I Close My Eyes and Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

“For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, July 1888

“I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years, wondering if they were alone in the universe. Finally discovering they weren’t. You can’t blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there, asking the same questions.”

–Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager, Episode, “Friendship One”

 

At night

ghosts sail to stars

dazzling the universe

with wild poetry,

that thing there—

see it?

the liquid blush of desire

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Earth spins and orbits our Sun

but all is not right

(in day or night)

the heavens rage

the surface heaves

the forests burn

the oceans churn

(do you hear them sigh)

and creatures die

on the stars I make a wish

for planet, us, for birds and fish

and then under the glowing stream

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

I wake to see bright Venus,

high above

she sings of love

there in the eastern sky

she dances and she wonders why

(as do I, oh, as do I)

we are not swayed from the hate

and do not counter or negate

the dotard’s words of folly

but instead sink into a melancholy—

(as do I, oh, as do I)

under starlight’s beam

once again

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We watch Star Trek Voyager

Earth’s greeting of friendship gone wrong

a civilization pushed headlong

into nuclear winter,

the next day—synchronicity

a radio story of the real Voyager

the golden record as it would sound to aliens

Simplicity? Specificity?

We want to reach out,

to know we’re not alone

the moon smiles and gleams

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We have a holiday dinner

missing daughters, sister, and niece

still I present the soup and loaf

(a masterpiece!)

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with apples, honey, and some wine

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we drink and eat and we are fine

(we pour more wine)

talk of movies and van Gogh

(there’s a new movie out, you know)

wonder about Ben Franklin’s diet and life

then matter-of-factly my mother’s zinger

that he did not sleep alone

at ninety-five, she was so in the zone!

and with that, the laughter lingers

sweet

like the honeyed fingers

from the baklava and apple cake

she mangles the middle

and picks at the pieces

but sister laughter

follows after

and after

 

We drink more wine, again we’re fine

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under moonlight sky and starry stream

I close my eyes and then I dream. . .

 

of the universe’s wild poetry

of singing stars and humming moons

of spirits soaring and swaying to the tunes

before dawn’s blush of desire

turns the sky to fire

I wake and look up to the sky

to see Venus shining bright

I gaze and wish

for us, for cats, and fish

for dogs, and horses, and for birds

(and yes, even for the dotard)

for the planet, earth, and trees

and for the seas

under Venus’s beaming gleam

I close my eyes and wish and dream

 

So, we watched Star Trek Voyager and saw an episode about the result of a probe that was sent out from Earth that was very similar to the real Voyager and its golden record. Then the next day, I heard this story on NPR’s Weekend Morning Edition and the Oracle gave me that poem. Synchronicity?

 

Some of you may know because I’ve ranted about it   that I’ve been working on two reference books about rape. I am happy to report that both manuscripts have now been sent in. I also finished another project over the weekend, so I should now have time to answer e-mails and respond to comments and prompts. At least until, I receive copyedited manuscript (first one is coming next month).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Egg: Microfiction

varnadragons

 

Journal Entry, 4773

Ambassador Armstrong and I traded stories after dinner. I enjoyed hers about the boy who flew too close to the sun. She admired our language, saying it reminded her of the birdsongs of her planet. In response, I told her this tale:

Eons ago, great, winged creatures inhabited our planet. The Mianthx were massive, lumbering creatures, powerful of body, but dull of mind, and without our grace and beauty. Unlike us, with our shimmering, varigated feathers, they were covered in dull, grey-green scales.

There was Mianthx prophecy that foretold the appearance of a golden egg—from which a great leader would be born. And one day, an ordinary Mianthx produced such an egg and showed it to her mate. The couple was overjoyed. It was their first egg. They shared in its care, keeping it warm in their birth pouches. When the birth-time came, their family members and officials (alerted to the news of the golden egg) gathered around to witness the event. The midwife helped the Mianthx couple with the hatching process, but all fell silent when a small being with soft, downy, multi-colored feathers appeared.

“It’s so strange-looking,” some onlookers whispered, “and what are those odd sounds it’s making?”

However, her parents loved her and called her Dulcka, or “Dear One.” As Dulcka grew older, she became a being of wondrous beauty, with feathers glowing and iridescent in the light. Her appearance was matched by the kindness of her soul, and by her mellifluous voice, like a chorus of flutes—so unlike the raspy voices of those around her. She became beloved by all.

One day the world was threatened by a vast, dark cloud that was starting to block the sun. Without light and heat, all life would perish. Dulcka flew high in the air, higher than any of the Mianthx had ever flown. There she sang to the wind, telling it to blow the cloud away. So powerful was her voice, that the wind obeyed her, and the cloud was dispersed, letting the sun shine down once again on our planet. Dulcka was lauded for her deed and re-named Melasios, or silver-voiced leader.

In time, Melasios mated with one of the Mianthx, and they had a baby, who was born with soft, downy variegated feathers. It is said we are all descended from Melasios.

 

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge, using the sculpture pictured above. And once again, I’m way over the word count.

This story is a sequel to this story.

 

 

 

We Will Talk Amidst the Clouds: Microfiction

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By Makis E. Warlamis (Own work, Daskunstmuseum, 2007-01-05) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Journal Entry, 4772: I woke up early, too excited to sleep. Today I begin my new position as chief consul. Thousands of years have passed since my ancestors made first contact with the world of our guests. We miscalculated then; the inhabitants of that planet were not ready, and we backed off, observing only from a distance. We were surprised that the beings we’ll be welcoming here today finally dominated their planet, and even more surprised that they survived. They were fond of wars, those bipeds.

It’s too bad that we’ll have to transport them from our planet’s surface to our capital. I love how it hovers amidst the clouds, a beacon of serenity, and a perfect place to hold our discussions. Too bad they cannot experience the joy of flight, as we do. There’s the beauty–the glow of light on feathered wing, the iridescent colors, and the glorious feel of the air, as it rushes by, carrying the scents from below and above. Oh well.

It’s time now to go. To meet the Earth ambassador. Apparently she is named for an ancestor who was famous for—what was it? A walk? Oh yes, I remember now, on their moon. Ambassador Neila Armstrong. End log.

I spread my wings and fly out to meet her.

 

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. This week I’m close to the word count! The prompt is the painting above.

The story is related to this earlier one I wrote.

 

 

Patterns

 

 

It was a gloomy November day. JFK had just been elected to a second term. Ed sat at his usual table at the diner and thought about the war going on in a faraway place called Vietnam. He wished he could stop it. Stop all wars.

Ed wasn’t the president though. He wasn’t a world leader. He was just an ordinary guy with a knack for working with numbers. He often saw patterns that no one else noticed. He had a steady, if boring job, as an accountant, and business was booming. Still, he sensed there was something more, something that he could do—maybe something he was destined to do. If only he could find the right combination of numbers.

So there he was at the diner, where he ate almost every day. Most of the staff knew him. They let him sit there and work, writing on pads of paper—or paper napkins when he ran out of paper–refilling his coffee cup as needed.

There were napkins and papers strewn about the table. He looked at the calculations. There. That was it. Yes! He had found the equations that could change the course of history. He sat back, savoring the moment.

A waitress came by, someone new. “Can I fill your cup, Hon?” she asked. Coffee streamed from the full carafe, some of it missed his cup and spread like hot lava across the table. “Ooops, sorry,” she said, as she gathered up the brown, sopping pile of papers. “I’ll get you some fresh napkins,” she added as she walked away from the table.

Bob lit a cigarette. Tomorrow’s another day, he thought.

 

Do you make up stories about people you see?  Marian Beaman’s post  on her blog “Plain and Fancy Girl” that featured some of her husband’s art inspired this story. I was thinking of the restaurant portraits she included, and in particular this one.  I hope Cliff Beaman doesn’t mind.

 

I Wish Time’s Winged Chariot Made Pit Stops

“But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”

-Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

I’ve been thinking a lot about time and task lately. Partly it’s because for the past few weeks I’ve been having trouble managing my time to get my tasks done. I suspect this is a common problem for people who work from home, especially writers, artists, and musicians. We spend our days (or nights) trying to fit our assignments, or tasks, around appointments, classes, and events that are scheduled at a particular time. The spigot of creativity and word flow gets turned off, and when it is turned back on, the gush has been reduced to a trickle.  There are times when I hear “Time’s winged chariot,” and I want to be seduced like Marvell’s mistress and surrender to the moment. Forget work. I want to read a novel.

Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated by time. We have tried to measure it through calendars (Go Mayas!), massive structures, such as Stonehenge, and small objects, such as hourglasses.

We try to capture time in photographs, videos, or words written in a blog post. But time cannot be captured; it is fleeting. It cannot be saved in a bottle, as singer-songwriter Jim Croce wished it could be. Time is like the bubbles produced by the child’s wand. We glimpse them for a moment as they hover and glimmer in the air, but they break and disappear when we try to catch them. They cannot be pinned down.

Sometimes time floats by like those bubbles. At other times it rushes by propelled by unseen currents. We see it pass. We see it in the aging faces of our parents, in the accomplishments of our children, in the physical changes in our own bodies, and we long to go back to revisit, to understand what happened.

Writers from H.G. Wells to Audrey Niffenegger have imagined worlds in which people could travel through time to see the past, or the future.  The novelist Connie Willis has written stories and novels that center around the time traveling adventures of historians and their students at Oxford University. As a historian, I have often wished I could go back in time to see if what I thought happened actually did.  However, my own time machine would have to be equipped with indoor plumbing, coffee, and chocolate, among other things.  I think it’s important to be upfront about my demands, even with the gods of time.

In the preindustrial world, daily life was not so tied to clocks.  Before factories and railroads, there was no need for time to be measured so precisely. Still, there was a seasonal and daily rhythm to life, and there were tasks to be done. Crops had to be planted and harvested according to the season. People and animals had to be fed, cows had to be milked, and children had to be cared for. There were court days and feast days and market days.  All of this, I imagine, made it just as difficult then, if not more so, for creative minds to find the time to produce works of art, literature, and music. And yet, they did.

I’ve been thinking about time, too, because I’m reading a novel called The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (no review yet, since I haven’t finished the book). The premise is intriguing: the rotation of the Earth has slowed down. As a result the length of a day is no longer twenty-four hours. Daylight and darkness no longer fit “clock time.” Some people choose to live in “real time,” but most people attempt to remain on clock time, sleeping while it is light, going to school or work when it is dark, and watching the sunrise at noon.

None of this knowledge and reflection helps me to manage my own schedule.  Time’s winged chariot still whooshes by, and I still have deadlines.  Yes, it’s true. We can’t stop time, but we can pause to think about it.