Too Long a Silence

I see you on the hill,

unseeing,

the words tranquil in your mind,

tadpoles at the water’s edge

twitching lazily in a

gentle, sun-warmed current.

 

 

They cover you in such

abundance,

you’re convinced you can

summon them

like servants.

 

You’re so certain they will stand

in the background of your life

until you are inspired

to bring them to heel.

 

Just bear in mind that

abiding in

too long a silence,

they will slip away unnoticed,

and leave your so-called gift

unwrapped, unused,

and exposed to the

storms and heat of life,

to perish unseen,

and unloved.

The Beta Chamber

      I never saw them enter, didn’t hear them come up behind me.

      When I regained consciousness I was strapped into a wheelchair.

      A burly young guy pushed it, and a dark haired girl with a device in her hand connected to a wire on my arm monitored my vital signs as they walked.

     They said nothing, so that gave me time to gather my wits and thoughts. 

    We were in some sort of tunnel, a cross between beige and gold, with geometric glyphs engraved on the walls. I didn’t recognize the language.

   “Where am I?” My voice was hoarse from whatever they’d used to knock me out.

      “In a tunnel,” the young man said, smarmy the way young people are sometimes.

      “And where is that?” 

      “You’ll see.” Again with the tone. I decided to keep quiet.

      The girl’s device dinged every so often, her heels clicked and the chair’s wheels squeaked as they rolled, and I could hear the shuffling of the guy’s feet as he pushed me.

      For a while those were the only sounds that bounced off the tunnel walls.

      There seemed to be a high speed rail down the middle of it, but it seemed like it was out of service; I heard no rumbling or whoosh of anything that might make use of it.

       I studied the glyphs again, my anxiety growing as we headed for a patch of darkness.

      My breathing quickened as the girl’s device beeped.

      She looked at the attendant. “Now?”

      He nodded, she pressed a button, and the darkness bloomed and opened like the black maw of hell as I went under again.

   

                                               ***********************

     Disoriented, I woke up in a room full of fluids gurgling, sluicing, and sussurating through tubes attached to IVs, and those attached to row after row of people sitting at identical desks with identical screens.

     The young man left me alone with the dark haired girl without saying another word.

     “What is this place?”

     She smiled, sitting on the edge of what would be my desk as she replied. 

     “This is Beta Chamber. It’s designed for the ruling class of writers that can’t find enough people to read their work and provide reliable feedback. They pay us to, um, procure and supply them.”

      My head was reeling. “What? Ruling class of writers?

      She shifted to a more comfortable position, locking me in with her eyes.

     “Yes. The writers have taken over the surface world. There are tiers of them now, so we have customized tiers down here. The ones that break the bestseller lists of major periodicals get the Alpha Chamber, and the elite get Editors. 

     “Beta Chamber is for the aspiring ones. It helps us weed out the impostors, wannabes, and untalented. We assign those to Zeta. It’s the slush pile for false encouragement for the emotionally sensitive and thin-skinned.

     “Some do the work, get better and move up to Beta. Most don’t.”

     “How the hell can… “ I caught myself. “How do you make such a determination?” 

     “The Agents.”

      “Agents?” 

     “They’re the gatekeepers that protect the Editors. At all costs.”

       I made a noise, and spluttered. “How do you…how do they…. ?”

        This is only going to get worse. Just shut up.

        She arched her brows waiting for me to finish, but I shook my head.

       “Never mind.”

       “Good, it’s almost time for your first book. It comes up on the screen. You are to read it all the way through in one sitting and provide your feedback.”

       “Hundreds of pages in one sitting?”

       She smiled again. “We use caffeine IVs, and those eyelid holders they use for laser surgery.”

       “This is madness. You can’t keep us here against–”

        My monitor crackled and brightened with information:

      Loading Book 1 @ 350 pages:  Reading to commence in 1 minute.

       She got up, took a slim metal collar out of the drawer and fastened it around my neck. When the eyelid holders dropped from the ceiling, she secured those too.

       The current shooting through the collar cut off my screams.

                                                 *****************

      I don’t know how long I’ve been here. 

      When they’re done with the stimulants, they use narcotics to help us sleep and avoid nightmares. The eyelid holders go back into the ceiling, the lights dim and the screens go dark.

      When there’s an alarm, that means a Beta has read too slow for too long. They’re either demoted to Zeta, or their IV is laced with a deadly chemical. I’ve since learned that the blocks of the tunnels are, in fact, their crypts.

      The meaning of the glyphs are only known, and closely guarded, by the Editors.

      I dream of escape, but it seems the writers have a firm hold on the surface world.

       For now.

      But the Betas are ever restless. We watch for weaknesses, gaps, mistakes that will allow us to gain our freedom and burn the bookstores and libraries that warden our prison.

     Then we’ll cast the books, no matter their format, into the raging bonfires.

     You have reached the end of Book 783.

     Please provide your feedback now while we retrieve your next title.

     425 pages will be loaded.

     NEXT READING WILL COMMENCE IN 5 MINUTES

     Thank you.

        

       

Traveling

I sometimes forget that I’m only

traveling

in, through, over, and eventually

beyond.

 

And every hour

of every day,

that journey is subject to change

in a variety of ways.

 

There have been stops, stalls,

detours, and dead ends,

all distilling down into

this moment.

 

The rain falls,

and weeping sky

joins weeping heart,

as I’m

alone, aloof, apart,

and eventually

gone.

Only So Much

I have, to my horror,

self-imposed this self-consuming

solitude and silence

far too long,

confusing it for peace.

The restlessness within me

is like a grin of uncertainty

in the face of possible danger.

 

How many more times must I start over?

How many more opportunities to rise

from the ashes of my explosions?

 

The sword of my life grows heavier

with each new lifting, each new slaying

of battling spirits in the lengthening shadows,

exacting its terrible, inevitable toll.

 

There is only so much more

to take, to give, to become, to discover,

and to enjoy.

 

And yet, in the darkness that precedes

paradise,

we are reminded

there is so much more.

Planted

A piece of me,

withering,

was pruned

and planted in

new ground.

Like a seasoned seed

in the hands of a brown thumb

I have been none-too-gently

tamped down

into a

dark silence.

I will take what I can use

from this soil

and emerge as a

new and vibrant version

of myself,

but well-tended,

cared for,

and deeply loved.

My Elusive Muse (A Revenge Tale)

She’s right there beside me, watching me struggle, dangling the words like strawberries, or honey running down the comb. I reach to take them into my hands, then they fade to nothing.

She gives me dreams of pushing the stone of Sisyphus.

They surround my head, and I reach up to take them, but they dart and dance like dragonflies.

Let me have them.”

‘Say please.’ Her laughter is muffled, soft, like we’re separated only by a thick wall we can still hear through.

‘Take them from me. Tell me what I’m thinking you should write.’

“Can I get a hint?”

‘No.’ Again the laughter, and the silence became one not just of amusement, but complacency.

I smiled. “I have an idea…”

That startled her. “But I–”

“It didn’t come from you…” I pointed to the mirror she had her back to, “It came from her.”

She was visibly shaken. “Th-th-that’s impossible!

“Apparently not. She’s the spitting image of you, and she wants to take your place.”

“NO!”  My elusive muse watched in horror as her reflection gave a feral smile and take and reached for her, then bolted for the door, but it was locked.

Panic-stricken, she turned to see her own arm come out of the glass….

The Musings of a Star

I see them look up to where

they cannot be.

 

I feel their wishes collide

with the magnified need

of their wandering, pagan hearts.

 

The spirits of their departed

float past in silent cloaks of dust,

reflecting our own futures.

 

They send up their

rockets and space toys,

cluttering their sky

as we watch them

implode.

 

We will grieve the day

they go dark forever,

and all they knew

floats silently past us

into the past.

 

A Bitterness

Bitterness

clings to some

like a child clutching the hem

of Mother’s dress

as they walk through

deserted, razed, and filthy streets

of a forgotten war zone.

 

Criticism and rebukes

are the whisky and chaser

of all their verbiage.

 

Negativity is nectar

to their self-dissatisfaction,

disguised as humorous self-deprecation.

 

All within the perimeters and parameters

of their voice are never

immune or safe.

Their ever- angry gaze and weaponized words

find cracks and crevices

like a wind-driven hailstorm,

as they rewrite whole hedonistic histories

that absolve them of the impact of their

derisive decisions that affect the lives of others.

 

Let’s pray for them,

even as we

leave them behind.

Close Your Eyes and See

Close your eyes and see,

my darling,

close your eyes and see

the many varied places

you could be alone with me.

Upon a planet far away

or deep beneath the sea,

we’d laugh and play

and love each other.

We alone with We.

Close your eyes and dream,

my darling,

close your eyes and dream,

let your imagination flow

in life’s ungentle stream.

The soldiers and the butterflies

are standing toe to wing,

the fairies and the demons

wait for you to have them sing.

Close your eyes and fly,

my darling,

close your eyes and fly.

The heroes and the heroines

are stiffly standing by.

They wait on the adventures

that are deep inside your mind,

so turn the key that sets them free

and cut the ropes that bind.

Close your eyes and sail,

my darling,

close your eyes and sail,

and feel the ocean spray your hand

that grips the galleon rail.

The pirates and the sailors

love the winds that froth the wave,

with stars to guide you safely home,

with fearless crew so brave.

Open up your eyes,

my darling,

open them and look.

And hunt the treasures of your heart.

They’re never very far apart.

The written word’s a sacred art

in pages of a book.

 

There Were Days

There were days

of new love, good friends,

accomplishments,

awards and rewards,

accolades and victories.

There were days of

laughter and warm fires,

music and feasting,

soft touches and tender kisses.

Like waves that crash

and return to the sea,

leaving the loamy, sizzling foam

of happy times behind,

I watch them go with growing gratitude,

and graying hair.

My full heart cries and whispers thanks,

having known those splendid days.