Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Not Skydiving

every two minutes, diving off a cliff,
listening to the rings, every single list;

every single time, parachute opens and I fly;
yet every time I dial in, I gasp before I dive.

--
This poem is not about skydiving.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Untitled

Sometimes, we're meant to get lost, to wander off the trail that we think we're supposed to be on, just to find the one we really should be on. Or perhaps, just to run into a certain stranger along the way, if not for own own sake, then for theirs.

Riding from my house to the Virgil Gilman Trail is no easy task, especially on green legs. I'd done a little biking this year, but no serious mileage, so I was just going to see how far I could get, before calling for a ride back home.

Every trip from my house starts with a decision: Do I start from the closest access point of the bike trail, or head downtown first. The get me the same place, but one is shorter and faster; the other, still has its own benefits. I chose downtown.

Weaving through the local streets, dodging traffic gives me a feel for how my legs are responding, how strong they think they are, but it does no good for finding my rhythm. That comes more slowly when I finally reach the trail. Normally, I bike north from Batavia, or if south, then on the east side of the river. This time I decided on the west side of the Fox.

I've been hearing for a couple of years that the old quarry-turned watering hole was closed down, but until now, I hadn't had reason or means to pass it by without trespassing. It looks weary, drained and empty, and I wonder what the city's plans are for it. I can't watch it pass too long, for there, the path below my tires is rough and uneven with roots beneath the concrete. Once clear of the quarry property, the trail calms down and I settle into a rhythm.

~

When the forest breaks away into the swampier land, where the river floods its overflow into, and the path meanders close to the river again, it looks all wild and untamed--exactly as it should be. By now I know I've left Batavia behind and am growing closer to Aurora, but right now, all that matters is all that I can see. This is true nature to me, not the tamed and constrained parks. Down in that wilderness, it was the trail trespassing, not the other way around.

Unfortunately, even civilization will creep in and and institute its will, approaching the I-88 bridge. I have a certain weakness for architecture, so I took the opportunity to stretch my legs. They feel good, but I haven't been pushing myself, merely coasting at a set rhythm.

I propped my bike up in a small clearing, opposite the housing and just before the construction fencing, drop my feet and bag to the ground, and dig out my camera.

A few shots, a short walk around my bicycle, and an easy drink of water later, and I'm on my way again, feeling like I'm pedaling uphill despite going downriver. Soon, I'd reentered the wilderness.

~

At Aurora, you have no choice but to ride through cityscape. The bike trail disappears for two and a half miles, before appearing where you least expect it, despite watching closely for it despite watching worryingly closely for it for the past half-mile.

Two and a half miles down North Lake Street, and I know I should be worried about the neighborhood, but I'm not. Everybody today has been nodding back or smiling when I pass their way and politely nod my own head. Even a motorcyclist done up in black leather honks and smiles as he speeds past. Some even say hi, but I just smile and conserve my breath; I know that I've gone too long without saying anything but whispered commentary to myself, and my voice will croak when it comes out, if it comes at all.

The Gilman Trail suddenly crossed beneath me, before I realize I've gone over a bridge, and I circle through a park before picking it up. Heading westward, it suddenly disappears, and my map is no help at all. At Rathbone Avenue and an obnoxiously white industrial park, I wander first the the right, but after a block or so, I decided to turn around and follow South Lake Street a bit, because it feels like the right direction. At the next intersection, I recognize Jericho Road, but think it's pointing the wrong way, so I turn left and head down Arnold. I cross the Fox, thinking I'm heading west and can't figure out how I got onto the wrong side of the river. A quick spin down onto the island thinking I've re-spotted the trail, and I pass another biker heading the opposite way.

"Is this the way to Montgomery?" he calls out.

I shrug, calling back, "No idea. I think I'm as lost as you are."

I pulled to the side of the path and pull out my map, before turning behind me and noticing he's at a park table I'd just passed with a map of his own. I walked my bike over and found his map to be the same as mine, just a different edition. We compared notes and landmarks, still having some difficulty.

He shouted out to a runner passing by, and asked which way was north. The runner pointed out the direction I had thought was south, and asked where we were heading.

I said I was trying to go west on the Gilman Trail, and he gave me directions, circling back in the direction I'd come. I'd been on the correct side of the river all along.

We thanked the runner, and the biker thanks me, us both getting our bearings from the one set of directions.

Before we part ways, he asks me a question.

"Did you go to Batavia High School?"

I did, and say so.

"I thought you looked familiar. I think I was a few classes behind you, though."

I ask his graduating year.

"Two thousand five."

Me too.

"I'm Andrew Olsen."

Andrew Edmonds, though I wonder I should have said Ace.

"Nice to see you and thanks for the help. I didn't expect you to come back and help me compare maps. Have a good ride."

You too.

We parted way, opposite directions, each aided and with new memories despite losing our way.

~

I ended up back on Rathbone and the bleached industrial park, and this time called for directions.
Turns out I should have either continued up Rathbone farther than I did, or turned right onto Jericho instead of left onto Arnold, and I went that way now; and from there onto Terry where I picked up the Virgil Gilman Trail.

I followed it westward a ways, over Orchard Rd and through the VL Gilman park, and still further, before the ache in my legs grew too great and I couldn't find a new rhythm.

I called for a ride, turned and returned to the VL Gilman park, and laid in the parking spot closest to Prairie and Orchard, and waited.

~

So I wonder. Getting lost is a car is often a panic-inducing experience, but as I've read and felt and kept reading, when you're part of the world as you are on a bike, getting lost is nothing less than a new adventure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Is


dream for the future
reach for the light
shout to the heavens
    your will, your fight.

stretch wide your wings
embrace this very flight,
war with your foes
    make this the final night.

you can't live on wishes,
or subsist on sunlight,
you can't always win,
    but you can stand and fight.

I don't think of first,
my dreams never last,
I'm closing in on second,
    but he's far beyond my class.

I don't think of winning,
I'll never breach the stars,
I'm just a voice, it is my choice,
    to reach--instead--your hearts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Work

count the steps and count the lines,
ready the steps to call in time,
keep to the rhythm, keep to the pace,
know you're doing good in this place.

shelve the volumes, soak in the words,
keep repeating the ones you haven't heard,
work through the project, work through the pain,
and remember it won't always be the same.

write down words as they get into line,
before they shatter and fall out of mind,
keep on til past your hands cramp and ache,
they're reason enough to stay awake.

mould the shapes and hold the mold,
keeping willing til even the aches grow old,
keep to the pace, ignore the passing time,
and you and your work will get along fine.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Do of Don't, Don't Just Offer Suggestions

please stop telling me the details
all things i don't want to hear
i'm doing my best--my darnedest best
your advice best plain disappear.

i don't see you standing
i don't see your offering hand
i don't see you holding--or refraining from condemning
when her worst comes in to land

it happened the first time
and it keeps happening again
if you think you can do better--be better
YOU can be her boyfriend.

Spill Your Insides


tip on over the bottles
let out what's left inside
can't eat them all, can't drink them all
can't heal the abyss so wide.

wave on over your wand
give that bastard a swing
won't make me sleep, can't make me sleep
your magic won't do a thing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rebirth of A Monster (Mature)

Mature Content
--

given your shadow and sharp rubber claws
crossed with that audience and lack applause,
hide in the fog that filters out dusk
and hiss at the whiff of approaching musk.

if you breach the cage and break the bars,
come at me on your all-fours,
unsheathe those white and sharpened claws;
blood hitting the floor is the only applause.

"he's a monster, she's a monster," wound up inside,
if she comes out, he won't embrace your hide;
he won't hold you back, he won't hold you still,
disregards his care and forgets his will.

she's a monster, I'm a monster, and a friend,
if she comes out, I'll hold you past session's end.
I'll hold you back, keep you safe, whole, and still;
though she struggle and fight, can't break my will.

"when you're a fucking monster" it feels lonely too,
"not even the other monsters will be there for you."
and yet, right there, I surprised even you,
for there waits Achilles, hoping to help too.

--
Some lines borrowed from "Venomous" by Christopher Krovatin

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To Oblivion and Back Again (Not A Hobbit's Tale)

There wasn't any decent music playing on the radio, and, coming up on Breckenridge, soon there wasn't any music--or anything--at all. Don't bother with hitting Scan on your radio, it just loops around and around, not even finding static.

My girlfriend was driving, so she tossed her hand out toward the glove-box. "Just grab a CD, any CD. I need to listen to something."

I flipped through the case and grabbed a disc at random. After several fourteen-hour days of driving, you come to know each others music preferences and collections all too well. Without taking my eyes off the mountainous horizon around us, I popped in a disc.

~

The CD player clicked. Whirred unhappily, and then clicked again.

My girlfriend glanced at me as I looked down at the player. "What did you put in?"

"I don't know. Just grabbed at random." I reached out to the eject button, but as the tips of my fingers brushed the grey plastic, the player decided to accept it. I shrugged and pulled my hand away.

A few seconds later, the disc started playing, and it was no sound that should have been in her collection.

"What did you put in there?"

"One of your discs."

"Not mine. I have nothing that sounds like this. Where'd the case go?"

I reach for the case, fallen between my legs to the floor. Upon opening it, I flip to the only empty slot, as the noise coming from the speakers crescendos. At that terrible moment, I recognize it.

"Oh no..."

"What is it?"

"I know this music. I know what disc that was. Shit! Stop the car!"

She pulls over at the next shoulder, the cliff-side pressing close to her side and the drop on just the other side of the road.

I glance out the window to a shape out the corner of my eye. A light brown figure, wrapped in brown leather belts and iron buckles races through the woods below us, flashing glimpses between trees. "No... this can't be happening..."

"Ace, stop whining and tell me what's going on!"

My hands shaking and voice cracking, I show her the empty slot.

"So? What was there? I don't remem-"

"I do."

"Then what?!"

"Your Elder Scrolls install disc."

The form races up the cliff below us, disappearing from view momentarily until it leaps when it reaches the road, landing on the cliff-face above the car. Dust and stone rain down as it scrambles for purchase. A loud clunk on the roof seconds later tells me she didn't make it. The thing... she rolls down the windshield and hood and lays still.

"You have got to be kidding me!"

"Sorry, Kiki. How was I supposed to know your CD player was magical?"

~

We climbed out and rolled her over gently, but she was already gone. I glanced up to where she'd fallen from, and it wasn't very high above the car at all.

"This is bad."

"What, Ace?"

"That fall shouldn't have killed her."

"Then why is she..."

"It only finished her off. Something was after her." I walked carefully to the edge of the road and cliff, scanning for movement. "It's probably still out there. We need to be careful."

My girlfriend nodded. "Okay, Yeah. ...Ace, do you think we're still approaching Breckenridge?"

"I don't know, love. I don't know if she was brought to our world, we were brought to hers, or they're meshed and merged somehow." Easing away from the cliff, I held her. "I'm so sorry."

"You didn't know. You couldn't know. Neither of us knew."

"I know, but I still feel bad. ...You don't happen to have a 'World As We Know It' install disc, do you?"

She laughed, smiling, and shook her head. "Do you think we should... you know,..." she gestured to the body's equipment.

"Arm ourselves?" I think that's an excellent idea. As unfortunate as it is, she won't be needing them and we probably will."

Kiki mumbled a few words and I bowed my head, and then we got to work. The girl was a little taller than my girlfriend but we took all but her slip and underclothes, if not to wear, then to sell if necessary. It was a horrible concept to think of but our clothes weren't made for this world.

~

I built a cairn for her, after Kiki helped me move the body off the road. The sun was setting, so we decided to stay in the car until morning. It wasn't terribly comfortable, but it was safer than staying outside in the unknown.

--
Continue reading...