Friday, February 29, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Fourteen

By Francis Scudellari

Jacob Betrays Edom

“Last night topped them all Jake.” Edom pushed the door closed behind him and made an immediate right. He walked straight into the kitchen, calling out in solo sing song as he examined the contents of the refrigerator.

“The lead singer was trashed. He was feeling no pain. He had stripped down to his boxers and in the middle of the song he leaped off the stage. The kids caught him and held him up, and he kept on singing, screaming out the lyrics, while he rode the crowd. All these hands tried to push him back on stage, but he didn’t want to go. He just wanted to surf. The band kept playing, they didn’t give a shit. It was incredible.

"That’s how the show ended. He surfed, kicking his legs wildly, spinning the mike, until he was done singing. Then the lights went out. The band walked off. And the singer disappeared into the audience. You should have been there, Jake.”

Edom walked into the living room, a beer in one hand, a bagel in the other. Seeing Jacob, he stopped in his tracks like a cartoon character hit with a clichéd case of déjà vu. As if transported back into the recent past, Jacob sat sulking with his head in his hands.

Back at the beginning of this old-timey loop, he cast a similar blank stare at an equally empty page tonguing out of the typewriter. The crumpled sheets of paper had reappeared on the floor. The empty gin bottle rematerialized at rest sideways by his feet.

“Hey what’s with the mess? What’s wrong Jake? I thought all your troubles were behind you. You were on your way. Catch a recurring case of writer’s block?”

“You gotta help me Ed. You gotta let me do another piece about you. I’m desperate. They gave me an advance for another story, but I can’t come up with anything they’d like without dragging you into it. This whole counter-culture, alternative rock thing is very popular right now. They want me to do a series of stories about it. Unfortunately, I only know what you’ve told me.”

“Forget it Jake. I’m still not happy that I let you write that first one. If you write another, it’ll never end.”

“I’ve got no choice Ed. They’ve already given me the money. I’m gonna write it; whether you want me to or not.” Jacob stared straight ahead. He couldn’t look at Edom. The path forward was pretty clear, and whatever detour he might take, the final resting place always smacked of betrayal.

“Listen, Jake … if you write that story … it's over.” Edom left the half-eaten bagel on the table. He left the half-full bottle on the floor. He turned calmly toward the door and walked out of the apartment without turning around or making a sound.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hung up on crosses

By Francis Scudellari

I've been hung up
On crosses, dangled at
An early age
Taut, clinging to suffer …

Greet, a friend to long, lost
Comfort, close in,
Low whispered embraces …

Of vague-voiced love,
A seductive promise,
Faithless stabs deep,
Self inflicts confidence …

In cob-webbed words,
Time ripped from must-filled books,
Tongue bound, ghostly
Shadows beyond grasping …

Still, stale spirits
Spun, whirled around by gusts,
At last, my companions …

As I finger
Coarse palms, now scarred over,
Unlock old wounds,
Holes, my only reward

Open Handed Suffering

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Message in a bottle (the poem)

By Francis Scudellari

One lost, a-sea this eve,
In oddly imaged I,
Notions a waiting We,
Dreams other-existing …

Spirit swayed to eye land's
Bi-raised walls, cut-off With
Re-moat habited In
… My solitary keep

A-bridged message floats out
In bottled-up hoping
Two, seem-less simple words
Life re-leasing: "I'm here"

Message in a bottle

Last week, Hanna tagged me with the Message In A Bottle Meme. I haven't done one of these properly (as in obeying all the stated rules) in quite some time, so I thought I'd partake with an added twist.

The meme got its start at Mimi Writes, and requires a little creativity and photo editing software ... both of which I have. Mimi provides a blank picture of a bottle on a beach, and you just need to come up with a message to inscribe on it. You can ogle my mishmash of a missive on the right.

Needing to find inspiration for new poems wherever I can, I also wrote an extended version of my "message in a bottle" that I'll be posting above. Augmenting your experience even more, I'm going to include an original sketch as well.

The rules require that I tag at least five other bloggers. I'm always a bit conflicted about foisting work on others, but I justify it as a way to recognize my favorite sites. So, here are my lucky victims:
If you'd like to participate, you can get the blank image and the full list of rules from Mimi's original post. There are some detailed procedures to follow on her site if you'd like your message included with those of the other participants. It may seem a little complicated, but no one said blogging was going to be easy.

Tied up in not, part 2

By Francis Scudellari

Tied up in not, being
Inversely reflecting
Adverse shaded outlines
Of old selves undefined

Unbound in emptied space,
A frame-boxed negative
Starkly overlaid, paint daubed
With stiff, time-worn bristles

A new image, re-touched
Edges blurring, web-spun
In be-smudged unlikeness,
Shape-less becomes distinct

Self-denial reversed
Frees futures not foreseen,
In erasure escapes
A past that never was

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Thirteen

By Francis Scudellari


“Well? What do think? Do you like it? Is it any good?"Jacob paced nervously around the chair as Edom silently read the typewritten manuscript. “There’s this coffee-house paper -- Grounds -- they said they’d give me fifty bucks for it. It’s not much, but at least I’ll be published.”

“I don’t know, Jake. This hits a little too close to home. All you did was change my name and my hair color. Everything else is the same. You even used my own words. You’re ripping off my life. You’re using it to make a buck.” Edom tossed the pages on the milk crate.

“Come on Ed. You agreed to it. It was a fair deal. It’s just one story. No one will even see it. Cheer up, can’t you see that it’s the break I needed.” Jacob almost skipped to the window, unable to contain his glee. His every movement shouted to the world: “I’m on my way.”

Friday, February 22, 2008


A thought berthed vague, airy

By Francis Scudellari

A thought berthed vague, airy
At first, wistful wanting
Up-drawn to feeling mist,
Diffuse-lit longing, cast
In sudden sight, condensed,
Tempered steel-gray vapors,
Once scattered, now recalled,
New culled from errant streams

Gathered droplets weighing,
Made dense, dark-lined cloud bursts
Again, cascades down words,
Feeds gurgling rivulets
Bubbles over rock beds,
Splits apart, diverted
To many pools, waiting
My next cyclic cleansing

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wintry landscape

By Francis Scudellari

Time-tripped, my eyes stumble
In too wintry landscape,
Layers of sooty black
Piled on off-white leavings,
Mixed up-down icy grays:
Coal-slate sheeting skyward,
Once-salted tongues grounded
Become perilous slicks,
Pooled gobs of molten lead
Flash-frozen at mid creep

Fleeing, sore-sighted I
Prism-focus turn inward,
Conjure shocking new hues,
Mold robust, garish shapes
Minded primary paint
Blank-canvassed, pressed-tight flaps,
Dreamscaped memory pick
Out-of-season, myself
Swaddle in sculpted glow
Till spring blooms bright again

Rainbow maker

Monday, February 18, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Twelve

By Francis Scudellari

The Pact

“Hey Jake I got your message. What’s up?”

The smell of deep-dish pizza greeted Edom as he stepped through the door. He hadn’t eaten all day, and his stomach grumbled uncontrollably at the herbal aroma. His mouth watered as he watched Jacob bite into a dripping red piece of pie. It was pepperoni and mushroom, Edom’s favorite.

The path to the couch had been magically cleared, and his conditioned feet suddenly recalled the missing small impacts of former impediments. Jacob had cleaned the apartment. The dust, the old food, the wads of paper, the cigarette butts and ash -- all had been swept away.

Edom didn’t see a single Gregor crawling about. A pine-scented air freshener sat on the windowsill. It purged the room of its recent foul odor. Sun beams reflected off the newly pristine floor boards.

Jacob smiled at Edom. His clean-shaven cheeks bulged with cheese, sauce, and bread. He used a paper napkin to wipe the greenish grease from his chin. “Come on in Ed. How was the show last night? Anything interesting happen?”

“Yeah, plenty. Hey, give me some of that pizza, Jake. I’m starving.” Edom tried to grab a slice from his friend's lap, but Jacob pulled the box away from him.

“How much is it worth to you, Ed?”

“Quit joking around, Jake. Give me some. I’m dying of hunger. I’m all out of food at home.”

“I’ll make a deal with you, Ed. You let me use your time at the Pit to write a story, and I’ll give you all the pizza you can eat. If you act now … for the same low, low price I’ll even throw in some frosty brews.”

“I’m really not in the mood Jake. Quit goofing ...” Edom tried to lunge for a slice, but Jacob was too quick.

“I’m serious, Ed. Is it a deal or not? I don’t want to unduly influence your decision, but this is a great pizza. Just the right amount of sauce. The dough is cooked perfectly. Each bite melts in your mouth. You better hurry up and decide, Ed. I might eat the whole thing myself.” Jacob took a large bite of another golden-edged square.

Edom was near tears. “Yeah, Yeah, it’s a deal. Now give me a slice.” Jacob handed him the olive-oil-stained cardboard box, and Edom inhaled the first piece in large gulps. He fell back into a chair and grabbed another, this time savoring each bite.

“Let me get you some beer, Ed. You’ve got a lot of talking to do, I don’t want your mouth to get dry.” Jacob raced into the kitchen and returned with two cold bottles. He handed one to Edom.

“Tell me about the concert last night, Ed. Don’t spare any details. I want to know everything that happened.” Jake grabbed a pen and a spiral notebook. He awaited Edom’s tales of the hunt.

Edom ignored Jacob. Self-absorbed, he munched his red prize contentedly, oblivious to all else around him.

“Come on Ed, fire away. A deal’s a deal. You owe me.”

“Leave me alone Jake, can’t you see I’m eating. Why don’t you play one of your jazz records? Go do the dishes.”

“I already did the dishes. I cleaned the whole freakin' place. Now spit it out. What happened last night?”

“All right. All right. I’ll help you out. But only 'cause you’re so pathetic. You can write one story. After that you’re on your own. What do you wanna know?”

“Everything. Tell me about last night’s show. Tell me about all of the shows. Describe what the club's like … what the people are like. Paint me a picture.”

“I don’t know what to say, Jake. I’m not a writer. The Pit is just a long dark room, like a dank basement with a full bar. The walls are painted black. It’s smoky. It’s loud. It’s packed with hundreds of kids. Some are there just because its trendy, but most come there because it’s the only place they fit in. There’s a sense of freedom … of tolerance there … a feeling that you can do anything you want … be anything you want.

"A lot of the kids try to create their own look … to express themselves through their hair style or clothing. Some cats are bald … some wear their hair long. Mohawks, dreads, and flat tops. Dyed all colors of the rainbow. Some wear T-shirts or flannel. Some come in leather. You see ear rings, nose rings, lip rings -- any part of the body is fair game for piercing. Tattoos are everywhere -- arms, legs, backs, chests, even heads.

“I usually stand up close to the stage, where the action is. Before the bands start to play, while they’re still setting up, you can hear a chorus of voices clashing in the room. Hundreds of people talking at once … anxiously waiting … anticipating the chaos about to erupt … about to swallow them up.

"The sound of breaking glass -- beer bottles tossed in trash cans -- cuts the constant hum. You’re brain's numb from the alcohol and pot, and time slows to a crawl. You still sense sights, sounds, and smells, but you don’t analyze them anymore.

“Suddenly, a drumbeat booms from the stage … guitar chords lash out ripping through the air like chain saws. You can feel the waves of sound passing over you … passing through you actually. Hundreds of bodies, packed tight, bounce up and down. Fists pump in the air. The band and the crowd ride the same wave.” Edom paused. He finished his beer.

Jacob wrote feverishly. “Great, Ed. Now tell me about some specific shows. Give me some info on each band. What about last night? What about your friend’s group -- Blowhole.”



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Self portrait, in seven parts

By Francis Scudellari

I. Intro: Likeness
This moment to capture, my self-
Knowing: the next might be, or not,
Quite different, a likeness seen
Verses that, often recognized …

II. Heart
At first feeling, heart-filled feasting
On varied viewpoints, raw-read streams
Here flow unlearned, in-worn courses
Then-taught only one way, to burst …

III. Mind
Inflated ego, my-minded,
Over-lying reasoned belief,
Connected seeming, this chaos,
All-giving cause: to name meaning …

IV. Soul
An amorphous spirit, oared soul,
Shape-shifting into rigid shell,
Poured from unknown sources, seeking
That origin while still-anchored …

V. Body
In shadows, abstractions fleshed out,
Embodied in bone and tissue,
Vague ideals once, incarnated,
Made sullied by others, my own …

VI. Senses
Greedy senses, now-consuming
Life's many morsels, sight-savor
Glist'ning baubles, worldly touches,
Open-handed answers grasping …

VII. Conclusion: Energy
A restless truth, in static words:
Energy purposed, light focused
Toward perceiving, self-defined
In this ever, a-deep'ning whole

My seven wanders

Remembrance of memes past

Long, long ago in a galaxy seemingly far away (but actually very close by at the Alien Next Door site) Science Fiction author and blogger-extraordinaire Nina Munteanu tagged me with the 7 Weird Facts About Me meme. It's a meme that I attempted once before (click here to read it), so I decided to attack it in a slightly different way and write some versed weirdness that I call "Self Portrait, In seven parts." I'll post the poem shortly, but first I wanted to give my deepest thanks to Nina for the tag.

In other blogosphere news, I've been graced with two recent awards from my virtual friends:

JD Beaudoin, who always sets a high-standard of blogging for me to emulate over at The Uneasy Supplicant, has christened me a fellow Flower Smeller by passing on the Go! Smell the Flowers! badge at left (See his post Visitant - Part 2 or the birthing post over at Go! Smell the Flowers! site for more details as to meaning and significance of this honor).

Hanna, the author of Amori, Poesie, Arte, Chat who is ever challenging my world view and foreign language skills, has bestowed on me her newly minted Award for Global Communities. Meant to acknowledge the boundary hopping power of the Internet to establish friendships and community, you can find the code for this badge (displayed at right) by reading her post From Italy with Love.

I'm passing on both of these awards to the following six folks (I may be breaking a rule by choosing that number) whose writing I greatly admire and virtual friendship I deeply appreciate. They're all overdue for some acknowledgment from me, and you should definitely visit their excellent sites:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mercury in Retrograde (For Terry)

By Francis Scudellari

Phone's not working again …
Mercury is in retrograde.
Huh? What's that, a Greek myth?
No, it's the planet, not the god.
So then what's retrograde?
Mercury is moving away.
Oh, it's astronomy?
No, not quite, more astrology …
Planets affect my phone?
Cell phones, satellites, even us …
Technology breaks down?
Communication's difficult.
It's always difficult.
True, but now more than usual …
Sometimes, I don't get you.
Right, that's what I mean exactly.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Appointed missive

By Francis Scudellari

Appointed missive I
Shoot out blindly, a-cross
Vast stretches, e'er hopeful,
Not to wound, but just prick
A passerby with words
Sharp enough, surface scratch,
Superficial op'ning
My slow-drip thoughts enter,
With coursing blood mingle,
Then spread, unsuspected

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Eleven

by Francis Scudellari

Jacob’s Muse Returns

Jacob languidly pulled open the medicine cabinet door. The gaunt face staring back at him was slowly replaced by a miniature mandibled visage. Gregor sat perched atop a stick of deodorant in the midst of various scattered toiletries on the middle shelf. Fearless from familiarity, its antennae twirled expectantly. The insect stood upright on its hind legs, as if a dog bent to please its master.

Jacob reached for the shaving cream and gently closed the front pane of the mirrored box, careful not to frighten the cockroach. The surface began to mist over as steam rose from the absurdly hot water filling the sink.

Spreading white-foamed lather on his stubbly face, he studied his too blank reflection. Searching the blood-shot brown eyes, he wondered where the fire was he had seen in Edom’s gaze? Where was that life's passion? Jacob needed to find it. If he was ever going to be a writer, he had to capture that spark.

Jacob dragged the too-dull blade across his cheek and down his neck. Each stroke revealed another thin strip of suddenly smooth, pink flesh. A bit too careless at the crown of his chin, he opened up a small cut. A droplet of blood beaded there, before slowly transforming into a streaming drip. Jacob watched the thinning red streak wind it's way toward his chest. As it reached its target, a vision caught the corner of his eye in a light-bulb flash.

Jarred by the sudden insight, Jacob dropped the razor into the sink. The vague shape of his muse slowly resolved itself in the mirror behind him. He imagined her eyes aglow, lit by a seductive smile. She reached her alabaster white arms around his chest, and clasped him tightly to her. Bringing her soothing lips to his ear, she whispered words only he could understand. Then, she stepped forward as if to enter his body and disappeared.

Jacob felt himself filled with a radiant light as the thought formed in his head. An idea so simple and so obvious he marveled that it took so long to dawn on him. He splashed his face with the now lukewarm water and grinned broadly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heartbirth, in words

By Francis Scudellari

A seed, windblown or dropped,
Careless seeming planted,
Or with unknown intent,
May, in time, send down roots,
Nurtured grow from thin shoot
To sapling, shy feelers
Twisting ever deeper
Through chambers, arteries,
Intertwining muscle,
Like loose sod, pulled tightly,
Held close, at first fearful
Of bursting, foreign-filled
Then accustomed hoping
The bloom above e'er thrives …
These invading tendrils
Never release their grip


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Misshapen note

My song, it dissipates …

By Francis Scudellari

My song, it dissipates …
Over time-space unfolds,
Wends on, more/less noted,
Its allotted course

At first brashly, perhaps
Played too fast, advancing
It cleaves fear-filled silence
False-thought an enemy

Then confident expanse
Reaches, familiar moves
Into rose-lit ev'ning

Where ever ceding self
To longer intervals,
It floats paused, uttered in
All-consuming quiet

Friday, February 08, 2008

In dreaming ...

By Francis Scudellari

Jet-blue dreaming, my sky opens
Up-purposed, as future-promised
Bliss trails forward, radiant paths
Intention-paved, like pointed hands
I've been so many times offered
In past sleeping, drowsed by sounding
Spirits, aerial musings meant
My once treasured longings to quell

Let me be, thought less for reaching,
Lusty leaping, gilt-ringed raiment
At last grasped, then-vision dissolved
By now peaking sun's wake-full raze,
Left holding, in empty embrace,
A memory carried with me,
Remembered only in cloud-haze,
Conscious stored for further dreaming

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Ten

By Francis Scudellari

Jacob Flees

The shades rustled announcing the warm breeze about to carom through the cluttered room. Duke Ellington’s “In My Solitude” skimmed the current of fresh air. Jacob tapped his foot. He bopped his head to the saxophone’s sultry sway. His two index fingers kept rhythm on the cradled glass of brown-tinged tap water. A fly circled its lip, then flew off with a disapproving buzz.

The typewriter gathered dust in front of him. One Gregor examined the moldy crust at Jacob’s feet. Another crawled among the crumbs on the table. Jacob had surrendered. His muse had fled before ever arriving. Without her, it was pointless -- he had nothing to say. He would never be a writer. Not everyone had a destiny. Not all dreams went fulfilled. The world teemed with also-rans; it was rank with the unsuccessful. Soon, Jacob would have to start looking for a real job.

Jacob stared at the wall. Miles Davis, his musical idol, sat facing him. Precariously perched -- his knees together and legs twisted askance -- it seemed that Miles might slide off the low-backed orange chair. Always the embodiment of cool, even now as his horn rested carelessly against his thigh, still Miles's penetrating eyes fell like a rebuke on Jacob for giving up.

The knob turned and the door swung open, breaking the spell. Edom's large, tanned, woolly form adorned only in long black shorts and sandals, hovered in the door frame. He bounced a tennis ball on the floor to punctuate each sentence he spoke.

“Hey Jake, what’s the good news? You’ll never guess who I saw just now. Your goofy neighbors. I was coming up the stairs and there was short, bald Sluggo with fat, hairy Nancy. He was trying to unlock the door but he was having problems getting at his key because he had a bunch of junk in his arms -- old shoes, a broken radio, a golf club, a purse. It looked like they'd been rummaging through the dumpster in the alley.

"He got nervous when he saw me and dropped this tennis ball. It was pretty freaky. They opened the door and scurried into the apartment just as I was passing by. I heard them mumbling something behind the door; it didn’t sound like English. Hell, I’m not even sure if was human.”

“That’s a very interesting story Ed. Do you mind if I use it in my novel?”

“Just stopped by to say hello, pal. Maybe grab a beer. How’s the writing going? Doesn’t look like you’ve gotten very far.” Edom looked over Jacob’s shoulder at the white sheet of paper, then disappeared into the kitchen. Shortly after, the refrigerator door slammed shut.

“I give up, Ed. It’s not gonna happen. I can’t think of anything worthwhile. Everything I’ve written so far is garbage. I wrote about the neighborhood. I wrote about the trains. I even wrote about the cockroaches. It was all shit.”

“What about your customers at the bar? I thought you were gonna get lots of material from them?” Edom threw himself on the couch. A glass ashtray toppled on the floor spewing a cloud of gray ash that hung in the air. A stream of brown butts bounced on the floor, then rolled against the dark blue milk crate serving as an end table.

“They’re a waste of time. They don’t have any real stories to tell. Nothing exciting ever happens to them. They lead very dull lives. All they do is whine all night: ‘My job sucks. … My boyfriend is a jerk. … The boss is an asshole.’ Who cares? I don’t get paid to listen to that crap. Why don’t they go to a damn shrink and unload it all on him.” Jacob walked over to the window and lit a cigarette.

“Maybe you shouldn’t try to write about other people's lives. Maybe you should write about your own. Write about your childhood. Write about college. Write about an old flame. Something interesting must have happened at some point in your life.”

“Nothing’s happened to me that hasn’t happened to hundreds of thousands of others. I’m just your typical zero. Nice home. Nice parents. Good schools. No tragedies. No thrills. Just dull, tedious existence. Eat, drink, fuck -- if you’re lucky -- sleep, then die.

“I’ve always been on the outside looking in. Life's rich pageant passed by and I watched it from afar. I wanted to get a closer look. I wanted to get a better angle … a new perspective. That’s why I moved into the city. That’s why I rented this dump. That’s why I started drinking and stopped bathing. I wanted to endure some squalor … some poverty. I wanted to meet some new people. People who’ve had to struggle to survive. People who live on the edge. People who don’t worry about implications and consequences. People who think ‘tomorrow’ is an empty word. All the things I’ve only read about in books.

“Well, if such marvelous beings exist, I haven’t found them. Everyone I’ve met here is just a bland replicant. They’re in the bars. They’re in the cafes. They’re in the corner store buying a newspaper. Transplanted suburban kids trying to be hip -- spending a few years here acting irresponsible, as if on an extended vacation. Eventually they’ll return home to suburbia. They’ll settle into careers. They’ll find plastic spouses. They’ll buy comfortable houses. They’ll duplicate the shallow lives of their parents. They’ll breed more drab automatons like themselves, and the cycle will continue ad infinitum.” Jacob took one last drag from the butt and flicked it out the window.

“I’ve been deceiving myself, Ed. All of this is just a sham … an illusion. I might look different. I might smell different, but I haven’t changed. I’m still boring. My place is among the dull. I’m going to call my dad and ask him to help me find a job. Mom always said I looked good in a suit.”

“Come on Jake, don’t be stupid. Don’t do anything rash. You’re a little stir crazy, that’s all. You need to get out of here and clear your head. Go to the show with me tonight. Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for there. Bunghole’s playing. I know the lead guitarist. We’re gonna get high before their set. You’ll do a couple hits with us. I’ll buy you a couple drinks. You’ll be a new man. What do you say?”

“Nah, I need to clean this place. It’s a pigsty. Besides, you know I don’t like that kind of music. It’s too loud. It’s just noise.”

“All you hear is noise because that’s all you want to hear. Give it a fair chance, Jake. Listen to it. Listen to the passion, the rage, the bitterness behind it.”

“I don’t want to listen to passion, rage and bitterness. I want to listen to music that helps me forget my problems. I want to listen to music that soothes.”

“This music is cathartic, Jake. It soothes after the fact. It’ll help you exorcise those demons. The songs are about real emotions. They're about the things you're feeling right now … the restlessness and self-doubt, the yearning and fear, the isolation and desire. Open your mind to it, just once.”

Hoping the enthusiasm might rub off, Jacob sat next to Edom on the couch. “Ok, make me a tape and I’ll check it out.” It was the only concession he was willing to make.

“You can’t just listen to a tape. This is something that’s got to be experienced, Jake. I can’t even describe it to you. It’ like youth: You’ve got to live it and you’ve got to live it now because you’ll never get another chance.” Edom’s eyes lit up.

“I don’t want to live like that. Not now. Not ever. Music is something very personal for me, Ed. I can’t listen to it while a hundred kids are slamming into me. I’m not into that whole mob mentality. Can’t you understand that? Is it such a difficult concept to grasp?”

“Yeah it is. I can’t figure you out. You complain about how dull your life is, but you don’t want to do anything about it.” Edom got up and walked toward the door. “I’ll tell you one thing Jake. You need to change your attitude. You’re really starting to piss me off. I don’t know why I keep coming over here.”

“Well, Ed, it might be the beer. It might be the food. But I like to think that it’s the witty repartee.” Jacob swallowed a sip of polluted water and winced.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Inverted flower

By Francis Scudellari

An inverted flower,
Petals pulled out-side in
Pointed rays twisted to
Color unloving knot
Stem peeled back, revealing
Fibrous innards, out-turned
Fragrant meat de-scented
Roots bottomed-up to top
A gangly hood cov'ring
Beauty once obvious
Waiting to be coaxed back
By sunlight's planted kiss

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Empty Vessel

By Francis Scudellari

How now shape this, empty vessel?
By content? Better being filled,
Passive gaining, essence poured-in,
A timed receipt, life's liquid gift ...

But then, is still-being enough?
By purpose? Meaning flows from doing,
Active lessening, self poured-out
In channeled cleansing, life recedes ...

Or perhaps both … being-doing,
In-formed: Taken to/o giving forth,
Re-cycled truth: Ever between ...
Substance imbibes, brilliance spills out

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birthright: Chapter Nine

by Francis Scudellari

Edom Returns

Its cilia-like appendages rippling up and down in unison, the bug glided across the ceiling. A small self-contained, thousand-legged wave, the millipede undulated back and forth through Jacob's fuzzy field of vision. It seemed a thin tan scar that magically had lifted itself from the white-painted, dry-wall's skin and scampered at full gallop in no particular direction and for no real purpose -- simply reveling in the joy of first-time movement.

Jacob watched it quickly crawl in an unimpeded, militant march toward the ceiling fan's base. It circled the fixture confused by the chrome reflection, then darted suddenly at the window, as if in sounded retreat. The insect was Jacob’s sole entertainment as he lay stretched out on the couch.

His head pounded violently suffering the affect of the prior night's binge. The shades were drawn against the penetrating, now-orange sunlight. The stereo had been muted all day. Jacob wanted to do something productive, but he didn’t have the strength to stand up. He had a good excuse for not writing today.

A train rumbled by yet again and the screech of its wheels pierced Jacob’s skull. He clenched his jaws and waited for the agony to pass. As the noise and pain slowly subsided, he swore a mild oath to give up drinking -- at least for a little while.

The sound of familiar footsteps rose up the staircase, and the door shortly afterward swung open to reveal Edom's vibrant silhouette, as expected. Jacob's friend's face was lighted by a brilliant smile. His auburn locks hung freely about his shoulders and his green eyes glistened with excitement.

In a seeming moment's blur of movement, Edom entered the room and pulled a chair up next to the couch. “You should have been there, Jake. It was completely intense! Man, guys were going fucking nuts … slamming into each other … jumping on the stage … diving into the crowd. It was a riot. The band was so wasted that they started tossing full beers out into the audience. All hell broke loose.”

“Calm down, Ed. Check the voice -- can’t you see I’m hurting here? It’s bad enough these damn trains roar by every ten minutes, now I gotta listen to you screaming in my ear.”

“I guess you had a pretty eventful night, too.”

“No, just the opposite.”

“Well, you should have been hanging out with me, Jake. It was awesome. I wish I could describe it to you … the sensation of total recklessness, of letting yourself get swept away by something much bigger than you. It’s like your mind’s not there anymore, just your body. You don’t think; you feel. You feel the sweat dripping down your face. You feel your neck snap at the jolt of banging into some guy who’s drunk off his ass. You feel your chest vibrate, and your heart beat to the pulse of the music. It possesses you. It takes you over.”

“Look, Ed, it may be cool for you, but that’s not my scene.” Jacob rolled on his side and pulled a cushion over his head.

“What is your scene, Jake? Sitting in this apartment all day getting pickled? Your mind’s gonna rot if you don’t get out and live a little. How are you gonna be a writer after you kill off all those brain cells … and no real pleasure to compensate for it”

“My brain’s fine. I get out plenty. I spend half my time at the damn bar. If you’re so concerned about my health, why don’t you be a bud and get me some aspirin out of the medicine cabinet. Watch your step … Gregors might be snooping around in the bathroom.”

Edom dutifully got up and tramped into the hall. Jacob could hear him carelessly rummaging through the odd bits randomly stacked on the warped particle board shelves. After a few minutes, his large shadow was back looming over the couch.

“Hey I saw your neighbors today. They just came back from the store. I must have scared the shit out of them -- maybe I surprised them. They saw me and each let out a little squeal before running into their apartment. They slammed the door in my face just as I was gonna say hello. I gotta a pretty good look at them before they disappeared. They were all bundled up like it was winter -- jackets, gloves, hoods pulled over their heads. Their faces were snow white and they had those dark circles around their eyes like raccoons.”

Edom handed Jacob the plastic bottle uncapped but still stuffed with cotton. “I think you should invite them up for a pot luck dinner sometime. I’d love to see what they eat.”

A heartfelt quote ...

I was just tagged today by Hanna with the From The Heart meme (grazie tante a te Hanna come sempre). I like this meme because it's as simple as they get ... having only one rule:

Post a quote that speaks from and to your heart and dedicate it to at least three other bloggers.

So, here's the quote that I've always felt touched by:

"...and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd
I cried to dream again."
William Shakespeare's The Tempest: Act III, Scene ii, 137-140

The words are spoken by Caliban, one of the more interesting characters from one of Shakespeare's more problematic plays (and one that formed the heart of my Master's thesis). The drama isn't a tragedy, but it has darker themes not befitting a comedy. Although Caliban is portrayed most often as brutish and bitter — misshapen in physical form and spirit — these lines betray a surprisingly poetic soul and an aching desire for a better life.

Now here are the three bloggers I'm dedicating this exercise to:
I've got another meme that I'll be passing on in the next few days (I haven't forgotten it Nina!) ... so prepare yourselves.

Friday, February 01, 2008

You and I slept ...

By Francis Scudellari

You and I slept … the world caught fire.
Not all of it, just some, one's peace.
Close by … mere feet … maybe dozens
Away. We dreamed ourselves alone.

A spark escaped, then ignited,
After he (she?), we drifted off.
The alarm's high pitch never reached
Our pillowed ears, comfort-buried.

Flames spread, quick, alive like panic,
But couldn't move doze-deadened senses.
Out word-leaping, their cries for help;
Our minds/eyes turned inward, in-stead.

Sirens vied, raced, drew near, slipped by
Dream-disguised as far-fetched effects.
Shattered glass, shouted motion called;
Our hearts, shallow-beat, wouldn't respond

Until friend-wrung awake, aware
Of charred black walls, now-doused damage,
Moving through tossed-out remains … We
Too-late witness, a ruined life