Poetry and Prose… and Coffee

Yanked out of the deep netherworld of dreams by a sudden squawking, I groggily fumble for my phone and manage to stumble across the snooze button. Somehow. Nothing exists at this hour of the morning except the coffee pot. No coffee—who am I, and what am I doing up this early? Coffee perking—it’s not so bad; at least I’ll get to watch the sunrise. Pouring the first cup—ah, life is all right I suppose. First sip—once again a rational (if not fully coherent) member of the human race. Complete and utter silence. I slide into my chair and snap on the lamp. After the first long drink or two, and with much creaking and protest, the gears in my brain begin turning again. One or two lines… complete rubbish. I erase them, and take another long swig of coffee. Somewhere in the second paragraph, and about halfway through the first mug, it all begins to make sense. The words flow easily and freely. There’s almost a sense of disconnect between my brain and my fingers—am I even consciously thinking about each word as it appears on the page? But all too soon it’s over. I’ve run out of time again, or to be more accurate, time has run away with me.

The sun is peeking his face over the edge of the horizon, so I turn instead to tasks, and my neatly ordered lists. Do this, read that, say this, pack this, plan this, go here, get that… And I check. Neat little checkmarks, all in a row. My day is a page of ordered lines, with little boxes to color in. But I can never color them all in, because new lines and new boxes are forever being added to the bottom of this seemingly infinite page. I write new lines, I cross some out, and I color a few boxes in. At some point I’ve done enough of them, even if they aren’t all complete. So I bury the lists and try not to think about them.

The sun is gone once more
Hidden from my view
I ought to sleep, but instead I think
About the day, and the morning new
Little things
Become lines and rhymes
Bits of words, snatched from time
I catch them as they drift on by
Nab them with the tip of my pen
And carefully trace, lest I forget
The heartbeat of the day.

The Land of Ravens

Rough sketch of 1-40, headed through New Mexico. Ballpoint pen and plain paper.

Rough sketch of 1-40, headed through New Mexico. Media: ballpoint pen.

Ever onward, the road hums beneath rubber tires, an asphalt ribbon winding its long way over wide plains and through wide valleys twist red rock bluffs. Some might call this wilderness desolate, but it teems with life. Not the moist, gushing, and lush greens that remain more familiar to the traveler’s eye perhaps, but there is life nonetheless. It is life of a hardier sort, life capable of subsisting on minimal water, able to endure scorching heat. Bleached grass clings stubbornly to  rocky soil, and specimens of the larger and shrubbier kind spread pale green leaves to the wide sky. But there are trees, and their dark green leaves speak of live giving water deep in the soil, while battered bark bears testimony to the bite of swirling sand kicked up and tossed about by the dry and gusting wind. This is the land of ravens, dear traveler, and if you look closely, you might catch the glossy flash of blue-black feathers among the broken rocks. And in turn, the tumbled, broken rocks give way to hills. They ripple the landscape, like ocean waves of living stone frozen at their cresting. As if some mighty hand drew its fingers cross the surface of the world, piling earth on earth with no more effort than if it had been a child’s blanket.

“TAXIDERMY” It Read

Have I mentioned lately how much I love descriptions? Probably because of the Tolkien-ish part of my soul. But this building exists. And was entirely too creepy and odd to not record. It’s tucked away on the side of a highway in North Texas…

Cracked and peeling yellow paint clung still to the battered and timeworn shack. The walls were serviceable, but would no doubt offer little aesthetic pleasure to an interior designer–unless of course, the designer was one of more quirky and extraordinary artistic tastes. To such, even corrugated metal sheets can hold a taste of beauty. A shaggy and ill-groomed tree leaned close to the building, its boughs brushing and scraping the weary paint. Drooping, leaved fingers stretched out, half concealing the dingy lettering, now faded and brown, that bore the central position above the main entrance. It was as if even the tree was dubious and wished to shield the eyes of the roadway’s occupants. Though shadowed, the lettering was legible and merited many second glances from passing motorists: TAXIDERMY. A muddied white pickup truck was drawn up at a crooked angle on one side of the building, fresh tracks stamped in the damp earth behind it.

WIP Excerpt

WIP excerpt time! Over the last week, I’ve been doing a lot of timelining (yes, that is officially now a word) and outlining. My hope is that a strong foundation and history will cause the story to unfold more naturally. But for now, allow me to introduce the Chameleons:

He threw back his head and laughed. “You expect us to know who the Chameleons are and where they came from? This only we know for sure: they are a people obsessed with the mind, and eaten alive by their own memories. Whatever their past, whatever their origin, it was awful enough for them to have one desire—to forget. They manipulate memories; the minds of the living are their playgrounds. Only they know what has befallen them, but they have chosen to forget. Even if there were one of their own to speak up, to tell the tale, and to unveil the mystery… how could we know for sure whether it be true or false? It could just as easily be a falsified memory. They have collapsed so far inward that they no longer trust each other, or even themselves. That is why they use The Protection—why they resort to those they would deem as “lesser” in their quest to decipher the old technologies. Their great power has become their undoing—they fear themselves, and what they have created.”