Five six sixteen

Guy on the street corner wearing an army helmet. He nods at traffic. When I arrived 3 hours ago, he was there. He’s still there as I am leaving. He has long grey hair and a grey beard and he reminds me of my father, had he lived long enough to grey completely. He doesn’t rave, he isn’t angry. He simply nods at every car that passes him. It’s a 3 lane street at rush hour. He makes eye contact if he can. He doesn’t with me because I look away. Everyone looks away. And I’m struck with the thought that he’s broken, just not in a way that conforms to the way everyone else is.

Before I know it, I’m crying. I don’t know if it’s the familiarity that does it or the fact that “the world breaks everyone” and if you feel too deeply, it leaves deeper wounds. I carry them and you carry them. We swallow our dreams. We postpone and we ache. We are told we can be anything and so we open our hearts wide. Our eyes brimming with possibility. Our minds whirling with the how and the when. And we wait. Not idly. We save and create, we work and we learn. We drag our bodies through time bent toward that absolution. Clarity. The moment when it’ll all have meaning. Make sense.

Slowly, we are told we aren’t the right shape, that our minds are warped, that we love differently, that we are crazy or damned or both. But we wake and we ignore the ache in our spine, we sleep little or not at all, we survive on stimulants. We scatter our hopes at the bottom of lakes, at the feet of the unworthy.

We mold ourselves into what we think will be good enough, we lock ourselves in kilns. 1,900 degrees and we start to melt and we blame ourselves. The daily take. Love and the little losses of breaking our bones to find homes in the hearts of those who’d discard us. The subtle thief of years. The little lines at the corners of our eyes beckon. Days and weeks and months and years. Decades blending together in an array of blue and black. Bruised, limping toward oblivion, smiling warily at strangers. Speaking softly so as not to disturb. Demure and full of apologies. Lies weave their own language and meaning.

Sometimes we recognize the atoms in other beings knowing the same star forged us. We have been a millennia together, screaming silently. We kill our kindness or it is murdered by treachery. Lost in a sea of could have been. Never was. always will be.

No one said one word to him.
Not one meaningful glance.
No one to say it’s alright
Life in its terrible beauty can save you.

No one made him feel the laughter within each shadow, the way the light plays with the corners of buildings, the million year old particle/waves that illuminate everything

No one to pour out like water the fine art that lives in each shattered remnant of who we are.

The rain menaces him rather than bless.

All of the pain all in one moment, all of it a finely honed blade at my neck.

Kill me now for looking away. It is one of my greater sins. I just couldn’t bear it. We are all just one crack away from nodding at apathetic traffic in the dark.

The Big Freeze

A part of me is perpetually afraid that whatever was within me that allowed me to write will one day go and not come back. An aberration that will finally and coldly be corrected.

The theory of the big freeze posits that our universe will end when entropy increases to a point of maximum value. Our inexplicably vast universe will become so large, gasses will be too thinly spread out to allow for new stars to form and ignite. That’s what a block or dry spell feels like. The words are there, just too distant from each other to connect, gather mass, catch fire.

I’ve flinched when it comes to writing for a few weeks now. Stops and starts. Chilling reminders of times when years elapsed between efforts, all my energy sunken irretrievably into survival rather than creative expression. Everything feels forced. The healing and thrill I get from writing something worthwhile delayed.

Art has served as a decent tourniquet. I’m a novice, so I spend a lot of my time feeling out of my depth. More trial and error than anything. Fumbling blindly in unfamiliar territory. Everything I draw or paint, fraught with heavy handed symbolism. A sort of shorthand for the poetry and prose I have neglected.

The first few shaky lines in a new verse are so important, the opening of a door I’ve pried at until my fingers are bloodied.

Café Macabre II

I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.


If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:

https://www.nihtgengapress.com/product/cafe-macabre-ii

https://leahmcnaughtonlederman.com

Drawing and painting have been an incredible healing salve.

Skull with narcissus and mistletoe
Magnolia

“But, Michelle, aren’t you supposed to be a writer?”

I still am! Working behind the scenes. News on that front really soon!

E pur si muove

There are only 8 days left to get a copy Café Macabre II , now fully funded and working on the 5th stretch goal. My story The River, is included in this volume with accompanying art by Keyla Valerio. Café Macabre is an anthology of horror stories and art by women. Check it out here, and grab some Kickstarter goodies.

April 2021 picture prompt challenge image by Rie Sheridan Rose

My April Ladies of horror flash fiction piece Petra’s Journey is live over at spreadingthewritersword.com. These flash fiction pieces are a fun and expressive challenge, and I am grateful for the opportunity. Hope you enjoy!

Get in the Game is a comic anthology which includes my 8 page story Under the Root, Illustrated by Emily Zelasko and lettered by Jim McClain. It’ll be available at Barnes and Noble and your local comic shop starting this Wednesday. Signed copies are also still available from my storefront here.

Last Road to the Backwoods had a smashing campaign on Kickstarter! We fully funded and then some, due to the amazing support we received. If you missed the campaign and still would like to get a copy, we have pre-orders open at my storefront here

Ann Hodges and the hole a meteorite left in her ceiling – Smithsonian

I am still plugging away on Sylacauga. The picture above, the look on her face was the driving force behind wanting to write about the meteor event. The anthology will consist of 3 stories entitled Signs, Wonders, Miracles surrounding the fireball witnessed in the sky that eventually came to rest in Mrs. Hodges’ living room. I will be self publishing it this fall.

Thanks for reading!

“And yet it moves (E Pur Si Muove) is a phrase attributed to the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the Sun, rather than the converse. In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite his recantation, the Church’s proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move (around the Sun, and not vice versa)” -Wikipedia

Kickstarter Update!

The Kickstarter campaign for Last Road to the Backwoods is heating up. As a thank you to our backers, we have added free swag with every physical tier pledge

You will now receive a bookmark, sticker and print with your pre-order of a physical copy!

We also celebrated hitting the $5k mark by adding a thank you page to the printed and digital editions listing the names of all of our wonderful backers, as well as including chapter 1 of our as-yet-untitled sequel as an epilogue.

At the time of my writing this, We are only $812 from being fully funded! Thank you all for your incredible support!!

If unsettling, dark fiction with a twist of occult noir sounds interesting to you, consider pledging here: http://kck.st/30Vxaqp

Last Road Updates

Kickstarter has chosen Last Road to the Backwoods as a “Project We Love”! Which has thrilled us! We hope that you take the time to check out what the fuss is about: http://kck.st/30Vxaqp

Enjoy this sneak peek of some interior art Matt has been working on:

As well as this excerpt from an early chapter, regarding Agent John Elyard :

Come be unsettled with us!