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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Tergiversation"

*The term "tergiversation" refers to the desertion of a cause, position, party or faith...to use evasions or to change sides. Another anonymous observer wonders what causes someone to abandon their beliefs...*

Were does the passion go
When one succumbs to
Tergiversation?
What asphyxiates the aspiration
That once gave the crusader
Such electric elation?
Where is the righteous fire
That scorched inside,
The worthy cause
That filled him with pride?
What silences the soliloquy
Of the outspoken orator,
What blinds the visionary
And makes him a deserter?
Why is our faith floundering,
Our conviction crumbling,
When hope should be unbreakable
And keep us from stumbling?
Maybe the world is too heavy,
Or it’s dream deprivation,
Or do our own fears trigger
Tergiversation?