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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Today’s post is a poem I wrote a few years ago, originally for a poetry slam. I consider it the single best piece I wrote during my college career, and so I thought that National Poetry Month was the perfect time to share it with my current audience. This is “Gravity.”

Gravity is a bitch, but I let her have her way with me anyway.

She tries to keep me in bed every morning. I guess she likes

To keep me down, constantly. I’ve known since she first gave me her number

That it would be like this (it’s 6.67×1011, by the way—Somehow I’m

Feeling like she hasn’t been getting those texts I’ve been trying to

Send to her). I think it’s a doomed relationship, but she’ll never let me go.

I don’t even remember how long it’s been since I met her. I think I’ve

Known deep down that we’ll never be apart for long.

I suppose that her embrace is comforting.

Being too far from it can be disorienting. It’s a strange sensation.

Like I’m weightless—nothing without her touch.

It’s been a very strange relationship.

She said that she likes long walks on the beach,

But every time we’ve tried to go,

The tides come in. I don’t know what that’s all about.

She says it’s all relative.

I’m a nerd, and she knows it, but she still stays.

Some part of me hopes that she always will.

I think I’d probably fly off hurtling into space

If she ever left. It would be the breakup felt

By everyone around the world,

Even the people who don’t know me.

They’d all feel it. They’d all know.

What would they do if they found

Out? If they knew that I was the one who’d

Pushed her away? I think that they’d find

Me fairly repulsive. Yet somehow, I doubt

That they’d be in any position to do anything

About it at that point.

So I stay in this loveless relationship,

More out of the convenience of it than

Anything. It’s better for all of us that

Way, isn’t it? I mean, despite my feelings,

The attraction is oddly irresistible.

I’ll always be hers. It’s almost a crushing

Feeling of inevitability. Oh well. I’m stuck with her.

 

Gravity.

 

 

 

That bitch.

“Do you still dream?”

“I thought that I was dreaming now.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I suppose I do.”

“Do dream, or do know?”

“Either.”

“What do you dream about?”

“When I remember?”

“Yeah, when you remember.”

“Do you want me to be honest, or do you want me to tell you what I think you want to hear?”

“Both.”

“I dream about you.”

“Really?”

“Really. Not like sex or anything. We’re just together. Spending time with each other.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I had a dream about a week ago with you. We spent an afternoon just lying on our backs in a field.”

“That sounds really nice.”

“Yeah, sunshine and everything. It was beautiful.”

“Sounds like it.”

“What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Do you still dream?”

“No.”

“Not at all?”

“As rarely as possible.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean I really don’t like thinking about you all that much anymore.”

“…”

“No, I…not that…”

“Then what?”

“I just…it hurts too much to think about you anymore.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“Yeah…I mean, it was good and all.”

“You don’t have to say that. I should be apologizing.”

“Yeah, you probably should, but I don’t expect you to.”

“Ouch.”

“Well, I mean, I’m just trying to be honest with you.”

“I know.”

This was written in response to the most recent Trifecta challenge. Here’s “Ecstasy.”

 

She had begged him to go to the cavern, to gain the experience for himself. Now he sat alone, waiting for the process to begin. Crispin closed his eyes and felt the vapors wash over him, enveloping his skin and pouring into his mind. The ecstasy would be upon him soon, the tremors in his legs, his fingers, his arms. Bracing himself against one wall of the cavern, he collapsed in a fetal ball and the visions began.

There they were, standing together with their fingers intertwined. The snow was beginning to fall as they shared a lingering kiss. Eliza’s dark lashes were dusted with white as she leaned against him. She had been laughing when he dropped to his knee and startled her into silence with a small velvet box.

They lay on their backs under an alien sky, Eliza resting her head against his chest. Crispin pointed out constellations that no human had ever named before, tracing dreams in the night above.

They sat at a café in Paris, half-finished pastries and cooling coffee on the table between them. Eliza ran her foot across his, blushing as she did.

They cried together in an empty room, Eliza slumped on the floor and Crispin leaning on the crib that would never be filled.

As suddenly as it had begun, the ecstasy ended. Crispin’s head cleared and he managed to stand. A bottle of water stood on the table. When he stumbled while reaching for it, Eliza’s hand caught him and pulled him upright. She waited patiently while he finished the water, only posing her question after the last drop was gone.

“So… How was it?”

“Different,” he replied. “I saw a lot of possible futures, Eliza, and only one thing was certain in any of them.”

She tapped her forefingers together, looking away. “W…was it…”

“It was you, Elly. You were there by my side, in every one of my visions.”

She smiled, pulling him into a hug. “Then let’s go home.”

“Eternity”

 

For the briefest of eternities,
I am lost in dream, open meadows
The likes of which I’ve never known
In the Waking lie before me, green
And lush and full of new lives.
But I blink into wakefulness
And the dream is gone, naught but
A fleeting memory captured
In a poem.

This week is National Library Week, and so I would like to share a few of the things that have been going on at my library.

We’ve had a couple of very successful programs for our local teens. We hosted a Blind Date With a Book, where library books were wrapped in paper and labeled only with a small singles-ad-style blurb.

Happy Valentine's Day, book lovers.

Happy Valentine’s Day, book lovers.

Teens were encouraged to take home a book based solely on the paragraph attached. This sense of mystery allowed for them to be surprised by an author that they may not have encountered, or to unwittingly revisit an old favorite.

Up next was our Readbox display. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Redbox, the DVD and video game rental kiosks.

It's like a Redbox, only better.

It’s like a Redbox, only better.

And finally, some days it’s important to just have fun at the library. Nothing helps this like a subtle addition to our self-check station.

"Luke, this is where you scan your library card."

“Luke, this is where you scan your library card.”

If you’ve not visited your local library lately, you should. See what’s new. Libraries are evolving to meet your 21st century needs. Happy National Library Week.

Today’s post was originally going to be something very different, but in light of the recent events in Boston, I felt compelled to share this instead.

A Message From Anonymous Operations:

This is a message to everyone , everywhere. Pass this message on.

“In the coming days we will have our heartstrings pulled and our humanity questioned. In the wake of the tragedy in Boston while we contemplate, information share, cry outrage and shame, and wave our tear stained fists at the sky something else is happening. While we are in mourning, there are those plotting to seize advantage of us. While you are reading this someone, somewhere is creating a ‘ribbon campaign’, another person is warming up the presses to make t-shirts and stickers, and yet another is formulating a plan for a fake donation system. While these people plot and plan there are others who are sitting at their desks crafting their words to use this tragedy to their own ends. They will question your charity, your patriotism, your beliefs and you actions or lack thereof. Until you come to their point of view they will not stop. You will see pictures of the dead and the dying, the maimed and the broken, the aftermath and the accused.

Turn a blind eye to this. Demand truth and do not give over to empty symbolic gestures driven by profiteering and greed feeding off of tragedy. When you give of yourself, give to those who need it directly. When you write, write as if you were the family, you were the victim, as if it was you who was killed. Do not let the mass media propaganda machine poison a single mind that you have access to. Do not let the conspiracy theorists with their outrageous speculations and sponsors sucker you into buying duct tape and plastic while stuck to your radio. Mourn the dead. Help the living. Educate the ignorant. Most importantly show that this and every other tragedy of it’s like will not polarize you to the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ but to the humanity. To every person who has died in this way. To every person who is wounded this way. To every person on their knees in anguish. The message to you is “We hear you. We will help you”. When you speak let your voice mean something. When you speak , speak with knowledge, wisdom, facts, and as much serenity as you can muster. Do not speak in anger, fear, hatred, or any other emotion that will only feed the monster that created this tragedy. You are better than this. Together we are better than this. We are the ones who run towards, not away. We are the gateway to a future where this does not happen, by sacrificing of ourselves in the now when it does happen. Do not let your act, your words, your sacrifices be in vain. Do not let the profiteers feed on this tragedy. Do not let the truth go unheard. Do not let this go unanswered, but do not let the answer be yet another act of needless violence against innocents. To paraphrase the words of William Shakespeare ; We are like stars, and while some of us may fall, our sky will not want. “

In October 2005, a video game was released that pushed the limits of the Playstation 2, a console then in the last years of its supported life. That game was Shadow of the Colossus. I never owned a PS2, and so I never directly encountered the game in its original run. Recently, however, my girlfriend received a PS3, and so I’ve been delving into the console’s library via my library. It turns out that a couple of years ago Shadow of the Colossus was given the high-def treatment for a PS3 re-release. I hope that you’ll all forgive my not writing much over the last week, because my free time has been devoured by this gorgeous game. 

Jaw-dropping.

This is the first enemy you encounter.

You play as Wander, a young man who has journeyed to a forbidden land to resurrect a girl named Mono. Your only companion on this journey is Agro, your loyal horse. Upon arriving in a temple, Wander speaks to a being of great power who offers to revive Mono. In order to do so, Wander must destroy the sixteen statues that line the temple, but it is impossible for him to do so directly. Instead, he must seek out and defeat the sixteen colossi represented by each statue.

As the writer over at New Gamer Nation so eloquently said, “It was and still is an awe-inducing game, littered with memorable moments from start to finish due to its grand scale and design.” The first foe, Valus, pictured above, is by no means the largest of the sixteen colossi that our protagonist, Wander, sets out to defeat. Each colossus is a unique puzzle to solve, combining platforming elements with combat.

There is an unshakable feeling of loneliness throughout the game, emphasized by the soundtrack and the sheer scale of the world, empty but for the colossi (and a scattering of lizards and birds). A somber tone pervades the entire game, and I felt a true sense of awe and sorrow as each colossus fell by my hand. I won’t say anything regarding the rest of the plot, but I will say this: I have never been so emotionally invested in a video game. What Wander is willing to do for Mono’s sake brought me to tears.

If you own a PS3 (or a PS2, and you can snag the original version), you owe it to yourself as a gamer to play Shadow of the Colossus. Trust me.

This week’s writing challenge from the delightful Mr. Wendig has given me an opportunity to revisit an older piece. Back in August of 2011, I wrote a short story entitled “A Ball of Light in One’s Hand” for a writing challenge hosted by Sonia M. The story was a 500 word microfiction piece for a prompt that asked us to write about doorways. I obliged, and you can read part one at the link above. Today, I’m sharing a piece written for Chuck’s latest challenge over at Terrible Minds. We were given a link to The Secret Door and told to write a 1,000 word microfiction story based on the location we found on the other side of the door. I’m very pleased to be able to share this with you. This is Damien’s Return.

“Damien’s Return”

Damien landed on all fours on a blindingly white surface. Blinking, he stood only to stumble again as he realized he couldn’t find any sort of visible horizon. Everything around him was the same dazzling absence of anything that resembled anything. He shook his head in an attempt to orient himself, finally managing to stand on what he forced himself to consider the floor.

Wherever that last door had taken him, he was able to breathe, and the bookseller was nowhere in sight. “Phew… She must not have been able to follow me here. Wherever the hell ‘here’ even is.” It hadn’t been like any of his jumps before, no matter where or when any of the doors had taken him. She’d always been able to find him, track him somehow, but then all of the other doors he’d passed through had been real, physical ones. It was sheer desperation that had made him try for the picture in the book. No other door had been in sight, and her last words had chilled him. “Give me the book, boy, and I’ll kill you quickly.”

It hadn’t been an idle threat, and he knew it. He’d lost friends in the weeks since leaving her shop, the book clutched to his chest. She’d come for it, no regard for any who stood in her way. His cousin Ari had been found outside of Damien’s apartment, his blood pooling on the pale green hallway tile. Two of his coworkers the week after, dead in their cubicles with words carved over and over again into their skin: “The book.” Damien was well acquainted with the smells of paper and ink, but the bookseller taught him the smell of death, and it mingled with the more familiar scents. Here, though, only paper and ink remained. Paper and ink…

“I’m in the book,” he whispered. He took a hesitant step and heard the familiar crinkle of a crisp sheet of paper. “All of this white… I’m on a damn page.”

“Indeed, you are, young Damien.”

The boy whirled to see who had spoken. As he spun, a thin line of black began to spread, a horizon drawing itself across the white. “Who said that?”

“I did.” The black continued to crawl across the white until it had completely encircled Damien. The new horizon yawned and an elderly man stepped forth out of the black. “My name is Rhu, and I am the author of the book in which you have taken refuge. I must say, you’re the first one to think about hiding in here. Well done, Damien.”

“How did I get here, Rhu, and how do I get back out?”

“Do you really want to go back, my boy? After all, she’s in a fine temper, what with having lost you again. I’m sure that she suspects that you’ve made it here, but that scares her as well. You see, outside she controls the doors, but here in the book my power is absolute.”

“You haven’t answered my questions yet.”

“Very well. You got here the same way you’ve gotten everywhere and everywhen else you’ve ever gone since picking up this book. You learned the secrets of door travel that I originally mastered, thanks to my writings. When you needed an escape from her, the book responded to your need and gave you a way out. In, rather. As far as getting back out, I can send you away from here, if that’s what you desire. I can send you back to the real world, but there is no guarantee that you’ll be safe from her. Her power grows by the day.”

“Who is she?”

“A former student of mine, I’m afraid. She thought that by locking me away in my own book, she’d get rid of me. Instead, I’ve managed to get the book into the hands of those who might be able to defeat her. That’s why you found her bookshop that day, Damien. You have the ability to stop her once and for all, but the first thing you need is time. I can give that to you, if you wish to avenge the deaths of your friends.”

“I…What do I have to do?”

“Trust me, Damien. She can’t have sole control, and the number of people who might stand against her is dwindling. There is a place far from her. As I said, I can’t guarantee your safety, but I can grant you a bit of time. You see, I’ve been writing in here when she doesn’t have the book, adding to what I know, what I’ve learned. It might give you enough of an edge to win, but you’ll have to follow the instructions exactly as they are written. Can you do this?”

“I can.” If it meant stopping the woman who smelled of paper and ink and death, he would give it everything. A grim smile appeared on his face. “I just have to read?”

“Yes. The book will return to your hand as soon as you leave here.” Rhu grasped the black horizon, lifted it, and shaped it. A moment later a door appeared, black and inky at first, but gradually coming into shape as a heavy oaken door with a large silver knocker in form of a lion’s head. “Your door, Damien. Thank you, and goodbye.”

The old man vanished. Damien stepped toward the door, took a deep breath, and opened it. The noise was overwhelming, a deafening roar of wind and a clash of steel on steel. He was at the back of a train, winding along the side of a mountain. A small village sat in the valley below him, tranquil in comparison.

“This is the place,” he said, bracing against the railing. “But where’s the book?” As he spoke, a glow appeared above him. Damien stretched out his hand, and the light coalesced into the familiar black leather-bound volume that smelled of paper and ink. He opened the book and began to read.

To be continued…