Category Archives: Rituals

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.

One – Thirteen – Eight

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Thirteen years

Separated by a day

Tear apart Autumn.

 

Leaves die,

Their true colors surfacing

Until they fall.

 

It all happened too fast

As slow as it went

Eight years the aftermath. 

 

Two held out

Eyelids close for the last time

Left much unanswered with regrets

 

Stick it out, alone

As ideation throws itself

Against membrane walls.

 

Silence instead of screams

Close lips, open eyes

The yelling of the past is past.

 

There is a disconnect

Rejections, Turned backs

As the darkness of the night

Seeps into the coming day

Hiding is opportune

When one day is like the next.

 

 

HELEDAVAR WAS MIFFED

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Heledavar dropped off the branch, landing feet first on the moss. She’d had an uneventful night in the tree, no visit from the Mlkh of the Beautiful NightMare. It was not the first time Heledavar was left with a barren sleep. She was miffed, ready to take it out on her brother, Haladavar, Wood Elf style. Heledavar reached up, grabbed a low hanging branch, and pulled. It tore off the tree, no more effort than to step on a cadaverous bug.  Heledavar thought a prayer to the tree.

It was a Tarn’s bottom to be the only femwaif in a family of Tree Elf glutoffs.

She took to dashing behind and between trees, hoping that Hal was still was captive in the dream world. She reached his spot and stopped.  Heledavar’s miffed turned quickly into peeved. Instead of her brother laid out on his favorite bed of rubble stones, Hal left a “note” on the center stone.  It was spelled out with smaller rocks: “gone adven bi. “ An adventure? The glutoff! Heledavar stormed off.

As the action of Hal kept repeating inside her, Heledavar elevated her peeved to one of extreme vexation. She swore in High Wood Elf, her mixture of curses brimming to the surface. Her mismatched eyes bulged out. Vexation to fury, with ease.

She had lived through this five -no, six- times before. All of her siblings: “gone bi.” Until this last darkness, the dark became less dark. Then, only Haladavar and Heledavar remained. Now, Heledavar, alone. Hal left her to tend to their rotten, miserable, ungrateful parents. Their Her parents and their “haute couture” shrubbery and mulch mini-farm. Neither she nor any of her brothers had any intention to take over the family business: The Aralavaris Botanical and Breakfast Hut.

They all went “gone” the same way. They’d reach a specific tree span, and before anyone could say “Zarn Knows Little,” the darkness welcomed them. Each of them cringed once their parents went to bed. To a sibling, they learned where to sleep outside, reducing the horrible noise. The snoring was deafening. A Green Dragon could tear up all the trees outside, set fire to the shrubbery, roaring its terrible roar, and gnashing its terrible teeth. No matter. When they went to bed, they went to bed, snoring through the darkness.  She knew the Green Dragon’s frenzy because that scenario had happened. Three times. No. Four? Yes, four times.

She mumbled through gritted teeth: “those glutoffs! Moronic glutoffs! Feted glutoffs!”

Heledavar raised both hands, clenched in rock breaking fists. She boxed the air above her head, screaming to the puce heavens above. Heledavar stopped her tantrum as quickly as it started. The last time she let loose was the time the previous Green Dragon came forth.

Her ill feelings shifted, rising from peeved to quite vexed.

She approached the hut they had all shared. The snoring cut through the rotting wood paneling, shored up by their “best” shrubbery. Snoring. Near endless snoring. Momentous snoring! Apocalyptic noise that would be the end of her if she did not leave. As all the others did. She thought about patricide and matricide for an Ogre’s hair breath, but she just shook her massive head. Heledavar snuck inside, grabbing the clothing and few items that were hers, shoving them into a bag.  

Heledavar also helped herself to half the armory in the hut. Twelve throwing crescents, eleven Smoke Eaters, ten silver-rimmed stakes, enough knives to hide around her body, her bow with two quivers of arrows, and, finally, her mother’s Great Sword. Her pride, her treasure, the sword she named “Zweihänder, The Death That Comes.” When her mother, The Zoupah, took out her eight hand-sized, double-edged straight blade, her opponents knew it was already too late for them. Bladders were voided. Most ran. They still voided.

During those times, her father stayed at the hut, watching over his bushes.

It was Heledavar’s time.  Before she set out, Heledavar raided the kitchen. Food for the road. Satisfied with all the meats and treats she liked, Heledavar skulked out of the hut.  Heledavar went to Hal’s favorite conk-out spot. She added a smeared smattering of broken slab over Hal’s message: “H to bi.” It served its purpose. As she walked away, grease dripped down her chin from the roasted Shaitan she spirited away.

At High Not Dark, Heledavar stopped on the rocky path she strode along. The ground trembled from the aftershocks of the snoring. Rocks rolled. Saplings unrooted themselves. The oldest, largest trees felt their leaves tumble away. Even this far away, the snoring would not let her leave. Heledavar’s vexation catapulted to rage. Heledavar held up her left fist, the right trying not to lose the fatty shank. She steadied the shank by sinking her teeth into the next to last deep mass of meat. Heledavar was free to hold up her smallest finger.  Heledavar leaned her head back, a gargling noise spilling out of her mouth, and shot down. She spat out all that she had held back. Bile mixed with the saliva ejected seventeen times. Each one a burial for the last seventeen cycles that were her life.

Heledavar turned her back on the direction of the AB&BH, remaining in place. From stillness to a howling wind, Heledavar closed her right eye, whirled four times to the known winds, then four times back again. She repeated that dance three more times, at last planting her feet solid on the path. She said her name for the last time. “Heledavar.” Her past and the name that held roots were discarded. Hele, now, opened her eye, continuing on the pitted path before her.

She only looked back three times before the hut, at long last, fell away.

Or, was it Hele’s fourth time she looked back? Fifth?

She pondered that for a long while walking. The darkness and the less dark filled in the spaces to the next day.

Samhain

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Samhain

by Stuart Nager, 8/4/20 ©

Macha opened eyes that were not hers.

She found herself walking. Surrounded by a small grouping of Cailes, eight in number. All were of strange dress, some masked, others showing painted skin, akin to animals she had only heard of. They chattered, giggled, hugged one another, ran, and chased. Five were on the verge of womanhood; three already had crossed that threshold. The body she wore was one of those three.

Yelling far ahead startled her, but for a moment, for it quickly turned to wild laughter. Macha the Virago, a warrior woman of deed, wife of dead king Nemed, held tight. These were the young of this land. These were not the noise of battle, cries of the Formorians advancing on her people with slaughter on their lips. This was not the call of her people to fight. They were not the sounds of their death throes. Those sounds invaded the soul and heart of the Caile she rode. As was her death. Macha was on the last of three intonations when the Formor sent a spear through her breast. Her body lay on bloodied dirt as the last word touched her lips.

Macha stopped.

Her breath, her heart, her body; nothing overtly stirred as her insides tugged at the container that she had invaded. A soft hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking over, this was a raven-haired Caile, whose eyes took her in. She spoke, whispered a name-twice-as Macha realized that was this Calile’s name.

“Dana,” she paused. “Dana!” Their eyes met. “Are you ok? You just stopped. Dana. Hey. Knock knock. Hello? You were the one who wanted to go trick or treating. Hey, are you ok?”

Macha caught every speeding word that…Ali. Ali churned out. Dana/Macha nodded her head. Her answer-Dana’s answer-staggered out of their shared mouth.

“I am. I’m. I’m fine, Ali.” Macha added a smile to Dana’s face. Ali’s face relaxed at hearing this, and her bunched in shoulders opened.

Macha winced as Ali threw her arms around her torso, pinning her arms. Her hands clawed in response, an intonation traveled from mind to lips. It stopped there, claws became hands, and Dana accepted the hug. She returned it.

“Hey. Go find a room,” the tall redhead called out as she walked towards the two. Jill. “C’mon. Halloween is here, babe. Let’s get some of the goodies!”

The word meant nothing to Macha as Jill and Ali linked arms with her, dragging her along. The three caught up with the others. Halloween. Dana was no help here as she was eating something delightful.

Macha looked up at the darkening skies as Dana chewed. She continued to be swept along from door to door, filling up the bag Dana had brought with her. As night truly arrived, all the girls started singing, walking to Jill’s house for the night. Dana didn’t know the words to a monster mash, so she stayed back a few steps from the others. Ali remained at her side, singing.

Macha took another look up to the stars. Her eyes twinkled. The smile on Dana was Macha’s. Ali took Dana’s hands, dancing around in a circle. They both would up laughing on the lawn outside of Jill’s home. Dana, then Ali, laid prone, heads almost touching, and stared at the stars.

Dana pointed to a group of stars that were still on the rise.

“The Seven Sisters.”

“What?”

“There. There, Ali, look. At the highest point. The grouping of stars. The Seven Sisters!”

Ali looked to where her best friend pointed, but couldn’t tell one star from another. She was just glad that Dana sounded like Dana again. Ali rolled over onto her side so she could look at Dana.

Macha didn’t notice. The Seven Sisters held her in their embrace.

“Samhain. All hallows eve. The dead shall rise. Halloween.”

Ali was asleep beside her. Macha shed tears, finding herself at the center of her life, in a world she would have to learn.

What better time of year to awaken. Macha the Virago: warrior woman; attle fury; The Phantom Queen. Macha died but has returned.

Woe to the ancestors of the Formorians.

Macha has returned.

 

 

Time, Particles

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A star

Time, Particles

Time.

Time is.

Time is a concept.

Time is a concept created by and for us.

There was light or darkness.

Labels made to fit.

Labels to fracture light and darkness.

Labels created—our concepts.

Our concept of what Time is, is meaningless.

We have taken Time and let it control.

Schedules. Start times.

End times.

When to show up. When to leave.

When to take the train.

When Time runs out, the train is gone.

 

What has Time done to us?

Being free of Time would be a blessing.

 

Time is our illusion.

We’ve dusted our eyes to the instability of such a structured thing.

Our structure.

Our Time.

The giant Metropolis clock needs winding.

We strive not to have Time run out.

Is it Time to let Time decompose?

Can we exist without the burden of Time?

 

Being free of Time,

We wait.

 

Supernovae.

All the stars reach critical points

Obliterating everything

Everything

Gone in a blaze

Is there passing of Time?

Or is it just an end.

Time will have no meaning then.

Time has no meaning now.

Tick Tock.

City Song, My

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Fuck the city

Overblown, hyperactive concrete and stone

Greasy street food; greasier people

Racing around, step on or over

Searching for the bright lights

Eclipsed by the shadows




To hell with the city

Nearly everyone’s oppressed

In some misguided way

Bend your neck, never knees,

As the fight to make it

Truth ends in buckets of the kill.




Screw the city

As it screws with you

Power, status, held in slimy claws

There’s heartache in the streets

Trod upon with running shoes.

You deserve what you get




Obliterate the city

Turn off the lights

You can’t see the stars shine

Blinded eyes obfuscate

Nothing to see here; move along

Dwindle yourself; something is wrong.




Fuck the city

Obsessiveness and greed

Hatred and fear

Isolated in ignorance

Shriek your outrage

Bellow your unscripted song.

 

Promises of People

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Darksit

Do I think living is a waste of time?

Depending on the day, I usually do

What stays with me in a world of No’s

Doesn’t make the future really glow. 

 

There’s sadness on a constant basis

There is no day that I don’t hurt

Even isolated from the isolated

The noises outside breaks into the room

 

Look at all you’ve got to live for

Imagine all the people who’d hurt

It is easy to get so distracted

By promises of people who say

 

Each day there’s awakening

Going through routines

Then you fall into that circle

Of repeating the same old things

 

What makes joy bleed away?

Why does nothing stick

Push away the best you can

But the pain is always there

The pain is always here

 

Look at all you’ve got to live for

Imagine all the people who’d hurt

It is easy to get so distracted

By promises of people who say

 

By the emotions they express

Or hide away in their own ways

When reaching out is near impossible

When no one wants to cope with you

 

So, scream your essence to pieces

Locked in your muddy head

Stop playing that you want to go on

I’m fine, I’m fine, fine.

 

Look at all you’ve got to live for

Imagine all the people who’d hurt

It is easy to get so distracted

By promises of people who say

 

I’m tired

I’m so tired

I wish I wasn’t here

Why am I wasting time?

 

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

Yakshinis Offering: Nightmares from and Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Y2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

YAKSHINIS OFFERING

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Avni ran in a frenzy desperation
From the news that came her way
Avni cried deep without cessation
Nitesh, her love, passed this very day

With mudded feet, a soaked saree
Avni's heart battering, at a rapid rate
Finally she stood at the bole of the tree
A branch held her up as she rued Nitesh's fate

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Offering up the tributes, of camphor and ghee
Avni sang the mantras, performed the rituals
Vichitra, the lovely one, emerged from the tree
"O, my dear Avni, what desire did you choose?

"Please, oh please, bring Nitesh back to me"
Vichitra fades away as Shankhini takes her place
"Avni is this truly desired? He was taken by the sea."
A softly spoken "yes," said with reverent grace.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Thirty-six Yakshini materialized, facing Avni
Each gesturing above her body's sacred space
Glowing fronds from all alighting successfully
Vichitra glided to her, placed a hand on her face.

"Avni, with remorse we could not honor your plea
Yama, God of Death, commands Nitesh stay. Yet,
Nitesh beseeches for his essence returned to thee
Which we have done for the child the heavens sent.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

"She will be balanced, the desires we bestowed
Nitesh loves you, and forever more
His essence runs through her, his energies flow
For this child, who is Bimala, One who is Pure."

Foliage keeps dying, cycle of life renews
The Ashoka Tree, green throughout the years
Avni passes on, her time was overdue
Sharing Nitesh's inner core with her mother dear.

Yama escorted Avni to Nitesh
One held the other; one breath they achieved
For she was always his earth
And he her heartbeat

For she was forever his earth
He her heartbeat, Eternally. 

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X, Y, Z are usually the tough ones on the AtoZ Blog Challenge. This year’s Y almost broke me. It took a long time to put this idea into life. More could be said, but less is more. Most of the time.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul. 26 lyrical poems during the month of April (no Sundays). It started on April 1st and ends this Thursday on April 30th. After that, a week or two later you’ll be able to find Reflections on the experience. I hope you found new blogs to like and follow. If you still 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 week:

  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?

    MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, I know that. Many will need some tweaking if I take this further. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music. Anyone knows, please email me.

Comments are always welcome.