Wallcloud.

©2021 Michael Raven

“This has all happened before and it will happen again.”

Though she’d never turned to me to say these words, I could feel her turning once again to stare out over the rolling plains of prairie grasses moving like waves in the sea as the flowed golden over rise and hollow under the steel skies filled with incoming thunder and rain. The thunderbird, it was said, rising from the mountains in the west and riding over the world, crackling like blue lightning, wings sending squalls in every direction. Clouds like wool cities roared towards us as they had been all afternoon, visible in the vast empty of this place. Someone wiser than either of us, or most familiar with the terrain, would have sought shelter at the first furtive white clouds clustering. We were foolish and had no clue about shelter in these lands — and we knew both truths in our hearts and didn’t fight such things.

Love and apocalypse will make fools and idiots of the best of people. The trade-off was more than worth it. I had her and lived with abandon since the first days of ruin of empires. I never asked her what her thoughts might be about the two of us together; I took it for granted she felt the same, else why would she cling to me so?

“You know what happened?” I asked.

She shook her long dark hair that fell in large cascade curls around her shoulders. Mac had always colored her hair before the shit hit the fans, said she’d be damned if she let the grey show until she couldn’t hide it any longer. Then things went sideways with the world and, like everything else everyone had always done that was less about survival and more about youth, she let it fall to the wayside without another word. She hadn’t instructed me, but I knew it was not something she’d acknowledge, even had I the temerity to bring it up in conversation. It was a pointless discussion in her mind.

“Of course not, Logan. I just… know. This is not the first time. Nor is it the last. This is part of the cycle. It will happen again.”

No one knew what happened, only that something had. The world has stopped working. Period. There was no way to find out what had happened as a result. When cars, radio, television and phones went tits up, it was impossible to convey information. Nothing worked except for muscle power. It’s as if the industrial revolution had never happened and we’d been left with a trillion tons of useless plastic and glass. Then, the old enmities, left unfettered in the vacuum, thrived and old scores were settled, old tensions allowed to explode.

We were idiots in love, but smart enough to leave the cities before that started to happen. We saw enough of it before we left to know it was high time to get the fuck outta Dodge and we started hoofing it out into the countryside. At first, we had no destination, but then Mac began with her talk about being drawn to a place she described from her dreams. At first I thought it was BS. Then, we started to see the things she said she dreamed about and I there was no way to ignore that something was calling her out west.

Of course, everything that happened to the two of us was plain weird.

“Wyrd,” she would correct me when I said things like that, as if she knew I was spelling the word wrong in my head as I said it. Mac had a way with those kinds of things. She seemed to pick up on word choice and how you articulated a word — especially if it was questionable phrasing.

We’d met on accident. Or so I thought. Trading notes, we quickly discovered we knew much more about each other than seemed possible for two people knowing each other for a matter of days. And then the synchronous thinking a month or two into our relationship. Like conjoined twins sharing a brain, we found ourselves effortless finishing one another’s thoughts. I did a double-take for a long time with each time it occurred — Mac accepted it as a new norm within hours.

“Should we maybe try to find some shelter?” I asked, hitching up the frame backpack to make it more comfortable. I’d need to replace a strap soon or the discomfort would get worse. “That rain is looking… pretty fucking much like a downpour for hours straight.”

She shrugged and adjusted her own pack, glancing backwards at me and flashing one of her killer smiles that always made everything alright.

“We can try,” she said with a smirk. “But we won’t find any around here. I believe we are… what’s the technical term…? Fucked.” She started marching toward the mountains, mere ghosts in the distance and only visible against the contrast of the darkening sky. “Yep, I’m pretty sure we’re already fucked.”

I felt the first large drop of rain against my shoulder, looked up and saw a wall of rain heading towards us and had to agree.


Normal caveats apply here, folks. This is first draft with minimal editing, written by the seat of my pants, and I had no clue where I would end up when I started. There may be errors [edit: may, LOL] and I may fix those errors, or I may leave them. This is not intended to be a polished piece.

Photo by Lachlan Ross on Pexels.com

key: spiral-dancing

Old, laid to rest

Call in my oneiromancer…

Talk me through the dreamspace, spiderweb dreamtime, time to cull the cull to cull the fictions, the knotted myriad mendacity, they follow the threads to the fruit to the poison inside.

Ravens nod. For once, the laughter stills..

I watch, bemused. Why am I laughing at this stage? The wasted

time

All that time, trapped within the dreaming, in love with a trickster quarter-century fool.

Takes one to know one, the ravens say.

Which must have been my failing — no taunter am I.

but

I am the fool. Always a fool.

In love with wolves, their blood-smeared mouths howling at the moon, the sun, hunger for me to acquiesce, surrender, give them their feast, but the cantrips spoke, galdr sang, the weaver untangles the lies.

How they howl!

I cover my ears at the din. Their ravenous, insatiable greed denied.

Dreamweaver’s blade catches the ghost. This time there will be blood. Heartblood. That black stuff of dreams.

twenty-six-twenty-six-twenty-six lyes.

The dreamworker turns, covered in viscera. There. It is done. That vampyr put to rest. Find other guides…

outpour the worms

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Splintered in Her Head. [fragment]

What follows is an experimental piece I was working on in mid-August and intended as a part of a larger collaborative piece, but that effort fell apart and never went beyond some initial bits and pieces. At this stage, I don’t see how it can be rescued as a collaborative effort, so I figure, what the heck — I’ll share this small fragment just for fun.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the first section of the planned short story (a section that was mostly my responsibility). The original version had felt too… I don’t know… formulaic and stilted. And I was lacking in inspiration for the next section I was responsible for as a result of this dissatisfaction I was having about the introductory paragraphs I had written.

Photo by Danielle Reese on Pexels.com

More on a whim that for any other reason, I reworked the first section from a third-person perspective to that of the first person perspective because I really wanted to get across the idea that the primary character was possibly a little traumatized by what she had experienced and probably not the most reliable of the characters in the story. That would have fit in with the hanging ending we had planned: having an unreliable witness to the events. I didn’t want Vanessa/Nessa (the main character’s name) to be entirely unbelievable, but I wanted the reader to question her representation facts of the tale she told.

Additionally, I was somewhat influenced by my now-aborted (but a book I should return to) attempt at reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I had liked some of the footnoted-fiction style he uses and, while I employed some of that technique in this piece, I hadn’t planned on taking it very far in the full story. After the initial stages, I had planned to let the footnotes fade away as things got more emotional in the story. However, I liked his more direct storytelling over my first unsatisfactory attempt at writing the section, which I felt to be too passive and filled with outdated writing mechanisms (circa 1930s; e.g. Lovecraft and Ashton-Smith).

It was to be a contemporary horror story, of sorts. Other influences meant to inform the story had included the song by The Cure, from which I cribbed the title name, the lyrics from The Empty World, also by The Cure, and the novella The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

However, I’ve almost written as much of an introduction as the piece itself. I posted pages as images mostly to retain the intended footnoted style of the planned final version. Yes, I actually prefer monospaced Courier typeset when I write.

Final note: This is first draft, and there may be some unsatisfactory elements that I had planned to research better before the whole was considered final. Please forgive any errors as a result — they are wholly my responsibility.

TRIGGER WARNING: Plenty of swearing and disturbing imagery

Continue reading “Splintered in Her Head. [fragment]”

Reverence and horror —

The past is strange, you know…

One thing that isn’t common knowledge about me is that I was (am?) an ordained minister. Reverend Michael/Mick/Raven (yes, I occasionally went by my pen name), occasionally just: The Rev. I was ordained through a convoluted system where the druids I had hung out with the previous year (I had moved away from their direct influence) agreed to support my ordination through their parent group which, at the time, happened to be Universal Life. As I understand it, they later got their paperwork in order and were ordaining folks directly rather than through a church that had the basic tenant that everyone had a right to be ordained and God was however the ordained person perceived Him to be, even if He was a She (or a sexless flying spaghetti monster, for that matter). You, too, can get your official papers through the UL webpage for the simple task of providing some information to them about where you live and an email contact. While a number of folks do it on a lark, not many people actually utilize their ordination other than as a party discussion topic.

I actually subsequently registered with my State’s authorities and was therefore able to legally officiate at weddings, funerals and baptisms. And I did a few weddings, mostly because people saw me as a cheap alternative to a church (I refused all donations), or because they wanted something more than the Justice, but not too religious. I gave up after a series of divorces eventually became the norm for those I had joined.

I also gave up the practice entirely when I discovered that no one could really give a shit about what I was all into. Forget “church”, I was unable to find a single someone to sit at a coffee house with me to discuss my off-beat branch of Celtic/Native American-influenced/Taoist/eclectic shamanism. Shamanism is all the rage these days, but I don’t rightly recognize the form it has become. At the time, however, it was considered “weird” unless you were into Carlos Castaneda and peyote, which I was not.

I ended up during that time becoming the “official reverend” for an Irish folk band from Austin, Texas. At the time, I had not been to Austin, but the band made infrequent appearances in Saint Paul at a Irish dive with live music called The Half-time Rec. A friend and I got to hanging around when they showed up and, because they were relatively unknown in Minnesota, their audience was small — so we stood out like a sore thumb. They befriended us as a result, and we frequently went to their shows and after-parties. It happened to be convenient that I had my phone number on some business cards, so I handed one to the lead singer when she asked how they could get in touch before they came the next time to set up a non-pub get-together. Her and her husband laughed and laughed when they saw my title, mostly because they had never met someone who seemed to match their idea of a reverend so poorly before: I swore, smoked, drank and told raunchy jokes. They decided instantly I was “The Rev” and called it out when I would come their shows. “Hey, the real show can begin! Our spiritual advisor, the Rev is here! Woot!” Occasionally, they’d ask for a prayer or a “good word”, in which case I’d steal from someone else and provide wisdom along the lines of: “On that slippery banister of life, may all the splinters point in the right direction.” Yeah, not original at all.

I haven’t kept up with my ordination, so I’ve probably been dropped from the rolls. But it was an interesting period that I wish I had pursued with a little more focus.


Carrion child, pray for me
Play your wild card
See the house come down around your head
Home to me, so much dreaming
Some say I'm growing cold and
Taking over
Nothing, cuts, two ways
Possession
Taking over

- Andrew Eldritch (Sisters of Mercy), Possession

i feel a monster
deep inside
clawing outward
ready to burst
with the exploding
of my heart

your name moves my lips
in those sacred hours
while time i pray for you
to appear and to
take me in your arms

Died, praising God for his gift and grace:
For she bowed down to him weeping, and said
“Live”; and her tears were shed on his face
Or ever the life in his face was shed.
The sharp tears fell through her hair, and stung
Once, and her close lips touched him and clung
Once, and grew one with his lips for a space;
And so drew back, and the man was dead.

Jaufre Rudel, troubadour of the early–mid 12th century

time will
show who
the real monsters
were --

bodies like cordwood at summer's end
stacked in the name
of pride

Convinced his dick was the source of all the evil in his life, David decided to exorcise his demons once and for all over the bathroom sink at three a.m. with a butcher knife…

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

dead souls —

©2021 Michael Raven

in this lonely place of
pictures' accusatory eyes
we walk, dead souls
shuffling down dusty halls
caught with cobwebbed sighs
every creak drawing faces
staring for source
in the molasses slowly
seeing unchangings
the march focus returns
as we go on and on and on

Someone take these dreams away
That point me to another day
A duel of personalities
That stretch all true realities

They keep calling me…

Ian Curtis (Joy Division), Dead Souls

the graveyard shift
& the jaundiced yellow lights
painting the wet pavement sick
it was him
& the downtown street only
as he walked the
center-line
alone

“In his mind, nothing could be more delightful than to live in solitude, and enjoy the spectacle of nature, and sometimes read some book or other.”

Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

It was closing time at the bar and the lights had come up. Jan wasn’t about to move his ass just on account of it being closing time as the CC — he still had half a brewskie to finish, and Lori was disinclined to give him a nudge out the door like the manager would have insisted, had he been around. But Larry had gone and done broke his leg and, instead of being at the bar to poke, prod and basically push Jan out the door and it was Lori’s call. And, because part of her still had a residual crush on Jan, although both of them were well past the age where such things as crushes were considered proper, she let him sit there and sip at the beer that she’d served him later than she should have.

Doug, for his part, was spreading the spilled beer and cigarette butts on the floor into a more uniform disgusting for the next day’s worth of drunken reverie. Again, Larry’s absence was acutely felt as cleanliness standards would attest when the doors were locked. Doug added ashes to the swill of his own, smoking as he swished the floors in some pattern only discernible to him.

Lori walked over to the flickering OPEN light and pulled the chain to shut it off. The jukebox played stopped playing something by Black Flag or the Dead Kennedys — Lori could never tell the two apart. She would have felt bad for whomever paid for the songs they wouldn’t hear, but she’d gotten over that after the first year of working the CC. People always seemed to plug the jukebox full of coins at the end of the evening, as they grew maudlin and sentimental about whatever sad things they found in the bottom of their glasses — the lost loves, the missed trains, whatever the fuck they thought they’d missed out. Lori was no different.

She went to unplug the juke for the night, but hesitated as the next song started.

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst...

Lori felt a hand on her shoulder as she stood in front of the jukebox. When she turned, she saw it belonged to Jan.

“Lor,” he said softly. “Could I bother you for this dance?”

She couldn’t think of a good reason not to, so she gave Jan a clumsy curtsy, wrapped her arms around his neck and they began to sway.

Everybody wants to be someone's here
Someone's gonna show up, never fear
'Cause here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular...

Doug watched, a crooked grin in place of where folks wear a smile, leaning on the mop handle and oblivious to the burned-out remnant of his cigarette as the music played.

…un?

As my sticky post suggests, I am considering shutting down and turning off the lights on the site. It seems like a good idea, although I can’t rightly articulate my reasons aside from saying that my mental status seems to be wonky (to put it mildly). That, however, does not mean that I have ceased to write. I have give myself a deadline of deciding by Monday as to my final intent: Do I overhaul how I approach this site so that I find it less angsty for me to continue to write here? Or, do I shut ‘er down and find a new way to do my writing?

In the meantime, I am limiting myself to a post a day, with one or more pieces consolidated in the single post. This is today’s meager offering with all apologies:

©2021 Michael Raven

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com
dark the night soul
who light the turns on?
who holds the skeleton song
dancing in light moon?                      
memento morte un deux trois                   
   kiss this graven flesh and make me
              whole      

absentminded
halfsmile
in
the sun
w/
frozen
yogurt --
enthralling

  Doubt thou the stars are fire,
  Doubt that the sun doth move,
  Doubt truth to be a liar,
  But never doubt I love

Letter from Hamlet to Ophelia, Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2)

Lay down your arms and surrender to mine
Let me release you from your tangled skein
Burn down your temples and your holy shrines
Sift through the ashes for the truth that shines
No more weeping or wringing of hands
Come with me to the promised land
Close your eyes and we'll go down slow
We're gonna drown in the afterglow

… tear down the walls, raze them to the ground”


shadows...
the strobe through the trees
driving to the
                  flicker
                          resort
      rilke zen for
god's sake
              and fish fish fish
     fat fish in caves
suck on that steel
                     kick that eye
           kick that kick
    kick that kick that
                                   sky...

last stand on a rocky beach
with the gunsun in my eye

You come across an ancient and dying tree with a hollow place between it’s branches. Inside is a man curled in upon himself and he seems to have grown into the grain of the tree over time. Do you:

  • Set the tree on fire (turn to page 68)
  • Read the verse you found on the garden path to this place (turn to page 31)
  • Kiss his forehead and see if he comes alive (turn to page 103)
  • Walk back to the secret garden and try to find the way back out (turn to page 69)

t0o!

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

As my sticky post suggests, I am considering shutting down and turning off the lights on the site. It seems like a good idea, although I can’t rightly articulate my reasons aside from saying that my mental status seems to be wonky (to put it mildly). That, however, does not mean that I have ceased to write. I have give myself a deadline of deciding by Monday as to my final intent: Do I overhaul how I approach this site so that I find it less angsty for me to continue to write here? Or, do I shut ‘er down and find a new way to do my writing?

In the meantime, I am limiting myself to a post a day, with one or more pieces consolidated in the single post. This is today’s meager offering with all apologies:

©2021 Michael Raven

what illusions?
that dagger doubt
fear-honed, carves
the clockwork heart
ticktock stutter
springs taut

gentle, watchmaker...
this chipped crystal face
is brittle with age
gently, now, gently

i think i saw you
at the end of the
library stacks
with your
wink and your
smile
before we fell
over the edge of
the world

truth
or dare?

i dream so hard
it breaks things
at the end of my
falls

And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.

Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones (G.R.R. Martin)

“His head gone done broke,” Amos said as the townsfolk gathered ’round in the center of the town to stare at Hal. Hal, for his part, seemed to confirm the diagnosis: he sat there grinning foolishly at nothing much at all. His rear end was firmly planted in the flowerbed Missus Johnson had planted to “give the town a touch of color”. The fact that he hadn’t moved and the color was decidedly obscured by his presence would like as not give her a stroke.

Folks started to guess the cause of Hal’s broken head when they noticed the faint imprint of a lipstick kiss on his forehead and the sight of Sally Jean’s skirts darting around the corner of the general store…


he lost his
mind somewhere
in the musk
of her hair
watching
september stars
upon the hill

Opium | A Collaboration with Lauren M

© 2021 Lauren M | theweesmirk and Michael Raven

A little over a week ago, I had featured Lauren’s site in a Follow Friday post (which due to circumstances beyond my control, not limited to losing power for part of the day, did not get replicated last Friday) and we chatted a bit since then and discussed working together on a few pieces.

In ways, Opium is more her poem than mine. I just went along for the ride and she didn’t kick me out of the car while it was still cruising down the road at many miles an hour. But seriously, this piece was in her style and I tried to fit my stuff in. As per usual, I don’t care for obvious delineations for who contributed what, so I did my best to emulate her atypical approach. The result is the image shared above.

Why an image? Well, Lauren’s use of white space and alternate emphasis wreaks havoc with your standard post editor. She was having problems getting it to look good and I said, “I have an idea”. I proposed the above and she gave me the thumbs up. I took some liberties with the formatting when I pulled it together, add some color to mix it up, a suitable background image. And, like that, it became a picture. Problem with formatting and fussy editors solved.

Except… it didn’t. Thank you, theme creators for not making all pictures dynamic and responsive [/sarcasm].

So, anyway — this really belongs more on her site. And I think we’ll get it so that the internet gods accept our goat cheese sacrifice (feta works wonders, let me tell you) and she can have it on her site — but we’ll have to tease it into working, I think.

Lauren drove the car, I went along for the ride. I look forward to future collaborations when she has the time. i can’t tell you just how pleased I am with the result.

Yes, the title of this piece was influenced by the song I had posted earlier. It seemed to fit.

Sacrifices.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

“If you value both your eyes,” said the old hag with her cataract-clouded gaze, “I would not seek the wisdom of ash, oak, and thorn. I would go back to your woman and give her a life of lust, children and laughter. The path you walk leads only to despair, for that is the gift this knowledge brings.”

He smartly rapped the head of the staff on the table, causing the soils cast for the geomancy to jitter-dance on the surface.

“Damn your caution, spell-singer,” he said, voice gruff with the journey’s fatigue. “I’ll give both of my eyes if it gives my people the means to battle the Rime. Now tell me how to find the answers I seek, or I’ll beat them out of you.”

She shook her head. So young. So stupid. The answers he sought were not the answers, but he had already decided she was clueless, though he’d sought her guidance.

Sighing. “You must die before you get answers, and it will be an eye you shall surrender.”

She showed him a map of the place he needed to visit and watched him leave without so much as thanks or by-your-leave.

Impetuous youths.


Another social flashfict from this day in 2019. Minor revisions and additions. Mostly cleanup. More in the fantasy vein than the new weird, but elements of both. I had plotted out a portion of a longer novel involving some of these concepts — namely the threat of “The Rime”, which is not explained here and not really needing an explanation. Maybe I’ll get back to that novel, however unlikely.

Image Source: https://www.mortusviventi.com/products/hanged-man-patch

Old growth.

©2019-2021 Michael Raven

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Through the tangled skein of grandeval forest undergrowth, soft with moss and grasping at ankles, we crawled in the gloaming cast by the canopy of tall sentinels: oak and ash tangled in the ancient embrace of warring wood over some forgotten transgression obfuscated by the fog of time. And still, those trees struggled as we writhed to traverse the corpses of their fallen compatriots from the aeons before.

“The map,” said Lucy, her hand opening and closing for its surrender to her possession.

Olivia sighted and pulled it out of her breast pocket, lines and symbols showing where the old road was said to be viewable inside the plastic zip-closed bag. I leaned against one of the ancient trunks and smoked as Lucy sorted it all out.

In my amateur estimation, the map seemed more deception than truth. But nobody thought to ask me and I didn’t bother to offer up an opinion that would be sneered and snorted away. Instead, I drank stale, warm water from my canteen while Lucy examined our progress, or lack thereof.

After several moments of careful scrutiny, Lucy let her hand hold the map drop to her side as she scanned the dense forest.

“I’m afraid,” she said softy, “I’ve managed to get us lost.”

While the admission was a surprise, being lost was not.


Yet another FB flashfict from 2019. Light editing, per usual. Still file under: new weird.

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