THE STARS MUST BE MY FRIENDS TO SHINE FOR ME

It has been night every day recently. No one walks the streets around my home. I hear cars one at a time – usually loud ones, screaming by at unimaginable speeds. I can not fathom where they are coming from, or where they are off to. It’s night time; there’s no knowing what anyone is up to.

Continue reading “THE STARS MUST BE MY FRIENDS TO SHINE FOR ME”

A Poem from the Balckwell Archives

November, 1, 2017

not a densely wooded forest,
nor a carefully manicured lawn
no oaks obscuring the clear blue sky
hardly any grass to speak of
Like No Park I’ve Ever Tasted

large piles of dirt
young trees sparsely planted
maybe in 100 years, this will be a park
for now: park, or parking lot?

dogs off leash
a naturalistic dog obstacle course
constructed of stumps and rocks
maybe i should bring my kids
No Nuisance Barking

behold a vantage point: you see
a road
and then, a highway
some farms
a streetlight

further north, i accidentally reach a sidewalk
i turn around
a creek
a bridge, a pond
bench carved out of a trunk
leaves fall like snow
my ducks in a row
true peace
No Dog Zone

across the street lies a beautiful golf course
hidden behind a wall of trees.
for us, a former dump
construction signs littered everywhere
Everett Crowley Park

Love Letter

I had been struck by an angel. A radiant glow had entered my classroom which was stuffed with folk like myself; your average lot of messy hair, mismatched clothing, and average countenance. She was anything but. Her eyes shone with the brilliance of pure angelite which immediately drew my attention and was why I referred to her as such an ethereal being. Strawberry blonde hair was tied back into two beautiful plumes that shot out and dangled listlessly in the air, without a care in the world, but still holding the eminence of a princess. Yes, surely she was one. She had drifted to my own place of study, which was well below her station. Due to an unforeseen clerical error, for the time being she would study with us commoners until such paperwork could be sorted.

The Princess’ cheeks were rosy from the cold and brisk mid-October winds. The weather had quickly transitioned from an early autumn delight of coloured leaves flying through a light breeze to a frigid wasteland of crunchy leaves hurtling by with sharp gusting blows. Her pink winter coat kept all eyes on her. The hood was adorned with the ears of what must have been some sort of kingly bear, for I had never heard of such a thing as a pink bear in the parts of the world that I lived. The Royal Family’s Grand Master of The Hunt must have tamed such a magnificent creature who, upon seeing such a princess as the Princess, wished to watch over and keep her warm in the upcoming winter months. And there the bear must have transformed itself into a warm and cozy coat, the perfect size for all occasions. Her two mittens were also adorned with the visage of two red foxes who must have lent their wit to the Princess in the same manner as the pink bear.

I had been standing in the middle of the classroom, a wooden building block in my hand. I had been creating great structures for the better part of our late morning break. The rapturous laughter and good faith between my fellow craftsmen had been disrupted by that knock at the door. There she entered. When I claimed I had been struck by such a presence I had not been over exaggerating, as when she entered the room I found myself off balance by her beauty. I took a step forward, being pulled by her aura and lost my footing, falling forward. The block in my hand fumbled to the ground right where my knee desired to place itself. The blunder; an instant. The pain; absolute. Tears welled in my eyes and I began to cry out, my knee forming a bruise underneath my denims.

The instructor diverted her attention from the entrance of the Princess for my own wails. To this day I can barely manage to hold in my horror recollecting how I stole away the deserved attention of the Princess with my unkempt cries. Mrs. Bielenberg, whom we all affectionately called Mrs. Burger, rushed to my aid, and to my contempt, no matter her attempts my cries would not be quelled. And herein I remember that it must have been fate that I fell that day as the Princess herself began to approach. My cries began to die out as I noticed that there was a presence standing before me. I sat on the ground, my knee in my hand with a tear-stained face as I was to greet the Princess herself. In that single moment, all pain was alleviated from me. The Princess held a glowing smile on her face as she took from her jacket pocket a small parcel and held it out to me. On the belly of her fox companion laid a chocolate bar, Halloween-mini-sized, and she offered it to me with a slight gesture forward of her hand. All of my assumptions of her were affirmed. Indeed, she was a celestial deity that I had never believed to be of existence on earth.

I took the parcel and stared down at it in my palm. I would treasure such a gift for all eternity, a celestial treasure form the heavens itself. “Now what do we do when someone gives us a gift Jacob?” Mrs. Burgers voice penetrated my focus on the treasure. I looked back up toward Mrs. Burger, my jaw slack, my face dumbfounded. I tried to work out the answer to such a question but I was left with nothing. Deep down I knew the answer but with the current situation, my brain couldn’t work its way around such a thing. “Come now Jacob, say thank you to Marie for the chocolate.”

The Princess’ name – Marie. Lightning shot through my body and out my fingers upon hearing something so sublime. She was nothing like the rest of the rabble that I was so used to. So different from the three Annas, the two Jessicas, the Emilys and Natalies, the Carolines and Sarahs. This Marie was nothing of the sort. Her name must have stood for everything that was bright and good, I knew this at an instant. So caught in my awe of the Princess’ name I continued to sit in dumb silence. Mrs. Burger spoke up again, this time a little more terse, “Jacob, come now say thank you to Marie, don’t be rude.”

At the shock of being pulled from my thoughts I straightened up and looked toward the Princess, her kind eyes on me, a smile on her face. One shock turned to another as I was so taken back from her smile. I sputtered out, “Um, uh. Thanks…” Not as suave as I had hoped, but considering the situation, it was as good as I could manage.

“Good! Now was that so hard?” Mrs. Burger chimed in with her cheery voice but I barely heard it at all as I stared deep into those angelite eyes.

“You’re welcome! This is my fay-vore-it!” She spoke each word with a slight nod of her head, emphasis on each one. Each word felt as if it held its own importance beyond that of a sentence as she spoke in a strong and loud voice.

Soon after, Marie was introduced to the class by Mrs. Burger. She had hung up her companions on the hanger in her cubbyhole at the back of the class and was now wearing a gorgeous pink gown that exploded out at her waist with frills all about. I learned later that such an elegant outfit was referred to as a tutu, again showing how unique she was from the rest of us. Her family had just moved here, surely from overseas as she was the princess of a kingdom far away, and that was why she was joining the class later into the semester. She smiled widely at the whole room and in her way of speaking that held such import, she told the class her name was Marie, hiding the fact she was a princess from the rest of the students. I smiled in reply to hers, delighted that I was the only one that had figured out she was a princess.

The rest of that day was a blur. I watched Marie as we went through the usual activities. Her voice imprinted itself into me. Her laughter was angelic. I spent the rest of class that day barely listening to Mrs. Burger, or anyone else for that matter. I was simply smitten.

Class ended in a flash that snapped me out of my trance. Parents were already arriving to pick up the other children. I sat on the carpeted floor and watched as Marie gathered her animal companions along with her bag. Her mother arrived to escort the Princess home but before leaving, she turned around to me and waved, “Bye-bye Jacob!” and before I could reply she was out the door.

My mom arrived shortly thereafter, wondering why I was sat in the middle of the room and not dressed in my jacket for our trip home. All I could tell her was, “Uh… I dunno,” for she would never understand what had transpired that day and the fire that had lit in my chest.

At home, I played with my blocks, perfecting designs that I would show my fellow craftsmen at school the next day. However, I couldn’t focus. My mind was stuck on the Princess and it did not dare to leave such thoughts for a moment. The door opened, “I’m home!” a loud voice bellowed out from the entryway. I rushed over to my dad and wrapped my arms around his legs. “Hey buddy! How are you today?” He called out with an excited voice as he crouched down to rustle my hair.

“Good!” I replied. I couldn’t find the nerve to tell him that someone had taken his place as the most loved person in my life so I simply left it there. My dad picked me up in his arms in a hug.

“Welcome home honey,” my mom warmly called out as she rounded the corner to the front door. “You won’t believe what I found today in one of those old boxes when I was cleaning up in the closet.” She moved up to my dad and hugged him with me in between. This was my favourite kind of hug, a Jacob sandwich they would often call it.

“Mmm! My two favourite people,” he kissed my mom on the cheek. “What did you find honey?”

“It was some of your old love letters to me. I even found the one that made me fall in love with you in the first place.”

“Oh man, that’s kind of embarrassing now isn’t it? I don’t think I’d want to read a love letter that my younger self wrote.” My dad jokingly replied followed with a laugh and a pinched face. Their conversation continued but I had stopped listening. My mind began to run at lightning speed, was there really a letter that could make someone fall in love with you?

I interrupted my parents, “What’s a love letter?” They looked at each other, both smiling, something they often do in reply to one of my questions.

My mom was the first to answer, “Well honey, a love letter is something that you write to someone when you love them very much and you want them to know just how much you love them.”

“Uh… and it makes the other person love you?” I asked slyly, not letting any of my true intentions slip. However it didn’t seem to matter as my mom had mind reading powers that she had used on several occasions in the past. One such occasion was when I had accidentally knocked over a glass of juice, spilling it over the living room carpet. Somehow, she knew it was me even though I told her I had nothing to do with it. She employed these powers yet again as a wily smile came to her face.

“Well, let’s see. It doesn’t really make them love you but, if they already do love you then the letter might make them realize it. Does that make sense honey?”

In response, I wiggled out of the Jacob sandwich and made way for my work table. I grabbed a sheet of paper on they way and hurriedly sat down at the dark blue plastic station that I used to complete various works. It had been a gift from an older cousin whom had outgrown its uses and that now suited me greatly. I looked upon my collection of writing utensils, one that was not quite exhaustive, as I had to settle on sky blue. It was chosen for the closeness it held to the celestial shade held within her eyes that spoke of things beyond this earthly life.

I put crayon to paper and began to write. I felt my heart flow out onto the page. The letter was the whole amalgamation of all of my feelings for such a creature as the Princess. I only hoped that my words would pass to her as I had tried to express them. Time flew by as I filled the page, and soon, it was complete. I finished the letter by folding it in half and writing the Princess’ name on the front in bold lettering; “MARY.”

I steeled my resolve the rest of the night and the entire morning getting ready for school the next day. I ran through how I would give her the letter in my head, over and over. It had to be perfect, for a princess would demand no less than that. I dressed in my jacket and boots, my mom tying them up for me as I sat on the bench by the front door. Suddenly a thought came to me and I sprinted to the kitchen, one boot tied and the other not. My mom called out to me but I was already at my destination. I opened the cupboard and grabbed a Halloween-mini-sized chocolate, stuffing it into my pocket with the letter before returning to the door.

“What was that all about honey?” she asked.

“Uh… I just forgot something.”

“Okay, well are you ready to go now?” I nodded as she finished tying my other boot. We got into the car and I was on my way to see her.

She was already there when I arrived. I felt a nervous sweat encompass me and I tore at my jacket to try and get it off. My mom was already gone having said her good byes and I love yous. I was on my own. It was five minutes until class would start as I nervously walked from my cubby to the Princess herself. I held the letter and the chocolate in my hand, attempting to not crumple it. To my ultimate dismay, my nervousness pulled my hands into clenched fists and the paper crumpled with it. I stared at the letter in shock, the crayon-written ‘MARY’ now a creased mess, far from the perfection that a princess would desire. I decided that I would rewrite the letter and try again tomorrow when the Princess’ hand grabbed it out of my hands. I had unwittingly walked right up to her.

“Is this for me?” she asked in her emphasized speech, fit only for royalty. I was shaken to my core. Right after I had decided to write it again and try tomorrow, fate was chosen for me.

“Uh… yeah,” I got out, not wanting to look a fool. I held out my other hand with the chocolate in it, now slightly misshapen. “This too.” I said with my eyes unable to meet hers.

“Thanks!” she said, her face beaming. She unfolded the paper and began to read.

TO MARY

You are a PRINCES

Your eyes are ANGLE eyes.

Your smile is BIG! and NICE!

This is a LOVE LETER.

I LOVE YOU!

FROM JACOB

Marie looked up from the letter, her face still beaming, “Thanks Jacob! I love you too!” I looked back at her and all I could do was reply to her smile with my own.

Big Pot

I am quite certain that no man has ever made as much soup as I made last night. It is an unholy, blasphemous amount of soup. Unholy, because its size recalls the irreconcilable sin of gluttony; blasphemous, because the idea that man should usurp the act of creation to such a vast extent is surely an affront to God.

I got the idea in my head last week that what was required for our household was a Big Pot. We are a household of Soup; this is true all year round, but especially at this time of year. For us, soup is sustenance, and sustenance is soup. Until recently, we made our soups in a moderately sized pot, a pot that was passed down to me from my parents, and has been with me for many a year. This pot, while unremarkable for its physical size, takes up a remarkable space in my heart. Alas, when I conceived of the idea of Big Pot, all this sentimentality was quickly thrown out of the nearest window, and I was overcome with a desire for a pot of such proportions as could feed a whole village.

Well, that is exactly what we now have! The box that seeked to contain this monstrosity denoted its volume as 8 quarts. I have never heard of this foreign measurement, but I can only assume that it is short for quarters – that is to say that our Big Pot is the size of eight quarters – that is to say, it is the size of two whole pots. A pot that is two pots is a frightening concept indeed.

As to the creation of the soup: I began, as usual, by cutting the onion. Ah, the onion! It became clear even at this early moment that cooking with Big Pot was a culinary experience altogether unlike any I had ever reckoned with. When it came time to slide the multisected onion from the board to the pot, I was overcome with a feeling much like that of Neil Armstrong when he first made the grand effort to turn his suit-encumbered body around and cast his ken upon the grand orb that is our home. The onion, that I had once known to fill the bottom of a pot and then some, was like a speck in the infinite abyss that was Big Pot! It was as if I had thrown a handful of sand into the ocean! My eyes welled up, and not for the reason one might expect when dealing with onions; no, my eyes welled up with an intense sadness.

This sadness, however, was mixed with an altogether less unpleasant emotion, which, in turn, was mixed with fear – it was in this moment that I became aware of the potential that lay before me. With a pot this size, I could, dare I say it… I dare not. Whether I dared to voice this possibility even to myself, I will not reveal. Let us suffice to say, that my mind was instantly filled with ideas so hideous in their scope that I was forced to look away. Big Pot was leading me down disastrous roads, roads that could only end in distinct suffering – not only my own, but the suffering of many a living being. I closed my eyes. They were welling up again; this time, however, it was from the toxic excretions of the onions.

The rest of the soup construction flowed almost like a dream. It seemed as if I was in the kitchen for hours, peeling, slicing, dicing, in a pitiful attempt to fill the depths of Big Pot. Squash, potato, tomato, turnip, lentils – all disappeared into the maw of the pot. A whole cutting board full of ingredients would slide disgracefully into the pot, leaving the pot no fuller. It was as if the soup was being sucked through a portal into an infinite Soup Dimension. I searched through the fridge for ingredients – three quarters of a can of leftover beans went into the pot. Big Pot only laughed.

Before I knew it, the soup was ready. At this point, all sense of perspective had left me. The Pot was an universe unto itself. That things could travel from Big Pot back into this world was nigh inconceivable. But I was hungry – oh, so hungry. I was fatigued, not only physically, from the laborious work of filling the pot, but spiritually too. My mind had been torn asunder and patched back together; I was not the same man I had once been.

I stuck a ladle in the pot, and beheld the dripping monstrosity as I directed it towards a human-sized bowl. I must have appeared as a madman, for, as my wife later told me, I was laughing deliriously throughout this whole procedure. I could not control myself. After removing the ladlefuls necessary to fill my bowl – a bowl that I have always trusted to contain exactly one meals-worth of food – the level of soup in the pot had not changed. Sheer, unbridled mirth filled my soul with this discovery – contained in the pot must be an infinite amount of soup! I ladled another bowl, and found, to no surprise, that the amount of soup left in the bowl remained unchanged.

After dinner, we realized, to our horror, that the rest of the soup would have to be rescued from Big Pot and transferred to refridgeratable vessels. Thankfully, this duty did not fall upon me; having cooked the soup itself, the responsibility for clean-up belonged to my wife. I must admit that I did not stay to watch this event unfold. I escaped to another room; however, I did not escape from the horrific screams that emanated from our kitchen as tupperware after tupperware was exhausted in the attempt to contain this larger-than-should-be-allowed soup.

A day has now passed, but still I dare not peer into the fridge. I could not bear to witness such a scene. The sheer overwhelming mass of soup is sure to drive me to irrecoverable madness. So, I sit at my table, and write out this tale of warning and woe for any reader who may be so courteous as to heed its vital message.

It was a good soup that I made last night. It was a delicious soup, in fact. I may dare to declare that it was one of the most delicious soups that I have ever tasted. But was it worth it? The creation of this soup took me somewhere where no human should ever be; what I brought home is beyond human conception. This experience has made me unlike you, or any member of our specices. I look out upon this world now as something alien, something wholly unlike the man I supposed myself to be yesterday. The trifling sorrows of humankind seem strange to me, as do their fleeting joys. I am numb to all such emotions. My mind is filled to the brim with inhuman knowledge – that which should not be known. That knowledge is intimately connected with that substance that you fain to represent with that monosyllabic word: “Soup.”

Ah, soup! It sounds so easy, so carefree! Yes, it sounds simple enough that even a child could understand! But be not fooled by such notions! It is dangerous, more dangerous than you could ever know! Beware its presence, and take care before you step too far.