Inperitive Eyes

Dark manticora eyes
The damn toaster is set at two.  That won’t do.  Turn it to three at least.  Not five – unless burnt toast is the goal for starting the day?  Some day it will be, either way.  Coffee’s done.

It snowed just twelve miles away yesterday.  Snowed.  In April.  Nearly May.  Probably need to wear a thin layer under a button down again today.  Leave the window blind up; the sunshine is looking mighty nice right now.  Remember to get creamer at the store on the way in.  They’ll be closed by the time you get off.  Um – toast should basically be a boat for butter; keep going.  There’s some Apricot marmalade in the fridge – use that too.

Take the empty egg cartons to the farm people today.  May not need more eggs, but they look messy piled up there on top of the fridge.  Floor could really use a good mop in here too.  Not now.  Only two hours before the first meeting.  Better get busy scarfing that toast and coffee down.  Take the eye vitamins and immune system supplements after you finish the first piece.

No, there’s no time to read that chapter.  It’s an eat and run morning.  Should have thought about that last night when sleep wasn’t intriguing enough to cajole.  A little effort wouldn’t hurt on those nights.  Four hours rest isn’t what those degenerate eyes need.  And a ten o’clock wake-up (in order to get them an hour and a half more) lacks style.  Really.  Could have hit the 4000 word count with a decent night’s sleep this morning.

Leave the heat down.  Save on the power bill.  Speaking of bills – open that one from yesterday and text the amount to M so she can pay it.  After that NSF from the local bank last week, it might be a good idea to close that account today or tomorrow.  Lady tried to say the online transaction records are updated daily.  So not true.  Best close it and just work with cash for the small amount every month.  And check both post offices on the way too.  Otherwise that Walmart package will get sent back.

Hit the shower.  Use the shower cap.  Hair looks serviceable (smells fine too).  No point in wasting time messing with that plain-Jane cut.  Tomorrow’s the bigger meeting, so save those pants for that.  Wear the greenerish-brown pair.  Otherwise it’s the same black pair worn yesterday.  Bad enough only three or four pairs fit, but do try and keep an appearance of variety.  Thank goodness for all these shirts.  They need to be rearranged again to hang in ROYGBV order.  Too much hurry whenever coming or going.  There are probably still clothes in the dryer crowding wrinkles into each other.

Just a hint of blush.  No age spots to cover up yet – small blessings.  Wow! What was that dream last night?!  Someone with makeup done sparkly?  And a hubbub of argument about “being out of uniform?”  How fun to still be at about work during the scant hours of sleep managed.  Seriously.

Leave the books.  No time to read them at work anyway.  Lunch consists of a can of fruit at the overflowing desk or while standing in the front office.  Stop kidding yourself.  They’ll still be here when the day is done.  You have time.  Belt.  Don’t forget the belt.  Brown one would work with this.  Maybe ice the eyes before leaving.  The cold would feel good, and it wouldn’t hurt the bags under them either.  Stop worrying.  “could be twenty or thirty years,” he said.  There’s time


 

This piece is the result of following Brian Kiteley’s second writing exercise in his book, The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  If you can get past the introduction, I highly recommend this to any writer with a day job.

 

The Croissant of Self-Consciousness

La parisienne almond croissant
What I love about this story is the extreme concern the narrator has for what others think, yet most of the concerns stem from his or her own prejudices and opinions about weight and others.  Also, I was careful not to expose the gender of the main character, but how fascinating that most readers will assume it is a female.  Enjoy and please tell me what you think!

The little cardboard box is small enough to stay on my lap during takeoff but large enough to be a nuisance.  When it is clear the box will not fit the seat pocket under the tray table, a tradeoff occurs between the newly deadened cell phone and the absorbing book that beckons, “What will he do next?  How will he live?”  The book wins and, before the plane finishes its taxi to the runway, the story resumes its previous bombardment.  This makes the eventual task of opening the little box and erasing its need to exist a carnival of, “Everyone’s watching.  How can this be done to avoid looking gluttonous and fat?”

Inside the box is the almond croissant the Library Bistro was pushing this morning before the light rail trip to the airport.  None of the other passengers on this puddle-jumper are endowed with such a little culinary treasure.  The tiny bag of honey mustard pretzel mix will be the extent of their gourmet experience.  That and a little plastic cup with limited choice of beverages will be the only “food service” this hour flight has to offer.  But the box must be deposed, its internal croissant dissolved without waste.  So the plane rises, and the show begins.

Among the plastic utensils, the spoon can be dismissed.  The fork and knife are essential to avoid smears of orange marmalade  on clothes, hands, or worse – the face.  Armies of napkins are strategically positioned.  As if this feature is not distracting enough, the Library Bistro provided black napkins – a clear message that to dine there is to join in the artistry.  In a “to-go” kit for plane travel, however, the message is, “Look at me!  No really, look!”

While the knife is barely a match for sawing the hefty pastry into three manageable sizes, at least it stays put in its box like an assistant in a magic show.  The passenger to the right is a saint.  She ignores the whole debacle.  This still leaves the entire left flank on the isle as spectators, not to mention the bustling stewardesses.  A premonition of their opinions, clay sculpted judgements of this spectacle, buffet the air.  But drink service has ended and the clock is ticking before trash service begins.  The show must go on.

Ever so gracefully, a little dab of marmalade here, a poke with the fork there, leaning in for an attempt at a humble bite of the thing.  Oh, how this must appear.  “Doesn’t look to be hurting for nourishment.”  “Don’t think that qualifies as diet food.”  Fully formed ceramic thoughts whiz past and smash into the seat back as I plod on.  Half gone, nearly finished!

What else must they see?  The new wedding band on my fork hand sparkles in the fake light.  At least they piece together, “fat and lonely.”  The latest shower gel assures a pleasant smell, so there’s that.  The last little corner of the croissant flakes apart and fingers are forced to deploy to ensure delivery of the rebel to its doom.  Sticky fingers result and black napkins aren’t ideal for cleanup in this particular scenario.  Praise the airline management (or whomever makes such decisions) for their distribution of little white cocktail napkins.  A couple dabs of Sprite does the trick, and the mission can be resumed.

The little cardboard box is handy for repackaging the napkins, the plastic utensils, the small ramekin of marmalade, and the last remnants of crumbs.  A few swishes and two gulps finishes off the Sprite and finally the tray table is ready for the approaching attendant.  A relief settles as the box drops into the rolling trash receptacle.  It occurs to me that I don’t even recall how the thing tasted.  But a clear area and a book to escape any leftover remnants of pottery tastes like survival. The croissant is dead.  Long live the croissant.

War with Me

Every night I wage a war.  The enemy crawls into the room and begins its familiar bombardment, first with feathers and then with rubber bullets.  In a matter of minutes I’m surrounded by fire breathing dragons screaming with urgency – I must enter their realm.  I refuse, at least for a few more hours.  It’s about the fight, yet I don’t even know where my objection starts in me.  This battle makes no sense and doesn’t do me any good.  But somehow, Sleep has become my enemy.

Its army comes at me as if I’m expecting it.  Like I’ll throw myself at their mercy once the grenades are thrown.  I shake my head and pop my lids open again, a yawn stretches me but I stay connected to the wakeful world … with my eyes.

Two days ago I went to the eye doctor and he tells me I have slight cataracts in my left eye and the onset of macular degeneration in my right.  What’s left to fight with if I don’t have my eyes?  The monster approaches tonight and my weapons start to ache.

All these years, for reasons I don’t comprehend, I fought sleep off.  It isn’t insomnia; it’s a conscientious, albeit an underground and seditiously layered response.  My mind wants to stay rapt with the happenings of the day or the fantasies I’ve missed while doing the responsible job thing.  It wants to read new depths and experience different worlds, scan new perspectives and flex different thoughts.  It’s crosshairs are a pair of blue peepers I’ve had since I was born.  Now the weapons of choice are losing their effectiveness yet the enemy is in no way breaking its stride.

It certainly occurs to me (on a regular basis, should you question my clarity on this matter) – sleep would assuredly heal my situation,  or at a minimum slow this eye-death process.  Would that I could allow myself to be taken prisoner.  To surrender.  The sheets and the pillow call my weary body.  Why can’t I give in?  Shell shock?  Post traumatic stress syndrome?

But I still fight.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop this madness.  No doubt if I could just figure out what started this war for me, I’d be able to agree to a cease-fire, draw up a peace plan.  Resolve to do what’s best for my sanity.

Alas, I fear that peace may never come.

alternate ending

The pain to know
the weight of time
the angst of rhyme
the pressure flow
the words 

describing tender
heart/mind bender
tripping rhythms
of life schisms

once upon a dream
with a twist at the end
unimagined stream
chapter verse rend

alternate ending

what then?

in a rush to be loyal.
promised and will pay.
what will become when the contract's done,
when disconnect from daily sways
into my creative
out of my furtive
hopes to write
experience and strife
when i have no more 
to show up for?

George Mowgli – 8.5 (Note)

Dear Readers,

 

George needs rest before continuing his perilous journey into the recesses of his mind.  He is taking a brief hiatus while his writer attempts to create something from scratch for a mystery writing contest.  He was a bit appalled at my thirst for competition, but when I mentioned I wasn’t 38 years old and still living at home his objections fell silent.  I apologized for hitting below the belt, to which he replied he probably wouldn’t feel it anyway.   I believe he has a much better sense of humor but I was careful to laugh politely out of respect.

In an effort to compromise, I allowed him to leave a forwarding address in case anyone wants to write him.  You may address any comments or questions to him below and I will be happy to serve as his personal secretary until his return.  You’ll also be happy to know that he guilt-tripped me into slapping up some poetry since it is National Poetry Writing Month.  So feel free to stay tuned for some flow.

 

Sincerely,

George’s Writer

George Mowgli – 8

His palms are slippery.  He turns his right hand over, barely recognizing the mottled exterior, the soft-skinned canvas of his lifelines loosely draped around the bones and swollen joints.  Like ghosts in his mind, a false duet of memories and the present, he can still make out the muscles of his youth as he twitches his thumb.  Days were when his calloused hands put in time at the lumber mill, returning home with nubby, dirt encrusted nails as evidence, scrapes and bruises the “war wounds” of their service.

A bar of Lava soap, wrapped in the dirty imprint of this or the other hand from those days, still convalesced on the shelf in the mudroom.  He thinks about tossing it once in awhile.  Recollections of the texture, the solace of that gritty lather under soothing warm water, prevent  further consideration.  Comforts of the past.  He splays his fingers and turns the decrepit looking thing away from his view, wafting air along the sweaty underside as best he can.  He dares not loose his grip on the railing yet.

George Mowgli – 7.5 (Note)

Dear George Mowgli readers,

 

At this point in the progression of this narrative, I’m unhappy with the number 8 and beyond.  I’m going to let the 8th post, but will probably rework it and may not post further until I can revamp some things.  Do not worry about George.  He will continue to suffer, commiserate with his younger self, disdain, regret, celebrate, remember, forget, sweat, outwit, analyze, fight, and survive (the last part is negotiable – he and I are still going around about that one) … and he will be back to tell you all about it.  He asks that you please forget that bit about his unmentionables.

 

Thank-you,

 

George’s Writer

George Mowgli – 7

He’d wanted to name the baby, “George, Jr.” but Sarah whined it wouldn’t do.  Not poetic enough.  Not ear catching.  What would the girls at work think?  Looking back, he was certain she’d only agreed to have a baby because she wanted an excuse to stop working and stay at home.  It was clear, once the mission was accomplished, she was ill-prepared and had as much motherly instincts as a harp seal.  He’d watched one of those television documentaries on the creatures and experienced deja vu when he discovered the mothers abandon their defenseless babies vulnerable to predators, alone on the ice after only twelve days.

Now he knows what that must feel like.  Hadn’t put two and two together back when she forgot Micah was playing on the sun porch and locked the door.  Poor kid had nearly fainted of dehydration by the time she realized.  From all accounts over the years, Micah could have been one of those poor little babies that baked to death in the back seat while his mother lollygagged at the mall.  But for the strange ironic brew he’d come to accept where good things happened to bad people and bad people happened to good ones, Sarah would be seeking all manner of reporters and gullible ears to question “Why on Earth any legitimate legal system would put a poor mother behind bars for an innocent mistake that had taken her child from her bosom of love …”  Her flair for drama and talent for overlooking reality was cemented in the fabric of his familiar.  Try as George may, he can’t get the stain she leaves on his attitude to wash clean.

Time Travel on a Day with Deadlines

“Time travel on a day with deadlines,”
That’s what I think over coffee, under fog
of sleep crusted eyes and rickety bones.

It’s only six, but I’m at my eight,
then my eleven.  I wonder.
“Does the car need to sweat off some frost?”

George Mowgli – 6

It would never be said of his son – Micah, “A chip off the old block.”  A  middle-aged man of pale complexion and reddish brown hair – these and his glasses were the only traits that could be claimed as ever being shared between the men.  His son’s exterior was a contradiction.  One could easily make out his hefty midsection, still within the socially accepted picture of “average,” but gaining.  His choice in the latest alternative band t-shirts attempted a distraction to the mismatched area in contrast to his spindly legs and scrawny neck.  Lanky but graceful – his straight, wiry hair sat atop his globe as a wig might.

It was clearly his own hair; its roots visibly clawed into his head nearly a full inch behind where his forehead should have ended.  It seemed to follow a set of standing orders as it cascaded back and then, in tune with gravity, down the sides of his head in the form of a sort of academic-looking mullet.  That pasty, waxen forehead was accentuated by his choice in eye-wear.  Dark wire rims joined his cartoonish appearance, and together they defined the word, “spectacles.”  At 38, the boy had not acknowledged his adulthood, it seemed to George.  He dressed in rust colored jeans that hugged his legs, the shirt bloused over the waistline.  Wore suede construction boots with the ensemble.  “As if he’s worked a day of manual labor in his whole, enabled, meaningless life,” mutters George, as he counts and thinks, and waits for his lungs to join him once again in this life.

Aware By Denise Levertov

terzahcain:

My kind of poem when I’m seeking serenity and fresh air. Thanks Renard Moreau for posting it!

Originally posted on Renard Moreau Presents:

Denise Levertov

When I found the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
whispers.
My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.

View original

George Mowgli – 5

George reaches up and pulls himself up again.  Amazing what energy can be found in those “cringing moments.”  His left toe catches the ledge as he brings it up and his right arm swings itself forward on its own volition to counterbalance his imminent demise.

Sarah had a mole that could be mistaken for a cold-sore.  She tried to apply her makeup to under accentuate its redness.  Lingering just above her lip and southwest of her right nostril, it could have become her trademark.  Entering her 40s  she should have accepted the “opinions and rumor mill be damned” attitude that is a right of passage most other older women enjoy.  Instead, her collaboration with her flamboyant beautician produced a pair of eyebrows – reminiscent of the golden arches – relegating her mole to a sideshow in the vaudeville that was her presence.

George Mowgli – 4

He parked himself in denial years ago.  A stereotype behind the wheel, he refused to ask directions and insisted on reading his map any damn way he wanted.  It was upside down.  He smoked his smokes and drank his drinks and chuckled at the naysayers who warned him of death.  Now he smirks, and thinks, “They were still wrong.  Its not the death that means anything.  Its the landscape.”  His lungs confirm this assessment.  Bristles of perspiration tingle him all over, under his tummy rolls, beneath his unmentionables.

His real name is George, but today he thinks of himself as the boy raised in the rainforest (or was it a jungle), surrounded by pitiless wild animals with only the thought to devour him, or ignore him if a better meal is in view. It fits rather well given the selfish, oblivious nature of his son and ex-wife. These stairs are his daily hell. He is too proud to refuse or complain. The 38-year old man who still lives at home, his son, remains a “mama’s boy,” which explains why he remains clueless and disengaged from his father’s plight. His ex-tormentor, Sarah? He divorced the woman 18 years ago. The only difference George had been able to enjoy was that she’d moved out and occasionally (he’d begrudgingly learned of her debacles through their son) played the fool for all to see, flirting with the butcher at the supermarket.

He was actually in line once at the front when he’d heard her cackle.  He’d instinctively whipped his head toward the hideous but familiar squawk as one would turn at the sound of screeching tires, only to see the encore.  “Oh, hellooooooa!” she waved her entire 63 year old body at the poor man behind the meat counter.  “God help us! What is wrong with that ridiculous witch?” George snarled to himself.  The timid Mr. Schultz, caught in the middle of handing a more sane customer a pound of salami, had issued forth an awkward cough.  It was sort of the thing you would expect to happen after realizing your credit card was declined, or you’d locked your keys in the car.  Susan had turned to the lady friend she was with in line and giggled like a school girl, as if the camera was on but her mic wasn’t working.  She hadn’t even noticed her friend’s mouth agape or her pink cheeks of embarrassment.  Oblivious!