LitKicks Presents ...
    
 

The following writings emerged from The QUEST, a workshop/tournament conducted on LitKicks.com in October 2003 with 114 participants. We asked writers to respond to three assignments. The first called for lyrical writings about morning, the second called for character development using dialogue and conversation, and the third asked writers to answer a direct question: what do you believe? Twenty finalists then participated in a final round, in which we asked them to write something great in 300 words or less. After the final round, six winners and five honorable mentions were chosen.

This page offers just a tiny sampler from among the hundreds of writings submitted during all four rounds of this fascinating experiment.

Waking Warren
by Kreddible Trout
Group: Watermelon

The sound of peace crept politely into his head. It waited patiently outside his ear until it was invited in, then, with slippered feet it entered his aural passage. It came in on the wings of a sparrow’s chirp, a tree’s rustle and the sound of a paper-boys spokes. It immediately started fondling his dreams. The dreams fondled back.

He stirred slightly.

Morning waited. It’s patient like that.

He stirred again, moving his left leg slightly.

An almost silent symphony played all around him. Engulfed him. Dew slid down grass blades as they reached as far east as they could to greet the new sun. They were very eager this morning.

He raised his right hand and rubbed his torso with it. His pyjamas were damp. He then lifted the hand to his face, wiped it a bit and returned it to his side where he could easily get it again if he needed it.

The smell of crisp, moist life was pulled quickly in through his nostrils. It played with the remnants of his now fleeting dreams for a moment and was expelled through a small slit in his lips. The dreams went happily back into their cubby-holes with contented grins and slightly stiffened nipples.

His eyelashes seemed to be the only problem. They were clinging tightly to one another and didn’t seem to want to let go. They were much stronger than he remembered them to be and, from this angle, they looked to him like great bridges that spanned everything.

Blue.

Blue eased the stubborn lashes apart with a bit of gentle coaxing and warmly massaged his retinas into perception.

“Morning.” The world said to him.

“Morning.” Warren answered back as he slowly peeled himself off his dewy bed. He looked up and down the quiet street. He paused for a moment. Warren then shook his head a bit to shuffle the stubborn dream-bits back to their places, stretched a big godly one, turned and walked towards his front door.

Warren slept on the front lawn sometimes. Just sometimes.

I Know Why the Rooster Crows
by elz
Group: Raspberry

The steeltown I grew up in didn't have a lot to offer tourists. I suppose you could count the Hot Dog Shoppe - home of the best ever chili dogs and fries. Or maybe the Playhouse, though that was overrated. It smelled like armpits and wet carpet and never had any good shows. My mom went to see Paul Lynde there once. She came home all flushed and laughing - and since she didn't have time to make dinner, we got a box of those great hotdogs.

Dad worked at the mill and made what everyone described as "pretty good money". I don't know what "pretty good money" was in the sixties, but we lived on the downwind side of the mill in an old seafoam green house. Or it would have been seafoam green were it not for the soot. My dad was pretty careful with his money so that for four weeks out of the year we could soak in the ocean. I knew it was a privilege. The neighbor kids never got further than Quinby park. Talk about armpit smell.

These vacations took a lot of preparation. The trailer had to be cleaned and packed carefully. Dad was a real stickler over the packing. Once, a watermelon that had been stowed under a table broke loose while we were careening down the highway. The melon rolled back and forth and back and forth and the whole trailer started fishtailing - just because of a stupid melon! My mom had the sad luck to be driving that day. She did what my dad yelled at her to do and pulled us out of it though. She rarely drove when we pulled the trailer after that. My dad's yelling had that sort of effect on you.

My little brother Ken and I didn't have to do anything to get ready. We were just kids, after all. The night before leaving it was so hard to sleep. We strung an old jump rope - the hollow plastic tube kind, like a garden hose - between our rooms. If you closed your mouth around the handle and talked...it was like a can and string effect.

"Hey Betsy...you asleep?"

I knew when he finally was once the rope got slack. I pictured him in there still holding the handle. Talking in his sleep about rafts and waves and the penny candy we got for the trip. I tried harder to sleep then, because we were leaving around dawn.

Every year it was the same.

I'd hear everyone shuffling around. Not quietly, either. The idea of being-quiet-because-the-kids-are-sleeping was long forgotten by kids number five and six. Ken's scrunched voice came through the tube all whispery. The plan was in motion.

I looked out my window down at the station wagon. The back hatch was open and my older brother Denny was making a bed out of old sleeping bags and pillows. This was for Ken and me. Our headboard was a red metal cooler (also strategically packed) with comics piled on it. And a huge bag of penny candy. Denny would be moving that, though. We never got the whole bag.

Mouth scrunched around the jumprope phone, "Kenny. They're doing the car."

"oohkay".

Next was yelling. If it's possible, it was a hushed yelling. My dad didn't want to wake up the neighbors, but he sure wanted to yell at my brother Tom who wasn't giving good back up directions when he was trying to hook up the trailer.

Jump rope phone: "Kenny. They're hookin' up the trailer"

"Ooohkay".

This was it. Up the stairs came Denny, who was a pretty big guy. He played football even though he had asthma and wasn't really supposed to. First he came to my room. I closed my eyes and flung an arm casually over a pillow to do my best to look like I was sleeping. Denny sort of snickered and picked me up. He carried me down the steep steps that just last week I tried to somersault down. Well, I did, but it hurt more than I thought it would. Anyway, he carried me to the car and set me in there. Arranged my arm over a pillow, even. He laughed and went back upstairs for Ken.

When Denny came back with Ken, I opened my eyes and sat up a bit to watch. Kenny's idea of appearing to be asleep was to snore really loud like they do in cartoons and clench his eyes shut. Denny bit his lip and said to my mom in his most serious voice, "Oh yeah. He's sound asleep..."

That was our gig. Not the Playhouse, granted, but we invented it and were pretty pleased with it, overall.

Once the car started moving and we were out of town on the highway, I'd watch the sunlight swell into the back window and listen to my parents talk about what they forgot to pack. The soot in the sky glowed orange this early and the dew was diamond sparkle on the window glass. In the distance, my town looked small and everything good and clean was moving toward me at the speed of morning.

the kitchen waltz
by kairo on Nov 2, 2003 6:31 PM

the night spreads like slate
across my pregnant heart.
i think of you
somewhere not so far gone
and hum to myself
a complicated waltz we once knew.

another season has stolen your crown of grapes,
your fragrant almond skin,
your heart of slippery iguana
green and blue.

(i loved you when you least expected it)

my sadness is punctuated
by candle-lit porches lined with pumpkins
and the clatter of a union train heading west.
you used to wear a scarf of fuschia
leaving a streak of vibrant sunsets
trailing across fields of white
as you chased the caboose to the Vernon line.
i remember you now
your face to the sky
mouth open wide--
a butterfly net
out of which escaped
the sound of the
most perfect
yellow
joy.

(i sigh)

there is nothing but gray silence
while I wait for the white of winter.
my heart beats a solemn tune
as the sun peaks tender and orange
over empty Iowa fields.
it is in these moments
when the silence
is an encyclopedia of verses
that I breathe slowly
and hear our footsteps
on the kitchen floor:
ba-da-da ba-da-da
waltzing
waltzing
away.

Belief Warehouse (Lüuka goes Shopping)
by beatvibe
Group: Lithium

"It's all about choices," declared the merchant. "You're a person of intellect, right? Well, I mean intellect balanced with... I don't know. Whatever it is that makes us human. You follow your heart, your mind... Either way, you end up making choices. About what to believe, I mean. And when you're ready to buy, you end up here, at Belief Warehouse."

"I'm just browsing," said Lüuka. "Comparing alternative structures, looking for ideas. I haven't quite made up my mind yet."

"Oh, you think not?" scoffed the grizzled old man, shaking his head. "Well, that's a belief as well. A false one. Give it a little consideration, a little introspection... You'll see. Hmmm..." he squinted at her. "I could be wrong, but uh... I peg you as a liberal. Capitalist, of course..."

Lüuka took a deep breath. "Well," she responded cautiously, "I don't know that we should... I mean, I'm not quite comfortable with..."

"Yeah, I know," acknowledged the man. "People can be very protective of their beliefs. That's why we package everything here in metal cans. Some places will sell you beliefs wrapped in tissue or plastic -- or even loose off the shelf. But not at Belief Warehouse. Here, everything is hermetically sealed in titanium alloy canisters. Some people think beliefs last longer that way -- less susceptible to contamination. That's important, you understand. I mean, when you've got every conceivable principle under one roof, you've got to keep things in their place. Or at least allow for that perception."

"This showroom is enormous," exclaimed Lüuka, scanning the cavernous expanse of inventory. "When I walked in... I mean, from the outside, I didn't realize what I was getting into."

"Well, it's different for every person," explained the merchant, leading her deeper into the crisscrossing labyrinth (confused, like tangled neurons). "Some people come here because they're comfortable with abstractions, and they just want to examine the options. Others are more literal and really think they can purchase this stuff. But, uh... Either way, I think you'll find we're quite well organized. I mean, once you allow for the vague nature of our product. Basically, it's all categorized by aisle."

"What about all those baseless notions that seem so popular?" Lüuka asked. "You know... Fake moon missions, the flat Earth, conspiracy doctrines...?"

"Oh, that..." sighed the man. "Well, you see, those aren't really beliefs -- I mean, in the true sense of 'conviction.' They're just speculative ideas. Quite tangible, for the most part."

"Yeah, I suppose... A different niche."

"Even so, we stock a few of the more popular ones as novelty items. Impulse buys on display by the register. But none of that stuff is profitable, because it's worth so little to begin with."

"Do you offer layaway plans?" Lüuka inquired.

"Of course not," snorted the merchant. "I mean, once you've made up your mind on a belief, you can't very well leave it behind. It's yours. I mean, how you reconcile it is your business."

"Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. But I'm concerned about cost."

"Well, most beliefs are just trinkets," conceded the man. "We just give them away in bulk. But, you're right... Certain beliefs can be very expensive. They'll cost you your livelihood, your love, your life, your limb... Perhaps even your soul. I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing. And if not... Well, we can fix you up." He stopped before an expanse of well-repaired shelving. "Here," announced the man. "This is the Politics aisle. You'll notice we stock liberal beliefs on the left side of the aisle, and conservative on the right."

"Well, assuming you browse in this direction," Lüuka countered. "The moment you turn around and come back, everything's reversed."

"Uh... Actually not," corrected the man. "That's the strange thing about Politics. It's more of a circle than a spectrum, and it's all relative. You can try to turn things around -- God knows, it's been done -- but ultimately..."

Lüuka reached tentatively...

"Careful," warned the man. "Be wary of beliefs stocked on the right. They spend obscene money on packaging and marketing, and are notorious for mislabeling. But if you scrutinize the ingredients, you'll see that all you're buying into is callous, self-serving greed."

"Not to mention self-righteousness," Lüuka added. "And intolerance."

"Ah... You've shopped this aisle before," realized the vendor. "Well, their self-righteousness isn't a belief per se. It's probably a defensive reaction invoked by a sense of shame. I mean, assuming they have any left. The intolerance is characteristic of their general fear and hatred. But, uh... That's just my own, uh... Observation. Anyway, I guess they've got to sell their beliefs somehow, and continual repackaging has proven curiously effective." The man squinted at an elaborate display of canisters stacked in the center of the aisle. "Now, here's a prime example," he snorted. "I don't know how these ended up getting stocked with the Midway Moderate lines. People come in here trying to be evasive, and they walk out with Compassionate Conservatism. It's disgraceful."

"Well, I think that's why I'm here," said Lüuka. "Looking for something less convoluted."

"Not quite sure how you mean that," said the man, scratching his chin. "I mean, if you're a connoisseur or collector, you can still find Marxism, Federalism, Mösknvorrism, et cetera, stocked down at the end. But if you're just an idealist, that stuff's a bit radical. I mean, you want your beliefs to fit the general framework, don't you?"

"I hesitate to ask," she ventured. "But, uh..."

"Aisle six," answered the man. "It's funny... Strange, I mean. Everyone seems hesitant to bring up Religion. But that's our most popular item -- in a broad sense, I mean. Fundamental."

"Oh, yes..." cooed Lüuka. "May I look? I mean, I'm just curious, you understand."

The old man shuffled to the sixth aisle and gestured with an open hand. "It's all here," he declared. "Kind of hard to keep these beliefs sorted in neat categories, so you might have to scrounge a bit to find exactly what you're after."

Lüuka squinted at the extensive line of product, stacked neatly on gilded shelves extending farther than the eye... "There's so much of it," she observed. "It's overwhelming."

"Humph," barked the man. "Look at it from my point of view, as a humble shopkeeper, I mean. This aisle is infinitely long, filled beyond capacity, with new product arriving daily. East, West, old, new..."

"I don't know where to start."

"Well, follow me," offered the man as he set off down the corridor. "You know, when I help people find things in this aisle, I used to say, 'I am the way.' As a joke, you understand. But, uh... That sometimes doesn't go over so well."

The man stopped before a colorful expanse of product. "You might start by choosing a God," he suggested. "Of course, the basic Old Testament versions are among the most popular, but I think you'll find we're well stocked in all the variations. I mean, you could even go with a lowercase 'g,' if you prefer."

"I... I have trouble telling the difference. Could you possibly recommend one?"

With little forethought, the merchant snatched a can from the shelf. "A white-bearded old man," he offered. "Very popular item. Produced by a major manufacturer and endorsed by numerous factions. General-purpose. Over eighty percent ecumenical..."

"Oh," said Lüuka, squinting at the can's ingredient label. "But is this a benevolent God?"

"Uh, no..." admitted the shopkeeper. "Actually, that one is rather vindictive. Most people seem to identify with that -- conservatives especially. If you actually want a 'loving' God... Well, you limit your choices substantially, but there's still an impressive realm, depending on the qualifications you choose to impose."

Lüuka returned the bearded old man to His spot on the shelf. "No," she decided, "none of these seem right. It's hard to explain, but I think there's something wrong with the packaging."

"Yeah, well... Easy to sell that way," rationalized the vendor. "It's a business, you know."

"But don't you have...? You know... The true God?"

The merchant eyed her skeptically. "You don't see Him here?" he challenged, spreading his arms. "We stock infinitely many choices, and you've only glanced at a couple. If I didn't know better, I'd say you weren't ready to buy. Heck, you can even customize. Buy a generic version and equip Her with whatever suits you. That's very popular these days, and not just among the fringe cults. Belief accessories are myriad in this department."

"No," Lüuka insisted. "I know what I want, and it's not here. Not on these shelves."

The man knit his brow. "Okay, follow me," he relented. "Behind the counter. No place for what you're seeking out on the floor." He shuffled back and retrieved the coveted item, placing a non-descript tin on the counter.

"It's small," Lüuka realized. "I mean, I expected it to be bigger. You know... All encompassing."

"Packaging," reminded the man.

"But there's no label. How do I know what the ingredients are? Or what religion exactly...?"

The old man shrugged. "Either you know, or you don't," he proclaimed. "That's faith. And if you don't have that... Well, then you may as well just buy something off the shelf."

Lüuka nodded. "You're right," she admitted. "This is it."

"Are you certain?"

"Absolutely," Lüuka insisted. "I need this. And, uh... Price is no object."

The belief merchant took the can back and returned it to its spot under the counter. "Well, then you already have it," he proclaimed. "There's nothing I can sell you."

Synaesthesia
by Hejira
Group: Hollyhock

I stand for art:
Creation of matter from energy,
Displays of frustration manifest in bodies moving;
Music, the vibrations that will save the world,
Manipulation of a populace on a
5x7 once white sheet of paper (striking
visuals forcing people to see something
differently); what the right seven letters
next to each other can make a body feel:
aspirin
holiday
love you
leave me
commune
in peace
harmony
the Lord
Satanic
suicide
bananas

And for art that is food. How sun and wind and rain,
how flour, baking powder, the sap from a tree,
how these things can become a pie
how the pie can be a memory
of Grandma Angel or last November.

I believe in sensory awareness and observation.
Rubbing the furry leaves of
A rose geranium, coming away with
Candy-smelling fingers;
Lying in a field or flatbed truck
Letting the wind scour my cheeks
To see one shooting star, to count
The stationaries. In the listening
To the pitch of that wind, the chords
Of crickets echoing in doorways,
The song of rain on budding branches,
On thick, full leaves, on dry leaves about to fall,
On naked limbs and hard cold earth.
I wholly believe in rich dark blue flannel
warm breeze-dried and fresh off the line.
And oh! do I believe in taste! Pallet subtleties:
The fullness and comfort of brown rice,
The take-me have-me of chocolate sauce
Licked off a finger, the hearth of fresh bread.
I stand for these things intertwined:
The dull thud on a windy September afternoon:
the sweetest apple just fallen;
the weighty smell of about to rain:
garden water, mosquito puddles;
the creak of a door and a sockfooted approach,
the sag of a mattress under a lover coming in late,
undressing: the promise of warm breath
rippling the soft crop of hairs
on the nape of a neck.

I stand for empathy, for art from love, for art
From a fervent, fiery desire, no - need -
To reshape thinking. I stand against
all that serves to snuff art's fire,
Against, my body chained to a fence in protest,
Pictures, music, words, tastes,
bodies created for money. Against:
Boxes and boxes of grocery store plastic,
The line of cars puffing exhaust at the drive thru
(the word "fodder" whispering in my head)
Television's ability to numb without inspiring
Unless to be thin, beautiful, to have
A fast car, maybe then I'll be loved, happy;

I stand for what's real, for being Un-numb, Un-happy
If that's what I am, and for gathering this
Nebulous pain and slashing it down like a red hot poker
On the skin of this page: I won't stand it!

Beauty and ugliness inseparable. I stand for art.
I believe in pressing it all to a point,
Colors and tastes and motion and scents swooning
Symphonies and bells and independent radio and
Shakespeare and Mary Oliver, all of it amalgamated
To a fine white ray,
a white dwarf condensed until its heat
explodes it all and drenches the world
and every shadow gleams like crystal
and every right angle becomes an ammonite spiral.

morning
by NinePages
Group: Chickadee

I can't remember the dream but the light was coming in through the wrong window when I woke up and I realized that things weren't the way they were supposed to be, so I covered my head and tried to go back to sleep.

There had to have been a dream.

Most moonlight breaks easy, but I hadn't had more than a few hours of sleep in the past several weeks, so every little bit that came in through the cracks made my mind squint. My head was caving in.

The elderly couple in the apartment on the other side of the wall were throwing each other across their dining room again. Lots of glass and crashing. I threw the pillow at them; it didn't make a sound but it broke through the wall like a rock through a giant marshmallow.

I held my eyes closed and tried.

I fell out of bed and found my way to the hall. It was raining. In the hall. I jogged towards the bathroom but it wasn't there. The doorways changed. Hacksaw masked man madman waiting in the lefthand bedroom for me, and I tripped trying to catch my breath.

I had been laying on my hip for hours, and it was numb. The list of things to do in the morning started scrolling behind my eyelids and then the works jammed up with the bulk of it stuck, stuck tilted in its mechanical momentum jam and a yellow light flickered from behind, and a clackity-clack. Black and white. The 12-year-old boy in striped shirt and small cap ran to the back of the theater and banged on the door. Something started whirring and the list scrolled away.

My head was caving in.

Birds starting flying and there was a burning car outside; things were getting rolling. I opened up my eyes. There was an American dream dying in my belly and I knew this and I cried. I still had the pillow. Roll over and try again.

Kevin would be waiting for me. Angie would wonder why I hadn't called. Michael would never know the difference; he would only feel a hollow loss. There's the hacksaw again and another tree came down. Press on.

It happened with a jolt, simply. As if there was never a light and the only madman rested cackling in the background, under cover of consciousness. As if.

The lights came on and I heard the distant rumble of humanity. I splashed water on my face, wondering how I got there, and dressed.

Reflective Identity Disorder
by frontal-abstraction
Group: Alligator

Arcadia Mosley woke every morning the same way, since not long after her eighth birthday; when her father picked her up by her throat, shattered the family’s nicotine stained mirror with the back of her skull, and let her slide down, to rest in the sink being filled slowly with red. From that moment on, there were no more yellow streaked mirrors for Arcadia blood pulsed, over all reflective surfaces. As others were casually brushing, teasing, and spraying their hair she would try to wipe away the interference of memory that kept her from seeing her true appearance. When she’d pass her hand over a mirror, the blood would move just long enough for her to view her face covered in liquid lava lamp red.

Over many years, she became indifferent to the delusion that many had tried to help her resolve. Some had tried hypnosis, another acupuncture, electroshock, one Freudian freak told her that it all came down to her wanting to have sex with her father, and one even tried meditation; where she entered into the past, in a lucid state she was to change what happened in her mind, to give her inner child power. Every attempt, to master reflection failed. Aimlessly she foraged through life, collecting just enough to survive; the question of identity had become barren.

She searched mazes within larger mazes of her mind. There didn’t seem to be any clear answers within. To begin, she thought, "I must draw from outside of myself pulling as much knowledge as I can into myself. Everything is as a whole, that I have broken from, into unintelligible pieces." Her search on the outside led to a plethora of epiphanies. One was in a clearing, outside of a forest of pines. In her solitude she found what she lovingly refers to as god, from outside of herself. Yet, this god was of herself, reflected in tranquil states, as the one true being.

During this time, as she became closer to understanding the universe on infinite levels. Every waking moment passed into a dream; however during sleep there were no dreams. None of her dreams came without light. She would on occasion, pass her true reflection in a mirror, long enough to smile at its clarity. Before, the blood would slowly work its way back over the surface, causing once again her identity to drip away.

One last attempt to stop the tease of glances, brought to her this thought, "If I could, with my mind as a sponge soak up all. Then I could pull the blood from surfaces with it, and rinse it away into the sink, where it belongs. I must soak up all that I can, in order to finally see." She read and watched for every detail life itself had to offer, soaking it all up on her surreal trip.

Last night, for the first time in years she dreamt as she slept. In her dream voices echoed from outside an illuminated cave door. The voices rambled, overwhelming her senses. She felt that to escape them, she would have to step outside of the cave. The voices bouncing off the walls told her, "I've searched more; and can only conclude thus far that there is no time, that nothing matters. Searching is only leading me in circles. Where now can not possibly exist, always being eaten up by the future, and slipping into the past, before the present can be as is, it is gone. Without the matter of the present there is no matter. Nothing is the matter. Everything is an illusion." Her own voice repeated over the top of the others, "All is well because that is all that I can conclude matter is; a state of wellness, being in the moment. That doesn't mean I've concluded anything other than, the state itself is an illusion. If this is true, then there is no reason to be in any other state than that of wellness."

This morning, when Arcadia woke she went straight to the bathroom, flipped on the light and saw immediately her reflection, onto herself she said with a smile, "Step out of the cave." Still smiling she touched her reflection. She stared deep into her own eyes, "Wow." Then, with the biggest, brightest smile she had ever seen, "Damn! How’d you get to be so beautiful baby?"

The Other Side of Morning
by Lightning Rod
Group: Apple

if you turn the morning inside out
like a sock
you'd think you would find evening
not so.
what you find is the other side of morning.

If I turned you inside out, what would I find?
blood and guts and spleen intestines bile and shit?
or would I find the other side of morning?

morning, a mobius strip
the bloodshot dawn embarrassed and
fearing the Day
clipped reminicences
gunshot grey hints of evening

shuffle the cards and you have morning
shake the etch-a-sketch and you have morning
divorce is morning, and death.

but if you twist the morning
just so
it goes on forever.

This morning is padded, I don't know how to describe it. All the sounds are slightly muffled and distant from last night. Everything was clear last night. When the morning rescued me from my dreams, the volume was turned down and as I listened it sounded like the past rumbling in a sewer.

It occurs to me that it might be a hangover.
My socks are inside out, like the morning.

I got up on the wrong side of the morning this morning. My horoscope smirked at me.
The coffee was nervous.
Eggs, like two jaundiced eyes staring through a glaze of grease, knowing.

Knowing what?

Do you think you are the only one who has ever studied a morning orgasm, felt it in its parts, discreet and secret? What motion and rhythm; what perfect twist or deceleration? Is the morning orgasm better than when you come at night?

Hold On.

Mama said there would be days like this when the morning is inverted and all hopes for the evening are cocksure and doomed.
Christ rose in the morning, I'm sure.
It was a Sunday, if I remember. The tomb turned inside-out, like a sock.

Morning's palette is pastel, touched lightly with promise-- The Promise of the Day, followed by evening and other mornings.

The alarm rings, hot and we with anticipation.
The Day.
The Day is coming, the morning its herald.
The morning is virgin birth. The tomb lost a rock. The womb turned inside out, like a sock.
And the morning and the evening were the first Day.

I remember the morning, sunrise pink on the clouds
mist retreating, dew its calling card
I remember the morning, like a breath in a train of other breaths
a square on the calendar among other squares.

I'll help you find the morning.

Morning is a liar from the East.
It tells you that the day will last forever.
Tomorrow's morning will tell you the same.

Morning eats the strychnine night
Comes pure, innocent, distilled, forgetful

It’s dipped in the rose sauce of dawn.
born on the rotation of planets and suns
It runs on physics and casts its fate
Twenty four hours till the next
One morning replaceable by another.

One side of morning is rude and textured
The other side—smooth and compliant
One side of morning is lost in conjecture
The other side is crude and defiant.

To find what the Day is all about
Turn the morning
Inside Out.

Before
by Ida Wright
Group: Daffodil

The smooth, warm pillowcase nestles beneath his neck as the pillow cradles his head. Under the comforter, he is cocooned. Protected, insulated, safe. It's his favorite part of the day -- when he wakes up before her. For those brief moments, everything is good. Everything is right. Everything is perfect. Quietly, he watches her sleep. Her breath is almost imperceptible, yet still he is sure that they breathe as one. He watches as the small patch of sunlight makes its way through the brightening sky, through the trees, through the double-paned glass and climbs up from her ear to her dimpled cheek. He moves closer and gazes from one pore to another, exploring her illuminated face as if it is a road map of her soul. He stops at the beauty mark just below her eye, the one he loved to kiss when they first met. He sees the thin brush of fuzz that graces her upper lip and remembers how that always made him smile. He watches her chest rise and fall. Rise and fall. Rise and fall. And her eyelids as they flicker, just slightly, giving away the dreams happening underneath. He wonders about the pictures she sees at this moment and where he fits in -- a minor character? a starring role? not there at all? The sunlight moves up her cheek onto her closed eyelid and she rolls over, her back to him. Her shoulder blade, highlighted by the bright light, rises and falls, rises and falls. With each movement, he knows there are less and less moments left of this peace and he waits. She turns again, her face towards him now and he waits. As her eyes slowly open, he looks deep into them and before they can focus, close down, grow bitter, for one glorious moment he feels it. And when he knows it's over, he gets up and as he walks into the next room, he only feels the cold slate beneath his soles.

Autistic Differences
by willtupper on Nov 2, 2003 2:56 PM

Jenny always says that you should never, ever give away your shoes. Not even to The Salvation Army or some other charity because, “They’re the truest record of who you are. There’s a memoir, right there in your footwear. Your shoes are the roadmap of your path as a person.

“They’re your traveling companions,” she says.

I tell her that says a lot about the differences between women and men.

Jenny asks, “How’s that again?”

Just that if we were to open the two-panel mirrored door to her closet, what we’d see there is a veritable army of footwear, enough pairs for probably a small country, standing ready and awaiting her orders. Compare this to me. I've got the ratty-white leather sneakers I’m wearing, and one pair of black “dress shoes” at home that haven’t seen the light of day since I-don’t-even-know. I’ve thrown out every other pair I’ve ever owned. Jenny knows this. But we don’t talk about it. Other than for her to say you – by which she means, the universal you – should never give away your shoes. Even though I still do.

She agrees with me. “Oh, totally,” she says, and nods slowly. For some reason I picture her as one of those toy birds whose head keeps bobbing back-and-forth towards the water. Looking for fish. Or a fresh pair of loafers.

She says, “We women must not be all that happy with where we’re going. While you men will settle for any old goddamn thing.”

I tell her she shouldn’t swear. She’s a philosopher. I’m an English major, so I’m stuck doing things like correcting her grammar. Jenny’s my best friend, and has been for years. So when she answers with a grin, “Fuck off man,” I nod, and understand.

I hear her loud and clear.

How You Know I Believe in God
by agresik
Group: Antimony

I get out of bed every morning.
I’m a sucker for a sunset.
I forgive my mother every single fucking time.
Miracles don’t bother me.
I give most people the benefit of the doubt.
I fall asleep on my husband's shoulder at church.
I say “fuck” but not “goddammit”.
Emmylou Harris makes me cry.
I refuse to bring a child into the world.
I start my journal over every January first.
I haven’t yet mixed tranquilizers with alcohol.
In my dreams, I’m unfaithful to my husband.
Wine tastes better from a communion cup.
I don’t wonder where I came from. I don’t even care.
I love the child that the world has brought me.
I’m writing this poem instead of getting drunk.
I can’t give you a straight answer to your question.
That’s how you know I believe in God.

Burlington, VT. 11/01/03. 10:47am (EST)
by MorbidMike on Nov 3, 2003 1:24 PM

Late Fall, eyes closed, with head tilted slightly, face towards the sun, one ear cocked towards the heart of the city and the rhythmic heartbeat that tolls there, I slowly open my eyes to take in Church St. as though for the first time.

As lids part and focus floods my vision I take in the cool, late, morning. The sun, dulled by fog writhing off the lake, washes the brick and stone in a pale illumination, in which L. L. Bean clad tourists drift and swim, tugged along by some unseen hand from store to store in near constant migration.

And among the men and women, coalesce, lazy, in the mist, memories made manifest, errant ephemera from my early days haunting the city’s streets; pale teenagers, runaways, the hopelessly foot-loose and happy; a product of the insouciant mid-nineties. Now made shadows and echoes who used to wander, I once thought endlessly, into the city come Summer and out again once Fall unleashed the foreshadow of Winter’s chill. It’s been at least three years since late Spring heralded the earliest of them; wanderlust having since given way to workplace, no longer sharing love in secluded church yards, no longer finding food, funds, and friendships where they could… and with no new generation to tread the erratic paths they scribed across the country fueled by their joy in life and genuine rebellion.

My reverie is short lived and cut short.

Without warning the wind picks up and blows the fog-born phantasms first into shreds of mist that hang and twist, caught out in the open, among the lampposts, and then into the past, where they truly belong. We, the living, haunt the present well enough with them, I close my eyes and try not to forget.

The Shower
by PackageDeal on Nov 3, 2003 11:09 PM

There they were: billions of artificial tears trying to make up for the one he couldn't shed. He started to scrub with a sliver of soap that soon disintegrated in his hand but continued to scrub anyway. The scalding water was slightly painful; it felt necessary, like he deserved it. Still drunk from the night before, he held the wall to keep himself from crumbling in that rarely clean tub and shower combo.

Perversion: an ironic and cruel new version of that Holy Grail of male fantasies: two women… two women at the same time. It could never work; one was hard enough to please. The thought made him laugh slightly. But he soon stopped after realizing, for about the hundredth time in a month, that he didn't quite feel like laughing, because he wasn't quite happy.

It would've been simpler just to be miserable. That would be enough to specifically feel one way or another. He wanted that, needed that. Not misery, but simplicity. Water slipped down his face and through his hair. He let his head hang and the water dripped down the strands that hung in his view. Being happy again felt like pain.

It seemed right because she seemed right. In her presence, it all went away: the pain of the memory of it all. He turned around to scald evenly. It all came rushing back in his face and the wound spread open as worse as it was before. Even if it heals, it'll leave a nasty scar and he felt like damaged goods. Soon, she'll be there to help him mend again with the sound of her voice.
"I'll find away to screw this up too. It's only a matter of time." Looking down, he watched it all slip away into the drain.

The Expanding Consciousness
by elvin on Oct 31, 2003 5:50 PM

Biologists say that every cell in the body rejuvenates itself thirty to fifty times in a life. After that the cells can no longer split and copy, and the body dies. So, with new cells regularly replacing old ones, every few years we each have an entirely new body. These building blocks could be likened to jigsaw pieces collectively making up the one picture.

In the middle of the jigsaw puzzle (within the head) there is one odd piece. This piece belongs to a different picture than the others. While the rest of the pieces are replacing themselves, the odd piece inside the head remains unmoved and unchanged during all fifty rejuvenations. This tiny piece is the point of consciousness, or the sense of ‘self’. It longs for the rest of the picture that it is compatible with. At death, when the other pieces have withered away, this odd piece still remains unchanged, though also unseen because of its miniscule size. It then restarts the process of attracting around it a whole new puzzle of jigsaw pieces. Its hope, try after try, is to attract more and more pieces that are from the same puzzle as itself, therefore making it no longer an odd piece.
This is reincarnation.

A good work of literature causes change within the reader. It sparks up the ‘odd’ piece so that its attractive force (its ‘longing’) becomes slightly more powerful. This may cause one of the other jigsaw pieces to replace itself with a new ‘odd’ piece instead of copying itself as usual. If the literature inspires the reader to go further and experiment with his/her lifestyle, the new experience will cause the changing of more jigsaw pieces for odd ones. Now there is a group of odd pieces.
This is the consciousness expanding.

Bell Telephone
by ruby tuesday
Group: Watermelon

"Hello, baby."

"Good afternoon, Mother."

"How are you?"

"Slightly less than my best at the moment."

"That's terrible to hear, sweetheart."

Pause.

"Is it anything I can help you with?"

"No, no, I don't believe so. There are just some...things; things that I've got to work out."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"I don't think this is necessarily the place to air my troubles in specifics."

"I suppose you're right."

Pause.

"It...it's been awhile since we've seen each other."

"Yes, Mother, it has been that -- quite awhile."

"What have you been doing with yourself? How's school? Do you have a girlfriend?"

"Must you ask that now?"

"I...I just don't know what to say to you right now. Other than that I'm glad to see you."

"Good. In a way, I'm glad you're here. We may not be seeing each other again for a long while."

"I'm not sure how to answer that."

"It may be better then, not to respond. An answer to a question -- even an unspoken one -- creates a dialogue; for someone such as yourself, so unpracticed at dialogue, the exchange may become...well, somewhat taxing. And I'm already tired."

"I'm not here to argue with you, darling."

"Lucky for you, because there is no argument to be had."

"Baby, I just want to help."

"Sometimes, Mother, people become so tired of asking for help that they move into the next category, the level of being beyond help."

"I hate it when you talk like this."

"You would."

Pause.

"I've missed you."

"You haven't."

Pause.

"Please come home, darling. Where everything can be alright."

"That, Mother, is exactly what I hope to do."

Gestures in sync:

A thin and rumpled young man threw his arms wide to the wind and joined the circus fray with all the skill of a nubile ballerina acrobat plunging into welcoming waters, expelling a deep breath held specially to be sucked in by spectators below.

A woman, middle-aged and lovely, flung her perfectly manicured hands out in the sign language of reception toward her child, years too late.

But time is a funny thing; it always catches up. Moments overlap.

A megaphone shattering the window of a cruiser.

Something soft and wet striking concrete.

And she and the sirens wailed.

It's All in a Name
by flood
Group: Helium

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 8:10 AM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: new bird

Hey Mom.

Sorry, I haven’t written in a while. Been really busy doing work around the house. Guess what? We decided we’re gonna get a new bird.

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:15 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: new bird

Are you ready for a new one? Brady just died a few weeks ago.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:25 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: new bird

Yeah, we’re ready. We sat down this weekend, talked it out and we even picked out a name we like. Took a while. But we finally settled on Gus.

Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:27 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: NO!

You can’t name him Gus.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:28 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: NO!

Why not?


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:30 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: NO!

You just can’t.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:45 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: NO!

Mom, I gotta tell you this is a little bit weird. What’s the big deal? An old lover named Gus or something?

Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 12:59 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: NO!

Mom,

You there? That was jokes.

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 1:27 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Gus

I know you were joking. Just please don’t name him Gus. You can name him anything else. Just not Gus.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 1:59 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: Gus

Ok. We won’t name him Gus. But you’ve gotta tell me why.

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:13 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: Gus

No, I don’t. I’m your mother.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:15 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: “I’m your mother????”

Mom,

I know you’re my mother. That’s why I start all my e-mails to you with “Mom,” and why I call you on Mother’s Day…

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:17 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: “I’m your mother????”

Don’t be a smart ass.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:20 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: “I’m your mother????”

Mom,

I’m supposed to be working here, ok? Will you please tell me why I can’t name the damn bird Gus already? This is starting to piss me off.

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:23 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: “I’m your mother????”

Paul,

Look, honey. It’s not that big of a deal. Just leave it alone.

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:29 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: “I’m your mother????”

Mom,

Fine. I gotta go. I’ll type to you later.

Love,
Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:34 PM
To: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Re: “I’m your mother????”

Ok. Hang on. I’ll tell you.

When your father and I got engaged, he had to spend some time at boot camp in Great Lakes. I stayed here in Ohio with my Mom and Dad and he went away. I can’t believe I am typing this! and YOU HAVE TO DELETE THIS E-MAIL! but we used to joke around about him having to keep “Gus” in his pants while he was there. There.
Now you know why you can’t name your bird Gus.

Are you happy for making me type that?

Love,
Mom


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul [mailto:I_am_edgars@landslide.net]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2003 2:47 PM
To: Mom [mailto:lauraedgars@landslide.net]
Subject: Honestly

Mom,

I honestly couldn’t be less happy knowing that you had a name for Dad’s penis. But that’s what I get for asking.

Love,
Paul

p.s. I’ll give you a call tonight.

Peep Show
by paganmoss
Group: Daffodil

A man walks into a peep show booth and picks up the phone.

“So how does this thing work?”

“You’ve never been to a peep show before?”

“No, it’s my first time. To tell you the truth, I don’t normally go to places like this.”

“Well you’re in for a real treat . . . I love doing shows for new guys. I promise you won't be disappointed.”

“So how much does it cost?”

“The show starts at $20.00 for ten minutes . . . and just to let you know, the machine doesn’t like the new $5.00 bills . . . the ones with the big heads.”

“How about a $20.00 with a big head?”

“That’ll work.”

“So what do you do for $20.00?”

“I get naked for you and you get as comfortable as you like.”

“So is there a slot or something where I put the money?”

“Actually, there’s a bill acceptor to your left next to the box of kleenex.”

“Oh, I see. Do I put my money in now?”

“Whenever your ready, baby.”

The bill acceptor makes a whirring sound and the shade begins to rise, revealing a young woman dressed as a school girl, sitting back on her Mary Janes.

“Hi, sexy. I like your suit."

“Thanks . . . you look very nice yourself.”

“Let me stand up for you so you can get a better look. Do you like school girls?”

“Ah . . . well, sure.”

“You like my white knee highs and short plaid skirt?”

“Yes, they look very nice on you. How old are you anyways?”

“Old enough. How old are you?”

“Old enough to be your dad.”

“Mmm . . . I like older men, especially ones wearing nice suits. Are you just getting off of work?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“I’m not wearing a bra under my blouse . . . I bet you can see my breasts if you look close. There kinda small, but I have nice pink nipples."

“Yes, very nice.”

“Would you like to see my panties? They’re white and cotton and I’ve been wearing them all day.”

“Actually . . . if it’s ok with you, I think I’d just like to talk. I mean . . . no offense, you’re very beautiful and I find you incredibly sexy, but I’ve got something I’d really like to get off my chest.”

“Oh sure . . . whatever you like. It’s your fantasy.”

“Well . . . like I said, I don’t normally go to places like this. I’m a married man . . . been married for 25 years.”

“Wow, that’s longer than I’ve been alive.”

“Thanks, you really know how to make a guy feel old.”

“I told you I like older men.”

“I also have two daughters about your age.”

“Sounds like the All-American family.”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“You sound sad, what’s wrong?”

“I lost my job a month ago. I'd been working there for 20 years and those motherfuckers outsourced my job to India”

“I’m sorry, that really sucks!! But can’t you find a job pretty easy? I mean working 20 years and all?”

“Not in this economy. The worst part of this whole thing is that I haven’t been able to tell my wife.”

“You haven’t told your wife that you lost your job?”

“Nope, I’ve been waking up every morning pretending to go to the office. I don’t have a land line there so I don’t have to worry about her calling. If she needs to get a hold of me, she just calls my cell.”

“Why didn’t you tell her?”

“Well . . . it’s a long story, but basically, our marriage has been through a lot and I think this might be the fatal blow. I mean . . . I have a mortgage to pay for, college tuition, car payments. God . . . the list goes on and on.”

“What do you do during the day?”

“Well, I look for jobs of course. I have my phone. Somedays I go to the library and other days I just sit in the park. It’s all very sobering. I’m really tired though. I can’t go on like this any longer.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Well . . . I considered running away, but that obviously isn’t the best choice for someone my age.”

“You're right, that wouldn’t be good. You really should talk to your wife. I think she would understand.”

His cell phone rings

“Oh shit, that’s her. Today’s her birthday. I’m supposed to be meeting her after work at our favorite restaurant. I’m going to take this, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.”

“Hi, honey . . . Yes, I’m just finishing up at the office . . . When do you think you’ll be at the restaurant? . . . Ok, I’ll see you then . . . I love you, too.

“Well . . . I guess I better go. Thanks for the show . . . and thanks for listening to my problems. You're a real sweet girl.”

“I’m sure everything will work out. Are you going to tell her?”

“Yeah . . . sooner or later.”

She watched as he left her booth, admiring the back of his suit. She cleared his remaining time and went back to reading her book.

oct. 3rd court room (dawn of limbo)
by Jo Jo
Group: Caucho

Sweat soacked clothing is now not part of my waking up rutine, ussally at least, but it was today. Sunny happy wake-ups are not the every day case though either. Perhaps a lame start to this, but starts are not known for their profound, mind-blowing brilliance. My start is unknown so here is hoping.

Hot, dry weather’s on my back, as we sit in the mind numbing field, worried about money. I don’t understand a crushal point that is well understood by the others. They tell me and I feel ashamed and keep counting the tomato bushes, sweating and dry and dry mouthed. I can not seem to hear their voices, but it is clear I am being a fool. Threre is one that is not judgeing me, she is soft and sweet, blue eyed and drak haired, and evokes wonder, excitment, and anticipation.

I have my head in order, instantly, when I’m woken by the staff. I have everything I need in my pockets, which are maped out in my mind. Five more minutes will not be good, I think, but after a quick inventory it is back to the feild, but only for a blip.

I eat a donut, have a coffee. My eye lids are heavy with crust. I get at work trying to remove gum from the ass of my pants, which does not get removed and I end up using my knife, and cutting a hole in them. I think that will look good for court, and is better than sticking to everything.

7:00 am I am walking along the wide calgarian street. In the down town with it’s larg-tall buildings. Rich men and women walking along with smug smiles and judgeing leers. I am laughing to myself about what I must look like to them. A halloween costume, or ‘if my kid ever looks like that I will slit my wrist’ independent, single mothers say leaning in to their friends-both of them hot and extremly out of my league.

I get to court, eyes still slit with silted heavey lids, I look at the sheet for court room 101-I find my six or seven counts, due to drunken stupidity. I don’t understand the numbers. I think of how the system intimidates, with it uncomfortable hours and over-bearing words and intrior decorating. I sit in the lobby, go out and smoke with my room mate from my 8 day hitch in the remand centre-he said he could sell me a bike for a hundred bucks-wink wink-some people never wake up.

Mr. Clayton, my lawyer comes in, at frist he does not see me.

-Clayton!
Mr. Clayton walked up in his exensive suit, surely already had had his café’ latay’ at starbucks.
-hey.
Clayton says slaping my shoulder.
-I will be a while Geoff I have to go up stairs to get trial dates. Just wait around here.
-when are you putting it back too?
-I don’t know, but I can esure that it will be in the new year.
-thanks
I said , as he walked off in to the maze of doors and stairs that make up a rich man work life.

The sun is creeping in to the lobby, we are sickened by each other, all of us are on edge. Grumpy people staring at the perky information clerk, named Peggy, Suzy, or pam. Lawyers are laughing about 3b and sections 34-78. It is too early for this shit, I go for another smoke.

In court room one-o-one my lawyer stands in front of two other people. The man in the very back I think is the judge (with his judgeing look, why are judges so quick to judge) but I am unsure of the title of the lady in front of him, and really I don’t care. Every thing goes as planed, I shake my lawyer's hand. I am out by 10:15 and don’t have to be back till june.

Free for the time being-on a probationary basis-I walk into he sobering sun light, squinting, and picking sleep from my eyes.

Grinning Guru
by blhenry
Group: Watermelon

Just then, the man’s eyes shot open. He looked at Josh with a piercing gaze and softly said "Sit, sit," gesturing to a nearby rock. Beginning to stiffen up from the climb, Josh hobbled over to the rock.

Raising his bushy eyebrows, the man said "I suppose you have some great question for me. Please, please do not ask me what the meaning of life is."

Taken aback by the man’s wide grin, Josh started "No, though that question may have been on the list, I have something much more important to ask you."

"Well, we or, at least, I have plenty of time to discuss any such matters with you. So, let us not get right to the point. It does get lonely up here. One gets tired of conversing with the cosmos as it tends to be a great listener but not such a great talker," the man said with a chuckle.

"Um, ok. What is your name?"

"Interesting. Most who visit me, and that’s not many considering the trip up here, hardly ever ask me my name. The seekers, that is what I call people like yourself, are so consumed with their own thoughts and problems, they rarely bother with me as a person."

Standing and stretching with a grunt, the man said, "Anyway, my name is Charlie. And yours?"

"Josh."

"Nice to meet you Josh, Charlie said sitting back down.

Trying to keep the frustration from his voice, Josh replied "So what would you like to talk about?"

"Now, now. Don’t get upset. We will get to your questions in due time but indulge me for a few minutes. It does get lonely up here. Some days I wish I had never made the journey in the first place."

"Made the journey?" Josh asked.

Sighing deeply, Charlie said "Both physically and metaphysically, I suppose. Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I mean, you sit here, meditate, try to tease answers to the great questions from the cosmos. What is the point anyway?"

Josh asked "The cosmos? You mentioned that before too. How can one talk to the cosmos? Don’t you mean God or some higher plane of existence or something?"

Laughing until he had tears streaming from his eyes, Charlie said breathlessly "God? Higher plane of existence? Give me a break. What you see is what you get. We are all a part of everything around us. The rock you sit on. It is just another form of the very matter that makes up the hair on your head. That, in a nutshell, is the cosmos."

"Do you know how long I have spent staring at a blade of grass? Or trying to count the stars in the sky?"

"No." Josh meekly replied.

"Too damn long. Answers don’t just pop out of thin air. You have to truly think and think about the question. And, sometimes, a blade of grass or stars in the sky are just that." Charlie said while waving his hands about wildly.

"Then why did you make the journey? Why sit up here and stare at stars and grass?"

Laughing out loud, Charlie replied "Well, it beats working for a living."

"Seriously?"

Gesturing to himself, Charlie said "In a sense, yes. I mean, I am poor, hungry, and lonely. But, I don’t have to deal with traffic, oversleeping, girlfriends, bosses, terrorists...you get the idea. I have left the pain of humanity below."

"Um, ok. But what satisfaction or sense of purpose do you get by sitting up here all alone?"

His voice dripping with sarcasm, Charlie replied "I get to Answer questions from worthy seekers such as yourself, of course."

"Anyway, about my question?"

Sighing resignedly to himself, Charlie said "Yes, yes, I will answer your question on one condition."

Eyeing him warily, Josh said "And what would that be?"

"That you perform a task for me to be named after I answer your question."

Hesitantly, Josh replied "Ok, fine. Can we just get to my question now?"

"Fire away."

Clearing his throat, Josh asked "You see, my dog just died. I really, really loved that dog. His name was Stryker and I grew up with him. Since his death, one thing has really been bothering me."

"And that would be?"

"If reincarnation exists, and people can be reincarnated as other things, like dogs. When dogs die, are they reincarnated as people?"

Opening his eyes as if from a deep trance, Charlie replied "Yes."

Silence followed. Finally, Josh said "That’s it. Yes?"

"Yes, that’s it. You presented a yes or no question. It is not for me to fathom why the cosmos has said yes. I can only relay that answer to you."

Charlie continued "Now for my request. You have promised to perform a request for me after I answered your question. If you do not honor that request, the cosmos will surely curse you and your family."

Clearly scared to disbelieve, Josh said "Fine, what is your request?"

Grinning in clear triumph, Charlie said "I want you to sit where I am sitting and remain there until someone journeys here to ask you a question."

As Charlie stood and began walking away, Josh shouted "Wait! Stop! This wasn’t part of the bargain. I am not staying up here."

As a malicious grin formed at the corners of his mouth, Charlie said "Yes it was part of the bargain. That is the service you must perform. C’mon Josh. How do you think I got suckered into becoming a Guru?"

With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Josh pleaded "What about my life? What am I supposed to do up here?"

As he reached the path down the mountain, Charlie turned and said "Not my problem. You made the deal. Now, excuse me, I am going to get a Big Mac."

untitled
by piph
Group: Apple

there is no comfort
   in the morning

no birds sweetly singing
or mist retreating through the trees
morning comes sharply
as a choked off cry
a ragged lunge upward for consciousness
desperate to leave
fear as an after taste
but the dawn chases no villains
and the fickle light will never be
strong enough to dispel this shadow
each time, a little more hope
fades
when she realizes

there is no comfort
    in the morning



no soft arms surrounding
only the sheets tangling legs
morning comes sharply 
as cold air crowds out warmth
only a soft indent 
in the pillow mentions what was...
loneliness creeps in 
stealthily growing brighter
as knowledge dawns
she's gone again
he never asks why
just sighs and rolls over,
feeling again

that there is no comfort
    in the morning

My Glorious Straight-Jacket
by singlemalt
Group: Strawberry

I felt a slender shaft of light pierce the darkness of the room. If I opened my eyes I would see tiny dust particles riding illuminated on the shaft of sunlight like a galaxy of miniature stars, their glimmering light like still, small voices in the infinite darkness. Dawn approached, making the perpetual transition from the black emptiness of night. Outside, the grass was wet with morning dew and the daises, tulips and lilies slowly stretched their petals open to embrace the approaching light. The quiet void slowly gave way to the sounds of a new day, the birds, small animals and insects, in their own voices, announcing the arrival of the sun. And I despise it.

The world looks forward to the morning as the time for renewal, when reality emerges from the foggy haze of slumber. Morning is the time when people put their concerns and doubts behind them and look forward to a fresh start. It’s the time to begin anew. It’s a time to stretch the limbs and shake off the rust of sleep. People plan their days and begin their tasks energized by the sun’s amber glow as it slowly peers over the horizon. But not me.

My renewal comes in the depths of night time when my dreams mercifully consume my consciousness. My awakening comes in the deepest emptiness of night, on those nights when I am fortunate enough to find sleep. The only time I can put my fears and sorrow behind me is when I can escape into the void and leave the physical world. In my dreams my limbs work as everyone else’s. In my dreams I can stretch my arms and legs to shake off the rust of confinement that the morning brings.

It is only when I am unconscious, when the morning is a world away, that I am equal to those who rise with the sun. In the morning I can’t walk across the room to put my clothes on. In the morning I can’t wash my face. In the morning I can’t feed myself. In the morning I can’t move. But in my dreams I can perform these simple acts of humanity that others take for granted. In my dreams I can reach out and touch the tiny stars as they ride glimmering on the narrow shafts of sunlight. In my dreams, in the eternity of darkness, I embrace the renewal of mind and body and I am energized by the idea of a new beginning as others are similarly energized only in the morning. In my dreams my body is freed from that glorious straight-jacket of the reality of morning.

A supposed great man once said that it’s always darkest before the dawn. This man was hailed as a prophet, a sage. I know better. I know he was a liar. I know it’s really the other way around.

I laid still as I have for countless days on end. I heard the faint noises of morning. I felt the sunlight invading my room. And I despise it.

each start a little victory
by j8 on Oct 9, 2003 8:18 PM

My therapist is a stupid bitch. A stupid stupid bitch. So dumb she thinks she's too smart to get mad. She wants to work with me like we're "partners" in my "changes". I don't even want her to listen she doesn't really want me to leave without "growing" so I guess we make one happy couple.

Her idea is to start with one thing just change one thing just pause and make a conscious decision to change one thing. She's all soothing and coaxing while I mutter random promises that I'll try. I'm just supposed to try one thing just once a day. What would be a better start than morning? Her professional cheerfulness just annoys me.

The part she doesn't get and wouldn't get even if I told her is that I don't want it. I tilt my head and resist the bit. Whats the point? Obsessive compulsives are supposed to medicate until they find the pause to keep the hand from fluttering to smooth the hair instead of twist. Her books tell her it is something I do mechanically absently but only my talks with her are done absently. My mornings aren't rituals aren't superstitious. They're my mornings. They could be hers but she wouldn't get it.

I don't count to 88 before I'll get out of bed because something bad will happen it is my suspense. My lip rolling in the mirror isn't because I don't have the tools to pause and decide not to do it. Its fun and its mine and it is alive in my skin. Nothing is hers. Nothing is yours. You you you with yourself. What else you got? You don't even know like I know because I'm aware of what I do and do it as if I were on my knees facing Mecca. She'd flip or maybe even blink twice if she knew that every rap of my knuckles on the bannister was the ball connecting with bat and I send it out of the park on every step. There's grace in athletes and there's grace in me. I'm not stupid or out of control with myself or a slave to my disorder. I am order and I am motion. I do the unexpected I just do it everyday at the same time starting at 6:58 a.m. and that's my smooth skill and if she knew if you knew you'd want to be daily athletes too. As if you don't compulsively drive to work listening to the news weather and traffic and that is normal. I am a goddamn athlete the minute my feet are on the stairs and nothing can ruin my day not even being alone in knowing it.

Moment
by phoebe78
Group: Pineapple

The stars above me cast their light
upon the ball of dirt below.
I hear the whispers of the night
in context of the things I know.

Within the grass the cells divide,
and crickets sing the leg-rub blues.
Beyond them glides the river wide
through rockbed full of ancient clues.

Time is infinite in its scope
and space is even vaster yet.
Both abstractions confound all hope
by deigning here to intersect.

I whisper thanks for the thing called “I.”
The universe makes no reply.

repose #1
by kairo
Group: Diamond

morning
mid-september

the belfry tower
down on fifth and main
yawns a white fog
from groggy window eyes

a cat saunters down the alley
behind Trail’s End Café
moaning quiet vowels

a long string of streetlights
blinks off suddenly
while the sun slinks pink and yellow
over the rooflines of town

one dog barks into the sunrise
behind frigid grey fences
as a cloud of breath
hovers a halo around his snout

orange and brown leaves
crinkle in a miniature curbside tornado

a boy wearing red rides his bike
through the settling torrential apricot ballet

day breaks with broken silence
as a rusty farm truck rumbles by
carrying white pumpkins
toward harvest tables

morning unfurls slowly
while the city bus engine complains
and doors creak open
click shut
in time to the toll
of a solitary bell

i believe
by NinePages
Group: Chickadee

this is probably a mistake, a result of some stupid emotion...i shouldn't post this because i should give it some thought and try to come up with something more creative and slaphappy genius so i can try to advance to the next round. but then again, we're all in this together and i want you all to succeed just like i want me to succeed so i'm going with a little off-the-cuff here and just throwing this out there to see how it looks after litkicks slaps its html on it and if it bombs, it bombs, but it's me and it's the most immediate thing that happened at the end of my fingers and my thoughts after i read the week 3 assignment, so here's to ti jean and first thought best thought...

i believe

I believe in nothing.

There is a park bench in Battery Park beneath an oak tree that you can sit on and see the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and, between the buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, all at the same time.

I believe in luck that means nothing. I don’t believe in curses or ghosts. I believe that our mind can make up anything it wants to, and that makes anything real. I believe in the spectrum, but I don’t believe in chartreuse.

I can hold my hands behind my head and they will go numb. There are at least three bad vertebrae in my spine which are the result of constant pulling by the lumbar muscles on the right side of my back. I grew up thinking starboard meant left and port meant right because I grew up going backwards in boats.

I believe that green is the same for everyone, even though I have no proof of that.

The last time I was in New York I paused and cried and left for the last time, perhaps. I believe in perhaps, because I need to.

When I was a child, I had dreams and a vivid imagination. I don’t have many more dreams these days, and my imagination leads to nightmares.

I believe that life is a process of improvement, even though I have a lot of proof otherwise.

There is an artist who sits on the sidewalk south of the Central Park zoo who will draw your picture for five dollars. He’s never met you before but if you give him five dollars, he will cause you to question your own identity for days, and all your friends will pretend that your nose is just fine.

And there are animals nearby, in cages. One of them, once, had to see a therapist. He was a polar bear (the animal, not the therapist). He went in circles all day, while Nomar Garciaparra makes millions and has a pretty girlfriend. People laugh at the polar bear.

I believe that obsession is the key to longevity, and I would swim all day if only they’d let me.

Everything in moderation.

I believe that the moon rises and the sun sets and people change every time they wake up, even though, technically, I realize that none of those things are actually true.

An artist can find beauty in a momentary glimpse of a young child watching a car drive by on a dingy interstate during rush hour in the Los Angeles smog, from behind a chain link fence next to a graveyard filled with high schoolers. Beauty.

Every brilliant sunlight flower I ever see in Battery Park will forever be covered in ash.

I haven’t made up my mind about religion yet, but I’m sure that everyone can live forever.

I believe in prayer and ceremony and solemnity, even though sometimes it gets me down.

I believe everything I read, for a minute. This is the cause of great variations in my mood.

I believe in faith and despair.

When a young woman watches an old man step in front of a bus on Broadway she is forever changed. Her name is Angela. She rides the subway home as if in a trance. She walks up the steps of her Park Slope brownstone and slips on the top stair and catches herself on the rail. She holds on for a moment and then lowers herself to the step and sits, and she begins to cry, small sobs like from a child. She’s crying right now, and I believe that you can hear her.

I like things to be linear because I know that nothing is. I like to pretend that I can make sense of everything. I’ve spent my life trying to give everything a set of rules. I haven’t told anyone what all of these rules are, but I get very angry when they are broken. I’ve spent my life giving everything a set of rules, but I believe them to be natural and inherent to everyone. Despite this desire for order, I refuse to try to learn about order. I refuse chemistry. I don’t want to know how the body is constructed because I would rather believe that we are the chance manifestation of ephemeral souls rather than carbon-based playthings of a creative universe. When I look out the window of an airplane, I pretend that I don’t see the rivets or the hinges on the wing, because I’d rather believe that airplanes fly by magic than by mechanics that can fail.

I hate you, but I would give my life for you. I love you, but I will berate you with anger in order to make myself feel better.

I believe that all people are good. I believe that any combination of any two people can produce evil, and usually does. This isnt why I don’t believe in math, but I don’t believe in math.

I still have dreams where I’m in high school and I’ve neglected to go to math class for the entire quarter. I’m about to graduate, but I have one more test to take, and it’s in math. I’ve never gone to class. I have notes from somewhere, and these will help me pass the test, but they’re in my locker and I can’t find my locker. I find my locker but the combination escapes me. The bell has rung. The hallways are emptying. I need to take this test. I need to get to class.

There is a day in Manhattan, there is a temperature and an angle of the sun and a direction of the breeze, that will bring me to my knees. It’s only in Manhattan, but I know that if that day were to happen here, where I am now, it would bring me to my knees. But perhaps it won’t happen, that day, and I’ll keep standing. I have to believe in perhaps.

I believe that nothing ever dies. I believe that buildings never fall and children never kill and mothers never fail and liars never win and bodies never bleed and nothing ever dies and nothing ever dies and nothing ever dies.

I do believe in nothing. I do.

Sex Ed.
by Kreddible Trout on Nov 3, 2003 6:43 AM

I didn’t know what sex was. I had heard the word ‘cunt’ before, Sean Caswell told me it was the worst word of them all. Even worse than ‘fuck’ he said. But that was the extent of my sexual orientation at the time. I was nine.

Me, David and his cousin Ronnie were hanging out on the twirly slide when David announced that he had ‘humped’ her.
“Sally?” Ronnie confirmed.
“Yeah, right on her front porch.”
“No way.” Ronnie plopped down and looked David straight in the face. I had never seen that kind of confrontation before. Being younger by a few years, I just assumed that I had to believe everything David said. Ronnie didn’t though. This was straight-on defiance.
“You’re fulla shit. You didn’t hump her.”
“Well, I did.” David said with his usual irritating twelve-year-old arrogance.
“Humped…?” I asked.
Ronnie filled me in, “Yeah, Diamond Dave here is trying to tell us that he had sex with Sally Doucet.”
“Oh…OHH!” I clued in, if only slightly.
“Well, I didn’t say SE-EX.” David clarified.
“Well, DUH! You said you humped her. How did you do it?”
“I rubbed my wang against her. A LOT! And I went ‘oooohhhh’ and she was going ‘ahhhh’ and I humped her.”
“Were you naked?”
“What?”
“Were you naked?”
“No!”
“Well then, y’dumb Stooge, you didn’t hump her. You have to be naked to hump a girl!”
“What?” Dave and I said in Dolby.
“You have to be naked and rub your wang against her and go ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ to hump a girl. That’s what humping is! Retard.”
“Well…” David floundered and went silent.

I still didn’t know what sex was, or really what humping was either, but I did learn a vital lesson that day: David Myers DIDN’T know everything.

keep it in let it out keep it out let it in
by Hejira on Nov 4, 2003 8:57 AM

(Except sneakers) fully clothed on the bed, 
you had your hat on even,
your fleece to cut the late October
moon-already-set bright star dark night chill
still zipped up to your chin. My shoes off,
me a bulk under bunched covers.
You sitting straight against the wall.
 

When I lay my head on your knees, 
the stiff denim of them, the small folds of blankets
just in front of me became a face. A head,
a bust so perfect I thought you’d placed it there.
You with your sleight of tricky-card-tricks hand,
you could have done this. There he was,
and I exclaimed, I wish you could come here and see!
  

But shifting would unfold him.  For you I detailed 
his forehead, gently sloping, the shadow of sweet eyes,
floppy jowls of old age, a gnomish nose and one lip,
another lip curled up, see how he smiles! See how his chin
comes to neck with the flap of stretched elasticity skin,
his pink Russian hat.
  

I looked up at you, far away behind your eyelids, 
flitting in thought. Tell me what, I said, and darker:
there was a something. Then you spoke her there;
I saw her for the first time, naked in the open,
and we couldn’t look away.
The girl who was the girl who wasn’t me.
  

I rose to shrug back into the useless 
armor of my sweatshirt. Meanwhile
you two together draped upon me familiar cold wet wool,
pulled taut. It weighs like this: a thousand birds
each looking light on his own
but in descending at once, becoming
so many sunless days in February.
  

Scraping with their talons, landing 
in my chest; when I’ve left to jog home
in the pitch black forest night,
they only claw harder, as if claiming space to roost.

                  
                

Ahead of Schedule
by elz on Nov 2, 2003 4:01 PM

I wasn't driving a hundred miles an hour but I was driving much faster than I normally would. Who could believe there was no speed limit in Montana? Pictographs on roadsigns showed squiggles of high winds teetering trucks onto wheel's edge. The horizon was a western movie starring only me. I'd like to see this again. Maybe someday, when I wasn't careening across the landscape in my husband's SUV stuffed with garbage bags of clothes and recent bills. A three foot ficus was buckled in the passenger seat for company. I named him Mike. Mike Ficus. You do things like that driving 3,056 miles across the country alone.

A while back I crossed The Continental Divide. The signs announcing it for miles got me itching to see a grand ridge with a shining gate. Turns out it's nothing more than another green blur of a sign, though, at 75 mph. I pointed it out to Mike, all the same. That way flows east, this flows west.

I pulled into the Flying J for gas. When the wind wasn't whipping my eyes to tears, I looked around the station. A sasquatch of a man was staring at me with one unpatched eye and for a second, I saw myself through it, too. Small woman in a Boiled Wool JCrew Car Coat, Nutmeg. Tiny oiled leather boots - good for nothing in this place - tapping frantically while the tank slowly filled. He'd see my Connecticut plates, too, as I squealed out of the lot. If I was going to get to Seattle by midnight, there was no time for musing.

There would be no warning flare of a cellphone call to my husband, either.

I squinted through one eye and leaned forward, easily passing a hundred.

Dial
by beatvibe on Nov 3, 2003 2:56 PM

First message, sent today at 6:51 AM: Uh, hi. This is Dr. Sütrv. I'm a surgical resident down at the hospital, and I need to reach Dr. Kördann. The reason, uh... It's about ten to seven, Tuesday morning. Um... We've got a critical situation here that's, uh... Well, I've got a patient sliced open on the table. He's in stable condition on the machine, but... Well, I've found a strange device in his thoracic cavity. It's under the folds of the cytoplasmic ligature -- seems to be attached somehow to the deleroid nerve cluster. Uh... No idea what it is or what it's supposed to be doing, but... Um... It seems to be leaking a bluish fluid. A few cc's have gobbed up near the supinoial artery -- definitely not water-soluble. Anyway, the reason I’m calling you is, um... The device has your name and phone number engraved on it. And, uh... Well, I don't know quite how to put this, but... Well, it looks like it might be a custom unit. You know... Homemade. I mean... I'm not implying that it's unapproved or anything. I'm sure it was installed under established protocol. But since it has your name on it, I just thought you should know. I'll call the service to have you paged. We're at extension 7993.

Next message ... 7:11 AM: Dr. Sütrv again for Dr. Kördann. Um... It's critical now. That device is smoking. We've tried cooling it with saline, but it's hot. I want to yank it, but the way it's tied into the deleroids... Dr. Gnuundärd from Neurology says she's never seen anything like it. Please advise. Extension 7993.

Next message ... 7:27 AM: [-inaudible-]

Next message ... 7:29 AM: [-inaudible-]

Next message ... 7:59 AM: Dr. Sütrv again. Disregard my previous messages.



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