Cyrus leaned back on the throne of Babylon as the words swirled in his mind. The scribes record he ‘inclined his face to the heavens as in transport.’ All the satraps and diviners, the wise men and captured princes stood at nervous attention, while the old prophet of the Jews noisily rolled up the old scroll and returned it to its ornate ark. The lid lowered and the hasp swung closed. All seemed to hold their breath.
Falls to a breaking, shattering
Hope crushed, mingled with a serpent's blood
A gaping maw devours
Gnashing, hellish teeth throw sparks
A sea of black smooths over the hole
A rain of darkness descends
A reign of darkness ascends
And those left above the sea are drowning
"Ripples of Scarlet and alabaster shimmered before him as he lowered the gun slowly to his waist."
Writer's Digest Short Story Contest Entry, 2013
The man froze in his tracks. His weren’t the only ones pressed into the fresh fall of snow. A scuffling trail of sneakers - a child’s sized 7 - led from his front door, between his own, turning left down the sidewalk.
He panicked, dropping the shopping bag, splitting the milk jug and soaking the newspaper and paper bag of fresh-ground coffee. The cherry twizzler hung limp from his lips, an indecisive weathervane in the still air.
Lucy reached forward to poke her finger through, thinking that maybe she could see better. Jimmy yanked his four year old sister’s hand away from the door.
“Don’t do that!” he hissed. “Be quiet - and still.”
I did this.
A twitch in his palm; a rustle of feathers. The dove jerks and rolls over. Will it fly? A nail scratches his wrist, drawing a drop of his own.
A noise closes from behind. “Good shot, son!"
Dirt and sky. She looks up as the shadow passes. Her whole life has been a shadow. Now the late afternoon sun returns as a delayed rain pelts her forehead. The devil’s beating his wife.
“Well, now he’s got someone else to beat,” she says bitterly. “This devil’s done with his beatings. I’m free.”
The rain hardens, threatening hail. The trickle down her arm creates a streak of brown between her fingers. She opens her palm and stares at the wettened soil. She lets the rain wash it into the gaping maw before her. Splatters thump the plain casket below.
Once upon a time, Keith drilled the earth of Texas and Oklahoma looking for his meaning as a man. As an unsettled, lonely and driven member of the 'Greatest Generation' he doggedly pursued wealth and the American dream across the American South as an entrepreneur in Oil Exploration. He worked for the biggest names in Energy and launched a number of successful related businesses.
By the late 50s, he was on his way to the top. And he found it profoundly meaningless...
- Bookrix 2012 Flash Fiction 3rd Place Award!
- NPR Weekend Edition "Three Minute Fiction" Submission, Round 7 -
(Prompt: Submissions must have a character come to town and someone leave town. Each piece of writing has to be read in less than three minutes, so no longer than 600 words.
More info at: http://www.npr.org/series/105660765/three-minute-fiction)
Here's a link to the NPR Round 7 Winners program:
Pillars of Smoke and Fire
Unprepared sacrifices seized
Thrown on raging altars
An offering undemanded
Souls unwilling hurled Heavenward
Our Standard and Shield
Pierced by fresh transgression
The perimeter torn and ragged
A fiery incursion
The general's tent aflame
The Union soil bereft
Bears the final hammer blow
Travelers in a moment warriors
Stop assaults at rolling ramparts
The wound a field of heroes
A battleground around, within
Nowhere to turn from sorrow
A 'we' deformed, defined by mourning
A generation born of widows
Ten years witness - still the silence thunders
Today my new morning dawns
Welcome to the Heart of Darkness. Only this darkness has no heart. It's lit with high-watt tungsten - camera ready. It comes with a cast of thousands, and thousands more to do their hair, nails and wardrobe. Live from the Capitol! It's Running Man 24/7 on every network!! You can't miss it! By law you may not avert your eyes. Let the killing of children begin! Better yet - we'll have the children do the killing!!
The most sinister Stephen King novels are set in broad daylight. The Twilight Zone episodes that linger in your mind for years were more 'zone' than 'twilight.' So it is with The Hunger Games. Yet this is no allegory or cautionary tale - at least not in a way accessible to young minds. In the adrenaline-doused diary of Katniss Everdeen, it's a present progressive universe. More unrelenting than urgent. We're stuck in the unending infinitive. How else is a teen girl to document her own demise? the world she observes is all objects to her gerunds. She's 16 years old and there's nothing sweet about it. It's all acid, bile, blood and burning. She's the noble savage and coy flirt. Sounds a lot like High School. The only relief is a twitching retreat into your own troubled dreams.
"Then Jesus said "When you should be exalting Me, you will 'lift Me up' instead. Only then will your hearts be pricked enough to admit that I am the One; that I do nothing out of selfish ambition; that I simply brought the God-breathed Truth to you." John 8:28 TDG
God's intention, plan and action are always genuine surprises. Is it any wonder? He is so unlike us in so many fundamental ways. Yet His surprises are always good . Not of the 'pleasant happenstance' kind - but rather of the world-shattering, foundation-shifting, terrible, heart-crushing, beautiful holy sort.
On Good Friday God executed judgment on Sin once for all, meting out on His own flesh the penalty of all. He experienced death. He became fully human. With all its loneliness, guilt, shame and despair.
Surprising, isn't it?
Simeon felt a lot older than his 20 years. He shifted to his side to give his hip a rest. David played his harp to keep his mind off this hind side, he supposed. The tumbling hills below Bethlehem were certainly no more comfortable in David's day.
On first read, 'The Road' is all ending with no beginning. The world has long since descended into madness. Nature has abdicated. Abbadon has cleaned the table and cashed in his chips. The universe has shrunk to the flickering flame of one father and his only son. Unable to separate his identity from his only remaining responsibility, The man sets off to the South and his rendezvous with oblivion. As long as he moves the long scythe cannot take its final swing. Yet he knows he must prepare his son for the inevitable, one bleeding cough at time. Their language is sparse, poetry, but only of the free verse kind. It's the visual language of full-faced tenderness that is the world's final sonnet. They profess love till there is no breath left to bear the words. We've reached the endless sea.
This is just too fine a piece to not reprint:
This movie has been savaged by the well-meaning and those who don't know well what they mean.
What are 'the Lovely Bones?' Ah, now the answer to that will take a fair viewing to sort out. And the closing paragraphs from the lips of Susie Salmon will mean nothing to the viewer without the story that precedes it.
What of all the talk of Heaven? There is no Heaven here - just the longing for one. We peek over the rim from Neverland at the very end, but since we're not supposed to go there, we're not allowed more than a glaring obscurity. Some criticize the imagination of Peter Jackson for bringing us a techno-color CandyLand, all sugary sweetness and no nourishment. But that complaint completely misses his genius. This is Susie Salmon's time of bright shadows, not Peter's. Ripped from a world of polyester, psychedelic daisies and David Cassidy posters, we're entering a very different inner world than our 'today.' It's one of a 14-year-old young lady of the 1970s. It is groovy and timeless. Yet the horrors that preceded it bust in with alarming rudeness proving this is no Nirvana. Just when we've grown accustomed to this playground and think it will resolve, it crumbles to dust. As it must. It was never meant to be something of substance. Susie's looking glass is the quick blog of a soul beginning a much larger adventure. A tweet from the unending song.
What Would Jack Do, that is. And that's what LOST comes down to.
The Finale was 'emotionally rewarding' to some and a 'total bust' to others. How can it be both? It depends on what you expected.
Most of us surmised all along that LOST was some kind of quasi purgatory. The Finale certainly confirmed that guess with a heavy dose of 'quasi.' Many presumed that the 'purgatory' theme meant that the series would eventually take on a more overt Christian bent, after wading through a morass of New Agey mysticism. But purgatory is not Christian theology and is found nowhere in the Scriptures. It was invented to gloss over the 'troubling' aspects of redemption doctrine and speak into those places the Logos chose to remain silent. The Gospel is indeed steeped in paradox. God as man and distinct from the Father and Spirit, for one. That God as Man could die, for another. That a virgin should give birth to the One who created her. That he who loves his life will lose it. It goes on and on. Some are stronger contrasts than others, yet the parlor of Christian faith is richly papered with them.
Well, the Publishers Weekly review is finally up on my ABNA quarter-final entry "Avenhal-Return of the Taneen." I was (mildly) hoping for something quotable and useful for future jacket revisions. Since most authors don't choose to tout scathing reviews, Ill probably pass on quoting them.
But in the interest of full-disclosure, I'm posting it here, with a few comments of my own to follow. Don't worry - I won't flame them. They're doing their job, and they proved they read the entire manuscript.
ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer:
In a time of war, three siblings are sent to relatives in the country, where they discover a mysterious gate between worlds.