight, bewitched by the halting English of the farm's labourers. Hugo was the one who'd chosen her; his shyness blossoming quickly into a masterful command, his eyes and his mouth all he needed to render her inarticulate. The city girl had succumbed, and he'd delighted in her education. He was all she could think of now, her true anchor.

    And yet, she was here alone. There was no need for her to be quiet. The farmhouse was empty of men, the only others here the true maids who swept and polished the floors and the cutlery. She was sure they would say nothing to her father if they misheard her, overhearing the mellow tones which preceded her release and the crescendo that followed.

    1. Ahh, to be on a farm in France and to be a city girl at that. I'd be smiling too and I was as I read this.

    2. While this is complete as it, it could also easily be part of a more comprehensive work - and one I'd enjoy reading.

  6. I.

    She leaned back half seated on the desk waiting for her sister to take a breath and come to the point of why she called. Unfortunately, it was clear that Ruby was in shrill mode about something and the point Sadie craved could be some where making a left turn in Burundi before it came close to the conversation they were currently having.

    “Ruby, can I stop you there? Please? I don’t know what I’m doing or even what you’re talking about right now. It’s been an insane day. Everyone is lobbing ninety mile per hour curve balls at me. And I can’t hit, catch, or duck fast enough.”

    “Ahem . . . what would you call that here in the States? A baseball metaphor?”

    Sadie froze still holding the phone to her ear. She was certain she recognized that voice even though it had been years since she heard it. Where the heck was that temp she’d hired to work as an admin in the reception area?

    Turning slowly, Sadie knew her face was cringing from the strange blend of embarrassment and eagerness she was suddenly overwhelmed by. As she finished the rotation from her window to the door, Sadie opened her eyes wide because there in the doorway stood a mirage. This particular mirage looked so damned good, she gulped.

    “Hi Justin.”

    “Who? Did you say Justin? Whoa. What’s he doing there? Did you know he was coming and you didn’t tell—”

    Right. Of course, Ruby would still be on the phone.

    “Ahm, Ruby I’ll have to call you back.”

    “Don’t you dare han—”

    Sadie hung up while Justin was chuckling.

    “You didn’t have to be so abrupt Sadie. You know your sister, will just call you back with a half hour rant at least.”

    Justin Sutcliffe was here, standing in front of her. And except for a shorter, more modern cut to his famously ginger colored hair, he hadn’t changed at all. Brilliantly intense blue eyes with crinkled corners gazed at her with amusement. His tight-lipped and knowing smile was still offset by a masculine jawline and cleft chin. He wore a suit today, dark blue with a black buttoned down shirt opened at the collar, which gave a suave distinction to his broad shouldered and lean frame.

    “Sadie, Sadie. It has been–what would you say? A minute?”

    “It’s been a long time Justin. What are you doing here? I thought our appointment was scheduled for tomorrow.”

    Sadie cringed again. She’d unconsciously pronounced scheduled with a British inflection.

    Jason’s smile broadened. They’d always had wonderful debates about the preferential differences in how they each used the English language. They’d usually wind up in a passionate clinch after badgering or making fun of each other’s respective colloquialisms. Strange foreplay but it work for them.

    “I thought since my team and I arrived a day early that I’d take you out for lunch. Tomorrow will be soon enough for business.” Cocking an eyebrow, he looked around her office, floor and desk area which was currently filled with books, blueprints and other scattered papers. Looking back at her, “What do you think? Can I take you away from the rather obvious arsy-versy you find yourself in, for an hour or two?

    “I don’t know about lunch, Justin. I have a lot to do.” Sadie said, shaking her head. Then, gesturing around the messy room she continued, “Besides, most of this is because I’m preparing for our meeting tomorrow.”

    Sadie put both hands on her desk looking over her elongated to do list debating.

  7. II.


    When she looked up again she realized Justin was almost right next to her instead of on the other side of her desk halfway across the room.

    “Sadie.” He said coaxingly, “It’s just lunch darling girl. We used to be friends, it’s been forever, and I’d like to catch up with you personally before we thrust business into the mix.”

    Opening his arms he looked at her beckoning, “We are still friends aren’t we?”

    “Of course.” She said sighing.

    Giving in, Sadie moved into his offered embrace, reciprocating with one of her own.

    “There now,” he said, leaning back to look down at her, “I work much better when I take care of myself. You look peckish to me and I’m so famished I'd even let you convince me to have sushi. Let me take you out. I promise to have you back in an hour refreshed and renewed.

    It was at that moment Brent chose to interrupt from the doorway of her office, “Well, I see I wasn’t the only one who had the great idea of feeding you.”

    Anyone who didn’t know him might have thought that was a casual utterance from Brent; Sadie on the other hand didn’t think she’d ever heard that level of irritation in his voice before. From the way he sounded she was slightly afraid if she turned and looked at him the pressure might blow off the back of her head. Instead, Sadie closed her eyes and let her chin sink dolefully to her chest, while wondering if there wasn’t some warning sign she missed suggesting that getting out of bed that morning was ill-advised.

    1. This is delightful... you've established so much tension between the characters, and if she's not going to enjoy Justin, may I have him? You've described him well!

    2. What Leland said. Also, this feels like it wants to be a much longer work. I'd love to see where it goes.

    3. The detail, character-building and insight here is outrageously good. I'd read the whole book if you continued this.

  8. Dominic said nothing. He raised his shoulders in a shrug, first the left and then the right.

    “But you understand me, right?” Susan leaned forward, dropping her hands to her hips, stepping closer.

    He nodded. He smiled. He put his hand on her shoulder. There was little more he could do. She would work this out. Eventually.

    “I know. It’s so hard. But you give me hope. I wish everyone was like you: you’re so patient, you’re calm, you’re always listening. Not like most other people. All they want to do is impose. Take control. You don’t do that. You listen.”

    He nodded again, clasping his hands.

    Susan was one of his regulars. She made a point of seeking him out every day. In another life he might have thought she had a thing for him. That she was seeking something more than just an ear that was impartial. In another life he would have been interested, ready to ask her out. But not in this one.

    She would have complicated his life. And that was not what he wanted.

    It was his way now. He was the freak. He was the one who’d shaved his head and worn robes he’d dyed a delicate shade of saffron. He’d given up most of that, finding it an obstacle. But he’d kept the best part of his practice; his vow to be silent.

    “You want a coffee? I owe you that. Then maybe we can talk some more.”

    Dominic raised his thumb. He enjoyed her smile. He enjoyed the warmth she gave him without touching, although he loved her touch more. She accepted his decisions without question and had never tried to catch him out.

    She was a comfortable place. A place almost like home.

    1. Beautiful and humble, and what skill to show his heart without a word of dialog.

  9. I've always loved silence used to convey a story or even just a character. There's always so much to work with that isn't readily seen or even available in dialogue. Cool construct.

  10. Sea

    Spaces for eyes,
    Empty curvatures
    Drawn swiftly, true lines
    Saddled by skin.

  11. This sacred earth

    Branches point, stretching bark upwards
    To be tickled by the waiting sun;
    Dapples of yellow lie in freckles.

    The body straightens, this back my rod
    Stabilising me, keeping me from falling
    Into an endless slide I do not need.

    Feet stand heavy, sinking downwards,
    Seeking to penetrate the soil beneath
    But I am still in perfect synchronicity.

    My roots spread out like hair, feeling
    Their way - tapered fingers gathering dirt,
    Digging down deeper into this wet earth.

    1. ah, this wet earth... and trees always are good role models, I think.

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