Pushing Off

And so I set myself adrift

on a capricious sea,

prone to unpatterned winds and

uncharted currents.

The danger of being caught between

two symbiotic, warring gods

is less dangerous and painful

than what I leave behind.

Whether my new home will be a bright new shore,

or the briny ocean’s silted bed, is for them to say.

As I push off, there is no one there on shore to share a kiss,

and mourn and say farewell, no one to witness the wake I leave save for the

dull grey gulls, and the cirrus clouds suffused with color by the rising sun.

And yet I travel on with hope in my heart,

to fill the lonely days by a loving hearth,

as the cold of Time draws close, and

all I am and was called to be,

is complete.

I Want to Call You Beautiful

I want to call you beautiful.

I see the question in your eyes, like slow moving water

under thick ice,

just beneath the surface.

I cautiously tap the word with my mind, and it tumbles down

onto my tongue, waiting for me to say.

No idea as to how you’d react, what you think,

or what you will say

when I give the word to you.

I swallow it, leaving it unsaid, and stash it

with the thousand other times I wish I didn’t.

And whatever tears you might cry,

and whatever else may flutter your heart

if I did,

are trapped again in the the ice that returns

to your gaze.

Are we mad at my silence, or relieved?

I do know the question in your eyes will resurface,

and I might even be ready, at last.

I want to call you beautiful before

the moment

and me and you

have past.

Unblended 2

‘You’re pretty for—‘

a novelty, a one-night stand, a fling.

‘You’re pretty for—‘

a light skinned girl.

A ‘lovely little thing.’

So I’ll put feelings in your heart

I think that you will like,

and when you give your heart to me

I’ll take the match

and strike.

A Rising Wish

Don’t wish upon a falling star.

It comes back to the ground.

Your wish will go unrealized,

and never will be found.

Rise high upon your tippy-toes

and stick it in the sky,

where like the stars, it ever shines its light into your eye.

Yes, wish upon a rising wish

just as a kite flies high,

within skilled hands, sharp minds,

strong hearts.

And wish it til you die.

The Imperfect Art of Life

My life, this life…

a scattering of

impressionist-ic drips and smears

that never make the canvas.

My life, this life…

A vandalized mosaic

of broken tiles,

discolored and on display

in a ruined museum

where only unadmiring vermin amble,

sightless in the dark.

My life, this life…

An ugly black and white photo,

where the only things in the light and shadow

are predators and prey.

My life, this life…

Misfired pottery that leaks,

or perhaps a clumpy lump of clay

molded by broken fingers,

a child’s misshapen sculpture

used as an ‘ashtray’ in a house where

no one smokes.

My life, this life…

A rainbow’s broken, dissipating arc,

a defiant banner of hope and beauty

across a barren sky and a dying land.

This life, my life….

An imperfect work of art,

bright with colors, rife with rust

laced with cynical hope,

veiled in gossamer trust,

and glued with love as fragile as unpainted seashells

waiting to grow stronger

despite the odd feeling of

emptiness inside.

Muttered Rage

In the muddy, midden corners of its cage

my rage

mutters, stutters, hiccups, sobs,

and folds in on itself

like a

dying flower.

Hate and anger climb to the surface

with sharp spikes and strong ropes,

as I work to cut their ties with

love’s violent sword.

Darkness dots my spirit like lawn weeds

and whack-a-moles.

The decayed and rotting past seeks to

coddle me, cuddle me, clobber me,

and sing the listless lullaby that induces

paralyzing ennui masked as sleep.

At the end of this gauntlet stands Death,

coated with cold, and patient as river stones

waiting to to wreck me on sodden, craggy points that

will break my spirit like rotten boughs broken off

a vibrant, growing tree, and

scatter my flesh

like fish bait.

And nightly, as the sun wanes and the moon waxes,

I realize that after all this time,

the cage was never locked.

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.

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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.