Friday, December 08, 2006

On October 8, I got bucked off my horse and broke both bones in my wrist. I ended up in a cast for six weeks. Jack wrote this Villanelle:

A Broken Mother by Jack Carson (Copyright 2006 Jack Carson)

My mother broke her arm;
It did not make her glad,
Because it caused her harm.

My dad felt much alarm
And it was very bad
When my mother broke her arm.

She almost bought the farm
And it made her sad
Because it caused her harm.

The bones that were so firm
Snapped like pencils of lead
When she broker her arm.

It must have been bad karm-
a, having made some cosmic force mad,
And so my mother was harmed.

There really is no charm
When you must depend on Dad.
When your mother breaks her arm
All are harmed.
A Sestina by Jack Carson
Note: a sestina is a strict poetic form composed of six stanzas of six lines each. Notice how six words are repeated to end each of the six lines in the stanza. Jack’s words are: sandwich, tail, enjoy, picnic, armadillo, and book. (It’s a little distorted because this blog has an automatic text wrap feature that breaks up the lines).The final stanza is always three lines. I love this sestina. If Maurice Sendak is still out there somewhere, I think he should illustrate it.

The Epic of the Cat, the Hare, the Gecko and the Armadillo (Copyright 2006 jack Carson)

Once there was a Cat, a hare, a Gecko, and an Armadillo.
One day, they gathered for a picnic.
They had lots of sandwiches.
There was roast beef and ham and peanut butter and they all enjoyed
them. Then they read to each other from a book.
All was going well until Cat stepped on Gecko’s tail.

Since he was a gecko, Gecko’s tail
Broke off and this caused Armadillo
to panic and curl himself up into a ball. He didn’t realize he was on the book.
Gecko said to Cat, “You’re spoiling our picnic.”
Hare said to Armadillo, “Get off the book so we may all enjoy
it.” Cat decided he wanted another sandwich.

And that’s when they all realized (except for Armadillo); There were no more sandwiches.
Gecko went to retrieve his missing tail
While Cat and Hare, lamented that there were no more sandwiches for them to enjoy.
And Armadillo,
Still curled up in a ball, was unaware that the picnic
was almost over. And Hare still wanted the book.

He pulled on the book,
And heard Armadillo ask for another sandwich.
Hare told him he couldn’t have another sandwich because the picnic
was over. Trying to uncurl him, Cat pulled on Armadillo’s tail
Causing a yell to come from Armadillo.
Uncurling himself, Armadillo said, “I did not find that enjoyable.”

And Hare said, “No one can enjoy
anything when people are sitting on books
and scaring armadillos
and eating all the sandwiches
and getting their tails
stepped on. And now it’s over for our picnic!”

“This can’t really be the end of the picnic!”
said Cat tearfully. “I was just getting to enjoy
myself.” And then Gecko returned with his tail.
It was still thrashing, as geckos’ tails do when they are cut. He picked up the book
And said, “I know where there are more sandwiches.”
Let’s go!” said the others. (except for Armadillo)

He was still thinking of the lost picnic and the book
That they’d hardly had the chance to enjoy. He was still hoping he could have a sandwich,
Not realizing his friends had turned their tails toward him to look for more. Alone was Armadillo.
Another poem by Janell:

“Lost Head Start”
In the darkness of the morning when the moon is sinking low
And over in the eastern sky the sun has yet to glow,
The dewy fresh of nighttime rest is hanging in the air
It’s a moment brief and precious sans the world and all its care.

With the stars and planets twinkling close enough, it seems, to touch
You think “This day is one in which I can accomplish much.”
You think you might just get things done, and do them right, not wrong.
Or get around to starting stuff you’ve put off way too long.
And so you start to make a list of stuff inside your head
Stuff you’d like to get around to someday soon – before you’re dead.

And then the eastern sky begins to give a faint pink glow
And you hear a truckers engine whine on the blacktop way below
The waking of the world sets off a pang inside your heart
It makes you want to quit because you’ve lost your great head start.
A poem by Janell - this one came to me several years ago as I was watching my mother lose her memories one by one to Alzheimers.
It’s getting awfully quiet all alone inside my mind.
The most elusive penny for the thought I cannot find.
Exaggeration, trepidation, trembling painful stand
The one and only fragment of my heart lies in my hand.
Dodging bullets, chasing demons, crawling ‘neath the line of fire
Reaching out for missing angels, watch them burn upon the pyre.
Is that why it’s so quiet here, where stories used to flow?
Did the demons steal my angels? Where’d all my good stuff go?
I’ve chased away the burning shame, I’ve finally won the fight.
A pile of ash is that’s left, there is no other light.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sometimes the Dragon Wins #1
By Jack Carson.

There’s a story out there, no one really knows who told it first, but it’s been around for long time. Anyway, it goes a little like this. There’s this village, a quaint little anywhere place, that just so happens to be in the vicinity of a ferocious dragon. As you can imagine, being terrorized by a dragon on a regular basis is not very pleasant.
So along comes this knight. Resplendent in his armor, astride his white stallion, his sword sharp, his lance long, his head empty. Anyway, this knight goes to slay the dragon. Cinch, right? Well, the knight doesn’t return for about a week, and finally the villagers send somebody to see if he’s completed his task. All this guy finds are the bones of his horse and a fused lump of melted metal, with all that’s left of the knight rattling around inside as crumbled bits of charcoal.
The guy goes back to the village and all he has to say is, “Sometimes the Dragon Wins.”

Sometimes the Dragon Wins #2

“Well,” said Azzear, “This is it.”
“This is where is all happens?” asked Tom.
“Not very big, is it?” joked Azzear.
The place of which they spoke was, in fact, very big. It had to be, because of its purpose. The desert complex sprawled for ten miles in any given direction. Its granite walls were as high as some mountains. The place itself was a marvel of engineering, but what lay inside was still more exciting. Tom still couldn’t believe it. This was where Azzear worked, training dinosaurs for the army.
“Alright, listen up, cousin,” said Azzear, “It’s going to take them a minute to get the gates open so I’ll use this time to explain a few things. This place is the size of a city, so as such it’s easy to get lost in there. Stay with me, but if we do get separated, there are maps available at the entrance and they’re posted at every doorway. That’s another thing, most places inside there have only one or two entrances. That means the complex is more defensible, plus any of the big dinos are less likely to find their own way outside. Can’t risk letting them get out, even in the middle of the desert. It also means you’re going to do a lot of walking. And one more thing: It is impossible for me to overemphasize safety in there. So don’t do anything that seems even a little unsafe.”
“Okay,” said Tom.
The two of them waited as the ancient, wrought-iron gates creaked and groaned, sliding open enough to let them through. The gates had a unique design, they slid side to side, rather than outward or inward. That meant an enemy had to batter them down completely, as opposed to smashing them open. As they rode through, Tom could see why it took them so long to open the gates.
A massive brachiosaurus was harnessed to a series of mechanisms that worked the gate. Tom watched as the gate was closed, the brachio’s muscle rippling as it strained to pull them shut.
“We’re in the South quadrant right now. This is where we train the really big plant-eaters. Brontos, duckbills, ornithopods. They get used for transport, or anything that requires a lot of muscle, like that gate. The North quadrant is where we train the more combative plant-eaters. Triceratops, stegos, ankylos. They go into battle, of course. They’re big enough to be used for battle platforms, and they’re swell fighters themselves when they’re prodded. The East quadrant is where we train the smaller ones. Raptors, pachys, pteros, ostrich dinos. Ostrich dinos can be ridden. Raptors and pachys are excellent guards and fighters. Troodon is smart enough to carry messages, as are the smaller pteros. The biggest pteros can be ridden. I’ll train in the East quadrant sometimes, but I’m mostly in the West quadrant.”
“That’s the big meat-eaters are?”
“Yep. Dilophosaurus, carnotaurus, allosaurus, tyrannosaurus, and anything else that can bite, claw, or otherwise cause mayhem to the enemy.”
“That’s where I want to go.”
“I thought so.”
They dismounted and stabled their horses. They couldn’t bring the animals with them as horses tended to spook around dinos. They climbed aboard a carriage that was being pulled by a styracosaurus.
“West quadrant,” Azzear told the man.
Tom grinned. This was something he’d waited a long time for. His pumped excitedly and his blood felt like fizz in his veins.
Azzear caught his eye and looked at him seriously, “Listen, what said earlier, about safety, applies double, even triple around the carnosaurs.”
“I know,” said Tom.
“Good, just thought I’d bring it up. ‘Cause not a day goes by when I don’t hear about some rookie trainer who made a mistake, or even a veteran who did everything right, getting seriously injured or worse.”
“Every day?”
Azzear nodded, “See, what we do, to prepare these dinos for battle, has a lot to do with directing their natural impulses to attack. We just have to make sure they don’t attack our troops or disobey their handler. But even then, accidents happen, especially with the T-rexes.”
“Have you trained any T-rexes?”
Azzear nodded again, “Got a scar from each one.” He pulled up his shirt, “This one was Tyre,” he rolled up his trouser leg, “This on was Lugh. Both on accident when they stepped on me. This one,” he said, rolling up his sleeve and showing a circular scar that went around his whole arm, “was quite deliberate. Sue’s handiwork. Thank goodness we have a mage-healer on staff or I’d have lost the arm.”
“How do keep them from attacking you?”
“We start from birth. We pick them up and carry them around. This gets them to imprint onto us as a surrogate, and they also believe we’ll always be bigger than them. Even when they’re full grown.”
“So what makes them turn on you?”
“Well, like I said, you can train them to leave certain targets alone, but the instinct to attack, to kill, is always there. And sometimes instinct wins out over training. There’s just no way of knowing what’s going to set them off. I remember a guy who got killed, after his charge had bitten him in half, his last words were, ‘Sometimes the dragon wins.’”
Here is a story created by my daughter from the phrase; "Sometimes the Dragon Wins." There are three of us in our family who like to write, so we give a phrase every week and have until Friday to write as little or as much as our imaginations allow. My son's stories will be on the next posting. Mine isn't done yet.

Sometimes the Dragon Wins
by Emily Carson
He sits poring over the police report, the crime scene photographs, the coroner’s reports, and the tentative timeline. His name is Don Glasser and he is a profiler for the FBI. It is his job to analyze crime scenes and provide a profile of a possible suspect. As he has so many times before, he allows himself to imagine the crime as it happened.
Sarah Breckner tucks her four year old son, Stevie, in for the night. It’s a little chilly, so she shuts the window above his bed. Or tries to; it sticks and she can’t quite get it all the way down. She settles for shutting the blinds and giving Stevie an extra blanket. Sarah goes downstairs. She has trouble getting to sleep most nights; as is her habit, she turns on the television and lays down on the couch. It isn’t long before the droning noise has lulled her into a doze.
Outside, an intruder cuts through the screen of a living room window. He uses a hammer and a screwdriver to break the lock. Sarah stirs in her sleep, but it’s been a long day. She doesn’t awaken.
Quietly, the intruder climbs inside the house. He leaves footprints in the mud beneath the window, as well as a track on the floor. No fingerprints; he’s wearing gloves. He approaches Sarah, quietly, so quietly. She mutters in her sleep. Quickly he bends over her and clamps his hand over her mouth. She awakens, struggles, bites her lip, drawing blood.
Don takes a sip of coffee and grimaces. It’s from the bottom of the pot, thick as mud and bitter as death. This is the part that frightens him most; it’s easier to figure out what happened at the crime scene than it is to read the mind of the criminal. Yet that is what he is expected to do, it’s what he’s been trained for, to analyze the behavior of a suspect and provide a personality. What was this assailant thinking?
He jumps on Sarah, straddling her, pinning her down. Sarah is a strong woman; she runs nearly every day and swims three times a week. Fear makes her stronger, fear for her child and herself. She fights him, scratching his face. He hits her, sending the back of her head against a lamp. Her nightgown twists around her body as she struggles, leaving chafe marks on her neck and armpits. She backhands him, leaving bruises on her knuckles. Her struggle enrages him; he hits her again and again, breaking her nose, blacking an eye.
The assailant brings out his knife. It’s a hunting knife, made to dress deer and other game. He stabs Sarah through the right forearm, the knife going between the radius and ulna bones. Sarah screams. The noise finally wakes Stevie. He runs to the top of the stairs but doesn’t go down.
The assailant stabs Sarah four more times, two mortally. One punctures a lung, the other slashes the aorta.
“Mommy!” The intruder looks up. He didn’t expect a child. He runs out.
Sarah gets up. As her life is ebbing away, she knows she has to call for help. She staggers toward the kitchen and the telephone. It’s so far and she is so weak. So much blood . . .
Stevie runs down the stairs. He is crying hard now, and he wants his mother to be OK. He clings to her leg as she tries to get to the kitchen. Her blood drips down on his hair and inside his pajama top.
She’s almost there. “Please,” she gasps, not sure who she is entreating. She can feel the strength leaving her legs. Her knees buckle as she grasps the phone. She collapses on the floor, spent. Stevie huddles beside her, still crying as his mother breathes her last . . .
Don rubs his temples. One of his migraines is coming on, making his left eye water and left hand feel weak. He shuffles the papers in front of him, trying to piece the suspect together. From the footprints, he was about 6’4’’, weighing between 260 and 300 lbs. Sarah had his DNA under her fingernails, but this is either a first offense, or the perp has been careful till now, because they haven’t got a match from criminal records. Don thinks it’s more likely that the UNSUB, or unidentified subject, has been careful. Most criminals don’t start out breaking in and attacking. If the UNSUB had any record, it would be for window peeping or breaking and entering.
Since the man ran after he saw Stevie, Don doesn’t think he was stalking Sarah. A stalker would’ve expected the child. Sarah was well-off and attractive. It’s possible the man only had robbery on his mind, but got other ideas when he saw Sarah asleep on the couch. Entering, the UNSUB was organized. He had the knife and the tools. When he couldn’t control Sarah, he became disorganized. He left the tools under the window and the knife on the living room floor. This tells Don that he hasn’t attacked anyone before; any further crimes will begin blitz-style, with the UNSUB using maximum force to subdue his victims. He’ll have learned from this failure.
No fingerprints, no composite sketch. One witness, a traumatized four-year-old. Don writes his profile, but isn’t hopeful. Unless this man attacks again, or is arrested on an unrelated charge, it’s not likely he’ll be found. Stranger crimes, ones with no connection between the victim and the perp, are among the hardest to solve. By all accounts, no one who knew Sarah Breckner wished her ill. It appears she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Don lets out a frustrated growl, shoving some of the paperwork off his desk. He makes a promise then, one to Stevie and his mother, that he will not give up. He will keep fighting and looking for clues. Despite this, something one of his mentors at Quantico once said runs through his head: “Sometimes the dragon wins.”

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Here is the opening paragraph to a book I am writing:

I remember my father’s hands. His fingers were long and slender, tipped by beautiful, strong fingernails. During the 13 short years that I knew him, his long, slender fingers began to grow crooked and clawlike from hard work; the knuckles swollen and misshapen from arthritis. His hands were dark, burnt by the sun. They were the hands of a man who spent most of his life making a living out in the fields: planting, harvesting, tending livestock and repairing machinery. The thumb and forefinger of his right hand were stained brownish yellow from the nicotine of the unfiltered cigarettes he smoked. To this day, the smell of cigarette smoke can take me back to a bright Autumn day when he took me to the cornfield with him to pick corn.