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Posts Tagged ‘short fiction’

Fingers deep in waking earth
  clearing ferns from wintry somnolence

Their feathered, spiked, serrate fronds
  release spores in ochre clouds

Raindrops drum my hat brim
  enthusiastic paradiddles of spring

Hands set blade to swordleaf
  trimming old stems and rusted detritus

From the center I lift accreted duff
  revealing curls, verdant and sleepy

Nestled in that fiddlehead crown
  is the confidence of rebirth

Hope is spring’s eternal gift
  a promise of life
    and all it contains

 

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By the full moon’s light
I read
of times long past
of a distant village

where limestone cliffs
as blue as the moon itself
rise high enough
to split the sky

where the mountain springs
murmur liquid life

where the townsfolk
hard and resinous
as turpentine trees
keep secrets
break hearts
learn lessons
(or do not, until too late)

and while their setting sun
reddens the pale scarps
above their heads

my sun rises
blanching the sky
behind my setting moon

I close the final page
and return home

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Twenty-odd years ago (when I was just starting out with speculative fiction), I wrote the short-short below. It was a light-hearted look at a theory that was, back then, just emerging into the popular culture. Several recent headlines brought it back to mind, and it ain’t so funny, anymore.

 

 

 

(more…)

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The Princess Gang rolled into the cul-de-sac on the same day Mr. B’s plum tree decided to bloom.

That’s the first line from a story that started flowing yesterday. Remembering, of course, that (say it with me) all first drafts are crap, it’ll obviously go through some revisions, but the important thing is that it was followed by a thousand words of a quiet little story that’s been pinballing around my brain for over a year.

The reason I share this is because nothing like this has happened for a long, long time.

Yes, I’ve written some fiction in the past handful of years. Most of it has been in posts on this very blog—vignettes, word imagery, poems—all meant for immediate consumption. I’ve also been slugging my way through a championship bout with a new novel which, though reportedly of good quality (especially for a first draft), has been the most difficult fiction project of my life. But a short story, a for-real short story? It’s been years. The last one I wrote was “The Book of Solomon.” It’s good, and it found a home in The Timberline Review, but I wrote that story years ago, and there has been zip-a-dee-doo-dah since.

Then yesterday: Boom. My pen began to work. My brain began to conjure. It was like my voice suddenly returned after a decade of muted trauma.

Why? (more…)

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On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings, quiet and low, as if to itself alone.

It stands beyond my sleeping, snow-mantled garden, an ancient guarding the limits of my land, gap-toothed, slope-shouldered, its windward side rough with scree, cragged and worn by storm-fed furies, by blistering sun, by generations’ neglect.

Once, it had been naught but an idea, a homesteader’s dreamed-of bulwark against the forever wind until, with stinging sweat and stone-torn fingers, the imagined was made real and the builder stood back to see it, whole, strong, chest-high, stone nested tight upon stone, snug in haphazard uniformity.

But Autumn’s rains sluiced through unmortared cracks, and Winter’s glass prised fissures open; Spring brought seeds to lodge and widen each minuscule flaw with root and tendril, until Summer’s hearth-eye withered flower and stem alike, reducing them to dust, leaving paths for ant, beetle, and mouse, to enlarge, improve, extend.

And so it went as lifetimes passed, as children were born and grew tall, as owners lived, flourished, and bequeathed this home, this garden, to new custodians until tonight, this night, as the clouds lour down from above, as pale patches of snow lie recumbent beneath the gloom, as the ice-sharp wind soughs and sighs through every crack, every gap, every hole the years have bestowed, transforming the stones into a zephyrean choir, and the night-shrouded garden fills with the wall’s song, a song of patience, a song of years, of cloistered nights and brazen days, of climbing children and creeping vines, of a life spent in somnolent solitude, a discordant moan-filled yearning for sunshine, warmth, and vernal rebirth.

On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings.

Quiet and low, it sings, as if to itself alone.

But I hear it. I hear it plain.

k

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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the blank page
sleeps before me
pale
bare
eternally patient
unaffected by my
anguish

the unwritten story
assails my brain
cajoling
shaming
begging for release
unmoved by my
anxiety

between them
my pen
my hand
my fear
my wall

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at the cliff’s edge
the earth falls
through giddy space 
to clammy sands
sunlight spears the steel wool clouds
and blazes from gunmetal curls
brined winds press me back
with death-cold hands

hot anger fills me
magma of rage
ready to spew forth
and boil the sea below
as I ponder the choice between
a hateful god
slayer of the young
and no god at all

humanity
we are
upright beasts gifted
with massive power
over nothing
with dreams of eternity
circumscribed by birth and death
we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap
to fly
to perish
on a solitary sojourn
that has no arrival


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