Category Archives: Numbness

Cold Hearted John Meadows

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My name is John Meadows, at least, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. At this moment, I’m not sure if that is even true.

I woke up in a bedroom. It was an unknown space. Except, as I lifted my head up off the pillow, I noticed a picture that looked familiar. I stood, walked over to it: it was flush with the wall. An outdoor moment in time. There was a man, and a woman. They held each other, big smiles on their faces.

The man leaned on a vast gnarled tree. Instead of branches, It looked as if seven tree trunks wound around each other, an abstract weave of latticework wood. The leaves were thick, a dark shade of green that looked almost like they were black. They hung over the couple like a frame.

The woman had her head resting on the man’s shoulder. His hair fell to his collar, so dark that at first, I thought it looked like it was cut out of the photo. Her hair was lighter, a mixture of golden brown and red. I remembered that it was called Auburn. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that at first. Yes, Auburn-haired, long, it fell down and over his chest, making his torso look like it disappeared as well.

The photo bothered me. Her eyes sparkled when the shot was taken. His eyes held little to no reflection. I looked. His didn’t, even with the sunlight spotlighting where they stood. Her eyes, the tilt of her head, her smile: there was life. He smiled, but it didn’t seem to reach his eyes. They were flat.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a free-standing full-body mirror to my left. It stood at a tilt near white folding slat doors. I shuffled my way over to it. I could not remember what I looked like, nor who I was. Maybe, I thought, looking at the reflection, things would come into focus. My heart began to accelerate, chest tightening, and it was getting difficult to breathe. I hadn’t been aware of breathing before this. I was now.

Coming into full view, I felt my head had received something smashing into it. It hurt like hell. I had to touch my head. It felt like bone shattered. I checked. It felt solid. But the pain. It was like a steel bar was slammed against my forehead.

A steel bar? Why did I…no, more a bat? Baseball? No, no. A baseball. Yes, a baseball hurtling to me, not even registering that I needed to move, to duck, do something. But it was too fast. I was too slow. I was up, then nothing. It felt just like that, although I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why I felt that way when I stepped in front of the mirror.

Yes, I was the man in that photo, even though I did not remember that. It was clear upon viewing, my eyesight was waving, no floaters, no film distortion over the irises. I looked at myself in the mirror, then over to the photo. Goosebumps paraded across my spine.

Turning, I took in the rest of the room. White minimalism in paint and fabrics. Same with my pajama pants. I noticed, then, that I had no shirt on. A look in the mirror traveled down; before, I was solely intent only on my face. My chest was hairy but not matted. Three parallel deep pink scars ran from my left armpit to just past the bellybutton. An inny. They didn’t hurt as much as throb. Noticing them did not help my rapid breathing and heart rate.

The next moments are still a blur. I know I looked around: the place had been tidy when I awoke. Now, drawers, men’s clothing, papers littered the white. All the bed linen was on the floor. The sliding slat doors were open wide, showing a closet that was only half full. I took this all in, sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed. I felt something hard and looked down. I had a metal lockbox in my hands. My breathing shallowed, and I felt myself calm down to regular human beats. At least, what I thought were normal.

There was no lock to have to break into. The lid swung up with ease, showing the mound of papers it carried. I riffled through the envelopes, unfolded the various papers, and only stopped when I found a Birth Certificate. Mine, I have assumed, until someone tells me differently. 

My name is John Meadows.

If you are listening to this tape, then most likely I am dead. Or too far away for any meaning of living or dead is inconsequential. This is the story of what happened from that moment of waking, clueless to everything that had meaning to me. I know that the woman in the photo was Jean, my partner. I know she no longer…is here. Where? At this time, I still do not know how to answer that.

Whoever you are, whenever you are, do yourself and loved ones a favor.

Do not stand under the leaves of that massive, gnarled tree.

It is not the Tree of Life.

That Morning

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Maori-Grey-Color-Ink-3D-Cracked-Face-Tattoo-On-Boys-Hand-For-Man
Pulled up to the curb
Hated building in sight
Drive shifted to Park
Pinging from under the hood

Tools for the day gathered
Unsnapped restraints
Body free
Yet, an unexpected hellish message came to me

Heavy chills from that winter day
Were nothing to the inward heat
Words tore through the chest
Filling up a now empty cavity

Pain sat in those words
Brushing off; tossed away
Snow fell in furried force
Muddled mind filled with numbing pain

The words made no sense
Content denied
The words finally made sense
As what was left flew away

No awareness of time falling away
Park was gone; drive remained
Yet no destination set
To a melted mind


We don’t grow when things are easy.

We grow when we face challenges.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Sonnet: When The Time Is Right

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There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. Martin Luther King, Jr.

OIP

 

Intimidation tactics are useless

Where the many are set upon as thieves

These are times punctuated through much stress

With hopes that all of our fears are relieved.

 

Hateful, scornful words meet extreme actions

Quiet shattered by jeers of discontent

The deep divide of opposing factions

It puts roadblocks in the way, we are rent

 

Yet, if the tide was to turn to the truth

The consequences in dire dispute

Thoughts and prayers may not be the needed sooth

To mend what has been sundered by refute

 

What impending years that we will pass through

Steps can be taken for our lawful due

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☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

This was a blog challenge: Simply 6 Minutes from Stine Writing

The rules for the challenge: Use today’s prompt (The MLKjr quote above)

Write for SIX Minutes. When your timer goes off, you are done.

Post on Stine Writing blog or on your own with a link on that blog’s site.

I did the above in under six minutes, where I had enough time to make sure there were ten syllables in each line.

I know; I shouldn’t edit, but, c’mon. It’s a sonnet. 🙂

SILENT

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SILENT

Once

My tongue was set on fire

Molten heat singed my teeth

Roof of the mouth was a blister

Waiting to burst.

But

Vocal cords remains charred

The throat a useless thing

Nostrils spat out flames

Then it reached the brain.

So

The cerebrum was basted

By the runoff of the mind

Thoughts became wasted

As the inferno left no room.

Yet

It never reached my heart

Though it felt twisted and dry

When everything fell crumbling

I refused to just stand by.

Mathematical Equations Flow into a Bear’s Winter Den.

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Mathematical Equations Flow into a Bear’s Winter Den.

“You should let it go”

The Grizzly snapped

Claws sharp and bright

“Stop the hoping;

Nothings coming back!”

As the Bear pounces on you,

Teeth clamping on

Growling “No one’s complete.”

She’d advance then goes still

Hot breath steaming your face.

Your legs quiver

Barely holding you up

As eyes bore into yours

You can’t look away for

No place to retreat.

“Prove it!” she demanded

Pushed full weight against the rocks

“What do you think you deserve?

What offers can you keep?”

She came to you,

Not the other way

Break all the fucking rules

Then she came, then pushed away

Retreating then imploring

Over tumbling common ground.

Repeating past confusions,

Not again, not again

There’s a challenge, a test

It’s denied. unspoken, yet

Rend your mind wide

Show that you bend,

Expectations leveling out

Leaving little behind.

Except you.

You are easily left behind.

Unique in a good way,

“Not trashed,” she opined.

In that moment

Invisibility leaps forth

Blurring the Grizzly from taking

More than you’re worth.

It ripped into you

Left bleeding before the crowds

Who feeds into the invisible shroud

You’ve donned again, for as always,

It is always around.

“Prove it!” was demanded

Never given the chance

So, you are forced to turn and run.

You stumble,

Head an aching mess.

And you trip, you fall

Excoriated, shattered, so fucking deep.

It is easy to hide

You’ve established that fact

Yet a question remains:

Is it easier to just die?

 

 

 

Singing Songs of Joy and Peace

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Singing Songs of Joy and Peace*

 

 

We know what strict is

In the counts of the missing

The missing found

Splatters of their former selves

Shatters of what memories we had

Pushing away the viewpoints of before

It has to be forgotten

Or drag us into the mud

Meaningful deaths, but not now

They graphically get pushed away.

 

The clarity of the season was here

Wintery chills drifting along open skin

Particles inappreciable in white shells

Ingesting the soot of the days and nights

The wet becomes us

Slogging through the cold

We’re nothing but walking icicles

Degradation in our feet

 

Mornings must start with songs of Joy

From barracks to fields

To lift any spirit that could be raised

Through enforced blockage of what’s to come

Songs of Peace enforced taking Joys place

Blaring out, amplified unjust

Home is dancing in the street

Yet no dance here; our patterns are strict,

As long as this weather held.

 

Mercurial temperaments of nature

Have no sense of staying put

Wished away, ignoring petty whines

Pleading prayers always unheard

Chilled or sweltering

We melted or froze

In the fullness of time,

The weather changed.

 

Of the frozen deaths

We revoked our hearts

Set to extra toils

Making up for the dead

Of our sweat drenched backs

We camouflaged our hearts

What was left of them, numb or dead.

 

As long as this weather holds

“This” becomes mythical

While we wait; We wait

Continuing to give up lives

Joining the unremembered in their weather passage.

The egregious screws are welded holdfast

As we sing songs of Joy and Peace

Nevertheless the vagaries of weather;

Nonetheless what clasps us to those songs.

 

March on.

Opposite actions enforced.

Strictly.

 

March on.

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Author’s Note:

“Songs of joy and peace” come from Joni Mitchel’s beautiful song, River. I had listened to it only minutes before when I shut off my music app and tuned into that night’s writing group, River River Writer’s Circle. The prompt was “When the weather changes.” The above happened, was shared, and got the suggestion: “Think about expanding this out” (well, “stretching it out”). So, I let it sit, came back to it, and the above is the result.

Thank you, Ms. Mitchel. A sad, but integral song for many.  What I wrote is no reflection on her song. The fourth line of the first stanza stayed with me.

The opening stanza from Joni Mitchel’s River is: 

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Songwriters: Mitchell Joni
River lyrics © Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Obo Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp., Wb Music Corp Obo Jam N Bread Music

 

EDIT: Boy, am I dense!

Joni Mitchel’s River

RiverRiver Writer’s Circle. 

I just realized it. Not planned at all. Doh! Oy! :::palmface:::

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Demise On Old Blackwash Road

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Candle

Julie and Steve
In teenage lust angst
Lantern lit, hidden nook
Atrocities attacked ere consummation
Sending them heedlessly running along
On Old Blackwash Road

Julie was screaming
Until her voice decayed
Steve pulled ahead
No thought of her pumping away
Julie tried to catch up
Down Old Blackwash Road

If words could take aim
Steve would have heard her pleas
Curses tossed through him
Voiceless, running still
Left alone under moonlight
Fever pitch dashing on Old Blackwash Road

Steve's mind was blanker
Except for grinding terror
Pushing himself faster on
It was primal, fierce 
As his lungs began to seize
Slowing on Old Blackwash Road

Julie haven found above
Crawling up an ancient oak
She saw Steve plunge to the ground
Closed her eyes ridigidly shut
Prayed, then dug her nails into the wood
Surrounding Old Blackwash Road

Steve's wails turned raw
Before they abruptly terminated
Julie clung for more than her worth
Tree sap glued her to her spot
Unaware of it till morning light
Dawn awakening Old Blackwash Road

Time moved through Julie
Frozen to the spot
Heat of the day came fiercely 
Freeing her from tree secretion
Setting her down upon
Empty Old Blackwash Road

She fled the scene half naked
The ground was bare of Steve
Her throat hurt as she sobbed aloud
No tears were left inside her
As she stumbled upon Route 40
Connected to Old Blackwash Road

Julie withdrew and hid inside
While the Sheriff did his best
Steve was never found, even a tiny bit
"It's happened before," they all knew for true
Julie shrugged. What could she say or do
About Old Blackwash Road?







Mind Full Dismantled

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MIND FULL DISMANTLED

 

 

 

A lifetime of perceived perseverance is draining

Far too many called it stubbornness

Negative and judgmental in any context

Sending one on a downward spiral

Until germination of persevering takes root again

Dismissal of

Having one’s voice heard

Acceptance of differing viewpoints

Acknowledgment that the now of you

Has surpassed the images of your past self

That others have held onto

It is a Sisyphusian task you live

Beginning anew, evermore

Almost reaching the goal

Believing that this is your path

Your purpose exposed

Yet derision erodes the journey

Brings you to your knees

Eternal punishment

Or so it seems

Cursed to continue evermore

Perseverance

Translated as stubbornness

Which sets off dismissal

The you that is now.

Persevere.

Stay stubborn.

 

In the night

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spilled red

IN THE NIGHT

Mark convulsed in the mudded pit and dissolved. Spasms had wracked his form as he wormed his way along the rain-drenched ground. He did not sense the sharp drop that brought him to his end. Yes, I watched his final journey. I stood at the lip of the pit, watched his death, and walked home.
 
Why did I watch? Why didn’t I do anything? I had done something. His ending began with me.
 
You look startled. Why? You know Mark and I were never friendly towards the other. He stabbed me in the back as many times I stabbed him. Staying away from each other was the prudent thing to do, we both knew that. We even laughed together one evening over that thought, sipping our glasses of red. The bar was thriving that night.
 
Some weren’t after we finished with them. Yes, I know, Mark and I, rivals, blah blah blah. The hunt drew us together now and then, generally by sheer coincidence. At least, that is what I had always thought.
 
It turned out that Mark had planned every encounter. I have to give him his due: his skill in lying far surpassed mine. When I found the truth, I was a tad humbled. Mark’s lying was at mastery level. I worked hard to take mine to his level.
 
Why did he do it? Why did he hate me that severely? Old story. It was always a game of one-upmanship between us. Always. Mark would not accept that I could exceed him in any way. It was no more than a game of egos, until, it wasn’t.
 
It all started with Claire. He wanted her. She chose me. Once her bloodied body was discovered, nothing between us would ever be the same game again. I’d take from him. He’d indulge in returning the favor. We were living in a harsh cycle. The drawn blood between us had been notorious.
 
Yes, yes. That was centuries ago. So?
 
Why now, you ask? What brought our mutual loathing to an end now?
 
Mark and I have always been scrutinizing each other. Weaknesses praised and used to our advantage. This became our goal: seeking knowledge to use to the other’s detriment. Who won or lost these challenges was of no concern, then.
 
It came to my attention that Mark had studied me far deeper all along. It came to me in whispers along the way. Sycophants whose loyalties drifted between Mark and me. I ignored most of them as pure gossip. I knew I spun my tales to unsettle Mark.
 
Until most recently, I believed we were on even ground.
 
What? Of course, I was wrong! Yes, yes, always headstrong, blah blah.
 
Mark’s planning had reached a summit. It was due to begin this very evening. Ha! He had rallied many to his side. I thought we were equally loathed. Again, I was wrong, but…there will be a reckoning.
 
His plan: attack and obliterate everything, and everyone, that I possess. Every single element that is mine. I may not have a heart, but Marks’s scheme was that threat one step too far. I confronted him on this.
 
Of course, he denied it all. What else would one expect?
 
No matter: he would never take what was mine again. 
 
That night’s storm was tearing up the sky. That was pure coincidence, convenient on my part.
 
I had reached out to him. He responded, and met me that night outside of a long-standing bar we both favored. Accusations and denials tore into the night sky. Sharp words turned to sharper claws.
We did grave damage to each other, of course.
 
On a muddied slope, Mark lost his balance. Miniscule, but I took my advantage. I was getting the best of Mark. Deep in the forest at this point, Mark went down to the earth, glaring my way. I imagine that he felt this was our usual. Spar, hurt the other to that point, He hadn’t prepared for me to take this to a true Endinig.
 
I did. I fought dirtier than usual, slashing his in violence I had not known I was capable of. Panting, Mark began to sidle away. I pulled out a weapon we had both sworn would never enter our conflicts. Embedded with Elder rune, I weighed the silver blessed dagger in my left hand. Mark screamed as the dagger plunged through his hide with ease. 
 
Yes, more than once. Many more times.
 
You would have laughed at the look on Mark’s face as he passed on.
 
I did. It was exquisite.
 
No? You’d instead it was my face, my death?
 
Ah, friend, I’m not sure I believe your poo-pooing. That will be another discussion between us. Yes?
 
On your central question of “Why?” Really? After all these years we have left behind us, you feel the need to ask, “Why?”
 
Claire. It was still about Claire. For me, always, it has always been about Claire.
 
Drink up. Your glass of red is cooling off.
 
Good. Good. Now, let us discuss one last thing.
 
Why did you join Mark’s plot against me?
 
Hmmm?

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Looking for a new online writer’s group to satisfy your passion?

I am the organizer and host of two separate groups:

  1. RevitalWriters: Critique. Done. Write.
    1. For the more serious writers needs support on their WIP and honing their craft.
    2. RevitalWriters will be a weekly cohort.
    3. Visit MeetUp to RSVP RevitalWriters. (click the link)
    4. Fridays at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. EST
  2. Daydreamers Writing Club
      1. Your weekend retreat for writing and join others like you: a passion to write.
      2. Sessions run Saturday mornings, 10:00 am to Noon, EST
      3. Visit our MeetUp page to join this community: Daydreamers Writing Club

     

Both groups welcome writers of any genre or style.

We hope to see you.