750words Feb 2 2015 ~ The Chipmunk Dance

The chipmunk dance was first introduced at a ceremony celebrating the arrival of the new moon, that tiny crescent of light tilted in the night sky like a fragile scoop honed from honeyed sunshine and hung high on the wall of el noche.

Man noted the slim elegance of this moon’s presence above the horizon and coincidentally movements of a furred animal with thin stripes of white running parallel over its shoulders and along its spine. Man was happy under the moon and over the chipmunk because, indeed, he was over the chipmunk as his shadow–thrown from the light of leaping flames unfurling toward dark heaven–flooded and pooled about the equally happy creature. Thus, Man identified the shape of the shadow as the shape of himself and movements of the chipmunk as the movements within himself as if he, himself, were the shadow and the chipmunk was, indeed, within Man’s self.

And so it was that Man began to dance, incorporating the pawed chipmunk’s movements, twitching and switching directions within the shadow and within the man, both chipmunk and man looking skyward from time to time and finding the tiny crescent of moon tilted above them. Crickets, cicadas, whipporwills, owls, loons and mammoths provided the rhythm of night’s music while the chipmunk danced within Man’s shadow and Man gyrated within the slim moon’s light.

As the moon gradually crossed the starlit sky, Woman appeared. She was as natural to the landscape as the grass, yet Man had never before seen her (or any woman for that matter) and he lost a few beats of the rhythm, and stumbled forward into his shadow very nearly stepping on the chipmunk. To step on the chipmunk would’ve been like stepping on his own heart because, by then, chipmunk and Man were integrated into one, or at least they believed they were, and we all know how the beliefs of Man are sacrosanct (not certain what sacrosanct means exactly but it seems to the author to fit in this line and so she will leave it there for the moment).

When Man nearly stepped on the chipmunk, a small gasp escaped from Woman’s lips and Man noticed her mouth and how the slip of light from the fragile scoop of the moon seemed to make her lips glisten with dew and how her eyes seemed lit from within with tiny fires of broken blue, the blue broken by wheat-colored gold and new-hay green and the tiniest petals of lilac blooms–and he stumbled anew–and not just because of Woman’s eyes.

Something inexplicable was happening and he knew not how to control it–even if he had wanted to control it–which he didn’t. His shadow was growing. And within his shadow, the chipmunk (who, meanwhile, had continued with a frenzied chipmunk dance while dodging Man’s awkward footing and dangerous sways) was growing within Man’s shadow.

Woman made note of these alterations to Man, Man’s Shadow, the small furry creature who danced in Man’s shadow. She moistened her lips. She was a healer. She could help Man. And she did.

She embraced and nurtured him through the phases of the moon, from new and crescent to half and full and through all the waning to half and crescent and new—and vice versa—through many seasons. As she did so, the chipmunk chittered and danced and chittered some more. He wasn’t alone. Other chipmunks arrived. They drank acorn wine and imbibed in daisy-chain chipmunkallia. Saber-toothed squirrels arrived to see what all the noise was about. And unicorns. A whole herd of unicorns came—sources for some pointed arguments about which there seemed no resolutions. (Note: Contrary to myth and legend, unicorns are vicious hooved beasts who stick their sharpened two cents in everywhere without permission and with no sense of decorum. Their absence from the modern world is due primarily to these vile tendencies—well, that, and the ride they missed on the ark.)

Long story short: Man found himself with Woman, Woman with Man. Most men have forgotten the bonding between the first man and the chipmunk who danced in his shadow and within his being–but not all.

I, the anonymous author of this informative piece soon to be posted on Wikipedia, have met one such Man—a man who celebrates the chipmunk, who dances the dance, who heals and is healed by Woman. Unfortunately, names must remain hidden.


750words Feb 11 2015 ~ The Dress Form

Once upon a time there was a dress form made of wandering leaves cut from tin and rigid iron which stood near the window and waited. Rusted bronze in color, the form wore a narrow belt of hammered tin and a pendant in the shape of a clock that opened and could hold a paper cutout heart or a picture of someone dear, or both, along with a lock of hair and a button from a favorite shirt.

The form was headless. Its bottom edge was where a woman’s legs ended once they went all the way up. Crossbars ran from one side of the bottom edge of the form to the other. Where the bars crossed, they rested upon a hollow iron column almost the size of a vacuum cleaner wand. The column supported the form and stood vertical and straight with four curvilinear legs which ended in curly-ques on the floor and kept the form from tilting or tipping over when the weight of the sun slapped it with day’s flat palm of light.

All day long the form waited, tin leaves never wilting, tin belt without a pucker or sag. Its shoulders kept very good posture through every disappointment, every new mote of dust that settled atop the rounded surfaces of rigid iron, plus all the tickling shifts of light as day walked up the sky and over the roof of the casa where the form was kept.

Because the form was headless, it could not sigh. Air was immobile, did not move outward or inward, was simply there, within the form, surrounding the form, and, because the form was skinless, it could be seen through from all sides—the leaves twining its back like a visible echo of the leaves twining its front. In essence, it was as empty as the clock-shaped pendant worn about its neck: a hollow chamber made of vertical spines held in line by the hammered belt and the absent hands of an artisan who once upon a time sculpted the form of an invisible woman.

The form’s patience was endless as it waited through the morning light, the afternoon shade, the deeper shades of evening, the dark balmy nights pin-pricked by stars and an indecisive moon which showed itself incrementally only to hide itself in the same manner. All the form wanted was to be used. To be useful. To carry the weight of a shawl or a shirt or a dress. A summer scarf woven of chiffon and light as a feather would have pleased the form. Was it asking so very much to sense such a scarf’s supple softness draping its posture-perfect shoulders, the drape of its length running the length of its meandering leaves, perhaps the finely rolled narrow hem of one end tossed casually around its headless neck? These, or any one of these sensations, would’ve brought comfort to the form.

But the form’s mistress, who once crafted sundry items the form could support, no longer busied herself with such things. Rather than a crafter of textiles, its mistress had given over such industry to become a crafter of words. The click of knitting needles had been replaced by the tickety-tick of the keyboard, the construction of syllables ricocheting about the room where the form waited, and the plumes of smoke rising from the numerous cigarettes the form’s mistress smoked during her frenzied attempts to shape words into stories.

If the form owned a head for worry and angst, for whining and winges about its plight of existence, it might have expressed by thought or a tilted angle of its stand the injustice of being left idle, the unfairness of words chained together which could not be worn, the waste of her mistress’s imagination on airy nothings. What were words, anyway? What made them so important? They couldn’t be fitted over the form, couldn’t be straight-pinned into pleasant and pleasing designs, couldn’t decorate the form’s elegant vining of tin leaves, the meandering ways of pressed metals. If the form owned a head capable of emotions, it would be vexed.

As it is, the form doesn’t own any such head. It doesn’t own legs—only a stiffly elegant four-footed stand. It can’t run away. Can’t show its displeasure in regard to being unused, ignored, left by a window to gather dust and sun in the morning, pinpricks of light by night. It might think, if it could, how fine it would be if stories and poems were semi-solid things—items woven from silk and wool, from bamboo fibers and flax—articles woven with structure and beauty, their endings evenly hemmed with perfectly spaced similes, their beginnings draped and tossed lightly about this waiting form’s headless neck.

750words Jan 29 2015 — Days like All Night Cantinas

The first month of 2015 is almost a done deal. Two days remain after this one closes its door at midnight. What if days aren’t what they seem and are, instead, like all-night cantinas—with swinging doors and no locks? Wind or a light breeze moves the doors, sets hinges in motion to squeak conversations and remind the folks anchored on chairs and bar stools that things are still in motion: tumbleweeds rolling from somewhere to somewhere else, prairie dogs tidying their underground rooms and possibly tunneling with thoughts of adding an east wing to their domiciles, caterpillars sleeping all cozy within their white cocoons while wings make their way into being and dreams of flight become real.

What if days didn’t end and the dark and light shades of a span of time were nothing more than shadows like the shadows trees along a highway through the forest cast across passengers in a car, across the car itself? Answer: This would still be Day One.

Instead, we move through time and notch its surface with dates by way of numbers and when the numbers reach a particular point—thirty-one for January—we restart the counting with a new governing name. February stands in line, waiting to carry its notches, while March cowers out there, collecting courage for its debut.

Imagination’s a wondrous tool! Depending upon where a mind wants to travel, it can reshape all manner of things. For instance, carving months into branches—each branch the governor (or mayor, if you will) of a town of leaves. The leaves into days, the trees into years, the hundred-branched trees into centuries. Forests, orchards, jungles—all those branches, trunks, roots, and leaves—living and dying, rotting and sprouting again through the course of a long, unending, singular day of light and shadow.

Think about it.

There would be chaos, of course. If time didn’t have markers, didn’t have clocks to chime minutes and hours, didn’t have calendars to X out the days and months and years—how would we know when we’d come of age to collect Social Security? Without a closing bell, how would the brokers know when to stop selling and buying? the bartender at the cantina know when to stop serving drinks? Without a buzzer of some sort, how would horses at the track know when to run? bees in the hive know when to fly out for honey? contestants on Jeopardy! know their time to offer a question was done? Plus all the schedules of subways, buses, submarines, hot air balloons, planes, trains, and space shuttles—where would they be without Stop and Go buttons?

Imagine the pile-up. All that singed silk from the hot air balloon draping a submarine’s coning tower on train tracks near Yellowstone where a buffalo paused to watch a United flight soar into a flock of Canadian honkers. Chaos? Oh yes indeed.

Of course the imaginative flow of my treatise on time has its flaws, is shot through with surrealistic bullets leaving holes an eighteen wheeler could drive through without a scrape. The one-long-and-continuous-day theory can’t hold up, not when the geese get in the way. And the buffalo. These creatures don’t name the incremental parts of time. Even if they could hold a knife in their talons or hooves and manage to score a notch in a metaphorical branch of time, they wouldn’t because what is and isn’t—is internalized. Doesn’t need names. And unnamed, needs no notches.

So what am I trying to say?

I guess it’s this: Sometimes I find myself where I don’t belong (like that damned submarine on a train track near Yellowstone) and can’t figure out how I landed there or how to get back to where I think (imagine) I belong. Other times I’m sure I’m exactly where I ought to be and, BAM! I get knocked right out of the sky. It doesn’t matter if we name time or not. It doesn’t matter if we trod upon a forest floor littered with fallen days or the simple leaves unable to hold onto (or be held by) a branch. The important thing is to be in it (the “it” being time) and drift with its current, whether that current be swift or slow. It’s all in a day’s journey. The rising up, the settling down. All I need do is listen, hear the squeak of this all-night cantina’s doors, dance when I can, continue to step inside this great woven basket with sand bags weighting the sides, watch the colorful stripes fill with hot air, the silk riffle out to sway, expand, carry me above the trees holding decades and eons of this singular day.

750words & The Moon Song

The coat she wears is special. The pockets are deep. Zippers and velcro closures protect the contents of the pockets. Collecting moonstones requires special pockets. Moon stones are what keep her from lifting off the face of the moon. The lighter she becomes, the more moon stones she must find and carefully drop into the carefully-carefully opened pockets to weight her to the moon’s surface. If she is sloppy or careless in the opening of the velcro and unzipping of the zipper, the stones collected and protected could jostle out or spill.

She has been on the moon for more seasons than she can remember. Nor does she remember how she came to be there or why she is alone or when she last tasted honey or bananas. She doesn’t know how she survives with no food, no water, no liquids of any kind. If only it would rain on the moon. But it won’t. There aren’t any clouds carrying moisture. There isn’t a system to provide climate changes.

It is only cold. And then colder.

There is only hard and harder.

The moon stones are waxy yellow with a tinge of rust-orange, the exact color of the moon dust and moon mountains and moon everything. Her pocketed coat is the same color. Her skin, too, is waxy yellow with a tinge of rust-orange. As is her hair. She believes her eyes are this color as well; even what used to be the whites of her eyes are the same so that anyone looking at her would see disk-shaped openings that seemed flat as copper coins. Can she see? Well, she must see, mustn’t she? How else would she be able to scour the moon’s surface for the moon stones she needs to stay on the moon’s surface? In fact, her vision must be truly fine as the stones are the same color as all else and not easily discernible. It’s not as if they, the stones, lay about on the surface of the moon dust. Often there’s only a dent in the dust signaling where a stone has sunk. A dust dimple to find. A dust dimple hiding a stone.

She’s no angel (as some may think), yet she breathes (or as the case may be–doesn’t breathe) in the same manner as all angels. She exists, not certain existence is all it’s cracked up to be with physical presence only half or a third of what it once was causing the coat with the special pockets to drag along, a good two feet of hem sweeping moon surface as she moves. The sleeves would drag as well if she didn’t continually roll back the cuffs to shorten them so they stay out of the way during moon stone collections. If the pockets weren’t as deep as the length of the coat itself, she would’ve run out of room a long time ago. She’s in danger of running out of room to store the stones as it is.

Quite suddenly she realizes there will come a time when she will disappear all together, when the coat with its stores of moon stones will be all that remains: a heap of pebbles the size of earth’s marbles in flattened oval shapes, not too dissimilar in shape to the appearance of the disks of her eyes.

It’s not a good realization.

Quite devastating, in fact. One can understand why she stopped, mid-stoop, from the task at hand.

She didn’t slump to the dust in that moment. The opposite occurred. Her spine straightened and her shoulders stiffened and her head came completely upright.

In every direction there was horizon. Like a rainbow one can never reach, the horizon’s bumpy line waited. Or appeared to. Mirage? Unreachable? This is the moment when her knees found the moon’s face, when her shoulders rounded, when her moon-dusted yellow hands found her moon-dusted face and coppery tears dampened the palms of her hands.

Did she sob? Make a sound? Speak? She may have. With no witness present, the answer is–and must remain–beyond knowing. But one can imagine her there and imagine a song from a place she no longer remembers making its way up from somewhere inside to rest in her throat a few minutes or possibly less than a heartbeat before finding the moonscape atmosphere. There would be words to the song known only to her and the words spilled forth to be taken into the dark and the light, rising—because no gravity was present to pin them down—as she pulled one arm free of its long, long sleeve, then the other, and the coat, heavy with moon stones, slipped from her shoulders and she, lighter than life, slipped away with the words and the melody.

[March 6, 2014 750words.com free-write]