Thursday, April 30, 2015

awaken in the forest loam

Somewhere in the distance, beyond the range of ceaseless crickets, came the dim echo of a scream. With some effort he forced open a bleary eye. Feebly, the other eyelid squinted past tremors to allow in sinking twilight.

Breathing came heavily and with half-remembered effort. Shaking limbs broke through soft soil and pungent pine needles. The sharp shock of scent snapped his cold brain into time with his now beating heart.

Effluvial dreams of soft moss and slow decay slowly sloughed away; memories of a shattered life displaced the sweet, wet dreams of gentle entropy. Sorrow and unfair twists of fate sent ancient, indignant rage surging through his hollow chest.

He was not really thus. It, it was a thing of old, sad hatred and moss wrapped bones. It was a thing of rotten bits and forest loam and unforgotten slights.

A second scream pierced the night much clearer, much nearer. The thing’s horrid face built of blood soaked mud, rotten logs, and rotten teeth grinned without joy. The hunt was upon them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

whitewash light and hard black coffee

It began with a long sigh and a slow slide out of bed. Weighted lids, half closed, squinted out the familiar frame of the bathroom door. Morning evacuations and ablutions were performed in ritualistic and habitual course. Ground seeds were mixed with not quite boiling water and a pinch of salt. He quaffed the pungent result with tired satisfaction and sat down before a blinking green light.

A wide screen sprang to dull life against the superior white light of a yellow star quite some distance away. He sipped his thick coffee and tapped rapidly on a well-worn keyboard.

The day would soon suffer past his patience with demands and some small acquiescence against his own misgivings. He would submit. He would half live for unimportant luxuries and an illusion of safety.

However, these brief moments in the whitewash of morning light sang enough of creation’s wild spark to burn him through to another day. One day, perhaps, it would be done. One day – he could dream – his art could earn his living.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

in the night

I awoke in the night, a slippery handle was pressed into my hand. Moments later, I heard a heavy splash. I refused to believe the truth of the bloody dagger in my fist, but then the cruel morning light left me no comfortable denial. We had been four; the red dawn shone on only three.

There were some few days when this barge held thirty.

I am Androndasta. I am a simple man; you will have to forgive my simple words. I shape boards not words.

Perhaps somewhere there are still some breathing folk with silver tongues, but that is only wild hope. I am hoping heavily that it doesn’t fall to me to mark down all these things.

I am hoping for westward mountains. I am hoping to find decent folk still floating dry. I am hoping for solid ground. I have little left to me but hope and wide waters.

It began when the silver rain fell, and I saw the end. I told all who would listen, the world would be drowned. I got denounced by priests. I got spat on by the faithful fools. The faithful fools got black eyes.

Even the Prince denounced me, right along with all the other nobles. He’d had my work since we both were lads so that hurt far worse than my bruised knuckles.

In secret, he supported me. Prince Xendondrost gave to me many months stores of food. He gave me all the precious sunsap wood he could get. I built for him as quickly as I could, a sturdy barge. It took nearly all the tar in the town, but I made it watertight.

In public, he prayed and bargained and kowtowed to the town’s terrible god. Him and most other folks desperately clung onto the skirts of our ancestors.

Heldon’s Cage was built atop a great hill. This was the only thing that saved us.

As the outer gates were flooded, we climbed shaking into the half completed barge: 10 laborers under my office, 6 guards, the Prince, his young son, and the boys aged tutor.

The barge held fast, well enough. We had much room. We shared our hope and our boat with any we came across in those first endless hours of night.

We saved them, and they paid us in mutiny. The bronze adze of my Office cut through bone and traitor as well as it did wood.

We dwindled as every soul we met, heading west, tried to take our ship. The endless sea has drank much of our blood. Now our stores have dwindled too.

With one less mouth to feed, we may yet make it to the World’s Spine. I must wash clean the Prince’s blade before the Young Prince awakens. He has lost his father in the night. There is no need for the lad to know the truth. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

eat disaster and never will you hunger

Black, broken, and drowned, small mountains are beneath us now. We had lived so long on the narrow lands, in the empty, savage sea; what was another catastrophe to us?

The dances of our ancestors speak of our coming to the wide seas, trading gods and godmonsters for relentless blue vistas, for soft green dots amongst hard-breaking waves. We were ever-ready for disaster.

If the cold broke too soon, the shoots would come too quickly, the rats would become fat, and their broods would overwhelm our fields. If the cold held too long, the violence of the warmth’s return came wrecking and laid heavy upon us. The smallest movements could herald disaster.

When the hateful stars turned loose the drowning pillars, we fled to our hill tops and hidden reserves. When the flow would not abate, we burned hollow new boats. Before the heights of our narrow lands grew wet, we had sailed away.

Now, we sometimes have seen other softmen, floating recklessly upon the unending sea. They have not seen us.

We have many provisions. We know the wide waters well.

While other softmen may have steered, sometimes, into catastrophe; we are born of it. We eat disaster and will always survive.

We are the wetmen. We sail towards the distant memory of true mountains.

Friday, April 24, 2015

a dialogue between a box and a pointy box

{} = “The past must be destroyed, burned away… misremembered at the very least.

“Strive always for the new. Set fire behind you and rocket to the future. Dance as an enfant terriblĂ©; wreck the world around you. Inside the sound you have not found is the only music. Accept nothing that is forced upon you, not even history. Accept no tradition; allow none to be bred from your words. Fuck the burning heroes. We need the next phoenix more.”

[] = “The most important lesson one can learn from history is that men do not learn from history.”

{}= “Quotes are bullshit. Don’t make that fuckin’ face; I know it’s paraphrased.”

[] = “Even to set history ablaze, you have to know it well enough to start the fire. Rejecting the past requires knowing the past. To reject it without knowing it is hollow, a completely wasted effort. If you’re looking for the truth, seeking the superlative, look in all directions.”

{} = “If the godsdamed past had a better method, it would still be the fucking method!”

[] = “Because individuals and societies never make suboptimal decisions. Nothing ever gets worse. Cultures never move in bad directions…”

{} = “Point.”

[] = “Thanks.

“Look, progress can make leaps and bounds, but more often it takes baby-steps (if it moves ahead at all). Innovation is paramount; it really is. However, nothing is born of a void.

“Progress is a progression. Sometimes the greatest achievement comes from stark, unprecedented invention. More often than not, it’s a tiny improvement brought about by years of observation of established practices. Also, consider combinations of new ideas and old materials or old ideas and new materials, these mergers can create unboundedly new potentials.”

{} = “Fine. I guess. But you still hold far too much reverence for the past. Know the past so you can reject all the bullshit (which is most of it), but don’t get stuck on it. Look ahead. Ahead is all we got. The future is all that’s coming, focus on the one you can still change.”

[] = “That’s not an entirely unreasonable thing to say.”

{} = “Yah.”

[] = “The sad fact is all we will really ever have is the present.”

{} = “So what have we accomplished here? What can we accomplish here?”

[] = “Nothing, I suppose… but let it be a beautiful nothing.”

{} = “So long as it burns…”

[] = *sigh*

Thursday, April 23, 2015

truth

Together it holds.
Cleave, my child. It severs wide.
Cleave, to nothing less.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

viscid beast

Courage cannot not kill it.

Even now, that emaciated mass of gnarled fur and huge, crushing teeth flits through shadows on long, spindling legs. It stalks, ever-hungry, where the forest overtakes the old, straight roads. Like limp spines, the lost weapons and tangled bones of too many brave men hang knotted in its hair.

It is a fearsome thing made to reap fear. Fear feeds it.

Only reckless surety could harm it. Only madness can save you now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

prose poem 9 | the book

The wind outside whistled, screamed, pressed against the window. It meant nothing. His psychic dance with the book consumed him.

White hot, crystalline lattices of another’s thoughts coalesced and spread outwards, building within his mind. Each arm grew as a perfect extension of symbolic, logical necessity. The book expanded and expounded, a perfect framework of sensible if alien pieces.

Still yet, surprising arches of innovation and stunning revelation leapt and spiraled between the necessary structure. That the shape, that those words could turn back to the beginning and make it untrue but perfect, that those ideas could grate against themselves and only become sharper, that this tome was possible, struck him with savage vigor.

The structure was beyond powerful; those words, those ideas showed him so much, but the empty spaces between set his mind on fire. Those open ends, those hungry voids, those potentials, such hints of possibilities: these things his mind had to fill! These things set him ablaze.

Like a spent match he lay sleepless in bed.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

washing away

The feeling spread over them like autumn sunshine. Sweet, warm, and tender contentment flowed out from a gentle pressure within their chests. The narcotic and alien sensations took rapid effect, and two sturdy guards slid smiling down the red-brick abutment.

An outlandish figure, clothed only in the shimmering sheets of his own opalescent hair, sneered as he stepped through the shadowed archway.

Pain was easier to force upon another but was always fought with vigor. Victims rarely railed against even his most surreal and inhuman of pleasures.

Long, thin, and shining-white fingers wrapped triumphantly around a golden chalice. The wizard smiled; Bacchus has slain far more men than Mars. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

excerpt from xenothropes’ _of the tuskmen_

“...Blood is the only payment.

He who lives and he who dies both have bought this.

See that even the boar charges from the underbrush.

Bleed upon the thorn and so may you buy the berry.

Even the strong must strike wisely.

The trout is swift and the bear is strong. Both are built for their place.

Earn your offspring, or you and they will know great pain.

Look to the great cats: hidden, swift, and strong.

Suffer no weakness, or all must be weakened.

Love is blood bought.

Translator's notes:
These sayings were drawn from a large number of disparate Tuskmen tribes.
In most Tuskmen tongues, the word for buy and earn are the same and carry the same meaning. Amongst some tribes the word for blood/life is freely substituted for buy/earn. The translator in most cases has simply chosen the specific terms for poetic effect. And finally Tuskmen do not have gendered pronouns or honorifics.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

tooth upon stone, blood upon water

The Tuskmen glared in awe as the impossible, stone wrapped sea-beast cut smoothly through frothing waves. With effort, Hul-tampk tore her gaze from the beast’s mad rending of the temple below.

She looked instead to her people. The figures on the river-ships slumped and held their spears in limp fists. It could not be sustained.

Tuskmen were creatures of daybreak and twilight. They lived between the darkness and light; Tuskmen fought the horrors of both worlds.

The time had come to throw bones into the ground. The time had come to give blood to the thorn and so to buy the berry.

True godbeasts had not been seen, nor hunted, for many generations. There were no shadows or canyons, no old trees or tall grasses. They could not strike wisely from strong concealment. They must learn new wisdoms to give to their children.

Less would leave that place than came to it. Only those most suited would live to find love or shadow.

Then did she draw forth the sacred tooth of her ancestor’s triumph. Long-curved, true-sharp, and white-gleaming-red in the dread dawn before her, the tooth-turned-sword felt light and dangerous in her grasp.

“We HUNT!” she bellowed in the Tuskmen’s wet and hard tongue.

***

Long minutes later, Hul-tampk floated surreally in cold and ruddy waters. The great beast still thrashed violently nearby casting great surges all about.

Hul-tampk floundered amongst crashing waves, the burning wrecks of boats, and gnarled bits of red things which used to be warriors. She smiled even as cold darkness swept over her eyes. The tooth and her arm may have been lost, but the beast was surely slain. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

madly upon the waves

Like flies drawn to a quince or perhaps more like maggots generating from rotting flesh, the desperate ships of scavengers erupted each day on the wide horizon. The temple guards kept to their now-floating posts as best they could, but it was an unsurprisingly damned effort in this thrice-damned world.

Each passing day, after that long wet night, more of them added their blood to the waters. Dozens dwindled down to a dozen sleepless men and women. Harried and hopeless they endured. Drained and never dry, they held swords in shaking fists. Haggard shields hung heavy on bent backs.

Worse still, only six Sisters remained. There were no more to replace them. When the dance failed, the Screaming Lights and Ruinous Stones would awaken. The terrible gods of the temple below that now singular sea would issue forth and damn the world again.

It was a doomed effort, but this hard knowledge gave the guardians strange vigor. Six to the north and six to the south rose almost as one. In center, the six remaining Sisters danced madly atop the waves; their waning lives granted sleep and succor to the horrid things below. A distant hint of an ominous orange sunrise swept in from the east.

From the south ran the swift river-ships of a dwindled Tuskmen tribe. From the north a great trireme lumbered ahead, carrying with it the yelping war-cries of Dogmen.

The Tuskmen arrived first. With precise and practiced motions, they broke rank and shortly encircled their prey. The guardians had fired their last arrows days before and so waited bravely. The Sisters danced madly upon the waves.

A short, sharp, careful volley of slings and driftwood spears sent the broken guardians tumbling to the temple below. Their hot blood joined the cold waters. The Sisters danced madly upon the waves.

Then did the Tuskmen approach the Sisters, slowly and unsure in their curiosity. Their leader looked below, and in the growing light she spied the temples golden dome gleaming beneath the waves. With a forceful bellow and some few threats she called the tribe to retreat. The Sisters still danced madly upon the waves.

The Dogmen took no cautious tact. The sharp, bronze wedge on their stolen ship’s mighty prow smashed the Sisters into a bloody waste.

Almost without pause, a thousand angry orbs of screaming violet starlight tore out from the frothing ocean and rent the great ship asunder. Before a breath could be drawn, the baleful lights exploded forth in a hundred whirling arcs, passing quickly out of sight.

When the stony leviathan reared its alien head into the morning sky, it seemed almost a proper and natural being in comparison.

Monday, April 13, 2015

open waters, bright sky

The wide sky was all that was left to them. There were no places left to hide. All had been washed away. The glittering, drowned darkness too had passed. So open were the waters, one could spy the curving of this hated world.

Skrak had dreamed of daylight since he was but a whelp. Now he could have it to his fill.

All day long, while most would cower below decks, Skrak and some few other yearlings scampered about in the burning gold. They swung from the top sails and swam in the new waters. They took turns at the onerous stillness of holding a rough, westerly course. They bounded through the open air and caught exhausted birds, falling from the sky. They made new pacts and bred without restriction. They drank in the daylight’s blissful anarchy.

Though the Mud Maps of the Deepest Den were surely washed away, the packs still steered towards remembered mountains. The Old Leaders wished to find new caves and hide once more in the Always-night, but Skrak and the other yearlings had learned the freedom of the sky.

They could never more be chained by cowering tradition nor clothed by fearful lightless reaches.

Friday, April 10, 2015

the hero called wizard

In his first age, he fell into a sword and danced and drank in blood and death.

In his second age, he fell into the radiant scroll and was scarred and tricked by new-wrought knowledge.

In his third age, he saw through the trick of the voided gods and turned their trap-magic against them.

By his fourth age, he grew weary but bided his time; his seed took root.

In his fifth age, he reaped what he’d sown and forced forth the sun and moon, yellow flame and white mirror.

In his sixth age, he declared his first age to be the most honest.


In his seventh age, he learned the final truth; smiling and aged, he cast himself into the burning void to fight the hateful gods.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

a surprise for tired eyes

Her tired brown eyes slowly strayed to a furtive browser window, parked strategically in the bottom left corner of the company’s third-rate monitor. She kept yawning suddenly, and blinking slowly. The espresso was wearing off, and anyway it was a poor replacement for sleep.

Kendra clicked through to her personal email, glancing past her cubical walls out of habit. The coast was clear. Her fingers danced across the keyboard as she fought through a yawn. She tilted her head into her hand.

There it was, nestled between piles of unimportant facebook notifications. It was a long glowing moment as reality slowly dawned on Kendra.

Her head snapped up, and her eyes grew wide. She drew three fast breathes and almost shouted. A wide open grin planted itself on her lips, behind her hands.

There it was in the subject line, a shining new reality. It read simply: Sales Notification.
Somebody had bought one, she realized in smiling disbelief.

She’d gone pro. Somebody paid money for her work, for her ideas. Somebody paid for that thing she’d conceived of and created.


It would prove to be the most rewarding 10 dollars she would ever earn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

sweat and embers

Someday, maybe, it would become second nature to him, but for the moment every goddamned thing took an amazing effort to yield middling or worse results. Theodore blinked away burning sweat and stayed intent on the task held within his cramping hands. Every short, violent motion was fought by vicious friction. Again and again he pushed his rough dowel against the hollowed log. Over and over he scraped the knotted stick forward into a brittle bird’s nest and jerked it back again.

As his exhausted arms moved past pain into numbness, the smell of smoke struck his nostrils. Two more thrusts and he saw the barest hint of an ember. He leaned forward and allowed himself to smile.

Just then, a fat glob of sweat fell from his chin to douse any hope of a flame. Biting his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood, Theodore barely choked back a scream. Flailing to his feet, he spun about, red faced and white knuckled.

When he finally opened his eyes, a sagging lean-to and two dubious bottles of mud-brown water were waiting to greet him. His breath stuttered out in short barking bursts, somewhere between a sob and manic laughter.

Eventually the tears came to a close, either from dehydration or the dead, listless weight expanding in his chest. Teddy turned slowly around to squat on aching calves and started his drive for fire all over again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

thrice damned

This thrice damned world was born without reason unto the perfect void. Within that screaming place of naked hunger, vitriolic light, and vicious shining gods, the world grew like a stinking abscess. The gods hated its petty physicality when it was simply a wet rock floating in otherwise perfect emptiness.

When life crawled forth from the seas and saw hateful starlight, the gods outside raged. When that life grew and diverged and saw itself, the gods fell into madness.  When Wizard brought forth the yellow light and white mirror, the sun and moon, the gods outside broke into violent despair. Some so much that they did the unthinkable; they stepped into our world to destroy it.

They could not, for the gods were now of this world. They too were wrapped in hateful flesh. To destroy the world was to destroy themselves.

Trapped here, beyond rage, the gods broke mountains and drank seas. The dogmen fled to black spaces and hid beneath the earth, forsaking their birthright of the sun. The tuskmen fought the gods and godmonsters from the shadows; they fell back to deep canyons and old grey forests.

And, we the softmen, as they called us, we stayed in the daylight and confronted the horrid gods. We cajoled and outwitted and placated those beastly new-born gods. We hid them in temples and trapped them in rituals. We hunted the godmonsters, or else we at least drove them to the hard places of the tuskmen.

Around each temple grew a town. Around each town grew a tribe. Eventually the towns became Cities and the tribes became kingdoms. So did the Peace of the Cities last until the world was drowned. The silver pillars have damned us again, past hope.

Now we only seek for the memory of mountains. Some few may wait for us as islands yet. More likely, we will drown.

Monday, April 6, 2015

beyond surviving

The field was a riot of Spring exultance. Pale purple flowers, bold gold petals, and bright dots of blue blooms dipped and bent in the fierce westerly wind. Verdant, open grass spread like lapping waves all around them.

Ar-tuk, last of his tribe, squinted blearily in the dizzying midday sun. His two brave children giggled merrily at their mother’s breast. His brow was knit in consternation. His lips were firmly curled, tight within a smile. His hard, piggish eyes darted from bush to bush to happy child to shadowed stream.

The field was far too open. Beauty was danger. The shadows spelled safety, choking, frightened, lifeless safety. They would not live as the dogmen still did! They would not flee from all things and count simple survival as victory.

Ar-tuk had been staring daggers at a shaded grove until his son’s piping voice and his daughter’s fierce destruction of dandelions tore laughter from his chest. He chased them through wild flowers and wilder laughter with ever a wary eye.

He would not live as his fearful ancestors. They would not merely survive. He would give them reason for joy. He would give his children bright life. And if he fell to the hateful gods, while fighting fist and tusk, he knew his family would live. Sel-tuk was as strong as he and twice as fast and thrice as fierce. She would lead the children to other flowered fields if he could not.

No matter the unnatural daylight and constant danger, no matter the cost, their children would live. His tusk would be the children’s spear; his hide would be their shield. No matter the cost to them, the children of Ar and Sel Tuk would live beyond fear.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

parasites

Candlelight guttered through poorly glazed window panes. Just at the edge of the pub’s orange glow, there lay a splayed figure swimming in rum. Cool blue evening light turned to black sky while the retch wretched and floundered on cold cobblestones.

Two goblins danced around him. One was pink and piggish; it wallowed in the broken soul’s abject surrender to unmet needs. The other was like a walking snail with a sickly fungal growth in lieu of a shell; it supped upon the hopeless torpor of the self-damned man. They laughed, happy in their horrid work. The two cruel things scampered in shadows, pelting him with road apples and sundry other indignities. Cruelest of all, they set more mugs to his lips to keep him sodden and sad.

Far away on slate shingles, great green owl eyes watched it all. The muse could see straight through the man, to the shining pain and subtle wit held prisoner within. It spread black wings and carried with it warm zephyrs. It fell upon the goblins like a diving hawk and drove the minor parasites swiftly away.

It too needed something from the hapless man sleeping in the street.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

himself, more or less

He felt like himself, more or less. Maybe his limbs seemed a bit distant, not quite numb really, but poorly controlled, as though waking with almost no sleep. Sounds certainly seemed sharper, at least.

He stood far too still in the barely lit space.

Salvador took slow, deliberate stock of his thoughts and transient feelings. He felt, he felt curious. He felt surprised. He felt a bit disappointed, really. He felt that it was easier to note what he didn’t feel.

He felt no cold fire in his belly. He felt no manic drives or languorous villainy stirring in his chest. He felt no suprahuman lust churning in his loins. He felt no supreme hunger nor unmet need. He felt almost nothing as he ran his slender fingers through his mop of fine black of hair. Tentatively, he brushed his hand against the cool marble bier before him.

Except that it no longer felt cool. He waved his open hand wildly before him. Suddenly, Salvador spun on his naked heel and leapt onto a nearby sarcophagus.

He could scarcely sense the air all around his pale skin until he pressed into it. Without motion, without pressure, he stood in a surreal void of sensation.

His body was room temperature, he realized with a wry, empty grin. Without breath and flowing blood, the smallest sounds roared against the relative silence. It was beginning to make some measure of sense.

Why then did he feel so little, emotionally, he wondered? He continued to crouch dramatically in the neoclassical crypt, lost in thought. Perhaps there was some physiological component to emotion of which Salvador did not know.

He likely had a great deal of time to learn of it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

6° above

I have mere moments; please listen closely. The end is nigh. Oh, don’t look at me like that.

I suppose I stated it a bit dramatically.

Did you know, I was an astrophysicist before, hrm, before all this? Well of course you would.
There is an intermittent light in the sky that should NOT be there. I have observed it quite carefully.

In the top drawer of my bureau you will find two compasses liberated from Art Therapy. With them, I have charted its apparent trajectory. Tycho Brahe would be quite proud, I am certain.

My findings are contained within the notebook beneath this very pillow. Any high school science teacher should come to the same conclusion.

An unknown object of significant mass is on an unnatural collision course, sir! Its path is erratic but narrowing in possibilities towards us.

I don’t know why no one else has seen this!

Goddamnit man! Please just go to the courtyard and see for yourself. It should be flashing into visibility 6 degrees above the Wyneman’s building as seen from the three point line at 8:04. Please, sir! Let someone know. Please, I beg of you, before the medication takes me.

Please, you’ve, you must…

Thursday, April 2, 2015

canned chili tastes like dog food

“He smells way too much like chili.”

“I know. Like Wolf brand chili.”

“Totally. At first I thought it was gonna be like a funny, sitcom-ish character trait, but now I’m just
like seriously concerned for his health.”

“Right? Plus, I think he’s starting to attract neighborhood dogs.”

“Yeah…”

“Ya.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

lonely waters

Beneath verdant, still waters she slips and flits. A soft brown slick of mud, this she wears for her hair. Sharp green, frog’s eyes, with these she sees above, the heavy pond scum.

She is vain – but not too proud; nevertheless, no slime is allowed to stain or stick on her smooth, wet, slick and perfect pale green skin. She sees. She knows. She looks to the shore, in that deep grey wood, from her placid yellow pond, to spy pretty lips. She just wants a kiss, but beware.

Be aware: she needs no breath. You wouldn’t either if you could love her, and never leave her. She could show you the ways, of still, slow, wet days beneath waters deep and brown. Though, none yet have loved her, and many have drowned. Their slime stripped bones stick and sit in the dredge below.

Still though, she waits and wants for love. Many, many she’s kissed, so many women and men. Still, she slips and flits and cries muddy tears and feels the long years. She must hold onto hope ‘til the end.