Monday, July 4, 2011


…I have a new story--quite short--called "The Prankster" up at Troubadour 21 and also here under "Words in Print."
I wrote that piece almost two years ago. I wrote it, as well as thirty other pieces, in a flurry of two days. It was at the time right before I began this blog. In my mind each story was about someone we all know (hence, "People You Know By Heart.") I wanted to use trite labels to describe each narrator, yet turn that notion on its head by showing how we might think we know someone but not really, truly know them at all.
Here are a few samples of the story titles:
The Prankster
The Thief
The Drunk
The Fortune Teller
The Fan
The Veteran
The Baby Maker etc…
At the time, I sort of saw the full body of stories as a collection unto themselves. Now I don’t know. Since 2009 about half have been published around and I think my writing quality is a lot better that it was then.

…If I was going to write a story about you—using the same notion as above—I think it would be called “The _______.”
Yes. Yes, definitely, “The _______.”
I can't fill in the blank right now. I mean, I could, but I won't.
Can you? Are you good with titles?
It has to be a label. We all wear costumes and we all have labels--doctor, husband, construction worker, teacher, atheist, liar, lover.
But we're more than the outward brands that people give us. Of course we are. However, the truth is we often hide behind the label. Most of us don't want to let people see what's below the rippled waves.
It's easier to be that label, to wear it and address all of the predictable questions that follow after the initial question, "So, what do you do?"
After I retired a few years ago, I liked to mess with people. When they asked, "What do you do?" I'd say, "Nothing."
Usually this made them blink or twitch. Sometimes they scratched their elbow or tottered in place, equilibrium off.
Then I’d feel bad and say, “I’m retired now,” to wit they’d always respond, “But you’re too young.”
Which maybe I was/am.
The next question would be: “So you don’t do anything now?”
“Well, what did you do before doing nothing? What were you?”
Without the ability to tag me, they were left feeling visibly uncomfortable. People don't know where to go next in the conversation unless they have a starting point, a stepping off point.
What "we do" becomes who “we are” and people push us into these corners, put us on these shelves with all the other ________s or ____s or _________s.
It's easy.
It's natural.
Some might argue that it’s instinctive or innate, that we were born that way, although I think somewhere along the line it just became learned behavior, maybe out of laziness.

But back to you.
If I was going to give you a label, this would be it: “The M_____e.” (There’s a big clue.)

And here’s a bigger one still:

"The M_____e"

You are more than white light blooming in space,
clearing the canvas of leftovers,
more than yesterdays months decades eons even
you are more than time
stars and sand crystals
the wind it sings your praises
courting and flirting with suggestive songs
the trees dance
some almost unctuous that's how desperate they are
others doubt you
the cynics needing signs and proof
the painters and poets living as glazed artists do
on concocted wings
projecting and story-telling
while grasping tight
the kite tail of faith.

There is
there has never been
never will be
any question in my mind
who you are
what you are
your essence
what you have been
and done all these years now
you have stitched my sliced places
moved coasts
cradled a criminal
climbed ladders of bleak infinity
so as to pluck me from impending doom
martyr perhaps but not myth
pure and true implacable
like ardent angel
like the one and only
you are.

(dedicated to my wife)

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