Monday, January 29, 2018

You See What You Feel

(Dixon Gallery and Gardens - Memphis, Tennessee -  2018)

As David listened to Thelonius Monk, he moaned in ecstasy as he pulled into a deserted parking lot while on the way to work. He needed to close his eyes and “see” Monk.  He wanted to watch the sweat pour down the musician’s face as he slammed out the notes on his piano. David was a rare person in that he could “see” into the mind of a creative person, especially if he touched, read, or listened their work.  He felt what they felt when they produced their works and even felt their loss when they had their failures. While some people called him an empath, others just deemed him insane. David tightened his grip on the steering wheel as he “watched” the jazz musician play for himself. The notes, the sounds, the despair. All of it. When the track finally faded into nothing, David slowly opened his eyes as the rush dissipated then continued his drive to work with a large grin on his face. In this perfect moment, David met Thelonius Monk and called him friend. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Second Generation

(Downtown Memphis Tennessee - 2015)

He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders yet he was used to it. No one else was fit to be selfless in this cycle of time, he once told me, because people chose to be hedonistic rather than to simply live, love, and learn. Perhaps they were unaware that the Romans were long gone from the game board of the world, having turned in their lead soaked playing chips. I admired him for the fact that he refused any form of help; it was in his blood, after all. To be the son of Atlas was not easy but he held his own. Even when the offspring of deities would tease and taunt his stoic nature, he held his head high and tightened his grip on the massive sphere above his solid frame, his eyes focused on something that only he could see. When he took breaks from his task, he sought to have tea with me for my presence was soothing and cool like aloe on skin. At first, I wondered why anyone would want to spend their leisure time with the daughter of Hades but I later realized that he respected and liked me. My background carried never-ending waves of disdain, prejudice, and hatred from others, but I could not change any of it. Twas the will of the gods. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

She Was Never Here

(Overton Park - Memphis, Tennessee - 2014)

She was never here, not really. It no longer matters but the truth is that she was never here. Perhaps one might have seen a flash of an ankle or her favourite bracelet dangling from her slender wrist. Or, perhaps, one saw nothing and walked along the street, whistling a tune that made no sense but still needed to come forth and be free. She was like that, you know. A song that needed its freedom, waiting for the right moment when someone would no longer think about the WHAT but rather the WHY. All in good time, she thought. With what I just told you, I wonder if somehow this was a dream cooked, prepared, and seasoned well by her? A bit over the top, really, but who can say? I wish she were here with me. We used to go to bookstores every Saturday, choosing a different one for the flavour and zest. Never mind the fact that all stores carried the same books and the same boring coffee. What mattered was that we would be together.
 I wanted her to like me and perhaps she did in her own way, but it is too late for me to even wonder now. She left without saying goodbye and yet she was never here. People used to ask me about my sanity, wondering if I was indeed slipping into a rabbit hole that I somehow created. “You know she never existed,” they would tell me over and over again and still I refused to believe them. I wanted to be right; after all, I was the only one who could still feel my emotions. She was never here, she was never here -  I keep telling myself that and yet it gets harder and harder to convince me otherwise. I want to be free of her memory, if only for a little while because she invades my nightmares too. She has slowly taken over my life like a cancer and I am not sure if I want it removed. She dyed my brain purple, if that can even be believed, but I can now spit in that colour. I no longer know what I want in life . . . well, I want to know that I was right, that she was never here. However, when I see her walking towards me with a smile brighter than Helios’ chariot, I want to cry. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We're ALL Mad Here . . . .

If you did not read my Facebook post from earlier today, I stated that I was very close to cussing out author (and dear friend) Derek E. Dykes because his book, MADNESS, was such an awesome read that left me on a delicious cliffhanger. Yes, I was very close to cussing him out but I didn't. Instead, I told him just how much I loved his book and that I couldn't wait to read the second and third books in the trilogy.

I've always had a fascination with madness and insanity. Don't ask why. Just nod and smile.

Throughout history, Mankind has tried to figure out ways of "handling" the mentally ill - from treating them as god-touched to burning them as witches, from locking them in cold facilities to handing them drug cocktails and calling it a night. MADNESS takes place in the year 2054 in the lovely city of Mobile, Alabama. The United States is plagued with Dark Zones - former areas of cities that are now swept to the side to make way for the better, pure, sanitary, and the safe. The Dark Zones are not for the weak of heart, yet those who can not afford or fit in the upgrades are "sent" or left there. And its the Dark Zone of Mobile in which FBI agent Ellyandra Dyett and her team discover that things that exist in the Dark Zone should never see the light of day. Thanks to locating a mummy in a forgotten lab, Elly and her friends and teammates stumble into a sinister conspiracy that spans years and bodies. Oh and um . . . watch your eyes.

MADNESS, the first book in the Dark Zone trilogy, was a roller coaster ride through Hell with no plans of stopping. Dykes has created a cyberpunk-ish Mobile, fueled with lies, deception, and family lies with a kick ass woman in the center of it all. I have to hand it to Dykes - although the book was written from her perspective, you would never guess that a man wrote her character. She's real, all hope and justice, kick ass moves and temper to match. Yet, she's a woman. A real woman who must deal with what is suddenly thrown upon her. She is not a "dude with tits", nor is she some wispy thing who faints every time she sees something unpleasant. She's real and that's what makes her ordeal that much harder to stomach. I will state that if you get upset in reading scenes regarding torture and treatment of the mentally ill, you may not want to read this book; however, you'd be missing out on such a delightfully dark novel. I can even imagine this book turning into a film.

I had to ask Dykes about his obsession with eyes (very important in the book) and he said this:

"Eyes are the first thing I see on a person . . . they are both a point of immense beauty and delicate weakness."

I really wonder what he saw when he first saw my eyes. I digress.

Dykes will be at CoastCon this year and YES, he will have copies of his books for sale. However, if you can't wait until March, then please go to Amazon to purchase your copy. You won't be disappointed.

Thank you again, Derek, and see you at CoastCon!


Monday, January 22, 2018

Softly, Listen to Your Death

(White Sands National Monument - New Mexico - 2015)

The winds called her name. He wanted to shut his eyes forever yet knew that he needed his sight. He wrapped his arms around his waist as he trudged along. One step followed by another. He had to keep moving or else die like so many before and after him. He walked because he had no choice. The winds smelled of the still burning bodies and discarded lives  now whipped around him, taunting the fact that he refused to sit down. Lie down, the winds moaned to him. Lie down and forget it all. It's better to forget. He stopped and stared up at the grey sky and wondered when he last saw the sun. The winds died down for now, so he sat on a massive rock and took off what remained of his shoes. His feet, dry and cracked, rested on the dead grass. He hung his head low as a flash image of her entered his mind. The winds began to slowly whisper her name as they caressed his worn face with their dirty hands. They told him that she did die, that's right. You held her in your arms when she died. She couldn't go on anymore yet you refused to leave her. Her name, the winds whispered to him. Her name. Remember her name. He clutched his shirt, surprisingly still clean, and felt his heart beat against his thin chest. He looked at his surroundings - no much gone. What day was it? What time? Are watches still relevant? He wished for a glass of water. A cool glass of water and a kiss from Julie. Soft and sweet lips that always smelled like strawberries. He slowly put his shoes back on then got off the rock and trudged on. He wanted to rest like the winds wanted him to, but he couldn't. He had to keep going. He stared at the still grey sky and wondered if Earth had been reborn.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Desert Muse

(Santa Fe, New Mexico - 2015)

To be in New Mexico is to be alive. When I visited the Land of Enchantment for the first time, I felt I was no longer in the United States. Somehow, I slipped through a portal and landed in a world that moved and smelled different. Seeing New Mexico reminded me of meeting The One - you know, that one person who makes your toes tingle, your eyes widen with happiness, and your heart expanding to almost bursting. True, I love other cities yet I confess that I am in love with a state. The people, the cultures, the food - all of it enticed me repeatedly to the point that when I returned home, I felt like a fish out of water. I stared at the skies of my home city and wondered where the mountains had gone. Where were the clouds that hung so low in the sky that I felt I could touch them? Where were the beautiful people with the deep red skin and the eyes that spanned several centuries? Where was the Navajo bread, the green chilies, the water that tasted clean and pure? I found myself choking and realized that I couldn't breathe the air of my home city. I wanted to touch the sands of the desert again and found myself staring at a river instead. Whenever I see a car tag from New Mexico, I give that person the peace sign then drive on. My heart feels heavy now and the Land of Enchantment calls to me again. This time, it shall be one way. 

Claim me, Desert Muse, and make me a part of you. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Vulnerable and Skinless

(Elmwood Cemetery - Memphis, Tennessee - 2015)

  I wanted to forgive him yet the words were not in my mouth. In fact, they had yet to be created in my stomach. All I could do was stare at him as he pleaded with me, repeating himself to make the lies even stronger. I knew he had lied to me from the very beginning. He made me feel special, giving me attention when he knew I lacked it. He told me that he loved me every day and I believed it. Back then, I never wondered if his words held a modicum of truth or not. All I knew was that a man (finally!) loved me. No more lonely nights. No more searching social media and wondering if this man or that man would want to see me. No more wondering if friends were tired of me whenever I invited them over for tea every Saturday. When I discovered that he ridiculed me behind my back to his friends, I cried for two hours. I felt the walls coming down around me. Scared as hell that the world would see me as vulnerable and skinless. When the last brick fell, I looked around, noticed that the world went on around me, and then took a deep breath. I had myself. Nothing else. That was more powerful than what he ever told me drenched in honey. He stood there, trying to get some sort of a reaction out of me, hoping like hell I would take him back. I tightened my grip on the gun aimed at the spot where his heart should have been.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Within the Skin

(model created by author J. L. Mulvihill)

Slowly. One step, followed by another. That's right. Take your time. See, didn't I tell you that it would be okay? Yes, I am right. Don't question me. You smell divine, by the way. New shampoo? Ah. Perfume. You wore that for me? Thank you. You're going to make me blush. Slowly, slowly. Okay, take my hand. No, I do love you; that's why I did this to you. You think me to be cruel; how can I when I love you so much? I still remember the first time we met. I was so shy around you. Couldn't get the words out whenever I saw you. Then, you looked at me and smiled. I felt my entire body go limp. I began to follow you, reading every book you touched at that bookstore. Oh, you didn't know that? Colour me bashful. Anyway, you spoke of what made you happy so I did those things just to be like you. When we had our first tea together, I felt as though my prayers had been answered. You loved spending time with me and sending me messages. Every time I saw your name on my social media site, I wanted to immediately send you a message yet held back because I didn't want to scare you away. I didn't want to become a bother. Finally, you said hello and I would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when you told me that you were involved, I refused to let it get me down. I knew what we had was special. Okay, are you ready to move on? Slowly, slowly. One step at a time. Where was I? You said that I made you happy and I replied in kind. I wanted you to say that every time we saw each other. Do you remember when you told me that you wanted to move to New Orleans? Seems so far away when you said it and it was only two days ago. You wanted to move for a change in your life. I cried for five hours when you told me that. I couldn't let that happen. And now, well, here we are. Don't look at me like that, my dearest. You know how much I love you. You know I'll take care of you, always. Slowly, slowly. Take your time. Hey. . . . still love me?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Perhaps the Roses Will Return

When he played the violin, it sounded as though the gods had returned. I watched his fingers - a pluck here, a note carried out like the sigh of a woman. He never touched anyone because he was afraid of getting their mortality. He refused love and instead accepted obsession because he understood it better. He trusted me, however, because I had my own problems that haunted me. I first met him while searching for the perfect Oolong tea on a rainy day. He watched my hands and asked me if I played the cello. When I looked into his eyes, I couldn't say anything. I no longer had control of my words. He spoke in music and refused to smile. He told me of his home city that he escaped from because his mother saw him as something else. His hands trembled whenever he spoke of her and when I reached out to take them in mine, he snatched them away and glared at me. I walked away and thought about cutting my hands off. Several days later, he showed up at my apartment, drenched in a clear liquid while his eyes stared directly at me. I refused to touch him and instead allowed him to come inside. He went straight to my bathroom and locked himself inside. I placed my ear against the door and heard a strange sound. It was his voice and yet it was as though he had eaten his violin. Finally, one solid thud against the door then quiet. I looked down and saw a clear liquid oozing from under the door. When I said his name, he said my name as a reply. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that the violin went away. When I asked him if he'd eaten his violin, he whispered that the roses would bloom someday. His madness fell from him in waves and it took all I could do to not send him away. I leaned against the door and told him that the violin would return. The clear liquid disappeared followed by a slow click of the lock. I moved back as he opened the door........

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bookstore of the Mind

(Prospero's Books - Kansas City - 2017)

"To walk into a bookstore is like walking into another world," said Lenny. "I haven't met a bookstore I didn't like." I grinned, not really knowing what else to say then proceeded to walk through his bookstore. All of the shelves were tightly packed, each with stories of love lost and gained, body parts hacked off, voices from beyond the grave, and how to make the perfect omelette. As I walked through the room, each more packed than the last, I sniffed here and there, trying to gather up as much dust as possible in my nose. I wanted to be present among these books, each with a previous home and lover. Did the books know they would end up here? Were they excited about being with someone new? Did it matter at all? I located the Poetry section and bent down so as to look at the poets whose words lived beyond their wasted flesh. "Do you need anything?" asked Lenny from his counter. I yelled back no just as I located a book with tear stains on the cover. I opened the book and touched the blue tinted pages then thumbed through it. I didn't want a book that made me cry, I thought as I returned the book to the shelf with its friends. Just then, I heard Lenny walking towards me. I stood up and dusted myself off then put on a smile as he rounded the corner, saw me, then said, "I located a book about the history of the colour indigo for you." He thrust a large hardback at me. "You look like you love colours," he said with a shrug. "On the house." I placed the book under my nose and sniffed, causing Lenny to laugh in a good-natured way.  "Every time I see someone with this book," he said as he turned and left, "they are always sniffing it. Much better to read it, I suppose." I thanked him again then turned left, just as a biography about a lesser known woman artist fell into my hand with a stench of dried vanilla behind it. There are worse signs to observe, I thought as I made my way to Lenny again.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Perfect Darkness - New Book Review

After a week that consisted of my grandmother's death, getting a mild strain of the flu, and getting snowed in for two days, it felt great to visit South Main Book Juggler to pick up my latest book order. I first heard about French-Moroccan author Leila Slimani through an interview in The New Yorker. During the interview, she spoke of how a ghastly double murder in 2012 influenced her to write her new book, The Perfect Nanny (original French title - Chanson douce). I remembered that murder - of how a nanny killed two of the children in her care in the bathtub. The Perfect Nanny is not a retelling of that exact murder but it does strike similar cords. I read this slim novel in one sitting and when I finished, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It wasn't so much the actual event in the book that gripped me but rather Slimani's words. She captured the thoughts of the characters in such a way as to show the dark side of the human condition. How much is too much? When does one say NO?

Louise is a slender blonde who gets employed as a nanny by Paul and Myriam in Paris. Paul and Myriam are a power couple - both work long hours in their fields yet they relish in the achievements that it brings. Their two children, Adam and Mila, are quite the handful yet they are no less loved, or so it would seem. Slimani shows us how, as much Paul and Myriam both love their children, that at times they also dislike them. They appear to be seen as a barrier to their lives and their careers, their freedom and their ability to be themselves. In walks Louise and, for the most part, their troubles are over. Louise takes to the children rather well and in times, becomes the children's main source of everything their parents are too busy to give them. Resentment rears its ugly head in the book - Louise shows it more than most. Although she loves the children and her job, she secretly harbours deep feelings that should never see the light of day. Her own sordid past will never let her go and when it becomes too much to bear, Louise makes her decision to "save" them all.

As I said before, I devoured this book in one sitting. As I read, I felt no sympathy for any of the characters except the children. They had no say in any of this - they were simply children. And yet, I also felt that they were the products of a world created by their parents - give them whatever they want so that they can get out of our hair. Love them, yes, but then give them to someone else when it gets to be "too much". This is a harsh book to read and once completed, will stay with you for quite some time. Chanson douce won the 2016 Prix Goncourt and has been translated into many languages. It arrived in the United States just this month and I'm glad I was able to read it.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

For the Love of Chopsticks

(Blue Koi Noodles and Dumplings Restaurant - Kansas City, Missouri - 2017)

Regina sat across from Timothy while eating her second plate of pork dumplings, as she watched him use chopsticks with a dexterity that she had never seen with any one else. She loved him because he loved her. Her previous boyfriend was barely 10% of Timothy and she was glad he did her the favour of leaving when he did. She knew that that relationship would never work and true to her word, it did not last over six months. When Timothy literally dropped into her lap (he tripped over someone’s foot at a party and landed in her lap while she sat on the couch), she knew that it was meant to be. She never believed in Fate until that night. It seemed that Something wanted her to be happy. It felt good to have her life back. Her mind flashed to when they made love this morning. She remembered his slender hands caressing every part of her body, finally arriving at her black hair that smelled of rosemary and lemons. When Timothy made love to her, he put himself into it completely; that was his way with anything. If anything meant something to him, he explored it completely without reserve. Just like those chopsticks. His chopsticks picked up a piece of sesame chicken without even seeming to move his fingers and within seconds, the succulent piece was in his mouth and he chewed it thoughtfully. His green eyes now found her brown ones and he smiled, reassuring her that time was now on her side. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stained Words

(Memphis Tennessee - model: Alissa)

He served me tea, of course, in china blue cups and a teapot that could tell a tale or two. His eyes watched me as I placed a single sugar cube in my tea and slowly stirred. Clink clink. He wanted to know why I looked at him so much at the bookstore the other day. "Surely," he said with a half grin, "you've seen someone browse for a book before?" I refused to answer and instead drank my tea, of which tasted like blackberries. I watched his hands on that day, how they caressed every book he looked at on the shelves. He tasted them with his fingers, giving into their secrets that smelled like vanilla beans and faint perfume. His glasses sat perched on his nose and it took all of my willpower to not push them back up. He looked like he could kiss, back when a kiss actually meant something. "I'm rather boring," he said as he took a sip from his cup. "I teach words to people who no longer care." "Some still do," I replied. "Like me. A world without words is time for a razor." His eyebrows went up at my bad attempt of a joke. When he saw my smile, he licked his lips then said, "I see the Ancients still live in this world." He then leaned forward and touched my nose then gently moved his finger to my lips. "A heart that feels in black, ever more so than I could deign to dream." I stared into his eyes as his tea stained lips met mine. As we kissed, I felt his words enter my mouth, a gentle prodding of a curious nature. They tasted like sun kissed blackberries, much like his tea, yet with hints of tartness and spice. He offered them to me because I knew. When they settled in my stomach - giver, come here, lover, dictionary, forget, dreamlike - they created a warmth that spread to my feet. I felt one word - instinct - try to escape my lips, yet he reclaimed it. When we pulled away, he said, "Speak to a typewriter." 

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Prophet of the Insects

Did Kafka know that he would become a prophet?

When I discovered that my father had died while playing golf, I put on my running gear then went on a solo marathon through the city. He was finally dead and I couldn't do anything to stop it. I knew that my mother would be at peace that the man who abused her for ten years was dead. As I ran, I felt something that had been attached to me to finally fall off my back like a scab or something. Here I was, a 49 year old man, running because my father was no more. With every breath, I felt more and more of his influence leaving my body. With every breath, I felt like the way I used to be before my father began heavily drinking. When I returned home, I peeled off my drenched clothing, showered, then stepped out to dry off, only to scream in horror. I turned this way and that in front of my mirror, making damned sure I really saw what I thought I saw.

I read Kafka when I thought I wanted to conquer the world. I read his words and thought, yes! He sees what I see. He fears what I fear. I had my peers, true, but he stood above them all. I loved him like a brother. Even when I met Dianne, fell in love with her, married her then left her when she decided that her female friend Jessica was better in bed than I, I still clung to my brother's words. And now. Now this.

I touched them and they felt real. I carried a thought - flutter - and they did oh so silently. I then arched my back and they folded into my skin and disappeared. I turned again and saw a bare outline of them in my back. I grinned then laughed like a madman. Kafka was a prophet.

The world now unfolds before me - every delicious layer ready for my approval. The people that inhabit it just merely drag through it. They don't know and I won't show them. They don't deserve it. I hear the buzzing all the time now. Words never spoken by human mouths are transmitted to me. They tell me of a different world.

While walking to a coffee shop one day, I caught a woman's glance. She smiled at me then pulled me to the side in the side alley and hissed in my ear. Such ecstasy! Such bliss! I arched my back and let her touch them as her eyes grew. She brushed her head against my cheek and I tasted the pollen that drifted towards my mouth.

Not a dream. My eyes are open. All of them.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Numbers Inside of Us

(Shelby Farms - 2014 - Kimberly B. Richardson)

I'm not afraid anymore. I know he's dead. He closed his eyes and went to sleep; at least, that's what they told me. I wanted him to stop suffering and, well . . . . this room is so empty. No pictures of him, no artwork that he liked. He was not a lover of the arts - that was my job. I was the artsy one. I could see colours. He only saw newspapers and numbers. Always numbers. Lined up one by one, bright green flashing all over the place. Some called him crazy but I knew better. He was simply himself. After we placed him in the ground among the legions of the dead, I decided to take a long walk through a forest. I wasn't afraid anymore. As I walked through the trees, I heard his slow and somber voice. Always telling me how sad he was and that he refused to close his eyes. He claimed that the darkness seduced him. He never wanted to give in to that darkness. He wanted to lay next to me in bed and eat popcorn while reading a book. I kissed him on the nose and sighed. I looked at the clouds that hung low in the sky. Did Heaven truly exist, or was there some sort of Purgatory instead? A blank grey with no beginning and end while the dead shuffle around? Ceaseless mumbling about nothing. How they lived their lives. How they regretted not telling that one woman that they loved her. How they should have taken that trip to Uruguay. That one lost kiss. That one chance to do right. I hoped he was not in that, mumbling about his damn numbers and not about his life. I walked on and sighed. He loved me, I think. I know I loved him. Always numbers. An empty room filled with numbers that he could never touch.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Peaceful Shout to the World

(photo by Kimberly B. Richardson)

Eugenia smiled at everyone at the table as they carried on their conversations and passed food around with fluid like grace. Someone offered her the bread basket and she took it with her soft smile. However, underneath that smile was rage. The more she smiled, the angrier she got. All those years that she chose to waste. The feelings of watching something so beautiful and delicate pass her by. Someone asked Eugenia if she wanted another piece of turkey, to which she replied yes with that lovely, lovely smile. She wanted out from all of it. She placed her hands on her lap where no one could see them and clenched her cloth napkin to tightly that she felt it tear. She threw the napkin on the ground then proceeded to eat her food before anyone dredged up a question to ask her. Every bite of her dinner tasted like paper. She slowly chewed then felt her insides flare up. Not now, she thought. Maybe it's all my fault. Suddenly, the rage within her shot through her body, causing her to tremble a bit. Eugenia wanted to stand up, place her hands on the table, and scream until her lungs gave out. Everyone would see then, she thought as she glanced around the room. They would know then and I . . . . She looked down at her food as someone asked her if she'd like another glass of water. The smile returned as she nodded yes. I want to remember. Let me breathe. She placed her hands on the table.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Natural Falling Tears

(Shelby Farms - Memphis, Tennessee - 2014)

Peter took another step then fell to his knees as he cried again. That voice. Always there. Although Allison left him a year ago, her voice still haunted him. Peter looked up at the trees that surrounded him like silent sentinels. He wanted them to give him advice on what to do next. He looked down at his hands. She used to think they were frail, he thought. So weak. He wiped his face with the back of his hand then sat on the trail and took a deep breath. Why did I even stay with you for so long, said the voice in a harsh whisper. You never loved me. I need to live my life. Even when Peter pleaded with her to stay, Allison calmly replied that he needed to grow a dick then left with bags in hand. Peter lowered his head as slower tears now fell from his eyes. The voice disappeared, as it always did when it caused him to cry. A crow flew high above the trees, its cry seemingly mocking him. Peter's mind then thought about Jane, his new friend. They met by accident - both grabbed the same book at a library sale then laughed. Peter smiled. Jane. Allison's voice returned with full whispering fury. Crying in the forest again. Weak. Why do you even bother? Just then, Jane's face appeared in his mind. She always tilted her head when she smiled, he thought. Jane took his hand that night after pizza and iced tea and said that if he ever needed to talk, she had two ears that worked really well. She called me a friend, he thought. That time when they went to the really bad movie and snickered all the way through it. That time when he showed off his album collection and they played records all night. That time when he kissed her in his car and she sneezed when they pulled away. Peter looked at the trees again and to the silence. The crow cried again and Peter thanked the bird.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Play of the Gods

(Memphis Botanical Gardens - 2015)

One glance.

The colours drip down the canvas. He tells her that there would be more, always more. She agrees and the moon rises in the sky. He caresses her face and tells her that they would soon arrive. The Greek chorus suddenly appears, wearing their grey tattered clothing, and whisper amongst themselves. Speak louder, they said, and confess that you are in love with him. She pulls away in fear as a wandering Poet hidden in the night watches them. Undisguised curiosity for the sake of written pages to entertain and educate. He wants her to paint again. You used to smile when you painted, he tells her. You can smell the oils underneath it all, she says. The Greek chorus moves back and whisper among themselves - Now comes the time when the knife is slipped between the ribs ever so carefully. They cover their faces with dusty hands, ashamed to speak their Truth. Come closer, he says. I want you to taste this. One pure tear that he cried for her. He places the tear on her finger and she smells it. She smears her wet finger against the canvas. The Greek chorus rushes forward as a single screech escapes their lips. Their black eyes watch her movements. She cannot, they cry. Something falls to the ground and shatters like glass. The curtain falls and the gods begin to applaud. He and she fall to the ground, as the Greek chorus lets go of their strings. The Poet continues to write as the night bleeds onto the pages. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Cover Yourself and Listen to Me

(Elmwood Cemetery - Memphis, Tennessee - 2015)

Holly walked into the house, bracing herself for anything. The house stood in its shadow like a old tired woman. Stacks after stacks of magazines, albums, and books greeted her, while dusty furniture sat in quiet desperation for any activity to occur again. She didn't want to visit the house, not after what he told her, yet knew that in order to finally have a free life, she must do it. Thick layers of dust covered everything, causing the living room to look smaller and more crowded than it was. She chose a small wooden chair and sat down then set her backpack on the ground next to her. She looked around and noticed that all of the windows were covered in old red velvet drapes, blocking out any attempt of light from the sun. She heaved a sigh then closed her eyes. Instantly, the voices came at her. They told her of past wrongs, embarrassing moments, times when she failed and succeeded, men who dated her only because they were bored, parents who punished her when she wanted to live her own life, friends who thought they could take advantage of her, and the dust swirling around her. Holly heard them all, every little voice that demanded that she give up again. Fall on your knees and stay there. She slowly opened her eyes and noticed that the stacks were still there. She opened her mouth and whispered, "It's okay. I forgive you." Suddenly, the stacks disappeared along with the dust and the thick velvet drapes. The sun beamed through the now clear windows, showing that the room was indeed empty except for her and her backpack. She stood up, stretched, then opened her eyes as the past finally left her.