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Friday, April 22, 2005

in this desert you are king

and i stand still and listen to your heart for what it will say to me. Beneath this wide open sky, blue in the morning and orange in the evening, sandy all day long, i wonder where the rising dreams are, the invisible palpable stream.

in between dunes i am drifting, understanding nothing and seeing only the tops of waves that are not there, walking up hills that slip away underneath. the sky is a bottle neck then, close to me in farness. in the dark blanket of stars, cresting a dune ridge, the painfully cold air cries out for your voice to lead the people home.

in this desert you are king, the ruler and the unruly; the irrepressible tyrant and the irresponsible tyke. your servants fear you as they entertain you, they obey and are tickled, you preside over emissaries and orgies alike. i dream of date palms and square houses, shady corners to sip sweet tea in, warm roofs to sit on and watch the bloody sun set from, and the sound of water buckets splashing in wells in the courtyard where my thick smoke gives everything a haze of scented understanding. i dream while standing on the edge of each night's camp, looking at the fouled star map and the edict i reluctantly accepted, pondering the southern cross.

Beneath this sky, i wander.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

cruel tea, two animals

The two riders came across the plains at a gallop. Dusk was approaching and they stopped at the inn at the confluence of the two streams. They dismounted at the gravel drive in front of the building and the stablehands who had been eagerly watching their approach took the steaming horses in to the stalls. They wore traveling clothes and well-worn riding cloaks, and the embroidery on their tunics told the patrons of the inn that they were messengers in the king’s guard. They were bombarded with questions, what message do you carry, are you come from the southern front, is there news of war, is it true men are falling from the sky, is the ground really coughing up dead beasts, will the king be coming this way soon?

The thin one with the hooked face was the first to speak. I cannot tell you what I have seen, he said, and if I did you would not believe me. But let me tell you this: we are living in dangerous times, and soon every man and woman must prepare their arms to defend themselves. By this time he had reached the bar, and reached out for the mug of ale offered by the taverner. He drank thirstily, finishing it in two draughts.

They turned to the companion, the rounder one with the grizzly chin. I love my life, and my liege, he said. But I fear that soon, I shall have to lose one, or the other.

The cryptic talk was too much for guests at the inn. They plied the riders with drink and food, trying to loosen their tongues for more news, more details, more stories of what had happened. The two remained evasive to the end of the night, when, bellies full of stew and beer, satchels clasped tight to their bodies, they retired to their warm rooms and soft beds, leaving the guests’ heads spinning with hinted spectacles and suggested miracles.

The two horses ate old oats and sour mash, drank muddy water. After a quick brushing the stablehands had run inside to hear more of the talk, and not seen that the horses were in fact still hungry. I can’t believe I actually want to eat more of this swill, said the older one to the younger. Strangely, I know exactly what you mean, the other whispered back. They slept soon after. The wind blew across the wide plains and straight through their stalls all night. In the morning they would ride again.