Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.

The First Bubble

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       I’m eight and I can’t wait to grow up. When I see my parents and their friends, with their towering legs and confident smiles; I really want to grow up. Those grown ups pile me into minivans and take me to my favorite sports and activities. I get to scream down a water slide, I take a chance on a three legged race and I throw my first frisbee to a teenager who is undoubtedly humoring me and my exuberance. I can’t tell his smile is fake yet, I’m not even aware there’s a scale that tips to the side of unjust behavior. Because, right then, I’m eight and everything is fair. Even when my sister gets the Red Ranger, it’s fair because my mother says so and I can accept that. My mother is an adult, and they have experiences I’ve never even cracked a book that alludes to them.

      Then I turn nine and I’m all legs, freckles and nose. I’m the kid with the big mouth, but it’s a big mouth with a smile. It runs like a child downstairs to a christmas tree, but I’m nine and all I want to do is share everything I just saw and know with everyone I just met. But, being nine and excitable it’s inventible that I’m clumsy as well. I get so busy wanting to catch your eyes, your attention, so we can share and enjoy this life together. Sometimes I knock things over, because when you’ve got a unstoppable mouth, it doesn’t give your brain much room to organize a space for coordination. So, to break it down – I’m nine along with being a furniture and porcelain collectable hazard.

      Then comes nine and a half, when I’m pretty darn proud of my new jumper. It isn’t a brand name, but I feel like a farmer and when I get home from school I’m going to go find a whole bunch of acorns and grind them into a paste that I’ve decided is just the same as flour. I don’t get to do it that day, because that’s the day I find out there’s a scale in my life that adults have already begun to tip out of my favor. I’m at my desk and playing with my jumpers buttons, just so I’m prepared to get out of it in the case of a bathroom emergency. Big mouths also ignore urgent bladders. It’s about then, when I’m fidgeting with my button and hook when I hear about one of my friends birthday parties. I perk up because I am nine and a half and birthdays are a real big deal, especially when its people that I’ve come to consider my friends. I start to listen in, sliding forward on my wooden seat to get closer to the two girls whispering. Between them, I see a little glimmer of a scale – because right then, I realize this birthday party has already happened; they’re talking in the past tense. As they continue, one cup of the scale drifted downward, holding a growing pool of an oil so black that not even light brings a blue glimmer across it. That cup had sagged lower because between the two of them, one of which was the former birthday girl, I had inducted that the entire grade had been invited to her celebration. Everyone but me.

      I still saw that scale, hanging there, but I didn’t know what it was for yet. It didn’t have the power to scare me, but it certainly unnerved me. A dozen thoughts ran through my head for awhile that never reached my usual motor mouth; had I missed the invitation? Did my mother not check the voice mail? Could I have forgotten to check my locker? I knew these girls, they were my friends and I was not afraid of the scale yet so I wanted to apologize for missing her birthday. I didn’t know what a cad yet was, but I felt like one. I eased out of my seat and came up to their desks. They went silent and now the whole scale looked like it had weight, it wasn’t a mirage anymore.

      So I gave them my smile, because even though their sudden silence was awkward, it couldn’t dim my faith right then. I loved them because we did crafts together, I loved them because we made forts to keep the boys at bay during recess. I would learn this word later, but if I had known it then, I would have called them my comrades. So I was going to make amends. You should never miss an opportunity to apologize to your friends.

This kid with the big mouth facing an eerie scale and silence held her hand out and apologized, “I’m sorry I missed your birthday.”

Birthday-girl was quiet and pushed her pencil into the crevice in the desk that kept it from rolling away, “You weren’t invited.”

      I don’t think my smile faltered, because even with the scale and her expression I didn’t believe her. Children played jokes, not adults. So I played along and asked her why I couldn’t come, so you know, I could make a joke about smelling funny or something – because the tension was like waiting to get your graded spelling paper back.

Then she and her friend looked up at me and the not-birthday-girl answered, “Her mother didn’t want you to come. She was afraid you’d break something.”

      If you could string together a couple of words to stop that motor mouth of mine, it was those ones. They could’ve even been said in pig-latin and I would’ve clammed up. I pushed my hands into my pockets and knew that scale in front of me was something that wasn’t ever going to get prayed, wished or bargained away. An adult woman had invited 51 fellow class-mates and left out a single one, not by accident, but by intention.

      I was nine and a half and that was the day I realized that being an adult is just a matter of how long you’ve been on this earth, not how long you’ve had to do good deeds and grow in character.

I grew up, but really after that day, I dreaded it.


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It may very well appear that this website is in a coma, but the writer is not.

Content to follow, shifting from the snippets to the Illustrated Snippet.



“I messed up again, didn’t I?”

We sat on a grassy island, wrapped by a cold stream.

Keith stretched his legs until his heels almost skimmed the water. “Yeah, a little.”

I drew my legs up to my chest, wrapping my arms around my knees. “I keep taking it out on every one else, and when I’m not, I’m at my own throat.”

He smiled that lazy smile, rolling over onto his back and propping his head up with the palm of his hand. “You know there’s only one person who can judge you. You don’t keep having to weigh your own sins and kindness against one another.”

I rested my face against my forearms, nose tucked into the space of my left elbow. “I haven’t heard Him in a long time. All he does is reach down to earth and pull me away from disaster. Then He’s gone. I’m still without any answer to where I’m supposed to go.”

Keith reached out and wrapped his hand around my golden brown braid. He stroked it down until it ended at the small of my back. “You’re standing in front of yourself.”

The affection only pushed me towards a quiet weeping, tear drops dusting the fine blonde hairs on my arms. “I can’t see beyond myself.”

“Bingo, kiddo. You know you can. Maybe one day you won’t need me anymore. Maybe you won’t need any of us anymore.”

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I put a picture away, I fold up a letter. I cry. I know this is natural, that this is healthy. It’s just something I’ve never done before. My memories wind into my DNA, using those curving ladders and their sparkling seats as home. I don’t know how to undo it, to break it apart and send those feelings flying would be breaking apart my very self. Whatever I am, whoever I am, whatever I’m going to become.

I take a breath and put my head in my hands. I feel my hair slump over my fingers. I’ve reached the two roads and there’s no sign post. There’s no warnings. I can’t just walk straight ahead, there’s a dark gulf between them that I know is bottomless. Sitting at the point is no option either, my choice to remain still would rob the color from my hair and bleach my corneas bone white.

Either way is hard. Either way is perilous. One road welcomes me with willow trees and a path as soft as moss. The other is murky, uncertain of itself, in the space of a blink the curves ahead can twist into unconquerable loops. I’ve never taken the easy way out, that much I know about my character; I also know things have never been easy for me, and my triumphs over the many darknesses that have followed me since my childhood have served to make me resilient.

I know sometimes I step up to the arena to fight a battle that I know I cannot win. I take blow after blow, spitting out blood and teeth for a dream I’m not even optimistic about. I torture myself with the possibilities, I torture myself with what I’ve lost. I’m under the bright lights and I cannot see anything beyond the ropes keeping me inside. I tell myself I don’t need to be rescued: I beg to be rescued. I want to stop this brutality on my soul, I want to crawl away from the kicks battering at my ribs.

I want the path that makes me happy. I want. I want. I never knew I could want. I never knew I could want something for myself. My life has been by proxy, living in the smiles and tears of others. Now my body burns from the inside, calling out for the hand to lift me away from it all. My Lord saved my soul, now I want someone to save my life. I used to feel that it was weak to need, to open up, to use someone’s shoulder when I’m stumbling. I wanted to be the horse that steadfastly carried my loved ones to safe havens, crossing whatever perilous land ahead.

I don’t want to be a means to an end for anyone anymore. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be a saint. I just want to turn my face up into the autumn wind and not have tears running back towards my temples. I want to stop telling myself I’m alone, spinning away with no tether to the ground. If I am water, then always, I will fall back to earth. I have to remember that.

I want to be the rain that fills someone’s upturned hands. I want to be a precious heat inside of someone’s heart.

I want, I want, I want.

And thank God.


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We went over to the house I was raised in to check in on the state of lawn, pool, hedges and etc…

The pool was green. No surprise. Anyone we’ve ever hired to take care of it seems to be stricken with the auto-immune disease of lazy.

While dad was flushing the pool, I went down to the lower yard. The little playhouse that I never spent the night in, even though I told my ten year old self that I would every night of the summer – was long gone. It’s been gone several years actually, since it became the moldy crooked little house full of hornets and centipedes.

I saw indentions on the ground of all the big and tiny holes I had dug during my childhood. I loved to dig, mostly with my hands. I’d make complex tunnels and caves for our puppies to explore. I didn’t just dig, every summer that we spent out at the marina, I’d be chipping away at the limestone exposed on one of the big hills. I’d find a shard and start carving elaborate buildings into the face of the stone. They weren’t great, but I had made a change in a substance that had been around long before me. I don’t know if my desire to change the landscape around me was to connect myself with something, as people were more balloons to me. Sometimes I had ahold of the string, but most of the times I just let go.

It didn’t take me long to find Milo’s old tennis balls. They were stripped of their outer fuzz, half collapsed and full of tiny sprouts of clover. I took all that I found and put them in a safe place by the pool. I didn’t want another run of the lawnmower to shred them into oblivion. Just as my parents were calling me to leave, which I don’t blame them at all — it’s sweltering out here, I looked down and saw a red circle completely even with the ground. I hunkered down and brushed enough dirt off of it to recognize what it was. The object was one of Milo’s frisbees and just like that, I had my hands in the dirt again. The protectant Sally Hanson nail care flaked away during the first few scrapes. Then the nails started growing ragged and the space beneath grew thick with dry soil. I got one finger under the lip of the frisbee and lifted it free. I’m not the sort of person that smiles to themselves when they’re alone. But this time I did, I felt a little curl starting at the corners of my mouth as I carried the frisbee and bald tennis balls back up to the pool.

Most of my past is buried. Literally.


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I feel like I’m playing a game of black jack.

I’ve got a good set of cards.

Problem is, anytime I start thinking I’m lucky – I lose that streak. Funny thing, that. Auto-humble.

But that’s okay. Whatever I want, I’m going to work hard for it. And when it starts working out, I’m not just going to cruise. I’m going to bust my ass even more.

The writing is going well. I never liked writing on paper because I hated the lag time. Typing seemed a hell of a lot faster. But when I wrote Tides I was sitting exhausted on a plane back from Jamaica. It hit me like the wall of a skating rink. I borrowed a pen from the steward and set to work. My deadline was the flight landing. I knew if I had a break, I’d lose what was coming. When I type, I stop myself – I’m constantly pausing to think too damn much. To make the sentence perfect the first time, so I never had to edit.

But something about putting pen to paper makes you honest with your skill level. The most famous books, ones that will be classics for all time, were done this way. It was quill and paper. It was blood and prison walls.

Maybe this first story ain’t perfect, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. A piece can be like a child to me. It can get colicy and cough in your face. Other times it backfires when the kid has his hands in his pants in a grocery store.

But sometimes, just sometimes. It’s something different all together, and whatever it is crawls inside you and stretches your bones until you’re an whole inch taller. Closer to whatever it is that writers reach for. Closer to changing the lives you love, to strangers, and spreading like wildfire towards the next generation. It’s not immortality. It’s about waking up the mortals to pictures of all sizes.

I have more than enough acacia wood to make frames for whatever I dream of. Whatever I create. That tree of life is alight and I’ll let it illuminate my way for as long as it wills me to.

Because I won’t be a rose bud anymore.

Jamaica: First Impression

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The air is humid here, it sticks to your skin like the quick slap of a moist sheet. But just as soon as the perspiration slicks your skin, the breeze – a constant salty surge – steals it away towards the starving flora. Raphael tells me that it should rain soon. I can see this part of the land needs it. The trees on the many hillsides are a vibrant green, but there is a fragility to their branches – as if they were as hollow as reeds. I wonder if the grass will crackle like fire beneath my feet.

We are further along now, the trees grow higher as they spread up what has now become small mountains. To the left of me I see the ocean. The water breaks in a way I am unfamiliar with. As far as I can see over the ocean, whose colors change in such a way that I think of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Swirls of aqua marine run with the erratic-ness of paint dripping down an uneven surface. The waves come across to me as disorganized. Schizophrenic, they roll in foamy crashes with no allegiance to the greater swells. The beaches of Florida, the waves come in thick lines, timely reshaping the shore. Here they appear as a flipped sky full of scattering doves.

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I have twelve foot ceilings because a huge and scary dinosaur has chased me all my life.

Without me knowing, he contacted my real estate broker and secured enough space for him to be comfortable. Furthermore, I believe the dinosaur ordered the mirrors atop my ten foot doors. After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than lumbering outside with a chunk of my hair and scalp wedged between incisor and canine.

I’d bet he’s probably unsettled with my move, after all, during our Tom and Jerry escapades he had plenty of room. Out in the alabama sky, he had all the head room in the world to hunt me from house to house.

I also have a large suspicion that this dinosaur suffers from dissociative identity disorder. As I have not been gobbled up yet, his greatest and most successful effort has been to make me hurry to every destination. I could be heading to the market or stumbling for a midnight pee, but I assure you – I’ll be moving at a steady clip. So in conclusion, he may have been trying to trim the fat rather than plump me up.

Does anyone know therapists that can possibly help dinosaurs that believe they’re enjoying steady enjoyment as my personal trainer?

I say dinosaurs, plurally, because I am positive at one point I had one wedge into an abandoned refrigerator box. And anyone reading this knows that once you’re within the boundaries of a refrigerator box, only your mother and a dinosaur can get past that cardboard fortress.

Additionally, it wasn’t my mother. The occupant had carrion breath, and I know without a doubt my mom is a religious brusher. While these dinosaurs may have been chasing me, I have not yet found a rinsing cup fitted for scaly beasts missing opposable thumbs.

All I am saying is this, what did I ever do to be pursued by these guys? Maybe I need to break my concerns down into bullet points. All great men solve problems by making lists.

- I have not willfully mocked dinosaurs or made gigantic omelets. I also have never left a glass of water out to tempt them to stomp around me to watch the ripples go. Never encourage the ego of a dinosaur. These are basic guidelines we all know.

-How could I have possibly not only attracted dinosaurs, but a pack of them bent on simply making me run from point A to point B?

-Is it possible for dinosaurs to inherit or make infectious this habit of chasing me down? Could either one of these theories explain how it went from just one tyrannosaurus rex to several, all with the same fixation?

I’m concerned.


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Absurdity once again strikes, needling me in the back of the head when I’m positive it’s cold enough outside to reassure me that reality is some serious business.

Not that I’m saying having my nose frozen is a good indicator that we’re not our own illusion, but the helplessness we suffer over the involuntary nose dripping does give pause to one’s confidence in our own control over bodily functions.

I think of the way I titter at permanent markings – the wobbly inked tattoos, grossly stretched piercings and keloid scars of enraged youths.  Doubtlessly, these people confront their decorations every day – whether by mirror, rolling up a sleeve or the second-look-head-snap of a gawker.  

What do I got?  Hypocritical hoops.  Twin bands of metal that wrap around my all too large left ear, capture beads securing them from any spontaneous itch to remove.  One, to love – the other to contain love.  The steel has become fingers in my lifebloods stream, doing what they can to slow the furious rush down just a knot or two.

But the most important reminder is the triangle of twisted white flesh at the base of my thumb, the raised blemish that has been with me for over thirteen years.  The day Otis died, when my flustered parents did all they could to shield me from his mangled body, all my concentration – truly – was on the last thing he ever gave me.  It was a gouge from his dew claw, where he jumped up onto my hips and danced with his thick mottled paw pads between my naked bony feet.  I went to push him down and then away in disgust once his eagerness left my skin split and blood running.

He was gone when the wound was still raw and angry.  He was rotting, his fat fuzzy belly distending and straining as my cut knitted and scabbed.  So I began to scratch, like I could sink my own hands into Alabama red clay and rescue him from the worms.  I pulled at the scab, I traded neosporin for lemon juice and salt.  As the maggots found their way around the deflating orbs of his eyes, skating across the foggy lenses – my cut filled with the sap of scar tissue.

Otis, the absurdity is this.  I did so much, and so little, to remember you – but in the end, the very process that consumed you and I fought to never forget will take me too.  I will become a viscous puddle of cells, and maybe, one day, the wound no one will want to disappear.

What’s an apologetic?

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Dear Whosawhatsis,

I would like to write about a few things that have occurred to me that I’ve overlooked.  Or ignored.  The latter is far more likely.

So I’m thinkin’.  There’s quite a few people I don’t communicate with on the sole principle that they’ve gone and pissed off the few people I care about.  Well, some of them have done a little more then pissin’ on absorbent berber.  That’s asides the point.  I don’t talk to them out of the bloody rule in the south that you don’t go buddying up to knuckleheads that have reamed your kinfolk.  

It’s a rough realization knowing that behavior can be likened to sheets of metal pounded in over storm windows during a hurricane.  We do an awful lot to keep our honor intact.  I walk away the instant I feel someone’s looking down their nose at me, or curling their lip in some smarmy gear-up for a ‘verbose bashin’.  

Then I’m partway down the sidewalk with my pride, honor and dignity and I’m struck still by the frozen smile of the maid halfway down the stairs to a stately home.  The homeowner is irate, slinging insults in such a way that they were her embodied frustrations slimed up into little leeches.  Really  no other way to put it, the lady had a bad day and she was flickin’ leeches at the maid holding about fifty pounds of laundry on her way out to figure out how she was going to get the merlot stains out of those 500 thread monstrosities. 

She damn well stood there.  Smiling.  Listening to the ranting, raving, her eyelashes not even fluttering when the sticky bodies of pent up bitterness bounced off her weathered cheeks.  I’m thinking, if I was there, I’d be up those stairs feeding the lady that premium manure she more than likely insists on ordering for her goofy looking porch plants.

But you know what?  I don’t got nothing to lose.

That worker does.  She’s smilin’ because she’s ten times braver then I am.  She’s a hundred times more patient than I.  All she’s got to do is smile, lower her eyes and get into her car that don’t got more then 10k left on it’s sputtering corpse.  Because you know what?  She’s taking that pay check home.  Her kid is going to get lunches at school, her bills are going to get paid and they won’t be eating out of the bean-crock for another week.  

So I’m sitting here and thinkin’ guys .. I’m coming to the conclusion I don’t really know what honor or dignity is.  I don’t know.  

And I’m willing to bet, you don’t either.