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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Poetry: After the Yule

Hey all,

I've pretty much been at work since Christmas Eve so I haven't had a lot of time to write or do much of anything outside of just that, work. This morning though I took some time to write a poem I have been thinking about this week. As I drove through my brother's neighborhood the day after Christmas, and through other parts of town this week, I kept seeing discarded Christmas trees. When I went into a store I would see discounted Christmas decorations and themed gifts. It all seemed very sad to me. We spend so much time, pretty much starting in October, gearing up and hyping Christmas, only to throw it all away after one day. I wrote this poem with that thought in mind. That the Spirit of Christmas should be more than just once a year, the fellowship of man should be more than that. But it's not, and that's sad. I hope you like the poem, I'd appreciate any feedback.

After the Yule

The Holiday has come to close,

And the Christmas spirit is now repose.

For the weathers turned a cold, bleary bleat,

As the warmth of the season has grown complete.

Lights once bright have turned to dim,

The halls once decked have lost their trim.

Trees so green with ornaments bright,

Now lay in the street, a decay of blight.

And the sense of charity, once so profound,

Has lapsed again, to hibernate unfound.

All the feelings of mirth and cheer,

Are fleeting away, like Santa's reindeer.

How funny it feels that after just one day,

We all return to our selfish ways.

Gifts we gave, the meals we shared,

Are forgotten again, till next years cared.

The White Christmas that we coveted so,

Is broken in muck, the melted slush of snow.

And we say goodbye with smiles and mirth,

To the one day we give them worth.

All through the year we push and we take,

How often forgetting of charity's sake.

So consumed are we with our own selfish needs,

That we don't take the time for our hearts heeds.

If only we could saved some spirit to tithe,

A remnant of this day throughout all of our life,

We'd know that feeling everyone of our days,

But after the Yule, we lose the tides of our ways.

The 26th of December sees Christmas on sale,

That thought alone is the reason we fail.

End of Line.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 35:

Ally picked her way through the trunk, looking for a matching boot. She had cleaned herself off using some tepid water from the basin in the room and now was looking to replace the ragged shreds of her clothing. She had dressed her wounds herself as best as she could, and Morgan, the man she had met on the road, had bound the worse of her injuries. She tentatively traced the bandages that he had wrapped around her feet before she laced the once missing boot up.

She wasn't sure how she felt about Morgan. He was strong and safe, but somehow seemed withdrawn. He wouldn't talk about himself or his past, just that he had fought in the war and that he was heading to town. He hadn't told her what he had found in the shed out back, but he hadn't seemed very happy about it. He had closed the door to the shed and walked back to her. Together, they had searched the house, finding it empty. Most of the house had seemed ransacked, and there were trails of blood and signs of looting, but in one of the rooms they had found the trunk of clothing.

After Abby had laced the boot she stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. The dress was a simple, durable affair of brown wool, buttoning up the side and had a divided skirt suitable for riding. The boots were simple leather with a short heel. Finally she had pulled a heavy cloak from the trunk and pulled her hair back under a scarf. She could see the bruising on her face and eyes, though her lip had scabbed over. It still hurt to breath from her bruised ribs and she limped when she walked, but even so she still felt worlds better than she had a few hours earlier.

She walked around, gingerly at first, but the more she moved her balance seemed to steady. She felt her nerves settled down for the first time in what seemed forever. She left the room and walked down the stair case, supporting herself on the railing. the wafting smells from the kitchen told her that Morgan had found some food, and she realized just how long it had been since she had eaten. Her stomach growled noisily as she walked in on Morgan, frying some bacon in a pan.

"I found a couple of unbroken eggs and some bacon in the larder. You need to eat something for your strength."

Abby murmured her thanks and dug in ravenously. In what seemed like seconds she had finished the meal and was sopping up the grease with a crust of only slightly moldy bread. They didn't talk much, but she watched Morgan eat out of the corner of her eye. He ate methodically, his eyes almost never looking at the plate. They shifted from the door to the big window, which gave him a view from out onto the front drive. He was always looking, always watchful, always so sad. She'd never felt safer with a more intimidating man.

After the meal was finished, Morgan told Abby to stand up. He led her outside towards the shed, the door still closed. Abby felt her throat grow thick and well up inside her. The feeling of safety she had felt just moments ago were fled from her and those jagged spikes of fear and adrenalin flooded her system. Morgan stopped them just before the shed and turned her to face him. He gripped her shoulders tightly and looked her in the eye.

"Abby, I can't imagine how you feel right now. With all the bad shit that's out in the world right now, this damnable black sun above our heads and worse yet, the death of your family and the torturous journey you've undertaken in the past day. What I do know is that you have to be one of the toughest women I've ever met to still be alive and still be fighting. You can't be afraid anymore. You need to know what is waiting for you out there."

Morgan pushed open the door and she saw the woman. Her face bruised and battered, his dressed rips, the ways her legs were spread....the gaping hole in her chest. Abby pulled her hands in front of her face before Morgan roughly pulled them away.

"LOOK DAMMIT! Look at what happened to her. It's not just those god damn monsters out there. Regular folk are just as bad as they are. You can't be afraid. You have to be strong. You have to be ready."

With that he pulled free a battered old Colt Revolver and a worn gunbelt. He turned her to face the tragedy in the shed as he buckled the gun belt around her waste. Abby forced herself to look at the woman, to look at the fear on her face, until she couldn't feel anything anymore. She stood there a long time, just looking, as Morgan never moved or said anything. After what felt like an eternity, she looked up at Morgan.

"I'm ready to go."

End of Line.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flash Fiction: The Rain

You can smell the rain before it comes in the desert. The air gets thick and heavy, the wetness palpable in the normally dry air. I had felt the rain for nearly a day now, but still it waited. I hiked my hat back on my head and looked upwards, the sun shrunken behind a mask of dark grey clouds. Soon, it would have to fall soon.

I spurred my horse gently into a trot and kept riding. I felt hot and sticky, the humidity clinging to me. I was still wearing my battered duster and it was starting to feel like a second skin. Dirt had mixed with sweat and grime and I hadn't seen a bath in what felt like a month of Saturdays. I couldn't wait to get out of New Mexico and into Texas, maybe get that bath... and a drink. In the meantime, I'd just settle for some damn rain.

It was well past mid-day when I came across it. Smoke, thin and trickling, a dark grey plume against the dark clouds of the sky. Maybe three hours in front of me. It wasn't unusual to see other travelers on this trail, though fires at this time of day certainly wasn't normal. Besides there was to much smoke, to much smoke for just a trail fire. Somewhere up ahead, a lot of people were probably dead. I jiggled the empty water skin at my side and cursed. I stared up at the cloudy sky and wondered where that rain was.

I made good time towards the fire, it was generally along the way on the trail, but I kept my Colt loose on my hip and my Winchester primed across my saddle horn. I doubted what ever tribe that had attacked those people had stuck around, not on this public of a trail, but hell, it never paid to play the fool. I gave my horse Brian a reassuring pat, knowing him to be just as thirsty as me, as we crested the last bluff.

It was then that I caught it, the wind pushing the smell of burnt death up the hill. It wasn't the first time I had smelled this scent, but Brian reigned up, eyes wide with fright. I calmed down the horse and climbed down off the saddle, throwing the reigns around a small tree as I walked towards the dying fire. I kept the Winchester close as I looked at the carnage. There had to be at least twenty bodies here, scalped, burnt, tortured...raped.

The fire still flared in spots around the four wagons, and the whole affair still smoked with the flush of embers. I walked through the massacre, taking stock of the dead, noting it for the sheriff in town, or better yet one of the Cavalry troopers that frequently patrolled the area. I scanned the horizon, pulling my hat off, and let out a deep breath. My throat, already thick and parched, felt like sand as I tried to work up enough spit to wet it down. God damn rain.

I had counted eighteen bodies before I saw her. She couldn't have been more than five or six, a small tow-haired girl, clutching a corncob doll. I'm not even sure when I dropped the Winchester, or when I felt the feel of earth from my knees. The poor girl had been burnt and beaten, like the rest of the victims. She'd been scalped, like some of the others and you could see the blood mix with the dirt on her face. I touched her cold cheek, my fingers trailing the lines of smudged tears on her face.

I don't know why it was her that caught me so. Maybe it was the fact that she still clutched that doll, or the way her tiny fingers gripped it. I could still see the whiteness in her knuckles. I had seen dead bodies before, hundreds, maybe thousands, in the war and afterwards. I'd seen grown men cry, severed limbs, even the brutal slaughter of homesteads in the wake of other marauders. But here, in this moment, I only saw my own daughter. Like it was her laying there instead of this other poor girl. Like it was my own daughter that had been killed. I closed my eyes and felt my cheeks turn wet. Soft at first, then harder, till the cold wetness seeped through to my very bones.

The sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning lit the sky, but I only looked at her. I stayed there for a long time, long after the last embers had been extinguished. The rain had finally come.

End of Line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poetry: The Tides of Christmas

Hey all,

My laptop has been down for a while so I haven't updated as much as I would have liked. (well at all to be true) and while I still have no word processing program I can write directly in the blogger format. So I am going to get back to posting, at least one piece of short fiction this week. In the meantime here is a bit of a Christmas poem I started writing after I was struck by an image of the sky breaking over the mountaintops on my way to Flagstaff. It was a very beautiful and serene moment. I have been working on lines in bits and pieces for the last week or so but today i just sat down to type it out. I really like this poem, I thought it was a very different stanza structure with some nice word variations. I'd love some feedback.

The Tides of Christmas

Reddest sky bursts through stones,

The jagged spires of Earthen bones.

Azure rays stream from the dusk,

As the day rips free last ragged tusk.

And as the day gives way to night,

I feel the world in years twilight.

The wind, so shear, reaps its throne.

Cold and sharp, it cuts alone.

I stopped the car and gazed out West,

The tinge of winter in my breast.

I hugged myself against the cold,

As snowflakes fell, gently then bold

The hills dipped in bends and bows,

Fields of pines rest in rows.

And from above I looked below,

As the tides of Christmas began to flow.

The flecks of snow gave to flurries,

As the red lit sky begot blue tint furies.

Where the twinkled stars began to shine,

I saw the moony rays, a stream of line.

And the once green pines donned a white coat,

While the thistles whispered a windy note.

The Holiday was finally here,

As wintered sounded its snowy cheer.

I saw my breath in a puffy cloud,

As the chill wind chimed out so very loud.

So I jammed my hands in pockets deep,

And watched the snow build in piles steep.

I huddled in tight and looked to the sky,

To that one glimmering star upon so high.

And I thought to myself as I turned away,

Merry Christmas to me on this wintery day.

End of Line.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poetry: My Day of Birth

Hey all,

Every year on my birthday I always post a new poem. It's usually some kind of reflection on getting older, or aging, or simply the passage of time. For me, this poem is about looking back and looking forward at the same time. It's about looking at the choices you have made, and how they set the path of your life before you. I hope you find something in the poem to take away. I honestly just really felt the poem, I wrote it very quickly, very organically. Thanks for reading.

My Day of Birth

When I woke up I felt alive,

Though much had changed.

Another year older now,

Of course my life had ranged.

A series of ups and downs,

Through the calm and strange.

But I asked myself why.

Sometimes life can't be explained,

You don't know what you'll face.

The days can blur right by,

As you're stuck in the race.

But those very best parts of life,

You can keep in place.

So never let yourself sigh.

I'm not proud of everything,

That I have done.

I've did both good and bad,

In the pursuit of fun.

But sometimes my selfishness,

Was the cost of one.

And sometimes that makes me cry.

I may not be the most perfect man,

On my day of birth.

Thirty five years have come and gone,

Through the full and the dearth.

But I look to the future now,

And I know my worth.

Cause I'll always try.

And that part of me can never die.

End of Line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Poetry: Idea

Hey all,

I know, I'm posting with some freaky regularity at this point. Though watch that comment jinx the whole matter. Anyway this poem came about while watching the film V For Vendetta last night. One of the actors in the film said a line, "Ideas are Bulletproof". It really got me thinking, about how many things in this life really are faulty, how fragile things are. So I set about taking that one line, and trying to create an idea itself, a simple poem about the immutability of thought and ideas. Enjoy.


My flesh may be pierced,

By bullet or blade,

My heart can be broke,

From a love gone mislaid.

The Earth may be burned,

By nature or man.

The skies can be polluted,

By the mechanics we ran.

My soul may be stained,

By the sins of my crime,

My skin can be weathered,

By the passage of time.

Rivers may be poisoned,

From all of our wastes.

Our lives are spoiling,

By our extravagant tastes.

But of an idea,

It holds no form,

It cannot be defeated,

Not by man nor by storm.

An idea cannot die,

Or fear mortal pain.

For in the minds of man,

It finds a purchase of gain.

Beliefs may change,

And will can be bent,

But the heart of the truth,

Can never be rent.

An idea can't be killed,

It's not of flesh or of bone,

It lives inside of all man,

And for that can never be alone.

End of Line.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 34

Cody had met the odd mix of strangers a few hours after he'd had his fun at that old farm. He still had his saddle bags full of money and the sawed-off, but he had seen opportunity in the stage coach. A man as wanted as him would be sure to be recognized trying to sneak into Desperation, but amid these "upstanding" citizens he figured he might have a better chance, even if one of the bastards was clearly about to die.

He'd already forgotten the dandy with the shiny gun, he was no threat to anyone. That coward was never far from the stage and from the old man. Caleb may be an old cripple, but there was iron in the fossil still, but still Cody wasn't afraid of him either. That fat bastard, Bartley, driving the stage was even less of a threat. Hell the one inside the cab, the one about to die, posed the bigger threat than him. Jarrett knew there was no way that the diseased fucker would make it to town.

The only one that made him uneasy was the girl, the cripple's daughter, Eva. She was past 30, nearly an old maid, but damn if she didn't have curves. Those tight pants, the chaps, the strain of her breasts in the button down shirt. If he hadn't just quelled the fire in his loins a few hours ago Cody wasn't sure if he could resist her. Still, that iron strapped to her leg wasn't just for show and he didn't like the way she looked at him. Her hand never seemed far from that pistol, or even from the rifle on the side of her saddle. In the end though, no woman posed any kind of threat to Cody fucking Jarrett.

He was looking over the ridge, down into the valley, with the dim lights of Desperation in the distance. You could see the river flowing around the edge and emptying into the gulf, leading towards freedom for Jarrett, to Old Mexico. Still the town of Desperation lay at the edge of the edge of the valley and the surrounding farmland seemed over run with the monsters. From his perch on the ridge he could see the creatures, some of them mindlessly shuffling, other bent over the corpses of the dead. He looked to his side, at the dandy, Moore, peering down into the valley through his spyglass. he was about to ask for a look when he heard the old man cry out.

He saw Eva spur her horse back to the stage as he and Moore spun around. Cody checked the load in the sawed-off and hastened, wondering if the bitten man had turned. He beat Moore to the stage, who didn't seem to be in any hurry. Bartley, was still waddling off the drivers seat as he approached, though Eva was the first to arrive. She flung the stage door open, her rifle brought to bear. Caleb sat inside, the cripple cradling the poor bastards head.

"He.......he just shuddered once and let out a long slow breath. We're too late."

Eva lowered her rifle and climbed inside, holding her father in a sidelong hug. The old man seemed to age years before his eyes, suddenly seeming sadder and more pathetic with each passing moment. Cody curled his lip in anger and pulled out one of his Colts, his voice dripping with derision.

"End him."

Eva's face shot up, her face a steely mask of disgust as Caleb looked on sadly. Neither of these pussies had the stones to do what needed to be done. Cody looked to the dead man, Rex, and saw where the man had been bit. The bandage was black with seepage and pus, and you could see the fleshy tones of his skin already turning a spoiled yellow. It would happen sooner or later, but it would happen.

"Fuck this."

Cody thumbed back the hammer and fired.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Poetry: Limelight

Hey all,

So this poem was actually a very difficult one to write. It was inspired by the film Limelight, a early 1950's Charlie Chaplin film where he plays an aging clown who is past his comedic prime. I found it to be a sad story, about how this lonely clown rescues and re-invigorates a young dancer, while he can't even rescue himself. I wrote the whole poem about how everything funny eventually becomes sad, but the film as a whole made me think about how skills fade over time, and it's only a brief window where one is at his best. I hope the poem reminds people to seize the moments of time that you have, and take the opportunities as they present themselves. I hope you enjoy the poem.


Laughter and cheer,

The smiling face,

The roar of the crowd,

Filling the place.

They clap and applaud,

Crying for more,

So happy and bright,

Over shouts of encore.

And day after day,

You give of your all,

Till the spring of life,

Turns the ways of fall.

Those cheers so loud,

Will lessen through time,

Humor once bold,

No longer in its prime.

As comedy it bleeds,

Begets itself to tragedy,

Applause will fade away,

Laughter's now an elegy.

So as the shine turns dim,

Burnt out from the bright,

You step away from the spot,

And enter your limelight.

End of Line.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 33

Father Santiago felt the branches whipping at his face as he tried to brush them aside. He'd been running for over an hour, finding stamina in his legs that he had forgotten he could have. He could still hear the screams of his flock... of his brothers, of the people he had lied to. The screams of his old life dying.

Enrico stumbled, his sandal getting caught on a loose stone, and he scraped his hand on the bark of a tree to prevent himself from falling. His breath came in ragged huffs and he seemed to become exhausted all at once. He took a few more faltering steps and slumped down by the trunk of another tree. He'd cut through the thin woods near the church after he had fled, using the branches to hide himself as he made to the small creek that ran through the woods. He followed the tributary until it ran into the river and splashed partway downstream avoiding cutting back across treeline to the main road. Hoping that the river bank will offer some shelter. It was here he sat now, his thin breath running puffs of smoke in the abnormally cool air.

He looked at his hands as he sat there, his left hand bloody from the scratch, his right almost white, clutching the old pistol tightly. He unclenched his fist, feeling the raw pain and stiffness in his hand as he flexed his fingers. He hadn't seen anymore of the foul creatures since his mad dash, but Enrico knew they would be back sooner or later. One look to the blackened sun above and he knew that this was a godless land.

After he caught his breath, Enrico pulled himself up and slipped the gun back under his frayed robes. No longer running, he hurried along the edge of the river, ready to dart off the trail at the first sign of trouble. He continued to follow the trail generally south, as the river would eventually take him to the town of Desperation. It was there he would either find help, or find out the extent of his, and the world's, damnation.

He followed the stream until nearly dusk before he saw the first of them. One creature, bent over a score of bodies, feasting on the ruined hunks of flesh. There had to be at least 7 bodies, some of them the foul creatures themselves. He stayed back, watching for other signs of movement, for more of them, but there was nothing. You could smell death in the air, the place was fetid with the rot of man. Santiago closed his eyes, forcing the remembrance of the last time he had smelled this same stench, forcing away the memories of Bull Run and his fallen friends.

With a final calming breath, Santiago stood and walked towards the creature. He wasn't sure why he was doing it, maybe it was guilt, or maybe he had run out of fear, or maybe, just maybe, he was to tired to be afraid anymore. Anyway he looked at it though, he had to get by this monster. This one creature represented all that he had failed in in life. His hand clenched the pistol as he crept closer. The beast seemed oblivious to his progress. Enrico forced himself to look away from the bodies of the dead men he passed, ignoring everything, until he stood behind the monster. He thumbed back the hammer, and the beast whirled with an inhuman quickness. It's jaws were red with blood as he saw the broken black claws of the monster flash in the fading sunlight. He fired, and fired again, until the creature moved no more.

He stood over the body for some time. The faint echoes of gun smoke still wafting from the barrel of his gun. He let the guilt and fear wash over him as his free hand absently went to the worn rosary beads he still wore. He prayed then, standing there rubbing the beads, asking for a way to atone, for a way to forgive himself. He prayed for something to show him the path, for someone to end the pain. It was then that he heard the sounds of hoof beats on the earth and the click of the hammer of a rifle being drawn behind him. Enrico Santiago closed his eyes, and thanked a God he had thought forsakened, for his deliverance.

End of Line.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poetry: Rainy Days

Hey all,

It's been a long time. A really long time. Unsure how long it will be to my next post, but in the meantime, Rainy Days. Trying something from a happier place.

Rainy Days

Rain and shadows blur the slickened streets.

A misty haze that dulls the beats.

The fog and clouds submit the sun.

Yet the rays of hope aren't yet done.

For in the rain the waters flow,

Washing out the pains unknown.

And in the slush of gutters lost,

We can leave away the pains of cost.

Down the drains the hurt can flow,

Scrubbed clean, away they go.

And in the mask of hazey grey,

It can hide the things we want to say.

But if you're close and looking right,

The prayers you make can come to light.

For the closer you get to what you want,

The truths you seek need no longer be hunt.

Behind the clouds the sun may hide,

From the barbs and japes that others chide.

But even under the bleary overcast,

This shady coverage cannot everlast.

The winds will blow and clear the clouds,

And allow the rays of hope to cry aloud.

So rainy days are nought to fear,

Soon they'll give way to days most dear.

What is hidden will find the light,

A cleansing rain will make it right.

End of Line.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Poety: The Heart of Me

Hey all!

I was looking through a wonderful art book by one of my favorite painters and illustrators, Tara McPherson. I am sure that I have mentioned on other blog posts how much I admire and love Tara's work, it's very haunting, and sad, and poignant. Underneath it though, there is a kind of wonder and mischievousness. Any time I am having a bad day, or feel sad, I can look through her art book and find inspiration. Some people may be motivated by authors, I have always found art to be a great motivator for me. I have no talent for art, I can't paint or draw, my art has always been words. But any time I look at a painting, or drawing, I have such an appreciation for the talent involved, you're creating an image of thought into form without words. And that really moves me.

Anyway, as I was looking through Tara's book, Lost Constellations, she did a series of paintings with a woman who had a heart shaped hole in her chest. Those pieces, so sad and fierce, inspired me to write this poem. Hope you like it.

The Heart of Me

I tried to feel my heart,

But felt an empty beat.

Didn't even feel the pain,

To numb for the defeat.

No prison held it hostage,

Not a cage of iron bar,

It simply wasn't there,

Just escaped so very far.

When I looked into the mirror,

The wound seeped no blood,

I saw the heart shaped hole,

Where tears flowed like a flood.

The water left a salty trail,

Pouring from my soul,

I thought the pain would hurt me more,

This part of me that wasn't whole.

I never cut it from my chest,

Or had it ripped apart by love,

My heart had simply left me there,

To float away, up above.

It longed for any kind of feeling,

Its wants were a simple cost,

To feel the flush of newborn love,

Or even of pain of ache not lost.

But all it knew was solitude,

The lone and lonely passage of time,

Until the day it could take no more,

For neglect was my greatest crime.

Now I'm left with this scar,

And a trail of dried, salty teared,

I'll never feel love or loss,

For the heart of me has disappeared.

End of Line.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flash Fiction: The Dancer

The Dancer

I watched her dance, her movements lithe and graceful, her body twisting and bending in perfect timing to the music. She wore tight black leggings and a Lycra tank top, her right arm in a long spandex sleeve. Her long brown hair had been pulled into a tight bun, though one lone strand had stubbornly freed itself and dangled in the middle of her forehead. Sweat beaded on her brow and you could see a dark trail of perspiration running down the back of tank top. Still, it seemed as if none of these elements even phased her, as she leaps into the air, her legs scissoring. The music played, approaching the crescendo, as the young dancer entwined herself. As the cacophony of strings and piano came to a head, she spun a circle, pirouetting in a frenzy of speed and beauty, until the last strum of the string slowly died and she lowered herself to the floor, completely spent.

I listened to the applause as the troupe of dancers cheered for her performance, though my hands stayed silent. I watched her from the shadow of my balcony perch, darkness around me. I wanted fervently to cheer, to tell her how wonderful she was, how proud I was of her, but I kept my silence, unable to form words. I watched as she dried off the perspiration with a towel and took a drink from a bottle of water. I could hear her laugh, even see the twinkle of her blue eyes and I knew pain again. I had made many mistakes in my life, though leaving her, leaving her was the only one I ever wanted to change.

I shadowed her movements across the upper balcony, mirroring hers as she moved across the stage. The towel lay around her neck as she thanked the choir and the rest of the cast. The director embraced her in a long hug and I shivered as a tinge of jealously ran through me. How I wished that hug was for me, how I longed but for one embrace, even just one lonely smile cast my way. But I knew that my chance for any of that had passed away a long time ago.

After the director broke his embrace, she stood by the edge of the stage. I looked down to her as she continued to wipe away the sweat and drained the last of the water bottle. She made some small talk with a few of the other dancers, far to soft for me to hear from my perch. I listened to the shudder and click of the lights in theater shutting down, casting long shadows throughout the theater. After about 30 minutes or so, the rest of the troupe drifted away, until she was left all alone on the stage.

The only lights still on were the runners along the aisle and a single spotlight shining down on the stage. I moved my vantage point so I was staring down to her on the stage from the spotlight. She got up from where she had been sitting on the lip of the stage and began slowly stretching. I watched as she loosened up, noticing the concentration masked on her face as she went through a shortened warm up. My memory fell back to that first lesson, oh so many years ago. She had begged me for ballet shoes, begged her mother for them. She had been relentless in her determination even then. I recalled the look on her face as she unwrapped them on her birthday, with the brochure for her first lesson.

I missed a lot of those early recitals, even more of the later ones. By the time she was 14 I was missing all of them. It was my fault, my weakness. If only I had been stronger, if only I had told her what I knew now. Back then though, I only knew what I wanted. Or at least thought I had wanted. No, I'd taken a much more cowardly route, a path away from her and towards bigger mistakes. Shaking my head sadly, I broke off my revelry and looked back down on my princess. She was so much older now, a young woman, on her own in the City. About to play her first lead. Knowing that, even after all these years, I knew I had to come and see her, one last time.

She had started going through the routine that she had been practicing when I started watching again, doing the dance over and over until she had it just right. I hadn't realized what she had meant to me until it was too late. My little girl. I waited until she had finished the dance before moving. She stood back up, uncoiling from the spinning flurry of the final movements and rubbed the soreness in her arms and legs. She walked over to her bag, reaching in to pull out another bottle of water. The light seemed even brighter in the room now, no longer from just the spotlight, but from all around, a soft white glow that filled the room, but she didn't seem to notice. I knew my time was almost up, far far to short. I felt the pull of the brightness, the fabric of myself melting into the shimmering mist. I moved in front of that spotlight and reached out to her, so far away and yet so very very close. I cast no shadow on her, the ether of my being dimming away, and whispered "Thank you..."

My last memory was of her looking to the spotlight with a tear in her eye.

End of Line.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Poetry: The Compass

Hey all,

Here's another bit of poetry I plucked away at today. I really wanted to use the directions of the compass in a poem, sort of comparing the directions of the Earth to the sun and it's relation to your life. It's supposed to be a poem that tells a story, of questioning your own path to finding one out through the course of the poem. I am not sure if I accomplished that or not in the poem itself, but I think it's to a point where I feel like I have done what I can, where I have told what I wanted to say with it. I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say about how that worked, or what kind of feelings you had about the poem.

Anyway, enjoy the poem, I am going to keep plucking away at this keyboard.

The Compass

In the east,

The sun rose from my feet.

I watched the horizon break,

Never knowing it's own defeat.

Towards the north,

The chills set in my bones.

I saw no sun, just northern lights,

As the cold wind blew its tones.

Down to the south,

The hot and humid days,

I felt the sweat fall from my face,

As the sun beat it's heated rays.

But to the west,

The sun did fall to sleep,

So the day had come to pass,

For the black of night begins creep.

Directions lead us to and fro,

Along the paths which our lives may flow.

North or south, east and west,

May lead us to a place of rest.

Or down a road of love or pain,

Even back along a path once gained.

The compass of our life has no true north,

Only a promise of what may lie forth.

Life's a journey that you take,

Sometimes right, often a mistake.

But to never travel the path ahead,

That's a soul already dead.

So in the east,

The sun burns in the sky,

Breaking the night's hold,

Letting the darkness die.

Still in the north,

The wind may blow so cold,

But in those precious moments,

Life can play itself most bold.

But in the south,

Amid the sun drenched day,

I feel the warmth of light,

When the special moments pass away.

And to the west,

I walk towards the setting sun.

The day has come to it's end,

But life has just begun.

End of Line.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins


Hey all!

It's been a while since I've posted a new chapter of my serialized Flash Fiction tale, Under a Dead Sun Past Sins. I thought maybe a nice recap post would be a good idea, to let you know about the story and about the characters. Especially since I have kind of rebooted my blog a bit.

Under a Dead Sun is a zombie western story that I originally wrote about 4 years ago at the behest of a friend of mine, who asked me to fuse one of my loves, westerns, with one of his, zombies. I wrote the first Under a Dead Sun story in a weird disjointed serialized tale that was designed to be read in any order. The original installment had 40 chapters, with a special cover post made by my best friend Jason. You can find a link to Jason's blog here under The Wild Bunch tab, as well as a link to the original short story serial under the Anatomy of a Blog section.

After I finished that story I decided I really enjoyed the Dead Sun universe and went back to do a second serial, this time told in a 5 character perspective. Each chapter would be told from a different characters point of view, with the story eventually intertwining together. My target is about 50 chapters, with each person getting the same amount of story, give or take. I like to keep things open to cut it a bit short or go a bit long.

That can seem like an awful lot of story to catch up on, so here is a quick run down of the characters so far.

Cody Jarrett- a wanted thief and stone cold killer, he murdered his two partners after robbing a bank in a neighboring town. He's trying to get to the town Desperation to take a boat down to Old Mexico. After shooting his partners, they rose as zombies and he had to kill them again, but not before losing his horse. Currently he's going under the alias Beau Johnson (one of the men he killed) as he hitches a ride with Eva May Saint's family. He's selfish, remorseless, and a survivor without scruples.

Eva May Saint- The only surviving daughter of rancher Caleb Saint, her crippled father. They have ventured from their ranch with Bartley, the portly stage driver, and Thomas Moore, Caleb's advisor, a dandy without real cowboy experience who secretly fancies Eva. They are on their way to Desperation because their friend Rex was bitten by another zombie and they are seeking a doctor. Eva is just past 30, considered an old maid by most men, but still attractive. She is tough, gritty, and has been raised to run the farm since her sibling and mother's death.

Morgan Randall- A former Calvary officer who left the service after he fell in love. He is part Indian and worked as a scout, helping to tame the west against his own people. After watching his commanding officer rape and torture a village, he left the military to marry. His wife and child died in childbirth and he buried them on the small farm they had lived on. He remained there until the uprising, where he had to kill his own wife and newborn baby all over again. He left the farm, dressed in his uniform, knowing that sometimes you can't outrun what you are. He's sad and tortured, but with a streak of good, wanting to make up for all the wrongs he has done in his past.

Ally Marshall- The last survivor of a family killed by Cody Jarrett during his escape. Cody beat her and left her for dead, only for her to wake up to see her murdered family come back to life. Defending herself she managed to burn down the stable and destroy the monsters her family had become, but was swept into the river running from another group of the monsters. She was attacked by another group of zombies after washing to shore and fled barefoot through the forest until running into Morgan. Ally has been beaten emotionally and physically and is totally alone in the world, except for the chance meeting with Morgan.

Father Enrico Santiago- A poor man from the New Mexico territory, he left home for the promise of the adventure of war. Born Edward Richmond, he joined and fought for the Confederacy. At the Battle of Bull Run he was injured and lost his nerve for war though, and stole the identity of a deceased Army Chaplain named Enrico Santiago. He surrendered to the Union and eventually wound up out west founding a mission. He's spent 20 years pretending to be a priest, but again lost his courage during the uprising. First letting the village around him die to the monsters, then running as his fellow priests were torn apart when he could have helped them. He's armed with gun he had during the war, but he's all alone. He's afraid to die and selfish, but wracked with the guilt of his own choices and weakness.

The zombies- They are the risen dead, come back to life. They were resurrected the same day the sun turned black. The sun still gives off heat, but the light is darkened and the day is cooler. The zombies can only be killed by destroying their brains, though the zombies are mutated. Their fingers are more blackened points, sharp claws use to tear into flesh. Their jaws are also slightly distended, with the teeth having broken or changed into sharpened fangs. They are slow moving and unintelligent, but dangerous in groups. The smell of fresh blood can quicken their movements in close quarters though, giving them deceptively fast lunging speed.

That's about all you need to know. I hope you enjoy the story as I plan to try to post at least a new chapter once a week. We are really getting into the bulk of the story and the action, so it should be fun and exciting. Let me know what you think of the story or post questions or suggestions in the comments. Thanks for reading!

End of Line.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 32:

Eva spurred her horse faster, down the trail way, the town of Desperation looming in the distance. She tried to block out the memories of her and Bartley; and even Thomas attacking those creatures at the roadside. The thoughts of the blackened blood spraying against the rock wall face, or worse yet, the sight of the poor woman the beasts had been feasting on. The thoughts seem to bubble into her conscious unbidden, no matter what Eva did to force them down. She suppressed a shudder and turned her mind back to the task at hand, saving Rex. In the hour since they had stumbled upon those creatures he had turned for the worse. His skin was turning a sickly yellow-green and he was covered in sweat. The bite mark was red and inflamed, the skin so hot that Eva wondered how it wasn't burning the flesh right off his skin.

She figured that they were about an hour outside outside of town when they ran into the stranger. He had blond shoulder length hair and was dressed in a black suit, twin Colt's resting crosswise on his hips. A thick layer of trail dust covered his clothes and the saddlebags hanging over his shoulder, but all Eva was watching was the sawed off shotgun in his hand. He had said that he had ran into some creatures in the woods that had scared away his horse, but that he was headed towards Desperation to catch a boat.

Eva's intuition flared every time she looked at the stranger, who had said his name was Beau Johnson. She didn't like the feel of the feel of the man, she didn't trust him. But her father and Thomas had agreed to let the man ride into Desperation with them. No man, no matter what she felt, should be left out here with more of those monsters wandering about. Eva didn't really agree with Thomas assessment, her gut said that he couldn't be trusted and to many times her gut had proven right. But time was of the essence, and she didn't have time to argue over it, with Rex's conditioning worsening by the minute. Besides, maybe one more gun would make a difference.

Eva bit her lip and tried to force the uneasiness away, but the tension lay like a thick knot at the base of her neck. The undead, the black sun, Rex, the stranger, it was to much, to fast. Instead she reassuringly patted her Colt and spurred her horse a bit faster, riding ahead of the stage and Thomas, ahead of the stranger sitting beside Bartley in the driver's seat. As she came the the edge of the forest line, Eva drew the reins back, drawing the horse to a stop. She dismounted on the trail face, just before the path wound down the side of the hill and into the valley, Desperation laying just ahead.

She felt the others draw up behind her, but no one said anything as they looked down into the valley. The outlaying farms were smoldering, small flickers of flames still evident. Columns of smoke billowed from Desperation itself, though most of the town looked whole. Even at this distance though you could see the creatures moving about the farmland. They shuffled, jerking and lurching, moving in a way nothing human ever could. Worse yet, you could see the dead they had left behind, ripped, eviscerated. The once lush green grasses stained by blood. Even the river banks that flowed along the edges of town were tinged with red. So many dead, so many people lost. Eva couldn't even summon a tear, so thick was the lump in her throat. She only felt her nails digging into her palm as she balled her fist in anger, in frustration.

It was then she heard her father's scream.

End of Line.

Poetry: The Dirt of Days

Hey all,

So below is a poem that was really written in bits and parts over the course of about five months. As I let life get in the way of my writing, I kept meaning to get back to the blog and writing a little every day. Since I got my first comic book published though it has really rekindled my creative juices. Or at least shamed me enough to get back to writing. I'm going to try to post more over the coming weeks, maybe slowly at first, but hopefully with more frequency as time goes on.

Anyway this poem is a bit of piecemeal effort, stretched out over the many aborted reboots I've tried in the last 5 months. I sat down today and read it over, deleted the whole post, then retyped it in about two read throughs. I tried to channel some of the original flavor that the early drafts had while taking a new approach to the work. A lot of the references to washing away pain were in the original poem, but I feel the later parts were where I tried to freshen the take I had up on the whole poem. Anyway I hope you enjoy it.

The Dirt of Days

New days as they turn from the dark,

Silent nights break as the moon parts.

Open the dawn as the rains do come,

Washing away the evenings sum.

The dirt circles around the drain,

Futility scrubbing at the stains.

But nothing I do can wash it clean,

The sins of the flesh grown obscene.

I scrub and scrub, but never clear,

The layers of the filth and fear.

Broken trust and brittle lies,

Lay atop the dirt surmised.

Falsehoods lie, no cleansing truth,

Just words betrayed, my faith uncouth.

And 'neath the dirt and painful grime,

Lay the raw scene of the crime.

You hurt me most with words I said,

When my silence should have served in stead.

So now the lies have built upon,

A broken trust that can't go on.

You're dead to me, just lies and hate,

I no longer care to suffer this fate.

For I know the hurt will never wash away,

My lies and pain are the dirt of days.

End of Line.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flash Fiction: The Scarecrow

The crows had been thick this year, the worst case her father had ever seen. They had been wrecking havoc with the crops, picking into her fathers corn fields particularly. Her family had been farmers on this land since long before the oldest person Molly had ever known, but times had been hard over the years and her family had sold a lot of the vast acreage they had once owned. Now they were down to just the corn fields and her father couldn't afford to lose any more corn.

Molly had watched from the window in her room in the old white farmhouse as her father built the scarecrow. He had used some of Tommy's old clothes and Molly didn't think that it felt right, but her mother had told her to shush. She had watched as her dad stuffed old straw down into the faded jeans and flannel shirt of her brother. Her dad had asked her is she wanted to decorate the face of the burlap sack he was using as the head but Molly had just shook her head no, running back to her room. Her father had dawn a crude face on the sack, thick black eyes and a ripped black slit for the mouth. He'd even put one of Tommy's old work hats on it, the floppy black bill drooping in the front, shading the scarecrow's eyes. She remembered jumping in fear as her father drove in the first nail, mounting the stuffed man onto a wooden cross.

At first it wasn't so bad. She didn't look out the window if she could help it. She tried to ignore the scarecrow. She didn't tell her mom or her dad, but something about the scarecrow felt...wrong. It frightened her. At night it was worse. The moon would cast shadows that fell through her window. The black silhouette of the scarecrow would lie on top of her as she tried to bury herself deeper under the covers. The ghost of her stuffed brother lying in bed with her. Sometimes she could feel the chills even in her sleep.

The worst part of the scarecrow though wasn't even the scarecrow. It was the bird. The lone black raven that perched on the stuff man's shoulders. While his smaller brethren had been scared away, the lonely raven remained behind. She first saw the bird as it pecked away at the blackened eyes of the burlap sack, like the bird already knew that the stuffed man posed no threat. She stood in her window, feeling a shiver run down her back as the crow stopped and looked at her. She felt the bird peering at her, her palms slick with sweat, her breath caught in her throat. The raven's wings stretched wide and it cawed, a brittle shriek that burned Molly's ears. She slammed the window shut and buried herself under her blankets, not coming out until her mother called her for dinner.

She tried for days to scare the bid away, from yelling and screaming to daring to throw rocks and stones at the bird. Nothing worked though. The bird would flutter away, only to return to his perch whenever she turned back towards the house. She tried to tell her father about the bird, but it was never there when she told him. It was always gone, unless she was alone. When she was alone, the bird was always there, waiting, staring at her.

The fourth day after the scarecrow went up, the storm came. The rain and wind lashed at the house, the sounds of thunder echoing through the halls, the crackles of lightning bursting through the sky. Molly watched through her window, the rain pelting the glass, almost obscuring her vision completely. But she could still see the raven, perched on the scarecrow's shoulder. Despite the window being shut and the howls of the storm, if Molly closed her eyes she could hear the beat of the crow's wings in the rain and the cries of the bird's protests. She sat at the window until late in the night, watching as the lit candle wore itself down to a nub. Yet all through the storm, the bird never left the scarecrow.

The power had come back on by the time the sun cracked through Molly's window. Leaves and stalks of corn lay strewn about the yard but the bedraggled scarecrow was still nailed to the cross. Molly went downstairs, her father was already in the field, but her mother was asleep on the big chair in the living room. Molly slipped into her boots and gently snuck out of the front door. She walked around the yard, picking her way among the wet grasses and blown debris, walking until she could see the stuffed man.

His hat had blown away in the storm, and one of his arms hung limply at his side. He was wet and torn, like a sad doll forgotten far to long. Molly looked for the raven, absent from his perch. She climbed over the wooden slat fence and edged through the stalks until she was in the small clearing. Broken shafts of corn lay around the cross, and Molly lowered herself to her knees. She brushed them away, finally unearthing the raven beneath the broken stalks. It cawed weakly, gently nipping at her fingers. One of his wings were bent at an odd angle and his inky black feathers were slick with blood. The raven tried to beat his wings and lift himself up, but fell back to the ground, broken and bloody. The raven turned one eye to Molly, staring again like it had so often before, and Molly knew what she had to do.

All of her fear melted away as she gently lifted the bird from the muddy earth. She stretched, letting the broken bird hop onto the scarecrow's shoulders. The raven nestled in, gently cawing at Molly, his black eyes never leaving her. Molly backed away from the straw man, a small smile creeping across her face. She hopped back over the fence and ran to find her father, out in the fields.

The storm had destroyed most of the surrounding farms crops, ruining the harvests for many of their neighbors. To her dad's amazement though, their crops went mostly untouched. Her father managed to sell their harvest for a record amount, safeguarding the farm for the next few years. Every day after the storm though Molly looked for the raven, but she never saw it again. Every morning and every night she looked at the battered old scarecrow in her brother's clothes hoping to see the bird again, knowing that she didn't have anything to fear. But the bird stayed away, leaving only the now comforting shadow of her straw brother to tuck her in at night.

End of Line.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Poetry: I Saw Her Standing There

Hey all,

I wrote this poem based on some of the personal issues a friend of mine has been having. Plagued with just many sad and bitter feelings about life, love, liberty, she has been trying to deal with it all. Listening to her stories was very sad, and I extrapolated the basis from that story into this one. The specifics to me aren't as important as the meaning, the motif. Happiness cannot be bought or sold, but given by a friend or loved one. Sometimes though, we realize these things to late to help.

I like how easy it was to write this poem, it took maybe 20 0r 30 minutes, it was very fast. The rhymes seem to come very readily. Enjoy the post and again, thanks for reading.

I Saw Her Standing There

I saw her standing there,

Staring out into the rising sun,

Tears long dried upon her face,

And wondered what she'd done.

She seemed so sad and all alone,

Imprisoned in her brittle shell,

By all the things that held her down,

Trapped in her own sweet hell.

I thought that maybe I could change,

And show her how to love,

To rescue her from bitter things,

And help her rise above.

Together we could see the world,

And all that life held dear,

The colors of the day and sky,

If only I was near.

But in that far off stare,

Clouded behind her eye,

I saw the truth of the hurt,

Buried to deep for me to pry.

Her sadness poised upon her smile,

The air heavy with the pall,

A weight that clung to her soul,

So damaged from the fall.

I wanted to make her happy,

And end her hurtful pains,

But some things run so very deep,

Like a poison in her veins.

I knew that I could never be,

The man to melt the ice.

That frosty coat upon the flame,

For I was far too nice.

She'd been to hurt, bruised and bled,

Seen too many things,

For me to change her painful past,

And dull the echoed rings.

I saw her standing there,

Turning from the setting sun,

How I wished I'd acted sooner,

Before her hurt begun.

End of Line.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flash Fiction: The Book

Arthur pulled the faded book from it's perch upon the shelf, running his finger down the well worn spine. Wuthering Heights had been her favorite book. Every year at this time she had read it, nestling into the overstuffed chair by the fire, near the big bay window he had installed when they bought the house. She would sit there and read the book from beginning to end, her socked feet curled under a blanket, a cup of tea on the window seal. She would sit there and read her favorite book every Christmas Eve.

Arthur traced the worn embossed letters on the front cover, the blues and gold faded to the dullest of sheen. The binding of the book had all but worn out, but she never wanted a new copy. This copy had been given to her by her mother, and she treasured that above all else, except she had said, maybe him. He remembered when he had first seen that book. It had been Christmas Eve and she was sitting in a cafe across from the hospital where she worked. A lot of girls worked there then, all clad in their white skirts and little blue cloaks, but his eyes had been drawn to her immediately. She was alone in a booth, her feet tucked under her, reading the book and sipping a tea. There was a light snowfall fluttering in the air, and several flakes had settled in her red hair, around the small white cap. He had been drawn to her immediately.

He limped into the cafe, snaking an orchid from a fresh bouquet of flowers at the hostess station. Sitting across from her, he rested his cane on the seat and watched her, the way she sipped her tea, the way she turned each page. He sat there watching her for over an hour, so complete was her immersion in the book. The embossed lettering was more pronounced then, still bright and vibrant. He had never thought to break her reading, to interrupt her reverie, he had only realized later how captivated he had been by the mere sight of her. It was only after she looked at her watch, and sighed, that she closed the book and got out of her seat.

He looked away, taking a deep gulp of his now cold coffee, and struggled to his feet, grabbing his cane. He felt a flair in his foot, from the bullet, but he limped on, trying to get to the register at the same time as her. She was dropping her change at the counter when he walked up. He would never forget the second their eyes locked, electricity bounding between them. Arthur gave her the orchid he had stolen, and walked her back to the hospital, Annette twirling the white flower in her fingers. He had spent the rest of his leave with her, every afternoon for lunch, every evening until way past dusk, talking, sharing. He had proposed the night before he shipped out, answered by a tearful yes.

That had been nearly 60 years ago. Many things had changed since then, though in recent years he had come to use that old cane again. Cancer had taken his wife this past May, a long and painful battle that in the end had finally been to much. Nowadays he spent most of his time wandering around the house aimlessly, lost without his Annette. This was the first Christmas he would spend without her, the first time that she wouldn't read Wuthering Heights.

Arthur finally opened the book, running his fingers over the worn cover page. It was only then that he noticed a page in the back that had been marked. He flipped open to the page in question, one of the last pages of the book, and saw it. A single crushed white orchid. Marked at what might have been thelast page she had read before meeting him. He felt his throat grow hot and thick with emotion, and wiped away the building tears in his eyes. Had she saved this flower for over 60 years? He gently touched the dried and aged flowers feeling it's papery petals and missed his Annette more now than he had ever before. He closed the book softly, holding it to his chest as he looked out the great bay window in their bedroom.

A thick layer of snow had fallen the night before and earlier today their great-grandchildren had come over. He could still see their footprints echoed in the snow and the jolly old snowman they had made in the front yard. A gentle breeze rustled the scarf they had put on him but the old hat he had dug out of the closet still rested on his head. He stared out that window a long time, holding that book, until a gentle snow begin to fall against the setting sun. It was only then that he left the room, limping along with his cane.

He returned a few minutes later, a steaming cup of tea in his hand. He settled down into his wife's chair by the window and slipped off his slippers, his stocking feet tucked beneath each other. He rested the tea on the window seal beside the great chair and picked back up his wife's copy of Wuthering Heights. The snow outside continued to fall as dusk settled deeper in the distance. He held the book, realizing now, why this old copy of Wuthering Heights had meant so much to her. It wasn't just her family history, it was their family history. In truth, the first page and the last page on the storybook of their life together. Arthur opened the book and began to read, feeling for the first time since her death, a connection to the woman he loved.

End of Line.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Poetry: The Quiet Wake

Hey all,

Here is a poem that I have been working on for a few days. After the tragedy of the Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Japan though I re-worked portions of it to reflect some of what I assume some people may be going through now, dealing with loss and heartache and longing for those lost. I don't suppose it's all that uplifting but I didn't really have an uplifting poem in me after watching the tragic news coverage the past few days. I hope you find some measure of merit in the poem and I thank you for reading. I'll be back with some new Flash Fiction tomorrow.

The Quiet Wake

I had a dream in which I died,

But at my funeral no one cried.

I walked among the silent wake,

And wondered how the world could shake.

Torn from life by nature's wrath,

Whose fury cut out a path.

Storm and winds had come to head,

As the quake of Earth struck us dead.

So many taken by the raging storm,

Mine, a single life lost in form.

I looked to my father, lost in gaze,

Who said no words, his eyes a glaze.

My mother dabbed at driest eyes,

Her tears had now long since dried.

My brother sat and raged and fumed,

In remembrance of the fires that plumed.

My friend he sat, struck by thought.

Longing for the friend he sought.

But at the chair where my love did sit,

The empty space lay open, remit.

Taken too by the worldly clamor,

She now lay rest in death's own glamor.

So many lives were taken today,

As you hear the world stop and pray.

And even though many were lost,

Survivors often feel the cost.

But now I walk among my friends,

A ghostly shade here at the end,

I cast my eyes towards a burning dusk,

The rays of the afterlife shedding its husk.

I begin to think of those I leave behind,

And start to wonder what's more unkind.

To move beyond those you love,

While you await in Heaven above?

Or to long for something forever lost,

Regardless of the hurt it costs?

So as I fade into the sun,

The quiet wake falls undone.

I watch the pieces of my life,

Separate and break, their sorrows tithed.

A gathered band, unique in their loss,

As one last time our paths would cross.

End of Line.

Assorted Nuts!

Hey all,

At this point I don't even know what to say concerning my posting schedule. I've just been awful. I am going to try to be more consistent and get a coupe of posts a week this month. I've already got another post in the can and ready to be posted, so hopefully that means I'm getting back on track. Also by Monday the house should be settling back down from the stream of visitors I've had this month.

If you've never been to my blog before I post bits of Flash Fiction, or short self contained stories designed to be read in one sitting. I also do longer form serials like the one I'm about halfway through now, called Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins. It's a sequel of sorts to the first Dead Sun serial I wrote for the blog, though you don't need to read it to enjoy the current one. It's my take on a zombie Western. I also posts poetry and the occasional movie review or travel blog, though this year I really want to focus more on the poetry and stories.

To get myself back on track, and out from the epic story that Under a Dead Sun 2 is turning out to be, I went back to the well, I went back to one of my favorite genres to write, the western. Below is an homage to the one man against the odds story, with my own kind of twist on it. Last Man at Bad Water draws its inspiration from films like High Noon and True Grit, though films like The Last Hard Man and Bad Day at Black Rock certainly were influences in the title.

I should be back tomorrow with a new poem, and hopefully Sunday or Monday with more Flash Fiction. I'll also (attempt) to get back to Dead Sun.

Oh, and before I go I can very proudly say that I am super excited to show off this book, Moonstone Comic Zombies Vs Cheerleaders #3 . I's scheduled to ship soon and it includes my first published comic book story! I owe a huge deal of debt to my friend Matt Hebb for doing the pencils and especially Jason Worthington for doing inks and finishes. They, along with colorist Tracy Bailey have made one man's dream very much a reality. Check out Jason's blog here and Matt's here . Tracy site is here !

Exciting times indeed!

End of Line.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flash Fiction: Last Man at Bad Water

Flash Fiction: Last Man at Bad Water

I tasted bile and the coppery tang of blood on my tongue as I ducked into the alley by the stable. The corner of the building exploded, shattering in splinters that I felt burrow into the nape of my neck and across the shoulder of my battered duster. I could hear the cackle of Black Tom Bratton as he thumbed more shells into the breach of his scattergun. I didn't pause as I turned the corner though, but barreled hell sped down the alleyway, rounding towards the rear entrance of the stable. I threw all my weight into the door, busting the thin hinges off the frame and crashing headlong across the floor. I felt my Henry Repeater slip from my fingers as I landed hard, my left knee twisting the wrong way. I planted my left hand on the ground and forced my self to my feet, biting down as a wave of pain shot up my leg. I heard Bratton and his gang moving down the alley, making no attempt at subterfuge, and after casting a furtive glance at my Henry, I left it on the floor and limped towards the nearest stall.

The few short steps sent a wave of nauseous pain up my body, made me think my damn knee may have been broken, but in light of the current situation pain was the least of my worries. If I didn't do something quick, Bratton's boys would finish what they started at the Bank in Conception. Sheriff Marsh had taken two deputies and myself after the gang, and we ran them down here in Bad Water. Or so we thought. It seems Bratton knew we were coming, having bought off one of Marsh's deputies. The Sheriff had been pretty quick, and between him and his other deputy, they had killed 3 of Bratton's boys, though for me, that still left three of the motherless bastards, including Victor Lagen, Marsh's former deputy.

I pulled up behind the first stall and pulled out my pistol, an old Schofield Revolver that my father had purchased new once. The gun had seen a lot of action over the years, mostly by my father, but lately, it had come to know my hand as well. I softly clicked back the hammer and waited, peering one eye around the corner. The stable was dark, illuminated only by the doorway I'd bashed open. I kept the pistol close, not allowing the sliver of moonlight to catch a gleam on the old pistol. I could feel the warm trickles of blood from the splintered wood in my neck and the thick salty beads of sweat run down my brow, my entire body tensing for the next moment. I forced the throbbing in my knee down and swallowed another bout of coppery bile, as I let out one last long breath, finding that single moment of calm that comes just before you kill a man.

I saw the first silhouette fill the door and creep in. It wasn't Lagen or Bratton, the shadow cast by the long rifle he had in his hand marked him as the third man. I snugged closer to the wall as he bent down, looking at the Henry I had left on the ground. He left the rifle there and crept closer to my hiding spot. I could practically see the fear in his eyes, undoubtedly compelled by Bratton to follow me in here. I knew as soon as I struck, Lagen or he would be in the doorway to pepper wherever I was. I had to react fast, and hope that my knee could hold up just a bit longer.

I waited until he was nearly on top of me before spurring from the corner and grabbing him. My free hand shot to the stock of the rifle, forcing his first instinctive shot high. I used the hand with the pistol to wrap around his neck, resting the inner part of my elbow into the nape of his neck and forcing his body around. After the first shot I drove the rifle butt into his stomach, but he pushed back and I didn't get enough leverage, especially with the pain radiating from my knee. The blow did allow me enough time to bring the rest of my body around in a three quarter turn though, forcing his body in front of me. It was just in time too as Lagen burst through the entrance, his thin figure a black shadow against the door. I saw the glint of his pistol through the shadows and braced my arm hard against Bratton's thug. Lagen didn't hesitate as he fired, hammering the pistol back and again. I felt the first two bullets hit Bratton's goon and heard his cry of pain.

Using him as a shield, I reached down with my free hand and pulled the revolver loose that he'd kept tucked into the front of his waistband. I pulled it free as I felt the furrow of hot lead crease against my cheek. My thumb felt the cold steel of the hammer and my finger the welcome caress of the trigger and I returned fire. My first shot went wide, punching a hole in the thin wood of the stable wall overhead but my second and third shot found home. The first shot burying into Lagen's gut while the second shattered his kneecap. Lagen fell, but not before getting off another shot, a lucky burst that burned a hot hole into the meat of my shoulder. My left side was on fire as I dropped Bratton's man. I watched Lagen stumble to the ground, his right leg sticking out at an un-natural angle. I dropped my borrowed gun and used that hand to grab the wall of the stable and shuffled backward into the darkness.

I fell over a short wall, separating the entrance area of the stable and the individual pens and pulled myself along it. I could feel the hot trail of blood run down my cheek and shoulder as I gritted my teeth, forcing the pain down again. There'd be time enough for that if I lived. And right now, that was one hell of an if.

I heard Bratton laugh as he walked through the rear door of the stable. I clung close to the short wall, trying to keep my sounds of movement to a minimum. The man I'd used as a shield had started sobbing, begging Bratton to help him, to fetch a doctor. I listened for the click of the scattergun and didn't have to imagine what happened next. The shot sounded as I reached the edge of the wall and rolled myself into the small space the farrier used as an office. The only furniture was a scarred and scratched desk and a chair, both of which were more kindling than much else. Still I used the corner of the desk to pull myself to my feet and leaned my back against the wall, a fresh wave of pain shooting through my shoulder. The pain wasn't the worst part though, was Bratton's continued god damn laughing.

"William...William... Billy me boy. I know you're still out there, hiding in the dark from ol' Black Tom. Why don't you come out and we can finish this like men ought to eh? I'd hate to have to shoot you in the back. Though I gotta be honest with you..... and I've always been honest with you, I'd hate NOT shooting you even more."

He laughed again and I heard him load a fresh cartridge in the scattergun. He was to damn fast for me to try to take head on, even if my shoulder and leg weren't a busted up mess. I kept myself to the wall, listening for sounds of him moving closer, though all I could hear was his damnable soft chuckling.

"You're gonna make me do this the hard way are you Billy? You always were a stubborn little bastard. But hey, I always told you if one day you wanted to be the hero, that would mean facing down some bad men. Yeah, and you may have killed some men before, bad men even, but trust me... little brother... ain't no man badder than me."

I heard him move out again, away from me. I risked a glance around the corner, trusting the distance to be to great for any kind of an accurate shot with that scattergun, and saw Tom Bratton lift a stubby cigar to his mouth, striking a match along the barrel of his gun. I saw the red embers catch fire and watched his chest expand as he took a deep drag. His eyes shown, like black oil catching a spark, as he exhaled the smoke from his lungs in a long curl. He laughed again, not the manic cackle he normally used, but an almost soft laugh of genuine amusement. He stood in the doorway, his bulky frame filling it, the slow light of the cigar cast against the moonlight.

"Billy, it's about damn time we ended this. Your men are dead, my men are dead, why don't we finally figure out which one of us is the good guy. You take your time, I'll be waiting."

He walked out the door, leaving me alone in the darkened stable. I leaned my head against the wall and let out a long ragged breath, before stumbling over to the rickety chair in the office. I eased into it, my leg and shoulder protesting in waves of pain. I gingerly shrugged off the battered duster, throwing it across the desk. Lightly, I prodded the bloody hole in my shoulder and counted myself lucky that the bullet had passed straight through. Still, I used a part of my shirt sleeve and a bottle of whiskey I found in the desk drawer to clean and wrap the wound as best as I could. Hell, it only had to last a little while more anyway and then it wouldn't matter, one way or another. The wound on my cheek and the splinters along the base of my neck were fairly superficial and I cleaned those as well, dousing a bandanna with the whiskey; though not before taking a hearty slug myself.

As I cleaned my wounds, I thought to what he had said. One of us had to be the good guy. Growing up, our father had told us stories of fighting the Rebels at Bull Run, or hunting Indians with the cavalry after the war. We'd been young then, but Dad told us the gory details of war. Of what it meant to kill a man. I'd always kind of been scared to hear what Pa had done, but Tom.. well Tom loved those stories. Whenever we had played as children, I was always the Indian. Or always the Confederate. Tom was always the good guy.

When Tom got kicked outta the cavalry, it was inevitable that his cruelty and mean streak would have led him down this path. Even though I had tried to live a good life, working the farm that Pa had left, Tom's life always spilled over into mine. First, the death of my son, then, the death of my wife, both because Black Tom Bratton didn't like not having things he couldn't have. Tom had claimed that his son's death had been an accident in the woods, but there was no mistaking what he'd done to his Adeline. It had been six years since my son was killed, Caleb would have been almost 14 by now, nearly a man grown, but Tom had ended all that. I wasn't proud of the things I'd done to get here, but I'd be damned if this is how I'd let things end.

There wasn't much to be done about the knee, so I cut the duster into several strips and wrapped it as tight as I could. It hurt like hell, but at least I could put a little weight on it. I checked the load in my Schofield and started for the door, the front door this time. I limped out into the main street of Bad Water. It was a pitiful little town, mostly built around a copper mine that had dried up several years ago. A few stores and a saloon filled out the rest of the main street, but few people called this shitbox home anymore. I didn't have to look far to see my brother. He was leaning against a hitching post, smoking the nub of that cigar, the sawed down scattergun resting on his hip. The old bastard hated doing anything small, rifles and pistols were too small, to pretty he'd once said. He liked what that old scattergun did to people. He liked the look in their eyes when he killed a man. He cast the cigar to the side and made his way to the center of the street.

"Well, well little brother. You got more stones than I gave you credit for. I was sure I'd have to drag your sorry ass outta that stable. You've been a burr in my ass for too god damn long and frankly, I wanna send your sorry ass to hell the same way I did your wife."

"Tom, I don't give a shit what you have to say. One way or another, one of us is gonna be the last man here. This ends."

My finger eased over the pistol, index finger dancing along the tip of the trigger guard. Tom didn't even move, like cold stone, some kind of damn statue, grinning that fucking grin at me. We never broke eye contact, me looking into that liquid blackness. It's a helluva thing to kill a man, let alone kill your own brother. I forced the throbbing in my leg and shoulder, the roar in my mind, all down, burying those feelings somewhere deep; beyond my thoughts. I let out that final long breath, drawing on that calm one more time, just one more time, and flashed for my gun.

The sound of thunder filled my ears and shots fired. I felt my chest grow hot and wet as black edges crept around my vision. I remember falling, my hand clutching a pistol still smoking, my bullet, to slow. I hit the ground but by then I didn't feel it, even my leg and my shoulder felt numb. I saw my brother standing over me, both barrels of that scattergun smoking, and lean down to whisper to me, in that fucking chuckle of a whisper.

"I guess we know who the good guy was at last little brother."

I vaguely remember him loading another shell into the gun as a bright light filled the sky above me. I thought I saw my wife, my sweet Adeline, before the twin barrels of the moon thundered one last time.

End of Line.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Poetry: Valentine's Day

Hey all,

It's been quite a while since I blogged, and really I have no valid excuse. Ever since I moved I just haven't found the motivation. I did sit down today and start to wok on a poem and it came pretty easy. I am hoping that I can use this success to site, my writing back into some meager semblance of shape.

Below is a Valentine's Day poem, something of lost love and heartache. It's hard being alone on this day, it's usually a day where I find myself kind of sad and introverted. I tried to foster some of these feelings into the poem. Enjoy the poem as you will. I'll try to police myself better to offer more output in the coming days.

Valentine's Day

Time has turned, the future past.

Today won't stay, never last.

The breaking dawn will turn to dusk,

As the horizon sheds its rotting husk.

The change occurs, it cannot stay,

As all tommorrows become yesterdays.

Looking at all the time left behind,

The past seems longer and more unkind.

Places you've been are but a thought,

Where you're going, you've never sought.

Future days seem shorter then,

As the known outweighs the unbegan.

And when you look into the rear,

All you see are dashed hope and fear.

The failures seem to weigh much more,

As the triumphs feel but tender sores.

Your hindsight seems to capitalize,

On all the things you thought you'd try.

And as you hope to change your fate,

The times not left, you're out of dates.

Flowers crushed, bound in book,

A withered love that time has took.

Crumpled poems tossed to flame,

The burning love snubbed by blame.

Pictures taken of love brand new,

Now yellow and faded, cast astrew.

Another Valentine's Day has come around,

But here we wait, our love aground.

End of Time.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Hey all,

This past month has been one of marked changes for me. Moving from my house, which I could no longer afford, to a one bedroom aprtment (which I think I actually prefer)combined with accepting a new postion at work at a new high volume restaurant, I have honestly never felt more under pressure than this. The enormity of the month has just been stifling. Add in Christmas and New Years and a much welcomed visit from my Dad, I feel like today is teh first time in a long time I have had to collect my thoughts.

As often, I thought about how alone I have felt this past month, not having someone to share my frustrations with, and worse yet, boxing up these feelings and not expressing them. I even turned away from my blog, turned away from the only form of expression I have often felt I have had left. This year I have one simple goal, one resolution to hold myself too. Change. I want to change how I feel about myself, how I feel about my accomplishments, and how I fit into the world around me. Change doesn't necessarily mean giving up things, and this blog is certainly something i don't want to give up on. I am going to change what I think about on this blog, taking it away from movies and popular culture moments, and focus more on my actual writing. I want to write about things I am passionate about. And while that may mean old school movie reviews or blogging about my travels, I don't want to confine myself to a certain output a month. I will make one promise. I will finish Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins this year. We are about halfway through the story at this point, and I will be posting a summary chapter this week before diving back into the narrative.

2011 lays ahead of me in a endless path of possibility, I need but take the first step of a greater journey. I greet the future today, my eyes to the rising sun, the cold breeze of dusk at my back, the bold unknown lying ahead.

End of Line.