Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2 Poems

The following 2 poems were written for a class. The last one actually came out of an exercise where you were supposed to "say goodbye" from another persons perspective. Enjoy.

Our Glass

...scaly skin slithers through transitions in her mind and
she writes her name upon the glass
within the hour
with the breath that she has breathed forever,
taking up this knotted dance of thundering transcendence
leaping through a vaulted powder canopy of clouds
courting sounds and stretching out beneath the constellation cover
and underneath the monolith is the fissure through the rift
that sucks her down and brings her under
and now she roams with pagan ghost and all that is asunder

Tension tightens the piano string draped across her helix heart
and in the inner spiral swings her lucid figured posture
and for this she’s not sure of Helios’s kiss upon her wrist and toes
a circling of soaking feathers and booming blonde hair she chose  
and with the dawn of sin she responds in miss proportioned pleasure
dousing herself in the sensuous spell of a bio-shimmering endeavor

and now we meet, separated only by this pane, within her hour and other falses
she turns to me in cocaine lace, a color spray of little children’s finger paint
reflects across the brass and sipping in the sand, slipping through her hand
melts my winged heart, the sun that’s closing in lays caution to the dark
and though the barrier is thin, she sings her didactic hymn
and motions me towards the pain and beneath the ceiling fan I trace a long sigh and slither with her name.



When you walked in with that winter wind
and the fuel behind your eyes was set to blaze
I knew you wouldn’t take much to spark so I studied my breath
and dropped my chin, there wasn’t strength to match you, nor where would I begin.

I hadn’t come without my own fire
my heart burned for another, that was true
because you left it cold in summer and come fall
whatever ember, thought everlasting, would die in late december.

We shifted and squirmed, our time for words I thought had passed
you looked at me and I tried not to
until you said, “our time will find us again,”
which made me cry, I allowed a hug and then we split apart without goodbye.

As I walked away, my legs could only carry me so fast,
our past had been so much, but now too much and those
white phosphorus tears of yours begin to ignite and I am comforted to know
that when it begins to snow, I will never have to meet your gaze again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



Only the hindquarters and bits of flesh from the horse’s head remain intact. I pull the reins on Icarus and turn him away. The stagecoach is overturned and there is no sign of a struggle, no arrows, no Apache footprints or spears.  All that remains are clothes, hats, furs and other personal belongings. Enemies of the church, smuggling goods to nearby resistant camps no doubt.

A desert wind surfaces from the valley and a pungent presence makes itself known. As the clouds clear and the moon smiles, I can see the trail of blood and remains. All kinds of monsters exist out here beyond the papal states, beyond the realm of decency and morality, beyond dogma. All different shades and tongues walk these lands, terrorizing and frightening God's people. They’re nothing but savages.

I am here to oversee the completion of the New Church of Canterbury. The Pope of England wants his new temple to be a symbol to the heavens and a reminder to the Americans that they lost their sorry revolution. Maps are not very reliable in these untamed lands and I've gone and got myself lost, I am many a days ride from what the natives call the Rockies. Unmarked boundaries and pockets of resistance make traveling difficult and dangerous.
The valley is dark. I dare not strike a flame. Whatever monsters lay over that hill have me on my back before I could manage my pistol. My spectacles offer my eyes little guidance, pray for anything up close.  Tonight, as the lord whispers, I will go no further down this path.  I passed the town of Jerome a little ways back. I usually try and keep my distance from such places. Out here, where everything is still lawless and out of God’s hands, a man, especially an Englishman, can find himself in trouble quick. I will take my chance and let fate and faith protect me, Jerome, “O good samaritan, come to my aid.”
The little town is etched into the hillside and burns bright with artificial light. A Spanish man brought some new mixture that burns brighter than fire to the outline territory, some talk of him a a wizard, I believe him to be the devil's work. The town glows brighter than the night sky and as Icarus and I ascend the steep and muddy terrain, over my shoulder I sense the darkness from below blacken even further.
As we reach the highest summit of the road, the wind turns my stomach. Icarus plants his hoofs in the mud and refuses to move. The stench is dreadful. I give the trinity a once over and dismount. I smack Icarus on the hind end, he spins in circles, unsure of where to go, perhaps refusing to leave me. Either way, something isn’t right and I take him by the reins again. He is a faithful servant.
Though I bury my nose into the sleeve of my coat, the stink gets through. Up ahead, a silhouette moves towards me, "Hello," I say. "I don't mean any harm. I am lost and looking for shelter."
The blackened figure, backlit by sorcery, doesn't answer. I squint, desperately trying to adjust my sight. It's a woman, her dress plows through the mud and seems to weigh her down. Icarus stomps in protest at the whisper of on-coming snaps and hisses.
“Ma’am, is everything alright?” A woeful moan descends the hilltop. “Ma’am, are you hurt?” She stumbles, but catches herself and in the illumination I see a stiff right arm and a pistol gripped firmly in her hand.
“Ma’am, stay right where you are.” I attend to my pistol. "P
lease stay where you are.” Damn my eyes. She keeps coming. I raise my pistol.
“Say something or I’m gonna shoot.” Her movement becomes more eager. Salty sweat stings my eyes as I fire a warning shot, narrowly missing her leg. The gunshot startles Icarus and he rears back, pulling the reins from my hand and knocking me to the mud. My gun goes off and the bullet opens a hole in her blouse. She is knocked off balance but regains her footing and continues at me. The mud is so thick and rancid with a heavy scent of iron. I try to get up but gain no traction. I cannot stand. Pushing myself backwards I lose my pistol to the earth. I see her for the first time now and I wish I had not.
The woman's face is a chalky gray. Blood, dark and dried, covers her mouth, her teeth snapping wildly like an animal. Her steps are labored and with malice, like a toddler off balance and kreening head first to the floor she falls on me and I feel as if I'm drowning in the mud. With all my strength I hold her up and away from me. Her breath smells like death. Her mouth is black. Putrid pus and bile drizzle from a tongue that only partially remains. How can God allow such monsters?
She lunges at me again, my hands are covered in mud and my grip loses hold and she comes down upon me. I close my eyes tight and clench my teeth, awaiting the unthinkable pain and then I hear it. The sound of her skull fracturing rings loud in my ears. The full weight of the woman sinks me further into the mud and I am choking on ratty, foul hair.
I open my eyes and see mounted on the blackest horse a savage, an Apache clutching a bow. His dark skin is offset by a pale painted face, ghost white like a skull, strange symbols covering him and his horse. He dismounts and rolls the dead woman off of me. I escaped one pursuer, only to be dispatched by another. With his bare foot, he crushes what's left of the woman's skull and removes his arrow. I run the Lord’s Prayer through my head one last time and await my death.
The Apache extends his hand and helps me to my feet. He pulls my pistol from the mud and hands it to me.
"Wendigo," he points at the women, "dead dead. Kill. Wendigo." He digs the arrow back into the woman's shattered skull. "Kill. Head. Dead dead." He leaps upon his horse. Looks and me and then jabs the beast hard in its side and launches himself towards Jerome. I grab Icarus by the reins and settle myself in the stirrups and we follow the Apache into hell, “O good shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with your will.”    

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Writing Exercise

Listen, alone and intently, to a piece of music you care about and write anything the music suggest to you. If it has lyrics, don't use the words of the song, but the images in your brain, the words that paint feeling. Don't try to make sense of it, or even sentences; let the music dictate your words. 

I did this and here is the finished product, a little fine tuned.
I used two different songs:

~ Massive Attack: Angel
~ Collide: Inside

The hum is constant, a memory is awakened. The beat bounces deep within and I'm forced to suffer an old voice. She sings, taunts and snares me with every measure. I wouldn't say it aloud, but...
I like it.
I really enjoy the seduction.
Resonating the past, like the years we shared, bringing it all back into frame and I can see it all again, see what it once was for.
But the siren eventually betrays me, refocusing my regret, my mistakes, my misfortune by poking and prodding very specific and very special haunts I have relocated to further depths for safety. All too quickly they rise with her nudge and I am flooded, surfacing too fast for this backslide.
There's nothing stopping them now, I will be inundated for days, pretending none of the pain still exists, because the bass will always remind me and the music will never end.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Here's another quick little story. Kinda still in draft mode...kinda. Enjoy.


It all started on that cloudy and unusually warm winter’s day. The high reached into the upper 60’s and a calm settled over you as the wind brushed through your hair and warmed your cheeks. You were rather excited to have a day of yard work in mid December. Life had got a little crazy during the fall and the yard was in need of some major attention. That rebellious bush by the mailbox had been bothering you for sometime and something needed to be done. Today would be the day.

Mary was leaving for work; you hated that she worked on Sundays. You kissed her goodbye but your mind was elsewhere. The meeting with the boss tomorrow, he was going to want to know why you fired your secretary. You were going to have to tell him the truth. As Mary pulled out of the driveway you immediately wished you could have that kiss all over again. Have all of it back again.

From within the house the living room TV, the big one you just bought, flashed and raced with static for a moment and then began an emergency broadcast alert. You couldn’t hear it because you left the TV on mute to answer your cell. It was Pat from the office. Tee time at The Oaks at 3pm if you’re interested. You wouldn’t have time, you told him. Gotta take advantage of the unusual weather and get some yard work done you said. He called you domesticated. You laughed.

You pushed hard and the spade sliced through the soil, breaking off tiny roots and gutting worms. You did this over and over, slowly weakening the bush’s hold. You were returning to the garage for a rope when you heard the screeching tires. You looked up in time to see the four door sedan over correcting, missing the turn and ripping the bumper off of Chuck Well’s ‘88 Saab. It then veered off and crashed into the bay window of Thomas O’Brien’s house. You waited and watched, hoping to see some movement from within the car or from within the house. There was none. You started running towards Tom’s house yelling and screaming for help. For a brief moment the sun looked as though it might break through the clouds and shed more light on this unusual day.

The ground pulsed and then shook violently. You tried to catch yourself, but you lost your balance, fell and hit your head on the curb. The rest was a blur. Car alarms began to sound in neighborhood after neighborhood. Your neighbors were calmly exiting their houses dazed and unaware of anything terrifying. Tom needs help, there’s been an accident, please someone help you cried. No one seemed to notice, no one seemed to mind.

You jumped to your feet and started to run as fast as you could. Your phone started vibrating but you couldn't feel it. It had fallen out of your pocket when you fell and now it laid useless in the street. Mary was calling. She was worried. Every radio station was broadcasting the same message, stay inside and away from windows. She wanted you to know she was attempting to turn around at Grindstone Bridge but traffic was blocked as far she could see into town. She said something large was on the horizon and the skyline wasn’t the right shade or color. She wanted to know if you were okay. She was scared. She began to cry as the ground pulsed again and the shaking grew more violently. She told you she loved you. She told you this as the first mass of metal emerged from the clouds, you saw it too.

The long cylindrical tendrils grabbed and picked you up so fast there was little time to react. You sailed through the sky, the warm wind kissing your face, you thought this couldn’t be happening. Your little town below didn’t look so peaceful anymore, not with these things snatching people up everywhere. You couldn’t have possibly thought this would the day, but when you rolled over in bed, you felt as if it was going to be a bit unusually. You couldn’t quite put a finger on why. As you floated towards the center of the enormous metallic Kraken you saw more and more crafts at higher altitudes. You couldn’t understand how this could be happening. As the center of the craft opened up its belly, you thought about Mary, then everything went dark. This is when you changed. This is when the world changed...forever.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day Zero

Just My Luck

It’s really never quite how you imagine it. Looking back, I definitely feel lied to. The books, the movies, pop-culture, none of them had it right, none of them prepared you for the real thing, for the stillness, for the stench. The decay that’s in the air is overwhelming, it’s something you never get used to. It permeates everything. It sticks to your skin, settles inside your nose and then gets inside your head. It abducts your thoughts, sabotages your feelings, mocks your memories and pollutes everything that has ever attached itself by smell.

I’ve been traveling for almost four months, through infected towns and infested cities, one after another trying to reach my daughter Emma in St. Paul. I’m failing quite miserably. I’m not cut out for this, how I’ve made it this far is nothing short of dumb luck. In a world eating itself to extinction, having a fifty-two year old adjunct English professor from a small Cleveland college isn’t exactly who you want  by your side. Filling your free time with historical Civil War reenactments or possessing the knowledge of which Division of the Forrest Cavalry Corps was involved in the Massacre of Fort Pillow isn’t exactly what folks are looking for when the world comes to an end and hordes of walking, flesh craving misanthropist are heading your way. Verbs, superlatives and knowing when to use the correct form of “who” and “whom” are rarely useful when searching for edible food sources, changing fuel pumps or telling the difference between twelve and twenty gauge shotgun shells. It’s simply worthless and I’m at a disadvantage.
If my suspicions and intuitions are correct, I am most certainly too late and she’s become one of those things. Then again, if I had ignored my intuition, my wife wouldn’t have been sleeping with a man half her age and I would have seen her leaving me coming from a mile away. My instincts are shit, so I ignore them. I’m determined to pursue this lost cause until the end. I’m keeping the hopeful notion that my daughter is still alive, unfortunately, hope has gotten me into trouble once again. 
The bullet holes in the rear quarter panel of the sedan provide adequate ventilation for breathing, but allows for very little light to filter in. It was a stupid, rash decision. I panicked and ran for the first available cover. I think I might still be a bit overwhelmed. The trunk was ajar and I went for it. How quickly things go wrong.

The smell in here is horrendous. I fumble around searching for anything to cover my face. I find an old t-shirt and place it to my mouth and breath deep. I inhale the stink of death and dried bits blood. I can taste it. As I exhale it doesn’t leave me and the taste lingers on my tongue. I don’t know how much longer I can stay in here. I need to get out.

It’s late March now and spring is no longer a time for the living, it is a time for the dead. The rumor that the number of undead would dwindle to a manageable level over winter was like most apocalyptic rumors, false. The truth is, the cold temperatures only slowed decomp. Now, with temperatures on the rise, rotters are budding like vile, discolored tulips through the snow, thawing and reanimating all over again. In the far south, the dead did not rest for winter, they stayed active. So did the folks trying to escape them. Most became what they were running from, others brought the sickness with them and spread the infection further north.
They’re out there. I can hear them. Quietly I shift my weight and raise my head and take a peek out a bullet hole. My field of vision is greatly reduced by the size of the hole and I feel a sense of dread rush over me. Everything feels like it’s closing in. I want to run. I want out of this trunk, I want out of this fucking world...but not like that, I’m NOT going out like that. I’m not gonna end up as one of those things.

I can’t see anything, but I know they are there. Placing my hand on the trunk I lift it gently to get a better view. The darkness splits into and a blade of daylight blinds me and I struggle to adjust. As my eyes come into focus, my heart stops. My breath suffers. A Freshy. I release the trunk lid from my grasp without thinking and before I can stop, before I have a second to react, the trunk lid meets the latch and CLICK. I’m trapped. I twist from my side and with my back against the floor of the trunk, push with my legs, trying to get the latch to fail. It doesn’t budge and I’m starting to freak out. I think of Emma and hope she didn’t have to suffer.

Freshies are the most dangerous and the hardest to detect because of the minimal odor. You just can’t smell one coming. Typically rigor mortis is complete within 24-36 hours after death, but the infection isn’t so patient. Respiratory and muscle failure begins in less than 12 hours and the body slowly becomes paralyzed. Within a few hours the heart has stopped and the body is dead. J-1125 begins to send involuntary signals to the muscles and they begin to spasm and jerk. Within moments mobility and full muscle movement is regained. While enzymes are working to destroy and break down their cells and tissues, their brain continues to function on some basic level.

Bloaters are the next stage of decomp and are much slower, the gas build up inside restricts decaying muscles and body movement. It’s best to keep a distance. They’re not worth messing with, they’re too slow.  It’s best to leave them alone. When one pops you can smell them a mile away. So can the dead. Having that stink on or near you is just as enticing as warm blooded flesh.

The AD1’s and AD2’s are your typical Hollywood zombie. An AD1 is in active decomp mode, the larva stage, flesh flies, blow-flies and maggots all share the same meal. The AD1’s skin moves and seemingly comes to life with larvae that falls like little white raindrops. AD2’s are in the advanced decay stage. Large amounts of flesh, bone and teeth are missing. Movement is stiff and labored. Depending on the temperature and humidity, the last stage of decomp can move pretty fast.
The Freshy is getting closer. Its steps are hurried and intense. Only a few days ago this thing was a living, breathing person like me. Fighting and struggling to stay alive in this hell, trying desperately to not just make it one more day but to somehow survive this all and make it to a loved one that’s he’s abandoned. Now, reborn, his agenda has changed, he has a mission and an innate hunger driving him towards it, me. The Freshy’s steps continue without pause. It’s passing me by. It didn’t see me, It’s moving on. This is good...okay, I’m safe for now.

The muscles in my back throb, I try to relax it but I can’t, the pain of not knowing how I’m going to get out of here doesn’t ease the muscles. Think you dumb bastard. It hits me again. My attention had been so focused on the Freshy and getting locked in that I hadn’t even noticed it. Death. The smell returns to my senses with ferocity and vengeance. I can’t hold it any longer. Loudly I dry-heave, I try to control it, but it only makes it worse. Everytime I cough the pungent aroma reaches into my lungs and steals the air. I’m on the verge of hyperventilating.

There is movement coming from within the car. I can feel the weight of the rear axles shifting. How could I be so stupid? I never checked the car. That’s why the stench is so overwhelming, I’ve been laying a close siege to the enemy all this time.  I never checked to see if it was safe. Stupid...I never checked to see if it was clear. It’s caught my scent. The upholstery begins to rip and tear, it’s digging for me, it’s hungry, it’s gonna come through the back seat. It’s gonna rip its way through, pull me through leather and foam, biting and rending me in two. I have nowhere to go. I position myself as far back as I can, the latch of the trunk digging into my back, a nagging reminder of my own stupidity. The car rocks violently back and forth as it digs furiously like a dog, the bones in its fingers snapping at the joints, tearing away at the leather like a kid through a present on Christmas day.  It’s getting closer, the barrier between us is getting thinner. The darkness of the trunk is getting brighter and brighter.

A large chunk of seat is torn away and I can see my pursuer for the first time. Her stringy blonde hair is matted down and partially embedded into the gaping wound across what’s left of her cheek, an AD2. Wildly she flails at me, bits of dead flesh rip and tear from her arm as she reaches through the seat frame. I kick with all my might, stomping and pushing her back. She manages to catch my foot and pull it towards her. Her mouth is chomping ravenously at the air, haphazard and reckless, starving for a bit of flesh. On her hand is a wedding ring. She was someone’s bride once. Someone’s lover. His wife. He too lost everything on Day Zero, perhaps everything that ever mattered to him.

On the inside of her arm is a blue Gothic cross tattoo, even in death the ink still burns bright and burst as if life was still behind it. Religious perhaps, but not necessarily; either way, I assume this isn’t the heaven she once imagined. I manage to kick and free my foot. The living dead girl stops her attack and returns to ripping away at the seat, she’s creating a larger hole. She’s thinking. She’s reasoning. Another piece is ripped away and then another. The eager and gluttonous sounds emanating from her as she gets closer and closer now brings about the undesired realization that I am about to die.

Panicking, I kick as hard and as fast as I can. I scream at the top of my lungs, relying on some hidden strength buried deep within me, brought on by fear and adrenaline, to surge forward and smash the latch and setting myself free. I’ll run as fast as I can, until I can’t run anymore. This is what hope does to you. It gets you killed. The dead girl and my eyes meet, mine with life and hers with death, and we both know.
I try to think about Sabrina. Our first kiss at that Sushi restaurant. The day Emma was born. None of it is staying with me, as quickly as the thoughts come, they are gone. The frenzy in front of me is making certain of that. I try and think about the way the world was, the way it all used to be. How it wasn’t perfect, but at least it had feelings. It wasn’t so painful, it wasn’t so terrible. It wasn’t this cold. The barrier has been breached. This part is just like the movies. The part where zombies are made.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writer's Blog

Well folks, here it goes. Another half ass attempt at a blog. This one's gonna be way different!! Why? Fuck if I know, aliens abducted me and filled my head with too many words and now I must get them out or die? The ghost of my dead Pappy came to visited me in the night and said, " Boy, write the world some goddamn stories!!" Okay, well all that's bullshit, Whatever, I'm giving writing a go...again. So stay tuned and tune out, cause I'm about to drop some fiction on this bitch. ~J.