Ode to Ink, Author, and Ingenuity

As I walk, slow step by slow step, along the ash shelves filled with volumes upon volumes, I feel a peace of silent companionship.

Curated smells pervade my senses at each individual dealer: inside of Literati, the aroma of fresh donuts rounding the corner down the hall makes my mouth liquify in anticipation; at Full Circle, the perfume of smoking embers and ground Arabica coffee intertwine to remind me of the joys of winter, even in the summer months; the bouquets of Unhurried Wonder and Timbered Stillness sweeten and slow my steps surrounded by the whispers of a world of unknown authors in Commonplace; and a cacophony of malt, umami, tea leaves, and intoxicating candles assail my senses at Word of Mouth, in the bustling 8th Street Market.

The silent companionship continues permeating the air I breathe while my eyes slide over the tomes; becoming entangled in thrilling and curious titles and on dust jackets that should find their way into art museums. Besides those things, it feels as though I am shaking every imaginable hand belonging to different authors with identities too numerous and varied to conceive. I am surrounded by voices that yearn to be shared. I feel as though I need to speak my gratitude to every one of these authors and thank them for their effort and time; simultaneously I feel the urge to apologize to those same creators: I apologize because I wish that I could read faster, pay them more for their creations, or relate and understand their work on a level far greater than I currently do. The learning and growth that would fulfill these feelings will come slowly in time, of course; but just as the pages and the voices are always adding to greater and greater numbers, so my desires to show my appreciation and thanks will never stop growing and changing depending on the voices I need to hear at any individual point in my life.

These stores that hold the voices are vaults. Untold riches inside of each wide-open safety deposit box begging to be withdrawn, cleaned out, and investigated so that no valuable piece is left unturned, or unfound.

The silent companionship holds conversations all around me: Doyle and Flynn speak of the modern mystery; Austen and Saunders ponder life and philosophy; and Baldwin attempts with Franzen to connect over hardship and human nature across completely alien generations. So many voices, clamoring to be heard, yet also speaking as close friends in this atmosphere of discovery.

I long to hear every one of these new and unheard conversations; to explore cultures and fantastic planets that will never exist in my world; hungering for cuisines that I’ve never heard of; learning to empathize with those that have been strong enough to live the lives I would not be able to; and yet even with the tantalizing promise of new and undiscovered, my heart thrills and plummets at the thought of stepping once again into Danielewski’s impossible hallway and unending staircase.

How is one supposed to decide? Pages stacking rapidly and exponentially, every day accelerating faster than the speed of light, outpacing the sluggish movement of my eyes and the numbered days left in my heart’s ability to beat.

As I slide a book from in between it’s companions, the silent companionship utters a whisper like sand over the lip of a dune on Arrakis as I if it has to offer what my literary soul, my inexperienced and unsure mind, and my unquenched irises crave.

My eyes alight upon The Count of Monte Cristo, upon The Books of Jacob, and upon Dandelion Wine, and I wonder, is my consciousness mature enough to devour and and discern these valuable lessons, these invaluable perspectives? My fear says no, but Adler disagrees and hands me the tools to change my mind. I open Adler’s priceless yet simply titled list of directions on how to immerse myself yet further into the silent companionship and the lessons it offers. As I reach out and the weight of the work pushes my hands closer to the tilled Earth, sweet bread bathed in lemon and lavender ascends into my nose and triggers my olfactory process; reminding me of my surroundings and where I am, or was last left. Near me, a rolling ladder creates a brief yet cherished orchestra every time a curious mind ascends to the highest tiers of shelves.

Behind walls and across aisles, whispering lips impart an atmosphere of secrecy, respect, and excitement as conversation seasons the air with wonder and curiosity.

How does one choose a singular voice among the millions that one hears?

In a galaxy of galaxies to adventure and be brought to a singularity of awe by, do you blindly pinch a spine and pull? Do you let your eyes tell your mind which color and design magnetizes your curiosity? Or do you find yourself being drawn to the familiar that you have already explored those far away lands and concepts with, simply because the shared intimacy of reader and writer opening up their minds to each other creates comfort that calls to be experienced again and again?

To the dealers of the addictively compelling unknowns; I owe much to you, I curse you for showing me the moreish exhilaration of the unending cascade of pages, and I thank you for the exact same reason.

There must be a perfection, a rapturous nirvana that pervades the act and existence of creating and creation. Perhaps this is where the intoxicating comfort of belonging flows from that floats through the air of these bookstores like a perfume. Perhaps the sweetness of creation and dwelling in it and being surrounded by it is the reason we read these words and write these stories. Perhaps that is our attempt at drawing near to the genesis of the lives and existence we inhabit. Perhaps these dynamic words that I insatiably surround myself with are primordial seeds scattered from an origin of existence; an inception point that must be found at some far away level of the fractal of incomprehensible existence that we inhabit. Perhaps the silent companionship is far more tangible and personal than I realize. Perhaps.

Payment Failed

This 100 word micro-fiction story was a submission to the NYC Midnight writing contest. The prompts were as followed: genre: horror, action: making a down payment, needed word: piece.

Unfortunately the story didn’t rank in the winning top fifteen, but it still felt worthy of being read.

A funny bit of information about myself: I grew up loving horror (Stephen King for example), and any media that had a surreal, supernatural, or unexplainable plot (House of Leaves/Mark Z. Danielewski for example). These days, I find myself mostly avoiding reading horror (though House of Leaves remains my favorite book) and practically never writing it. With that being said, I felt pretty good about the end product, even if it pushed me outside of my comfort zone with the genre and content I wrote. With that, below is “Payment Failed.”

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Years ago, at Dominion’s Conception Superstore, we sold our innocence to afford the down payment we made on Ayanna’s life subscription.

Today, Dominion returned with a gavel-like knocking as Ayanna played blissfully in the garden.

Their associate beamed. “Good day. I’m Reaper. I’m here to repossess the child due to subscription payment failure.”

“Please. No.”

“Request denied. Payment failure limit reached.”

I hadn’t heard Ayanna come inside. She handed me a Chrysanthemum. Reaper smiled down at her.

“Excellent. She will be recycled piece by piece to fuel our workers.” As they departed, he yelled: “Please remember to rate your purchase!”

God’s Pencil

I think that God must be
a writer, a creator so free.

I think, as I write in the sleeping air of eve,
That God must be sitting in
the delicious air all around
and beside me, Him.

God’s presence is harmony: every scent, every sight, sound and purposeful
written in that crushing comfort of love, flowing into us all.

I think God must enjoy,
the feeling of a favorite writing tool.
Inky cosmos in place of a quill.
Stars wielded instead of lead spilled.
And sunsets dyeing
instead of crayons trying
to capture the kaleidoscope of hope
full colors, as God masterfully washes his horizons with
strokes that will time,
and time again, elicit unending awe and scope

In a future, so distant, yet so familiarly far, God waits.
God tells: don’t rush, enjoy this time here yet, You
know to slow, know to pause.
What is correct without flaws washed away,
our eraser remains,
our lessons unlearned, until the days stains are,
and the graphite of regret, is wiped and cleaned
by God’s unblemished.
We, the written, are redeemed.

God’s pencil is life, a tool unparalleled.
We but imitate, impersonate,
and attempt to model perfection beheld.

Our potential rests quietly, unmoving, untapped.
But when the author shares
that his pencil is for us and each other,
that life is in fact also our story to write of, partake of, to wield uncapped
for our brothers,
we dip our plume of love into the hallowed ivory inkwell
and pen a loving epilogue for life
that no ravenous darkness can erase or quell.

God must write,
His signature is upon it.
For who, or what else, could weave a tale
as poetic and tragic and hopeful and careful
as our own;
a mysteriously radiant candle.