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 QUICK WRITING JAM!, get the juices flowing!
Poette
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 01:32 AM
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“Do you know in exactly how many seconds a person dies and a person is born?” Antoinette’s eyes are too precisely focused on Darla’s. Damn her for her analytics.

“No-- it’s just a number. Go to sleep.” But this is what keeps Antoinette up at night in the limbo hours when the world stops for seconds at a time in this timezone. She wasn’t meant to be here. Anywhere but here. The clock’s numbers are blurry-- she can’t read from this distance without her glasses anyways. An overdrawn breath.

“But I was thinking the other night-”

“Oh, the other night?” A suspicious side-eye glance.

“Well, tonight.” She catches this in a whisper at her ear. A wistful longing for peaceful nights overcomes Darla. What was it like being single once upon a time? Strange to say how a neighboring heartbeat can interrupt the passage of time, the twilights and the indentation of the pillowcase down to the curvature of her body in the mattress. Darla forgets more than one lifetime lived with girlfriends in their iterations. What is a memory? (The letters piled in her closet that Antoinette has not seen. The I love yous captured on paper in calligraphy. The kiss of store-bought perfume etched in the ink.)

“What were you thinking now?” Accusations are for the daylight. She learned the lesson the last fight when Antoinette broke down crying over Darla’s questioning an old sweater as being new-- and neither of theirs. Sensitive was an euphemistic term for it. Darla did not give in to labels when it came to Antoinette’s proclivities. Being a detective turned one into another person over time. The study of people’s habits down to the way they liked their drinks or men and women or even the way they caught the train (late, early, just in time) turned activities into calculations. How did she or he spend their time? How did Antoinette spend hers?

“Just, that,” she shifts on the other side of the bed toward the middle ground, so as not to lean too far for a confidence.

“Just what?” Seconds of slumber dissipate into the lonely air where crickets chirp, ever daring for mates when all Darla wants is a few more minutes of rest. Tomorrow is a new day to face new challenges. She can’t bother with this, even if that’s what she is here for.

“Just that I love you, but I saw the letters up in the closet the other morning when you were showering.”

Darla’s heart stops, descending rapidly into a place of fear for how this all plays out in her head and in Antoinette’s heart.

“Yeah? Those old things?” Always play it off nonchalantly.

“Will you ever love me the way they seem to have loved you?”

Darla rolls on her side, looking listlessly out the open curtains, past the window on a spot far off in the trees.

“Love like that ends in break ups. Haven’t you figured that out?”

A tender hand on her shoulder. Damp, clammy fingertips press inward, checking for pulse. Is there a rising blush in her skin from embarrassment, anger?

“Maybe.” She accedes. “But haven’t they won in some way by remaining on your shelf? Haven’t you laid claim to some part of them?”

“It’s all history, Ann.” The moon strikes out from behind the clouds as Darla’s breast rises and falls. “A closet of archives. You as a detective should understand cataloguing history.”

“Maybe.” She ponders quietly in the middle of the bed, occupying the place devoid of their warmth. “But I’ve begun to wonder how useful that stuff is after a while: The acrid affair photos, the fake bank accounts for flowers for mistresses now emptied, lain waste to a past most couples don’t overcome. Do you really want to remember it all, the way she felt, the air she breathed, the pen she pressed to heart? Those confessions?”

Darla’s eyes blink in cadence with the imaginary clock she can’t see behind her. “No.” It’s an uneasy answer. Conversations like this shouldn’t take place in waning hours when neither of them have experienced a restful night. This is the cause for so many upsets, for so many past fights. Just a little rest here and now-- just, she licks her lips, just forget it.

“Burn them if you need to. They just clutter space. I’ll write you letters to fill up the shelf, if you want.” Pleas, bargaining. Just don’t cry, Ann, just don’t worry about people who don’t matter.

“I’d like that.” She rolls back onto her side of the bed; equilibrium is maintained but Darla’s insides are topsy-turvy. She, too, turns back as the hand on the clock chimes four am. Reaching out for Ann, her hand fits around her wrist.

“Hey, don’t let work invade your thoughts too much.” Darla brushes back Antoinette’s hair softly, tracing the ringlets down to her clavicle. “The court verdict will turn out as it should.”

“But his wife-- won’t she be sad no matter what?”

“Yeah, she will be. The death of love is -”

Antoinette catches her hand, “It won’t happen to us, right?”

Right. Darla professes inwardly, but squints at Antoinette with eyes that question if tonight is not just one night, but a lifetime of nights like these where she brings more than work into their bedroom. Doubts. Fears. Darla straddles Ann and bears down upon her, caging them in. “You’re safe here,” she repeats it until Antoinette falls asleep. Then she, too, chases the butterflies of slumber on the tips of her eyelashes.
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bird
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 02:00 AM
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God, give me the sky in summer. Give me its endless, screaming blue.

Back then it was nothing; back then it was a distraction, Rayleigh scattering and diffraction, when I was trying to get something done and the birds and the kids outside would scream on the grass outside my window. I grew up in Brooklyn, you remember, near a school with a few little trees in the yard. Maples, mostly -- a little spindly. City would come and dig them up some years when the pavement choked them out.

But they don't have trees out there either where we're going, do they? Not even the seed banks have maples. We had to engineer them to adjust to the soil, and now even our mightiest oaks have a little deep sea cod in them. I'll be forty if they grow. When they grow. I don't know when that started to matter to me. I guess that's okay, though, isn't it, Sam? I guess that's okay. You'll be centuries-old news around a dimming yellow star long before I ever take a picture of the sprouts.

Maybe you're even that now. I don't know. I guess if I really wanted to know, I could do the math, or ask the ship to do it for me. The psych vids say, though, that it's good to journal, to keep talking. That prolonged stasis kind of fucks with your head, especially the verbal parts, so that it takes time to get it back. Sometimes you never get it back, not really, and you always stay a little freezer-burnt. So it's important to talk, but I tried to talk to myself but I think that just made me crazier. So let's say I don't do the relativistic travel calculations, okay? Let's say I don't do that, Sam. Let's say that I'm leaving this for you.

Eight days ago, the last pilot either died or went back to stasis. I'm not sure which, just that I'm ahead of schedule. Just that the computer won't tell me how long it's been, or why I can't recognize these stars. My assignment still stands, though: one and a half more weeks and back in the fridge I go. You should see the way they keep us in here, like bullets in a six-shooter. Grandpa had one in his study, remember that? I caught him playing Russian roulette that one time, after we moved out to Schenecdaty. Nearly shot his hand clean off. I screamed, like an asshole, but you didn't.

That's a little morbid, isn't it? Maybe this isn't as helpful as I thought it would be. The computer's got this library of videos, though, apparently: therapeutic kittens, the wind through wheat in the summer. Maybe that'll help, and once I thaw out some more, I can send out the transponder and start doing the calculations. And if I do them right, maybe you'll hear the little radio ping out here in the dark: here I am, here I am. Maybe you'll even see me. Here I am, here I am, a mote of sunlight taking years to reflect back to you, by which time I'll have crawled back into the barrel. But I'm here now, and I miss you, and maybe you'll see a little metal glint just past Jupiter when you turn your telescope up to the cosmos and I'll still be sleeping in the gun. Here I am. Lucky bullet number nine.

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abbey
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 07:37 PM
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bird
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 08:02 PM
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The problem with dating a herpetologist is that she likes keeping them around.

At first it was kind of endearing. Wow, you really love your work!, you say, and you mean it because it's not like you mind lizards or anything. She shows you a little chameleon that changes like a jewel in your hand, and she kisses you when you laugh with wonder. "Thanks for being so cool about it," she says.

But then it's the fifth date, and the tenth, and you stop going out and start ordering pizza and having sex while ignoring Netflix, and the uncomfortable reality of it sets in. The truth is that there are skinks on the sink and newts on the blender. The truth is, you can't take a bath half the time because there's a turtle in it. The truth is, there is a fat iguana named Steve sunning itself on the steps, and when you walk downstairs in her shirt to get a glass of water you nearly break your neck because of him. In the middle of the night, the soft body of a gecko plummets from the ceiling and onto your neck, and you have to make her promise never to mention the sound that comes out of you right before you lock yourself in the bathroom. "They don't bite!" she tells you, sitting outside the bathroom door while you rock yourself back and forth against the cool porcelain toilet. "They're insectivores!"

"Don't you have an enclosure at the lab or something?" you ask, one day. You make her coffee and get those croissants she likes from the bakery around the corner to make it sound a little less like an accusation, the ones with sliced almonds on top and a little almond paste rolled in the center, because how do you bring that up -- I love you but it's me or the lizards?

"Budget cuts," she says, licking powdered sugar off your fingers. "Look, it's just temporary, I promise. I just don't have anywhere else to put them. I'd get a terrarium but you know how they get when you coop them up. As soon as I get my grants in they'll go back to the school. I promise!"

Then she brings home the ball python and you find it in your car one night and you don't speak for two weeks after that. "I'm sorry," she says, and for a while there are no new visitors. "I'll try to talk to the dean, okay? You know I love you. I'll get rid of them next week, I swear."

The skinks go first. Then the geckos -- which means you have to spend a solid hour wandering around the house together, trapping them in wine glasses , which turns out to be pretty good for your relationship. Then the turtles. "Steve's staying, though," she says, and you swear the obese little fucker smirks at you when she feeds him a fat, wriggling cricket. "He's housebroken!" At least now you know where he sleeps.

The dealbreaker ends up being the ball python, which has laid its eggs in the trunk of your car, where it's warmer. "You can't move them!" she cries, as you peel out of the driveway, half a dozen baby pythons slithering around her feet.

Two months later, your frazzled nerves have recovered enough that you can laugh about it on coffee dates again. Today, after work, you buy lattes for a sweet young thing that laughs at your story, and wrinkles her nose and says, "Ugh, herpetologists, right?"

But the problem is, when you go home with her a week later, you find out that she's a bird person.
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abbey
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 08:07 PM
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You don't come down here often. The wooden porch is rotten and you're unsteady on your feet as it is, grasping at the rain-fattened beams that seem to prop up the slanting house. Splinters peel away under your nails, too soft and bloated to do any harm.

But you need something. You need a cure-all, and the shadowman is well-known for having those.

In the yard, Jacques is hissing. Gators in the bayou. You hear the shadowman doesn't keep his on a leash; theirs is more of a working relationship. A partnership.

You're not afraid of gators. At least, you don't think you are.

(Up in Louisiana, they plate up gator steak for the tourists. You've tried it before, but you try a lot of things. It was okay. You're always hungry and everything tastes too good to trust.)

"Come in," he says. He waits for you by the door, smoking one of his hand-rolled cigarillos. His exhale turns into grey and purple butterflies. You didn't come here for cheap parlour tricks, so you push past him into the foyer and again into the lounge. He always seems to be two steps ahead of you, touching you in unexpected places, not like a lover or a stranger, but in familiar spots like your knee, the scarred scrape on your elbow you got from volleyball practice, or the constant dry ache in your jaw. He pats you on the back and opens the fridge to get himself a beer. You get one too.

"You need somethin'," he says. You nod.

"Why don't you just eat? Why imbibe?" The bottles are lined up on shelves in the kitchen, in spice racks next to cinnamon and nutmeg and other ordinary spices.

You shake your head. Your hair is falling out and your teeth are loose in your gums. But you can't do that. You can't eat the way everyone would have you do.

"Your family's worried about you," he says. They've never met him. They wouldn't come down this far, safe in their house away from the sticks. He's met them though, or he sounds like he has.

He inhales his cigarette and breathes out the words of their intervention. Please, honey. You look so pale. You're wasting away. We love you, we're family. Their concerned faces crowd around you. Is this an intervention? You can see your father, your mother, your sister, all of them panting their concern at you, desperate to get you back. The real you. Your mother starts crying. You grit your wobbling teeth in the shadowman's kitchen.

"Listen," you say. Your voice comes out in a breathless rasp, and you wince. Do you really sound that bad? Do you look that bad? Usually there is a kind of victory in your dark-eyed, hollow-ribbed reflection, your lack of meat inside meat. "I really need it. Do you have it?"

"Sure," says the shadowman. He reaches for a bottle off the shelf.

He gives you death in a bottle.

That's what it's meant to be. But you know, you know as soon as it's past your lips, that he tricked you. You tricked yourself. The shadowman gives you what you need, not what you want.

You fall and lie spastic on the floor of the kitchen. Warping, filling out. You're big-boned. You're big-toothed, flame-eyed. Your hair is growing back now.

We care about you. In the living room in your memory, they change and warp with you, the cement of their bones churning and forming and reforming. You go back upstairs. Downstairs, they howl. You hear the lamp shatter, the couch sliding across the floorboards, fabric chewed, and then the window breaks and they are out into the night, running across the field, black-as-black streaks and white eyes. We wanted you with us.

"You are what you are, darlin'," he says from somewhere above you.
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 15 2015, 08:21 AM
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THIRTY MINUTES READY SET GO
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 15 2015, 08:35 AM
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Her name was Katerina—
a letter away from the worst hurricane to hit the coast,
and just as destructive:
round blue eyes,
soft lips that anyone would die to kiss,
sweet and gentle as the innocence in her eyes.
Now I've forgotten but I imagine
that she smells of the shore,
dunes swept by salt spray like the wind would sweep her curls—
bless those tangles,
bless the moments my fingers combed her hair.
Bless, above all,
the words she whispered at the end,
the way her eyes turned into
little
brilliant
storms.
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 11:58 AM
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as scheduled on the awesome new BARBERCALENDAR, i'm hosting a jam! i'll go minimum two rounds, more if there is participation! half-hour time limit. please feel free to post even your unfinished ramblings! all are welcome here.

song prompt:

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Lar
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 12:18 PM
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The nights grow long and moody atop the widow's walk, and Anatole grows wistful as a figurehead in harbor—wishing for the salt sea kissing his face. He despairs, and refuses to admit it, stubborn and staid even as the sleepless nights etch their shadows on his face.

He had been so young once, clear-faced as one can only be when they see—and accept—the inequity in the world from a tender age. The manor has seen with its grand old windows; loved with the aching creak of its floorboards; come alive with the patter of little feet. Tonight it cradles Anatole again, no longer a sleeping baby, no longer a hurting boy. How he has changed in the absence of his influences, without the guidance of the angel on his right shoulder, the devil on his left.

Some nights he wonders which he misses more.

When he sleeps, it is only after long nights overlooking the grounds; only after his bed has grown cold in his absence.
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 12:41 PM
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 01:56 PM
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in a world that moves onwards
those that succeed are the lost,
the whirling, the dancers,
barefoot in the dust.

she was their kind; built for herself
and her own classic rhythm:
the three-beat of hooves
the hymnless songs.

and this dervish can love—
like the wildness of wind-whipped plains,
gold grass grappling
the look in her half-blue eye.
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bear
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 02:01 PM
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Thunder rumbled in the distance. In a cold white room, I felt invulnerable to the rolling grey clouds and the storms they brought. It was because of you, you are my armor, my closest friend.

"I'm happy to see you." These first words from you, cracked like spring water on dry earth, and perhaps only then I felt the clouds leave my chest.

There was so much to say. How it felt anchors had been untied from my ankles. I thought I lost you. I love you, I love you.

And for once, normality resumed, "You too." I managed, though biting back tears. There was nothing I could say to top the way you made me feel, your words in parallel to a heart monitor beginning to resume beautiful normality after days of meager crawling, "You too."
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bird
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 02:05 PM
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Days like this, May likes to go to the river, with the first moon just near setting and the monsoon rains rolling in slow. Her pack is light when she leaves behind the beacon and her makeshift shelter on the hilltop, scrambling down slippery mudstone scree towards the maw of the shimmering canyon below. Down there, where the red ferns shade it out, the rock gives way to soft silver moss and fragrant loam that makes wet slicks of the footholds. May climbs down carefully. She's already sprained an ankle doing this once.

She rests at the set of three vertebrae she uses often as a waypoint, each about the height of a man, sun-bleached and rounded over by rain. There, she drops her pack against the smallest one, and shades her eyes to look along the valley. Along this side of the gorge there are leg bones and wing bones and claws, littered carelessly, and a long muddy red gouge about six hundred meters long. The bones are old, though the gouge isn't: May's craft came in pretty hot, three months ago, and most of it is in pieces out here between the ferns. Still, she has a job to do. There is a clearing circled on her map. In neat engineer capitals beside it, she has penciled in the word: SKULL?
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bird
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 02:26 PM
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Lar
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 02:45 PM
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lord if the walls don't close in—
she swears she feels them moving at first, breathing like some great beast
then twisting in, spiraling towards her—

There is this amusement park ride she remembers from her childhood. It was called the upside down house, and it made her sister hopelessly motion sick to the point that the whole family would lay out in the grass waiting for her to feel better before they'd get on more rides.

But Addy had loved the upside down house.

The center was a porch swing almost, and around it the walls and doors would spin, and the thing it did to her mind was this peculiar stretch—surreal misunderstanding.

the carpet spreads beneath her—
this beige expanse, unmarked and unforgiving. her arms don't feel her own;
she is sure someone else is petting the carpet with her own hands
as if to soothe her
as if lying in the grass
outside the upside down house
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