Poetry

As Much as I Used To

I find

that I don’t love you

as much as

I used to,

you have shown your cards,

your flaws,

your imperfections,

your tells,

you have shown your weaknesses

and bared your soul

to someone

inferior,

you have shown compassion

to the very same

when it was not deserved.

Still

I find

that I don’t love you

as much as

I used to

for

I have loved you more

with each passing day

Poetry

Spurious Correlation

Do you watch

the menagerie of beasts

parade along in formation

coolly in the blue

yonder up above?

Have you seen

the glistening stars

wink at you

when they mistook

the sparkle in your eyes?

Would you believe

that the rain

sometimes waits for you

to open your books

and warm your drink?

That the sun

would shine on you

no matter

what you think?

Occasional Prose

The Chauffeur (a short story)

“Where to, love?”

“Today was simply dreadful. Why don’t we just drive around the lake?”

“Yes, marm.”

Violetta sat uncomfortably in the back seat of the car, rolling up her window up and letting out a sigh. The car began to move over cobblestone to a paved road. She watched the bare trees rush by as she leaned her head on the window. “Can you slow down?”

“Yes, love.”

“You can drop that hideous act as well. It’s only me.”

“Yes, marm, but you–“

“I know, I know. I forgot to make the change.”

“All is well.” There was a brief pause as the road drew closer to the lake. It was cool outside but the sight of the water brought Violetta warm feelings of older days. The silence was an important part of these trips even if it would not last forever. “What, pray tell, has made this day so dreadful?”

“It’s the same everyday.”

“But you are not the same as you were, marm.”

“I assure you that my mind is still the same.”

“I cannot cannot determine what it is that makes you confide in me.”

“Then why do you try?”

“Perhaps I can be what lacks being. I need only figure out your motivations. “

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“With all due resprect–“

“You know, I thought a drive would help today. Would you kindly pull into one of the empty lots?”

“I can, love.”

“Stop,” she whispered.

“I do apologize. I wanted to say it one last time.”

The car pulled into an empty lot moments later. Violetta took a few minutes and stared out into the water with a look of emptiness in her eyes. “Some days,” she said, her voice trailing off. She sniffled but ultimately composed herself.

“We have talked about this.”

“How do you remember talking about it? How can you?”

“Might I suggest a course of action? Why don’t you hit the reset and I will drive you home?”

“Maybe that would be for the best.” Climbing into the front seat of the car, Violetta pushed a few buttons on the dash, each making a cheery note. A notification popped up on the touchscreen which read: RESET? YES or CANCEL. She closed her eyes and tapped blindly. There was no audio to indicate her choice.

“You will not tell anyone?” she asked.

“Who would I tell, marm?”

“Can you drive me home?”

“Most certainly. Same time tomorrow, love?”

She was silent as the tires ran over some particularly noisy rocks. “Same time,” she eventually said.

“Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day,” the car said monotonously.

Poetry

Someone Like You (a waltz)

The morning in mourning

did cry in despair

since someone like you

out of dreams couldn’t fare

for

someone like you was all that I need,

I lied to myself but tried to believe . . .

The day broke, no fanfare,

but bright shone the sun

on you and your smile

for the music begun

for

someone like you was all that I need,

but my heart and my mind were not agreed . . .

In words that were spoken

it all became clear

that someone like you

was a thought that I feared

for

someone like you–it simply won’t do

the place in my heart was empty but knew . . .

Those words were revealing

and it wouldn’t seem

appropriate to

walk away from a dream

for

someone like you would never make do

for someone like me who loves only you.

Occasional Prose · Stuff

A Spiel About Characters and Stories (but the switchyard operator in my mind just threw up his hands and took an early weekend)

If the title didn’t give it away, this is just me airing out some thoughts. Don’t expect a lot of clarity.

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Sometimes I ask indirect questions in order to get more direct answers. It is more of a last resort than anything else but it does serve a purpose. I’ve had an embarrassing amount of free time this week for a multitude of reasons and it has got me back into writing my other stories. And, of course, whenever I get back into that I hop on a metaphorical rollercoaster that has no safety bar.

I made a bit of progress on one short story over a month ago but when I working on it, I got some not-so-great phone calls two nights in a row. I’m not superstitious at all but that sinking feeling in my gut still remains when I look at the draft.

The other story? If you’ve followed this site for a while, then you know it’s that dog and cat story. I am at a constant crossroad with it. It is my oldest story (and yes, there is a story) but there remains another problem: it’s that dog and cat story. I’m of the mindset that a story should say something. It has always been more about conflicting personalities working off of each other, as well a satirical look at small-town America, but I often wonder if I’m pairing my characters with the right stories. And that has been fresh on my mind too, especially with all the free-time I’ve had this week. I want the characters to have their moment in the spotlight but there are a lot of characters.

I asked an indirect question on an Instagram story earlier and admittedly, I was fishing for a certain response. It was also a bit of a broad question but I will ask all of you here too (even though I’m showing my cards):

What is the best, or your favorite, series? It can be from any medium.

I’ve enjoyed the few answers I’ve received. The method to my madness was/is this: what do all of these series have in common? Some of them share characters, some share themes, others share locales. I wanted to see how many had large casts of characters. The only one that did was Star Wars and when it comes to characters, the galaxy far, far away seems like an outlier. Many series do have a large quantity of characters and pull it off nicely. Others do not. Star Wars seems at its best when it is focused on a smaller groups of characters. Compare each successive trilogy: the original had only a few and they were able to delve into the common mythologies shared by many cultures, the prequels had a few more characters and sometimes had to take a back seat to the story, and the sequels had new characters bursting from its seams that had to fight for relevance in their own films. Star Wars has shown promise on television by breaking up the many arcs but it is also another medium.

I wouldn’t call the five Chronicles of Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander my absolute favorite but my goodness, there is something to be learned and admired in his approach. The Book of Three introduced Taran the pig-keeper and he was insufferable. The story was good but the main character was not. But the books only focused on a handful of characters and with each one, they were able to be fleshed out. I almost dreaded the fourth book because it was solely about Taran and yet he had grown substantially as a character by that point. You felt for him. The ending of The High King is gloriously executed. Had I started with that book like I intended, I would not have had the same appreciation and respect that I have for it now. Those books are guides for character progression, plain and simple. But should you have to read or see something else to appreciate something? I think The High King could stand on its own while many stories today exist solely to set up another.

So: a few characters or a lot of characters? How many stories? Should there even be more than one story? Should there be any story written at all? I’ve asked myself these questions many times and I can see pros and cons for each.

C. E. called earlier this evening and we had a good chat. None of this came up, of course, but he indirectly helped settle my mind for now. We talked for a little bit about an old hangout we went to. Many, if not most nights for a few years we went there to have a drink, usually at the same table. Everyone there knew us. That was seven or eight years ago. A lot has changed. But I went back there without him three or four years ago. I didn’t recognize a soul in there. It was renovated. Oddly enough though–and for the record, it had nothing to do with us–that spot we frequented had a table set up with no chairs and a light above it. It’s a funny thought to think that it might have been considered sacred because of us. It’s a funny thought to think that all of these complete strangers had no idea why that particular table had to be set aside as a memorial and yet they did so without a second thought. It’s a funny thought to think that at one point, two friends sat there, never reserved it, but a new group of people keep it there in reserve anyway.

It’s funny because there’s a story behind it. Every person in there had a story. Every one of you has a story. Life is full of characters.

And so, though my mind is settled for now, I will have to ask myself directly or indirectly once again:

How many characters need their story written?

Poetry

The Devil Loves a Gimmick

This sweet, old woman I revered

came into the Sunday school classroom

when I was a kid

in a leather jacket

and with a cigarette in hand.

“This is what the devil does,”

she taught, and jokingly attempted to give us

those nicotine smokestacks

for added effect.

“This is what the devil does,”

she said, parading around the small room

with a pair of sunglasses

she produced from her pocket.

We laughed. It was funny at the time.

It was not what we needed to hear.

It was not what the Bible taught.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing was not decked out

with a leather jacket and cigarette in hand–

we need not have looked far to find that

(and we could have asked how

one sweet old woman whom

we revered

conveniently had all of it anyway.)

No,

the sheep’s clothing was innocent looking,

tempting Eve in the Garden with a question,

“Did God truly say?”, or

tempting God in the flesh,

quoting the Old Testament scriptures

out of context.

The devil doesn’t want to hide out

away from church buildings–

he wants to inhabit them,

he wants confusion,

he wants to use the word of God

to lead astray

while the people chant “Lord, Lord!”

and have no idea

what they’re saying.

The devil is not wearing a leather jacket

with a cigarette in hand–

the devil often wears a cross around his neck

and teaches anything and everything

except the message of it.

The Spirit teaches truth

but the devil loves a gimmick.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:8-11

Poetry

Nightshade and Elderberry

She knows what’s best,

she would do no harm

and I would never doubt

or ask a question.

Day in, day out

she works hard,

comes home for a moment

to leave not long after.

It’s at the point where

I don’t see her much

these days.

It’s killing me

to see her so,

to see her take solace

in those long hours

when her coworkers never even

call on her or check in

by phone.

But she knows what’s best,

she would do no harm

and I would never doubt

or question her.

She cares for me

in the little time we share

as I grow sicker, weaker.

She brings fresh berries home

to make sweet treats

that have all

tasted bitter.

She tries, and I happily oblige her.

She loves me . . .

I, I think.

But she knows what’s best,

she wud

du nnoo rrroongg

nd i

  i

.

.

.

.

.

Edit: It looks like the block was deleted when I hastily edited this earlier. The Mouse played a part in the inspiration with the poison references in his latest post. Go check out those Twisted Tales he weaves!

And please forgive my editing mistake.

Poetry

19 & 20 (Dreams of the 60’s)

For miles and miles

the water was up

no further than my knees,

a wading pool that never ended,

–that is–

until it did.

—–

North, south, east, west . . .

What do these words mean

in the space age?

Up! Upward! Away!

You’ll find a lot out there,

but not what

you are looking for.