2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

THANKS READERS, FOLLOWERS, COMMENTATORS, FELLOW BLOGGERS, AND VISITORS!

I Look forward to reading more of your work in 2015 (and being more communicative in the doing).

Blessings and Best Wishes for a Happy, Prosperous, and Productive New Year.

Alfred

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 670 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Tilting at the Windmills of My Mind

Clusters of Butterflies

Torrents of Bats

Clear Pretty Blue Skies

Swarming of Gnats

Murdering Dogs

Laugh-n-Play Kids

Wallowing Hogs

Warm Coffee Lids

Friends who’ve forgiven me

Friends who’ve betrayed

Friends who’ve abandoned me

Friends who have stayed

Women who swing their hips

Women who don’t

Women who’ll lay with me

Women who won’t

Enemies  Frenemies

Besties and spouses

Living in tenements

Dreaming of houses

The Creak of  Old Windmills

The Flower that Wilts

The Strength of my Youth fades

The Jousting Lance Tilts

The Windmills keep turning

I don’t quite know how

I fought them all Bravely

But I’m

Leaving

Now.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

December 29th, 2014

Tilting at the Windmills of My Mind

All rights reserved

Alone on Christmas Eve

Still feels strange to be alone on Christmas Eve. I’ve been divorced for awhile now. I put everything into my family; I guess too much of my identity went into being a son,  a father and husband.

Parents passed, kids grown, wife gone, seeing no one, and alone.

There’s God, but He seems a bit remote tonight, like the stars. Beautiful, brilliant, a little bit visible, but very, very far away.  That’s ironic, considering it’s the night He sent His Son, and I know that isn’t true, but darkness and loneliness have a way of working on your mind…

When the papers were signed and everything was finalized, I spread the word, not happy in the least.
“Now it’s your turn,” everyone said.
I agreed, but didn’t ask: “My turn to do what?”

I was a son, a husband, and a father…

The words of my middle school teachers came back to me:
‘You should write…’

The words of my high school English teachers came back to me: ‘You should write…’

The words of my stepmother came back to me after I read the eulogy I wrote for my dad: “You should write…”

So writing is what I do now that I’m alone.
I’m no longer a son, or a husband, though still a father; just not needed as much, or at least in the same way.

Someone suggested I go out for dinner, but the sight of a single person eating alone makes people uncomfortable, and quite frankly, I’d feel uncomfortable too.

So tonight, it’s writing, it’s playing my long-neglected bass, it’s listening to carols, it’s sleeping in, it’s remembering the good times. It’s a toast to the spirit of Christmas Past.

It’s contacting my family and friends to tell them Merry Christmas.

It’s wishing…and hoping…and praying, because I’m no good at being selfish, no good at being alone.
But I’m not in despair, because there’s everything to live for. New life has to be created from the ashes of the old, and I was never a quitter.

God is the God of ‘suddenly,’ but He is also the God of working things out. Surrendering has been difficult, but it’s also been required, and so what choice do I really have?

So, whether you believe or not, please bear with me for a moment, and grant me the grace tonight to say to you:

Merry Christmas,  Wordpress, Writehere, Twitter, and fb readers and family. Thank you for your support, your kindness, your encouraging comments, and your edits. Thank you for giving me reasons to continue to pursue this, and by doing so, to become better than I am today.

And whatever your personal beliefs, may your celebrations be joyful, your gatherings peaceful, and your efforts fruitful, now and throughout the coming year.

And who knows? Next year this time I might be married with a pregnant wife, and we’re traveling to…(hey, wait a minute, that could be a story….    🙂

War Cries (first draft).

Hey readers! Just trying this out. Let me know your thoughts…

1:

A single torch lit the entrance to the private chamber, and as the widows approached, the light revealed their many hues of skin and dress, their jewels sparkled like crystal, rippled like dark red wine, shimmered with the green of a tranquil ocean.

Their collective expressions were somber, sad.

He would be leaving them once again; they never knew for how long, only that they must wake him to go. In their hearts, they grieved, for he would add to their number when he returned.

One of the widows stepped forward, her lithe form whispering against the fabric of her gown; she took the torch in a slender hand, and went into the chamber.

The light almost made it to the high ceiling, and fought bravely against the shadows, but was really little match for the formidable darkness.

“Duilius?” her dulcet voice called, a slight echo bouncing back to her ears.

She waited, knowing he’d heard; as she did, she looked about at the armory surrounding her, weapons he’d inspired in the minds of men. When the carnage was over, he brought them home to show, then to cast aside, as he had all of them, the widows of men.

She smiled at the thought: We, too, are now unused weapons.

She listened as the armored steps reverberated, a measured tread, slow, steady, and ominous. The sound of metal on metal rang out into the chamber, and he emerged from the semi-darkness into the semi-light, his visage scarred and terrible.

The scents of blood and smoke, waste and corrupted death surrounded him in a nimbus of pungent, horrific odors. It took everything for her not to retch.

Rounding the corner, he looked at her. His red eyes, flaring in the torch light, held her in a freezing grip of fear. He gazed at her a time, lust in his eyes; she saw him wrestling with his desire, and prayed that he would not take her.

Turning aside, he came to himself, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

“Vinya,” he greeted her, the rumble of his voice felt in the tips of her toes. “Where are the others?”

“Outside the chamber.” She managed to keep her voice steady.

“And why are you here?”

“Why do we ever come here, lord?”

He moved closer to her, and she stepped back, but held his gaze, moved the torch a little closer to his face.

His red eyes smoldered like embers, and he smiled; it was lascivious and cruel, mirthless and merciless, but she lifted her chin in defiance.

He reached out to take it between his fingers, his touch burning her cheeks like a high summer sun.

Her lips pulled back in a silent snarl, and her own eyes flared with their own heat.

“Ah, Vinya. You are fiery still. I thought once to break it out of you. I don’t know that I want to, but you should know that I can.”

Against the pressure of his fingers, she formed her words carefully, her hatred for him a rising tide that would one day sweep him away without a single regret.

“I am aware of your powers, Duilius. They frightened me once. Your devil eyes frighten me still, but you’ve done your worst, and yet I’m here. You should know, we are not done, not by any stretch of the imagination.”

He released her face, and she wiped away the crimson ashes his touch always left behind with the back of her free hand. He was blood and fire, indeed, but so was she, in her own way.

He nodded once in acquiescence to her standing up to him, but his patience was thinning; she would persist in her insolence, and he would ruin her beauty for it.

With a pompous air, he seated himself on a stout, high-backed chair, his attention no longer directly on her as a servant scurried to prostrate himself, and Duilius put his feet on a human ottoman, the full weight of his boot heels resting on the servant’s spine.

“Tell me, then. Where am I needed?”

She told him.

The torch sizzled and spit in the ensuing silence.

“Shall I help you prepare?” Vinya asked.

He looked up again, as if she’d just arrived and found him already seated.

There was something on his mind when he was hesitant, but she held her peace.

With a wave of his hand, he dismissed her.

“No. I will leave on the morrow.”

He rose, spared her yet another glance, and she hurled him another haughty look, and turned her back on him, leaving him alone in the darkness, with only his terrible eyes to light his way.

She felt those eyes as if they were hands.The heat from the torch was not enough to keep her from shivering under the weight of his stare between her shoulders, sliding down to her backside.

2:

 Back in his own tower, he took off the armor he’d made and tested in the underworld.

It bore the brunt of bites and claws well enough, and his newly sharpened blades had proven true, but he was running out of test subjects.

His dungeons were almost empty; he would need to remedy that soon.

The silent servants drew his bath, left his supplies and food, and lots of plum wine, and he was soon done with all of it, his eyes heavy, despite his desire not to sleep. It was happening more and more lately, as he got called more infrequently; peace was never kind to a soldier, whom having violently established it, now had to live in it with no further thought to what he’d done.

The thoughts of those men who killed flitted through his mind, as did the thoughts of those killed. The voices never stopped, and they weren’t always men. The higher voices of women and children carried over the lower frequencies of men, their screams of rage, their shocked questions of why, their desperate appeals for mercy, and then their snapping bones, their final moments before the arrows, the swords, the knives, the bolos, the spears, the stones, the molten metal…

He pushed it all back, and lay down, letting the candles gutter.

His sleep, though sound, was never silent, never fully dark. The deepness of it waxed and waned on the grand scales of wheeling stars, changing seasons, shifting tides, the tilt of planetary axis, and on the minutiae of an impulse of animal rage, the calculated, surreptitious slithering of snakes, the vicious, irreversible clamp of creatures with large fangs and evil intentions, the small dramas of life and death between predator and prey always played out before him.

Before he slipped into whatever level of unconsciousness he’d be able to achieve before his journey, the most unlikely thought flashed through his mind:

I no longer wish to be the god of war.

 

(To be continued)

 

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

December 16th, 2014

War Cries

All rights reserved

Sleep, children. ( dedicated to the innocent victims of madmen)

Sleep, children.
The cowards who’ve stolen your childhood will pay.

Sleep, children.
For now with your friends you will no longer play.

Sleep, children.
Your parents must carry your bodies away.

Sleep, children.
Tomorrow for you will not be a new day.

Sleep, children.
And know that you will always

be loved.

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.
December 17th, 2014
Sleep, children.
All rights reserved

My Abandoned Blog

“Wait here,” Alfred said. “I have something to do way over there. I’ll be back for you.”

Do you promise?

“Yes, of course. I started out with you, so why would I leave you?”

It happens.

He laughed, took its hand, and kissed it lightly on the tip of its nose.

“Yes, it does, to other blogs. It won’t happen to you.

Very well, Alfred. I’ll wait here for you.

And Alfred left it, looking plaintively but hopefully at him as he turned to wave goodbye; it gave him a brave, if tremulous smile, and waved half-heartedly, wanting to believe…

And way led on to way, as the poem says.

The blog tried on its own to be good, to be relevant, to be vital and important, to be witty and charming, but without a fresh infusion, its health waned, and the visitors who came to see it didn’t stay long, and soon grew infrequent, and one day, stopped altogether.

The blog tried to be brave, but then a cold fog rolled in; still the blog waited, gathering its thin shawl about its shoulders, and folding its arms for warmth. It worked for awhile, but didn’t last.

By  now it was shivering, cold, and hungry for text, but there was no one around.

Alfred was hard at work, loading Christmas packages into trucks, first for fourteen hours, then twelve, and the blog was a vague thought, fast on its way to becoming a distant memory.

Weeks went by, and the blog finally sat down, and began to cry out its heart…

It’s almost Christmas, and he broke his promise. I’m sorry, Alfred, I couldn’t hold them…they left, and now, I’m leaving too…

The blog searched for a way to self-delete, when a voice called from the distance….

And now, before I end it all, the madness comes. I thought I heard his voice.

Again, the voice sounded, echoed, seemed to be closer.

No, thought the blog, no, I dare not hope…

The voice called it by its pet name. “BP!”  (an unfortunate choice, given recent events, but there it was…)

“BP!”

Footsteps, running hard, pit-patted on the road as Alfred came into view, anxiously looked for a sign that his blog was still there.

He didn’t see anything. He ran faster, hoping he was not too late.

The blog, rising on thin, shaky legs, used the last of its strength to stand.

It’s voice, cracked and raspy from disuse, was faint, but not gone. Alfred…

Just as Alfred reached it, it sagged into his arms, and he sat down, and laid it gently on his lap. His tears fell copiously onto the page of his abandoned blog, now dirty, dusty, and bleeding from the harm it was about to cause itself. He’d returned just in time.

“BP…” he sobbed.

And the blog reached up a trembling hand, and touched his bearded cheek.

You came back…

“I told you I would.”

But you forgot about me.

The words hurt, all the more so because they were true…

“I did,” Alfred whispered. Shame and sorrow heated his face. “I’m so sorry, BP. We’ve lost so much time. I don’t know if I can ever make it up to you…”

Time lost is…irretrievable, Alfred, but…we can go on….from here. Can you….?

“Yes, yes of course,” Alfred said.

Hands trembling with emotions, he spread his fingers over the warm, familiar QWERTY keys; the relief of finding his blog alive,  its forgiveness of his negligence, its still-abiding love for him, shamed him, humbled him, and gladdened him all at once.

And as he typed, the blog sighed in relief, and eagerly drank the text it craved; color returned to its cheeks, and its breathing evened. It was going to take more time, but at least now, there was a beginning.

“I’ll never leave you again, BP” Alfred said.

BP gave him a sad, amused smile, and kissed him lightly on the cheek, beard and all.

At least while you’re alive. Never say never, Alfred.

Alfred smiled back.

Beyond Panic was going to be all right.