Friday, August 31, 2012

The End of Antitude

And so it was that on the fifty fifth day, all the world’s ants were grappled by the tongues of all the world’s anteaters, and without further thought, quickly consumed. No longer would the ants be able to taunt the anteaters with cries of “missed me, missed me, now ya gotta kiss me” and a thousand other spiteful antish slogans. Nevermore would ants scratch words into the bark of the trees of anteater forests, pronouncing anteaters to be freaks of nature, unloved even by their mothers, rabid, patchy-furred Pinocchios.

It had been anteater Grblhausen who had rallied the species, who had set the scorn in motion which had soon gathered steam, turning quickly into anger, then malice, then outright hatred. And it was anteater Grblhausen to whom all the world’s anteaters flocked once the elimination of the enemy had been completed. A great cheer went up as the last anteater took his place at the rear of the throng; a cheer followed by a bellow of raspberries, delivered by tens of thousands of extra lengthy tongues.

“We have been set free” Grblhausen shouted above the crowd; “we have triumphed, and with the extermination of the anty race we will reclaim our prideful place among the kings and queens of the earth!”

The crowd nodded, and grinned, and tongued each other on the back for a job well done. Suddenly, one young anteater raised his snout and cried out for attention. Seeing the possibility of cementing their great victory within the hearts of an entire younger generation, Grblhausen demanded the lad be ushered to the stage so as to speak his piece; no doubt a childish but heartfelt treatise on the power of hatred and the thrill of ridding oneself of one’s scourge.

The young one did reach a place beside the elder anteater, and he did speak, though it was a question rather than a speech.

“I’m hungry” the littlest anteater said. “Anyone got anything to eat?”

It was some time before the anteaters had thought that question to its only logical conclusion. As the crowd moved menacingly toward the stage, Grblhausen was heard to shout, “Well we all may starve to death, but there won’t be any damn ants to knock over our gravestones! If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s an ant with an antitude!”

Once the world’s anteaters had hanged Grblhausen for being a moron, they all settled back to wait for extinction.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Teapot Glory

Once it was in kitchens dark when tools stood proudly on the board
our little teapots languished in the corners of those rooms;
whence fickle fads enveloped us, the Asian liquid’s ox was gored
and chicory raised up to send the teabags to their tombs.

Yet that was in America, where hula hoops have ruled the day
and Slinkies have come charging down the center floor plan stair.
Poor shredded leaf was covered o’er by dried beans bearing strong bouquet.
Ah, coffee, drink of elder gods, the heavens brought to bear.

In deference to the heathens who would spurn fine wine for tree bark soup
the islanders kept faith with their ambrosia born of shrubs.
For centuries the Brits have held, through Arthur, Churchill and Jasfoup
that tea’s the perfect beverage! (once ignoring those from pubs)

And now it seems the Yanks awake, the leaf is favored once again;
our kitchens prone to brewing are now steeping by the droves.
And in their teapot glory, kettles loudly whistle their Amen,
to prayers they’d once again reign proud, atop the pagan's stoves.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homework Saves Lives

It was said to be a cursed place, stained by the blood of a thousand battles, the dead stacked upon one another in great columns and turned to stone by their own weight. From a distance it seemed a dead forest of granite, some trunks straight and glistening, some corkscrewed and black as pitch as if scarred by the fires of hell. So it was written in the local histories, passed down from well before the Europeans had come to settle. Yet no one had ever actually seen this place of woe and mourning. It was assumed to be an ancient type of campfire story, a myth, something with which the very early natives kept their children from wandering too far from their homes. “Bullshit” old mister Bedford would say, “B as in B, S as in S! Bullshit!” But Billy knew better.

Billy was a curious lad, always talking, ending nearly every sentence with a question mark though never meaning to press for information of consequence. The boy might have made a fine athlete, perhaps a French horn player of some repute or even a rocket scientist, but Billy wanted to be famous for discovery, an adventurer really but he hated that title as life itself was an adventure and everyone was capable of doing life. He wanted to be special, revered, in spite of doing as little schoolwork as was possible because he simply hated schoolwork. In fact had he understood that what he was dreaming of doing was “research” and “exploration”, he’d have quit and taken up rpg gaming to assure that he was not in any way using his time constructively.

He’d made his great find in a nearby cave, one previously undiscovered as its only entrance was the hole through which Billy had fallen while walking aimlessly through the hills of Donnick Downs, avoiding homework “like the plague”. Had he not landed “just so”, and had the floor not been a pool of very deep yet bathtub warm water, Billy might have died right then and there, but after a few moments of reorientation the boy was able to find his way to the surface and reacquaint himself with the properties of oxygen.

The fellow who had been standing there awaiting his recovery was an incredibly short yet chubby bloke; the kind one would see occasionally tending gardens in empty nester neighborhoods. He was though without the pointed red hat that all these landscapers seemed to favor, which pleased Billy greatly as they’d always seemed clown like and he feared clowns.

“It’s lucky you’re not fat” the gnome said (for Billy had identified the man as a gnome based on his reading of ‘Gnomes Are People Too’) . “You stopped just short of the bottom and if you had died I’d never have been able to get your story.”

“I’m in no mood for stories” Billy said through chattering teeth (for he had become suddenly chilled), “so how about you tell me the way outa here?”

“Oh no” said the gnome, “There is no way out. I’m afraid you’re here until your last day, which I’m guessing by your chatter will be any day now.”

Billy laughed, though laughing was hard to accomplish what with all his shivering. “No way out? That’s absurd! There’s always a way out of everywhere and everything.. isn’t there?” (He finished his sentence with a question mark, in keeping with the tradition)

“Nope” repeated the gnome. “Look over there. Those are the others who have fallen through, and as you can see, none of them found the way out”.

Billy looked to his left and gasped. There it was, the forest of spires, the granite jungle, the BS wasn’t BS at all!

“You mean” he said, working his way toward a question mark, “people who fall into that pool turn into giant rock knitting needles?”

“Oh no no” the gnome giggled; “those are tombstones, and I carve them myself, just as my father did and his father before him.”

Billy was so fascinated he had no time to contemplate the obvious and the fear that would surely paralyze him.

“I’ve never seen tombstones so tall. Aren’t they usually little rounded things?”

“Yes, and that’s very sad, we think, that a person’s entire life could be compressed into a single, and sometimes meaningless phrase, if even any words at all save the name of the deceased. It’s not like stone isn’t plentiful, nor is it fact that there isn’t a sea of talented people out of work at any given time. So why is it you humans care so little that you don’t say more in memoriam of those of your ilk who have passed on? Why do you not employ more of your time and effort scribing your history? You are curious creatures, yet you deserve better than even yourselves are willing to give. So here in this tiny corner of the universe, we take care of it for you.”

The gnome, ‘Mr. Haberdasher” by name, explained to Billy that he wanted to hear the entirety of the boy’s life story, each experience, each emotion, every movement of his too few years. Billy might have ignored the little man if he weren’t also told that in giving his tale, the shivering would stop, and he was beginning to rattle so hard that his eyeballs seemed to be losing their place in their sockets. So he began at the beginning, or at least as far back as he could remember which was more like age three when he’d flung his spaghetti across the table at his father’s boss and had covered him in Alfredo sauce.

As he spoke, the tinker tinkered, his procured hammer and chisel rattling above the ground, seemingly striking only thin air. Yet after each series of strokes a length of stone would appear, covered in symbols, growing from the ground as if an instant, granite stalagmite.

On and on Billy yammered, up and up Mr. Haberdasher hammered, until at last Billy said “and then I fell through a hole and into a very deep pool, just before I found myself talking to you.” And then, without so much as a grunt or a groan, Billy died.

It took only a few minutes for the gnome to lay Billy’s body to rest beneath his crooked obelisk. He spent a moment with his sadness, and said a gnomish prayer, just before his concentration was broken by a loud splash.

Jackie was a curious lad, but a very, very lazy boy. In fact it was almost unbelievable that he’d walked uphill at all much less all the way up the very hill that would bring him to the very hole that would rocket him toward the very pond from which he was extricating himself when he spotted the gnome.

“Had you only been doing your homework” the gnome said as he waddled within Jackie’s earshot, “you might have never been granitized.”

“Huh?” Jackie said, slightly annoyed that not only had he fallen through a freaking hole and landed in freaking the water, but now he was freaking cold and shivery and had to talk to a freaking midget!

“Oh never mind” said the gnome; “Just talking to meself. So, just curious... how far back can you remember exactly?”

Monday, August 27, 2012

50 Word Worlds

Once upon a time I spied a prompt that told me it wanted me to write stories that contained only 50 words, including their titles; and so I wrote a few... because I always do what I'm told.



Schism

A lifetime they’d struggled with understanding one another. He’d believed they’d finally come to a place of peace, and concluded his schizophrenic daughter loved him as much as he’d always loved her.

“Dad” he read as cancer consumed him, “You are the devil incarnate. Stay away from me, forever.”


A Pragmatic Betrothal


“I’m pregnant” she said, anticipating.

“I’m sterile” I said, “did I forget to tell you?”

“Damn you” she screamed, anticipation turning to rage.

“Do you want me that badly?”

“No, but you’re a better meal ticket.”

“I’ve always admired your honesty,” I said; “I’ll think about it.”


CONsequence

All his life Jerry had done the right thing, the honorable thing. He was a good man, compassionate, even benevolent his neighbors would say.

“It wasn’t a con Jerry, just small type,” said Cliff the mortgage banker.

“You’ll not have my home” Jerry said as he pulled the trigger.


Floater

He might have screamed until his end, but instead accepted fate and vowed to not waste any moment remaining. Giving ten seconds to each decade he flipped through the images of his life, apologizing, thanking, blessing, loving. Flight thirty five’s engines hit the ground first. Then, for Tom, silence.


Downpour

Eleanor prayed for rain; for three months. She kept track by drawing little lightning bolts on her calendar for each day of supplication. God heard, but had appointments, and so marked his own calendar with little Eleanors. Then, it rained for ninety days. Floating downstream, Ellie prayed; for revenge.


Name Changes Imminent

The triplets hated being alphabetically first, particularly in school. Each year they hoped an Anderson or Ackman would join their class, but to no avail. The Anyold boys were triply doomed to be the talk of home room as attendance was called… “Anyold, Tom? Dick? and Harry?”


Rules

He said “I’ve fifty words to live,
and not one syllable to give!”
And so he danced and sang with glee
a quite creative panoply.
He rewrote War and Peace in verse
then shouted out in Russian curse
“by contest rules I must abide!”
And then contractually, he died.


Going Down

In the beginning, God made the earth; the sun, the moon, amoebae, the platypuses, and everything else.
On His seventh day, He rested.
Later, man began the destruction of the platypuses, amoebae, the earth, the sun, the moon, and everything else.
And on their seventh day, mankind vanished.


Then: King For Show, Now: CEO

Into the fray the hundred rode
the battle turned quite nicely
The king announced from his commode
"My plan hath worked precisely!"

"I knew if I were occupied 
my knights would take the lead! 
As general, I'm disqualified,
I do so hate to bleed!"


Fifty Word Shakespearian Sonnet

What fun, I ask 
in miniscule:
doth verse die by 
the 50 rule?

Doth our our dear readers' 
minds compress
when faced with more
in less and less?

How scurried I
(a madman bent)
must aggrandize
a bloomin' cent!

Cruel end, I fear,
hath come my dears.


 

 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stone Upon the Lawn


I'm not sure why I'm drawn to the tragic. It's not a Poe thing, as much as I would pretend it to be; I am no fan of horror but love more Poe's characters and their angst than his plot devices and their ringing dooms. If I were to guess I would say I have always been bored with what is the norm in both fiction and fact, the ending redemption, the rising from the ashes, the quadriplegic who jumps up after only a week in the limb removal operation center and runs a mile on his stumps while dribbling a basketball and learning Swahili through earbuds. Yea, that stuff happens. It sure does, I've witnessed it myself; 2 or 3 times, as compared to the hundreds of times that tragedy ends on a sour note, the cancer patient dies, the captured soldier is beheaded, the young mentally challenged man is taunted into suicide.

Maybe subconsciously I think there are reams of writers out there ready to make their readers sigh and hug themselves, and I am claustrophobic, even within an imaginary crowd of like individuals. Who knows, maybe it's darker than that, maybe I'm just self piteous and so I attach to those things that seem as or more miserable than I am at any given time. When I ponder it I come to this; that I simply find the story of people in pain far more compelling than that of those who conquer it. I am far less intrigued by a man born wealthy and can never understand hunger, than by the millions who go hungry every day without hope of relief. I am more moved by the sick and shelter-less, the have nots and never wills, than by the two folks of hundreds who climb their way out; not that I don't applaud the latter, but I guess, doesn't someone have to give a shit about the former?

I've no doubt to some I'm seen as a rider of the linguistic apocalypse, some wordy harbinger of doom. That's fine. I don't try to publish because I'm reasonably sure that would be the sentiment of most publishers, I am not a common denominated teacup so to speak. I have tried the redemption thing and found it not to my liking. That said, I do think I'm pretty good at what I DO do, giving a reader pause. They say you should write what you know. I know this; life aint a bed of roses, and someone needs to tend to the thistle.

Sorry if this was all rehash sentiment. I was reminded by a friend's poem, "Fires" by Francesca Castaño of one of my all time favorite poems, one of those that just came shooting out of me like water from a fire hose (as an old friend once described my writing style) and I thought to preface a sad piece with an explanation as to why I believe this scene is beautiful, why I'd find Johnny fascinating, and why I can wish I'd have known his mother as perhaps I'd have been able to give her a little comfort throughout her life.


As twilight creeps across the fields he sobs while crumpled on the ground
his fingers twisting through the mound of freshly spaded earth
The whimper turns to whispered wail, his grief pours out in great detail
as Johnny curls into himself, as if before his birth

She hadn’t lived a blessed life, a beaten girl, reluctant wife
and mother of a crippled son, one prone to cause her pain
and yet she’d kept her brilliant wit, she’d twinkled in her eyes a bit
the memories came flooding back as it began to rain

The boy just lay there on the green, his hands contracting in the mud
his face contorting with the flood of tears he couldn’t slow
He’d never told her of his care, not held her close, nor touched her hair
and now his mother withered there, her warmth six feet below

As darkness grips the somber vale the lad recounts his many sins
and once he has a list begins recounting them aloud
“I’m sorry dear” he says at last, “I’d not deserved a love so vast”
He’d never understood her heart, his mother, once so proud

He vowed to be a better son just as the pour turned into mist
and kneeling toward the grave he kissed the stone upon the lawn
He lingered there until the light, until he’d reconciled his plight
dear Johnny’d grown up overnight, where love had come and gone

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Understanding One's Flaws

Normally I wouldn’t pay a breath of attention to a child. I’m of the W.C. Fields school of young progeny appreciation; hopefully not seen, neither heard. But I couldn’t help but notice the apprehension clouding the face of a nearby tenish year old girl. She seemed alone; at least my scanning the 32 unfilled bus depot seats within our proximity provided no clue as to who might be her guardian. That in itself made me nervous for her, and I decided to at least keep her within my sightline until she appeared safe. But what had caught my eye and continued to make me curious was her cradling a small object in her hands as if it were a baby bird having fallen from a nest. I struggled to see what it was that she was enamored by, without of course making it obvious I was looking at her at all lest some hothead vigilante get the wrong idea.

Finally I caught a glimpse of her prize, a matchbox sized ceramic container, a rosemaled, alabaster coffer, no doubt containing some picture, coin or other keepsake of great worth.

You’d think once I’d seen the item my curiosity would have been sated, but alas, I soon became obsessed with the object and its possible contents. (Sitting alone in a small town bus terminal for hours, waiting on the last of two daily coaches tends to make one insane with latent nosiness, waiting for any trigger with which to set it into meddlesome motion.

“Young lady” I abruptly mumbled; “might I ask what it is that you’re holding? It seems so precious to you.”

Without so much as looking up she said “It’s my box of flaws! And my mom says I need it with me at all times.”

My mind began chewing that answer immediately, like a raccoon with a discarded fast food bag. “A box of flaws.” How cute if it were meant to relive the child of the self made guilt that surrounds the discovery of imperfection. A little box in which to store flaws so that the girl would never be burdened by them.

Or how loutish of a parent to make issue of a child’s shortcomings; to force the youngster to carry with them a constant reminder of their failing to meet the parent’s expectations. A box of flaws indeed!

Yet either way it was heartwarming to me, endearing almost, that one so young could be moved by symbolism so simple, and yet so profound. One’s flaws are ponderous things, no matter a person’s inclination to either obsess their importance or forgive oneself their existence. And to have someone so young believe that she might store them in a tiny box to be held in her tiny hand, is a testament to the power of myth.

As I calculated the probabilities of flaws as saint or demon, reticent to ask for resolution to my query as I was a stranger and children should never speak to me and mine, the girl sat, fluffed out her dress so as to make a lap and then sat the box into the center of the smoothed fabric. With one hand she held the ceramic tightly, and with the other she began to extrude a long piece of string from its interior. Once she’d pulled nearly a foot long strand, she jerked her hand away from her waist as if bitten by a spider, snapping off a healthy length of the material.

Then, as a smile slowly crept across my face, the angel twirled the ends of the string ‘round her index fingers and slid the material between her slightly bucked front teeth.

“Floss” I said with a chuckle. “A box of floss.”

It’s no wonder I’m not a parent, I thought. I have no ear for childese.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Are you a man, or a moose?

Marie and I had only been dating a month when I proposed we take a motorcycle trip to Yellowstone by way of the Tetons. We’d hung out longer than that so it was not as if we’d just met, but “dating” needed to be sealed with a kiss, and I was reticent to deliver as I liked what we had and was unwilling to press for more and risk the whole bundle. She’d become impatient, had found her opportunity and had planted one on me while I was being my gentlemanly self, and my road to ruin was sealed, but that’s another story.

In this tale, a woman who had never ridden on two wheels before I barged into her life agreed to a 4000 mile camping trip without a moment’s hesitation. She was game, I’ll have to give her that.

By the time we reached central Wyoming, she was a seasoned rider, as we had already faced off with death, and she’d found it oddly pleasurable. While attempting to descend from the crest of Tensleep canyon on a switchback road that was in the process of being rebuilt, we had been forced to travel too fast by an eighteen wheeler whose brakes had overheated on our tail, and I’d had to lay the bike down in the gravel to keep from jetting off a 500 foot cliff. Once she’d gotten over the initial shock, and found all her limbs intact, she’d wanted hot sweaty sex as quickly as conditions allowed. I took note of her response to danger, and quashed my fear that she might find riding just too scary for her liking.

The town of Dubois lies 85 miles from Jackson Hole, our presumed destination. Though I say presumed, in reality it was more necessity as there’s nothing between the two towns but rock, freezing water and Billy goats. It was late afternoon, but the weather was looking dicey, and even in August in high elevation there was always the chance of snow. Naturally I’d not anticipated the possibility so we were lacking the gear we’d need should an early storm whack us enroute. Luckily, Dubois has a cowboy clothing store, and we stopped off for long undies and woolen socks.

Suddenly she developed a case of the munchies and pointed to a small restaurant up the street, identified by a 30 foot tall blue moose standing in front of its windows. I was nervous about the sky, but figured we had the 20 minutes it’d take to satisfy her craving, so we sauntered into “the Blue Moose” and ordered burgers and fries. It was self serve, probably a converted fast food joint, so we grabbed our little plastic trays and headed off for the front booth where we might watch the traffic, and the all important heavens.

Marie took a large bite of her burger, looked up toward me and snorted, nearly losing the bite in the process. I said gesundheit as any gentleman would, and she giggled. She struggled to swallow, and once completing her mission, broke into a grin, then a smile, then a chuckle and then a belly laugh. I had to wonder what my face must have been smeared by to cause her such pain. I have to admit for just one moment I thought she was laughing at me. It wasn’t paranoia mind you, but we were still feeling each other out so to speak, and there was a lot of her brain I’d not yet been witness to.

She must have noticed me thinking too hard, as I’m wont to do, because she said “no, no; look behind you!”

I turned and looked. The highway was empty, the sky growing brownish, the parking lot cracked and sprouting grass blades a-plenty. “What the hell are you seeing that I’m not” I said.

“Look up” said she; “it’s a he”.

“Well of course it’s a he” I answered before I turned my head again, “the antlers…”

Then I saw them. Blue testicles. Blue testicles the size of navigation channel buoys. Blue testicles that must have weighed 200 pounds apiece.

“Hole crap” I said, “that’s a healthy moose!”

I had to think about the making of a genitally correct moose. When the store owner decided to create an eye-catching billboard that might draw people to notice the “good eats” sign on the Blue Moose café frontage, what was it that made him decide “lets make sure the animal has all its working parts.” Why? Just in case it came to life one night and ran off? Like a blue chick moose would wander by and do that moose whistle thing and maybe his blue moose would get together with Ms. blue moose and make baby mooses and he could start a traveling circus act with the blue moose family?

But then it occurred to me that it might be something far more insidious. The owner was probably a man, though I’m only guessing that because in my mind I just can’t see a woman saying “I think I’ll start a restaurant in the tiniest town in Wyoming in the middle of nowhere and in front of the store I’ll commission a sculpture of a giant anatomically complete blue moose!” Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s how my mind was working at the time so humor me.

Now since it was a man, and men have a tendency to express themselves in ways that symbolize themselves, or at least their notions of themselves, and that usually means something phallic, like constantly swinging a baseball bat or making grunting noises to replicate huge, fierce grizzlies, why couldn’t it be that the guy decided to build a giant symbolic replica of himself in the form of the king of the wilderness beasts! What’s stronger than a moose? What’s more fearsome, more manly, more testosteroney?

Well then it would stand to reason that rather than have a Ken and Barbie like moose representing him, he would make sure the moose was well endowed, as he is (even if he isn’t; in fact more likely even though he isn’t) and then lookin out his business’ front windows every morning would be just like looking in the mirror, sort of, presuming the mirror was behind him and hung below his waistline.

Needless to say, I laughed out loud, thinking about this self made man, self making himself into a giant blue moose with giant blue testes. Luckily, Marie just assumed I was laughing at the same thing she was laughing at, and I never did have to explain to her that I was insane; until later, just before the divorce.

We left soon after our laughs wore thin, just as the sky grew thick, and black. Within a few miles it began to rain, that cold drizzle kind of rain that says “I could be snow but that would be too easy for you so I’ll be below freezing temperature rain instead and soak you to the bone”. Rain is such an ass sometimes.

Marie was a champ. She just snuggled in behind me and kept her whining to herself for the hour and a half ride in the dark and what turned into a good pour. I have no doubt I wouldn’t have made it, save the afternoon sex behind a grove of young spruce, the giant cotton long undies that now soaked in all the water from within ten feet of me like a paper towel on steroids, and the vision of the restaurant owner, designing a thirty foot tall blue moose with giant balls, setting down his pencil and muttering “yup, don’t let anyone tell ya Jim Bob Chokterwhump aint a hell of a man!”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Someday


I sit here tossing days away while having far too much to say
and seldom have I stopped to play around with words of you
my sandbox is a mystery to most who see it wistfully
but you have found it blissfully, you're one of very few.

I can't imagine how you cope with never ending hours of mope
but there you are calming this dope with love and understanding
You sometimes stun me with your grace, your speckled hair, your pretty face
You are the soul of Moorsby place, my helping notwithstanding

I wish I were a better man, more gentle with my biggest fan
I know I play barbarian at times, I seem relentless
And I'm not sure that you are right that if I banish all my fright
I'd be less interesting, less right, a bore were I lamentless

I DO know you deserve much more, you are the angel at my door
the soft edge of this minotaur, you should command my cool
for even that is less than most, less children's game, more leaning post
but lately even that's a ghost, I've been a worthless fool

I'd promise you if I'd the will but I've not tossed this bitter pill
I choke it, but it won't lay still, I guess the answer's time.
While I've no right to make a plea, I offer this reluctantly:
If you've the strength to wait and see, you may observe my prime

Know only that I've seen your light, your courage handling dynamite
I bless you for your second sight, the one that sees my heart
You have a gift, a gentle soul, in spite of me you make me whole
it's distant still but I've a goal, new waters I can chart

I'll try to make your life a place that even Freya would embrace
a warm and joyful little space, a blessing from above
It's all I have this wistful dream, that from my heart may pour a stream
of kindness, calm, a mellow theme that sings you all my love.