Thursday, October 29, 2009

Welcome

     Due to the insistence of my wife and friends, this blog is now totally open and public.  I have been working on ironing out the kinks, learning more HTML and developing a flow while ensuring I have enough of a start to engage your minds.
    
     Comments to any and all posts are welcome-indeed, solicited!  As this is now public, comments will be moderated to weed out the stray internet sniper.  Please be patient if your commentaries do not post immediately and be assured they will.
    
     First time visitors may wish to start at the first post and read upward as there is a sequential order to things.  I wish you well and hope you log in and stay with me on this new journey!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Three Lands Trilogy

     One of the more ambitious proposals I worked on with artist Jeff Austin was a project called The Three Lands Trilogy.  The overall epic concerns the co-existence of Earth, Heaven and Hell all occupying the same dimensional space with time existing as a constant on a spiritual level.
    
     The only beings who traverse the Three Lands are angels, both Heavenly and Fallen (Lucifer and his minions), the Love Wraiths (dead members of the Family Stone whose duties are to protect their portion of dimensional space and usher the dead souls into the afterlife) and the cursed (Efriem Merritt, for example).

     The trilogy has three separate storylines set in three separate time periods which collide into a grand scale conclusion.  All of the stories were written so they could be stand-alone, a series, a mini-series or packaged as the entire epic.  The entire trilogy involved quite a commitment from a publisher and an offer was made to us for a partnership contract in sharing the cost and profits.  We dissented, as we figured we may as well self-publish in that case.

     The trilogy consisted of these three storylines:


EFRIEM MERRITT

     This story was also pre-titled, "Weird South Presents."  It is the tale of a Confederate soldier killed in battle who is resurrected along with his horse (a combined amalgam of two men and several animals and insect species who also perished with the horse being the dominant form) after reclaiming his soul from a Love Wraith after a Fallen angel escapes Hell and possesses the body of the Rebel's fallen friend.

     Returning home to scorched lands and a scattered family, Efriem sets off with a ex-slave and a woman (who changes to a wolf at night-fall) in search of his fiance, Abigail, who has been taken by his comrade, now possessed by the transformed Fallen angel into a vampiric demon lord.

     The story is part Catch-22 and part morality play as Efriem finds the price for his soul is that he can never kill-even though he must slay the demon lord to regain the souls of his friends (trapped in the horse, Gabriel) and attain their rightful place in the afterlife.

     This series contains strong historical, supernatural and ethical elements that set into play a vivid background for tight character continuity and reader identification.  It is also an exploration into the experience of a changing culture and belief system and of maintaining loyalty and honor to oneself and others.

     Included in the three Weird South posts below are character profiles, plot synopsis, script pages and the first four pages of the story by artist, Jeff Austin.


THE MINISTRY OF FROST

     The second series features the main character of Paige Stone, a stripper and the last heir of her family bloodline.  Set in 1972, she discovers her family heritage-the Stone descendants (mostly male) have been the spiritually directed Trackers on Earth of Lucifer Morningstar.  Once every generation, Satan walks a predestined path across the Earth in human form, directing evil across the globe which culminates in terrible consequences.

     The Trackers hunt Lucifer in attempts to trap and kill the current manifestation of the Beast, often with tragic outcomes.  Paige learns of her destiny from her uncle, who is killed as she has her first confrontations with Lucifer.  She travels with a disillusioned priest-sorceror who is addicted to sniffing the dust of the ground bones of angels, which incites powers, visions and near possessions.

     With the state of the world crumbling, social decay and creatures of the night everywhere, Paige must fulfill her destiny and also leave the Earth an heir to ensure its future.  Included in the Ministry of Frost post below are the first two pages of artwork and a plot synopsis with characters.


ALL AROUND THE LOVE WRAITHS SING
OR, CONVERGENCE

     This story is the third in the trilogy and spins the tale of the Love Wraiths-from their origins to their counter-parts in Hell and their many forms.  The day the Love Wraiths all unite to sing in unison from their different locations and time periods will herald the end of the Three Lands and the time of Revelation or Convergence.

     Only this description and reference was included in the proposal to round out the plan for the entire trilogy.  The following posts as referred to above form the basis for the project.  Enjoy!

Weird South Part 1


EFRIEM MERRITT

Character Profiles




Plot Synopsis For Issue 1







Weird South Part 2


EFRIEM MERRITT

Script pages for the first four pages of original
artwork featured in post Part 3











Weird South Part 3


EFRIEM MERRITT

Original Artwork
Four spectacular pencils by Jeff Austin




























All artwork copyright @2002 Jeff Austin

The Ministry of Frost

     This was the original proposal for the second series tied in to The Three Lands Trilogy.  We were in such a rush to complete our layouts that I did the finished art, which includes a couple of panel "homages" for backgrounds as I had no time for complete pencils (apologies to Vosburg).  Comic art takes me forever as I'm more of an illustrator with a tendency for detail.  All that stippling is hand-drawn, by the way.


THE MINISTRY OF FROST

Original Art
Representational-Not Meant For Publication















PLOT SYNOPSIS






Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tribal Drums

     Experiments with drum beats led me down a percussion path in my writing.  I was searching for syllabic percussive rhythm for wordplay against differing drum sounds.  It was not as drug-induced as it seems and I produced a small body of work with differing results.

     This is one such piece based on a Native American ritualistic drum riff and chant:


A QUE OF VELDT UNDERHEAD

This languid she
approaches
     with eyes exploding emotion
          and her hips swish
               feline heat with
          her gaze signing
     my being
(tattooing
my seed).

     "To what craft
          her artful talents
               other than dress
          and eyes
     be braided?"

I want her naked.

She bares primal love
     in the wilderness
          and we become Cherokee
               trading beats
          and piercing
     our treaty.

Swain
like colored wind at night-
     I am her blanket
          and she is my ground-
               splayed within the down
          of our one
     tribal
sky.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Graphic Novel

     Some years back, artist Jeff Austin and I were collaborating on several projects to shop around to comic publishers.  We had quite of bit of interest and had we let go of a few of them on spec they could have seen publication.  Unfortunately, I am a pay as you go kind of creator.  These hit the files as my time was stretched thin enough through my business and Jeff had numerous deadlines.

     STRINGS was a projected graphic novel or twelve issue mini-series.  It has since transformed and streamlined into a better structured work with different title and changed plot elements.  I have scanned the original proposals to show the first draft and give the reader a glimpse into the genesis of the synopsis, characters, plot, script and artwork that goes into such an endeavor. 

     It is of interest to note that we threw together this raw original proposal in 3 days due to our time constraints (and it shows).  These images run in order left to right-forgive the bit of uneven placements and sizing as I'm still getting the hang of HTML posting.  Click on the images to enlarge.


STRINGS

CHARACTER PROFILES

These 2 pages lists the characters of
the story along with their story profiles.













PLOT PAGES
The following 4 pages are the encapsulated plot
 of the entire story and are edited for brevity.





























SCRIPT PAGES

These 4 pages are the writer's visualization
of the story complete with written direction of the
action, caption placement, etc. to serve as a guide to the artist.
These are for the first 3 pages shown realized below



























ORIGINAL ART

Three pages of the fully realized penciled art done from the script.
The "x"'s note where black is placed for the inker.
The word balloons and captions are pasted in
with black backgrounds already printed.
















                             
This artwork is copyright @ 2002 by Jeff Austin
Jeff is an accomplished professional artist with 20 years published
experience in the comics industry.  For more of Jeff's work
click on his name in my Link section.



Dark Adventure Origins

     Before ebay, the stores, the conventions and even the flea market, Dark Adventure was a band.  In the early '80s a small group of friends and party buddies were gathered in a hobbled together semi-soundproof jam room pondering life and playing rock and roll.  Eventually, the need arose for a name and a list was posted on the door for suggestions and many humorous tags ensued.
    
     Our group of friends had a bastardized in-language used with each other.  Something ludicrous and ridiculous was, "darklin'" or "dark!" for short.  Appearing on the band name list one night was Dork Adventure and the next night the "o" was crossed out and an "a" added for "dark!"  Several of us claimed responsibility for the monicker later, but that night Dark Adventure the band was born.
    
     The group went through a few incarnations and lasted several years.  The group never broke out with a contract but they remain in my estimation the epitome of the freewheeling jam band.  Those were heady days and though many of us have drifted apart over time, a few of us have remained great friends.  As to the origins of the name?  I give credit to myself, Johnny, Bo and James combined, as we have all staked claim at one time or another. 
    
     I had pondered starting a limo service with the name and eventually morphed that into Dark Adventure Comics.  At one time I had a 1968 Cadillac hearse geared for shows emblazoned with the logo and the tagline, "Your Final Stop For Comics."  That and reactions to it are stories for another day as this space belongs to a select other few.  And now...
    
     Ladies and gentlemen...

DARK ADVENTURE


     The leader of the band, the inimitable Johnny Scales.  A lead and rhythm guitarist, songwriter, producer and overall talented musician.  I have incredible riffs blazened into my mind to this day from his Ibanez.  He could go melodic, blend into heavy metal then take flight into fuzzy acid melodrama.




      Johnny had an incredible ear for music and a background ranging from blues to the alternative.  When matched with a fellow guitarist of his own caliber he could transcend lead and rhythm into a blend of blissed-out zone.  I still occasionally listen to some old tapes just to hear that Ibanez roar and soar.

     On the drums...Mr. Bo Shealy!  Beginning in high school, I have had the extreme benefit of watching Bo's development from basic rhythm to becoming a bombastic, driving and virtually unstoppable wall of percussion.  Bo played in everything from a Buddy Holly tribute band and studio work to clubs and stages.


     One may think this writer exaggerates when describing this guy-I do not.  I have seen hundreds of bands and listened to all of the percussionists and even studied various beat structures inside and out to assist in creating poetry.  To this date, the most incredible drum adventure and solo I have ever experienced came from the hands and feet of Bo at his kit in his bedroom in 1981.  James Hussey was there and can also bear witness to that intoxicating 15 minutes.


     As is true with most bands on some instruments, Dark Adventure had a revolving bass slot.  One day, Lane Jenkins decided to pick up the bass and the position was filled.  Not only did he have the looks, but he also developed a singular technique that allowed him to fill beat and hold structure when his beginning skills faltered.


     Lane eventually quit the bass when he married and I have always felt his was a talent never fully realized.  Going back through old recordings his playing progressed from the amateurish to the polished in a shorter period of time than one could comprehend.  Lane was a gifted soul and a fine comrade.


     Lastly, no band is true without a voice.  Jeff, "The Rock" (way before that Dwayne guy) supplied that with force.  A classically trained and award-winning vocalist, Jeff could sing a tender ballad as well as heavy metal power vocals.


     Jeff was the first of the two band vocalists and his was the longest and best tenure.  Jeff had the most range and endurance but also had the worst proclivities concerning practice and temperance.  His still remains the voice of a savored period of musicality in my thoughts.


                                      
DARK ADVENTURE AT MARGARITAVILLE - 1985   

     The above photo shows Dark Adventure approaching their peak.  Pictured from left to right is Johnny, Bo, Lane and at the far right, Joe Feeney.  Never a member of Dark Adventure, Joe had his own groups, including the seminal punk band, Lentil Week.

     Joe was and is a phenomenally gifted guitarist, bass player and journalist.  When Joe took the stage with Johnny it could be dueting maestroes, each attempting to outdo each other while also layering each other's flights with rhythm.  One notable night, Bo's kit was knocked akimbo mid-song by a passed out Jeff.  Salvaging the moment, Joe and Johnny continued on together and just that duo broiled the stage with sheer genius as they managed to not only destroy on guitars but somehow miraculously interchange the persussion parts with one another while successfully engaging the audience's attention away from the problem.

     I must also give a nod to Kevin (vocalist #2) and Simon (bass) of the later incarnation of the band and the rest of the ever changing body of friends, supporters and party animals: the late George Caldwell and Chris Westphal (rest in peace, guys), James, Steve, Logan, Adam, Scott and all the "chicks and dudes" of that era.

*************

     One could ask where was I in the midst of all the bluster I pontificated on above?  Not on stage.  I am not very talented on musical instruments and as such, would never attempt to play the game with those gifted fellows at their level.  We were a great group of friends, each with his own talent.  I wrote several songs for Dark Adventure and over the years, numerous more for other groups.

     Still, every now and then I pull out a tape and press play.  It is a song I wrote called, Parsifal, to music composed by the band.  There is a long and soft guitar and cymbal lead-in to a swooshing and involved Trower-like orchestration that begins the vocals:

I'm the last Grail seeker
I'm the virgin knight
there's no blood on my blade
but the horror in my eyes
is the vulture's stare
on this misty scene
above the bodies of the men
hanging from the trees...

     and so on.  Not the greatest lyrics I ever wrote but I play it for the presence it has and for the subtle and complexly beautiful work on it by Johnny and Bo.  It stands as one of the most remarkable pieces from the short-lived band that created many long-lived memories.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

De-Evolution

     As Halloween approaches, we find our sensibilities surrounded by commercialized horror of every conception, lauding us to find high camp enjoyment in every nightmare. Great fun until the noise in the yard is not a cat, the scrape at the window not a tree branch and the scratching by the bedside not your own.

     Still, it all could very well be something innocuous. Or not. That base difference creates fear and it is thrilling and breathy and at the core, arousing.

     Dangerous.

     As a young man attempting to be a writer, I wished to understand further the aberrant side of human nature to not only successfully ferret out the truth but to also better protect myself and mine from it's dark machinations as it seemingly masked itself not unlike Halloween.

     Over the course of time, research and situational moments of random living I soon experienced more closely the blackness of the human condition and the breadth of evil's reach. I found that white seeps to gray and darkens to black all around us and inside us all of the time and at the heightened stages of stress, desire and passion or all three combined we have a Devil's mix of sex, grit and mayhem-a true Halloween every day. Just ask any cop.

     I find we are all base and gray in our moments of climax-especially sexual. It is only in how we choose to create that moment and then recover from it that we find ourselves waning into white or clouding into black...that it is in choice where we find our hearts...or lose them. We are all the same until a choice is made.

     One's experience of those choices may bring certain questions. Who are you face to face with another at passion's end? What presence and beingness do you bring to the party, at the party and afterwards? Good Halloween or Bad Halloween? I can only speak for myself.

     This next piece exists in those scant moments of climax in which we are all perhaps akin and alike. What is missing are the choices, for they are uniquely and individually the reader's. It has a tongue in cheek title and it is called:


THE LITTLE DEATH

     I'm on fire.
     Every body inch an undying flame consuming.
     My breath burns hot-
     Scalding winter air into misty fog glomming...
And I...
     my arms, my thighs are bathed indigo crimson-
     skin smoking with surface glow embers.
     Coals spark in my eyes crackling.
Fire is in my chest spreading.
Fire is on my lips licking.
Fire is in my loins boiling.
     I'm in flames. Truly.
Yet, inferno's night cools
and comforting as a lady's hand
it soothes.
     I become the blend of ice and heat
     that rules
     'til it ignites, engulfs
and again...I am fuel
for something that burns
and casts away home.
     I am a man
     in this red
     and I am doom
and we are naked together-
     our tongues tasting prey.

Sometimes Obscure

This is another piece from this time period:


AWASH IN ARIAS

You came like water sounds
(rushing, running, rippling
     then still).

The buoy in the tide
the threads pulled of your colors
     (patterns in self).

A quilt of you I drink by the glassful.

You remain in flow and ebb
like dolphin arias
     (or whale song blues).

My heart moves like tree limbs
breezing wind symphonies
     (to seraphim).

You come to me in winding
waterfall clothes
     (and I slip in).

A Romantic Era

     There exists several periods in my work where women, romance and passion surfaces as a recurring theme.  My heart was weaned on the Romantics, both in verse and art.  The emotions existing in this form are as no other and the experience in life of them are as no other.  Undoubtedly, I will post much from these periods and the work ranges from the classical in all love's orchestral and lyrical divinations to the modern blunt shock of sexual truisms.
 
     Once established, I began to delve into the experimental form and meters of the experiential use of wording, line and sound placements.  Some of my more abstract usages of form helped bring attention to my work which led to some early success.  There is a range from the simplistic to the arguably dense to the inviolate and some speak, some sing, some ice and some reveal.  Ultimately, it was my goal to give the reader a sense of experience in the work with a built-in soundtrack the mind hears with a flow the eye sees. 

The following is an early attempt:


I FELL INTO THE SKY

She was dancing...
 hands rolling over
  turning and sliding
    gracefully dodging the air
      in careen and about
        bent poised back
          with her smooth neck straight
            her legs tilted
              swaying round and round
                of report to her spirit
                  swirling and pivoting
                    transparent veils wafting in
                     arcing free delight
                        choir lips singing
                          and her eyes wet glistening
                            in the dewy air staring
                              at me so far into me
                               as if to see if I'm drowning
                                she gazes while moving
                                swirls fingertip touches with
                                hands upward twirling
                                in air caress traces
                                a hip's slowing sway
                                fair gracefully motive
                                quiet padding feet
                                swishing nearer
                               leaping flying
                              landing at my feet rising
                            circling close I feel breathing
                          hear hair's rhythmic whispers
                        know passion splashed eyes
                      taste brine sweat of her body
                    wonder in this time
                   hope dream in this time
                 her placed kisses falling
               down a hot cheek trickling
             like sand pulling down through
           and tumbling into
         the hourglass' curved center
       as breasts dance light on my body
     she sifts chaffe from my knowledge
   beauty rises
 sand falls
like a man in his seduction.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dark Adventure Comics Archive 2


One of the most remarkable aspects of my career has been having the opportunity to meet and befriend many personalities for which I have great respect.  The photo above shows (from left to right) Ray's grand-daughter, Ray Bradbury, the late Julius Schwartz and myself.  Ray is a world famous author of too many classic novels to mention and is an established icon.  Julie was the editor for DC Comics for decades and was primarily responsible for bringing in the second great wave of Super-Hero comics and creating the Silver Age.

     This is one of the few people I have been absolutely honored to know. The late Will Eisner (pictured in the middle) was one of the pioneers of comics.  His production companies and work in the 1930s and '40s are the stuff of legend.  Creator of The Spirit and also of the very graphic novel format, his book, "Graphic Storytelling" is the Bible of the field.  I knew Will for almost two decades and he was still active in the business up until his death.  Pictured on the left in the background is Kitchen Sink publisher, Dennis Kitchen, another formidable force in comics.

I first met Chris Reeve in 1992 and was surprised he sought me out for advice on what to do about his panel and interview sessions as he was unprepared and very nervous.  I did a bit of a Lifespring LP coach grounding with him and he was a gigantic hit and very grateful.  The photo shown was taken later that day by my good friend US Representative of GA, Brooks Coleman.
     The AC in the conference had died and it was literally 100 degrees and we kept finding ourselves in the service corridors sharing cold Cokes and talking.  That began a irregular correspondence we maintained up until his paralysis from a horseback riding injury.  After my own accident where I sustained an inoperable shattered spine and nerve damage, the thoughts of his indomitable spirit helped me recuperate and continue to inspire me to this day.  Chris was quite simply one of the best souls I have ever known.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chris Westphal


Christopher Westphal 1961-1989

     I mentioned in my Short Bio, Part 2 post I had lost a dear friend shortly after my marriage and I cannot deny or neglect him here.  He was and is a foundation standing amongst ruins.  I first met Chris in my freshman year of high school.  He sat alone, never talked and always carried the same beat up copies of a Rolling Stones or Beatles biography.  I watched him in the back corner of homeroom until one day I dropped into the seat beside him and started talking music and he came alive.

     Chris had arrived in a problem birth-umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, barely breathing, mentally impaired to a degree and with a heart condition.  Chris could never achieve what society deemed cultural success but he was unique, all heart and carved his own life.  He was introverted and eccentric and from that first meeting on I dubbed him, The Monk, and later on, Monk, for short (Doc Savage's sidekick on one hand and on the other, a fellow fit for the robes in a monastic cell, researching his enlighted manuscripts for meaning).  He loved having a nickname and a friend and a group to belong to.  He called me Longe (as Barney Fife had called Andy Griffith, Ange) and The Lonz (after Fonzie on Happy Days).

     Chris became a constant companion in my life-a good friend for after school and late night adventures.  He was a walking encyclopedia of musical history and knowledge, relating all current events through the filters of a single-minded savant.  I cherished this guy because he was a true and honest boy and incapable of deceit or real guile and he was loyal beyond belief.  He was unconditional in all forms.

     Over time Chris went from being a lonely youngster with his head always bowed down and looking away to a man with a head held high and a gaze that looked straight into your eyes.  I admired him greatly because he overcame more in his life than most could ever comprehend and in spite of all his challenges he jammed and danced and loved and socialized and became almost everything he once thought he could only be in silent, isolated dreams.

     The above photo shows Chris singing, "House of the Rising Sun" at a friend's wedding, note perfect and thrilling.  Shortly thereafter, I married and our friendship transformed from the every day to the weekly, when we would get together for bowling and close talk.  He had lived a life expecting to die at any moment from his heart and often wondered long on his shortened mortality.  One night he was especially reminiscent and powerfully engaged on his fate.  I assured him once again it couldn't happen until he met Mick Jagger and we laughed and bowled and were 14 again-his magic year.

     The next time I saw Chris he was in the hospital in a coma from the Russian flu.  His mother related he had gotten ill and as it progressed quickly he had said simply, "I think this is it."  We rallied at his side and as the hours bled away into an early morning, his heart was the last to fail and he was gone.  Twenty-eight years old, but fourteen forever.

     Chris had quietly been with me through my schooling, girlfriends, high successes and shattering lows-always as a singular, non-judging and irreplaceable friend.  My dad had watched Chris from the first time I brought him over and had marveled over the change in him over the years.  When Chris died, it was one of the only times I have ever seen my father cry.

     As I live, Chris does not leave my mind and he gives me strength to this day.  I have written much about him and he figures large in my rambling missives.  I still have the ball I bought him sitting in it's leather case lying alongside mine in limbo because I have never bowled again.  The following piece is a short I pulled from a memoir and adapted for Boulevard Emerging Writers.  There are small changes in events and it is situationally adapted but remains a raw slice from my heart for the loss of a remarkable soul.


LISTENING IN TONGUES

     I lay down with my gut feeling like ruined threshed wheat bundled and tied and shipped off somewhere to make a kind of poisoned cereal.  Many thoughts streaked across my mind-fissured and splayed akin to the cracked glass of the one lonely mirror in my bedroom.  Grinding myself further into the bed I felt like a man out of sync, my fine moments locked from the movement of the world and all my time bottled into that broken hourglass view.

     I lay there and thought of days past played harsh like this one.  Nausea bloomed whenever the yammering noise from the TV crowed inertia around the corners of the flat.  The telecast words and feelings sprayed forth tainted and I felt all the movies, the magazines, the laymen in the street and the whole damn country full of bleeding, emoting, televised people were like dust mites-pain mites-cramming themselves and their worldview droppings into the pillows where my ears rested.

     I heard every syllable of bloated lives rotting; each hoping some seed from the vocal evisceration might bloom into a beauty that would make their whole existence mean something more than just life and death.  I wasn't a stranger to the presence of inner pain and its effects or a novice to the sacrament of loss; it's just that exploiting it never amounted to savored release or caresses that replace love lost with redemption.

     I was often thankful for the blessing of another day without an incidence of the emotional color of black which sorrow drags in with fangs attached.  Knowing the wake left by how bad the worst arrives in its ravishing black tie, I preferred to dance in the waltz of death on daylight hours, else night crawled sleepless and hungry for that poisoned gut wheat.

     I rolled over and remembered Chris slumped in the ICU with every opening of his body plumbed with tubes and machines, his breath not even his own.  My friend's simple influenza had burst out into a ravage of fevered coma approaching doom.  I had walked outside to control my own exhausted breathing, praying for a rally or simple ease.  I believed it was not a cold world where a young soul shimmering could dim into darkness as icy as that late winter's night without his seal stamped on life.

     I had been awake for dozens of hours ticked off mercilessly slow.  A macabre game of mental connect-the-dots led to remembrances of losses still raw.  The meter of memory coursed through my mind like a shiny pinball ricocheting wildly from bumper to bumper, bells and lights flashing along its mad journey until the ball dropped off the field of play in my head and swirled down into my stomach.  It stopped there and created that firm, cancerous knot.  Tilt.

     No score.

     It was almost funny how the perceived motions inside me while sitting in that hospital climaxed into a lone movement of tears canting awkwardly over my cheekbones, like small tendrils of water leaking from a pressure hose indifferently tossed about.

     Chris' parents had worried all his life that his weak heart would one day fail and he would be lost.  On his final early morning, it was the last of him to go, accompanied by my surety that a boy's good life could grant him the justice of one more breath.

     I helped carry his coffin at the funeral with unfeeling, frozen feet.  I was dreaming of fallen angels and sniffing through the chill of the morning, noting the fact that sometimes the world was cold and no one had taught me to dress proper.  I looked at his grave and listened for music still playing.  No score. No tilt.  I was istening in tongues to silence.

     That night I surrendered into bed with the TV on and felt a familiar wish for his presence.  The spell of his private verse heard only low and shambling down in my heart climbed up to my present and sang with a ramble in images of things past still felt seated as orchestra.  The song was thrash and painful in spattered comfort like the skew of reflection across my splintered mirror, with lost friends haunting the kaleidoscope, their voices echoing in the disembodied clamor of the eleven o'clock news.

     There was no pulling out the hurt and placing it under my pillow for the pain fairy to take away.  I just lay there in it waiting for the pain mites to add it to their collection so maybe another poor bastard wouldn't hear my moans and tears in addition to his while he writhed in the agony of his own demon aches.  I was pummeled down into a silence that saved others the atrocity of hearing anything I thought; lest it sprout a cancer in their own lusts for condolence.

     It was amazing how all my senses were on edge like teeth throbbing, tasting sugar after a day's sleep.  I smelled the last breaths of those I had loved rather than heard them.  I listened to the corruption of their deaths rather than inhaled it.  What I saw became more what I tasted and what I tasted became more what I felt and what I felt became what I was seeing.  The wheat was still being threshed.

     All of this was wrapped like steel in socks smashing the seeming hell out of all those acute senses until the numbness of the pain just crawled around the brain and chest and laid a festering shit of silence there.

     There was no sound to it.

     There was just the beating of a heart gone all quiet and the cries of the mites in my pillow telling me to listen...

     listen...

     listen.