Saturday, June 24, 2006

 
I plan** to post a mix of poetry and prose, a rant or two, maybe a sermon. We'll see. Please let me know if you would like to pay me for any of it.


Here is a haiku-like thing I recently wrote:

these words are neither
true nor false, simply words --
please ignore them

Seems an appropriate way to begin a writing blog, don't you agree?


Just below is a short excerpt from the opening scene of my new novella, still in manuscript. The tale is historical fiction with a heavy overlay of Irish myth. Anyone know a good agent?

The scene is set in the American South in the 1890's. James, the protagonist, came from Ireland in 1860, after his Irish freedom activities forced him to leave Ireland or be hanged.

~~~

The flagstones were cold and rough on his cheek. Why wouldn’t someone help him up, James wondered? He knew people were there; he could hear their voices. They sounded muffled, far away, as if they were afraid to wake him, but he was awake. Couldn’t they see that?

I’ll just roll over and speak to them; that should bring them back to reality. . .

Ah, there’s little Dora, sweet Dora, not so little now, a grown woman. Why is she crying? What’s that she’s saying? Something about she loved me so—what does she mean loved? That’s past tense; can’t she see I’m right here?

He called out, “Dora, Dora! Here I am. Come give Papa a hug.”

Dora paid no attention to James’s plea. He realized it was still dark; perhaps that was the problem. They could not see him. Soon, however, it would be daylight; he could see the brightening of the eastern sky heralding dawn’s arrival.

Where is my darling wife, my Tullia? Oh, now I see her, there she is being helped by the doctor. The doctor? Oh, no. Is she ill? Has she had an accident? Oh, my love. I’ll help you! Why won’t someone help me up so I can help her? Where is that new hired girl, Brenda? She should be here to help Tullia.

And all those people I see milling around, perhaps one of them could help me. Strange, a few of them are neighbors but who are the others? The dark-skinned old ones; they see me, speak to each other in some foreign tongue, then turn away. I have never seen them before; where did they come from?

James heard someone say something about red-brown grains making a kind of tattoo on his skin, and a black, sooty residue on his robe, indicating a shot at very close range. The speaker, who was wearing a badge, said that everyone should retire until the coroner arrived, and that would not likely be before daylight, as he needed good light to do his job. James certainly understood why that would be so. But why did the coroner have work to do here? Coroners only deal with dead people. Who died? Everyone here seemed perfectly healthy, distraught perhaps, but physically well. Everyone, that is, but himself, and if someone would only help him up. . .

Realization broke with the brightening approach of sunrise.

“Oh, no! It’s me they’re here for. I remember being shot, but who shot me? My God, I’m dead! But. . . but how can I know that?”

A long, dark shadow preceded a soft croak—throaty, harsh—of a crow alighting just inches from his face. “Ye know what I’m wantin’ ye to know, Jamie, my lad.”

“A talking crow? Who. . . What are you? How can you hear me when no others can?”

“Oh,” the crow replied, “they could hear ye if they truly wished, but they’re a’feared o’ me, as well they should be. As to who I am—I have no name, I have all names. Some calls me ‘beauty,’ some ‘my lady,’ some say I’m the lady who rides the black swan, some calls me ‘the Morrigan.’ They calls me lots o’ things. The wise ones don’t call me, but they listen when I speak.”

“The Morrigan,” James said, “So I am dead. But why are you here; you come for the battle dead—this was no battle. This was a murder.”

“Hee!” The creature replied, “A murder, aye, for murder is part of every battle. An’ everything about ye is a battle, aren’t ye knowin’ that?

She cocked her head, one molten eye staring and glaring at James, and sang in her croaking voice,


Ye ask me why am I here, young lad?

Why, I’m here to be takin’ ye home.

O’ course, afore we’re leavin’ this place,

we must see how the battle be goin’—

to be knowin’ your fate is to be knowin’ your path,

the path that’ll take ye home.

I see ye don’t understand, young lad,

for ye thought I dwelled ’cross th’ sea.

But I can go anywhere, ye know,

anywhere at all there’s a battle.

For my swan is a powerful bird, it is,

'Tis a black swan and stronger than others.

And there’s eagles to ride and salmons to ride

and the wind is an excellent carriage.

And there’s always a battle to be needin’ my skills,

so there’s always a path to be followin’.

Getting here was no more’n a wish.

“A wish,” James said, “a wish. I wish I understood what is happening. Where must we go to learn how the battle goes? To learn where home might be? Will it be heaven or will it be hell?”

“Nay, nay. Not such a simple thing will it be. Why the things you mortals call heaven and hell ye’ve already made for yourselves right here, ye know. Nay, I’m meanin’ somethin’ deeper, somethin’ from beneath the caul o’ your soul. Somethin’ most never can see, never can feel—nor want to. Have ye strength enough to be seein’ the truth, to be feelin’ the truth?”

“Yes,” James said, “It’s the truth I always hope to find.”

“So ye say and so I’ll show ye. Hee!” she cackled, “Come with me.”

~~~

Now that this blog is set up, I will try to post more or less regularly.

Peace.

** God laughs when man makes plans.

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