Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Long Bike Ride





This was cut out of "Sleepless in Seoul" because it did not involve insomnia or being homeless in the city.  It is simply a memory that fell out while writing about my time there:

***

Probably the craziest thing I did during this time of transition between tours in Korea was to decide I wanted to ride my bicycle from the small town of Dongducheon to Seoul.  It was a nutty idea.  I didn't even know how to get there other than to take the main road south and hope that I eventually ran into Seoul.  I had no idea how long it would take so I started early on a Saturday morning to give me as much time as possible.  These were pre-Google days where you either had a paper map or you had nothing.  I had nothing but a bike and my (dim) wits.

I alternated between riding on the road and riding on a sidewalk, if one was available.  I got more than a few angry honks and almost clipped someone stepping off of a bus at some point.  Probably the scariest moment was when I was getting closer to the city, after having peddled hard for at least two hours, and a bus had stopped in front of me to let people off.  Because of the near-clipping incident I decided to go around it on the traffic side.  As I started to pass it, it began moving again and accelerating.  At the same time another bus rolled up along side it so that I was sandwiched between the two.  It was like navigating a narrow gap between two sheer rock faces, but with the rock walls moving!  My heart was pounding and I felt the adrenalin begin to flow, supercharging my legs.  I stood up on the pedals and began pumping for all I was worth, gaining enough speed to pop out from between them and continuing to accelerate until I was clear to get back to the side of the road and then up onto the sidewalk.

I eventually made it deep into what I recognized as a very large city and my suspicions that I'd found Seoul were confirmed when I spotted the Seoul Tower perched on top of Namsan (South Mountain).  This mountain sits at the heart of Seoul and the main American Army base in Korea, Yongsan, is just south of it.  Now I had to figure out how to get around it so I could secure my bike at the Army base and navigate on to a friend's house using the subway.  I saw a Korean man standing on the corner with a shopping bag in his hand and so I stopped to ask directions.  He looked at me with a somewhat bewildered expression before saying anything.  I assumed my Korean was very poor and that he had no idea what I'd just asked.  Then, with absolutely no accent, he said, "I don't know.  I'm from California."  Twelve million Koreans to ask and I picked the one from California.

Now I had to decide which side of the mountain I would try and go around to get to Yongsan.  I followed a major road straight towards the mountain and ended up going through a very long tunnel that actually went under the mountain.  At one point there was a long straight stretch that must have been tilted downward, but with no visual reference point it simply looked flat.  There were no cars and I let go of my handlebars, sat up straight on my seat, and stretched my arms out to my side with eyes closed.  I was flying along without peddling, seemingly propelled by mysterious forces in the belly of the mountain.

***

I eventually met my friend at his apartment.  He was an engineer that had visited Shalom House on occasion to practice his English, though he lived with his wife and two kids in Seoul.  When I arrived I was soaked through with sweat and smelled strongly of body odor.  I explained to him that I'd biked from Dongducheon which he couldn't quite get his head around.  He wanted to take me and the kids to Lotte World for the afternoon which is a gargantuan amusement park housed inside a massive building in the southern part of Seoul.  We decided I should take a shower first and he loaned me a t-shirt and shorts.

Lotte World is hard to describe in its immensity.  It bills itself as the world's largest indoor theme park which has the stamp of approval of the Guinness Book of World Records.  On the bottom floor is an oval ice skating rink that is open to the glass roof that spans nearly the entire length and width of the roof a few hundred feet above it.  The third floor includes the theme park which surrounds the rink and looks down into it.  Off and on throughout the day a full on parade makes its away around a wide oval track.  There are floats, people dressed as Korean cartoon characters, and a full on marching band made up of prancing young ladies in brightly colored band uniforms.

At some point we were standing in line for a particular ride and a small group of non-Korean men were talking boisterously amongst themselves twenty feet or so further up the line.  They stood out because it is rare to see foreigners in this part of the city.  There is also the reality that Koreans never talk that loud in public or draw attention to themselves in that way.  I don't doubt this group of men had been drinking and one of them caught sight of me.  He may have called out "Hey mate!" or used some other outlandish greeting in an accent that I couldn't quite place, though I thought it might be Australian.  As it turns out, they were New Zealanders on a business trip.

We engaged in some loud and light hearted banter as if the people standing between us did not exist.  My Korean friend was amused by the whole thing, partly because he could not understand a single word they were saying.  He prided himself in speaking English very well and assumed they were speaking another language altogether.  He asked me where they were from and had a hard time believing they were speaking a language that he felt himself proficient in.  I found myself in the peculiar position of being a translator for him.

The day ended with him inviting over some of his male friends for a feast of a dinner followed by liberal amounts of alcohol.  His wife prepared the sumptuous banquet and set it out, then retired to the kitchen with a female friend where they talked quietly until called by the men.  There's a saying in Korea, "There are three equals; the king, the father, and the teacher."

The next day I returned to Yongsan and opted to take a bus, stowing my bike underneath for the long trip back up north.  A one way bike trip like that had been quite enough, thank you very much.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This Hoosier Heart




The  patter of rain
synchronizes with
the staccato sound
of a bouncing ball,
the occasional swish
of a well placed shot,
a rimless descent
finding this Hoosier heart
in the sweet spot
of a simple joy.


***

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sleepless in Seoul



It was another weekend in Seoul with only a vague idea about how I would spend it.  It had become a routine of sorts to break up the monotony of Army life and escape the crushing stupidity of spending the weekends bar hopping with fellow infantrymen drinking, smoking, and flirting with the bar girls whose ingratiations were calculated to stroke the ego and empty the GI wallet.  It did not start out this way.  I started out as green as anyone with the newby designation of "turtle" given me and those like me who were new to the Army and in Korea for the first time.

I initially had no frame of reference or contacts beyond my fellow soldiers who were young, immature, and far from home.  To see the world outside our gates meant tagging along with others in my platoon, something our Commander called "the buddy system."  These kinds of excursions lasted for no more than a month or two before I began to buck the system and venture out on my own.  This was helped along greatly after learning about a place that sat apart from the bars and shops that were crowded around the entrance to our base.  That place was called Shalom House.

This "House of Peace," as it were, provided an opportunity for me to meet "real" Koreans by volunteering to teach English there in the evenings.  It was a two story building situated about a half mile from the front gates of our base in the town of Dongducheon at the end of an alley off of the main street.  During the day it was an elementary school for the children of soldiers who had brought their families on their own dime to live with them off base.  A tour in Korea was only one year and considered a "hardship" assignment due to the fact they did not pay for family members to accompany the soldiers and you could not bring over your vehicle.  There were also strict movement restrictions that forbade leaving a two kilometer radius of your base unless you had a special pass.

I made friends with the Korean students who came to Shalom House for the inexpensive English lessons informally given by us soldiers.  It was something that brought me a good deal of joy and light in the otherwise dark existence of a US Army soldier in South Korea.  It had a pool table and a ping pong table that we made use of between classes.  Pool was not my forte, but I could hold my own in ping pong, honing skills that I'd first picked up as a child on the ping pong table in our garage playing with my Dad.  He had been an avid player when I was a kid and I remember watching what seemed to be epic battles between him and our pastor in the parsonage basement after church.  After class, as often as not, a portion of the students would take me to a coffee shop so we could continue to talk and share our opinions, life experiences, and tell funny stories; an added bonus being that they could practice their English and I could practice being not-lonely.

***

Some time between my first and second year (or "tour" as it's called in the Army) in Korea I transitioned to spending my weekends in Seoul instead of Dongducheon which had become too small and predictable in my mind.  I had learned the Korean alphabet and enough words and phrases to open up the possibility of traveling outside of the town.  This transition began with Korean friends taking me down to Seoul on what I would consider to be field trips.  These trips included visits to museums and popular hang out spots, like Taehangno, which was a sort of Arts district where you could catch broadway shows and musical performances.  The streets there were lined with restaurants, bars, and open areas where young people went to see and be seen while buskers provided background music.

The places we did not go and that I avoided like the plague were international areas where there would be a concentration of non-Koreans and soldiers whose idea of a good time did not include immersing themselves in the local culture.  The main area for this kind of wallow in western pop culture was Itaewon.  It was a full frontal assault on the senses, too bright, too loud,  too familiar in the worse possible way.

It was near there that I ran into a sweet elderly Korean man in a suit and overcoat one evening on a lonely street corner.  He approached me and apologized for the intrusion, but he needed to ask for my help.  He told me that he'd been in a taxi and inadvertently left his briefcase behind when he got out.  He had been on his way to the bus station to see his acutely ill brother in Pusan and now could not continue his trip or even get home himself because his money had been in the briefcase.  He asked if I could help him out with a little money.  I gave him twenty dollars, wished him well, and watched him toddle off.

One year later I happened to be walking through that general area once again and the same man approached me with the same story.  This kind of scam was possible because there was a frequent turnover of Army personnel in Korea and the likelihood of running into the same person twice was, well, not likely.  People like me who had volunteered to stay for more than a year in Korea were very rare.  My initial reaction was to be angry and waive him off rudely, which is what I did, but in retrospect I wish I'd engaged him and invited him to a cafe for some conversation instead.  He had such a sweet and kind face that was so very uncriminal-like.  There must have been an interesting story there.

***

Eventually, the trips to Seoul became the thing I did every weekend that we weren't required to be in the field or hanging around the base for extra duty.  As I made more friends my trips expanded to more parts of a city that numbered twelve million people.  The planned trips for meet ups were likely the best in terms of content, but the aimless wandering also had its charm.  It was during the unplanned trips that I felt my loneliness and isolation most keenly, most fully aware that by joining the Army for two years I'd simply postponed the inevitable question of "what are you going to do with your life?"  Unlike Twisted Sister, I couldn't simply yell "I wanna Rock!"

***

Traveling to Seoul in the winter was rough.  My coat was constructed of an olive drab canvas material with a thinly quilted interior and a corduroy collar that I'd bought at a shop near the entrance to my base.  It was relatively rugged and looked cool, but it was not the warmest choice for Korean winters.  A scarf and gloves made it bearable, though the longer stretches of time spent out in the open would let the cold creep down too near my core.  I discovered a way to make those times stretch by having a pouch full of coins while walking the streets of Seoul.  In most sections of town there were vending machines that dispensed a hot coffee-like liquid into a small paper cup, heavy on the cream and sugar.  They were good for an hour or two of buzz until heat could be found in a restaurant, cafe, or subway car.

One particular night I ended up staying with a Korean friend who was single and lived in the area of Seoul south of the Han River.  We got back to his apartment late and I looked forward to being able to fall asleep in a warm abode.  His apartment was dark, cold, and extremely small.  Soon after we arrived he got out two mats and two blankets to lay on the floor and he talked about his plans for the future.  These included moving to Pusan for a job in a few months.  I kept expecting him to turn a dial or flip a switch to get some heat going.  At the very least I thought he might burn a large charcoal cylinder to heat water in pipes under the floors like is done in many Korean homes.  These pipes were typically below floors covered only with vinyl and if you stepped in the wrong place without shoes (which you never wore inside) you could get a not-so-pleasant surprise from a hot spot.

So, the "beds" were ready and I laid down on the mat which was pretty much like lying on the bare concrete floor.  The blanket barely covered my feet and I thought that this was going to be a very long night indeed.  My friend mentioned that there were health benefits to breathing in cold air while sleeping and I watched with consternation as he got back up and pushed out on his main window so that the room was open to the night air.  Did I mention he was on the chubby side?  For all intents and purposes, we were sleeping outside on a winter night.  I ended up putting my coat back on my skinny frame after he'd fallen asleep and kept my arms pinned to my side to avoid any unnecessary heat loss.  I don't think I slept for more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time throughout the entire night.

***

Well, if I thought that had been the worst of it, I was wrong.  Many of my trips were fueled by foolhardiness, taken on without thought of what I would do or where I would stay.  And further complicating things was the habit of carrying very little money on my person.  I trusted that if worse came to worse and I missed the last bus from Suwu in northern Seoul to Dongducheon, I would simply spend a miserable night as a homeless foreigner and make the morning trip back up to my base to regroup until the next opportunity to escape.

If I were lucky enough to have ten to twenty dollars worth of Korean currency on me after a particular rendezvous had fallen through, I would stay in a yogwan.  These were like small hotels with single six foot by six foot rooms you could stay in with a communal bathroom shared by all.  They hearkened back to the days when farmers used to come into the city with their crops to sell and then need a cheap place to crash for the night.  In modern Seoul they were more often than not used to sleep off hangovers from a long night of drinking before going home to the family.

***

A few months after the incident of sleeping in my friend's icebox-of-an-apartment, I ran into this very predicament.  It was getting late and I'd spent too much time hanging out with a friend south of the Han River.  There was no way I'd be able to get to the bus station on time and there were no yogwans in this part of the city.  I caught the last subway train of the evening over to the friend's apartment that I'd stayed with earlier in the winter hoping to at least have a roof over my head.  I knocked on the door and a man I did not know answered the door.  I asked if my friend was there and he mentioned the word "Pusan".  This triggered the memory that he'd told me he was moving soon.  I apologized and left.

This was a part of Seoul that I did not know well and it appeared I'd exhausted my options to have a place to stay for the night.  The subway was no longer running, so I was stuck there.  It was so cold that I had to keep moving for heat's sake and to try and look for an option that hadn't yet occurred to me.  I walked past a construction site near the subway station where a building was being erected.  It was just steel girders and looked to be three or four stories high.  A very large wooden box sat in front of it near the sidewalk which caught my attention.  I was trying to think outside the box, but the inside of a box suddenly seemed relatively inviting compared to either walking all night or sleeping on the ground.  It was near midnight and no one was around to see me sneak into the construction zone.  The box was about four or five feet square and had a lid.  I removed the lid and peered into its interior.  It was half full of styrofoam peanuts, but otherwise empty.  It seemed the best I could do under the circumstances.

With some grunting and heaving I was able to get the lid back up on the box after I had dropped down into the peanuts.  I sat down and pulled them in all around me to try and insulate myself from the cold.  The box was roomy, but not big enough to stretch out my legs.  I had my knees pulled up to my chest in order to keep my legs inside my coat and just when I thought I'd gotten comfortable enough to fall asleep the need to stretch would become overwhelming.  Stretching my legs released the little heat I'd managed to conserve.  It was a catch-22.

I had a lot of time to think in that box.

Some time in the early hours of the morning I noticed some light starting to come in around the edges of the lid.  It was like that horror film "The Ring", though it would be several more years before that particular film would be made.   The sound of an approaching truck awakened me further and I heard it stop on the street near where the box sat.  The next noise was some voices that seemed to be getting louder as I lie there buried in the styrofoam peanuts.  All of a sudden, the lid was lifted off and the top half of a face appeared.  It quickly disappeared as I heard the man let out the Korean equivalent of OMG, "I Gu!"

Voices could be heard questioning the man who'd peered into the box.  I figured this was my cue to exit and so I tossed out my backpack, jumped up onto the lip of the box, and leapt to the ground like a chimp escaping from his cage.  The five men just stood there looking at me and then at each other with a "do you see what I'm seeing?" expression on their faces.  I greeted them in the polite Korean manner and headed towards the subway entrance just down the block.  When I reached the stairs I looked back to see them loading the box onto their truck, shaking their heads and laughing, then driving away with my temporary shelter.

The thought of a warm subway car drew me down to the platform in an almost delirious state of near hypothermia.  When I boarded the northbound car I immediately laid down on the bench with my head against one end using my backpack as a pillow.  The ride to the northernmost station of that line took about an hour and I slept the entire way, rocking in and out of dreams.  I then got out and went over to the southbound platform, boarded, and laid back down to sleep all of the way back down to where I'd started.  It is what I had to do to reenergize for yet another day of exploring the city.

***

As I write down some of these memories of sleeplessness, another one has just knocked itself loose.  They are actually two memories, but both involve churches.  As previously mentioned, it was not uncommon to find myself roaming the streets late at night on a Saturday with nowhere to go or stay.  At these moments I was only limited by my imagination, ie, I was cold, tired, and probably hungry and imagined I really needed to find a place to sleep.

It was another winter night, but this time I'd really done myself in and despite wandering for two to three hours I had still not found a place to sleep.  I saw that a small one room grocery was open and so I popped in to see if I could buy some food with my meager resources.  The owner was an elderly Korean man sitting on a mat in front of a small TV.  The glow of the screen reflected in his glasses as he looked up to see who was entering his store so late.   It was probably one or two in the morning, but there he was open for business.  Like many ma & pa stores of this nature, he lived in small apartment in the rear of the store accessed through a door covered with hanging beads.  If he was awake, the store was open.  I bought some Funyon-like chips and a miniature can of Coke.

While sipping on the Coke I scanned the skyline for clues of a potential abode.  I spied a several story building with a large round window just under the peak of the roof.  I figured out it was a church and the thought occurred to me that some churches will leave their doors open for people to come in and pray, even when there are no services going on.  I approached the building from the side and found an open door off of the parking lot.  I could not see anyone around, so I entered the building and began to look around for a place to sleep.  There were wide intersecting hallways and as I tried to open a door, I heard someone enter the building.  I stepped into the recessed doorway and watched a middle-aged woman come down a side hallway and turn the corner.  I hid myself because I did not want to alarm her.  I quietly made my way to the point she'd turned the corner and peered around it.

A room with a large glass window in the door was spilling light into the hallway.  I crept close enough to be able to peer into the room.  There were elderly women kneeling on the floor and they appeared to be praying.  For a split second I thought about joining them, but the idea of scaring grandmas half to death held me back.  I left them to pray in peace and continued on my search through the dark to find an open door with a warm place to sleep.

A door eventually opened to me and I found stairs.  I made my way to the top, stopping at each level to try the doors which were either locked or classrooms with tables and chairs.  The final door at the top of the stairs opened into an attic area under a sloping roof.  I entered and let the door shut behind me which closed with a loud clicking noise.  Light was coming in through a large round window that overlooked the city.  As I looked down on the surrounding neighborhoods I realized that this was the window I'd seen while standing in front of the grocery store.  The room was full of odds and ends, but no bed, mat, or cot.  I allowed myself some time for reverie, looking down on this city I'd come to love, but eventually I made my way back to the closed door and reached for the knob.

But there was no knob.  There was nothing but a hole where the knob should be.  I felt a kind of panic start to well up, but quickly pushed it back down.  It was Saturday night and if worse came to worse I could just yell when/if people started coming up the stairs Sunday morning for Sunday School.  If the police were called, I'd have some serious explaining to do and have to present my Armed Forces Agreement card to identify myself as a member of the US Army in Korea.  These thoughts had me pacing the room to come up with a solution.  It never occurred to me to break it down, but who knew what would happen if I got desperate enough.  I put my finger in the hole and jiggled the mechanism to try and figure out how it worked.  Through trial and error that may or may not have included a nail (my memory is foggy on this point) I was able to get the bolt to pull back and release the door.

I descended the stairs and returned to the side entrance which was a large glass wall with doors opening to the church parking lot.  There were pews lining the walls on either side and I decided that this was likely the best I could do.  I looped the backpack strap around my leg and laid down to go to sleep.  When morning arrived I hadn't been sleeping much and when the heat kicked on I was reluctant to move.  I heard a person or two arrive to church through the doors so I rolled to face the wall trying to catch a few Z's and soak up some more heat before leaving.  When more people started to arrive and I figured it was time to go.  I sat up, rubbed my eyes vigorously, stretched, secured my backpack and headed out the door nodding to those coming in.

***

The second church incident likely flowed from the first.  Not that I tried to make myself homeless again, but that I just had no regard for time when hanging out with Korean friends.  I would simply stay until the last goodbye and then walk away as if I had somewhere to go.  If it was early enough in the evening to catch the subway I was golden.  If not, it was not so golden.

This second church was significantly smaller and did not appear to even have a second floor.  When I entered through the glass front doors there was a small foyer and then double wooden doors to enter the church proper with its pews and pulpit.  The previous church had been so huge that I had never actually found the worship area, though my initial plan had been to try and find a padded pew there.  These wooden doors were locked and my hopes for a soft pew were frustrated, but I did not give up hope.  To my left and right were stairs descending into almost complete darkness.  The only source of light was that coming in through the glass door from the street lights.  I decided to take the stairs on the left and slowly made my way down into the darkness, allowing my eyes time to adjust.

I found a short hallway at the bottom that led through doors and into a large open space whose dimensions could be judged by the echoing of my shoes hitting the hard tile floor.  Once again I waited for my eyes to adjust.  In retrospect, I could have probably found a light switch but it did not occur to me to do so at the time.  I was a stranger here, a ghost if you will, and it was not my place to disturb the darkness.  It was a little disconcerting that I could not see the extent of the room I'd found and I did not know what it was used for.

On the back wall beside the entrance I discovered a piano and beside the piano I found several stacks of square seat cushions in a corner.  I determined that this would be my bedding down spot for the night and so I  began arranging the cushions all around me to provide some comfort and insulation until thoroughly buried.  Like the box filled with styrofoam peanuts, I discovered that despite my most ardent wishes, heat was not going to come from the insulation.  It would be another night of fitful sleep due to the cold.

Some time in the early morning hours I heard someone enter the church and come down the steps.  I buried myself a little deeper into my cushion cave when I realized the person was coming towards my room.  The door opened and some light angled in.  The footsteps headed straight for me as I lay perfectly still.  It was like they knew exactly where I was.  The person stopped within a foot or two and grabbed a cushion, then walked a short distance away.  I was able to peek through a space in the cushion piles and saw a woman kneeling on the cushion while facing the interior of the room.  Her spot was at the edge of the light coming in, but I could now just make out that the room extended another eighty feet or so.

This was not my time to exit as I can only imagine what her response would be to have a man (a boy, really) suddenly arise from the cushions in the darkened room.  I bided my time and slowly but surely other people began to trickle in.  When I determined the time was right to leave, the heating system suddenly kicked on and a vent above me began blowing warm air directly at me.  The lights were still off and this unexpected turn sapped my will to move.  I pulled some more cushions over myself for concealment and felt the possibility of actual sleep start to overcome me.  This was eventually interrupted by the lights coming on and the room beginning to fill up with people who were whittling away at my hiding place as each new person grabbed a cushion from the pile.

At this point it was just a matter of standing up and exiting the room.  The final impetus came when someone began to speak into a microphone to address the gathering.  I sat up enough to see a man standing at a podium on the opposite end of the room.  I stood and walked behind the last row of people sitting on the ground and made my way up the stairs and out of the building without making eye contact with anyone.

***

So, it was another weekend in Seoul with only a vague idea about how I would spend it.  My time in Korea would soon run out, but at the time it felt like I would be there for the rest of my days and there was no hurry to move beyond the weekend to weekend existence that I considered a bulwark against despair.  I found myself people watching in Lotte World's main shopping area with only a few weeks left before my departure from Korea.  Willy Nelson was singing "Always on My Mind" over hidden speakers when I suddenly realized I was utterly bereft of the connections that I thought I'd been building up over the past two years.  So many Korean friends had come and gone.  The transition from hanging out in Dongducheon to hanging out in Seoul at the midway point of my two year sojourn had left many friends behind.  I now was looking at a return to the States and resuming college where my closest friends had already graduated and moved on with their lives.  Willy's voice was like a soft rope tightening around my neck, making it harder and harder to breathe.

***

I sometimes refer to those two years in Korea as "the lost years," like they were cut out and pasted over my early twenties with no connection to what went before and little to no connection to what followed.  It amazes me that I had so little concept of the linear movement of time in those younger years.  My time there was ticking away, irretrievably disappearing into the past, and is now maintained only in memories that become more and more patchy with time, like a vague idea.







***

Monday, August 03, 2015

I Will Write a Novel Today




I will write a novel today
or at least a few short stories
in an electronic record for
future physicians to see.
I hear stories of suffering
and translate them into a
narrative that is concise
but hopefully captures the
singular struggle of a
mind, body, and spirit.
Proscriptions and prescriptions
flow from that, informed by
years of schooling and a
lifetime of being human.
The healing process is
a two way street, echoing
the stories of holy writ,
"Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parents,
that he would be born blind?"


***

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Creative Spark




Elias built a house on Minecraft this past week and his excitement about it was uncharacteristically intense.  When he brought me into his room and showed it to me, I was floored.  We've been doing Minecraft off and on since he was six years old and he has consistently made houses of a type that are pretty basic and with only minor variations.  This was something altogether different.

I thoroughly interrogated him as to whether or not he'd seen a friend do this or if he'd seen a video about how to build it.  He assured me that he had come up with the idea all on his own because he was "bored" of how he had been doing it before.  And, as if to assure me it wasn't a one-off, I watched him work on another one that was even more complex and beautiful.

I wish it could be seen from all angles, to include the interior, because there are skylights and a swimming pool integrated into the rear of the house.  It's hard to explain what something like this means to me.  The creative spark and what comes from it gives me an inordinate amount of joy and seeing it manifest in my ten year old son makes it that much more special.


***

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Soldier of Moral Certitude




It is not my fault,
the multitude of evils
that beset this planet.

I am a static being,
untouching and untouchable,
without malice in my heart,
a blameless individual
who can only shake my
head at the foolishness
that surrounds me.

I am a man of hard-earned
wisdom and common sense.
I do not waste my time
on other people's problems.

I will serve my time here as
a soldier of moral certitude,
confident in my personal
salvation, having done my duty
to walk the line and
to set others straight.

And when I've reached the end,
I will march through those
pearly gates, nod at St. Peter,
and claim what is rightfully mine.


***

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thunder Road


Thunder Road



When they came through the Rift, the rains came with them.

Marko wasn't even close to the freak happening, but saw it on an internet newsreel that he initially mistook for a Japanese monster movie clip.   He'd been working on his '40 Ford Coupe Rum Runner when his nephew had come bursting into his workshop, cell phone in hand.

The picture quality was poor due to the torrential downpours they inhabited and the boy's shaking hand.  The small screen showed massive lightning strikes illuminating the insides of roiling clouds, revealing the outlines of what could have been mistaken for large electrical towers lumbering over the wetscape.  They belched waves of electromagnetism that fried electronics in a radius of hundreds of miles.

The image on the screen flickered out, like the hopes and dreams of those whose lives were built on convenience and unrestricted access.  The world of smart phones and computers was soon to be a thing of the past, like rotary dials and sunny days.  Marko immediately recognized the new import of his green-flamed coupe, a machine of power and grace built in a time before dependent complexities and complicated gadgetry.

The battle for Thunder Road was soon to begin.


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