Romancing Nature by Kristina Woolman

Kristina Woolman

Romancing Nature

Countless songs have praised,

from earth and heavenward,

her willowy beauty, her silken locks

dangling loosely like waterfalls.

One day, capricious summer breeze,                                                              

well-known naughty boy,

with gentle touch that sways her to dance

beginning their romance with joy.

That windy boy whispered lustily,

ensured the girl of love everlasting.                                                   

He played his flirt; he’s gone with ease,

what signifies a summer breeze.

She’s left with crying, pure heart

and dripping dew of sorrow.

All dreams at once have broken apart.                                                                       

She is a lonely weeping willow.

World Tree by Kevin Hoover

Kevin Hoover

World Tree

 

 

The boy watched as Grandfather stoked the fire-pit dreamily, his old age and wisdom a wonder among men. He knew the wrinkled man was calling deep upon memory, preparing one of his many stories for telling. The boy waited impatiently, letting his gaze drift behind Grandfather, back and back, past the plains of cherried-wheat, beyond grey hills and shadowed ranges of snow-capped mountains. There imposing upon the pink dusk of the sky and leagues higher than the other mountaintops, rose the Great Mountain. The single, conical behemoth, though faded by distance, filled the majestic vista of the boy’s world, and his eyes went captive to it. The mountain’s colossal heights were veiled in eternal clouds, forever hidden. What the summit must look like, the boy could only wonder. None had ever known.

“Your face is fixed upon Ceivva, I see…” whispered Grandfather. “As it has always been, by all men.”

The boy continued to stare at the mountain. “Isn’t it beautiful, Grandfather?”

“That it is, child. That it is…” the old man’s voice sang softly, like hushed secrets. “And what would you ask it, boy, if it could answer you?” He continued to poke at the embers under the fire.

“What lies beyond the clouds, at its peak…”

And here a hint of a smile turned the corner of the old man’s lips. “Ahh,” returned Grandfather. “Then I shall tell you, for the mountain cannot.”

The boy looked to his Grandfather with astonishment. “You know?”

“I do at that, for despite what folk now say, men of ages past-many, many great ages past and nigh-forgotten, came down from its heights. They were our ancestors.”

“Tell me! Is it true Grandfather?” The boy sat across from him, eyes wide with the magic of possibility, the crackling fire spitting between them, and the Great Mountain beyond.

“Indeed,” said Grandfather, “And remember this most of all, boy. They were not so unlike us!” and his voice bespoke the truth of it. “It has been said that Ceivva has no summit, at least, not one that can be reached. But this is only partially true. It is also believed that the Great Mountain is our connection to the heavens. Do you know what ‘Ceivva’ means?  Hmm?”

The boy found it curious to think on the question, and realized that he did not.

Grandfather continued, and he carried his story in wisped, reverent tones…

* * *

…Though it is a mountain, ‘Ceivva’ means ‘World Tree.’ It has always carried this name, in our ancient times and in the times before time. As it is with you, boy, the first people of this world cast their adorning gaze upon the Great Mountain, and were captivated by its mysteries. Soon our every ancestor set their desires upon learning the secrets of Ceivva. It became their sole purpose—and a curse.

Every advancement, every progression, every momentous step of ancient man’s evolution through history, every lunge toward civilization was centered upon the Great Mountain. The fathers and mothers of our arcane heritage became obsessed by reaching its summit. Every piece of history now lost to us, good and bad, played out with that common goal in mind. Wars broke out among the fractured tribes as they claimed the vast slopes of the mountain as their own; still they climbed higher. Dangerous expeditions into its freezing heights were waged, all for the honor of being first to reach the top. Men and women died by the thousands along its unforgiving faces. Still, they looked upward toward Ceivva’s elusive summit.

Soon, delayed by the mountain’s unyielding rigors, attentions among men went to the design and building of many great and wondrous things, inventions beyond our understanding today. They used these creations at first to keep each other from scaling higher than themselves. But they soon found they could master the skies with their intellect, and were free to roam the winds like great birds.

Eventually, aided by the power of flight, they reached the very top of the mountain. What was found there was a curious thing, as enigmatic as the mountain itself. Upon the summit, a great tree grew forth, leagues upon leagues in circumference. Here then, was some truth to the Great Mountain’s name, Ceivva- The World Tree. How this coincidence might have occurred baffled our ancestors, but it brought forth, for a time, an era of peace and unison among them, for surely there was some divine work now in play. There was little doubt they were fated to reach the summit, and to ascend the Great Tree toward the heavens.

And so, with wheated-plains, lush forests, and grey hills of their origins long behind them, these first people pushed ever upward, seeking out their destiny. The air grew thin, and thin, and thinner still. Nevertheless, they continued to launch daring campaigns of exploration, climbing up the gargantuan surface of Ceivva, for they had surpassed the heights whose winds afforded them the gift of flight. Such heights had these people reach that the invisible force that holds us tight to the bosom of the world was less and less, until the only force still upon them held them to the tree itself. Looking back now, they saw the world for what it was and what it had always been—a perfect sphere. They began to think of Ceivva not as ‘ascending’ atop the world, but rather as ‘growing outward’ from it, reaching into the expanses of the starry beyond.

And here there was a great split among the first people, for so strange and foreign was this existence that many gave up their eons-birthright, letting go the quest to seek Ceivva’s ultimate end. Those many ancestors turned around, wanting the memories of the past, which told stories of fertile lands, rivers and forests, and fields of red-amber wheat, of kingdoms of animals now long forgotten. And so they returned to the firm stretches of the soiled world, and became  known as ‘The Grounded.’  Yet, many more committed themselves to their lust for discovery. They chose to continue venturing outward along Ceivva, always wondering at its extent what lies but a little farther, and so they became known as ‘The Seekers.’  They believed, in all their hearts, the legends that Ceivva would one day link them directly to the Divine.

The path of The Seekers was at first difficult, bereft of the fruits and substances afforded to The Grounded, but Ceivva’s skin yielded the way onward. Soon, her bark of vast valleys and dense foliage became ecosystems unto themselves. Through great toil and a plentiful life provided by this newfound paradise, the achievements of The Seekers eventually surpassed anything The Grounded had hoped to reach. Finally, The Seekers had mastered the flight of the heavens themselves, thus the meter to which their exploration along World Tree progressed had increased a hundred fold, and colonies by countless dozens sprung up ever outward.

The connections and conversing between The Seekers and The Grounded became less frequent and less still. That dialogue, which did reach The Seekers, spoke tales of hunger and strife among their old brethren. The sprawling eras of time bestowed upon The Grounded alternated between curses of disease, war, and famine. Word came of the desperate pleas for aid by The Grounded, begging The Seekers to share their good fortune with them. But The Seekers thought on their ancient kin as an arrogant, backward and foolish people. Sadly, they turned their backs on them, and looked instead toward the ends of Ceivva.

Resolved in leaving the ill fortunes of their cousins behind them, they advanced their designs of an idyllic life yet farther along Ceivva’s incalculable reaches. And idyllic their life was, for eons it would seem. They lived out their lives, each generation, like gods. But despite all this blessing, and all their relentless exploration, they lacked the one thing, which had always eluded them. Outward again, and again, and again, desperately trying to fill their need to know, to fathom where Ceivva might lead them, but she was unwilling to yield this to the minds of men, for men they still were, and soon paradise became a fleeting thing. They had progressed so far away from the world, and here along the infinite regions of World Tree, she began to bare fewer and fewer bountiful areas. The Seekers would push past an immense expanse of deadness, only to reach a quaint vale of struggling life; past countless leagues of inhospitable tree-land, only to find a pitiful spattering of near-dead life.

Whole colonies were lost to these dying regions. Likewise, the once fruitful settlements, which had come before them, were also in loss of their providence. A slow, withering impotence began to overtake the surface of the Great Tree, and the loss of life among The Seekers became an aberration of horrors.

Eventually, at such peril were The Seekers in, they made the unthinkable decision to turn back. So back they went, and back and back, clamoring down Ceivva’s colossal trunk, hoping to gain the firmament of the once-forgotten world beneath their feet before the last of them died out. They would rejoin their kin, and trade with them their secrets of knowledge in exchange for home and sustenance.

Finally, with so very few of them left, they reached again the land of their distant origins. Now, descending the slopes of the Great Mountain and passing through the barrier of constant clouds, they looked down upon the world, and what they saw caused a great sadness among them. Our ancient ancestors saw, at long last, the sums of their past. Or, perhaps, it was the future they glimpsed, and the sight of it nearly stole away their will to live… 

* * *

And here, Grandfather’s eyes glazed over, the light of the fire danced across his face, and a few stray tears went unchecked down his leathered cheeks.

“What did they see?” asked the boy. Grandfather sat, stalwart among his thoughts, his gaze lost upon the flames between them. He said nothing. For a long while, it seemed, the boy waited for more, but curiosity and impatience won out. He went around to the other side of the fire-pit, knelt before his Grandfather, and reached for his hand. “Grandfather, is that it?  Is that the end of the story?”

The old storyteller blinked through his tears, as if coming out of a long sleep, and turned to look at his grandson. Trapped in his thoughts, he realized the boy had asked him a question. His eyes asked the boy to repeat it.

“Is that the end of the story?”

Grandfather shook his head slowly. “Oh no…  Not the end,” he managed at barely a whisper. “Not the end at all.”

“Well, what did they see, beneath the clouds?” the boy asked.

Grandfather moved a hand up to rest it on the boy’s shoulder, and caught his eyes with his own. “The land was neglected. No—not neglected… Devastated! The land was devastated! The Seekers knew, without ever having seen the world for themselves that what lie before them was a vile, horrid rape and mutilation of the land. Hardly a tree remained standing upon the scorched surface. The fabled plains of cherried-wheat were gone. The grey hills were black and ravaged. The snow-capped mountains had lost their snow, standing bare like solemn witnesses. It was an unnatural plight, and they understood then that the wars and desperation of their once-brethren people had brought the soils of the world to the brink of death, and so too had caused the dying of Ceivva.

“But the great sadness and burden that our ancient ancestors, The Seekers, would forever onward carry with them is their part in it—their share of the blame, for they too caused the death of Ceivva. And their kin. And nearly the whole of the world. They who thought themselves like gods, and turned their back on The Grounded, leaving them to work with what was now seen before them.”

The boy and Grandfather remained silent for a time, locked in their thoughts and buried in their emotions.

Finally the boy spoke, “What did they do, The Seekers?”

Grandfather blinked back his slow, impending tears. “From thence… thence came a time of great struggle, and great hardship, when our ancient ancestors were forced to turn all their attentions to the re-nurturing of the world—to rekindle what had once been forgotten.” 

The boy looked on the landscape around them. His gaze pierced the evening shadows, swept across the hills and the wheat swaying slowly in the wind.

“Yes,” continued the old man. “After a time, a long time, they succeeded. In doing so, they lost much of the knowledge they had once gained, but they succeeded.

“Now it is time to return home I think, and to bed. I am growing very tired.”  Grandfather stood up, slowly, as old age would permit him, and began to make his way from the fire-pit, Ceivva fading in the twilight behind him.

The boy took one last glance at the snow-capped mountain ranges, and The Great Mountain rising above them all, then turned to help his Grandfather.

The old man yawned, then spoke again, as if in afterthought to all he’d said tonight. “Tomorrow, boy… tomorrow, you will tell me the story I have told you today.”


Trolls Are Hot by Chris George

Chris George

Trolls Are Hot

I knew he was the one the moment I laid eyes on him. I loved his silky hair, his chiseled abs, his big, soulful eyes, and his velvet toned voice. He sat alone at the lunch table across from me in school. I just had to talk to him.

“Hi!” I said.

“Hey,” he replied.

“My name’s Megan, and…and…ohmigosh I think you’re really cute.”

“Oh. My name’s Alvin. Alvin E’hoar.”

“I like your name! Is it Irish?”

“No, it’s Troll.”

I just couldn’t believe what this dreamboat was saying. “Troll?”

“Yes, I’m a troll. My whole family is.”

“You are not! You’re so silly Alvin!” I giggled at him and left.

“I’m being serious!” Alvin told me as I left.

Later that day, as I was walking home from school, I noticed something strange. Under the interstate overpass I go by every day, I saw furniture. Brand new sofas, a flat screen TV, bureaus, a dining table, beds, even a bathtub. It looked like a house, except everything happened to be outside. As I approached this curious place, I saw You-Know-Who again.

“Megan, is it? I told you I wasn’t lying. This is where my family lives.”

“Alvin, my boy, who’s your friend?” his father asked. “Come over here and introduce her to me. We’re just about to sit down for dinner.”

Alvin took me over to his parents and they graciously invited me for dinner.

“What’s your name, child?”

“Megan,” I replied.

“What a lovely name. I’m Gordon. I know, it’s hard to believe that we’re Trolls, but we’ve always looked just like humans. It’s just that your kind has always portrayed us as ugly in their stories. We’re decent folk, really.”

“Our family used to live under the bridge on Old Route 94,” explained Alvin.

“You mean the bridge over Little Hampton Creek?” I inquired.

“Yep,” chimed Gordon, “we used to charge toll for going over that bridge. That’s how we made a living. But when the interstate was built, people stopped driving on that road. So we moved here and tried to do the same thing. Lemme tell ya, it just ain’t the same. Trying to collect toll from people going 70 miles an hour is a mite bit tough unless you’re the Transportation Department.”

“So what do you do for a living now?”

“I work as a freelance web designer. No one suspects a thing, since Trolls look just like humans. There are certain habits I need to remember to keep in check, but I’m getting ahead of myself now.”

“That’s funny, because on the Internet, there are people called ‘trolls’ who post on websites to make people angry. Do you ever have to deal with them?”

“Only when I work for high profile clients. Occasionally I’ll do some work for the government, and a few hooligans will crash the site just as soon as I have it up. I really wish people would stop calling them ‘trolls’. It defames our people. But such is the state of affairs between us and humans.”

“Mr. E’hoar-“

“Please, call me Gordy.”

“Thanks, but, it’s getting late. My parents don’t know where I am and are probably worried by now. It was nice talking and eating with you, though.”

“Oh, no trouble, Missy. Here, take this,” Gordon handed me a book about Troll culture. “This has everything you’d ever care to know about trolls. And if you have any other questions, just drop me a line. Okay?”

“Okay.”

I gave them a smile and started back home, but not before winking to Alvin. He just stammered at me. How cute.

That night, I read the book Alvin’s dad gave to me. It was the most engrossing thing I’ve ever read. All aspects of the Trolls were laid bare to me. Did you know that a Troll’s skin hardens in sunlight? They don’t even need sunscreen! That’s so hot. And there’s a reason why they collect tolls. The coins are like status symbols. The more coins, and the shiner the coins, mean the higher the status for the family. I wonder how many coins Alvin’s family has?

The next day at school, Chelsea, the resident mean girl, came up to me.

“Hey, I heard you went out with that Alvin kid,” she said while chewing gum. “That guy is mine. You’re too much of a dork for him!”

“Hey, shut up!” I shouted. “I did not go out with him! We aren’t ready for that yet.”

“Oh! Did you hear, girls? Megan’s ‘not ready for dating’! Oh, how precious!” Chelsea said maliciously. She and her posse began jeering.

It was then that Alvin walked by.

“Hey Megan,” he said in his customary aloof manner. “I really appreciate you coming to visit me yesterday. Are you friends with Chelsea?”

“As if!” I said.

“Hey Ally boy, why hang out with this loser. Come with me, I’ll show you a good time!”

“No thanks, Chelsea.”

“What did you say?”

“I don’t want to date anyone right now. What’s important is that I graduate from here so I can start providing for my family.”

My heart sank a little when I heard that. But I was confident I could change his mind. Chelsea, on the other hand….

“Fine! You’re such a slut anyway! Who needs you! Come on girls, let’s get outta here.”

And with that, she left.

“Did I hear you right, Alvin? You don’t want to date me?” I asked, my voice quivering ever so slightly.

“It’s not that I don’t want to date you specifically. It’s just that one day my Dad will no longer be able to care for himself, and he’ll need someone to look after him. If he went to a nursing home, they’d realize he’s a Troll sooner or later. There’s no telling what would happen then. So I need to study hard so I can get scholarships and earn enough to support him. Maybe one day, if I’m ever famous, I can show people Trolls aren’t bad at all. But that’s way in the future. I must keep my eyes ahead while focusing on now. Do you get it?”

“I think so…”

“You seem like a very nice girl. Maybe someday, something will happen between us. But for now, I’m happy just being friends with you.”

“Yeah, thanks for being a friend.”

“You’re welcome.”

Alvin then winked at me and left. I spent the rest of the day thinking about Alvin, how even if he is famous one day, we’ll still be friends. I dearly hope he keeps that promise. He’s too sexy for me to lose.


Shadow of a Dead One by Taryn Owens

Taryn Owens

Shadow of a Dead One

Love, give me some water and hand me some wine,

we’re dying and crying and lusting for swine.

Each hit that we’re taking is numbing us all,

so tell me sweet darling how far have we to fall?

I dance in illusions, I cry in the rain,

this tale I have told you again and again.

My body has turned to a cold empty shell,

my scars are more real than you ever could tell.

There is a Man whispering, loudly to me.

His tears fill rose vases as vast as the sea.

This Man says He’ll save me, with something like blood,

that swimming in darkness will turn me to mud.

I grasp for His life and for being alive,

and quickly He saves me, as slowly I strive

for life and for air and for something I crave.

I know that He’ll hold me if only I’m brave.


My Job In a Nutshell by Kevin Hoover

Kevin Hoover

My Job In a Nutshell

 

 

Sometimes people ask me
what my job is
and I tell them
I work with kids,
but beyond this
it’s hard to explain
what it is I do;
so many kids,
each dealin’ with their own issues.

Maybe I’m crazy to think
that I could help.
Maybe I’m over-confident
or just full of myself.
Maybe I’m arrogant to want to help someone else
through things they live with
that I’ve never felt.

Somebody somewhere with a PHD
gave them names like ‘ODD’, ‘OC’, and ‘ADHD’.
I feel like I’m swimmin’ in a bowl of alphabet soup
and although I’m not a doctor
I’m not outta the loop.
I know that in addition to the medications
and psychiatric evaluations
and behavioral adjustment implementations
what they really need
is someone to be there,
someone who loves what they do
and someone who really cares.

Someone who instead of demanding it
will try to earn the respect
of kids with histories of neglect,
histories of people with a short fuse
who abandoned love
only to replace it with abuse,
histories of sadness,
histories of God-forsaken madness,
and histories of God-knows-what-else.

God forbid everyone should have
to walk in these kids’ shoes.
I’ve been more fortunate than that
and that’s why I’m here to
do what I can by doing what I do.
I’m trying to show them that
a journey of a thousand miles
begins with a first step,
and all the while
I try to crack a few jokes
and lighten the mood and make them smile.

At least one of these kids found it funny
to hear a white guy say
‘ya know what I mean?’
I always have to think about what I say-
I gotta be keepin’ it clean.
I’m an activist against a whole lotta cursin’.
I try to be a role-model person.
I’m not a ‘think of myself first’ kinda person-
I’m a different kinda person.
I think I’m a kind person.

I’m an experiment on the patience of human kind,
but I got mad love for these kids.
For real—you’d have to be blind
not to see it when I try to help them find
themselves
their souls
their path
a goal.
And if they lose sight of that goal
if they lose track
I try to help them back.

I’m a virtual reality beach
during an asthma attack.
I’m an advisor to kids
that don’t know how to act,
when they find themselves facin’
a given situation
and their angers give rise
to the cries of
‘well she did this’ and
‘he did that’ and
‘who did what, why, how’
but I say it’s all
smack
slow it down
take it back.
I tell these kids,
‘You gotta calm yourself.
If you can’t do it alone
I’m here to help.
If you wanna talk
let’s talk.
If you wanna walk
let’s walk.
If you find yourself outta control
and goin’ off the deep end,
then reach out your hand
and I’ll pull you back in;
but you gotta swim just a bit,
and if you don’t know how to swim
you gotta kick,
and if you don’t know how to kick
ask me how.
That’s my job.
That’s why I’m there,
here
and now.

Now is your opportunity to work on yourself
and to help your peers,
to defeat your demons
and conquer your fears.
This is your chance to rise above
all the negativity in your life
that held you back instead of helping you up.
This is your time.

I spend my time conversin’ with Earth’s children
not believin’ for a second that these are the ‘worst’ children
knowin’ there’s no such thing as bad children,
only bad choices made by hurt children
workin’ with young children
workin’ with old children
workin’ with soul children
watchin’ ‘em become whole children.
and whole people.

See as people we’re never
entirely complete,
but the more we drive for it
and the more we strive for it
the more complete we become
and the stronger we get.
I’m tryin’ to reach them
in hopes to teach them
that the path in life they take
can be better than the sum of
the mistakes they make.

I think sometimes they respect me,
but sometimes they choose to hate me
and I wish there was something I could do
just to make things cool,
but that’s hard to do
when all they wanna do
is play the fool
just ta be cool
wantin’ to be rough and tough,
sayin’ ‘look at me the gangsta”,
givin’ no thanks ta
the words of wisdom
that I’m tryin’ ta give them.

Sometimes I have to be a little bit nicer.
Sometimes I have to be a little bit meaner.
I’m a bed-time book reader.
I’m a body guard in case of a brawl.
I’m an 8am wake-up call.
I tell the kids I’m a psychic
so don’t even think about an AWOL.

These kids make me tired,
they make me cranky,
and they make me frustrated
but they also make me a better person.
They teach me tolerance.
They let me into their lives.
They teach me patience,
and they open my eyes.

These kids…

they give me love
they give me laughter
they give me pause
they give me meaning
they give me cause.

These kids…

they give me hell,
but hey…
that’s my job in a nutshell.


Untitled by Antoine Merriweather

Antoine Merriweather

Untitled

Girlfriend friend friend of girl can I be that to you again you’re who I miss sexy four sexy four wheel driven friends I miss being your 5th wheel I never felt like a spare my brain ran a flat trying to run you down be my triple A tow me back into your lives I can survive the impound forgive this boyfriend for being a no friend but an ass in the end the “s” on this Superman chest stands for sorry and I am I need back in your super sexy soul sista circle because Charlie can’t fly without his angels girlfriend friend of girl can I be that to you again you’re who I miss.

Queen Cinderella by Chelsea Kershner

Chelsea Kershner

Queen Cinderella

Her throne is her only home,

the only place she feels she is known.

She is welcomed nowhere beyond,

of her character no one is fond.

The power of her position

should never have gone beyond the kitchen.

Once a fair and equal maid,

without a thought of the trade,

fell in love with the Prince of Marrundew.

She left everyone she ever knew.

Now she finds herself a part of the fame,

and no longer answers to her old name.

With no compassion, with no empathy,

her jewels are now her only company.

The commoners are now full of dirt and disgust,

as the beautiful town of Marrundew begins to rust.

Neighbors that once were her own,

find themselves empty handed,

begging at the bottom of her throne.