Writing Prompt: Revolution Radio

Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: Revolution Radio

You’re a local disc jokey with a morning radio program. On your show you often take phone calls from commuters to talk about music and celebrity gossip, but on this particular morning you pick up a caller who says he’s going jump off the top of your building unless you play every song he requests during your show—and he’s purposefully picking songs that are hard to find or that he knows you hate! Start with him calling in and write this scene.


The intern gestured wildly through the window, pointing to the phone and holding up four fingers. Troy made a note to talk to her about professionalism but picked up line four anyway.

“KRED, you’re the air.”

Troy waited, met only with some heavy breathing.

“Good morning, you’re on the air with T-Roy. Who’s this?” he tried again.

A muffled sound of someone blowing their nose followed, and then the cracked voice of a woman. “Is this T-Roy in Tacoma?”

“Yes it is, and you are live on the air,” he said, glaring at his intern. “Who is this?” There was another pause, and Troy could hear himself in the background. “Ma’am, if you turn off your radio this will go a lot easier.”

“I’m sorry,” the woman said. “I can’t do that.”

There was a strange disconnect in her voice. Despite the sniffling and occasional crack, her voice seemed otherwise devoid of emotion.

“Well, my intern seems to think you wanted to talk to me,” he said. Troy’s hand hovered over the button which would end the call.

“The view is really quite pretty from the top of your building,” she said, followed by another sniffle.

“Excuse me? You’re on the roof?”

“Well. For the moment.”

Troy finally gave his intern a big thumbs up. In the other room she nodded and got on the phone.

“Well, ma’am… sorry, what did you say your name was?”

“Rome,” she said after another pause.

Troy could still hear himself in the background, a few second’s delay between broadcast and reception.

“Rome, huh? That’s an interesting name. Well, Rome, what can we do for you here at KRED?”

“I want you to play a song.”

“Well, we’re not really taking requests at the moment-“

“You’ll play this song,” she interrupted. “You’ll play it, because if you don’t…”

Troy waited, but dead air is death on the radio. As soon as he decided she wasn’t going to finish the thought he spoke up.

“What song did you want, Rome?”

“Four to the Floor,” she said. “Four to the Floor, or I’ll take the short way down.”

The intern gestured at the window again and gave a thumbs up in return when Troy looked over.

“I don’t think I’m familiar with that one,” he said, meaning the song itself but leaving it open to be misinterpreted. He resisted the urge to ask her to ‘hum a few bars and I’ll fake it’.

“Starsailor,” she said.

Troy had never heard of it, assuming it was the artist. He scribbled a note as he spoke.

“Is that any relation to Rosebud?” Troy laughed at his own joke. “Well, listeners, it sounds as if Rome is saying she’ll jump if I don’t play the song. Have I got that right, Rome?”

Rome gave a few heavy breaths.

“Yes.”

Troy held up the scribble for his intern, indicating she should find the song.

“Okay, I’ve got our station intern looking it up.”

Breathing.

“I must say, this is a rather extreme way to get a song on the radio, isn’t it?”

More breathing, then the sound of pops and bumps as the phone, and presumably the person holding it, moved.

“Rome, you still with me?”

“I can see Jefferson park from here,” she said with a hint of wistfulness.

“Well, Rome, I’m just keeping an eye on our station feed for what some of our helpful listeners have to say. ‘LB’ writes ‘How did someone get onto the roof, don’t you have security?’ That’s an excellent question ‘LB’. I’d like to remind our listeners that they can send in their comments to KRED@Kmail.com or to my show, @T-RoyKRED. KRED, the station with cred.

“If you’re just tuning in we’ve got Rome up on the roof who’ll be jumping if I don’t play this song she’s requested. Rome, how about you tell us a bit about what brought you to this moment while our station intern continues to look for this song.”

“I’m afraid you won’t find it very interesting,” she said.

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Troy said.

“Are you going to play the song?”

Troy looked at the queue on his panel; ‘Four to the Floor’ was scrolling on the read-out. He glanced at the monitor in the corner, watching the live news coverage play out silently. A crowd was gathering along the street. The intern held up another note.

“Just as soon as we find it, Rome.”

“I can’t wait any longer.”

The camera zoomed in.

“Why is that? What is motivating this kind of extreme behavior? We’ll be having psychologist Dr. Landstrom joining us a bit later in the studio to discuss what drives people to these actions- oh, and it seems the fire department has just arrived on the scene. Isn’t this exciting? I remember when I was a kid, I got to ride one in the parade. These men and women, many of whom are volunteers, just do such an amazing job, don’t they? If you see one, why not give him or her a handshake and thank them for their service.”

“Play the song,” Rome insisted.

“These things take time,” Troy said, trying to assure her.

He kept his eye on the monitor, where she was just now stepping out onto the ledge.

“Lots of good comments still coming in @T-RoyKRED; looks like someone went and worked out that it will take you a little less than six seconds to hit the pavement if you simply step straight off the edge, but if you jump first, it could take almost seven. These are the kinds of daily things most of us just don’t think about.

“Once again, listeners, this is T-Roy in Tacoma and we’re broadcasting live here on KRED, the station with cred, as someone named Rome seems to be considering jumping from the roof of the station building unless I play along. I mean a song.” He hadn’t meant that at all. He had been right the first time.

“Rome, are you a long-time listener and is this your first time calling in?”

Breathing.

“Listeners, if you’ve got any advice you’d like to offer Rome, write in at KRED@Kmail.com or send a comment to @T-RoyKRED. If it’s good I’ll read it on the air. ‘KarlX’ just sent in a note which reads, ‘Should have packed a parachute.’ Ouch. I mean, he’s got a point, but…”

“You want a comment?” Rome said, voice still dull. “You want a statement?”

“You’re making quite the statement already, Rome,” Troy said. “Aren’t you? Isn’t that what this is really about? Not some song?”

A brief silence.

“You won’t play the song.” It wasn’t a question, nor even a statement. It was a resignation.

“You’ve hardly given us enough time to find it. It seems to be a very obscure request.”

“Nero fiddled…” she said, then took a step.

“One… two… three… fou- huh. Maybe I count a little slow,” Troy mumbled, then put on his DJ voice again. “Well, listeners, it seems Rome may have been a little confused, I believe the phrase is ‘Nero fiddled as Rome burned’, not ‘fell’. But there we have it: Rome has fallen.”

The music began, Troy talking over the first few bars before the lyrics kicked in.

“And now, a tribute to Rome and others like her; here’s ‘Four to the Floor’, by Starsailor.”

He muted his mic and swung open the door to his sound booth where the station manager was standing.

“Good job, Troy. We’re already showing a spike in ratings, with an estimated forty percent jump in listenership in just the last five minutes!”

One of the secretaries covered his phone receiver with his hand and whispered, “This is the third new company asking for our ad rates.”

Troy turned to the intern and gave her a pat on the back.

“Good job, kid. I was worried at first but you really pegged that one! There’ll be a bonus in it for you.”

As he returned to the booth, he added, “Get me a coffee and let me know when the psychologist gets here!”

Troy settled back into his chair and listened to the last few lines. Catchy. With any luck, it would hit number one on the charts. As the song ended he turned his mic back on.

“Once again, that was ‘Four to the Floor’. Remember, you heard it first on KRED, the station with cred.”

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Announcement

So I’ve been very quiet here, but that’s not because I don’t have stuff to share.  Instead, it’s because I’ve started on a new project.  Or rather, finally started on an old project that has been bumping around in my brain for quite some time but I couldn’t quite manage to put it all together until just recently when the last piece of my creativity puzzle fell into place!

A big project.  Well, a big-for-me project.  I’ve been putting off saying anything because I didn’t want to jinx myself or something or make promises and not deliver.  But I am going to tease you mercilessly now.  I have begun writing a book in earnest.  Well, a book-sized collection of stories.  I have no date of completion yet, for now I’m just going to say it’ll be done when it gets done.  But I will give you a hint as to what lies inside:

Disguised gods, warrior maidens, magical items, kidnapped princes, lost children, tricksy gentlemen, binding vows, dark forests, enchanted creatures, powerful witches, cruelty, greed, bravery, love – and yes, even some happily ever afters, but mostly not in the way you expect them.

I am writing what I hope will be fairy tales with heroes and heroines for our modern age while maintaining the essence of classic tales.  Though I say ‘essence’ I don’t mean that I will simply be retelling existing stories in a new way, but rather I will be completely deconstructing the very building blocks of these tales and rebuilding them in a new way.  I want to create stories that feel familiar and yet are refreshingly new and different in how they play out.

I don’t have a title for the collection yet, though I’ve jotted down a number of ideas.  “Once and Ever After” is currently the best, but I’m still looking for something that just says “ah, yes, that’s it!  That’s the title!”  And I don’t have that quite yet.

I do have at least working titles for most of the individual stories, and you may think you will recognize a few of them, but I promise you won’t know the ending until you’ve turned that last page.

Some of the stories already in work include

Skin of Ash
The Snow Raven
The Two Kings
Xiao Dan
The Wise Queen
The Woodcutter’s Children
A House in the Woods
Seven of Hearts
A Bird May Love A Fish
The Empty Cradle

There are more that don’t yet have titles, also.  Some of these titles might change, and some of the stories might go in a way I didn’t expect and end up changing the title that way… but I have a pretty good start on most of these and a clear end in mind for most of them, too.

I’ll leave you to (hopefully?) be excited for this!  I know I am 😀

Neutral Giedian Solar Republic

The humanitarian effort on Cygnus Minor seemed to lose more ground every day.  Factions had risen out of the refugees there, possibly through deliberate efforts of one side or the other in the Trans-Galactic War in an attempt to draw Neutral Giedian Solar Republic into the fight or otherwise destabilize their footing in the sector.

Though only three planets, Giedia Prime, Geidia Proxima, and the latest to be colonized Cygnus Minor, NGSR held considerable political sway and controlled some very rich resources.  Cygnus Minor was mostly populated by refugees from the Trans-Galactic War which was now entering its hundredth year, and seemed to draw more and more planets in as it went.

Despite not being part of the voting membership of the NGSR, nor having a great amount of valuable resources on planet, Cygnus Minor was still a prime target both for terrorist activities and as a base for possible attacks against either of the main Giedia planets.  Both of which were of great concern to the paramilitary humanitarian corps stationed in the Northern hemisphere, where most of the attacks were concentrated.

Sergeant Kebede bent over the body of one of the latest victims, a woman.  She closed her hand around a stone pendant at her neck, and though the symbol was faded and half obscured by dirt and blood, she had known what it was the moment her eyes fell on it.  A symbol of protection from another country on another planet, and one she had first seen almost twenty years ago.  It now threatened to send her falling into memories of the past, but her moment of reverie was broken by the sound of a baby’s cry.  She moved around the toppled cart to find the babe among soft blankets, frightened but no apparent injuries as she lifted it into her arms.

It continued to cry until she started to rock back and forth, bouncing gently.  She pulled one glove off with her teeth and rested her hand on its body.  A tiny hand wrapped around her finger, pulling it into its mouth like a pacifier.

Looking back at the broken bodies around the cart, likely the parents, she ordered her squad to collect them.  They would need genetic ID to ensure the child belonged to the deceased. Protocol required it for proper disposition of those displaced and orphaned, as children this young had often not been officially identified by the government, though the parents almost certainly would have been.

That meant the bodies would not be collected and put into cold storage with the others from the attack, likely not to be identified for up to a year with the current back-log.  Instead they would have to be logged, stored, and tracked separately.  Because of that it was a protocol generally ignored in the field, but she insisted, ignoring the few protests.

With too much work left to be done, she could not devote any time to the child yet, instead giving it over to the medic for a full evaluation but tagging it with her ID.  She would be checking up.

After there had been an accounting of the attack: the number dead, the types of weapons that had been employed – all of which pointed to an operation by the Laran Resistance which the media would no doubt play off as speculation and unverified accounts – there were finally a few hours of down-time.  Sgt. Kebede sat on her bunk and pulled the stone out of her pocket, drawing a matching one from beneath her shirt and holding them side-by-side.

***

Aliya felt her mother’s grip tighten and looked up.  Her lips – usually so full of smiles and laughter – were drawn tight, pressed together to prevent the words she so dearly wished to send flying at the man behind the counter from slipping out.  She chose her words with care, tone kept as neutral as she could manage.

“My husband is already on Giedia Prime,” she repeated.  “These are his embassy papers and our immigration visas,” she said, holding them out again for the man.  He did not look at them.

“No new visas are being issued to residents of this sector,” he said, not looking up from his screen.  “Please contact your local embassy if you wish to apply for refugee status.”

“We are not refugees, sir, I have our visas already!”  She pulled Aliya closer.  “Please, just look at my documents!”

Aliya’s gaze moved from her mother to the man in question.  His dark grey uniform was buttoned up tight to his throat, giving him an appearance of being strangled, helped along by his fat, red cheeks.  His hand at last moved to snatch the offending papers from her mother’s grip and look them over with no attempt to veil his disdain.

“These are dated from three standard months ago,” he said, tossing them back at her, dismissive of their content.

“They document our travel window as open now,” she insisted, pointing to the range of dates at the bottom.

The man yawned and finally spoke into his head piece.  “Sir, this is Kelt at desk two.  I’ve got a… Delta Cygni here and her kid, claims she’s got visas to Giedia Prime.  No, sir, no husband.”

Aliya’s mother stood stone silent but her grip got tighter again.  Finally the man turned back to them, gesturing vaguely as he gave directions with little care whether they were understood or remembered.

“Take your papers and effects, go to the second lift, up six flights, first right, then second left down the hall till you see refugee processing.  They’ll evaluate your case.”  Barely pausing for breath he looked around them and called out, “NEXT!”

Aliya’s mother picked up her papers and they both took their bags and left the desk without comment.  She didn’t speak again until they were in the lift and Aliya tugged her shirtsleeve.

“It’ll be alright, dear,” her mother said, lacking any hint of conviction to her words.  “This next place will help us.”  Unlike the three places before it.

“But we aren’t refugees,” Aliya whispered.

Her mother’s face flinched momentarily and she nodded.  “No, dear.  We aren’t refugees.  Except perhaps from that man.”

She tried to give a smile, but Aliya could tell it wasn’t genuine.  She rested her head against her mother’s stomach until they reached their floor.  Mumbling under her breath, her mother recalled the directions.

“First right… second left.”

They followed the curve of the hall, and Aliya wondered if that was meant to be the second left or if the next hallway to their left was it.  Thankfully a sign reading REFUGEE PROCESSING guided them the rest of the way, and not exactly to the letter of the directions they had been given.  Even had it not, though, the sound of the waiting room would have drawn them to the correct location.

To Aliya it looked like a hundred people were there, the sound filling the small space, and the smell of that many bodies having gone who-knew-how-long without baths overwhelmed her at first.  She pushed her face into her mother’s skirt as they approached the counter.

In the next line was a family of five children and their beleaguered father, all dressed in what were likely their best clothes, yet old and worn.   Each clutched a bag, and the smallest child had a doll pinched under his arm.

One girl, the closest to her, returned her gaze and their eyes met, a shared tiredness reflected between them.  But Aliya lacked the hopeless edge the other girl had; she was not a refugee, they had visas.  Her mother had assured her they would get through, they just needed to go through the proper channels.

Aliya gave the girl a smile.  The girl looked at her father, but he was distracted with paperwork.  She let go of her brother’s hand and came closer.

“Hello,” Aliya said.

“Hello,” the girl replied.

“I’m Aliya.”

She hesitated before saying, “Ebhiante.”

Her accent was heavy and Aliya had trouble making out all the sounds, asking her to repeat it before trying it herself.

“Where are you going?” Ebhiante asked, looking between Aliya and her mother in a way which said they didn’t look like refugees.  Not like the others here.

“Giedia Prime.  My father is there.”

“Oh.”  Ebhiante looked down at her bag.  “Where are you from?”

Before Aliya could answer, though, her mother gave her a tug and hushed her.  Ebhiante started to retreat back to her family, but suddenly turned and grabbed Aliya’s wrist.  She pulled a stone amulet from around her neck and pressed it into Aliya’s hand.

“Imha keep you safe,” Ebhiante breathed.

Aliya felt another tug behind her, pulling her apart from Ebhiante.  She turned to see the two armed soldiers who had approached her mother.

“Kebede, Siria and Aliya,” one said, reading the papers.

“Yes,” her mother said, showing no hint of fear at them or their weapons.

“Right,” the one said, pushing the papers back at her.  “This way.”

“Where are we going?” her mother asked, not willing to follow them blindly, but the other soldier took her by the arm and pulled her along.  Aliya looked back to see Ebhiante, hand still out as if she could reach her.  Then they were gone, escorted past the counter and down a long hallway with many doors.  They did not take any of the doors, but the hallway at last emptied out into another room, larger than what they had left, and divided in half by a thick glass wall with a set of double doors like an air-lock.  There were soldiers with guns everywhere Aliya looked.

Leading up to the wall on both sides were narrow walkways, turning back and forth like a maze, and cut off at waist height.  They were escorted down one of these passages to the doors on their side of the glass wall.  The soldier who had spoken handed their papers to one of the guards at the door who looked it over carefully.

“Siria Kebede,” she said.

She nodded.

“Aliya Kebede,” she said, looking now at Aliya.

Aliya nodded, and the guard handed the papers back to her mother.  Addressing the soldiers who had escorted them here, she said, “Thank you, we’ll take them from here.”

The doors opened and the guard motioned for them to pass.  “Go straight toward the far doors.  Do not stop.  Present your papers at the window, they will ensure you are directed to your transport.”

Aliya’s mother looked at the guard, letting a moment of weakness show as she pleaded, “Tell me where we are being sent.”

The guard gave her a sympathetic look. “You are going to join your husband, Ma’am.  This is the check-point for travel to NGSR.”

Aliya had never seen her mother cry before that moment, and yet it seemed only to increase her strength.  Standing straight and tall, she did not even bother to wipe the tears from her cheeks as she picked up her bag in one hand, gripped Aliya’s hand tight with her other, and nodded.

“Thank you.”

The guard gave a nod.  Aliya wasn’t sure whether she should be relieved or afraid, but together she and her mother walked from war to freedom in thirty feet.

***

Boots stopped outside her tent and a voice soon followed.  “Sergeant Kebede.”

She rubbed her nose between her thumb and forefinger, trying to fight off the headache threatening.  “What is it, McKay?”

“You wanted to be notified about the child?”

She got up quickly at that and pushed back the flap to her tent.  “Yes?”

“We have a local acting as a wet-nurse,” McKay said.  “They’re in recovery.”

Sgt. Kebede nodded and holstered her pistol, then followed him toward the medical tents.  “Wet-nurse?  Is she pregnant?”

McKay shook his head.  “She lost hers, I think.”

That stopped her up short.  “You think!?”

“Sorry, Sgt.  We’re having trouble finding a translator.  We’ve gotten a few words but…”  Then he dropped his voice and added, “Not sure how long we’ll have her around, to be honest.”

They started walking again, and she followed quietly for a minute before she put a hand on his arm and asked, “The baby… is it a boy or a girl?”

“Girl,” he murmured.

There were too few patients in the field hospital for the population this town had on register; far too few.  There was no thinking that it was from lack of injured, rather from lack of survivors to be treated.  She pushed that thought aside for now as they approached the woman, part of an arm missing and bandages on her face red from the injuries beneath, and yet against her breast lay the child, sleeping peacefully.

Sgt. Kebede stood a short distance away and watched.  The woman lifted her head to meet her gaze with only one blood-shot eye visible from beneath her bandages.  What she could see of her face was no older than she was, thirty at most though of a much harder life.

McKay spoke softly, “Internal bleeding.  We tried to give her an IV for the pain but she refused because of the child.”

“McKay, what the hell are you using her as a wet-nurse for?  She’s in no condition-”

“Sergeant, she heard the child crying and the nurses couldn’t keep her in bed.  She tore a few stitches out in the struggle, and only calmed down when we gave it to her.”  He scratched his arm and reluctantly added, “I think she might think it’s hers.”

Sgt. Kebede took the stone from her pocket and  ran her thumb over the symbol of the Goddess, recalling the face of the woman from whose neck she had taken it.  There was little chance of it being that same girl from all those years ago, but she couldn’t help feeling as if she owed something to the past.

She drew up a stool and sat beside the woman and child, holding up the amulet.  The woman seemed to recognize it, and made no objection when she tied it through a grommet in the child’s medical blanket.  The woman patted her hand and gave what might have been a smile.  With a rough voice and thick accent, she spoke a few words.

Sgt. Kebede looked back at McKay, but he only shrugged.  The woman frowned slightly, then pointed to the medic,  “McKay,” pointed to herself, “Thella,” then pointed to the child and looked at the Sergeant to fill in the unspoken blank.

She was about to shake her head, she didn’t know, but instead found herself saying, “Ebhiante.  Her name is Ebhiante.”

The woman thought for a moment, then nodded, leaning back into the bed and closing her eye.  Sgt. Kebede got up and left them to rest, pulling McKay into an area cordoned into an office.
“Find a translator, McKay,” she snapped.  “We have to have someone in this dishat army who understands her.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“And keep me informed of their conditions.  Both of them.  I don’t want them to sneeze without me knowing.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

She picked up a file on his desk, flipping through some of the reports inside.  “And I want an ID on those two bodies, PDQ*, you understand? I want to know who that child is!”

“Sergeant?”

She dropped the folder and raked her fingers through what little hair she bothered to keep on her head.  “What is it, McKay?”

“Who is Ebhiante?”

She opened her mouth, then shut it and turned around.  “You’ve got patients to see to, Corporal,” she said on her way out.

He shook his head.  “Yes, Sergeant,” he sighed after she was gone.

***

It took two days for a positive ID to be made.  Of the two bodies, the woman was related, but not as a mother.  An aunt was more likely, though there was a chance she was an elder cousin.  The man was registered as the woman’s husband, and so was unrelated by blood.  They would have to search the government registration database for likely relatives, and then compare their DNA to the child’s.  Because children had up to a year to be registered and there was no file on her, there was little hope of a quick resolution to the case.

The wet-nurse, Thella, had beaten McKay’s odds and survived her injuries after another round of surgery.  It took another week to get a translator transferred since no one was sure exactly which language the woman was speaking.   McKay had been partly right, it seemed; Thella had thought the child was hers, but only at first.

Now, Sergeant Kebede was using all her connections, some of questionable legality, in order to push through paperwork to adopt Ebhiante and to sponsor Thella as a domestic worker so she could bring them to Giedia Prime.  Even twenty years later, it still took a mountain of paperwork to get onto the two main planets.

So when, a month later, she had a civilian messenger come up with an encrypted communique and ask for Sergeant Aliya Kebede, it was the second time in her life she wasn’t sure whether she should be relieved at having an answer at last or afraid of what that answer might be.

***

A hush fell over the Assembly as the First Consul entered and stood at the podium.  She cleared her throat and began to speak.

“For one hundred and fifty-three years, our galaxy has been consumed by war.  A war which has laid waste our most precious resource, the lives of billions; the only cost worth considering, and one which must temper our joy at the news that this war is now over.”

The speech was brought to a halt as the entire Assembly erupted in cheers which lasted a good several minutes.  As it died down, she continued.

“Treaties were signed by all parties to bring an immediate end to all hostilities and all future claims of right to territories beyond the agreed upon borders.  These treaties are set to go into effect on twelve-point-oh-nine of Galactic Year one thousand and three, at ten o’clock Giedian Standard Time; which is just two minutes from now.”

Another round of applause filled the room.

“May our children remember this day, may we remember our fore-bearers, and may we endeavor to be worthy of the lives we have.  Please join me in silence as the Giedian Galactic Peace Treaty goes into effect.”

Silence washed through the room, broken by a canon which signaled the moment.  Cheers followed, and for a good ten minutes there was no bringing the room back to attention.  Slowly the celebration of the moment died down and the First Consul was able to continue again.

“I would like to now call forth the woman who was most instrumental in crafting this treaty, whose tireless efforts to bring the parties to the negotiating table have brought us to where we are today.  Please welcome Ambassador Ebhiante Kebede.”

 

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Writing Prompt: Describe Being a Writer

To dream about what isn’t and make it real; to see what is through a lens of what should be, or perhaps what should never be. To paint an image in your mind and weave invisible threads into your feelings to tug and tease at will.

To be blindness to the sighted, poverty to the rich, womanhood to the man; to impart an experience through a commonality which diverges and takes you with it to places you never thought possible. To make sacred the mundane and make known the hidden. To whisper in your ear of how good a sunset tastes at dawn and breathe in the waters of life and death and see which one I become. To be a bridge, to bear your weight as you tread across my back and see what I’ve carved into my hands for you.

And at the last to bare my soul and let you step inside me for just a moment to see the world through my eyes, and in doing so, to see the world through another’s eyes as well.

Love Is Dope

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Writer’s Relief posted the above picture on Facebook with the following caption: “Describe being a ‪#‎writer‬ without using the words ‘writer,’ ‘write,’ or ‘words.’ ‪#‎writingprompt‬ ‪#‎writinglife‬.” I’m always down for a good writing prompt, so I decided to share my (short) response here.

A somber-looking stranger on the train. The bewitching pre-dawn hours while alone at my desk. A long-abandoned building with “beautiful bones”  observed during a walk in the neighborhood. Any and all of these things could be the catalyst for my muse to alight upon my shoulder and whisper into my ear.  My mind starts churning, thoughts fill my head beyond capacity and I must (no, I really must) transfer those thoughts to page or screen. Sometimes those penned or keyboarded thoughts make it to a wider audience than my own two eyes.  In some bizarre corner of the universe, a company or a person…

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Exhale

© Suzanne Miller

The mountains exhale.

Pools of mist ebb and flow among the trees, obscuring the path.  The air, thick with pine and green tea, awakens the senses and beckons toward enlightenment.  Every breath a renewal of spirit, a coaxing of the waters of life which glisten from gossamer designs.  Hands unseen paint ferns of frost upon nature’s canvas, the eternal persistence of night to create that which daily is lost.

Purification by ice.

The cold sun has lost its power.  Indigo hills float against the sky, seduced by freedom’s lure.  A single crane calls to a mate unseen, perhaps absent.  Symbols turned from their meaning, to mingle hope and sorrows in the warp of life.

Aloft on red pillars.

The temple stands at the gates of heaven.  Dharmic harmonies resonate from prayer wheels, turning turning turning: the spin of earth, the passage of seasons, foot following foot.  The journey undertaken is a sacrifice; a thousand steps ascend among the echos of chanting, the singing of bowls, which compel the traveler onward.  Until, at the end of the corridor, the curtains part, opening onto a balcony which stands upon the precipice of the world.

there at the summit
the universe is revealed
as breath is lost

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Memories

Washed smooth by nature’s caress, the jagged edge is eased.  Beside lapis waves which kissed the ocher shores we plucked our wind-worn memories from the sand to leave in our wake a mark of passing.  A tenuous journey across time where two paths cross – the wanderer and the placer.  It takes a steady hand to find the balance; unsettle even one, they fall.  The strength of the offering is in the leaving, an act of faith in defiance of gravity.   Poems precarious, they stand as testaments to the impermanence of creation.

silent words of stone
whisper to the next who pass
you are not the first
follow in my footsteps and
for a moment we are one

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