Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Haikus, Short Stories, A "Love" Letter

Here's some creative writing I've done over the past few weeks.

1. Haikus: these have been a saving grace. In moments of excruciating boredom when the mind feels more like a wad of watery mush than it does an incredible muscle capable of the extraordinary, few activities can be as uplifting as writing haikus. Haikus are a form of Japanese poetry that can take on many different forms and variations, but I focused on the common 5-7-5 syllable construction. I usually wrote these in lectures when I felt that the speaker did not engage me. With some of them, I had my friend give me a prompt. I'll include those too. Enjoy!

Follow a blind man
Down an alley that has no
Way in or Way out

Seven sleeping frogs
Sit on seven sleeping logs;
Oneness with the world

Could you imagine
What would happen if God came
To Earth and said, "yo"?

Let's swim in a pool
Of rules, tools, and jewels for mules
If you're up for it

Eyelids are drooping
Brian is aloofing; the mind
Struggles to keep qi

Ocean to ocean
We have traversed vast spaces
And now are at one

Little chimpanzees
Held captive by hords of bees:
Honey bananas

Nine planets revolve
Around nine planets, revolve
Around nine planets

IX prompt: Dorothy's shoes
Dorothy's brick shoes were
A hit at the high school prom;
The next fashion trend

X prompt: filet
Philistines feed on filets
Fetched in the river

XI prompt: moon
Fat, full, quarter, half,
Dusseldorf's dingy giraffe
Looks up and up and

2. Short Stories. Here are two. The first one I wrote on the flight from DC to Baltimore. It's about what happens inside someone's mind the moment they are about to take a foul shot in basketball. I think that it works on multiple levels. The second still has yet to be completed, but I really like the imagery and decided I wanted to share it instead of letting it sit in my notebook for only my eyes.

"Suspended at the Line"

I'm a dog. Sweating like one, that is. God. My shorts are soaked, cheeks danked. My shirt is drenched, beads of sweat drip off the nip. I can smell my socks. Did I douse them in a bucket of raw, decapitated fish robed in rotting banana peels, or did I simply forget to shower again? I'm huffing and puffing. Who He Who He. Trying to control my breath like they've taught us at those yoga classes where the instructor implied they had some sort of connection with cosmic beings which we were too feeble-minded to attain or understand. Just stretch, maybe you'll get it.

I shuffle my feet, callibrating my balance. Gravity still works - the rules still apply.

I look down at the short rectangular slips of wood sealed together and spot the nail, the universal nail they told me about at basketball camp that lines up with the rim. Sweat slides down my nose and splashes onto the wood. Good defense, I think to myself; they'll slip on the sweat and faceplant onto the floor. I line up my right toe with the nail and give the ball three steady bounces, holding the ball, noting its shape, its weight, its texture, its contours, its history, its personality. I ponder its creator: the man, the machine, whoever. Then I ponder its creator's creator, and so on. Who were they? What did they do? Where did they go? On and on.

The rim is still. Just an open, unjudgemental receptical twice the size of the guest it must accomodate. And the net hangs like one of Sandy Calder's mobiles, uniform shapes puncturing the fabric, rewarding the successful release with its approving swish.

Another three bounces just to be sure everything's in order, all in check, in balance, in harmony, in line, in the seven seasons of time. Maybe I won't release. Maybe I'll just stand here and simply embrace this moment. What need to go beyond? Life is predicatble enough anyways. What need to wreck this tranquility?

The others are impatient. They gleam at me with fifty-fifty eyes. In or out, in or out. Run off and let up if in, jump up and snag if out. But they won't know until I release.

Maybe the zebra will blow his horn and penalize me for delay of game. Then what? I wouldn't give him the ball even if he did. He'd have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. I would stuff it under my shirt and lay on my side, clutching the ball like an eight month fetus on the verge of a tremendous transition.

An emptying exhale, thoughts gone, clear-mindedness. Just the sound of time suspended. Three preparatoy bounnces in my knees. I check my elbows down by my stomach, let my arms flow upwards, and release.

Up it travels, ejected, empty nest, on its way, going home, going home.

"Street Corner Sushi Man"

A great whit blanket of clouds filtered the sunlight in a chameleon collision of colors swirling and waving through the air, but noone seemed to notice or care. The sushi salesman on the street corner with the city's only portable-outdoor-sushit cart executed his craft with great precision and what you might even call virtuosity, in complete oblivion to what was going on around him, including the sky's transformation. The rice blew steam from its kettle, surrounding the chef in a mystical haze, raising the eyebrow of the unsuspecting passer-by, even the one's with eyebrows whose emotional dispositions are difficult to detect - the unibrows, draw-ins, and transplants. He kept his collection of assorted fish, fruits, and vegetables in separate Hodge-Podge plastic containers. Hodge-Podge was the container's brand name, after its late CEO who died in a freak accident too horrific to recount (all I can disclose is that he confronted his greatest fear in his death).

3. "Love" Letter. My apologies for misleading you if you thought the object of my affection in this letter was a person. In fact, it is my pen. Or rather, was my pen. Ironically, the ink ran out as I was writing this note, and that's where this letter will end.

Dear Pen,

I want you to know something. You empower me. You are the vessel by which I transmit intangible brain activity upon a piece of paper (worry not, my dearest paper, you too will receive a message). Feeling you rest between my thumb, forefinger, and middle finger gives me a sense of comfort, as if I'm with an old friend. You are indeed a special pen to me. I don't always get my hands on a pen whose contours compliment the shape of my hand like you do. My hand doesn't hurt when I write with you, even after hours and hours of scribbling.

I fear the moment your blood will stop coarsing through your veins and onto the paper. I will have to lay you to rest and seek out a replacement. I'm not looking forward to this process. Most pens are just so obnoxious. Some are excessively thick, obese. Whey they had to bulk up so, I know not. Others insist on wearing a grip? For what? To look sexy? To feel good? To make my hand more comfortable? Akh-excesses. Some pens are just too high-browed. I need something practical, not something studded with a lofty pricetag and snobish brand name. I will never understand why some believe these upper-class pens make good gifts. Others are too thin, some uncomfortable in my hand, but you are just right. When I click your head, I hear the sound of opportunity, of possibilities, of innovation. Are you writing me?

You are a humble servant. As selfless as the seeing-eyedog. Our union is one experienced by millions before us. Shakespeare and his five acts. Checkhov and his three sisters. Darwin and his finches. Twain and Tom. Lao-Tze and the Dao. Plato and his cave. Marley and his exodus. Da Vinci and his golden ratio. And our union is one to be experienced by millions after us. Sir Hogarth and his flaming hot dogs. Master Chamberston and her mobile necklace. Jean-Paul-Marue Adolè and her facefest. Czar Ogilby and the transplant basketballs. The narrow sparrow of the Tepid Snowman.

When I drop you I don't feel bad because I know you won't judge my clumsiness. In any situation, under any circumstance...Dear Pen, your blood has stopped flowing. You have expired and I'm already frustrated with the temporary replacement I'm using to finish my note to you. It's got a grip!! I had so much more to tell you, but I hope that what I've shared conveyed my feelings for you, an object society has dubbed "inanimate", but one which I consider worthy of adoration.

Your Friend,


Tania said...

Wow, Great Haikus, Raffi! I'm enjoying reading your blog...and hope you do get the AVC job...Armenia needs a guy like you!

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