November 22, 2012

finding a voice

Most epics don’t begin in the living room, but that's where mine begins. We call it our living room, but that’s not it at all. We hardly ever live there. It’s just a holding place for knickknacks and books that my mom swears she’s going to read someday when she finds the time.

Finding time.

She’s always searching for time, but time is always hiding. Always. If I could give her any present, it would be a big batch of time. All the time in the world. And she wouldn’t have to do anything with it. She could put it on a shelf next to her knickknacks or maybe put it in the kitchen and she could rest a little easier knowing that the pantry is stocked full of time. Time by the case. Just in case. And she would wrap herself up in the present and sip her tea without thinking of anything but the steam and the flavor and the vinyl voices mumbling their songs from the speakers.

My aunt walks in without knocking and instantly she takes over the house. She's a walking megaphone. It isn't on purpose, either. She can't help it. She has a voice made for the sea.

My mom is playing a record from one of those folk artists who manages to whisper and mumble simultaneously, barely moving his mouth to pronounce his words, interrupted only by a harmonica that sounds like a wheezing donkey.  After a gentle nudge from my mom, the poor record player nervously slips its needle, stuttering and scratching out a few lines before giving in to Ms. Megaphone and her steady stream of small talk.

I'm trying out a first-person fantasy story about sea-breathers. I've tried it in third-person and it feels bland. This is what I wrote in first-person but it doesn't seem to fit the genre. Any thoughts? 

November 12, 2012

random thought while writing a novel

My story started out like this:

Luke’s troubles began in the golden hour, on his way home from soccer practice, when the sun illuminated every imperfection and somehow turned the most ordinary object into something magical. Not that Luke noticed any of this. Luke loved magic. He just didn’t believe in it, that’s all. His grandmother swore that dragons once existed and all the science in the world couldn’t convince her otherwise. But Luke didn’t buy it. Now, unicorns on the other hand seemed plausible. He figured the ivory-horned creatures probably died out not long before people quit believing in magic. If they had just lasted a few more decades, people would be feeding unicorns at the local zoo. Sometimes Luke would close his eyes and picture the place and it seemed so real to him that it seemed to creep into the area of belief. But, alas, he remembered . . . .

And somewhere along the line, I cut that out. The whole paragraph. I cut out the whole chapter, actually. I re-wrote the beginning three times. 

I have two novels I'm writing. The first is for me. It has all those little details that help me know who the characters are. The second is for the boys. It tells them what the characters do. 

Sometimes I think authors don't finish projects because they aren't able to let go of those pieces of writing that have nothing to do with the story and everything to do with the character. It's painful to recognize that you wrote it for yourself. It was the first date. It was the interview. But it wasn't the story.

October 31, 2012

In the water - new writings

the leading
some seek it
the thrill
the warming of whiskey in your bones
a body on top of yours
the newest adventure
but I was led
into the wild
a Voice spoke once
and I heard twice
the true meaning
of unpredictable
the true wild
in the Spirit

The Bear
Slowly, I walked
until I stopped
at a rustle in the forest
a bear, I thought
I stood exposed, unarmed
For a moment
with all my heart
I believed
I was led here to die
that somehow
this trip was meant to end my life
a bear, or a crash on the road
then God spoke to me:
“The only reason I’d take your life
is so that we could be together.
I want to be near to you.”

I have all day
to get terribly lost
and find my way back
to you

The lost beatitude II
Blessed are the quiet
for they will be filled with sound.

Seeds of winter
Outline the science of reason
Explain the revolving season
Follow the trail of logic and fact
The One who knows, turns His back

To paint the leaves orange
Painting the red jay, blue
I explained it away –
what my soul already knew

Where fear and curiosity
drive the obvious into minds
the mind’s shallow thoughts fall short
What gave the humming bird it’s lines?

the motive we search for
answered forevermore-
The Master of the seasons
has for each, His reasons

in the water
my commitments submerged

Noble blood
given, yet not received
The devout’s love takes flight
but like the love before theirs
the love fills men with spite

innocence draws out wolves
to pray upon the sheep
Making snares for the pure
Plotting death while they sleep

We know where love is, God is
but we also know the fact
Where Light is, dark is
the evil of men counteract

our greatest discoverings
are wanderings

to come home
one can only hope to
come down from the mountain
free of fraud           
unspoiled in the mind
full of freedom
rid of cowardice

Where hearts uncomplicate motives
The unraveling of sin and self
Feel the bar rise
To strip us down

simplicity is found
with forgiveness
Grace is the path to
purity between people

July 13, 2012

She Was Reading

a discarded fragment of a short story that never completely happened:
She was Reading, a bookish child whose fate was sealed by the solitary pronouncement of two bohemians who never should have procreated. Bored and restless with the poetry of the smoky jazz houses, they grew tired of looking tired and restless with the restlessness. She was their creative project.
She did everything within her power to grow out of her name, trying to live out her cartoon fantasies of a creative future. From a young age, she drew pictures, smudged paint and worked tirelessly to avoid words. But alas, she was Reading. All the time. Everywhere. She couldn't escape the magical icons crying out each solitary sound, a chorus creating meaning and worlds and memories in an eternal flame she could never extinguish. She was Reading.
She saw story in life, often listening to a friend speak and wondering about plot and setting and themes and conflict. She would try and ask about the weather and it would trail into a question of setting and climate and why people in cold places have such a cold demeanor on the outside, but the friendliest sunbelt cities can have such an empty core inside.
Growing up, her dad had read her the classics, because the folks in Whoville seemed bound too closely to the rhyme schemes of an impostor doctor drawing saggy-chested women who seemed too realistic a representation of a coffee shop crowd past its prime. Her mom read her Pride and Prejudice, not to offer an insight, but to cleanse the palate afterward and prepare her for the day that she could grow into The Color Purple. She wore the heavy, industrial language like a child's costume jewelry and by fifth grade she had realized her parents couldn't see how gaudy it had become in an age where nouns were already becoming verbs. She could see what others couldn’t. In a few more decades, a text would be anything but sacred – a verb rather than a noun.
Sometimes she would step out onto the grass, barefoot with freshly painted toenails, envious of the militaristic marching ants that had freedom in their lack of freedom. She took serious the call to consider the lilies, not for romantic impulses or for the sense of spirituality, but to shut out the stream of letters that filled her mind. And even then, when she closed her eyes, the words appeared in red-letter Garamound font. She considered it sacrilege and so she would imagine a short, portly man yelling at a crowd in a language she couldn't understand. But inevitably she saw the red letters again.
If words could create reality she had no need for them. She didn’t want to create or even to understand. She just wanted to escape it all, because it felt so heavy. She recalled a former sage, “The letter kills but the breath creates life.”  She'd pray to the Unknown for a flash of light on a Damascus Road to blind her from the dull typographic typecast.
Fantasy. Embrace. Flower. Incense. Rosary. Polaroid. Clay. Stained-glass windows. Kodachrome. Each one another false escape leading her back to the notion of story.
She turned to vinyl before it was vintage and listened impatiently through an album just to hear the repetitive scratch, cycling quietly, wordless in form and flavor and texture as if to tell, even Frank Sinatra, "I can outlast your words." It was her cathedral of scratch and she dreaded the notion that club DJs had turned a sound so pure into a formal structure - pimped out this beautiful silent non-silence to the coked-up college kids bumping and grinding without any respect to the sound of scratch.
She pulled out a notebook her brother had bought her and she began the swift swirl that would eventually disguise itself as a very feminine ivy. Yet, mindlessly, she began to form a letter, not a noticeable letter, just a lower-case "l" or perhaps a "q" in waiting. Methodically, melodically matching each stroke with the cadence of the city bus where she tried to focus on the urine-soaked passenger who mumbled gigantic curses against capitalism and socialism and nationalism and any ism he could muster up in the moment.
Paragraphs and pages. Ink bleeding black, words flowing into one another in a cursive she hadn't felt since she was in the primary grades. Drunk on the words, she woke up in a daze, head pounding, the Moleskin tattooed with lines she was afraid to read.
“Okay maybe a bad one night stand. This isn't love.”
She hid the notebook in her satchel and began to crochet, but even the violent freestyle rapping on the fringes of the monorail seemed to tell the same nihilistic narrative in the same iamb of a Shakespeare tragedy and without thinking, she began thinking and reciting and enjoying the rhapsody.
“You can't escape who you are,” she wrote, then crossed out the “you” in thick, drippy ink and wrote “one” as if to say, “I can't take ownership of the first person. Not yet.”
“One can't escape who she is,” she rewrote it, until eventually it became first person.
“I can't escape who I am.”
Maybe she'd find a detox between red rock canyon walls, a desert place where words could not break-in and she'd find solace in her yoga and hiking. But alas, she fell in love, like an awkward virgin couple on a honeymoon, uncertain about whether it was any good and scared about venturing further, but still feeling that faint sense of normalcy. She was Reading.

July 2, 2012

del mar meditations.

Some places
expire, if you start look deeper
the search for substance

(in retrospect the above could also be told to those willing to date me)

Here we are again
The guilt I feel for looking at my phone
in such a gorgeous place
dissipates when I realize I only want to share beauty
with my friends.

The pressure to look good here
is crushing.
It's inevitable that physical health
becomes the priority
while the important fabric of ourselves
is neglected and rots away.

2 miles stretch of beach
everyone had bikinis
I had a book

lose their way
even when the tide
reveals their path.

The scene (I'll set it up)
A young man holding an expensive camera
Sets his two year old baby girl on a towel
and walks carefully away from her to the beach
looking back every few steps, but careful not to miss his perfect picture
He is search of the opportune shot of the morning tide
with every stride away from her, he becomes more worried
as his daughter is now quite far from him.
But his worry is misguided.
The problem is that his camera
is facing the wrong direction.

If I don't get back, Brian might be worried I've been
swallowed by the sea
and I have been.

No one notices
old men on benches

The only time I feel at home in this rich place
is when I am swept up
in a group of Mexican workers
taking out the trash.

A beautiful story about
doing something extraordinary
but you cannot be great
without a tender heart

Kids on the beach
scream for their lives
and run from the waves
I've spent most of my life doing this.

Being here, in beach paradise
doesn't make me want a surfboard.
It makes me want a family.

Because it's fun
When seagulls poop
they aim for open mouths.

March 21, 2012

the start of a novel

I'm taking a story that I've been telling each night to Joel and Micah about the first female monster to join the Guardian Squad. It is admittedly a bit whimsical - monsters repurposing the parts of our world that we've abandoned in return for protecting us. I don't care. I want to escape into a story that is not meant to be about a deep theme, but about the story itself.

Monsters inhabit the places abandoned by humans – rusty cars, vacant apartment complexes, far-off forests and the shadowy factories of modern ghost towns. They congregate in dark places, filled with crumbly concrete, exposed wires and vines taking back what once was wild.  But they also inhabit places of fear and grief and laughter and all the other places abandoned in the name of “getting over it” or “growing up.”

Whole communities of monsters live together, invisible to humans. They tell stories, share meals, play games and raise families by repurposing what people have left behind. Watch closely and you’ll see the reporters of the Wild Gazette tapping away on old typewriters at the abandoned beet processing plant across from Milford Street. Look under the rickety bench of the public bus stop and you just might hear two monsters engaged in a lively debate revolving around which members they plan to vote into the Council.

Ever tripped on a sidewalk for no reason and wondered what could have caused you to miss that step? Ever felt a brush against your shoulder only to realize that you were all alone? Chances are you’ve run into a monster.

March 13, 2012

the religious.

can talk about
old wine in new skins
new wine in old skins
but can't talk about their own skin

February 21, 2012


Not sure who is reading this blog anymore. But here's a short, fictional dialogue.

"For Lent, I'm giving up nothing."

"Really? Nothing?"

"Yep, I'm giving up nothing."

"Seriously? That's one of the best things you have left. Give up chocolate or something, but leave nothing alone. It will be what gets you through Lent."

February 19, 2012

Mario's Final Quest

And so Mario, with his pocket full of gold and an array of tortoise shells left in his wake, realized the princess was, in fact, insufferably helpless and spoiled. He had worried that she would not fall in love with him. Why hadn't he considered whether he would find her worth dying for? It was not a matter of time. He had gained more lives than he had lost. But after conquering his last world, he wondered aloud, "Is this what I've been chasing after the whole time?" He daydreamed of plumbing again. He would drop Super from his name altogether and quietly battle broken pipes and clogged systems.

One Photo. One Sentence. One Story.