Haiku Friday: Begin

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “Begin”

once long ago, or
maybe only yesterday,
a story began

 It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Grandma’s Masks: Installment 8

Here’s another installment of my book-in-progress, Grandmas Masks. If you missed the previous installment on March 20th, click here to read it. Or click the Serial Fiction tab to read all the previous posts of Grandma’s Masks.

       As if in response to all the noise, the iron door at the end of the hallway creaked open. A smell of salt water and sweet grass wafted down the hallway. The girl began to run, down the hallway past the crazed creatures locked in the cages, toward the iron door at the end – and away from Below.

“Hey!” shouted Flea, trying to be heard amid the clanking, bellowing, and shrieking. “What are you doing?”

“Getting out of here!” she screamed back.

“But what about them?” cried Flea. “What about these poor crazed creatures?”

“Are you deaf?” she shot back. “They want to kill me!”

“But they’re the ones who look like you! You can’t just leave them here – you have the key to the cages!” Flea sounded quite outraged, although it was impossible to say if he was concerned for the prisoners or just mad that his help had been wasted.

But his words stopped the girl from rushing out the iron door and up the stone steps beyond it, up where the air smelled of salt water and sweet grass. She looked back at the cages full of foul stinking beings, with their burnt-orange curls and freckled skin, and their crooked noses and mink-dark eyes, and she sighed. Despite their noise and murderous words, here they were, the ones she had traveled so far to find: the people who looked like her. Or would have if they had been clean and whole.

She took down the key on its iron key ring and flung it into one of the cages.

“Open the cages yourself!” she yelled, loud enough to be heard by all the inhabitants of Below. And she whirled around and ran as fast as she could up the stone steps toward the sweet and salty air. As she ran she heard the prisoners stop shrieking “kill her.” Now they bellowed and screeched “Gimme the key! I’m next! “Me! Me! Me!” and she heard the rusty sounds as the cage doors swung open, one by one. And the scrabbling scritch of clawlike toenails as the prisoners rushed up the stone steps after her.

Finally the steps ended and she burst out into the open. She had emerged on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The smell of the salt sea filled her nostrils and she gulped the clean air. She looked over the cliff and saw tufts of sweet grass clinging to the jagged rocks. She heard the clamoring cackling of the prisoners coming up the steps, closer and closer. There was no way back except down the steps and through the dungeons. There was no way forward except over the cliff and into the rocky sea below. Spume lashed her face. The first of the prisoners appeared at the head of the steps. “Kill!” it shrieked as it saw her, cascades of drool spilling out its mouth.

“What shall I do?” she screamed to the Flea. Flea did not answer. Her forehead was no longer itching. Flea must have jumped.

Because that was the only thing left to do, wasn’t it?

And so it ends, or maybe it is just beginning.

why not fly away
meet your true self upside down
on the other side

##

This is the end of Chapter One of Grandma’s Masks. Next month on Apr 3rd we’ll pick up with Emma and Lucy again in Chapter Two. Another mask, another story. What message was Grandma giving with the story of Flea? Are we having fun yet?

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Cat Tricks

Goody Beagle here. You cannot trust a cat – any cat, but especially The Cat Who Lives In My House. I never trust The Cat, but Alex is dumb and still falls for her tricks. Just yesterday Alex was sleeping peacefully on the sofa, not bothering anyone, not even me, when The Cat came into the living room and decided she wanted to sleep on the sofa. In the same place that Alex was sleeping. The sofa is a big piece of furniture, and there was room for both of them, but this does not matter to The Cat. What She wants She gets. So she jumps up on the sofa and sits close to Alex and starts rubbing her head on his head, like she’s being all lovey-dovey with him. She even purred a little (not a big purr, just a little one—she doesn’t waste her big purrs on dogs). Alex opened one eye and thought that The Cat was at last being nice to him – maybe She even loved him, he thought. Alex is a glutton for love and thinks everyone loves him, even when he has plenty of evidence to the contrary. The Cat knows this.

So Alex nuzzled her back. And that’s when she smacked him on the nose with her claw.

Of course he yelped and jumped off the sofa. Which is what The Cat wanted, so she curled up in his nice warm spot and went to sleep, purring a Big Purr.

Alex is dumb, The Cat is mean, and I am the only one worth loving around here.

Haiku Friday: Mistakes

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “Mistakes”

ah, the spring’s fresh light
a season with no mistakes
not yet, anyway

 It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Grandma’s Masks Installment 7

Here’s another installment of my book-in-progress, Grandmas Masks. If you missed the previous installment on March 13th, click here to read it. Or click the Serial Fiction tab to read all the previous posts of Grandma’s Masks.

       So down she went into the darkness, with Flea’s glowing body the only light. The steps were not only slimy, they were twisty and crooked, spiraling round and round as they descended into the hole. The walls, black stone hung with wet black moss, got closer and closer. It got darker and darker, colder and colder, damper and damper.

Finally the stairs stopped before a large iron door, which hung partially ajar. The girl heard a low murmuring coming from whatever was behind the door.

“Are the people who look like me in there?” whispered the girl to Flea.

“Well, it sounds like someone is,” said Flea in his normal voice. “You could go in and see.”

“I wish you’d give me a straight answer sometimes,” said the girl.

“No such thing,” said Flea. “But I’m good at making you itch.” And he bit her again, just to prove it.

“Are we just going to stand here arguing, or are we going in?” he asked.

“Okay, okay, we’re going in.” She pushed the door open wide.

The minute she did so, the murmuring stopped and bursts of screeching and bellowing took its place. The girl clapped her hands over her ears, for it sounded as if a thousand giant birds were squawking inside a closet.

The sounds were coming from a row of cages that lined the black stone walls on either side of a large hallway. The hallway led past the cages and ended at another iron door, this one shut. By the door hung a key ring from which one big key dangled.

Inside the cages were people. At least the girl assumed they were people – they had two legs and two arms, which they were flailing about. Some of them were dressed in filthy rags that reeked of garbage and slime, but most were dressed in nothing at all except their brown freckled skin and dirty tangled burnt-orange curls. They flung their skeletal bodies against the bars, and rattled their cages with their long thin fingers and toes. Their eyes were black pus-filled pits glaring at her with hatred; their crooked noses were so crooked they nearly hooked into their mouths — open mouths that were gibbering nonsense and screeching obscenities.

“Kill her!” screamed one of the prisoners. “Whip her! Chain her! Chop off her arms! Skin her alive! Slit her throat!”

Another prisoner joined in. “Kill her! Kill her! Kiiiiiillllll her!”

“Kill her kill her kill her kill her …” All the prisoners screamed and bellowed and roared and squealed while clanking their claw-like fingers and toe nails against the bars in rhythm. “Killkillkilllkilllkillkillkill…”

##

Be sure to catch the next installment of Grandma’s Masks, coming next Wednesday March 27th. And please leave comments and tell me what you think so far! Now what is she going to do?

Compost: Favorite Sentences

Sometimes I amaze myself. I’ll be writing along, struggling for the right words that convey beauty and power, or simply clear communication, when suddenly a phrase or a sentence will appear under my fingers and I’ll think – Wow! I wrote that! This is one of the best feelings in writing.

Here are some of my favorite phrases and sentences from my book Eating Mythos Soup. Because the first draft of this book was written fast, almost stream-of-consciousness fast, there were quite a few of these aha! sentences. Even though I wrote this book about 15 years ago, when I re-read these sentences I still go, Wow! I wrote that!

  • Laura longs to go home and knows she is already there.
  • … her thick, bee-fruit voice, deep and soft and warm.
  • My brother lives again in summer waters.
  • The wild Skykomish dances like Russians over the rocks.
  • Their tiny bulbous eyes gleam with pleasure and the giggling begins.
  • … the darkness underneath the wind.
  • … yellow roses with their petals of boiled sunshine.
  • We all call for God, and lo she answers with one voice, the voice of the great I Am.

And now that I remember that I can, I’ll go write some more.

Haiku Friday: Mirror

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “Mirror”

look in the mirror
how did you get here, you ask
wait for the answer

 It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Grandma’s Masks Installment 6

Here’s another installment of my book-in-progress, Grandmas Masks. If you missed the previous installment on March 6th, click here to read it.  Or click the Serial Fiction tab to read all the previous posts of Grandma’s Masks.

       So she pulled on the iron handle and lifted the trap door. It was heavy and gave a rusty squeal as it opened. The girl peered inside the hole. It was a good thing Flea was glowing from her forehead, because otherwise she would have seen nothing. It was black as the blackest ink inside. But from Flea’s reddish glow she saw there were steps leading down into the darkness. The steps were covered in black moss and shone with slime. As she bent further into the hole, her long crooked nose picked up a stale, sour smell, and a wave of cold dank air made her burnt-orange curls turn to frizz.

“Are you sure they are down here?” she asked Flea uneasily. Flea didn’t answer, but she knew he was there, because her forehead was still itching madly. She held up her hand-mirror to see what he was doing. Flea had bitten her again between the eyes and was greedily sucking down a new drop of blood.

“Will you stop that!” snapped the girl. “Every time you bite me I start to itch again. It’s very distracting.”

“No can do,” said Flea, through a mouthful of blood. “If you want me to help you, you’ll just have to put up with it.”

“Oh, all right,” she sniffed. “So tell me – are we supposed to go down these steps?”

“Heavens, I don’t care,” said Flea. “You’re the one who wants to find those people who look like you.”

The girl again craned her neck into the hole and peered at the slimy steps leading down into the darkness. It didn’t seem a very welcoming place. But up until she met Flea, no one had given her any ideas where she could find the people who looked like her. This was the only lead she had.

##

Be sure to catch the next installment of Grandma’s Masks, coming next Wednesday March 20th. And please leave comments and tell me what you think so far! Does the girl go down those steps?

Ghostwriting for a Dog: The Litter Rules

Goody Beagle here. The Cat Who Lives In My House has made rules that she expects even the human to live by. Two of the most important rules concern the Litter Box. Rule One is that there must be a litter box available to The Cat, even though we have a dog&cat door that allows us to go outside whenever we want. The dog&cat door opens onto the back porch, and from the back porch there is easy access to the back yard. The back yard is a place where The Cat could find excellent dirt to pee and poop in, but The Cat scorns regular dirt.  Instead she prefers to do her business in a litter box on the back porch, and for The Cat a preference means the same thing as Rule. It does not matter to her whether the human (or dog) prefers not to see The Cat’s digestive evidence. Our preferences are not Rules.

 

Rule Two, also known as the One Turd Rule, is that the litter box on the porch must be Clean.  This means that after The Cat makes just one deposit of pee or poop into the litter box, she will refuse to use the box until the used litter is thrown away and completely new litter has been provided. It does not matter to her how expensive the litter is, or that the human may have more important things to do than continually monitor the litter box. (Like taking us dogs for a walk.)

 

If the human does not follow these Rules, The Cat poops in planters inside the house, and pees in whatever handy corner strikes her fancy. This makes my human very angry and she swears she is going to throw the cat out of the house for ever – but she never does. Sometimes she threatens to kill her. The Cat knows better; She is now 15 years old and She knows that the human often makes empty threats.

 

I think the smell of cat pee and cat poop is quite interesting when it’s outside and doesn’t belong to The Cat Who Lives In My House, but I agree with my human that inside our house it just reminds me of what I must endure to live here – my forced association with The Cat.

Haiku Friday: Dreams

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “Dreams” 

the men I have loved
enter my dreams, one by one
and ask me to dance

 It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.