Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Memoriam, or Something Like It

I wrote this in a pub, remembering someone from my childhood, a face from the past. It's not a very good memoriam, but it's what I had to offer.

Tears never mattered much to me
They never changed the look of things
Or brought back the way they used to be
No home with sun and birds to sing
Just cloudy skies and rolling seas
Which no salty drop could dent
So take another glass of whiskey
And work away to pay your rent
But stop the tiniest moment, see
The smallest part, the larger brings
A drop of cacha├ža, a step up Mount Shasta
The grace of a moment, and life is spent

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Word & Question 12

Here is my long awaited (if not anticipated) entry in this month's Word & Question. For the rest of the entries, visit the lovely Lindsay over at Very Sleepy People.

I fear I have mixed metaphors. I know what I'm trying to say, but question the marketability of this word I would give you. Inconsistent throughout, I never waver from the resolution to use exactly the wrong word.

When whiskey sooths the aching heart
And blues like storm winds howl and sigh
A longing for domestic arts
Or artless trust to walk beside
Is lightened by a choir's praise
And tulips fresh from cool spring rains
Bloom from death, and give away
Instead of grabbing at the reins
And though consolations pass
As flowers fall to rise again
They leave their mark upon the grass
Each petal soft with hopeful stains

Word: domestic
Question: When do the tulips bloom?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Being the Beginning of Maister Balfour's Adventures

As some of you may know, I'm in Britain right now visiting my brother. I'm taking notes along the way and will post as much as I can when I get back. I'll bring you things the way they happen, more or less, maybe through a haze. If you want a more colorful version of our wanderings, pop over to Squire Jon's tale-spinning over In the Between. He started his last night. I promise, it'll all be worth the read. From Cardiff, Cheers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Word & Question 11

I'm always late to my own turn at hosting. I apologize for the delay, but here it is. If you're curious about the game, check out this page. Next month's host will be Lindsay over at Very Sleepy People. Maybe I answered the question, maybe I didn't. It's all very interpretive.

Day, Night, Morning
Carrots and hummus one warm afternoon
Humid spring breezes that search out the room
Playing cards, music, and crape myrtle blooms
Spiced Cajun rum and a hot air balloon

Street preachers call out the sinners who pass
Doormen in tuxes sell gold made of brass
Drunk in a doorway a man sleeps with trash
Somewhere down the street fly beads and a flash

Glowing lights advertise unseemly things
Trumpets play Armstrong and other jazz kings
Hurricanes dance the piano bar swing
Strippers walk home wearing t-shirt and jeans

Early next morning in Jackson Square
Readers and painters set out all their wares
Sinners drink coffee, eat beignets and stare
At penitents climbing up cathedral stairs.

Word: carrot
Question: Have you noticed?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Word & Question 10

With head hung low in shame, I drag myself in, late, but here.

In which I borrow liberally from sources historical, fictional and musical. Part I of several (maybe):

I'll Call Her Jenny
Across the room you glanced at me
And whistled your way so casually
To where I stood, and gracefully
Endured my dancing disability

You whispered your name soft in my ear
I smelled the perfume of your hair
And ordered us both a beer
Shamelessly starting to stare

You laughed so effortlessly
Charming in your youthful ways
I asked you to play, you asked me to stay
I nodded and whisked you away

All night I lay awake in bed
And contemplated what you said
But so many roads cried, "move along"
So I slipped out the door with the dawn

On the road, in the train, I saw your face
I heard your voice inside my head
A laugh, and a wink, and a stolen grace
And a wallet I'd left by your bed

So carry on, move down the line
Let there always be plenty of beer and wine
And my boots, and my hat, are ever signs
That I'm not the staying kind.

Word: disability
Question: Why can't I remember your name?

Monday, March 7, 2011

A St. Valentine's Day Tale

Remember not, O Lord, our offenses, nor those of our fathers; neither take Thou vengeance on our sins.

Dusk fell later than the Monday before. Piles of snow still lined the roads, and the fields were more white than brown. Still, a hint of spring blew through the air and brought a smile to the young man's face as he opened the doors of St. Patrick's Church.

The lights were low. In the loft the choir prepared for Mass, while up by the altar the servers were rehearsing their parts. He found a spot near the front and knelt down to pray silently. Gradually people filtered into the church. Two of these were a woman about his age, and a young girl of six or seven. The woman he knew; she was a friend. They entered the pew beside him, the woman introducing him to the girl.

A bell rang and they stood as Mass began. The pipe organ's majestic strains filled the old church, and the smell of incense wafted out of the swinging thurible, lifting their prayers to heaven.

To any outsiders they could have been a family, and when he realized this, the man laughed a little inside. He offered his Mass for them, for his friends. Man, woman, and child they prayed the Mass together, bringing themselves to the altar. When the last bell had sounded, and the choir had ceased singing, they returned to the church doors, where the little girl asked questions of the young priest, and the woman told excitedly of her retreats in preparation for entering the religious life. Above them the organist continued to play until the roar of the pipes filled the church and moved their souls.

At last the time to go home had come. As the church doors swung closed behind him he offered a prayer of thanks to St. Valentine for such a beautiful evening, and smiled.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Simple Life

I dreamt I had a simple life
Sons and daughters all around
A porch, a pipe, a dog, a wife
And warm spring rains upon the ground
To put an end to winter's strife

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Word & Question 9 (or Requiem for a Fantasy 2)

So here I am, the host and all, and I'm late. Sorry 'bout this. I hope the poem makes up for it (though I can't promise it will). On the bright side, this poem adds a little bit of hope to the story.

Word: flour
Question: How did you get so filthy dirty?

The Cabin in the Storm
Another log to feed the fire
Sparks burst out and fall in showers
Another meal of water and flour
Another night alone and tired

Outside the storm rages on
The wind howls about the shack
Searching every hole and crack
He longs for peace to come with dawn

A thud sounds through the night
Softly again, then all is still
He shivers against a creeping chill
They shouldn't be out, but they might

Knife in hand he moves to the door
Throws it open and steps aside
Then yelps and leaps back in fright
As a figure falls onto the floor

Covered in dirt and frozen blue
Hands bloody and battered
Clothes torn and hair matted
If she was alive, God only knew

He gathers her up in his arms
Laying her down by the flame
He does all he can to bring warmth
Back to this girl with no name

So he waits through the night
And prays for dawn to break
To drive off the storm, and see her awake
To bask in the clear morning light

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Word and Question 9

Hello everyone and welcome to this month's Word & Question! If you need a refresher on how this works, check out Enbrethiliel's page on the subject. I start taking prompts now; get them to me by Friday and you'll have yours on Sunday.

In the mean time, take a look around if you haven't already. I've switched from short fiction to poetry lately, but I hope that my poetry still tells a story.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Requiem for a Fantasy

Head down she trudges alone
Through sleet and wind, on ice encrusted paths
In the distance lights twinkle
Tempting her to think of home
A rest for her tired body: food, fire, a bath
But her weary mind is wary
That way lie traps and lies

Step in front of painful step
The sting of icy pellets long ceased
Her face too numb to feel
She struggles on toward the glow
Hopeful that this time she might find peace
And kindness in a stranger's home
Instead of blood and death

Still a hundred yards, or more, she cannot tell
In her mind she hears the distant peel
Of a ghostly requiem bell
One step more, she trips and falls
She lies there on the ground, too weak to kneel
And whispers prayers to saints
Who never seem to hear

In the dark she reaches for one
Who'd been with her before the storm
Who once in brighter days had clasped
Her soft waist in his arm
But he had gone, had yielded form
Back to dust, in the beginning of the end
While she was left to survive

The numb begins to warm
The ice is softer now, the wind sings
Pleasant songs instead of ghostly howls
A wisp of hair, a chestnut strand
Blows across her face, as the requiem bell rings
Loud and clear across the barren wastes
Of a post-apocalyptic fantasyland

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Euphemist

From a misheard song lyric:

He softly spreads the niceties
The quiet lies that try to be
Inarticulate and meaning free
Lest someone somehow truth might see

But spurting blood and flames
The burning of innocent names
The bastards called heroes who came
To blot out all mem'ry of blame

The sun never sets on evil
So name it whatever you will
While with sultry voice she instills
A longing for something harmless to fill

The euphemist may call it love
The harlot may say it is just
But innocence ne'er once killed a dove
Though murderers justify their bloodlust

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Storyteller's Daughter

On a starry night he sat
Back against a fallen log
His hat pushed back, his pipe aglow
He spun the tales of old
A voice of gravel told the stories
Of stampedes, blizzards, gully-washers
Rock-slides, dust-storms,  russlers
 And open plains and mountaintops
While around the fire we smoked
And listened to the yarns
But I had my eyes on someone else
As she her father watched
Her warm gray eyes and nut-brown hair
Flickered in the firelight
And I, unnoticed, sat and pined for her to plight
Her troth to me and walk with me
Then ride into the distance
Tomorrow I'd ask, I'd take a chance
Her first, if she'd have me, and then her father
For the hand of the storyteller's daughter

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shot in the Dark, and You're Insane

I broke a pair of rules this weekend, and while I didn't gain anything tangible by doing so, I'm still glad I did. Speaking of poems being set to music, this one actually has a refrain!

A clumsy dancer she was, but pretty
In an unassuming way,
For unlike all the others
She was not here for show,
But to show us ourselves at play.

The documentary maker
Could have been a photography major,
But the picture behind the camera
Was finer than what the lens saw.

A clumsy asker he was, uncertain,
But resolved to take a shot.
Simply asked and simply answered
They had no game to play
Though the answer he wanted was not what he got.

The documentary maker
Could have been a photography major,
But the picture behind the camera
Was finer than what the lens saw

A pleasant evening it was, and merry,
Had the answer been different
He'd smile a little more
But for that dance with a pretty girl
He'd no regrets for an evening well spent.

Word and Question 8

 Hosted again by the lovely Enbrethiliel over at Shredded Cheddar. Go read the rest of the entries here. She wondered if I could write something that wasn't musical. Since I never thought what I wrote was musical in the first place, I don't know if it's even possible for me to oblige. It must be something about the way language works in my ear.

I can say, though, that this post is at least musically inspired. There were a couple of directions I could have gone with my prompts. I've been a little sober in my poetry, lately, and that is the easiest path to take. There was also the possibility of some political allegory, but I spout my opinions enough in other venues. Poetry should be about beauty, not politics.

At the risk of prejudicing your reading, I'll post the two songs that I've got in mind as I write this







And now, enough putzing about.

Word: heavy
Question: What are we having for dinner?

Homemaker
Heavy knocking on the doors
One final glance all round the house
Chairs in order, lamps all lit
Stew singing songs to the goose on the spit
And her husband has thrown out the mouse

Brush the skirt, fix the hair
Glance at the man in the old rocking chair
Beaming with pride, flushed with delight
Blush at his smile as he lights up his pipe
And open the door to the guests in the night