Figment of Reality

I guess everyone needs to express their existential unease at least once. This is mine, and it’s been in process for over 16 years now. I think I knew what I wanted to say, but it took a long time for me to learn to say it. Also, this quick note: although I had a few very real, very vivid scenes to start with, this story is just that, a story. 

The photo, by an anonymous VQ-1 airman looking west from the barracks next to mine at Da Nang Air Base, shows an illumination shell (center), flares shot by individual Marines, a Cobra gunship in action (far left), and a diving F-100 Super Sabre (Upper right: I saw orange-flamed Sabres fire blue-flamed rockets around that mountain pass many times.) It was nights like these that inspired this story. There were many of them in late April and early May of 1970.

“Like a soft winter wheat carpeting my inner prairie of history and belief, Figment Of Reality became part of all I knew. A tectonic animator of perception, it grew to enable my need to challenge the steep topography hidden in the human terrain. And on those hazardous slopes, I encountered reasons enough to write about the arbitrary nature of existence, the catastrophe that is war, and, since I brought it up, wheat.”

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In the Grip of Something Larger

I like birds and birding. My wife and I maintain a lot of feeders in the back yard which allows us to observe each species’ different ways. We are also able to develop relationships with family units that make our yard their home. This is important to me. I have always felt a deep but respectful connection with creatures in the wild. In this short story, I experiment with magical realism via a small gray bird.

The photograph is of a Brown Shrike. It was taken by Dr. Callyn Yorke at the Son Tran Mountain wildlife preserve on a rainy day in Da Nang, 2017. (http://avconline.avc.edu/cyorke/Vietnam2017.html)

“Taking a sip of coffee, my gaze lands on a bird feeder hanging in the shadows of a cedar tree. A chickadee swoops in, grabs a sunflower seed, and hustles back into the foliage. There’s no telling how often I have seen that little ritual, but this time it brings a blurry, long-ago memory into focus.”

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Path of the Painter

I’ve been writing a lot of memoirs. They seem to require an economy of writing that doesn’t interfere with the story. As a mild rebellion, I wanted to let loose with description. The result is this short fiction about the contradictory soup of friendship, love, and the imperative of ambition among and within those who must create art. Frankly, there’s more to come, but it’s still a fun read. Image from photo by Katarzyna Gonsior on Unsplash.com.

“Astrid seemed too pretty, too gentle, too in touch with her feelings to be the paramour of the Painter. I knew that part of me and saw this immediately. But oh, how I was smitten by this precious gift. I promised the Painter that I would not become lost in a trackless wilderness. This time.”

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