Prairie Dreadnought

It starts as a wind, cold and naked, that flows in from the north, rolling in waves across the tall grass. With frightful suddeness, a churning armada of bloated clouds, like a column of leviathons, appears on the horizon.

Wreathed in swirling vapor, spitting fire and hail like a cannon salvo, the flagship, a dark towering wedge of rotating menace, slides down from the sky. She scrapes her hull on the firmament then hesitates, as if grounded or perhaps pausing to take a breath. With a groan she lifts her prow, lurches forward, and gouges the earth like a plowshare.

She eventually abandons the chase, the way a cat grows bored with swatting a dead mouse. Purging her ballast, she lifts back into the sky, following the wind south, toward darkness and her home, the sea.

Sibling Rivalry

I am drawn to the sound of the wind. I like to hear it howl and rattle the beams of my old house. There is something comforting and familiar that is conjured when elements collide; the way the waves crashing on a shore lull us to sleep.

It is the cradle song of a long lost and forsaken mother; the one, who in the deepness before time, birthed chaos and order into existence. And ever since, these errant siblings have been locked in an endless struggle. Each seeking to deface the others works; recklessly creating beauty in the post-partum depression of the big bang.

Highway Neurosis

They appear when I drive at night, like dolphins riding a bow wake. Galloping ghosts and loping interlopers, only seen from the corners of my eyes.

Some look like large birds slashing and darting in the darkness, beyond the reach of my headlights. Others appear to be impossibly fast bipeds with matted, dun fur, running on too-long legs. They career and churn about me as if I were the calm center of a storm. While some just drift at the edges, glaring with things where faces should be.

But always they pursue like hounds after a wounded stag. Maybe I am an invader who needs to be repelled. Or maybe they’re just curious. Often, a vaguely familiar figure will appear beside the road and point at me as I pass. A threat gesture or a sign of recognition? I cannot tell the difference, but both possibilities terrify me. Because there are times when I find that I’m a disembodied mind flying through the weary night, chasing lights and forgetting myself, till dawn’s red ascent breaks the spell.

Eight Bridges

The close of each work-day brings the same frenzied exodus. Bursting forth like water from a failed dam, the workers follow the same well-worn course; a stream of humanity, heads bowed, darting and weaving their way to the door that leads to the parking lot and temporary freedom. But one man, unassuming and calm, forgoes this obvious route and instead embarks upon a more perilous journey.

It begins as a hesitant kata amidst a warren of cubicles and fleeing coworkers. Three rights and a left gets him clear of the labyrinth. Foregoing the path of least resistance, he pivots to the right, back into the depths of the building. A quick left sends him flowing down a hall that opens up into the main vestibule, where people circle and collide like wrack caught in an eddy. He follows the hall to the left, unaffected by the leering visages of old taskmasters, arranged along the walls to ward off the faint of heart. Then it’s past the break room with its flotsam of mismatched silverware and microwave-dangerous containers, piled haphazardly on an undersized dish rack. He outfalls the building through the back door, where a small conclave of custodians hold court beneath a misty shroud of gray smoke. From this final threshold he steers left down a sinuous, tree-lined sidewalk that deposits him, at last, in a gleaming white concrete parking lot.

Slowly, as if savoring each step, he traverses the now empty lot to his car. Cleansed by the waters of a river only he can see.

Campfire Boys

It was dark, save for the circle of light coming from a small campfire. Two boys were sitting next to it; one older and the other young. The night sky held a spray of stars that winked and shimmered like an ocean of jewels.

The older boy was absently poking at the fire with a stick while the young one stared intently at something above it. The fire’s thermal plume was lifting sparks high into the air, so that to the young boy, it appeared as if the fire were a nest from which fledgling stars launched themselves toward the heavens, the way a dandelion releases its seeds on the wind.

The young boy turned to the older one and said, “Do you think fire is alive?”

“No, it’s a chemical reaction between oxygen and fuel.”

“Well, I think it’s alive.”


“Because look at the sparks, they’re its babies.”

“Actually, they’re just small, airborne embers.”

The boys fell silent. The older one resumed poking at the fire with his stick while the young boy returned to his vigil.

Many years later, the older boy, now a grown man, would sit next to a campfire with his young son. They would stare up into the night sky and watch the sparks make their ascent.

“Daddy, is fire alive?”

The man started to give an answer then hesitated. After a moment he said, “You know, fire really is alive.”

Then the man pointed up towards the sparks and said, “Do you see the sparks, those are its children.”

He watched the sparks as they rose skyward on their brief flights only to fade and drift back to earth, unseen. His mind filled with thoughts of another little spark who had long since gone to join the stars.