Places to See! Things to Do! Awesomeness to Read!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tweetable Poetry

Tripwire glistens in the morning sun
Spider's snare for the unaware

Revealed by drops of dew.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Keepers of the Night - Chapter 1

This is Chapter 1.  More is provided upon demand, so light up that comments section if you want to know what happens next!  :)


             Joe glanced at the glowing clock on the dashboard as he pulled into the dimly lit parking garage.  He was late.  Again.  Quickly pulling into the nearest parking spot, he thrust the car into park, snapped off the engine, and leaned back into his seat, sighing.  When had his life become such a rat race that he couldn't even manage to make it to his son's first recital on time?

            Reaching forward hastily, he pulled the keys from the ignition, grabbed his suit coat and Josh's present, then threw the car door open and got out.  Slamming it shut behind him and unconsciously pressing down on the locking remote as he hurried out toward the street, Joe heard the familiar beep echo throughout the parking garage.  Peering at the darkened street signs as he exited the garage into the moonlight, Joe headed left towards Main Street, where the historic Lucis Theatre had stood for more than 150 years, keeping the occupants of Raystown, IN entertained on a nightly basis since its humble beginnings in 1859. 

            Picking up his pace as he approached the corner, Joe was startled when something bumped into him out of the darkness and knocked Josh's present to the ground.  Time seemed to slow all around him and then stood perfectly still as he looked up and saw a large, dark spirit hovering between him and Josh's present lying on the sidewalk.  Just as the spirit's eyes began to pierce through his entire being, time started up again and he was suddenly surrounded by so many of these dark spirits that all light was blocked from his view.  Even the moonlight that had previously lit up the night sky above him had become dark and unrelenting. 

            Before Joe could figure out what was going on, a light suddenly appeared out of the darkness and a scuffle ensued amongst the figures around him.  Without warning, the box was suddenly thrust back into his hands and he found himself being guided around the corner into safety.  He blinked his eyes and glanced around, but all traces of the altercation were gone; as was his clandestine usher.  Dazed and a little confused, Joe stood there, eyebrows furrowed, trying to figure out what had just happened.  But as he turned and looked up and down the street, even peering once around the corner surreptitiously, there was nothing but moonlit blackness of night greeting him in return.  Puzzled, Joe scanned the area around himself once more, and then caught sight of the theater ahead of him.  Josh!  Joe's mind quickly came to attention and propelled him towards the theater, brushing all memory of the recent incident completely out of his mind.

            An usher opened the large outside door to the theater, allowing Joe inside to the lobby area, where he was greeted with bright white lights and gilded crown molding everywhere.  Looking down at the deep red carpet and blinking rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the light, Joe checked his pockets for the ticket to Josh's show.  He checked his suit coat, where he had last remembered placing the ticket, and when he couldn't find it there, he checked his pants pockets as well.  Standing in the lobby with Josh's present in his hand and a puzzled look on his face, Joe was approached by a young man in a dark maroon uniform with gold piping whose name tag displayed “Reynaldo” on it.

            “May I help you, sir?” he asked kindly, giving a slight bow and looking up inquiringly. 

            “Uh, yes,” Joe stammered, as he continued searching his pockets in vain. “I seem to have lost my ticket for tonight's show.  Is there any way I can purchase a late admission ticket?” 

            “Certainly sir, right this way please,” said Reynaldo, turning his back and leading Joe over to the ornately adorned ticket booth on the far side of the lobby.  As Joe silently followed Reynaldo, he couldn't help thinking of the ramifications if he couldn't get a ticket.  What would his wife say?  Josh would be crushed!  Being late was bad enough, but missing the show because he'd lost the ticket too?  Joe shuddered at the thought.

            “Here we are, sir,” said Reynaldo brightly, gesturing to the ticket booth in front him.  “Janey will take care of all your needs.”  Quickly peering into the gilded bars that separated the booth occupant from the general public, Reynaldo leaned in and whispered, “Take good care of him now, Janey, he's a keeper.” He winked at Jayne, turned his head and flashed a big grin at Joe, then disappeared around the tall red velvet curtain hanging next to the booth.

            Shaking his head in disbelief, Joe looked up and inquired as to the availability of tickets. 

            Sitting in Josh's favorite booth at the local pizza parlor, about two hours before his show was scheduled to start, Jillian and Josh were playing his favorite video game at the table while they waited for the pizza to arrive.  When the screen went dark in demand for another quarter to be inserted in the timer, Josh turned to Jillian and said, “Mom?  Do you think Dad will make it in time before the pizza arrives?  I ordered our favorite – pineapple and mushroom!”

            Jillian knew better than to get Josh's hopes up.  There were just too many times that Joe had promised to be there and ended up working late or going the extra mile for an important client of the firm.  Bracing herself for Josh's disappointment, Jillian replied gently, “No, sweetie, I don't think he's going to make it for dinner tonight.  But he promised he'd be at the theater in time to see your performance.  He's really looking forward to your debut!”  Jillian tried to sound upbeat and cheerful, ending her little pep talk with a great big smile, but Josh was inconsolable.  Crestfallen, he stared down at the game controller in his hand, his lower lip trembled, and his shoulders slumped in defeat.

            Jillian's eyes moistened with tears as she tried not to cry.  Her own powerlessness to fix the situation made Josh's misery that much harder to bear.  For her own sake as well as his, Jillian looked around for something to distract him.  Her eyes fell onto the scenic background behind a clear plexiglass window at the end of their table.  The center of the window had a knob at the bottom which opened up onto train tracks running alongside all the booths on that side of the pizza parlor.  The picture featured a carnival scene, replete with rides, game barkers, and happy children running amok with cotton candy on a stick.  Josh's father had promised to take them to a carnival like this one day, and ever since then this booth had become Josh's favorite.  As luck would have it, the train with their drinks was rumbling noisily down the tracks and squeaked to a halt at their table.  Relieved, Jillian exclaimed, “Look, Josh!  The drink train is here!”

            The drink train never failed to bring a smile to Josh's face, and tonight was no different.  His eyes brightened a little and he came alive at the sight of the toy-sized train that was parked in front of their table with two large cups of root beer, his favorite drink.  But even as he reached for his paper cup from the back of the train car, Josh's demeanor and motions were still very subdued.  The train would help to ease the pain this time, but the hurt had not dissipated, and the disappointment would not easily be forgotten.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Play of Dreams

Oh! Such a play as this I've seen
Has yet to not annex my dream

Of a future waiting, lustrous and bright
Preparing itself for that one starry night

When all of the Fates of this world will gather
Weaving the strands of my life together

In an intricate pattern unique to the world
Unshrouded for all as it's slowly unfurled.

Today is my 39th birthday. The poem above was written by yours truly in high school, circa early 1990's.  It was the first poem I ever wrote with true passion. 

A year or two later, our school was fortunate enough to have a visit from the Poet Laureate of Illinois (Gwendolyn Brooks).   She spoke to us and performed some of her work for the entire student body.

Prior to seeing and hearing her in person, the concept of poetry was a bit lost on me. I was improving in my form and structure, but aside from the poem above, I didn't really have much heart or passion in it.  The art form had not yet come alive for me.

When Gwendolyn read her first poem, "We Real Cool," the words rose out of the book and took on a form of their own. Structure and rhyme dropped away to reveal a magical beauty of words.  With each breath and elocution, the words danced before us, jangling like mischievous brownies or pixies.

With her low, powerful voice, she breathed these words to life:

We reeeeal cool. WE -
Left school. WE -
Lurk late. WE -
Strike straight. WE -
Sing sin. WE -
Thin gin. WE -
Jazz June. WE -
Die soon.

The emphases, the alliteration, the pauses - all of it took what had been flat words on a page and suddenly they were ALIVE! I had never seen or experienced poetry like this before.

Afterward, many of us lined up to talk with her and have her autograph our copies of her work. I didn't have any of her books, but I had my bag with me and the poem above was in it. So I pulled that out, and when it was my turn I apologized that I didn't have a copy of her books, but I'd be honored if she would sign one of my poems instead. She looked at me, looked at the paper, read the poem, looked at me again and said, "I want you to write to me." She then wrote, "To Karen, Keep on writing and reading EVERYTHING!" And signed it with her address.

A few years later, I heard recordings of Shel Silverstein performing "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and I was hooked. Here was the perfect playground for language, passion and sound, all in one place.

Listen to Gwendolyn Brooks here
(This recording is closest to the audio we heard that day. The person who posted the video is not a known relation of mine, even though we seem to share a last name.)

Listen to Shel Silverstein here

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Crazy Man

Pain screams across the sidewalk
Shattering early morning stillness

Reluctant groggy snaps wide awake
Red alert - check for danger
Listen, don't move

Crazy Man travels 
In search of a listener
One of us is hurting

I, too, have screamed like that
Within the depths of my soul.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Here I am

The one who's always hidden

Under the bowed head
Below the lowered eyelashes
Behind the large frame glasses
Inside the cloak of cheerfulness
Beneath the jovial socialite.

The one who loved and needed Love
And found herself halfway.

For Love is not a circle gift
Given with required return.

Like grits, it just is.
It just comes.

If I love you so you love me
That's a transaction.

Love is a gift.

And so, today, without any expectation

I give you what I have hidden.
I give you what I have protected.
I give you what others have tried to hurt.
I open my heart

And give you Love.

Something #Meraki This Way Comes

#meraki changed my life.

Below are the first entries in my new gallery:  Artistry of Words.

This is a radical approach to writing. I'm cutting out the middlemen and bringing my art form directly to you. If you like it, share it. If it moves you, comment. If you love it, tell the world. If you hate it, do the same. No matter how you react - if it causes you to react, it has reached its goal - for art stirs passion within the soul.

Poems will be separated by ~~~~~~ Short stories will be published all in one sitting. Longer stories will start with a chapter and continue if requested. Audience participation is encouraged. :)

And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention to our first exhibit of the evening:
Writer's Admonition

Perfect Pens of Power
Poised in Perpetuity

Never writing
Never seeking
Never singing.

Put Pen to Paper.
Put Pen to Paper.

Art Form

Each word is a painted brush stroke
Taking the picture in my mind

And letting it out for the world to see.

Where you see power I see play
Where you harness hurt I help heal
Words bring sentience to our souls.

I paint until I am finished
I write til the story is told.

The end result is what you hold.
Call of Cacophony

Alliteration allures always
Beckoning beseechingly
Cunningly calling continuously
Demanding dedication -

Echoing endless erudite.

Forming frenzied feeding
Gobbling gobsmack greedily,
Honing hodgepodge hungrily.

Illustrating infinite  iniquity.

Jarring justice judiciously
Keeping Karma kindling
Loving language lasciviously.

Marrying marvels meticulously
Noting novel nobility.

Obsequiously obstreperous
Peddling pedantic pompousness.

Quixotically querying quackery
Resonates ridiculously restfully.

Succeeding surreptitiously
To tangle tawdry tapestry

Unwittingly umbrose undulance
Voracious verbal viscosity
Wearyingly wild wordsmithery

Xenomorphic xesturgy

Yearning youngsters yodeling

Zealot zooms ZENITH!