Thursday, May 24, 2012

C. Shaw

What I did today, I say when he asks, is I scoured the internet for ironing tips. I laugh.  He laughs. 

We tear the plastic pouches of soy sauce, using fingers to pop the fish and rice convenience into our mouths.  We swat the naked bottoms of our children when they run laughing from the bath, and we kick the toys under the sofa to ignore them. The wind is blowing outside, and I wonder if maybe I’m meant to be out there.  There’s a thing inside of me that moves like a snake.  It hisses and lurches and crawls into dark spaces to lie in wait.

I put her toothbrush back into the cup where it belongs, and I run the washcloth over the sink before tossing it into the hamper.  With a sigh, I fold myself onto the sofa.  He reaches for the remote.

The light changes from artificial, overhead bulb to artificial glow from the box in front of us.  The wind is still blowing outside, and I imagine we’re refugees from the future, surreptitiously plugging into this machine to recharge. 

I imagine I’m protesting, wild in the streets of Egypt.  I remember being nineteen, studying literature, replacing food with poetry.  I remember that it felt like freedom to weigh nothing at all but for the contents of my head.

I run my thumb down the tattoo on the side of his neck and then follow that trail with my tongue.  I remember how the bricks scraped my skin raw that time we fucked outside the bar, but mostly I remember what the sky looked like—how I couldn’t tell where the smoke ended and the clouds began.

Some people call it dirty, like there isn’t more shame in Googling ironing tips.

There’s nothing new in this world, and when I breathe, I know I’m supposed to be grateful that the air I’m breathing is more cloud than smoke.  But the truth is I’d sell it all for the smoke.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Baggage Claim by C. D. Tolliver

Baggage claim. The continuing nightmare. They’ve lost my luggage on every flight since I was 8 years old. But I was late and I’d had to check my carry-on bag. No room in the overhead bins and the only seat was at the emergency exit. Still, it was only a 30-minute flight. What could go wrong, right?

Two hours later, we finally took off. But now thunderstorms rage on our flight path. We’ll have to fly around. The turbulence is so bad they won’t serve drinks. It’s supposed to be a 30-minute flight, but the tornado says otherwise. Was that a hailstone or a bowling ball? The pilots are somehow keeping us airborne. It feels like one of those rides, “Plunge to your Death” or “Through the Mountains of Madness”.

I see the undulating cloud of puke before it hits me. The woman with the five kids is apologetic. Her oldest offers me clean cloths. We’ve passed the storm and I can make my way to the toilet to change, others making way for the man covered in puke.

Dressed in the kid’s clothes, I get to deplane and go to claim my single bag. The flight through Hell has taken three hours, not counting tarmac time. Finally, the light announcing baggage arrival starts to blink. Bag after bag drops down the shoot. All but mine, claimed by whatever gremlins waylay luggage. I dully report it and am told it’ll probably arrive on the next flight. I wait.

After two more hours, I hear my name over the intercom. At the office a preternaturally cheerful chipmunk says, “We’ve found your luggage.” And points to the pile of bags. “But I only had . . .,” I start, and am immobilized in amazement. That bag has a Braniff sticker, and the next, TWA, and the next Pan Am. They’ve found all my luggage, not the one bag I was expecting, but every other bag that had gone missing since my first flight. Fifty-five years of missing luggage.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

FKC: Going Home

It was all she could do to hang on even a few more minutes in the office. Her health had not fully returned, by all accounts a permanent situation. So she called the car service and slipped away to get a ride home. The car arrived on time, and she was thankful that the driver was able to quickly get her walker in the trunk. A walker at 30 years old, cut tennis balls on the bottom and all. Pathetic. Having to help was so tiring, and her leg was already swollen and stiff. She climbed into the back seat and turned sideways to stretch her legs out on its large expanse. Ah, the relief. Her ankle had resumed its big as a baseball habit, signaling its need to have a half dozen or so pillows propping it up. Just ten minutes. Just ten minutes.

As the car exited the highway, she could practically see her apartment building through her half-closed eyes. Just a few more blocks. Just a few more blocks and ... thud. Before she knew what happened, she'd been bounced off the back seat and on to the expansive floor of the town car. She was frozen. Frozen with memories, flashbacks, and the idea that this could be happening again, and again, and again. Though the muffled yelling of two drivers intruded on her shock, she could think of only one thing: call her therapist. When the therapist answered the phone, the words poured out, no identification necessary. "I was just in car accident." There was a silence at the other end of the line. A knowing, deep, long silence that was contemplating each instance of trouble she had endured and searching for the comforting words that no longer existed. The silence was broken with a considered and sincere suggestion. "Perhaps we should get you an exorcism."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Untitled, by Anonymous"

She left when I was two. I don’t even remember her face. You raised me, were both mother and father. This Hallmark day in May is not her moment. Happy Mother’s Day, Dad.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother by Diane

For those 7 weeks, we were one, you and I.
I stroked you, sang to you until the pain silenced
my song.
As you drained from me, I was a mother no more.

By: Diane Turner

Missing Mom

Love, hate, anger, sorrow,

Yes, we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Always there, never far,

Sure, you lent out your old car.

Now because of little brother,

We never hear from our dear Mother.

--CD Tolliver

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tryptich in 4 Parts by C.D. Tolliver

The Roman three is III, 
The Arabic an elegant 3,
The Greek is a keraia-ed gamma,
and the German, Fraktur or Sütterlin,
is like unto a Runic thorn,
narrow with a bitter end.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Renada Styles

  1. What is your name (real or otherwise)? Renada Styles
  2. Describe your writing style in three words. occurs without thought
  3. How long have you been writing online? 7 years
  4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? none
  5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. more diligence to editing
  6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? Life is not without words, so speak, whether it be with your tongue, hand or ink.
  7. Who is your favorite author? of the moment, Chuck Palahniuk
  8. How do you make time to write? I sit and write when it occurs to me to sit and write, whether it be from want or need.
  9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. bouquet
  10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading. I've no blog; however, here is the first part of a piece I have been attempting to write for some time.  Due to a lack of diligence, it may never see more than the 4 short parts thus far written:
    Where am I? What is this strange place? Must it be a dream? Must this pain building in my chest and mind be a reaction to nightmares?
    Oh, I wish it were so.
    Any moment, I'll wake and be resting in my bed. The sheets crisp and clean; the smell muggy and sterilized; the walls and floors a pristine white camouflaging the cupboards and dressers.
    Never once have I thought Room 242B a welcoming place; but, compared to this realm of terror, it is beautiful and magnificent.

    I shuffle around this new whiteness, the blinding ceaseless white world I now travel. Hours? Days? Years?
    Or mere moments?
    Time seems to not exist in this infinity promising nothing but death.......
    I fear that.
    That final end. That end to who I am....
    This disease I possess (that crawls through my veins, nips at my heart, and drowns my hopes in its blood) is nothing compared to the imminent terror that presently has stricken my soul. The drops of morphine I am allotted every once an hour at least quelled the physical agony; but, here, I have no artificial pain reliever.
    My mind and body crumple.
    I'm a little ball on the floor.
    Is this even a floor?
    Everything is the same white. Just me in whiteness... Perhaps, this is the light of death?
    Have I already succumbed to my illness and fallen prey to my fear?
    My heart is still beating. It is beating so quickly that my chest burns. Where is the nurse? The doctor? The old lady in the bed next to mine?
    Moth-“ I hack from the strain of speech. Has it truly been that long since I've spoken?
    My throat feels like cracking cement in the middle of July.
    Father?” The word comes out now. Rough, jagged. Is this my voice? No. It cannot be. Where is my voice? Water. Yes, water will bring back the proper intonations. Where is water?
    This change of thought from want to need saves me, even if for a moment, from the pain of fear. I must concentrate on water. Where can I find water?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Symphony

The skies quaked and the ground roared; the air tremored while the wind blasted a cold symphony. The gattling of the guns and the scream of the mortars that convulsed into an explosion upon landing sang to me as though brass and strings screeching their highest pitch. I played no instrument as I ran along side my fellow musicians. The black shell that released a jolt every time it fired had been lost when we scrambled from an issued grenade. My hands were sleeked with sweat and the fine machine had escaped my grasp.

The tension rose as the forte crescendo-ed; the white light of seeming fireworks fell from the sky, as a harmony playing the softer touches to the raucous melody.

Then, a rest. A profound, single-beat-rest deafened the sounds that vibrated my skull. My ear had lost the song; the war; the rampage.

Then, as the sun bounced from a glint of metal, as though a streak of lightening, the sounds followed rumbling back. They were so soft at first. Climbing, climbing, louder and louder. Till a final crash echoed forth toppling the orchestra into its finale.

The conductor must stand poised somewhere, arms raised, idling, anticipating the strike he must issue. And, with a flourish, I could see it in my mind's eye, he wrenched his arms down and the thunder of the final note keeled me over.

By: Renada Styles