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.