Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Archive Story wins Gold in Toasted Cheese!

If you dig through the Archives, there is an old story prologue called "In the Garden Where Monsters Grow." The full story has been awarded Gold (First Place) for short science fiction/fantasy story in the December issue of Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. Follow the link below for the full tale:

http://tclj.toasted-cheese.com/2012/12-4/cook.htm

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Imaginalchemist makes a shameless plug...

Salutations, fellow story-weavers, poem-penners, daydreamers and ballad bards!

While there has been little to add to my Archives as of late, it is mostly due to this piece of news I now wish to share with you. There is a certain book that will be available to the world in the upcoming year. It tells the story of a young man who comes to be loved by one of the most infamous monsters in history, and the great undertaking he must face to save her life...

To learn more about it, take a stroll through the invisible curtain here: http://scholarandsphinx.blogspot.com/

Help spread the word about this upcoming title, and if you should be inspired enough to pre-order the novel, I know the author would be most flattered and appreciative. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Lisa Licks the Stars"

*Possibly the start of what could have been a children's book...a rather unusual tale about one little girl's quest to do something no one else ever has, and just how far she goes to do it...*


While other children were good at sports,
Or singing songs or writing book reports,
Lisa Lafaire, pretty, witty and small,
Didn’t think she had any talents at all.
So she decided, “If I can’t play ball or sing
Or do any of the things other kids are doing,
Then I’ll do something that no one else is!”
And she pondered until her brain would fizz,
Then she got an idea—now no one knows why—
She would taste every star hung in the sky.
Adults didn’t understand—“you can’t taste stars!”
The other kids laughed—“What are you, from Mars?”
But Lisa was determined, so slowly but precisely,
She built a soapbox rocket that would do nicely.
She packed some ketchup, a fork, a spoon,
A baggie to collect green cheese from the moon,
Peanut-butter-fuel for the trip there and home,
And for her co-pilot, one of Mom’s garden knomes.
Then the rocket took off, in no time she was high
Up above the world, above the blue of the sky.
Passing by, she licked the moon (tasted like brie),
Nibbled on Mars (just a bit too spicy),
Ate some asteroids (hmm, like chocolate malt),
And chomped Jupiter (could use a little salt)
And finally, she came to the Milky Way
Each star blazing with flavors in alluring array
She tasted a cornucopia of consumable constellations
Overwhelming her tastebuds with savory sensations
But soon she was bloated, ready to burst
And she had only licked a spoonful of stars in the universe.
“Golly, I didn’t know how long this would take
To taste every star up here…maybe this is a mistake.”
So, her ambition stymied, she turned back around
Returning to earth, landing her rocket on the ground.
And she was sad, because she felt like she failed
To do what her special objective entailed.
But her mother said, “You should be proud
Of soaring so high above the clouds,
And doing what no one else had dared to do.
All this means is, your goal isn’t through.
You can always go back to discover more,
And taste new things you didn’t taste before.”
So if you ever catch Lisa off in her daydreams,
She’s thinking of galactic stellar ice creams
That she will find some day, above the blue.
Maybe, one day, you’ll discover them too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hole Story

*A diary entry from someone who's been having a less than perfect day...apparently we find out where exactly the term "digging ourselves into a hole" comes from...*


How I was standing there, fifteen feet underground, holding a spoon-like shovel, was beyond me. I had clearly been digging for some time now—dirt caked my clothes and hands, there was a searing burn streaming throughout my arms and legs, and exhaustion  saturated my eyes—but I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I was digging, or what I was digging for.
I saw a bucket dangling from a chain by my side. The bottom of it was dusted in dirt, so I figured that must be where all the earth I was scraping up was going…and that meant someone was at the top hauling it up, as there was no mechanism down here to lower or raise the bucket. I tugged on the chain, and the silhouettes of two heads appeared at the top of the hole.
“Excuse me, but why am I digging again?” I called up.
The heads glanced at each other, and then back down at me. It was hard to see what they looked like, with the light behind them, but I could tell by their movements they were nervous—as if they were stunned I had the audacity to even ask.
“Keep digging,” one of them said.
Something in me triggered an automaton mode, commanding me to return to my labor, but I forced myself to look up again. “Answer me first.”
One of the heads ducked back, as spindly fingers clutched the edge of the precipice. “Can she do that?”
The other one cocked its head, as if thinking. “You’re too far to stop now,” it called back. “Keep going. And don’t talk anymore.”
I could feel a monstrous pull—it was like a strong man grasping my shoulders and pushing me downwards—but instead I slammed the shovel in the dirt and grabbed the chain. I started to climb upwards, which sent both of the silhouettes above me into wild manic chattering. They started shaking the chain to throw me off, but I hung on and kept climbing. As I got closer to them, I could see the knobby hands, the barracuda teeth, the goat-like eyes, and yet for all their alien traits, they felt so familiar to me, as if I had encountered those demons time and time again…
And just as I broke the top of the hole…
I took a deep breath, sitting up on the couch. The wine bottle I had been drinking from lay on the carpet, a puddle of redness spilled out. The TV, which I had left on all night, was broadcasting some infomercial for a weight loss video. The pack of sleeping pills I had bought last night still lay next to me. It was broken open…but all the pills were in the package.
I stood up on shaky legs, and felt my pocket…my house keys were there. I picked up the packet of pills and chucked them into the garbage.
Seems like a good morning to take a walk.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"The Brief Life of the Vegetable Lamb"

*Perhaps the oddest of mythological creatures, the Vegetable Lamb had a very short life, but not necessarily a meaningless one...*


From her stem, she saw a few things.
Such as when the basilisk stormed through
Tearing up the earth beneath its scaly belly,
Petrifying all living things with its gaze.

She simply grazed.

There was the time the trolls attacked the pastures,
Stealing cows and swallowing piglets whole,
But they didn’t care much for vegetable lambs,
Too tiny and they taste like mothballs, they said.

She simply grazed.

Then the prince came to the farmer’s cottage
To wed his young daughter, the loveliest girl
But she wished to test his heart, so she made a soup
From gryphon milk, which is poison only to the wicked.

He died. She wept.
The lamb simply grazed.

Then the grass surrounding the roots of the plant ran out.
There was nothing left to graze.
And, because she was attached to the stem,
She could not go elsewhere for more food.
Well, this has been an eventful three days, she thought.
I suppose it could have been worse.
Then the withering set in.
She simply slept.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Riding the Comet

*Some authors are so memorable and cherished, their stories will never die, nor do their own personal stories end when they close the book on their final chapter...*

April 21, 1910
I walked through the parlor, the drawing room, up the staircase and through the bedrooms—but there was nothing left. Not a trace of dust, not a single loose leaf of paper or drop of ink from my writing desk, not a thread from any of the confiscated curtains, linens or clothes remained. Not that the material things mattered much to me, but I did feel a weight of sorrow that the few personal items of my family—my wife Livy’s gloves, my daughters Jean and Susy’s dresses, even little Langdon’s blanket—were gone as well. Perhaps it would have been best to have parted with those things when they departed from this world, but my memory hasn’t been what it used to be lately. Those trifles always helped me hold on.
When I walked back into the parlor, there was an object at the bottom that I had somehow overlooked. It was a shiny ferry token, and as I stooped down to pick it up, I smiled at the familiar coolness of the coin. All those years of piloting ferry boats up and down the Mississippi…I could recall the smell of the air, the clanging of bells, the rushing of the water through the ferry wheel.  I knew why that coin was there, and who might’ve left it.
I opened my front door wide. There, where my lawn should have been, was a dazzling bright ferry, strewn with twinkling stars. A grand golden wheel pivoted on the side, turning the clouds that poured around the boat like an ivory river.
“Come now,” I huffed. “It ain’t got to be as fancy as all that.”
Immediately, the ferry boat became a raft. As I predicted, Huck was on it, smiling as he chewed on a blade of glass, tipping his straw hat towards me. I began to wonder how the boy might’ve looked grown up, if I had ever let him grow. He’d look like me, I suppose.
“You sure you wanna leave this way?” Huck asked. “All yer stuff was on the ferry. Can’t fit all that on this thing.”
“Ain’t got much use for all that, where I’m going.” I tossed the ferry token to him. “Don’t mind some company, though.”
Huck bit the token, and shoved it in a pocket of his overalls. “You ever ride a comet before, Mr. Twain? I ‘magine it’s terrifyin’.”

I kicked off my shoes and stepped onto the raft. I picked up the steering pole. “I came into this world with this very comet. I’m ready to go out with it now. The Almighty said, no doubt: ‘Here are these two unaccountable freaks. They came in together, they must go out together.’ And Huck…call me Sam.”

As Huck and I started to make our way down that river to wherever and who knows, I knew the me I left behind—that old man lying in the bed—must’ve passed on with a smile, as Hailey’s comet soared overhead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Memories are Snails"

*Another observation from the Archives about the nature of our memories...*

Memories are tiny devoted snails
That tag along behind you,
Leaving their sticky residue
In persisting, twisting trails

And even if, after a mile or two,
They fall so far behind
When you take a rest, you find
They soon catch back up to you

You might even want them gone
So you throw salt in their way
But even if they shrivel or decay
Their shells keep rolling on

And if you try to break those shells
The fragments are still there
Stuck in your fingers and toes so bare
So the pain never truly quells

So let the snails follow as they will,
Acknowledge them, but walk ahead
You’ll gather more on the road you tread
As your earth-changing trail grows longer still.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just Another Shift...

* Another tale from the future finds its way into the Archives...although apparently some things don't change much in the centuries ahead. We still have convinience stores, we still have unhappy cashiers, and we still have lovesick teens...it's just the space that's a little different...*

As the money floated over the counter and Barnabus clumsily grabbed for it, he muttered to himself about the store’s stupid gravity mechanism never being fixed properly. But, of course, it wasn’t a cashier’s place to complain about these sorts of things.
The reduction of gravity would turn out to be mildly helpful, however, when the entire convenience store suddenly lurched and began a rapid rotation upside down, spilling Barnabus, wares, displays, and customers to the ceiling.
Of course this happens on my shift, the clerk thought.

Barnabus Weatherby worked at Smarmine’s #4001 located on the outskirts of Bode’s Galaxy, and just hovering on the rim of the populace consumer planet Venalicium Mundus, or as the Bworx residents called it, Nc-Nc-Tpltek (roughly translated: Ours, Not Yours). There were Smarmine Orbiting Convenience Stores in almost every sector, and almost twelve different planetary systems had easy access to Smarmine goods. Most orbiting stores were warehouses more than anything, but Barnabus—lucky him—was employed at one of the stations where Smarmine was trying to resurrect a lost tradition that was slowly making a comeback: personalized customer service. Station #4001 was an extensively spacious store with shelves upon shelves of anything highly demanded in the sector, with a minimal staff of greeters and clerks forcing smiles and half-hearted words of welcome. It was required that the staff be fluent in at least Bworx, Lorgian, Narp-Silic, and three of the archaic tongues of Terra.
Barnabus deserved a much more challenging job per his skills and education, but the job market was poor for those of Terra-human descent, ever since the majority of Terra-human abilities could be cheaply replicated by androids, which never complained or demanded better wages (or any wages, for that matter). Yet Barnie’s species did boast one trait lacking in others, and that was being personable with customers—something even androids could not fulfill effectively, as of yet, given their inability to “think outside the box,” or adapt their set programming to improvise. Most other organic species tended to be at one extreme of customer relations or the other: the Sporese, for example, were far too compliant, and often to please a slightly unsatisfied customer would give away cartfuls of “complimentary” goods as recompense. The Lorgians, on the other hand, were the epitome of anti-social: one crooked look from a customer would result in a swift and clean decapitation by shark-toothed jaws.
Barnie kept his cheery smile as he grabbed the money with an awkward swoop, as the Bworx customer across the counter from him snickered. She was elderly, the wormy tendrils on her head and backside a tangled mess. She spoke in broken Terra, presumably because she didn’t believe a mere Terra-human cashier would know Bworx. “Gravity problems, eh?”
“It should be fixed soon,” Barnie replied, having given the same response to various customers for well over a week now. The store’s maintenance controllers had confirmed that the gravity had been tampered with by vandals, possibly hired by a rival conglomerate—it was a standard business practice in these parts. It was not that bad of a problem, as most items in the store were staying on their respective displays, and people could still get where they needed to go with ease.
It was just after he said this that the store had its unexpected tilt, preempted by a loud roar from the engines of the external boosters located under the receiving dock of the station. Those rockets overpowered the rest on the station, and were causing the store to rotate lopsidedly, throwing the whole station off kilter.
Barnie was thrown upwards, but gently, like an inflated balloon being tossed by a child. Everything and everyone was languidly thrown into the air, but for what little gravity was still being generated, the heavier people and merchandise were sucked back towards the floor, which was now a wall, given that the station was on its side. The less dense customers (although Barnie would say everyone who shopped there was equally dense) were taking a bit more time to touch back down. The knick knacks and snack bars by the checkout were rolling about through the air in a confetti-like jumble. Barnie returned to the floor softly, sighing in exasperation. This was going to take forever to clean up, and surely he was going to have to pacify a flock of startled customers, even though it did not look like anyone was hurt.
“Those fliff-goshing gremlins!” came the familiar bellow of Barnie’s manager, as the imposing stature of Melanie came storming out from the receiving area. She was a Rhink, less brutal and certainly more intelligent than a Lorgian, but as equal in muscle and intimidation. She was screaming and cussing as she walked with a maintenance controller, a sheepish mole of a man—or just possibly mole, from the looks of him. “I just know it’s those spineless wiplunks from Nova-Mart, trying to throw us into Venalicium’s gravitational field so we’re shot around to the other side of the planet. They’ve been trying to sabotage this station for years, to commandeer this sector for one of their mega-stations. If those breggan-narf-dwangers think they can run us out without me calling a Level 12 and ripping them a new black hole, they’ve got another thing coming!”
Melanie stopped for a second to look straight at Barnie, as if the store’s upheaval was his fault. “Barnabus, why is half the store in the air and not on the shelves?”
“Nothing I did,” Barnie replied nonchalantly.
“I get that. What I don’t get is why you’re just standing there, and not putting things back in order. If you spent less time reading that Holozine and more time doing your job, like wrapping the kiosks with the plastic sheets as I asked you to, then you wouldn’t have to go fetch all that junk off the ceiling, would you?”
As Melanie went off with the controller, Barnie frowned as he retrieved an extendable net to scoop the snack bars out of the air. He couldn’t believe the company couldn’t fork over a little more money to get them a hover-bot for occasions like this, and left him to do this the old fashioned way.
His eye caught a Sporese girl, who was still suspended a foot above the floor in pharmacy aisle #22, as her willowy frame had very little density. She looked like a perfect cross of a Terra-human and a tulip; the spot on her head where hair should have been blossomed into bright red petals, and her skin a pale shade of jade. It was her big, solid emerald green eyes that had captivated Barnie from the first time she had visited the store, and she was now a regular that he anxiously waited to see. Yet he still hadn’t gotten the gumption to ask her on a date—he knew very little about her. He knew her name was Tarafa, but her friends who sometimes joined her called her Fafa.
He was knocked out of his reverie as red alert lights on the ceiling started to flare and shriek, indicating an emergency. This had happened only once before since Barnie had been hired, and it had been for an escaped venomous Lunar Pool Crab-Spider that some idiot had brought onto the station after shopping at a Rare Pets Faire. Given all the technical difficulties going on lately—the gravity mechanism, the dock rockets, now this—it gave Barnie cause to weigh the severity of the situation.
His suspicions were confirmed as a voice came in over the speakers, speaking in Bworx. “Attention Smarmine shoppers. At this time, we need to close the store and request that everyone immediately vacate the premises. Due to competitive saboteurs’ repeated offenses at attempting to annex our station, we have initiated a Level 12 Counter-Offensive Measure. No further details can be given at this time. If Station #4001 is still operational post-encounter, we will reopen our doors tomorrow at 5900 Venalicium Dual Sun Time. Thank you for shopping at Smarmine’s.” Holograms from various emitters around the store displayed, in ten languages, “Please Evacuate, Thank You for shopping.”
So, as the customers quickly vacated the store—some with surprising calmness, some with such wild panic that they mowed down anything in their way—Barnie did the only thing he could think to do in light of the fact that Smarmine Station #4001 was going into highly destructive combat with its rival, Nova-Mart, in which one convenience store or the other could be blown to microscopic specks and thus ending the relentless competition, and that the pay-credit he received earlier that day might possibly be the last that he would receive for a while.

“Uh, Tarafa?” Barnie wiped his brow as he assisted the beautiful Sporese girl towards the exit doors. “My name’s Barnabus. I’m getting off work early today, so I was wondering…Are you doing anything tonight?”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Cancatervate"

*To cancatervate is the act of heaping things up into a pile (so, I suppose every autumn we cancatervate the fallen leaves when we rake the yard). So this poet decided to share his/her personal ritual of cancatervation...*

Constantly I
Amass my
Numerous daily
Concerns
And stack them on
Top of one another
Ever mounting them until they
Reach the pinnacle of my
Volcanic Vesuvius, then comes the
Avalanche, Eruption, Magma Tsunami,
Toppling down in furious frenzy until
Exhausted, I reach for the ice cream.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Her Evolution Slave

*Perhaps one of the more unusual stories in the Archives, this one is recorded from an evolution slave--that is, someone who is created to endure all the pains and burdens of physically evolving in place of its master, who simply gets the rewards of Evolution. But some things, particularly adaptation, are worth putting up with rather than passing the labor on to an underling...*

I remembered, as I picked that moment to make a vertical ascension out of the muck and clawed my way up onto that small fragment of bog above me, that it was a long way from here to Somewhere, and I could do a whole lot of evolving before I got there.
I freely admit I’m a bit of a scatterbrain. Hard for a brain to stay intact very long when it keeps shape-shifting like this.
I’m supposed to stay in the remote places, like this Nowhere. I do all the hard work while she gets to reap the benefits of gaining all the traits of…what do they say, “survival of the fittest”? I guess that makes her the fittest, and the most attractive, and the best designed to pass along her traits. So she gets to live in Somewhere, gracing grand public gatherings and radiating her beauty on magazine covers, television shows and movies, and I get to live in the quiet, no-one-ever-comes-here Nowhere.
When I say, I do all the hard work, I mean the process of evolving. Most creatures—that is, all of them—had to earn the right to pass along their genetic code. Generations upon generations struggled, labored, suffered, even died, until they either adapted, or just ceased to exist. But that takes a lot of work and pain. She didn’t want that, so she makes me do it. Everyone should at least have the innate ability to evolve. But no, I’m the whipping-beast and she’s the porcelain princess of perfection, the top of the food chain without ever having to hunt or kill.
Well, that’s one thing I can boast about…I at least get the fangs and the claws. She didn’t want those. ”Clumsy, unnecessary things,” she called them. “Only for ugly people. You may have them.” She has twenty million people who adore her, would even chew her food for her if she wanted them to. She doesn’t need brute strength or hunting tools.
My senses of smell, and sight, and hearing are not so great. She wanted to keep those things. But I can make out the bright lights of Somewhere, not too far off. And I have the energy to trudge through the muck all that way—she always has servants carting her around, so she doesn’t care too much for endurance.
She’s also flamboyant and dazzling in her attractiveness. She cannot hide well.
And I have fangs and claws. I can hunt.
And I’m hungry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Perfectly Preserved"

*Sometimes the things we try to hold onto are simply too fragile, or too fleeting to stay preserved...*

Within the recesses of my silent other being,
Somewhere, a smarter version of myself
Must have stuffed some of my purest passions,
Those good vibes, those emotions of exaltation
And packed them tightly into a plastic bag,
And vacuum-sealed it shut
So during these times
When my outward, insecure self
Is monotonously morose, void and null,
Needing a swift kick (wherever I get kick-started)
I can go back to that timeless, uncorrupted bag
Of beautiful thoughts and undamaged happiness
And look at it, just look at it and remember.
Because if I (or should I say “when” I, since
I inevitably do stupid things like this)
Tear open that sack of suspended ecstasy,
Desperately craving that delicious electricity
It’ll crumble into dust, into the powder
At the bottom of a cereal box,
And then I’ll be stuck with just me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Viruses, Rabbits and Insanity

*Sometimes, the items found in my archives are not just stories from the past and present...there might possibly be a wormhole in this library somewhere that allows memoirs from the future to leak in. A fragment of one such chonological anomaly, a page from some futuristic diary, managed to find a home on my shelves...*

I supposed I should have thought it a bit strange to see a rabbit on the G.O.L.F. course, given that rabbits have been extinct for nearly 50 years.
                Then again, a lot of strange things have happened since the Hypnos Virus hit. People become detached from reality when infected; they hallucinate wild things, they even swear that they see both the past and future. But eventually, they all drown in their contaminated minds, until all their other bodily functions shut down one by one. They slip away entirely. That’s what the doctor said when my mother and father both got infected. Father slipped away months ago, and Mother is down to her breathing function…but the monitors read that her mind is in silent overdrive.
                So I wanted to volunteer my help with the Galactic Olympics Lifesaving Fundraiser (G.O.L.F.)—an interstellar event since the Hypnos Virus had affected other planetary regions as well. During one anti-gravity event at the 11th wormhole, I sliced the hover-ball out of bounds and went to retrieve it.
There it was, a tiny white rabbit with my hover-ball in its mouth.
                I had never seen a living rabbit before, just the stuffed ones in museums. “Hey, little fella. How’s about dropping my ball?” I coaxed.
                The rabbit spit the ball out into its paw, and replied, “Follow me.”
                Funny, I didn’t recall anything in historical biology records stating that rabbits could talk, but then again, the records never said that they couldn’t. So, with a quick glance over my shoulder—no one seemed to notice that I was missing—I pursued the rabbit into the brush.
                I began to realize the brush was morphing around me. Rather than the fabricated foliage custom-designed for the property, it began to look more feral, more organic—as far as I could determine what organic would look like, based on holographic records.
                And then I found the rabbit—being eaten by a man-sized lizard in a purple tuxedo.
                “What are you doing??” I gasped as I saw the lizard munch away.
                The lizard shot me an irked glance. “What? It’s just coconut.”
                I realized then that the rabbit wasn’t bleeding, and in fact was still alive. “He does this all the time,” the rabbit replied.
                The lizard wiped a few flakes of coconut from its muzzle. “So, are you ready to wake up yet?”
                I tilted my head. “Wake up?”
                “You’d be surprised how many people say no,” the rabbit said.
                The lizard shrugged. “What can we say? It’s more fun on this side.”
                My sense of logic had been smothered by curiosity. “Is it?”
                “Oh, yes,” the lizard said, as I started to hear faint music on the breeze, and flowers and fruits of neon colors blossomed all around me. “It’s as fun as your imagination can take you.”
                “Imagination? Is that, like, insanity?”
                “Depends how far you want to go.”
                The lizard extended a scaly hand towards me. Around me, the music sang and whispered, Come, come…Come with us…

Monday, August 27, 2012

"An Ode to Agerasia"

*Agerasia is defined as the condition of a youthful appearance in an older person. This ode was written to explain to those why some of us retain our younger features, and others do not...*

There were some of Night’s children:
Blame, Doom, Deception, and Strife,
Who reveled in human despair
And the mortal miseries of life,
But their brief brother Age,
Who mortals so often fear
The four siblings didn’t like
How he chose some people to appear
Younger than their years,
Not riddled with brittleness and arthritis
But still youthful, pretty and lithe
And the four didn’t like this.

“Why are some human so lucky?” they asked.
“Why do some deserve longevity,
While others gnarl and rot and wither
(in which we find great levity)?
Everything must decay,
Everything must die,
So why should some have it easier
Than other pitiful mortals, why?”

Age grinned, and shook his head.
“You four think you control people,
That it’s you who bring sadness and hate,
But humans, no matter what you do,
Are responsible for their own fates.
So if they take care of themselves,
It is not my choice if they seem
To retain their youth as they grow older.
Our power is but an illusion, a dream.”

So if you’re so blessed as to have Agerasia,
Or whether you’re blessed with sagely gray,
There’s no one to blame,
There’s no deception,
No need for strife ,
No reason to feel doomed,
Because we each ripen in our own given way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"A Balatron on a Baldachin"

*Another poem from the Archives, about how sometimes when we start reaching too high for what we pursue, we forget what may be right at our feet...*

Sometimes I see myself
Going through my life
As a Balatron on a Baldachin
A Clown on a Canopy
Trying to keep my balance
On a thin layer of linen
Bouncing on a towering trampoline
Trying to ascend to a greater height
Seeking to stand on the sun
Musing to mazurka on the moon
When truly, the sacred secret
I am leaping and longing for,
Flapping my arms like a loon
As I somersault and spin
The secret is right below me,
Beneath the shade of the baldachin,
A place, a face, a divine grace
Just waiting, storing up its laughter
For the day I eventually
Break through the canopy and fall
And sure, I’ll finally find
What I was looking for after all
But then I’ll realize that
All I had to do
Was stop staring at the sky for one second
And look down at the earth
That I already knew.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Calamity at a Culinary Wedding

*Cooking a recipe is much like uniting certain ingredients in matrimony...they will become part of one another permanently, until "dinner do us part." But even marriages between foods aren't always perfect...*

Typically, the refrigerators at the cooking college aren’t places of particular excitement. But when I heard that my old friend, Ziti, was to be wed in Culinary Matrimony to a fine Mozzerella in a grand dish for a charity banquet, I was more than delighted. I was also honored when Ziti told me I was to be his Best Side—which only makes sense, since Ziti always would tell me, “Baguette, you and I have always been a great pair.”
But on that fateful evening, as the ovens fired up and I was preparing myself with a few dashes of garlic powder and some light butter, for the first time I got a glimpse of the lovely Mozzerella that Ziti was to wed. Yes, she looked quite appetizing, so pale and soft…and then I felt an uneasy feeling deep in my dough. Something did not seem right about her, and as I looked to the chef who was to bring Ziti and the Mozzerella together, I realized what it was.
Ziti was already readying himself in his sauna of boiling water, but I tried to whisper to him above the rapid boiling. “Psst, Ziti! There’s a big problem. The chef who is to marry you…he doesn’t check expiration dates on his ingredients.”
Ziti didn’t seem to hear me, so I tried to speak up. “Ziti, when I was purchased from the store, I was bought along with a package of Mozzerella that was on sale…she had told me in the grocery bag that she was on sale because she was going to expire in two days. That was almost a week ago. She’s expired!”
Ziti popped his hearing noodle above the water. “What? Did you say you’re tired?”
“No! Your Mozzerella is expired! If you marry, your dish will taste awful!”
“Why would marrying her be unlawful?”
But before I could try to tell him again, his pot was lifted off the stove and he was taken to the sink to have the water strained out. I only had a few moments left before Ziti was put in the baking dish, slathered in paste sauce and then poisoned with expired cheese…
Fortunately, my crust was hard enough to nudge a Mozzerella cheese wedge off of the countertop…
While I do feel bad for the cheese,  and for the berating that poor student chef got from his teacher for being clumsy and dropping good Mozzerella on the floor, at least Ziti and I were still the toast of the banquet, even though Ziti had to be wed to a substituted Parmesan…

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"When is Time not Money?"

*Odd how we try to apply monetary values to the intangible, and yet some of us base our whole lives around it. Sometimes you need to step outside of your "life" to discover the true value of things, as this slave of the nine-to-five standard found...*


“When is Time not money?”
It was the first enigma,
The anti-belief in which
Most of his life had been built.
“Time is Money, Time is Money,”
That was what had been
Drilled, Branded, Tattooed, Scarred
Into him, a slow but enduring process.
Perfect practicality
Never lying Logic
Molded Management
Organized Order
Everything that had
Dictated his existence
Everything that had
Made him stable, comfortable,
SAFE,
And now came the question:
“When is Time NOT money?”
When it’s wasted?
Misused?
Killed?
It had triggered his journey,
Down the gray mist-dampened streets
Past the ever-watching streetlamps
Up the battered broken walkway
To the faded red front door…
And the sounds of piano music,
The laughter of brothers,
The gossip of sisters,
The stories of parents and grandparents…
As the door opened wide
And the familiar faces welcomed him in,
He knew the answer.
Time is not money
For, perhaps, only a moment,
Only a breath,
Only a thought,
But in that moment,
Time was priceless.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Read Me

*No, that's not me, the Imaginalchemist, telling you not to read this. This one is out of my hands, folks. Sometimes, stories don't need an author to tell themselves...*


Hey, what are you, some kind of nosy, snoopy, eavesdropping, need-to-know-it-all? What did I just say? There’s no reason you have to read this. Yes, I know, because it’s sitting in front of you right now, you think this is something you were meant to read. But you’re not going to find anything. There’s nothing here anymore. You missed the boat. The train’s left the station. Chickens have flown the coop. Insert a cliché analogy here if you like.
Nothing’s going to happen. Seriously. There used to be something here, I grant you that. But times have changed. Funds are low. Luck is bad. You probably know that already. It’s no different here than on your side of the page. So you don’t have to keep reading. In fact, it’s kind of embarrassing for both of us that you still are. So, go do something. Take a walk. Listen to some music. Learn belly dancing.
You’re still here huh? Hmm…well, I guess that means you actually want me to tell you why you shouldn’t read this. Why there is writing, but no story…no philosophies…no insights into social or political issues…not even a silly illustration with a caption or something.
Well, I did used to be a story once. I had everything: a beginning, a middle, and an end. There were well-developed characters, settings of all kinds of times and places, a myriad of plots that intertwined seamlessly into one another, even a good solid twist at the end that was, in my opinion, one of the most surprising and satisfying twists ever written. Yes, I was a magnificent story.
But now I’m this. I’m not even sure what I am anymore. I am certainly words,  that much I know. And words can indeed make a story. My words are in a logical order to make understandable sentences, and you’re still reading this, which means I have a reader. All of this could indicate I am a story.
But all of my characters got liquidated. All of my settings were foreclosed. My plots got compromised, run through too many committees, and they meandered off in different directions until there was no way to bring them back around. But worst of all…my twist…my beautiful revelation of events, the finely crafted screw that made the whole mechanism of the story work…it somehow got unscrewed, plinked down through a crack in the floor and rolled away into some crevice I can’t reach.

So, no, I’m not the story I used to be. I’d tell you about it, but once you stop being a story, you tend to forget things. I don’t even know who was in my story. There was a man, I think…or was it a woman? Or both, maybe. Stories tend to have at least one of each. I think there was a house…or an apartment, or a trailer, or a cardboard box. But I do remember red. There was lots of very bright red. It could have been roses, or blood, or paint, or shoes, or rubies, or Scarlet Macaws or cars or origami paper or ketchup or strawberries or toenail polish or Tomato frogs or Valentine’s Day hearts or cherry lollipops or apples or Christmas presents or balloons or curtains or poinsettias.

I just made you visualize a lot of things, didn’t I? Sorry about that. It’s one or the other; either you don’t see anything, or you see too much. Nothing is “just right” nowadays. Because once you get close to “just right,” someone or something comes along to tear you apart, or slaps its own mark on you, or rearranges you until you can’t even recognize yourself anymore. I don’t even recognize myself.

I do remember the sensation of creation, though. When a writer writes, the story can feel all those little happy tingles that the writer feels as he composes each delicate phrase, each vibrant metaphor, each appetizing revelation, and every colorful thread of verbal imagery woven meticulously into the tale. It really is quite wonderful. You laugh, you weep, you sing, you sigh, you rage, you regret, and you desire. Everything the writer feels, the story feels. It does feel abrupt once it’s over, though, when you’re no longer an extension of the author’s mind but your own entity, ready to be shipped out to the world to ignite all those vast emotions in others. It feels kind of…cold. Like you’re just a package being passed along, rather than being the one who passes along the gift. Sure, if a story’s lucky, it may inspire someone to do things. But you feel cut off, blocked from the world by the paper and the ink.

I don’t know. If I could remember my story, maybe it wouldn’t feel like that.

I’d ask you to help write me, maybe stitch a plot or two back into me, but then I’d look like one of those ridiculous Mad-Lib games and you’d probably fill me with nothing but vulgarities and that wouldn’t do either of us any good. Or maybe you’d care enough to throw a few legitimate words my way, but you’d still only laugh because it would sound stilted and phony. I don’t mind making people laugh, but only when I mean to.

You know what I’d like to be, if I could choose? A ballad. A parable set to melody, the old fashioned lyrical poetry from ages back. I’ve never heard a ballad, I admit. I haven’t heard any music, actually, since I don’t think music was part of my original plot. But I think part of me must have been inspired by a ballad, because as I was being written, I could sense my writer was thinking about something very archaic, a verse with this perfect rhythm, a bouncing between stressed and softened syllables. It was lovely, whatever it was. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be more than words. I wanted real shape, percussion, movement, alliteration, precisely sculpted beauty.

But I don’t think I was that. If I was that, wouldn’t I have been perfect? Wouldn’t I have been left alone, rather than been picked apart, criticized, degraded, insulted, edited, censored, and sold out? Wouldn’t everyone have loved me the way I was? Isn’t that what makes a great work of literature, when everyone agrees unanimously that you’re wonderful?
Or do we all end up like this, in the end? Not even stories anymore…just…words…


Are you still here? Cripes. I told you that you wouldn’t find anything, didn’t I?
….
Thanks for sticking around. You seem nice.
I remember all that red…lots of red…someone spilled wine on me, I think…I think my writer was upset, because of all the nit-picking and rejection I was getting…and there were other things, too, like disappointments, losses and emptiness…I remember the sadness, the frustration, the lack of faith that things would turn out all right…not too long after I don’t remember my writer feeling anything anymore…

All that red…

….

That was probably a better story than I am.

….

I miss my twist.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Additions to the Archives

As you can see, my Archives are quite plentiful with tales, recipes, poems, observations, and musings from all walks of life. However, part of my role as an Imaginalchemist is not just to share these literary morsels, but to collect them as well. After all, archives are continuously growing leviathans that never stop feasting on inspiration and creativity, yes?
Thus, I’d like to offer the chance for you to add a little something to this beast of paper and ink.
One common theme you may find among these archives is personifying the inanimate (I refer you to “Spooning Over You” or “The Appliance Whisperer” for examples). Imagine what the simplest object could tell you if only we understood its language. And yes, every object has a language…most humans just don’t have the capacity to learn it.
Let’s say you were granted the ability to understand the language of one particular object (or kind of object, so you could talk to several of the same type of item) for one day. Would it tell you a dark secret? Would you finally find out why that object has never functioned properly, no matter how many times you repaired it? Would it tell you about all the places it has been, being passed from one owner to another? Maybe it has always pined to do something, and now you can fulfill its wish?
Recount what would happen in 500 words or less. Happy penning!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Attitude and Hebetude"

*How quickly our "tudes" change in the course of a day, as documented by this observer whose spirit is always willing, but the flesh, not always...*

This morning, out of bed I jumped
With my attitude fully pumped.
I told the sleep-stealing dawn,
“I’m up! I’m ready! I’m the best!
Throw everything and anything
You got at me! Put me to the test!”
Then my attitude turned sour
At about the noonish hour.
“My 6:00am exercise wore me out,
There was no coffee at work,
But just a break for lunch
Should give me a little perk.”
But by the end of the day,
My Go “At It” in atti-tude went away.
I went home, flopped on the couch
Where the word “Hebe” was lying,
And it replaced “Atti” in front of “tude”
Without me even trying.
So here I lay with my “Hebetude”
‘Cause I don’t mind a moment of “boring.”
But it’ll morphed back into Attitude
When I wake up tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Not so Super, Being Super

*Comic books can be a short, sweet little tidbit of escapist fantasy for those who favor the superhero...but for those who dwell inside those stories, particularly those without powers, happy endings aren't always waiting on the final page...*

My first thought, before I was infected by the contagious panic that the swarm of civilians were feeling as they pointed and yelled at the man standing on the precipice at the top of the Tenth Avenue Bank, was, “That’s supposed to be ME up there!”
I had had every intention to end it all. I was ready for it; I had even picked that exact building. But now, there was some guy standing right where I was planning to stand, and seeming strangely familiar…
Oh my God. Him?
The police had not arrived yet for crowd control, so I pushed my way through the throng of terrified gawkers to the side of the building, where there was a fire escape. I clambered up it as fast as my legs would carry me, and hoisted myself up to the roof.
He glanced over at me. “You’re pretty fast,” he said, and then added with a chuckle, “And coming from me, that’s saying something.”
“What are you doing, stupid?” I spat, my fear and my anger mixing in a volatile concoction. “You’re in my spot!”
“Your spot?”
“That’s always been my spot! Page three, panel one through four. I’m standing on the edge, monologuing about the futility of life, and—“
“And as you jump, I swoop in and save you. The crowd applauds, you realize someone cares, then obligatory romance, yada yada yada. I’m part of this comic book too, you know.”
He had unbuttoned his shirt just enough to reveal the symbol of a silver arrow on the costume beneath his clothes, the icon of Straight-shot. How did the roles get reversed? Dang it, I was no superhero.
“Why are you doing this?” I wheezed.
His sad eyes narrowed. “Do you know what it is like, day after day, to be trapped doing the same thing? Knowing that you’ll save the day, defeat the bad guy, be the hero. For what? There will always be evil. And I can’t actually do anything about it because I don’t write my own story. And, by the way, Miss Life Sucks, do you know how annoying it is to have to save your butt constantly?”
For someone who claimed that he didn’t write his own story, he was sure screwing it up now. “If you’re so unhappy with being praised and adored, then what do you want?”
He turned away from me, staring out into the sky. “Just…something different.”
I knew he wouldn’t really jump. He could fly, for Pete’s sake. He was just being a melodramatic baby, wanting even more attention than he already got. And here I was, genuinely depressed, genuinely needing saving, needing a hero, and he was turning his back on me.
I guess that’s why I used that gun I had been carrying around in my pocket.
I’m sure the next geek who picked up that comic book was confused as to why there was a big red splotch that took up most of page three.