Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Beth, Clary, and Ben (a scene)

Posted in creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on December 14, 2017 by Robert Crisp

After a long bout of freewriting (which included trees exploding into instant bloom, a computer coducting a therapy session with a teenager, and all manner of peculiarities), this scene emerged. I don’t think there will be a second part, but who knows?

“Hey, you remember when we all had phones?” Clary asked.

Ben popped his head up from behind the sofa. God only knew what he was doing back there. Looking for change? Scraps of food? His dignity? “You mean landlines?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Clary said. “Those were good days.”

“How?” I asked. I didn’t want Ben in this, or any, conversation. In fact, it would have been nice if Ben had found a discarded piece of pizza crust, popped it in his mouth, and then choked on it. Such are my fantasies.

“Because you had to answer the phone if it rang,” Clary said. “You couldn’t just ignore it.”

“Well, there were answering machines,” I pointed out.

“Okay, Beth, before answering machines. Those were the days.”

“I think I’m stuck,” Ben muttered from behind the sofa.

Clary and I ignored him. “The good old days were never actually good,” I said. “At least, not as good as we remember.”

Clary shrugged. “I think they were objectively better than now,” she said. “People were more connected. We weren’t all stuck on our phones and Facebook and Instagram and all that shit.”

“A little help here?” Ben said, a little more loudly.

“Yeah,” I went on, “but we still had problems. People may have been more connected, but as long as we’re all big, walking bundles of neuroses, there are issues. I think things are better now. We can segment our craziness and choose to not inflict it on others. That’s why I don’t have any friends. Present company excluded, of course.”

“You’re such a cynic.”

“I’m literally stuck behind the couch!” Ben wailed. “Will one of you get off your asses and move it so I can get out?”

“Fine,” I sighed. Clary hopped off the sofa and she and I moved it forward a few inches. Ben, sweat dripping into his excuse of a beard, crawled free. “Jesus, that was awful,” he panted.

“You’re such an idiot,” I said, shaking my head.

“Hey!” Ben protested. “Why are you being so mean tonight?”

“It’s my talent,” I said and walked toward the door. My people meter was full, and it was time to make myself scarce.

A Case of the Existential Blues (poem)

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on December 13, 2017 by Robert Crisp

Are all blues existential? Maybe. This termite thinks so.

turntable

Photo courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

 

A Case of the Existential Blues

I feel neglected and rather unimportant,
if I’m going to tell the truth, something
I don’t especially enjoy doing
, says the
termite with the mustache and a terminal
case of the existential blues, evidenced
by his less-than-jolly demeanor and the
Blind Lemon Jefferson blaring from tinny
speaker of his ancient, brown turntable,
a gift from his great-grandfather, a termite
of inestimable worth who cast a long shadow
over his progeny and is responsible for the
sad feelings of the termite with the mustache
who at this very moment is considering his
place in the vast, unfeeling, cold cosmos.

The Goddess’ Love (poem)

Posted in creative writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on December 12, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I was toodling around the house the other day when a voice in the ether said, “My love for you is pigeon-toed and like a marmite sandwich.” Thus, the following *poem:

The Goddess’ Love

“My love for you is pigeon-toed
and like a marmite sandwich,”
the goddess smiled and told me.

“Well, I’m relieved,” I said.
“I was worried it was normal.”

We toasted our robust health
as winter closed in around us
like a blue, kind-hearted fist.

goddess

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license.

*when I posted this yesterday, I neglected to add a title. Shame on me.

I Seem to be Taking a Break

Posted in addiction, alcoholic, alcoholism, anxiety, creative writing, sober, sobriety, social anxiety, Uncategorized, writing craft with tags , , , , , on December 5, 2017 by Robert Crisp

A break from creative writing, at least, and I’m good with that. It all started a few weeks ago when I received the weekly poetry market update newsletter from Duotrope. I scanned the list half-heartedly. The idea of going through poems to see which ones would be a good fit for a particular market made me tired. When I sat down to write, nothing came. I shrugged and moved onto other things.

I’ve been shrugging and moving on since then, and I’m not worried about it. I’ve spent many years in anxious turmoil over my writing, pressing myself beyond healthy limits to produce. When I turned thirty and hadn’t published anything, I went into a tailspin of depression. Ditto that for when I turned forty. Then I got sober, went into therapy, and discovered an effective combo of meds with the help of a wonderful psychiatrist. These days, if I skip a day or two of writing, that’s just the way it goes. I’m on the hunt for a full-time job, I’m raising two young children with my wife, and I have a lovely coterie of animals I care for. I have a full life. And I’m sober, to boot.

I’ve been thanking God lately, in particular, for the ability to let a particular story line go. I don’t mean fiction; I mean the story line of my life that dictates that I have to a Writer. The capital letter is important. I’m already a writer and always will be, but I’m also other things. Robert the Writer, though, is hyper-focused on getting published to the exclusion of other things. Rober the Writer won’t rest until he’s exhausted himself mentally and spiritually, racing to beat the clock, up against self-imposed deadlines. Also, Robert the Writer is a selfish bastard. I have no more use for him, so I’m letting that story line go (for more info on story lines and attachment, check out this article by Pema Chodron).

I couldn’t have been this kind to myself without getting sober, and I also imagine that I couldn’t have done it (sober or not) in my thirties due to a stunning lack of emotional maturity. Not that I’m a paragon of emotional maturity these days, but I’m a hell of a lot easier on myself than I used to be. I accept and deal with my anxiety which springs from a variety of sources, but I no longer give myself panic attacks for missing non-existant milestones in my life. I don’t have a book deal at 43? Fine. I only publish poetry on web-based journals? Cool. I can look at other aspects of my life and celebrate them and not dwell on things I thought I needed.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking of myself as more than just a writer. Currently, I prefer the term “creative.” I’m a creative. I write poems, stories, and songs. I draw cartoons. No matter where my life takes me, I’ll always find ways to express creativity. Writing this blog is another way.

So I’m going to take a break from creative writing because the still, small voice inside me says it’s time to. I spent many years ignoring that voice and drowing it with alcohol. These days, I do my best to listen to it.

The Whale-Shaped Man (fiction? poetry? both? neither?!?!)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, daily writing, flash fiction, poem, Poetry, short stories, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

The Whale-Shaped Man

Is he in his office? asked the whale-shaped man.
Is who is his office? the woman in sparkly pants replied.
You know.
I don’t.
Him.
That doesn’t clear it up.
The whale-shaped man grimaced. I’m talking about your father.
Oh. Why do you want to see him?
To ask for your hand in marriage.
That’s stupid, the woman laughed.
What?
Why would I marry you? You’re shaped like a whale.
But I love you.
That doesn’t change anything.

So the whale-shaped man left. Inside his office, the woman’s father sighed in relief.

The Severed Finger (flash fiction)

Posted in characters, creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on November 29, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This scenario ran through my head as I drove to work. 

fingers

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

They both stared at the severed finger on the kitchen table.

“Well,” Daniel said, “that’s not what I was expecting.”

“I can’t imagine any scenario in which a severed finger is what you’d expect,” Heather replied.

“You lack imagination.”

The two were silent were a few moments. The finger didn’t speak or move, but Daniel pretended it did. He couldn’t quite make out what it said.

“Look,” Heather said, “we just need to decide what to do. I vote we put it on ice.”

Daniel stepped closer to the table and inspected the finger. It looked to be an index finger, rather tanned, not terribly wrinkled. A youngish finger. “It depends on who it belongs to,” he said.

“Why does that matter? If someone lost a finger, we should save it for him, right?”

“Or her. Unless she’s a horrible person. Then we might be doing the world a favor by depriving her of the finger. Maybe she couldn’t get up to as much evil if she was a cripple.”

“Missing a finger doesn’t make you a cripple,” Heather said. “Besides, that’s not a nice term.”

“Cripple?”

“Yes.”

“I guess so.” Daniel scratched his chin. He was grateful to be in possession of all his digits. “Do you know,” he asked, “what a polydactyl is?”

Heather thought and then said, “Someone with an extra digit.”

“If the person that lost this digit is a polydactyl, then he doesn’t need this finger.”

“Or she doesn’t need it, as you pointed out. I find it funny that you’re concerned about the gender of this person but you’re quite cavalier about using the term ‘cripple.’”

Daniel smiled. “I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

“Something like that.”

The two continued staring at the finger, no close to deciding what to do than when they first entered the room.

Leaves for a Pillow (short fiction)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on November 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I remember writing this creepy little story while at my son’s taekwando practice…and then, as I do with so much of my writing, completely forgot about it. I did a little tweaking here and there and am mostly satisfied with it. Why you would gather leaves for a pillow is beyond me, but that’s what the character insisted on doing, both during the first draft and this morning. So be it.

Now that my health is back under control, I’m writing again but not as frequently. I have zero interest in submitting poetry, so I’m taking a break from that. Instead, I’m combing through stories and poems written during the last year and seeing what can be salvaged.

Here’s the story. As always, thanks for reading.

 

leaves.jpg

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

 

“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.

The boy watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.

When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a good start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.

“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama won’tt mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”

The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.

“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”

The boy nodded.

“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”

The boy nodded again.

“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”

The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy.. “And who’s this?” she asked.

“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”

The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.

“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “We don’t have an extra plate, if it’s food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”

The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”

“I can see that,” the woman said. “Is he deaf?”

“No,” the girl answered.

“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”

The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”

“No, he can get himself out of here.”

The boy flicked his right hand and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.

The boy shrugged.

The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.

“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.

The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.