Friday, February 18, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

You are not the sum of your experiences any more than you are the result of some cosmic confluence. You are inherently random. You are the result of a sweaty, grunting communion and nothing more. This is not an attempt to devalue you. Think about it; there is beauty in the chaos. Of all the flesh cells in the universe, you became you, and you will be you until you die.

No angels sang. No devils danced. It's all molecular biology and chance. So, you can view this two ways. Either it matters or doesn't. Hell, you can view it a million ways. Don't let me limit you; I'm just a sack of blood and goo. 

Like you.

If you want to believe that you are sprung from a supernatural fountain, be my guest. Put an old sage on a mountain and light some candles. But, to me, you're trying to simplify the magic. Is it not more amazing to know that you are one in a billion, and that the only reason you are here is because you got lucky? Or unlucky. That's up to you. 

I'm no prophet, but why not profit?

Why not make something of the ordered disorder that is you?


  1. Replies
    1. One in a billion indeed :) We're all individual.

    2. I love it! The rhythm, the images, the message. And this: "No angels sang. No devils danced. It's all molecular biology and chance."

    3. The thing I love about this is that magic is still invoked. Because no matter how you look at a life, it comes down to the fact that magic had to be involved in getting from where we came from to a fully-formed person. You, sir, are a poet.

    4. Almost unbelievable odds against you existing. There must be an infinite number of potential different humans, yet only 100 billion have ever existed, which is less than a drop in a nearly endless ocean.

    5. I can imagine this as a narrative in a public information film - an orientation or a self-help video. It's so articulate, well phrased and authorative. And 100% true.

  2. Snow

    White, crisp, nonchalant,
    a pale, spreading gracefulness,
    so quiet, death wrapped.

    Feet crunch granuled ground,
    sticking green sepia leaves
    and twigs upended.

    Small hands snug inside
    red gloves bark a stark contrast.
    Drops of blood on pearl.

    Salt-sprinkled brown winged,
    a robin flits, red-breasted,
    making small slick jumps.

    Snow silences all,
    ices over the cold ground,
    everything closes.

    Only birds’ wings sound,
    flapping amid falling flakes.
    Blue-black magpie croaks.

    1. There are some stark, lovely images here. The robin, the drops of blood on pearl...nice.

    2. When you brought the robin into the scene it brought to mind an innocent kid playing in the snow, so the mention of blood on pearl threw my mind to all sorts of awesome places. Love the imagery.

    3. One word—nonchalant—jumped out at me. A wonderful choice.

    4. The narrator seems so remote to the images they're describing. I could imagine this being related by an android, this making it seem all the more bleak and stark. Most intriguing and so very well written.

    5. All the word choices are really cool, but I was taken with nonchalant as well. I wouldn't think of that as a descriptor, but it works so well!


  3. Fissure

    Fear gets in your bones
    like a fissure,
    leaves you half the person,
    an echo, a shadow.

    Fear gets in your heart,
    lodges in a safer place,
    makes it harder to laugh,
    harder to be you.

    Fear makes each day
    more precious still,
    thinking it might be your last,
    that the sun might not rise.

    Fear is not your friend,
    you’d rather it would leave,
    but here it is, warning you
    about the end.

    Fear is someone watching you,
    waiting for you to fall.
    Your life isn’t what it was,
    and can’t be now, at all.

    1. I love this journey through fear. Thank you.

    2. So much truth in this, then you take it to a darker place. Love it.

    3. The voice of the narrator here seems kindly and maternal to me. I love the way the theme twists at the end, engaging the reader directly and making what seemed like an unconnected poem turn into to a warning.

    4. Man, I hate being the DA ditto, but what can I say? I also loved how it closed up with the rhyme at the end.

  4. Mackie Donahue, a fiftyish man whose expensive suit failed to camoflage a multitude of sins, called Sylvie into his office forty-five minutes past their scheduled appointment time, when nearly everyone else had already gone home. He gave her the once-over then an oily smile that revealed expensive dental work. “Since you’re new,” he said, motioning her to one of two chairs opposite his spotless mahogany desk. “I’ll give you a little advice before we get started.”

    She sat, and made her face look oh-so-eager to hear what this yutz had to say. But she had to be careful. The yutz wielded power and influence that if she wasn’t careful could be used against her and her cause, so she had to be all ears and no eyerolls. At least until she’d gotten what she’d come for.

    “Please.” She smiled with her eyes. “Go ahead.”

    Instead of taking the leather executive chair behind his desk, he sat in the smaller chair beside her. He leaned closer, until she could smell the mint overlay on his tuna-salad breath. “In business, it never hurts a woman like you to, you know, play it up a little more.”

    Sylvie stiffened. “A woman like me, Mr. Donahue?”

    “Come off it, you know what I’m talking about.” He thrust out cupped hands, about a foot wider than the span of her hips. As if he were taking measurements, or inviting her to dance. “Show what you got. Like, maybe you got some nice legs under those pants. Or could open a button or three from that blouse. Whatever. And please. Call me Mackie.”

    “All right. Mackie.” She was on the verge of physical illness, sitting so close to him. At least the assignment wouldn’t take long; she could count her blessings for that. “Is this the dress code for women who work here, showing off what you got?”

    “Well. Not formal, as such. Just that it tends to help. Some of these older guys”—he tipped his head toward his office door, as if throwing his colleagues under the bus—you know how they are. Won’t listen to a woman who’s all buttoned-up. Especially if she’s not a real looker.”

    Sylvie raised her eyebrows. “You’re saying I’m not attractive, Mr. Don—Mackie.”

    “Aw, no, honey. I’m not thinking that at all.” As if to prove it, he set his hairy hand on her thigh, and she stared at it until he removed it. He straightened up and adjusted his tie. “You just need wardrobe. A new hairstyle. A little time in the tanning bed, you’re awful pale. Maybe a nose job, not much at all…”

    “A nose job—?”

    He waved a hand. “Oh, we pay for those.”

    “I didn’t see that in the onboarding paperwork.”

    “Must have been an oversight. I’ll get one of my other secretaries to send you the forms.”
    “May we talk about my responsibilities, Mr. Don—Mackie? Or should I work that out with the other assistants?”

    “Yeah. Sure. Basically I need a girl who can also work nights. Oh. Not like you’re thinking.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “I already got a girl for that. Mostly. Just that sometimes, you know, inspiration strikes. I need someone to write stuff down after hours.”

    She grinned, just enough to keep from showing her fangs. “That part shouldn’t be a problem. Mackie.”

    1. First, ew. Second, love the twist at the end. Third, I have sooooo many questions.

    2. I love the twist as well. It was excruciating reading how creepy he was being towards her. Very effective.

    3. Yes! You capture that creepiness so well, and then that ending is a wonderful bonus.

    4. I was feeling revolted and nauseous until the end and hoped that this man would get his comeuppance. But I didn't expect that ending. Very well written and totally convincing, especially the dialogue.

    5. Sometimes I 'm really glad I'm not a woman

  5. In this valley, thronged, the crack of ice as bluest shards implode and drop, crystal tails and powder—oh my dreamland castaway lady and lord—trailing. When at last we emerge from this frozen northern twilit place, a dark hut squats in our path, weak smoke tendriling from a busted chimney, the faintest muddy orange dim and low in its pitiful windows playacting muted glances.

    Inside is a place of men. Large and bruised men, nursing their beers and their cryptic histories.

    Bradford finds a small table and we sit opposite, like chess rivals. A man brings us beer in bottles.

    “Tab?” he asks like he knows.

    We both nod and he leaves.

    I point to my head and point with my other finger at another part of my head. “Look at this. Look.”

    “What?” Bradford is somewhere between bored and on board.

    “I don’t know how to make this part work with this part.”


    “I got an intellectual and a lowlife creep at war in here. I don’t know how to reconcile these parts. I’m a goddamn high-rolling sweet-ass motherfucker with negative aspirations. One foot in the gutter while the other strolls the shining city on the hill. No sooner do I sink a Bud Lite than I dream of Freda Kahlo. I sue for peace while spoiling for a brawl. I don’t know what the fuck I am.”

    “You a whole circus without the ringmaster.”

    “I guess. And no taste-master either. I got no taste ’cause I want to taste all the tastes.”

    “Not sure I can help you with that, brother.”

    “Place needs music,” I say loudly, which only makes the barroom quieter.

    These hard-drinking men might be men at a stream, casting lines. Steady. Stoic. No one really knows. The night outside might darken or not, the songs of birds stretching out some long moment. Might could drop a quarter in the slot and hit a letter and a number, hoping for Neil or Drake or Lana or RiRi.

    Men like these don’t compromise—a weakness, not the strength they proclaim. Look. A tree connects the sky to the earth. And it reminds us to also connect. Put it this way: even the guys who ridicule “tree huggers” still knock on wood, I’ll wager.

    A song selects, and y’all know its effect, and its dress rehearsal respect blares external.

    Neil. Old now. Still shredding.

    The stymied wolverine wince and ruined caribou rasp of Old Black. A dark northern lament under slow-turning star wheels, the nighttime snow open blue under a half moon. Or under the aurora. And yes, as the man said, the old man now, it’s all one song.

    He enunciates the word borealis like Elton sings auditorium.

    Whatever the grisly outcome tonight, this is all and damn near everything.

    1. Oh, I've missed your writing. So many great lines, so much fatalism and depth. This line: "Inside is a place of men. Large and bruised men, nursing their beers and their cryptic histories."

    2. "I sue for peace while spoiling for a brawl. I don’t know what the fuck I am.” I so feel this. Love this. I can feel the conflict in him. The turn to music and the guys in the bar is awesome.

    3. I like the image of the men sitting opposite each other like chess rivals. It could even be chess pieces. Lots of really cool images in this. The blue shards, crystal tails, squat hut, Elton singing while he says borealis. 'Whatever the grisly outcome tonight' is foreboding and a good beginning of something dramatic.

    4. I always feel as though I have to reread what you write at least two or three times so I can enjoy it to its fullest. You've such a mastery of nuance and a remarkable ability to pull your reader into the narrative, making them experience it in a multi-sensory wide-screen panorama. I'd definitely love to read more of this; the protagonist is certainly someone I'd like to learn more about.

    5. I really dig this idea: I got no taste ’cause I want to taste all the tastes.

      The pull between high and low works really well here, and this seems almost like it needs to keep going.

  6. "You really should watch Gilmore Girls," Teena told Lexi. "You remind me so much of Parish Greller."

    "I know that character," Lexi sniffed. "That's offensive."

    "Anything can be offensive when said to the wrong person."

    "Also offensive," Lexi said.

    "Of course it is," Teena said, rolling her eyes. "It's just, she gives this speech, see, about how hard she works and how good she is and that will all of that she still doesn't get what she feels she deserves. YOu sound like that. A lot."

    "So maybe she's right," Lexi said. "It's not like I don't work for what I need. I'm not looking to get everything I want either. I am going after the basics. I need this stuff. No one will give it to me. They won't help me get it. They won't tell me how to do it better. There are days where I don't even know if they hear me. I don't know if I exist."

    "Wah, wah, wah, that's what you sound like," Teena said. "Just try different things. Keep putting yourself out there. Keep pushing. No one ever got what they needed by whining about it."

    "You aren't listening," Lexi said. "Or maybe you are hearing the parts you want to. I CAN'T GET THROUGH. This isn't laziness. I don't know how to do what I need to do and no one will tell me what I need to know to make this shit work."

    "I get what I need," Teena said.

    "We aren't the same person," Lexi said. "Not even close. Some people have barriers others don't."

    "And some people just love to whine."

    "Maybe I am," Lexi said. "Maybe I'm a whiney, sensitive, difficult diva. Maybe you're right about all of it. That doesn't change the fact that you're an insensitive ass who has no clue what the world is like for anyone else. Don't call me. I'll call you...if I ever decide I need a reminder of who not to be."

    1. I love Gilmore Girls! I can see where she's coming from: she just wants the basics, nothing special, but she's having to fight for it, because no one is just going to hand it to her. I think Teena is a bit mean in calling her a whiner - maybe Lexi is trying really hard. I like the contrast in the two voices.

    2. I'm intrigued by their back-and-forth. I like how Lexi stands up for herself. (And you know how much I love Gilmore Girls!)

    3. It's so difficult to write stories consisting almost entirely of dialogue, yet you nail it. I love the rhythms, the expansive parts and then a kind of economy that's equally hard to do. Yet you pull it off.

    4. I'm not familiar with the Gilmore Girls, although I have heard of the series. However, I do feel the frustration that Lexi feels and the annoyance she gets from Teena's attitude. You've had to work hard to build the two characters up from dialogue alone but you've certainly done that in spades. It's quite masterful the way you've done this.

    5. The dialogue feels genuine, and I like the give and take. Feels like it is about to spin out into a story.

  7. I can't connect. I can't hit that place where I'm saying something and you're hearing it. Not with you. Not with anyone. When I read or write, then I can sometimes connect. Because I don't have to. It's me and a page. There are no misunderstandings. No one is looking to prove themselves right by any means necessary. No one wins in a book. They just communicate. I just want to reach that place. What do I need to do? Do I need to bend? Do I need to break? Do I need to disappear? I'm so tired of trying that what I have right now is that I can give up and let whatever's going to happen, happen. If life is going where it will go anyways, why am I still fighting to move the river to another bed? Why not just lay back and try to survive the ride? What am I fighting for? Is it that important/ Does it even matter? I'm starting to think the answer to that is a resounding no.

    1. You can feel the despair in this. Is it worth it? Is it worth continuing to struggle when you find yourself against the wall/tide and things outside your power seeming to be defeating you. I like the 'Do I need to bend? Do I need to break?' - would breaking solve the dilemma? She's so tired of fighting that she's willing to give up.

    2. Like Vickie, I feel the despair and the cognitive dissonance and the questioning about whether writing is living, or how the two interact. It's deep!

    3. I definitely 'get' this. I don't know how much of this is based on your own thoughts but it definitely resounds with me. It sounds like you're searching for a key to unlock the gate to a shared place where the message can be transferred without any noise, obstructions or filtering which would act as a barrier. Is it you or is it the other person? Are they just being perverse and deliberately acting as though they don't understand what you're trying to tell them? Whichever it is, I can feel your frustration.

    4. Yeah, that struggle is real. You did a good job pinning it down.

  8. And it was done. The candles had burned down to their last inches and his voice had dwindled away to a squeak. His words of power were still echoing from the carpark’s concrete ceiling and floor. Jacob’s thoughts were jumbled and filled with doubts and his knees were stiffened with his own caked blood. He’d followed the directions the grimoires had given him meticulously. And then he’d waited. He’d waited an hour, tracking the time by watching the wax vaporising, the candles’ scent oddly reminiscent of a fried breakfast he hadn’t enjoyed.

    But still nothing. He’d begun to check his wards’ integrity, more as something to do than anything else. He reached into his pocket for his magnetic chalks, thinking that he could firm up the thicknesses of some of the lines he’d drawn, accentuate the angles where they crossed.

    And then He was there, looming, improbably tall, his shoulders straining against the decking of the floor overhead. The creature spat at him, its phlegm passing though his wards, showering him without slowing. A puddle of spilled oil by his right foot burst into flame, a pillar of dense black smoke reaching up and spreading across the ceiling.

    “Nearly got you,” the demon said, grinning, resizing itself to approximately the size of a man. If anything, it seemed larger now, defying everything Jacob’s eyes perceived of Him.

    “You came,” Jacob said, clapping his hands like a child. “I knew I could do it.”

    1. I always fixate on details in flash stories. Details that don't have to be there yet reveal character. So this almost casual throwaway really got my attention: "...the candles’ scent oddly reminiscent of a fried breakfast he hadn’t enjoyed." The character is revealed in the lack of enjoyment. Brilliant.

    2. I wish I could pull this kind of stuff out of my brain more often. I often feel so rooted in real worlds that it feels like chains. I'm jealous of your imagination.

  9. Very dramatic entrance for the demon and I like your build-up. And the last line is a good one to jump off to continuing the story.

    1. I feel what David said about how important details become in flash pieces. The one that struck me was the demon resizing himself and how that made his presence feel larger. Love this piece. The joy at the end really gives the whole thing a twist that you don't see too often.


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