December 30, 2008

Untitled [naomi]

My soul grows
at least two breaths
as silence pounds its steady feet
across hillside and wooded valley,
reddened plains and starry sky,
For in silence there lies the
rhythm of listening—
of catching one's breath
of drinking
of living and having our being.
I keep in step with silence and
it with me.
We nod and know the turns
the arch of my back.
strength. beauty.
And when it has finished
(and if it were true)
then silence
and it's placid companion—contemplation—
must return the dancer
to Life.

...continue reading...

Come to the Table [jana]

A list of ingredients for art with friends

  1. Room. A garage with a couple of tables is best. A kitchen works, too.
  2. Crayons. For color…and as a reminder of first experiences with hand-to-paper.
  3. Paint. Because it teaches how to blend. And when you blend too much, it turns to mud. I don’t know, but it seems like a good lesson somehow.
  4. Charcoal. For good grey areas.
  5. Pencils. For definition.
  6. Erasers. To reveal what was hidden.
  7. Brushes. For Mixing. For Texture. For strategic daubing of noses.
  8. Photographs and magazines. For inspiration and advice.
  9. Canvases. You just can’t explore as much on paper.
  10. Big Paper. At some point you have to lay on the floor and draw on big paper. It’s just a good creative moment.
  11. Plates. They’re good for holding food. Or paint. Or both.
  12. Mod Podge. For sticking together.
  13. Found objects. For personal application.
  14. People. Anyone willing to put pencil or brush to canvas.
  15. Water.
  16. Music. It’s best with an ipod on shuffle, because every so often, a song will come up that will make everyone spontaneously break into laughter.
  17. Silence. For punctuation.
  18. Food. Especially cupcakes because they are good for painting, too.
  19. Fear. You can’t make art without it.
  20. Laughter. Some things are going to turn out funny. That’s just the way it is. You try to paint two hills and it ends up looking like a butt. You’ve got to laugh.

...continue reading...

December 25, 2008

Seeing [rachel]

A friend once asked me,
“Do you see beauty in Lebanon?”
My quick answer was yes,
But when prompted, “Where?”
I hesitated.
Then it came one day--
Sitting down to write in the living room
The painting on the wall caught my attention:
Many colored swirls blend together
Purple into red into blue into green into yellow into red
Brightening the room
Even without the lamp in the corner
I stepped outside for a stroll
Walked briskly towards Chestnut with its trees
I watched the faces of the people
Some tired, some sad, some all business;
I gazed at the school and the mothers of children
Holding hands, straightening clothes, zipping up jackets.
Turning right I passed Deraco’s, Arnold’s, the Market
Bustling. I met
The 4 corners of the intersection,
8th and Cumberland.
The wind rushed up all at once
Catching my breath with the movement
Swirling it in with the sights and sounds:
People calling
Leaves rustling
Engines engaging.
The whirlwind started to take shape
Funneling into many-colored swirls
Of purple of red of blue of green of yellow of red.
I can’t stop feeling, hearing, seeing;
I know the beauty when I look
Through the artist’s eyes.

...continue reading...

December 23, 2008

Note and Declaration [rachel]

Note (to a friend):
Your favorite season has always been winter.
I’ve long thought it was because of sleigh bells on doors,
Christmas caroling in the fresh cold air, lights on the tree, cookies in the oven.
But I think now it’s because of the cold,
The snow,
How it makes you numb.
As you hold it in your hand,
First it burns and then
You lose feeling.
That sounds appealing if your pain
Is big enough
And you just want to make it go away.
I will help you hang the bells, carol with you,
Trim the tree, bake cookies and help you eat them.
But I will not hold the snow to your heart
Helping to shut out the hurt.
I will not any longer.
Instead I will chip away at the ice,
Ushering in the feeling: the mourning, and the dancing--
Ushering in the spring.

I am not
I am not bound
I am not bound by fear.
He is my witness
I am adopted
Atoned for
Alone no longer.
The Spirit has come
Has rushed in
Swept me off my feet.
And Love,
You have loved
You have loved me
You love me.

...continue reading...

December 16, 2008

Pictures [kris]

There is a small boy. Skinny, with coke bottle glasses. Deep brown eyes. A thick mop of chestnut hair. He likes basketball and cameras and I really want to know him. He is alone. And by the time I come he will be much bigger, but harder to find. I will look because I love him.

1. “I’m four, I’m four today! I guess I’ll climb a tree!” That’s my birthday song and it’s my birthday and also the sunniest, prettiest day I’ve ever seen. Its 4 o’clock and Daddy’s engine rumbles in the driveway. I run to meet him in the foyer. Bright afternoon light floods in from the bay windows, making the wood floor shiny. I hear his key turn in the gold knob and Daddy’s shadow appears on the floor as the door swings forward, sunlight streaming in behind him. I leap to him and he bends down on his knee, arm outstretched. “Pink flowers!” I don’t hear his words because I’m enchanted by the roses that are all for me but when I do look up I see his big brown eyes and I feel so warm and happy.

2. Outside they are still playing kickball even though the streetlights are on. I hurt, watching in the dark from my upstairs window. Daddy has jus gotten home from work and I can hear him talking to Mommy in the kitchen, and then the steps creaking as he comes upstairs to my room. My face is squished against the glass and I’m snotty and sniffling. “Su-su-san and Sarah are still outside. . .” He kneels down next to me, “I’ll help you clean up and you can go back out.” I want him to help me but I don’t say anything. My heart swells, but I just can’t say yes. I hesitate. He waits a minute, then leaves. As he steps into the lit hallway, he pulls the door closed behind him and I watch the soft light draw back from my feet until it shrinks into a small sliver of yellow and then disappears from the carpet in the dusky room. Alone again, my tears can come.

3. Yanking the dresser drawer open, I pull out a pink shirt and leggings and stuff them into my backpack. I zip my bag up quickly, a corner of the pink shirt hangs out underneath the zipper but I pull it over my shoulder as is. Looking up, I see on my dresser the paper crown that I made at school. It is red with pink, yellow, and blue ribbons, gems and feathers attached to it by a generous amount of Elmer’s Glue. The front reads in Mrs. Haney’s handwriting “I am special.” I put the crown on, sobbing, and rest my head on the dresser. Where am I going to go? Out of the corner of my eye, I see Dad peeking around my bedroom door with his camera and I am so angry. I throw the backpack on the floor and sob harder.

4. My wiggly toes on the scrubby brown carpet are magnified. I look up and the tan doorway to Mom and Dad’s room bulges at the sides like a circus mirror. Holding my hands out in front of me I walk forward. “Whoa.”
“Krissey take my glasses off, you’re gunna fall down the stairs.”
Dad is tying a knot in his navy tie.
I look left at the staircase and then, glasses on, put my right hand on the wall and continue to navigate my way into the room. My eyes feel strained and there is a pulsing feeling in my forehead.
“I wanna try!”
Tommy is sitting on Mom and Dad’s floor and I hand him the glasses. Then I climb onto the bed to examine my favorite thing in Mom and Dad’s room, large wooden pineapples carved on either end of their headboard. I am distracted from my pineapples when I hear Dad open the top left drawer of his dresser; I know which drawer it is because it jingles when he opens it. This is the best drawer—full of loose change and colorful rubber juggling balls. Tommy knows this drawer, too, and Mike who has just come in to the room, “Dad, the shower, do the shower!” Dad is already juggling three balls as he walks over to the wall space between the bathroom and closet doors. He begins to juggle them high up against the wall—red, green, blue, red, green, blue—so that it looks like a shower. Mom is in the bathroom curling her hair and I can see her smiling in the mirror.

5. I want to be one of them. They are beautiful. They have long curly hair, perfect makeup, and they like football (or pretend well). And even though we are all only in Jr. High, they already know how to joke with boys. More importantly, they know when boys are joking. They eat chips while wearing bikinis at the cottage in Caseville in the summer. And I’ve never seen them cry. They are “Lantzy” girls, which seems to mean something where all of Dad’s family lives in Michigan. It’s good we don’t live here because back in St. Louis we’re the only Lantzys and nobody knows how awkward and sad I feel in this place. Its Christmas Eve and I’ve just filled my plastic red appetizer plate with exactly what Casey and Tara put on theirs: M&Ms, brownies, and chips. I follow them to the table and sit next to Tara. Dad is caddy corner a few chairs down with his brothers. He sees my plate and puffs his cheeks out like a chipmunk, his ‘big as a house’ face. “You don’t want to eat that.” He laughs and my Uncles look uncomfortable. I don’t want to cry, again, in front of the whole family, but it’s too late now. Later I will eat my brownie alone.

6. Water cascades off the windshield as the wipers sweep back and forth. Green stereo lights blink 2:31 at my right. I click the wiper wand a notch forward to compensate for heavier rain. The Buick is a huge car, we call it a boat. I’m not comfortable driving it through Ohio highway construction in the middle of a rainy night, but Mike and Tom are sleeping in the backseat and Dad (for once) is not criticizing so, determined, I focus again on the road. The only thing more uncomfortable to me than driving right now is the heaviness I can feel in Dad. I am so thankful that I have to look forward; I can’t handle sitting this close and having to look at him too. Time passes silently except for the rain and wipers. Suddenly Dad talks. “It’s just awful, ya know. . . to do something like that. . .” He sighs and shakes his head. We haven’t spoken much about this, and really, what is there to say? There is no one to be mad at; the murderer and the victim are the same. “Yeah,” is all I get out. Dad says more about how life can be that hard, hopeless. I don’t hear him as much as I feel him. He emits a heaviness that consumes all of the air in the car. It bears down on my chest and I feel like I am being torn in two. Tears rise and I squint to force them back, staring forward as we hug the white lines of the highway and press into the deep navy night sky.

7. We are lying on our stomachs next to each other a few inches apart on Gram’s teal bedspread, facing the foot of the bed. Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas Past are ten feet or so in front of us in black and white. I wonder if Dad is paying as little attention to this as I am. I can’t remember being this close to my Dad by choice. This trip to see my family at Christmas was barely a choice in itself—a mandate received with tears, anger, and pain from the wise heart of my mentor and spiritual father back home in PA. I am tingly and alert, all of me is aware of Dad’s presence. Nervous, but also excited to be near him. We have been afraid of each other for so long. Regardless of my disinterest, I am incredibly thankful for Scrooge at this moment. Words and conversation are more than a stretch, but its Christmas Day and, handicap or not, I am hanging out with my Dad.

8. 22 now and on my own for the most part, a few financial ties much too thin to hold this heavy relationship together. I am stronger and more confident, but still wearing the realities of my wounds and brokenness in extra flesh and emotional barriers. I am with my roommates in our living room. Julie is spread eagle on the floor leaning over newspaper clippings that she is folding into Easter birds. Marci is lying on the marshmallow couch, named not for its hunter green shade, but for its cushioning. Her legs dangle over the arm rest as she lies with her Macbook on her lap, scrolling the Larknews, laughing and talking intermittently. The living room is clean and square ham and pineapple pizza is on the kitchen table. Dad’s favorite—cold now though. I’ve been thinking about him all day. Would he rather see Sweet Sensations, my favorite coffee shop and home on Friday afternoons, or would Philly interest him, cheese steaks and South Street. I can’t wait to show off my city savvy for Dad. “You guys, maybe he will change his mind and stay for Easter.” Marci looks up from her screen and meets eyes with me. “That’d be cool Kris.” Julie looks up too, scrunching her nose to adjust her black frames. She pauses, but says nothing and then continues to fold birds. I glance at my phone, for what feels like the millionth time tonight. No calls. 8:15. Dad should have gotten in at 7. When he calls at 8:40, he says that he saw a Lowes and is stopping for a funnel to get the gas out of the Mazda before it’s towed. He doesn’t want to waste time tomorrow. He wants to “Get there, get the car taken care of, and get back on the road.”

9. “Jake, I haven’t told my Dad yet.”
Jake steers his purple Neon around a horse and buggy with his left hand, drumming a rhythm to a Lily Allen song with his right.
I sigh. “Yeah.”
“You gonna call him now?”
“I guess. . . I just don’t want him to freak out on me.”
We continue to climb route 72 and Dad answers after two rings. I tell him about the car accident with the Nissan Altima he brought me just six weeks earlier. My heart tightens in my chest and all defenses are up. I am prepared for his blows: disgust, frustration, criticism, disdain—I have done this before. Yes, it was completely my fault. No, insurance isn’t involved. My rim is bent and the repairs will cost $450. Here it comes . . . wait. . . He’s not yelling. He’s not angry. He asks for the number of Engle’s Auto Body and tells me he will take care of it. I flip my phone closed and look at it. He’s not angry?
“How’d it go?” Jake asks, drumming for Muse now.
“Ummm . . . good.” I don’t know what to feel. At first there is a rush of guilt, and as I start to realize what happened, a warm swell of gratitude laced with surprise. Grace, from my Dad?

10. Dad sprints out of the kitchen and is gone for at least ten seconds, which feels like half an hour in Guesstures. He returns, sliding across the linoleum and grabbing the edge of the island to steady himself. He tosses something small and gray next to the teal clapboard but before Tom can completely get out “CALCULATOR!” the buzzer cuts out and Dad’s last card has dropped, securing a win for the ‘kids’ team (whose youngest member is Tom at 21). “Dang-it!” He laughs and slaps his hand on the counter, we are laughing too. His face is red. Next is pumpkin pie and coffee. Later when the guests are gone and Mike, Adriana, and Tom are watching Christmas Vacation in the living room I go out on the deck to smoke with Mom and Dad. I’ve stolen one of Dad’s banana flavored cigars. Sitting quietly together, under cover of dark, I can study Dad. He is heavier now and his hair is more silver than chestnut. His lenses are still more than ¼ inch thick, but now he has thin wire frames.
“Dad I don’t really know that much about your family.”
“Oh.” He puts his cigarette to his mouth and draws deeply from it. I wait, but after exhaling he doesn’t take this opportunity to fill me in.
“What was Grandma Rita like?”
Another long pause and then Dad lets out a sort of nostalgic, pain-shielding laugh.
“She taught me how to play basketball.”
“Really? That’s pretty cool. What else?”
He doesn’t say anything else, and neither does Mom, so neither do I. We stay outside a little while longer, listening to the November night.

11. Night again. A deep, clear night. Bright white ice is our canvas, underneath a smooth canopy of indigo, dotted by silver stars and city lights. We are skating. Side by side. With speed. Dad is a good skater, and I have always been his rival. It might be the speed that makes it possible, the adrenaline that gives us courage, but without a word or glance, Dad takes my hand and we move together.

...continue reading...

The Question [jake]

It was hard to say when he started calling himself “Zimmersett.” Most have forgotten his real name by now—I haven’t. We are all convinced that he changed his moniker around the same time that he discovered that he was naked… He hated it. To him, it was a shameful, horrible thing, the worst thing. It was certainly from that point on that he started behaving so strangely… We all miss him to some extent or another—I miss him; I do.

I remember my first encounter with him after he moved into our small, farming town. It was only a couple of summers ago, but it feels so much longer. I had just finished paying for a tank of gas at the Corner Station (the only one in our town, owned by Pat, who also owned the bar across the street) and strolled out the door only to halt after two steps, face to face with a striking individual. Rather, he was normal in every way. It was his appearance that caught me off guard: the man was… Well, he was stark naked! No lie! Though we came to accept it later, we were all uncomfortable initially, and for awhile after. This instance was no exception. I wondered how in the world I should greet him. Should I address his naked state? Dare I speak to him at all?

He chose to address me first, extending his right hand and giving me his name. I stood stunned. His obliviousness to his nudity caused a strange sensation in me, like a cold finger sliding up my spine. The 89-degree temperature was not the cause of the shiver.

“You cold?” he asked, concerned.

“I’m Mark,” I spurted.

“I’m sorry?” He tilted his head, curious.

“My name is Mark.”

“What? Oh, well, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mark! I’m new to town—and you’re the first person I’ve met! Just finished moving in yesterday, in fact.”

My mind finally caught up with the situation. “No, no, no.”


“No, I’m—I’m not cold.”

His eyebrows lowered in curiosity and rose again in understanding. “Ah, okay. Glad to hear it,” he smiled. After a discomfited silence, he added, “Well, it was nice to meet you, Mark. Hopefully we’ll meet again!”

I hurried away without a word and pulled out of the parking lot, admittedly disturbed. Probably the strangest interaction I’d ever had with any person. It won’t be forgotten.

We all talked. We did. The first and most palpable suggestion was that he might be European, but he had no accent and no obvious ethnic appearance. Whenever one would ask where he had come from originally, he would only ever say “from up north.” Yet he was like any one of us, in so many ways. He looked like us, talked and even walked like us. Could’ve been born to any one of the families here, we thought. He had a love for the soil like us—in some ways, it seemed, a greater love. He didn’t own a farm, but he asked to work our land for free, if any would allow him. We cared deeply for one another in our little community—and he held that same compassion. We were afraid of and bewildered by him at first, but once we let him in, we found more than expected. No, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t make him any different: it was only that nakedness. It had shocked us—and honestly, no one could fully explain why. We said we were concerned for the children’s wellbeing, but they were let to run around naked so that we couldn’t explain why it was permissible for them, yet not for this one man. Of course, by this point, there was no convincing them suddenly that they should keep their clothes on all the time; they brought the argument of bath time into consideration and it became a fruitless effort.

We all wanted to bring it up to him plainly, but none of us seemed able to summon the forthrightness to do so.

Eventually, we had all more or less warmed up to him, despite his candid, yet unspoken naturism. He became just another part of our small community, a bona fide member of our town. He banked at the local credit union, shopped at the local grocer’s market, and was a member of one of the local congregations—his freedom in praise was inspiring, too. He lived no differently than any other person I’ve known: he owned a car, he listened to music, and he read the daily paper. Truth be told, he was a fantastic cook, as well. Word spread round of his culinary abilities and, well, I sheepishly queried about a meal at his home. Since then, my family was invited to his home in frequent occasion, and not one dinner was a disappointment. Oh, and the children! They loved him. He was so good with our kids—I am speaking from experience, but I know our town stands in one accord on this matter. It was unexplainable how… how like a child he was, as if he lived in the bare (no pun intended) experience of childhood while still attaining the insight of adulthood. He came to know them so well, and they enjoyed him so well. And he cared for our kids like any of us would. He was a regular member of our intimate body. Honestly, we all came not to notice his nakedness. It certainly didn’t “catch on,” if you follow my meaning, but we accepted him completely as he completely accepted us. It was a veritable nonissue. I must confess though I was even guilty of envy. It seemed that there was something deep and alive in him that caused his blissful ignorance. Faintly though, living in the back of our heads, there was a question which still lives there now—in my head, at least. What would happen if I asked him about it? And now, I wonder if it would have been better to ask right away. Would things have turned out differently, or was it all simply inevitable? It’s hard to say with confidence.

Now I wasn’t there when it happened, so I can only provide hearsay for this portion of the story. Though I must articulate, the town is generally in unanimous agreement with one version of the tale, the one I plan to tell.

I can’t say if it was because we had all become so comfortable around him—it was a harmless statement, assuredly. It may have been the opposite. Maybe the faint question living in our heads had put up with our disregard for too long. Perhaps in our negligence of the one question concerning him, we had never completely accepted him as we thought.

In whatever way it came about, the account goes that he was at the Corner Pub (across from the Corner Station, both owned by Pat) with a handful of people. Most say that it was Gordon the butcher, Reverend Eliot, and ole Charlie Harrison (who writes for the paper) with him—now, Charlie is the crux of the situation here, so I’ll supply a brief background on him.

Charlie is a Vietnam veteran, one of many in town. However, Charlie came back on account of an amputated leg and Purple Heart—the rest of our boys came back unscarred. So ole Charlie became a little embittered, to say the least, and took to drinking pretty hard. Through a series of lows and timely encounters with Reverend Eliot, Charlie got saved, as they say, and says the Good Lord freed him from his drunkenness. He’s been clean for years and can proudly handle a drink without temptation—that, I can attest to. Every so often though, Charlie pushes his limits a little bit and has often wound up letting things spit from his lips that would have been better left un-spat. A lot of blame gets placed on Charlie for what happened, and I can understand why—I just don’t see it that way. Ole Charlie should know better to hold his tongue, but I don’t believe he should be held responsible for all that followed. We all have our own cross to bear. There’s no sense in piling them all on one man’s shoulders…

Anyway, Charlie’s had a few drinks in him and he starts ripping on everybody like he does. It’s all in jest, of course, but Charlie somehow has a way of picking your least favorite sections of your heart, the ones that you’re most ashamed of, and hanging them for public display. He doesn’t know he’s doing it, but I’ve often found myself shocked at the things he sees in me, afraid he’ll use it against me somehow. Now Charlie’s never done this, but when your ugly parts are exposed, you start to think a lot of things that maybe aren’t true.

“So what’s the deal with the birthday suit, friend?” Charlie bursts through childish giggling. Gordon and Reverend Eliot stare, stunned, probably wondering if the words they heard were Charlie’s or their own ever-living question.

“What do you mean?” he responded, still ignorantly blissful, as if he had never heard the expression before.

“Oh, come on,” Charlie continued, his mouth sticky with saliva, “why the hell are you buck naked all the time?”

“Um, forgive me, but I don’t think I follow…”

“Are you kidding me?” The giggling almost became cackling. “Friend, I don’t know if you are pulling my leg or what, but you are as naked as the day you were born!”

They say that the music stopped and everyone in the bar began listening intently, all with their nagging question, desirous to be quenched. Strange how the silence can amplify.

Charlie began pulling on his red, flannel shirt. “You see these? These are clothes, friend! We’ve all been wearing ‘em since Adam. Don’t you get cold, fool?” Charlie reached across and began groping at the skin of his clueless sufferer. “It’s honestly indecent, friend. Why don’t you just cover up?” Charlie’s spittle strewed across the table. The clueless sufferer gawked at his own body, horrified.

I don’t blame Charlie for what he said. He didn’t say anything I wasn’t thinking.

After that day, things had noticeably changed. I pulled into the Corner Station and saw him filling up, muttering indistinguishably to himself. I called his name only for him to whip around and snap, “Call me Zimmersett! Zimmersett the Naked Slave!” His eyes were erratic and foggy, leaving me astonished and puzzled, without response.

“Are—are you feeling well?”

“The seed is not bad,” he replied coldly. “Nor is the fruit bad. It is the soil.”

“What?” I entreated.

“The soil is bad.”

...continue reading...

December 9, 2008

Night Flight or Freedom Within Reach or How To Outrun A Train [josh]

He knew there was a kind of speed possessed of those being caught and another for whom freedom's within reach. Fear versus fear plus ability. He didn't know which kind now swallowed space and spat it out behind him like rails from an over-stoked train, but he was faster tonight than he'd ever cared to be.

Once he and eighteen hundred pounds of dumb madness squared off on his daddy's Wyoming ranch just eighty miles south of the waste he was now tearing across. Being cornered by a bull topped all harrowing encounters the boy had faced as a frontier child, but the thing that stuck in his mind was not whether he was fast enough, but how time seemed to slow in the midst of the panic. Adrenaline can have that effect, but this was about familiarity with bulls. It gave him a sense of direction.

There was no time or direction now. He was beyond panic and into The Blur. He'd no sense of rhythm, no awareness of breathing. There was nothing but dust and speed and the train. When the whistle blew it drowned out everything. He couldn't hear the wind or their steps behind him. He could see their lights. Sweeping all around and burning into his back like a long brand. Making him theirs. Run.

Something stung him. In the back of the head like a giant bee it knocked him over. He yelped and rolled and tasted dirt. They were throwing rocks and laughing and were no further now than a few yards. He scrambled to his feet and winced as pain swept through his head like a firey tide. Run. Run. He could feel blood cutting a path through his hair. He was reminded of the destruction he left. Fire and blood. Family. The Unspeakable Truth.

The fastest of them was gaining ground on him but only slightly. They were step for step cutting a path in the dark and dust towards what he knew was his Freedom Within Reach. In the ground he sensed the beginnings of his undoing. It began as a slight tremor in each step and built to a familiar vibration. Behind them, breaking the hill crest were the Sleeping Drunks On Horseback who woke to the blaze. Having found nothing alive at the house, they followed the tracks to where the boy now ran. The valley floor rumbled.

The train raced towards him at a right angle to his approach. Beyond it lay woods. One of them had come from the rear of the pack and nearly caught him. The boy could feel his presence just a step or two behind. His head ached and tears clouded his vision. The man grunted and reached out and grabbed the boy's shoulder. The boy felt a surge of determination and in a violent motion he turned to face the man and squarely planted his shoulder in his gut, heaving the mongrel into the air and dropping him onto his head. As the boy looked up, two others were upon him.

He felt tinge of confidence. A sense of direction. He boldly stepped into the first man and drove his forehead right into the man's nose and mouth. They hit hard. The man fell in a heap with his teeth raining down on him. He sidestepped the second man and then ran right by him towards his Freedom Within Reach.

It was no more than twenty yards to the tracks. The train was perilously close and moving fast. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the stretch and bob of a horses head and could hear the whoosh of a laso. Bottles were breaking all around. He stepped into the piercing glow of the train's headlamp and launched his body across the tracks. He streched out his arms to break his fall as his already shredded pants were violently stripped from his body. They flapped like The Flag of Freedom Within Reach as the train carried them into the dark.

...continue reading...

December 5, 2008

Edwin Finds a Girl [mark]

Seas of bowing blades of grass released their chromatic grasps on the world of color, slipping slowly into sepia hue. The pads of his feet laid them prostrate, carpeting his fearless foray through the flowing fall fields.

Edwin loved the feeling of the brisk autumn wind tousling his long fur like an enamored lover. The cold sky turned warm tones of purple and orange. Edwin closed his eyes as his trot became a gallop; the field was the only place a beast could run and dream of daring dives in the deep air. Feeling caught up in the wind as a fowl, Edwin leaped towards the sky, higher and farther with every bound. Gently gravity grew wise to his lawlessness and reached its spectral fingers out, grasping around his body and returning him to the soil. Oh what a feeling to be faintly free of these forces and flying. Running seemingly too fast for thermodynamic laws and their gravitational officers. But Edwin knew nothing of Newton or any such notion that he was under any such sort of restriction.

An odd wisp of air and strange scent tore all lack of notion from his wandering mind, promptly opening his eyes and returning him to his physical senses--arguably the least enchanting of all senses--there he froze. Without a sound his auburn and umber hair became like shoots of grass resting in an earthly and eventide embrace. Without hesitation, as his eyes focused on this new sight, his heart leaped before his mind leaving behind all the fading thoughts of dreams and freedom. Finding himself face to face and newly free, Edwin stood. He could not hide from what he had found. Eyes like his but not. Auburn and umber fur like his but not. Edwin fell; Edwin flew... and love. Within a tumultuous torrent of time and trembling Edwin slid along the firmament grasping at trains of thought chugging along the tracks of what to say and how to say it. Unfortunately the only things he could wrap his now moist paws around were the grain cars of blubbering and the caboose of foolishness.

Edwin blinked slowly and opened his mouth. No gallant sentences of love and admiration spilled out. No flowery words broke through the soggy dirt of his mind. Not even a syllable pushed its way past his teeth. The only thing that passed the quivering gate of his lips was the end of his tongue and some saliva out the corner of his mouth as his eyes glazed over and rolled back into his head. Edwin passed out.

Nothing pleases a girl more than knowing she has completely short circuited the simple mechanics in a boy's brain so she took his collapsing and trembling as a compliment. Much to Edwin's good fortune she granted him the good graces to gain a second chance to persuade intelligent thought from his gelatinous and quivering mind. And love, love came right on time. Little did he know that love resides in the latter half of the trains of thought in the grain car of blubbering and the caboose of foolishness.

...continue reading...

December 2, 2008

The City's Fall [liz]

On a hill I’ve never been to
There stands a tree
This tree is tall, it’s branches wide
It provides a great place to hide
I want to set a blanket beneath its limbs
And eat a meal from a basket
I would lie there with my love
And listen to the story of the leaves

As summer spun around the sun
Those leaves began to change
From green to red, orange, and yellow
Life to death she fell
But before the leaf could touch the ground
It disappeared, all without a sound
No one knew to where it went
Or if it would return

A city stands there now, taller than the tree
The days are packed with busyness
Fighting for our treasures
Buildings to the sky, tunnels underground
Neon lights flood the streets
But no one saw the sun go down

In our haste we have forgotten
To love, as God loves man
The bread that gave us life is old
Red bricks crumble and houses tumble
Papers that chronicle our legacy
Are tossed from windows broken
In their descent, they vanish
Along with our leaf and crown

...continue reading...

The Garden of Eden [theodora]

At times I still tragically ache for those days when we were perfect, those days when we were complete. Only two souls were given the opportunity to dwell in such ecstasy. Did they treasure it? Did they love it? I wonder if when evil broke through the sky like lighting, how it ripped their hearts and tore their minds. Did they cry out in anguish? Did they say, Have mercy on us? And now here, in today, we're always surrounded by forbidden fruit. It is eating us even more than we are eating it.

Oh, take me back to the Garden of Eden. Take me back to the land where my race once felt complete. Take me back to the place that only lives in our deepest imagination. Take me back to sanity.

Now we're here, in the land of death. We are not dying, we are promised hope, yet we smell, see, hear, and feel death as it occupies our surroundings like a shadow hanging on the wall. Indeed, all creation is groaning. Indeed, I am groaning. If one were to break into the private, secret places of my heart they might hear an echo saying, Bring me to peace. Bring me to peace. Bring me to peace. Bring me to peace. Bring me to peace. Oh Creator of all, bring me to peace. My mind is a roller coaster, my heart is a battle ground, all are parts of this thing called human depravity. Bring me to peace.

I hear ancient words sing like lullabies: We are pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned. I need these sacred promises as I might thirst for water or hunger for food. I need them as I need the air I breathe. I need to know this all won't be for naught. I need to know I am worth the fight. I need to know there is a fight worth fighting for. I need to know that hope is victoriously dancing just over that winter horizon.

I need to know (how I need it more than these words can ever say) that because of Ultimate death, there is life. And hallelujah, life more abundantly.

...continue reading...