Sunday, May 26, 2013


Happiness is not having to take no for an answer. Or yes. It's not having to ask the question at all. So the world collapsed, so what?

Everybody left, and I'm still squatting at home, this one-room apartment like nothing has changed. The floor is still a mess, I still don't go out much, and hunger mostly remains my only motivation for getting anything done.


My building had fifty-odd tenants, but now it sits empty. Even the squatters have gone. There's a big ugly stain up one wall where a car collided with the building, though even that is long since gone, cannibalized for supplies.

When my neighbors, who I never knew, started leaving, I raided what I could, but found little. Scarce food or clothing was left behind. I pulled down or smashed up what mirrors I could and hauled the shards down; before walking, my landlord helped me board the windows, and then I strung up the shards with duct tape to periscope light into my indoor garden.

Before the city shut off the pumps, I filled every bottle I could find with water, my shoulders and back aching shuffling the gallons to precarious piles on the floor and along my walls.


Why should I move on?

I have all I need here, and in any of the bareback-makework camps that have sprung up, my only gift is an extra pair of hands. I don't need the community-feeling or the social construct, and I certainly don't want someone dictating to me my chores. Besides, I can't smell my own body odor unless it gets really bath, and washing clothes wears them off faster.

I'm better off alone.


Motorcycle gangs roar by about once a week. Early on some of them stopped, hunting for supplies or sport. My door got jammed up good and tight, and someone dropped some furniture in front of it that's too much for me to move alone. They'd climb over, shake the handle, rattle the boardings, and go looking for easier prey.

Now, though, we've had some right good storms. Branches and brush have littered everything, and the property looks like it's started returning to nature. Nobody suspects one little hermit living inside the midst, and I like to keep it that way.

Sometimes, I wonder about the bigger cities, like Chicago a few dozen miles east of here--of more homes than one gang can plunder in a week, more crime than one community can defend against, and possibly more mouths to feed than hands to make food--but most of the times I know better.


I keep myself busy.

My basic needs are far from labor-intensive, at least as long as the roof holds out and my food doesn't run low, so I divide myself between writing, reading, and exercising.

I don't expect anyone to be reading any of these things, but I do my best to keep my mind working and busy, and that's what's important. I've always had a surplus of ideas and now I have a surplus of opportunity to record them. Paper supplies are no concern--even before there were signs of collapse I'd kept a goodly collection. If anything, light is the greatest shortage; it sure does seem to get dark quickly.

I exercise enough to keep my body from atrophying, but it's all endurance work. If I lift any weight, it's liquid--I have no free-weights of my own, and they're hardly a priority when searching for supplies. I used to ride my bicycle a lot, but going out is hardly safe anymore. I still have it, propped up in the corner behind my equally unused electronics; I won't have it said I've let much go to waste.

Yes, I managed to keep my television and computer. The power has been off for ages, and not expected to come back, but why not?


The last news of my family came before the phone services gave out, while my batteries still lived. My parents had joined up with one cooperative and my sister and her boyfriend with another. They all sounded like they were getting by, and offered invitations to join them, but I left my denials unspoken.

The closest cooperative is over at Mooseheart. I stopped by, just the once, and stayed only long enough for them to try to enlist me. I remember the smell of home-brew gunpowder chasing me off their land too well to stop by again.

I don't like guns. I don't have any. I've got a nice assortment of staves, knives, and stakes; a few bamboo swords and one of steel; two pairs of nunchaku; and a homemade crossbow. I'm also teaching myself how to build an actual bow, completely through trial and error. If anything, I have excesses of wood and time.


I'm not looking forward to the first winter, but I'm ready for it. I can seal myself in nice and tight at the first sign of a lasting frost, and have my intake calculated into a science.

I hope it snows heavily, like I haven't seen since I was very little. I suspect the collectives would suffer for it, but I could use the added insulation.

In the meantime, the star seem brighter than ever. No power means no light pollution, and there have been a fair number of meteor showers as of late. Part of me wonders if they're not meteors, but satellites and debris falling out of orbit instead.

It makes no difference as long as nothing falls on my home. If it's going to hit here, it might as well take me out with it, because I sure don't want to go through all the effort of getting myself reestablished somewhere else.


If I'm the last person on earth, I wouldn't mind it so terribly. It might do me some good to spread out a bit. Don't get me wrong--I mean nothing lavish, and have no intention of encroaching on nature's reclamation of these lands more than necessary.

As for companionship, why, that's just another mouth to feed, another body to house, another nose to be offended at the smell, another critic to judge.

If there's anything I don't need, it's any of those things.


Winter's passed and I'm not worse the wear for it. Didn't get as must snow as I'd hoped, but more than I feared.

Come the waking for spring, animals have started to rove about, but we've got unspoken understandings. Who needs to share a language when you're both content to leave the other alone?

The north-bound geese have more to fear from the dog-packs than the cat-herds, and there's at least one of each in the neighborhood.

Coyotes and deer have become commonplace, but both are more skittish than the tame-turned-feral former house-pets.


I smelled smoke the other days and saw it welling up on the horizon south of me. Following the next storm, I snuck down for a look and found the Mooseheart collective fallen. Whether it was an internal dispute or an external raid, I'll never know. I picked up a few wheelbarrows of supplies and trucked them back home from the deserted compound.

A pack of dogs, scrawny and starving, found me on the way back. I fed them generously and treated them kindly, and found myself with an honor gaurd for the duration of the move.


I've found myself a fair hand at building bows, better than shooting them, at least. I assembled a workshop in the apartment next to me, entering through a hole between the defunct refrigerators, for making and storing spares.


The second winter is nearly upon me, and I'm doing spot-checking on the makeshift cistern I've built at the other end of the building. It's close enough to watertight, and has a tap at the bottom right over the sewer drain. I don't need the water yet, and don't expect to until spring, so if something fails, I won't be excessively inconvenienced. Unless I get flooded out.

It's camouflaged entirely by the disrepaired building, fed by troughs across the roof.


Upon the come of spring, I hope to relegate another of the abandoned apartments to food storage. My gardens have been producing more than I use, even with moderated sharing with my four-legged neighbors. What I don't eat gets canned, stored, packed away in cubby-holes and hiding spots. If it ever goes horribly wrong, I'll have something to fall back on.


Even still, my original suppy of paper holds out, though I'm writing with found and recovered pens and pencils.

I don't remember the last time I've opened my mouth to speak, though I still remember how. There isn't any need. Still, no caravans have passed, as the second spring fades into the third summer. Neither have I seen any humankind since the fallen dead at the Mooseheart compound.

My cistern held, wonder of all wonders, and it tastes better and fresher than any water I can remember since the days of buying it in stores. I'm not confident enough to injest it without boiling it first, but I expect it's only a matter of time.


I've finished clearing out debris from another apartment on the other side of my workshop for food storage, and installed makeshift shelving, not that there's much of anything here that isn't makeshift something-or-other.

Open the emptied closets, and instead of clothes, you'll find my collection of bows and weapons, hanging or leaning as works best. I keep making them, and arrows too, though I hardly expect to be equipping a passing army, improving all the time.


The days have long since begun to blend together, only counting the moons and passing of the seasons gives perspective of the time I've spent here.

I've relegated the cleanest and most intact wall of plaster to a calendar, tallying not days but moons, for both the sake of saving space and the lack of excessive caring.


Every night in good weather, warm or cold, I watch the stars. I've remembered the names of all the constellations I never could find, though have since while made up mine own.

They are my characters now, that wheel through the sky and weave through my stories, and some of which talk not of post-apocalyptic worlds, but of grand civilizations than span the continents, of cities full of people.

I do not find myself missing such things--people, in a word--I merely prefer to write of worlds that I don't live in, leaving that to the musings of my journals.


One is always tempted to build an impressive fortress around one's home when time and supplies are so close to hand, but I bstained. My greatest defense, especially with so few helping hands, was discretion: I was safest when my presence remained unknown.

On the inside, the years and my handiwork had been kind to the building, but without was nature growing wild. What looked like a building falling into shambles from disrepair was common enough that it was passed by without a second glance. And so I was saved from raids by the wandering discontent, who occasionally spent the night in temporary camps within bowshot, but never grew wise to my presence.

Date written: 26 May 2013
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I sat in the church, listening.

"Now let us join in a moment of sustained silence."

I bowed my head. That was my church. They didn't call it praying, because not every member believed in prayer. They didn't call it meditation because not every member believed in meditation. So they just called it Sustained Silence.

I liked it that way.

One Sunday, many weeks ago, the Rev led the Sustained Silence with a suggestion, and I continued on with it, every week. It made me feel whole.

I pictured my feet sending roots down into the earth through the floorboards, my toes spreading, lengthening, to taste the rich dirt beneath the building.

Through the ground, my body drew sustenance, and with it, I reached upward. My body grew taller, my skin hardening.

My arms spread and multiplied, reaching for the sun.

I pressed up against the peaked ceiling, before it parted before me. The ceiling crumbling, dust raining down, and then light. It didn't collapse; it held.

The great earth rumbled deep below me and held all things fast: myself, my growth, and the building, though the roof had split in two.

I grew and reached for the sky, leaves sprouting form my fingers, embracing the air.

I was beautiful.

The members left me there, not in awe, but in appreciation.

I was beautiful.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm Sorry, But I Can't

I don't believe in hope,
that the world will ever change,
that it might turn out all right
just for wishing for the strange.

I don't believe in prayer,
that things come to those who ask,
that all will throw up its arms
because you wouldn't stand fast.

I don't believe in faith,
that is one leap I cannot make,
my world is grim
paper thin
and far too little is at stake.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sincerest Form of Flattery

only one person alive knows that move...
give me a dance with a 'ganger of mine,
twin to dopple' and move with in time,
no need to pound rhythm in the floorboards:
we'll pirouette in sync and ready for more.

give me a twirl with whom sharest my face,
together we shall rule this place.
no need for words--you think all that I'll say:
you'll whisper, I'll whimper, and never part ways.

give me a quickstep with this mirror o' mine,
take up my heart and give me of thine;
no need for rings or legal cer'mony
we'll create our own harmony.

I always wanted to do that. 

Italicized text from "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." I claim no ownership to these lines.

How To Know You're Living Right

if today was your last day,
and tomorrow was too late...

if the devil came and knocked on my door,
said, "You'll be given scant hours more."
I'd pack no bags, just jot a note:
"It's been fun, more than I'd hoped,"
and let it flutter to the floor.

if plans you make for your last day,
things you'd want to try and play;
if special times you wish you would,
you're not living as you should...
it doesn't matter anyway.

when the devil comes and knocks on my head,
"This day is your last," he said;
"Keep the change, let's move on out:
last day's ain't what life's about."
I'll race him to his vessel instead.

could you say goodbye to yesterday? 


Italicized text from "If Today Was Your Last Day," by Nickelback. I claim no rights to these lines.


shapeless in the moonlight,
long since darkness fell,
shall the monsters perish
as they do so well;

a longbow on its backside,
a scabbard hung to cross,
a knife holster at the hip
ready to be tossed;

a mask pulled down low,
cannot tell if it has a face,
but if you stop to wonder
you'll lose track of its place.

don't go wand'ring in the shadows,
don't go treading in the woods,
don't go jogging in the forest,
lest you not be where you should;

don't venture into darkness,
don't go looking for what was lost,
what left you had a reason
and reclaiming has a cost.

it faces no resistance,
the monsters see no thing;
too busy cowering in the light
to see what nighttime brings.

the demons light their fires
to push away the dark,
hasten their own endings
by insisting on the spark.

it knows why they've come,
it knows why they will not go:
the mosters are a virus
and spreading's all they know.

don't go wand'ring in the shadows,
don't go treading in the woods,
don't go jogging in the forest,
lest you not be where you should;

don't venture into darkness,
don't go looking for what is ours;
what we hold in our embrace
is alone fighting this war.

the devils walk on two legs,
garbed in what they killed;
they know not what hunts them,
bring nothing like its skills.

the demons create more shadows
as they move within their light,
what they see as darkness
to it is plenty bright.

the monsters never expire,
filling up the world;
regardless how many die
more will come unfurled.

don't go wand'ring in the shadows,
don't go treading in the woods,
don't go jogging in the forest,
lest you not be where you should;

don't venture into darkness,
or nature's champion arrives,
by the time you see its face
you'll already have died.

it knows how the virus thinks,
it was once infected too,
until it found the cure...
and now I come for you.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Secret Rites

we're not going dancing in the moonlight,
we're not building a bonfire high,
we're not daring the stars to fall,
we're not praying at an altar's lies,

we're not wishing for something more,
we're not hoping for something less;
we're just going to keep doing what we can,
and not settle for second best.

we're not denying you did your best,
we're not refuting your hard work,
we're not asking for better next time,
we're not treating you like a jerk,

we're not gloating that ours is better,
we're not whining that ours is worse;
we're just doing what we know how,
and starting up on the next verse.

we're not garbed in robes of hemp,
we're not cloaked in shadows or light,
we're not painted with radioactive colors,
we're not infected with a blight,

we're not saying what you should do,
we're not saying we know the way;
we're just hoping that you'll listen,
and celebrate today.

we're not scouring the earth,
we're not knocking on your door,
we're not asking you to join us,
we're not begging from the floor,

we're not sitting in the pews,
we're not kneeling on the mats;
we're just living out our lives,
and not extrapolating facts.

I'm just a single man,
I just think the way I do;
my belief has no initiation,
just actions thrown into

a grand old mixing pot
and I'm serving up a stew.
I'd invite you all to join me,
but you've other things to do.

Try Hard Not To Die

knife holsters on my legs
and tunkwa on my hips,
a long-bow back one way
cross a sword that won't slip,

bolt throwers too
inside of my wrists...
when I start to dance
you'll pray that I miss.

chains down my legs
for shackles and more,
darts tied up in my hair
that I truly adore;

and this metal triangle
that keeps me on track:
my friend, my bicycle,
guarding my back.

but all of my arms
are tied up in my head:
the only one in true danger
is me instead.

It's Exactly What You Think

it's not just a panel with two chads punched through,
it's not painted or smiling or whoop-freakin'-do,
but it still hides away
what I really want to say,
and it's still something that hides me from you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Paint The World

don't plant your soul deep underground,
only your fears will sprout.
let it soar in the blue sky high,
let it turn you inside-out.

seed the clouds grey and white,
and the colors will rain on down.
dip your brush in puddles wide,
or dance is your drab gown.


if you reach for the sun
but your wax wings melt
instead of plunging down,
try to catch yourself.

you flew because you wanted,
believed you truly could;
your wings were just idols
of wax, feather and wood.

if you open up your mind,
if you open up your soul,
you'll no more need those trinkets
to feel complete and whole;

if you believe it's really real,
if you forget they've melted away,
you'll find you've stop falling
and gravity disobey.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I Need

a place to sit when the light does awake
and the world stretches and open its eyes.
a place to wait when day starts to dip,
and today says its tender goodbyes.

a wood of trees and branches and things,
and a carpet of orange, brown, and green.
with no would-if-I-could, just good tidings,
and the air is crisp, fresh, and clean.

a magic to come and take me away...
where I don't fear to fall asleep...
the knowledge that I'll come back, some day...
to know the memories will keep.