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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by madbeyond

Last Story

This may be the last story I will tell you, but because it is my story it will be more difficult to tell than the others, because I must put the words together for you myself, in a way that makes sense and is true, or more or less true; I am old now and much of what I will tell you concerns events of long ago, when I was your age and a little younger, your age and a little older. And though what happened to me is unforgettable in many ways, my memory must stretch back over years and years, as a result of which some reds may be blue, and some blues red. It doesn’t matter; the story is essentially true, and inherently mine, and where I say a thing was blue even when it might have been red doesn’t make a difference most of the time, even though in this story, some colors are important for what they were and are.

You will find, when you get to be as old as I, as old as the oldest person you know, that stories are never quite finished; one small piece of information, supplied many years after a series of events, can change an outcome that had long ago been decided on into something else entirely. My story is still unfolding, as old as I am and as close as I am to the end. And even then, conclusions are fleeting. You, after all, will soon be a part of my story, if only in the hearing of it, and thus it will go on long after these covers have closed. 

My story, if in the end I have told it well enough, may come to you when you are thinking about a thing, making up your mind about something. Making up your mind. It’s not like making up the bed. You haven’t practiced it a thousand times and know how it should look. Sometimes you won’t know if you are right or wrong right away, or for a very long time afterward, if at all. Maybe there was never anything right or wrong about it. Like the way to town: you can go as the crow flies, through the woods, or ride your bike down the grid of lanes. Each will take you to your destination. But your travels will be very different. You will remember that outcomes, however fleeting, hinge on such decisions, that on the lane you will encounter such and so, and the woods will present a different thing altogether, and your story will hinge, like mine did, on which way you went, and why, and whether a thing was red or blue, alive or dead or somewhere in between.

And that is the story. Not what you find at the end, but what awaits you in the woods or on the lane, alive or dead, red or blue, or somewhere in between.

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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by madbeyond
Last Story
This may be the last story I will tell you, but because it is my story it will be more difficult to tell than the others, because I must put the words together for you myself, in a way that makes sense and is true, or more or less true; I am old now and much of what I will tell you concerns events of long ago, when I was your age and a little younger, your age and a little older. And though what happened to me is unforgettable in many ways, my memory must stretch back over years and years, as a result of which some reds may be blue, and some blues red. It doesn’t matter; the story is essentially true, and inherently mine, and where I say a thing was blue even when it might have been red doesn’t make a difference most of the time, even though in this story, some colors are important for what they were and are.

You will find, when you get to be as old as I, as old as the oldest person you know, that stories are never quite finished; one small piece of information, supplied many years after a series of events, can change an outcome that had long ago been decided on into something else entirely. My story is still unfolding, as old as I am and as close as I am to the end. And even then, conclusions are fleeting. You, after all, will soon be a part of my story, if only in the hearing of it, and thus it will go on long after these covers have closed. 

My story, if in the end I have told it well enough, may come to you when you are thinking about a thing, making up your mind about something. Making up your mind. It’s not like making up the bed. You haven’t practiced it a thousand times and know how it should look. Sometimes you won’t know if you are right or wrong right away, or for a very long time afterward, if at all. Maybe there was never anything right or wrong about it. Like the way to town: you can go as the crow flies, through the woods, or ride your bike down the grid of lanes. Each will take you to your destination. But your travels will be very different. You will remember that outcomes, however fleeting, hinge on such decisions, that on the lane you will encounter such and so, and the woods will present a different thing altogether, and your story will hinge, like mine did, on which way you went, and why, and whether a thing was red or blue, alive or dead or somewhere in between.

And that is the story. Not what you find at the end, but what awaits you in the woods or on the lane, alive or dead, red or blue, or somewhere in between.



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You are looking at : an object, nature or a human for the very first time. You have no words, concepts or memory to facilitate this experience.
Written by madbeyond

Interstitial

Did I crawl up here

Or did you fall

Or are we both suspended

Somewhere in between

(Which would mean

We're in the middle

If there were a middle

Absent here or there)

I will call you

Not the Darkness

Though you're anything 

But light

And I can not turn you on

Nor is there much to see

Aside from me

Regarding you

Regarding me

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You are looking at : an object, nature or a human for the very first time. You have no words, concepts or memory to facilitate this experience.
Written by madbeyond
Interstitial
Did I crawl up here
Or did you fall
Or are we both suspended
Somewhere in between
(Which would mean
We're in the middle
If there were a middle
Absent here or there)
I will call you
Not the Darkness
Though you're anything 
But light
And I can not turn you on
Nor is there much to see
Aside from me
Regarding you
Regarding me
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Written by madbeyond

A Proseposal ...

A Prose Salon ...

A part of Prose whereby ....

Prosers go to shoot the breeze

And talk logistics of the site ...

Hang out and think 

and drink and

unpropose 

share any Prosie woes 

where they occur

And all the good stuff that goes on

and on and on ... 

when like minds carry on ... 

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Written by madbeyond
A Proseposal ...
A Prose Salon ...

A part of Prose whereby ....

Prosers go to shoot the breeze
And talk logistics of the site ...

Hang out and think 
and drink and
unpropose 
share any Prosie woes 
where they occur

And all the good stuff that goes on

and on and on ... 

when like minds carry on ... 
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Written by madbeyond

Recovery draft detected, would you like to load it?

No ... Yes ... can you remind me

what I was on about?

My MO is to unload

But my MIA is AWOL

So what is one to do?

I've never seen action

Nor can claim to be PTSD

I'm just LOL

In Twitter/Facebook Hell

And BTW

I smell

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Written by madbeyond
Recovery draft detected, would you like to load it?
No ... Yes ... can you remind me
what I was on about?

My MO is to unload
But my MIA is AWOL
So what is one to do?

I've never seen action
Nor can claim to be PTSD

I'm just LOL
In Twitter/Facebook Hell

And BTW
I smell







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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by madbeyond

Bitch

When I died, I was reborn a dog

I went to live in the home of Martha,

whom as a man I had loved

(In the interest of cutting to the chase

I’ll spare you the boring preamble

suffice it to say I had lived a charmed life

excepting for despair

and unrequited yearning

and generally being disgusted

at how I look in clothes)

Who doesn’t love a puppy?

Who wouldn’t take a puppy to her bed?

Martha was tits-up-in-the-ditch in love

I nestled in her cleavage

while she watched Game of Thrones

When she got home from work

and dates

she let me hump her leg

(sometimes bad-self shoes and all)

She posted me on Pinterest

As if I were her world

So, reader.

You can see how disconcerting was

my sudden and total

disinterest in Martha

And my sheer contentment in

gnawing on a bone

or chewing an abandoned shoe

(bad-ass or mom-clog)

She

(My Martha)

was incidental to

this dog-thing I’d become,

(my Martha, whom once I’d lived to love)

Soon enough I was

indulging in the new pursuits

that gave me … joy

I was happy chasing rabbits in the field

happy chasing sticks into the sea

happy, inexplicably happy, just to shit and pee

happy drinking from the toilet bowl

a practice it had not occurred to me to ponder

in my pre-dog musings of the hereafter

I was happy with my muzzle

on the hole of some poor bitch in heat

whom I’d roll, blissfully, tongue hanging out

I was happy merely sleeping

dreaming doggie dreams of running

freely, flying after pigeons and Frisbees

I was happy barking madly at the moon

At passersby, the fat raccoons,

the neighbor’s cat, the fog –

Poor Martha (in the meantime) married a slob

who often brought stray females home

when she went off to work

Infidel, I liked him more than her –

Because he threw me chunks of meat

(we canines live to eat)

And didn’t mind my shedding

or the way I ripped my bedding

or my – infrequent, not at all my fault – accidents

(Martha cleaned them up)

I admit, he replaced her in my heart

It was he – the cheating bastard – who made my tale wag

I admit I was in heaven,

this, my disloyal heaven,

my dirty lowdown new life as a dog

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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by madbeyond
Bitch
When I died, I was reborn a dog
I went to live in the home of Martha,
whom as a man I had loved

(In the interest of cutting to the chase
I’ll spare you the boring preamble
suffice it to say I had lived a charmed life

excepting for despair
and unrequited yearning
and generally being disgusted
at how I look in clothes)

Who doesn’t love a puppy?
Who wouldn’t take a puppy to her bed?

Martha was tits-up-in-the-ditch in love
I nestled in her cleavage
while she watched Game of Thrones

When she got home from work
and dates
she let me hump her leg
(sometimes bad-self shoes and all)

She posted me on Pinterest
As if I were her world

So, reader.
You can see how disconcerting was
my sudden and total
disinterest in Martha

And my sheer contentment in
gnawing on a bone
or chewing an abandoned shoe
(bad-ass or mom-clog)

She
(My Martha)
was incidental to
this dog-thing I’d become,
(my Martha, whom once I’d lived to love)

Soon enough I was
indulging in the new pursuits
that gave me … joy

I was happy chasing rabbits in the field
happy chasing sticks into the sea
happy, inexplicably happy, just to shit and pee

happy drinking from the toilet bowl
a practice it had not occurred to me to ponder
in my pre-dog musings of the hereafter

I was happy with my muzzle
on the hole of some poor bitch in heat
whom I’d roll, blissfully, tongue hanging out

I was happy merely sleeping
dreaming doggie dreams of running
freely, flying after pigeons and Frisbees

I was happy barking madly at the moon
At passersby, the fat raccoons,
the neighbor’s cat, the fog –

Poor Martha (in the meantime) married a slob
who often brought stray females home
when she went off to work

Infidel, I liked him more than her –
Because he threw me chunks of meat
(we canines live to eat)

And didn’t mind my shedding
or the way I ripped my bedding
or my – infrequent, not at all my fault – accidents

(Martha cleaned them up)
I admit, he replaced her in my heart
It was he – the cheating bastard – who made my tale wag

I admit I was in heaven,
this, my disloyal heaven,
my dirty lowdown new life as a dog














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The writer of the best short story from this challenge wins a ProWritingAid Lifetime License, worth $140. Take the terribly-written adverb-laden outline of a story below and use your own voice to make it amazing. Maybe it's sci-fi, maybe it's romance, maybe it's thriller...it's up to you: The door was opened and they looked out. She was very surprised. He looked very worried. They went quickly to find out more. She slowly picked up the object and it all finally made sense.
Written by madbeyond

Clock

The house was quiet. Not-a-creature-was-stirring quiet. Marilyn set down her bag in the foyer and took a moment to get her bearings. He had left the entryway light on for her; the rest of the house was dark but for the faint glow emanating from down the hall. She glanced at the family photographs on the console; black and white, matching frames. Dusted to within an inch of their lives. (It was Tuesday, Mrs. Creighton’s day.) Buttercup-field faces squinted up at her: her and Carrie and Tom. Just before the shutter clicked. Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!

She zipped off her boots and set them against the wall, flexed her feet on the cool marble tile, made her way to the kitchen, felt for the switch. Light. The scent of vanilla and pine. The blue glass snowman waiting on the island atop a frail red script: Lynnypoo, cookies are for you (fuck Santa!); old man asleep upstairs will join you tomorrow, whether or not permitting.

Marilyn peeled back the plastic wrap and took the sugar cookie with the L, bit into it, rewrapped the plate. He must have made them weeks ago, she thought. With old butter. She wrapped the rest in a paper towel and buried it in the trash. Washing her hands in the sink, she looked out the window and saw the tree through the living room mirror, lit up like old magic. Her mother’s tree. Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!

She took a tumbler from the cabinet beside the sink, rummaged in the freezer for ice, retrieved the Glenlivet from the low cupboard. Clinked her way down the hall. Sank into the deep crush of home. Old pillow forts and fights. All the knock-knock codes.

Whispers on the edge. Her mother's tree. Public radio on low, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Rules of time upended here. All a lonely exile. On the willows there. Why come back again? Her father alone, siblings gone. 

And then the whoosh of dance. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

The clock at twelve o’clock.

Door opens. Mother emerges, surprised. Father’s furrowed brow, all worry, all now. All the figures in a ring, in and out of time, cuckoo cuckooing: Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!

Marilyn got up, walked to the clock, waited for the hour to play out. Mother picking up the milk, father following her in.

The door shuts. Silence. Not even a mouse. 

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The writer of the best short story from this challenge wins a ProWritingAid Lifetime License, worth $140. Take the terribly-written adverb-laden outline of a story below and use your own voice to make it amazing. Maybe it's sci-fi, maybe it's romance, maybe it's thriller...it's up to you: The door was opened and they looked out. She was very surprised. He looked very worried. They went quickly to find out more. She slowly picked up the object and it all finally made sense.
Written by madbeyond
Clock
The house was quiet. Not-a-creature-was-stirring quiet. Marilyn set down her bag in the foyer and took a moment to get her bearings. He had left the entryway light on for her; the rest of the house was dark but for the faint glow emanating from down the hall. She glanced at the family photographs on the console; black and white, matching frames. Dusted to within an inch of their lives. (It was Tuesday, Mrs. Creighton’s day.) Buttercup-field faces squinted up at her: her and Carrie and Tom. Just before the shutter clicked. Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!
She zipped off her boots and set them against the wall, flexed her feet on the cool marble tile, made her way to the kitchen, felt for the switch. Light. The scent of vanilla and pine. The blue glass snowman waiting on the island atop a frail red script: Lynnypoo, cookies are for you (fuck Santa!); old man asleep upstairs will join you tomorrow, whether or not permitting.
Marilyn peeled back the plastic wrap and took the sugar cookie with the L, bit into it, rewrapped the plate. He must have made them weeks ago, she thought. With old butter. She wrapped the rest in a paper towel and buried it in the trash. Washing her hands in the sink, she looked out the window and saw the tree through the living room mirror, lit up like old magic. Her mother’s tree. Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!
She took a tumbler from the cabinet beside the sink, rummaged in the freezer for ice, retrieved the Glenlivet from the low cupboard. Clinked her way down the hall. Sank into the deep crush of home. Old pillow forts and fights. All the knock-knock codes.
Whispers on the edge. Her mother's tree. Public radio on low, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Rules of time upended here. All a lonely exile. On the willows there. Why come back again? Her father alone, siblings gone. 
And then the whoosh of dance. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
The clock at twelve o’clock.
Door opens. Mother emerges, surprised. Father’s furrowed brow, all worry, all now. All the figures in a ring, in and out of time, cuckoo cuckooing: Lynnie Carrie Tom. Look at Mommy!
Marilyn got up, walked to the clock, waited for the hour to play out. Mother picking up the milk, father following her in.
The door shuts. Silence. Not even a mouse. 



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Written by madbeyond in portal Poetry & Free Verse

A Defining of Terms

I could call it Trespass, or Nimbus, or

Thames Street, or Rumpus,

Garrett or Quayage or Walk-up

or Eaves, maybe Eaves Song or

Box 93, for reasons that will become

clear momentarily, if you stay

with me that long, as I lie

my way to truth, as the husband

fills the feeders in the Now,

where I am, watched by birds who

keep their distance, unlike Then.

See, if the thing were Nimbus

they’d be regarding me

from the dictionary on my desk,

riffling to careless (carelessness)

3b: “unstudied, spontaneous (a ~ grace)”

then, watching me drain my wine,

2a: “negligent, slovenly (~ writing)”

But it’s not Nimbus, more’s the pity

when strange birds fly, one has to tell the truth.

There’s no such light, just a number, 541,

that tells you where you are:

Address (n): 1 “dutiful and courteous attention esp. in courtship—

usu. used in pl.” 2a: “readiness and capability for dealing

(as with a person or problem) skillfully and smoothly”;

7a: “A location (as in the memory of a computer) where

particular information is stored.”

Which takes us to the verb cathect

—Does it? let’s say so, anyway—

and his truck, the F-150,

black, early ’90s vintage,

new but for a crumpled door,

which might seem, to one, fortuitous:

an address of sorts, a place in time and space

that I, in fact, “invested with mental or emotional energy”

when it rounded the curb onto Harrington,

some 500 feet (mine are small) from 541.

Vroom; is it a children’s book?

But I remember the sound

at 5 a.m.; the birds, and Webster’s,

are at times helpful and no help at all

in describing it;

it falls, continually,

from the sky described here,

eventually, if you

prithee—pray thee—stay with me.

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Written by madbeyond in portal Poetry & Free Verse
A Defining of Terms
I could call it Trespass, or Nimbus, or
Thames Street, or Rumpus,
Garrett or Quayage or Walk-up
or Eaves, maybe Eaves Song or
Box 93, for reasons that will become
clear momentarily, if you stay
with me that long, as I lie
my way to truth, as the husband
fills the feeders in the Now,
where I am, watched by birds who
keep their distance, unlike Then.

See, if the thing were Nimbus
they’d be regarding me
from the dictionary on my desk,
riffling to careless (carelessness)
3b: “unstudied, spontaneous (a ~ grace)”
then, watching me drain my wine,
2a: “negligent, slovenly (~ writing)”

But it’s not Nimbus, more’s the pity
when strange birds fly, one has to tell the truth.
There’s no such light, just a number, 541,
that tells you where you are:
Address (n): 1 “dutiful and courteous attention esp. in courtship—
usu. used in pl.” 2a: “readiness and capability for dealing
(as with a person or problem) skillfully and smoothly”;
7a: “A location (as in the memory of a computer) where
particular information is stored.”

Which takes us to the verb cathect
—Does it? let’s say so, anyway—
and his truck, the F-150,
black, early ’90s vintage,
new but for a crumpled door,
which might seem, to one, fortuitous:
an address of sorts, a place in time and space
that I, in fact, “invested with mental or emotional energy”
when it rounded the curb onto Harrington,
some 500 feet (mine are small) from 541.

Vroom; is it a children’s book?
But I remember the sound
at 5 a.m.; the birds, and Webster’s,
are at times helpful and no help at all
in describing it;
it falls, continually,
from the sky described here,
eventually, if you
prithee—pray thee—stay with me.


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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by madbeyond

Smudge

“Why you don’t leave that stinking cat's badass alone?” Aunt Celia says, wrapping herself around syntax, stepping with finality between me and the object of my pursuit. Aunt Celia has eyes in the back of her head, which extend to the woods abutting her backyard.

“I’m worried about him,” I say. “He’s wasting away.”

Smudge has doubles, triples; they all look alike on a street corner at night or under a porch or behind a tree. They saunter, slink, and scrounge around town like a Smudge hallucination, all with that same shivery gait, like they’re being chased by their own death. I say this having given chase to many a non-Smudge Smudge. You’d almost think the cat is in two or more places at once. There’s a word for that. They said it about that Italian priest with the bloody wrists. Somebody saw him in an airplane over Peru at the same time somebody else had a vision of him in a dime store in Texas, wearing the same shoes.

I don’t know why I latched onto Smudge the way I did; maybe it’s because I had him once, didn’t want him, then couldn’t find him again.

It was Ash Wednesday when it started. I was passing Holy Infant when the big brown doors opened and all the smudgy foreheads started down the steps. I always liked Ash Wednesday. The service is short and you get the smudge. Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return. And I got home and there he was, this cat with the thumbprint-size mark on his butter-smooth head. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A sign from God. Sitting on my back step like he’d been waiting there for me forever. I didn’t let him in.

I checked on him a couple of times that night through the back-door window. At 1:00 a.m. he was curled up tight on the brown bear of my “Hey Bear” doormat. At 3:15 he was supine on the second step, staring up at me in an attitude of agonized repose. At 5:00 a.m. I found him in a full shit squat, and I rapped on the glass and hissed till he turned tail and disappeared. Gross. I got a paper towel and flicked the sad-looking turd into the sadder-looking viburnum on the curb. Godspeed, cat.

I took a shower, got dressed, had breakfast, and glanced out the window: No cat. That takes care of that, I thought, and went upstairs to get my purse and computer, grab my keys, and head out the door for work.

And this is where the cat becomes Smudge. Just as I open the door, he jumps from some heretofore unknown platform to land, claws first, on the screen door. I am now face-to-face with a creature that seems intent on wrestling me to the death. Eyes bugging out of his head, tail beating an urgent tattoo. “What is wrong with you?” I scream. “What do you want from me??”

His tongue lolls out of his mouth, eyes continuing to widen. I drop my bags and got behind him, carefully unhitching his paws, one by one, from the screen. He settles into my arms. “You stupid fucker,” I say dropping him onto the step. “Scat!” He takes an agile step, leaps onto the hood of my car. And takes another shit.

“Fucking hell!” I shout. He jumps, flies into my arms, paws clawing the infinity scarf around my neck. I resist, but there is a moment, a single moment, when he cradles himself in the scarf, nestling his nine lives of shittiness into my singular shitty existence and yowls …

“You know that awful thing clawed the Happy right off BJ’s birthday cake?” says Aunt Celia. “Just swopped it off in one fell swoop. I had to fix it with candles.” Aunt Celia has taken to blaming Smudge for any number of domestic mishaps. “A ten-year-old child got twenty candles on his birthday cake, all because of some stray? Cat ain’t wastin’ for all that birthday cake inside him, girl; why you keep chasin’ that thing?”

I don’t tell her why: what would I say? It’s like in Hosea. He came as the moth. He came as the lion. And finally he came as the Smudge. The moth creeped me out; the lion terrified me. Smudge made me laugh, and then disappeared.

Aunt Celia shakes her head as I scan the woods, invites me in for pie. I decline. Her pie’s been named the best in five counties.

Walking back to my place, I see a crooked tail in the gleam of a headlight. The shadow makes me smile. I know it’s Smudge, sure as I know I’m going home again, Smudgeless.

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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Written by madbeyond
Smudge
“Why you don’t leave that stinking cat's badass alone?” Aunt Celia says, wrapping herself around syntax, stepping with finality between me and the object of my pursuit. Aunt Celia has eyes in the back of her head, which extend to the woods abutting her backyard.
“I’m worried about him,” I say. “He’s wasting away.”
Smudge has doubles, triples; they all look alike on a street corner at night or under a porch or behind a tree. They saunter, slink, and scrounge around town like a Smudge hallucination, all with that same shivery gait, like they’re being chased by their own death. I say this having given chase to many a non-Smudge Smudge. You’d almost think the cat is in two or more places at once. There’s a word for that. They said it about that Italian priest with the bloody wrists. Somebody saw him in an airplane over Peru at the same time somebody else had a vision of him in a dime store in Texas, wearing the same shoes.
I don’t know why I latched onto Smudge the way I did; maybe it’s because I had him once, didn’t want him, then couldn’t find him again.
It was Ash Wednesday when it started. I was passing Holy Infant when the big brown doors opened and all the smudgy foreheads started down the steps. I always liked Ash Wednesday. The service is short and you get the smudge. Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return. And I got home and there he was, this cat with the thumbprint-size mark on his butter-smooth head. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A sign from God. Sitting on my back step like he’d been waiting there for me forever. I didn’t let him in.
I checked on him a couple of times that night through the back-door window. At 1:00 a.m. he was curled up tight on the brown bear of my “Hey Bear” doormat. At 3:15 he was supine on the second step, staring up at me in an attitude of agonized repose. At 5:00 a.m. I found him in a full shit squat, and I rapped on the glass and hissed till he turned tail and disappeared. Gross. I got a paper towel and flicked the sad-looking turd into the sadder-looking viburnum on the curb. Godspeed, cat.
I took a shower, got dressed, had breakfast, and glanced out the window: No cat. That takes care of that, I thought, and went upstairs to get my purse and computer, grab my keys, and head out the door for work.
And this is where the cat becomes Smudge. Just as I open the door, he jumps from some heretofore unknown platform to land, claws first, on the screen door. I am now face-to-face with a creature that seems intent on wrestling me to the death. Eyes bugging out of his head, tail beating an urgent tattoo. “What is wrong with you?” I scream. “What do you want from me??”
His tongue lolls out of his mouth, eyes continuing to widen. I drop my bags and got behind him, carefully unhitching his paws, one by one, from the screen. He settles into my arms. “You stupid fucker,” I say dropping him onto the step. “Scat!” He takes an agile step, leaps onto the hood of my car. And takes another shit.
“Fucking hell!” I shout. He jumps, flies into my arms, paws clawing the infinity scarf around my neck. I resist, but there is a moment, a single moment, when he cradles himself in the scarf, nestling his nine lives of shittiness into my singular shitty existence and yowls …
“You know that awful thing clawed the Happy right off BJ’s birthday cake?” says Aunt Celia. “Just swopped it off in one fell swoop. I had to fix it with candles.” Aunt Celia has taken to blaming Smudge for any number of domestic mishaps. “A ten-year-old child got twenty candles on his birthday cake, all because of some stray? Cat ain’t wastin’ for all that birthday cake inside him, girl; why you keep chasin’ that thing?”
I don’t tell her why: what would I say? It’s like in Hosea. He came as the moth. He came as the lion. And finally he came as the Smudge. The moth creeped me out; the lion terrified me. Smudge made me laugh, and then disappeared.
Aunt Celia shakes her head as I scan the woods, invites me in for pie. I decline. Her pie’s been named the best in five counties.
Walking back to my place, I see a crooked tail in the gleam of a headlight. The shadow makes me smile. I know it’s Smudge, sure as I know I’m going home again, Smudgeless.




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Written by madbeyond in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Departures

To get to you

we could not do

though miles

of beveled air

we flew

tectonic shifts of

how and when

the oceanographies

of then

the flying buttresses

of sun

in agate swirls

aluminum

bad breakfast

in a following sea

unmooring in

a drowning lee

of horsehair

walls you rode across

sad contrails

edged with

lemon gloss

last call

last look

last long descent

last note

unopened and unspent

arriving early

much too late

your name

on cardboard

past the gate

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Written by madbeyond in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Departures
To get to you
we could not do
though miles
of beveled air
we flew

tectonic shifts of
how and when
the oceanographies
of then

the flying buttresses
of sun
in agate swirls
aluminum

bad breakfast
in a following sea
unmooring in
a drowning lee

of horsehair
walls you rode across
sad contrails
edged with
lemon gloss

last call
last look
last long descent

last note
unopened and unspent

arriving early
much too late

your name
on cardboard
past the gate

4
2
2
Juice
15 reads
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CotW #63: Take a much-loved Disney story, twist it into an adult, kick-in-the-gut tale. Poetry or Prose. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #twistedtales for sharing online. Now lights, camera, fiction.
Written by madbeyond

Legs

She had heard of people dreaming in the language of their youth, a language of immersal. Born immersed, she’d dreamed in dark depths when she walked abroad, her legs a phantom finn as she strolled, killing it in teal, in the glass tower shadows of Providence. The Fishman dreamed with her, clinging to her in the posture of the damned, dragging her under, again and again, until they surfaced in a memory of foam. How she’d breathed into him. How she’d moved as if electrified, rising up in her fourteenth year, defying every law. How they’d crashed together, incessantly drowning, incessantly surfacing. How in love with her he’d been, with her legs, and she with him, with his hard coral heart. How she’d wrapped him in the language of the sea, of the saved. How she longed for him still.

How long he’d been gone, her legs nothing but flesh. And flesh, as the Sea Hag knew, dies a bad death.

The sculpted ankles he’d loved, the beautiful shoes she wore, stored in the mahogany chamber he’d carved, were swollen now with age; the Sea Hag had taunted her thus; time and tide, she’d said: remember these words.

How long she’d slept without him, immersed in the old language. How long she’d felt the undertow of tides. How long she’d drowned in unfathomable dreams, a foreigner, an exile.

How long the blessed rain had tormented her.

She’d exchanged that one thing, her voice, for a world. Would the Sea Hag take it back? She longed to feel her dreaming self, her tail a glistening thing. She’d promised the Fishman she would meet him on his walk, a landlocked dreaming thing. But all she’d ever wanted was to swim, now and again, as faithless as the sea.

#twistedtales #twistedtails

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Juice
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CotW #63: Take a much-loved Disney story, twist it into an adult, kick-in-the-gut tale. Poetry or Prose. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #twistedtales for sharing online. Now lights, camera, fiction.
Written by madbeyond
Legs
She had heard of people dreaming in the language of their youth, a language of immersal. Born immersed, she’d dreamed in dark depths when she walked abroad, her legs a phantom finn as she strolled, killing it in teal, in the glass tower shadows of Providence. The Fishman dreamed with her, clinging to her in the posture of the damned, dragging her under, again and again, until they surfaced in a memory of foam. How she’d breathed into him. How she’d moved as if electrified, rising up in her fourteenth year, defying every law. How they’d crashed together, incessantly drowning, incessantly surfacing. How in love with her he’d been, with her legs, and she with him, with his hard coral heart. How she’d wrapped him in the language of the sea, of the saved. How she longed for him still.
How long he’d been gone, her legs nothing but flesh. And flesh, as the Sea Hag knew, dies a bad death.
The sculpted ankles he’d loved, the beautiful shoes she wore, stored in the mahogany chamber he’d carved, were swollen now with age; the Sea Hag had taunted her thus; time and tide, she’d said: remember these words.
How long she’d slept without him, immersed in the old language. How long she’d felt the undertow of tides. How long she’d drowned in unfathomable dreams, a foreigner, an exile.
How long the blessed rain had tormented her.
She’d exchanged that one thing, her voice, for a world. Would the Sea Hag take it back? She longed to feel her dreaming self, her tail a glistening thing. She’d promised the Fishman she would meet him on his walk, a landlocked dreaming thing. But all she’d ever wanted was to swim, now and again, as faithless as the sea.

#twistedtales #twistedtails

11
2
1
Juice
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