Archive by Author

Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: 9 – A Thousand Blackbirds

30 Jul

A Thousand Blackbirds

A thousand blackbirds
A thousand beating wings

A dream given a name for only a moment
as they’re passed in shadow
Wires cross the sky
wrapping ‘round the tallest towers
brushing against dust veiled breaths
of untouched souls reaching
for a stolen hand
Gilded feathers of sleekest ebony
softly plea upon no ear
but only the moon
who will not hear
Upon the bell of midnight sprung
a flash of red
entangled in a mighty clash
of golden streaks

screams befalling only the night
for the cold and weary stars
to whom burden lies most
The Imminent rises

For a thousand beating wings,
fallen.

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Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: 8 – The Heavy

13 May

The Heavy

Bones laced through opened skin
rushing the frozen waters
to stream from the fall
ragged threads bound to sweat
still warm.

With burning screams the shadows stand erect,
stretched tall in posed, emptied triumph
and watch with wagging tongue
the painted faces surrounding
as wolves do waiting from far
to tear away marrow with dripping jaws.

Time twisted across the sunken smile
dusted across the softened faces
fallen into an unwakeable slumber
in the boughs of the blood-rusted crook
as they sway beneath the heavy
weightless, tapping wicked trees.

MAUS: A Review

17 Apr

Maus has not only become a classic as time goes on, but a standard as far as Holocaust narratives are concerned. This is not the typical story of good vs. evil or hero vs. villain, it moves beyond abstract titles in order to convey the nature of ambiguity in all life; even in such a series of events that seem so very black and white, it reveals a million shades of grey.
In looking at this novel in terms of Holocaust trauma it is important to understand that such a disgusting and shocking event was completely unbelievable. Who would believe that something so horrendous and vicious could happen? Everyday people, living their everyday lives, being suddenly and completely uprooted for seemingly no reason at all. All clarity is lost in a single motion; the world has been virtually turned upside down. This leaves the narrative room for unclarity, ambiguity, and disproportion in a search for meaning that leaves the characters and even its readers with nothing in hand.
Even the title of the first book itself, “My Father Bleeds History” is an attempt to connect the emotional with the rational, two sensibilities that clash that leave even the grounds of communication a muddy brown. The narrative follows in the line of the title as it uses this clash of raw emotion with rational fact to play with language and roughen meaning to make them difficult to understand, as the events themselves are difficult to understand.
The use of silence and space is harsh yet fluid as it allows for shadow and an odd juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity to overcome, revealing a foreboding atmosphere with no past or future in sight. With his use of shadow and stark black and white shades Speigelman is able to exude an overwhelming sense of fear and terror. The construction of the novel being entirely devoid of color drains the reader of all sense of hope leaving him with no tangible element left to grab and hold for comfort.
Even the mere fact that the story is in graphic novel form shatters the paradigms that the Holocaust, by nature, shattered. Illusions of safety and clarity are demolished, the very past was destroyed. This is perhaps what makes this novel so unique. There was no other possible way to convey such a tale than in this form, as everything has been destroyed, we have no choice to resort to new forms in order to cope with tragedy.
Over thirty years after it was written and published, Maus is just as relevant and shocking as it was then. It reveals the very illusion we live in; and knowing this we are left wondering: “can we continue?”

Secret Pleasures #10: Using Laser Pointers to Successfully Retard my Cat

22 Aug

Alright, so you’ve just spent 5 hours cleaning the house, you’re tired. You finally sit down to pick up your book and have a sit with your beloved Catman(or woman). Everything is in its place to the perfection of the gods. All the books in place, pots on shelves, dishes on racks. You’re ready to relax.

But as soon as you settle down, the clock strikes the dreaded 3:33, and the once sleeping cat (who’s been napping all day) has awoken, and for some strange reason, as you look at him from across the room you can’t help but think you’ve just seen a tint of red in his normally bright blue eyes.

Did you see that?

And then the floor cracks open as the flames of hell arise to wake the beast lying on the rug. And he’s off on a daily rampage that tears your perfectly place home to pieces, as he jumps on shelves, breaks all your plants, slides across your record player to scratch your favorite album, knocks all the pictures off the wall and rips through the trash with a voracity that has no equal!

Tacgnol: Destroyer of Worlds

This is how most days go.

However, I do have a solution to this. Just as he rushes back into the bedroom to gnaw on a few of my books I whip out the only sufficient weapon I own, the laser pointer. This is a useful tool to use up all of his excess energy before he moves on to crawling up the screens of the windows. And he loves it. I makes him run up walls and pace the floors in patient wait of his one great foe. I use this tool so that he gets so tired that he eventually has to fall down where he stands so that I can actually have that one relaxing moment left in my day.

But I think the best part of this tool is when I run the laser pointer in circles around the cat to the point in which he simply can’t walk anymore and has no choice but to fall down, eyes crossed on the floor in a deep sleep that will be sure to knock him out for a good couple hours. His will is, at last, mine to control. And I love it. If only this worked on humans.

Wait a minute... I've found it.

Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: 7 – Into the Infinite and Back

14 Apr

Into the Infinite and Back

I don’t know how long I stared at them, mesmerized by the white, foam, crashing onto the rocks a thousand feet below our own. My feet moved to grip the rusted rock of the Cliffside, but I could feel it begin to give way. I looked down as the earth hacked and spit up dirt and rock, casting them down into the sea. I casually stepped back, unfearing of the drop, and looked up towards the barren sky.

Despite the sun, fixedly boring down upon us, the air was mellow, wind slight. But the smell, I had nearly forgotten the smell, the smell of the ocean. The salted air was heavy, pressing upon my cheek. You could almost taste it, the air, winding its way through your nose and onto your tongue.

I needed to get out of the city, desperately. When I woke up that morning I rolled to my side, restless, staring at Ian’s warm, sticky backside. Looking over his shoulder and out the window I could see the sun had already begun to rise. I could feel him breathing slowly, up and down, up and down. The breathing began to rattle, louder and louder, up and down, up and down, louder, louder. My skin began to sweat, itch; my breaths became deep, heavy. Something was pressing down on me, choking; an invisible hand, holding me, daring me to struggle. I couldn’t do it any longer. Our once, small, crooked, kindly apartment had become severe and oppressive. My body shot up in a rage, unable to stay put any longer.

“What’s wrong?” he breathed at me without turning or opening his eyes. “Nothing.” “Nothing, huh?” he said, finally turning to look at me, revealing the nightly spot of drool upon his pillow. “Alright, that’s a lie,” I grunted, “I just… we’ve gotta go somewhere. I gotta get out of here.” “Why? Right now?” Without a blink, “Yeah. Now. Sorry.”

I was ready in ten minutes, as I rustled around our 300 square foot nest, packing bags with an apple lodged between my teeth. He’s never been as quick, sitting on the couch in only those tattered sweat pants, staring at the computer screen for the first hint of change in the world. “Hurry up,” I scratched at him impatiently. “Where are we going?” “Don’t worry about it,” I told him, “It’s all up here.” With another half hour he was up and we were gone, out the door, on the road, ready for anything.

We sped past field after field, rolling into hills, trees, vines. With the entrancing sounds of Radiohead the scenery melted together, I focused hard on the road twisting in front of me. The snaking river raced the car, rushing to catch us. Soon the river dispersed, trees thinned, to open up to the sky. Cows lined the green open pastures along the road, slowly chewing on their cud, swatting their rough tails as they knowingly watched us pass the barrier into Tillamook.

Tillamook: the land of many waters; that’s what the sign said at least. The trees stretched over us along the windy and shoddy road. Trees on one side, shallow, open waters on the other. I watched the bulbous yellow flowers begin to bloom along the side of our car instead of watching the road as we bumped along.

The road became longer as we climbed, edging our way towards the heavens, reaching for the last glimpse of perfection.

There she was, lying before us as if she were a woman; naked, sprawled, unconcealed, patiently waiting, waiting as if she had been waiting for us all her life.

I parked the car just off the road, jumping out in nearly too much of a rush to remember the door, rushing for the sea; it had been too long. With the trees behind me I stepped out upon the lookout. A fence stood between us, barring me from her. I needed more. The air whipped my hair as I hopped the barrier to get a closer look, to catch a glimpse of the infinite.  Tentatively, we walked to the edge, looking into the bounds of everything, all at once, converged in a single moment, a single space, connected.

I looked down, estimating the drop. Whatever the math was, it was a long way. Far enough to crush a fair amount of bone, clawing at flesh all the way down, tearing muscle away from itself. I wondered what it would be like to fall, to fall into the rocks. Would it hurt? Probably. Or, would you pass out before you hit, before your skull scraped stone, before the blood stirred the water? Maybe it wouldn’t hurt at all. What if you tripped, just now? It would all be over. You would be clumsy, just for a moment, and that would be it; brains running all the way down.

These are the things you think about when you’re so far up, above everything, as if there couldn’t possibly be anything higher, higher than you at least. I closed my eyes for a moment, erasing the image.

The grass crept carefully toward the crumbling precipice, giving way to thick brush, which bit at my leg with every step, pulling me down. Remember, just one false step, and that’s it. Climbing over a crooked branch, I slid down an incline on my knees to inch my way towards the end of the world, at least the civilized one. I stared into the open right there, crouched on all fours, out into the frontier, the unknown. This was it.

The shadows of the cliff grew upon every angle, spotting the rocks. The water rushed into the horseshoe curve of the wall I peered over, crashing over the bouldering rocks and through the dark cavernous holes that splotched the side. I wondered if anyone had ever been down there. Would the sea allow it?

“What’re you doing down there!” Ian called to me in panic, sucking me back. “I was just lookin’,” I called. I had forgotten about him. “Oh my god, you’re gonna die! Jesus, please, Monique, come back up before you fall.” “Is that what you were worried about,” I said, clambering up to dust myself off, “Alright, alright. I’m coming.”

Looking back up toward the sky, I murmured my farewell. It was an unfortunate duty to return to that strangling civilization, the schedule of repetition, but I had to, which was, perhaps, the most unfortunate part.

He held out his hand for me to grasp, as I scrambled back up the incline. And turning my back to the sea, I walked back toward society and away from humanity.

Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: Six – A Jarred Childhood

6 Mar

A Jarred Childhood

We were surrounded. An army, enclosing, edging in with wasted fingers outstretched.

When went in, they did not seem so intimidating; watery specks, bits of festering fungi, floating in air. But as we edged around the circle, marvel quickly crumbled. A carnival of faces; eyes slit, legs crossed, delicate fingers caressed brittleness, fragile skulls flowered to expose festering brains within, just beneath the surface.

I stopped to watch a woman pass me, a broad smile smeared across her face. I thought this strange, figuring it out of place. But just as she, every woman I saw wandered by with the same twisted grin.

They were so excited to witness the miracle of birth, the growth of something so small into something more; something you could hold, love, watch play; something you could scold, watch scratch crayon across a wall, read to before bed; something you could comfort after a nightmare, nurse after catching a cold, let pout at the breakfast table; something you could watch slumber in your arms, bandage after a scrapped knee, pick up screaming off the floor; something you could watch grow up, see off to school, help dress for an interview; something you could give keys to, get flowers from, meet the lover of.  This was what they saw; they saw beauty.

I closed my eyes; I wanted to see this beauty more than anything. But when I opened them I only saw a grim certainty; webbed fingers, covering, scratching, a withered, wry face, frozen in time. An imagined childhood, wasted in a jar.

“Are you okay?” His hand swept across my back.

I hadn’t noticed that my mouth was open, eyes frozen and expressionless.

“What?”

“You just looked really strange. Is everything alright?”

My eyes wandered to the side, “Yeah. Fine.” I turned my back to him.

They were almost human, almost people. How do you draw the line; how do you define them as people? Would you describe them to be an It? Its? Perhaps “how” was the wrong question to ask. When do you define them as people? At fifty-seven days they have fingernails.

I wound my way through the crowded circus, faces, vacuous, to reach the end.

I stepped forward, anxiously, to meet the king of kings. The hairs on its head were poised, afloat. Its forehead crinkled, waiting, worried. But what could it have been worried about? For something that would never come? A light that would never be seen? The touch of a mother that would never be felt? I could almost see the air bubbles burst.

It took me a minute to realize that they were all dead.

Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: Five

7 Feb

Visions Across an Empty Room

I could feel my eyes tire,
as my voice began to falter,
fading into fragments.

I could feel him pull me close,
as quiet, ghostly fingers traced the
frail imperfections upon my trembling skin,
left frigid by the clouds,
unwilling to give shelter from
the cold memories of the stars.

The numbness I thought would never fade,
gave way to something small,
the slightest shiver.
My eyes fluttered.

I drew a ladder that stretched
through the black.
I scanned the barren sky
for a hint of the inevitable,
for a remnant of the past;
nothing but the moon remained.

Time hung still as I placed
my hand upon the next rung.
A shadow reached out to me;
a soft murmur called to my ear,
leaving the smallest of hairs to quiver.
Disquiet dissolved in our laughter.

There was a rush,
an excitement,
from the mystery of a moment
skirting past our lips.
We hadn’t the slightest of
what we were doing,
or where we were going.

We had anything and
everything in front of us,
just within reach.
It was all we had ever wanted.
That was our confession.
Whispered words echoed across the
sky on the assuring night’s breath.
A rare truth.

We flew on a hope, a dare;
waxen wings outstretched,
fingers sculpting the air.
Again we were children;
softened features caressed
the watery reflections that
rippled beneath our toes.

All the could have been’s,
that might have been’s,
that never were’s,
gurgled at us
from their shallow graves,
just beneath the surface;
we took no notice.

I could feel the wind change;
a warm current circling,
tasting my bare shoulder.
The long curve of my neck twisted
to catch his eye across my shoulder,
softly peering into mine;
the perfect shot.

I slipped my hand down to my side,
expecting to take hold of something,
of anything.
But I was only met
with cold emptiness,
who’s narrowed eyes
were cruel and unforgiving.

I always had a hard time
deciphering my dreams from reality.
I could never quite put my finger on it.
Perhaps they were one in the same.