Category Archives: adventure

Deciding to get lost, in Paris: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

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DECIDING TO GET LOST, IN PARIS: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

Author’s Note:

Usually, this appears at the bottom of my posts. I’m never really sure if any of you read them. I’ve asked numerous questions that get little to no responses. C’est la vie?  Je ne sais pas.

This came from a #FF Prompt:  Psychogeography on the Fiction Can Be Fun blog.  I’ve mentioned the blog a number of times, as well as its creators, Debs & David. They are co-writing a novel that I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on. I met them a few years ago during one of the April AtoZ Blog Challenge. If you are new to my world, click on the links. FCBF is always a good read, and the AtoZ challenge is a gratifying, if not sometimes nerve-wracking, feat to achieve. I’m grateful to have gotten to become friends with Debs, David, and Arlee (the creator and curator of the AtoZ Blog Challenge).

For full details on Psychogeography, I strongly suggest three sources to discover this brand new term (to me) is all about. Click above on the FCBF link. Then, click on Icy Sedgwick’s blog. You want folklore, she’s got it. Podcast included.

Third: Google. It does a mind good.

Basics: Imagine a place you’ve visited, or wanted to visit, or make it up, but only traveled by WALKING. No transportation of any type except by your feet. Take in the details. Describe them. Show, don’t tell, gets mixed around here, depending on how you are approaching this: Fictionally or Non-Fiction. You, or your character, is viewing through the lens of Psychology & Geography. Emotions? Details? Epiphanies? Your choice. To join in, please click on Fiction Can Be Fun  and read the “rules.”

I decided to get lost in Paris on the fifth day of my vacation.

Every previous day had been planned out: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Rodin’s house and gardens, traveling on the Seine, Notre Dame (pre-fire), following a lengthy trail of Monet art, the Moulin Rouge/ Montmartre  /Place Pigalle. Those were all on my checklist.

Deliberately, I set aside one unorganized day to freestyle explore. No real destination, just walking the streets of Paris, taking in as much as I could. Noticing the architectural adversity of the past and the present. Cobbled stoned lanes crossing or connecting to paved roads.  

After a well-sustaining breakfast at the hotel, I set out with no map. Yes, I was living life dangerously: this was pre-Cell Phones, GPS, whatever. You actually had to talk to a real person if you were off course of your destination. Landlines and payphones the only way to connect beyond your immediate area.

I got on a train at the closest Metro station. Didn’t check where it was heading. First train I found, that was it. The car was reasonably full for a good portion of the ride. A lot would leave, a lot would replace them. Until the crowds lessened, and fewer people got on or off. I waited.

Next two stations, a few passengers left the train. Absolutely no one walked into emptying space. That was my cue to get off and explore the Paris above me.

I was met by paved roads, modernized buildings, and heavy Parisian traffic. I was used to that. Walking in arbitrary directions, I found what I wanted in a brief period: cobblestoned streets, a narrow road dotted with small shops, and relatively light on pedestrians. I crossed the main road and entered the Paris I had envisioned.

Colors were vivid, changing shop by shop. The décor varied as well, most embracing their past roots. I walked, turned corners on a whim, and headed into this, to me, a delightful maze of discovery. Clothing, bakeries, cheese shops, cafes, women’s clothing, men’s suits, every bit of finery well displayed, nothing ostentatious. This wasn’t Le Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I was glad of that.

I noticed a sign for a Picasso museum. Sold. As I made my way there, I found magic.

It was a dried flower shop. Shop doors wide open, arrangements on the outside of the florist shop, the many colors, the many weavings of this wild assortment of flowers, drew me in.

From the ceiling beams hung bunches of wildflowers drying, the stems pointed to the top. The aroma filled the store, a light mixture of scents that I hungrily breathed in. I was not very knowledgeable about flowers. The names, varieties, when they grew best. All that was lost on me.

It was the way each piece was crafted. How the shop could seem disjointed in its exhibitions. But, the more time I spent walking around the uneven aisles, noticing the varying levels of placements, the degrees of color shifting, I could never think of it as thrown together without thought. 

One-piece stopped me. A grouping of dried dwarf Red Roses, in the shape of a heart. I had begun dating a woman a short while before I left NY. We were at the point we both wanted to take the relationship further. We liked each other. A hopeless romantic, I purchased the arrangement. Well wrapped, I left with the package to continue on. A few steps from the shop, I looked back, seeing it all from a slightly different point of view. 

This was art on display, in a fitting setting, along a cobblestone road in Paris.

I continued getting lost, looking for more magic. 

The Misfortunes of Sea Monsters (Part 3)

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NOTE: if you have not read parts one and two, the following will make little to no sense.  I feel you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you. 

THE MISFORTUNES OF SEA MONSTERS

PART 1

PART 2

… And now ladies and gentlemen, for your reading edification, the further exploits of  The Misfortunes of Sea Monsters, Part 3

Chapter 3: The Sundering and The Call

The Return groaned as the coils of the Hafgufa tightened around the span of the ship. As it tilted and cracked, Young Ned held onto the rail with one arm while he jabbed with his razor-sharp weapon. The many-tentacled creature screamed its rage with each piercing. The thrashing beast of the deep blue continued its crushing actions.

Many of the crew members put up a valiant fight but were soon tossed into the sea…many losing their battle immediately. The stronger swam away; too many were swept under by the beating of one tentacle or another. Capt. Magnus had strapped himself to the wheel of his ship, brandishing his cutlass with accurate and deadly aim. The realization that all was lost for The Return came upon him almost too late.

“Save yourself Young Ned!,” yelled the captain.” The Return is lost.” and, cutting the straps that held him to his beloved vessel, the captain dove into the waiting seas.

Young Ned would not go so easily. As The Return tilted and broke apart, Young Ned continued his battle against his most hated foe. Even dangling from the rail he would not give up. It was not until the ship began to break into kindling that Young Ned was forced to cede this horrible skirmish and find shelter in the cold waiting waters.

Swimming as if his life depended on it, which it did, Young Ned strove to haul himself as far away from the ship as he could. The Return began its descent to the bottom of the sea, being escorted by the Hafgufa. It squelched and ripped and tore apart the once mighty ship, and there was nothing that could save it. Many of the seamen went down with the ship, caught in the whirlpool of the returns drowning, and their own lack of strength. Young Ned, the last in the water, made excellent headway and was saved from going down with the ship.

Yet, there was no land in sight. He had outswum the flotsam and jetsam of the dying ship. As strong and determined as he was, Young Ned could not but grew tired. For a while, he alternated between floating and his failed attempts at swimming for a non-existent shore. It took a lot to discourage him, what with all that he and his family have been through. This, though, seemed to Young Ned to be his last hurrah. The last of his strength ebbing away, Young Ned laid his arms at his side, still holding onto the tool which he still hoped, as he drifted away, would slay the Hafgufa.

************

Young Ned was prodded awake with something sharp in the side of his head. Rousing himself, he got up on one elbow and found himself to be on the dry ground; a copse overlooking the sea. Looking around he was startled at first by the empty landscape in front of him. Poked again from behind, he was equally startled (if not more so) than what was now before him.

” You do know, I would think twice before eating you.” She smiled, and the smile sent shivers through Young Ned… But not in a good way.

to be continued…..

⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗    ⊗⊗⊗⊗⊗

Author’s Note: 

…and I did not go further. I don’t remember why I let it drop, but drop it went.

I’ve been searching storylines that I enjoyed creating, seeing them through (in this case) a nine-year growth in writing.

READERS:  Would you like to see this continued?

I know I will have to do thorough editing on these three pieces if I do.

Please leave a comment below. As simple as Yes or No. If you can give your reasons for either way, please do. Please No Maybes. Yes or No, & commentaries.

Stay Safe & Healthy

Stu

 

 

 

The Misfortune of Sea Monsters (part two)

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The Misfortune of Sea Monsters (part two)

Part One: The Misfortune of Sea Monsters

NOTE: if you have not read part one (link above), this will make little to no sense. I am trying my hand at a serialized story, and you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you.

Part Two: The Hafgufa and The Harpoon

Captain Magnus tried to stop Young Ned from leaping to a certainly lost cause, but he was too late. The Return swayed, but no man was more made more steady on his feet than a captain whose ship was an extension of himself.  The large ripples the beast made, as it bore Meigs down, tried their best to topple him. He heard some of his men falter and gasp, but he would have none of that.

“You’re a fool, Young Ned. A brave one, but a fool all the same.” The captain stayed at the side of his ship, speaking to an uncaring sea, waiting for any sign.

The foolish Young Ned was far below, swimming downward. His labor was fierce, as the creature tunneled the water as it should, and Young Ned was handicapped by the harpoon he knew he must have. Meigs was a rag doll in the monster of the deep’s tentacles, and his mate, his friend,  felt it was already too late, but this feeling only propelled him to swim faster.

The “Vanishing Island” (for so the Hafgufa has been called) belched a stream of what Young Ned thought would be if one could smell underwater, noxious fumes.  Stopping its descent, it turned towards Young Ned, its eyes locking onto him. A tentacle was thrust towards him, then another and another.  Each time the attack was thwarted by a right blow of the exquisite sharpness of the harpoon that Young Ned wielded. Both he and the monster scored points, but none were as deep or as ruinous as what came from the well-placed pike.

He was fast losing the last of his air reserves when a tremendous blow freed the undulating sea body of SM Meigs. Young Ned grabbed his comrade and began his ascent. The creature, leaking foul fluids from the many contact hits delivered,  sent out a spasm of its own pain and struck Young Ned across his back,  sending the harpoon spiraling out of Young Ned’s hand and knocking him unconscious.

***

The deck of The Return was hard and wet under Young Ned’s back as he coughed up the bracken seawater. Retching was a rude awakening, but any revival from what seemed like certain death was a good one. Captain Magnus gave his one good hand to Young Ned and helped him stand. Young Ned politely shook him off, bent at the knees, and expelled the last of the wretched substance.

Standing up, Young Ned looked around him. There, amidships, by the mizzenmast, lay the body of SM Meigs. Nothing was said: he knew Meigs was dead as sure as he knew the Hafgufa would pay, and pay dearly. Young Ned also noticed one other thing: the harpoon he carried into battle lay at his feet.

Puzzled, he bent and picked it up. “Captain, how…” he began.

“I know, lad, I know. You should have been as dead as poor Meigs.  Too much time had passed, and the lads and, sadly, I had given up all hope. The sea waters were thrashing for all to see, then they went still. I had said my prayers and sent you Godspeed to Davey Jones’s embrace when…well…”

“What? Please, Captain. I don’t understand why I am still alive here on deck. I felt a blow across my back, a shattering pain lanced through, and I felt the sea enter me as I quickly lost all awareness.”

Captain Magnus stared hard at Young Ned. He turned his head and spat over the rail. Turning back, it was the first time the captain would not make eye contact.

“You know me for an honest man, as honest as the sea will allow one to be. The crew saw this too, or I wouldn’t have believed it myself. We had given up all hope, but…the mysteries of the seas are deep. The still water broke apart, Young Ned, and you, Meigs, and that blasted harpoon were on the back of a narwhal. This one was male, a lovely helical tusk, as woven as a twisted knot of hair. It floated long enough for us to retrieve you and poor Meigs. We thought you were gone too, but, well, you coughed up the sea as it coughed up yourself.”

“The narwhal?” Young Ned inquired.

“Slid away and gone. Come…no use scratching our heads about this. You are alive, Young Ned, and I am glad that I can keep my promise to your sister that you stay that way. Well, at least for today.” Captain Magnus smiled, slapped Young Ned on the back, and turned, barking orders to set course for land and home.

Walking over to the body of his friend, Young Ned knelt and said some prayers. He also vowed, in these moments of silence, to seek vengeance, so dreadful and sincere. Lost in his moments of grief, it was only the collision of the boatswain, Mr. Diggs, that brought him around to a deck that was beginning to tilt and the noses of men in a panic.

“Diggs…what is it, man?”

The boatswain, face ashen, said, “Look starboard; look what you’ve brought upon us!”

Pushing the man away, harpoon still in hand, Ned rushed starboard, pulling himself up so he could look over the rail:

The Hafgufa’s tentacles were climbing the sides of The Return, tilting the ship. One passed by his head and twisted onto the mizzenmast behind him. One solid jerk, and the Hafgufa and Young Ned were staring at one another, connected by sea, wood, and bone.

The Return cried a mournful sound upon the waters.

to be continued…

Alphonse On The Ocean

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©catfacesonbirds.tumbler.com

ALPHONSE ON THE OCEAN

Alphonse, the PengCat, stood on the hot sand. The waves beckoned him to join his brethren in watery freedom. Alphonse, the PengCat, leaned toward the water and groaned. Gaze fixed, turning vacant as the waves rolled in and out. Alphonse began to move towards the sea.

His eyes cleared just four seashells away from the incoming tide. Halting, Alphonse, the PengCat, trembled at the thoughts of the unknown. While looking at the vast ocean, the never-ending ocean, he pictured its fathomless depths, the unseen oppressors, voracious predators of the briny deeps.

Alphonse, the PengCat, flippered himself on his leathery nose, bringing him back to purpose. This brought him back to his reality. Alphonse geared up.

Once everything was in place, his checklist commenced:
Swimsuit? Check.
Goggles? Check.
Triple-Layered Swim Cap? Check.
Flotation Devices on and Secure? Check.
Underwater Defense Gun Mark 1 Mod 0, loaded? Check and Check.

Alphonse, the PengCat, meowed in an undulating force as he waddle-leaped through the wall of waves.

His journeys became the stuff of legends.

Lemmings to Slaughter

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Trolls Tongue

Lemmings to Slaughter

©Stuart Nager 8/5/20

 

I watched a woman dive off of a cliff.

The four others who had ascended with her ran to the edge of the outcropping. At first, I thought they would all follow her as a group, a splice of Lemmings following the herd. They did run helter-skelter after, yet they all stopped abruptly at the edge. Parts of The Trolls Tongue ledge were disturbed by their mad dash forward. Broken off pieces of rock following in her stead as they laughed and high fived each other.

Two went prone, cellphones at hand, in what I assumed was to record the woman’s rapid descent. The other two had packs already on their backs, each checking the other.

I noticed all of their movements for a brief moment: a fraction, really. I took them in more out of the corner of my eye. I lost total interest as I watched the jumper descend.

She was swimming through the air. The flips were followed by a turn to the west. Then east. A series of air pocket climbs allowed her to somersault, pushing her up on the currents. The spirals she performed were breathtaking. Her control was magnificent. The whining pitch of her aerials signaled her falling speed increase.

Spreading her body out, she pulled something. I could see the movement, but she was too far away, even for me, to see clearly.

The pack upon her back burst open. A snarl of colors leaped out and up. As it unfurled, I muttered an involuntary “ah” as I understood. A parachute. Multi-colored as it snapped into shape, drawing her once more upwards. The four yelled, laughed, and hooted at this point. I didn’t turn to look. It was enough to hear them squawk akin to Snowy Owls.

I imagined her laughing along as she heavily floated to the Fjord below. Her heart beating fiercely, blood coursing through her body at high speed. I envied her, that joy, that freedom, that overtaking of fear. Sensations that I have been divorced from for far too long.

A new shout from the four sought my attention and grabbed it. Only the two lying prone were still there. The others were off, doing their “death-defying” acrobats. I watched it for only a moment. Individually, they were nowhere near as graceful as their friend was. They made up for it a bit, and they maneuvered around and with each other. It wasn’t enough. I lost interest in the last hooting I heard from them.

I’d been alone on The Tongue for an eternity. Initially, I climbed this peak after the deaths of my family, trying to escape their death howls. They were silenced in turn as I fled. Ashamed, I traveled on. Climbing, ever climbing. When I first beheld this outcropping, my turmoil of thoughts leveled out. The gods were with me. An excellent place to die, I thought and felt. I had been alone for so long. It was good at that point to die alone.

Yet, when I reached the edge of the outcropping, ready to cross that flimsy border of safety, I found I was unable to move any closer. The dizzying height, the frigid air, the snow that had followed me as I trod on. Frozen in heart and mind, I was buffeted in indecision that lasted through the freezing night.

Just as the morning sun began its rise, my knees and lower legs wobbled. I grew unsteady, leaning precariously in the direction I needed to go. Wanted so desperately to go. A strong upwind slapped me in the face, sending me back instead of forwards.

I sprawled on the outcrop through the light of the day. Movement was beyond me. I tried, failing every attempt. As the day dwindled away, I let the darkness envelop me in whole. All the pride I still had fled, my resolve punctured. Emotions were stripped away in one swoop. I was unmade.

The night sky was brilliant when I finally opened my eyes anew.

“I am not worthy of joining you. I see that now. I can wait. I can still remember.”

Hunger growls drew me out of the remembrance. Loud, but not loud enough to rouse the two left behind. My steps towards them were but feathers.

Upon The Trolls Tongue, I feasted well.

May those who come searching for them travel with speed.

 

 

 

Holding On

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a night window

HOLDING ON

by Stuart Nager©

 

 

“Wendy. Close the window. It is freezing in here.”

John was flat on his back, under his sheets and quilt. He had his right arm draped over his eyes. Truth be told, it was his nightshirt that did the draping. John’s arm was across his brow. He had to remind himself to relax, for he was leaving an indent in the lower forehead.

Wendy sat on the padded window bench; knees tucked up tight against her chest. Her arms encircled her legs. The window was ajar, allowing the night winds free entry into the bedroom. Wendy searched the clouds, looking. Praying. Hoping.

The wind whipped up, bursting past the lead paned glass. It sends Wendy’s nightshirt fluttering. Her shoulders lifted, her immaculate posture in place. Wendy tilted her head just so. She knew what he liked.

As did she.

“Arrrrrr, matey!” John used his pirate voice, doing his best to make her laugh. Wendy did not laugh nor smile. Jumping out of bed, John had to untangle himself from the bedsheets. All of the bed coverings wound up on the floor.

“Wendy, it is freezing in here. Shut the window, please.” He looked over at Michael, deep in slumber. His consistent snoring was the proof he was asleep. He could never duplicate that sound when he was faking to stay in bed. Mother saw right through him.

Wendy shushed him.

“You know he won’t wake up. He’s dead to the world right now.”

She shushed him again. John grabbed his quilt from the floor, whipping it over his head and onto his shoulders. So encased, John approached his sister. Wendy was still eyeing the night sky.

John plopped down on the other side of the bench, pulling the blanket even tighter around him. Just as his teeth started to chatter, he realized Wendy was only in her night clothing. Reversing the quilt, he laid one end over his sister.

“Thank you, John,” she whispered, far away from the room. John followed where she was looking. She’d change an angle; he would mirror it. “Darling bookends,” Liza would say if the housemaid was in the room. He smiled at that thought. Wendy noticed him as his smile slowly crept back inside him.

“Wendy. He’s not coming back. He isn’t. Shh. Please hear me out. We’ve had this…this…talk far too often. Fourteen months have passed. No pirates. No Indians. No Tink. No Pe…”

Reaching over, Wendy placed the four fingers of her left hand gently over his mouth.

“Enough, John. Please. I know. I still hope. I still have hope. Every blessed night I have hope. It just,” Wendy stopped, turning her head back to gazing the now unclouded sparkling heavens. “It just hurts, John.”

He nodded his head. What was left to say? They had had this conversation far too many times. It always ended in tears. There were many nights where John tried his best to distract her. The successful evenings were spent making up stories of what battle or mischief he would be embroiled in, smack in the center of it all. She’d laugh at many of his tales. The more outlandish he made them, the more Wendy relaxed. And she’d stop looking out the window.

The less beneficial nights would come, ones where John felt powerless. Wendy, questioning, always the same. “Why doesn’t he return?” John knew there were two unspoken words to that query: “For her.”

Wendy did turn her head back to John. “No stories tonight, please. My insides are so knotted, so heavy. Not tonight, dear John. Not tonight.”

He nodded his head, and the two sat quietly by the window. No one spoke. Michael snored. They both yawned, Wendy insisting John started it. John, naturally, accused Wendy.

“We better get to bed. I don’t wish Mother to be cross with us in the morning.” She stood up, patting her nightwear down into a proper shape. John noticed Wendy’s hesitation before she reached over and closed the window. The sound of the latch fitting in place brought a feathery gasp from her lips. Her arms, as always, crossed over her heart.

John returned to bed. He tossed all the linen quilt back on the bed, diving under it all for warmth. John’s face was warm. He felt an unpleasant tightening in his chest. He should have hugged her, said he’ll always be there for her, that she was the best sister anyone ever had. John only said: “Good night, Wendy,” as she closed the door, tiptoeing down the hallway to her room.

As Wendy made it to her bed, her thoughts swallowed her whole. She thought of the unfairness of growing up. How much Wendy wanted to share the same bedroom with her brothers again. How much she wished she had stayed and not returned home. All swept away by the burning question she held tight: “Why hasn’t Peter returned for me?”

It was just over a month that Wendy overheard “The” conversation. Wendy, supposedly in bed, was walking by Mother’s bedroom. The door was partially open. Peeking in, Mother was sitting at her vanity, Liza behind her, counting out the number of times she ran the brush through Mother’s hair.

Wendy was not pleased that Mother was now calling her “a proper young lady.” She had experienced her first flow, a most embarrassing event. Her bones were achy almost all the time. She started maturing. Wendy’s new clothing, the changes in her body, all of it left her feeling embarrassed and humiliated. Wendy’s deep sadness permeated throughout her.

She knew why Peter did not come for her.

Why he would not come for her, ever again.

Wendy wished she had never eavesdropped.

“100,” Lisa stated, putting the hairbrush down on the table. “Miss Wendy is starting to fill out, mum. She’ll be as beautiful as you. Not that she isn’t a pretty young thing now.”

Mother was silent, staring into the mirror. Wendy was sure Mother would not answer Liza. Just as she began to walk away, Wendy heard Mother say, “I know it is the right thing to do, Liza. It is time that Wendy a room to herself. She is blossoming. It is time for her to grow into being a proper young lady. But.” Mother left that word dangling on its own.

“Yes, but,” Liza agreed. “It will be for the best.”

Mother nodded. “I do pray that this will ease the burden she carries. Wendy needs to let this fantastical story of flying, pirates, faeries…” Mother sighed. “She needs to let it go.”

Wendy moved away from the door.

The next day Wendy was given her room. She sulked alone for the next two days, only leaving her confines for meals that she picked at. The third night, though, she had had enough.

Wendy immediately ran to the bedroom she had shared with her brothers. She threw the door wide open. Her feet glided across the nursery floor until she got up on the window. Kneeling, Wendy opened the windows. She crept to the window frame, her eyes fixated on the dark, laden clouds above. No stars were visible.  Rain, though: rain fell ferociously. Wendy became a soaking wet sponge instantly. She kneeled on the pane for a long while.

A noise coming from the doorway startled Wendy out of her fugue. Wendy slightly turned and saw Liza standing in the hallway.

“Wendy Darling,” Liza trumpeted. She stamped her feet as she approached the window seat, not thinking of the boys at all. Upon arrival, Liza shooed Wendy to move away.  “Young lady, what has gotten into you? You were not in your room. I knew you would be here. You, young lady, are heading straight to your room: a hot bath and fresh nightshirt. Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”

Wendy, shivering, glanced at her brothers, warmly tucked in. She smiled although her heart was shattering.

When she heard the latch fall into place, she sat on the floor and cried.

 

 

Nightmare Reflection: 2020 AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Reflection #atozchallenge 2020

 

NIGHTMARE REFLECTIONS

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

The AtoZ Blog Challenge 2020

Writing In Captivity

The AtoZ is a challenge. I take that seriously. Since 2011, my first foray into this, I have changed gears from year to year. I like stretching beyond my comfort zones. Some of it has been well taken in both Stats and comments. Others, like this year, not so much.

I am pleased with what I chose to do:  write 26 Lyrical Poems under the theme title. Write every day in April, except Sundays. I have written poetry before, many well received by the readers. But, I write in that style intermittently.

This was truly a challenging April.

If you’ve followed from April 1st  with Awakenings to Zealous O’er the Seas, you’ve experienced my venting, wistfulness, wishing, observations, and anger through my words. Some I rhymed on purpose, some I just let the words loose.

Every single poem was written with a genre of music or musician’s styling playing in my head. I did not intend to appropriate any specific song; it’s the overall mood they convey and are masters of. I’ve written songs before, but I have no knowledge of musical notation and I don’t play a musical instrument. I hear it inside and then turn to someone to collaborate with. From humming it out, setting the beats (as I see them), hearing it played,  gets me going. Seeing how the meter is off from one (or many) line(s) starts my rewrite of the lyrics if needed. Tweaking the piece, scrapping whole verses, you know: first to finished draft.

The music that drifted around me as I wrote the poem daily (I don’t pre-write) is varied:

  1. Big Band/Crooners; Folk music; Rap (as I understand it); Sea Shanties; Rock; Heavy/Thrash Metal; Alt Rock & Alt-Country; Punk; Romantic-ish; Blues; Singer/Songwriter.
  2. Artists:  Tom Waits; Leonard Cohen; The Kinks; Joni Mitchel; Peter Gabriel; Kate Bush; Sousie and the Banshees; Alestorm; Dean Martin; St. Vincent; later Beatles; Beck; The Clash; The Cure; and others that my mind can’t latch onto right now.

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

Why Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul? What does that mean, to you? What do you think it means to me? I asked that question near the end of the month and got one response.

Noor Anand Chawla wrote:

I think your title alludes to the fact that you lay yourself and perhaps your worst fears, bare to your audience, through these 26 pieces. “Nightmares” refer to your worst fears, and “unbleached soul” refers to the absence of restraint and being absolutely honest about your feelings.
Perhaps my explanation is too simplistic? What do you think?

Noor pretty much nailed it. I feel that nightmares go beyond our sleep. They are all around us. It could be people, situations, personal fears, perceived fears, and hurt that you feel has been done to you, or that you have done to yourself.

Noor also got the “Unbleached Soul” part. I would add to that when we follow the crowd, stop thinking on our own (or made to stop), refuse to look at things from another angle = Bleached. Soul or Mind: interchangeable.

Overall, I am a non-conformist. I despise the statement “We’ve always done it this way!” For me, there is no box for me to think out of. It’s been imposed on me time and again. Not my thing. I’m creative. I don’t always follow mindless rules, inflexible, with no desire to even listen to a different POV. Sometimes I’ve done that: those are the times I get headaches constantly and down more aspirin than I should.

Try Noor’s blog (link above). I think you’ll enjoy her writing.

Overall 

I love the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I’ve come across some amazing writers, and many have become online friends. Their pieces are varied from all types of fiction to creative non-fiction to reviews and more. That’s a big part of why I come back.

As I mentioned above, I like a challenge when writing. This gives me that opportunity with the potential to reach well beyond the people who follow me. I’m not hawking for new followers. The performer side of me wants people to want more, for the readers to take what they will from the piece that can touch them &/or make them think.

I am disappointed, again already mentioned, with my stats and comments this year. This was the smallest audience of all my years participating. I went out on a limb, poured a lot of what’s inside of me (as Noor mentioned), and while getting some amazing feedback I wonder what didn’t connect with others. Normally, I’ve had serialized stories that are long in length. I get that. Long posts are sometimes passed over, especially when you are blog hopping.

If I join in again next year, I have a lot of contemplation ahead of me.

Big thanks to Arlee Bird and all the other hosts who worked on this year’s Atoz Blog Challenge. It is obvious how much work they have put in. It shows in many ways.

Big thanks 2, to all of my readers, commenters, and supporters. Too many to name, but know your interaction is priceless.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

missionaccomplished

Zealous O’er the Seas: Nightmares from an Unbleached Mind, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Z2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED MIND

ZEALOUS O’ER THE SEAS

There was a ship tore o'er the sea
Zealous she was in name and in deed
We caught with ease all of our prey, 
Nary a one gave us a slip
The bounty was always plenty
Filling out hold to the deck.

Fill up our ale mugs and raise them high 
Give our Captain Bones a cheer
Hey!
Stalwart and brave, a rogue to his core
Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY!

Billy Jack led the Zealous on many a wild chase
She was a fearsome sight to behold
With raised colors most tried to flee
As we came upon them
All the crews fought valiantly
But for them it came to naught

Fill up our ale mugs and raise them high
Give our Captain a cheer
Hey!
Stalwart and brave, a rogue to his core
Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY!

Billy Jack entranced the women on each pirate isle
From St. Mary's Island came Jaquotte; Clew Bay gave up Sadie
Tortuga brought his Bonny; Ching Shih was from Port royal
At Barataria Bay he fell for Mary Read
His met his fate on New Providence, Anne Bonny

Fill up our ale mugs and raise them high
Give our Captain a cheer
Hey!
Stalwart and brave, a rogue to his core
Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY!

The six hellions thought they his only bride
Given the news from the massive Black Ghost Ship 
Sailing out aboard the ship, the six brides did plan
To give Billy his comeuppance for once and evermore

Fill up our ale mugs and raise them high
Give our Captain a cheer
Hey!
Stalwart and brave, a rogue to his core
Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY!

Captain Bones was surrounded, ale wenches four
All headed to his den, for pleasure and more
A blow to his noggin ended that display
Tethered to a mast he awoke to six deadly glares

Each bride flogged our Billy in turn, unmercifully
Anne Bonny approached him at the last, no whip in sight
Proud was our Captain, he stared into her eyes
Anne Bonny aimed her pistol; Billy Jack Bones was gone

So heed this tale when considering to wed
Be extra cautious with who you take to bed
Marriage vows are sacred; Offer no contempt
Or you'll live in agony beyond what was ever dreamt
Fill up our ale mugs and raise them high
Give our Captain some cheers
Hey! Hey!
Stalwart and brave, a rogue to his core
Was Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY! HEY!

Captain Billy Jack Bones
HEY!

**************************************************************

**The female pirates, the pirate safe havens, the Zealous, are all part of Pirate history.  The HMS Zealous lived on in three different vessels. I moved the female pirates around for this story-song. The pirate havens were real. Plundering was real. 

Everything else was my creation.  Hey Hey!
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Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul theme is at its end. 26 lyrical poems written daily during the month of April (no Sundays). It began on April 1st and ended Thursday, April 30th. There is still one more piece to this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge: we are asked to write our Reflections on the process, successes, thoughts, and any changes you might like to make. All the blogs that survived this Apri’s challenge will post their Reflections between May 4th to May 16th.

I will post my Reflections on either May 4th or 5th. I’ll let you know.

I hope you find new blogs that draw you in. If you wish to, go to The Master List.

I’ve asked a few questions along the way: what genre of music you think suits the lyrics best? Who or what style of music was in my head when I wrote these? My last one for the end:

  1. Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?  
  2. I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
    1. for yourself?
    2. why do you think I chose that as my theme title?

     

Comments are always welcome.

HEY! HEY!

KIND NESSIE: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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K2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

KIND NESSIE

Kind Nessie came from the sea
A blooded cutlass in her hand
If she came your way you would flee
A hellion on the main land

Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Her strength made her free

Every battle landed gold and more
Success came from her bravery
From the bridge Kind Nessie soared
Captaining her ship Destiny

Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Her passion made her free

She took no gruff, not prone to boast
Our trust in Kind Nessie always held 
In foray she was feared the most
Of seafaring folk she was unparalleled.
Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Intelligence made her free

All her crew cheered Nessie
They treated her like a queen
Even though her quarters were messy        [Hey!]
They loved that she would never preen

Hey Ho Nessie 
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie 
Her passion made her free 
                                            [yawnnnnnn]

Ah,Kind Nessie, 
I think it is time for bed             [not yet!?]
Ah, Kind Nessie,
You've earned this kiss on the head

                                              [Hey Ho Nessie...]
Shhhh
Goodnight
Love you
"click"
 
                                             [hey ho Nessie
                                                raise a 'yawnnn" me
                                                hey ho
                                                hey ho
                                                hey ho
                                                hey....]

My Hot Fling With Ashton Kutcher: Flash Fiction (Prompt)

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ashton

FLASH FICTION PROMPT

MY HOT FLING WITH ASHTON KUTCHER

Top-down on my Shelby Mustang Convertible, white canvas snug against the red cherry finish, Ashton and I cruise along Route 1. Food was the topic of discussion, led by the intermittent growls from our stomachs. There was a stretch of road where they held a deep conversation, with each expressing a point vs. counterpoint on which fast food death-pit we were passing at the moment. Ashton and I laughed after the fifth such conversation, holding out stomachs more to quiet them down than to ease the aches.

The stereo was on 11 since we drove in the open air. Our playlist was Spotify controlled, a created loop aggregated through hours of controlled listening. Ashton skipped a couple of tunes I only heard one or two notes of, settling on Flo Rida and smiling. He had the remote and the wheel. I was fine until a K-Pop pop was “suggested.” Thus began the 1.3 mile Battle of the Remote, which I won by telling a very bad pun. I switched the playlist. Little Willie John, followed by Robert Johnson. The Blues moved us along, cool wind in our hair.

“Turn left at the next light.”

I was The Navigator on this part of our road trip. I took the role seriously, as did Ashton in his role as The Driver. The Navigator calls the shots, is always right and gets the last word in where the traveling winds up.

A gear shift and a sigh came from my left. I looked over: Ashton gave me the side-eye, which made me chuckle. He had a destination he wanted to get to; it was just without any definite time constraint. That wasn’t for the sigh. I had nowhere to be, nowhere to go, and he knew that.

“You could have let me drive, y’know,” I told him.

“Yeah, I should have. But, ” he smiled, “you are a maniac when you are aimless. So…”

“So, yeah.” I let a few blocks whiz by. “There. Turn right.” I pointed in my most Captain Obvious way. Ashton did without braking. “Good boy!”

Signs started popping up for various coastal beaches as we headed along the road. I must have let out a noise of interest because Ashton began to lightly curse under his breath. He’d seen the signs as well. They weren’t ominous signs, just ones we both knew were time killers.

I noticed something up ahead on the right that lit me up. Directing Ashton to pull over and park forestalled any argument that might have been forming. As the engine pinged down, we looked to our right. Frank’s Brick Oven. Just what our growling tummies ordered.

The driver door slammed shut, and Ashton joined me at the curb.

“You knew about this place?” he asked.

“Nope. Kismet. Synchronicity. That Old Pizza Magic. Food. Yes?”

“Yes.”

Ashton had a much longer gait and got to the door first. He stopped mid-step in. I had to squeeze by, a little shove working. I froze, too, as the aroma assailed our nostrils and sent them flaring. Laughter greeted us from a waitress who was standing in front of the counter and from the counter guy behind it. I answered their laughter with a huge smile. Ashton did as well, adding “Two, please.”

Our stomachs agreed as they gurgled in complicit harmony that sent all four of us laughing.

Debbie was our waitress, shiny and new out of High School, waiting for Freshman Year at Quinnipiac College to begin. If I said that she was smitten with Ashton, I’d hold the world’s record for understatements. She did get our orders; well, Ashton helped a bit, thereby pointing out I was sitting opposite of him. Once she unglued her eyes from him, the table for two was firmly acknowledged by Debbie. I still took that as a victory.

We placed our orders: a Keto Kale Kumbaya veggie mess for Ashton while I asked for a spicy Italian meat monster. Water was fine for both of us, but Ashton asked for slices of cucumber in his, hold the ice. Debbie sighed as she took the menus from us, more so when she took Ashton’s. “Of course, Mr. Ashton” giggles got only gigglier when he told her to just call him Ashton.

I might as well have been invisible.

Both of the pizzas sent our senses into overdrive, the smell first as Debbie approached with them and then the taste with our first bites. I got another side-eye from Ashton when my pie was put down. I had already looked askance at his. We had a few rules, and this was one of them: at the meal table, our “No Proselytizing” sign went into effect. It made our respective digestions easier and let us remain friends.

We ate. We talked. We commiserated and joked. Debbie and the counter guy, Sal, got their autographs and selfies (I even got into one, a little off to the side). As Debbie was clearing the table, I ordered two large cheese, cut into 16 slices. To go. That got me my third side-eye, although this one was straight on. It’s not an easy thing to do, but Ashton nailed it. My hands did the talking, patting the air down, as I tried to settle my face into neutral. I shrugged my shoulders. Ashton let it be.

We paid, left a generous tip, and took the steaming pies to the car. I handed them to Ashton and raced to the driver’s door. As he was getting in, he was going to put the pies behind him in what Ford laughingly called a “back seat.”

“Hey!” I blanched. “Not on the leather!”

Ashton nodded, placing the very hot pies on his legs, balanced so between hands and knees for the lesser of potential pain. He understood what the Mustang meant.

Pulling away from Frank’s wasn’t easy, but carrying the goodies we had helped. I drove down the road a few miles until I saw the next beach sign. I glanced over at Ashton: he was staring off to the right. You could just see the glint of the Sound in between the flashes of the houses and trees. He didn’t even try to be The Navigator. He knew.

We found a parking spot two and a half blocks from the beach. I took one of the pizza’s from Ashton as we made our way. As we got to the entrance path eyes started turning our way. I nodded to Ashton our destination: a rocky outlook with a slight crest that led right to the roiling waves. He was looking around, making eye contact and returning “Hi’s” and “Hello’s,” but he acknowledged where we were going.

Along the way, I opened up my pizza box, offering a slice to anyone who passed by or approached. Ashton followed suit. Once emptied, a couple of kids took the boxes off our hands. We could hear them arguing over who was going to keep Ashton’s box, even though I told them he had handled both in the car.

We sat on the rocks for a long time. Ashton finally remembered he had a destination in mind, and that I had not.

The sun was setting behind us as we got in the Mustang, turned the engine on, and let the Blues wash over us.

***********************************************************

Author’s Note: THIS WAS A PROMPT. Repeat: THIS WAS A PROMPT.

I have never met Mr. Kutcher, know very little about him beyond what the tabloid press and Twitter say about him, and this piece, hopefully, keeps in the spirit of what he is about. At no point was this meant to demean, start a rumor, or any of the other silly nonsense that the internet is kinda-sorta known for. Now, if it had been his wife Mila Kunis instead, I probably would have chosen that, but…ahem…well, it wouldn’t be here on Tale Spinning.

People: chill.

At one of the two (three?) writing groups I attend, we were asked to write up to FIVE story titles with the caveat being that NONE OF THE STORIES ARE TRUE. We each shared two or three of our titles and then got to choose from any (or none) of those offered.

I took “My Hot Fling With Ashton Kutcher” simply because it would have been the LAST thing ever in the whole wide world I would ever write on my own. Nothing against Mr. Kutcher: he seems like a nice guy, and I honestly respect that he went before Congress and spoke against Human Trafficking and some other humanistic ideals he espouses.

When we read our pieces to each other, the response to this was very gratifying. I’m doing much more off-line writing at the moment AND trying to organize the 20th Anniversary of Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Funny: Benefit Against Violence and Hate Crimes (more on that soon: almost done with the website, but click on the link above to go to our Facebook page).

Hope you enjoyed this. Something different from me. Comments are always welcome.