Author Archive

A Quick Note

A Quick Note:

As there has been a rather unexpected rise in the amount of downloads, it is probably best for me to keep you few and dedicated readers updated on where things stand. I do not enjoy the thought of what torment you must be going through wondering ‘Is he still writing? Will I ever know the end? How will I survive without a new influx of epic poetry I probably didn’t even mean to start reading because I thought it was prose?” Alas, the anguish must be so great in you, I am sure. It pains me to know that I may well be the cause.

But worry not. It will be finished someday, that is not in question. The delay has been due to a combination of personal life (finding a faery-princess of my own who required no insignificant amount of effort to wrestle from the hands of all her other suitors) and intellectual trepidation about how to move the story from where it was to where I wanted it to be.

Luckily, the intellectual trepidation is no more, and I have even begun slowly churning out stanzas once again. I finally have settled on the complete story arc, and now it is but a matter of finding the time to put it into poetics. And I assure you, I am focusing far more on the meter and flow with these last four Parts than I did with the First, partially because I have hopefully improved as a poet, and partially because whereas the first Part was very careless in story as well as meter, and thus the loose flow matched the mood, these last parts are far tighter in both.

I deeply appreciate everyone who has asked me about my progress on the story, I sincerely didn’t expect anyone to read this unless forced upon them by my insistence. Those few strangers who have said such sweet words in reviews and shown such unwarranted interest have my humblest gratitude. And to  you friends who always ask about how it is going even though you likely do not truly want to hear me babble once more about it, thank you for continuing to humour me and for pushing me to finish.

My hope is now to at least get the first draft of Parts Six and Seven done by the time the snow here in the Midwest begins to float down, and then take the winter to both tighten those and draft out Eight and Nine.

Thank you for reading my measly addition to a long-dead genre, I can but hope the ending I have will make the long wait worth it.


Samuel’s Soul

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must make something that will forever define what he is. Simpler men make their peace, accepting life as it is and nothing more. Lucky men find a good wife and make a child, losing part of themselves to both, and gaining that meaning in all that they surrender. Brutish men make chaos, their fists and knives carving their dark definition onto the bloody pages of newspapers and history books. Samuel made a painting.

He had painted before, but never a creation that exemplified what it was to be himself, never a work so representative of his soul that it was like a letter to the world, detailing all he meant by living. But only a week before, he had been talking with Smith about the meaning of life, and a it felt like a fire had begun to burn in his heart, and he knew he needed to paint.

Smith was the sort of man that, to hear most people speak when they weren’t asked, should have been a pastor. He was a businessman, and an often painfully honest man, and most people say such a combination rarely works out in anyone’s favor and such a man as Smith should just give it up and join the Church. But Smith did well enough for himself, and on days when his honesty hurt his business, he would shrug at his detractors and tell them, “Like as not I’d hurt the Church, too. I’ll leave doing that to better men than me.”

It was Smith’s candid tongue that began Samuel’s drive to paint his soul.

“My friend,” he had said one day while they sat with their feet by the three-legged brazier that was the only source of heat in Samuel’s home, “You do well enough with your art. I heard the Governor had framed one of your newer pieces in the Capital itself. And I saw it, too. A fine bit of work, surely. But what are you doing with your life? You certainly aren’t happy. I can see it in your eyes.”

“Well, I’m not sure,” murmured Samuel, swirling the half-empty cup of wine between his two hands. “I don’t think I’ve looked at a single one of my paintings since I’ve finished them. If I died tonight, would I look back and think, Ah! There, I’ve something to be proud of! You? You’re a lucky man. You’ve a wife and a child who is growing up to be near as good of a man as you. Me? I’ve a scattered bunch of slivers of my imagination working their way through art galleries and into homes to be dusted by a maid once a week.”

Smith laughed as only honest men can laugh, his belly beating against his shirt like gusting wind against a sail. “Well, that is easily fixed!”

Of course, if most people said this, Samuel would roll his eyes and pretend to listen. But when a man too honest to be a pastor says it, your ears tend to perk up a bit more. “How so?”

“Well,” he began, “if I do wrong by my wife, at some point everyone will know it. She can scream like the devil and can argue like a crooked-lawyer, and if I don’t watch myself, that combination will end with me in the streets with everyone in town giving me a pale-imitation of her witch glare. Don’t tell her I said that, though. If I don’t raise my son well, he is like as not to end up brawling in the streets with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and some anarcho-newspaper tract in the other, and then I’d have my wife demon-howling too, and everyone in the country would know I’d gone off wrong somehow.”

Samuel grinned, but shook his head. “I’ve never heard your wife be louder than a happy yelp, and your kid has already organized a food collection for the orphanage. But I still am not sure where you are going with this.”

“Part of that is because I’m a lucky man. And part of that is because I’ve done right by them. You see, if I weren’t a good man, I wouldn’t be able to hide it for all too long. I’m written in their lives, and while one man can hide his meanness for as long as he can keep up the mummer’s act, when you got three in the mix… Well, someone would figure it out soon enough. You see, I make my wife and my kid, just like they make me. When they act, part of me is acting right along with them. But you… You paint, and you show the canvas what it is supposed to look like. But your canvases don’t show what you look like, not even what you are supposed to look like. I’m proud of my wife. I’m proud of my son. But they could break me as easily as they make me. If you want to be proud of something, it has to be as much a part of you as you are a part of it. It has to be able to ruin you. Paint your soul, Samuel. See what it looks like. Mine looks like my boy.”

When Smith had left, and the fire had burned so low in the brazier that even the ash was beginning to forget what it was like to be warm, Samuel still sat, unsure. He was by no means a bad man, though he certainly liked his wine a tad too much, and often swore, even on holidays and on the steps of the church. He even had a tendency to disappear when he saw a friend in need walking down the narrow road to his cul-de-sac. But he was generally a good friend, a respectable member of the community, and not prone to any wanton vices some men in his neighborhood were. But the very thought of doing something so permanent as painting his soul and showing it to anyone who wished to see…

But, as I’ve said, when a man too honest to be a pastor speaks, it is hard to ever act the same again. So Samuel began to paint, and his heart turned to that fire that only the purest of happiness can bring. After only a few hours, it seemed as if every painting he had ever done not only paled in quality to this one, but should be gathered up and burned as a monument to his crowning achievement. Samuel had never felt so alive.

It was a week later when Smith came to visit, and with a hearty knock on the door he called out in his bellowing voice worthy of any pulpit to let him in. But Samuel cracked open the door, squeezed through, and shooed him back onto the deck.

“You cannot see it.”

“See what?”

“My soul, of course.”

Smith’s laugh sounded like thunder bouncing about a cathedral, but he didn’t mind the snub, and left shortly after, for the artist seemed to be in no mood for talk, even shunning the nice bottle of red he had brought along. When he was gone, Samuel returned inside and sat, staring at his canvas. But today, he had painted nothing.

After three weeks, and thrice Samuel turning Smith away at the door, the frank businessman broke his silence. “What on earth are you painting in there? Is your soul some three-headed demon devouring children and two-legged dogs? Because, I must be honest, I think your artistic eye may be failing if that is what you’ve come up with.”

“No, no, nothing like that. I’m just…”



Smith didn’t laugh, and the silence sounded like a storm. “Then you are close to finishing.”

“How do you know that?”

“The day I proposed to my wife, I did so with a grin. The day I married my wife, I nearly crawled out the window and hopped a train. The day I conceived my child, well… The day my wife went into labor, I lost my lunch on the rosebush behind my house. If you aren’t afraid, then that isn’t your soul.”

“What if people laugh?”

“I hope they do!”

“I meant with derision.”

“Well, then either you are a petty soul, or you have petty friends.”

“What if it doesn’t make any sense to anyone?”

“My wife is absolute nonsense to me nearly all the time. People seem to enjoy her well enough.”

“What if no one wants it?”

At that, Smith paused, then a wide grin broke across his face. “Alright, I’ll buy it.”

“It isn’t done.”

“Well, you have until tomorrow. Tomorrow you either let me in, or I break your door down. I would say I wouldn’t pay you back for it, but you know I would.”

So Samuel spent one last night staring at the painting. The brazier burned like a torch to heaven, but it warmed not Samuel one bit. He sat and saw himself: his lies were mistaken strokes covered with a second layer of paint; his faults were cracks in the oil rippling from end to end, uncontrollable and nearly unfixable; all his failures shone through where he had changed the picture when he couldn’t get the color right or the curvature perfect. “No one would want this.” He closed his eyes, and maybe he prayed, or maybe he slept, or maybe he contemplated suicide, or maybe he considered throwing up on the rosebush behind his house, I’m not sure. But before any daft decision could be made, his door crashed inwards in a cloud of splinters. As flakes floated through his house like wooden rain, Smith stood laughing so hard the house shook with peals of rolling thunder.

“I’ve come for you soul!” he wheezed, lumbering over to where poor Samuel sat, still in shock. “Ah, let me see here! Yes. That, my friend, is you. A couple of lies scattered about, yes; a few faults, though I’ve always said a good fault makes a man all the better, and I think that works right about as well here; yet I can’t see a failure in there, so you must have recovered from them pretty well. Yes, yes, this is you. I think I’ll take it, and I’ll likely hang it up right above my cash register. Not the most fitting place for you soul, I know, but I’m nothing if not honest, and this will certainly bring in a few interested people.”

Smith clapped his shoulder and gave a wide, honest smile. Samuel felt the fear melt away from his bones and looked back at his painting. And for the first time in his life, he was truly proud.


Cross posted at The Culture Crisis

To Me on my Birthday

I heard a knock knock knocking on my door
where I sat alone, (for I’m such a bore)
and I yelled, “Who’s there so very late?”
“It’s Death, come to celebrate
you being one year closer to your ending Fate!”
“Come in, dear friend, I don’t lock my door!”
In he walked, and muttered “You’re such a bore!
I come with gifts of drink, let’s go
and rid you of this pointless sorrow!”
‎”But Death, what if Fate finds me tonight!
The very thought gives me quite the fright!”
“Silly boy, you can’t hide behind this door!
Fearing Fate but makes you a terrible bore!
Let us go and brave the night!
And if Fate arrives, we’ll put up a fight!”
So Death and I walked out that door,
I, one year older, and less the bore.

An Ode to Soren

The statue sat in thinking pose
long fingers stretched up past his nose
pondering the worlds every woe
as burning sun gave to blustery snow
that affected not his train of thought
no matter how hard the wind did blow.

Across the twisting graveled path
sat a boy, engrossed in thoughtful task
of what the marbled form did spend
so much time lost in mental math
considering or seriously solving
though stuck on the pedestal in the grass.

Was he remembering some love long lost?
Or how creation came with fallen cost?
Or had death covered his closest friend
with blackened breath like creeping moss?
Did he think of the burdened poor
who died from hunger by the score?
Or was he sending prayers to heavens gates
past the fabled golden shores?

But the statue (who is you, Soren, my good man!)
sat untouched by natures chilling fan
to only challenge the mind of passer-bys,
who, on seeing his brow-furled guise
would stop to think and, thinking, stand
with a thousand thoughts passing ‘neath their eyes
engaged with sorting truth from lies.

For when one man thinks,
others join, minds a’brew;
and thinking men, my friend,
is what will always please you.

An Ode to Kristin

A happy sparrow claimed the sky
and all the twinkling stars set high,
called them children, sang them lullabies,
then tucked them to bed at the end of the night.

But one little star would rise so early
and rub its eyes in an avid hurry,
for sleep made the bright, bright sun so blurry
and it wished to wave goodbye.

The sparrow (who’s you, dear Kristen!)
saw the evening star’s soft glisten
as a teared rolled down its pointed chin
and, ever caring for her children,

“Why cry, why cry, little evening star?”
“For the sun waves not to me from afar!
I wake while she still sits low in her yard,
but I burn too low to be seen!”

The sweet sparrow, ever caring, ever loving,
waited till the next evening,
then, in flute-like voice, began singing
to the clouds that lounged on the mountains.

Her voice carried such mournful tones
that the clouds could not rest on their stoney thrones
so swiftly they flew before the coming gloam
and reached the soon-setting sun.

Thus as the sun settled quietly down,
the clouds covered her light like an evening gown
and the early-bird star shined like an emperor’s crown
as he waved ever excitedly.

Now able to see the farewell wave,
for the clouds had softened the light of day,
the sun happily in kind repaid
and bid goodnight to the evening star.

The star, so excited, kissed the sparrows cheek,
and the little bird’s heart reached its peak,
nearly bursting with a happy squeak,
for the love of children to any ends,
no matter if she must sing to clouds in the faroff mountains
or cart a little boy around on blessed weekends,
was all the happy sparrow wished to do.

An Ode to Jennifer

The rising moon said to the setting sun:
“You must trim your brilliant bangs,
their flaring length dims my ivory face
and keeps the world watching you,
for my soft-lit lamp can’t keep up the pace.”

But the sun, (who is you, sweet Jennifer!),
laughed, and let loose her shining hair,
“Silly moon! Were I to carelessly cut
my fiery-scarlet locks,
weaved quilt-like ’round the world and ‘neath doors long shut,
your own ivory-hued light,
though comforting ’tis true, would fade to black,
for it is I who lends the lamp to you!

So as night rolls over the oceans-blue
and sips up the cities sprawled,
be not jealous nor feel too much ignored,
but remember my bright rays
will, like a flute well played, fade (still adored!)
and leave an ever-haunting chord
that will echo from your dusty face
and return back to this earthy place,
so that those who hear the reverberations
will shower you with un-earned praise:
for though you are loved when I have slipped to bed,
it is I who make you great
with my long-stretched brilliant bangs!”

On Poetry

On Poetry,
An Introduction to Eliza’s Fancy

Dearest Reader,

There was once a time in history when poetry filled so many vast and endless pages of books that one couldn’t step into a family library without the very ink singing in meter and stomping in beat. But those days have long faded, and the rhythm of the song-stories is no longer easy to distinguish, as our ears have grown accustomed to the crashing marches and brass pitches of the ever forward-moving novel. The average book talks, whispers, and occasionally gives a nearly unidentifiable yelp that startles you into confusion, but it rarely flutters its voice in sweet-spun melody. Even modern poetry has exchanged form for freedom, and thus lost that which made it poetry in the first place while still grasping pointlessly on to the word whose meaning it has rejected. Yet because both the novel and the modern poem can be done with such outstanding talent and gripping emotion, they have often brought with them a deriding sneer towards the very literature that paved the way for their rise. For the very first stories that shook the artistic world were poems, set to song, and accompanied with a tapping foot. And when one loses the ability to read music, it seems like a droll mess instead of the framework for a symphony.

It has been to many peoples surprise when I explain that the book herein is written with some semblance of meter, and that I try and use rhythm as a musician would use it. There are verses, choruses, bridges, introductions, codas, and every other structural support found in music both on the radio and in the concert hall. And while I make no assurance that such things are written particularly well or sung with a particularly smooth tone, they are nonetheless composed with a particularly meticulous plan: to make the poetry as natural as possible to a completely untrained reader.

It is my hope, and here is where all criticism of my form should rest, that the beat will flow as naturally as speech while still imparting that sense of structure. To those of you who have not touched poetry since you were forced to stand in class and recite a Shakespearean speech in a manner that would have saddened even Shakespeare, do not try and read this with any forced timing or dramatic bravado (ah, how the ill-trained have ruined the greatest of the Bard’s monologues with the dreary pseudo-beat taught in schools). Such an attempt will only make you lose your interest, as well as your place in the story. Instead, read it as you would a speech: pause where the sentences demand a pause, stress where the words want the stress, and inflect as the emotion imposes inflection.

Though it may take some small amount of practice, know that learning to read as you sing will open up an entirely new world itself filled with a thousand worlds. The greatest fictional works in history have all mixed the quick wit and sharp tongue of a storyteller with the practiced ability to use word-harmonies as they would a piano, striking melodic notes with rhyme and creating thick, heart-rending chords with structure. While I am the least of these, I hope my own simplicity of form will aid in training your mind to work with your ear in singing songs to your soul.


P.S. The only time you may need to speak unnaturally is in the rare cases that -ed endings must be pronounced to maintain the beat. I avoid this as often as I can, but on occasion it becomes a necessary sacrifice to the tidal movement of the song. These will be written with a dash, as in ‘blame-ed’, and are to be pronounced with the -ed as an extra syllable (blame/id).