Rants & ramblings of the disaffected

Why The Platypus Can’t Make Up Its Mind

What do you call a duck-billed platypus, if not confused? I often have difficulty making up my mind. But the platypus…they simply refused to.

It get’s its names, platypuswhich means ‘flat foot‘, aptly. It’s scientific name, Ornithorhynchus, means ‘bird snout’. If you’re looking at a platypus and you’re wondering what happened, so are the rest of us.

This creature is so weird, European naturalists decided it had to be a fake, stitched together from various other animals. In 1799, after examining the body of a platypus, they just knew somebody had to be yanking their chain! I can just see it, all those stuffy professors in their goatees, and all of a sudden one of them snorts Kool-aid through his nose!

OK, What is that? That is not funny!”

It looks like something your eccentric aunt might have knitted, the one that still sends you fruitcakes in the mail?

The platypus, if nothing else, is a collection of conttadictions.

Who else but the platypus?

So what do you call a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal with a bill like a duck, webbed feet, and a broad flat tail like a beaver?

We’re talking about the only venomous mammal on the planet, injecting it’s poison from a spur on the hind leg. An animal so bizarre it has a bill is like a giant electroreceptor, covered with thousands of cells that are able to detect minute electrical fields. The platypus’ snout is so sensitive, it’s able to hunt its food and navigate even in brackish waters by electrolocation, a trait it shares only with the dolphin.

Give up? So do I.

“So much for that theory.” No one ever heard of Darwin after that.

What happened?

Did evolution come unraveled suddenly? I can’t help but think, what would have happened to his theory, had Darwin wound up in Australia, instead of the Galapagos Islands? I think by the time he got to the platypus, he’d have thrown up his hands in frustration.

Everything is going fine. “OK, those are reptiles…birds…mammals…oh? Hey! What the?! Those guys back home are never going to believe this. So much for my theory.”

He just tossed that notebook into the trash. “No one will ever believe this now.”

“What else can I become famous for?”

Afterward, Darwin could only find work in a 7-11 making ‘slurpees’. No one ever heard of him after that.

I have this theory. Bear with me, it is still a theory.

The only obvious explanation for the platypus is that it was actually designed by Congress. This explains much. After billions of dollars of taxpayer money and cost overruns, this was the best we could get because no one could agree. Finally, a strange sort of compromise was reached between the union and the non-union workers.

“What do we do now?” The guys at the office threw up their hands in angst. “These parts don’t even match and we’re out of money again?”

So they just threw some parts together on the assembly line and this is what we wound up with, a chimera of dissimilar pieces.

The project came in behind schedule, and, several politicians are still under investigation.

The Democrats still blame the Republicans for this fiasco, and the Republicans…well, you know how that goes.

It was like a split in the family tree!

It’s like nature got bored all of a sudden and decided to play Mad Libs with the species. The monotremes split from the rest of the mammal family about 166 million years ago. Apparently they were so indecisive, the rest of the animals couldn’t get along with them.

An obvious clue to its bizarre appearance is that it comes from Australia, a continent that insists on its own collection of unique critters found no where else in the world. Where else but Australia?

You’d think, after a few million years, the platypus could finally make up their minds “….bird? …mammal?” So they just made up their own phylum.

I can just imagine standing at the evolution check out line, the dinosaurs are standing in line behind the platypus’. Everyone is in a big hurry to evolve. Two platypi are having a debate –why not platypi? Everyone else is making up their own words.

Listen in on the conversation.

“Oh, I don’t know …bird? mammal? I can’t make up my mind. OK, mammal, definitely a mammal…no. um, bird. no, mammal…wait a minute? live birth?”

“No, too messy!”

“So what is it?”

“No live birth. That’s just too painful. Stretch marks? Nope! Not for me. Birds lay eggs. Why can’t I lay eggs?”

The T-rexes were the first to complain. That’s just how carnivores are!

“Hey, up there! Can you hurry it up? We only have a few million years left and then we go extinct, you know!”

The platypi ignore them.

“Do these webbed feet come in my size, Gertrude?”

“Oh, those are just adorable, Margaret!”

“So what is it, Gertrude? Are we mammals or birds or…what?”

“I’m just not sure”, she frets.

Next thing you know, the plant-eaters are griping.

“Any epoch now!”

Another platypus in line pokes her husband in the ribs. “Harold! Does my tail make my butt look fat?

Harold, being a wise husband is thumbing through a copy of Marsupials Unlimited, the Sports Edition, pretending not to hear…

“My geologic clock is ticking,” bellows another. This time the pterodactyls are complaining.

The impatient clerk at the check out is fuming. Will that be mammal …or birds?”

“Oh for petes’ sake,” a frustrated diplodocus fumes. “Just make up your own phylum so the rest of us can get out of here!”

And that’s how the problem was solved.

Unfortunately, by this time the dinosaurs had already gone extinct….and now we know what really happened! I just solved two geologic mysteries in one theory!

Let’s see them do that on The Discovery Channel!

Things get out of hand quickly in the Jurassic period. I suppose they could have just changed lines at the check out. Easier said, than done.

Every time the long-tailed dinosaurs tried to change to another check out, they knocked over the canned goods display and, …what a mess! Meanwhile the carnivores had such little forelimbs they couldn’t dial customer service for help

Tempers begin to flare!

It’s the T-rexes again.

“Melvin!” -it’s Mrs. T, his wife. A hungry T-rex gets grumpy when it has to wait in line.


“Quit snacking on the stegosaurs. You know you always get those plates stuck between your teeth.”

Pretty soon a brawl breaks out. That’s what happens when you put the meat-eaters and the plant-eaters in the same checkout line

If you thought the Jurassic Period was a mess, wait until the humans show up.

And now you know…

So that’s it. That’s how it all happened and why no one can tell what it’s supposed to be. Not even the platypus!

Until someone comes up with a better theory, I’m sticking with this one.

And now you know how the platypus couldn’t make up his mind.

Meanwhile, Back at the Dungeon

The door swings open, a shaft of light briefly illuminates the dark confines of a dreary place.

“Good morning,” the dungeon-master exudes cheerfully. “I just love this place!”

“Morning.” -glum.

“Morning.” -depressed.


“Morning.” -despondent.

A chorus of less than enthusiastic greetings is exchanged. One by one they repeat the obligatory greeting.

“Good morning everyone,” exclaims one cheery fellow!

Everybody groans at the same time ..it’s that cheerful guy in the back of the dungeon.


One by one they report various complaints.

“My gruel is mushy,” one gripes.

“You pulled all my teeth,” another complained.

“I can’t feel my legs,” intones another with a low moan.

A female voice mutters, “I gained five pounds last week.”

“Guys,” he chides the group, “we can’t all be doom & gloom. I knock myself out every day trying to do my job as well as I can and this is the thanks I get?” – brief pause before he continues.

“Plagues, pestilence, wars, rampant disease, and more pestilence …forgive me if I try to bring a little ray of sunshine into the world.” His ploy for pity fell flat. It’s a tough crowd of grim faces, staring blankly back at him.

“So …to improve morale I’ve decided to read some things I’ve penned.” He takes out a quill and some scrolls. “Now, Don’t be bashful. Tell me what you think?! I can take it.”

“You’ll like this,” he grins. The protagonist begins to read and is immediately met with a chorus of groans and moans.

“That doesn’t do it for me,” says the guy in the stocks.

“Hmm? OK, You’ll like this one.” One by one the dungeon-master reaches into his ‘toolbox’ to pull out another painful instrument of cruelty.

“How about some insightful commentary? I wrote this last week end…”

They all shriek in unison.

“I know what will get you guys going? A little humor, huh? I think you guys will like this one. It had me rolling…”

More groans and moans.

“Hey. This piece is filled with whimsical observations from life.”

“Stop it,” they plead.

“Oh, …oh! I wrote this really great satire piece…”

“Not again.” cries the poor soul overhead in the iron cage.

“OK, OK. I get it. How about some gleanings from life to brighten the drudgery of…”

Shrieks and howls fill the room. The rat stops chewing long enough to stop up his ears with cloth fragments…

“Raphael?! You too?!!”

“Somebody call PETA,” a female voice protests.

The dungeon-master continues despite the objections of his audience. A little later the entire dungeon is clamoring, “No more. Stop!”

“Come on,” the dungeon-master complains. “How bad can it be?”

The listeners cringe as he continues to read. Their ears huddled like frightened rabbits against their heads …frightened with no where to run.

“Please! No more,” they beg. “Can’t you just stretch us on the rack until our bones come out of joint or maybe pull out our fingernails …like other dungeons do?”

“Yeah,” another agrees. “My neighbor says the dungeon he goes to, they just tie you to the wheel and bludgeon you.”

“The dunking booth! The guy across the street, that’s what his dungeon is doing”

“Well,” the offended jailer protests. “I’m sorry if I’m not like all the other dungeons! Besides, that’s not very creative, if you ask me.”

“So what’s it going to be today? Flogging or blogging, You pick?”

“Flogging” One by one they all choose the same form of punishment.

“Guys,” he exclaims, “Aren’t we exaggerating a bit much?

“No, no. We want flogging,” the dejected group insist!

The dungeon-master breathes a heavy sigh, “Look, I know I’m no Shakespeare but give me a chance. Even the Bard had to start somewhere.”

The guy in the stocks interjects, “You’re a monster!”

“Now Bob,” the optimist lectures “…it’s not going to hurt you to be supportive. Can’t you think of anything positive to say?”

“It meant it as constructive criticism,” his voice dropped off apologetically.

Another pitiful fellow added, “I know we’re a captive audience but couldn’t you try your material out on someone else for a change?”

“So that’s how it is? All this time I felt we had some sort of connection between us?”

The guys in the dungeon avert their eyes, looking around sheepishly. The Raphael gets up to leave. It seems like the rats are always the first to leave…

Someone bangs on the heavy wooden door to interrupt. “You’ve got mail!”

“Mail? For me?” The jailer’s face brightens. He reads a moment, lips moving excitedly before his face suddenly turns pale. Angrily, his countenance changes. He wads up the letter and chunks it down in anger. “What does he know,” he cries in anguish!

“Another rejection letter,” they whisper.

Several let out loud sighs. “Its going to be a long day, isn’t it?”

After a pause, one of the group asks, “How can you be so …cruel?”

“That’s a fair question,” he replies. He pauses to reflect before adding, “I was a writer once.”

“Ohhh,” says the guy in the cage swinging overhead.

The guy chained to the wall adds, “A writer? Yeah …I can see that.”

So much for my Creative Writing class!

The picture suddenly transitions from a dingy dungeon torture scene to a writing class. The unhappy gaggle in the dungeon turn out to be fellow classmates. I’m reading my assignment as the others comment. Out of the corner of my eye I see one guy that was chewing on his pencil, make his way to the door.

“Raphael! Where are you going?”

“Um, to the bathroom…” he alleges.

Deserter,” I mutter under my breath. “The rats …they’re always the first to leave.”

The cheerful one in the back of the room? It turns out he’s the instructor, trying to blunt the criticism of fellow classmates. After several torturous attempts at creative writing, a general groan of discontent is wafting overhead.

“What? What is it now, I cry?”

“You changed your POV again. You were in the first person and you change mid-paragraph and now you’re all over the place. I’m getting all bent out of shape here!”

“Yeah,” the other’s agree. “It’s torture!”

A female adds, “The plot is convoluted. I feel like I’m on some medieval rack!”

– awkward pause.

“Well, OK. It’s a …work in progress,” the cheerful guy in the back points out. No one takes him seriously anymore because he’s always so …constructive.

“I think you’re trying too hard on your dialogue,” says another.

“The punctuation is brutal,” says the guy sitting against the wall. “Excess exclamation marks …I’m tripping over the commas. Was that apostrophe really necessary?”

“No offense,” another voice adds. “Your humor …I’m just not getting it.”

– another awkward pause.

“Well, that’s …all for today,” pipes up the cheerful guy in the back, shoving his papers into a briefcase as he hastens toward the door. “Assignment due on Wednesday. Don’t forget to read chapter 5. See you all next week!”

So much for my creative writing class.


Blueberry Farts

Let me just say right off the top, it gives me some measure of alarm about the type of readership I would attract when I wrote this. After all those who would click on purpose on anything written on a subject so terrible as, Blueberry Farts; well it says a lot about the kind of person they are.

And since you have chosen to of your own free will to click on this article my worst suspicions have been confirmed.

And if you are equally repulsed yet somehow compelled to click on something so terribly titled as this if for no other reason as to see what kind of person could write such a title as this, I too understand your fascination with abnormal psychology.

Where shall I begin? What if I told you I was concerned about the lack of good nutrition that’s been conspicuously lacking from my diet. Now, when I say diet, let me clarify. By diet, I do not  intend to mislead the reader that I actually pursue a rational, well-informed selection of good foods of nutritious value. My diet, or rather, the lack thereof, is a chaotic, careless consumption of junk calories and fatty fried fast foods, washed down with carbonated sugary drinks. And so one day, mostly in disgust, I declared to myself that I am going to eat healthy. That is as soon as I finish that last piece of stale cake in the back of the fridge, the one next to the fuzzy macaroni.

Several catastrophic failures later, in desperation I mustered up the full measure of my willpower to boldly and emphatically state to the world, “I’m going to eat healthy even if it kills me!

Some people mindlessly clogging the snack aisle at the local convenience store were startled at my sudden outburst but most simply chose to ignore me lest I resort to more drastic measures. And then there was the old obese guy in the electric scooter, folds of fat hanging off both sides and dragging the aisle, his butt tightly wedged into the tiny seat; drove over my foot in haste to grab the last pack of calorie-ridden snack cakes laced with processed ingredients.

Undaunted I turned to the experts on the internet for guidance. Hmmmm? Kale? Sounds awful so it must be healthy. Smoothies? Why not, I thought! All I need is a blender…a  pack of frozen blueberries. Genius! Soon I’d be the picture of health and energy.

So I rushed home with my new ingredients and unpacked my blender hastily to make a smoothie with ingredients of equal measures of kale and blueberries. If this combination sounds terrible to you, let me assure you it tastes much worse than it sounds.

Texture. Now there’s a word you don’t normally want to associate with anything you’d prefer to think of as a smoothie and yet there it is, swirling around in my blender like a swirling tornadic vortex of green seaweed. And I’m going to drink this?!

Kale, I suspect is probably harvested much like lawnmower clippings after mowing your yard. I imagine it being scraped from the under deck of a lawnmower by some sweaty guy whose pinnacle of  academic achievement was the time spent in the bathroom stall immediately after devouring a school lunch. There, globs of it are slopped onto a conveyor belt where it is packaged in brightly colored plastic and shipped to your local grocery store where it sits lurking in the frozen goods section until the unsuspecting consumer buys it.

There are several approaches as to how best to swallow a mixture with the consistency of soggy toilet paper dissolved and suspended in a fruity elixir; one being to gulp while holding your breath until the last bit has swirled down your throat, this approach being much like a toilet that has been flushed. Or there is the alternate approach where you break it up into smaller gulps while suppressing the urge to regurgitate, thus prolonging your agony.

There it is, in my blender, looking like something an alpaca spit up.

Down it goes!

Chug, chug, chug. Gulp! Gasp. what follows next is a series of twisted, contorted faces followed by gagging noises. More gagging noises!

The combination was so instantaneously noxious that my stomach sent an angry tirade of nerve signals to the brain demanding that my digestive tract immediately expel the mess. Moments later my stomach dumped the awful mess directly into colon which angrily sent the glob further down the intestines (it turns out down was the only direction it could go as the esophagus flatly refused to let it  back out the direction it came since it had already endured it as it went down the first time). I began to fart uncontrollably in an attempt to rid myself of the contents. Terrible farts that lingered in the air like toxic clouds of stench, much like you would expect from the carcasses of  dead, bloated cattle, a stench followed by a sweet blueberry aftertaste.

Next week, I said. I’m going to eat healthy starting next week. Kale and blueberries? I don’t think so.

I wonder if I can get my money back on that blender?

The Devil in The Top Hat

A stranger steps out of the shadows in the night to accost a gentleman and his lady friend. The flickering glow of a street lamp casts the desperate scene in a surreal light. The intended victim is obviously a man of means and carrying a large bag, tightly held. Apparently something valuable is inside. They are alone late at night meandering along a deserted cobble stone street near the docks.

This is no place for a gentleman and his lady friend to be, off in the shadows of such a seedy part of town, unless of course they desire anonymity. leading to the obvious conclusion perhaps they are attempting to engage in some illicit affair. Perhaps an arrangement has been made, a transaction of sorts between a man of repute and a lady of the night.


Be that as it may, their choice is not particularly smart of either of them, to be here; considering the hour is late, the fog heavy, and this is a crime-ridden area frequented by desperate men. The brute standing before them, preventing their retreat brandishes a large caliber black powder pistol, an equally threatening knife tucked in his waist band.

“Give me your money!” The demand, albeit lacking in eloquence, is simple and direct. It is only one line but no line uttered on stage could ever mimic the menace of his delivery.

The traversing pair interrupted, immediately freeze. The lady in fear cowers behind the gentleman as he studies the menacing figure blocking their way. He grips his satchel a little more tightly. Following a brief pause, he speaks. “A predictable request I suppose,” he sighs with resignation. And then he adds in a more jocular tone, a tone somewhat peculiar for a man whose life is about to be cut short, “Should I assume we are in some sort of peril?”

Not amused, the assailant points the muzzle of his weapon at them in response. “I too am a businessman,” he says. “And I propose to relieve you of that heavy bag you are carrying in exchange for sparing your life.” He points to the leather satchel in his grasp.

“It’s a viable offer but it would seem several assumptions have been made on your part, Sir. You assume because of my attire I am carrying a large sum of cash. To that, you correct. However you assume it is we who are in peril and not yourself. Perhaps it would be naive of me to not anticipate that once I hand over my valuables, you nonetheless will kill me anyway, leaving you at liberty to impose yourself on my fair young escort. With me out of the way, nothing remains to keep you from having your way with her?”

The man of the night grins toothily as he nods his large head, tipping his large top hat in a mocking gesture but in such a way as to not take his eyes off the prey. He is no novice to his trade. He nods to the lady, a gesture lacking in civility.

The intended victim continues. “Now that we have established your intent let us dispense then with the trivialities. And since I may have arrived at the last hour of my life, I am curiously beset with an urge to negotiate with the devil in the top hat.” He then grinned and tipped his own hat to his adversary. “I have a proposition to make you instead. I Sir, am a businessman, a merchant of sorts; not unlike yourself, since we both apparently deal in lost souls. Hence I have a counter offer to make you. What say you entertain my barter for your merriment? Suppose I were to offer you the objects of your desire but with one twist. In the course of this transaction, suppose we were to eliminate one integral part of your equation. I propose to give you my very large sum of cash as well as hand over my fair companion in full consent to the natural conclusion of the gratification of your urges. After all, the money is a nice sum and she is very fair,” he twirls a lock of her hair around his finger as if he were displaying his wares for sale. She,” he states, “is a woman to fulfill your manly appetites. And all this is done without the commission of a crime on your part. In exchange, all I ask from you is that you to allow me to retain possession of this one paltry satchel with its…contents. Tonight, Sir, would appear to be your lucky night, would it not?” He smiles. “And of course I , in the spirit of fair transaction, would be allowed to keep my life.” 

The villain hesitates at the audacity of his victim, then counters.”And in the spirit of fair business, I propose a counter-offer; I will take your sum of cash, the girl, and the contents of that bag.” He fidgets, nervously fingering the weapon. “It seems as if you have nothing to barter with.”

“But I do,” he interrupts, “and with one remaining stipulation I would like to propose. If you allow me to retain my satchel then I will allow you to keep your soul. If you are unable, however, to carry out your transaction, then I hold your soul in default as collateral. Do you agree to my terms?”

This time the blood runs cold in the hasty assailant. “My soul?!!” For one brief moment the tables have turned and now the assailant is seized with apprehension, as if now he is the one being accosted. Valuable time has been lost and the thug is anxious to claim his bounty, a good nights haul by any means for a desperate man. He arms his weapon to broadcast the finality of his offer.  “Hand them over now,” pointing his weapon to punctuate his threat.

“Be that as it may,” the other man concedes. “Then may I present you with your newest acquisitions.” He slowly removes his wallet from his coat pocket and in one motion slips it down the lady’s bodice. The villains mouth drops but before he regain his composure, the gentleman shoves the lady over into the surprised thug. He grabs the fairer sex, one burly hand grasping her petite wrist. That reflex reaction however turns out to be a fatal mistake. She smiles coldly, still in his grasp. As he reaches down her bodice to retrieve the wallet, at the opportune moment, she strikes in one efficient lethal motion. A sharp knife she deftly procured from her nether garments quickly applied to his fifth rib, ends the robbery and his life. The brute collapses silently in a heap at their feet. So swiftly and so practiced is her movement, no scream escapes his lips.

Standing over the villain, the businessman calmly retrieves both his female escort and his wallet. She wipes his blood from the blade of her pen-knife, returns it to its place. “It seems my friend, you made several assumptions tonight, all of which were wrong. “It was you who needed protection…from her.” He reaches down to extract something that belongs to him from the would-be assailant. Reaching into the cadaver still warm, he extracts a dark, shadowy object in the form of its previous owner, one that struggles to escape, like sheet caught in the wind. He holds it tightly in his grasp to examine it, and smiles to himself before placing the writhing entity inside the heavy bag he has been clutching.

Another deposit has been made this night.

Reaching into his coat pocket, he retrieves a slip of paper which he presses into the palm of the recently deceased. He then tips his top hat to the fallen in a final gesture. “This, Sir, concludes our bargain. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.”

Last seen, the pair step over the fresh corpse to continue their journey, disappearing in the shadows, reappearing at the next lamps’ dim glow.

The next morning…

… a crowd has gathered, as crowds are want to do whenever grisly remains are discovered. A body never ceases to grab the attention of spectators and the curious.

A man leaning over the body lets out an audible gasp. “Here now, what’s this?!!

“What is it Inspector?”

“The eyes are gone from this one too! Ah! Another note,” he declares.

“Well, don’t keep us waiting,” another hasty bystander interjects. “What does it say,”

“Most curious; it says,” the inspector continues,  “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

But Write I Must…

It was all sad and funny, yet pathetic. It was all those things at once.

Sitting in my underwear writing; typing away at the keyboard, watching the letters collect across the screen. I felt compelled to write as I dawdled away the day, frivolously squandering what little time I had left. But write I must. Other things impatiently clamored for my attention but I managed to suppress them. Action demanded I do something. Yet here I sat. As I wrote, a sense of doom pervading permeated my thoughts lurked in the back of my mind poised to leap at me like some dread beast. I felt as if my fate stalked me, coiling for the final pounce.

The clock in the den struck on the hour, striking me out of my stupor. Time was running out. It was all happening now. I knew it. But I had to finish this, before the deadline came. And so I wrote, feverishly. I wrestled with the words as I typed them, carefully choosing each of them, arranging them; crafting them to say what I desperately need them to say, before it was too late.

I looked up. The minute hand announced the next event with somber efficiency as the ticks of fleeting time counted down. Any moment now.

And then, as if on cue, the door to my room swung suddenly open. My wife barged in. She cast her eyes at me. In one glance, her expression went from hurt to scorn.
“Are you going to sit around the house all day in your underwear,” she scolded me! “What’s gotten into you?”
I sat sullen, silent. There was nothing I could say. How could I explain this to her?
She paused before storming off. I knew what would happen next. Like a script in my mind, I heard the angry clack of heels across a wooden floor followed by the slam of a door. The dog sprawled out on the floor as a silent spectator lazily picked his head up to look my way before giving a sigh and slumping back to the floor, limp. Moments later I heard the distinctive sound of a car engine turn over, of wheels crunching in the gravel, and the spin of tires accelerating on the asphalt road; and then…silence. A deafening silence.

I loved her. I desperately did so. It hurt to see her leave. Her absence stung at me like salt in a wound. I so wanted to run after her, to tell her how I felt. But we were about to go our separate ways from here. The time to say I love you, as too often is, that time was past.

Desperate thoughts tugged at me as I resumed to write. I should do something, I thought. But what? What could I do to avert the impending visit? Could I run? Hide? Was there a place of refuge I could resort to? Nay. Was there some one I could call? Again, nay. No, the script was cast in stone. And yet the pathos somehow fed my desire to write, to record my fate as some detached but dreary undertaker going about his morbid task in the mortuary we call life.

I had sensed for days this sense of impending fate but felt unable to change the course of events. Postponing, deferring, prolonging the agony creeping over me, I braced for the next turn. I knew what would happen next.

And yet the pathos somehow fed my desire to write, to record my fate as some detached but dreary undertaker going about his morbid task in the mortuary we call life. I rehearsed in my mind the events as I supposed them to unfold, as if I were somehow performing my own autopsy. Grim duties of the writer, recording my life in the third person. It seemed I had chronicled my own demise, one sentence at a time.

And then the inevitable came. A knock at my door. I answered with reluctance. It was him. I knew he was coming, I was never sure when but now he stood at my door. I didn’t want to answer, I desperately wanted to deny he was there on my stoop but there are some appointments you cannot ignore. This was one of those.

This time I ceased to write. I trudged with trepidation toward the door. Into the maw I go.

The visitor called me by name. Are you he?
“You know who I am,” I stammered. A brief pause and then in quivering voice, “Have you come to do your business?”
He nodded.
A lump formed in my throat. And then silence prevailed. There was nothing more to say.

The eirie thing is two days ago, this turn of events was only a story I had written. A simple work of fiction written by my own hands that quickly became a snare of my own making. And now I found myself caught in the undertow of my own writing. I was becoming a victim of my own narrative. If only I had written this differently.

Perhaps you should also be careful how you write your own biography.

Imiscible Pairs

Theirs was a peculiar blend of two incompatible extremes, a relationship built on seemingly disparate incongruencies. Less a union than a tense treaty between adversaries at war; hostile yet tolerant, incompatible yet inseparable.

Their mutually exclusive traits somehow melded and fused in some curious anomaly. As far as relationships go, it was more an amalgum of dissimilar entities forged in the furnace of conflict. Each disparity carefully mated to its antithetical counterpart in a reciprocal love-hate state of perpetual disharmony. Together they were a mutinous mismatch of matrimonial dysfunction, immiscible parts paired in a mismatch of irreconcilable differences. To the unfortunate spectator, they must have presented an apparent contradiction of reason, two colliding antagonists, perpetual sparring partners, preferring agitation to resolution.

At first glance, they appear normal but beneath a thin veneer of civility, hostile acts of war prevailed like the constant ebb and flow of the unceasing tide, broken only by a brief interlude between acts of aggression.

No one who knew them pretended to understand the delicate balance that kept them teetering rather than plunging over the brink and into the abyss of self-annihilation. But what is a woman without a man or love without hate? Can order exist without chaos; or logic without reason? Two opposing forces that cant coexist or survive without the other, incompatible yet incomplete without its antithesis. What should have torn them asunder instead held them together, mixed in a curious mortar of mutual repulsion.

Don’t ask me to explain this conundrum of social interaction. Perhaps one seeks to find equilibrium with the other? Perhaps this is why opposites attract, why the most unlikely of partners seek their counterpart?

On the Banks of the River of Passion

It all had happened innocently enough.

We had first stood on the bank of the river enjoying the view. It was a scenic view of its virgin territories untouched and undisturbed. At first we just stood and looked, gawking at the beauty at which we gazed upon. Neither of us spoke.

The view was breathtaking.

The longer we looked, the more we desired to abandon our reservations and dive into the tempting waters together. It was a long time before one of us made the first move, hesitant to exceed our partners’ inhibitions. We cautiously waded into the inviting stream, probing carefully lest we get in too deep, waiting for the other to respond, to take that next step. The waters caressed our skin, invigorating our senses. It was a new experience for both of us. We resolved to not go too far.

And yet each step only enticed us to take another. Before we knew it we had cast caution to the wind, discarding our hesitations as rapidly as our clothing. The beauty we beheld, the sensations the river we are immersed in only enticed and seduced us to go farther that we both intended. How far? To the edge of the forbidden, beyond the safety of restraint. Without realizing it we had both waded out too far from the shore, perhaps too far to go back. The current tugged at us, pulling us out deeper into the turbulent unknown. Knowing that each of us had gone farther than we should, only added to the thrill. It stimulated us. The fearfulness of our precarious situation heightened the exhilaration that was sweeping us away.

Now the current dictates our actions as we’re no longer able to direct ourselves. Groping and thrashing with flailing arms and legs, yet clinging tightly to each other. It’s just the two of us out here, together alone in the river. Now we are in too deep and it’s too late to turn back, to return to where we were. Gasping for our breaths before we succumb, no longer able to resist the inevitable. All is silence as we give in. The struggle ceases, we become still, motionless.

Sometime later, I’m not sure when, we regain consciousness. Laying side by side on the bank, unmoving. We waken, slowly. Raising ourselves simultaneously to our elbows to stare into each others eye with panic. At first we struggle to remember, or perhaps to forget, what happened. How did we get here? The events come flooding back into our consciousness. Did we …?

How easy it was to get swept away in the current., there on the banks of the river of passion.

Soul Stare

Their eyes met. No words were exchanged but it’s not what they said; it’s what they didn’t have to say. It seems words are too often less a means of communication than objects which we mask our true feelings.

Two souls lost in a crowd, each searching for the other, neither acknowledging their bond. They mingle about aimlessly, milling amongst the throng. He searches for her. She scans to see him. They pass in their orbits yet never intercept. Their paths cross yet neither speaks. Their apparent indifference is a complete fabrication driven by desperation.

– – – – – – – –

As we pass in close proximity to the other, we both feel it, some inexplicable force of attraction drawing us together. Neither of us turn our heads to look but we both cut our eyes as we pass straining to see if the other is looking.

We pass by indifferent to the other, painfully aware of how others might portray it if they were to recognize the raw affection we feel; afraid to look into each others eyes lest or expressions give us away. both afraid the others reaction if they should suspect the amorous interest, preferring to sulk under the cloak of denial, hidden in the shadows of anonymity.

But our souls know. They kiss. In one fleeting glance they connect. clutching, grasping, clinging desperately to the fleeting moment. Some seminal seed that passed between them in the moment, making each the unexpressed compliment of the other, conjoined yet incomplete. Barely perceptible, they pass from him to her. He propositions, she accepting, receiving, forever mated after. Something has conceived within her, growing until the time to arrive.

It was an absurd experience should one think about, one that never transpired except in our imagination …or was it?

It was an experience neither dared yet both yearned for. Logic and reason denies what their hearts affirm. Our minds tell us it won’t work; we can’t be together but our souls know differently. On some subliminal level we both know we are destined to be satisfied together or miserable apart. Lovers, intimates, partners -two separates merged into one; at the moment bound only by their mutual hope.

Me: I saw her about, too many times for coincidence, here and there about as we both flitted about from one group to the next. Roaming, wandering yet not belonging. She seemed ill-fitted and out of place wherever I saw her. She seemed an unattached peripheral among the crowd, a non-participant. It seemed to me as if she were looking for someone. Could that someone be me, I wondered?

Our path crossed, our eyes met but neither spoke a word. We were frequently adjacent and never connecting. And then it happened. Inadvertently our eyes met. And if the eyes are indeed the windows of the soul, then in that moment our souls communicated. What we both felt but were afraid to express, our souls lacked no such restraint, straight to the point with no guile or secrecy. Suddenly these two lonely souls impatient on their keepers to bridle their hesitations, cast aside the restraints and and acted without fear. in a moment they transacted their business. No negotiations or compromise but a raw naked exchange between them. No terms given, none required. Two lost souls in a sea of people, floating about in the crowd.

Our souls met. Our eyes fastened on each other. In one single imperceptible glance we expressed our latent desires. No words exchanged but none were needed. Nothing was said. Words weren’t needed. In that brief glance lasting less than a millisecond, our souls connected. The conversation you could not hear…

Suddenly time slows. The moment is frozen as the crowd stills. The background fades away revealing two souls to linger.

“I’ve been missing you.”
“Me too. Do you still love me?”
“Yes. Yes, I do. I want us to be together.”
“Yes. I too. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“One day you will be mine; we will be together.”
“I know. I can’t wait…” A pause.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
“I’ve been watching you.”

They talk and touch and laugh. clutching, grasping, clinging together tightly.

She: “I’m so tired of the charades, hiding behind a facade. When can we tell each other how we feel?”
He: “I wish I knew. One day.”
“Do you think they will ever figure it out?”
They kiss.
“One day surely they will figure it out and no logic or reason will be able to keep us apart any longer. I feel it.”
“I feel it, too.”
“One they will discover what our hearts already know.” Embracing. “Won’t they be surprised?”
“To say the least. All those who would laugh at the prospect of us together; aren’t they in for a shock!”
“Maybe not as much as we will be,” she says!

They laugh

“I think on some level of consciousness we both know it…our minds tell us we can’t be together. Too many reasons, too many obstacles; the difference between our ages, our families, our own fear of rejection.
As they start to look away, “Don’t leave me again,” she pleads.
“I can never leave you. You’re in all my waking thoughts.”
“One millisecond,” she complains. “Is that all they can give us? Look at them! Are they so afraid to admit to themselves how they feel?”
“I guess so,” he smiles.
“See you around.”

One last embrace, one last lingering kiss. And then they separate. Time resumes. The surroundings begin to fade back in.

We break the glance, our eyes look away. We both part company, pretending nothing happened between us.

Dejected, I turn away resisting the urge to stare back at her. As I walk away, I can’t resist the urge to reach out and tug at her purse as she stands there with her back to me. Not looking back I keep going, reaching up to wave my hand back at her; as she turns to see who nudged her.

“Hey.” She calls my name.

“Hey,” I reply over my shoulder without looking back.
She smiles at me. I smile back at her without turning as I walk away. Suddenly she’s taken with a capricious urge to run after me and chat like an eight year old girl. She stops herself. “What would he think?” She hesitates, then looks down realizing the moment is lost.

It’s not enough …but it’s enough for now.

I sigh loudly to myself. She hears me. And that’s the end of that …until our eyes meet again.

My Palette of Words

Words are the palette which a writer paints the scene; the fifty shades of grey expressed by ‘grey matter’ that occupies those scant few inches between the left and right ear.

Words express thoughts and opinions with clarity and precision. Synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, idiom and jargon, metaphor and simile; these are the tools of the trade for the writer. Words convey meaning; they express the subtlety and nuance of what we think. Somewhere in the past we discovered we needed more words; larger, more precise than before. Rather than the blunt edge of a dull axe, words are a scalpel in the hands of a skilled writer.

Properly marinated, vocabulary enhance the entrée in the cuisine of language; it adds a savory nuance that accents what would otherwise leave the buffet line of literature an unpalatable assortment of bland and tasteless offerings to be chewed without flavor.

At some point we, the collective mass of humanity, realized the art of communication required more than the few monosyllabic utterances and wild gesticulations made by our inarticulate predecessors. So being the enterprising hominids we suppose ourselves to be, mankind expanded his vocabulary somewhere along the trek, from the primitive to the modern. And so I, after 6,000 years of recorded human history, am reluctant to eviscerate the English vocabulary in lieu of words with less meaning simply because they’re simple.

That’s what the dictionary is for!

New words to add to your vocabulary
Sesquipedalian – characterized by use of long words

Up From The Soil

Time moves surreptitiously. What we perceive as the past was once somebody’s future; their labor and toil were planted in hope of a future harvest. One day our future will be somebody’s past tense and our modern world will smugly be perceived by another as a relic of the distant past.

I chose the caption for this image because there is a story behind every picture. Often in a glance we only see the obvious, filtered by our perceptions. Perceptions are a double-edged sword that can sharpen or obscure our view and we may even carelessly discard what we thought we saw as insignificant.

"more than meets the eye"

“more than meets the eye”

What do you see?

Beyond the obvious black & white photo of a man plowing with a mule you see on this page, is an image that has many shades of meaning.  To many it evokes a mental image of an era less advanced than the one we take for granted. We like to think of ourselves as ‘modern’ and to us the concept of a mule and a plow as opposed to a machine may appear primitive or quaint. The very thought may seem an anachronistic throwback dislocated from the world we live in. But what if we could see this image with a different pair of eyes? If we could manage to look beyond our assumptions we may see something starkly different than the obvious. Obviously, this image carries a deeper meaning to one from an agricultural perspective, nor would we expect someone who has not turned the sol by their own toil to appreciate the subtlety of what they see. It’s nothing less, than by their own lack of experience they have not attained the capacity to appreciate what they see. As I write this, I just now happened to recall instances growing up; one on my grandfather’s farm in the ‘bootheel’ of Missouri, helping him at an early age to plants beans. Listening to stories fondly told at the dinner table by my aunts and uncles of my mother and her siblings picking cotton in the heat of the day, or walking through a freshly plowed field next to our house. And I even have a perspective from the mules’ eye as I grudgingly pushed a small steel turning plow by hand in my dad’s garden. Back to this solitary image, the distinction may be more than one of subtle nuance but something entirely different than the first conclusion we happen to land on. Let’s take a moment to take a second look.

These images draw the minds’ eye to reminisce back to a simpler time. A man takes a moment to relax for his picture as he has been plowing with his mule team.  He projects a certain independence; strength and self reliance. When I see these images it seems to be juxtaposed in stark relief to the modern context we inhabit for the moment. As with any snapshot, an image merely captures the instant but as time constantly, surreptitiously moves along its course often unaware to us as careless observers; gives us the illusion of permanence. However, as he, so we too will one day be relegated as artifacts of the past by some observer in the future.

And I’m reminded that of all those who have lived, worked, dreamed, and labored before us; those labors are the fertile soil that contributed to our present. Their labors, much like plowing, are the fruits of their toil; watered sweat, we sprang from their soil.

These images appeal to the thought of us striving to become self-reliant. To some their lifestyle may be construed as demeaning or primitive but to me, I sense a people who persevere to do more than just eke out a living in what some would perceive as a life of drudgery.

In contrast to a less sophisticated technology, I pulled this image and others like them out of a search engine; a technology that did not exist at the time this picture was taken. A simple image search on Google or similar yields many similar pictures, many from the early to mid 1900’s. Each picture seems to tell its own silent story. Plowing is in itself an old technology going back a few thousand years across other continents and cultures. The plow itself is a new technology compared to earlier modes. Plows advanced as men strove to become more efficient, and the plow went from a crude blunt object to its more refined technology. The steel plow pulled by a mule was itself at one time a new technology even though we might consider it to be a crude device when compared to a modern tractor and disc. One image culled from the past and archived through the internet was of a man plowing with a mule from Summer County in Tennessee around 1941. 

The steel and wooden plow and mule team and freshly turned soil appear to have a subtle meaning than first ‘meets the eye’. The ground is ‘seeded’ as an investment into the future; both his and ours. Although we may not labor behind a plow, we are not nearly so different as we may think. We take the technology available to us and we toil and sow to plant the seeds for a future harvest of our own, one that we intend to reap ourselves one day. However we choose to do so, by whatever means we choose, we do so with the expectation that we will enjoy the fruits of our own labor. 

As I look at this picture I feel some inner connection to this unknown person. I don’t know him and yet, on some inner level, I do. His name may not be important, may not be remembered by history, but his life and labor tell a story of its own. His labor and many more like him prepared the way for the generation to follow. They plowed seeds of hope and reaped a harvest we enjoy today.

Rather than employ nuance I will simply state my working thesis, which curiously seemed to evolve as I wrote. Apparently the writer was not aware of his writing but in some reverse synthesis of thought, I became a product of my own writing, I started with a caption that only stated the obvious but as I wrote, it coalesced into something more than an assignment. It seemed as if the image had a story to tell and as I wrote I seemed to be little more than a scribe jotting down its’ message, rewriting and clarifying until the inchoate message, unspoken, took written form. Nothing as macabre as a voice from the past but rather, giving the past a voice as I wrote. My thesis, of which I was unaware of at the time, evolved to be thus; A thread runs through the fabric of human experience. Unknown persons living their lives out as do we. Our circumstances may differ but we are all a product of our times and experiences. And all of us labor to sow the seeds of a different kind in hopes to reap a harvest at some not so distant future. And as this person has passed through his prime so we too are moving through time as a fluid medium; transient, yet moving forward. And, as he, so we too will one day be ‘planted’ in the soil waiting for a future harvest.

Post Navigation