Raw Ramblings

My mouth says I’m fine as my pain twists the tone and you hear it in the release sometimes you ask no really what’s wrong but I can only say

Nothing that’s all I feel by choice empty my mind my feelings most especially my soul anything that might be there has been bled dry and I am a skin of a person fluttering in the wind of others’

Change never for me every day the same drudgery-papered walls never the front of the parade nor even the front of the convoy but always the crew walking just behind to scoop the waste of others’

Happiness a dream or conciliatory statement I say to defer inquiry but I can only be happy if you are because I am the receiver of broadcast emotions buffeting my over-sensitive antennae and I really just say I am so you’ll stop asking because

It’s easier this way you’ll leave me alone and that’s where I want to be I think and yet I do not because thinking would mean I am alive and I try and try to not be alive and thinking and feeling and

Hurting so much hurting but soon I will sleep after not sleeping because here in limbo I can handle it until I can’t but the between is best and where I can numb and look up at you and say

I’m fine.

Reflecting on the Future

alessio-lin-236497-unsplash

My grandparents had a mirror in their bathroom, opposite another mirror on parallel walls. I could see myself in a hundred rooms in a hundred rooms.

Sometimes I walk where memory shadows still linger: a former neighborhood sidewalk, a street route I drove when I first earned my driver’s license, that base of a tree where I sat with my love in that park.

I see me in the past and even remember the thoughts and feelings of those moments. I think how I will walk there again in the future, and wonder what I will feel then.

 

unsplash-logoAlessio Lin

Ideas

When do you whisper these well-formed words,

The thought-strung wishes your mind made?

They’ve been dancing round a life-numbed brain

Awaiting a chance to alight.

 

Why won’t you hear their fluttering feelings,

Their pleadings, in soft-spoken thoughtspeak?

Why turn an eager mental ear-hear

To angry-loud worldshout wailing?

 

Who else will gather these bent-broken fairies,

Wearying, slowing; near-dropping?

Their language extinct, their toe-dust unsparkled

Your brainstem a graveyard of art.

Word-Paint

Chalk

Sometimes I want to turn to my pallet and flawlessly express the images of my mind. From years of experience and materials-gathering, I would be done painting in a few, fantastic hours.

Instead, the best materials at hand are these very things you are looking at. And, I feel like a young child playing with fist-sized chalks whenever I start typing.

It Could Always Be Worse

She lay on the bed, pregnant and bored. She wasn’t to move, the doctor had said. “Let’s see how things go with complete bedrest,” he’d told her.

“Easy for him to say,” she grumbled, shifting. He was walking around. He had a job, his health, and the fact that he’d never be pregnant in his life. It’s not like she’d asked for this time around to be high-risk.

“It could always be worse,” her husband said, kissing her before going to work. He tousled the hair of their first child on the way out, oblivious to their son’s fully wet diaper and hunger whines. “Try making a list of what you’re grateful for,” he added, then popped out the door to work.

Her mother came in. “Oh, Sammy, you need a change,” she told her grandson. Scooping him up; she, too, headed out the door. “I’ll bring you breakfast in half an hour, dear,” she called back to her pregnantly-prone daughter.

Thinking hard, the bedrested woman pulled out her notebook. Maybe she did need a better attitude. It wasn’t like having a poor one helped her situation at all. “I’ll list all the reasons why it’s good I’m home, and not in a hospital,” she decided.

She began with, “1. Able to see my son every day.” By the time toast and eggs arrived, she’d gotten to, “15. No nurses waking me up all night long for tests.”

That night, her placenta previa worsened. She was checked into the hospital, to stay until her due date: five weeks hence, at the earliest.


“I can’t get to work,” he coughed into the phone. He sounded like Darth Vader with asthma.

“We-e-e-ell, I’m sorry you’re sick, but I need you there,” was the reply. His boss sounded cheerful, well-rested. “You see, I’m off tonight, and we’re short-staffed if you don’t make it.” He heard swallowing; a satisfied exhale.

Shifting the cell phone to his less-congested ear, he eyed the bottle of cold medicine he’d been able to pick up a half hour ago. It recommended against operating heavy machinery. It suggested he might be dizzy while taking it. He wished it had a warning about trying to function at all.

“Look,” he croaked out, “I have a fever and can’t breathe. I just started this medication and it recommends against driving.” He coughed to the side, then thought to cough closer to the receiver. “I don’t know what you want me to do.”

He closed his eyes, silently praying. Today would not be a good one to trek around the canyons, citing law-breaking hikers. The temperature was dropping by the minute.

“It could always be worse,” his sergeant said cheerfully. He heard a fireplace crackling in the background; saw his boss rest two slippered feet near the flames.

His boss terminated the call. Rising slowly, groaning, he pulled on his uniform.

It could always be worse, he thought the next morning, in the doctor’s office. “Looks like pneumonia,” the Physician’s Assistant told him, wearing his commiserating smile.


The morning had gone badly, even for her. Her boyfriend didn’t believe in bad luck; told her she was too superstitious. She’d noticed that those who scoffed, like him, didn’t have the sorts of days she usually did.

That day, the alarm had not gone off. Rolling out of bed too late to shower, she had grabbed at it. She’d intended to give it a scolding, to restrict its late-night beeping privileges. The casing came apart in her hands. It beeped a dying beep, leaving behind a broken body, and leaking battery acid.

She quickly dropped it into the garbage and ran to wash in the bathroom sink. “At least I have water,” she told herself. It ran, trickled, stopped. Frozen pipes, again.

“Good thing I didn’t try to shower,” she mumbled, running to dress. She spritzed a few extra squirts of body spray, to be safe, and left her apartment in a rush.

“I’d better text the landlord,” she said. Walking to the front door; she checked her purse, her pockets, her hand.

No phone. She sighed.

“Well, I’ve got my house keys, at least,” she told the closing door. It locked as she descended the front stairs.

“I think I have my keys,” she added, searching her purse as she walked. She dug in this corner and that, pushing empty lotion bottles and old receipts round and round.

She was so preoccupied, she didn’t see the barriers. She did see the open manhole, just before falling in.

“Whoa, lady! Are you all right?” A man asked her, down the hole. She looked up to his dark outline, from the filthy tunnel floor. She thought he was one of the construction workers, but she couldn’t be sure. She’d left her glasses home, as well.

“I think I’ve broken my leg,” she called painfully in reply, not moving it. Fortunately, she’d had enough life experience to diagnose most of her medical issues.

“Well, it could always be worse,” he called.

She looked around the dim sewer. “How?!” She yelled back, incredulously.

A pause. “Well,” he said, less confidently. “If you’d fallen in tomorrow, none of us would have been here to help you.”

The faint echoes of an approaching ambulance came down to her. She had to admit, he was right.

The Human Condition

Do you ever stare at the human face, and think that it’s a really strange feature?

Bony bumps protrude beneath squishy orbs that we call distinct and handsome, and fangs spread wide in a gesture we recognize as friendly.
Droopy parts are pasted on the sides and smack dab in the middle -plus dead cells sprout from the top or ears and nose like a wild jungle plant’s fronds…

What gets me, when I’m in this mood, is how the arrangement of these fleshy parts causes us humans to say how attractive an arrangement it all is (or not).

You’re all so weird.

Captain Misnomer

City Smoking

“Is that all of ’em?” Dash asked, between heavy gasps of air.

Strong looked around, then darted across the square and back before Dash finished blinking. “I didn’t see anyone, but maybe we need Stretch.” Unlike Dash, his breathing was normal.

“Need me for what?” Stretch yelled. They looked up, and up. Shading their eyes, Dash and Strong saw a Stretch-shaped silhouette poking from a broken window in the building behind them. He looked to be ten stories up.

“If you see or hear any more damn robots,” Dash said under his breath, groaning to stand. He coughed in the thick, smoky atmosphere.

“Okay!” Stretch called back.

“I’ll pop over and see if Rad’s found that submarine,” Strong said quickly, and was off before the other two even thought to respond.

Dash looked up to the building again. He could vaguely make out Stretch, through the naturally-waning light of dusk mixing poorly with the smoking fires from the armored vehicles around him.

Stretch’s shape cupped hands around its mouth. “All clear!” He shouted. “I’m. heading. down.”

A small breeze passed between the skyscrapers, clearing smoke and cooling Dash’s sweating face. He couldn’t see any movement either, but had learned to never count on his limited sight.

“Nothing to report from Rad yet,” Strong said, at Dash’s elbow. Not surprising, the huge man nearly jumped out of his spandex.

“Sorry,” Strong added quickly, grinning.

Dash waited for his heart rate to slow, clapping a giant hand over his chest as he recovered. He was tempted to “accidentally” clap his speedy associate on the shoulder in response; but that sort of trick only worked once, and once had come a long time ago already.

Deliberate, even footfalls echoed behind them. They turned to see a tall woman with a wet, black ponytail jogging through the rapidly-clearing mists. “Rad,” Dash said, happy that the approaching steps had not belonged to more enemies.

“Strong. Dash.” Radio acknowledged, as she reached them. She tucked a stray strand behind her ear calmly, subconsciously smoothing her minuscule gills as well. “I searched most of the bay, and could not find our target.”

The door of the nearest building opened, and Stretch descended the stairs to join the party.

“I may have heard a motor in the water just before the robot army opened fire,” Stretch told Radio. She gave him an exasperated look, to which he shrugged.

“Next time, tell Rad before she has to get her feet wet,” Dash reprimanded the forgetful Stretch. Sometimes, he felt Stretch missed obvious sights and sounds as he sought the subtle ones.

Strong bounced up on his heels, impatient. “Where’s Shade?” He blurted.

Dash looked around quickly -quickly for him. “I don’t know! I forgot she was with us during the fight!” He couldn’t believe he’d lost track of her.

Radio laid her hand gently on his massive bicep. “It’s okay, Dash. She usually waits in the plane. I forgot she came along, as well.” She turned to Strong, raising a dark eyebrow expectedly.

“Right,” Strong said, and was gone before he was done speaking.

“Didn’t Snipe come along, too?” Stretch asked Dash. Dash rubbed a sooty hand in his short, blond hair, considering.

“I don’t know.” He concluded.

“Well,” Stretch joked, “If you don’t know, we’ll never find her.” He laughed his nasally snorting chuckle for a bit, then stopped when no one joined in.

Radio looked sideways at Stretch. “Isn’t that your area of expertise?” She queried.

Chastened, Stretch nodded. “I’ll… um, I’ll go look around,” he said, and headed into the damaged square. The only lingering smoke was centered around a few smoldering trucks, but it was enough to irritate his movement-tracking.

“I wish you’d found that sub,” Dash grunted. “I’d like to smash the guy that just blew up a whole city block.”

Radio closed her eyes in agreement, then opened them to meet Dash’s fierce scowl. “I did sense a somewhat warmer stream near a suspicious outcropping,” she told him. His scowl cleared. “But,” she continued, “I lacked the necessary strength to move it.”

Dash was thinking about possible options, that would hopefully not put him under water, when the streak of Strong returned. Dash opened his mouth, then closed it at Strong’s panicked expression.

“I need you, now,” he said, and was off again. Dash and Radio spent a precious half-second to look at each other, then ran in the direction Strong had. They caught brief glimpses of him as they moved, impatiently tapping a foot or literally bouncing up and down as he watched their much slower progress.

Dash cursed mentally, lacking the energy to do so aloud. He had trouble enough keeping tabs on Strong’s position in normal situations. In the waning sunset light, amidst the battle detritus, he had an easier time following Radio’s wagging ponytail than Strong’s intermittent pauses.

The more lithe Radio pulled ahead of Dash, who was breathing heavily again. She disappeared around a sideways assault vehicle; he pumped his stocky legs to catch up. As such, Dash nearly ran right into the back of her.

He bent over, supporting himself on the vehicle’s undercarriage, gasping. The metalwork groaned. “Careful!” Strong cautioned, raising his hands. “You’ll crush her!”

Peering around Radio, Dash saw the prone form of Shadow. The poor woman’s arms were wrapped several times around a deactivated robot’s carapace. Both lay in the shadow of the amtrack Strong was pushing against. He desisted, supporting himself on his knees, instead.

Radio drew closer, carefully. “I think it’s dead,” Strong guessed.

Dash straightened slightly, and stalked forward to check. Radio would be better at helping Shadow anyway, if she could be helped. He kept him eyes down, on the robot, focusing on its inanimate body.

“She’s still breathing,” Radio noted, as she squatted. Dash and Strong let out relieved sighs.

Dash began routine diagnostic checks on the robot, initially verifying that it held no self-destruct automations. He tried to ignore how Radio’s efforts pulled his project side to side; how her concerned mutterings grew anxious. Finally, Dash found a small, pulsing power source.

“Stop!” He commanded Radio, who had successfully unwound a layer of Shadow’s left arm. She paused, holding the oddly-flat appendage. Strong jumped and was suddenly at Radio’s side. Under their undivided stare, he pointed to the faintly-glowing battery. Strong immediately backed a few hundred yards away, though Radio held her position.

“It’s not completely dead, but that’s probably why Shadow isn’t, either,” Dash called to the flighty Strong. Radio nodded.

“I see,” she said, looking up into Dash’s sweating, dirty face. Dash saw that she remembered the last time a team member had approached a recently-destroyed robot; the last time they had fought with the naive, young, and overeager Invincible.

Strong remembered as well, choosing to keep his wary distance. “Get her off and run!” He recommended.

“I’ll need to do it, Rad,” Dash urged, gently. She nodded once, set Shadow’s arm down carefully, stood, and retreated toward Strong’s position.

Dash looked at the pulsing light, at the position of Shadow’s wrappings, and at the dead visual sensors of the robot. Somehow, Shadow had applied enough pressure to disconnect its receivers without turning it completely off. “She must have passed out from exertion,” he mumbled. Shadow groaned, barely audibly.

Attempting to imitate the gentler Radio, Dash continued her work of unwinding Shadow’s twisting limbs. He kept glancing anxiously from the arms, to the light, to the robot’s head. He kept his ears tuned for the telltale beeping of an activated self-destruct.

He needed only to lift the robot body once more, to free the last layer of arms, when he heard the warning knell. “Strong!” He shouted, lifting the metal casing. Before the last echoes of his comrade’s name could fade -just before throwing the flashing, fiery, exploding robot over the armored vehicle; Strong came. Dash saw Shadow’s body pulled free and quickly removed from sight.

Dash felt a sudden, heavy pressure on his back as the assault vehicle fell onto him. His ears rang with sound; his face felt singed. Dash coughed. “I guess I’m not the handsomest guy on the team anymore,” he told the churned-up asphalt beneath him.

Someone else coughed, very near to his crouched position. “What makes you say you ever were?” Sniper’s voice asked, from just outside the vehicle. Dash pushed up, throwing the car from him, to glare around.

Sniper laughed her tinkling laugh, from the deepening twilight nearby. “If you’re finished resting, let’s go check on Shadow.”

Dash grunted, and limped to where Strong had been. Holding a wall of rubble for support, he made his way around a small pile of passenger cars and down a deep groove. “Strong?” He called. “Rad?”

“They’re just ahead,” Sniper’s soft, mischievous voice told him. She sounded a few feet behind him, but he could never be sure.

They cleared an upturned truck on a ridge of street, and found the rest of the party. Stretch looked up as Dash approached, apologetic. “I couldn’t find -” he began, but Dash held up a hand. Sniper giggled, and Stretch’s expression changed.

“That’s enough,” Dash admonished, then turned to Radio. “How is she?”

“She’s alive,” Strong responded without hesitation. He sensed Dash’s disappointed stare. “What?”

“We need to get her back immediately, but she is alive.” Radio smiled gratefully at Dash, then turned to Strong. “Thank you, Strong, for rushing to grab her.”

Strong looked modest, and pleased. Dash considered defending his pride, but agreed with Radio about the praise. When they’d needed him most, Strong hadn’t hesitated.

“Will you carry her, please?” Radio addressed Dash. Nodding, he stooped to cradle the fragile Shadow. She weighed nothing in his enormous arms. He looked around at the battle-scarred, smoke-smudged group -except for Sniper, of course.

“You know we can’t take the plane now,” Sniper piped up, from next to Radio. Radio started slightly, but tried to cover her surprise. Reacting to Sniper only encouraged her.

“You’re right; we’ll have to walk,” Dash acknowledged. Shadow was their only pilot. He hoped he could make it to headquarters.

“No problem,” Strong said, and was off. Darkness was falling, but even daylight would not have helped them follow his trail.

“Show-off,” Sniper’s voice said, in Dash’s ear.

Self-reflection

“Do you love me?”

She doesn’t answer; won’t look me in the eye.

“I’ve tried! I want to do better, but I often don’t feel like it!”

She glances over, back again.

“I fed you. We went to the gym together. Remember that movie we watched?”

Nothing.

“I remember. You were laughing as much as I was. I saw you.”

The ceiling now holds her gaze, as she heaves a heavy sigh. I catch a few tears in my peripheral vision.

“Okay,” I relent. I reach over; our fingers touch.

Finally, I meet her deep, hopeful gaze.

“I’m sorry,” we say, then smile.

All the World’s a Staged Place

Audience

For a long time, I sat and watched.

People eagerly rushed to the well-lit stage and spoke their bit. Many just shared what someone else had -and again, and again.

From the spectator’s rows I heard and felt bodies rise and seats flop-flop closed. Soon, I realized the audience was few; the performers were most.

Envy set in. I want attention. I want fame. I want love, respect, and acceptance. I finally rose and joined the stage-bound queue. I stood quietly behind a grandmother, a pre-teen, and a retiree.

Then, it was my turn. Shy, though, I peeked around the curtain. “Come out,” a friend encouraged. “Share what you have made.”

I scampered quickly to the fore; I held up my opinions and waited.

My circle of fellow stage-friends complimented, and encouraged. Smatterings of applause came from family still seated beyond the stage lights.

I smiled and grew more confident. Recognition felt good. I returned to the audience, sated.

My seat creaked as I frequently leaned forward to applaud other performers. What brave souls to simply speak, I thought. And surely, they will return the approval.

Encouraged and emboldened, I performed again. In the warming spotlights and comments, I spoke freely and assumed affection. I chanced the stage many times, basking in attention.

Today, I stepped confidently forward, then hesitated. My step echoed. My speech resounded hollowly. I squinted out to an empty, dark room.

Where is everyone?

Not By Half

I find eating decisions simple when I first sit down.

“Yes, that’s my order,” I say to the server, then eagerly take the first bite. Besides an odd habit of eating my hamburger upside-down and setting it with the bite away from me, I have no concerns of direction or hesitation.

Somewhere just past the middle is when the problem sets in.

“Do you want any?” I ask my husband. His meal is also half-finished; he was going to ask me the same.

We’ve reached the awkward point of portions: too little to box, and too much to finish.

Half is exactly the problem we encounter with brownies at home.

Easily enough, the pan is reduced to a row, two servings, then one. Once there, at a reasonable final square, we play the mind-game of a psychological mathematician.

Every time I want to eat a bite, I cut what is left in half. When my selfless husband walks by the pan, he removes exactly half of what he encounters.

If Zeno had his way, neither of us could claim selfishness. But we’re talking brownies.

And this is the real reason, I tell the doctor, that I cannot stick to my diet.