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{Sunday, July 31, 2005}

The long three-day haul to the far outer wall
Left me weary and aching and shot
I gasped when my guide demanded I climb
Truth be told, the idea didn't seem very hot

For it seemed that to climb those out-stretching vines
Was so clearly now asking a lot
I was broken and beat with bad blistered feet
And wanted nothing so much as my tent and a cot

We were just eighty feet, said my guide, from the sweet
Taste of victory we'd have when our long trek was done
But that's eighty feet up, I said with a gulp,
And eighty feet down doesn't sound like much fun

We'll set down for the night, I said, though a slight
Hint of impatience from my guide I couldn't erase
I saw his eyes roll as he sized up our goal
The top of the wall, where he'd have continued apace

But I topped off a drink and sat down just to think
Which I'd had not a moment to do since this trip began
It seemed that the wall was impossibly tall
And perhaps it was time to think up a new plan

by Fred 11:59 PM

I'm pondering my second cross-country move, and wondering what motivates me to maintain such an un-rooted lifestyle. Wanderlust certainly runs strong in me, but wanderlust seeks new territory. Lately, I've been covering the same ground over, and over, and over.

I've always believed in the power of the universe to successfully guide my path. Just trusting that the right thing will happen has always brought me success and contentment, if not always in the form I'd expected.

A close friend recently brought me back to the concept of Intent. Set an intent, and then live that intent in every moment, she said. At first, I didn't see the point - I've always had good things find their way into my life, why change the formula now? It was this, though, that started me pondering the first question: why am I so reluctant to choose a stable lifestyle? And I believe the answer is that I have no Intent to guide me.

Swinging from opportunity to opportunity like vines across a jungle has carried me this far in life. But there has been no thought as to which vine reach for next: I've just launched for the closest one. It is time to pick a destination on the map, and start aiming for those vines that may not be as easy to grasp, but will lead me to a destination of my own choosing.

by Faith 11:37 PM

the long haul

by Faith 11:36 PM

{Friday, July 29, 2005}

oh we'll
follow the bouncing ball
wherever it may fall
though it lead us to hell
it's just as well
we'll never stand quite so tall

as when
we follow the bouncing ball
bounced over the neighbor's wall
the neighbor might shout
he's been drinking, the lout
but we never need heed his call

we'll just
follow the bouncing ball
it's cold out so bring a shawl
we'll dig in the ground
and follow it down
and that, my friend, isn't all

no, we'll
follow the bouncing ball
though it lead us to Montreal
we won't lose it, with luck
to any Canuck
but follow it for the long haul

yes we'll
follow the bouncing ball
though it seem far-off and very small
we'll catch it some day
if we have our way
and no longer be in its thrall

by Fred 7:42 PM

Follow the bouncing ball.

by Fred 9:31 AM

{Thursday, July 28, 2005}

Everybody's always talking about space dinosaurs. Like as if they've actually seen one. Like it's the kind of thing you see every day. There are posters and warnings up wherever you go in town, Clay says, and in every port city, all over. But, like I try and tell him, those are just drawings and most of them not even half good. None of it means the dinos are real anymore. It's just something some local magistrate put up as a joke, or more likely to keep people distracted, and it spread. You can raise taxes all you want, or send young men to die in the pits, if you can claim it's to keep the rest of us safe from terrible lizards from some great beyond.

Doesn't matter there hasn't been a confirmed sighting of one of them for close on a thousand years. Or that, even if they wanted to set down on the planet again and take over, there's all kinds of defense perimeters around the ports to keep that from happening. To keep them out. Clay knows it, and so does anybody who bothers to read the histories, or even just glance at the guns stacked up along the capitol city outer walls.

They just don't want to think about that, or about the pits, or about these rumors of war that've been coming for months. If everything's the space dinosaurs' fault, then nothing's their fault.

by Fred 6:10 PM

It'll be good to be home. June's never seen it; she grew up out here. I almost wonder if I'll recognize it, I've been away so long.

We've begun the final approach. I'm nervous, of course, but not about the flying. Aaron is the safest pilot I know; I'm glad we're landing on his shift. Heavens, landing. We've been on this generation ship so long...

We left to seek adventure, find our fortunes, see the inky black of eternal night. We were young. Now it's time to come home, take up our stations again, get back to life as it should be. Back to fresh air that's never been through a filter more complex than a fern. It'll be good to be home.

Nikki beckons me to a window. She's been watching our descent. I climb off my couch and nose in next to her, and what I see makes my tail tense. The planet doesn't look like I remember it. Too cloudy, too shrouded, and somehow... cluttered.

I'm still trying to puzzle through what I'm seeing when I hear Aaron's thunderous, reptilian bellow from the cockpit. What does he see? What's waiting for us down there? What's happened to our home?

by Sharon 2:46 PM

space dinosaurs

by Fred 9:52 AM

{Wednesday, July 27, 2005}

There's something wrong with the sky
That's what I heard from some guy
He says it's on fire
And we're all gonna fry

He's always talkin' that way
How it's come judgement day
Man don't never get tired
But he ain't got nothin' to say

Can't trust a word that he speak
Like how there'll be earth for the meek
Man's such a damn liar
But he'll keep at it all week

Bad enough the sky burns
Without him takin' his turns
To turn it into a pyre
Shit, some folk never learn

by Fred 7:41 PM

There's something wrong with the sky. Yeah, good call there Sherlock. You want to know what it is? Try WATER. There's too much frickin' water in the sky. And when I go outside for the little jaunt to work I lovingly call my "commute" all the water leaps OUT of the sky and soaks right through my clothes. Right away. Instantly.

Dude, it is so frickin' hot here it's hot underground. You get that? UNDERGROUND. It is hot. You know how hard that is to do? What they say about caves, "air is a constant 60 degrees underground," etc, fucking bullshit. It's 90, 95, easy. There's a guy here at work, tells us he's been screwing fish the last two weeks. Yeah, he knows it's gross but at least his kids will be able to breathe in July, he says. Goddamn swamp. Who puts a national capitol in a swamp? I mean, who has a choice. Look, I know the decision was made long before most of America was America, so like a national capitol in Seattle would have been too much to ask. But aren't there better places? You don't even have to move it far.

You know what it is, I think they just saw all the Indians sitting around here. Potomack, you know, that's "Meeting Place" or something in Indian. Actually, I think it probably means GODDAMN WHAT I WOULDN'T GIVE FOR A TROUT WITH TITS.

And as if the heat wasn't bad enough already, there's the air conditioning. This is my morning: Cold. Hot! Hot! Cold. Hot! Cold. Hot! Slightly Too Warm! And that's all in the space of thirty minutes. No wonder people get sick, these thirty-degree swings in temperature every five minutes, it's got to be hell for some people. "There's something wrong with the sky" my ass, there's something wrong with my BRAIN for moving to the middle of a goddamn swamp. Holy Christ, if you can find a place not covered with mostquitos just BITE ME.

by John W. 2:13 PM

There's something wrong with the sky.

by Fred 10:57 AM

{Tuesday, July 26, 2005}

Changing hands on your domestic robot, model 897A, series 12 -- familiarly known as Reggie -- can be a difficult and time-consuiming process without the proper tools, and it should not be attempted unless a workspace with adequate ventilation can be secured and the requisite insurance forms are completed in triplicate. Replacement or removal of robotic appendages completed by anyone other than a licensed professional will result in immediate void of warranty, decomission of the unit, and violent reprisal from men with very sharp and pointed sticks, whom their counsellors say have some anger management issues they need to work out.

Tampering with either the internal sensors or battery pack of the Reggie unit will leave the taste of bitter ashes in your mouth, cause all your hopes and dreams to be torn asunder, and potentially cause the unit to malfunction. Do not subject robot unit to extremes of hot, cold or that other thing in between, kind of a tepid luke-warmness. Failure to comply with this warning may cause the unit's thermal regulators to go all wonky. Persuant to legal code 798B, subsection 12, wonky robots must be dismantled.

Do not attempt to dismantle the unit without prior written consent in triplicate from the men with pointed sticks, their employers at the robotic investigatory board, and the psychiatric staff at the local hospital, who are very optimistic about those anger management issues being resolved in the very near future.

by Fred 7:58 PM

changing hands

by Fred 9:05 AM

{Monday, July 25, 2005}

Victoria pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose. The Baron was at it again.

She stepped away from the viewscreen, which still flickered with images of red and ruin, and pressed the green glass voxcomm button on her control desk. "Lieutenant. Bring coffee."

«Yes'm,» the Lieutenant’s voice crackled in reply.

Victoria flopped wearily into a high-backed leather chair and turned her back on the disturbing viewscreen. She needed to plan a response to the Baron's latest ultimatum. Something to thwart him, something to frustrate his attempts at empire building. His army of automata was getting good, if the smoldering rubble sulking below Victoria's dirigible was any indication. She indulged in a rueful smile.

The Baron hadn't seen her golems yet. They could pilot airships.

Victoria wished she could see the look on the Baron's face when her golem fleet descended upon his automata and reduced them to scrap. He would have to respect the elegance of her strike and the significance of her accomplishment. It would inspire him to push his experiments yet further. What would he create? How would he next demonstrate his mastery over science? Victoria's mind raced hungrily over possibilities. She would keep opposing him to keep pushing him. Damn, but she loved that mad genius.

Her Lieutenant arrived with the coffee.

by Sharon 11:55 PM

every time the world ends
it's always the same, you see
more bang for your buck,
but who gives a fuck?
doesn't matter that much to me

this is how it happens
and it happens every time
the world ends,
it's gone, then
it's back and doin' fine


Every time the world ends, he tries to tell them before it's too late. But it's never any use; he's always as caught up in the loop as they are.


Even now, if you asked him, Vincent would likely say time machines are impossible. If it's just a question of physics, of math, then he's obliged to admit that the universe won't allow for them, takes great pains to ensure they can't be built, or at the very least makes them so absurdly difficult to construct that any discussion of their existence can safely be shuffled from the science to the fiction end of the spectrum. Time machines, Vincent will tell you, go against everything we know to be true.

Don't even bother to ask, then, how he built one.

Vincent had never intended to construct a time machine. Even had he believed such a thing possible, he would never have known how to go about it. He'd read a little math, a little science, owned a hammer, but that was the extent of his abilities. He was not mechanically inclined. He was an accountant.

And yet, one day he came home from work, locked himself in the basement and cobbled together thing thing that, on closer inspection, was obviously some kind of time machine. He'd seen the future, seen the past, retro-predicted sports scores and prevented presidential assasinations. Again, none of which he'd had any clue how to accomplish until he actually did it.

And that was what troubled him.

by Fred 6:19 PM

every time the world ends

by Fred 12:29 PM

{Friday, July 22, 2005}

They came while we were sleeping.
They came upon us creeping.
They came with fangs for eating.
But they couldn't stop their squeaking,
The occasional hiss of vented air.

Be still a moment as I tell thee
How they came with hunger in their belly
From somewhere infernal and so helly;
My father saw them, and with a yell he
Shouted out we should beware.

But it would be hard not to take them lightly,
Even as we sprung from our beds so sprightly,
(Even had they come upon us nightly)
For on waking the first sight we
Had was two balloon giraffes -- quite a pair.

Yes, their teeth were bared and ready,
Hung from jaws so very heavy,
And their balloon eyes were very steady;
Had we stayed we might be dead; we
Knew this yet weren't scared.

Because they weren't very frightening,
Though they kept up at their biting,
With monstrous glares so uninviting.
Maybe it was just the lighting
Or that such a sight's so very rare,

But, just as luck would have it,
Next came an orange balloon rabbit.
From its pointed ears we could have grabbed it --
With its carrot color we could have nabbed it --
And popped its balloonish tail then and there.

And so we did, right then and there.
We let them pop,
We let them hiss,
And not one inflated critter did we spare.

by Fred 6:29 PM

feral balloon animals

by Fred 11:11 AM

{Thursday, July 21, 2005}

you can drape a cape across your back
but that don't make you Superman
you can fly through sky if you got the knack
but all you get's windburn and a tan
yeah you can zap and pow if you know how
send some pigeons runnin' scared
leap whole towns in single bounds
but don't go thinkin' someone cares
'cause no one asks if you wear the mask
and they don't marvel at your tights
that mystic ring don't mean a thing
don't matter it ain't right
you can get all decked in x-ray specs
bend solid steel with just your mind
but you ain't no name, it's just a shame
Metropolis can be so unkind

by Fred 6:10 PM

Terri tried to steady her breathing. This thug--this punk--had his knife near her throat, but he'd get his soon enough. Terri had a subscription, after all.

Charnise had thought it was the most ridiculous thing in the world. "Weirdos in tights?" she'd asked.

"No, not tights," Terri said as she reclaimed the newspaper clipping from her roommate. "Heroes. Superheroes. For hire." She stuck out her chin defiantly. "It's like Triple-A."

"It's like fruitcakes," said Charnise. "In tights."

Well, those fruitcakes were going to pay off now. As soon as the strung-out teenager asking for money flipped out his switchblade, Terri activated the two-way pager on her hip. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

They could arrive a little faster, though.

"What's it gonna be, lady?" The kid looked skinny and frantic. A ripe red pimple culminated in a white head in the crease of his nose. Terri wondered if this was his first mugging.

There, at last, was someone coming up the street. Terri looked at the kid and shrugged. He glanced back over his shoulder and became more agitated. Terri frowned at her rescuer, now that he had finally arrived. He was wearing a suit. And glasses. And a paunch.

He looked like an accountant.

He hung his head apologetically and fished a crumpled piece of paper out of his inside pocket. "Stop, Evildoer," he read. He cringed and cleared his throat. "It is I, Actuarial Man, from Affordable Might, LLC. Unhand our client, or I shall be forced to file a police report. You will have 30 days to respond to this report, during which time you may seek legal counsel..."

Terri tuned out the legal mumbo jumbo and dug in her purse for some cash to give the mugger. She kicked herself for not getting the deluxe subscription.

by Sharon 1:54 PM

discount superheroes

by Fred 8:31 AM

{Wednesday, July 20, 2005}

We choose to go to the moon.

I guess you could call this a koan. Well, not exactly. I just think that the word "koan" is cool and I like the idea of a koan -- a purposely paradoxical phrase that is often intended for enlightenment (not a dictionary definition, just how I've come to understand it)

The first time I heard the word, it was used to describe this sentence:

"With man gone, will there be hope for gorilla?"

This question could imply that hope for gorillas lays in the extinction of the human race. It could also imply that hope for gorillas lays in the survival of the human race.

So, not a koan in the strictest sense but "we choose to go to the moon" does inspire somewhat paradoxical feelings for me...and for whatever reason, reminds me of a few Broadway musicals.

We choose to go to the moon.
To right the unrightable wrong.
To love, pure and chaste from afar.
To try, when your arms are too weary.
To reach the unreachable star.
("Man of la Mancha")

It's a sentiment that finds it way onto the walls of struggling college students, the bumpers of glass-is-half-full Volkswagen drivers, and the lips of new age middle managers. We strive for the goal that is seemingly out of reach...we stay the course, even though the road is long. We walk, or in this case blast off into the valley of the shadow of death. We yearn to be greater than we once were.

We choose to go to the moon.
It takes a lot of men to go to the moon.
Many men to take the moon.
Men in the mines
To dig the iron
Men in the mills
To forge the steel
Men at machines
To turn the barrel
Mold the trigger
Shape the wheel
It takes a lot of men to go to the moon
Just once.
(Paraphrased from "Assassins")

Anyone can say it. Anyone can say that they choose to go to the moon. Most people do. Most people never realize how much it actually takes to go to the moon. We see an elevator with a button that says "Up and Out" and we assume that's all it takes. "The Gun Song" actually talks about how many people it takes to make a gun...and how many people the gun kills before it is even fired.
Most of us don't get to the moon.

Two months ago, I chose to go to the moon. Making this decision was as joyous as it was frightening. It was the hope of reaching the unreachable star wrapped in the despair of the "many men" it would take to get there.

Two night ago, I died for the first time.

Sleep angel
Don't wake up
I am in your dream
Sleep lover
Don't wake up
Or else or dream is done.
("Hello, Again")

by Bryan 11:59 PM

The monarch straightened himself to his full height. The rubies and opals of his silver crown glinted sharply in the midday light. His voice rang out clearly over the assembled court, ringing off the walls and echoing through arches. "We choose to go to the Moon."

"Your Majesty..." The Royal Counsel was at the monarch's arm in an instant. Thoughts whizzed through his head. How to dissuade the monarch without implying that he'd made an error in judgement? "Your most Scintilating Brightness..." He couldn't imply that the decision was not wise. "Esteemed paragon of Grace and Honor..." He couldn't insult his bravery or honor. Ah! "This... Contraption," he waved an arm dismissively at the odd amalgamation of barrels, pipes, brass spheres, and leathern bladders. "It is unproven, untested, and very likely unsafe. If the worst were to happen... If you were to not return from your bold adventure..." He took a deep sigh and waited for the glimmer of understanding to twinkle in the monarch's eye. "For us to lose the brilliance of your knowledge and benevolence of your rule would be tragic, indeed."

The courtyard was utterly silent for several minutes, broken only by an occasional hiss of vapor escaping the bizzare vehicle. "Quite right," said the monarch. "You go first."

It took two medics to revive the Royal Counsel and one more to bandage his faint-induced concussion.

by jal 6:40 PM

I love this topic, the combination of two of my passions: astronomy and Google.

The internet gave us infinite information[1], but we needed Google to wrangle it into a navigable space. It has uncannily read the inaccessible sections of my brain, pulling up the right answer when I searched with all the wrong search terms. It converts English to metric. It gives you the speed of light in any fool unit you want (e.g., furlongs per fortnight). It gives addresses for phone numbers. It facilitates arguments about where to eat. It answers my text messages on my phone. It approaches the perfect interface, where you enter any freeform query and it parses it invisibly to give useful answers.

Oh. The moon is cool, too.

[1] The internet gives us infinite opinions, and don't you forget it.

by Sharon 6:31 PM

we choose to go to the moon
'cause that's where they keep all the cheese
somebody told me it's green
but that doesn't matter to me
I only hope we go soon
I only hope that it's free
because when we go to the moon
I'm taking a bag for the cheese
maybe we ought to pack three
so we can slice off as much as we please
so why don't we leave around noon
and stay until well after three?
because way up there on the moon
we'll lead a life of leisure and ease
we'll bring biscuits and air we can breathe
and picnic 'til afternoon tea
your friends all think I'm a loon
but why don't you fly off with me?

by Fred 12:09 PM

"We choose to go to the Moon."

by Fred 9:30 AM

{Tuesday, July 19, 2005}

And with hungry teeth they fell upon her.
She might as well have been a goner,
Were there not a sharpened blade atop the new divan...er...
No, that other thing, like a sofa-bed, only longer?
Well, anyway, her will was stronger,
And in death by teeth there is no honor,
So she left them no more time to ponder
The taste of flesh, the flavors on her;
She swung the blade like axe to lumber
And with such a speed that one must wonder,
Was it pre-ordained by some spirit yonder,
Writ in heaven by some god's paint-by-number,
Or merely luck, blind and dumber
Than any god above or under --
Just a quirk of fate, some happy blunder?
Well, at any rate, she wasn't done for,
For the sharpened blade flew out beyond her,
Impacted teeth and shattered molar,
Left not a fang intact or whole or
Much of a threat, not any longer.
And they crawled away, "Begone!" her
Only words, shouted now with renewed fervor;
It brooked no argument, not a murmur,
And put to rest all thought of murder
(No more would teeth be there to hurt her;
If any, 'twas now they who were the goner,
And it was only her own smile that was upon her.

by Fred 6:35 PM

Fred is pitching to me.

I try to write nice stories, I really do. I'll arrange a tender tableau, touching and intimate, and then someone will find a cold gray finger amongst the hors d'oeuvres. I'll set up the lost love, sailed far away across the ocean, and when we are finally reunited, he'll be... changed, with roving eyes that track invisible gremlins in my hair. I'll introduce the little girl, bedecked with pert ringlets, and we all know how creepy little girls are.

I read nice stories, I swear. Plainsong was almost insipidly sweet, but in a comforting-old-blankie kind of way. I read sci-fi, I read mainstream fiction, I'm rereading Narnia for the ninth time, for heaven's sake.

But I'm wired wrong. I'm beholden to other impulses. I gather my stories about me, invite my characters into my parlor, serve them tea and biscuits, and smile sweetly. They don't like the biscuits. They criticize the decor. They set down the tea cups. They rise from their chairs, and they have such large, hungry teeth...

by Sharon 11:43 AM

and with hungry teeth they fell upon her

by Fred 9:03 AM

{Monday, July 18, 2005}

It's me who says, hey, let's not forget to keep in touch, passing it off like it's a joke, because I figure one of us has to. It's like some pre-ordained script, the both of us just playing our parts. For all we know, we've done this a hundred times already. We laugh, or at least she does, or at least she tries, and I offer a smile and pretend to look for the pen we both know it won't matter if I find. She doesn't suggest writing down names anyway, and after a minute it occurs to me there's no pen to be found. I look at her and try to think, okay, five-foot eight, maybe nine, shoulder-length reddish-blonde hair, green eyes, freckles on the nose -- a litany of defining traits, devised mnemonics for her name, her look, her scent, this day. I remember some things. I know that when I return to the compound tonight -- each night? -- and the events of this -- every? -- day are lost or erased, or whatever it is that happens there, some things will remain. My own name, for instance, or certain facts, bits of knowledge that might qualify as memories. Like how to tie my shoes, or cook my food, or find my way back to the compound when the day is done. I remember that finding the compound myself is better that being found by it. I remember discomfort, and she has said she remembers much the same. I do not emerge each morning -- assuming there is an "each morning" -- a wholly blank slate. So maybe, some of what we have forged here today, this connection that I hesitate to call love, maybe some of that will survive whatever process it is that robs us of the rest.

Of course, we may have met like this a hundred or more times before and just not remember that.

by Fred 8:23 PM

Oh, hey.
It's me!

by Sharon 11:25 AM

{Saturday, July 16, 2005}

I finished my taunt. The ogre bellowed - an inchoerent, slaobber-spraying roar of petulant frustration and rage. "I'm gonna' eat..." *thoomp!* It stomped a stumpy foot. "You..." *crack!* The snare line didn't break - the tree trunk it was looped around did. "Up!!!" Moonlight glistened off its hide, eyes reflecting gold-green in the flickering torchlight.

I sidestepped into the brambles, barely dodging a slap from a meaty paw. The vilage elders were correct - it was fast for its size. It shoved the thorns and nettles aside. The shallow, stinging scratches served only to further amplify its rage (if such a thing was possible). Too quickly, I was high in the air, dangling above its maw.

As I fell, I thought about this beast - how it tormented our hamlet for the past 2 months. It spoiled our water, ate our cattle and chickens, and devoured anyone who dared to oppose it. The vilage elders tried to kill the ogre with an offering of tainted beer, but its boar-like snout smelled the poison. It set the town granary on fire and roasted twenty-five children on spits to punish us. This monster ripped my father's arns off when he tried to run it out of our pig sty, then bit my mother in two when she rushed to my father's aid.

*Pain!* My arm bones shattered and splintered as it ground its teeth together. Although I screamed and wailed, it was the happiest moment of my life. Glass balls. I thought about ten glass balls. Ten glass balls in my stomach. I'd volunteered. The dentist cut open my gut to put them inside me. It hurt a lot, but not as much as this. Nothing hurt more than my parents. Ten glass balls of nightshade. That's what they said would kill it.

A stabbing pain blossomed inside me, echoing the pressure from its teeth on my gut. If I could've smiled I would've, but I grimaced instead. My need for revenge was sated. I'd saved what was left of my people.

by jal 11:46 AM

"I'm gonna' eat you up!"

by jal 9:53 AM

{Friday, July 15, 2005}

Carriens: Large scavenger birds with stark white plumage. Adult Carriens have a wingspan of 12 feet on the average, and weigh about 90 pounds. Originally found in the western and southwestern regions of Atlan, and the nothern regions of Hamdon provence, Carriens spread across the Ho'Lathalan continent and into Thassal and Varthy during the Holy Wars of 1135 - 1352, following the carnage each bloody battle wrought.

We understand now that the pivotal role Carriens played in ending the Holy Wars is due to their uncanny ability to predict where their next meal would take place. Carriens are strict scavengers - never killing their own prey. From their vantage point high above the ground, Carriens analyze the predator-prey relationships below. Once they've assessed roughly where the kill will take place, Carriens will circle in a holding pattern until it's safe for them to land and feast. Since battles are subject to many subtle influences, Carriens would arrive at the site of their future meal minutes, or even hours, before the soldiers present had died. By 1250, the sight of one or more Carriens circling high above a camp of soldiers was taken as an ill omen. By 1300, soldiers dubbed the hook-beaked birds, "harbingers." This later metathesized to, "whorebringers," "heartbringers," and eventually, "heartbreakers," and, "hearthbreakers." By 1340, the Carriens' predictive abilities were so well known that a firmly-entrenched encampment of soldiers would surrender peacefuly if a flock of Carriens drifted overhead for ten minutes or longer (See: Siege of Chapel Fort Bon-Partier - Analysis and Discussion).

Although the leaders of the seven warring factions clearly did not desire it, they were unable to continue waging war when their troops were unwilling to fight. When the Holy Wars ended in 1352, the Carrien population fell into rapid decline. Today, roughly 80% of the Carrien population resides in the western and southwestern regions of Atlan, and the nothern regions of Hamdon provence. The remaining 20% are in scattered pockets across the continents Ho'Lathalan, Thassal, and Varthy.

by jal 10:51 PM

early bird's got worms,
got wings,
got ways, got wiles,
gonna be a ways and a while
'fore any other fool bird gets up early 'nuf
to pull one over on him.
and up over his head all of 'em fly,
they caw and they call
and they crawl through the air
and all the little birdies go tweet tweet tweet.
up over the streets
they shadow-box with clouds
and come down to roost
on the steps and the stoop
and puff out their chests,
yeah, all the rest of the flock
they rock all afeather, all aflutter,
but early bird doesn't mutter,
doesn't matter, doesn't care,
can't even be bothered to laugh,
says only,
don't be bringin' none of that
pigeon-squawking, canary-walking shit 'round here, boy.
the plumage don't enter into it.
early bird's got worms,
got ways,
got a way with the words and while he's at it
a weight
that keeps him afloat while low to the ground.
don't even need to make no sound.
next to him,
all the other birds might
as well be in cages.

by Fred 7:11 PM

early birds

by Fred 9:59 AM

{Thursday, July 14, 2005}

another country
another time
another language
that isn't mine
another hour
or two and then
another fine mess
that I'll be in
another question
another shout
was ist das?!
what's it all about?
another answer
another charge
can't make it stick
I'm still at large
another day
another route
to make escape
from another shoot
another woman
I was another man
now can't escape
need another plan
another moment
and I'll be done
just another bullet
from some hired gun
another planet?
it could be worse
I could be trying
for another verse

by Fred 7:00 PM

A friend of mine is moving here soon. I'm thoroughly excited to show him all the things I love about this town. I am also trying to quell--because I suspect it would be rather annoying--my tendencies to play Ambassador for the Yankee.

But, s'truth, Texas is a whole 'nother country.

The food is different. The interactions are different. The history and the assumptions and the landscape are different. The barbecue is different.

In the interest of time, let's just focus on food. In my experience, yankees think they don't like Tex Mex. This is because Tex Mex outside of Texas (or Mexican food outside of Mexico) is a bleak affair. Taco Bell does not serve Tex Mex; it serves fast food. Chili's does not serve Tex Mex; it is a restaurant chain. Chi Chi's... is an embarrassment.

No, instead, Tex Mex is a wonderful blend of veggies, cheese, meat, and tortillas. Guacamole is divine when it comprises chunky avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice (note the distinct lack of any weird dairy product). There are more kinds of pepper than you grew up with, and they represent a variety of flavors, some hot, some sweet, some smoky. And queso is a guilty indulgence.

I am forever spoiled for steak from anywhere else. I have been educated.

Mmm... steak...

by Sharon 11:38 AM

Generik is still
in another country
So feel free to write amongst yourselves.

by Fred 7:44 AM

{Wednesday, July 13, 2005}

railroad Bill is a railroad man
like trackyard Steve and freight-car Stan
with steam-cloud Pete, a helluva guy,
they'll ride the rails til the day they die

like Captain Jim who rides the waves
'bove ocean depths and deep-sea caves
with a motley crew and two hooks for hands
he sails his ship to distant lands

where one day will live both you and I
'neath the setting sun of a foreign sky,
to sail no more on track or sea
you don't wanna come? well fine then! just me

by Fred 2:55 PM

"What's this?" She shoved it under my nose. It was pink and smelled of carbon. I let the momentum of my sneeze push me back.

"Could you keep that away from my face? I'm allergic to carbon." She had a large manilla envelope in her other hand. It was stained and slightly battered, as if it'd traveled a long distance by international ground mail. "Did it come in the mail?"

Sally sighed in exasperation. "Of course it came in the mail. That's what bills do." She slapped it down on the table, scattering the puzzle pieces I'd arrayed there. "Don't play coy with me, Jim. Tell me what it is."

She was certainly peevish tonight, in a way she usually reserved for people who missed appointments or failed to keep their records in proper order. I scooched back to the table, swallowed a mouthful of water, and put my reading glasses on. It took me about 15 minutes to get the full measure of it. Without Sally's heel beating a stacatto *t-tap, t-tap* accompaniment, I think it'd've gone a bit faster.

"Well, what is it a bill for?"

I permitted myself a wan smile as I set the bill down. "Remember that light rail system that we lobbied for a few years back? Well, they've set it up as a utility. Apparently, we have to pay for service rendered to this neighborhood. It looks like the last few bills sent to us went to the wrong address, which is why the fee is so high."

Sally seemed confused. "Utility?"

I began to gather my pieces back together. "Yes honey. It's a railroad bill."

by jal 1:52 PM

Railroad Bill

by John W. 9:47 AM

{Tuesday, July 12, 2005}

I dream, but don't tell anyone. It's not supposed to happen.

It was maybe a year ago they took it away from us, the ability to dream, though to be honest I was never too convinced there was a they, any more than I was that our dreaming was done for good. It's just that's what you'd hear on the news all the time, from that other they, the media and the talking heads and the people supposedly put in charge of studying this kind of thing. That the whole thing was some kind of conspiracy, government, alien or otherwise in nature -- some kind of weird experiment gone terribly wrong or, worse, terribly right. There were no hard figures and no numbers yet crunched, but it was clear enough that a trend of non-dreaming was upon us.

I dunno, maybe I've just never put much faith in trends.

The truth was, I hardly ever remembered my dreams before; somebody telling me I wasn't having them at all anymore really didn't make too much difference. I wasn't as scared about it as some people I knew, and I slept just the same as always every night. I can't say I saw what the big deal was.

Until I started remembering them again, that is. That's when I think I understood that this wasn't just some weirdly misplaced hysteria and that the talking heads were right about at least this much: something was very, very wrong with the world.

Because these aren't my dreams I'm having. I'd stake anything on it. I think what I'm dreaming is everybody else's.

No wonder I can hardly sleep at night anymore.

by Fred 6:30 PM

I dream the world into being.

I sing a song unto myself, to spill stars upon the sky. Velvet, purple heavens pierced, again and again, too many times to count, to let the glory shine through from behind.

I push the oceans out of my womb. Salty tears of joy and hope, fluids of potential, a yearning ache to fill the basins of the ruddy earth.

I exhale life. I inhale life, and I breathe out varicolored wonder. I breathe out shapes and forms and dizzying diversity, adaptive creativity, ruthless ingenuity.

I build the rock from my body. I curl and hold myself, hug my knees, so safe, so small, to form the world, to be the earth.

I hold. I breathe. I bleed. I sing.

I dream.

by Sharon 5:40 PM

"Do you dream in color?" she asked me.

"What?" I said, my eyes locked on the plate in front of me.

"When you dream, do you dream in color?" she said.

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Just answer the question. Do you dream in color or don't you?"

"Color. What else is there to dream in?"

"Most people don't dream in color," she said, taking a bite of her salad.

"What do you mean most people don't dream in color? They dream in black and white?"

"Well, I guess. I mean, yeah. That's pretty much what the opposite of color would have to be, right?"

"Listen," I said, poking at my steak with a fork, "if you have a bandage in your purse, I think I can still save this cow."

"Oh, don't be such a baby," she said, taking another bite of her salad. "They brought me a chef's salad instead of a green salad like I asked for, but you don't hear me whining about it, do you?"

"You're eating a chef's salad?" I said.

"Yeah. So it's got meat in it. So what?"

"Aren't you Jewish?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Chef's salads here have ham in them."

She stopped, her fork midway to her mouth, and considered her salad. She set the fork down and pushed the salad bowl away.

"Don't be such a baby about it," I said. "Hey - they brought me a rare steak when I clearly asked for medium well. But you don't hear me whining about it, do you?"

"This is different," she said. "This is a matter of religious conviction."

"Yeah, but you could have seen that it had ham in it if you had been paying attention, right?"

"Yeah, but who looks at a salad? You just pick up a fork and start eating. Nobody studies a salad to see if it has anything in it that's going to hurt them."

"Hurt them?" I said. "Let's talk uncooked beef. Let's talk mad cow disease - I don't care if there hasn't been a single confirmed case of mad cow being transferred to a human being from eating the meat of a contaminated cow. It's still being reported on every five minutes on my local news and I'm naturally scared of it, right?"

"All right," she said, "point taken. We both got lousy service and we both have a right to complain."

"So when the waiter comes by we tell him what's wrong with both of them?"

"Yeah. Do you want to see if they can fix it?"

"Nah. Let's see if we can just pay for the drinks and hit the bar."

She wiped her mouth with her napkin and threw it onto the table. Her brow furrowed as she looked up at me.

"Hey," she said, "you distracted me."

"Did not."

"Did so. We were talking about dreams there."

"We're done talking about dreams," I said. "Now we're talking about beer. Where do you want to go for drinks?"

by Glen 5:10 PM

I dream

by Sharon 8:31 AM

{Monday, July 11, 2005}

Liza chewed at a cuticle. She brushed the flakes of skin off the front of her dress and straightened her skirts again, lifting off the couch to smooth the wrinkles out from underneath her. She looked at the door and brought her thumbnail up to her teeth.

The grandfather clock filled the room with its ticking, rattling like a droning bug trapped in a coffin. The rest of the house held its breath. A tchotchke on the mantle imposed its will and stood at defiant angles from its neighbors. Liza rose from the couch and adjusted the figurine. She stepped back to assess it, made a small adjustment, and brushed the dust from her hands before smoothing her taffeta dress down the back, sides, and front. This left her looking down, where she was horrified to find a scuff on her shoe. She licked a finger (tasted of dust) and rubbed at the spot, which sullenly subsided.

Liza returned gingerly to her spot on the couch, still warm, and looked at the door. Her hand drifted up to her mouth, and she tore at another scrap of cuticle.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

there's a knock at the door
don't know who it's for
lord knows I told them to leave me alone
but they've been at it all day
aw, man, just go away
just get yourself lost, get out and get gone

by Fred 8:08 PM

a knock at the door

by Fred 2:35 PM

{Friday, July 08, 2005}

if it keeps on raining

by Fred 12:19 PM

{Thursday, July 07, 2005}

gonna wake up one mornin'
and walk out your door
and you're gonna find that your world
just isn't there anymore
nothin' you knew's gonna be there anymore

the sky's gonna have shattered
and broken to bits
and the sun's gonna be vanished
but that ain't what you're gonna miss
that ain't the half of the things that you'll miss

'cause the ground will crack open
and swallow your past
and lap up the memories
of the things you figured would last
and leave you with nothin' but the faint taste of ash
as all that you are burns away so very damn fast

gonna wake up one mornin'
and walk out your door
and all that you were
won't exist anymore
and after that happens, who knows what the world will have in store?

by Fred 6:01 PM

What I Miss Most

by Christy 10:36 AM

{Wednesday, July 06, 2005}

my baby, she's a novelist
loves them fictions, yes it's true
but it's gettin' pretty obvious
my baby don't love me too

'cause she's written twenty books at least
got 'em stacked up on the shelf
but every time a book's complete
she dedicates it to someone else

she's done two or three for mom and dad
her sister, she got one
wrote a book for every love she's ever had
but me, poor soul, got none

so I ain't writin' to the sunday times
or the new york review of books
and I ain't standin' in no library lines
don't give me no dirty looks

I ain't callin' in to sing her praise
to the local readin' circle or book club
no, me an' my baby we done parted ways
'cause on dedications I've been snubbed

by Fred 6:37 PM


by Fred 1:46 PM


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