Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Beginning

It's been far too long since I've visited this space.  I haven't been doing much (any) writing since my last post, and it took signing back up for another round of creative writing class to get anything going.  What follows is a combination of assignment completion/throat clearing (getting stuff out of the way so I can tell the actual story).  It was fun to get something down on the 'page' even if it took a struggle to get it there, but enough of that.  Here it is, the throat clearing called "The Beginning" (original huh):

I prayed it would rain.

The sun bearing down on my exposed neck was meager recompense for the hefty burden I was about to deliver.  My armor, a showy regalia meant to declare my station, only helped to bake me within its confines, yet its heat paled in comparison to the scorching flames of a father’s glare.  Were it not for the decade of life spent staring down hell’s gates on the battlefield I may have withered on the spot, but withering here felt unworthy.  Standing before a humble dwelling in a dusty plain with hardly another house in sight, I eyed the man occupying the house’s doorway, “Sir, I ask again, is this the home of Luetin Vaner.”

“And I will tell you again, sir, that is none of your concern.  I don’t recall asking any soldiers for aid and I won’t be inviting any into my home no matter the rank,” my opposite rejoined, folding his sinewed arms while his eyes swept over our group.

The man, a rugged trunk of a man, planted himself in the doorway of his home as effectively as a palisade.  He could have easily been mistaken for the door itself for as unmoving as he remained after our exchange.  My men, the few I brought on the journey, shifted uncomfortably nearby, some clearly on edge.  They’re fighters after all.  Diplomacy was for those who sat for their pay, yet I was not eager to escalate to violence against a single, undeserving man.

A man of the cloth had been among those to travel with us and this moment seemed more suited to a man of words over action.  “Priest,” I barked, more gruffly than intended, watching the doughy man flinch as I turned in his direction, “it would seem your honeyed tongue is required to ease the situation.”

“There is nothing to ease other than your way on back to where you came from,” the man in the door spat, “we have no need of a priest unless he’s here for your last rites.”

Honed metal rang out as a few of the soldiers responded to the threat with drawn blades.  “Stand down men,” I tried to assuage my men but saw their eyes bearing down on their insulter, “the first man to draw needless blood will find himself scourged within an inch of his life.”

My threat carried the weight required and the men returned their swords to their scabbards.  “I don’t know why you seek to provoke us-”

“I am not the one bearing arms at a man’s door.”

“To which you are correct, but we would not make this journey unarmed.  These weapons are not bore against your house.  We wish only for a word.”

“The church and the state standing at my door as one seeking only words?  You’ll have to forgive my unbelief,” the man scoffed, throwing his arms wide, “there is nothing here for you.”

“B-but,” the priest finally stammered, fingers rolling the hem of his sleeves on his flowing robe as his mouth gasped like a dying fish.

An exasperated snort leapt from my throat, the cloth is useless!  The absurdity of it all was wearing down the last of my patience, and I set my attention squarely on the man blocking our progress.  He, along with his taunting smirk, hadn’t moved from the doorway, arms still spread as if appealing to a higher power.  Resigned to my duty, I drew in a steeling breath, it had come time for action.  
Murmurs swept through our traveling group as I began my march toward the house, dust trailing in my wake.  A sense of apprehension overtook the man’s haughty air, his eyes darting between my face and sword, his arms retreating in defense.  The separation between narrowed to within an arm’s reach and the man burst into action, a muscled arm lunging for my head.  It only took a backhand tap to deflect the errant blow, my feet moving without thought to prepare for the follow-up strike.  Another lunging blow with the opposite arm came flailing soon after which I caught at the man’s wrist and twisted.  The simple move threw the man forward to protect his joints and a kick to the back of his leg sent him to a knee.  Standing behind my subdued opponent, I leaned down to speak, “I’m not going to bother asking for your name,” then to my men, “someone come and restrain this man, but make sure no harm comes to him.”

I relinquished my grip on the man to a pair of brave men and turned for the door, the man’s voice roaring out as I stepped inside, “Gracia!  Run!”

The lack of bustle once I closed the door to the man’s incessant yelling was unnerving; a quaint kitchen greeted me with ample sunlight, the scents of worn woods and pungent spices, and a growing weight on my shoulders.  My gloved hand brushed over the tabletop as I strode past, it’s imperfections noticeable through leather.  A door had let me into the house but now I faced a space divided by hanging curtains of various colors from a faded meadow.  Brushing aside a fabric wall, I laid eyes upon a young woman, Gracia I assumed, and a babe suckling at her breast.  
Her hickory eyes, wide with fright, were a piercing reminder of my own wife’s, my head turning away out of reflex.  “I did not mean to catch you unaware in such a state,” I offered with an edge of nervousness in my voice that caught me by surprise, “but I need to have a word with you.”
The rustling of fabric drew my attention back to the woman, a small blanket now draped over her shoulder, concealing her child.  “Why are you here?” she ventured, her body slowly contorting to shield the child from view, “What do you want with me?”

“Gracia,” i began, settling onto a stool while trying to gauge her reaction to the name, “the news I bring concerns your entire household, and it centers around your young one there.”


The question hung in the air like smoke, and the more I took the sight of her in the more it stung my eyes.  All I began to see was my wife with our firstborn, an image etched in my memory playing out before me anew.  It would have been easier to march back outside and deliver the news to the screaming man than to his wife, her expectant gaze melting my voice into the pit of my stomach.  “What does this have to do with my son?”

It took several deep breaths before I could meet her gaze fully, and, as I opened my mouth to speak, another voice called out, “He will have a great role to fulfill someday.”

“Great role?” Gracia pondered aloud as she stared at the short-winded priest, sweat dripping from his chin.

“Yes,” the priest breathed, laying a hand on my shoulder, “the seers all speak of it.

“What does all this have to do with us now?” she inquired as her brow began to furrow.

“He needs to be prepared for his role,” I finally found my voice, “and that will take time.”

“So what are you saying?” her response was more apprehensive and her expression softened.

Stepping forward and dropping to a knee, the priest looked into the fearful eyes of a mother, “Sweet dear, it means that, in time, you will give up your son for the greater good of all.”

The sound of her breath catching in her chest sucked the air from the room so quickly I felt my chest clench.  On instinct, I moved to kneel next to the priest, removed a glove, laid a hand on Gracia’s knee, and did my best to sound comforting, “but that time isn’t now.  We’ve come to prepare you for the time when we come to prepare him.”

Tears streaking down her face were poison to my resolve and it took the priest shaking my shoulder to break me from the dreadful spell of her sorrow.  Our trek from the house was swift and just as quickly forgotten, the sound of the restrained man’s shouting an unwelcome but necessary return to the business at hand.  “Release him,” was my simple order to the pair holding him before addressing the rest of the traveling party, “we make for the capital as soon as we’re ready.”

My horse awaited, the beast of burden shifting slightly as I clambered into the saddle, grasping hold of the reigns.  I raised my head and stared into the endless expanse above.  My burden hadn’t been shed, only shared.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Something on a Saturday

Been a little quiet here, but, honestly, I expected that. To 'remedy' that I offer you a mash-up of two ideas that came to me this morning that looks and sounds rather frankensteinian. Written mostly to purge the idea from my head as it wouldn't leave me alone.  Pay little mind to the title, I needed something to be a placeholder and that just spewed out.


Whip and chain,
my very soul
they flay
Words in refrain,
my heart of coal
they fillet
Speakers strain,
my being whole
they betray
Tears like rain
down my cheeks roll
fall astray
This music domain,
a vicious troll,
will I remain?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Hands

Today was the final session of my creative writing course, and, to cap what was a successful venture that I'm finding it hard to walk away from, I'd like to post one last piece I wrote for class. Originally, I was going to post a piece that I notice I've posted before (not even double digit posts in and I'm already wanting to repost stuff), but I'm going with my favorite free write trigger response.

This piece was written as a stream of consciousness, but I adapted it to a free-verse poem format when I submitted it for our class anthology. Not sure if I feel it added anything to piece or if I just wanted it to not look like a chunk of text on a page. My guess is the latter.

My Hands

My hands are rough,
unless liberally moisturized.
My hands are strong,
unless I'm grasping for my dreams.

These things are true,
but will they always be true.
Will these hands of mine,
which now scribble on this page,
always fail me?

It's not fair to characterize these hands,
which build
and make
and do,
as the parts of me that leave me

If my hands could have their say,
they might grab my heart with vice-like intensity.
They would shake and shake
my bewildered heart until it beat,
truly beat,
with a desire, a yearning.
They would drop that beating, passionate heart and march onward.
Onward and upward,
until they laid sight upon a motionless gray mass.
There, they would beat upon that gray matter like a war drum,
announcing to the brain and all its minions and lackeys that it is time to do.
Do the passions of the heart
with a sharpness
and clarity
and focus
that hasn't yet been achieved.

These hands of mine
would like to move mountains.

I'm going to miss that class.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Classwork: Tumult

I feel like sharing, so here's a piece I did for the "Show, Don't Tell" portion of my creative writing class (which, sadly, wraps up this week).  It's based on a prompt that I'll reveal at the end.  No point ruining the surprise.


  The dying light of the setting sun cast a familiar shade of crimson on the placid surface of a secluded lake. I crouch down to dip my hands into the cool water, releasing the weight I held in my hand in hopes it would sink to the bottom, forgotten. My eyes watch while colors swirl and dance as ripples radiate in all directions, distorting the lake's surface irrevocably. Cold seeps into my skin, like lead leeching through my pores, and I can feel the life draining from my hands. The encroaching numbness is pleasant, almost as cleansing as the source of the sensation. But the pleasure is short-lived as a needling irritation creeps over me, a frustrated sigh flaring my nostrils as I withdraw my hands from the lake. A quick flick of the wrist scatters droplets of water, the feeling slowly returning to my hands as I return my gaze to the world at large. 

  Trees border the lake on all sides, some blotched with the colors of the season, others sending out their lifeless limbs in random contortions. The colors seem unnatural in the moment, like someone had hurriedly slashed open a vein against several of the trees on one side, only to send splatters against the opposite canopy. Hidden between the wide swaths of scarlet foliage, leaves hued like flaxen hair quiver on a rising breeze. That zephyr, an unexpected intruder, stole into the space between the trees, ruffling the leaves and the surface of the lake alike. My fading reflection dances on the ripples, twisting and bending into the facade of some inhuman creature.

  Done with the warped visage glaring accusations up at me from the water's edge, I rise to drink in a space growing more tumultuous. Wind, swelling in force, slashes through the trees; leaves quake as they vainly attempt to flee the assault. Waves begin to roll across the lake, churning up colors of an abyss void of the light of the sun. Spray from the lake whips about me on the wind, speckling my clothing with dots of moisture. I want to strip off my dirtied coverings and toss myself, once again, into the din. To drench myself in the colors not my own, to feel the world itself rage against my body. I refrain, willing to take in the tumult from afar this time as a grin turns my lips. In the sound of the gale I hear a voice rising up in me, my lips parting to loose words spoke in another time, at another place: “You have nowhere to run.”

The prompt from this exercise was: Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has just committed murder.  Do no mention the murder.

How'd I do?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Surriddle Me This

Thought I'd drop my latest creative writing assignment, albeit nearly a week after I wrote it.  The theme for this particular assignment was surrealism and I drew my inspiration from a combination of digging in the dirt and a painting entitled "Jet Stream" the teacher used as a free write prompt.  Without further ado, I give you:

Chop and Caw

Chop at the roots
watch the birds scatter
chop at the roots
feel blood splatter
say goodbye to those
you hardly know
make them sorry
to see you go
uproot the tree
to set yourself free
rushing waters
swirling winds
shake leaves
like a gentle breeze
sturdy limbs sinewed fiber
swats the cawing crow
seeking refuge within
the tree's ear
Be gone
nefarious crow
Take thy deeds
and roost elsewhere
not here
not in my air
not that I care
who you disturb
blue skies swallow
you crow in ashen grey
rain dead embers upon you
leave you to gasp and wheeze
trampled under root
under boot
under tree

under me

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Bit of a whirlwind travel day yesterday.  Thought I'd pop in to drop two lines, of... something, that came to mind while in the air.  The first comes from the shapes I see occasionally on sunny days.  I've started calling them my personal Mushi, a name taken from the anime Mushi-shi. 

   Bits of translucent nothingness
   descending like lazy snow

It's an option for an opening if I ever do a piece about those shapes I see in the sunlight.

The second came from staring at and crunching ice in a small plastic cup.  Also, part of me just wanted to their in a rhyme.

   As the gates have frozen shut,
   Arteries rusted from years of being
   unused and abused

Don't know where that will take me, eventually.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Tuesday Morning

Woke up this morning not was wanting to wake up.  Not that I didn't want to face the day, just not an hour and a half before my alarm.  Though that did spur a couple lines I might revisit later:

  My mind is like sleep
  My body is like fire
  Burning up the air around me

Breakfast came with another idea, one I wished I'd taken the time to explore:

   Ham n' eggs on a plate
   Drum n' bass in the air

I had "Give Me More" by Grandtheft playing as I made eggs with ham, and my mind wandered back to a classmate's work on someone dancing for catharsis.  Did a little moving with something resembling rhythm and felt a good energy, which birthed those above lines with as much jest as inspiration. 

We'll see if anything comes of these, and if they do I'll let you know.