Little Miss Muffet
Little miss muffet sprawled on a bean bag,
Gorging on Cheetos and Little Debbie Moonpies
Along came an endangered spider, nested beside her
And miss Muffet sprayed the arachnid into extinction with insecticide.
“Und now you zee, by zubstituting a new Jungian Archetype, vee can eliminate Arachnophobia completely in eine generation, jah? Vee vill now observe our test zubject in a little demonstration, nine? Vee haff little fraulein Muffet comfortably placed on zee bean chair. An abundant supply of snacks provided around her befitting her height/weight proportions zo. Next to zee bean chair vee haff provided a triple strength spritz can of zee Raid DDT extreme, new und improved, jah? Und now vee vill introduce zee arachnid from zee ceiling above her. Zis experimental simulation iz completely contrived in an authentic und accurate recreation of a typical American home, jah?
“Zo now vee notice zee little fraulein spotting zee insect, und reaching for zee Raid. She vill now eradicate zee creature mach-schnell. Und... Holy CRAP! Vhat ist dis? Und dumkopf child! She has spritzed herself with zee can and has fallen out of zee bean chair und-conscious, und zee spider has crawled away. Dunderheaded Americans.”
#twistedclassicfairytales #contest #williamcalkins
In the absence of man, nature is deafeningly silent.
In the far distance, an English horn emits a haunting, muffled call.
"Be vwary, vwary quiet. I'm hunting wabbits."
In the absence of wabbits, nature is almost quiet.
#quiet #contest #williamcalkins
Sky dome reflected in car chrome
Heaven and sea biome
Nordic dream eyes
Share cropper guitar cries
An old dog, Taos stone silver bracelet
Pretty dreams and denim wishes
French military ribbon loyalty
Midday summer depression
Still lake impression
...Blue skies smilin’ at me, nothin’ but blue skies from now on.
#Blue #contest #williamcalkins
Know Thy Self
Hm, if I could do it all over again-
Who the hell wants to repeat that mess?
I could think of a couple things I’d do differently-
Like not crawl out of the womb?
But all in all, I think everything turned out about right.
Ya never won the lottery didja sport?
The joys and scintillation of that inner dialogue.
“Oh sake can you see...”
Getting to know and understand myself
“By the dawn’s early light...”
Feeling the confidence and pride that comes with perseverance
“What so proudly...”
Toward finding that timid inner child
Skip it, “THE BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR...”
Love, love will keep us together.
Yeah? Listen buddy, if’n I had it to do all over again, I’d of ditched your ass on beat one.
I’m sensing some passive aggressive hostility
Well, it seems that way
Must be the bag of greasy coney dogs ya ate at the carnival last night or somethin’
Well all this talk of reliving my life has got my stomach a bit queasy, I’ll take a Bromo-Seltzer.
Yeah, you be sure an’ do that.
And Then What
Ok, so I just spent an hour browsing through selections and excerpts of writing I did ten years ago. Whoa. Lots of words not really saying anything. I’m a verbose little bastard, but haven’t won any cigars yet. To be good at anything, you have to do it everyday. Spilling it all out like a child dumping his toy chest on the floor, then walking away, distracted by something else, leaving the whole mess for mommy to clean up...yeah, that ain’t gonna win any kewpie dolls either, unless you’re writing MTV music video scripts.
Maybe it’s good to go back and revisit old paths overgrown with noxious weeds. I tried to remember, pick up where I’d left off, but the trails had run cold. I discovered I wasn’t that writer anymore, I’m over here now. I dunno if that’s good or bad, but it is what it is and the only thing left to do is keep writing and exploring ideas from the sanctity of my off-grid, polar fortress of solitude. There are many old stories I haven’t told yet, many experiences that took until now to uncover the message within. Daily cobbling and scribbling is the only method by which to tell whether a story has anything left in it. My narratives will continue to evolve until either I quit, or die.
If you ask me at this very moment, I’ll answer I’m going to continue anvil hammering anecdotes, and sketch plots while canoeing across the Potomac. I just have to visit the meadow and butterfly net the words first. But instead of killing them, (those darlings) and pinning them to a board to be glazed and framed, I think it better to water board them in a cheese fondue and devour them on the spot. At least that’s how I feel today while writing this note. I can always go in and adjust my latest ink ribbon efforts later, post digestion, followed with a little aperitif or antacid or nice, calm stroll through the forest. Or more realistically, chase my hot mess fiction with a shot of Jack, a stomach pump and then try and out run a winter pack of starving wolves.
I entertain the delusion it’s possible to take an old idea, strip mine a line or two, talc it with the original flavor and send it to the publisher for starch pressing. But basically I’ll have to start fresh. Each time I write, I want to start fresh. Only the most original and creative of new ideas can start this way. So didja hear the one about the leopard and his spots?
A Spanish matador worked his tight-set jaw. With dark, burning eyes and long, jet black sideburns he dueled with an invisible bull around an abandoned arena. Between his gold embroidered leggings scampered a white and red spotted hound, eager to help chase and frustrate the invisible beast.
At one end of the arena, stoically observing all the goings on between the matador, dog and invisible bull, reclined an Aztec colossus chiseled from porous stone, basking under the scorching afternoon sun.
Two lopsided, handmade toy dolls strolled into the dusty arena and stood next to the Aztec, fascinated by the chaotic scene. Each doll was less than twelve inches tall. One a naked male figurine, accompanied by a jointed female wearing a brightly colored, striped dress. Huddling together, as paternal twin siblings might, they chose to spectate at a safe distance. Both dolls privately wished they owned a camera to capture the mad, dramatic play enacted before them in the bullring.
Abruptly the bull fighter stopped. Salty sweat ran from under his cap, down his neck, soaking the high, embroidered collar of his tailored satin waist jacket. His brilliant red cape hung from his shoulder, hiding one arm. He approached the sunbathing Aztec colossus with confident, bold strides. An ostrich egg magically appeared on a gold plate resting on its stomach. The matador fished around in his jacket for a gilt fountain pen and signed the eggshell, creating each letter using gallant serif flourishes. The pen’s indigo ink soaked into the shell and blurred. The last letter of his signature dripped around the curve of the giant egg.
The male and female dolls spread a cross-stitch smile up at the intense Spaniard’s proud face. They rolled their eyes back and forth, silently hoping to receive his autograph as well. The hunting dog flopped down next to them and panted, letting his swollen tongue almost touch the ground.
The matador replaced the egg on the plate and snapped a soldier’s quick heel-turn. The Aztec statue remained mute and expressionless as the Spaniard executed magician flourishes with his blazing cape. He then squared his shoulders, and sniffed at the air with flared nostrils. "Toro, Toro" he taunted, and once again engaged in mortal combat with his invisible nemesis.
When I was a small child between the ages of six and ten years old, I spent two weeks during summer vacation staying with my grandparents in Iowa. On Saturdays, I’d ride along with my grandfather in his ’63 Chevy Impala as he went on errands. The car’s brilliant, sapphire-blue upholstery was in sharp contrast to its simple white exterior. Running errands with my grandfather all to myself in his Impala was always a special treat.
Grandpa was half Blackfoot Indian and half French Canadian whose square-set jaw and high cheekbones gave his blue eyes a resolute quality. He was a strong, stoic man, tough and dependable in ways my eight-year-old experience couldn’t yet grasp, but intuitively sensed. He was a simple man that got along with only a sixth-grade education and worked as an itinerant farm hand most of his life until he married my grandmother. His own childhood had been a brief-lived experience after his father died and his mother abandoned their family of nine children to fend for themselves. He and his three older brothers supported and raised their younger siblings. Maybe because of that experience, Grandpa didn’t know exactly how to react to young children. As I think back on those days, he probably felt as anxious as I did.
I’d sit close to him on the sedan’s front bench and notice the deep, hard-labor tan and cabled muscles of his arms earned from woking a crane at the Rock Island Arsenal. His straight forward profile and Camel cigarette clamped between his lips added to his mystique and made me curious to learn more about him.
My grandfather drove with a casual posture, one powerful forearm resting out the car window, the other handling the Impala’s large, blue steering wheel with just a thumb and forefinger curled around an ivory colored steering knob. I found it difficult talking to him as he drove. He’d usually answer my eight-year-old questions with not much more than a “Yea-uh”, that at least informed me he heard my chattering.
Along the drive, if I pestered him too much, asked too many questions, he’d say, “You’re noisier than a magpie” without shifting his gaze from the windshield. The ‘magpie’ statement only made me giggle; at eight years old, I didn’t really know what a magpie was. Grandpa would then breathe noticeably through his nose, signaling he didn't know how to take my idle curiosity.
Soon, my fidgeting with his car’s radio knobs, cigarette lighter and glove compartment latch brought on a warning, "Better stop that now, else Injun Joe'll lower the boom on ya." Injun Joe was a mythical entity that according to my Grandpa, lived in my grandparents old attic. He was an Indian chief that punished mischievous youngsters by hanging them on a coat-hook behind the attic’s heavy door. For years, none of the grandchildren dared push past this warning.
But I was impetuous. The excitement of spending a Saturday morning alone with my grandfather was too great a moment to waste on caution. I laughed and wiggled my legs on the seat, mocking his stern warning about Injun Joe. He could see the tension building and suspected his threat had no effect on me. Grandpa tried showing a little give in his stern demeanor. “Alright now” he’d say in a voice used to still a spooked plow horse.
I looked back at him with a reckless sparkle in my own blue eyes. I was going past the bounds of common sense, foolishly believing I was winning some sort of mental arm-wrestling. Without warning he slammed his large, rough hand down upon my bare knee with a smack and squeezed it with a vice-like grip. He always knew just the right spot where pressure on nerves and tendons could wrench a squeal and involuntary jag of laughter from his little grandchildren.
I couldn't escape. I had stepped past the line of mercy. His thick thumb and fingers squeezed the spot just behind my kneecap over and over until I thought I might wet my pants from uncontrollable laughter. At the same time, my grandfather's eyes widened in a crazed look and his mouth dropped in a forced "gotcha" laugh that sounded like a wolf howl. A frenzied moment of insanity took hold, neither he nor I able to release it.
I'd still be rubbing my knee and giggling by the time we reached our first errand stop.
These are the old memories I'd have mixed in my adult mind later in life, now with a son of my own. I would pick him up from his mother’s house for my weekend visitations; a disquisition on modern commuter parenting. My fond childhood memories now mixed with more recent impressions of my rocky failed marriage and searing power-struggle divorce. All these jagged recollections swirled around in my head while trying to drive and listen to my son’s disconnected chatter.
He’s a curious child like I had been and I’d try to answer his questions while keeping an eye on traffic. When he became too distracting, I’d remember my grandfather’s technique and unexpectedly grab his small knee and squeeze. Both he and I derived mirthful pleasure from the sudden tickle-assault.
But my son was braver than I at his age, he’d try and retaliate, lunging at me, trying to squeeze my knee for a similar reaction. He was surprised and disappointed when I didn’t laugh. Then he’d work his small fingers under my arms, across my ribs and even under my chin, all to no avail. I, for a time, had the ‘tickle spot’ advantage.
I kept this advantage for a while. After failed attempts, my five year old son would ask, “Dad don’t you have a ticklish spot? Why aren’t you ticklish?”
I simply told him I didn't have one. My answer wasn’t satisfactory and during the course of our routine hour drive from his mother's house to mine, he'd randomly try to surprise me and trigger a ticklish spot. Following each try to get me to laugh, he’d reluctantly stop and his young face would regard me with a calculating, squint-eyed expression.
This went on for several weeks until one day he stopped as if struck by epiphany and turned in his seat to face me directly. He then claimed, "Dad, I know where your ticklish spot is.”
“Oh, you do huh.” I challenged back at him.
“Ok, buddy, where?”
“It’s your brain” he revealed confidently, then sat against the car door, folded his arms across his chest and smiled in victory.
I was dumbfounded. He was absolutely correct. A five-year-old child, my son, found my ticklish spot when no adult since my grandfather, had been able to find one. From that moment on, my son and I shared a special "knowing" between us, a private secret. We both knew each others ticklish spots and at that frozen moment in time, we also shared a rare reward between adulthood and childhood.
Amazon birds disguised under broad fronds and thatched branches watch motionless Toucans hold their carnival beaks silent. Marooned, iceberg-teeth drift in turquoise, tropical waters. Painted natives on their knees pay tribute to white triangles passing through the stratosphere. Ocean waves shout back, and rainbow Macaws join in a rising mantra of screams and wails. Glacial mountains gouge into raw beach, spreading frost-glass sharply against the tree-line. Burdened cloud-stacks fall, crash and separate across mangled ground. Long tailed lizards fly and weary Albatros tailspin.
Night stars reign,
day has forfeited,
shadow claims and
A worn cycle, a forgotten pattern too steeped in mystery to uncover. An onyx panther poses for the sculptor, and is turned into basalt. Chrome plated flying machines, virgin-craft sleeked into long racing contours streak through velvet-dark heavens.Their flight path traced overhead in arcs, spike shockwaves into the cold ground below.
Fresh spring-melt washes the soil, bathes stones, a clear blue sky beckons enter. An electric sun covets what's left, warming all to relinquish a satisfied moan. The last of the chrome flying vessels pass, then turn invisible. Infinity has fled this space, a great breath, long held, exhales.
Life once again emerges.
Her inky raven hair explodes into an Aubrey Beardsley tapestry. Light didn't fall from the heavens, it flooded from her siren-green irises and anointed the ceiling and walls with mossy, musky flavor. Her tresses swirled and slowly dissolved all color tones— a dripping sweet scent of her body lingered. She dared ride a cosmic stallion bareback. Passion raced faster than her lover’s heartbeat.
Lust’s arrogant steed galloped ahead of her orgasmic tsunami— a wake hiding a hellacious undertow. Release from the vice-grip on her hips rendered her body weightless, time traveling, parallel dimension rifting, like a shoulder hard set against the door-to-immortality— popping explosions splintered all consciousness.
Are you ready to ignite a combustible nebula? You have no idea. You succumb to mere vibrations, melodic tickles, you can't handle more. Dare to open your eyes now, open your mind and continue the ride. Sound baby. Get naked, rip your clothes off, pant like a beast.
Try to control it, write a song, tell your story, hypnotize minds, sculpt hallucinations, dive from the volcanic cliffs and drink the sub-tropic ocean waters. Surf exploding lightening bolts, litter this flat-edged world and hammer-forge it into a glossy blue sphere. Breathe— pour vibration into cosmic harmonic vessels, create pulses of ecstasy unimagined, virginal— set soul-amplified-spirit-screamers free. A rampant flight that Phoenixes bear wary witness to, but refrain from taking wing.
Cut gospel loose,
slash aside the secret hidden veils
shred caution, it's your turn.
Light everything on fire. Look, what color is the flame?
Clutch the heat in your bare hands, inhale the elemental dancing blades and go.
Leap and fly, churn a celestial spiral that sets earthly cowards scurrying for protection.
A face-tearing smile gleams and a taste for forbidden ambrosia grows. It’s too late for multiple choice, one big bang is all you need to set you free. Spread the stars and stir the black holes like so much licorice latte. Prowl with the monsters, swagger under the weight of their terrible stench, and slavering jaws-
You have no equals.
A green pin-dot of light flashed in the darkness, a bright Christmas tree green. Pop- gone. Dry thunder at high noon openly interfered with my thoughts as I gazed through an open door onto a burnt sepia, Texan landscape. Late afternoon subpoenaed me to a small, chlorine pool.
I sat on the bottom of the deep end listening to water pressure-sizzle inside my ears, like medical tests done on me -before I could remember- by a medical research facility in Iowa that could only be reached through an underground tunnel. Neon navy blue streaks swizzled down an invisible screen inside my head. My submerged thoughts imagined an unknown teenage boy whose eyes reflected chronic trouble he couldn’t do anything about. He flinched from a flood of salty perspiration pouring from his burning eyes.
More parched thunder ambled across the sky, the sizzling in my ears continued, drowning out personal thoughts, distracting my mind from my body running out of oxygen. A promise is always coming, but never gives an arrival date -You’ll know it when you see it- Lone Star, too-hot-to-touch, faded car-hoods propped open to jump lead acid batteries. Alligator cable heads glowed on the posts. Twelve feet down, all I could feel was gradually increasing pressure on my eardrums.
Watch, wait- a repetitive process I was all too familiar with. A young woman with long, fawn-toned hair, wore a white cotton top and Comanche skirt inside a shadow cooled adobe ranch house. Paisley drapes barred sunlight entry and kept room heat satisfied to a minimum. She smiled and let her hair fall in front of her face as she thumbed through an outdated phonebook.
Outside, population zero. Abandoned sage and mesquite stretched out, puzzle-linking a local ghost town. Cacti bordering a vanishing point highway melted into waxy green puddles. Rough-feathered gargoyle buzzards relocated to the square adobe’s Spanish tile rooftop. A bank of mica-thin clouds appeared like the snap of a magician’s cape. The sun graciously allowed them to linger, even smiled before extinguishing them into shimmering vapor like so much photographic flash powder.
The young woman lounged crosswise on a long horn, cowhide chair, her hair dangled near the floor. She used an old landline phone to order Chinese take-out and let perspiration on the back of her delicate neck cool her. Ice cubes had almost formed in freezer trays and began to rattle in the fridge like rocks in a cocktail glass. Cold clinking was the only music drifting over the desert as the sun traveled to the next town, the next state and made a hollow promise not to be back for hours. Searing temperatures radiated everywhere, off everything, leaving no escape.
Oxygen leaked from my nose as I imagined Chinese food cooked in desert-fired woks, steam rising from cartons of fluffy white rice and egg foo young…I wondered if take-out was still delivered by rickshaw. A slate blue sky slowly erased to reveal rough streaks of indigo scuffing through from underneath. Low on the horizon, a narrow train of popcorn clouds scuttled to catch the sunset. The first evening star flashed, a quick, bright Christmas tree green… Twilight started to settle in early, but the other stars wouldn’t attend for hours… the Milky Way might RSVP… no one could say.
Our promotional bank calendar broke sometime back in April and the seasons refused to change, that was the story anyway. Someone opened a bag of marshmallows outside, the microwave air puffed them caramel brown. The sweet, beguiling scent penetrated the pool surface. I pushed off the bottom of the deep end, and dried my hair as I returned naked to the house. Inside, the woman sat cross-legged and naked on a crocheted rug eating chow mien with fluorescent yellow chopsticks. I humored myself, it all could’ve happened this way.
After the apocalypse, renegade hordes of fake-tan polo players rode long legged ponies through the streets using polo mallets to whack decapitated heads. They rode through abandoned avenues, weed ravaged by-ways and on out into feral countryside. Their seasoned mounts trampled seedlings and sod like buffalo herds grinding grassy, Midwestern plains. The men kept their chins tucked and their white and red helmets securely strapped. Post apocalyptic polo was a serious game played by somber, ex-gentry who gave no quarter and took no prisoners. Whoever fell behind, got left behind. No residuals were awarded to families of the fallen.
The polo riders swung their mallets with acuity. Any orphaned skull was fair game to be pursued with gusto. Their horses frothed at their bits as wild manes became entangled with reins. Little boys in ragged, white undershirts and sun lighten hair watched the cavalier riders from behind mature elm trees that lined forgotten boulevards. Visions of envy danced in their young, sky-tinted eyes as the riders kicked horse belly with silver spurs strapped to high-shined, English boots.
Abruptly, at the end of an unkept park pasture, the players rode up on an old cemetery. A battered head with it's esophagus trailing was cracked high into the air, over an iron fence, landing with a dull thud in the middle of a cemetery. It rolled to a stop against a crumbling headstone.
The horsemen pursued the head, working their mounts around tombstones and ricocheting the skull off marble and granite monuments like a snooker ball. This play occupied their focus for a long time. Long enough for a scant number of spectators to spontaneously gather. Their hollow eyes grew wide at the garish spectacle. If any of the onlookers took sides, they didn't outwardly show it. The game of ‘head polo’ continued into the early evening, splattering almost every gravestone with bloodstains. No one saw it happen directly, but a player and his horse collided with a tombstone and went down, followed by another.
The still mounted players began viciously attacking the dismounted ones, striking them with their grim mallets. They continued to mindlessly attack each other as more riders went down. The graveyard seemed bent on claiming its own victory. The apocalyptic polo player's soon dwindled in number. The sick, mallet cracking sounds lessened. Soon all the riders lay dead amongst the stone markers, the cemetery lawn awash with ebbing blood, as their steeds wandered off to graze.
The loosely gathered spectators stood mute. Their boney hands grasped the iron rod fence surrounding the burial grounds. Then almost as if acting as one, they entered the hallowed grounds and began dressing out the bodies of the fallen polo players, removing entrails and dismembering arms and legs, leaving the heads where they lay. The hungry spectators then took the spoils back to their hovels and basements and cooked the delicacies in a feast of thanksgiving.