Hey all,

Just a quick note to let you know that I have itchy feet and have decided to move my bloggings to where you’ll find pretty much the same deal.



Beginning, Middle, End–All in one nice, neat package!

Toni Milaqi "Sad Man" (acrylic on pa...

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Beginning, Middle, End of the story, to be split up. In between the parts, the heft of the book will be made up by the two characters’ stories of how they got to this situation. I should probably post a full plot outline (or, at least, as full as it’s going to be for at least another week). Needs to be longer and might change the end a bit.Here it is!

The sun knew it was time to set, but it lingered in the graying sky. Like a child at bedtime, turning away from the darkening window in ignorance, it lit up the city with its feeble, dying rays. The wind slid around the fallen buildings. It whispered in the ears of the people outside, huddled together on curbstones, bent low over small scraps of food or dwindling candles. Amid the rubble and broken stones stood a man, alone on the corner of the street. His name was Andras. His shoes were dusty black, coated with dirt, and his coat was long, brown, and tattered. A chiseled Greek statue dulled by sand and wind, his once-handsome face was now creased and tanned. His eyes were shut tightly, making little ripples around their lids. Under his chin, there was nestled a violin.
It was spotless. The smooth mahogany wood was as pure and perfect as the day it was first polished, immune to the stone dust that now covered everything. The man rocked back and forth as he drew his bow across the strings, his fingers waltzing up and down the neck, coaxing out a song as fluid as the chilling October wind. The music seemed to overtake the foul-smelling air, filling it with the sweet scent of gardenias and laughter. Quiet and soft as it was, it billowed up into the sky and stretched on for miles, like a kite.

Across the road, a soldier stood watching him. He ran his fingers over the rough brown wool of his uniform, adjusting the leather strap across his chest. The melody tugged at something in his memory, whispering of sunny afternoons in the pavilion and the heavy perfume of old paper. But out of the sad-happy memories he drew the feeling of fear, abandonment, loneliness. He felt isolated suddenly, in the middle of the square, in enemy territory. He felt his gaze harden as he watched the old man’s still-agile fingers.

As the piece floated into a crescendo, the old violinist opened his eyes, noticing the soldier across the road. He stopped abruptly. He began to draw the bow across the lowest string, then pulled it sharply against the others, making his violin wail in pain. The soldier winced.

“Ez nem az Ön számára.” he said.
“I don’t speak hungarian,” replied the soldier, approaching.
“I said, you ignorant pig, the music is not for you.”
“Well if you don’t want anybody else to hear it, why don’t you just slink on back to your dirty budka in the slums and play it for yourself?” he snapped. The violinist brushed his graying hair from his forehead. He still had all his hair, noted the soldier, though he must have been older than sixty.

“How can you understand?” The old man began quietly. “You think this–” he gestured to the violin in his hands. “–is all about you? Perhaps I play for my neighbors. Day and night, dragging the music out, wrestling with it like a dirty communist wrestles with his conscience. I’ve played since before you were born. All that work, and where does it get me? Here, yelling down at some scrawny, ugly Russian boy. Broken life. But you,” his voice began to rise, accusing. “You have just begun your life. You will be promoted, commended for your admirable displays of courage, your sacrifice to your country and your all-powerful father of Russia. You, my friend, are a hero indeed.”

The young soldier remained silent. Andras felt his veins expand, the blood rising to his skin in a vain attempt to calm him. The boy watching the ground, how ashamed he looked. Perhaps he will demand of his mother to fix everything. Determined to make the boy look at him, he began again.

“Quite a display,” he said, sliding a grimy finger along the meager collection of honorary buttons and pins. “How does one go about getting such a fine show of medals? Oh, but I know. It’s easy, you say. Just find some poor bastard, shoot him between the eyes. That’s how you got that one, there,” he lowered his voice to a sharp whisper. “How many have you killed for that one? How many of them old, like me…how many of them children?” He was yelling now. “You killed her, I know. My daughter. Nine years old, such a pretty girl. And you slaughtered her like a pig at the block, like a common animal. And you might have taken the time to talk to her, you know. To just talk to her? Or couldn’t you spare the time, comrade, for a person so lowly as her? You’re nothing. A rotten communist shitbag.” The soldier looked up, and noticed the tearmarks boring ridges into his dirt-crusted face. But he was hurling insults at him, at the street, across the entire square people could hear. No courage, he said. No heart, no soul. Before he knew, his hands whipped from his side, he was throwing his weight against the withered bones, feeling them give way beneath him.

He had the strangest expression on his face. At first glance, it appeared to be contentment, a quiet satisfaction. But around his eyes there hung an absence; the anger in his brain dissipated into a tingling, blissful numbness that hugged his entire body.

Andras fell to the ground. Almost in slow motion, a red pool grew around his head like a gruesome halo. The soldier stood over him for a few seconds, his face placid. “My name is Andrei,” he murmured to the body, before turning away. The city swallowed him into


Here’s what’s going down.

I’m starting NaNoWriMo. And I’m pretty much going to flood Zatetic with my nanowrimo stuff. Or start my own blog, but for now, nanowrimo central has moved in.


The Oasiad

Anyone out there read the Iliad (or seen Troy)? If you have, perhaps you’ll recognize this. It’s a sort of translation of book 18 (with a book 16 flashback) in the style of genius Christopher Logue. It’s still a work in progress (see note below), so let me know if there’s anything that needs changing.

And to those of you who recognize this: Sorry. This MAY look like a duplicate but if you persevere past the first page you’ll see it’s really not 🙂 I’m an insane editor and I fixed it. Big time. Enjoy!

Feet hammering hard on sand.
Thick heels sinking in, slowing his gait.
The head, planted on the stocky neck, droops
As hands push back the animal-hide flap.

“Son of Peleus,” To Achilles.
The warlike hero turns, and
As eye meets eye the voice dies.

But it is used.

“He is dead.”Ears stop hearing.
“A hero’s death, though, to the end. Hector…”
White noise. Words, like silent raindrops, fall

Slow exit. A statue of a king dethroned, he quakes,
Ropes round motionless ankles, marble muscles crack,
Then shatter, raising dirt.

Soundless around him, a million voiceless screams.
They stab his writhing body like spears. You know nothing,
Nothing of pain. Not like him. Tufts of hair in his massive hands,
Redcurrant hair mixed with saltwater and the smell of grief.
Lying in the dust,
The tears carving into his face,
Eyes seeing nothing around him, only the face of Patroclus,
Clawed at, chewed up,

Listening below the bolts of grey sea,
Beautiful Thetis. Weeping for her weeping son.

Lavender fills the nose of her wailing child.
“Why, dear Achilles,” she whispers, by his side.
“Why do you cry?” Nymph fingers glide over strands of brown.

“Patroclus—” he collapses against her knee. Hot, angry rain falls on her skin. Tears until nightfall. “They killed him. Patroclus. He was—he,”
Through hacking, wrenching sobs:
“He took my armour,
Put it on, fooling the Trojans.
And I let him go! He let it reach him,
Eat at his brain, that sweet decay of killing.

I let him go.” His own fists hammering at his body. Reaching for the dagger.
Not unless Hector
That rodent son
Of dribbling Priam,
Dies, too.
I’ll cut him
Gouge his eyes out,
Drag him around
Until Trojan sand becomes Trojan skin
And even crows won’t bow their heads to tear at him.”

“But, child, if you are the one to kill him, they will kill you.”

Then let me die!
Heracles, Perseus,

Let me die.

“No man escapes the fixèd gaze of sullen Death.”

Thetis looked at her son, his face, his strong shoulders.
Too weak.
“Wait my dear, stay by the beach.
I’ll go to Hephaestus, that lord of fire,
And tell him to forge my son
The finest armour in the Ilium.” Cool lips to warm forehead, and silverfoot Thetis slid away.

You enter, late.
Slide through the door, hope nobody hears as you
Shuffle sideways, scuttle into place like the crab you are,
Skulking in the shadow of the octopi.

It’s already started. The footlights in their eyes,
They can’t even see you.

Grand jeté. Arms, legs, fingers tense, poised,
Ready with the spear. Slide the sharpened point between ribs, tearing,
Elegantly, fingertips pull, pull, push-pull, freeing the blade from bloody sinews, still tightly wound.
Victim falls like garbage from a metal monster.
Patroclus, bare toes pivoting on the floor, pirouettes with the knife, arm outstretched,
SCHGLUG. Into the stomach.
Faster, faster,
Head flicking dizzyingly, spotting his next partner.
Muscles contracting,
Lift! And throw.
Gracefully, a dancer falls.
Crumples, a swan with a broken neck.
An eye rolls forward, but Patroclus’ foot
Doesn’t even touch it, he won’t be tripped.
Wild smile, savage cry,
The rhythmic stabbing into the crowd
Soldiers drop around him,
Peeling away like petals of a cactus flower,
Bloom for a day, then you’re gone, Patroclus.
At least you’ve made your mark.
A forest of arms, heads, hands, feet, legs,
Rooted in the fallen bodies, lifeless skin still sweating under the hot Trojan sun.

Little boy, little boy, Stab the bloodthirsty bastard,
Princip, out to make his name,
End the war.
Drive it, the spear into his spleen
Bursting bile-sack,
Almost, almost glory.
Run away before he sees who did it.

He stumbles, “It’s over!” “He’s done!”
But it gives a growl, springing back into the fight,
A one-quill porcupine.

Twitch. He’s down. Now’s your chance.

Hector advances, foxtrot to the right, slide under,
Arm flailing, he falters. Unsure.

Looking over, to Sarpedon,
Fallen hero.
Can you call him that?
Just a mass of dead skin
Blood-crusted, dirt-covered,
Skin. Stabbed and torn at, devoured as an army of ants crawls desperately over a single crumb.
Anger floods like acid, eating through his bones.

Go, Hector. Stab. Slice. Hack. Blood on your hands
Slippery, red blood trickling like sweat
From your forehead.
Patroclus’ blood.

Regaining his balance, he leaps,
Sweeping his arm in one perfect arc, spear meets spear,
Straining with the pitiless bronze to tear at each other,
Mangy dogs in the street,
One on top of the other.
Slowly, he eases in the blade.
“Shhh. Shhh.”

Hector, holding him down with the tips of his fingers,
Stares into wide, scared-rabbit eyes. Fear.

“Does it hurt?” He mocks. Lip curls.
Patroclus gurgles.
“How are you feeling? Dead? You’re dead, Patroclus. It always catches up to you, you see.
Hector killed you. Tell everyone that. I bring death.
I am death.”
“No,” he said, “That’s,”
Last word, spat out with all his strength and clotted crimson lumps:

Blind, Deaf, Hector can only roar,
Ripping the armour off his prey,
Hurling it at the driver,
Leaving the naked corpse.


While Thetis comforts infant Achilles,
Bronze tips.
Dodged by instinct,
Reaching cold hands.

Drag him away! “Drag him away!”
Barely a hesitation. He slaughters Reason,
Hitler in his bunker,
He can only see Spears,
Spears stained for days
With Greek blood, filthy blood,
Leaving a mass of faceless skin.

“I’ve got him!” the voice of Polydamas accompanies
Arms, shoulders,
Buckle under weight,
Expand and drag the dead boy.

Head, gone with one blow.
Stuck on a pole,
Right through the esophagus.
Try and talk now, Patroclus.

Before he can move,
Half-giant Ajax sweeps
Two feet in one great hand.

Low bellow. Almost a word: “Ours.”

“Up, Achilles.” A mist voice whispers, cool spit on rough skin.
“Coward,” it declares.
Hammer to the ice.
Legs like steel springs. Propel him down the track.

Feet planted,
A spire on the dune.
Soft stomach, open stomach.
An invitation.
Watch them fight, murderers,
Without you to save them.
They cannot win, for
You cannot help them.

Voice like Tamahay.

Just scream.

Metal clattering stops.

Thump, Thump, Thump.
Fast breath, in-out
Run into the early sunset.

No one saw them drag it away.

“I think,” Polydamas said, “we should retreat.
Achilles’ presence is a sign.
We’ll return to the city,
Behind the wall,
And hide.”

Snarl from Hector.
Strong, rough heels.
Sunk into the sand.

“Are you Greek?
We stay.”
“I have always held your counsel in
Esteem, Hector, but this once—“
“We stay.
We will not be slaves.
We will not be girls.
We will fight. We will win.”

Priam’s nodding. When he looks at you, those eyes,
Piercing blue bullets shot from a derringer .41,
Commanding and wise and scary as hell
Agreement floods your mind.

Hector and Polydamas.
Face to face.
Nose to nose.

Open your eyes. Slide away
From that body-littered beach
Breathe cool winter-mint air as it stings your nose
And see them, controllers of fate.
Golden chairs in a circle. Fire pit, center.

Watch them ignore you.

Clusters of glass houses. Palaces.
Keep walking—

Dirty clay hut,
Grey from ash.

One is hiding.
Hammer, metal, fire.
All he needs, he says.
No one comes near,
Not even his wife, no.
She’s too busy freshening lipstick,
Toying with wire-hair boys.

But Thetis, silver gown,
She enters,

“Hephaestus,”—The massive man looks up from below greasy bangs—
“Can you do me a favor?” Coy smile. Wink.
He trembles, her slender hand running up and down his scarred skin. No reply.

“You see,” Soft. Mouth near burnt ear.
“Achilles needs armour. My son, at Troy.”


Is dead, you know
Mortals—they do that. They get old.
Weak.” Not like you, Hephaestus.
Slim fingers on bulging arms.
Lungs try to open.

“Ok.” Lips almost touch
Almost touch
So close he feels her dewy breath on his hot cheek—

pull away.

“Thanks, Phi-Phi.” Gone.

“Phi-Phi.” Smiles.
He pushes up his flannel sleeves,
Rubs his prickled chin,
Lifts his hammer,


Too Many Voices

“Hi,” I say. Greeting the driver–first thing to do. I have to be friendly. Picking a seat: this is the hard part. Gotta chose one where I can see the whole bus. This one, sideways. Perfect. Fred sits down next to me. His face isn’t nice. He screams at me.
“Stop being so stupid!”
“Shut up, Fred. I don’t want to talk to you right now.” I say. Calm. He keeps yelling. “Shut up!” I scream back. That’ll teach him. Fred slinks down the aisle to the back of the bus.
I close my eyes. Hearing the rumble-rumble of the wheels against the pavement. It feels nice. Quiet and loud all at the same time. Nice.
I hear that stupid voice again. “They’re talking about you,” Fred calls from the back. “The one right next to me. He’s on the phone with his girlfriend and they’re talking about you.”
“Hang up the phone, buddy!” I yell. The man looks angry. I’m angry too. He keeps talking. “I said hang up the phone. Stop talking about me!”
“You gotta be quiet,” calls the driver from behind the wheel. “Be polite or I’m gonna havta kick you out.”
“I was,” I explain. “But they were talking about me!”
“Just be nice and shut up,” She says.
“Make them stop talking about me!” She doesn’t respond. Good. I stretch out my hand. It looks funny in the sunlight, always moving through shadows and bright patches with the bus. My fingers look short. Funny. A man gets on at the next stop. He’s wearing a huge parka and a Mao hat. He sits across from me.
“Nice hat,” I say. “Where’d you get that hat?”
“New York,” he replies. He looks down again.
“Take off the hat! What’s under there?” The guy doesn’t move. “Take off your hat!” I stand up and take a step towards him. He tips his hat for a second, and I can see the matted curls beneath it. He replaces the hat. “Take it off! Be polite!”
You be polite now. I wasn’t kidding about you having to get off,” The mean lady says again.
“Why you wearing a coat?” I ask the man.
“Because I want to.”
“It’s f***ing 98 degrees out. Why are you wearing a coat?”
“I can wear a f***ing coat if I f***ing want to,” He says. He stands up, and the doors whoosh closed behind him. The bus lady’s talking to me now. I don’t wanna hear her anymore. Her voice is annoying. Fred’s yelling at me too, now. I’m sorry I ever said hi to her. Stupid lady. “Shut up, Fred!” I call. He keeps talking. I don’t want to deal with him.
“I don’t want to deal with you!”
“I don’t want to deal with you,” says the bus driver. God, she’s so stupid. I wasn’t even talking to her. Can’t she see that I was talking to someone else? She’s so rude.
“Maybe you should be nice yourself before you ask me,” I say. I’m getting more angry. The bus pulls to the side, and a girl with purple headphones walks out. Soon, I’m back on my way home, listening to the rumble-rumble of the bus, and f***ing Fred, and the bus driver lady, and the man with the Mao hat. I wish everybody would just shut up.

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