Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dark Road

A long journey on a dark road. Over my shoulder is the strap of a small cloth sack, holding cranberries and almonds. My chest is covered in a blue wool coat that reaches towards my feet and wrists. It is a long road, curving over the earth like a serpent, winding past deserts and over mountains and into valleys. It is a long road, a long journey and it continues with another step. One tiny step on the gravelly road mixed with dirt and dust. The earth crunches beneath my weight, each step grinding rock to sand. Night has fallen and the sky is metallic silver and black. There are no individual clouds, they have merged together, forming a giant blanket of moisture, a thick sheen of other-worldly color and implication.

I look to the sky, searching for something; for a shape in the heavens, a word to appear in the silvery darkness. I squint, my chin raised, looking, looking.

The journey is long, walked step by step, each one as important as the next, for the future can come only after the present has been walked. They are tiny little steps on an earthen road with nebulous edges that fade into fields of grass. The path is either forgotten and clear as the night time sky. The past is mine alone. Mine in this valley below a metallic sky. These little pointed black leather shoes carry me onwards, my only protection from the sleeping jagged pebbles.

It is a long journey on a dark road. The sky is metallic silver and black and a raven flies overhead. His wings are spread wide and full, adding another shadow of dark to the sky. He swoops in alone, circling the valley in wide circles, soaring on a cold wind that comes from a forgotten dead sun.

Surrounding me on all sides are steep barren mountains. They surround the valley like the edges of a high bowl. I walk slowly, taking little steps with my leather shoes. A raven flies overhead, ringing a bell. The sound moves through me, riding my veins like a thousand tiny ships.

It is a long journey on a dark road. The sky is metallic silver and black and a raven flies overhead, ringing a bell. The blanket of clouds begins to pulse, responding to the waves of sound. A wind begins to sweep over the mountain sides and my body shudders in the wind. I am the blend of mountain, of wind, of cloud, of blood; held together by the bell, its sound running through me like dark angels flying into the metallic night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coffee Shop

He held a steaming white paper cup of hot black coffee in his hands. He held the disposable cup with both hands, cradling it with reverence, taking slow, long sips of the bitter dark liquid. He sipped slowly, tasting the soil where it had grown, his tongue finding remnants from the sweat of campesinos and hot sun and blue skies dotted with light passing clouds. The cup was nestled between his long fingers and wide palms, held steady without its plastic lid so the steam was free to rise for a brief journey. It shot up from the coffee in swirled blasts of continuous vapor, rising, leaping and curling, twisting in on itself for more than half a foot until it drifted and dispersed, transforming itself.
He sat in a short padded leather armchair, the contemporary conservative style of the type that could be found in lawyer’s offices. Its lines were smooth and inoffensive, its simple shape inviting. It had huge overstuffed armrests, providing the place for the man’s elbows to rest while his hands held onto the coffee; steam jumping from the cup, creating ethereal patterns over his face, steaming him with warmth.
His back was facing a large plate glass window that faced a narrow cement patio with a few wrought iron tables and chairs. A few fabric covered umbrellas rattled in the breeze. Just behind him, the window was painted with a semi-opaque image of blue ice cubes falling into a plastic cup that had been painted with a pale white color. The light from the window behind him almost made a silhouette of his shape, though there was light coming from the interior of the coffee shop that gently filled in the dark corners.
The man’s face was old and weathered by time and age. The skin around the edges of his mouth sagged, though he held onto his manly dignity, holding it firmly with both hands, gripping it with his long fingers and wide palms. His eyes were covered in wide dark sunglasses, disguising the places his eyes wandered, though the tilt of his head gave a small indication when he watched a tall blond nurse walk through the front glass door. The skin on his hands and face were pink and though his hair had thinned and turned the color of pure snow, he still had enough to part on the right side and comb over towards the left.
His slender legs were crossed at the ankles and covered in pale blue jeans. Feet hugged in black socks were tucked into brown leather shoes. He wore a pale blue sweater and a white collared shirt that just peaked out over the high neckline of his sweater. There was a belly paunch that was round and full, covered completely in pale blue wool. He checked his watch every so often, keeping both hands on the cup, but turning his wrist up towards his eyes.
Jazz, infused with horns and the low grumbling of a large black man, filled the room with its melody. Steamers from the espresso machine hissed, bringing cold milk into frothy bubbles of foam. There were several circular wooden tables and chairs scattered through the room. Solitary people stared into the glowing screen of their laptops. Next to the man with the sunglasses, a mother sat staring into her illuminated Blackberry while her baby slept in a stroller beside her. Throughout the room, everyone was engaged, enthralled with their own electronics, it was just the old man that sat, holding his coffee with both wide palms, watching as people walked through the door towards the counter and then eventually left out the same door with a drink in their hands.
Old time jazz and blues flowed from the speakers, and the man sat, holding the steaming cup with no lid, holding it with his long weathered fingers and wide, capable palms.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


There is a building, the only building on a barren earth that is covered in long-forgotten yellowed plains and dried up grassy hillsides. The building is a tall rectangle that reaches for the clouds, but finds itself stuck ten stories high. It is simple and made of brick, with several windows on each floor. It is lacking any embellishment on the outside surface, there are simply old red bricks that have gotten more brown with each kiss of the sun. It is a simple rectangle reaching upward, pure right angles that flaunt function over form.

Within, the structure is stuffed with people and furniture. The ecstatic energy inside is frantic and crowded, like a third-world bazaar or market. Each floor is crowded with old wooden hand-crafted furniture from Russia. There are decorative couches with broad armrests made of wood and padded fabric. Embroidered cross-stitched pillows sit on every chair, coughing up floral patterns. Crocheted doilies rest on top of hand-carved armoires and dressers, protecting the delicate, shiny surfaces from plastic flower stuffed vases and old picture frames.

Rugs of many sizes cover the floors; tiny rugs big enough for a pair of feet in front of grand one-person chairs; large monumental weavings that sit below a set of three couches. Rugs of all shapes and earth-toned hues.
Struggling for breathing space among all the furniture are the throngs of people, all of them moving in the same direction. The one set of stairs wrapping the length of the building from the first floor to the tenth is overwrought with a mad panic. Men and women jump over the stagnant pieces of furniture to find a bit of footing on the stairs. Small children are left to fend for themselves as people clamor to the top.

Visible beyond the sparse windows are the series of hillsides on all sides of the building. The sky above is blue, yet a thin layer of white brushes everything in its soft stroke, muting out the sun just slightly. The hills are soft mounds of yellowed grass that continue towards the horizon like a monumental mountain range, continuing on and on past the line of sight. Coming over the crests of the dead grassy hills are men and women on horseback.

Most of the mounted riders are holding long poles with thin triangular ribbons attached to the tops of each pole. The ribbons flutter in the breeze like thunder, stretching a hundred feet behind each mounted rider. The men on horseback are dressed like Mongolians, wearing thick leather pants and jackets that are lined with pale brown fur. Their features are wide and their skin is like burnt copper. Their feet are covered in leather boots that reach their knees and they kick horse bellies with their boot heels, urging them on shouting “haw!” Between the sweaty horse breasts are more women on foot. They climb and conquer the hillsides in bare feet, running towards the building holding their square flags high above them. The cries and hoots of the invaders compete with the fluttering of the ribbons and flags and a chorus fills the valley.