I feel I have done this before, but it somehow seems necessary. I will try to do it a bit differently.
I am Chuck, a long-time Proser (I am here because my wife liked my writing and encouraged me to find a way to share). I have included links to some seemingly ancient posts that tell about my introduction to theProse site. The first link was written soon after my initiation to Prose. The next was on why I decided to stay at Prose rather than continuing to write on some other sites I was also experimenting with at the time. The last one is years later, and is a fun description of how I felt mentally after trying to answer at least one ”Prose Challenge” a day over a prolonged period of time (my writing brain was in a wrung-out place). You may find the links interesting, you may skip them altogether, or you may even go watch television instead of reading any of this - no matter - lucky it is for you that I exist here entirely for your whim.
After three years I still feel very similarly to how I felt when I wrote that. Three years? The time stamp on the post states, “January 19, 2019.” I feel like it was longer ago than that? Surely I have been around longer than that? Could it be that I edited it on 1/19/’19 (back when you could still do that? Jeez, how I wish you still could… edit, that is.)? It must be that, but regardless…
My friend, mentor, and Prose conscience, dctezcan was kind enough to hit “like” on that long ago post. I don’t believe that anyone else who did so is still around? Or at least active. Good writer’s gone, they. Or if they are still around I don’t see their posts as often as I would like, and I miss them for it. That is what Prose seems to be to me now; comings and goings, which is unfortunate for me, as mine is an old soul that craves stability. This particular “Challenge” (or “Vehicle”) that was scatter-shotted out as an e-mail has proven effective at drawing back some familiar names and voices. I like that. Do it some more, Prose! Perhaps some of them will read a few lines for nostalgia’s sake and decide to stick around, maybe even post a poem or two? Once a writer, always a writer! But as with any business it is the relationships that keep people coming back, so go ahead and reach out. No need to break shy on us now.
I have been around far too long to list all the writer’s I enjoy on the site. It would only water them down to try. Besides, I have not kept record and would surely leave off some wonderful people and writers, but I will do this, as recognition can be motivational and inspirational when applied sparingly, and when given for a specific behavior, so I will offer a short list in hopes of retaining some talent to my third home (family, work, Prose):
I was drawn into Prose by Mazzmyrrheyes, Undermeyou and tornesornerob. They transported me to different places and feelings with their words. Theses writers baited the hooks that pulled me into the boat. I thank them for that, even as it may cause some to revile them ;).
I love the relationship dctezcan and I have built over the years. “The lovely-talented-kind-and intelligent” dctezcan. A friend who is single-handedly showing the Prose world that admirable adjectives in front of a name beat-tar out of pronouns.
I have remained here in large part for Posey’s poetry, and EstherFlower’s rhymes. The two of them generally invoke differing emotions, one dark, one light, but they always invoke something.
I look forward to stories by rlove327, Mfrobs, and SamWebster... they who understand that if you care about what you write, you must care about how you write it.
Prose would not be the same without Mnezz, Thereisnospoon, Finder and fudo. What a presence they add to the site.
I am glad that excellent writers like TW, KMCassidy, and that long gone girl whose username I can’t remember, but who changed her profile picture weekly to feature a new bikini… yikes! Those of you who have been around awhile will likely remember the one I mean. Anyways, we do not always align ideologically, but I truly appreciate their talented writings (Prose can always use more of that) that force me to reconsider my mule-headed positions.
I miss the Prose Challenges of the week and month, but I can do without all the serial killer themes (I greatly enjoyed the Fantasy challenge, as it left tons of room to wander around in creatively, so more like that please). For me, prize money is unnecessary. The opportunity to get the attention of other talented writer’s is plenty payment enough.
If you made it through to the end, thank you. If not… yea, I can see why, but regardless… I hope to see you around!
the sound of a rainbow
in a golden glade of soprano notes
there's a tree the color of minor key
and with every note, it's crimson grows
with alizarin crescendos.
though bleeding ears may be pummeled and ache
drowned by a shower of endless high notes
and basses so low that they seem to blaspheme.
my eyes will never tire
of watching the seasons change
like a tall dark redbud
blossoming into a dark red song.
A Kinder, Gentler Death (Repost)
If Death would only tickle
Our fears could ease a little
When he comes to your bed
Would it cause you more dread
If he carried a feather or sickle?
And if Death could give us a smile
Spread some cheer once in a while
He needn’t bring gifts
Though he could fill the wish
Of the poor man whose pain is a trial.
And finally, if Death would just vary
And sometimes be temporary
If he’d let us come back
Or send signs through the black
We’d find him more complimentiary.
There once was a bitter, broken guy.
Whose jealousy would never run dry.
He snuffed out her life.
With a serrated knife.
So certain that she fed him a lie.
The Voyage of Life
We are low.
but we wish that it were not so.
Then, suddenly, we are bursting through the ground
on a voyage
to jump and reach the sky.
And so we start.
through hills and valleys
through the calm and the storm
the quiet river before a
but refusing to quit.
Finally we get closer
and we look at the trees around us
greeting us with their branches
our hearts filled
with wonder at this voyage
that we went through
in all its serendipity
We are glad
Oh so glad!
As we are seen off
by the seraphs
And that when we arrive
not only do we jump
to reach the sky,
But we fly
to touch the stars.
The Mist - South / jennipasaneart
They only come once every 150 years, following closely behind the comet that I had seen once when I was young, cradled in my mother's arms. My eyes hadn't been strong yet, neither was my memory, but that night had somehow stuck. The sight of the comet had been the greatest memory that I held on to, one of the greatest times of peace I had ever known with my mother.
That night, my mother had told me about them. Every other time that the comet comes, they follow like a rolling tidal wave as the sun rises in the wake of the comet's trail. She had never seen them, but her grandmother had, and spoke of their arrival like she had seen a God coast through the skies. Many didn't know where to go to see them, many forgot, most barely cared. Those who remembered their last coming had passed away like my great-grandmother, and I can hear the hushed whispers of their grandchildren in the tall grass around me.
We had arrived in the soft lavender tones of midnight, our own children sleepy in our arms, our laps. My daughter is winding the buds of soft white flowers into a crown near my feet. I had told her that she was lucky, that this year she would see something that so many others would never see in their lifetimes. Her fingers are small, stained green from plucking the thin stems, but they are steady for her age as she knots them with an utmost focus that I envy. She had been awed by the comet. I could see the reflection of it in her eyes even now, hours after it faded over the peaks of the mountains around us. Still, I said, we had to wait. They would come at dawn, and they would be quiet until they touched the sun.
The crown in her hands was nearly complete, full of every small flower she could find. They are all white in this valley, coating the thick grass in what looks like fresh frost despite the warmth in the air. It takes me a moment to realize that I can see her more clearly. My eyes had gotten used to the darkness of night, but now I can pick out the freckle on her cheek, the one that she shares with me, the one that I share with my mother. The others around me realize this too, the voices that were already so soft now growing silent as we listen. The children notice this, my daughter pauses in her crown to cock her head like a small bird. It takes minutes, but it feels like hours for us to hear them. My daughter looks at me, the comet’s shine sparkling from her eyes in anticipation.
They only come once every 150 years, rising like the tide with the morning sun over the mountain peaks that surround us. They flow North, coming from the warm South sea that sits just beyond those snow-capped mountains where they boil and flow into strange shapes over time, using the pull of the moon in the water as a heartbeat. I can see what my mother had told me, what her grandmother had told her. There’s mist beginning to flow between the rugged peaks, tinted a shimmering gold in the sunlight while the sections in the shadow of dawn are still moving in waves of silver starlight. Everyone is hushed now, the children pointing silently at the slow-motion cascade.
Somewhere in her pocket is a small shell, pearlescent when the sun hits it just right, and I hope that it will help her remember what she sees today. A small piece of glass sits in my pocket, one that she had found in the sand and then presented to me like it was a trophy. I will treasure it more than anything else, I will string it to a chain and wear it to my deathbed, knowing that my daughter and I will share the memory of this dawn, and I will hope that she shares the awe of this night with her children, so that their children may get to show the same thing to their own.
I can feel my daughter buzzing with excitement at the low, mournful echo from the sea. It’s heart-wrenching, and I clutch at my chest before I can think about it. There’s tears in my eyes as the sound multiplies over the ocean. The sound laps at the rock wall between us like the water they come from, the ocean that my daughter had danced in the day before. The sound is more beautiful than anything else I have ever heard, more profound than the greatest symphony. I have heard the sounds of whales before, their cries caught by cameras in the ocean, but this is greater than that. It is louder, rarer, and it grows closer with every echo.
The hair on my arms is raised when I see the first one rise above the line of mountains, a slow crest of aural mist that falls behind the peak. The cry that follows is bright, pitched high, and I can feel the tears running down my cheeks knowing that these beasts also bring their children to the same spot we all have. A convergence of generations that will never forget what they experience. For us, the sight of something rare and genuine and raw, and for them it is the first warmth of the sun in their ethereal bodies, the exhilaration of breaching over the land for the first and last time of their lives. My mother had told me the oldest of them come to this valley to die in the sun, to breathe the freshness of the flowers that litter the tall grass and to see their own magnificence on display in our faces. The young will stay low in the mist, they will become rain and return to the sea to begin their lives again, knowing that they someday will come to do this again.
The calf leaps again, and the gasp that rips through us is one breath. We can feel their presence in the air, the salt of the sea in our lungs and the sweetness of the sun rippling over their backs like biting into the freshest of fruits. My daughter is shaking in my lap, her hands tight on my arms. She smells of the flowers she has spent the early hours weaving into a gift, and I wonder if those great spirits will breathe us in the way we do them. Will they breathe the flower petals on my daughter’s hands? Will they feel her speak their story over time like the softest of strokes over their heads?
They are beautiful as they begin to rise, emerging from the falls of mist to gather it under their fins, the movement sweeping the air into shapes like lace beneath their bodies. They are made of that shimmering silk, it flows around and amongst them and changes their forms like ghosts. Their voices are a joyful choir now, no longer the sadness of meeting the wall of mountains, now it carries that sweet freedom of the sun. They can taste the sunlight and the grass and breathe in the warmth of the dawn.
They move in the open air like dancers, the same grace that they carry as they move through the water now being multiplied in the early morning light. They’re slow, their movements stalled by their size, but it adds to the magic of seeing them. They cry, the sounds echoing in the cup of the valley we sit in, but their movements have no sound. It’s like being underwater somehow, and I have to remind myself to breathe in and out. A gentle shake to my daughter, and I can hear her exhale hard. I was told their play would be short, that this would be something that one could miss, but the slow motion of their movements helps in prolonging their beauty.
Already I can see the biggest of them, nearly the size of the mountain it flows over, fading in the light of the sun. Little ones sweep above and under and between it’s many fins, playing in the mist that cascades down from the elder’s body to the valley floor. Already the clouds gather in what was a clear sky, some of the smallest of them crooning as they follow their mothers into the sunlight, becoming rain. The oldest of them cruise downward into the flowing fog, sinking into the cool pillow-soft clouds that move across the valley floor. The little flowers my daughter had gathered are moving in time with the beasts, the soft sound of them the only other noise aside from the soft singing.
I don’t tell my daughter that some will die today. I don’t have the heart to tell her about how the nature of death touches even such magic as this. But I know she will ask me someday, why the largest and most graceful of them breach in reverse to create soft waves that roll toward us. The young, and those who still have time roam upward, sweeping up in multitudes toward the light and the clouds that sit in the sky. Their songs are fading now, and I can feel tears again as they run down my face. My mother hadn’t told me how sad it would be to see them go. I knew it would be quick, but it feels like we have been in this valley for years, watching a lifetime pass by as they made their way from the South sea to the North, drifting into the sky.
My daughter is the one who notices the rain. It’s soft, the faintest kiss of water that follows the last of them that drifts upward. It’s a goodbye so soft that it turns the golden air to lavender, softening the already gentle atmosphere. Later, when my daughter slips under the blankets with me in my bed, she will pull out the little shell she had picked up from the beach. What was once before just another simple memento of the power of the ocean is greater now, something more precious, and I know she will dream of those beasts for the rest of her life. I will die knowing that I was one of the few who had known their story, and one of the fewer who had seen the young play in the dawn light before becoming the sweet rain that had washed my tears away.
Someday I’ll tell her what we saw as I left. A delicate crown of flowers, crafted with utmost care, laying in the long grass beside an indent in the shape of a small child. She made it as a gift, from the little flowers that smelled so sweet bloomed with the arrival of something so rare. My daughter had left it, forgetting she had made it in the wake of her awe, since she made flower crowns every time she could with every flower she could grasp.
I saw mist drift toward it, running along the soft petals with a godly reverence. I saw it dissipate into the long grass, becoming a sweet scent in the gentle rain. I saw the first offering that had ever been taken by them, made from something they cherished, made by the hands of my daughter with the reflection of a comet in her eyes.
Flowers bloom amongst the butterflies, bare naked upon wild grounds, silently spreading like doves wings. Caressing petals, staining fingerprints on stems of thornless roses fallen, where the marionette sings, elegant fragrances that whisper through magnolias. Alto sweetness like honey drips, we lie naked as the wildflowers grow around us, creating such a beautiful bliss, with just one butterfly kiss.
white knuckles, whitecaps, waves breaking
mood rings unwavering blue, useless
staring at the sea for the possibility of a feeling
blue: only, always
fistful of gum wrappers, haikus like spearmint suicide notes
atlantic gales peel the fish scales from her hands
blood a tragic blue, blood like ink
elegies in the creases of her palms
wake invitations in the eddies of her fingertips
even the tide laments
stanzas buried in the soft sands of amnesia
a wordless blue tombstone, a sad song
A million small deaths,
you are nowhere to be found.
Gold days turn to ash.