Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A penny for my thoughts, oh no I'll sell 'em for a dollar


Life has been crazy lately. Crazy good mostly. I woke up super early this morning and I've had a really productive day. I finished off chapter ten of my book (still haven't worked much on getting published), ran, and got some Bible time in, among other things. I've been working harder lately at keeping up with the spiritual disciplines and the result has been fairly amazing. It's so much easier to keep things in perspective when you're pursuing God every day and opening yourself up to be taught and spoken too.

This is a new development, something I was inspired to change in the first meeting of the small group I joined at my new(ish) church, Red Rocks Church. I was also inspired to buy a study Bible. I am very anticipateious of its arrival in the mail. Come on Borders!!

So. I've been writing a lot of poetry lately. I've got another new poem I wrote but haven't posted yet. I've also got several chapters of Child of Thunder waiting in the wings, so if anyone is wanting to do some reading, drop me a comment. In other news, I'm thinking it's time to write another funny short story sometime soon. It's been a long time, hasn't it??

In other other craziness news, I work nights now. I haven't even started and I already detest it. It just starts too early, so it's going to disrupt my life in fairly unwelcome ways. I think it's about time for me to find a new job. If you hear anything...!!

Current reading:

-Isaiah (with a little help from one Matthew Henry)
-The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker
-The Purple Book
-The Best Question Ever by Andrew Stanley

Current listening:

"With Shivering Hearts We Wait" -- Blindside
"In Rainbows" -- Radiohead
"The Eraser" -- Thom Yorke
"The Band Perry" -- The Band Perry (Yes, country music!!)
"Greetings From Michigan" -- Sufjan Stevens
"Far" -- Regina Spektor
"Water Colors" -- Swimming With Dolphins
"Our Graceful Words" -- Sent By Ravens

If you know of any good worship music, drop me a line. I need something new to listen to besides David Crowder Band and Phil Wickham...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New New Poem

So I've been on a bit of a roll lately, poetically speaking. At least, I've been getting a whole lot of ideas! This one is about time travel. I decided the world doesn't have enough poetry about time travel, so I stepped in to take care of this terrible need. I got the initial ideas listening to a song called "The Clock" by Thom Yorke... and then I wrote it waiting to pick up my sister before softball.


The ticking beats in my ear,
like mechanical heartbeats I feel it,
as I watch you from across the room.

Is it 1854?
Or perhaps 1902?
I can't remember anymore,
all the dates blur together
once you've lived them out of order

It was blinking red numbers yesterday,
gently shuffling hands today,
a tinny robot's voice two weeks gone
But a clock by any other name
is still a clock.

I thought I knew how to make the numbers obey,
thought I had all the time in the world,
but I've made a grave miscalculation,
haven't I?
and you,
you knew it from the start,
didn't you?

Can you stop me before I stop the bomb,
can you stop me before I stop you?
can I stop you before you stop me?
Can I stop me before its too late?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Poem #2

I wrote another poem today. Inspiration for the beginning and end came in church, but the thoughts in the middle have been floating in my head for a couple days. I think it turned out well but I haven't made up my mind yet. Let me know what you think as always...

"Out the Way We Came In"

Do you ever wonder,
if we'll go out the way we came in,
a short drop through dark water
into blinding light and watchful eyes
Sometimes I wonder
who will be there,
when I go out

If I am unclean,
have I no place in eternity?
If my sins are never washed away,
will I ever find a home?
Do I close my eyes in vain?

I know that I am filthy,
every inch of skin covered in grime,
save for the tracks my tears have wiped clean,
I am filthy all through

If my feet are worn and dirty,
can You wash it all away?
If my hands are callused and broken,
can You wash it all away?
If my flesh is bruised and endlessly weary,
can You wash it all away?
If my eyes have dissolved to tears,
could You make them tears of joy?

Sometimes you might wonder,
if we'll go out the way we came in,
a short drop through dark water,
into blinding light and watchful eyes,
sometimes you might wonder,
if there will be a hand to hold,
through the black
but I know we'll go out the way we came in,
caught up in the arms of one,
who will never let us go

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Poem

I wrote a new poem. It's kind of strange (like most of my poetry, honestly). I've been trying to remember where exactly I got the idea for it, and I can't. I know I wrote a rough draft sometime last week. Today I was thinking about it again, and I got a few more ideas, so I went ahead and typed it up. I think I'm going to try to write another soon...

"Lay Down on the Tracks"

They can call me crazy,
when I slip to the outskirts of town,
once I here that whistle blowing,
and the endless turn of those wheels,
but I have a test in mind,
and I'm tired, oh so tired

When I lay me down on that old iron rail,
will you be the one to stay beside me,
or are you gonna flee like all the rest,
when that steam engine comes roaring in,

I want to lay down on the tracks,
and watch that train come speeding in,
I want to leap from an airplane,
no parachute, no parachute, no parachute,
and watch the ground rush towards me,
like a runaway freight car

Oh please don't call it suicide,
I've no desire to die,
just to look old death in the face
prove my bravery,
and dart away at the last second,
To know life unafraid.

But if you won't lay here beside me,
maybe you will never understand,
If you can't lay here beside me,
maybe you can never really live.

Kick the Bucket

I made a bucket list today. These are all things I want to do before I die. I might have missed some stuff, but these were the ones that seemed most urgent. And yes, it's mostly a self oriented list, but putting anything about helping others just felt too vague, though it's still I feel an important goal to have in life. I was encouraged to see that most of this list could be accomplished in a few weeks...

-Travel the world
-Bungie jump
-Hang glide
-Sky dive
-Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
-Learn to play an instrument
-See Thrice in concert
-Publish a book (or forty)
-Beat the NES Legend of Zelda games
-Get married
-Go on a mission trip

So what do you think?? Post your thoughts and your own list if you have one...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Toes on the Diving Board

Sometimes I wonder if I'm going off the deep end.

Why is that you ask?? I thought you lost it a long time ago, you say??

My current work, Child of Thunder, just feels so... out there. It's about bears and deer at war with each other. Most folks would call that downright weird. It's a crazy story and it keeps getting crazier. The part I wrote last night for chapter ten came almost out of nowhere. It's so insane, in fact, that I'm going to have to rewrite a few earlier chapters to make it fit in. It's funny, I originally planned for Child of Thunder to be a children's book, but the resulting story that's poured out of me so far has been pretty unexpectedly dark, intense, and gory. Riley doesn't always feel or act like a thirteen year old boy either, does he?

What I wanted from this story is... complicated. Since I just wrote a romancey kind of story, I wanted to stay away from that. I wanted it to be a very boyish kind of book, like something a little kid would enjoy. In some ways, I think I achieved that. Kids don't always have a filter for violence. I've had little kids jokingly talk about smashing my head in and the like, so while I don't feel like my story is necessarily appropriate for kids anymore, it still sort of has that spirit to it. Only now that spirit is also inspired by and wrapped up in a story about a bloody revolution, a world in revolt against a cruel master.

So maybe I'm going off the deep end, but I think I've sunk too far to turn back now. I think this story is just begging to be finished, to be fully and properly told.

So I invite you to dive deep with me, and enjoy the insanity that is Child of Thunder.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Child of Thunder (Chapter Six)

Child of Thunder

Chapter Six: White Vulture

I woke up with a start, ready for a fight. Part of me expected to rise in the exact place I’d fallen, as though I’d only been unconscious mere seconds. This was not the case, however.

I wasn’t draped across Daale’s back either, but instead I lay in a surprisingly cozy bed. I’d been covered with a wool blanket that was a bit itchy but wonderfully warm. For a half second, I was tempted to lie back down. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been this comfortable.

It was enough to make me wonder if it had all been a dream. I felt a surge of panic until I checked my ankle and found the furrowed scars where I the bear had clawed me up in capture. I looked up and saw to my utter shock that I seemed to be back in my own world. This was the simple log cabin in Iowa I’d called home once… before my family had permanently taken to the road. Same bed, same fire crackling away in the hearth.

The door rattled. I saw the corner of a dress striped blue and white. “Mother,” I began.

“Yes dear?” a voice came. But it wasn’t my mother who peeked her head around the corner at all. It was Basson in a woman’s dress, the silver streak on his face seeming to glimmer in the low light. But then, as if unzipping a costume, the bear removed its skin and fur, revealing a big white vulture with wide red eyes.

Once more I woke suddenly, letting out a strangled cry of fear. I was immediately shushed, a heavy, furred hand pressed against my mouth. “Shh, lad.” Daale whispered gruffly. “We’re very close to the camp. The slightest noise could give us away. Don’t want to provoke an attack.”

I nodded and sat up. I had been leaned against a tree. As before, I woke up feeling alert. I just wanted to know what was going on. That was the worst thing about spending so much time unconscious. I felt like I never understood anything.

But Daale was quick to remedy this. He’d been peering through a bush all this time, and for me he spread its branches a little wider so I could see what he was looking at so intently. A valley carefully nestled away in the mountains dipped before us.

I had expected much from the labor camp. I had pictured it dry as a bone, desolate, and miserable. What spread below us was perhaps the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. It was all buildings of stark white stone, ruins draped with coats of thick moss and the reaching tendrils of many vines. Tall trees grew everywhere, all in varying shades of dark green.

I wanted to explore more than anything. This was a labor camp? It took me a moment’s study, but I began to see how it had earned its name. Slightly to our right, at the valley’s lowest point, a high watchtower stood. It wasn’t like the other buildings. It was made of wood and seemed a little sloppily built, as if it had been constructed hastily. In a slender clearing around it, there were about a dozen equally haphazard buildings. Most prominent following the tower was a windmill.

I could also see several fields where it looked like crops were being strained and sweated over. In addition, I noticed there was one particular ruin that still looked quite inhabited. A more modern looking chimney had been roughly fitted on its roof and it was belching smoke skyward in long plumes.

“What’s the plan?” I whispered.

“Infiltrate, take out the guard, liberate the prisoners, escape.”

He made it sound so simple, but I had a feeling it would be a lot more complicated than that.

But wasn’t it always?

I rose and stretched langorously. As I stood, I heard a rustling in the brush surrounding our cramped hiding spot. I raised my hand, ready to defend myself the only way I knew how.

“You going to set the forest up in flames?” Gryndor asked casually, stepping past me. “Better teach you a new spell sooner rather than later, hadn’t I?”

“Would you?” I asked excitedly.

“Better still if he were taught how to fight.” Daale said.

“Agreed, but do you really think your fighting style will be of much benefit?” Gryndor replied.

Daale sighed and shook his head. “I suppose not. Let us be about this business and quickly on our way then.”

Given the way things had gone thus far, I expected crazy to happen in a big hurry. I didn’t know what our fate would be exactly, only that I wanted to rescue Needha and explore that strange landscape. “What did you mean by infiltrate?” I asked Daale.

“I meant that the labor camp just found its two newest workers,” the bear prince responded. “I will be recognized, but news does not always travel fast. Word of my apparent treachery will probably not have reached the white vulture just yet.”

I gasped. “What did you say?”

“This place is run by a foul white vulture skilled in sorcerous arts,” Gryndor interjected. “Why?”

“No reason… just wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly.” Gryndor eyed me strangely but said nothing. I didn’t know what to make of the strange dream I’d had so I’d elected not to mention it, afraid of sounding insane.

From then on we gave up on stealth, making for a broad road that cut a path through the forest. The vegetation here was so thick we could hardly see the sky save for a narrow strip of blue directly above. The walking was easy, as the path wound downhill at a comfortably steady pace. It was an idyllic here, quietly beautiful.

A sense of foreboding was beginning to come upon me, in spite of my previous excitement. A deep dread was pouring into my bones, settling in so far I feared it might never leave. We ate on the road, berries and fish that Gryndor had apparently obtained. I hoped the fish didn’t mind being snatched up and devoured.

After nearly an hour’s walk we found ourselves emerging into that immense clearing we’d seen from above. Two fields straddled either side of the road, both filled with animals of all sorts hunched over their work. Every face I spied was a mask of misery. The beasts tending the fields looked underfed, and their fur was patchy where they’d been struck or burnt or both.

My resolve to see our mission through strengthened.

Bears seemed to be overseeing everything, but I also saw a couple of panthers and one wolf too, and here and there a vulture hunched from fenceposts and the eaves of rooftops. The feathers of every bird was coal dark, however. Not a one of them was white, and none of them had red eyes. I was relieved at that, because of all things in this new world so far, that bird alone terrified me.

To keep up the sham, Gryndor and I kept our hands behind our backs, marching ahead of Daale. I’d only been taught a little of our plot. I knew it involved a sleeping potion, and stealing keys. As to what else would happen, I could not say exactly and I didn’t really care. I was content to follow my companions lead as we walked into danger.

What the full particulars of that plan were I would never learn regardless. We were walking through a central lane that seemed to be broadening as we neared the tower that was at the heart of the labor camp. Dark shadows fell across the dirt and gravel path. Bear and prisoner alike looked up in fear as the white vulture from my nightmare swooped in, flanked by two vultures whose feathers were speckled light and dark.

We'd been discovered already.

“Greetings, Xyd." Daale called in a forced, jovial tone. Gryndor turned his head down, playing the part of downtrodden prisoner. I tried to do the same, but I couldn't help peeking at the white vulture out of curiosity.

It was the spitting image of my dream, red eyes and all. I shivered in fear and quickly looked to the ground.

"What is the son of treachery doing in his father's kingdom? the bird rasped harshly in a clear but deadly quiet voice.

The bear prince feigned surprise. "What do you mean?" As I looked ahead and down I noticed that both the speckled vultures had wicked steel claws wrapped around their talons.

"The disgraced prince flees his home in shame and come to Xyd for help? Do not think I have not forseen your actions!"

Daale hesitated, and in the end it was that moment of hesitation that cost us dearly. Xyd did not enwrap his feet in metal like his bodyguards. Rather, he wore leather studded with iron spikes that were rimmed with reddish rust.

One of these he stripped off, awkwardly but quickly placing one foot over the other, then pulling. With this newly freed talon he quickly cast a spell on us with but a single word.


Gryndor raised a hand and seemed to yell something, but he was suddenly mute. I tried to launch a fireball into the beast's gut but I found that I too was incapable of speech. Without words, we could not use magic.

This left Daale alone free to defend us.

He hefted the mighty broadsword veiled beneath his cloak and swung his arms back for a blow mighty enough to see trees hewn and felled. Both the speckled guards attacked in the wake of their master's devastating enchantment, but only one survived to flap away for a second attack.

The bird that had been stricken by Daale’s sword fell to the ground, but its corpse did not bleed as I expected it to. Instead, it began to melt, quickly transforming into a gooey pile of sludge which began to sink into the earth, but not before releasing a noxious black vapor.

Gryndor finally found his tongue and let out a guttural word that I did not understand. At once that foul black cloud swirled into a little tornado that flew towards Xyd. It washed over the bird, coating him in black slime. Xyd doubled over in a coughing fit, red eyes watering.

Before I could launch an attack of my own with my suddenly regained powers of speech, a dozen bears flooded in around us, backing up the two remaining birds. Our chances were now far slimmer. “Xyxophes,” the white vulture cried, casting another dark spell.

Ropes sprouted from the earth and wrapped themselves around our wrists and ankles. They squeezed roughly and I lost my footing. I hit the dirt path so hard the wind was knocked out of me.

“Take them to the prison ward,” Xyd commanded, sounding even more hoarse than before. He barely managed to release the words before hacking again. It didn’t seem to be handling Gryndor’s strike very well.

“And make sure the deer is well bound! He’s a sorcerer!” Those were the last words I heard as the three of us were hauled off, once more in the carelessly brutal custody of bears.

They didn’t throw us into a dank cell as I expected, but a white stone ruin. It wasn’t the one with the chimney I’d seen previously, but one hidden by the veritable jungle growing in this lush valley. We were dumped on our stomachs in a large, open room. The bears left us all tied up to lay there uncomfortably, but not before they gagged Gryndor so he could work no spells.

There were free animals around us, timid little things hiding in the shadows. No one came to our aid, however. We were on our own. I wasn’t terribly troubled yet, just disappointed I hadn’t spied Needha anywhere.

“Well…” Daale murmured, voice muffled against the ground. “This could be a problem.”

We lay there unattended for a very long time. I began to forget my arms and legs as they grew increasingly numb. I may have slept but I was never quite sure. I certainly at no time felt rested, that much I can assure you.

After much time poorly passed one of the quiet little shadows lurking at the edges of the room crept forward. I caught sight of pale yellow fur and long, floppy ears.


A rabbit to the rescue.

I sighed, assuming we were no better off than we had been since we arrived in this awful place. “Don’t you worry now… Colonel Hayfinch Yarwood will have you outta those ropes in half a jif.” I could hear but not see a small yet confident voice coming from somewhere to my left.

Gryndor let out a muffled grunt. Then another, more insistent one. He couldn’t talk around his gag. I heard the rabbit pull it out, allowing the deer’s words to burst out like champagne from an uncorked bottle.

“The ropes are magic,” Gryndor told our rabbit to the rescue. “You’ll need to rub them with water and goose down or they won’t loosen.”

“Goose down? What’s geesers got to do with it?” the “colonel” replied indignantly. After a moment’s work he gave up in frustration. “Well I ain’t got a goose. What do you think of that?”

“I think you should borrow my knife,” Gryndor replied. I heard grunting and shuffling as the deer apparently freed a dagger from somewhere on his person. It clattered noisily on the stone floor, causing the shadows along the edges of the walls to quiver.

“Oh… the deer’s got a knife. Well why didn’t you say so in the first place, leafeater?” Seconds later Gryndor was free. He took the little weapon from the rabbit and freed Daale and I, allowing us a much needed chance to stand and stretch.

Looking around, I found the room we were in had only one exit, which I had to assume was being closely guarded. I was surprised no one had intervened yet. There were a couple of windows which let in the hazy light of the valley, but they were all high and barred off.

When I looked on the rabbit I saw the creature was hunched a bit, and seemed a little haggard, but he was cheerful and bold. Surprising features for such a small creature, in such a place as this. I say small, but really he stood only a few inches shorter than I, and he was taller if you counted the ears. The rabbit was dressed in a navy blue uniform that wouldn’t have been out of place on a soldier in the U.S. Army.

“You’re a soldier?” I asked curiously.

“Just so, little mole-child. Rather… I’m not just a soldier, I’m the whole shebang. All that remains of the Grand Army of the Republic. Since it disbanded, I’m the only one left, y’see.” The rabbit frowned and looked off in the distance, as if recollecting a bad memory. “I was just a private, but I felt it prudent to give myself a promotion… since I’m the only one who did not desert following our surrender.”

“Why not just make yourself a general then?” Gryndor cut in drily.

“Well… generals don’t often see battle, and I’m more the sort for frontlines action.” Hayfinch said the words a bit sheepishly. His people had been conquered, but he’d clung to his honor by the barest thread. I guess when you lost everything, your traditions would be a hard thing to let go.

Daale got on his knees so he could meet the colonel at eye level. “I was sorry to hear about the fall of your people,” he said sincerely. “The rabbit nation was a bright beacon in the darkness. Our world reels from the blow still.”

“Was! And she will be again, God willing.” The rabbit looked at me and winked. “So am I right in assuming your capture was part of an elaborate plan? What’s the next step, if I may ask?”

Daale hesitated. “The plan is… a little off track. We… we’re working on it as we go.”

“There isn’t really a plan anymore.” Gryndor said helpfully. “We’re playing it by ear.”

The rabbit said only one thing, and it seemed to articulate all our feelings accurately.

“Oh dear.”