The Empty Room

There’s an empty room on that floor.

It’s been, oh, probably decades

since anyone has set foot

through that door,

and walked on the hardwood

along the wide window

where the sun penetrates deep between

the fibres of the curtains, gently blowing

in the cool summer breeze.

 

Decades since anyone sat in the soft leather chair

and put their feet up,

slept away the afternoon

with a newspaper draped delicately on their lap.

It’s been decades, I’d say,

since anyone heard the pitter-patter of the mice

running along the beams overhead,

and the barn owl resting on the peak of the roof,

surveying the landscape in the moonlight.

 

 

Decades passed,

and still it sits,

that old now empty room,

waiting for someone

to smell the musty air,

pull back the curtains,

watch the world outside the window run away

as it cycles through each day.

 

Yes, decades, I’d say.

And yet it still waits.

 

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Children of God: 1984 – Church of the Wanderer

Excerpt from Modern History of the United States (1992, Ed Harris)

Everyone remembers the infamous FREDDIE trial. Around this time, the world began to stir heavily around the new religion taking shape in Colorado. Michael Davidson’s Church of The Wanderer built tremendous traction around what was at the time known as the “Colorado Incident”. He reportedly received 3 more messages from the entity whom claimed to be God.

The first, instructing Davidson to construct a Church in his honor, aptly named The Church of the Wanderer. The church was established in 1979, and quickly gained followers throughout Kiowa County, where the famous Radio Telescope was located. Davidson named himself the high priest of the church and would often take to the streets proclaiming the Gospel of the Wanderer. The main points being that humankind should throw away its wars and conflicts and prepare for the coming; after all, he believed that the Wanderer would arrive in only 1000 years.

The second transmission was instructions to build a new type of radio telescope. One which Davidson believed would help him contact other forms of life throughout the universe. He claimed that The Wanderer had informed him that humans were using primordial, outdated technology to search for extra-terrestrial life, and that in order to contact other civilizations, humans would need to advance to the new forms of communication that advanced civilizations were searching for.

The third and final message from the Wanderer, as Michael Davidson preached, was for each world power to construct several large, concrete spheres called Heliospheres inside which could be placed important artifacts of Human History and contemporary history. So far, no government has ever constructed such spheres.

Once, Just Once

I am touching the air.

And everything around it.

The wistful breeze of the world’s untamed breath chills me,

chills my bones through and through.

I can feel the gaze of those things

crawling and brawling with untamed ferocity

as though their razor sharp thoughts tethered to mine

pull me down the canyon

into the unknown below.

 

Here we find the untapped skeleton,

the unseen ghosts of the primordial mind;

and the air that I breathe,

the air that I touch,

caresses my fingertips and flays the remaining scraps from those forgotten bones.

 

Once,

Once I stood atop a tall mountain

peacefully,

I touched the wind, and the wind only touched me back,

and nothing more.

But now I,

skinless, fleshless,

sitting here in the gulch

as the tethers pull away at my senses,

and the brawling things scratch at my bones,

and stab at the purity I brought with me.

They know where I have been.

They know, and so they relent

but only for now.

 

Soon the air again will blow me yet further than ever before;

as it is well-known that a delicate breeze will topple mountains

after dynamite has been set off.

And I am a stick of dynamite .

It is no matter of whether it will blow,

but when the fuse will reach the powder,

and crack away at the great rock wall above.

Then as I grasp at the air around me.

Choking,

choking for breath,

it will then topple over me.

 

The brawling things

will dig my fragmented bones out from the rubble.

And if they can reassemble the pieces properly,

they will set me up atop the hills again,

and hope that their violent urge to decimate one another

will leave me untouched.

Once,

just once,

we pray and hope together that the tethers will be broken.

And the fight will leave me in peace

to look down at the valley below

and see only its beauty,

the form of the ravine as it flows into the horizon,

and I will breathe.

And when I touch the air.

it will touch me back,

and once, just once,

do nothing more.

The Long Road Vol. 3: In the Light of Day

I slept on and off all night. My consciousness drifted in and out of tune while what sounded like bottles being smashed against the wall reverberated through the hotel, and on occasion, a sudden shrill laugh from the room below mine. Soon enough the sun came up.

If there is a word for just not quite rested enough, that’s how I would describe the feeling in my eyes. White beams of light shot through tiny pinholes in the curtains. The room, which I hadn’t had a good look at the night before, was derelict and dingy as you would imagine from the state of the bar downstairs. I checked out nearly as soon as I got up.

When I came to the front desk, the old man was no longer sitting in the old wheeled chair, and had be replaced by a bubbly middle-aged woman who wore those weird thick-rimmed glasses that secretaries always have on old TV shows. She thanked me for staying the night, and told me about the continental breakfast that was set up in the corner of the office. I would’ve eaten something but I could only imagine the quality of stale, bland bread and assortment of other breakfast related goodies that were likely days past their prime.

I peeked once more into the bar.

“Bar’s closed until 11:00,” the woman at the desk said.

“Yeah, I’m just checking for…”

There was no sign of life in the bar that just the previous night had been a hive of extreme masculinity and sweat. “Everything looks different in the light of day,” I thought. Something my dad used to tell me, often after my mother had had one of her violent episodes. But that was long ago and time leaks on at a steady pace. There wasn’t much to reflect on in that regard. Not at this point, anyway. I drove for a couple hours. I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was headed. The funny thing about driving without any plan of where you’re going is that you can never be disappointed with where you end up. And there’s nothing more comforting than a familiar face, even if it’s not one you expected.

At this point I was just a little past For Macleod, another  little place that, like Nanton, forgot the mantra about time and a steady pace. Up ahead the greenish-yellow fields stretched on into the horizon. The sun still hung heavy in the sky, baking the hot asphalt beneath my tires. In the distance a single hand outstretched pointing it’s thumb at me approached and quickly  flew to my rear. I drove right past without a second thought, just another hitchhiker. That’s when  I noticed in the rear-view mirror a speck of red shimmering like a familiar jewel. I thought for a short moment about the conversation the night before, “Is that really all it takes to make a friend”  Here, a quiet, lonely man, sat alone in a bar; and a firecracker approached and flared in front of him without a second thought. It took me more than a second thought to repay the favour. “Is that really all it takes to make a friend?” I didn’t know, but I guessed it wasn’t as much effort as I had thought.

I peeled into a range road and tossed the car around, wondering if someone else might have been much more sympathetic than I and picked up the traveler.

But she was still there. And she was a jewel tarnished with bruises and blemishes.

“Well hey there,” she said, in a combination of surprise and upset.

“What are you doing hitchhiking?” I asked.

“Husband threw a tantrum and left me here,” she replied as she picked up the mess of ratty nearly handle-less bags into the back seat. “We can catch up to him in a couple hours if you’re going my way.”

Well now I had somewhere to go.

“Where’ll he be?” I asked.

“Pincher Creek. Got a show in a hotel dive called Excuses.”

“That’s on the way,” I said.

There are few things in this world more solitary than the hills of Highway 2. Though we barely spoke a word, the road sang with deep, crackling tones of loneliness while the two-passenger car bellowed its answer back, and neither felt as solitary as before. “Everything looks different in the light of day,” I thought.

Pale Blue Dot

The sky streaked blood red

with dark, broad lines of ash

painted by the fingers of who came before us;

And underneath, the people sat quietly

watching the great clock turn in the heavens

and the day count down its seconds,

until finally the darkness overtook the plains below.

 

As midnight passed, the hoots of owls, and

the chirps of crickets

surmounted by deafening silence in between each beat.

I looked up to Polaris

and then I felt the cold air wrap around me

and whisk me away

to a world overpowered with hues of gold and grey,

with structures higher than the stars themselves.

And soon the people too looked up to the guiding star,

and they, too, were swept away to the this marvelous new world.

Together we stared into the void.

Millions of tiny silver lights pierced the endless curtain above us

as we looked on through eternity

until the light faded.

 

And there we sat,

knowing in our hearts

that though it was not written in stone,

that though the water washed away our ink,

that though what we built would crumble in the sands of time,

though as millennia pass,

and as the great clock pushes forth relentlessly,

until all memory of us fades like those stars in the void,

and when aeons have gone by,

those who take our place will not know,

that we had been here.

On a Frozen Pond

I think, one day, I found it

buried in the ice;

where the rotted fallen trees encircled the lone pool of sunlight

that bent emphatically across the mountaintops

and poured itself into the frozen pond,

waiting till spring to thaw.

There’s something here,

a tick on my shoulder whispered in my ear

and then it bit me there;

The blood dripped down,

boiled the ice on impact.

I can see it still when I close my eyes:

The harsh redness beaming in bold defiance of the winter air

And the allotted warmth of sunlight designated for the particular season.

The fiery creature burrowed itself deep into a place

Where my hands could not reach to scratch

And squealed its deafening echo, resonated unending through my skull

as a broken phonograph record,

skipping over and over

Countdown to Infinity

I tell her she reminds me of snow covered trees

On a cool winter morning.

Or something romantic like that.

She smiles and turns around

Her red jacket spins effortlessly in the air

while lightly hugging her hips.

We count down to the rhythm of memories

of the year soon past, and

TEN her eyes glitter in the starlight

NINE My arms wrapped around her waist

EIGHT Her soft lips tingling against mine

SEVEN My fingers tracing lines and trails through her long brown hair

SIX Our clothes melt away into puddles at our ankles; her thighs resting on and then soon grinding against my lap

FIVE My hands grasping to unclip her bra

FOUR Her delicate face shattering with an ecstasy that we share as I enter her

THREE The rough motion of my body wrestling with hers, her breasts rise and fall like waves in high tide

TWO Her soft shallow breath now gaining ferocity, building with notes of love, hate and

the combination of all 525,600 moments, the conjoined pleasures, pains,

all collide as the clock now is about to reset in a broken dance of ‘I wanted’ and ‘she wanted’.

ONE We finish.

We’re lying together, breathless, lovesick

While thoughts of all that we’ve done crash into the shore.

The gaze of her hateful eyes meets mine, one by one the stars fade away, and we sit deadlocked;

Tasked with the torturous feat of facing one another again.

ZERO This isn’t what we wanted.

Giordana

When we met

There was a river between us.

Pulling away at the banks.

carrying old trees

along with it.

She asked me,

“Do you think you could love me?”

and I only turned my head.

Watched upstream

For something back there

to flow down to where I was

No, I don’t think I could.

But the river doesn’t slow,

And the further upstream I go,

the further away it pulls and carries her thoughts and feelings and

whatever hopes she held with her for the future.

I walked upstream

Hoping to find that one old tree that I once had to leave behind.

Her question haunts me to this day.

Not because of my answer,

or because I left it hanging in the brisk morning air to freeze and drop into the river.

“Do you think you could love me?”

And I walked the other way.

It haunts me because it is burned into my mind

like a brand of that stubborn sensibility;

She held her hand out to me

So that we could plunge into the river

Together and be carried downstream together.

But I left her to float on

alone, and I walked the other way alone.

When I came to where the old tree had been,

There was only a hole

As it had uprooted, and had itself plunged faithlessly into the river.

Those words still singe my brain even today as I look back to where I had been before

“Do you think you could love me?”

 

Concerning Fate

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we can’t escape from. Everything worked out in exactly the right way that we’re forced to act. And we have only one option. We have to do one particular thing, we don’t get to choose. That’s called a nexus point, I think.

Take us for example: you walked off the bus and into that store. I saw you buy that book. That book. Of all books I don’t know why it had to be that book. But that’s the one you chose.  God and the Heavens or whatever personification of the universe that you prefer to believe in put you and that book there. Ganesh, I don’t know. Whoever you think controls the Universe. That’s who put that book in your hand and told me to follow you.

I had a choice, and I chose to listen to his call. I followed you. I chose to get into your house and when you picked up that knife, you chose to stab me. We don’t always get a say, chum.  We may find ourselves at a nexus point here, my friend. I’m bleeding out on your floor. You’re not going to call the police because now you’ve killed someone. You have no choice but to dispose of the body. I have no choice but to let it all happen. Don’t worry though, if God forced us into this, surely in all his wisdom he won’t punish either of us. I mean, it was all part of his plan, right?

So please don’t be sloppy when you get rid of me. I don’t want you to lose control of the situation and have no say in what happens to you next.