Rainy Winter Day

This guy has been kicking around for a few months just looking for an excuse to see the light of day.

Rainy Winter Day

Words won’t come in winter,
when gray lies heavy over the snowless land.
Words won’t come from the muddy pools
set to rippling by big rain drops,
nor from the roads, slick and shiny
in the beams of car headlights.
Nevertheless, with strain they are pulled out
to bud like spring blossoms,
bathed in a false scent of May grass.
They are unnatural,
in this unlikely January thaw,
hanging limply from chapped lips.
Instead of opening, the words retreat,
becoming April’s,
until they are choked and fall to the ground,
unborn in the new cold of the same winter.
One must have a mind of granite
to draw the words out of the rocks
and the frosted blades of grass and
the parking lot asphalt cracks,
to divine their absence as something good,
in itself, beautiful.

When I was younger and a little bit dumber, I thought that I would never get warts. How wrong I was.

My first wart sprang up roughly two years ago, and now I have five (FIVE!) warts. For a long while, I adhered to the ever-comforting, old-wifely advice that these unsightly blights would eventually go away on their own, just flutter into the night like dandelion seeds. They haven’t. In fact, they’ve only grown bigger and bigger, and likely stronger, over time. Well, I got fed up. I decided to throw caution and the tales of old wives and the facts of so-called doctors to the wind.

So, after reading a number of dubious Internet sources espousing DIY wart removal, and having tried a patchwork of these methods myself, I’m delighted to share with you my own, highly scientific approach to wart destruction. Continue Reading »

For Liliana, For a Time to Come

Liliana watches the face on the screen.
She listens to the gruff voice of a man
she does not know and shrugs.

Liliana, older now, watches the face more carefully.
She has come to know the lines drawn around his smile.
His voice, coming to her across the years,
sounds into the unexplored depths of her memory,
its Jersey croon stirring a part of her brain
that refuses to wake, stunted as it was in its infancy.
She knows only this version now:
signals of data, preserved for her and millions of others,
reproduced through electric pulses,
an echo without origin.
She is sad, but she cannot place it.

In each scene, live bits of him,
traces of his character displayed in actor-hyperbole:
a fist to break an enemy’s nose,
a hand to caress a lover,
and every shade in between.
With what she knows and what she observes,
Liliana cobbles together an image of her father,
tries to look beyond the veil of art to see something true.

Liliana tires of the endless questions,
hates faking the gravity of her emotions.
Her love for her father’s work is not a private thing.
She humors the admirers and the family friends and the reporters,
all praising some hidden ideal which she can’t understand.
She just wants to know her dad.
Instead, she has had to settle for the vicarious parenting of Tony Soprano,
watch with jealousy as his fake children endure his fake moods,
while she can’t remember the feel of his kiss on her cheek,
can only imagine how his eyes filled with tears the first time he saw her.
Liliana is bitter of his legacy.

Yet she loves him, somehow.
Perhaps she too acts it out,
willing the primal blood-bond to reach back
and recreate the eight months she had with him,
leaving an impression that calms her like a father’s love,
assuring in its ubiquity.
Liliana has peace when the screen blinks off
and the fantasies stop attempting to fill his void.
Because when she smiles,
she knows it is his smile.

Hello friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters. Today is a glorious day. Let the trumpets ring out in fanfare; let the drums beat steadily on. Stay your fluttering hearts and quiet your crying babes, and whatever you do, do not avert your eyes, for Blog Wars 2013 is come! And this small Kentucky patch of the wide world Web will shake.

An Explanation: About a year ago, three friends of mine, Cory, Kelcie, and Erin, decided to challenge themselves creatively and take up the mantle of Blog Warriors. For one week they toiled through sweat and tears (quite literally) to spin the contents of their minds into funny and affecting gold. So began the tradition of Blog Wars and the founding of the Blog Wars Council. Now the time has come for the second annual battle of words and social-media clout. This time ’round, the Council, in its wisdom, has graciously extended the invitation to yours truly to join the fray. Yes it is a competition, but really everyone wins.

This year, Blog Wars will continue for an entire month (July, obviously) and a stronger framework of rules has been established. The complete rules are detailed nicely here by Miss Erin, but you don’t really need to know all that. Just sit back and enjoy the ink-shed (or should it be pixel-shed? puns will abound over the next month, have no doubt of that).

The Players: In this month-long battle of wits, I will square off against four other Warriors. They are: Miss Erin, who makes her home at Act IV; Miss (soon to be Missus) Kelcie, who chills at On the Fringes; Master Cory, who dreams at A Multitude of Drops; and Miss Kim of A book, coffee, and the park, a fellow newcomer who I’ve yet to meet but will surely learn more about. More may yet come forth and accept the challenge, but for now, we five will take up the proverbial pen and notebook and have at it. I am honored to be in their company.

Truly folks, competition aside, this is a great excuse for me to actually write. This blog has lain dormant for long enough, kept alive only by the occasional poem. As a technical writer, I’m often too burned out on computer-screen-staring and want nothing to do with it when I come home. No more! I will speak my latent conviction. RiR is about to see more activity than ever before. If not, then all the buildup of this introductory post has been for naught. But I shan’t let that happen. This will be the adventure of my July, secondary only to the jury duty that I am currently serving (fingers crossed that I don’t actually get selected for a trial; seriously, cross ’em). Note that, since I am slow, #BW13 (as it will be called in Twitter-speak) technically began yesterday.

So, look forward to some interesting (I hope) posts coming soon; I’ve got some idears that should be rewarding. Don’t hesitate to get involved. Leave comments. Read my fellow Warriors’ blogs. It’ll be fun.

Let the great experiment begin!

Last Supper

My dad died a year ago today. I wrote this poem about a moment during his last days that has stuck with me over the past year.

Last Supper

You said you looked forward to a new body,
one incorruptible and free of disease,
light without the weight of waiting.
Much of your world was sleep by then
and the dreams you had were evident in your eyes;
but this declaration came from a clear mind,
even though the words you said later
showed you were slipping away.
You said you looked forward to death
and I marveled.

Out of a plastic bag came a broken body,
from a plastic bottle a thimble-full of blood;
plastic tubing had sent chemicals into your body,
causing numbness in your fingers,
but you did not note the similarity.
Your bed was matted in the same way that Grandpa’s was;
a sick body is a heavy one.
You sat on that bed and listened to words you’d heard
spoken many times from a pulpit.
I held the bread and the cup and knew
that I was being given a gift,
far more than a collection of images to scrawl down a year later,
but a moment to hide in my heart forever.
In remembering, we were hoping for a miracle,
but, remembering now, I realize that miracle was given long ago:
a figure on a cross and an empty tomb.

Death did come for you soon after,
not in triumph, but only as a guide.
When I got that call, my last words to you echoed in my head,
saturating me like wine soaking into a loaf of bread,
life blood beating in my ears.
“I love you.”
Deposited in the air, whispered daily in every breath,
back to me, again and again and again:

I dream of you sometimes.
They are visions that you fit into so easily;
there’s no shock, no fear.
They are premonitions of a kind that I cannot shake,
like the hue of that last supper with you added
to the tapestry of unresolving colors that springs up
each time I take the bread and cup
and hear His words whispered in my ears:
“I love you.”

A Thought

It has been a disturbingly long time since I have posted anything and I am, frankly, ashamed. I simply have not done much writing over the past 10 months. I won’t lie, it is hard to find motivation in the evening to sit at a computer and write after sitting at a computer and writing all day. Moreover, my home computer is something of a train wreck that is borderline unusable. But, excuses aside, I have been lazy and I want to get unlazy. I have a small backlog of half-written poems that I’d like to polish up and put out there for consumption, so I’ll leave you with this short piece I wrote some time ago. And as for doing more writing, I’ll let my rallying cry be that of Pat Solitano, Jr.:  “Excelcior!”

A Thought

Have you been living there long,
Right behind my eyes,
clawing to get out?
A swimming image is all,
tapping and waltzing with exuberance
in time to the music in my ears.
You are a thought, simmering and simpering,
waiting, against all odds,
to be called to attention; recalled.
With no conscious effort
you spring up, ready, queued.
I’m taken back, for a moment,
to observe a moment: a fleeting glance of swaying hips,
Dredged through faulty synapses,
to appear an inky and shaded thing.

The Haiku Challenge

So today, on a whim, I set myself a challenge: write five haikus in 15 minutes. Not the most outrageous dare, I know, but it was fun. So, I passed it on to my bud Cory, and he too took up the challenge. Now we’ve both got a new way to break up our bouts of boredom. Throughout the day, I did three sessions of this challenge; in the final session I wrote six. I make no claims that these follow all of the traditional haiku conditions or that they are particularly good, but all of the sessions were completed within the 15 minute time limit. I hope you enjoy these, and if you decide to take on a similar challenge yourself, share what you come up with. Just remember, it’s about integrity.

Session 1

Sing Muse, let me hear
The secret workings of the
Bent, unconscious mind.

The breeze is pleasant.
The sun is hot and rude, but
Together they twine.

Blue-tipped clouds above
Drift in perfect peace and bliss,
While we fools work on.

Dreams beset my brain
In morning waking sleep when
Sunlight should lift lids.

Sweat glistens on skin,
Each breath and step is hard work;
I’m running today.

Session 2

Youth and beauty are
Not overrated by those
Who are beyond them.

My mouth was erased.
Words only seep out through my
Eyes, ears, and nose now.

Music invades minds,
Infects limbs with motion and
Melts faces, sometimes.

Time is short, so short.
Let’s lament it together.
“Where has the time gone?”

Paris is burning!
So says the voice in my head.
Let the ash rain down.

Session 3

The last one, here goes:
To be or not to be? Hey!
That’s cheating, says I.

My tongue is tickled
By a flayed, soggy toothpick.
So the words pour forth.

Stomp your hands, clap feet.
Fiddle’s a-playing tonight;
To the streets we go.

Water bright and clear,
Undisturbed glassy surface.
Jump in boys! Ahoy!

Keys unlock doorways.
But some open your brain-box,
According to Joe.

It is quittin’ time.
Chickens take flight after work.
So farewell, Earth-bound.

Tribute for Dad

For Dad

When I was child, you would carry me to my bed, asleep and helpless.
And in that embrace, Dad, I knew the unspoken security and love that you provided.
You were my kid-brain’s image of God.

I knew the same comfort when you picked me up after I smashed Mom’s car,
the calm reassurance of your experience and patience: a father’s love for a son.

I knew your humor every time you reached over to me in the car when I was little and tickled me
until I was squirming and practically screaming for you to stop,
only wanting you to attack again so I could hopelessly defend against it.

So many nights I heard the plucked strings of your guitar float into my room;
so many times squinted into the flashing light of your camera as you recorded the beauty of the world,
a responsibility you held sacred.

You were always a wellspring of wisdom to me, a guidepost for right and wrong,
though I’d seldom admit that to you: a son’s love for a father.

It’s hard to write about you in the past tense,
knowing that you won’t be here to get so angry when the Brown’s screw up,
that I can’t call you for advice on even the most basic of adult tasks.
That you’ll never know my wife or my children.

But it is equally joyful to write about your present, your now.
You are with Christ, who you loved and showed how to love;
you’ve been reunited with your own father;
you no longer know the pain of this broken world.
And you’re witnessing mysteries unfold before you that we can only guess at.

The full realization of your absence will dawn slowly
as we learn to see the world without you.
How can I sum up what you mean to me in a few hastily written lines?
I can’t.
I dip into my well of memory to pull out the poignant moments,
but what comes instead is the remembrance of your day-to-day omnipresence in my life.
It is the swirling images of the camera you always had at hand,
a montage of the little things that now creates the pangs of heartache.
God blessed us with your humor, your pragmatism, your unwavering support…

We miss you already, Dad, and we’ll miss you more as time goes on.
But we have the memories of our shared laughter and love
and the knowledge that you are in the presence of the Source of all love and grace.
I like to think that you’re getting to do a bit of flying now,
like the birds and airplanes that you so admired.

Farewell for now, Pop. We’ll see you again.

Welcome to my new WordPress blog. I’m not going to bore you with the obligatory introduction post, so I’ll get right to it.  The Girl Who Could Fly is a very brief story I wrote recently, which debuted on my friend Kelcie’s blog, On the Fringes. So, dear readers, I trot out this spent gem for you as my inaugural post. I hope you enjoy it.

The Girl Who Could Fly

It happened for the first time one cool night in November. Katie stepped off her back porch and floated down to the ground, light as a feather. Startled, and having no idea what she had done, she raced back up the steps and did it again. She drifted downward and when her feet touched the ground, she kicked off softly. This time she drifted upward. She went further and further from the earth and soon she was higher than the tallest treetop in her backyard with a thrilling and terrifying feeling of vertigo in her gut.

That night she flew.

And she didn’t stop flying. She flew whenever she got the chance, taking pains to not be discovered lest she wake from her dream and bring the world’s eye upon her. Her favorite time to fly was just before dawn, when most people were still asleep and there was just enough twilight to see the world waking up.

She would hurtle toward the sky and feel the crisp air claw at her cheeks, turning them rosy red. Once she ascended high enough to look over the whole neighborhood, she would stop and hover there, staring out at the landscape spread before her; a mix of nostalgia and giddiness nearly overwhelmed her every time. Then she was off, ears filled with whirring air, eyes watering. She would zoom through the busiest metropolises, sometimes diving down toward the streets then swooping up at the last moment to soar above the skyscrapers. She would cruise above the clouds and catch glimpses of the still-dark, patchwork land below and marvel at how big it all was. She would peruse the remotest places of the world: mountain ranges, valleys, deserts, glacial fields. She once watched the sunrise as she zigged and zagged through the Grand Canyon. She’d gazed at the Northern Lights from a pillow of clouds. Occasionally she flew so high that she had trouble drawing breath and had to dive down to where the atmosphere was thicker.

After each of these adventures, she would fly back home and tuck herself into bed before anyone else in the house woke up. Those early morning flights always left a twinkle in her eye that would stay there for the rest of the day. Maybe that was why she was so well liked, her laugh so infectious. Katie’s gift of flight defined her, it was her joy. And yet she kept it secret always.

* * *

One morning, before the sun was up, a boy caught a glimpse of Katie levitating in her backyard. She fell out of the air and broke her arm.

* * *

The twinkle went out of Katie’s eyes that day. She didn’t feel giddy anymore after she lost flight; the only nostalgia she felt was a baleful memory of soaring, which always turned into painful longing. She muddled along as the years rolled by, consumed by her loss. Those who were close to her could not reckon what horrible turn had come over her; one day their Katie was bright and bubbly, the next she was cold and detached. Many assumed some kind of depression had come over her when she broke her arm, but none knew the true reason.

One day, as Katie sat sketching in a small café, a young gentleman approached her and asked what she was drawing.  She had taken to drawing and painting—mostly birds and other winged creatures—to help cope with the weight of her depression. She looked at the man tiredly and showed him the half-finished sketch of a finch in mid-flight. The man examined the drawing for some time then told her how much he admired her technique. He went on to say how much he admired her looks and wondered if she would like to go to dinner.

She said yes. And much to her surprise she liked the man. They saw a lot of each other over the next couple months, and for the first time in years Katie’s thoughts were filled with more than flight. They went on dates to museums and cinemas and discussed how pretentious modern art was. He cooked meals for her while they laughed at reruns of crummy sitcoms. She met his parents and charmed them with a bit of her old charisma. Eventually, he got down on one knee and proposed to her in front of a babbling fountain on a crisp winter night. She accepted with delight. But as much as she loved him, and she did love him, she knew the secret she bore would come between them if she didn’t tell him.

So one night, several days before their wedding, she took his hand in hers and told him of a time when she had been able to fly. She started to cry as she recounted her experiences and became nearly incoherent when she described how the gift inexplicably left her. As she told this long kept secret, the man grew paler and paler and said very little. When she finished, he stood and ran a hand through his hair. He looked at her with a mix of shock and pity. Katie thought the man was going to denounce her as insane and call the wedding off. Instead, he told her in a shaky voice that years ago he had seen a girl floating in the air. He thought he had imagined it, but that night, he found that he too could fly. And he had been going on night flights of his own ever since.

Katie stared straight ahead, her tear-streaked face white, all light gone out in her eyes.

* * *

Far away, a young girl was racing down a snow-covered hill on a sled. At the bottom of the hill, she rocketed off an improvised ramp of packed snow and ice. The sled fell to the unmarked snow beyond the ramp, leaving a light track as it skidded forward. The girl continued soaring, rushing toward the snow-leaden clouds above.