Fame is Not What it Once Was

Fame is not what it once was

It did not do what it now does

A King would rule, a Saint – anoint

To serve the people – fame’s case in point

Yes, fame is not what it once was

So widely grasped for “just because”

No noble cause, just pride and gain

To serve the selfish, indulge the vain

Those who lived by what was right

Replaced by attention’s appetite

We lost ourselves along the way

Our cultures plagued by moral decay

And while, in light, we all agree

The darkness proves: wicked, are we

Perhaps one day fame will return

To what it was: no one’s concern

Back to roots we know once were

When life was not a fast-paced blur

When people cared for what was true

For those you love, and who loves you

Cause & Effect

Hatred, malice, walls, no door

Cities, countries, all at war

Fighting just to stay alive

Families struggling to survive

A world of waste we’ve made, it seems

Turned to gray our once blue streams

Pillaged, they have done to Earth

All just to increase their net worth

Sickening, it is to me

That they thought these things were free

That all this came without a cost

And yet, on them, these words are lost

As no one seems to think things through

For if your cause would effect you

The actions that you choose today

Would be quite different, I would say

Your children’s lives, you all neglect

Yet sadly, that’s what I expect

From a kind who’s quick to take

And never thinks of what’s at stake

His’trys Writ

The fire raged as Nero played

While Rome was burning bright

And yet the man had not betrayed

As they all say, that night

He was not the man you thought

At least, who bards all say

The truth is far from what they’ve taught

No songs were sung that day

Till second world war’s burns had blazed

In Hamburg, and Dresden

No other fire since had razed

None other was akin

Pliny the Eld, Cassius Di

They’ll give you their account

But Tacitus says no, you see

That’s not what he found out

As the flames turned bread to crumb

He wasn’t even home

The emp’ror was in Antium

Dr’ing the Great Fire of Rome

Remember this; do not forget

When judging others’ sin

His’trys writ in blood and sweat

By only those who win

The Fear of Death

Some time ago, I sat upon a balcony, just staring on

My mind, my thoughts, my very soul, sat wondering where it all goes

I pondered whether, when we die, the scrolls are true, or just a lie

And as I sat there, lost in thought, a child came, a book he’d brought

Sitting down right next to me, he looked me in the eye, said “see?”

“Can’t you tell that he’s up there, and wants to free you from despair?”

Softly smirking, to he I said “my child, so many things I’ve read”

“Allah, Buddha, Krishna too; the testaments, both old and new”

Sadly sighing, this boy looked down and shedding tears, began to frown

“But mister,” this boy said to me, “our souls live for eternity”

“And if you doubt this, so I’m told, you’re cast aside ‘till time grows old”

I paused a moment, listening, and thought back to my christening

“Listen, son, for Matthew says, seek the kingdom; righteousness”

“The truth is all I want to know; to gaze upon a clear window”

“Do not let past transgressions rule, do not let dogma play the fool”

And then, with one last final breath, I said to him: “Do not fear death.”

Letter to My Lost: 2

My dearest Lilliana,

Not a day goes by without my thoughts eventually falling upon you. Those carefree, restless nights spent together I always think of as I sit here in the trenches, covered in the grit and dirt that this advance has cast over me. Every day we are inching forward, further and further as we push back the filth who see this world in a way that our loving God surely wishes to admonish.

Your last letter struck the deepest chords of my heart. I long for nothing more than the knowledge to tell you I shall be returning soon, and yet I fear there are many more battles to come. The officers have assured us that this war will come to a swift end, but many of us withhold our doubts. There is even talk that things are growing so perilous that the Americans will be giving their support in the way of rations and arms. The men say that it would be better if they would send their troops, but it seems as they are careful not to get themselves directly involved in the atrocities that the sons of Europe have been forced to bear witness to.

I cannot say I blame them, much as we would welcome their aide. No God fearing man on this Earth should be forced to shoulder the burdens this war has created.

I so hope that I shall see you before long, my love. This tiny locket I carry does not do justice to the image of you I dream of each time I lay down for the night.

Pray for me, my Lilliana. God willing, I will hold you in my arms soon.

Forever with you,

Your Braden

The Truth

Never have I ever wondered what things lay in front of me, the futures not a question, I know exactly what’s in store for me. I don’t live for today, I live for forever; looking ahead with a clever grip on the trip that I’m about to take with whoever has the ability to sever the ties with the lies that they live while we endeavor to become whoever the fuck we wanna be. And whichever lever we decide to pull is a a tool that we can use to spool and weave whatever reality we want to achieve because this world is ours to perceive. We can talk real or deceive, either way you’ll believe what we create and conceive ‘cause the passion we grieve is sewn so deep in our sleeve that while we want to relieve we just inform the naive that we don’t want a reprieve we’re just soldiers away without leave.

That’s right, we’re AWOL.

AWOL like the kindred spirits we enthrall as we relate to the masquerade ball that we call life where all we do is don a shawl so we can hide behind the wide hall of sins we commit. We try to stand tall and paint over the writing on the wall that unapologetically tells the real story, breaking protocol as it tells the truth we only see when we look in the mirror and ask ourselves “is this me?”

The real you is the one you see when you’re all alone, so don’t lie to yourself and think you’re the person everyone else thinks you are.

I may have turned my back on Him, but as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. That’s right, I might feel abandoned by God but that don’t mean I can’t live my life based on a Proverb that reverberates through me, one you’ll find in Chapter twenty three. And as I fall onto my knees, begging for my mind’s release as it slowly capsizes

in these treacherous seas, I can’t help but ask why this has happened to me. Why have I been plagued by a mind that’s so inclined to constantly remind itself how unaligned it is with the rest of the world. The torment I find in this unconfined, sadly maligned existence does nothing but blind me from the things I so passionately grind for.

My drive is relentless. I don’t care if you think I’m arrogant. I’m real, and I believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. And you know what? You should feel the same, because this life is what you make it.

People will always, always rise to the level they believe they can, and no further. No human is better or more capable than the other. It is a simple question of how much faith one has in themselves.

It’s so simple. You feel your limit on the inside, which is precisely why you’ve tried as hard as you have to get wherever you are. But the ones who know no limits, who know that every great person in history started as no one are the ones who rise to the top. Do you want to know why? Because they don’t stop, ever. They never quit, and forever apply themselves until they sever the ties from their old life and welcome themselves to their new whatever.

Excuses are for the weak. And if that stirs frustration within you, then you have proven my point.

Life is a constant examination of priority. There is no authority dictating our behavior other than our own; and whatever desires take up the majority of our thoughts, we act upon. And yet we still try to complicate things when we act in hate, attempting to justify our behavior so we can lift the weight of guilt we should feel when we aggravate others. We do this so we can advocate how virtuous we are, when the truth is we simply can’t admit that selfishness is our defining trait, lying to ourselves so we can close the gate of self-awareness as we misstate the kind of person we truly are, caught by the same hook that we always bait.

I envy those who can clear their conscience at the flick of a switch.

Sadly, as I write this I know that some will condemn this statement as a cynical rant that I just had to vent, when the truth is that they’re just projecting their own malcontent as a result of the subconscious recognition that the truth hurts.

Therein lies the irony.

The irony that those who misunderstand me are the very ones who need to examine the person they imagine they are. The ones who think this was written by someone who thinks they’re above them.

I don’t.

No one is above anyone. Every human is graced with the same potential as others.

The only difference is how you use that potential.

The Tour

Psst, hey you! Come here, my friend

To you, my hand, I shall extend

Don’t be shy, come quietly

This is for you, just follow me

 

A tour this is, with me, your guide

So let us gently step inside

Now take a seat, get strapped right in

Prepare the mind to twirl and spin

 

First stop, its here, a bright red light

We look around, no soul in sight

And so we drive, but wait! Just stop

A ticket written from this cop?

 

“You ran a red light.” So, my friend?

There was no one around the bend

What purpose do you serve, you see?

Protect and serve, for my safety?

 

Then why, dear sir, must you oppress?

I looked each way, both right and left

‘Twas obvious, no danger here

And so I went, but still you’re here?

 

Truth is, my friend, that light you see

Is simply there for trafficking

A ticket now is petty, no?

Written only ‘cause “I told you so”

 

But hey,  you there, let’s move along

Let’s not get caught up in this “wrong”

The point of using it, you see

Was to make you sit and think

 

So come on now, next stop ‘n still

Is at my cousin’s funer-ill

But don’t feel bad, no please don’t cry

He had it coming, stupid guy

 

Just look around, observe and see

All these tears and cries we grieve

Tell me, is your faith in God?

‘Cause if it is, he’s just a bod

 

That’s right, he’s nothing now, down here

So wipe and dry that tumbling tear

If believe, you truly do

You’d be happy for the news!

 

He’s up there in your heaven, right?

And as you lay down, every night

You tell yourself “we’ll meet again”

But will you really, my old friend?

 

Okay let’s pause, and take a break

I know it’s hard to be awake

This tour is tough, it’s hard for me

To drive folks through reality

 

The truth is harsh, it doesn’t care

What color, skin, or crown you wear

These words offend you? Sacrilege?

Buy “ignorance is bliss” package

 

This tour, I say. it must go on

And money man, it pays the bondS

So let’s move on to our stop three

And talk about our friend, money

 

Here we have, right in our hands

The instrument, that rules our lands

Every single thing you do

Is to make more, more accrue

 

More and more until its thought

We can afford the life we want

Well what if way back, way back when

‘Fore money was invented, friend

 

They’d thought of something else, instead

Like I build houses, you bake bread

Existence without currency

I know its weird, this tour with me

 

Its in a world, where things are not

The status quo, these thing’s we’re thought

Hey, you know, I’m just your guide

That’s how it is, just let it slide

 

Pretend its normal, this new world

Cause every curl we have uncurled

Is hard to think of, yeah that’s right

Because you’ve learned one way, alright?

 

Conditioning, please don’t feel bad

But when you wake up, don’t be mad

These things we’ve taught you to believe

Are all an act, a just reprieve

 

Created rules, and laws you see

To contain the thought that’s free

But now my friends, you have a guide

I need support, this scheduled ride

 

We must end it, I decree

And bring back our humanity

There is a game, you know it’s true

And trust me, world, I need you

Free

Sitting, gazing, pondering

Watching, waiting, wondering

What things do others think at night?

What lights turn on, when shining bright?

 

Some will think of gentle breeze

Blinding true priorities

Truth is veiled, this life of fun

As fear resides behind the gun

 

Condemn them not, instead envy

And long for their reality

To think the things we wish to be

This mind, it pains and torments me

 

The words I write cannot express

But for my sake I shall digress

Question all, its not a sin

Your truth, the real, comes from within

What If They Died

What if they died?

What if that artist

Who painted their works

So great, yet shunned

For personality quirks

What if that singer

Who hit impossible notes

Wasn’t caught up in drama

Or the brunt of your jokes

What if you focused

On content they write

Instead of the bullshit

The cheap and contrite

Why is it, so often

An artist, who yearned

Must die to achieve

The recognition they’ve earned

It isn’t the painter

Whose genius, they leave

It’s ego that chains us

A jealous reprieve

For when you are dead

You’re no threat to us

So sure, we can like you

Just stay off of my bus

Some day, I do hope

The people will see

That passion is living

And envy is greed

Survive

What fire burns, deep within

When darkness falls, and days are grim

What ember lives, while others wain

Choked in silence, succumbed to pain

What force shall hold, as others die

Stuck, complacent, teethe and writhe

What echo sounds, when others fade

Like leaves of autumn, drift away

What branch grows old, as others fall

With hardened bark, it reaches tall

What ship still sails, as seas pour in

Through thunderous channels, deafening wind

What castle stands, its flag unharmed

Though battles fought, and pyres warmed

The weak shall fall, the strong remain

What left have I, to give but name

Unsung Heroes: Our Black Brothers & Sisters

In the midst of another era of racial and socioeconomic tension, America finds itself yet again divided. Its still to be decided as to how things will play out, but if one thing is for certain, its this: things must change. Folks are going to have to start getting along, or these violent riots and protests are going to rip our nation apart.

There is something lingering, however, that I think needs to be addressed. In my discussions with people on all sides of these issues, I’ve noticed that there is a certain degree of doubt as to how much our society and culture has truly benefited from the contributions of black Americans (and other minorities). While most people I speak to don’t come from the standpoint of looking down on minorities, many do seem to neglect certain contributions they have made, whether intentionally or not.

In light of this, I have decided to put together a list of some great people of color who, throughout our history, have impacted us all in a positive way. Some you may not have heard of, and some you may know quite dearly. The point is to illustrate how important we ALL are in our human quest to create a loving, inclusive society. There is no shortage of white characters who have received recognition, we all know that. So hopefully, by highlighting some of the others, the folks who still seem to foster the “white supremacy” opinion will take a harder look at the reality of this world we share. We’re all trying, people. Love each other – it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

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Many people don’t know this, but GWC, a freed slave turned brilliant scientist, was a monumental influence on Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace, a farmer from Iowa, used GWC’s ideas to enormously boost corn production during World War II, filling increasing needs of our exploding economy.

BASS REEVES

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Bass was the first black US deputy Marshall West of the Mississippi. He basically destroyed outlaws and was an overall bad-ass, for want of a better term. He caught all the bad guys, and even killed 14 people in self defense. Keepin’ all them white folk safe!

BUFFALO SOLDIERS

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The Buffalo Soldiers was a term used for many regiments of black American soldiers who fought in many wars, originating in the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the US Army in 1866. The term came from Native Americans, who thought their hair resembled that of Buffalo hair. They contributed to many great American victories, and served valiantly for their country. The term was used loosely by some to describe all black soldiers, but the history here is important to know. Many of our victories would never have been possible without the brave efforts of what many referred to as the “Negros Cavalry”.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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Many have probably heard of these fellas, as there is now a big Hollywood movie about them. These guys were the first African American Air Unit in WWII, and went on many selfless missions to fight the good fight. Lot of great sub stories in these guys ranks, too. Check em out!

JOHN ALBERT BURR

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Anyone know a guy who owns a landscaping company? I sure do. Lots. And they can all thank Mr. John Albert Burr for pretty much inventing modern lawn mowing and paving the way for profits! That’s right, you’re looking at the man who invented the rotary lawn mowing blade – U.S. patent #624,749.

PERCY JULIAN

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Percy Julian was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century, making great discoveries in the fields of healthcare, with a focus on synthetic compounds. His work far exceeds my intellectual prowess, but folks should know that many of the compounds we enjoy today in the field of medicine were made possible by him.

ELIJAH MCCOY

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Elijah McCoy was an inventor. A thinker. An innovator. Throughout his life, he made trains more efficient,  improved oil rigs, and even honed steam engines. He was a brilliant man, capable of some of the most efficient thought from an engineering perspective. He even invented a movable ironing board to help make ironing-on-the-go easier. You’re welcome, ladies.

LEWIS LATIMER

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Lewis Latimer was paramount in further perfecting the light bulb. He led efforts installing electric plants in cities such as Philadelphia and Montreal. Without him, the incandescent bulb might not be what it is today. Thanks Lewis!

ROSA PARKS

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Rosa needs no introduction. The only thing I want to say here is that I bet she made the best neighbor EVER. You know, the one who’s always making sure the kids are behaving and aren’t doing anything stupid? Making sure they all got their homework done and came in before dinner time. I imagine that’s how Rosa was. A sweet, nice, lady who stood up (or in this case sat down) for what’s right. We need more of her.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

Now, I could go on and on and on and on with this, but this is the point, in case anyone’s missed it. All of these people did things for the greater good, not for one side or the other. They never berated other people, they just uplifted folks. That’s the direction we need to be moving, everyone. Forward. Up. Not backwards, or down.

A good question to ask yourself if you’re considering making a move in this game of life: what direction will this push people in?

For Better or Worse

Chapter 1

They’re so cute!”

Looking into a giant glass terrarium at her small colony of pets within, a little girl tugs on her father’s sleeve to get his attention.

“I know, dear. They’re very cute. Now get tucked in, it’s getting past your bedtime,” the father says.

“But Daddy!” The little girl begs, peering back at the many small creatures inside. “Can’t I watch them play just a little bit longer? Look! Aw, look Daddy! Those two are loving each other!”

“Come on now, little girl. You’ve stayed up late enough. Time for bed.” He says, lifting his daughter up as he hoists her into her sleeping space.

“Okay, okay.” The girl sighs, watching her father place the wide veil over the terrarium to cover it. “See you guys tomorrow!” She shouts gleefully at her tiny creatures.

Kissing her on the snout, the father tucks the little girl in and turns off the light.

“Good night, little munchkin. I love you.” He says, closing the door until it’s just slightly cracked.

“I love you too Daddy.” The girl replies. Waiting until her father is gone, she lifts her head and peers at the glass dome.

“I love you guys too,” she whispers, closing her eyes before slowly drifting asleep.

Chapter 2

“Rise and shine, everyone!”

Quickly pulling away the large veil covering the girl’s terrarium, she excitedly greets the occupants inside.

“I bet you guys are hungry, aren’t you?” She asks matter-of-factly. Walking to the small closet in the corner of her room, she grabs a packet of food and a pale of water.

“And it looks like your lake is almost all dried up! You guys must be thirsty!” The girl exclaims, ripping open the food packet as she pulls back the small square door at the top the glass dome.

Holding the packet over the center of the little community of creatures, the girl shakes it until all the tiny morsels of food have fallen out. Watching her pets scramble toward the newly dropped food, she smiles as she pours water into the side of the dome where a pond-like crevice has been dug.

“Drink up, teenie weenies!” She cheerfully says, closing the lid.

As she places the water pale back in the closet, she notices that one of the tiny creatures is laying underneath a group of mini tree-like plants, not moving.

“Oh no!” She cries. “Not again!”

Placing her hands on the glass to lean over the dome, she looks down at the recently deceased pet.

“I told you all to stop fighting!” She tersely shouts. “Why can’t you just get along?”

Returning to the closet, the girl reaches in and grabs a long, skinny pole with a tong on the end. Re-opening the glass lid, she nabs the dead creature and chucks it outside her open window onto the lawn below.

“If I find out which one of you keeps doing this, you’re gonna be in big trouble!” She asserts, holding the tong up. “Now ya’ll behave while I’m gone!”

Closing the lid once more, she puts the tong back in the closet, exiting the room to spend the day outside.

Chapter 3

“Aw, yay!”

The day after disposing the dead creature, the little girl is pleasantly surprised to see that two of her pets have had a baby. Standing over the dome with a wide grin on her face, she looks down at the two tiny creatures nurturing their teenie, fragile newborn.

“Good job, you two! I hope the others take after the example you’ve set.” The girl coos, giggling as she watches the little family huddled together in the corner of the glass enclosure.

“Oh! But wait!” She says, remembering the chapter in her booklet that teaches how to properly take care of the creatures.

Sliding the lid open, the girl reaches down and grabs the newborn pet, pulling it up out of the dome. As she does so, the parents become visibly distraught, running to the edge of the glass as they watch the little girl carry the baby across the room.

“It’s okay!” She shouts back at them with a smile, seeing their distress. “I’m just making sure she’ll grow up nice and strong!” She adds, placing the small newborn in a separate, much smaller container.

Obviously not comprehending the reassurances of the girl, the baby creature’s parents remain at the edge of the glass for the remainder of the day, helplessly peering across the room at their new offspring, wishing they could be together.

Chapter 4

“All better!”

Pulling her arm from out of the tank, the little girl slides the lid back on her glass habitat after setting down the little newborn she’d taken out the night before.

“Those nutrients will make you a super pet!” She shouts, watching the parents finally reconnect with their baby.

“Anyway,” the girl says, sounding bored, “What are the rest of you guys up to?”

Stepping over a few feet to observe the little colony of creatures, she scratches her head.

“Why do you all keep doing that?!” The girl cries. “Stop splitting up!”

Since she first got them, the creatures have shown a tendency to huddle together in small groups. Some are lighter colored, and some are darker, and they seem to prefer grouping with those they resemble.

“You guys are sooooo weird,” the girl says to them. “You know you’re all the same little things, right?”

Looking back to a bookshelf against the wall, the girl grabs the instruction booklet that came with her pets’ terrarium. Opening it up, she turns to the pages that cover their interactions with one another.

“The creatures will have a tendency to keep close proximity with ones that look most like them.” She reads. “Do not worry if they display this behavior, as it is expected of them.”

Taking a moment to look at the tank again, the little girl shuts the booklet.

“Huh! Well I guess it’s normal after all, weirdos! But just so you guys know, I think that’s pretty dumb. You’re all made of the same stuff.” She says, sliding the booklet back in its spot on the shelf. “Anyway, its sleepy time! Good night little ones.”

Flicking off the light, the girl throws the wide veil over the dome and crawls into bed.

Chapter 5

“Hidey hidey hoooo!!”

Happily skipping over to the habitat on her table,  the little girl in the bedroom is gleaming over the new cut she’s gotten for her fur.

“Do you like my new bangs, teenie weenies?” She excitedly asks her pets. “I know you can’t understand me, but I bet you do! They’re very pretty. Just like you guys!”

Looking to a small group of less-than-healthy-looking creatures coddled in the far rear of the dome, she grimaces.

“Well, like most of you guys, at least.” She says, rolling her head to the side as she snootily brushes her hair back. “Anyway, you’re gonna love the new toy Daddy got for you all!”

Opening the tank, the girl lifts a box and pulls out a large digital screen which depicts moving images of other small creatures that look just like her pets. The creatures displayed appear to be acting out their own little lives, similar to the ones in the terrarium. Finding a cozy spot to set it in the terrarium, she places the big screen down as the tiny inhabitants flock over in front of it, seemingly enamored as they watch the images.

“I knew you’d like it!” The girl excitedly coos, closing the lid. “No idea why, though. After all, those fake teeny weenies aren’t doing anything that you aren’t already doing yourselves! Why don’t you just watch each other, sillies?”

Happily scooting back to observe the new environment she’s created, the little girl spends the rest of her evening quietly watching them enjoy their new square of moving images.

Chapter 6

Caution: Creatures may occasionally engage in physical conflict. It is important for the owner of the habitat to pay close attention to how your terrarium’s occupants are grouped. Indicators of impending conflict may include, but are not limited to:

  • Two large groups of inhabitants facing one another in close proximity. Usually preceded by audible squealing of the creatures as a collective.
  •  Aggressive body language, abrupt movement, and loud vocal exchanges (when occurring simultaneously). Individually these behaviors do not necessarily indicate physical conflict. 

**Important**

If your terrarium’s inhabitants group together in close proximity while carrying small, board-like signposts or other tools, separate them immediately. It is recommended you allow two to four hours before removing them from isolation to reintegrate with their fellow inhabitants. This will allow their aggressive emotions to subside, creating a more peaceful environment for your pets! 

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Closing the handbook, the little girl sets her Creature Care Taking Manual back on the bookshelf by her bed after reading it.

“Silly teenie-weenies!” She says, laughing as she turns to look at them from her bed. “See? There’s no need for you guys to fight! It says right here you’ll calm down if you yourselves a little time to blow off the steam.”

Getting up to walk over to the dome, she opens it and removes the partition she’d placed down three hours ago to separate two groups of visibly angry little creatures.

“You guys are so cute.” She says as she watches the two groups slowly make their way toward one another, eventually creating one seamless, teenie-weenie unit.

“Good job! I’m proud of you fellas.” She says.

Shutting the lid, she turns around and leaps into bed, wriggling around until she’s created a little dimple in her wide mattress. Hearing the commotion, her father enters the room to kiss her good night.

“Hello, little one. How was your day?” He asks he as he blows her candle out with his long snout.

“It was good, Daddy! I made my little guys get along.” She says cheerfully, obviously proud of herself for mitigating the conflict. “They we’re fighting over something stupid.”

Laughing and smooching her forehead, the father brushes her hair back before walking to the door.

“Good girl. I’m glad to hear that you’re a peaceful overlord.” He says with a chuckle and a wink.

“I love you Daddy!” The little girl says, shutting her eyes.

“I love you too, sweetie.” Her father whispers with a smile, gently closing the door.

Chapter 7

“Ho hum ho hum deedeedee!”

Joyfully skipping around her bedroom, the little girl is singing and humming to herself as her furry pigtails bounce around behind her.

“Now, what are my teenie-weenies up to today?” She asks, skipping over to the terrarium.

As she peers inside, she sees that her little creatures have erected an enormous statue of her. Chiseled to perfection, the monolith displays her every feature, dimpled smile and all.

“Wow! Well look at that!” She squeals in delight. “How did you guys do that without me noticing?!”

Leaning back to admire the sculpture, she beams at the tiny inhabitants inside, who appear to be bowing before her.

“You guys are just so adorable. Thank you for my statue!” She says to them.

Entering her room, the girl’s father approaches the tank as he puts his hand on her head.

“Time for bed, sweetie.”

Noticing the statue, he chuckles.

“And what have we here?” He asks.

“My teenie-weenies built me a monument, Daddy! Look!” The little girl says, pointing to the newly erected obelisk.

“Very impressive!” Her father laughs. “You are clearly a generous God. Now come, let’s get you tucked in.”

“Okay Daddy.” The girl says as her father lifts her up, placing her under the sheets. Kissing her on the forehead, smiles at her before walking out the door.

“I love you, kiddo.” He says.

“Love you too Daddy.” The girl replies, yawning as she softly falls asleep.

Chapter 8

IMPORTANTHUMAN BEINGS ARE VOLATILE, DANGEROUS, AND EMOTIONALLY UNPREDICTABLE 

***Handle with utmost caution. Do not allow these creatures outside of the included habitat***

Setting her instruction booklet aside, the little girl takes one final look at her “teenie-weenies”, before clearing the tank to make room for her next batch of creatures.

“Sorry little guys!! I know you’ve been having the time of your lives in there, but I’ve got some new teenie-weenies on the way!! Daddy says they are even more exciting than you guys! Much smarter and more fun to play with. I’m sooooooo sorry!!!!!!”

Grasping the enclosure with her trunk, the little girl dumps the entire habitat of human beings into the drain inside her bathroom, flushing them down into the abyss below.

“Have fun down there!!” She shouts, smiling as the very last human swirls around in a vortex of death.

“All clean Daddy!” The girl shouts, waiting for her father to bring in her new pets. “These humans were fun.”

 

For Better or Worse (Ch 7) 

“Ho hum ho hum deedeedee!”

Joyfully skipping around her bedroom, the little girl is singing and humming to herself as her furry pigtails bounce around behind her. 

“Now, what are my teenie-weenies up to today?” She asks, skipping over to the terrarium.

As she peers inside, she sees that her little creatures have erected an enormous statue of her. Chiseled to perfection, the monolith displays her every feature, dimpled smile and all. 

“Wow! Well look at that!” She squeals in delight. “How did you guys do that without me noticing?!”

Leaning back to admire the sculpture, she beams at the tiny inhabitants inside, who appear to be bowing before her.

“You guys are just so adorable. Thank you for my statue!” She says to them.

Entering her room, the girl’s father approaches the tank as he puts his hand on her head. 

“Time for bed, sweetie.”

Noticing the statue, he chuckles.

“And what have we here?” He asks.

“My teenie-weenies built me a monument, Daddy! Look!” The little girl says, pointing to the newly erected obelisk.

“Very impressive!” Her father laughs. “You are clearly a generous God. Now come, let’s get you tucked in.”

“Okay Daddy.” The girl says as her father lifts her up, placing her under the sheets. Kissing her on the forehead, smiles at her before walking out the door.

“I love you, kiddo.” He says. 

“Love you too Daddy.” The girl replies, yawning as she softly falls asleep.

For Better or Worse (Ch 2)

“Rise and shine, everyone!”

Quickly pulling away the large veil covering the girl’s terrarium, she excitedly greets the occupants inside.  

 “I bet you guys are hungry, aren’t you?” She asks matter-of-factly. Walking to the small closet in the corner of her room, she grabs a packet of food and a pale of water.

“And it looks like your lake is almost all dried up! You guys must be thirsty!” The girl exclaims, ripping open the food packet as she pulls back the small square door at the top the glass dome. 

Holding the packet over the center of the little community of creatures, the girl shakes it until all the tiny morsels of food have fallen out. Watching her pets scramble toward the newly dropped food, she smiles as she pours water into the side of the dome where a pond-like crevice has been dug.

“Drink up, teenie weenies!” She cheerfully says, closing the lid.

As she places the water pale back in the closet, she notices that one of the tiny creatures is laying underneath a group of mini tree-like plants, not moving. 

“Oh no!” She cries. “Not again!”

Placing her hands on the glass to lean over the dome, she looks down at the recently deceased pet.

“I told you all to stop fighting!” She tersely shouts. “Why can’t you just get along?”

Returning to the closet, the girl reaches in and grabs a long, skinny pole with a tong on the end. Re-opening the glass lid, she nabs the dead creature and chucks it outside her open window onto the lawn below. 

“If I find out which one of you keeps doing this, you’re gonna be in big trouble!” She asserts, holding the tong up. “Now ya’ll behave while I’m gone!” 

Closing the lid once more, she puts the tong back in the closet, exiting the room to spend the day outside. 

Vengeance 

Your sticks and your stones

May break all my bones 

But these acts, I swear you’ll regret

For time heals us all

It builds a stone wall

And this, we shall not forget

You came here to slay 

To take mine away

All that, which we hold close and dear

Yet here, I still stand

Bloodstained, on my land

And wait, as your armies draw near

I clean my steel sword 

Serving these lands as Lord

My honor, it’s all that I am

Till death shall I fight

All through this dark night

For my muse, for my love, for my lamb

And as you draw back

This feeble attack

Remember, we started as friend

And know, upon death 

As you draw your last breath

Your family name, it shall end.

 

The Fly 

The Fly

Confusion consumes me

I know not what to do 

I just watched this small creature

To my trap it just flew 

This fly, it has fluttered 

And flittered about

So to end all the buzzing

I set flypaper out

Yet, now, as I watch it

My conscience, it sees

And begs that I wonder

What if….that was me?

It forces my gander

To truly observe

The wiggling and writhing 

Was it really deserved?

Was the noise all that bad?

Did it really distract? 

Are we just creatures ourselves?

Respect for life, do we lack?

On the Eve: 11

Gavin Yulesdale, Infantryman of the Queen’s Army

The wind, gently whistling through the trees is but the softest of sounds. Yet tonight, on the eve of this great battle, it is deafening; the only thing that can be heard amidst an army veiled by the silence of anticipation.

The skirmishes always seem to transpire in a way which never changes. The men on the front lines, the most expendable of the group, teethe and wither as the substances our generals have bestowed tighten their grip on those poor, ill-fated bodies. Without fail, they are given the strongest of ales and poppies, as all know that their place in battle is to break our opponents’ lines; but ultimately, to fall.  The smarter among us tend to say ’tis a fool’s errand, but care they do not. On occasion I find myself asking if I should pity them, as their fates are knowingly sealed. Still, there are times that I find myself envying them. Their simplistic views on life are admirable. Give them a flagon of ale and a well-breasted woman and there is little left to fill in their world of concern. Yes, at times I envy the ignorance of simple mindedness. The thought of releasing myself from the chains of my own mind are tempting, indeed.

Yet now I look ahead. I see the fortifications that have been laid and the defenses that await. It is comforting to realize the complexity of battle requires those that are willing to expire for those that are not. This war calls for men who are fully invested in the cause, truly willing to lay themselves down in the name of the greater good. We all need pawns, do we not? I pray that ours fight more passionately than King Jordain’s, as we are greatly outnumbered.

We shall soon hear Queen Jocasta’s bellowing, ominous horns of battle. I must prepare.

On the Eve: 4

Favian, Royal Record-Keeper & Historian of the East

The West shall never comprehend the world the way we Easterners do.

What ire could have possibly made Jocasta think she could overtake us? The East and West have co-existed, as agreed, for twelve winters now. Why is she suddenly afflicted with the desire to destroy? I cannot make sense of it.

I desperately long for the sensibility which we enjoyed many years ago. An era of peace. A time when Jordain and Joscasta ruled with the passion and love that this world deserves. Their deep affection for one another poured out over all these lands. It was a time of joy; true, unabridged happiness.

And then that awful, destructive separation. To this very day, I still find pause when asked if my recollections of the event are truly complete. The realm relies on my accounts for candidacy of what transpired, but I shall forever foster my internal doubts. I have written what I know to be true; Jocasta assuming the role of primary aggressor. She betrayed Jordain, this is well known. Yet it is a reluctant truth that confuses, for I still do not fully understand his decision to allow her sovereignty in the West. The splitting of these lands was perhaps a more hurtful dagger than the one Jocasta cast into the heart of my liege through her betrayal.

I have seen families ripped apart. I have witnessed brothers fighting brothers; sons fighting fathers. The darkest depths of depravity, all surfacing in the name of East versus West.

The gaping wound which separates these lands must once again be mended, this much I know. We cannot go on as warring factions.

The clarity of this shines with blinding abundance.

On the Eve: 3

Antony – Commander of Queen Jocasta’s Army

We have taken refuge in Clarmont, the first safe village we crossed following our withdrawal. If one can even call it a village, that is. There is little more than battered huts and peasant farmers here. Far less than what one would deem an ideal location for which to retreat.

My lieutenants, those fortunate enough to survive the onslaught, are stricken with frustration and shame for failing our Queen. Jocasta has not spoken since our arrival, save her initial introduction to the village elders – who were so shocked upon meeting her they could hardly muster a word. There is little to speak of in terms of provisions, and much guilt felt among the soldiers for what resources the elders have provided. The occupants here have been more than generous, as they are vehemently supportive of the Queen’s campaign to overtake that pig of a man who calls himself King of the East. Jordain is a foolhardy dictator and disgusting excuse for a ruler. I find it astonishing that he ever had a place in her heart to begin with; his reputation of merciless tyranny well abound in these lands.

Yesterday’s miscalculations are surely to ignite fury within the deepest depths of Jocasta’s very being. Yet we, her loyal defenders, shall not falter. We shall remain resolute in our entirety, as every last one of us salivate in anticipation for our next opportunity to face them on the battlefield. Our leader will surely find solace amidst the unwavering faith of the entire regiment.

I swear it, that man will rue the day he clamored out of his whore of a mother. Our arrows will rain pure Hell next we meet, casting a darkness blacker than the evil residing in the soul we shall soon strip from Jordain’s body.

These lands shall once again be united as my Queen rises victorious, or so help me God we will tear this world apart trying.

Love & Loss

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Adalasia: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I hope I see him again.

It’s amazing how different things are, amidst the bombings and the shells and the shouting. A week ago I was making pies. Prepping soups upstairs in my father’s shop. My days were filled with that of cheer and joy. Now I find myself coddled in a corner, hiding in a dusty cellar.Trembling at the sound of footsteps approaching in fear that the invaders will find me.

They say this town is important for the supply lines. It seems to change hands every day, Allies by morning and Axis by night. I don’t know how to keep up.  The only knowledge of whats going on in the world is obtained through my inquiries during the requests handed to me by whoever happens to be occupying us on a given day. Today it is the Germans. They want rations, which we are able to supply as one of the only bakeries on this block. Tomorrow, for all I know it will be another from the US 7th.

There was a man, yesterday, who I truly hope returns. He was unlike the others. Usually the men offer chocolate or some sort of postcard of an American actress. But this one…he approached me directly, took my hand and looked at me straight in my eyes. Without pause, he told me he was sorry for the pain around me. He told me he was sorry that there were people in this world who could cause such atrocities to happen, and that we, at that moment, were stuck in a window of helplessness. He told me that he felt the pain with me. That he understood exactly what struggle I was going through. That he regretted every time he pulled the trigger, because he knew he was taking a life. A life that was raised somewhere else. By someone else. Someone who he would never know. I could see how much it hurt him.

He told me his name was Adam. And that he would find me, if God allowed, when this was over.

Adam: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I wonder if Father is proud of me.

He always told me I would grow to accomplish great things one day. Yet here I lay, cold and cramped in a cot hardly fit for a prisoner.

When I joined the US 7th, they told us we were undertaking one of the most important missions in history. That we were putting an end to the tyranny and devasting effects of Hitler’s Nazi regime. And while I still stand behind that sentiment, I find myself conflicted.

The things I have witnessed are unimaginable. The harsh realities of war are something one can never fully comprehend until they are experienced first hand. Loving sons stricken from their families. Kind fathers called to duty to fight for a cause with which they may not even agree. Why? Why must we occupy a world which holds such little regard for love and generosity?

It pains me to consider these things. I continue to fight, because the grander cause is one I believe in. Yet a profound agony courses through me every time I take a life. It plagues my mind as I lay here, trying to sleep so I can briefly escape this world of ours. Dreams provide my only solace.

There was one glimmer of happiness today, though, in the midst of this despair. My unit overtook a small portion of Sicily, and I was ordered to obtain food from a local bakery. As I entered, I found myself enamored by the beauty of the shopkeepers daughter. I could sense her pain, as she must have stood helplessly watching as the day’s battle ensued. I held her for a moment as I introduced myself, cherishing her embrace. For a short moment, we were two strangers sharing unspoken feelings of hope and compassion. Her name was Adalasia.

I hope I see her again.

Adalasia: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

He was here again today. Adam, the handsome soldier from the US 7th. I can still see his blonde hair, the sparkle, shimmering as the setting sun’s light reflects off his golden locks. He came into the shop today and asked for bread. His unit was most hurried, as there seemed to be another objective that was being sought after. It seems they are advancing further into the city.
But we were able to speak today. He had time to engage me in conversation. At first, he teased me that my English was broken, but he then put his hands on mine and smiled, telling me my words were as beautiful as the glimmer in my eyes. He gave me a bar of chocolate, laughing as he did so, saying it was cliche.

He told me that coming to our shop was the highlight of his day, and that he would do anything he could to be assigned to this particular task. Because he wanted to see me. He wanted to experience the same feeling he had the time before, when he held me and forgot about the terror surrounding him.

It was a powerful feeling, when he stood and grasped me. It was as if he was channeling his pain into our embodiment. I felt his love.

Please return, Adam.

 

Adam: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I can’t wait to see her again.

Adalasia. Such a beautiful name. The dry spots on her hands told me that she’s willing to take on the burden of work. The city had a food cart stocked to try and provide help to the needy, and she was the first to volunteer her service. She cares about  people, I can tell. I watch her as her eyes follow the children of her house, playing and having fun. The smile that takes over her face as she sees how happy they truly are, without a care in the world.

And then the siren rings.

The piercing tone changes everything. The kids playing on the floor scatter to the underground cellar door. A door that will lead them underground, into a dark, cramped room where these feelings of love and happiness are absent. A room that houses the same fear, desperation, and hopelessness I’ve seen in the towns before.

These people. They’re innocent. They don’t deserve this.

A day must come that changes things. Good people have no place living like this. I wish there was more I could do.

I long to see her again. Adalasia, I mean. For the first time since landing in this Hell, I have found something which can actually coax a smile out of me.

I believe I shall “accidentally” find myself around the bakery tomorrow.

Adalasia: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

He might be the greatest man I will ever know.

Adam came by today. It wasn’t to see me, though. Not this time. He said he came because the Germans were expected to attack tonight, and he knew he would be launching artillery in this area. So he came to do everything he could to barricade father’s building. Then he showed us the proper places to hide when the fighting began. We are so very thankful to have someone care for our protection.

Before he left, I walked with him outside for a goodbye kiss. He stopped me at the door, firmly holding my waist as he looked at me with that bright hair and shimmering smile. He said that he would never let harm befall me. He said he would protect me that night, no matter what. That he would make sure the bombs landed far away. He promised to direct them away from us with his shelling.

And he did. He did exactly what he promised he would do. This was the first battle that hasn’t shaken this house.

All because of this Adam…a deeper love I will never find.

Adam: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I do not know what to think.

I cannot decide what my disposition is to these Germans. We have been taught that they are all evil. That they are all terrible, horrid people who deserve nothing more than the iron fist of American judgment.

And yet, I am conflicted. Is it true? Is this entire army of Nazis truly evil? Or does good dwell amidst their ranks? Are there good men? Men who would pick up someone when they’re down? Men who love their mothers and children with all their heart, and truly want what’s best for their families?

These questions occupy the empty space in my mind, filling it with wonder and doubt. What is the truth? How can I be expected to blindly take the life of another human being without knowing their character? I cannot find reason to make sense of this.

Adalasia. She is my only release from this madness. Her innocence. Her beauty. Her kindness. It overwhelms me with emotion. She has a hold on my heart which I fear cannot be released. The subconscious, sublime cohesiveness that we share has taught me the true meaning of love. I love her. And I will do anything to shield her from this horrific world we have created.

This war has taught me one vastly important thing. There is no greater calling than to protect the people you love.

Adalasia: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I know not what to say.

My mind is clouded by constant fears of the atrocities my love is forced to endure. The perpetual horror that he may never return.

I want to join his ranks. I want to fight the Germans with him. It sounds silly for me, a mere baker’s daughter, desiring to join the fight. Yet it is so. The message must be sent, my love. Let me fight with you.

Please, Adam…I can help.

Adam: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

My dearest Adalasia. How I love that girl.

Yesterday, I returned to her shop. She and I have grown quite enamored with each other. It is a deep love that we share. The kind that words struggle to describe. I’ve always wondered if I would ever fall in love, as I have put great thought into the topic. I find that love takes many different forms. There is, of course, the initial, shallow love. That which we feel by instinct. Some might call it simple attraction. And then there is the grander love that most spend their entire lives searching for. The one that causes us to wed, to have children, to enjoy life, and to be happy. The one that gives you meaning.

But then…then there is an even deeper, profoundly unique love. A love found only in times such as these. A love so visceral that it transcends outward description. The only way to comprehend it would be to feel the sensation. The kind of love that manifests when a grenade is thrown into a room, and your first instinct is to jump on it. That’s when you really know you love someone.

For that is what happened today. The Germans launched a small counter-attack this afternoon to take a portion of the city, the bastards. As Adalasia and I were having lunch in the apartment above her father’s bakery, I found myself caught at the front end of their assault. Captain said no one saw it coming. None of us did.

A pair of them came into the bakery. They must have seen my helmet on the post outside and decided they would take me by surprise. I would have never seen them had she not been standing by the window. Upon hearing them ascending the stairs, I fired a few shots through the wall. I missed. The cowards threw the blasted potato masher into the room close to Adalasia as they hid behind the stairwell. The two of us looked to her feet in horror, locking eyes in a brief moment that seems now like a blur. I don’t remember what went through my head, if anything. I jumped to cover it after shoving her onto the nearby mattress, and for my eternal gratitude to God it didn’t detonate. It was as if my body wasn’t under my own control, and some mysterious force had compelled me to sacrifice myself to spare her life. We were saved by some of my squad, who were having coffee across the street. It was the most horrifying twenty-three seconds I’ve ever experienced.

I did not realize until this evening the magnitude of what that action meant. We all say we would die for love. Now, I know. My deepest consciousness sought first to protect her.

The truest, most genuine love there can be. That’s the energy I share with Adalasia.

We share an iron love forged on the anvils of war.

Adalasia: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

My attempts to join the fray went unheeded. Father said I was crazy for suggesting such a thing. He says the passions of a baker’s daughter aren’t strong enough for war.

Adam makes it a point to make sure the bakery is well-guarded and equipped for whatever may come through. Or whoever, I should say. The chocolate he brings is always fresh. I adore him for the little things he does for me. We took a walk yesterday, through the market square and over to the theater.There was a play taking place about the American soldiers leaving their homes to come fight the war. Adam and I stood there, motionless, watching the actors and actresses pretend to feel the pain of loss. We did not condemn them. Instead, we applauded their efforts, because we knew that they were going through the very same struggle as we. They have lost loved ones, as we all have.

The pain of losing friends. The pain of losing family. The impact of which I cannot convey. Not through mere words. It must be felt to truly understand. Why must we continue to battle? Why? Will a day without hatred, without malice, without violence ever dawn? I so deeply long for peace, and happiness.

Happiness more so than anything. Oh Adam, how much I love you.

Adam: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

They’re coming.

We don’t know when, but we know. The Germans are launching a massive counter offensive. We’ve been expecting this for weeks, as it’s crucial that we maintain control of the supply lines. Sicily is too valuable a target, and we should have known they would defend it to the very last man.

Our intelligence officer has intercepted a telegram that we are to be assaulted in the coming days.

My time in this war has given me so much perspective. Some of the things I’ve seen are nightmarishly horrific. Seeing the atrocious ways a human being can treat another human being when under the guise of war is the most terrifying observation I’ve had. This isn’t a world that anyone deserves. I feel the heaviest weight on my heart when I see a little girl be saved from debris, only to find her parents dead from shelling. I feel the weight of the farmers who are being forced to provide rations to the Nazis against their will.

It hurts to think about these things. I must protect Adalasia. That’s the only thing I can hold on to in this world of chaos. She gives me purpose. I love her for that. And for so much more.

Why am I fighting this war? That was a question searing in my head for the longest time. But now I know. I’m fighting this war to preserve the short glimmers of happiness that my Adalasia provides. It’s what were all fighting for.To be happy. Life…the battle that shall never end until it ends.

I love her so much.

Adalasia: Last Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

I cannot do this.

I can’t. I’m so afraid. They’re here. The Germans. They’re retaking the city. They’ve launched an overwhelming counter offensive to regain control of Sicily. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. My God please help me. Please, I’m begging you. I can hear the gunshots outside. I can hear the footsteps of the German soldiers. Oh my God please don’t let them find me. God, if you’re there, please, don’t let them find me. I do not want to die. I cannot fathom parting from this world without him.

Underneath the register. Hiding. That’s where I am. Please find me Adam. Please. Make them go away. I can’t do this. This cannot be the last night I see. Adam, please help me. Where are you? Please help me. I love you, Adam. I love you more than anything.

Oh my God. They’re coming in.

Adam: Last Entry

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to adequately explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you.

I’m bleeding, my love. There isn’t much pain. I was shot running toward the bakery when I heard the German attack. I fear I won’t survive, Adalasia. My body rests upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. You know the hill I speak of. The one where we chased the rabbit that day, until it slyly hopped under the cover of these stones. These very stones. I suppose this is a fitting place to die, as I am reliving that day right now as I write this.

I’m dying, my love. This I know.

I beg this: whatever unfortunate soldier finds my body; please deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. She lives at the bakery, just East down the road. Please. Axis, or ally. I beg you from the depths of my soul. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.

She changed my life. She breathed meaning into the emptiness that for so long defined me.

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will turn this universe upside down until I find you.

Remember me, my love…and find happiness. For us.