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Monday, April 29, 2019


It sprung up from the ground in the middle of the night, smooth polished stone without waning. It towered over the people who stood starring up at in from the courthouse square like a threat. Like an ultimatum. The people gathered there could not decide whether they should bow or cower. The obelisk undid them all.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dead Prayers in the Far West Corner

J. saw the shadows in the far west corner of the factory even though no one else in the plant would ever speak of them. He saw the twisting shadows in the strange recesses of the far west corner every time he used the forklift to move a load of wire cable or steel platforms from the receiving area to the assembly floor. He saw that the shadows moved – and not just the movement of shadows as the sun moved across the sky, or the forklift’s headlamps swung across the wall; the shadows in the far west corner moved on their own. Strange behavior for shadows, especially since shadows really don’t even have behavior. In the few months that J. had worked in factory, he’d never had opportunity to look closely at the shadows. He drove past them as he moved pallets or hauled away dumpsters of trash, but he never stopped to explore. He wasn’t paid to explore.

On this particular day – it was a Wednesday, he remembered, he always felt the most tired on Wednesdays, and according to the watch board in the break room it had been 66 days since the last recordable time-loss accident – he was moving a crate of industrial hoses for the blast booth when he drove past the far west corner and he stopped. J. put the forks down and shifted into park. J. stared at the twisting, tenebrous void.

Slowly he realized that he couldn’t hear the roar of the blast booth any longer, nor the hum of the grit vacuums. He couldn’t hear the crackle and pop of the welder’s torches or the warning sirens of the cranes in motion overhead. Even the blatty rumble of the forklift’s diesel engine seemed muted and shushed. The factory was quiet, but not silent.

The shadows twisted in front of him, receding deeper into the corner from whence came the murmur of voices – chanting. Chanting prayers. Prayers in some forgotten language. A dead language. Dead prayers in the shadowy, dark corner of the factory.

Lulled by the soft syllables of the chanting, J. felt sleepy. Dizzy. Faint. But still the foreign tones drew him in; they called him. And though he could not understand their dulcet words, they filled him with ominous, incomprehensible, irresistible dread. “I’m drowning,” he thought. “I’m drowning, and she’s watching me. Watching me from the shore. She is watching me drown.” The rhythm of his internal soliloquy gradually assumed the cadence of the unseen chanters in the shadows.

And then

the horn that signaled lunch break broke his reverie. J. realized with a start that he’d sat with the forklift idling for at least 15 minutes. And he still hadn’t delivered the hoses to the blast booth. He knew he’d have to work double quick after lunch to get caught up. He also discovered that he was, from helmet to steel-toe boots, coated with a fine pink powder. This powder he would later have chemically analyzed and the analysis would show it to be some sort of anhydrous crystal residue.  

Abstract Work Photography:Ocean

Monday, April 15, 2019

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Annual Palm Sunday Parade

It is the annual Palm Sunday Parade, and we have come to see the sights. We’ve come early to secure the best spot, in the grass, in the shade. We’ve brought our collapsible chairs, our umbrellas, opera glasses, and a cooler of beverages. It’s a great day for a parade.  The sun is up. The wind is down. It’s not too cold – winter has only recently lost its grip on the land, and it’s not too warm, the sun has not yet reached its summer intensity. It is a great day for the annual Palm Sunday Parade.

And here they come – the rope-bearers, the knotters who lead the procession with ropes. Their brothers will follow, as we know, at the end of the parade as well, to tie the whole thing together. And yes, it’s official.We can hear the blowing of the horns of the altar.  The parade has begun!

There’s Herold, the herald, ringing a bell, followed by the Daughters of Zion throwing candy.

Now come the Freemasons, wearing caps with two-headed eagles, and splendid aprons with golden embroidery. They are throwing, not candy, but small stones. These are unwanted, rejected stones. Don’t confuse them with the bonbons thrown by the Daughters of Zion. You’ll break your teeth.

Next in line is the All Star Bethany High School Marching Band, playing a selection of songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Bethany High School Marching Band is a crowd favorite. What they lack in precision and skill, they make up in volume.

And here is a strange entry: four creatures walking, or flying as it were, side by side. There is a golden, shimmering Man dressed all in white, and beside him a Lion as large as a truck. Next to the Lion is great Ox with six-foot long horns. Flying next to the Ox, is an Eagle. It shrieks. We are forced to cover our ears. Its cry drowns out even the marching band.

Here comes my favorite. The Laborer’s Local Union 353. They’re holding a banner that reads “MONEY CHANGERS and BANKERS BEWARE!” 

Behind them are the bagpipers.  There are always bagpipers in a parade. Always.

Now come the Lord’s Prayers. They step in time reciting the prayer that our Lord taught us.

Here are the infants and nursing babes – with their prepared praise. It’s difficult to understand what they are saying, what with their mothers’ breasts still in their mouths, and all.  But we cheer for them, nonetheless.

We’re almost at the end now. The little children come next, shouting “Hosanna!” But they’re confused. They are mixed up. Why are they wearing last year’s Christmas pageant costumes?  They’re wearing angel robes and gold tinsel halos. “Hosanna in the Highest!”  Have we got our holiday’s confused? And what is this? What is this next strange sight? A group of men holding palm branches and lemons. Lemons?  The palm branches I understand, but … Lemons?

After the citrons have passed, there is a solitary figure. He’s wearing a tattered sweater and bow tie. He’s holding a pen. I don’t know what he’s doing here.

And now, of course, the man himself riding on a colt and on the foal of a colt, a bareback trick rider extraordinaire.

Our neighbors here on the parade grounds are starting to grumble about all of this. The candy and the chaos in the streets.  But before their complaints can get too loud, they are drowned out by a strange shouting coming from those scattered, discarded stones that the Freemasons tossed.

And that seems to be it. The parade has passed by. The final Knotters have bound the whole thing up. The parade is over and the crowd turns to leave. They pack up their chairs and round up their screaming children with bags of candy.  It’s time to go.  But wait. Wait.  Like a Marvel movie post-credit sequence, here comes one more entry in the parade. Blind beggars and lurching cripples, who look like they’ve crawled up out of dank ditches, struggle on in the wake of the great parade.  They may be late, but they know they will catch up with the Parade Marshal at the end.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
reviews: 2
ratings: 3 (avg rating 4.33)

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