Monday, October 22, 2012
It really wasn’t that different from any other daycare. 


The yard out front was littered with small trikes and toy cars and plastic animals and candy wrappers (which the children are NOT allowed to eat, even on Halloween). 

Coats hung in the cubbies, name-calling and tattle-taling were not tolerated, nap time was at noon, and no, Ricky, you cannot have Lauren’s milk carton at snack time. 

The only differences, really, were the families, and well, their… lifestyles.     

Miss Molly’s Daycare for the Damned catered to a very unusual clientele. 

Specifically, the undead. 

True, Molly was living, while the children and their parents were dead, which posed a few challenges, naturally. But nothing insurmountable. 

The children grew restless and bloodthirsty around snacktime, but what child didn’t? Molly merely wore long-sleeves and anyone trying to gnaw on her limbs was sent to time-out. The undead children weren’t allowed in all the parks that living children played in, which made Molly sad. After all, it wasn’t their fault, the poor dears. No one chose to be undead, now did they? 

Oddly enough, the daycare happened to be something that Molly was quite proud of. When it became clear that the undead filling the streets were less…uncivilized…than once thought, Molly saw a rather lucrative business opportunity.  Zombie parents sent their little ones to Molly to teach them to blend in, to co-exist with the living. Quite progressive, really, by most undead standards. By living standards even! You don’t see many living parents sending their children to undead day care centers, now, do you? 

Just misunderstood, the poor dears. Ricky! That is NOT your milk carton, and you may NOT have Lauren’s arm for snack!

It really wasn’t that different from any other daycare. 

The yard out front was littered with small trikes and toy cars and plastic animals and candy wrappers (which the children are NOT allowed to eat, even on Halloween). 
Coats hung in the cubbies, name-calling and tattle-taling were not tolerated, nap time was at noon, and no, Ricky, you cannot have Lauren’s milk carton at snack time. 
The only differences, really, were the families, and well, their… lifestyles.     
Miss Molly’s Daycare for the Damned catered to a very unusual clientele. 
Specifically, the undead. 
True, Molly was living, while the children and their parents were dead, which posed a few challenges, naturally. But nothing insurmountable. 
The children grew restless and bloodthirsty around snacktime, but what child didn’t? Molly merely wore long-sleeves and anyone trying to gnaw on her limbs was sent to time-out. The undead children weren’t allowed in all the parks that living children played in, which made Molly sad. After all, it wasn’t their fault, the poor dears. No one chose to be undead, now did they? 
Oddly enough, the daycare happened to be something that Molly was quite proud of. When it became clear that the undead filling the streets were less…uncivilized…than once thought, Molly saw a rather lucrative business opportunity.  Zombie parents sent their little ones to Molly to teach them to blend in, to co-exist with the living. Quite progressive, really, by most undead standards. By living standards even! You don’t see many living parents sending their children to undead day care centers, now, do you? 
Just misunderstood, the poor dears. Ricky! That is NOT your milk carton, and you may NOT have Lauren’s arm for snack!
Monday, September 24, 2012
The days grow short, 
the shadows long, 
the dark descending sure and strong,
as the evening sings to me a mourning song.

The bricks, they cry
Over streets grown wide
As the sunlight dies
and you whisper to me a mourning song.

The city bade goodnight to me 
Through crying brick and crippled tree,
Every step a question, each breath a plea
as the city weeps for me — me, a mourning song. 
The days grow short, 
the shadows long, 
the dark descending sure and strong,
as the evening sings to me a mourning song.
The bricks, they cry
Over streets grown wide
As the sunlight dies
and you whisper to me a mourning song.
The city bade goodnight to me 
Through crying brick and crippled tree,
Every step a question, each breath a plea
as the city weeps for me — me, a mourning song. 
Monday, July 23, 2012
The view from the top was a promise, and a declaration. 

The way up- 

Vertical cliffs
and dropping ledges
and rusty ladders
and shifting rocks
and traitorous lungs
and sweat and sweat and sweat 
and the overwhelming sense that this, 
THIS
is what your body is meant to do, 
what YOU are meant to do, 
and it’s so clear that we were knit and built for 
ADVENTURE! 
For climbing and reaching 
and straining and longing!

That is why we crave adventure! 
We are made to explore, 
made for grand, epic things, 
made to touch rock and branch and leaf and stone. 

Here, atop the world and within it all at once, 
our bodies seem nearer to birch than bone, 
and less limb and sinew 
than root and ravine. 

We are so near to this earth, 
no wonder we desire to adventure in it!
The view from the top was a promise, and a declaration. 
The way up- 
Vertical cliffs
and dropping ledges
and rusty ladders
and shifting rocks
and traitorous lungs
and sweat and sweat and sweat 
and the overwhelming sense that this, 
THIS
is what your body is meant to do, 
what YOU are meant to do, 
and it’s so clear that we were knit and built for 
ADVENTURE! 
For climbing and reaching 
and straining and longing!
That is why we crave adventure! 
We are made to explore, 
made for grand, epic things, 
made to touch rock and branch and leaf and stone. 
Here, atop the world and within it all at once, 
our bodies seem nearer to birch than bone, 
and less limb and sinew 
than root and ravine. 
We are so near to this earth, 
no wonder we desire to adventure in it!

"Do you see it, Agnes? The spot where the sun will come up, where the sky is most pink?"

We overhear a mother fussing over her young daughter with the unfortunate name. Agnes is restless and squirming despite the early hour, gazing with longing at the other children whose mothers let them run wild across the peak of Cadillac Mountain. None of them seem to care much about the arriving sunrise they’ve been dragged up here to enjoy. 

Do you see it, Agnes?
There, the spot where the sky is most pink, most burning, most ripe? 

Where the sky is ripe, ripe, ripe for day,
Where the light first kisses rock, 
Where morning brushes the strands from night’s still face.
Where the sky is pink and burning and bright, 
Bright enough to burn splotchy love letters behind our wanting eyes, 
Even when you look away. 

The sun rises higher, brighter, 
So high and bright and pink and ripe 
that Agnes can nearly taste it. 
She holds it in her hands, 
and takes a bite, 
and feels the rays running down her arms 
as she licks the light from her fingers. 

Did you see it, Agnes? Did you taste the sunrise this morning?  
"Do you see it, Agnes? The spot where the sun will come up, where the sky is most pink?"
We overhear a mother fussing over her young daughter with the unfortunate name. Agnes is restless and squirming despite the early hour, gazing with longing at the other children whose mothers let them run wild across the peak of Cadillac Mountain. None of them seem to care much about the arriving sunrise they’ve been dragged up here to enjoy. 
Do you see it, Agnes?
There, the spot where the sky is most pink, most burning, most ripe? 
Where the sky is ripe, ripe, ripe for day,
Where the light first kisses rock, 
Where morning brushes the strands from night’s still face.
Where the sky is pink and burning and bright, 
Bright enough to burn splotchy love letters behind our wanting eyes, 
Even when you look away. 
The sun rises higher, brighter, 
So high and bright and pink and ripe 
that Agnes can nearly taste it. 
She holds it in her hands, 
and takes a bite, 
and feels the rays running down her arms 
as she licks the light from her fingers. 
Did you see it, Agnes? Did you taste the sunrise this morning?  
Thursday, June 28, 2012
We live here, in this wasted space.

You will find us among all that is bashed and broken and lost and unwanted and abandoned.


(For that is all that we are.)


We litter the ground alongside hopes trampled and wonders cast aside. Dare to join us here, to see what made us this way.


Do you wonder what it is that separates you from us?


(It is a thin, threadbare veil at best.)


You are, (as we all once were) but a small, dirty choice away from this.


Take care that you do not slip and join us.
We live here, in this wasted space.
You will find us among all that is bashed and broken and lost and unwanted and abandoned.
(For that is all that we are.)
We litter the ground alongside hopes trampled and wonders cast aside. Dare to join us here, to see what made us this way.
Do you wonder what it is that separates you from us?
(It is a thin, threadbare veil at best.)
You are, (as we all once were) but a small, dirty choice away from this.
Take care that you do not slip and join us.
Friday, March 23, 2012
By nearly all accounts, spring has arrived in the city. 

Birds shake the heavy wool of winter from their nests. Grass that has sat dead and dormant for months starts to consider standing tall and green again. The temperature begins to hover at a pleasant 55 degrees, and the buoyant anticipation of an early spring seems to tame the angry chill that never left February’s side. Even the ice, an unwelcome presence in the city for nearly half the year, has almost melted entirely. 

Almost. 

Along a stone ledge that overlooks the city, a small and fragile wall of ice stands resolute against the day’s warmth. And though no one has taken notice, the wall of ice is not melting- it is growing.

Around midmorning, the sun itself puzzles over the stubbornness of the ice wall, and resolves to melt it by noon. But the sun becomes distracted by a promising bed of tulip bulbs on the other side of the city, and the wall of ice is unnoticed once again. 

By nightfall, the wall of ice has doubled in size. 

By morning, spring will have fled the city.
By nearly all accounts, spring has arrived in the city. 
Birds shake the heavy wool of winter from their nests. Grass that has sat dead and dormant for months starts to consider standing tall and green again. The temperature begins to hover at a pleasant 55 degrees, and the buoyant anticipation of an early spring seems to tame the angry chill that never left February’s side. Even the ice, an unwelcome presence in the city for nearly half the year, has almost melted entirely. 
Almost. 
Along a stone ledge that overlooks the city, a small and fragile wall of ice stands resolute against the day’s warmth. And though no one has taken notice, the wall of ice is not melting- it is growing.
Around midmorning, the sun itself puzzles over the stubbornness of the ice wall, and resolves to melt it by noon. But the sun becomes distracted by a promising bed of tulip bulbs on the other side of the city, and the wall of ice is unnoticed once again. 
By nightfall, the wall of ice has doubled in size. 
By morning, spring will have fled the city.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
"I win!! Yes! I win! Ha ha, beat you again!"

Jules crossed her arms and rolled her eyes as her older sister jumped up and down on the rocks. Phoebe won their rock-skipping contests every afternoon, but she still celebrated like an idiot every time. 

"Dad! Dad, I won!" Phoebe stuck her tongue out at her sister and raced down the beach to their father.

Jules sighed and bent to pick up another rock. She hurled it as far into the tide as her mittened hands would let her. She waited for the satisfying plop of the rock in the waves. 

It didn’t come. 

She tossed another rock and watched for a splash in the dark waves. No splash.  Like the rock was snatched up by the waves. Jules studied the tide for another minute, and something did make a splash. Something darted from under a wave, a dark shape that made a slap against the surface. 

Jules let out a small gasp, and started to call for her sister. 

"Jules? Hurry up, honey!" Their mother waited further down the beach.

The cry for her sister stuck in Jules’ throat, and she swallowed it. She glanced back at the waves, then ran along the shore to join her family. 

The dark shape in the tide waited for the girl to pass, then let itself be carried to shore with the ebb and flow of the next wave. One long tentacle, then another, and another, snaked from the surface to clutch the rocks where the girls had stood. The creature rose from the water and began its slow, silent creeping over the rocks, following the shouts and shrieks of the family on the beach.
"I win!! Yes! I win! Ha ha, beat you again!"
Jules crossed her arms and rolled her eyes as her older sister jumped up and down on the rocks. Phoebe won their rock-skipping contests every afternoon, but she still celebrated like an idiot every time. 
"Dad! Dad, I won!" Phoebe stuck her tongue out at her sister and raced down the beach to their father.
Jules sighed and bent to pick up another rock. She hurled it as far into the tide as her mittened hands would let her. She waited for the satisfying plop of the rock in the waves. 
It didn’t come. 
She tossed another rock and watched for a splash in the dark waves. No splash.  Like the rock was snatched up by the waves. Jules studied the tide for another minute, and something did make a splash. Something darted from under a wave, a dark shape that made a slap against the surface. 
Jules let out a small gasp, and started to call for her sister. 
"Jules? Hurry up, honey!" Their mother waited further down the beach.
The cry for her sister stuck in Jules’ throat, and she swallowed it. She glanced back at the waves, then ran along the shore to join her family. 
The dark shape in the tide waited for the girl to pass, then let itself be carried to shore with the ebb and flow of the next wave. One long tentacle, then another, and another, snaked from the surface to clutch the rocks where the girls had stood. The creature rose from the water and began its slow, silent creeping over the rocks, following the shouts and shrieks of the family on the beach.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
"Are we clear?"


Marty peered around the rough beams of the window. Roof, clear. Street, empty. 


"Clear."  


He replaced the board over the window and turned back to Mark. Mark picked up a hammer and handed the crow bar back to Marty. 


They both stood over the plank in the middle of the attic floor. The wood under their feet was barely a shade darker than the planks around it, but the men knew it in an instant. 


"Ready?" Mark glanced at Marty, checking for signs of doubt or fear in his brother’s face. He saw neither. 


"Do it." 


Mark brought the hammer down on the board and cracked it in three hits. Marty pried back the shattered plank until the dark wood was gone. Mark dropped to his knees to peer into the hole in the floor. 


Marty knew before his brother said a word. 


"Gone." Mark’s whisper stuck the silence like a splinter in the unfinished attic.  

The brothers allowed themselves a quiet moment to grieve for what had been taken. Marty kicked the broken wood into the hole and dropped in the crow bar.

 
"We’re done here. Let’s keep moving."
"Are we clear?"
Marty peered around the rough beams of the window. Roof, clear. Street, empty. 
"Clear."  
He replaced the board over the window and turned back to Mark. Mark picked up a hammer and handed the crow bar back to Marty. 
They both stood over the plank in the middle of the attic floor. The wood under their feet was barely a shade darker than the planks around it, but the men knew it in an instant. 
"Ready?" Mark glanced at Marty, checking for signs of doubt or fear in his brother’s face. He saw neither. 
"Do it." 
Mark brought the hammer down on the board and cracked it in three hits. Marty pried back the shattered plank until the dark wood was gone. Mark dropped to his knees to peer into the hole in the floor. 
Marty knew before his brother said a word. 
"Gone." Mark’s whisper stuck the silence like a splinter in the unfinished attic.  
The brothers allowed themselves a quiet moment to grieve for what had been taken. Marty kicked the broken wood into the hole and dropped in the crow bar.
 
"We’re done here. Let’s keep moving."
Saturday, February 18, 2012

This wasn’t the first time the chair had witnessed this scene, and it knew it wouldn’t be the last.



A broken arm and one cracked spindle. Not bad,  considered what the chair had been through; marooned in a snow bank,  tossed down an alley, abandoned in a basement.

And that was just the  last 6 months!



The chair never quite understood why people were so  eager to be rid of it. It took people to wonderful places, showed them  sights they had glimpsed only in their dreams! Paris in the twenties,  Christ at his last supper, colonial America (they made the best chairs  then), prehistoric times of cavemen and mammoths… the daydreams and  desires of every armchair traveler, brought to life!



But never any appreciation, no. The silly people all  preferred the comfort of living inside their dreams instead of the  thrill and messiness of what those times were really like.

The chair  would keep transporting people, of course. So a few travelers were angry  about being shot at by Germans soldiers, or being nearly trampled by  elephants on Livingston’s safari. The chair wasn’t about to let a few  soggy sofas spoil the adventures for everyone.



The snow melted quickly in the sunshine, and the chair spotted its broken spindle on the ground. Excellent, it might be fixed!



Then  the chair noticed a woman walking towards it. She was reading as she  walked, glasses sliding down her nose. She seemed oblivious to the world  outside the pages of her book.



Perfect.



The chair had found its next traveler. 
This wasn’t the first time the chair had witnessed this scene, and it knew it wouldn’t be the last.
A broken arm and one cracked spindle. Not bad, considered what the chair had been through; marooned in a snow bank, tossed down an alley, abandoned in a basement.
And that was just the last 6 months!
The chair never quite understood why people were so eager to be rid of it. It took people to wonderful places, showed them sights they had glimpsed only in their dreams! Paris in the twenties, Christ at his last supper, colonial America (they made the best chairs then), prehistoric times of cavemen and mammoths… the daydreams and desires of every armchair traveler, brought to life!
But never any appreciation, no. The silly people all preferred the comfort of living inside their dreams instead of the thrill and messiness of what those times were really like.
The chair would keep transporting people, of course. So a few travelers were angry about being shot at by Germans soldiers, or being nearly trampled by elephants on Livingston’s safari. The chair wasn’t about to let a few soggy sofas spoil the adventures for everyone.
The snow melted quickly in the sunshine, and the chair spotted its broken spindle on the ground. Excellent, it might be fixed!
Then the chair noticed a woman walking towards it. She was reading as she walked, glasses sliding down her nose. She seemed oblivious to the world outside the pages of her book.
Perfect.
The chair had found its next traveler. 
Saturday, January 28, 2012


"This is Kam Tran reporting live for News 8. We’re here in Monument Square where the weather has taken a turn for the peculiar…"


A few people in the wide square stopped to watch the reporter, but most people gazed upward, eyes fixed on the sky. 



Something strange was falling from the flat gray clouds. 



It wasn’t meatballs, or pancakes and syrup, or brussel sprouts or chicken parmesan, or anything resembling the precipitation they were used to. 



A young girl in the square put out her hand to catch the stuff, and held it to her tongue. It melted away instantly. 


"Grandpa," she whispered."It just tastes like water! Like nothing."


The old man with her held out his hand, too. He smiled as the flakes lingered only a moment before dissolving on his fingertips. He hadn’t seen it in years. 


"This, my dear, is snow."
"This is Kam Tran reporting live for News 8. We’re here in Monument Square where the weather has taken a turn for the peculiar…"
A few people in the wide square stopped to watch the reporter, but most people gazed upward, eyes fixed on the sky. 
Something strange was falling from the flat gray clouds. 
It wasn’t meatballs, or pancakes and syrup, or brussel sprouts or chicken parmesan, or anything resembling the precipitation they were used to. 
A young girl in the square put out her hand to catch the stuff, and held it to her tongue. It melted away instantly. 
"Grandpa," she whispered."It just tastes like water! Like nothing."
The old man with her held out his hand, too. He smiled as the flakes lingered only a moment before dissolving on his fingertips. He hadn’t seen it in years. 
"This, my dear, is snow."
Saturday, January 21, 2012


His name was Victor Crecelis, and he had been shoveling snow for over fifty years. 

He shoveled at night, if he could, after the rest of the city had fallen asleep under a thick blanket of snow and ice. 


In the early hours after a snowfall, Victor would grab his favorite shovel, one with a worn wood handle that quickly callused his fingers after each winter’s first snow, and a hard metal blade for breaking up the unfriendly ice hidden under the powder. 


At midnight Victor would begin, often working until 2 or 3. He would start with his own driveway, digging out the cars of neighbors in his building. The sidewalk would be shoveled next, all the way down the hill to the 7-11 on the corner. That’s where Victor spent the most time. Lots of people went there in the mornings for gas or coffee or booze or de-icer, so he made sure the way was clear. 


Victor made it to 7-11 by 1:15 when heavy flakes began to fall again. He kept shoveling. The new snow would make his work obsolete by daylight, but Victor didn’t care so much. 


He tossed another shovelful into a snowbank. These days Victor’s back moaned and his joints creaked with each lift, but he still felt ten-years-old every time his shovel sank into the snow. He remembered digging for treasure one winter, digging for hibernating bears the next, or a hole to China. Even a lifetime later, Victor never lost the sensation that there was always something for him beneath the snow waiting to be found.
His name was Victor Crecelis, and he had been shoveling snow for over fifty years. 
He shoveled at night, if he could, after the rest of the city had fallen asleep under a thick blanket of snow and ice. 
In the early hours after a snowfall, Victor would grab his favorite shovel, one with a worn wood handle that quickly callused his fingers after each winter’s first snow, and a hard metal blade for breaking up the unfriendly ice hidden under the powder. 
At midnight Victor would begin, often working until 2 or 3. He would start with his own driveway, digging out the cars of neighbors in his building. The sidewalk would be shoveled next, all the way down the hill to the 7-11 on the corner. That’s where Victor spent the most time. Lots of people went there in the mornings for gas or coffee or booze or de-icer, so he made sure the way was clear. 
Victor made it to 7-11 by 1:15 when heavy flakes began to fall again. He kept shoveling. The new snow would make his work obsolete by daylight, but Victor didn’t care so much. 
He tossed another shovelful into a snowbank. These days Victor’s back moaned and his joints creaked with each lift, but he still felt ten-years-old every time his shovel sank into the snow. He remembered digging for treasure one winter, digging for hibernating bears the next, or a hole to China. Even a lifetime later, Victor never lost the sensation that there was always something for him beneath the snow waiting to be found.
Friday, January 20, 2012
300 days. 

Maybe more, maybe less. The tally marks sort of ran together after 150, and the days became guesswork after awhile. 


But 300 was close. 


The promise of 40 days  and nights had been lived nearly ten times over, and here it was. A  small, lonely circle in the ice, and in its center, reaching quietly  towards the moonlight-


Life. 


The leaves were tiny and brittle, the stem, thin and bent, but that hardly mattered- it was perfect in all its impossibility. 


Life.


A boy had found the plant, and now he knelt on the  ice, his face as close to the plant as he dared. He cupped gloved hands  around the hole and let clouds of his breath melt frost from the leaves.  The boy pulled off one glove and touched a finger to a leaf, testing  its realness. It looked stronger already. 


The boy stood slowly. He left the glove on the ice  to mark the spot and protect the plant. He turned and ran back the way  he came, one hand bare in the cold, already breathless from the hope  that had taken root in his chest. 

He found it. 


Life.

300 days. 

Maybe more, maybe less. The tally marks sort of ran together after 150, and the days became guesswork after awhile. 
But 300 was close. 
The promise of 40 days and nights had been lived nearly ten times over, and here it was. A small, lonely circle in the ice, and in its center, reaching quietly towards the moonlight-
Life. 

The leaves were tiny and brittle, the stem, thin and bent, but that hardly mattered- it was perfect in all its impossibility. 
Life.

A boy had found the plant, and now he knelt on the ice, his face as close to the plant as he dared. He cupped gloved hands around the hole and let clouds of his breath melt frost from the leaves. The boy pulled off one glove and touched a finger to a leaf, testing its realness. It looked stronger already. 
The boy stood slowly. He left the glove on the ice to mark the spot and protect the plant. He turned and ran back the way he came, one hand bare in the cold, already breathless from the hope that had taken root in his chest. 
He found it. 
Life.