Saturday, December 15, 2012

"My World", Bob said, "Not Thurber's, and Welcome To It"

Bob was somewhere in a dream, moving, no — driving, in a car, somehow having just come down from some great height with a jolt yet surprisingly still intact, sort of, and into a landscape — no a road, no not a road — sand and dunes, others all racing around him, and

Little Head-Bob awoke.  Something felt, no — something WAS wrong. He couldn’t focus his eyes. There was something, sand perhaps, in the wind—in a wind that was blowing into his eyes and — there was no wind.  Maybe not even his eyes, but still, something was not right. Something was wrong. The young owl could not get his eyes to focus, his. . . smell wasn’t working, the leaves of the tree, his tree, an ancient black oak, a black jack, they wouldn’t come right. They just weren’t right.
Something seemed to strike him in the head — on the inside of his head. He tilted his head, and tilted it some more and one of his feet, he couldn’t tell which one, let go of the branch. It lifted of its own accord. He couldn’t make it come back down, couldn’t make his strong talons grip again the branch. He listed farther to one side, the leg kept lifting. In a panic he shook and fell, down and down and, so fast the ground came up, he knew he was dying and

Bob woke, something felt, no — something WAS — wrong. He couldn’t get his mind to focus. Someone was talking, he could hear words, coming across the room — he was in a room, and he could hear her speaking. He knew he should be able to understand the sounds she was making. . . words. She was speaking words. He could tell. And she was upset. He knew this, but still he could not make the words come into focus.
Reality was. . . not right. Time was moving wrong. It wasn’t moving backwards, but wasn’t flowing right, either. It was like sitting in a meadow, when the warm spring breeze that was drifting from behind was suddenly a stiff wind in your face, full of sand. And screwing your eyes shut tight, you suddenly couldn’t tell where you were and


It wasn’t that time, that reality, was moving backwards, it was more like reality was a cat. Reality was a cat being petted, but the wrong way, against the lay of its fur, and the woman, she was upset. She was speaking, weeping, and he could not understand her words and. . . 

He was walking, outside. He had just passed one of Claire’s vineyards, was coming up on Maeve’s orchard, he could smell the peaches, ripe and almost overripe. The thing was there again, just over his shoulder, his. . . left shoulder, he could feel it there, keeping pace with him, not pouncing, but just, almost, ready to.  He was alone. No, I — I was alone. I am alone. Where am I? What day is this? 

 “Friday,” the thing, keeping pace with me, just over my left shoulder, says.


Bob blinked. Something had just happened. He wasn’t sure what. He couldn’t get a bead on where he was, when he was. Time, it wasn’t moving backward, exactly. It was more that time, that reality, was a stream flowing around him, and he was spinning out of control, moving, no the stream, the river of time, it was moving, at break-neck speed, and Bob was staying in one place, but spinning. 

“It’s all right,” she said, there, just over his left shoulder.

He was walking past Maeve’s Orchard, coming up on one of Claire’s vineyards. There, sitting on a branch in one of the peach trees, no – in a black jack tree, a young owl blinked, was looking at him and… just fell off its branch.


This piece originally appeared on

Sunday, November 25, 2012

One Tuesday On the Farm – True Story 

(Well, Maybe) by John Ross Barnes

As Bob drank his coffee with only the stove light on he wondered why he was even sitting there in the kitchen at four in the morning, but something had made him get up. Perhaps he was just excited to be on spring break, his last before graduating high school, and not a moment too soon for him.

Through the screen door the usual chirping of crickets was loud in the dark so he noticed when they just stopped, all at once. It was like something had flipped a switch. A little shiver ran down his spine and he started to wonder what that was about, but there were chickens to tend, eggs to collect, and before that the dogs to feed and turn out for the day.

Out the back door, across the walk, to the old canning shed. Something, just there, dashing into the english ivy, small thrashings through, making a B-line towards the creek below. What would move like that? Not a rabbit—too loud, too big. Not a cat—wouldn’t be staying under the tight vines that way. Whatever it was, now silent, had gone to ground and waited to see if Bob was coming after it.

It wasn’t the first time Bob couldn’t figure out what an animal was by its stirrings. Still, this felt. . . different. “Never get between a bear and its cub,” he said to himself. He wondered why—certainly no bears in South East Kansas.

Carrying the two big old coffee cans of dry food balanced in his left hand, he curled the five gallon water bucket up with his right to where he could lock his elbow. Halfway through the sprawling back yard, he stopped, set the bucket down (same place as always), carefully switched the dog food to his right hand (without spilling it), and picked up the bucket with his left. When his elbow started to hurt, he grunted slightly and gritted his teeth. It was still easier to walk carrying it this way than it would have been to hold it down at arm’s length, swinging and sloshing all the way.

It was then he realized the dogs weren’t doing their normal good morning yelping and prancing. They were standing inside the fence, shoulders hunched and heads held forward as though at point. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Something was wrong here, something that drew the dogs attention—something that held them, barely in check, staring at—no through—Bob, to a point somewhere behind him.

He kept walking, not wanting to stop and upset his arm loads like a goofy kid, and more, not wanting to look behind. “Whatever you do,” he thought, “don’t look.” Twenty feet to the door of the dogs’ shed, he knew he had to get in. Fifteen feet, now ten, five, he didn’t care that the water bucket splashed all over him. He almost threw it down, reaching for the door, swinging it open. The dogs, now growling, burst out and past him at full speed. As soon as they cleared the doorway, he dove through it, into the shed, and slammed himself in. He threw the bolt fast and crouched down, his back against the door, his eyes scrunched tight, grimacing.

He could feel through his insides, the charging of the two big labs, practically roaring as they went, the sound pushing out of them hard with each stride they made. Little bits of dirt and sod ripped up by their claws pelted the door of the shed as they tore back the way he had just come

Bob realized his ribs hurt where he still clutched the big cans, too hard against his side, forgotten just as he had forgotten to breathe. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale, inhale. He set the cans down. Still crouched there, shaking, he could hear the dogs fighting now, fighting with something big.  A bark, a yelp, another, more angry than hurt, and then charging off again.

He finally rose and looked out the wire mesh window. He could barely see them, going faster than he’d ever seen them go. Whatever they were after was faster still, out of sight, in the dark, over the bank and splashing now, loud as a horse, down the creek and under the bridge—sounds echoing off the cement and then gone.

He started to open the door to go after them and then right away thought “To Hell with THAT.” Whatever it was, the block-head twins were way more capable of handling it than he. Fifteen minutes passed, twenty minutes, however much longer it was, before he got up the nerve to venture out. He left the door to the shed open as he went, something he never did.

Three hours later the retrievers came back, panting heavily and bounding to him as though they hadn’t seen him in years. They knocked him down in their haste. He didn’t mind the being licked all over the face until he noticed the blood on their muzzles. Not theirs he saw with relief, but then he was hit by the smell. What the Hell was that smell?! Like a skunk, but not. Like an old snapping turtle he recalled, fresh drug from the bottom of the neighbor’s pond, reeking of things half rotted, found and eaten there. . . but not. It was like nothing he could name, and nothing he realized, that he wanted to.

Later in the day the “boys” each got a bath. Big haunches barely fitting in the old galvanized tub, and rinsed down with the hose in the yard. They were always happy for any excuse to get wet. Yet they would stop, cast furtive glances over coal black shoulders towards the creek, nearly inaudible growls deep in their throats.

That night, behind locks checked and checked again, Bob slept, but not well. He left on the big mercury light next to the twins’ pen. It was shining through his bedroom window, but it didn’t give much peace of mind.

Little Head-Bob woke with a start. There was something moving, snuffling around the bottom of the young owl’s tree. It was something big, much bigger even than the coyotes or the calves they sat and watched so keenly in the twilight. Something there insatiably hungry and more, possessed of a terrible, vicious need to kill. It carried a smell of death unlike anything he had known. His brothers and sisters in the nest hole shook and ruffled their feathers as though cold, even though the spring night was warm. They all waited. They all listened. Neither he nor any of those owls hunted that night.

Even the biggest Great Horned Owls didn’t cross some things.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday morning with Aaron, Legos and a Death Song

You can just see the wheels turning. Sometimes, Big Wheels.

This morning Aaron and I built some things with Legos. He is good at Lego's. I know, a pretty much international symbol, right up there with the jigsaw puzzle piece, of the High-functioning ASD aspects of him. But he is good at Lego's. And puzzles, and seeing how physical things work, and recognizing subtle patterns in occurrences or systems, and get the idea.

I started building a square based white structure, a library I thought. He came over and started telling me about how we should make it a block, like the ones in Minecraft. I didn't know he had ever seen Minecraft, which I hadn't. X-Box at a friend's house. Of course.

I was struck then by that glimmer of the amount of stuff he has picked up this summer spending time with neighborhood friends. He is starting to have more things in common with the other kids near his age. Starting to be more accepted among a few school/neighborhood kids. I hope that lasts.

This is a big deal, considering his often general clueless-ness regarding a few key aspects of social interactions. Some of his friends seem to have learned over the last few years of on again, off again friendships with him that at certain times he's going to be some way that doesn't get it with them. Someway they don't understand. Boundaries and a frequently weak ability to empathize or care about what others want or don't want are blind-spots for him. That and the meltdowns that happen now and then.

We are building the Minecraft block. It is going to be all kinds of colors now that we ran out of white. We're doing it in even levels of different colors as much as we can. 

We were taking a break from it when he started keening a fairly high pitched sliding note over and over. Repetition of words, phrases, or tones is another one of his things. It's like auditory stimming.

I asked where that sound came from and he said it was a song about somebody who died. 

Um, OK. 

When your eight year old boy starts making up an Indian sounding Death Song out of the blue -  you kinda perk up your ears at full attention, dontcha?

"Oh, what does that come from?" I asked. "WelllllllL", he said, "There was this writer named Dr. Seuss, and he was my most-most favorite best writer, and he was really great, and he died - so this is my song about him dieing". 


It was one of THOSE moments. One where both his mom and I Flashed Big, little Ping!s going off in our brains. This was to be noted, thought about, filed away in it's own little brain crease, and probably recalled many years from now. 

I guess this post is to make sure of that. Slick, how that works, innit? #amwriting, Ya gotta love it.

Just the way he said it, matter of factly with no particular negative emotions displayed, as though singing a very primal sounding Death Song to his favorite author was just obviously a thing to do, that was a *thing*.

And Presto! He has tapped into a tradition of humans to sing the Death Song in tribute to their honored dead for what, thousands upon thousands of years?  

Living with this sometimes subtly, sometimes spectacularly different young fellow is like that. 

Just like that.


Music this am - not necessarily directly related to the post - 
Zoe Keating, one of my favorite Avant Cellists, plays ESCAPE ARTIST 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Little Things and Connections

You feel like there's a very tiny spider, very gently, exploratorily, thrumming just five hairs on the back edge of your hand there on the mouse. You check. No spider. But for just an instant, before your eye is completely on the suspected area of space, you see it there, in all it's miniature shining predatory splendor.

In some interpretations of string theory physics there comes the hypothesis that yes, there are infinitely possible dimensions or universes out there, including one in which the spider is now really there. Seriously.

And now that it's out there, and surely others have had that feeling, if one of us wrote "like that tiniest of spiders you think you feel touching five hairs on the edge of your hand there on the mouse..." some readers would get it. Immediately. Others might have to imagine it for the first time and would then have a similar feeling as the memory and connection kicks in. Some never will. Can't speak to everybody.

Don't know that one? Okay, I got more. I can do this all day.


The humming bird feeder.
Yes, probably that hummingbird feeder, the one hanging in your back yard. @karlaArcher posted some photos of a multi-camera setup they made to shoot their hummingbird feeder. Besides the fact that I heavily and shamelessly covet those cameras and that mounting system, right there in the middle of the photo, in front of "God and Everybody," was my bird-feeder

I've known Karla and @RandyArcher online for a couple of years now. We already had a pretty solid connection when I saw that posting.

Still, seeing that bird feeder brought a certain little "ping" moment of recognition of a real thing, common to me and them three thousand miles and whatever differences apart. It made it noticeably more familiar feeling, and I was eager for whatever came next.

Yes, in the end it will be the big connections that will make or break the story, but the little connections will help make ready the mind to tumble to the big connections, the big points perhaps, of what the story means.

There are a couple of things about this to note.

Quality of the connecting thing, observation, or insight---it matters.  
Connection: "He had that disconcerting  feeling you might get when you're picking your nose and realize you have a sharp nail."

Observation: "My God, you're a  Mess! Not only are you picking your nose but you've obviously got a bad manicure as well."

Insight: If you make a connection with that kind of observation, it's probably not going to get the reaction you were going for. Whatever that was. I mean, really...

Brevity.  Keep it short as so very many have said before. If it gets too involved, as many of mine tend to, left un-wrangled, then you will lose many people before you get the connection. That would be counter-productive, kinda like over-promoting your work to the spammy over-saturation level. The awkward moment when you realize that the other people in the room are listening to you talk about your new object of desire and looking at you like you're a stalker - which you're not, but people look at you that way with seemingly little or no provocation, just because you look, well, kinda Crazy sometimes. You know, that feeling? Oh. Yeah, me neither.

Don't push it. It's probably better if we don't announce to everyone what we're doing by shouting "Hey! You know that feeling? I wanna remind you of it so you'll feel just a little more connected to the character or situation, ok?"  Just better showmanship not to, innit? That also means I have to be careful about how often I throw those little connectors into the story. Sometimes, some of the best ones just seem to be integral to the scene, like they appeared fully formed within it. Those are the ones to keep.

Extra points - If you can make a unique and original observation or insight that is absolutely recognizable to many. Oh, and it's one that many have never consciously put to words, never defined in their own minds before and... ooh-ooh! And it's a ready-made analog to one of your themes or plot questions! Not as easy as it sounds.

Just some of what I've been thinking about small connecters in writing. 

Any favorite authors who you might've caught doing that? Any tricks you use to remember those kinds of moments or observations for later?

From Martin Scorcese's The Last Waltz - Joni Mitchell w/ The Band - "Coyote" 

In this song Joni makes it so you recognize the little observation vignettes she describes even if you've never had that

Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Things Endure - #FridayFlash story...

He had made it onto the Max train to go home again, carefully bringing his prize as he got on. He even got to have a seat, given up to him by a nice young woman on her way home from the Montessori school down by the river. They had talked on the train once before and she smiled now as she beckoned him to sit, even though she herself bore a large, heavy framed picture in her arms. He smiled back and thanked her in french, noting a few stares from the other passengers. 

Some were irritated at the extra space a large stained glass lamp and shade would take on the packed train. Others were amused that his combined load seemed half as large as he himself. Few grown adults existed now with a stature of only four-foot three since mandatory prenatal screening for "unfortunate abnormalities" started those many years ago. And then there was his age. Even with all the med-tech advances he would be considered very old, and not having had the common cosmetic treatments, he looked every bit of his age.

He couldn't blame them of course, people watching was an habitual pastime of his too, not being otherwise engaged by some sort of net gear as were most of them. He knew he was very fortunate, able to still be doing his work making and selling calligraphy and paintings down in his booth at Saturday Market. He was fortunate also to be allowed to maintain his own apartment while so many old people were warehoused, kept sedated and plugged into the net, out of sight and out of everyone else's minds. "Revered Artisan" status got him the apartment, basic necessities, and occasionally a free americano at Irah's Coffee Lounge, where the folk singers still played on Friday nights.

Mid winter in Portland might often seem bleak, damp, and relentlessly gray, but at least it was not so deadly freezing cold as it had been back in his home land. He wasn't even sure what they called that place now, so many changes of borders and titles had come and gone in the last handful of decades. This evening there was as usual a steady drizzle and the temperature was about thirty-four degrees. He could live with that. He could live, he had learned, with most things.

He watched as the train stops came and went. First was the old Goose Hollow platform, just down from the Suicide Bridge. He had almost been hit by a falling politician there once many years ago during the Corporate Rule turmoils. He cringed and sighed inwardly, recalling the unfortunate mess and the bad dreams he had for years, as though it had somehow been his fault, old as he was even then.

A couple of miles west was the Washington Park - Oregon Zoo station. He liked the educational pictographs of animals, some strange and mythical, some still to be found at the zoo. There was rarely anyone getting on or off there this time of evening.
Rolling out of there as the drizzle turned to snowflakes the size of  quarters it was all he could do not to smirk, thinking of his prize and sitting there comfortably instead of being forced to stand and sway, hoping for a spot at a grab rail. 

He wanted to dance with glee but there was definitely no room to be doing a Gene Kelley on the Blue Line. He thought that might have been a fitting reaction to the coup he counted in the deal he had made at the lamp store.  Two thousand new dollars for a vintage Tiffany Dragonfly Limited was very nearly criminal he knew.  But still, one didn't make those kind of dancing, cavorting displays on a mid winter's evening commuter train, not even in Portland. Especially one didn't if one had managed to attain the ripe old age of one hundred and twenty-nine.

Another nice young woman pushed the open doors button a couple of extra times for him as he unloaded himself and his cargo, though there were grumblings from within the train.  He retrieved his hemp net from a pocket of his oiled Gabriel Hounds parka and carefully placed the heavy lamp within it, hung it over his back and began his walk across the  parking lot to the apartment he had shared with Ava for ninety-five years. Of course the last thirty she had been a ghost.

He knew she would love the lamp, so like the one she had used to light her famous scrapbooks all those years ago.
Ava greeted him as always just inside his door, tilting her head that way she did, smiling silently. He took the lamp in and gently set it up on the stand between their two chairs, fitted the dragonfly shade, plugged it in, and turned it on.  He looked at Ava, did a quick little hop-step, bowed, and gestured at the lamp like a game show spokes-model. She giggled and clapped her hands soundlessly like a little girl.

As he sat down he pulled the old leather portfolio from beside his chair and opened it up, not to his own work, but to a half-dozen signed Disney animation cells, collected over a lifetime, and drew them out. Mickey, Donald, Minnie, Pluto. Goofy was, well, just too goofy.

"Remember when we got this one, Honey? It was while we were at the symposium in '99. That was a fine trip". In her chair on the other side of the lamp she smiled at him, transparent in the light,  and nodded, her scrapbook turned to that very page in her lap. It was good to be home.

Suzanne Vega - BOUND

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday @SuzyV

Suzanne Vega's Birthday is today I hear.

 I have been a fan of her music for a long time. She has a great New York-Paris-folk music-with-a-jazz-twist kind of sound I find irresistible. 

And of course since it's her birthday I find it only fitting, if a bit cliche', that I link this video of hers: Birthday

And since I think we should get a  present on her birthday lets add this: Caramel

OK, just one more...with a twist - this is Blood Makes Noise , set to images by Red Riding, of Deviant Art:

Happy Birthday, Miss Vega!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Max train, mid winter, six pm

Tiny and bent old man, riding the Max train home
Yankees ball cap, frayed at the brim
Dark honey-toned skin,
deeply lined
A new lamp, sans shade, in his lap

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday - Haiku, Do you?

In the House of  Doors
we wait, the train passes by
Old shadows, what was is

#Haiku, #Senryu, #Haiga

Friday, June 29, 2012

80 years of Kit Cat clocks

Remember the Kit Cat clock?
Those searching eyes
The hypnotic tail that never stops
Spawned by the Allied Clock Company,
in Portland, Oregon, Nineteen Thirty Two 

I  don't remember where or when I first saw these, but I do remember there being one in a barbershop where I got my hair cut as a small boy. 

If we're playing "Kitch, Krap, or Klassic"  I'd come down as Klassic Kitch. 

This year marks the eightieth anniversary of the timepieces. 

Still Manufactured in America on the western end of Route 66, by the California Clock Company, they remain as much a reminder of a cheery outlook as always.

You can still order one in a number of fetching colors, as well as parts, shirts, greeting cards, beach towels, etc. or read more about the history and culture of Kit Cat Clocks at the official company web site here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Divinest Sense

So, I was reading some Emily Dickinson today - Hey, stop laughing, I can read Emily if I wanna...

Anyhow, I came across the following, which I like immensely. For one thing it resonates for me just as it stands, and for another I find it somewhat comforting to know that Emily entertained such thoughts. 

The book I was reading from has it listed as "XL" in the series on life. I have no idea what, if any, other titles it has:

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'T is the majority
in this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, - and you're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain. - Emily Dickinson

Monday, June 11, 2012

Down at Irah's, Down at Goose Hollow

"She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, and I loved her that she did pity them.” He read back what he had typed - “Wait,  Billy already wrote that, didn't he ..." *

And then "Over the mountains of the Moon, down the valley of the shadow - ride, boldly ride, the shade replied, if you seek for Eldorado. “ Back-spaces rapid-fire through the entire first line - “No, no - Eddy wrote that one” he thought. **

Since they had made conversant past time visitation possible he had talked to so many of the old writers, poets, thinkers, and fools of his kind that the line between his thoughts, his writings, rantings, and revelations, sometimes blurred with those of the past others. Still, he did enjoy the visits greatly more often than not.

Einstein was a hoot, especially after a few shots of schnapps, always a sideways twist to make you look at something again with that one.

Machiavelli, not surprisingly, Ben thought was an ass.

They said it was possibly a side effect of the Sb-5 he had been dosed with at the indian clinic that made him susceptible to the visions. His participation in the trials of the new formula paid for his therapy and a few others. It was part of a government Earned Funding deal the clinic was forced into back in '25.

From his regular overstuffed chair at Irah's coffee house just across from the Goose Hollow rail he watched the college kids in their current fashion gear, ear buds in, eyes trained on mobile screens. Bright shiny young things, some of them destined to change the world yet again “in myriad ways, both subtle and gross.” Ben thought.  

Since he had fallen below the income requirement to own a car he spent more time at places like Irah's waiting for trains, or nursing endless cups of the house blend and cruising social media on the house wi-fi with his beat up old Maruishi locked into one of the hanging racks outside.

He would sit and watch all the people, all the things, just watch, and listen. The layers and threads of connections, the nodes in the data between the thousand-thousand things, would start coming to him latter.  Sometimes they came in his dreams, flying through the tangled dream-time oak branches on silent owl wings.  Sometimes he saw them in the abstract patterns that he had first learned from the Sb-5 years before.

Drinking his first Double-Dark Chocolate Ethiopian Drip, almond milk, no foam, triple raw sugar of the day he gazed out the window and across Jefferson Avenue at the roundabout.  In its center was an old, old, Mound Stellar built up of rough boulders to about two meters high.  On the top of the mound, flat tops of the odd boulders angled up to the southwest sky, individual stones stood in a rough circle, perhaps five or six yards across.  

No one ever seemed pay much attention to it or go up on top of it though there was nothing preventing it. Nothing of course except the odd "You're not supposed to be here" feeling that most people who might have done got when they reached a certain proximity.  Most of those people forgot both the feeling and the mound as soon as they walked away from it.

Ben did not forget, because along with that feeling he also got something else. It was like a silent disclaimer, an "unless" clause to the warning vibration. There was something that appealed to his non-conformist nature there,  something that appealed to the old ones.

Sipping his coffee there he watched as the light on the mound slanted towards that "photographers best" side light. He could have sworn he saw a shimmering there. There was something different, something else there on top besides the expected few small trees and shrubs, besides the sparse tufts of grass growing from between the rocks, besides anything that he recalled a name for.

It could have just been that he was tired. Beyond tired.

This fatigue existed in him in spite of all the advances in technology, or the progress towards a “more orderly and sustainable society". His Dr claimed it was largely neurological, a genetic fault of his, a misfiring of synapses aggravating wildly unbalanced dispersal and uptake of serotonin and dopamine in his brain.

He had hoped to speak with someone more astute, one of the philosophers or mental health people of not too distant history maybe, but then the technology had abruptly broken down, catastrophically, according to all the government and industry spokespersons. 

Ben felt himself no longer capable of discerning truth from fiction, propaganda (a banned word) from information. He did know that when conversant past time visitation had come into being there was a general  lack of consensus regarding exactly how that actually worked.***

It was almost time for him to board the Blue Line to Hillsboro. He had the barista top off his go cup, picked up his Gabriel Hounds daypack and headed out the door. He went the longer way towards the stone mound. 

Even though he had felt the "Go Away" buzz before, it still came as something of a minor shock to his system and he stumbled just a bit, one of those odd little two-step glitches, but retained his vertical attitude. The closer he got to the edge of the mound the more the buzz manifested itself as a multiple electro-magnetic waveform, capable of simultaneously overpowering in both the utra and sub-sonic ranges. His skin tingled, the hairs on the back of his neck stood at full "Danger, Will Robinson!" attention. At the same time he felt a massive presence, a tangible weight upon his shoulders, as well as a rumbling deep in his bones that told him something big was right in front of him, something huge, something that appeared to be moving towards in slow motion, even as it moved at speeds beyond any attempt to describe or define. It was coming. It was here. Just like that.

He paused and in his peripheral vision he could just see the Methodist church across the street, shimmering wildly, as though seen through heat waves on a Mojave Desert summer day.

He stepped forward again. He heard the customary tinnitus ring in his head take on a new, more energetic vibrato, and again he paused.  He almost expected to be struck dead or at least deaf and blind as he stepped forward again, that one last step, to place his shaking hand on the stone.  Everything stopped.  Every.  Thing.

No sound, no movement of traffic or pedestrians, or anything at all, stirred up close to the roundabout. There was not even the ringing in his ears, utter silence and total stillness was all around him.

He remembered to breath. He climbed up on top of the mound. He looked around.  Loosely spaced around the top of Tsik'to'li Unelanvhi, the eye of God, were rough upright stones, a meter or two tall each.  Ben stepped forward again. He laid his hand on the petite monolith.

If anyone else had gotten close enough to see through the glamour of the mound over the next few years, they might have noticed there on top a weathered daypack, much faded by sun, wind, and rain.  It had been there for all time, a remnant left by an Old One - by Agigalie liga Kway nee, by I-Am-Grateful Ben.

** Eldorado, Edgar Allen Poe -
*** It had occurred, it seemed, as an accidental result of a collaboration of indie geeks and volunteers from the Applied Physics Department of the Unseen University trying to find a practical use for the Holographic Theory.

* Othello, Act 1, Scene 3 -

** Eldorado, Edgar Allen Poe -

*** It had occurred, it seemed, as an accidental result of a collaboration of indie geeks and volunteers from the Applied Physics Department of the Unseen University trying to find a practical use for the Holographic Theory.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Well, Hell...

The picture has nothing to do with the post as far as I  know.  I just like it.

No fun stories today. No foggy insights bristling with fuzzy logic, inane intuitions, or rampant chemical imbalances(I hope).

I just read my last two posts.

I am disappointed to find them rife with poor usage and typos, awkward, full of thingys, and otherwise an embarrassment of goofy errors. Yes, I know better than to let them go out that way. Ok, I mostly know better, some issues of sentence structure still elude me.

Don'tcha just hate it when that happens? Oh, that has never happened to you? Um, yeah, me either.

Mia Culpa. Next time I'll read it through another time, instead of just three or four.

Yes, ok, out loud.
Oh, and that other part that seems really odd, that's just how my mind works - I make no apologies for that.

I will be as Silly Putty, stretch some more, break, moosh together again, and bounce back somewhere near I hope to the often obscured and invisible writing path I persist in following.

I stole that Silly Putty bit from @johannaharness, fair & square, I think.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He-Who-Must-Not-be-Trifled-With has tea with Huizong, Emperor of the Song Dynasty

An excerpt from WIP The Shift, my 2011 NaNo

 He Who Must Not Be Trifled With was back on the road. It was not really a road though, as it was actually a cow path through a pasture just east of Liberal, Kansas. He had taken some time off the trip to commune with the other more interesting denizens of the forest. This had given things out west time to simmer for a while. He had been careful to not let any more of the local people wherever he passed through see him. He knew that in this time, even more than in the past, the sight of a small hybrid dragon would cause the kind of stir he was just not interested in right  now.

 Although he often thought of himself as wyvern, probably because that was what his dear mother had been, he was actually not exactly that. He had too many legs, four of them instead of the usual two. He had fur instead of scales. He was much more intelligent than any wyvern who ever lived before. He could affect things from great distances if he so chose.

Andy, way out west, just outside of Colby, Oregon, a bit east of Portland, that bastion of high hopes, Murder Buy the Book, and awesome views was now learning to live with his new bestest friend, Bernard. Not a St  Bernard, but still a very large, friendly, slobbery and extremely(thanks to He-Who) intelligent dog. A  dog of great imagination who still kind of remembered having been a bear, and before that, something… else. He would get around to Andy and  Bernard later though.

Right now He Who Must Not be Trifled With’s feet were tired and bitchy. He had still not yet gained enough strength back to fly. He had forgotten how much he considered walking to be appropriate only as a leisure activity, a novelty, for more closely scrutinizing ground life. It was Not, decidedly not, in his informed estimation, an acceptible means of traveling long distances. At least he was getting his memory back, and with it, some of his former intelligence. He now knew why he had woken up after so many centuries of sleep.  It was about to happen again and there was, or was not, about to be a shift in the world of men.

One could say that it was a Good verses Evil thing, but he preferred to think of it as a moving forward or not thing.  The one he was going to go see, to teach, to protect and enlighten, would make a difference. If that one went one way things would move forward, as they could, to a new level of human thought and understanding, which in turn would affect the rest of the natural world. If that one were not protected, not shielded  from chaos and shown a new way, then things could go decidedly different.

 And of course there would be opposition. Like the plot of any good book or script, there seemed to always have to be that opposition. It was a question it seemed of maintaining the balance of all things. Besides, it was more fun that way.  To him personally, it would be no particular catastrophe if it didn’t go his, or perhaps their, way. He was used to things in this world not always working out to the most optimal, or the most benign way. He had seen evil empires come and go. He had seen  mass extinctions, continental drift, Pandemics – human and otherwise, all come and go again. He recalled his conversations with a certain Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty on the subject:

 At one point a a couple of millennium back Emperor Huizong in China, though they didn’t call it that there then, had sent out an edict. OK, more like a question really. He gathered all his advisers and far-seers from the land to ask what one thing would be true in all earthly mortal situations. They had gathered in their robes and their finery, deliberated, debated cussed and dis-cussed until many, many water buffalo had returned to the rice paddy, and of course, in the nature of all efforts to seek truth by consensus, had failed miserably to come up with  anything remotely resembling a right answer.

Huizong, a painter and philosopher of no small talent, needed to get back to a particularly nice lily, whose vibrant essence and delicate personage he had been attempting to capturein watercolors for a considerable time. The Wyvern had known that without this one, silly little saying, the Dynasty could not reach the next level in understanding the nature of being. Finally He Who Must NOt be Trifled With made an appearance in his austere and greatly enlightened self, before the Emperor. It was the utmost in privacy of course, as it would not do to be seen by the masses.

He had kept the Emperor on edge for a considerable and appropriate length of time. He found that the full toothy-venomous fanged smile was not needed here in this place of relative civilization(for that time). Rather, an understated medium faint grin was more than sufficient to keep the gentle(for that time) man’s attention without making any crass threats.

Finally He-Who spoke: “Do you want to know now? Do you really want to know?”  “Yes. Yes old friend, I feel it is important beyond my reckoning or surely you would not have come all this way through so much time and space, just to partake of my meager tea time offerings”. “Then I will tell you. It is…Wait, why Zhao Ji, is that a new kind of lily I see on the end table?” “Please!" said Emperor of all he beheld, except of course He-Who. "Don’t tease an old fool so unmercifully, you wicked teaser in the possession of all knowledge you!”(The emperor did tend to lose all cleverness when rattled in the most charming child like way) "I beg of you! I prostrate myself before you!” "Surely without your tutelage I and all my empire, tawdry and base as it must seem to you, shall all expire in the misery of vital knowledge Unattained, lost to all generations!"

“Heh, heh Zhao Ji, How could I refuse one so eloquent beyond both his years and his species?" smoothed the half Wyvern, many centuries Young Zhao Ji's senior and loving the rare attention (They had stopped calling Huizong that when he got to be Emperor, But He Who Must Not be Trifled With called everyone by whatever name He chose)  “Very well, young Zhao Ji,  it is not anything very complicated it’s just(pointing towards the lily) – This too, shall pass way.” “Of course it will, tea time will be over whenever we, I mean you of course, say that it is!” “But, Please, tell me!” “I just did.” said He Who-.  

“What?!”cried the Emperor, totally not getting it.  “I told you young Emperor. This. Too. Shall Pass”. “Well, yes, but – but , really I would think …wait! You are right!” And the wyvern was, at least  up to the level any human was able to comprehend at that time. Whatever you thought, whatever was happening, in it’s time, would also pass out of being, and be no more.

Oh sure, now days, at least as recently as that nice young man Al Einstein had said(such a  nice boy, and he too had passed) - As Al had said “In the end all is energy. It can be no other way.”  Something some of the more thoughtful of the human race were still wrapping their heads around, as the youngsters would say.

He who Must Not be Trifled With stayed a bit more, in fact spent the next fifteen years gently and patiently(well mostly patiently)pounding it through Emperor Huizong’s’s head that “This too Shall Pass”, while seeming almost insultingly simple, ultimately had far reaching philosophical and indeed scientific implications.

Then, just before He Who left the now truly old Emperor, he gifted him with the disturbing proclamation of “Unless of course you want to delve into physics, quantum and beyond, where everything will be up for grabs again in the One True Thing scheme of things. The Emperor was both laughing and crying at the same time as the ageless Wyvern winged his way off towards the west, where he said there was need of “some serious attitude adjustment”.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Face in the Woods

Little Head-Bob woke up. He could hear the wind through the oaks and the cedar trees. He could feel a draft coming in the hole to the nest. Spring here, his first, was still a little chill in the mornings. He was warm though,  huddled up with all his brothers and sisters so close. His mother’s silent appearance with a still warm squirrel was met with enthusiastic  hoots and rasps from four different adolescent beaks.

Just out the hole in the oak, where where they all sat digesting, was the remains of another oak, worn by weather and eaten by termites.  There was little left but a ring of bare trunk about as tall as an owl, and one almost flat side rising to about the height of a buck’s shoulder. The outer surface of this side, bark long gone, showed something else that fascinated Head-Bob, something he had never seen anywhere else. 

 It was the face of a man, prominent nose, eyes set deep under heavy brow and staring up, directly at the entrance to the nest. Little Head-Bob had never seen a man. All he knew was that this face, so different to him, was of something strong and fierce. Perhaps it was a spirit, some guardian  of the woods , perhaps one of those he heard sighing and whispering in the night.

On the far side of the small woods, other beaks were raising more raucous  voices, grating and challenging. They changed the feeling of the woods and indeed the air itself.  The Murder of Crows was awake and casting about for whom, as they say, it might devour.
Though it was normally his family’s habit to stay in the nest most of the day, they did  sometimes go out into the limbs of  their tree to watch and to listen to their woods. 

With his keen ears he could hear the distant sound of  the crows. He had never seen a crow either, but he had heard them calling through the woods. He somehow  knew their strident voices, heard first from this way and then that, meant nothing good. Still, he wondered just what all that  noise was really about.

Perhaps today was a good day to go for a  little flight. As he hopped to the edge of the limb and pushed off into the air he heard his brother and sisters rasping and calling in dismay at his abrupt departure. he stopped in a nearby persimmon tree to watch the remarkable progress of a tortoise crashing loudly through the remnants of last year’s dead leaves. He wondered how something so like a rock moving at such a slow pace could make so much noise.

He continued on across the wood, thinking about the tortoise, he had forgotten about the crows.  As he flew on, suddenly there was a crow, another entirely new thing to him, flapping from limb to limb, all the time cawing more and more loudly and alarmingly.  Another crow, then another, and another until  Little Head-Bob was surrounded by many crows, diving at him, hopping along the nearest branches as though in mock attack. 

He hissed. He flapped and spread his wings in warning display. The crows were not impressed or frightened. He dove out of the tree, right at two crows nearest, but they were too fast, to agile for him to touch. And still as he tried to get away from them, away from their noise, the crows pursued.

Little did he know, but would soon discover, he had just met his second greatest enemy and possible nemesis.  It was not uncommon for an owl to be continually and relentlessly harassed and pursued, both day and night, until unable to sleep or to hunt the owl would weaken, succumb and die. The crows had a system. They had numbers. They could, by working is shifts, keep up their siege well beyond the strength of any one bird to match. As the day wore on Head-Bob learned, bit by bit, of the nature of crows.

As he perched, his back up against the trunk of the tree, hissing and snapping at the crows, he began to pick up another sound. Some other unknown creature, was making its way into the woods. Though most of his attention was on the jeering crows, he could still track the sounds of the new thing enough to realize it was coming directly towards him. Was this, he wondered some new foe, taking advantage of his vulnerability to end his short life?

But when the creature emerged from a copse of cedars The young Great Horned Owl saw something he never would have expected, even more remarkable the murder of crows. It was a large thing, walking on two legs, covered in something not fur, not feather, nor even scales. It carried in its upper limbs something even more remarkable, a long shiny thing that smelled of fire,  some mineral, and somehow, some new definition of death.

As Little Head-Bob perched, his back against the trunk of the tree, transfixed by the shear strangeness of the thing below, it did a new thing.  It turned its head and, staring him straight in the eye,  showed him its face, showed him the face in the woods. It was the face he had seen all his life, carved in the stump by his nest.

The thing looked at Head-Bob. It looked at the crows. It looked at Head-Bob, and again at the crows, and then at the thing it carried.  Its face, as it watched the crows, took on a harder even more intimidating cast. It  raised the thing and pointed it at the crow nearest to Head-Bob. He saw it  hopping towards him on the limb above his. The world exploded. It ended with the sound and the fury of a thousand thunder claps. 

The young owl sat up in the grass below,  the crow lay dead a small way in front of him. The rest of the crows had taken off, but hadn’t gone far.  They were mumbling now in the next tree, to themselves, or the owl,  perhaps to the man. 

The man spoke, another new thing. He spoke to the crows. He spoke to the owl.
“You no-good sons a bitches are gonna learn to leave my owls alone!  And you, young feller, better get back to Mommy and Daddy while I instruct these miscreants and your gettin’ is good.”

Little Head-Bob stayed crouched where he was, unable to move.
The man, the Spirit of the Woods, waited one – two – three breaths. 

 “I mean leave! Now! And do try to pay attention to who’s around next time, would you?”

Little Head-Bob  jumped into the air and flew faster than he had ever flown. Behind him the sound of a thousand thunders came again, and again, and once more.  He went straight back to his own tree, back to his nest. He buried his face under his wing, overcome by too much fear and too much amazement, over the crows, over the man, the face in the woods.

Bob woke up. He looked around him at the cold dead remnants of last night’s camp fire. He looked at the sandstone before him there on top of the hill at the edge of the woods. Everything seemed different, more serious, and more miraculous than he had ever seemed to feel before. He had no idea why. There was something, some feeling … he just couldn’t remember.

 He got up, rolled his sleeping bag and started off towards the house. He wanted coffee, that first, best cup of the day.  He thought he might get his tools, go back up into woods today, work on that carving of his father’s face. The one he hadn’t seen in too long.