Aces

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What are you
afraid of And
why do you shake?
Is it demons
from the past Or the shadows
in our wake?
He folded the paper
Put it in his pocket

He watched
The bodies turning in the moonlight
Hanging at the cross roads
Hung for everyone to see

There in front of the church.

blood running down the roots of the tree

He’s older now, but he remembers

As everyone gathers at the alter…

The dust still sticking to his shoes…

I met him when he was older. His hands shaking, as he told me…

What he did at the docks…

Shooting a man for seven hundred dollar bills because he only had five.

He said you never forget the light leaving their eyes…

The things you do just to fit in.

Keeps you up at night….

We like to think we changed

But it wasn’t that long ago.

It was only yesterday.

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Photographs

Just as time will fade the paint on the corners of the front steps, chip the glass on the coffee cup, Slowly dry the ink in the pen, slowly age the man.

It will slowly chip away at love.

Tough words or tired bodies when we were young, we used to say everyone else just settles….

Now we barely talk anymore

Somehow we don’t even look at each other and it’s just okay.

For days on end we pass each other without anything other than a silent resentment.

When do you know you’re reading from a script that’s killed you off?

Occupying a movie set that’s packed and left…

Does her mind know, or is it her heart?

Does he know? Or is he so far removed that he believes everything is fine

At status quo

What’s the point of signaling a flare

You’re like two ghosts haunting the same house in different centuries

There’s nothing here anymore

It’s all cold

It’s all empty

And no one knows why..

Any cold drafts are blamed on the weather…

Cold County #1

Somewhere over Lick Skillet

Nine pm

It’s hotter than the drive thru at McDonald’s on Sunday. The Screen door slammed as he was leaving, Everyone saying their second goodbye for the evening.

The older man walking him to his car. Extending the conversation to the front yard.

He smiled again, and said goodbye, backing out of the driveway. Checked his speed as he made his way down the mountain. The road twisting ahead of his vision.

He was thinking of how peaceful it really is, up in the mountains. Just to drive, the trees, the way they change color in the fall. He rolled down his windows, letting his hand ride the night air like he did when he was younger. Reaching for the stars.

His radio went to static, strange, must be the satellites. He glanced again at the sky, this far up you were away from the city and could see just about any constellation if, you know what to look for. Or thought you knew what to look for. Most people just made things up to keep a girl looking at the sky while they were focused on other things.

Odd thing out…

The stars were gone…

A perfect patch cut out

He pulled off the road onto the bluff.

Lights flashed passed his car from off the side of the mountain.

He checked his phone…the signal was gone

It seemed as though this repeated itself three times.

Driving endlessly, yet still under the dark spot. He stopped his car again. Getting out, he held his phone out, hoping for a signal.

That was when he felt it…

First he saw the clock on his phone flash

Nine pm

He had been driving for hours it felt like,

He had even used half a tank of gas….

It happened so fast

It was like a nightmare in his head…

The strings of a piano being plucked

He could feel them closing in all around him…

Coming from out there

From everywhere

He couldn’t see them

But they were there

Moving

Like shadows

Between the trees

And he could feel their long hands

Reaching for him

Grabbing him

Pulling him down…..

Into the blackness….

The patch in the sky.

Cold #4

“Most people never die suddenly. Your body spends years sending you warnings. A man of 55 dies and it’s a tragedy, yes. But not a sudden one. Habits, They can be read like a timeline. We ignore Doctors and keep on with our lifestyles. One day the body just … runs out of road. You want to live healthy? Start talking to your  Doctor when you’re 28, before you start falling apart.” 

Janice was examining a body on the table. All of the lights were off in the room. None of the computers were running in the background.  It was quiet. It had been swept clean from budget cuts. Making it easier to hear her through the phone call. 

” So when I tell you, this body. These bodies. They shouldn’t be here. I mean it. These cells. Agent, They’re billions of years old.” 

She stood up straight. 

“Infected with Virus. They’re reproducing through bacteria from the site. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

– what do you mean from the site? He could feel the pressure in his gut. He was suddenly aware of the limited space of his Bronco. Driving back to the site where they found the hunters and the Coyote. 

“I mean,” Janice was saying…

“- I don’t know how, maybe it was dormant deep in the earth. Somehow, through rising tempatures. These cells, they’re awake. Infecting the water. All of the wildlife in areas red and yellow? Infected. Our hunter had a good hunting day. And was infected as well. Passing it to others. And then you have the water and the town.”

– so this is a virus? 

“Unlike we’ve ever known. This is older than anything we’ve ever seen.” 

He pulled to a stop. Hanging up the phone. The area was on fire. As men were putting up road blocks. 

“What’s going on here? We need to close this area and quarantine these people…”

“Baldwin, I can’t just quarantine an entire area like this. The paper work alone- listen, It’s State Property. Slotted for fracking next year. It’s already in the budget. And you know just like anybody else… that money is already spent. No refunds.  We’ll torch it. And restrict the area. That’s the most we can do.” 

“People have died. And will cont-”

“Hey, we’ve already sent in the report to the Feds. It was imported food and big pharma.” Nothing else. You did a good job. Let it go. 

He couldn’t believe it…

And thought again of Janice’s words…

No one just dies suddenly. It builds up slowly overtime. We just ignore the warnings. 

Cold 

The River was still. Bugs swarmed the area. Agent Baldwin slowed his Bronco to a stop. Looking the area over. The dead coyote laying still beside the bank. 

– What’ve we got? 

– Another animal gone rogue. Jumps a local while he’s fishing, in broad daylight. Crashed into his driver’s side window. Lucky it was up. First thing he noticed was all the bugs. 

He shrugged his shoulders and swatted the flies away. Looking over the dead coyote. 

– Strange behaviour. Especially for this time of year. 

He sighed. Checked his phone. Another call. Another local. 

– Bag it up and bring him in. I’ll have Janice look him over. Thanks for calling me, Darryl. 

– Don’t mention it. 

Darryl shook hands and climbed back into his car. 

Baldwin looked over the area one more time before starting his old Bronco and heading to town. 

Gold City 

The debate for literature is universal and exponential. The debate for libraries. That’s another matter altogether. If a stranger comes to town, no one gathers at the library to gossip about him. 

And so it was, during the age of science, understanding and exploration, there was also superstition and mysticism. When a stranger came to our country. 

No one particularly noticed him though. 

The Headlines were championing another tale. God wanted a tower.  A golden tower to assure  his legacy. It would stand in the middle of the largest city and it would be the tallest structure in the world. 

The news was, God needed an architect. 

Three weeks to the day, The stranger approached God and his Court. 

– I can build your tower. I can build it so it’s reflective surface lights half your country. And it eclipses the sun by day and your moon by night, it will give you light from the oldest stars in the universe. Everyone will know your name. 

God thought for a moment. 

-Name your price, he said, rubbing the rings on his fingers. Everyone has a price. What gold, what firm, what women, do you want?

– The Library  of Archives. That is my price. I want it. I want it moved to the great halls on the coast of your country. And I want the land it sits on there. 

God stared for a moment. 

– Surely this architect is joking. You can have anything in the kingdom and you want the oldest books in the world? And a bunch of land? For what? Books? Fine. You must be poorer than I thought. Let’s hope you build better than you bargain. You have insulted my name and my court. I am God. No one was before me and there is no one to match me and my glory. You have six months. 

The architect left. Feeling accomplished. He really thought it would be more difficult. He couldn’t believe his fortune. 

The months passed. While he and his crew raised the golden tower. On the fourth month they cut the ribbon. There was no other structure like it past or present. 

God, true to his contract, paid with the Library of Archives. It was moved from the Capitol to the Coast inside two great halls. Beside the shore. 

No one thought about it again. 

No one missed it. It was the age of fast information, and fast pleasure. Space, fortune,  no one read for pleasure or for anything more than a certificate of career. 

I remember meeting the Architect for the first time. His eyes were steel blue and he asked me who I was. 

– I’m the librarian. I come with the books. I said. And continued sorting the shelves. You must be the Architect. Congratulations are in order. I have champagne and donuts and coffee for you and yours in the reading room. 

He walked through the rows staring like a child when they first notice the stars at night. 

– I don’t understand. Why would anyone give this up. 

– Well, I am thankful, you would be the first to read one of these books, other than myself of course. In sometime, we’ll just say that. No one reads anymore. They have it all. They are ignorant and they live forever to prove it. 

– My name is Owen. 

– I’m Montague. You can call me Monte. 

In all of my time with The Archives. I’ve never seen anyone so hungry for information as Owen. If he wanted to know something, I would take him to the book. There was a lot he wanted to know, and there was a lot of books. 

– How long have you been here, Monte? 

– Oh, as long as the books. We’ve always been together. It’s in the contract. 

– I never mentioned you Monte.

– The Founders contract. I’ve been here since the first page was ever written and bound. I had to be. Someone has to put it on the shelf. 

The years passed and Owen, opened the library to the people of the low lands. His countrymen, he resurfaced, a new stranger, with a new suit, repairing not only structures and homes, but finance, healthcare and agriculture. 

With the knowledge he gleaned from the library he started building a community, a place where people were free to read and create. More and more the poor moved to the coast and built close to the library. Some studied medicine, and some studied engineering, more and more retired there as well. His community grew into a kingdom. He studied the art of war and law. The books held all there was to know from history. 

So there was a reform. And a declaration  was made. An election and a government was in place. Reforming old opinions. And religions. If you came here you could study and learn from the library. You could join the community. Your religion was welcome but you had to reform it to the values of the community. Everyone was equal. Everyone had the same opportunity. But this was secular not spiritual. There was no place for religion in government. There would be no gold towers reaching the sun. Only men reaching the moon and exploring the far corners of space. And potential. 

God, you can imagine. Was shocked to discover that a new kingdom had erected over night. 

– Who is this Prime Minister? I am God. The strongest in the world. The greatest. 

– It’s the architect. The library of archives are open to the people and they’ve built a new nation, sir. He lives in a house beside the library sir. Both are protected by Ushers. And a Declaration of Independence. 

And so it was. 

That a stranger came to the country and built The Gold Tower. And a new Country was formed. 

Because of Books. 

The content of the archive was recirculated with libraries in every community. 

You can still visit the Archives but you will always- like any good thing- have to seek it out. 

Loving Rachael

Monday 

He pays for his coffee looking at the girl at the counter 

She hands him his Change 

Her hand folds over his – holding – and then she walks away

He knows her , but he doesn’t know where

He grabs his pack and slips out into the street 

He sees her at all the stops 

Her face in the crowd 

He sees her shoes 

He knows them 

But from where 

Heels with galaxies on them 

Riding the commute 

On the railway 

Her familiar hand squeezes his 

He looks over his shoulder 

But she isn’t there 

She’s walking away through the crowd 

He puts his ear buds in 

Starts Beck’s Dreams 

And walks into his apartment 
He turns on the light 

it’s a hospital lamp over his bed 

Tuesday  

Rachael stood waiting 

Watching over her husband 

She takes his hand and squeezes 

He is in a coma 

She doesn’t know if he knows she is here 

But she visits 

Every day at noon 

She wears his favorite high heels 

With the galaxies 

Wednesday 

He’s holding a ring in his pocket 

He’s nervous 

He checks the flowers 

And then his watch 

There she is 

Right on time 

He is going to propose 

Sunday 

It’s their wedding day 

There’s a church 

An aisle 

A kiss 

He sees her eyes 

Her galaxies 

Her lips 

Her smile 

Monday 

Rachael is crying today 

“Do you think he knows I’m here?”

“There’s not a lot that we can know for sure …this is fairly uncharted territory. I’m sorry. Take all the time you need.”

Today Rachael is taking him off life support. She takes his hand 

Kisses his lips 

One year 

A hundred thousand visits

Uncharted memories …

Monday 

He is old 

Tired 

He comes in 

Sees her lying in bed 

Laying down beside her 

He holds her 

And they fall asleep together 

And he thinks of all the times he saw her 

Her face in the crowd

Their life together 

He is thankful 

He loves her

They sleep