Part two of “brushing up the writing chops.” Here’s some “microfiction” (mainly blurbs) and poetry inspired by various songs and pieces of music. You can find all of the music on this Spotify playlist.
“String Quartet No. 15, Op. 144: 1. Elegie” (Dmitri Shostakovich)
The door clicked softly and Luce stood between the smoldering ground and the burnt sky. She could hear the voices going after one another from inside the house. Pitiful arguments in alternating, jagged rhythm. The only thing left, the only thing she wanted to do, was to pull the darkness over her skin and sleep until the pain grew old.
“fullmoon” (Ryuichi Sakamoto)
He helps me teleport to her house. He is right: the positive side effect is that I can walk. It is weird and amazing, I stumble, trip, and fall many times, all with joy.
She lives in some type of boarding house. She said to me before she left: third window from the right, first floor, I will be reading a book as usual, but I won’t remember you—I overheard my parents talking. They’re going to wipe my memory.
Peeking in at 4:30AM, sure enough, she is still awake reading a book (of course, with her fingers), something about pottery. I tap on the window, and she senses my presence. She asks who I am. I almost choke right then, and I fumble and hesitate and then lie, saying I’m a checkup doctor, sent by her nanny. She looks puzzled but still meets me outside the building. And then we walk outside into a park nearby, lit under a flickering lamp. She asks why I’m here and I say that I was wondering if she was okay. Just wanted to check. She laughs and says that she is fine, no need to worry. I give a little smile and nod. Few seconds of silence pass then we sit on two low wooden benches under a drooping tree. Then she asks, after a pause, why are you here, really? I try to smile but my mind is swimming. I can smell the chamomile perfume she wears, faint but lingering. She says my name. I look at her and stutter, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to say this. She looks confused. I don’t even know what I wanted to say and put my head in my hands. I say, you know me, you do, we met and you know me. You won’t understand, but I have to say this. At this point I start to cry. I’m sorry. It’s my fault, I’m sorry. You can’t remember and it kills me. You can’t remember how beautiful it was. I’m sorry I don’t know why I feel this way. Ever since you came into my hospital room that afternoon, I couldn’t help it. Of course, you don’t remember. I cry some more. She looks scared and I stop. She says she should go. I nod. I don’t know what is going on. Only that I have confessed something and she has to live with it. And in that moment, her body is swallowed by the shadows of trees and a lossless night. She is gone, a moonlit tide washing away, again and again.
And then I remember. She remembered my name.
“Kreisleriana, Op. 16: 2. Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch” (Robert Schumann)
Take it from me: everyone loves a little poem / when the earth crumbles. / Oceans falling / apart at the seams / and I’m sipping tea at the dinner table. / What’s the password? / Flaming dusks. Low-flying fighters. / Your lips on the barrel. / A second too soon and we’d all be waltzing / in the dead atmosphere, / marionette limbs angled / like skewed compass needles. / There’s a whole war out there / and you’re sitting on the porch / with your legs caked in mud. / Hands cut from picking lemongrass, / chin smudged with dirt. / You smile and for a split second / I forget the engines are burning. / So it’s you, bent over the garden, / and me, boiling water over a paraffin stove. / We have our fallout figured out. / I think. A teapot and the dust bowl sky.
“Forgotten” (Punch Brothers)
“Hello? Is anyone here?” The words swelled in the silence. Hector beamed his flashlight around and squinted. The insides of the warehouse were dismal and old. The high support beams were rotting at their ends, and cobwebs decorated the outer perimeters. Lined across the sagging walls, hundreds of multi-colored boxes formed a packed congregation. It was as if the warehouse was readied to serve every imaginable storage purpose only to be abandoned in each process.
“III Revised” (Frank Zappa)
“Looking for a room?”
“You fine with a standing room? It’s the only one we got left at the normal price. Unless you want to upgrade to a suite.”
“Standing room is fine.”
The receptionist raised a straggly eyebrow. She blinked, confused, and then realized.
“An error,” she said quickly. “A1093, Model J.” The fake tag rolled out with ease, and she prayed that it would check in when the receptionist ran the code. He punched a few keys and a resonant little ding sounded.
“Alright. Twenty chip drives, or a diskette if you got one.”
She slapped a fistful of copper chip drives on the counter and nodded. The receptionist then asked her to plug her signature into the mainframe, and once that was done he handed her a silver key and jerked a thumb toward the dim hallway.
“Fifth door on the left. Have a nice stay.”
The room was a tight fit. Stray charging wires drooped overhead, miscellaneous nuts and bolts strewn over the floor. The floral wallpaper felt cheap and forced.
She closed her eyes. Alex. She’d made too many mistakes already.
“10 dEATh bREasT” (Bon Iver)
The night is a fever dream / in the hands of dark things / roaming through ache after ache / like the skeletal lizard / scuttling through thick brush / or the wind whipping rocks and blinding stars / with its many voices of holiness / and the cottonwoods / bathed in the sky’s blood / and the old lovers waiting / for a hitch in the air. / It lies on its back, silent. / Throat dry, thunderstruck.
“Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral,’ Mvmt. II” (L.v. Beethoven)
“What’s that?” She gestured toward the photograph on the table.
“Old memory from Yellowstone. A grizzly we saw at dusk, just as the crowds were leaving and the land was falling down under.”
She squinted at the dark, blurred shape. “What was it doing?”
He smiled a bit and his eyes flickered toward the shadowed ceiling.
“Munching on snacks.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Rodents?”
He laughed. “Yellow balsam-root flowers. It was eating flowers.”