HEADLIGHTS

The road had become so routine that my half-closed eyes hardly noticed the flickering of my headlights. So too did they miss the tankard smashing through the center divider; straight into the car behind me. Nor did they attend to the bloody arm reaching for help as I drove away.

——

 

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THE EARTH IS STILL

Oh hey! Happy New Year–and happy birthday to me 🙂 A little apocalypse to usher in the new year is always a good sign, right? I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I’ll be enjoying today 😉

 

The Earth is Still

 

The Earth is still.

No more do the tremors

that racked the mountainside

rage through the bones of this wasted land.
Once flowered rivers, who flowed with the heat of spring

—that same heat which pulsed through the heart,

igniting the veins like sparks to a fire,

now lies pierced; cracked and dead as the unending desert.

 

The last lake, dwindled down to a blackened puddle,

sits undisturbed in the silence;

a mirror to these starless nights

painted with brushstrokes of infinite darkness

 

and yet, a trembling lingers.

It sits, in the back of the cavern;

twisting the thumbs of a half-buried corpse

while it whispers into the great beyond.

——

 

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BAT SONGS

The shade of bats fluttering in the distance engulfed the lights of the stars, like lines of black paint against the night. The chill metal of the bench was sharpened as they passed overhead; their shrill chatter echoing in my ears. Their beckoning song seemed to call out, “Sleep, Ulysses.”

——

 

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RED LIGHT DISTRICT (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

In a Storm

Hear the broken heart

crying over lovers lost

like cats in a storm.

 

Across the Way

Hark! Across the way

a beauty chiseled from gold

shines in winter light.

 

Puzzled

She didn’t call back

after a wonderful night.

Perhaps I was wrong…

 

Last Moments

The last wisps of wind

passed between the black curtains,

exhaling his life.

 

Red Light District

She pinched at my heart

sitting at the lone street light

hoping for my help.

——

 

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A RICH LIFE

I have always had a strong imagination. When I was a child, there were nights where I would lie in bed, waiting for sleep to claim me, with more vivid fantasies about knights and magicians than the dreams that would follow. On the walk to school every morning, I would picture the world coming to an end in a new way, just to pass the time (and, perhaps, in hopes that I could somehow make the school explode).

Until one day I realized that I had to move on. The perfectly detailed gun battles, the stealth missions against giant aliens, the jumps from thousand foot buildings with a parachute—they all were too little for me. I started spending my time on schoolwork. Instead playing clips of unwritten movies in my head at night, I passed out with a pen in hand and a notebook under my head.

I got a degree in finance, and was set up with a steady job. The office walls had that dirty, faded white color that looks simultaneously unfinished and ancient. Things were pretty good. During my breaks, I got a brief moment to myself to breathe. I usually spent this time picturing what it would be like if I were outside, but company policy was that all breaks not spent on the can were to be spent in the break room. Then it was back to the tip-tap­ of the keyboard.

And that was twenty-five years gone. Nothing changed. The occasional pay raise kept me feeling humble about myself, while the company’s profits quintupled under a budget plan I had proposed. They even offered me full health insurance coverage—and I mean FULL. They even scheduled check ups for me, I was considered that important to the company. Plus, the big guys said they could write off any costs anyway.

Then the day came where the check up didn’t go so well. It was an overcast day, with the sun just barely peeking out from behind the clouds. The doctors’ office was colder than it was outdoors. I came in for a routine check up, which I had once a year, and the doctor found a strange clump in my chest. The tests came back a week later, and they told me it was breast cancer. It had progressed fast, too, and was likely to begin impacting my health seriously within the next two months.

The company gave me leave—something that came marking both my twenty-fifth anniversary with the company, and the tenth year since they monopolized the market (of course, in America they can’t call it that, but the results were the same). I went to Spain, to Germany, and a load of other countries to try to clear my head. The head of the Euro branch of affairs found me a top-notch place to stay at, and I began to burn through my hefty savings.

One night, I took a break from the parties and the escapes, and went to bed early. I was nostalgic about my life. I had called family, friends, and even past co-workers about my conditions. My childhood memories of imagining things before bed came back to me, and I closed my eyes to picture myself in a meadow. It started well, but soon I had lost myself in a story about beautiful queens and valorous knights.

And it struck me that I had never been valorous. There was no adventure to my life. Sure, I was frequenting the top of the top in society, but the blow was hardly fulfilling anymore. There were no roadside breakdowns. No struggles. No victories. Just fun. So much fun, that it didn’t feel special anymore.

The next day I took a walk through the street market. An old couple was deciding between two vegetables, while a child ran from his parents in ragged clothes. They all had such smiles on their faces. They had made it. No, they weren’t spraying champagne into crowds of cheering faces, or sleeping with gorgeous models, but they had the heart-wrenching expressions just the same.

I walked my way up through a cobblestone tower with a name I couldn’t pronounce and looked out over the world. It was a misty day, with just enough fog to coat the horizon, but not so much to cover the city. They didn’t have ledge guards here—if you fell, you fell. And as I stood there, I pictured the life I could have had. I could have ditched that class, went on that hike, or went to that dinner. Maybe then, I wouldn’t be standing where I was now—rich, famous, and utterly alone.

And I jumped.

——

 

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DROPPED NUTS

Ok, I’ll take a break from 50 word stories for at least a week after this one:

Wandering through the park to work, I came across a dead squirrel at the base of a tree. He had slipped from a branch while retrieving nuts, and crashed headfirst into a massive root. His head had split open, and the nuts that had distracted him were soaked in blood.

——

 

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LAKEBED (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Lakebed

An empty lakebed

is the memory of life

cracking at the seams.

 

Messy Desk

Look at the piles

that I let build over time

like half formed towers.

 

Return Home

Dust lines the doorway

as hosts do at a party,

with cob web banners.

 

Speckles

The blank, white tiles

were mundane till the artists

speckled them with paint.

 

Good Night

Dear all seeing moon,

only you may know my life

when the sunshine leaves.

——

 

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SUMMER READINGS

If I piled up the pyramid of books

that I promised I would peruse this summer

I would have a tombstone so great

that even Giza would be impressed.

 

But when scattered about in my room,

along the seats of my car, or still nestled

cozily on the shelves of the dusty library

they could hardly dwarf the statue of a gnome.

 

Which is why when I go to water the yard now

I see Eliot and Wilder standing guard,

reminding me how my time here is too short

to spend wasting away on this silly computer.

——

 

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PLACING AN ORDER

Stepping up to the register is the first mistake.

You’re never ready to order

and you’re never ready to respond

to the trick questions the cashier lobs to you,

 

even though it goes just like you rehearsed.

They raised their hand lackadaisically,

and you hustled on stage for your cue.

 

Then, before your audience of two,

you forgot your lines.

 

It takes a moment

of dead stares, silence, and avoidant eyes

to realize you’re losing the crowd,

and the time comes to ad lib a new order.

 

“One cheeseburger, with grilled onions

and no pickles, please, I hate pickles.”

They smile, take your money, and pretend

not to notice that you forgot to order for your date.

——

 

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GREENWASHING

It’s a very green day. So green

that it’s hard to tell the trees

from the tall advertisements

standing out over the freeway.

 

One, an ancient pillar of mankind,

crumbling beneath the thick air;

the other, a penultimate achievement,

letting us know Exxon is Going Green again.

 

That immaculate camouflage

like a Ridley Scott dream perfected

sits atop the sky. Waiting for the right time

to rip though the hull of the Earth,

and leave us drifting in outer space.

——

 

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