Saturday, December 27, 2003

Today’s Word: Pseudo

At the onset, Ron could still kneel with Betty in the morning and at night, their hands linked, as he intoned a prayer -- usually some form of a memorized list of thanksgiving and wants which had evolved over thirty years of married life. But the day came when she no longer understood, when she didn't recognize him, and less the God to whom he prayed. She was angry. Worse, she didn't understand why she was angry. It was the cognitive part of her brain, diminishing so quickly now, railing against a world that was becoming increasingly dark and hectic.

And so Ron prayed by her wheelchair, taking her hand when she would allow it, folding his own hands when she wouldn't. His prayers evolved wildly, like flourishing life attempting every odd combination in a furious battle to adapt and survive. He prayed for her sanity, for her mind whole and pure, and later, for her ease, for peace to her sudden fears and sporadic lucidity, which was really just a view of Betty trapped in a room without an exit, only a small window that opened every so often.

By the end, by the time Betty was an infant in mind and function, Ron no longer prayed. It had come on quickly, this disbelief, this feeling of loss for a love that was here in form but gone in spirit. At first he prayed on, fighting the complex emotions, feeling one minute filled with the light of heaven, and the next guilty that he doubted such power had ever existed, or if it had, that it was gone from the world like the dinosaurs.

He spoon fed her, and changed her diapers when the mash she ate came out the other end, not much changed from the start of its trip, and thought of the mind without the soul, a fragile, beautiful thing, so full of flaw and perfection, so keen one year and dull the next. If there had ever been a soul to Betty, if she had ever been anything more than a better functioning set of synapses, then that thing, that Betty of yesteryear and eternity was fled, leaving the poorest flesh in its wake, as if its leaving had somehow damaged its vessel without killing the shell completely.

The complexity of his own mind was almost too much to bear. Ron cursed his inability to have done with God, to call him a snipe, a jackalope, a Santa Claus without the red suit. . . but he couldn't do it. Some part of his brain -- his damned fully functional brain -- refused to let go, to God or Betty. And so he filled his days with silent prayers, curses, and labors; servant to a vegetable wife and a pseudo God.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Today’s Word: Christmas Shift

Christmas came to the southeastern littoral chain, accompanied by the requisite tinsel, traffic, and general gorge of gifts and food. This year, mother saved her ribbon rations, and tied three yellow ones about the boles of our palm trees. We bought biodegradable Barbie for Jesse, with a skin cancer Ken that mother just had to get. I got nothing, of course; it wasn't my year. "Government allotments only stretch so far, Bill," says mother every other year. It doesn't bother me much anymore, but Jesse still cries on her off years.

Next year, the Christmas Shift swings Yuletide into early Autumn for our island chain, pushing the global gift demand forty degrees following the ecliptic. Of course, it's best not to plan that far out. Next month, Christmas falls along the Atlantic seaboard, and we have to use the gift allotment for my cousins in North Carolina.

Someday, if I do well on the Bureau tests, perhaps I can get a job that travels; I'll follow Christmas round the world, chasing the glut and enterprise.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Today’s Word: Pertinacious

We completed out Christmas shopping by maintaining, as a parental unit, a pertinacious spirit of holiday cheer, and bloodthirsty will to obtain.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Today’s Word: Gluttony

Gluttony usually lies in a convenient place, like the kitchen junk drawer or the second freezer shelf; yes, right there behind the frozen peas and atop the fudge popsicles. But this time of year it garners an especial place upon the holiday table, round the myriad desserts camouflaged under their opaque cake tops. We swallow it down, mixed well with guilt and satisfaction, dismissing it with words like resolution and extra treadmill. Some years we leave it, stuffing the word back in the drawer, back in the freezer till next holiday (hotdogs and steaks on the Fourth perhaps). Other years it stays with us, hanging on, becoming that band of soft flesh hugging out middles, jiggling when we laugh and when we cry.

Why can't we put it down?
Today’s Word: Yankee

Excerpt: South Carolina State Funded Genealogical Research Initiative
Date: December 22, 1983
Location: Robinson Retirement Home
Cassette Series: IJ83 - JR34
Subjet: Lonzo W. Simms
Age: 87

*NOTE: Interview Disgarded*

Interviewer: Mr. Simms, can you tell us a bit about your memories of Christmas. We're most interested in how the season has changed since your youth.

Mr. Simms: What you want to know?

Interviewer: Let's start with Santa Claus. How has the image of Santa Claus changed from the time when you were a child?

Mr. Simms: I never cottoned to Claus, sir.

Interviewer: Oh? Why is that, Mr. Simms.

Mr. Simms: (In hushed voice) Don't you know where that man's from, son?

Interviewer: (Pause) The North Pole?

Mr. Simms: Yep. Yankee.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Today’s Word: Inhospitable

Shiloh stood on the rocky outcropping, overlooking the canyon below, its cliffs and jagged stones cast in deep relief by the setting sun. A warm breeze off the desert ruffled his fur, but he ignored it. His mind was far away.

"The Pack trusts you, Shiloh," said Skie. She nuzzled his flank with her cold wet nose.

He didn't look at her, but his stance changed; an almost imperceptible movement, a slight relaxation of the muscles in his back.

"I can smell their fear," said Shiloh.

"You've led us through worse situations, my love. We will survive this one. I trust you. You'll find water soon." Skie settled herself on her haunches, her long tongue moving out with the beat of her lungs.

Shiloh did not sit. He looked back to the scrag brush near the canyon mouth where his pack lounged. It had been their only protection from the blazing sun and heat during the long, dry day. Ahead, further west, the terrain looked even more inhospitable.

For the first time in his long seven years of life, Shiloh was lost.

"If I could only catch scent of the herd," he said. "We could follow them to water, catch out their weak for food. Where are they, Skie?"

Shiloh's life mate moved forward and rested her white-furred head on his back. She had never seen this mood in him. It was frightening, painful.

After some moments listening to the restless wind and the sound of their joined hearts, Shiloh turned to the pack.

"On your feet, wolves. Night is falling, it is our time!"

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Today’s Word: Apocryphal

Jay always said he was simply apocryphal, that his stories would one day make him rich. Me? I just thought he was a liar.

Today’s Word: Solace

Fine spun Sarah Sue's gait
Like solace in summer bright
Like chamois on wet skin
Like hoarfrost on Santa's beard
Fine done Sarah's Sue's freight
Like stevedore a ship at height
Like sheen on diving shark fin
Like golden colors down smeared
Fine spun Sarah Sue's gait

Friday, December 12, 2003

Today’s Word: Sangfroid

Stehn Kin had the temerity to rush headlong into a sea of Mahnmowers. His sword flashed and clanged, turning would-be death blows with the merest of effort, and lobbing off heads and limbs like stone cutting through water. His sangfroid in the midst of such tumultuous battle was either borne of undaunted adventurous spirit or the large quantities of corn mash liquor he had consumed prior to battle.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Today’s Word: Anomie

The mid twenty-first century saw an anomie of the middle class as conservatism and moral integrity weakened like pillars under the crushing arms of a long-haired Samson. Three generations -- these later deemed by scholars as the weakest links in the human evolutionary chain to date -- caused the downfall of western culture through a slow erosion of respect for law, moral fiber, and empathy for the human condition. Generations X,Y, and Alpha tore our country apart with murder, fornication, and lasciviousness.

That is why, during the latter half of the century, DOCTRINE was created. We are a global organization, with government oversight committees on every ruling body in the world. Our infrastructure of neural-path GOALMASTER™ supervision nodes now spans the breadth of humanity, unobtrusively preventing immoral behavior the world over. Because of DOCTRINE, global GDP has skyrocketed by nearly three hundred percent compared to market averages just fifty years ago. Crime is at lower levels than the 1950's, even in the former United States of America.

Now that you have reached the legal age of twelve, you have been fitted with your first set of neural-path GOALMASTER™ supervision nodes. From this point on, you will enjoy a whole new world of information access, as well as global GPS positioning twenty-four hours a day. You will even be able to ask for directions or answers to taxing moral dilemmas. A DOCTRINE agent is always just a PHONE THOUGHT™ away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Today’s Word: Hooey

The patent officer shook his head and rolled his eyes.

"That's a bunch of hooey, Mr. Einstein," he said.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Today's Word: Trash

Faster than light travel is easy, just not anywhere near a solar system. Those spinning circles of space trash litter perfectly fine vacuum with so much junk, it's impossible to build up any real speed at all.

-- david j.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Today’s Word: Paragliding

Ruma sat in staring awe of her old friend, Airia. Five years had changed the girl -- no woman -- so much, that Ruma wondered if it were possible the two could be the same. And that was the crux of the matter, wasn't it? The two were the same; the girl then, the woman now.

"And so we sit here, but we are also sitting in that little restaurant in Paris we loved so much, and we're paragliding back in Hawaii when we were teenagers, and we're talking on the phone about Crast Williams while trying on outfits for the winter ball. . . all of it, now, then and when," said Airia.

Ruma shook her head. "I still don't understand, not really. You're saying that time is perspective, cognition. That only our consciousness places us here and now, when really we are spread out over all the time of our lives like --" Ruma searched for the right words, "-- like jam on toast."

Airia chuckled. "Something like that. But it's less to do with perception than acceptance. We are here, because at some point in our time -- during lives which may be much longer than we realize -- we made a choice to invest ourselves in what we call the present. But that doesn't preclude the fact that we were alive a moment ago, and we are still alive a moment ago, a year, a decade, so on. We still live in those times. The echo of our presence is not diminished by the passing of time. We are, were, and will be."


Airia flashed that old smile that said she had some secret to tell.


Sunday, December 07, 2003


He is seventh of the seven slipping souls -- seven for the candles of Christ. Once, on a silvery morn, when the air was crisp and the day new, he walked with the Nazarene; with the One whose eyes are like unto fire and out of whose mouth pours a double edged sword. By that divine hand he was chosen of the seven, though not to walk without end.

He has seen heaven. He has been caught up to the third gate and spoken with the enlightened beings there. But each time he has returned, as he was foreordained to return, to gain and grow anew like water moving from the cloud to the sea; to the sea and back to the cloud.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Today’s Word: Tabula Rasa

I refuse to think myself learned for fear of hubris beyond reason.

Three and sixty years I have studied at the feet of that greatest of all teachers, life. It has shown me wondrous beauty and heart wrenching fear. I have tasted dragon's egg soup, battled legions of undead, and known deep and true love with the right person. But even now, when, though I cannot yet feel death drawing near, I know it lurks just in the next vale, I realize I am tabula rasa; fetal in a sea of knowledge and enlightenment -- immersed in waters I cannot taste, touch or feel.
Today’s Word: Sybaritic

Sybaritic machinations were my spirit's undoing.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Today’s Word: Zapotec

A former Aztecan priest unpopular for his promotion of the "not so virgin" sacrifices.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Today’s Word: Parenthesis

We tried to break up the long parenthesis of dull travel hours with games like license spotter and I spy. It didn't help. At last we decided grandma's house was just too far and we abandoned the trip for a short jaunt to Mexico where we bought booze and over-the-counter prescription drugs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Today’s Word: Ribald

Lunacy put him in the asylum. And it was lunacy that kept him out of the prison. But it was his wit that made him a star among crazies; his flair for ribald tales, made up on the spot, and usually concerning one nurse or the other.

He had them in his room, at lights out, when Piggo was snorting and snuffing in his sleep. He had them on the roof, explaining that the nurses brought him there for privacy. He even had them in Dr. Krautzer's office, right on the faux oak desk, in the middle of the day, while everyone else was busy downing pills and building papier-mâché models of the Whitehouse.

Who was going to dispute him? The crazies? They were suffering from lunacy. Just like him.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Today’s Word: Oeuvre

Hands shaking from cold and palsy, Rod held the crinkled pages over his small campfire, hesitated a moment, then dropped them into the flames. The fire sputtered a moment, as if, like the rest of the world, it would choke on the oeuvre of Rod's life. But then it began to catch up, lapping at the dirty pages like a dog at his dinner plate. Little stars rose from the fire, circling as they flew on the cold east wind, carrying with them the words of a man's lifetime. Rod waved at them, as tears streaked the grease and road grime on his cheeks.

"So much for stardom," he whispered, as the words left him, burning away to ash in the night sky.