Torn from clouds

Common paths are drawn,
Shaping the pavement,
Filling silence.

Tracing vulnerably,
Left unsaid,
While Mother weaves.

Raindrops course the gutters,
While currents soothe our battered skull,
Creation bargains.

As if of heaven,
Torn from clouds,
Quenching damned thirst.

Tombs devour the rivers,
Sewers overflow,
Nature still abhors us,
Tonight we sleep alone.

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The Warbler’s Song

As summer sweetly burns the hours,
The morning’s dew will heal our pain.
Not oft the bee forgets the flowers,
Nor sun forgets to dry the rain.

Stilled by the echo of the ghost,
Chilled by the winds beneath our wing,
We have tomorrow at the most,
We have today to feel the sting.

Can you imagine moving past,
The hours that hover through the air?
Can you discern the trumpet’s blast,
That tolls the end to nature’s prayer?

With winter clawing at our backs,
The Guardian presses close at hand,
The mourning lark lets drop the axe,
The timid song turns from the land.

The Dryad of Terranür – Part 1

The rain fell heavy against her leaves, tracing its way down her coarse branches in thin rivulets.  The water calmed her, eased her aching joints as it flowed between the cracks in her ancient bark, moving ever closer to the earth.  Always towards the earth, pulling the dust of many ages down with it.

The dryad let out a deep sigh, startling the dozing warblers in her canopy.  The sound was more of a creaking; a great release of pent up energy.  Her head hung low today, heavy with the rainwater that coated her thick mane of greenery.  But this was not all that caused the ancient woman of the forest to droop.  The knowledge of what was to come also weighed upon her like a drenched woolen blanket.

The days of mirth would soon be at an end.  She was getting old.  Too old to count.  Too old to remember.  She had seen many generations of ironwoods come and go.  She had seen the maple saplings grow a hundred feet before finally cracking in half, only to watch the entire precession over again.  Her roots had penetrated deep into the earth, cracking boulder and limestone in search of drink.

But now the time of mirth would soon come to a close.  These were dreadful days.  Terrifying days ahead.

As the clouds began to relent and the pounding of the rain became exhausted, the dryad was left to ponder her next course of action as her leaves dripped rhythmically upon the forest floor.  The forest of Terranür was ancient, far older even than the dryad.  The debris that lay damp at her feet had witnessed countless dryads come and go as it pilled ever higher.  She was not the first of her kind, that much was certain.  What was uncertain was whether or not she would be the last.

The sun poked its head out at that moment and bathed her foliage in life.  Washed her skin in warmth and kindness, igniting the fire within her core.  She could not postpone any longer.  With the rays of sunshine came the strength to perform her final act upon this earth.

She knew exactly what must be done, but that did not make the task any easier.  With a massive stretch, she shook the remaining raindrops from her leaves, straightened her aching trunk and blinked open her sepia eyes.  These wet, sad eyes had seen countless springs, witnessed untold seasons, but today they focused upon something new.  Something unsettling.  As she looked from the forest floor towards the azure sky above, the dryad could see the plumes of acrid smoke rising in the south.

This was not the smoke of any fire she was familiar with.  While it was true that other trees feared the flames which came racing through the night to extinguish all life in the forest, the dryad of Terranür had witnessed them many times before.  She had seen her friends eradicated by the will of Chênoras, the Undoer, and had survived to tell the tale.  But this new smoke, waving like a black standard above the canopy, these fumes made the dryad shudder.

This was no smog produced by nature.  This was the fire of industry.

Unable to bear it any longer, the dryad lowered her eyes and called out for the Guardian.

Unspeakably loud, the tremulous call of the dryad split the serene forest air, penetrating even the deepest, darkest corners of Terranür.  It was the sound of a hundred tree trunks splitting asunder.  The sound of a thousand root clusters being ripped from the ground.  It was the sound of a forest dying.

The Guardian would not be able to ignore the dryad’s languished call.  Patience was all that remained to her now.  Soon enough the Guardian of the forest would arrive and the dryad of Terranür would be at peace.

It was not long after her mournful cry that the warbler began to sing.  As if feeling the pain of his host, he began quite softly.

As summer sweetly burns the hours,
The morning’s dew will heal our pain.
Not oft the bee forgets the flowers,
Nor sun forgets to dry the rain.

Stilled by the echo of the ghost,
Chilled by the winds beneath our wing,
We have tomorrow at the most,
We have today to feel the sting.

Can you imagine moving past,
The hours that hover through the air?
Can you discern the trumpet’s blast,
That tolls the end to nature’s prayer?

With winter clawing at our backs,
The Guardian presses close at hand,
The mourning lark lets drop the axe,
The timid song turns from the land.

The dryad let but a single tear fall from her round eyes.  She would not be defeated just yet.  With the Guardian came hope.  The forests must survive.

To be continued…

Please take the time to comment on this piece if you enjoyed it. I am hoping to perfect my art and wish to use this blog to receive feedback on the style and substance of the narrative. Any constructive criticisms or editing comments will be appreciated and considered. Eventually, I hope to have a novel published based on the world seen in these short stories.  Thanks in advance for your help with this!

Forest Fire

The cosmic spark
Descends upon the parched earth,
Illuminates the sky,
Splits the winds in half,
Takes purchase in the land,
In the branches of the tarnished oak.

The darkness flares,
The clap of thunder sends the mighty
Beasts to shudder,
Fleeing the scorched soil,
Fleeing the sundered oak,
Fleeing the ignited grasses.

At first the flame seems but an afterthought,
With eyes still burning,
The mighty flash still echoes,
Through the thunderous night.
Ears still ringing, the dread begins to creep onwards,
The humbled grasses wilt and turn to ash before its stare.

The flame spreads with an uncanny vigor,
Spreads with an unnatural hunger,
Unmatched.
It cannot be charmed,
Instead consuming all within its path.
The trees begin to howl, to spit, to squeal.

Soon the forest will be devoured,
The mighty beasts soon trapped,
The call for mercy soon extinguished,
The birdlings in their nests
Left alone to fend, to dissipate,
To cower in their unforgiving sanctuary.

There cannot be a sweet ending,
With all reduced to dust,
The crackling of the forest floor,
The cackling of the needles thus,
The flame engorged like fatted pig,
The life force drained from fire’s lust.

My First Submission

Today I made my first submission to a magazine.  I decided to enter my short story, Tracking the Wind, to the Hugo Award winning online Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, ClarkesWorld Magazine. I should find out in a week or so if it was accepted or not. I am a little nervous as I have never done anything like this before.  Hopefully they will give me some sort of appraisal other than just “yay” or “nay”, but I doubt that is how this works.  I will keep you all informed of my progress. Wish me luck!

To read my first draft version of Tracking the Wind, please follow the links below:

Tracking the Wind – Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Mountain’s Birth

A mighty crash,
envelops all, encompasses the earth.
Two continents, whose paths now crossed,
splash their limestone shells
upon the violet skies.
No cloud is safe
from the piercing razor’s edge,
found within their movements.
The momentum that has shaped us,
will not be halted so easily.

Direct, yet crass, the jagged stones emerge.
Toppling life,
upending peace, their tusks of marble
hewn across what once was
rolling prairie wheat,
a pasture, lonely, solemn, sweet.
Nature seems distraught,
for they’ve disturbed the weary
whispering willows, thrust into the atmosphere
despite protestations.

But not through time,
for timely measurements should all but cease
the movements of the granite beast.
When witnessed by the lonely hermit,
standing on his lonely beach,
the image freezes,
the journey seems complete.
If only he could comprehend,
that God herself has colored this,
the lavish canvas he calls Mountain.

Tracking the Wind – Part 3

Continued from Part 2

Orion had precious little time to react.  The sorcery came to the tip of his tongue almost unbidden.  He had one option at this moment and that was to slow his fall.  The wind Elemental had taken him over a hundred feet into the air and if the young adventurer was not able to cast his spell in time, he would certainly die.

Forcing his lips to mimic the song of the meadowlark, Orion spun his magik through the tapestry of the empty spaces before him.  Summoning the wings of the heavens, he managed to lighten his weight just enough to feel the rush of wind against his cheeks slow.  The spell would have almost worked had he not slammed into the ancient oak tree, the upper branches smashing his jaw and tearing at his palms.  He bounced once, twice then cracked his head off the trunk of the massive tree before landing hard at its roots and losing consciousness.

*              *              *

The moonlight pierced the fog of his scattered brain.  As he blinked himself awake, Orion slowly became aware that he had been unconscious for most of the day and well into the night.  Shivering, he tried to retrieve his bearings and piece together the events from the day before.  He knew that he had failed in his quest, but he was not entirely sure why.  The cold, snow covered roots which he lay upon numbed his body and dulled the ache in Orion’s back, but could not help to diminish the sadness in his heart.  This was not the way he had envisioned his first meeting with the Elemental.

Of course, he had known that the Elemental would present a challenge unlike any he had ever encountered, but somewhere deep down he had hoped that the herald of the winds would see that his mission was pure and his heart was true.  He had secretly wished that he would be able to convince the Elemental that he was worthy of the power to call forth the storms.

But obviously this was not so.  The guardian of the wind had seen right through Orion and judged him to be a threat, not an ally.  She had turned upon him faster than he could have ever imagined and her wrath was terrifying.

Full of self-loathing, Orion decided it was time to carry his broken body back to civilization.  He rolled onto his side and made to push himself up onto his knees, but collapsed in a pathetic heap instead.  The pain that shot through his arm caused him to cry out into the unforgiving darkness.  He knew instantly that his arm had been broken in the fall.  He was lucky to have survived it at all, but this fact did not improve his mood any.  He felt utterly beaten when he realized that it was going to take a significant amount of time to recover before he could attempt to track the wind again.

Without his permission, Orion began to weep.  The disappointment of the day turned out to be too much for him combined with the new found pain coursing through his arm.  Perhaps he should just give up now and let the cold take him.  It would not be such a terrible way to die.

It is curious how the wind always settles as the sun completes its journey across the sky and nestles itself to bed in the west.  It is as if she is intrigued by the departure and pauses to admire the beacon that shone with such intensity throughout the day.  Like the setting sun, you will only command the wind’s respect after your have inspired greatness and suffered much along your journey.

The words of his tutor found their way once more into Orion’s thoughts.  He knew that he could not give up now, not when he had come so far.  If there was one thing that the old monk had stressed to Orion during his long hours of training, it was that the wind would not be cowed so easily.

Despite the pain it caused him, Orion forced himself to stand.  He would make the journey back to town and find a healer if it killed him in the process.  This battle was not over yet.

As if to cheer him on, a stiff breeze rose up behind him and helped to push him down the side of the mountain, away for the cliff face where he had suffered his temporary and slightly humiliating setback.   Before long the lights from the town below could be seen in the distance.  Orion allowed himself a feeling of mild satisfaction for the first time since gaining consciousness in the snow.  His legs were still strong and his heart was set upon its mission.  The wind had not seen the last of this adventurer.  But first he would have to do something about his arm.

When he finally arrived in the small hamlet at the bottom of the mountain the only establishment still open to him was the local tavern.  The Blooming Heather was nearly empty at this late hour, but the fireplace had a few logs on it still and the bartender was still pouring, so Orion was pleased enough.

“Are there any rooms left?”

“Aye, there’s one.  Two coppers for the room and another for breakfast,” the barkeep answered hesitantly.  The old man looked skeptically at him and Orion could tell that his face was not a pretty sight.

“How much for a pint?”

The bartender did not so much answer as grunt and point to the crudely painted signboard on the wall with the prices marked out plainly.  Orion ordered a heavy brown ale he had always favored when visiting the northern mountains and settled at a table near the fireplace.  His joints were aching, not only from the fall, but from the cold walk as well.  The warmth of the fire was refreshing, yet it was the ale that provided the real comfort, helping to numb the throbbing pain in his broken arm.

After three or four more pints, Orion tossed the bartender a handful of copper pieces and staggered up the stairs to the single bed that awaited him.  He would have to find the healer in the morning, but for now what he needed was a warm place to rest his battered shell.

To be continued…

Please take the time to comment on this piece if you enjoyed it. I am hoping to submit this short story to be included in an online Magazine and would like to use this blog to receive feedback on the style and substance of the narrative. Any constructive criticisms or editing comments will be appreciated and considered. Thanks in advance for your help with this!