A Dead Life [poetry]

He died before she was born
But she still gazes long at his picture
She still sings all his songs

She weeps to know his future is at a standstill
Her grief rises from the depths of her soul
Her tears fall from a broken heart at the threshold of her own dark doorway destination

But she still sings all his songs
A sugar child believing all she needs is love to put El Dorado together again
But sugar children, like dreams, dissolve in the global hatred among us

But she still sings all his songs
And we lie empty and cold in the pouring rains of tomorrow
Listening to the rise and cries of her ghost-like voice

Still Time To Build [fiction]

It was November 2007, after Thanksgiving Day, when Sarah came across an ad in the Sunday paper for an upcoming movie called The Golden Compass. She grew excited and relayed to her mother and aunt how this was the greatest thing ever. Of course, they give her that look, the Mr. Spock of Star Trek look, the one with one eyebrow raised.

“Honestly, Sarah,” her mother said, “I don’t know what are you talking about.”

Sarah described the book by Philip Pullman, how a great fantasy story it was to get lost in—as good as The Lord of the Rings, better than the Harry Potter book, and the best thing she had ever read.

The eyebrows remain raised at her, so she began again. “It’s the first book of a trilogy called His Dark Materials, published in 1995 in Great Britain and recommended by a friend over there.”

“Was that that girl named Bekka?” Mother asked.

“Yes.” Without missing a beat, Sarah added, “I couldn’t find the book at any of the local book chains, so I sent Bekka some American cash inside a box.” (She was 15 and knew of no other way to get Bekka the money.) “So Bekka bought the book and mailed it to me. It’s all about Lyra Belacqua and her daemon and how they set out to prevent her best friend Will and other children from becoming the subjects of gruesome experiments in the Far North.”

The eyebrow rose again. So did Aunt Shirley’s.

“Sounds creepy,” Aunt Shirley said. “So, tell me again why you’re so excited.”

“They’re making it into a movie!” Sarah stood and almost danced. “Imagine the special effects they’ll have with the magic and animals and fantasy worlds.”

“Another computer-generated movie,” Mother said with a hint of sourness painting her voice.

“Or a cartoon,” Aunt Shirley shook her head. “They’re making too many of those—that Disney stuff and all.”

But Sarah stopped listening and nearly skipped like a child to her bedroom where she found the His Dark Materials trilogies still on her bookshelf. The third book still held the bookmark where she had written: To build the Republic of Heaven.

“Yes,” she said as she gazed out a window overlooking the fire damage of a still smoldering San Diego, California, “that’s what Lyra was going to do. And me too.” She went to her desk and turned on her laptop. “There’s still time.”

Cobbled Country Lane [fiction]

Sarah sits on a cobbled country lane just off the highway to Buffalo, New York, where summer’s sunlight bathes her between the leafy trees. A light breeze moves across her before skimming to the lake while she waits for any passerby, any good person to stir her mind reflecting what is, what to do—be lost in daydreams or genuine thought, or talk to herself with emotional vapor till the sun goes down and comfort leaves the land.

A vulture dips past the barbed wire of a pasture and ripples tensely into flight above the willows browsing in the grass where someone’s heifer cries out, startled, calling for its mother atop the knoll where she munches on little green apples. Sarah waits for any passerby, any good person to look upon her face, to reckon her—to calm her eyes from last night’s dreams, to hold her close when she sleeps, when the sun goes down again and comfort leaves the land.

A pickup truck rattles past but no one sees her cross-legged where she sits with bruising stones on a country lane, where summer’s sunlight bathes her between the leafy trees and moves across her, descending to awaiting ghosts. She just waits for any passerby to tell her that her heart isn’t filled with snow or ice; to show her there is a cure for sorrow, there is meaning to life’s poisoned immortelles where the sun goes down and around and down again, and comfort leaves the land forever.

Cling [poetry]

When the fires raged
When the sky reddened and aged
Who walked on water and stayed upright?
Who entered the horrific night to fight?
Who sent us a message while the parched lands burned?
And from those words, what did we learn?

The ground is harder the further we’re from it and only at length can we plummet.

So we cling to this earth
Cling to our hearts
Cling to our souls and our heads;
We cling to our daydreams
That sail in the mainstream
Of the story we haven’t yet read.