Monday, May 25, 2015

Just write

Good morning, gentle readers. Welcome to Monday, to another fun-filled week of work and play and the mayhem that we call life.
A few years back when I decided to make a go of it as a writer, I had no idea how hard it would be, to sit down every day and produce something.  It's a real struggle.  What makes it worse is that, if you're like me, even when you produce something, you may not be satisfied with it.
Too often, I'll look at what I've just written and go, "This is utter shit." Then I delete it and take another stab at it.
A bit like this blog entry.
I've started it twice so far, thinking that it reads as whiny and a bit disorganized.  And then I realized that since the purpose of the blog entry was to share my writing troubles and doubts, what better way to illustrate my point than by just letting everything happen.
God. That last sentence was just awful. Wasn't it?
But I will not delete it.
I will not go back and start all over again because of that little nagging voice in the back of my head, my inner critic.  It is not a productive force.  We all have that nagging voice, that part of ourselves that criticizes everything we do or try to do.
"Why do you bother writing? Your stuff doesn't sell. It will never sell. Just give up and go read a book. You like reading books. You're so good at it. Much better than you are at writing them."
It whispers over my shoulder as I read what I've written.
"Oooh! What were you thinking when you wrote that? It's completely wrong. That character would never say something like that. You should rewrite that part when you do a proper edit. Or you could just delete that whole section right now and take ANOTHER stab at doing it right."
Ladies and gentlemen, writers are our own worst enemies.
I am not a proponent of volume writing, but maybe I should be.  Maybe sitting down and going, "Tonight I am going to write five pages!" would actually work.
It seems to work for a lot of other people.
Then, of course, the inner critic rears his ugly head.
"Oh! You should totally try the production method! Why not start now? You can just delete everything you've written so far and start fresh! Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
That bastard is insidious.
Also, he's hard to ignore.
He's that loud guy at parties wearing the tacky jacket and speaking really fucking loud because he loves the sound of his own voice.
You have to ignore him. You have to turn your back on him, muffle his niggling whispery voice. Drown him out with keystrokes.
Just write.
Just get the words down on the page.
Everything else will sort itself out later.
Just write.

Monday, May 18, 2015

TIME & CONSEQUENCE


“God, I hate time travelers,” said Martin.
Doc grunted.
They were at the corner of Rue de Orient and Moray. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was beating down, delivering hammer blows of searing heat.  The street was mostly empty; anyone with any sense was inside, enjoying air conditioning and a tall, cool drink. Cars rolled by, mostly old gas-powered models, driven by young gangsteres, French pop blaring from their speakers.
Doc had the tracker, a black box resembling a cell-phone.
“We’re close,” he said.
“Thank God,” muttered Martin. He adjusted his black glasses.  “It’s too damned hot to be wandering around out here.”
They headed east on Moray, discount outlets and liquor stores giving way to more upscale businesses.  Signs in English and Spanish were replaced by signs in French and Spanish. There were fewer gasoline vehicles on the street and more electrics. They paused in front of an electronics store, Doc squinting at the tracker.
Martin turned and examined the store front. Behind wrought iron bars and shatterproof glass were displayed smallish, flat-screen televisions.  Images flickered on the screens.  French telenovelas interspersed with ads for cosmetics and bottled waters.  A soccer game being played in Riyadh, the Saudis demolishing the visiting Korean team.  A news channel, the digital tickertape beneath the anchorman providing the number of ebola fatalities in Detroit.
“Christ,” muttered Martin. “This world is really fucked up.”
“There,” said Doc.  His tone was sharp.
Martin turned.  Doc was moving purposefully toward a scarecrow figure, weaving erratically down the street. He hurried after him.
“Mister Phillips.”
The thin, bedraggled man turned as Doc called his name.  His face was a mass of tumors, but Martin could see the man’s eyes, bright and black.  They fixed on Doc.
“Who are you?” he hissed.  He fumbled beneath his ragged coat, pulled out a knife.  “What do you want?”
Martin flexed his wrist; the needle-gun strapped to his forearm, slipped into his palm.
“We’re here to help, Mister Phillips,” said Doc.
He stood his ground, hands up and open, doing his best to project calm authority.
“You can’t help!” hissed Phillips. “No one can help! The things I’ve seen! The things I’ve done!”
“We know, Mr. Phillips,” said Doc.  “We’re here to help.  We’re from the Chronal Defense Directorate.”
Phillips’ eyes widened. “The CDD sent you?”
“Yes,” said Doc.  “They sent us.”
Phillips glanced from Doc to Martin.
He began to speak. “. . . .”
Martin shot him.  The needle-gun wheezed. Phillips jerked as a hundred needle-thin chemical slivers hit him.  He collapsed.  Doc moved toward him.
“Careful,” warned Martin.
“He’s dead,” said Doc. “Poor fellow. You didn’t have to kill him.”
“Poor fellow my ass.”  Martin tucked the needle-gun back into his forearm holster.  “How long is it going to take us to reset history? Unless you want to live in a world dominated by the Franco-Spanish Empire?  How did that even happen?”
“It didn’t,” said Doc.  “Look.”
Frowning, Martin turned.  The world around them was shimmering, the present evaporating and resolidifying as the two men watched.  Boxy electric cars morphed into gasoline automobiles. The signs in French and Spanish twisted, text reconfiguring into English.  A wannabe gangster cruised past them in an ancient El Camino, Eminem blaring from the cab. The street shimmied and shifted, cafes and shops replaced by boarded up storefronts, scrawled with graffiti.  In the distance, Martin heard the familiar roar of freeway traffic.
“Thank God,” he muttered.
Doc put away the tracker and pulled out his cell-phone.  He dialed a number and spoke quietly with the person on the other end of the line.
“Well?” asked Martin.
“They’re sending a crew for the body,” said Doc.
“What about the reset?”
“Marx and Spencer took care of it,” said Doc.
“Those two? Geez. Do I want to know how?”
“Probably not,” said Doc. “But better them than us. The CDD tracked the change back to the 17th Century.”
Martin glowered at the dead man.  “He sure got around.”
“Yes. That explains the tumors, at least. He must have absorbed a ton of chronal radiation.”
“Hard to believe this is the guy who discovered time travel,” mused Martin. “But then, I guess you reap what you sow. Right?”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Norbert

I should like to give you a kiss.
Nothing salacious.
No thrusting, slippery tongues.
Something chaste.
Familial.
Friendly.
A kiss on the brow,
just above the place
where the bridge of your nose
merges with your skull.
A little peck,
light and swift,
but heavy with affection.
And a hug.
A nice one,
where you lean into each other,
shut your eyes,
and maybe rock a little.
And afterwards,
when we step away from each other,
when we look at each other,
we'll smile and make a joke,
naming the hug "Norbert."
And in future,
if we see each other,
we could say,
"Norbert missed you."
And we could do it
all over again.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flower/Girl

There was a girl
with flowers in her hair.
White blossoms
bright against midnight curls.
She smiled at me,
and I felt something shift
inside, felt something soften.
and turn.
It was unbearable,
what that smile did to me,
so I turned away
and did not smile back.
But I remember her,
to this day,
that girl with the flowers
in her hair.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore Haiku

A city burning,
people screaming in the night.
Who hears what they say?

Media spinning.
Everyone claiming the truth,
like a cheap trophy.

No one hears the truth.
All they hear are their voices,
like ravens screaming.

Carrion birds flock,
wheeling above the city,
watching and waiting.

Smoke fills the night air.
Flames lick at the ebon sky.
Death-birds watch and wait.

The birds squawk and scream.
Their voices fill the dark air.
Watching. Uninvolved.

We are the black birds,
watching a city burning.
Forgetting the truth.

This is not a show.
This is not entertainment.
This is the real world.

People are hurting.
Baltimore is still burning.
This is NOT a show.

When will the fires die?
When will the healing begin?
Who takes the first step?

I don't have answers.
I don't know how to end this.
Baltimore still burns.