Tag Archives: world

Katmandu

26 Apr

The world falls out from under you.

They said you were prepared for this. The drills, the talks, even the seismological understanding. But apparently your buildings were put through no such rigor, born at a different time.

You are buried now.

You know help will come. It’s come before, to find people under the rubble of the lives they thought they’d prepared for. It’s all a matter of how angry you can be – will your heat show up on their scanners? Too much cold, uncaring detritus around is the real threat. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This is what they prepared you for.

You know that elsewhere, feet still walk on firm foundations, the blessings that come with their more monotone landscapes. Fewer ups and downs, no sharp shadows at twilight to make you wonder about the curves and edges of the world around you. Safety.

You know you will be on their commercials. What – a week at most, this time?

Send help.

Send money.

Send you.

No – not that last one. It’s too dangerous for that last one. You risk other people’s lives and business meetings.

You understand.

They will try to sacrifice. Ten dollars, ten cents. Any little thing helps, but you will not be dug out of here with the shovel of other people’s well-meant quarters. Lives are bought in time and effort. It’s a pity now much you have to pay for that, nowadays.

But still, you understand. You understand why they can’t send more. They need that money. For their bread. For their gas. For their kid’s new start-of-school pencil box. These are what they build their foundations out of, and who are you to deny someone else what they need to ensure their world rocks a little bit less when they hear of disaster and misfortune?

A teacher calls about a scraped knee.

A lover calls to break a heart.

A boss calls to kill a career.

The news chatters in the background about an earthquake in Katmandu.

They will gather their children with their sturdy new pencil boxes close to them and clutch at the steadiest thing they have, eyes watering over with gratitude at this small foundation, while they wonder – what if that were me?

You wonder what it would be like to be clutching that pencil box right now.

Beside you, your hands try to curl into claws but they can’t because the debris of ages ago’s poor planning and yesterday’s shit luck prevents you from moving. The world crashed into itself, a byproduct of trying to stand up straight on too unstable a spine. It’s the way it’s always been. It will be again, somewhere.

It’s just you, this time.

You imagine that out there, the world is still shaking for you. Fear, anger, desperation at the rubble that provides too much metaphor for how humanity has built itself. They will fight for you, out of their own emotions.

You smile, a quiver of hope small enough to force its way past the crushing deoxygenation.

Maybe it will be enough, those other people’s movements.

But for now, you are still.

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The Man in the Moon: Steampunk Style

10 Mar

“The Man in the Moon: Steampunk Style,” a short story inspired by the artwork of Eric Fan, “Moon Travel.”

There is a man in the moon.

There is the man in the moon, actually. He’s been there, always. Or for as long as matters for “always.” He’s been sitting up there, watching. Keeping an eye on things. Making sure the cogs of the moon keep turning, keep it rolling around the earth like we’ve always said it does. It’s his lookout. He needs that circling, around and around and around. Day after day, month after month. It’s how he watches everything.

I don’t know, but some say there are switches and levers and buttons up there in the moon, too. Switches and levers and buttons for us. For the earth. The man in the moon, he’ll watch and make sure the roiling and the broiling down here is going on how it’s supposed to – there is some roiling and broiling that’s supposed to happen, you know, that’s how creation has to happen, with some struggle and some clash and then something that’s been clanged and chipped and cracked, it comes out looking beautiful. Well, the man in the moon, whenever the roiling and the broiling gets too frenetic, he’ll pull a lever, change the course of a current. Flick a switch, stop a missile. Press a button, change the direction of a conquest. Maybe even stop it all together. Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands off a creation, after all. Sometimes it’s time to let it go, to leave well enough alone.

I suppose he might also pull a lever or flick a switch or press a button if things get too stagnant down here. You know, push a mountain up through the continental crust. Stir up some bad blood between kings. Cause a tsunami. Keep the human race moving.

Because what with that golden orb up there, all metallic gears and brass whistles and silver pipes, he’s got to keep it moving, too. If we stop, I bet that it, the moon, stops too. So the man in the moon, he’s got to keep the human race moving. Maybe not quite like cogs in a machine, maybe something more like a robot with an imagination. It’s got to find out what it’s capable of to keep growing. Otherwise, that shiny sphere of possibility it keeps looking up to, keeps watching wane and wax over the course of its breaths and years and life, well that shiny sphere will just come crashing down, if it’s not forever moving round and round in an eternal chase. Just barely catching – but no, somewhere a machine jolted and the contact wasn’t quite made.

I wonder if it’s a game to him, the man in the moon. I wish I could sit up there with him, in his chair nooked in the curve of the crescent moon.

I think it would be fun to play.

For Want of a Window Seat

6 Aug

story book come to life

I’ve been missing my window seat.

I haven’t sat on that glorified ledge in years. Not in earnest. Probably something to do with my being in California and its being back in Missouri…

Why am I so concerned about this window seat? I realized that I lack a proper writing environment. Have been lacking one, honestly, for the past four years, minus that brief stretch of San Diego that happened at the end of last year. While I was still in treatment, during my PHP and IOP phases, I had a beautiful glass table where I could sit with my steaming mug of coffee and stare out at the world while the sun rose at six in the morning  and the soft blue and yellow of the sky made the dark rooftop slats sharp against the horizon. Now that was a proper writing environment. And look what happened. Out popped a book.

What is a “proper writing environment” anyway? I mean somewhere I can sit and work, sit and dream and think and wonder and imagine characters and poetry and story lines. A place where life’s not so loud that the deep thoughts are scared away. They can startle at loud noises so easily, after all.

It’s difficult to find a writing home. Sure, there’s the desk in my room… surrounded by the clutter of classes and unopened mail and loose change and all the random crap I meant to put away a week or three ago. And that’s to say nothing of the laundry basket and annoyingly noticeable trash bin and those black garbage bags that I still haven’t finished unpacking from when I first moved in two months ago.

My room, I think we can agree, is not the best of writing environments. With so much life crammed and concentrated into the not-very-many-feet by even-fewer-feet space, my room basically breeds procrastination.

So what to do? The campus buildings are disgruntlingly short on window seats. Yes, I’m lucky enough to have a balcony – that overlooks the student-named “trash courtyard.” Dumpsters aren’t exactly the most pleasurable of writing companions.

Sure, there are coffee houses. But not all coffee houses are created equal. I’ve had great success in the past with Swork, what with their local art displays and cushioned bench by the windows and colorful clientele. But Swork is also a highway drive away… not exactly something available on regular basis for a full-time college student whose class schedule has decided that she’s going to have classes from morning until 10 pm at night. There are closer coffee shops… but none of them quite have the right vibe for me. There’s too much of a chaotic pulse in the bustle. Or for some reason I get all jittery and start surreptitiously peering at the other patrons over the top of my laptop screen because it just doesn’t feel private enough to really think my own thoughts, let alone write them down in a word processor. Irrational, I know, but it just comes down to too much distraction or discomfort.

My window seat was beautiful. It was nestled in the east-facing wall of my room and was brightly lit throughout most of the day. I could lock my bedroom door, plug in my CD player, and stare out at the world. That’s why my window seat was so beautiful, really. Through it, I could see more than my front yard and the neighbor’s houses and the lights of the suburban town beyond; I could see mountains in another world and seas that black magic almost froze over and gateways hidden among the urban grunge. That seat gave me a window into my own mind as much as it let me see outside. I could sit in that window seat for hours, breaking the flow of my pencil through innumerable pages only to give my dog, the only other one who shared my window seat, a scratch behind the ears. I eked out an entire manuscript in that window seat, lived a lifetime’s worth of dreams, met a world’s worth of places. I wrote my own story there more than I wrote any other.

Those kind of places are few and far between.

Yes, I need a new window seat. I need somewhere I can let my mind get lost.