Sunday, November 16, 2014

Someone's Child

Someone’s child
Cries tonight,
A knife at her virgin skin
To slice the unspoken pain
To give it shape and form.
The truth of blood dripping,
Meaning where words are empty,
Content when arms are empty,
Feeling when hearts are empty,
Life when souls are empty.
Thus the schematic
Is writ upon parchment
Of living girlish skin,
To say: I hurt, therefore I am.
I am without content.
I am without holding.
I am without soul.
I am only this cutting.

She wrote:

I think I am six years dead
and the rest of me
just hasn’t caught up yet.
I haven’t felt anything
In so long,
Not even when carving
Aeroplane schematics
Or ticktacktoe games into my arm.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Getting Clean" -- A story of 40 lines of 10 words each.

1. Garr sat at a bus stop at Ninth and Figueroa.

2.  Using wipes, he scrubbed grimy stink from legs and arms.

3.  Close by, business suited men talked unconcerned at his washing.

4.  Garr had been dope free for eight excruciating, painful weeks.

5.  He needed to test clean to be readmitted to rehab.

6.  His head was clear enough to feel his invisibility here.

7.  Cleaning himself helped him feel real, to matter to himself.

8. A woman sat next to him, looked into his eyes.

9.  She held her gaze and smiled, causing him unexpected shame. 

10. She gave him a card that read, “Celeste, Catholic Worker.”

11.  Even in his nightly terrors, he dreamed of her smile.

12.  Did he matter to her or was he a project?

13.  If someone beautiful and good as she could only care.

14.  One day he would be powerful like the blinded businessmen.

15. He would enter the Catholic Worker Kitchen as a donor.

16. She would inhale his cologne, and ask, “Have we met?”

17. He would tell her of how she saved his life.

18. He imagined how her face would change with the recognition.

19.  What she saw blighted that first day would be cleansed. 

20. “Garr, mop down that floor,” the rehab night monitor repeated.

21.  Working, he earned points leading to more trust and freedom.

22.  Eight months later, he donned a donated suit for interviews.

23.  His Stanford MBA opened doors, and he had an address.

24. He wanted to invite her to his rehab graduation party.

25. She wouldn’t understand as they hadn’t talked since that day.

26. He was Jacob forced to work seven years for Rachel.

27. He repeated “One day at a time . . . until we meet.”

28.  “I’m here to see Celeste,” he said, envelop in hand.

29. She appeared, holding his note, her smile as he remembered.

30. “Have we met?” she asked in a familiar dreamlike voice.

31.  The guard agreed to stay close because of the note.

32.  “Looks normal enough, but who knows?” the guard warned her.

33.  “Here’s the card you gave me that day,” Garr said.

34. “I’m sorry, but I have no memory of you, period.”

35. Her voice turned edgy, as she leaned away from him.

36.  His own voice grew insistent, louder, frantic, his eyes intense.

37. The guard stepped closer, his hand lowered to his holster.

38. “Sounds strange, I know, but I need you to understand.”

39. She stood, no hint of smile, signaling to the guard.

40.  “That you, Garr?” a dealer asked as Garr stumbled outside.

Just Give Me the Numbers

The following is an exercise assigned by writer Alan Cherchesov as part of the University of Iowa free international online course:  "How Writers Write Fiction."  Online Courses

Exercise One:  A self story of 10 sentences, any genre, with each sentence to contain one numeral.

At sixty-three, the time of fresh starts was nearly over.  If he had one advantage of age, it was to sense the theme of his life.  Two wives, two houses, seventeen years of formal education, one child, at least seven employments and two businesses later, he felt himself still wanting to crack open the shell of his life to taste the meat within.  But if the shell was opened, would a thousand daemons, starved for six decades, rush to feed upon him?  Though he whined the drab repetitions of old age, the truth was that his twenties were as exhausting as his sixth decade.  The difference was that his physical pains were greater and more diverse, each reminding him to calculate the diminishing number of his last good years as something under ten.  Now the pressing question was how many more thousands of dollars were required to hold at bay the white clad harpies that would be his extended care attendants?  His poetic sense had always been dark, but the idea of going to the negative side of zero added a new blackness to an old theme.   His parents were the repositories of impoverished thinking born of early twentieth century lack.  His inheritance was the belief that loss would always score one more point than gain.  Yet, his creativity was like Rocky Balboa in the fifteenth round, legs wobbly, face scared and bruised, eyes swollen, but in the end, two arms raised in victory- this was the way he saw his writing, alive and unyielding. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Dandelion

  As seen by a child:
 She settled into the warm grass, crossing her legs, bending her back, and steadied her gaze into the face of the dandelion.  The warm hair was heavy with the fecund smell of soil and mixed scents of roses, jasmine, and honeysuckle.  Each elongated yellow fibril drew the child’s gaze into the flower’s core, until yellow was taste and smell, and something she could explore by running the tips of her fingers along the tender edges of the half orb formed by the tendrils. She picked it, and brought it up closer to her face.  Instinctively she let her tongue rest lightly for second on the yellowness of the thing.  She rotated the stem between her thumb and finger, to see it from every advantage, moved it up, then lowered it, to gaze at it from below and above.  Then she ate it, chewing it slowly, making it her own. 

As seen by a dying man:
 For fifty years, he’d fought a war with the dandelions.  He had plucked, poisoned and pissed on them; cursed, crushed, and castigated them, until, at age 70, he was ready to make peace.  He braced himself on the deck’s wooden rail, to descend one, two, then the third step leading to his unkempt lawn.   He stood a moment, until his breath slowed, and his heart ceased its erratic pounding.   He knew his daughter would not approve this venture.  He heard her anxious voice even now telling him that he could fall, and no one would know.    Fine, he thought.  He would prefer to die on the lush lawn he had tended most of his life.  When he reached the solitary sentinel, he looked down on it, aware of his god-like stance.  Yet, he sensed the dandelion finally had the upper hand.

As seen by a prom Queen
He’d given her the dandelion wordlessly, the soft energy of his eyes reaching into her own, telling her the secret between them.   She wanted to kiss him, to hold his face against her breast, to hold his hand again as they had when they were children.  One of her saffron robed attendants stepped into their space, before she could speak.   “You don’t want to be seen with him,” she said, unconcerned that he heard her.  “Get rid of that thing,” she added on seeing the dandelion in her hand. Another attendant pushed a bouquet of roses toward her.  “We’re due on stage.” 
When she arrived home that night, she pulled the dandelion from her bodice.  Its tubular stem was crushed, and its delicate yellow rays twisted.  She laid it on her armoire as she might an injured child.  Looking into her mirror, she studied the coiffed hair, the plucked eyelashes, the pearl necklace, the red glare of lipstick against the starkness of her bloodless cheeks.  Raising her two hands with the same regal care as she had been crowned, she lifted the tiara, and dropped it into the trash.