Dinosaurs

I started liking Dinosaurs when I was a kid.
I read books, watched The Land Before Time,
and played with little plastic dinos.
I wanted to grow up to be a paleontologist.
Instead, I became a writer.

Some people don’t like the revelation that dinosaurs had feathers.
They want the dinosaurs from their youth:
towering, reptilian predators,
monsters
that roamed the Earth without equal.
Godzilla,
basically.

But isn’t learning about the prehistoric past
part of the fund of dinosaurs?
It was for me, anyway.
Other kids pretended to be T-Rex,
stomping, roaring,
chasing other kids around the playground,
while I sat in the sandbox
burying all my plastic dinos
and then digging them up again,
brushing them off with an old paintbrush,
the way a paleontologist would.

Nostalgia and science:
they aren’t enemies.
Or, at least, they shouldn’t be.

And besides, I can’t be the only one,
who saw a picture of a feathered velociraptor
and immediately wanted to pet it.

A quick little poem for World Poetry Day, about dinosaurs, which are awesome. Especially with feathers.

In the Shadow of the Facility

The building taunted Arthur every time he walked past it. It stood there, all steel and glass, a modern architectural style designed to evoke medical cleanliness and peerless efficiency. No matter how hard he kept his eyes on the ground, the image of that facility remained burned into his consciousness, a reminder of the grisly deadline that lurked ever closer in Arthur’s future.

He would have just as soon have avoided walking past it except that it happened to be so close to the coffee shop. His daily cup of coffee was the only luxury Arthur had been able to fit into his current budget. His walk down to the shop had become a sort of ritual. It got him exercise, and got him out of the apartment and away from the constant pressure of bills. He felt that without this ritual, he really might be in danger of losing it.

Entering the shop, Arthur walked over to the counter, ordered his usual (a medium cup of coffee with cream), and took a seat by the window. He made sure he was facing away from the facility, and yet it still lurked in his mind. Arthur thought back to when the first facility of its kind opened in Washington, D.C. He remembered the president’s speech, promising an end to the nanny state, to the do-nothing parasite who suckled themselves on the government teat. Arthur remembered that he used to think the facility was a great idea. He had felt ecstatic when one had opened right here in Cleveland. Finally, he wouldn’t have to see so many transients on the way to work.

Arthur had continued to think this up until the day his manager called him in to talk about his performance. “So you see, Arthur,” the manager had said, peering at Arthur through his spectacles, “you just aren’t processing software change requests at an efficient pace.”

“But my work has been improving,” Arthur had protested. “Everyone has been saying so!”

“Yes, the individual requests you complete are quite thorough. But you see, it’s not just about the quality of thew work. We also have to consider the rate at which the work is done. Efficiency is key. Do you see what I’m saying?”

Arthur had, in fact, understood. The modern world worked at a blinding pace, and those who couldn’t keep up were left behind. Arthur had seen then that his protests would be in vain. The manager, for his part, had been nothing but cordial. He had even walked Arthur to his car to make sure he was OK to drive. This politeness didn’t stop Arthur from cursing the manager out as he pulled away, however.

In the months that followed, Arthur fervently applied to every business that would take him. And every week, he had received another email apologizing to him for the inconvenience and wishing him luck on his job search. Around the three month mark, he had begun having nightmares about men in clean, crisp uniforms coming to his apartment and dragging him screaming into the metal and glass doors of the facility, never to be seen again. These nightmares had continued unabated throughout the rest of his job search.

Shaking his head, Arthur brought himself back to the present. Though the nightmares were terrifying, the future they predicted was not yet a forgone conclusion. There was still a few days before the six month deadline. and just last week he had attended a promising interview with a local tech support call center. Sure, it wasn’t the most glamorous work, but it was better than the alternative. And besides, in all likelihood it was the last chance he’d get.

Suddenly, Arthur felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Taking it out, he saw that he had gotten an email from the tech support company. Arthur felt his heart begin to pound. Opening the email, Arthur read the words “We are sorry,” and then the room began to spin. Arthur felt himself take shallow breath after shallow breath. He felt beads of sweat form on his brow. His sight became unfocused, and he couldn’t read the rest of the email. He didn’t need to, anyway. He knew what it said.

Then Arthur heard the tiny ringing sound of the bell on the coffee shop’s door. He didn’t need to see who had come in. The men from the facility were here for him. Arthur knew this in his very bones. “Run,” said a voice in his head. “Run, run now!” And Arthur did run. He ran out of the door and straight into the street.  There was the honk of a car horn, a screech of the brakes, the crunch of bone under rubber, and then finally, nothing.

This is a story I wrote a couple of months ago, basically just as a way to deal with the stress of being unemployed. It’s completely self-indulgent and over-the-top, but MAN was it cathartic to write. Writing is good therapy, even if the result is kind of grim.

One Moment in the Life of a Private Dick

She walked into my office and shot me. I stared at her face, covered by a black veil, and at the gun in her hand, smoke rising from the barrel. Then I looked down at my chest and saw the flower of red that was spreading across my shirt. “Shit,” I said as I collapsed to the ground.

“I told you not to meddle, Johnny Coldclock,” she said. “But you had to go and stick your neck in where it wasn’t wanted.”

“I’m not Johnny,” I coughed. “I’m Rick Stephenson. Johnny Coldclock is next door.”

I heard her say, as if from a great distance, the words “Oh, Goddammit, not again.” Then I blacked out.

I don’t know where this idea came from, but I just had to get it out of my head once it was there. It’s too long for a microfic, so I put it here on the blog. 

Imposter Syndrome, WiFi Connectivity, and Other Things That Give Me a Headache

Hi. Long time no see. Sorry that I haven’t posted for a while, but WiFi connectivity in my house has been spotty at best. I’m actually typing this out on my phone right now. Please forgive any spelling errors.

Lately I’ve been having trouble writing. I’d call this problem writer’s block, but it’s not really lack of ideas that has been holding me back. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite problem: I have too many ideas and I can’t decide which ones to work on right now.

Now before you go nailing me to a tree for complaining about a “problem” that most writers would kill to have, I should explain a couple of things. First of all, I’m having trouble being confidant that my ideas are good. I’ll start writing a story, hoping it will become a novel, then halfway through the first chapter I become convinced that the whole thing is horrible and I should just give up. In other words, I have imposter syndrome. Secondly, these ideas are huge. Each is way bigger than anything I’ve tried to write before. As a result, I become intimidated by the size of what I’m trying to write and immediately feel inadequate. These two problems combined have made it really hard to get any writing done at all. Luckily I have a solution: stop trying to do too much too soon.

The thing I keep forgetting is that it took years for my favorite authors to get where they are. I’m only twenty-six. I’ve got plenty of time to write. I shouldn’t be so impatient to become a novelist. I’ve got plenty of time to work up to that.

So right now I’m just gonna go back to basics and write a few short stories. Nothing huge. Maybe a couple back stories for my D&D characters.

I’m also tossing around the idea of starting a second blog for discussing/writing about D&D and other tabletop RPGs. Something to help me grow my readership and keep me writing on a regular basis. Also, I can write pages and pages about RPGs. I’ve been a DM for years and a player for even longer. I’ve got loads of opinions and experience to draw from.

Anyway, that’s the state of my writing right now.

Depression Sonnet

There is a darkness lurking in my mind
that whispers lies and falsehoods in my ear.
It says that I am never going to find
the love and safety that we hold so dear.

And though I know that these are lies it speaks,
they cut my soul and chill me to the bone.
They steal my strength and make me feel so weak
that I begin to think I am alone.

But I am not alone in this old fight.
My allies are the people that I love.
They keep me close and hold my hands so tight
and lift me to a clear blue sky above.

So if you have a darkness such as mine
then stand with those you love and hold the line.

world-mental-health-day

Today is World Mental Health Day, so I wrote a poem about fighting depression, something that’s a big part of my life. If you suffer from a mental illness please remember that you are important and that your mental health matters. If you can, talk to someone about your experiences, and if you are comfortable with it, share you story with the world to help others who suffer not feel so alone.

 

A Cover Letter

To whom it may concern,

Thank you for considering my application for the position of Specialty Assistant at your local establishment. Ever since I graduated, I’ve wanted the opportunity to really dig my teeth into the barrier between the real and the unreal. I think this position will finally give me that chance.

In addition to a passion for the work, I bring a considerable amount of practical skill to the table. I have extensive knowledge of grimoires, skinning knives, and bloodstone amulets, as well as prior experience with Microsoft Office. I also have great customer service skills. Once, when I was working as a cashier at Heinen’s, I was able to quiet a particularly disruptive customer by removing the flesh from my face, allowing them to see the terrible visage that lurked underneath. Needless to say, they never caused another disturbance again.

Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I can be reached via phone every evening between the hour at which the wolves first begin to howl and the hour at which the cock crows. I will follow up via summoning ritual in two weeks time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks Again,
That-Which-Should-Not-Be
86 Desolation Lane
Thornwood, OH
Phone: 555-1134

OK, so I know I said I’d write something every week and I’m a few days late. Sorry about that. Anyway, this just popped into my head the other day while applying for jobs. 

English Weather

It starts with a grey sky.
This goes unnoticed because you are in England;
The sky is always grey.
Always.

Then there is the faintest of sounds,
a sort of plopping noise
as if something wet is hitting the ground.
Plop. Plop. Plop.
This too goes unnoticed because
the neighbor’s dog is barking
and there are motorcycles coming down the street
and life is just noisy in general.

You don’t notice the smell, either.
If you did you’d swear you were at a fish market
or by a dock.
You don’t notice, because as it happens,
you are holding your dinner:
a fish.

But when a fish falls out of the sky
and lands squarely between your feet
you notice.
Oh yes, you notice.
But only for a moment.
After all, this is England.
The weather will sort itself out.

At last, I breathe life into this blog once more! Sorry for the absence. A long bout of depression caused by losing my job has kept me from writing. But I plan on writing myself out of this depression and starting the blog back up for real. I’ll elaborate on a blog post.

This poem was inspired by this comic by my friend Shane Sheenan, whom I’ve talked about before. If you like the idea of a cloud dropping fish on people, you should check out his adoption page and snatch up English Weather before anyone else can get their hands on the little jerk.