The Prison (Emotional warning)

pigPerhaps they don’t know I’m here. She looked down at her feet; the matted pieces of straw mixed in with the dirt on the floor. Bars on all sides, inches from her body. It was a cage of some sort, she could not remember being put here, or why she had been captured. All of her sisters were gone, and her mother; God knows what had happened to them.

She managed a glimpse of being placed here. She wasn’t placed, she was thrown in, slammed against the bars and then had passed out from the ordeal.

There was little light; maybe it was night.

The time rolled excruciatingly by. In a few weeks she lost track of time all together. The food she received was intermittent at best, and was always the same. No place to move, her food soon mixed with the feces and vomit, her young body reacting to the vile circumstances. She was never taken from her prison; a jolt of water spray would wash away the evidence of the inhumanity each time it piled up.

As the weeks and months registered the steady cruel monotonous repetition of filth and deprivation, her mind mercifully blacked out any trace of who she was. She would chew on the bars until blood rolled down her chin. Even the aches and pains of not being able to stretch or move turned into a dull acclamation and acceptance that life was far from being precious; that life was a mad dance with sublime loss of reason and spirit, a grueling multiple of uneventful continuing torture of a poor soul lost to existence; forgotten, alone, yet made to endure against all of hope.

By the time she was taken from her cage, it matters not. She no longer recognized the sun or the ground. Movement was a strange and difficult ordeal. The sores on her side where long since ignored, in their festering. She noted briefly in the next few days that the slop she was served daily was no longer given to her – not really missed, just a last notion of a life never lived.

She arrived at the pig slaughter house and gave one last cry as she left behind her misery.

Babe in the Woods

babe in the woodsFear is the great disabler.

The sixties, seventies were my “young man” years. I use that term loosely as “man” conjures up some affinity with maturity, wisdom and responsibility; none of the traits I was capable of exhibiting at the time. None the less I was out on my own at an early age, married way too soon, and very much ready to take on the world – well, the world I thought I knew.

I started with a “Big Eight” accounting firm in 1973 with a salary of $650 and not a care in the world. The big bad world consisted of work from nine in the morning until (most probably) nine at night, in winter months add the courses at McGill for the advanced diploma in accounting, and the prep to write the CA exams. Thursday meant drinks out, not too late; Friday, drinking began at noon, back to work until four, and then full tilt to a weekend of partying.

Lots went on the world: Vietnam, racism, civil unrest, drugs. But none of it came overstated. There were just the six and eleven o’clock news, which none my age watched, and not much else busted into our day to make us think we were not in a perfect world. Of course we had Charlie Manson, but he was an anomaly.

Then came the internet, twenty four hour news, twenty four hour weather (still can’t figure that one out), twenty four hour O.J, twenty four hour reporting on every calamity under the sun. And God forbid it should be a shooting, especially children; as the news will rain down on the world, the likes never seen before since Noah and his Ark.

When the media and blogs now run out of crisis to pander, well beyond the last remnants of road kill, they turn to telling us how much trouble we are in with our lives; how to spend our money, exercise, eat, live, have fun, cry, get depressed, order to take our pills in, when to sleep, get up, take vacation, how to dress, raise our children, the list of disorders we must have because of age. All of these things are merely filler until the next disaster can be flushed out and slammed into our consciousness with all the might, misdirection and fabrication as a Freddie Krueger movie on steroids.

Oh, the babe in the woods? That’s what we have become to let them do this to us.

ESCAPE

Book A Novel IdeaI want nothing more than to escape.

I don’t mean I’m going for good. I just want to escape for a short time. It’s a little like Friday night, or maybe Saturday morning. There has been five days of work and routine, playing by the rules; and now it’s okay to let things slide. A few hours out with friends on a Friday Night allows escape; a slow Saturday morning with family does that; a good movie does that; a fixed set of favorite tunes does that.

It’s also why I write. Okay, I know the little pieces that I post to my web site won’t take you far from reality. I do hope it suspends your serious matters in life for a few minutes. In those few minutes I pray to present a different thought, a different view of some matter that you might  allow to brush across your mind—maybe ponder and smile. If you do that then I have stirred your imagination, your view of the world. I know that will not change the world, but hey, it says we now have a common experience, even if your view might be different than mine.

I hope an entire novel allows an even greater possibility to escape and explore settings and people who might make different decisions than we ourselves might make; and give us a moment to set aside our life’s struggles, maybe even envision other possibilities. I say ‘hope’ as I cannot speak for everyone. I only know that when I write I want my reader to let go for a few precious hours and find a different place to be; find characters who they might love or hate; find a place to sit and rest a bit from the tribulations of life; get immersed in possibilities for change and understanding, struggle and growth. Yes, these are the things of our very lives; although I believe reading about it gives us assurance that we are not, after all, alone; that we are all connected and share many of the same experiences; hopefully on a lesser scale that what is required from the characters we read about.

Two Faces

opposites_attractThere is a raw unsettling awareness which rips the very fabric of defense away and leaves a body open to the dread of utter annihilation. It is so much more than a foreboding of calamity and disaster; for it gives not its moniker – it just is. It sweeps in quickly as if a polar wind had been plucked from the cold Arctic tundra and somehow sent swirling angrily into a sunny afternoon where at once the calmness of a summer’s day becomes a mad frigid dance with death.

What’s more it cannot be explained away. Indeed, it cannot be explained at all. Hope is immediately abandoned. Purpose has no purpose. All that sits with relevance and importance now pales against the absurdity of living, the useless maniacal struggle to move one leg in front of the other, one thought to follow the next, one day to follow another, a mundane repeatable procession of forgettable events and situations, soon lost to antiquity. Only despair remains. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.

There is a euphoric bewilderment to all of creation. Love itself seems plucked from the bosom of humanity and now wrapped around your soul. You are joined to the oneness of it all, the grand design, the sparkling threads of humanity, the eternal bliss of being. The connection is willful and real, such absolute knowledge of being together could not be conjured by mere desire

It cannot be fabricated by a wish. Nor need it be; for it comes when it is least looked for; it sits there and pounces on those open for its arrival. There is no end to how magnanimous its sharing, and no matter how much is taken there is always more. All it asks in return is the jubilation, the perfect feeling of serendipity, the mad embrace of a returned lover, the gushing fullness of a life with purpose and design. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.

Blame it on Spellcheck

sunriseOnly days before Christmas.

But the darkness hid more than the slumber of busy people soon to arise and scurry about in preparation for the coming days of celebration. For that matter even the events to unfold had a christening long before what was now preordained. It was often referred to as ‘the gathering’ or ‘the harvest,’ but those were not terms chosen by the beings who were plucked from their place in the sun and stuffed into darkness awaiting what was now to come.

They were simple beings, connected to mother earth as they were products of the sun. In the darkness that connection was now broken. Such captivity ended their journey, ended any further need to sustain a life; packed as they were so tightly together. They were beings used to being close, but not so where one crushed against the other, devoid of sun, devoid of life itself.

No matter, it would all end soon. They had been divided up like packages of meat from the slaughter and sent to where the end would be quick if gruesome. Some were crushed even before the final slaughter, the lucky ones among the many.

And so it was but a few days before Christmas, in the darkness before the dawn; frost on all that nature touched outside, a cold bone chilling wind attempting to get inside, if only to witness the carnage. The first of the little beings were tossed into a hopper of sorts. Two arcs of a rotary steel blade stood silent with length to cover the entire surface with its sweep. This was the first light they had seen in some time; it might be best that it was so; they would have no time to adjust to the light as the massive blade began to spin even before the last of the beings settled in.

It was over in moments. The hopper lifted into the air and what was left of the beings spread like flecks upon the boiling water, and next were twirled into a concoction leaving all trace of what they were.

They were now nothing more than morning coffee.

Happy “please fill in here what you wish”

DoveWe don’t have enough holy days in our lives. By that I mean special days. Days for the spiritualist, the secularist, the atheist, the wisest, and the busiest – especially the busiest.

There was a time when I held sacrosanct the wonderful days from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. I was a child in a candy store, having been given a cornucopia to fill with all that I could gather. That is not to say that the spiritual was lost on me. I should however add that I loved receiving gifts more than the buying; but the pageantry I met head on and gave what I could to fill the world with joy: the lights, the wonderful music, the tree and all the ornaments.

New Year’s offered a type of start over met first with a celebration for what had passed. A time to join with friends and family and celebrate being alive and able to make choices in the freedom of where we were born; choices specifically for us and our wellbeing.

I lost that connection along the way. Anyone who has been alive for forty years or more will know what I mean. That is not to belittle or take away from youth. Some things take time to ferment properly. I would not be so naive as to call it wisdom. Nor would I allow cynicism to mark the passage. Complacency, redundancy, consumerism, skepticism, a marching band of other words can easily be contrived to reason away the attachment to those holy days. All are fill ins for betrayal to self.

The self needs a sense of wonder and delight. It begs for an attachment to more than the demands that life requires in this busy new age. Every dollar we earn has a place to go, a need to fill, a toll to allow us to continue another day. I don’t know if this will ever change, or if some other way is far better than the present design.

I have learned that holy days are essential. Your birthday should be special, the birth of a new family member, a wedding day, a day to mark an anniversary, the day you get a new dog or cat, the day you move to a new job, a new city or a new place to live, a new friend, the finding once again of an old friend. Weekends are sacred. They allow family and friends to catch up, share and celebrate.
My special moments usually involve song and spirit – yes both kinds.

For this special moment in time’s ephemeral grasp we, as a people, still observe the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s as the holidays. It matters not your beliefs or what you call those days. They are holy. And holy is nothing more than sacred. Sacred is nothing more than precious. It is up to you and me to keep them precious by whatever means we can. Yes, life most go on in the midst of these sacred days; alas, I beg you, no matter what the demand or your situation, keep them sacred, or they will be lost forever, and we will be left with a wet Monday morning where a flat tire and a yellow lay-off notice is the best we can expect.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and to my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah. I’m sure there are many others, to those as well.

Into the Darkness

snow stormLanding was but one of his concerns. The second winter storm of the year had come riding in on the cold artic air some hours ago. The whiteness filled the skies as darkness fell upon the land. Those trees of summer, slight against weight, had long ago dropped their leaves in anticipation of such a happening; only the stoic evergreens stood tall and straight, boughs flush and thick, well insulated against the storm.

The first of the snows skated across the ice along with the bone chilling wind, and clumps of snow piled against one side of the huge lake, doing all it could to clime the banks and move further into shore. As the storm grew in intensity, small islands of snow mounds formed on parts of the frozen vastness, and now refused to move at all. This was the darkest time of year, and the coldest.

Of course, he saw none of this below. He found himself in the midst of the swirling storm but a short time ago. No GPS. Why bother now after all these years—full speed ahead to a destination that required his attention. Plus, he knew enough that the danger was slight, if impossible to predict. Most people would be home, warm and safe, tucked in their beds. Besides, his worrying about place and circumstance would be nothing more than a distraction. He had to do what he had to do.

He also knew enough, that getting there was a certainty of sorts. He had never failed before; and sometimes he even wondered if the travel had anything to do with him at all. It was not like he was alone, though there be no one else to talk to at the moment. Still, the mission required a team. He might be the one responsible to find an entryway; but not unlike a car race where the driver looks to be the only necessity, all the preparation, the skilled maintenance as they drove the race said much about the need for a multitude of people. So it was with him.

He was lost in the reverie of the moment when a jolt grabbed his senses. He brushed the snow from his brow and peered out to where he might be. He concluded the jolt had not been loud enough for anyone inside to hear, and he stepped lightly into the new fallen snow. A smile spread out across his face. He had much to do tonight. He always found it a good sign that his first job involved his traditional approach.

He took the sack and dropped down. It never failed to amaze him that for all his girth he was as agile as a mouse stealing through a maze of rafters. He barely touched the sides as he landed on his feet. No time to look around. He took the cookie from the plate, emptied the sack beneath the tree, and as quick as Jack Flash on a hot stove he sprang back up the chimney and jumped onto the sled.

He was on a mission to steal all the sadness from the world and spread joy and the holiness of giving to all. The red light of the lead reindeer shone through the swirling snows. The old man lifted up his head and bellowed, “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas to all.”

Sun rise, sun set

TitanicI was asked, at first what appeared an innocuous question: who do I write for?

My slippery lips blurted out, “readers, of course.” We both smiled as we both recognized that was not an answer. So, I had to admit that while I knew who my writing (The Druid and the Flower) might appeal to, I had not begun the project with an audience in mind. I knew what I wanted to write about. I have a never ending love for fantasy novels, some epic, some single stories.

I am a great fan of happy endings. Sure, there has to be conflict along the way. There must also be loss, learning, and growth. Characters must be less than perfect, and the story should show that good and bad is often not a matter of ‘black and white.’ I was not a fan of the Titanic movie. I mean ‘come on,’ an unsinkable ship slamming into an iceberg, and the main character drowns (sorry for the spoiler). What kind of ‘made-up’ story is that? Unbelievable, right?

Life offers lots of joy; and it also offers its share of sorrow. I am a firm believer that when you want to escape, there is no need to escape into more sorrow. Heroes should sustain. Yes, in life heroes have come to represent those who die. But, the heroes of legion were heroes because they fought and survived. With few exceptions we all love stories where they lived happily ever after; not because that is ‘real life,’ more because we like to cheer the winner of the race, the one who scores the goal. I would think we take little solace in one who loses; perhaps the antihero, but there again we are conflicted.

So, who do I write for? Anyone who wants to own a few precious hours in a special place with folks who must struggle to attain some goal. The words should tell more than a story. They should offer humor and pathos, twists and turns, vistas of place and circumstance. Love must be central. If you ever sit and raise your head to a sunrise then I write for you. If you ever sit and sip your favorite beverage as the sun sets then I write for you; for those who live life to the fullest in between the rising and the setting of the sun, I write for you.

Black Oak

me_as_a_raven_night

Black Oak
By
Russell Loyola Sullivan

There’s a Black Oak bending low outside my window
There’s a stone bridge on the river I can’t cross
There’s a road between two walls that’s going nowhere
There’s a place inside my head where I get lost

So I’m waiting for the raven in the darkness
I can feel him close his keen eyes out of sight
  That Black Oak gives him thirty places to hide
He won’t leave until I pay the price tonight

The wind begins to moan in the old Black Oak
To cover up the flutter of his wings
And a Gray wolf howls into a moonless sky
He knows the way to what the raven brings

No use weighing the giving and the taking
No going back to burn a yesterday
I got lost looking for tomorrow
Nowhere to go nothing more to say

Barnes & Noble

cats_kittens_reading_books_03I love books.

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas was to head down to Barnes & Noble early one morning, have a coffee and a tasty tidbit while browsing through a few books. The store itself was a source of incredible delight: books, books, and more books. The table at the entrance held the latest releases; I would save that for last. And of course they had each section named for what it held; fiction, self-help, poetry, history, et al. I knew my sections, and as time would allow only so much, I spent my meager half day or so in only those sections, venturing to other sections only when some display pulled me there like the ringmaster at the circus beckoning all to the big tent.

I like hardcover books. Sit in a chair, study the jacket, and then turn the big cover, like opening up the double cellar doors on a new found treasure—turn the first blank page, onwards, pass the acknowledgements and the table of contents, and there I was consumed in a new world; “It all began when wit and circumstance collided with common sense and fate…”

I found the transition difficult from print to digital. All new things take time to adjust to. Now, I give up the feel and the appeal for the multitude of possibilities. There are blogs, reviews, promotion sites, book groups, TV shows, and a myriad of places to sample opinions of “good reads.” Even better, it is possible to find a book, crack it open on line and get a good feel for the book before purchasing; all in a few minutes.

I do all my searching on my PC, and then send my choice off to my Kindle. What I lose in the wonder and delight of being totally engulfed by shelves of books, I make up for in the ability to widen my search, investigate what is inside with internet tools allowing me to cover a hundred times what I ever could do in Barnes & Noble.

Which brings me to why I wrote this. I received in the mail today my first copy of “The Druid and the Flower.” Yes, a shameless plug for my recently released book. I have been working some ten months to make it a book I can be proud of. And I am. It conjured up that wonderful feeling of entering Barnes & Noble on some crisp Saturday morning, and just for the heck of it, going straight to the “new release” table; and there in the center, a new release by one of my favorite authors. Not that I should have a compulsion to covet my own work; rather, there was a familiar expectation, an understanding that I knew somehow what was inside was a wonderful journey into adventure, intrigue, danger, love, growth, and resolve.

We were all meant to be told stories.