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Copyright: Fred Robel, and Fritz365 2010-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fred Robel and Fritz365 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gear

A gear rolled from my watch when I shook it
A bit of time I'll never see again
Off the edge of the Earth
Just like the Flat Earth Society predicted
Falling forever into the mist of the seas
Perhaps to end up down in the churning of a holding tank
That ran everything through the King of all fish filters
To be pumped up with offset piston pumps made of magma
Starting as steam to speed the journey
Through the cracks and the odd undiscovered cave
To reappear as a fresh water spring
High in the mountains somewhere
Beginning again the trip to the sea
Creeping ever closer to a foggy semi-endless fall once again

My lost watch gear
Stamped and inscribed by some old man in Bakersfield Illinois?

That ended up in the crap trap at the bottom of the world
Where only Jules Verne would ever find it


Monday, March 30, 2015

That Damned Crow, Part One of Possibly Many

There's a crow outside who won't close his beak
Flapping open and closed
Sticking out a rude pointed black tongue
Nonstop calling like the bleating of a sheep

First I tried communicating my desires to him in spoken word
With a few "Please stop!"s called out at some level of volume
Though as you can guess this soon degenerated into yelling and screaming
Sometimes not even in words that just had him answering in kind with dark eyes gleaming

I stewed as I sipped a supper sized cuppa
Imagining it to be a delicious kind of crow stew
When I recalled an experiment I read about once
And thought to recreate it to give him something to do
But he just looked at the glass carafe half full of water
Then a sideways sneer at the pile of small pebbles as he kicked them skittering askew

Before I could do anything
He'd hop-flapped up to the porch railing
And knocked over my cuppa
Regaining his former perch in the tree to continue teasing and taunting me
As my coffee stained the snow with its life-blood brown
Precious twice passed Civet Crown
Purchased at twice the price of regular civet beans
Due to the cost of tying the little things up
And shoving their poo down their gullets once again

If once is good
Then twice is better
That's what Grandpa always said
Which is when it hit me
That I had to try one more time
Firing up the computer and browsing away
Until finding what I wanted on Amazon Prime
Pressing that instant order button that gets me in so much trouble
I even paid extra in order to get it pronto on the double

Thus is was that halfway through my replacement cup of oh-so-refined civet poo water
That the mist parted above the small clearing in the trees
Bringing the sound of chopper blades
Raising hackles from flashbacks to M.A.S.H.
With no Radar O'Reilly to warn me preemptively
I simply drew my fleece robe tighter about me
Covering the bits that might get me in trouble
As I dealt with the remote operator via two-way communique
Upon the Hero camera hanging next to the cargo pod
That itself hung slung low below the twin triple booms of the delivery drone
Bearing the FAA markings of N1754AZ
I verbally agreed to vote 'Yes' on the upcoming drone ballot proposal
Signing a matching petition that was prodded out on protruding appendages
Before the cargo container was finally released with a CLANG upon the front porch boards

Reading "This Side Up"
And "Box 1 of 4"
I walked absentmindedly back to the shed door
Ignoring the constant "Caw-Caw-Caw!" cries that crept into my crowded cranium
Straining my head muscles with effort most strainium
Until I found what I wanted
In that old orange handled box-cutter

Sold before 9/11 took the edges off of everything
My thumb thumbed the thumb button
Causing a stay in the Crow's constant crowing
Drawing its beady bitchy eye with a glint of danger
Of sunlight catching the refined edge of a polished blade
Following my footsteps back to the porch
As I defied everything that Mother had ever taught me
Walking quickly with a sharp blade extended in ridiculous fashion
An accident waiting to happen that didn't this time
Until I plunged the pointed protagonist into the thin membrane of adhesive tape
Decorated garishly with Amazon logos endlessly repeating
Making that initial cut right between the A and the M
Drawing the sharpness towards me across my lap
Tempting every fate that ever was with my arteries so squishy full of juice
Revealing a roll of heavy leaded framework that surely baffled that crow to bits

Sure enough
There were visible question marks above his shiny head


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thoughts en Prismed

T'was a rainbow renaissance
This flexing of modern cuneiform puissance
Dubbed by most as a nuisance 
Attacked in almost autoimmune response

Red room walls that tower then fall 
From lack of foundation and taste 
Revealing a wooden lattice 
Full of old mouse bones and boundless hope

Orange and trim 
Sporting ruffled ridges and sworls 
This couch is clearly from 1979 
Stuffed with old goose down and memories 
Declaring in citrus zest to be far out of time
Great yellow trees sailing the high seas 
Escaped down the river
Cut from an early spring jam in the north 
To disappear beneath the waves in the end

Great greens grow into shades of brown 
Buried in white for interminable night 
Till melted back awake 
They give their chloroplasts a shake

Choppy blue seas churn for you and me 
Crosswind churned within this earthen urn 
When at last we ride the foamy froth coating the tops

Violet in violence did the Purple Cape dance 
Defeating evil under flaking metal girders 
That form the borders of vibrant vigilante patrols

Individually feeling unconnected and unique
After being split in a precisely ground prism
But backtrack the light's path to the other side
And it's all plain white noise begging for the divide


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rocket 350 Robbery

It was all just a blur from beginning to end
I can't recall any details at all, officer
You gotta believe me

From the time that I called for the Auto Club
Until HE pressed the keys back into my hands
It just couldn't have been more than fourteen minutes

Why not fifteen?
Because fifteen feels like it would have been way too much time
In my estimation
Don't distract me

His truck was red I think
Though the rust spots had fully taken over the majority duties of color transmission
With that warm fuzzy kind of rust feel
That you can just taste with your fingertips
With a bubbly jagged edge wherever the rust bleeds to paint and back again

That red truck
I could just tell
Had the tasty feel of 80 grit sandpaper from Woolworth's Craft Section
The old store with the soda fountain and free popcorn
That used to be in Frandor
That indoor/outdoor mall down in East Lansing

I'm sure there was other sandpaper available in other places
But that red but mostly rusty truck
It awoke memories of 1975 deep within me
From its original run mold creases on the front of the hood
To the spot on the rear quarters of the bed
Where it was obvious from the shape of the red paint that was left there
That this truck had been ordered with the Big Ten package
Though that decal had long since given up adhesion to the cause

When the truck came to a stop and that driver's door swing open on creaking hinges
The scent that poured out was pure Grandfather in nature
With subdued hints of pipe tobacco and fresh sawdust mixed with oiled leather
With enough force to send my senses into shock
Blurring everything that the mechanic did from that moment onward
In a cheap hyperspace visual effects suite
Those same effects we saw at the SciFi double feature at the M-55 Drive-In
When the booth guy busted David in the trunk of the old Chrysler

That mechanic man blur went from the back of the truck
Carrying a blue toolbox with Champion spark plug stickers all over it
To the side of my Oldsmobile Cutlass
Where the hood was raised in between blinks of my eyes
Witness to a dance of Craftsman screwdrivers
First a No 2 Phillips then a No 0 flat blade type
Black air cleaner cover spinning seemingly in mid-air
Reading "Rocket 350" then nothing then "Rocket 350"
Over and over again
In a magician's act of diversion
As his hands worked magic somewhere around the Holley carburetor

Was that the idle circuit he was adjusting?
Oh wait I think he's done
As the air cleaner has stopped that mad dance it was doing
Now rolling up and down
From fingertip to fingertip
Across his shoulders like a Harlem Globetrotter basketball trick
To play off his left middle fingertip gently
Landing with metallic clang upon center mounting stud
Inviting a wingnut to lay down and spin for clamping action
Followed closely by the hood handlessly slamming down

Breaking the spell
And leaving me standing here in this spot
Wallet in one hand
Auto repair receipt and keys in the other
Some odd bits of dust swirling around
And twin Chevrolet taillights receding down the two land highway

No
I don't think I was robbed of any money, sir
Just of any clear memory of the most amazing thing I might have ever seen, is all

Though I can't be sure


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sacrificial Fate

Cut from the same cloth
Stamped from the same mold
Inspected and finished out with hundreds of others
Each being inked with part number 456HK12Y
And a sequential serial number
Otherwise appearing alike as they are carefully stacked into shipping crates

But they are really not

There is always at least one in the bunch
That seems perfectly normal
But carries with it a very different fate
While all of its brethren will pursue their functions as intended
This one
Or small group sometimes
Will be the sacrifices that pave the way for the others

Nested like spoons in this example
The identical bent angle brackets wait in a dark drawer
Slowly becoming fewer in number
As stock levels fall to the re-order level

Every time one is removed
The same person takes charge of it
Carrying it carefully out to the shop floor
Over to the left wing leading edge
Where the same access panel is always open and waiting

Set down next to a rivet gun so old it must have built things in the Civil War
The new bracket sat assured in what lay in store for it
As it was gripped gently
Maneuvered carefully into place
Turned this way a certain amount
Then pushed in one inch further
Before being rotated back the other way a hair
Which cleared the way to place it where it needed to go

This precise movement was learned over six years of practice
With the same person doing it every time every day

Until last Saturday
When the whomping cough caught up to our experienced technician at last
Laying her out for at least a week
Per doctor's orders

So young Cal took over Station 235f on the third assembly line in Building 2
Signing out his tray of p/n 456HK12Y - RH Loom Brackets
Serial numbers P634 thru P672
Carrying them carefully out to the shop floor
Over to his new station on the line
Where an access panel was open near his work table under the shade of the left wing

Set down next to a rivet gun so new it looked like liquid chrome
The brackets quivered uncertainly at what lay in wait
As s/n P634 was selected from the stack and gripped awkwardly
Shoved into the opening
Scraping the sides as it went
Losing green primer in twin straight lines
Before bumping into an obstruction
Being turned to the left and pushed
Not going anywhere
Being turned to the right and pushed harder
To break in half

Leaving the two halves of the part
Which one could address separately as
"456H" and "K12Y" due to the location of the break
Each equally stunned in silent shock

Cal, on the other hand, was undeterred
Because he had just learned that you have to turn it THIS way a bit
In order to get the part past that obstruction
And had grabbed s/n 635 to brave the breach with
After clearing out the two halves of the first

Going in a little more carefully
Not scratching the finish so much this time
Turning it just so
Before pushing it too far at once
Getting it stuck on three bolt heads
And snapping this unfortunate bracket into three pieces

Much to the horror of everyone and everything involved
Cal repeated this process twice more
And adding little metal corpses to the floor at his feet
S/N's 636 and 637
Until he had gathered the information necessary to get the part where it needed to go safely

Thus had the manufactured bits
That had been destined from the start
(Unbeknownst to them)
To be what is known in the industry as "Sacrificial Training Parts"
Or STP's
Met their fate

Such was the cost for Cal to know what Sally had known for over six years
Though it had only taken her two times to learn it then





Monday, March 23, 2015

Marvel-ous Carpet

Midnight in the shag carpet jungle
Shady proto fleas breaking spiders knees
For failure to payback a payday high interest loan
And always the gangs of mites starting fights
Over skin wafer cast offs 
The current currency of choice
In this strange half lit world so close to home
Where their Stan Lee corollary created super heroes as well
Though instead of a Spiderman
There is Manspider
Who was changed when he fell into an open cut upon
The radioactive skin of an experimental man

Horrifyingly
Manspider is less super-powered than super-handicapped
With an external skin soft and pink
And an anus opening that no longer spins silk
Only emitting stink

Vulnerable to every creature he comes across
Manspider is everyone's bitch
Fetching cigarettes and drinks for the mob
And being laughed at by the nymphs


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reflection Takeaway

A tiny red automobile
Utterly out of place
Sitting in the wet reflection of a wing
Belonging to a giant flying machine
The first in a line awaiting scrapping
Amidst piles of snow starting to melt 
Amongst piles of chewed up metal
Being hauled away in dump trucks by the tonne to Texas

A reverse of how things were supposed to be
This pick apart take away triage
Of man's dream of flying


Trailer Park Spring

Spring is in the air
Sun is on the soil at last
The white trash pokes their heads up with a gasp
Buried in the dirt all winter
The wide open is something startling and clean
Their lungs used to the intake and exhalation
Of leaking at the seams and duct stack wood stoves
And the warpage of smoke from many things
To drive away the winter blues and bleak Sol starlight
With homemade meth from mother's handwritten cookbook recipe

Temperatures above freezing at last are a shock to the system
And some of the folks on disability forget themselves to do cartwheels of joy
Before remembering that they are in public
Then resuming the heavy limping gait that insures their paycheck
Making their way back to the sagging pine 2x4 porch tacked onto the single wide
To repose upon re-purposed milk crates and pallet wood
Watching the children run around with the sniffles and no coats
Searching for baby animals to be cruel to

Laughing
Because that's just how they were when they were small too


Friday, March 20, 2015

Turtle + Cat

Turtlecat lugs around a shell of a home
With overlapping plates of geometrical bone
It's a bit heavy
But when she's ready
It doesn't stop her at all from getting proper cat things done

Padding along a backyard fence
Part feline part Koopa
A bright red shell with furry feet
Sliding in two sixteen bit dimensions
Right and left only two possible options
Up and down being the others
Following pointed neko ears skyward
In an unlikely double jump to the clouds

To land in stylized form
Pacific Northwest in origin
Two parts black and one part red
Bold strokes define the bulk of a tortoise shell
Clawed feet at the four corners
An open meoar of a mouth facing to the right
Long tail in a thinking cat's S bend
Soon to decorate a totem somewhere near you

Where the beast will age well with the passage of time
To be found upon the Galapagos
By a Beagle borne Darwinian in search of foodstuff
Rounded up by the dozen for the trip back to the continent
After being observed sketched and catalogued
Only to eject all the human occupants roughly halfway in
Mutineering their way into the history books
As Turtlecat pirates of the Southern Pacific Coast
Plying the shores of Peru in search of riches
To decorate their black shiny shells
And rings for their petite feline feet

The Cataturtle cometh
Or so the legend goes around the campfire
"They move more swiftly than most realize
Coming towards flickering firelight to steal camper's eyes
Never revealing in their duplicitus semi-cold blooded ways
That your very soul is their ultimate prize
With the eyes just the windows
Left open curtains agape
To be licked up with prickly tongues
As your face is held steady in huge cat padded paws
Ears in almost pain from pinching proximity to unsheathed claws"

And just then the second camp counselor leaps from the bushes
Wearing a cat mask and ninja turtle costume
Causing everyone to scream in terror
Except for Tiny Timmy Turlington
Who swiftly drew his trusty Camp Boy knife
And plunged it into the chest of the artifice
Over
And over
Until the screams had died with the darkness of the night
Leaving only a meat tenderizing sound
Wet and dull
As knife blade entered chest to the hilt
To be withdrawn overhead
And stabbed downward once again

Timmy's eyes flashed with the light of a true Turtlecat

Of which there really were none
Leaving Timmy with the look of one undone

The remainder of the troop quietly crept away into the night
Leaving Timmy to tucker himself out of his own accord
As that seemed best



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vivamus Tango

A concrete dance floor
Two miles by one mile wide
Painted lines and occasional divots
Marking pathways
Indicating time

Framed by light blue lights
Placed every twenty meters
A place to light up the night
Leading with asbestos brake and black tire bite

Two aluminum dancers glide on in
From the opposite corners
Of taxiways seven right and eight left
South by South-West is their rotational centripetal

Ton for ton graceless and bereft
Lumbering bohemian behemoths in scarred white paint
Trading opposite concrete square for square
Defying artistic logic to become a dancing pair

Spinning beneath ramp stadium lighting
With millions of insects swarming the beams
A squeal of tires
A near miss
A chicken dance tango of avoidance

Forward fuselage to fuselage
So close a red hair could not slip through
Noses nestled into leading edge wing to body nook
Intimate intricate intense with hints of restrained violence

Time stands still as the pair twirls on the edge of disaster
Bystanders cease to breathe
Then gasp with a passionate breast heave
Fingers drag across rouged lips in empathetic desire

Until the unheard music winds down
Turbines coming to a grudging halt
Air motors silenced in the evening's humid haze
Until nothing moves except the waves of dissipating heat

Stillness remains for a respectful pause
Until diesel engines roar to life
With ground support driving to the scene
To separate the entwined lovers at last

Parking them next to one another
Beneath the bright swirling clouds of living light
Until primed prepped loaded and preflighted
The living aerosculptures spin up to life

To dance their tango once again


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Take These Greys Away

I was so sick of the color grey, that I could
Literally throw up upon the sheepskin seats, stubbornly
Trying to declare to the world, that this was
Actually a really classy place to spend your work day

A mirror smooth surface, seemingly
Crying out to be touched, by the soft
Pampered fingertips of a union pilot, reminded
Me that not all in this sphere was the color of boredom

A flowing black Lucite two-way pathway
Human hands to control wheel and back
The yoke was my dark angel in the light
Staving off the madness of the grey cockpit sight

Some color in here would be nice, though at that
thought I think again twice, as I'd once
Spent six months in Guam, flying a
Douglas DC-9 whose cockpit was a jaunty seafoam green

It was simply the worst I'd ever seen
And much worse than this everyday grey
So with a glance at my guiding star in the eyebrow window
I pray for the strength to do more bitching about color today


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Steak Specials Medium Rare

Fifty feet

Twenty-five feet

Ten

Five

Touchdown

Zero to one hundred and eighty
In the time it takes to say SQUAWK
Shattering structural bonds to the tune  of cross parallel chevrons in the ribbing
Leaving skid marks an eighth of a mile long
And that grey smokey trail
Joining fifteen others
In a symphony of arrival sung by sixteen brothers

No brakes yet
Don't be a fool
As we wheelie down the two mile runway just under breakaway speeds

A firm hand on the throttles
Reaches forward six more inches
Grasping crab-hinged levers
Pulling all four backwards
Up and over to hold against the stops

Four pneumatic drive motors scream out over all the rest of the noise
Audible from even the cheapest of seats in the balcony
One hundred and sixty more decibels never sounded quite so sweet
Driving four sets of flexible driveshafts
Pushing through sixteen right angle gearboxes
The same number of horizontal jackscrews
Sliding four exhausts sleeves
That pull out eighty eight blocker doors

Hard into the ice cold fan air
Diverting it out the reversing vanes
Blowing out perpendicular to the forward thrust
And just a little bit angled to the front

Slowing the more than six hundred thousand pounds of aircraft
Just enough to drop the nose
The last two tires catching up to the rest
With a SQUAWK
A pair of skid marks
And a little more choking grey rubber smoke

Brakes now applied
As the engines still scream at three quarters throttle
Pushing the reversed thrust
Stacked steel disks begin to glow cherry red
As the speed bleeds off just a bit

A patch of ice makes the #5 tire lock up momentarily
But the anti-skid system kicks right in
Releasing both the #5 and #8 simultaneously
Before reengaging the pistons to generate more friction heat unmercifully

Just as onlookers are certain that the temperature fuse plugs in the wheels will surely melt
The heavily laden Boeing reaches the first runway turnoff

Brakes ease up
Reversers scream back into streamlined place
Making a relative quiet that has even more people staring
At the fat wide-body now waddling along the taxiway at a more sedate pace

What's the hurry?
Everyone wondered
Why the swift descent and harsh desire to get to the parking space?

These questions remained a mystery to most
As the flight crew pulled a Houdini as soon as the wooden chocks were put into place
Just a black and white blur upon the airstairs going down
With the crumpled up logbook appearing like magic in the hands of the ground mechanic
The only thing to mark their former place
As the engines hadn't even stopped turning
And the crew van was speeding away like the devil was giving chase

If someone had been near a clock
And remembered what day it was today
This mystery would have had a quick solution
For it was Steak Night Thursdays at the Airport Bar until 8
And the little hand was almost on the eight already
With the big hand just kissing the eleven


Lake St. Gunnigan in Spring

Springtime comes to Lake St. Gunnigan at last
The scattered bodies left from the winter's activity
Just start to poke up through the melting snow
Among the formal flower beds on the mayor's front lawn
Where the first budding flowers are peeking up to the light in neat little rows

Set back from the road twenty five yards or so
A two story tudor made of brick and square stone
Backed up to the long arm of the lake
Informally called Mayoral Bay
Where in the deep summertime the parties go late amidst the lit torches and the paving block patio the colour of bone

Along the West side of the property is a sparse wood of mixed conifer and hardwood
Where just about this time of March the ground softens just enough to dig a grave
And the silent servants from the sub-basement will be busy for weeks
Breaking spade and shovel handles
Only to return them to the Home Depot in Rapid City
For a no hassle exchange to get right back at it

This winter was long and dark with the snow lying deep upon the shifting ice of the lake
And the newest snowmobiles favored by the tourists are these days so very fast
Evading all but the most attractive of the traditional hooks claws and traps
Resulting in a meager five and one half holes to be dug

The strange man from New York (city unspecified)
Was so very entertaining for everyone at the pub
Right up until the second he died
Leaving his roll of cash and cashmere coat
To generously fund the honeymoon of the village treasurer and his teenaged bride

A woman from Alabama with blood so blue
That you might have done her in too
With her terrible jokes and horsefaced laugh
Making the mistake of poking fun at the local St. Gunnigan white trash
So quicker than you can say
"If that isn't the pot calling the kettle...."
She was as dead as the guy from that unspecified city in New York

The family from Wisconsin should really be classed as an accident
Though their rabid pet badger should not
Chased far out onto the ice with their hearts in their throats
Straight out from Salvage Yard Sal's property back on the 'L'
Their Ford Bronco was now just another chassis in the Ford row
To slowly sink into the ground giving more places for weeds to grow

By the time the family was fished out of the ice hole they fell into
That mom dad and too old to still be at home neer do well son
Were popsicle people only suitable for deposit in the Mayor's front garden
And that rabid badger got out of the Bronco soon after and the Sheriff had to shoot him with his gun

Soon the evidence will be gone just like every year past
The tourist trap signs will be set out to guide more people to the lake
And the mayor will tour his West property
To see how many more holes the woods can take


Monday, March 9, 2015

What Matters In The End

As the dirt filters down through the fingers in hand
A setting sun glinting through this veil of particulate
Eventually it will run out
A hand can only hold so much

But then there was sound
And this is what it said

This is the dirt that we all come from
Oh the things we said that we'd do
With this dirt that was once you
Oh the times that you had and the memories spun

Like woven strands of glass from a high school art project
Someone had just discovered how to use a torch in class
Pulling with pliers and hooking with wires
Fragile loops all gentle arcs
Attempts at hearts that were missing their parts
It didn't end up winning any awards on parent's night
But grandma put it in her picture window anyways

Because you were loved
And it didn't matter that what you did sucked

Welcome to Boneyard Town

There's a place where the birds all come to rest
Where their turbines spool down
Hydraulics bleed out
Gust locks are put on the flight controls
And the tires get chocked
When the pilots skip out of town

In this fabled place
The tails are lined up as far as you can see
This row is Boeings
And over here a long line of Lockheeds
Yonder is a pair of Convairs enjoying retirement
All mostly complete
Only missing the odd accouterment

I've got a few Douglas' left near the entrance
People like to buy them for anvils
Since they were overbuilt when new
And use has only tempered them to be harder
Some guy in Hollywood hammers out swords for the movies
Upon the back of a DC-8
While a smith in Kentucky fires horseshoes atop a DC-6
Whose propellers provide air for his furnace
And provides storage for spare steel inside of it's cargo pits

A stack of Merlin V-12's are in that back barn
I keep them out of sight and safe from harm
They live inside of their Rolls-Royce shipping crates
Covered in cosmoline
Which the rats say tastes great
No real use for them anymore
Made as they were to win an old war
Though the racers and restorers knock on my door
Begging to buy them till I tell them the score

For there is no price upon anything here
And the only way you'll walk out with whatever you hold dear
Is by answering twelve questions and staring me in the eye
Convincing me in no uncertain terms that you truly understand the why
Of the men and women who sell their souls daily just to make old things fly


Friday, March 6, 2015

Seaman First Class Hardaway ( A Tale of Earth 52.5)

The once white now grey mop head pushes the water around the endless curved corridor
The one centimeter slot that opened up as needed wherever cleaning was going on drained the excess water that found its way to it
Located dead center in the floor of the corridor
With a one quarter degree slope to the floor on either side
All the better to guide liquids where needed

The simple Maple wood handle attached to the mop was gripped in uncertain hands
That were not willing to lose their grip
Seemingly relishing the raising of several blisters from repetitive motion upon the wood grain

Water dripping into the drainage collected in small catch basins
To be gravity fed into the processing facility in the center of the ship
Which meant a vertical drop of 300 meters
Only fifteen meters shy of the radius of the ship sphere proper
Which would be measured properly from the other side of the thick bulkhead skin that formed the ceiling of the corridor

Gravity
Yet another relative luxury afforded the crews of the Pythia class ships
Equipped with powerplants based heavily upon those found on the Deimos a century ago
And having as a byproduct of their operation that little thing called gravity

It was artificial
Sure
But that almost made it all the more magical from an engineering standpoint

Need to have an area with low gravity or even no gravity for some reason?
No problem
Just adjust the prismatic controls in the deck plating
Which flies in the face of reason and logic

But no more so than a powerplant that emits a limited radius gravitational force

None of that mattered too much to our Janitorial Grade Seaman First Class here
(I know, the Naval ranking system makes little sense away from Earth sometimes; but the designation 'Spaceman First Class' never quite caught on)
As he was feeling some pretty serious pangs of homesickness

The Pythia was now sixteen folds out in her journey to an adjacent arm of the Milky Way
And currently in a fairly empty part of space

At the conclusion of each fold
Which was a fairly simple operation in and of itself
No different than going from Earth to Venus or Mars
But it was the magnitude of going one whole astronomical unit* at a go
Was what was giving everyone on board a bit of pause

Scout ships were sent to the destination coordinates each time 
Spaced one ED** apart
To take 360 degree readings and immediately return with the data
And after the area had been cleared the Pythia followed

After arrival
A minimum of seventy two hours had to be spent fixing their new position
Since the relative position to reference stars had changed so dramatically
To say nothing of the subjective position of the stars due to the change in their apparent positions from the hundreds of light years worth of position shift

After the present position had been approximated
A new bearing was taken to their destination
And a point two hundred light years further on was chosen
Scout ships sent out
Data verified
Fold performed

It was determined that they were taking a slightly curved approach to their target
But due to time and distance distortional relative movements of the Galaxy
Such a path couldn't be helped 
And all things considered
Was the safest way to go

Bringing us back around to our intrepid man in the corridor once again
Cleaning the floor
And now wiping away a tear
Feeling so far from what was once home that he gets a little dizzy trying to picture it

So he stops and puts the mop into the bucket firmly
Sitting himself down purposefully in the middle of the hall next to the drain slot
Bringing his left hand up to tap a light practiced rhythm on his earpiece
Calling out quietly "Janice?" as he did so

"Hello Jerry!" a perky brunette voice answered "How's it going?"

"Not great" Jerry replied
Sinking even deeper into his funk
"I need to talk"

"Always, honey" the disembodied woman reassured in a way that would have made anyone a believer

Jerry started pouring his problems out to Janice
His voice echoing softly down the corridor
Unapologetically sharing his fears with his personal AI

Pythia hung in featureless space
Her main flight deck alive with technicians tending to the slowly dwindling fleet of scout ships
Readying them for the next scout out which was only twenty two hours away

Six computers worked with each other across three decks
Networked with an ad hoc data cable system
Crunching the data imagery
Observations becoming numbers
Numbers becoming predictions
Placing the ship upon the map relative to points of reference

All the while
The mop water drained into the recycler
Going through strainers filters and tubes
Heated
Evaporated
Condensed
And poured into a glass for the Captain to drink

Held in a light grip
As his old eyes looked out at nothing

Waiting


*One astronautical unit; is simply a literary device at this point and a more realistic term and distance will be found

**ED = Earth Diameter


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bats and Balls

Do the words drag at you too?
Catching in your throat no matter what you do?
Catching on everything with their cruel barbs
Building up inside until you are fat
As if they were made of carbs

Flinging fast in enclosed environments
Speed of sound word bullets seem synonomous 
With bad intentions and not so idle threats
Has the sort of slow kid pulled the fire alarm yet?

If I bare my shoulders will it break your concentration?
As you know only so much is included in your ration 
Eye contact, not picking your nose, and now my shoulder too?
Whatever were we expecting when you rape us too

Boys will be boys when playing with their toys
And as long as we train them that their dick and balls are just such
We can't be surprised at the trouble the cause
At least not so very much

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Little Shoppe of Typeset

Old typewriter keys tumbled from my fingers
Like Scrooge McDuck letting gold coins fall back into his vault hoard
Making random words on the way down
Or at least the illusion of such
If an image could be snatched from every angle at every synchronous second

W-H-Y-Shift-?

That's a big question
One that I'd be happy to make up an answer to
Just like millions of charlatans before me
But I just don't have it in me anymore
As you should know

W-H-E-R-E-Shift-?

That one is easier for sure
Because the where is right here
Amidst this hoarder's wet dream of typewriter parts
All stowed in military surplus bins and Folgers coffee cans
And not the coffee cans that are foisted upon us these days either
But proper metal ones in both blue and black
With added patina scratched into them
Garnished with just he right amount of rust and coffee smell

W-H-O-Shift-?

As much as I wish it could be someone else
It really has to be me who sifts through all this mess
With enough on hand to repair one hundred Royal Silent Specials
And several crates of factory new body shells for Remington Rocket Typesets
Some roller rubber sleeves and cotton cloth bags of molded feet
Along with restoration decals for brands I'd never heard of
In materials so old they turned to gold and white dust at the touch of my fingertip
I cannot escape the fact that this should have been you doing this
Just like your father before you and his father before him
Which was exactly why we had such a multi-generational pile of things here
Bowing the shelves and buckling the walls with their weight

W-H-A-T-Shift-?

And that is the question of the day now isn't it?
What to do with this glorious cornucopia of outdated office technology
In this age of Retina smart screens and voice to text artificial intelligence
For in this city of dreams that never should have been dreamt to begin with
The gutters still needed to be cleaned when those dreams failed
Lovers needed each other
And jealousy needed its green like the emperor needed new clothes
Under these broken lights I'll hang up my hat and fix typewriters for awhile
The work table seems to be the right height
The chair looks just the right amount of broken in for me
Perhaps even the customers will come
If I only turn on the OPEN neon sign for a spell

I wasn't a very good private dick anyways
The noir always got to me in the end


Middle Aged Mus Musculus of Mars (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

Eight long whiskers split evenly side to side
With the second to the bottom one on the observed left being a hair shorter than the rest
Centered by a pert pink nose with tiny nostrils that flared in rhythm to life's steady beat
Topped by two beautiful evenly spaced black shining eyes
All just barely visible over a small mound of rust colored soil in the furthest corner of the decagon shape walled town center

All the human activity was reflected in those twin intense black orbs
As twin crystal balls capturing the present for consideration
One man shouts something
Causing a twitch to the left whiskers
And an involuntary flinch of the eyes
Though they still observed unblinkingly

In this virtually predator-free environment
This particular mouse was practically royalty
Being of the five hundred and sixty first generation spawned from the first seven grey mice to stow away in a crate of supplies just over one hundred years ago
Surviving that seven month trip in storage locker 15F of the rotating habituation ring

If he had been human
There would have been no doubt much consternation as to how many generations exactly counted towards his personal total
And for the purposes of discussion we will say that the generational count began when the crate of flour and sugar was placed upon the high orbit transport at the Ecuadorian slingshot facility
(This of course all taking place before the Enrichment Facility Disaster of 2575 which rendered most of that country uninhabitable)

Upon landing and unloading at the first permanent colony of Homesport just West of Arcadia
Those several hundred initial mouse pioneers made their way onto a brave new world right along with the humans
Whose efforts to eradicate the mouse colony during the flight had served only to maintain a slight holding action at best
As told by the only modest increase in their population numbers in-transit

In all of this particular mouse's one hundred and twenty days
He hadn't seen activity such as this however
With sixty-two of the humans gathered within the town center
Surrounded by the ten sided walls of brown stuccoed black rock that was all too typical of post-Martian town infrastructure across the planet

The one human upon the raised platform directly opposite of the mouse observation point was making much louder mouth noises than the rest of them
Who were all facing him in a semi-circle
And clustered closely and comfortably in that mouse's opinion

Just as the small creature was considering losing interest in this decidedly non-food event
One more human entered the enclosed area just to the left of his corner
Drawing the whisker-nose-eye assemblage to bear upon this new intruder
Who was wearing a much bulkier set of outer covering over his body than any of the other humans in attendance

Screaming the loudest this mouse has ever heard
The new human blurted out a short burst of sound which meant not a thing to the mouse
But sounded like this:
"WE HAVE BEEN JUDGED UNWORTHY OF THIS UNIVERSE
EMBRACE THE INEVITABLE WITH ME BROTHERS!!"

Almost at the same time the hundreds of nerves at the base of all six vibrasse tingled in exactly what fans of a certain vintage comic book hero would call "Spidey Sense"
Causing the mouse to demonstrate one of the unusual facets of their existence upon Mars
And the source of much consternation amongst the human scientists

The fact that the mice of Mars did not suffer the same reduction in strength versus their Earth counterparts that the humans did

Pushing off as hard as he could from the firm mound of dirt he had been resting upon
The small quadrupedal body shot backwards into the only crack in the walls of the town center walls
With a speed that would have astounded his home world ancestors
Immediately whereupon the same mound of dirt was blown backwards as well
Stuffing the crack in the wall with its mass almost all the way to the back reaches of the void
Leaving our small observing protagonist face to dirt and rump to stone
With only six millimeters of breathing room

A small drop of blood formed upon the mouse's left earlobe
Leaking from the ruptured ear drum on that side
Finding gravity at last to fall from the still quivering pointed furry head
To the dry red hard ground
Beading like water upon a waxed surface momentarily
Before finding fissures upon the surface and being drunk eagerly by the suddenly vampiric planet

Leaving our mouse friend to gather his wits and escape somewhat unsteadily down the mouse size passage that would lead him back outside the walls
Adapting quickly already to only having one inner ear to steady himself
And thinking of a small bakery he knew of that usually had bits of bread under the cutting table to eat

Forgetting already of whatever that was that had frightened and injured him only minutes ago
Moving forward and living in the moment
In a now virtually human-free town



That Kid's Got a Future!

You are magical
Now don't let it get away
Think deep monkey thoughts
Dream big every single day

Put on your pants one leg at a time
Or throw them in the air
And jump right inside
Either way is just mighty fine

Your compass is calibrated
Your fuel tanks topped off
There's no telling how far you'll go
With legs so strong and mentality so tough

Wherever you do end up
Remember you can always come home
Though home might not be exactly where you left it
Not being necessarily a point on a map that wouldn't ever roam

Home is a safe place
And out there is not necessarily so
But with your head held on tight
We all think that you'll do all right

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boatman of Mars (A Tale of Earth 52.5)

Greenhouse complex 7B dominated the near horizon
Panes of locally made crystal glass angled just about right upon its roof to reflect a harsh glare into my eyes at this time of day
Causing the black jagged edges of the Hellas Montes range in the distance beyond it to stand out starkly

My eyes hurt now from gazing off into the light
So I dropped them to the water to follow the movement of my pole
As it pushed the small canal barge along in a steady rhythm powered mostly by yet another strange system left behind by the Martians when they disappeared long ago

The twelve foot pole which was made of a queer blonde colored semi-metallic material that was about fifty millimeters in diameter with micro ridges cast into the surface right where my hands naturally fell upon it

The pole fit perfectly into a system of holes spaced along the bottom of the three meter deep canal
Roughly conical in shape
They pulled upon the pole at first
Helping to guide it into the hole
Then when the pole was firm upon the bottom and at an approximate 30 degree angle
A force that humans were yet to explain acted upon the pole
Forcing it slowly up to a vertical position
And continuing to the opposite 30 degree angle before the hole released the pole
Both ejecting the pole end and guiding it to the next hole with invisible hands

It was an elegant, if slow, system of movement for a more civilized bygone age
Allowing boatmen like myself to use the force of the poles to push boats along the canals
By simply hanging onto the poles with our feet planted firmly to the decks
Usually braced by small blocks for leverage when loaded with cargo bound for the various villages and towns along the canal systems

If you needed something shipped on the cheap
I was your man
Though for speed, albeit with an accompanying proportional expense
There were self propelled boats of more recent manufacture to provide it

I didn't much approve of those newer boats
Or the other things we were doing with increasing frequency to change this stark alien landscape to better suit us
And to look more like what everyone thought of as home
Though 'home' was more Mars than Earth at this point for most of the people here now

With the first generation settlers growing fewer with each passing year
And the second and third generations taking over the day to day running of the colonies
This was where most of us were born and bred now

I felt we didn't need to be beholden to any notion of what it ought to look like
Unless we came up with it ourselves

Phobos broke the horizon to the West
Rising quickly under my watchful eyes
To the tune of the steady small water sounds of the pole
And the hull gently splooshing the water aside from the stubby prow

Eyes turned skyward again my  mind wandered with them
Out past captured asteroid moon Phobos
To about where I knew Deimos made its much slower way around the planet

Ever since the Houston-Shklovsky discovery of the 20th century
That the smaller moon was an artificial satellite of Mars
(and for a short time the same was suspected of Phobos)
Mankind just couldn't wait to get here to investigate it
Even more than the abandoned canals and cities
Deimos had captured our imagination the most
And it had provided the greatest rewards as well

First with robotic eyes
Then peered at through the helmets of pressure suits
The small moon that could really only be called a spaceship
Had revealed her secrets slowly
And advancing our knowledge of propulsion and design theory every step of the way

I'd visited there as a child
On school field trip
And looking back I can still feel the jaded boredom I'd felt at the time
Trapped inside my barely adolescent body I'd not appreciated what I was seeing
Because after all everyone knows where our current tech came from
It is ancient history now
Especially to a twelve year old boy who knew already that his lot in this life was to grip a boat pole on the canals

But now I yearn for those days
When there were more possibilities
When I actually cared to know where to find the Earth in the sky

At that thought I tried to seek it out again
Looking in the quadrant of sky I figured it to be in
Until I found it
Shining like a beacon ever so brightly

A little too brightly perhaps
With more of a pulse to the light than I remembered

Just then the comm box in the wheelhouse rattled what it thought was an alert
But was really just a hollow buzzing noise
Since I'd long ago removed the guts to the alert mechanism out of sheer annoyance

"Vid relay!"
I called out
And the head sized screen just inside the doorway swiveled to face me
Where upon its face a loop of text was doing a slow march across the screen

~Emergency Notice: Report to your town center for dissemination of information~

This was repeated over and over with no elaboration
Which meant one of two things I figured
Either it was nothing important and the local governments just wanted to puff out their chests to make people show up
Or it was something really big and they wanted us contained in the walled town centers before they told us

Well
I'm half a day away from the nearest town
So whatever it is can wait I suppose

Sploosh - stir stir - Sploosh
The old canal boat made a steady speed upon the water
Bordered by the half meter short walls that lined every canal on the planet
Cut from black stone into blocks
The twin black lines disappeared into the horizon like old train tracks from the picture books
Just as they had before people had come here
Just like they would long after we were gone