Search
Browse
  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

Networked Blogs

 

 

Tweets
Places I Hang Out

Entries in Love (31)

Friday
Dec282018

Reckoning

"All that happened after was predicated on before."

I came upon the group gathered in the blue twilight, silhouetted atop a ridge, the half moon rising behind them. The coming night crept in silently, and the gathering was silent too. A gentle scene, though I knew if they saw me they would kill me. Without words they stayed awhile, lingering in the quiet grain of the air, and I held my place below, hidden by a great stone and a small grove of aspen, whose song was muted by the absence of any wind. This was dry land, and no rains came that night either. 

Why did I linger? That's simple; I needed something from them. But no, truer still—they had something of mine, and I wouldn't be leaving till I could balance that ledger at last.

When they left the bluff, filing down a narrow rocky trail on its flank, I stayed in place until they'd returned to their camp. Then I climbed the trail myself in the vast silence of that star-blessed night. It took less than a minute to find my daughter's footprint in the soft dirt, the extra toe on her right foot a private sigil.

***

"On the nature of daylight."

This world. It's sumptuous. It's freighted. Wherever you can, cook things in the surplus juices of the last ingredient.

***

Once I knew she was there, I closed in the next dusk. Waited a drawn-out moment.

Soon, she wandered near the perimeter and I hissed our reptile code, and she stopped in her tracks and hissed back after a beat and came to me.

"I found you," I said.

"You did," she whispered.

The horizon crackled with something bright and infected.

"Ready to leave?" I asked.

When she didn't reply, my heart skipped two full beats, and something buzzed in my brain pan. I repeated my question, and she still didn't say anything, her foot with the extra toe dug into the sandy dirt. 

I looked at her face and willed her great brown eyes to stay open and gaze at mine, and I give her credit, because she made sure they did. Respect is a strange animal; I felt it steal into the clearing of my heart and force hope into the crowding bush, while love crouched unmolested. I sort of almost got it. I knew that loss and grief were boiling thunderheads amassing in belligerent ranks beyond the next ridge and the next, someplace way ahead, awaiting me nonetheless. 

I didn't even know what sound to make. I brushed her small and bony hand with my own tentative reach, like the soft and flickering wings of a moth, and something happened inside my chest, and I saw tears fall in small beads from those nut brown eyes, and I left, and I never looked back, though I wanted to look back and squeeze her with the entirety of my raw and shrinking heart.

***

Why do we come here? Better yet, why do we stay? For the light and shadow at play on a woman's hands. For the nighttime murmur of a dreaming child. For the boughs laden, the twilight fading. For the huddle of warmth at the eye of the storm. For the room at the end of the couch with all the feverish cousins. For the eloquence of silence in the wake of ferocity. For tender care. For sweet triumphant justice. 

For the enraptured.

We are all poets. Troubadours of love. Now write me yours. Write us ours. And always, always try to go in the unbroken strength of peace. 

Saturday
Oct202018

La tristesse durera toujours

 

“La tristesse durera toujours” — Vincent Van Gogh

 

Blown across a frozen lake, two dead birds reach a shore piled like cake

and drop,

light as hollowed tin, tumbled as ice-clad laundry,

blank as cataracts, bereft as dawn-shed snakeskins.

 

Something within the world creaks,

and crows 

grumble along the margins

like long-abandoned women.

What is this tale? Is it happy? Grim?

Sad as a splintered cane propped in some bleary corner?

 

The sadness will last forever.

 

Will these harmonies suffice? Will

beauty walk alongside the righteous?

Art and love be adequate in this, our

harmless asides, these aimless, ageless

Instagram sins?

 

La tristesse durera toujours.

 

An engine cries a trail of smoke, shed

like the greyest tears, 

left by the most

colourless 

of impudent

faces.

 

Could you tell a tale of anything? Of

windbreaks and breakwaters, of

cheese plates and lovers’ 

furtive reunions, 

all these faked aches? Hold my aspen hand,

trembling amid this tiny crisis, and

steel yourself for the

cataclysms

to come. 

 

A bird dreams its shadow

on whitewashed walls.

Wakeful things decline to notice. 

 

Oil spills leak and

the world cries

ever more echoes.

 

The sadness will last forever.

 

They worked on trains and chimney stacks,

climbed up walls, rode steaming tracks,

handed out tickets, soon foresaw

the luck of the Irish, the attack 

of the eye-rash, the unblinking ruins

of war.

 

Spurn this like you spurn

most everything.

 

We’re in the centre of a room

bathed in gold, streamed like precious

sentiment, delivered by facsimiles

of the sun. What, oh what, I beg,

is our name?

 

La tristesse durera toujours.

 

***

 

Image: "Landscape with a Carriage and a Train" — Vincent Van Gogh

 

Friday
Sep282018

Adamant

"Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart." — John Donne

You following that slat-ribbed coydog down the interstate right now?

Ain’t no towns for miles, just fences and cattle, while the sly grey dog lopes west, lost as the sun.

Semi-trailers and campers, pickup trucks and seekers, late in the summer, pass the dog however hard he runs, his loose pink tongue a ribbon soliciting some secret charity. Pay him some mind if you happen to pass by.

Don’t matter his type or breed—wild, border, working, bright as fireflies, resolute as night. Salute him, greet him, unearth the kindness from the dark ore of your heart, show him something virtuous as you pull away, as you catch a glimpse of his desolate grin in your rearview. He has forever to catch up, a whole lifetime to contemplate his banishment. 

Ain’t ashamed to tell the world I love that mutt. He’s earnest as an abandoned dream in the wake of a long gone carnival. Sad as an old candy wrapper blowing across a field. More fearful than feral.

Lung shadows and rain squalls appear like arrow falls, the whole land opens its gullet, and distant ranges echo with yipped laments for countless absent place names.

After some time, you can’t help yourself. You pull onto the fractured shoulder, oh sweet Montana sky, crack the window and breathe the grass-stem purity, and you wait, and you wait, until the tireless adamant blur in your bug-spattered mirror resolves itself into something alive—this wild insistent dog, heedless of pain, hopeful for your love, loping your way, bringing its torn ears and matted fur, carrying its lonely wet ardor, its road stink, here with you now, believing in some kind of reckoning. 

Saturday
Jul142018

East and South

He read the note by the side of the road, right after he got punted by the irate trucker.

Handwritten, it said this:


Boo,

I love you an all. I cain't always be mad atcha. But you get right with your ownself or with God or maybe both. Then y'all can think about comin home and bein with me.

Your trusty girl,

Francelle Elesha Metcalf


Even before the trucker picked him up, he'd found it folded in the small pocket inside his flight jacket where he often kept a baggie of something, but he'd never read it till now.

"Fuck that trucker," he said, and then he almost laughed at the sound of the words. The brazen poetry of them.

"Fuck Francelle Elesha Metcalf." Words that felt a notch or three less funny, less poetic. She'd signed her whole name and taken time with the script, and something about that made him feel quite shameful.

By a stand of spindly trees, he tuned out his thoughts by listening to the interstate traffic, each approach of a laden semi-trailer some great breaking wave, an ex-surfer's fitful pipe dream. Yeah, he'd surfed awhile, at Ocean Beach, back before things had gotten murky as sequoia light at dusk. Ruby and gold, sapphire and emerald. Before it all went gray, like so many flavors of beach taffy chewed too long.

He'd made it a long way from the ocean by now, somewhere east of Sacramento and heading for Lake Tahoe, but this was a big place.

The Golden State, they called it, if that was where he was still. Not so golden now, though, right? Lots of reasons for pain but many more ways to buffer that pain. He figured skirting closer to his roots, partly east and vaguely south after Reno, might could cure him. Tease out his Southern truculence, slap him upside his dumbass head, wake him back to the world.

Kickstart the process, at least.

This stretch of interstate wasn't as busy as some, and he thought he could get away with hiking the shoulder. Fall was waiting all around, free of trust and dark with thieves. Before he set out again, he listened to the leaves in the aspens or whatever the fuck kind of branches shimmered and flashed against workshirt skies here. Heard birds he couldn't name. Squawks and whoops, hollow and distinct.

Tried not to think about much.

When that proved hard, he pulled out a pocketknife and dug into the quick of his thumbnail. The pain was bright as a sun flash and warm too.

Then he headed sorta east and kinda south.



***

The cop meant business or worse, he could tell. Moment the trooper clocked him, there was no doubt he'd be pulling alongside in his two-tone Dodge Charger to make his already shitty life a tiny bit worse.

"What you doin' on the interstate, boy?" Pudgy and bald, another cliché.

"Nothin' much."

"That ain't no answer. I'll ask you agin."

"Sir, I'm walking so's I can find a place to git offa this highway, swear to god."

"You got a long walk, and none of it legal."

"And I do apologize for that, officer."

The cop squinted at him. Raised his sunglasses to his absent hairline.

"Boy, you Mexican or something?"

"I ain't Mexican."

"But somethin', am I right?"

"I'm an American."

"You got ID?"

"Not on me."

"Then we got ourselves a problem, don't we, cholo?"

"Not if you decide to be decent. Sir."

"The fuck you just say?"

"I think you heard me."

"Get on the fuckin ground!"

"You made your decision, I take it."

"On the motherfucking ground!"

He dropped and lay prone and tried to ignore the jackhammer in his chest. Officer GhostFace McBigot cuffed him tight as he could, but he blocked out the pain.

"I'd wager something, officer."

"Shut the fuck up."

"No, I won't. I'm done shutting up. I'd wager my life on this. That you would never have acted this way before that pitiful senile prick lucked into power."

"Then you'd lose your life, Pablo. Or Alvaro. Or Fucko. Whatever. I ain't changed a damn thing. Don't matter to me who parks their fat ass in that crumbling hovel in DC, pendejo, a place that means the exact sum of nada to me. I've hated you people all my life. I'd be doing this if the Dalai Mother Lama of Cal-fucking-cutta was running our sorry nation. I hate you fucks, and I've always hated you fucks. You'll never get that, it seems. And now you won't get it again, cabrón, because…"

"Sir? No. Please…"

Out of nowhere, he couldn't recall seeing a plane in that dry implacable sky for days. Had everything crumbled this much?

Another sharp gunshot startled a cluster of nameless birds, and no one else bothered to flinch.

Friday
Jul062018

Fury

She is bound on a cold stone floor in a spare cottage by a crag, the wind a tuneless piccolo through cryptic slits.

A flurry of dark birds arc jagged across a slate sky past twilight.

The ink upon her arms and chest echo both flocks and sundown: three tiny boiling hearts on her inner right forearm and a stutter of crows below her clavicle, above her breast.

Outside, some black and odious structure silhouetted on the cliff edge: pitiless, stark, and mannish.

Pricks. If they are going to deem her a witch, then she will damn well rise witchlike.

A beetle meanders by her feet pursuing crumbs, flakes, specks.

These are fragmentary things, these moments, what she sees, hears, smells, feels. Nothing good will happen if she resists, but things far worse are pledged by her compliance.

The beetle is by the wall now, still seeking and vacuuming tiny morsels. She envies its autonomy, its thralldom to its own rudimentary will.

Her will is more wilt than heft. She stares between her legs at the stone and shudders. Imagines something ludicrous. Some unruly erection. Resistance. She must resist. Weakness now is unconscionable.

She is a woman not some failed man.

As if in answer, heart all slashed and ragged, Blossom appears in the murky air, her friend long slain by similar hands, twirling a familiar dance.

Speaks.

"Oh, Blanche, this is it. The inevitable. The moment you decide how to leave this aching world. I urge you to choose well. Its about you now, not them. They are filled with impotence, choked redundant by hate and unwarranted envy. Believing they're the heart, they are the true outcasts of our tribe. The overarch, the arc is in our favour. Even when they kill us, they don't win."

"Yeah, yeah. You always knew how to speak, my poet. I appreciate the pep talk, hon, but I ain't ready to die."

Sudden silence. No sound. The wind itself has swooned. Even the surf has ceased its assault on the rocks. No Blossom, no beetle, no beating heart. For a moment, no battery. A hush. This is the cold edge at the end of things, the blood loss, the muffled aftershocks.

However grim the lookout, love—love—is the thing.

The throng is coming, my brave and blissful amour, with their whetted instruments and their senseless rage, frail and pitiful as the keening of birds.