as nails driven hard,
the eyes are gouged out
yet images remain,
limp eyelids blink
on hollow sockets,
blood trickles down.
in the raw flesh.
I should have known
that haunting images
shall one day return
and go deeper inside,
as you hammer them
Last week, I gave myself a writing prompt of 5 words: abandoned, nurture, trimming, silently, cupboards, and clocked ten minutes on the countdown timer on my cellphone. Now that I go back to it after a few days, I don’t hate it so much, so I thought I will post it here:
They have grown silently around the abandoned house, those creepers, those creatures of nature and of stealth. They have piled in through the broken basement windows, they have grown over the cracks on the steps, they have climbed the steps to the forgotten bedrooms. They will not leave the house well enough alone because man makes homes, but Nature nurtures graves.
The house has stood here silently on the mound under the dripping rain, the blazing sun, and you have seen it change its face. It has grown old with you, like you: you, whose nails need trimming, whose clothes need mending, whose table needs cleaning, whose utensils need washing. And so is the house with its wild lawns, its rusty banisters, cobwebbed chandeliers, broken gates, and nesting sparrows.
You and the house have grown old together, silently and alone, like old friends. Those who left you in hate, left the house at the same time, but you do not wait for them, and the house does not, either. You await death and the house waits for demolition, and meanwhile it is a rambling old place where a boy or two can find adventure, where a homeless man can find shelter from the rain.
But you do not welcome the boy or the homeless man, you wander like a ghost in the house, and keep out the real ghosts who do not want to step into this wanton seclusion, this morbid togetherness. The shadows of the house cling to you when you take out your aged car, it waits patiently for you to return, because it knows you will.
It is alive, dying, and pulling you in with it all the time into its corridors of no sunlight and stale air, into its musty cupboards with doors thrown ajar, its old kitchen with the burst oven, its leaky roof, its dark cellars and its noisy chimney on stormy nights. Even the fireplace throws out more shadows than light.
The house has its eyes, it has its nose and teeth, and all work together to keep you in and others out. Don’t you see its arms holding you back, pulling you inexorably in, in, in, in, always in—no light for you, no life, and that is the way the house wants it. I know you want it the same way too, but today I stand here, calling to you. Won’t you listen, just this once? Or will you pick up my call, fold it over and toss into the bin across your bed?
You have to decide, because this will be the only call that will ever come, the call from me to you.
I have been writing a lot last week, only not at this blog or any of the others. A lot of that writing has been utter crap, but at a bare minimum I am showing up at the page every day and worrying less about the money I am making. In my book (pun not intended), that is progress already.
I am discovering the various joys of speed-writing, and at the very least it has been fun.
Writing is my second profession, I started off with literature, veered off madly, and came right back to writing.
I wish I had some of the verve of this rocking Italian Cappuchin monk though:).
Changing what you do every few years is guaranteed to keep you young, energetic, and full of life. I don’t think I will ever completely give up writing, but a few interesting career options come to mind.
Would you change what you do today if could? Want to talk about it?
I wrote a lot today, and finished a short story to boot.
Though I am feeling lousy (which I wont rant about here cos I have my separate rant blog now) otherwise, it is nice to go to bed with the thought that I at least got a lot of writing done.
Writing is always such a tricky thing to do. The minute you decide you want to write “about” something, in a “particular way”, you feel strained. I have often found that it is easier to permit myself to write rubbish, to accept that one cannot produce works of true genius all the time, and in the cases of some writers, maybe never at all.
It is the same with all art I suppose. You are trying so hard to create a masterpiece that you forget to relax and let things come to you. At the end of the day, it is important that you listen to what comes to you and take it down, instead of trying to “make” something.
I wish I could treat writing like I treat my reading. I read, and read too much for my own good, but not so I can sit for an exam, or gain something material. I do not have to be good at reading, and I can read anything, from manuals to menus, completely uncaring of what “quality” I read. I have read Harlequin romances and Goethe on the same day and enjoyed both. They were both worth my time, and I am not ashamed to say it.
Maybe I am not destined to become a great writer, I just don’t have it in me. But that’s alright. As long as I am enjoying what I am doing, or following a compelling need within, I should not complain.
Here is hoping that I get the “I” out of my system in this and my other blogs, and when I write otherwise, am able to forget that an “I” exists. A giant pen with ears— that is who I am, simply taking dictation from somewhere up above, or deep within.
I am not a writer, but a secretary to Someone Who Knows, taking dictation.
Now I have to make sure I write that down on my writing-desk!
Writing can be such a draining experience sometimes.
You have to create something out of nothing, draw a world out of a void, wear the mantles of all your characters, and live and feel through them.
It is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.
And then you talk to someone who understands you.
Who may not necessarily know or understand your work, but can listen to your pretty or ugly stories about yourself, your life, patiently and without passing judgment. A friend.
There is nothing more restorative after a tiring day than to talk to a friend who really, really deserves the term. Three cheers for good friends! If you are a stressed writer, I highly recommend that after a tiring day, you have a chat with a good friend about nothing in particular.
Writing short stories is what I have wanted to do for quite some time. But it is a difficult genre to master, and I am not entirely persuaded it is the right genre for me and what I have to say. While the writing comes easy, I am not so sure it flows as well as some of my poems.
Here is a prose-poem kind of vignette I had done some time back. I call it “Hell Found Me” :
Hell found me. I knew it would, sooner or later, but did not know it would be quite so soon. I had become quite an artist down the years I spent here. But now I am caught.
It is here that I have to stay, chained for all time, in the middle of this mindless desert, acres of salt, and little else. The cracks left by the wind on this never-ending salty stretch are mirrored by the raw cracks on my feet. Someday the cracks on my bleached bones will mirror them. First the birds, and then of course, the sun, will have their turn. It is a long wait.
But today as I lie scorching, I am flesh and blood. I can feel the heat under my bare body and the pain from the many cuts made on it to attract vultures. For years I have traveled these lands where no man dare make his home, where there is no soil for a blade of grass. Only salt, white, grey or dirty, meets the eyes, no matter how many miles one walks.
This was my home. I was a wanderer and this entire spread belonged to me, for it was I who would guide the trader who risked his life walking into this wasteland of salt. In exchange for things that took my fancy, an amulet, a carved box, or a piece of embroidered cloth, I would offer to lead him to the best place, where the salt was pure, pristine, and so white it hurt the eye. I would guide him in and out in a day, he would not get lost in this salty desert. He would come once, twice, many times, and grow my hoard in the caves I stowed them in.
Unknown to him, it was not his possessions I was after, it was his flesh. Ah, human flesh! Salty as the air I breathe, smelling of salt as the water I drink, and warm, so warm. No animal flesh can compete, and I should know, I have tasted most I could catch. I have hunted in jungles, and I have hunted beside farms. Crippled at birth, I knew no mother and the only herd I was ever part of was a group of beggars by day and thugs by night. I have loved human blood since then, it quenched my thirst and killed the dull ache in my belly. Most nights I went hungry. There were rats to catch of course, but rats can be quick.
Besides, hunting men is far more rewarding. They are more intelligent. It needs great cunning. I earned the trust of many, and when I decided the time was ripe, my meal never knew what hit him. I hate struggles. I do not like wasting precious energy in this desert, and trust is the perfect weapon. I would always ask them, on what was to be their last trip, to bring me some good wine. I would, as always, be quiet; I do not know much of talk, and it does not amuse me. They would be merry, and drink more than I. Most of them died in their sleep, dreaming happy dreams, which ended with a quick, firm, blow to the head. It is as good a way to go as any.
But as with all good plans, mine had a flaw. News of my unseen hoard grew with each small merchant that gave me a trinket. Then, you came, the robber in the guise of a merchant. And when the robber met the hunter, the robber won. You are now a speck in the distance, carrying away all the trophies of my hunt. They do not mean much to me, and you are welcome. I am chained outside my cave, from where I can see all the bones I tore flesh from, and I am content.
As birds tear at mine, I shall think of the poison I smeared on all my treasure and how you will be writhing in agony soon. You know, I have begun to like my hell. The way I see it, it is just a few vultures having a good meal, and I do not grudge them that.
For some reason I have always wanted to turn this into a poem. Today I got an idea how. I was on Sharon Bakar‘s blog when I saw this intriguing link to Wordles, a free software that lets you create word clouds of whatever text you choose to feed in.
This is the link to the Wordle I created from the text of the vignette here. (Click it to see a bigger image). I like the way all sorts of unlikely words join up in the Wordle: “chained, hunted birds”, “years drink”, “scorching treasure”, “walking pristine”….I know random poetry generators can give you much the same kind of unlikely word combinations, but I like to see the Wordle do it so visually.
Writing about all sorts of stuff for the last few days, from belly fat to ballet dancing….the boring freelance writer’s life.
I wish I would stop toying around with my dream life and just dare to live the dream!