Sunday, December 21, 2014

like ashes for snow


Even in the meantime
I will always stand by
A mirror on the shelf


"All Eyes On You" St Lucia (2012)

The campaign had been a long one, and ugly. The detritus from the battle would take years to clear. She felt as though she had been bled, an archaic custom once thought to be good for one’s health. Not that, of course, modern practices were all that much better. It was far too easy to mock what those in medieval times had done when armed with little to no scientific knowledge. What excuse did any of us have today, in the face of so much fact and truth? And yet, persistently, so many mistakes, including her own. She’d made so many.

It bruised her soul to recall them, each loss etched on her mind like a birthmark every time she closed her eyes. The friends she had lost, the lives she had known; how many had she buried and how many more would she? She thought this when her eyes were closed; her arms felt heavy, as though the weapons of war were still strapped to her flesh.

Alone with her thoughts, the ghost of every regret stalked her, relentless, like an enemy.

She stood in the horizontal light of the setting sun, warm and yellow, the day too bright for such dark thoughts, but the night was rising soon, and the cold. Wordlessly, her general waited for her outside the roofless headquarters, knowing the dark and the wind would soon drive her from her post, and she would come to him.

Reports must be made, and bodies burned. These were the things he understood. Ever the dutiful soldier, he took up the tasks under her command without question or complaint. It was not for him to understand anything beyond battle and, in this, she had his unyielding respect. That there were now too many bodies on the dancefloor was meaningless to him. This was war. Such a heavy harvest only meant more flesh for feast, and it was time to start burning it all.

The pyres reached way above the horizon after dark, the smoke around them redolent with the smut of loss and decay.

She stood far above the others, alone on the balcony with a cold wind for comfort. Her general watched her from where he was below, surrounded by her legions of soldiers and his supreme confidence in her. She might mourn tonight; maybe even tomorrow, while her broken shadows danced on the white wall behind her, full of an energy she did not have, but she would rise one morning, or another. He watched her knowing this.

A sudden chill cut through his wool surcoat, causing him to shiver and cough.

She did not look down at him though. All through the long, cold night she did not once glance downward. Instead, when the winter sun finally rose, she looked up.

She loved the sunrise more than the sunset, a secret she harbored not very well. Beneath her feet, the icy wind danced through the leftover pyres, lifting the ashes of the dead into the cold winter air and causing them to dance in towering swirls.

The ashes fell upon her face like snow.

And she smiled.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rough Cut (or, "written with two beers and an ink pen") --REVISED

She fell into the cup with a vengeance. It had been a long day, and the bath with the beer was especially tasty this time --particularly in this moment.


As she nursed the bubbles down her throat, she pondered her rapidly shrinking options.


A gentleman at the far end of the bar watched her with subtle enthusiasm --but not so subtle the bartender did not notice.


Given her habit of skipping out on the bar tab, the barkeep ever so discreetly dropped the charge for her beer onto the rapt gentleman’s tab.


He didn’t notice. He was too wrapped up in her wild brown hair, her long limbs, and her bizarrely demure black leather outfit --complete with black boots that had silver spurs.


He was also enraptured by her steady focus and concentration on her beer, which vanished into her mouth like a carnival trick.


She knew he was watching her, the gent at the far end of the bar --and it pissed her off. She’d never seen him before, and strangers watching her eat and drink made her feel nervous.


Putting something in her mouth was a deliciously intimate act --and this man, with his oddly long, dark eyelashes and strangely appropriate beard and mustache --made her feel dirty by his watching her without blinking.


She slammed her empty beer glass down onto the chipped wooden bar, knowing it would be wordlessly refilled, and then, very loudly, to the bartender, she said:


“Tell Beard-O to stop fucking staring at me.”


That was the one thing that made her unsexy --or, extremely sexy, if your tastes run that way --her extremely foul mouth.


That, and the enormous bowie knife strapped to her thigh.


“My name is Timothy,” Beard-O whispered to himself, embarrassed to be caught staring. He was usually much smoother than this. Girls liked him! They really did!


The whisky in front of him seemed to reprove him too, mostly because it hadn’t been drunk yet. His drink just sat there on the old bar, the two cherries in the bottom of it staring up at him like two pairs of disapproving red eyes.


He didn’t know what had compelled him to step into this particular bar. It wasn’t anywhere on his route or on his radar; he’d never heard of it before. It was just a random place that he’d seen from across the street on a date that had gone really well; he’d only stepped inside at the spur of the moment to celebrate his dating success with a quick drink.


The girl he’d just left had suggested the restaurant (he always asked them to choose the place, guessing --correctly --that they’d choose a place in their neighborhood). The food had been just okay, but the girl had been stellar. And so they had parted only after they had made second date plans.


And now here he was, hot off a great date, knowing he’d been stellar too, only to find the sexiest woman he’d ever seen --and she clearly didn’t think he was stellar.


Instead, she was well into her second beer --which she seemed to drink in one, single, swallow (just like she had her first) --and, she was sharpening her large bowie knife with only one hand.


She clearly seemed to adore that thing (her knife).


Beard-O (that is, the suddenly Timid Timothy) had never been so jealous before in his life.


And … of a knife.


Of all things.


To be jealous of.


Trying to work up some nerve, Beard-O slung back the last of his whisky --including the two disapproving cherries in the bottom --


Abruptly, he choked and coughed them up onto the old wooden bar, where they plopped unceremoniously, wet with whisky and his distress.


Timothy wanted to die as those two cherries, the bartender, and Her all turned to stare at him; no one moved to help him.


Unexpectedly, the girl in black leather spoke up, her voice all slow and dark:


“I could stab you, if you like.” Her eyes narrowed at him, “Right in the heart.”


She pointed directly at his chest with the flippant tip of her bowie knife, and then said:


“It would be a lot quicker … than what you’re trying to do.”


Timothy just choked and coughed a little more in response --too embarrassed and starved for oxygen to reply.


God, she was a marvelous bitch.


God, he really, really wanted her. He would even let her stab him --if she really wanted to.


The moment the thought formed in his mind, she seemed to know it.


With an authoritative thud, she finished her third beer, slid down from her barstool in one easy, obviously practiced movement, and then came towards him --the fresh-sharp tip of her knife winking at him as she drew close.


Timothy swallowed, still on the edge of coughing up more whisky and cherry syrup, wondering if she was actually going to stab him or make love to him as she came closer.


Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the barkeep close out her bar tab and set it aside.


But she slid in next to him, slim enough in her tight black leather that the closely spaced barstools bothered her not at all.


She leaned in close, the scent of her soap in his ear.


Then she whispered:


“Hi Timothy…”


(She knew his name?!)


“Hi Timothy … your date didn’t go as well as you thought.”


And, with that, she stabbed him in the kidney and then left. Her job was done.

Rough Cut (or, "written with two beers and an ink pen")

She fell into the cup with a vengeance. It had been a long day, and the bath with the beer was especially tasty this time --in this moment.

As she nursed the bubbles down her throat, she pondered her rapidly limiting options.

A gentleman at the far end of the bar watched her with subtle enthusiasm --but not so subtle the bartender did not notice.

Given her habit of skipping out on the bar tab, the barkeep ever so quietly dropped the charge for her beer onto the rapt gentleman’s tab.

He didn’t notice. He was too wrapped up in her wild brown hair, long limbs, and bizarrely demure black leather outfit --complete with boots that had silver spurs.

He was also enraptured by her steady focus and concentration on her beer, which disappeared down her mouth from her glass like a carnival mirage.

She knew he was watching her, the gent at the far end of the bar --and it pissed her off. She’d never seen him before, and strangers watching her eat and drink made her feel nervous.

Putting something in her mouth was a deliciously private act --and this man, with his oddly long, dark eyelashes and strangely appropriate beard and mustache --profaned it by watching her without blinking.

She slammed the empty beer glass down onto the chipped wooden bar, knowing it would be wordlessly refilled, and then, very loudly, to the bartender, she said:

“Tell Beard-O to stop fucking staring at me.”

That was the one thing that made her unsexy --or, extremely sexy, if your tastes ran that way --her extremely foul mouth.

That, and the enormous bowie knife strapped to her hip.

“My name is Timothy,” Beard-O whispered to himself, embarrassed to be caught staring. He was usually much smoother than that. Girls liked him! They really did!

The whisky in front of him seemed to reprove him too, mostly because it hadn’t been drank yet. It just sat there, the two cherries in the bottom of the tumblr staring up at him like two pairs of disapproving red eyes.

He didn’t know what had compelled him to step into this particular bar. It wasn’t anywhere on his route or on his radar. It was just a random place he’d seen across the street from a date that had gone well and he’d only stepped in at the spur of the moment to celebrate his date success with a quick drink.

The girl he’d just left had suggested the restaurant (he always asked them, guessing --correctly --that they’d choose a place in their neighborhood). The food had been just okay, but the girl had been stellar. And so they had parted after dinner only after they had made second date plans.

And now here he was, hot off a great date, knowing he’d been stellar too, only to find the sexiest woman he’d ever seen --and she clearly didn’t think he was all that stellar.

Instead, she was well into her second beer, which she seemed to drink with one, long, steady, single swallow (just like she had drank her first), and somehow sharpening her long bowie knife with only one hand.

She clearly seemed to adore that thing.

Beard-O (that is, the suddenly Timid Timothy) had never been so jealous before in his life.

And … of a knife.

Of all things.

Trying to work up some nerve, Beard-O slung back the last of his whisky --including the two disapproving cherries --but then choked and wound up coughing them up.

The cherries, mixed with whisky and distress, plopped onto the old wooden bar with little ceremony.

Timothy wanted to die as those two cherries, the bartender, and Her all turned to stare at him, rather than help him.

Why didn’t those damn cherries just choke him to death?

Feeling oddly charitable, the girl in black leather suddenly piped up, in a slow, laid-back, intensely sarcastic drawl:

“I could stab you, if you like. Right in the heart.”

She pointed directly at his chest with the menacing long tip of her bowie knife.

“It would be,” she continued, “a lot quicker...” (pause) “...than what you’re trying to do.”

Timothy just choked and coughed a little more in response --too embarrassed and starved for oxygen to reply.

God, she was a marvelous bitch.

God, he really, really wanted her. He would even let her stab him --if she really wanted to.

The moment the thought formed in his brain, she seemed to know it.

With an authoritative thud, she finished her third beer, slid down from her barstool in one easy, obviously practiced movement, and came towards him --the fresh-sharp knife tip winking at him as she drew close.

Timothy swallowed, still on the edge of coughing up whisky and cherry syrup, wondering if she was actually going to stab him or make love to him as she got closer.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the barkeep close out her tab and set it aside, mysteriously unpaid.

The bartender had not been as stealthy as he thought. Timothy knew he was being charged for Her drinks. He had no problem with it. Nay --he welcomed it.

She would be in his debt.

She slid in next to him, slim enough that the closely spaced barstools bothered her not at all.

She leaned in close, the scent of her soap in his ear, and she whispered:

“Hi Timothy…” (She knew his name?!) “...your date didn’t go as well as you think.”

And, with that, she shivved him in the kidneys and then left. Her job was done.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

an open letter to my future husband

I first saw you in your deerstalker and upturned collar a few years ago, blithely unaware of the grip you would soon hold on my heart --with your piercing eyes, firm mouth, and oh-so-deliciously large hands.

The dashing mop of unruly hair and long limbs like an urban gazelle did not hurt either; nay, their mere existence now breaks my heart.

Come back to me, my dearest Benedict Cumberbatchelor --do not withdraw prematurely your love!

I care not about Molly or even John, (who I envy in the dark depths of my jealous heart)!

I barely knew ye, did not appreciate ye enough when I did, and now you’re about to become simply Benedict Cumberbatch, the single most distressing truncation I can possibly imagine, save for the shaving of your precious hair.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

stuck on a feeling

I’m a little bit addicted to emo songs about heartbreak and romantic failure. I’ve read all the articles touting the masochistic curative powers of the perfectly executed ballad extolling the virtues of crying constantly and praying for sun, even as the sun burns your skin and birds sing behind you. They may as well be falling out of the sky, dead. How else do you feel an emotion?

There’s a great scene in Immortal Beloved (with Gary Oldman), where Beethoven corrects his ardent admirer regarding the power of music. The gentleman who admires Beethoven declares that music “exalts.”

“No!” Beethoven barks, “Music controls; music tells you how to feel.” This is not exactly what Beethoven says, but I do believe I have the spirit correct, for this is true. There is nothing uplifting about a heartbreak ballad, not even the ones that declare “everything you own in a box to the left.” If one were to pick apart that song, it is quite depressing indeed.

Whatever the aural science, there is an undeniable kinship in hearing a song and realizing that the writer understands, and maybe even the performer too. How else could they write exactly what you are feeling at this moment?!

And thus, you listen to the song over and over and over again, compelled by the downbeat and the plaintive wail of someone so pretty and yet so sad. “Yes,” you think to yourself, “this is suffering.”

At some point, the song you listen to repeatedly becomes merely aural wallpaper, but then you realize the playlist has advanced without you paying attention; you immediately rectify this, slightly anxious until those old familiar notes wash over you. and you realize: you don’t want to feel good.


Regarding Object Writing http://www.spencermichaud.com/2012/10/songwriting-101-writing-from-experience.html#.VCLC4RY2Xct

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

musings on an airport cocktail

Does everyone order a Bloody Mary at the airport bar (me included)? The second most popular option appears to be beer (which I have also ordered). I'd love to see the metrics on this --dearly so, in fact.

I'm not sure when the scales tipped for me, or maybe I always loved Bloody Mary's. Perhaps because, along with the ever-popular at brunch mimosa, a Bloody Mary is the only acceptable way to drink vodka before noon?

It's never even occurred to me to order a vodka soda at an airport bar; the very thought sort of makes my tongue curl and my tummy squint. I can almost hear my liver cackling softly, "Girl, you stupid."

There is no charm in airport bars; I can't imagine that there ever was, though the bombastic, optimistic architecture of the older airports try to scream otherwise. As we all know now, those airports were wrong.

My headphones are turned up to an uncomfortable level. I never realized until I had to crash overnight on the most uncomfortable airport "bed" ever how loud airports are.

Perhaps you do not notice because you are so busy rushing between gates, your heart pumping as your body propels forward in a 1,000-meter dash it never trained for, your heavy bag digging into your shoulder while your other bag mysteriously drags behind you despite being on wheels and sweat sticks to your skin despite the stale, recycled air.

Don't worry --I never noticed before either. Airports were always this gauntlet to get through; not a space in which to ponder the aural qualities --which are terrible.

But the airport Bloody Mary's... for some reason, while the prices have fluctuated wildly, the flavor has always been precisely what you wanted.


Regarding Object Writing http://www.spencermichaud.com/2012/10/songwriting-101-writing-from-experience.html#.VCLC4RY2Xct

Thursday, October 9, 2014

fear of flying

I’ve actually been to more concerts than I claim. Perhaps because I’ve been impressed by so few, so I only lay claim to the ones that really have stayed with me as an overall experience. It’s not so much that I have outstanding expectations; it’s just what I remember that matters. On this one occasion, I spent the evening at concert that was fun but not particularly memorable, except that the day after I had to fly somewhere (and, honestly, I do not recall where) and it had to be without a doubt the absolute worst flying experience of my short life.

There’s a certain discomfort in traveling. On the one hand, I absolutely love traveling. On the other hand, I absolutely hate traveling. The packing, the physical discomfort, the rupture to one’s schedule --all just things I could happily do without; I look forward to the day when teleportation is a real thing.

On this particular occasion, I don’t recall the cattle-call like feeling of rushing to the airport, bags half-packed in a hurry, only to encounter long lines in the interminable security lanes and then squish into a seat that’s actually fine for me size-wise, but almost never so for my more robust row-mates. No, on this occasion, the only thing I remember is how badly my eardrums hurt when we finally took off.

Chewing my gum, looking out the window, and not expecting anything more than the usual very slight pressure, the intense pain took me by surprise. I was practically crying in my seat; my eyes were watering, at least. I wanted to cry out, but I kept my discomfort to myself. At some point, in the haze of pain, I realized my eardrums were paying me the price for being overtaxed the night before, at the concert which hadn’t been all that spectacular anyway.

Now that they were being subjected to the sorts of pressure no human was designed to suffer, my eardrums felt as though they might explode in impotent rage. I felt nothing else but this localized pain; the rest of me did not exist.

The intense pain, as though a hot drill bit were being driven into each ear, seemed to last forever. Would the plane ever reach a cruising altitude? Were my eardrums actually bleeding? Would my eyes stop watering?

Am I nervous about flying now? No, I still look forward to each flight and each trip with anticipation. I know, as long as I don’t go to another concert the night before, I will be just fine.