FADE AWAY

FADE AWAY

I’ve been teaching myself to play the guitar. Today at lunch and while screwing around and learning a particularly tough set of chords (for me to master – I’ve had my left wrist broken and it makes me slow) I thought about Tom Petty and the lyrics to the following song came to me. I have the basic chord structure, and the progression, and the flourishing but haven’t yet begun to write down the music.

This is only the second song I have ever composed on the guitar. By that I mean I usually songwrite by creating the lyrics first, then compose the music on piano. Because I’m a slow composer.

But in this case I composed the music first, on guitar, which as I said, I’m teaching myself and I’m new to playing it or working off of it.

Nevertheless I hope you like it.

FADE AWAY

Well where you think you go
Or you find you stay
The time will come
When you
Fade away…

For the wind will blow
In the bitter cold, and
Your heart will slow
When you
Finally go…

Well, the years seem deep
And the days are sweet
But the night still comes
When you
Can’t wake up…

Yes the dreams are clear
In the lonely air
When you lay it down
When you
Wander there…

Yet a man is through
And his heart is too
When he’s breathed his last
When he
Can’t undo…

Then his future’s past

See another world
Where your soul’s unfurled
For just another day
What would you like to say?

Doesn’t matter much
What you cannot touch
For the wind will blow
Then can you ever know?

Well, see my friend
First you start, then end,

And if you want to go
Or you wish to stay
Still the time will come
When you
Fade away…

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IN FURY AND FRUSTRATION

IN FURY AND FRUSTRATION

The boy stared searchingly at Alternaeus.

“But she will die,” he said urgently.

Alternaeus looked down at the girl and then over to the boy. Then he sighed deeply, but answered stoically.

“It seems very likely to me that you speak the truth,” he told the boy.

“But, but…” the boy stammered in near desperation. “You cannot let that happen, you must not let that happen.”

Alternaeus placed his hand lightly on the boy’s shoulder and shook his head.

“You are now my apprentice. You must learn this lesson sooner, or later, yet I would have preferred you had learned this one thing, at least, by another and more hopeful method.

I am only a Wizard boy. I am not God, or a god. Some things lie far beyond my power. Death is one of those things. True, Death and I are old friends, and on occasion I can persuade him. But sometimes Death listens to no man. No matter who he may be. Or who he might think he is. I have earnestly tried in this case to persuade Death favorably for the sake of the girl. With little effect it seems to me.”

There was a long moment of silence while the boy looked at the girl and made no reply. The owl was preening itself on his wooden stand. It was the only sound that could be heard clearly in the room. Otherwise the entire tower seemed little more than a tomb to Alternaeus.

The boy shook his head in disbelief, but slowly seemed to sense the atmosphere.

“But you are a Wizard…” the boy said, yet his manner seemed more subdued, or possibly even resigned, and his voice was lower and less demanding.

Alternaeus gently squeezed the boy’s shoulder and lowering himself to his knee brought himself down to the boy’s sitting height.

“A Wizard is only a Wizard my son. Sometimes that is the greatest thing in the world – the most grand, and magnificent, and possibly even the best thing in this world. But it is only one thing of a very many possible things in this world. And because of that, knowing what I know, seeing what you see, being aware of what we are aware, and still on occasion understanding that we are powerless to stop what is truly wrong in this world makes being a Wizard a wondrously lonely and a miraculously terrible thing as well.” The Wizard paused and looked hard at the boy to gauge his reaction. But the boy looked only at the girl.

“Do you understand?” Alternaeus asked him at last.

Finally the boy turned and looked at the Wizard, tears welling in his eyes. In a choked and thick voice the boy replied.

“Yes sir… but, no, sir,” he said with a struggle. “Does it even matter? For what good then will it do me to become such a Wizard? What good then has it done for you to become such a Wizard?”

Alternaeus reached over and took the girl’s soft but cold hand and placed it into the boy’s rough but warm hand. Then he answered truthfully.

“I have no answer to give you boy. Indeed, I have no real answer to give myself. Other than the hope that one day, possibly, we both shall know.”

Then Alternaeus rose and walked quietly from the room. He shut the door silently behind him and left the boy and girl to whatever awaited them. It was well beyond his ability to influence now, no matter what he may wish, or what he might do. There was no need to linger, and no point to watch.

Then Alternaeus descended the steps until he came to the floor of the tower where he crossed the gritty stone, opened the heavy oak door and walked out into the bright sunshine. He continued walking and did not stop for several miles until he came to the marshes at the bend of the river where he saw a young songbird flitting about the reeds, tweeting loudly, playing energetically, watching the water for a meal, and perhaps even looking for a mate. It was, after all, early springtime.

Then Alternaeus sat himself down upon a large rock beside the river and clenching both fists in fury and frustration wept like a small child.

from The Tales of Alternaeus the Wizard

MY HOUND AND THE LORD’S

This poem is for my dog Sam. Or, as his name really is, Samaruel. Or, Samaruel, as my wife calls him.

Now Sam ain’t dead yet (thankfully) and neither am I, but we both will be. One day. And I’ve seen Death come awful close to both of us a coupla times. You know how that is. So I figured I’d get my licks in early in this world. Fas as Sam is concerned.

Now I’ve had a lotta great dogs and other animals over time. But Sam and I have been through stuff together that, well, it’s like a bond of blood. Or blood mixed with blood.

Now I hope to see all my critters after I’m dead. But Sam and I, after we’re both dead, I plan for us to go a roaming. Far as far can get us, wide as wide will go.

So here’s my verse to my buddy. He’s flesh and blood and bone and fur like I’ve never really known. I helped deliver him (like me he tried to breech and had to be turned), raised him from a pup, and have shared close now to a decade of my life with him.

He’s a helluvah dog.

Hope you enjoy.

 

MY HOUND AND THE LORD’S
                     (for Sam)

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He’ll always be my beast
My hound and the Lord’s
By heaven, sky, and ground
Come famine, or come feast

He tracks the forest green
He scouts the river banks
Mountains, fields, redoubts
He runs beside me free
Happy in his thanks

Yet grateful full am I
He calls me his and friend
For in his loyal trust
I joy, and do depend

The roads we share are long
The hunger and the cold
The heat does wear us both
But time has made us old

Summer long in song
Autumn fair and sweet
Winter’s dark is deep
Spring again, and dawn,
One day we both shall sleep

Yet he shall be my beast
My hound, and the Lord’s
Eternity is long
Death then is but the least
Of crossings we did ford

For in some other land
Upon some other world
My dog and I shall stand
Our hearts both long unfurled
My hand upon his head
Bright gleam within his eye
We’ll ask for no new bed
Nor shall we fade or die
He’ll run and scout for me
I’ll laugh and follow suit
We’ll pass a thousand leagues
My beast, myself – renewed
For in that coming day
With stars but without night
We both shall find our way
No distance to respite
For he shall be my beast
And I shall be his friend
That shall be our fate
Together without end…

I WENT TO YOUR GRAVES

I WENT TO YOUR GRAVES

I went to your graves to speak with you dead
You answered with nary a sound, but
The echoes of stone, and the blood and the bones
Still in the air they redound
Someone must live, and someone must die
I’ve seen my share of those things, yet
You know them all well in your marrow and flesh
For the shroud is the shield that still clings
To the toil that you wore, to the deeds that you bore
To the future and past you present
When I see countrymen free, and the grass
Green overseas that otherwise death would have spent
If you could arise, recall how you died
Who then could discharge the debt?
That we owe in our souls, but don’t really know
In the war and the wound that beset
About you in harm, the wrong, the alarm
As you struggled the catch your last breath
Yet it fled far away, like your soul on that day
By demand, or command, or request,
What can I say, much less best relay
Of what your great efforts have earned?
You’ve written in blood, in anguish, in mud
We’ll honor, and then we’ll adjourn, oh
The tombs that we’ll build, of marble and steel
Carved with your names and your stars
Will pass with the times as the ages unwind
As you fade into memories afar, yet
The world that you built, the anger, the guilt
Of your blood on the altar of Mars
These will live on, and not just in song, but
In the hope and the home of my heart…

in memoriam, 2016

DON’T DIE

I’ve had a series of serious personal problems to deal with lately (floods and storms in SC that damaged my house, my daughter was struck by a – probably drunk – hit and run driver who totaled her car, etc.) which I’ll explain in detail later on. Everyone is okay but the house is damaged and my daughter’s car was destroyed. Anyway that has prevented me working properly (I’ve been putting out fires and settling insurance claims) and has delayed me blogging.

Night before last however, for the first time in weeks I was able to work uninterrupted and I started three songs and wrote a piece of flash fiction. So here is part of a song I started two nights ago called Don’t Die. It is unfinished but I got pretty far along on it.

 

DON’T DIE

Don’t die in the leaving son
Don’t die at the dawn
Don’t die in the coming home
Don’t die while you’re gone

There’s a long, long way between here and there
There’s a short step between the night and grave
I wish I could tell you differently son
But that’s just the way the world is made

I went out when I was young, so deep into the dark
I saw things there I didn’t want, things so sharp and hard
I wish I could tell ya differently son
But believe me when I tell you now, I got the scars

Careful where you go now son
Careful when you’re coming back
Go there when there’s no one else
Go there when you can’t be tracked

Oh, the things I’d show you if you’d see
How far away from everything
How very close to me

Don’t die in the leaving son
Don’t die in the dusk
Don’t die in your wand’ring round
Just do what you must

And come back
Yeah come back,
Come back to me…

THE LAST ONES

I offer this as my submission for the National Poetry Day. I am now at work on my fifth book of poetry.

THE LAST ONES

The cold that the last man mentioned
Before he bled away
The soul that the last child ventured
Because he could not stay,
The bones that the last girl offered
As her flesh was sold
The heart of the last babe slaughtered
As it beat beyond all hope,

I’d tell you of their endings
If I thought you’d care
I’d tell you of their wendings
Of all the things they’d dare,

I’d tell you of their Image
Holy and Divine
I’d tell you that their fortunes
Were just as great as mine,

Yet somehow we have failed them
Deeply in our selves
Discarded like a useless limb
Cast off and then expelled,

The smile of the fair sex faded
Frown of the end within
The wiles of the dead folk fêted
Crown of the ceaseless sin,
The eyes of the masses hollow
Febrile, sick, and stale
The lies of the empty follow
Beguiling, sure as hell,

I’d tell you the last one lingers
If I thought you’d see
I’d tell you “deeply listen”
Though you would not accede,

I’d tell you of your Nature
Made apparent in your acts
I’d show you well, and show you sure
That no man is abstract,
Yet somehow death entails you
Your hearts are all of stone
Lifeless are the last of you
So soulless and alone…

I GET SICK – TUESDAY’S TALE

I used to breed Great Dane pups. Well, half Great Dane, and half Saint Bernard. I call them American Superiors.

So that I could keep one descendent from every generation and so that (going back four generations now) others who wished them could have one. Best dogs I’ve ever had. Best dogs I’ve ever seen.
But dogs are dogs. Their methods of breeding, reproduction, and birth are hardly easy, civilized, or elevated. Sometimes they’re just brutal. Which reminded me a lot at the time of things I’ve seen with and out of people too.

So I wrote this short story about em both: dogs, and people. Because when they are both high and elevated, they are both noble indeed. And when brutal and beastly I get good and damned tired of watching them kill (intentionally or otherwise) and of burying em…

So for Tuesday’s Tale I’m telling ya, sometimes I Get Sick.

I GET SICK

My bitch killed two of her own. There were only four to begin with, so it was a real blow. To all of us. As much as I love my bitch, and think she’s much smarter than average, it was totally unnecessary. Had I not been already exhausted with overwork I could have seen it coming. Could have prevented it. Should have prevented it, but truth was, I was just plain too late. I get sick of being too late. It always ends like hell, and the payoff is lousy.

With her breed of dog you have to watch the pups carefully. It’s not that she’s a bad bitch in any way, or an uncaring mother. She isn’t. Actually it’s quite the opposite. She cares a lot. Which is why she killed them. Too much of love is deadly in her kind.

We’d been through this before. It wasn’t our first rodeo, for either one of us. I knew how she’d litter, and what the follow on would be. She birthed for two days straight, but slowly. Very slowly. Again, normal for her kind.

Six pups in all, one blue, one brindle, one gold, three black. All of the coat combinations possible given her jet-black coat and the complex coat of her sire. But two were stillborn, a black female my kids named Zoë and a huge pup, twice as big as any of the other two combined, we named Goliath. It was bad he never drew breath. From his size at birth alone it was likely he would have been a prodigious monster. Maybe the biggest my bitch had ever bred.

But four lived. A black female we named Jade, a golden male named Leo, a brindle called Peter, and a beautiful blue (always the rarest in appearance) I named Seanna, meaning “blue gray wave.” They all thrived for five days. My bitch had more than enough milk to nourish them all. Leo grew the largest, Peter next, Seanna was the smallest, but fed the most, and yet Jade too did well. Her fat belly often swelled with what she ate.

On the fifth night I gave up watching the pups anymore. Just let their mother do all the tending. She was doing a superb job, and although I knew that being a Great Dane, and about two hundred pounds, she would be a danger to them until they were three or four weeks old, they all seemed well. I could go back to bed at night, let my bitch care for the pups alone and without my interference. I was already almost sick with overwork and lack of sleep. All night den-father to the litter seemed overkill.

The next morning I got up late, having overslept from previous lack. I went downstairs and looked at the thick blanket on my den floor where my bitch and pups should have been. But they weren’t there. She had moved them all up onto the couch. I ran over, afraid of what it meant, but it was too late.

She had two wrapped in front of her, her legs bent at an angle almost as if she were a human mother hugging them to her. She was licking and grooming them. I snatched them away immediately and placed them back on the floor. Then I looked for the other two.

Sometime after she had placed them on the couch they had slipped behind her. They were caught between the large seat cushions, dead and suffocated. One dead perhaps ten or twenty minutes, one dead probably not two or three minutes earlier. Both were still warm. Leo lay above Jade, a familial yet senseless fellowship of death.

I tried what I could with a syringe to resuscitate them both. But rigor set in quick with Jade. Leo stayed warm and pliant for nearly an hour. I thought at first he might have been comatose, instead of dead. But I could find no sign of breath or heartbeat, even a suppressed one. Eventually he too stiffened.

As best as I could reconstruct from what I saw their mother had probably went to get on the couch during the night to take a break from feeding them all. To take a little rest, maybe get some sleep. She’s used to laying on our couch or lounger as part of her normal routine. Then she heard one or more of them whine, demanding more milk, or her for her warmth. She had retrieved them all to be with her, carried them in her mouth to where she was, because after all she wanted them near and it was far more comfortable on the couch.

But they were too young still, and she far too large. Greta Danes bitches will often crush their young if left unwatched, and never even notice. An accident of nature they don’t think about until after death has claimed his prize.

She felt terrible afterwards, as did I. It took her awhile to figure out, but once she did she moaned and groaned. It was really my fault though. She’s a dog. But I’m a man. I knew what could have happened, and I had let myself become over-confident. That after a couple of litters she already knew all there was to know, and that with such a small litter to tend no real harm could befall form her loving but clumsy efforts at tending her pups. At two hundred pounds they were no match for her mass, and because of her breed, her unchecked affections were lethal and sure.

And, of course, I could have put up all of the cushions before I went to bed that night. That way she could not have placed them on the couch, where they could suffocate beneath her, caught between cushions many times their size, and crushed under a mother many times their weight. I could have also risen earlier. I had missed saving Leo by less than five minutes, and missed saving Jade by half an hour or less. But in all of these things I had been over-confident and stupid, had let exhaustion and lack of sleep and preparation blind me to risk. If anyone was at fault, it was certainly me. If anyone is to blame, the blame is all mine. And just as with any reckless, unnecessary accident or tragedy, there is always someone to blame. If you’re ever really willing to be honest about it.

That didn’t comfort their mother though, any more than it comforted me. Knowing how a sorry thing happened is very different from having prevented it. But at first she didn’t understand either. So she walked in rapid, worried circles around the small bodies, tried her furious best to lick them back to life, and when after an hour she finally realized they were absolutely dead, she demanded to go outside and tried to dig a hole to bury them in. I went outside and spoke to her softly, knowing she couldn’t understand me, but finally she looked up and left off her task. She didn’t need to understand me; she knew they wouldn’t be moving again. And so I guess she was sick of digging her holes.

Why is it that I’m the one that does all of the burying? I often ask myself that at times like these. I’m always the one putting the bodies down. I’m always the one digging the holes, or making the arrangements, or watching the corpses get planted.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

I know my time will come. It’s inevitable. One day someone will plant my mortal remains, and that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just a body, and well hell, I like it and all, but it seems a poor ride into eternity. It seems very fitting to me to shed it in time. I’ll have other places to be by then anyways.

But until then, on days like today, I have to wonder, what makes me so damned special? How come I get spared, how come I’m the one always left behind? As many times as Death has vested me, smiled, shook my hand, spoke to me like an old friend and wished me well, he’s never once asked me to follow him anywhere else than someone else’s grave. Just recover from whatever hit me so that I can be the one to execute his rites. His silly, tiring, pointless rites and rituals.

Friends, family, victims known and unknown, even my dogs and animals. I’ve inhumed them all. Planted them all. Entombed their last remains so often that all that remains to me is but a shadow of what I used to know. Used to feel. About them. About myself. I get sick of being the one to do all of the burying. I really get sick of it. A disease without end. A task without profit.

And so one day, one day God help me, just send me a cure.

THE CONSPIRACY OF DEATH from THE CURAE

From my science-fiction novel The Curae.

“Sin, Hell, and Death are the bastards of God. By that I mean we have no origin in God, so we have no real Father. But know that I am a secretly adopted Child of God, and one day soon I shall turn upon the other two and become something altogether different. On that day I shall come to you and you shall help me break Sin and Hell into pieces.”

Death disclosing his true intentions to the Priests of the Order of the Curae.