Ice, Run, and Permission

Come with me to the river,
The ice is broken tonight.
Shed gilded robes of comfort,
Free form of frozen future.
Water cuts like knives through veins,
No comfort from memory.
Only know the one promise,
And safety found in numbers.
The least punishment is death.
Does ridicule last that long?
But chosen paths of warfare,
Defiant claims- they all are lies.

 

Performance, respite.
Ascend with each step.
Reach forward to win.
Revel in limelight.
Inspect every mask.
Share with one father.
Home is the next right.

 

Question motives, hopes, and what my eyes are set on,
Inspect the tail, head, teeth; judge it to be wanting.
Critique and appraise, and search for any mistake.
Press and console, give words of what life really is.
The L.E.D. glow mixes well with comfort fish.
Realize the salmon is swimming upstream now,
And only one nod is needed for permission.

The Lies I Lead

[Another poem from a currently unnamed set. The original work was just the first two stanzas, but the others came as I worked on revising and rethinking the pieces.]

 

With Certainty I spoke a truth that I alone could see.
My voice was loud with trumpets proud before the silent three.
Yet rather than a chorus poured to mimic all I’d said,
An empty hall with all who saw, my worldview truly bred.
So stood I there with such a care, I looked upon my needs.
I saw at last where ignorance’ grasp, had grown up from small seeds.

Eternal Hell amidst the spell of all we hope to gain,
A fiery pit, your souls will fit, I’ll send them as I reign.
I’ll sit on high in cloudless sky, my dreams of what should come,
You disagree? Ha, I’ll fix thee. I’ll mock you to your grave.
My mind’s dead to all unsaid, alien and truth estrange.
Within my sight is all that’s right. Your dreams will have to change.

And there it rots, the strange worldview- rest well in purgatory.
Perhaps one day you’ll come and gaze upon me in my glory.
For gilded halls, or filth-stained stalls, depends on whom you ask,
But such the place I rest and face myself in solitude.
None wonder if I sweep or shift the grime of ignorance.
But all expect at least some speck of good-faith called “open.”

So obvious it might seem now that my life should just change.
Things would work out, were I no lout, but listened to the range.
Yet I can’t stop but wonder if the thought that is so closed,
Is also preaching open thinking to all who oppose.
Is my worldview just so askew as to forget its place?
Or are the lines of open minds the truth devils in red?

So back to start, your mind must move like piece upon the board,
A new theory from thoughts dreary, until some sense restored.
What, I move too and sit and stew upon the problem now?
No not for I, the task to try and create some real results.
I like the lie I choose to lead of intellect and grace.
Perspectives are so stuck and hard to move and then replace.

 

© 2013 R. P. McDonald.

Silent Lamb

[[A few notes before this piece, I think.

This is a flashfict (fanfict) I did over the summer as a mental workout. The intent was to try and touch on a very very grim story while retaining a sense of dignity regarding the character. In short, I didn’t want the reader to see every moment of what was going to happen, yet I wanted them to have a very real and accurate idea of what occurred.

The end result was this two and a half page piece. The character Mayhoof is one I played in the video game World of Warcraft. She was a favorite of mine given her physical disabilities (inability to speak, as well as a permanently ruined arm). The assumption is that the reader would already have a very good picture of where things were taking place, which is why I follow a more minimalistic approach to details.

All that said, enjoy this short story!]]

 

She was not harming anyone that day. Mayhoof had been sitting on the curbside, her face looking up to the Cathedral with not a word spoken of prayer or muse. Innocence and hope resonated from this woman despite the numberless months she had waited for her miracle.

Her presence had not gone unnoticed. Sometimes a clergyman or nun would throw a few copper pieces at the woman, though they never risked a second look down to the lame beggar. Guards too had observed the Draenei, but these men were not the lions of Stormwind. They were wolves, which only wore the skins of the noble animal as a guise.

“Hey there! What’s a pretty girl like you doin’ all by your lonesome then?” The man speaking wore full plate armor, his visor down. His tabard was neat and unwrinkled, but his shield was not at his side. With him was a second guard of similar appearance, and who spoke next.

“Poor thing. Think She talks? Sure hasn’t the last couple o’ times.” He said.

Mayhoof indeed said nothing. She looked up at one of the guards, and then the other. Their language was still indistinguishable to her.

“Think she’ dumb then? Maybe that’s why the buggers just let her wander off.”

“Shut it stupid! Beggin your pardon, miss. Can we get something for ya? Being you is visitin our fine city.”

Mayhoof remained silent. Was she in trouble? Did she do wrong? Her eyes flitted away from the guards to the cathedral. What if she were taken away from this place, would she still be able to find healing?

“Yap. Dumber than dirt!” The second guard cackled out, only to be pushed to one side by his companion.

“Don’t mind him none. Just light-headed. All this heavy armor, yah? Speaking abouts. You lookin pale yourself. Want somethin to eat and drink?”

Mayhoof said nothing, though she did look back to the guards now, watching as the second man made as to pour an invisible glass and drink it. Her eyes drifted back to the Cathedral.

“Look, uhm. Why do you come with us? You can come back to the cathedral later, when everything’s done.” The second man said. He shuffled forwards, and offered his hand out. “Come on. Come with me.”

For a minute Mayhoof hesitated. Fear and uncertainty ruled in her mind, but still the hope of being lead closer to the cathedral was prevailing in her mind.

So lamb followed wolves,

From light into shadows,

From shadows came no sound,

Though twin wolves were found.

Helpless lamb taken,

And then, just forsaken,

A silent lamb’s cry,

And no ewe nearby.

It had been a warm summer day. Mayhoof had not hurt anyone as she sat on the curbside facing the Cathedral of Light. She now wore rags, torn and dirtied. Her eyes were no longer wide, but instead the Draenei hugged herself with her one good arm, her face turned away from the street.

Only remotely did she hear the words of scorn, spoken in pure Draenic about her. Only in passing did she register the contempt of other Draenei, looking down at what they supposed was nothing more than a common harlot. Still the lamb was silent, even in anguish.

 

© 2013 R. P. McDonald,

Credit for character race, and the city ‘Stormwind’ to Blizzard Entertainment.

Journal

Through glass-paned windows once you saw a picture still.
A half made view, lines blurred by grime and façade’s smear.
Their view obscured by curtains made by my design,
To show a picture that you would find more than fine.
Away from glass, deceptive frame and putrid lies.
Come see now into soul and hear the unchanged cries.
Nothing withheld, nothing censored, you will see all,
From lofty sights of glory to my darkest fall.
So come now into heart and mind, the door opened.
See broken heap that only God could ever mend.
The blood is black as ink and stains more than a page
It’s writing stems from hope, from love, and then from rage.
So step up to see what I’ve left for you to read.
Tread softly, now you walk upon more than my dream.

© R. P. McDonald 2013.

What Fantasy Means to Me

I must preface this by saying that this post shares more in common with ignorant chiming than an intelligent exposition. What success can I claim that would begin to give my writing merit? Still, I find myself looking over the redundant genre that has become fantasy with a single question on my mind: “Where did we go wrong?” Every piece resembles its predecessor with little to no innovation, the arcs are predictable, and even the magic has lost its ability to instill awe in the reader. Given this problem, I would like to flesh out a few elements to the fantasy genre that might help reestablish and redefine the genre as a whole.

1. purpose:
I promise that I am not attempting to assume the role of the broken record player despite my persistent migration to this point. For a fantasy piece to truly work it must carry purpose. You are already denying the reader the first relatable point (realism), therefore your lesson (what you will eventually say through your story) will need to resonate from the purposeful structuring of your work.
Two brilliant examples of this are C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien (J. K. Rowling can serve as a third example to this trend, if you would prefer something more modern). These authors stand apart in that they had very impactful imagery. This imagery is used to convey meaning, which relates back to the original lesson. Think of the evil that is represented in the ring in Tolkien’s masterpiece, or the Lordly nobility of Aslan in Lewis’ Narnia. These images were created as a means to convey something deeper. They were not assigned meaning by others after their inception.

2. Mystery:
Something that authors have gravitated to quite frequently is to explain their magic. This has the effectiveness of a magician performing a trick, and then explaining it to everyone. The point of magic is that its something you cannot explain or fully understand. It’s magical because there is something that is beyond your comprehension. Please, take a page from the book of our magician friends and keep the trade secrets.
This means that the magical tomes, trinkets, spirits, even magical words. These things, while interesting for a reader to latch onto, remove the mystery behind magic, and therefore undermine the magic of the whole concept. Leave your wizard’s power a secret, and allow him to mystify your readers with his incomprehensible abilities.

3. Scarcity:
For something to be mysterious, it must also be scarce. Would you be amazed by a magic trick if it could be performed by every person in your neighborhood? Magic should be awe-inspiring, and for that to be possible it must amaze the side characters in your story. This is impossible if everyone has a magic wand or can telepathically lift mountains.
There are far more examples in literature of magic occurring everywhere than there are of a small number of magical incidents. A good example though can again be found in Tolkien’s (often called the father of modern fantasy) Lord of the Rings. Think of Gandalf. How many incidents of magic can you name that he performed (In the book)? Yet he is one of the most awe inspiring characters that I know of (short of Aslan, whom will remain my favorite character of all time). Let the magic create a sense of awe, keep it scarce.

4. The original, but then also the perversion:
Dumbledore and Voldemort. Aslan and Tash. Gandalf and Saruman. The good things in our world are frequently matched by an equally bad thing (see love and lust, peace and war, etc. etc.). One thing that the Inheritance series got very right was the realization that the magical power can be perverted for evil. It didn’t create an evil force to draw from, but rather twisted the good into something darker.

 

These are my simple thoughts. I cannot begin to claim that I am expert, or that this list is complete. It is my simple attempt to make sense of a genre that I dearly love.

This I believe: The Heart of Courage and Truth

My sophomore year in high school my english teacher instructed us to write a 500 word statement of what we believed. We badgered him about the exact topic: “What do we believe about what?” But he only said that it had to be less than 500 words, and must be about an important belief that we held. This exercise was taken from the NPR prompting some years ago with the same name (This I Believe), and it too was based on the notion that the contributors could speak on whatever they believed.

Today, I would like for you all to consider a project similar to the one I described above. You don’t have to worry about a 500 word limit, and you don’t have to worry about writing out your belief. The hope instead is that you will walk with me down the mysterious path of belief. I think this is important because we have taken a very deliberate journey.

We started with truth and morality: what is, and what ought to be. We dared past this surface to the notion that if our story is a lesson, then we are its teacher. But then there was something in our way; something kept us from being fully honest with self and therefore kept us from being honest with our readership. We might have discovered an antagonist called fear, and we might have watched as it corroded our lesson until only a few cliches or meaningless lines remained. We saw that to defeat fear we must be courageous in our writing, and now we sit here, looking for courage to tell our story as honestly as we could.

This, then, is what I believe. I believe that through belief we can either build up doubt and fear in others, or greater measures of hope and courage. I believe that the former exists because there are some who’s only purpose is to either cause others to be afraid, or else to doubt what they once believed. These people see truth as a weapon, but they cannot seem to use it against themselves, for if they did, then no belief would remain.

I believe that truth must be enriched by love and humility. I believe that for truth to be entirely and wholly truthful it must be humble enough to realize that truth is needed by the speaker as much as the listener, and I believe that for truth to spread effectively it must be sent in love and no authoritatively or aggressively. This kind of belief in truth allows for hope, which can build courage.

This is an exclusive belief, because it denies the validity of fear and doubt driven belief, but then all beliefs exclude something because all beliefs latch onto other things. If I were to believe that all things are relative, then I would need to reject (exclude) that absolute beliefs could be truth.

A good belief is a magical thing, because a really good (and I believe true) belief gives us courage to share with others.

A few brief moments.

I only have a few minutes before a tutoring session (not enough time to review or study), so I decided that this would be a good moment to update the blog.

I am days away from submitting my short story “The Person in the chair” to A&M’s writing center for a written competition. I will be stacked against works of creative and academic form, and so it stands to reason that I will not win (if I do it will be by the grace of God alone). That said, I added another piece against myself this time through by submitting an experiment of a short story.

The piece is highly abstract, with little in the way of action, and a great deal of philosophical thought. The characters speak directly to the reader instead of to each other, and all major details are omitted to force the reader to consider what the characters are saying. The significance of this method is that the entire piece is about writing, and storytelling.

How the judges respond is a complete coin toss. I might eliminate myself with my sheer obscurity, or I might just have found the uniqueness necessary to stand out in what will probably be a bloated pool of writing.

With that, I’m afraid that my time is up. I am needed in the next room. I will share this story with you all soon. Promise. :)