Prompt

Frank Sinatra haiku

Folder: 
Iron Poet

Rat pack at midnight

Frank croons, and in turn, I swoon

Do be do be do

2015 Generation Why

Folder: 
Iron Poet

It's 2015 and we're Generation Why.

 

Why pants when you can leggings?

Why social when you can network?

Why create when you can paraphrase?

Why sing when you can sample?

 

Magic is to harmonize

as bullshit is to autotune.

 

Sinatra, Sayonara, so long, auf wiedersehen, 

and farewell.

Your job here is done.

Time to roll out

in that matte black towncar

on 33 1/3 RPM wheels.

 

See you at the yardsale.

See you at Nana's house.

See you at the hipster mixer.

 

Old Blue Eyes? More like Old Yeller.

 

We want instant gratification

not ancient... what's the word?

Whatever.

Ask Siri.

 

You heard Nancy:

Those boots are made for walking.

You wouldn't make it on The Voice.

American Idol would spit you out.

 

There's no room here for something so beautiful...

 

It's the final curtain, fly you to the moon,

at least you did it your way.

 

 

Sheram

Sheram

Marvin stood at the corner, beneath the stoplight, and awed at the simplicity surrounding him. This quaint little town he found himself in was charming, but stuck in a totally different time. Sheram was its name. Spanning only four miles in a straight line, the cluster of homes and few small businesses had only maintained independence and separation due to its distance from any other cities of note.

While the streets were clean and its buildings well-kept, the people came off as unfriendly and defiant. Marvin had only been in town for the past hour, and everyone he spoke to either ignored him or shooed him away. A group of jovial older women refused to respond to or even make eye contact with him when spoken to on the street. After entering the local grocery store and seeking out the manager, Marvin was told to be on his way, and to not return without making some kind of purchase. He had only come with a few questions. He was a reporter after all, and a considerably respected one at that.

There had been certain rumors the previous year. Officials in Hartwell, a modest city north of Sheram, had started to notice that their city’s criminal drug trade, which had been thriving well out of the police department’s control, was beginning to recede on its own. They attempted to investigate the cause, but never found anything besides former hot spots that had been totally cleaned out, wiped of everything and in some cases even burned to the ground. Locals rejoiced, but the circumstances surrounding these events alarmed everyone in charge, and they brought the issue to any set of eyes that they could. After several months of painstaking investigation, a group of private eyes working cooperatively managed to piece together a trail indicating that many of the more notable dealers in the city had transferred their operations to Sheram, of all places. Worse still, there was also a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that these formerly warring partnerships were now working in tandem.

That was what had brought Marvin here. He was an out-of-townee, here to use this pale little backwash settlement like a whore and leave after he’d found what he was looking for. The populous didn’t seem to appreciate that. He couldn’t imagine why. It was publicity! They would be seen by people nationwide!

The signal turned, and Marvin strode across the cracking pavement, unsure of where to head next. No one had been responsive so far. He couldn’t interview anyone too young, or someone would start an uproar and brand him a creep. There was this constant tension between him and anyone that he would pass on the sidewalk. It was as if this entire town were against him. He knew that some people may know his face and respond negatively to his presence, but this seemed almost… Uniform.

There was an odd sort of solidarity to things here. Every aspect of the town seemed to comply to it. The streets were universally quiet. Marvin couldn’t remember any instances of loud music from any houses, garages or cars. No yelling, for the most part. No dogs. A bird here or there. Other than the lazy swish of the occasional passing car, the air remained totally still, as if it were frozen in time.

Passing by what was likely to be the only gas station in town, Marvin decided to get himself a cup of coffee. He wanted to observe the people who worked there, without raising questions or making himself conspicuous. He was pleasantly surprised at the tidy upkeep of the grounds it lay on, and entered quietly, giving a polite nod to the young, bespectacled teenager behind the counter. Moving casually to the coffeemaker, he looked around the tiled storeroom and saw only one customer besides himself: an elderly man who wore a billed winter hat despite the warmth of the day. He gave him a polite nod as well, but was only greeted with a cold stare in return. Taking the hint, he added a quick blast of sugar to his coffee and moved towards the register. Placing it on the counter top, he reached for his wallet and greeted the young man. The boy said nothing. He wasted no time ringing up his total, and snatched the money from Marvin’s hands, shoving the change back into them just as quickly before slamming the register drawer shut. He then turned and made his way towards the back of the shop, disappearing through a door bearing a large employees only sign, leaving Marvin to sip at his coffee while the old man with the brimmed hat muttered to himself under his breath.

After leaving the gas station and tossing away the remainder of his coffee, Marvin made his way through a string of old, wooden farmhouses, coming to stop at the entrance of the town’s church. It was a pristine little building, made out of pale-colored bricks with high and narrow stained-glass windows. Not being a particularly religious man, Marvin was unsure of whether or not to enter the holy building. But, men of the cloth may be the most understanding men there are. Perhaps they would at least entertain the thought of conversation with an outsider. He laid his palms upon the large wooden doors and pressed his weight against them.

Inside, Marvin found a lavish entryway lit with only a meager half-dozen candles. It was broad and welcoming, and adorned with many decorative relics, most of which shone brilliantly in the candlelight. He stood in the center and admired the room, before passing into the church’s dome. From within, the vaulted ceilings beneath the center of the church appeared much more towering. The entire building somehow seemed larger than it had ever appeared from the exterior. Likely due to this dim lighting. Nothing but candles on stilts, every eight feet or so, as if electricity weren’t an option for the righteous.

Making his way deeper into the church, Marvin was able to see the visage of a man through the obscuring dark. He sat on the furthest pew, with his head down, seemingly deep in prayer. As he ventured further, he could just make out a thin, white collar around the man’s neck. A priest. And surely, a priest would hear his tale, would he not? It is his purpose to hear the pleas of the people who worship alongside him! Excited by this prospect, Marvin paused to call out to the priest, but felt compelled not to disturb the silence of the church, and continued walking.

His steps became more plodding as he moved. It was like the dust-laden air was pulling on him. Puling him down. He examined his surroundings, trying to reacquaint himself with reality. The stained-glass windows he had seen from outside were oddly bright and vibrant. They even appeared wider than before. Maybe somebody’s headlights shining in from the street. Marvin continued to make his way down the decorated carpeting that lead to the podium. The entire room had a certain clarity to it now. He could make out the far walls, most of which were layered with religious artwork. There were detailed statues placed on stands at every height, and colored glass bled between each one.

As he approached, the walls took on a more decrepit appearance. The perfectly-sculpted statues gradually corroded into sneering mockeries of what they once had been. Paint dripped down every canvas, while glass chipped and flaked on to the floor, collecting in massive piles of multicolored dust. Marvin began to flail, his eyes grown wide and bulging. He felt a vicious burning in his throat. Through his blurring vision, he saw that the priest remained motionless on his pew. He fell to the floor, seizing, choking on the dry thickness of the air.

The heavy pull was stronger now. The hemorrhaging walls began to collapse, revealing the flesh of some ghastly, pulsating form. Tears poured down his cheeks as he tried to call out, but Marvin found his voice absent. He was losing sight of himself as he watched the quivering, pinkened hide of the creature beyond the wall ripple with every undulation that it made. It seemed to fill the entire room with a strange, unearthly noise; its volume totally unclear to Marvin, who felt it more than heard it while he suffered.

He began to see wisps of stark black flickering in and out of view. He was fading. In his last few moments of awareness, Marvin lifted his head and gazed upward. The priest had risen, and stood over him, wearing an expression of the deepest concern. Marvin took comfort in this, and allowed his eyes to close. A deep wave of euphoria sprang from his throat and ran awash over the rest of his body. He fell limp, and his eyes eased open as his neck relaxed.

The priest remained over him; his concerned grimace contorting into a leering grin, while a single drop of blood ran from his nose to his lip.

View sivus's Full Portfolio

Singing Bum

Singing Bum

“Leremy rings the bell!”

He calls the dinner in! He calls… to all his kin!”

Ohh, Leremy riiings the bells… for we!”

The bum sang, off-tune and with a slur, and joyfully swung his bagged bottle to and fro as he did. He filled the chilly night air in front of him with a putrid white cloud that smelled of liquor and found food. His wide grin showed few teeth left, and his face was dirty and blemished by both age and the road he traveled on. He frequented this area, beneath an old gaslight, one of the few left in the entire city. It sat on a small, tight corner, which itself housed a quaint little bar with an apartment set above it. Few people passed through at the hour, but whomever had, would be accosted and politely, amusingly harassed by the always-singing-hobo. He would never lay hands upon anyone, nor threaten nor insult. He would simply pause in the midst of a song, blurt out an affectionate introductory nickname and begin asking for change. This would continue, regardless of the person’s answer, until they had left his corner.

“And you and I climb over the sea… to the valley,

And you and I reached out for reasons to… ” He stopped suddenly, spotting an older gentlemen with graying hair and a thick, layered jacket. He stepped forward and bent forward slightly, eyes downcast and shaggy bangs dangling in front of his eyes. He wrung his hands in front of his chest nervously.

“My good friend, my comrade… May you, or could you, and will you… Spare a few cents this way? For me? I… I’m very thirsty.” The bum admitted, not daring to make eye contact with the man. He fiddled with the fabric of his gloves, aggravating the already frayed bits of thread. The man approached and stopped just in front of the bum, looking down at him; his stern expression did not change when he spoke,

“We are not friends, nor do we share anything beyond this one moment, where you are soliciting me for change. As for your request, I must say that I believe you must earn your wages just like anyone else, don’t you think?” He asked, with strange sincerity in his voice. The bum looked up at him and said nothing, unsure of how to proceed. Most people either said yes or no, and then moved on quickly. He shrugged.

“Well, what are your capabilities? What you can do. Do you have any skills that you could utilize, right this very second, to earn this meager handful of coin that I have in my right pocket?” He continued. His curiosity seemed genuine, and he waited patiently for the bum to respond. The bum considered this, and squinted to himself. He came to realize that he only really knew how to do one thing besides begging, drinking and scavenging - so he started to sing.

View sivus's Full Portfolio

The Truth

The back end of the tavern was pretty crowded that night, which meant that the bartender was being extra particular about who he gave his attention to. I’d been standing on the far corner towards the stage - the only part of the entire stretch that wasn’t mobbed by people - and waited patiently for an opening to flag down a drink. We were in between sets, and some other local act was currently assembling themselves beneath the shoddy spotlights. Their setup was as elaborate any other, with broad panels of wood adorned with as many as a dozen different guitar pedals placed firmly in front of their feet.

At a quick glance, I raised a finger to the passing bartender and ordered a cheap draft and a shot of whiskey. As he departed, a young guy stumbled toward the bar and threw his weight against it, sprawling forward with his arms draped over the back of the counter. He steadied himself and straightened, coming to relax on his elbows and placing himself on the stool to his right, as if he’d been sitting that way along. I couldn’t help but chuckle, and struggled to do so under my breath. He had long, ratty dreadlocks that held a color somewhere between brown and black. Everything about him looked sort of dirty and sketchy, but his grin also made it clear that he was having a blissfully good time.

He seemed like he was contemplating ordering a drink, but couldn’t quite get himself to move forward and do so. I sat there watching him absently, waiting on my own drinks to arrive. He turned towards me, his head bobbing, and he spoke to me as if he knew me. He had a name for me and everything.

“Tom! Tom… Sorry, I didn’t notice you there for a second.” He said, lucidly, his eyes opening and closing. He turned his stool towards me and placed one hand on his leg, leaning forward and looking at me very intently.

“Do you wanna know what I’ve noticed, Tom? Everybody here… Around here, I mean… Keeps talking about, like, what’s right; what the right thing to do is. And… They all have different ideas… About what it is, you know? What the right answer is. For everything.” He spoke soberly, despite his dazed expression and half-lit eyes. He turned to his right and slapped the counter top repeatedly,

“Drink, barkeep! Drink! Please, a drink! A Budweiser! Please!” He shouted. His voice cut through the noisy chatter surrounding us, and several people fell silent and stared at him. He paid no one any mind, least of all me, or “Tom”, and continued his diatribe with renewed vigor:

“It fucking… It blows my mind! How can everyone think that they’re right, and EVERYBODY ELSE IS WRONG? … How … I mean, really, man… Where did all of their mirrors go? Right?” His eyes widened as he spoke. To our mutual surprise, the bartender rose above the counter and brought down a Budweiser hard onto the counter top. The noise stirred the young man forward and he brought up the bottle for a quick swig, his wide grin returning as he swallowed. He stared at the floor momentarily, took another drink, and placed it back on the bar. His look of fierce concentration returned.

“I’m not gonna sit here, and… You know, tell YOU that I know everything there is to know. I’m not stupid, like that, you know? I’m not. But THESE fucking people, right? Just… All of these fucking jokers that… That wanna be on top so bad, making all of the rules… And, like… Deciding what’s MORAL and shit. What’s THAT? We’re just supposed to… ” He pauses momentarily, and then raises the bottle to his lips once before going on:

“We’re supposed to let them dictate whatever they want? Try to set their… Their bull shit in stone so that the rest of the world’s more like THEM?”

He slammed his bottle back down onto the bar. His face fell, and he drooped his head forward, looking exasperated and tired. I waited for another escalation, but he at last seemed content with being quiet. My drinks had long since been sat in front of me, and I took hold of the whiskey and downed it quickly, chasing it with a small sip of my own beer. Young dreadlocks sat motionless, looking tragic and downcast. I couldn’t help but feel for him, despite his strangeness and obvious intoxication. Why not engage an interesting stranger?

“I don’t really think there’s much to worry about. Don’t you think that enough people out there do know what’s right?” I asked him, wondering if my voice might make him aware of the fact that I am not Tom.

He turned and raised his head level with mine, all of the vacancy leaving his face, and he spoke with a sad, but deliberate tone:

“I do think that… But, I … I don’t think they’re ever going to be loud enough to stand out. You know, Tom? Like… They’ll always be there… They’ll always be shouting too, but… They’ll never drown out the people who, just… THINK they’re right.”

And with that, he took his beer, turned away from me and walked, on unstable footing toward the surging crowd, disappearing between the many dancing bodies.

Part of me wanted to laugh, and I did, a little bit. I took another short, meaningless little drink of my cheap, bitter, sour-as-shit draft beer and stared across the way at all of the lights, all of the glittering glass, all of the reaching arms and trickling liquids across the length of the bar. Feeling sobered and unhappy, I stared at nothing, hoping to catch no eyes, no attention.

I took another drink; longer this time. More to be had. It was starting to get a little warm, but still, it was refreshing. Another one, and make it good.

Once more. And at this point, we might as well finish the job.

What’s there to do now but go into the crowd as well.

View sivus's Full Portfolio