Wherein I post bad poetry

Yep. It’s bad poetry hour! The following is something I had to write for a glad class. Sestina ahoy.

Ashen Reverie

“Nothing is concealed from the wise and sensible, while the unbelieving and unworthy cannot learn the secrets.” – H. C. Agrippa

No one under the sun knows our secrets
Manifesting in all our twisted days
An ember plumage enraged from my palms
Staring up at a bouquet of burnt steel
Crossed keys and a kingdom manifested
Burning seal, tritones, and what is below

Harlequin ring, unbroken from below
Screaming into ashes; ripping secrets
Charcoal clouds towering, manifested
Soon smold’ring candle burning for the days
Ancient relic built from sanctified steel
Held tight with sweat entwined within my palms

Hints of the past, rising scent of burnt palms
Rumblings rip at my ankles from below
Perdition’s own thoughts heating my grasped steel
Chanting syllables encased in secrets
Been heading for this moment all my days
Body encircled by manifested

ethereal beings; Manifested
by careful design, controlled by my palms
Faustian bargain? My eternal days
Are nothing like temptation from below
He refused to adhere to the secrets
He should’ve stuck to alchemical steel

Finally! My fingers let loose the steel
His Grand form finally manifested
My knees ready to beg for All secrets
Man’s logic cannot stop my quaking palms
I command you, summoned one from below!
Bound to my brass vessel all of your days

Cowering mortal, you bind me for days?
Sixty-six true legions I bind with steel
Mine is everything imprisoned below
Your Goetia is my Will manifested!
I’m the desecrator of sacred palms
Your filth deserves not infernal secrets

All my days, for this smoke manifested
Yet I am oxidized steel; wilted palms
Cowardice locks those secrets far below

On Writing

I’ve spent a lot of time in the writer self-help aisle. I have a few books about the art sitting on or near my desk – tomes detailing organization techniques, brainstorming methods, ways to unleash your inner artist, and just about everything else. Now, it isn’t that those things aren’t important, it’s just that they take a long time to get to the same damned message:

The only way to start writing is to start writing.

At the end of October I briefly considered entering into NaNoWriMo just to see if I could do it. Of course, as is often the case, November came and I had mostly forgotten about the contest, much like every other year. Besides, it wasn’t like I had any ideas in mind, right? I was empty. And there was school, too. And work writing! I have so much of that to do! I don’t have time for this, man. I’m busy. Stack of work. Oh, and that test I have to study for…

I then saw a post on Facebook by an old professor of mine – something about a writing contest. Neat! I clicked on over, read through the rules, and then immediately signed up, apparently without consulting myself.

While not quite NaNoWriMo, it was 40,000 words in one month.

Once it sunk in, I consciously decided that I had to go through with it. There really wasn’t an option. That silly Facebook post was a promise to myself. After all, do I fancy myself a writer or just someone who likes to occasionally write?

I had no story, no characters, no ideas whatsoever. But hell, I couldn’t just back out. And so, with absolutely no direction I opened up word and stared at a blank page for about thirty minutes, with zero inspiration hitting me. As is standard procrastination procedure, I fired up WinAmp, hit shuffle, then slammed “next” a few dozen times.

I ended up landing on this.

Thoughts rushed to my head. A mercenary. A bad one. Has to be a tough woman. Has to want some progress in her life. Other characters – two names immediately sprung to mind. A few thousand words later, I had my hook. I read it over once (the only time I re-read anything during the whole experience, hilariously enough), and then went on my way.

Thirty days later, here I am with 40k words and change. As a man of the short story, it is by far the longest thing I’ve ever written – and it isn’t even done yet. Sure, I hit the milestone that I needed to win the contest, but that’s hardly the point. The contest was just a seed, the tiny kick in the ass that I needed to begin the long, painstaking process of tossing myself against the page.

After a short break, my goal is to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of this month. After that, I’ll re-read it and begin the editing process. Then maybe I’ll even let someone read it. Or a few people.

Or… well, this road goes to some scary places, doesn’t it?

The Great Leveler

Prompt: “Being snowed in”

They had called it the great leveler. It didn’t matter who you were, when the wall hit you, it killed you the same way as everyone else. Your tomb was that of the eternal winter, your body sacrificed to the slumbering cold as frozen shackles held you in place.

It was a slow, awful death.

And so she kept digging.

Breath hissed through her teeth as she buried her hands in the powder, viciously slashing at the ground like a burrowing animal. Auburn hair plastered against her face, frozen there by sweat and fresh flakes.

She internally begged to hear a muffled scream – but the wind denied her wishes, silencing her thoughts with a constant, howling presence. Tears began to form at the corner of her eyes from a mix of emotion and effort. They froze before reaching her raw cheeks, stinging as they burned against her skin.

As her fingers tore into the mountain below her, the snow began to turn red. Her naked hands were a mix of pale flesh and crimson stains, numbed long ago by their war with the packed snow. His body had only been swallowed up for a few minutes, and yet she knew that with every second he was closer to being bound forever to the elements.

Her vision was blinded, eyes clouded over with tears, every tattered blink sending her world into a white hell. Blood thumped at her temples, threatening to break her concentration. Was she even in the right spot? Was he already dead?

The last question echoed in her mind, urging her forward.

Her arm reached down, ready to pull up another handful of frozen debris –

She gasped, rough fingers suddenly wrapping around her wrist, tugging at her for life.

The great leveler had spared one.

Asator

Prompt: vikings, balloons, hope, the sun

The crushing ocean pounded the longboat. Black, ominous clouds towered above, threatening to swoop down and engulf them. The merciless sea occasionally cut into the boat, splashing rowers with an icy mist. A bearded man in his thirties sat at the head of the boat, his body covered in tattered leathers and shards of bronze metal. A chain hung around his neck, a small pendant of Mjöllnir dangling back forth around his chest in rhythm with the waves.

“Row!”

His voice was bloody, beaten down by salt and fire. He pointed his axe at another bearded man in the rear of the ship.

“Baleog! With the haste of Thor, grab the balloons!”

The Viking stood, walking over to a wooden post that was slick with the ocean’s chill. Connected to the post was a cache of blue and pink balloons, each painted with a sowilo followed by a pair of vertical dots. Baleog swiftly untied the balloons, sweat dripping down his brow.

He looked back to the man with the Mjöllnir pendant, string wrapped around his knuckles.

“What now, Olaf?”

Olaf raised his axe in the air.

“Release them! For the blessing of thunder!”

Baelog opened his palm, watching the balloons sail to the skies. As they climbed, the wind began to twist around the ship, yet the sea seemed to calm.

A blast of lightning struck no more than half a league away from the ship, a thunderous crack shaking the longboat. The occupants raised their weapons, screaming back at the skies as hope filled their chests.

Thunder pulsed through the air a second time, seemingly breaking a hole through the dark clouds – the light of the sun shining through. The Vikings beat their weapons against the side of the boat, the roar echoing across the sea.

Blessed by the gods, their victory was certain.

Day Two, Vehicle vs. a Ditch

Prompt: cookies (or other baked goods), ten stacks of notebook paper, a detective, car insurance

The back end of the Camaro sat propped up, the bonnet thoroughly burrowed into the ditch. The rear quarter panel looked as if someone had scratched an ice pick along its length, black grooves tracing the molded fiberglass. Mud was caked in the wheel wells, large chunks of grass scattered within the rims.

The scent of burnt gunpowder wafted from the driver’s side door – or rather, where the door would’ve been if it hadn’t been unceremoniously discarded to the asphalt. A metal hinge where the door used to be was crooked to the side, out of place and disjointed like a hangnail. Blue and red lights pulsed against the yellow paint, the midday sun mostly blotted out by thick clouds.

Detective Thomas sat in his cruiser, idly flipping through the driver’s license and insurance card. He looked up, peering over his dash at the Camaro. He gave a sigh, shaking his head. He’d owned a yellow ’69 SS back in his youth, and it pained him to see a brand new one decimated. His attention snapped back to the license as a female voice crunched through his radio.

“DL looks clean, negative warrants.”

To the side of his cruiser, he could see the doors of the ambulance close. The driver inside was only a kid, way too immature to be behind the wheel of a sports car – the skid marks into the ditch proof of that. He reached over past his laptop to the side, picking up a stack of graded papers and a box of cookies that he’d found in the passenger’s seat of the Camaro.

He closed his eyes as he leaned back, saying a small prayer. His thoughts weren’t on the reckless kid, but rather his parents.

He didn’t want to have to visit a family today.

Danse Kontest @ DAS CLOOB

Flash fiction, 300 words.

Prompt: dance contest, something glowing bright green, wrinkles, a particularly forlorn statement

It was Saturday night at Das Clüb.

The DJ had been spinning hot tracks all night, lighting the seizure-inducing room on fire with absolutely filthy dubstep. A mix of wannabe euro-trash and kids with extremely baggy black pants crowded the dance floor, moving awkwardly with the music. Two teens with tangerine-colored duct tape on their chests started swinging bright green and purple glow-sticks. Every agonizing pulse of bass ripped through their eardrums, shaking their eyeballs like guppies bouncing around a too-small tank.

Suddenly, a circle cleared in the center of the room. Oshi Dayumsun knew it was time to impress the respectable, nubile darlings that had been watching.

He hit the floor.

The DJ knew what was about to go down.

Track switched.

Walking out to the center, Oshi slowly began moving, his head bobbing to the atmospheric intro.

Suddenly, the drop.

Dayumsun began to work his magic, pumping his arms out to the side with vigor. His feet shuffled back and forth, quickly flinging him around with little effort.

Oohs and aahs filled the crowd. Arms were waved in the air. Someone seemed to yell his name. Twice. It was incredible. Dayumsun’s heart was pounding. He spun, dropping to the floor. His hand hit first, his body twisted before he was launched back up. He jumped back. As the song slowed down again, so did his motions. He was swaying to the rhythm.

A man wearing a black suit pushed his way through the crowd, making his way to the circle that had cleared for the king of the club. The mysterious man had sharp, roughly accented features – his brow wrinkling as he approached Oshi.

When he spoke, his voice was cold and forlorn, filled with sorrow and disappointment.

“Stop listening to terrible brostep.”

He turned around and walked away.

The DJ yelled down to Oshi, “Dayumsun, you just got served.”

What has gotten into me? (1)

The creature’s burning eyes flared, acrid smoke pouring from the demonic being’s gown. A hand reached toward the girl, who had managed to back herself against a wall.

“I’ll give you a better life, darling.”

The blue-shirted girl’s feet pushed against the floor, the worn soles of her shoes desperately trying to grip at the shattered planks. Her hands were still tied by fabric, unable to give her any sort of support or balance. The smell of rotting flesh hit her hard — she looked past the demon to see the mans body had already begun to decompose. Swarming flies seemed to leak from the creature’s dark ball gown, picking away at random pieces of flesh.

She was stuck in a state of half-shock. That was her future, right there. In a few minutes. In a few seconds. She’d be eviscerated. Devoured. Her adrenaline surged wildly. Her shoes dug in, lifting her back up with the help of the wall’s remains. She held out her tied hands in front of her, trying to spread her arms as much as she could for the sake of balance.

The gale returned, ripping at the sides of the house. The familiar sound of snapping wood filled the girls ears — she saw what had happened to the man earlier. All it would take was one random piece of wood to fly at her chest and she would be one with the maggots. She had to get away from this place.

Without warning, the demon lurched at her with outstretched arms. The girl had already made her move, elbows bent at her chest, hands in a fist in front of her. She ran under the creature’s grasp, her tentacle-like fingers just passing over her scalp. A tuft of the girl’s hair slipped through the grip of the demonic being — a few strands pulled free from her head.

The creature curled the pieces of hair in her grasp, pressing them into her ghastly palm. She wailed out, a ball of flame erupting from her fist — ashes dropping to the ground below.

The girl had begun to run now, navigating her way through the ruined house. Uprooted slabs of wood and shattered pieces of glass littered her path, preventing her from gaining any sort of real speed. She could hear the banshee scream behind her. She could feel the chill licking the back of her spine. There were only moments to live.

Make them count. Please, please make them count.

The girl pulled her palms together, holding them to her chest as she ran. She prayed for anything to stand between her and the creature who wanted her life. She called out, begging anyone for help.

Her legs had started to burn with effort, the many deep slashes up and down her calves stinging as sweat dripped into them — but she couldn’t stop. The pain at least meant she was alive — meant she hadn’t been turned to ash. Nothing mattered but survival. Her feet pounded against the wood, her breathing heavy in the chilled air. The sound of beams cracking followed behind her, echoes of the demon’s screams not far behind.

The girl leaped forward out of the ruins, feet finally meeting dirt and grass. The soil was wet and murky, the bottom of her shoes catching every now and then. She struggled not to slow down, bolting for a line of trees not too far in front of her. Her head turned to the side slightly, attempting to catch a glimpse of the demon.

The creature had almost made it out of the wreckage, pieces of debris launched into the air as she rampaged forward.

The girl snapped her neck forward, a renewed sense of terror filling her veins. Twigs and leaves crackled under her determined pace. She continued to hold her hands tight, hoping that somehow she would live.

The ground suddenly collapsed beneath her, sending her ankle twisting violently to the side. Her hands flew out in front of her, trying to grasp any hope of balance — but there was nothing. With a deafening thud she plummeted to the ground, face sliding into damp mud. As her knee dug into the ground a sharp snap could be heard.

This is it.

She tried to kick her leg to the side but instead of movement she was greeted by a sharp pain. Her chest heaved against the dirt, one eye peaking out behind her — looking for her executioner.

The demon bursted from the house, glowing eyes narrowing at her catch.

“Your blood pumps wildly for me…”

She hissed out a dark laugh.

Certain her prey was done for, her demeanor changed from that of a jackal into pure royalty. A ethereal hand brushed down the sides of her onyx gown.

The girl lurched her arms forward, fingers digging into the dirt, arms helplessly trying to slide herself forward. She cried out, fighting for each inch.

The demon continued to approach, each step showing regal purpose. She laughed again, the sound a harbinger of the girl’s demise.

The blue-shirted girl continued to struggle, nails filled with mud and dried blood.

Then the laughter stopped — and it turned into a squall. The sound was a horrible cacophony of locusts and screeching nails, a terrible call that burned at the girl’s ears. She turned back again, looking to the wailing demon. A glowing yellowish red cord extended from her back, twisting through the rubble. A dark amber beacon had erupted from where the runic circle was within the house, blinding light and fire spitting from the rubble. The demon tried lurching forward once more — only to be caught in the back by the lasso.

Again and again the creature tried breaking free, each attempt failing — spittle and ash spraying forward from her maw.

With a renewed surge of life, the girl forced herself forward an inch at a time. Her body dragged against the murk, blood catching on individual blades of grass. Still the demon wailed and wailed, trying to break free of her bonds to no avail.

She pulled herself for miles, the screams of the creature behind her. Pain lit her entire being, blood and sweat matting her hair. Her broken leg throbbed, the cuts in her calves and arms stinging with each movement. The image of her dead kidnapper echoed in her head — his gruesome death replaying over and over whenever she closed her eyes. The rancid smell still lingered in her nostrils.

But she was alive.

So she gladly welcomed the pain.