Spot 001: Darkness Before Light

 

OVER THE HORIZON
by Bill Lapham

Otwon had heard stories about a light stick you could hold in your hand and shine on the ground to find your way in the dark, but he had never seen one. The stories were told by the old one in the tribe when Otwon was young. He wished he had one now.
Otwon was one of the hunters in his tribe, a tracker, a scout. He ranged far ahead of his hunting pack. He worked alone, traveling light, eating little, drinking only what little water he found in pools on the ground. The skin on his feet was as hard as the dry ground he strode upon.
On nights like this, Otwon worked in complete darkness. Clouds covered the sky and the sun had set behind him miles back. He only sensed the direction of his prey’s movement. Something inside him bordering on hope kept him from becoming the prey himself.
Otwon could defend himself, he had a weapon. It was a long shaft of hard wood shaved to points on both ends. He had killed with it, but had only barely escaped with his life in the fights. He preferred to attack the exhausted animal after surrounding it with his hunting friends who would catch up in due time.
When dawn painted the morning sky rose, Otwon slowed his pace. He didn’t want to approach too close, too soon. He crouched in the long grass, held his spear at the ready, and waited for help.

Bill Lapham is a retired submarine sailor and current MFA student at Goddard College in Vermont. Find his blog and the conclusion to this story, here.

 


 

APHELION
by Grey Johnson

If is dark enough
you can imagine anything, and
I have done it.
The sheets became the twisted fabric of someone’s clothes.
That was where
a face drew close enough for me to feel its breath in a murmur,
or it snapped absent altogether,
if that was what I needed.
The room I was in was no longer a room.
It left me feeling the blackness of the sky
with the stars gone dark in dreams of their own,
my body a minor planet
wandering blissfully random,
outside my own orbit.

I live a life that, from the outside, is small and quite conventional. Writing is a way of looking at something more, and lately, there seems to be a lot of that.

 

 

PRECIPITATION
by Sandra Davies

Those etchings, the first time for months that she’d been moved to express something in visual terms.
She had feared that to even try would end in failure, something else to add to the failure of her marriage, had been mired for too many weeks in a black – no not black, nothing so dramatic as black, more a muddy, dreary grey state of mind. But that morning she’d been woken by a dawn-daft blackbird heralding a clean-slate day and her mind, her fingers had tingled with the urgent need to set down, in strong black lines on white, all that had been surging in her head since he’d left.
She recalled the half-dozen square aluminium plates stacked in her studio, rehearsed the process of degreasing, bevelling, backing with parcel tape, and the careful application of resistant etching grounds, hard for a crisp quality of line, soft for tonal variation.
She thought of the bath for the poisonous-looking turquoise saline copper sulphate solution, of the bubbling, red scum thereby produced, set beside a second bath of water to pause the process before checking depth of etch with the hinged, and wonderfully-named linen-tester.
The plates were where she would make her marks, draw out her pain … after etching would come inking, firm intaglio application of glossy Lamp Black ink, then wiping with rag, polishing with shiny Izal tissue and then through the press, the anticipation of that first pulled print on dampened and torn-to-size Somerset Satin paper.

Sandra Davies is a writer and printmaker, occasionally combining both disciplines as in ‘Edge: curve, arc, circle’ and ‘One that got away’ the precursor to four more novels. Recent poetry has been published in Pigeon Bike’s ‘Beyond the Broken Bridge’ and more is forthcoming from Scribble and Scatter. Sandra’s main writing blog is lines of communication from which links to printmaking blogs can be accessed.

 


 

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
by Paul de Denus

The moon was full, glazed, the size of the world. He watched it eye him through the transom in his living room. A lover’s moon or the dead’s marker? he pondered. The latter he was sure. What was the moon after all but a lifeless, airless place. An ancient pebble drifting down the dark void.
The living room lit a deathly blue. Ice cold breaths smoked out his mouth in ghastly white plumes. He stretched his withered legs, curled long fingers around the armrest of his recliner. He squeezed nails into it, the leather splitting under his grip. Blood iced through his veins, surging hotter as he let the dark overtake him. He stared into the moon’s disfigured face. After dark, there is hope for light, he mused. Light entertainment perhaps and chuckled at the thought. Dark and light. Life and death; his awakening to another. I am the dark of the moon, he said out loud and he almost screamed.
There was a segment of cloud crossing the moon now, blue gray in shading, moving and boiling like a spider’s nest. The cloud looked like Jesus, the face hung deathly white, a ragged beard tormented the chin. His eyes narrowed. The winds swirled. The taxi would arrive soon. There were dinner plans tonight. He would insist the cabbie join him. The jesus face changed. The beard dipped like a tornado funnel, a pointed devil’s beard. A grin cut his face.

I write because my golf game sucks. Writing for me is a moment to moment thing, an itch that needs scratching, a hairball regurgitated after which there’s such a relief. I’m a graphic artist in the real world.

 

 

FRANCIS
by Brian Michael Barbeito

The sun set far too early and you could look out at five fifteen and see that it was getting dark. If you looked out again at five thirty, it may as well have been the witching hour, because night had taken everything for itself. A group called out from the forest, and taunted Francis. Coming up the path, he saw a grinning deviant of a man aiming a rifle at him from a window. The other thing Jacob noticed was a large tree that looked over the end of the ravine. A boy had hanged himself from this tree just before Christmas. People left flowers in the summer months. But now, with the snow covering everything, the tree stood barren and with no hint of sentiment. It was as if the tree was saying that it had taken life and was strong, and would live to kill again. When Francis arrived home, immediately he rushed to the back window and peered out. Then he turned around and tried to breathe. Upstairs he finally fell into slumber, but in the middle night was awoken by a presence. The spectre tried to speak, but there was no volume. Francis then passed out and into sleep once more. Hours later the morning sun had taken away the ghosts of the night. The brightness splashed on the bricks that were brown and black and red. Birdsong sounded and the clouds waited tidily, like curt and sure boats in a calm sky water.

Brian Michael Barbeito writes short fiction. His work has appeared at Glossolalia, Exclusive Conclave of Delights Magazine, Lunatics Folly, and Mudjob. He resides in Ontario, Canada.

 


 

A QUEEN’S RASPING BREATH UNDER RUBBLE
by Robert Crisman

A stick of a woman limps into a room for the refugees back from the tier below hell where neon makes black absolute.
She wears a rumpled black skirt, torn black hose, a ragged black topcoat, scuffed, broke-down shoes, also black. They look as if they’ve been fished from a barrel and left out to dry on a sidewalk.
On her head, a black hat, a crown worn for years in a kingdom of cripples.
Is she 30 or 50 years old?
Why isn’t she dead?
Death: an end to all pain.
Her life: a long dose of pain.
All she has left are starved echoes of dreams.
Dreams of her reign as the Queen who ruled where the skin is not prison.
A chimera really, but born of a hunger that points toward the light.
Starved echoes of dreams, under corpses time left in its wake, yet feeding her courage now as she sits in the room. She left death on the doorstep outside and staggered on in as death begged her to stay.
She no longer dreams of uncaring comfort and ease.
There are only the echoes, a Queen’s rasping breath under rubble, still seeking light.

The woman’s name is Roanne. Robert Crisman knew her back when they both chased the bag in downtown Seattle. Crisman got out of the dope life intact, and brought a bit of Roanne along with him.

 

 

AFTER DARKNESS I HOPE FOR LIGHT
by Sam Raddon

This resonates with the cords of life in so many ways. To me, the darkness can seem brief once past it, but while living through it, seem infinite. The light on the other hand, seems to pass us by so quickly that its often forgotten, or seems like a short reprise for what we have been suffering. The post spero lucem is usually internal. Our mind crying out for the unfairness of how the world seems to be treating us when in reality we are beating ourselves up for what we think shouldn’t be our problems. Envious of other’s lives, and coveting what we believe others have without realizing that they too may be in the darkest pit of their lives we tell ourselves that eventually, after darkness we may see the light. Some can be vocal about their problems while others internalize it, but the truth is, we judge ourselves based on what we think others have and we don’t.
I’ll be honest and say that I need to take a good long look in the mirror and figure out what I can be doing better with the crap that the “good lord” is dishing out to me, but I won’t deny that I’ll also be blaming life for events I think are unfairly being dished out onto my own plate.
This probably isn’t making a lick of sense, but either way, I think darkness is a nightmare created by our own minds to allow us to believe we see or might see the light – that or we wish to have others see the good in us (even if its minimal) and therefore we give ourselves hope to see the good in others.

Sam Raddon is a High School English teacher who enjoys basking in the warm Florida sun while trying to inspire himself and students alike. http://samraddon.blogspot.com

 


 

TOTAL FREEDOM
by Michael D. Brown

We went to a club on Long Island, not Sayville; I don’t remember the name of the place, back in the day, when we used to do that kind of thing—follow friends to any bar we had never danced at. We’d drink far too many beers, inhale amyl-nitrate by the pint, it seemed, and shirts would come off. If we lost them, we’d snatch somebody’s wet, crumpled clothing despite being a different color, if we could still see. We’d wear something strange home, have sloppy sex and wake up the next day with a hangover, feeling altogether like different people.
On this night, four or five of us; I don’t remember if Marvin was with us, went outside to share a joint, and walked off the road into the pitch black woods. I couldn’t see my hand when I held it up in front of me. It was that dark. The only thing visible was the tiny orange spot at the end of the joint being passed around.
When we came to a clearing, we stood quietly under a canopy of stars, pinpricks of light in the velvet blackness, yet we still could not see each other’s faces. When the roach was spent, one of you must have swallowed it, and there was nothing but eternity, the soft sound of breathing, and the awareness of us, which had to be taken on faith. I would have stayed there forever had I not been so cold in my sweat-soaked tee-shirt.

MDJB is the caretaker for this site, an annex of MuDJoB, and would love more than anything to be preparing for the next HoW, right here, right now, but will wait (impatiently) to be with his friends in the flesh next summer.

 


 

MINER DIFFERENCES
by Elliot Cox

“Whatchoo mean I got no right to complain? – HUNH! – I’m down this mine, same as you, hoss. Hmph. – HUNH!”

“Sheeee-it, Colin – HUNH! – you know just as good as me – HUNH! – that you better off outside this shaft than me, son. – HUNH! – You walk up to the man and he see you as a man. – HUNH! – I walk up to him and he don’t see nothin’ – HUNH! – but some black face – HUNH! – that ain’t good for nothin’ – HUNH! – other’n – HUNH! – movin’ this coal out to make him rich.”

Colin put his pick over his shoulder. “The man don’t see me no different’n he sees you, Phil. When we walk out this shaft, every face is blacker’n the last. Ain’t nothin’ but black down here.”

Phil said, “Foreman comin’!”

“Better keep that hammer swingin’ boy! West Virginia ain’t built on rest!”

Colin looked at Phil and said, “Hmph – HUNH! – You say I ain’t got no right to complain – HUNH!”

“That black on your face’ll wash right off, son – HUNH! – Mine don’t. – HUNH! – My kids cain’t wash their’n off, neither – HUNH! – They go to the comp’ny store, they scrip ain’t no good – HUNH! – You say your scrip ain’t good for more’n twenty cent on the dollar – HUNH! – Mine ain’t good for no cent on the dollar – HUNH! – You ever rock your cryin’ babies to sleep cause water was all what was in they bellies? – HUNH! – Me an you, heh – HUNH! – me an you the same down here, friend – HUNH! – but up top, we ain’t nothin’ alike.”

Elliott Cox is a father, son, aircraft mechanic, college student, writer, and musician. Not always in that order, and never all at the same time. Elliott writes in both of his spare minutes, but never without the help of his friends.Some of Elliott’s work can be found at MuDJoB, 6S, and T10.

 


 

Advertisements

10 Comments to “Spot 001: Darkness Before Light”

  1. Superb collection of considerable variety – thank you Michael for being the catalyst for this as so many other things.

  2. Thank you for so generously sharing. Always.

  3. I so wanted to be among the first, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the darkness theme. Reading these has been a wonderful way to start my Friday. Thanks, Mud. And thanks, everyone.

  4. The site looks great!! I look forward to future posts. Great theme and responses to it.

  5. What a great collection- thanks for the inclusion

  6. Again, well done M.B.
    Great carbon fiber look to the background.
    The pieces and participants shine!

  7. Many thanks for the opportunity to write and to be part of this great venture. The posts are varied and fine reading.

  8. A wide variety of very tasty stuff. I’m glad I was part of it.

  9. Thank you, Michael. And thanks to the other writers for their contributions. Great reading as always.

  10. What a great concept this is, MDB! It’s always amazing to see how one short phrase can spark such a wide array of interpretations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: