The Child in the Field

In a large field there sat still a small child. Looking up, he noticed something in the distance, something he thought remarkable. He had to get up.

The child stretched out his arms and planted them in the earth. Now on his knees, he pressed hard upon his toes and began to wobble upward, swaying like the blades of grass all around him. He hoisted one hand from the ground, staggered, and just before toppling, found his balance.

Relief must’ve tickled his brain and reverberated throughout the remainder of his body, for he exhaled a pronounced, giggling sigh. Now with newfound mettle, he was adamant to hasten his journey and encounter this thing that stirred him.

The first step was giant, and to him felt like lifting an anvil from a bog. As soon as his foot left the ground it returned with a slam. It took his breath away, as if the shock of forward movement was too precious to endure. So he gulped and gimped once more.

This subsequent lunge equaled the thrill of the first, yet carried into a frightful halt, as though two legs weren’t meant to be found so perfectly together. Panic seized the boy’s countenance, and he tumbled forward, a descending timber on a vast plain.

As his open hand struck the ground his breath left him and his eyes closed. Yet full impact evaded him, and he managed to jolt up again and press on.

The steps, from there, were easier. Not all better, of course. For he fell as much as he always had, and the scrapes cut deeper. But to move felt light. Despite the same feeble limbs, they flew like feathers. To move meant something.

To the boy, it may have taken a minute or a year. Nonetheless, he had arrived, panting, aching, and laughing. For he had come upon his vision. While neither a mirage, nor what he expected, it was no less beautiful, and perhaps moreso.

The spent lad plopped down, poked his ruddy knee, and glanced back over his shoulder. Somehow, he had done it, traversed the entire field like a knight upon his horse.

He puffed out his chest, raised his chin, smiled to the sky, and sensed the familiar, steady grip loosen and release his small hand.

Once more, the small child sat still in a large field, and once more, it was time to get up.

Abolition

Go, tell it on the mountain
A secret they don’t know’s about them
Once a whisper became a shout then—
Shackles cracked, lifeblood flowed like a fountain.

Any man anywhere any time
Same fate same share of the crime
Same cell same hell man’s confined
Any pardon for this firing line?

One only sent forth with the keys
One solely meant earth for reprieves
One lonely blip birth barely seen
Yet skies quake and chains shake again.

What’s this, the keymaster’s now bound?
Scandalous, for what guilt has been found?
Nonetheless, the due debt’s come around
Slain scapegoat now the jail’s crumbled down.

Go, tell it on the mountain
Truth laid waste just in case you were doubtin’
Drop the chains no more stains run without them
See you’re His then ad bliss infinitum.

Must Be November—Seeds, Stomach Bugs, and Car Bows

Seeds

The World Series was a compelling watch this year. Stellar pitching, clutch hitting, and a remarkable showcase of human spitting. How these men conjure an endless stream of saliva for four hours baffles me.

Of course, with tobacco no longer en vogue due to its frightening potential of making your face cave in, the boys have turned to seeds. No, throwing in a dip of Wintergreen Kodiac isn’t salubrious, but I’m doubtful consuming a bag glorified salt licks every day makes the heart say “thank you.”

To be sure, ballplayers used to go to their doctors and inquire if dip was hurting them. I’m wondering what the doc says when they ask about their seed-eating habit.

Well, let’s see here, Jose. You’ve sucked on and ingested a bag of sunflower seeds every day for the last six months, and have done this every year since you were 19. Now that you’re 35, you’ve probably eaten over 2,500 bags of sunflower seeds, which means you’ve achieved a lifetime of sodium intake in 16 years. Let’s check your blood pressure and pray salt doesn’t start spraying out of your orifices.

Stomach Bugs

‘Tis the season for stomach bugs. I’m not sure there’s anything more frightening for a young family. One kid starts yakkin’ and within eight minutes your whole crew is aligned at the toilet. Then it’s 48 hours of Gatorade, Lysol and wet wipes.

After your kid has had the bug, the discomfort continues when you have to explain to other parents why your child is no longer quarantined.

“Oh, I heard your little girl had the stomach bug. Is she feeling better?”

“Oh yeah, she got it all out of her system. Doc says it’s no longer contagious. Principal welcomed her back to school. And we have a sworn affidavit from the CDC that she’s safe to touch your kid.”

Car Bows

It must be less than 40 days to Christmas because every car on TV has a big red bow on it. Is is just me or has this campaign been going for 20 years? Who is still positively responding to this ad and getting excited about dropping 60 grand at Christmas?

I suppose I’m simple. For Christmas, I may treat myself to a pair of khakis or an ice scraper for my windshield. This practicality feels good. Wearing pants and seeing the road are vital to my success as a human. When considering a little something for me, things like “boat,” “pool,” and “car” just don’t come to mind.

And what cruel, crazy person is gifting something like a car to their spouse? Honey, I got you a new Benz! I just thought, what better way to celebrate this season of materialism than with the gift of back-crippling debt?

In case anyone reading this is getting ideas, I’ll tell you straight up what would bring me joy when I look out my window this Christmas morning: my same old unshiny Ford Taurus and a pile of freshly raked leaves. Now that is a good Dad gift.

Our Trip to San Diego (It Wasn’t Bad)

Recently, my wife and I paid a visit to her sister and family in San Diego. I realize that already I sound cool, because I know someone who lives there and visiting people in exotic places sounds like something I can just do.

Unquestionably, San Diego has gravitas. Nobody who hasn’t been there knows anything about it, other than the city has been endowed with Heaven’s climate. Flawless beach weather everyday where you can walk outside naked and feel physically comfortable.

Other than that, what does this place have to offer? To me it was just Anchorman scenes and a bad football franchise that ain’t even there anymore. Well, I learned there’s indeed more to this place than I thought.

Shortly after exiting the airport, we were greeted by the picturesque bay and harbor, filled with sails and yachts, flanked by scores of palm trees, all with the backdrop of downtown high rises. What would’ve made for an incredible poster was indeed the handsome reality of Southern California.

Upon greeting our sister Andrea, her husband Taylor and our new precious nephew, Jackson, it was off to drink beer.

After all, San Diego has one of the greatest craft beer scenes in the world. I think my family there thought all I wanted to do on our trip was visit breweries, which is an excellent assumption, but not entirely true. All I wanted to do was visit breweries with the baby. Enjoy the new nephew on our terms at our fun places; that’s how we Millennials do it.

So on our first day, we headed to Ocean Beach, one of the last remaining surf towns in Southern California. We first visited Belching Beaver, because if you can fit “belch” and “beaver” into your business name, you’ve won. Afterward we walked to Ocean Beach Brewery and enjoyed a dinner of fresh fish as the sunset over the Pacific. Oh, what a horrible time. Then, a friendly fellow who may have been high asked me to smell a flower. I declined, only because the flower was so small I was concerned his fingers would go up my nose, and I didn’t fly 2,500 miles for that.

The following day, I got up for an early run. The Reeves live in North Park (you’re cool if you know where that is), so I didn’t have to go far before I reached Balboa Park, the great city park in San Diego. If only I could run somewhere new and beautiful every day, gosh, I’d probably be in slightly better shape than I am today. Later that morning, I had the pleasure of driving though the city to pick up my other sis-and-law and her fiancé at the airport. People say people in San Diego drive crazily. But people say that for every big city. I think there are just bad drivers everywhere, because hey, we’re all operating metric tons of steel moving at 80 mph. Yes, it’s freaking crazy.

In the afternoon, we had fish tacos by the harbor. Meh… Just kidding, it was terrific. My best taco had octopus. I’m glad we’re putting the octopi to good use. After lunch, I walked off my octopus at Point Luma, a historical site featuring a lighthouse and panoramic views of San Diego and its bay.

The day only got better, as I emptied a gift card to buy lots of So Cali beer and then watch my beloved Wolfpack whoop hiney in prime time, i.e. 5 pm PST. Watching sports on the West Coast is so money. The best part of all of this was doing silent cheers so we wouldn’t wake the baby. Silent cheering and dancing is really fun. It would be great for a whole stadium to do it as a thing, like a blackout or the wave.

The next day we hiked Torrey Pines National Park. More beauty and wonder, and more exercise to mitigate my rapidly expanding octopus/IPA gut. That afternoon, we explored North Park, enjoying great ale and reggae at Rip Current Brewing and an outstanding burrito at Lucho Libre, a hilariously pink joint celebrating Mexican wrestling. Then it was on to the Reeves’ neighborhood brewery (Thorn Street) where we watched the US triumphantly defeat Panama in their World Cup qualifier, with the blessed ignorance of the proceeding nightmare match. Then back home for burgers, fire pit, cigars, blah blah blah best day ever.

Next morning, we went to the harbor-side market and bought a fish—a huge, newly dead 16-pound skipjack tuna to be precise. Then it was onto to Little Italy for their Farmers Market, where we tried poke-stuffed uni. That’s raw tuna inside a sea urchin. Good golly listen to what we humans are doing. Then, just when I didn’t want to have any more fun, we visited Ballast Point Brewing, Liberty Station, and Stone Brewing. Yes, I got to visit my favorite brewery in the world. I sampled four delicious beers beside a coy pond and even bought a corduroy hat. That was a pretty good day.

All in all, it was one of the best weeks of my life, and our time with family and our new nephew was simply splendid. I definitely recommend San Diego, unless you are against fun, beauty, and factually the greatest city in the history of mankind.

In Memory of Lilly

On August 17, 2017, our sweet Lilly passed away. Though words cannot sufficiently express our sadness for her death, nor the memories she gave us, nor the joy that she brought us, I’m going to try. Because what would be worse would be to stay silent, something old ‘Lil would’ve never stood for.

What Lilly stood for most was, of course, food. Literally, on her hind legs, stretching her diminutive yet plump frame to the extreme to extend her snout over anything holding grub. Lilly may not have been a purebred beagle, but her head and her stomach couldn’t have been more pedigree.

Lilly lived to eat and had a knack for finding food. While she did have a good sense of smell, any of us could find food if we spent our whole lives sniffing for it. When we were in the kitchen, so was Lilly. Like a night watchmen on patrol, Lilly paced back and forth surveying the scene with faithful vigilance. Often she would position herself directly beneath us while preparing food, and she didn’t seem to mind that we were always tripping over her.

But she was keenly aware of when her favorite foods were out, accentuating her puppy face for carrots (her healthy favorite), popcorn (her favorite to catch out of mid-air), and any meat imaginable. I never saw a deeper sense of purpose and urgency in Lilly then when I would pick the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. As her generous keeper, I’d always drop her the disgusting part.

But more than anything, the prospect of food led Lilly to incredible mischief, from the hilarious to the infuriating. On her first Christmas, she found and ate Uncle Billy’s entire fruit cake, then pooped in his room. One Easter she ate a bag of chocolate candy, then spent the night howling and racing around the Gnisci’s backyard while Charlie held the leash, watched her frantically poop, and prayed she didn’t die. Then there was the Thanksgiving where Lilly ventured upstairs during dinner, came down and moseyed under the table, and then hacked up a Brillo pad she’d seized from the laundry room. I have witnessed Lilly jump on a table to eat a stick of butter, a wedge of cheese, and a plate of cinnamon rolls. I’ve witnessed Lilly overturn a trashcan to eat a sweet potato, a bratwurst, and a whole chicken drumstick. We learned that true rage ensued when we attempted to remove something delicious from her mouth. Over time, we simply followed the sage words of Cousin Eddie: “It’s best just to let her finish.”

Lilly’s mischief extended to her love for adventure. She didn’t stop being a hound dog when she ventured outside. I loved letting her out on spring days when there was a rabbit or two in the yard. She would put her nose down immediately and begin zigzagging at the scent, then blast off like a greyhound as the rabbit took off. The rabbit would always find its way through the fence and into safety.

But a fence didn’t always stop Lilly. Half my yardwork over the last decade has been patching holes she dug to exit the premises for an excursion. Sometimes she’d be gone for a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours. She typically returned with a grin, panting and ready for water, often needing a bath due to something awful smeared on her coat.

She loved the outside and her fellow creatures. We’ve watched her run squirrels up trees, bark at hawks in the sky, and come face to face with a groundhog. A week before she passed, I had let her outside in the morning to do her business. Minutes later, Danielle awoke to what sounded like barking and scratching under the house. I went out to inspect and opened the crawlspace. As I peered in, there was Lilly (how did she get under the house?), pawing at an open storage container. I stepped in to the crawlspace, approached the container, and tapped it. Slowly and creepily, two black ears rose above the container and immediately alerted me to what Lilly was so excited about: a raccoon. I whisked Lilly out of there, and thankfully the raccoon found its way out too through the hole Lilly had dug under the A/C unit. It was a disaster averted, with the end result being a little bit of duct repair and cleaning up some poop Lilly left behind in her excitement.

While she was definitely a Snoopy dog, Lilly broke the mold with her zest for swimming and retrieving. When she was young, we took her to the beach to fetch sticks in the ocean with her friend Boone. Lilly was a natural, and simulated an otter swishing through the water, using her tail as a propeller.  So arduous was her effort that she suffered a sprained tail, which sadly couldn’t erect for a few days. In our backyard, we’d have her run down sticks, tennis balls, and the occasional frisbee. Occasional because when she flagged down a frisbee, she ate it.

But there was one thing that Lilly loved more than food and adventure: people. No, not people outside of the house like joggers, bikers and UPS men—she barked like hell at them. But Lilly loved her people. She’d let us know it when we returned home, jumping on her hind legs and moaning with glee as we pet her. She loved to be with us, whether it was under the dinner table, on our couch, or in our arms. She loved to be pet and scratched, and she loved a good belly rub. Even after the rub down, she would still slide back and forth on her back, then jump up, sneeze, and shake it all out. It became a ritual she sought out, often turning over immediately on her back when we went to pet her.

Lilly loved Hudson and Ella Jane. On her last night with us, when she lacked the energy to move about, she mustered the strength and voluntarily came into the room to say good night to the kids. She let them hug and kiss her, and even stayed in their room for a moment as we put them down. She was a best friend, unto the end.

We miss Lilly and are reminded of her, or her absence, every day. For one, we have to clean up any food that falls on the floor, something we haven’t had to do in 10 years. As I walk around my yard, I chuckle at my beat-up fence and all the rocks and twisty-ties serving as barricades. Mostly, we are reminded of Lilly in the quiet. No sniffs, barks, growls, jingles or scratches that we’d grown so accustomed to.

Lilly lived an incredible 10 years. That’s a good life for a dog, but a really good life for Lilly, considering all the messes she got herself into and, remarkably, got out of. If all dogs go to Heaven, then I’m sure Lilly had a good shot. Perhaps she’s feasting at the Lord’s table, or more accurately, on top of it. Wherever her soul is, there is laughter there.

No, Lilly never caught a rabbit. But she was a damn good friend of mine, and of all of us. She’ll forever be treasured as our first family pet. We’ll miss you, sweet girl.

 

Your Favorite Sports—Announced by Kids

As a sports fan, I can really get into all of the analysis and deep-dive breakdowns of players and match-ups. However, I also realize what a simple activity a sport actually is. Which is why I love watching little kids talk about sports, because they break sports down to the most basic levels. Sports really aren’t much more than some people striking a ball.

Which made me think, what if networks allowed kids to broadcast a few games every year? I think it would do us all some good to get a proper perspective on the games we love so much. Here’s how it might go:

Dylan sitting in studio: Hello everyone. My name is Dylan. What’s your name? Welcome to the best sports day. It’s the best sports day because today they’re playing basketball, baseball and football today. First, my friend Nathan is at the basketball game. Nathan, is it a good game?

Nathan: I think it’s about to start. The ref throws the ball in the air and that guy gets it. He is bouncing the ball down the court. Oh, now LeBron has the ball. LeBron has the ball. He is the best basketball player. Now he is bouncing it. Oh he gave it to his friend. His friend gave it back. LeBron always catches the ball. He never drops it. LeBron James is the best catcher. Oh he shot it. The ball went in the goal. That’s more points for LeBron. He has so many points, he’s winning by a lot.

Dylan: Thanks, Nathan. LeBron James always wins the games. Now let’s go to Kate. She is at the baseball game. Kate, is the good team winning?

Kate: No team is winning. There are no scores. The game is starting I think. The guy on the pile of dirt is the pitcher. He is throwing it to the batter who has the bat. The batter is Bryce Harper. He swings the bat hard and fast. He can run hard and fast, too. He is the hardest and fastest player.

OK I think the pitcher threw it. I didn’t really see it but the guy behind the batter is throwing it back. So I think there was a throw. Now we’re waiting for the next throw back to the batter…Still waiting…I don’t know why he’s waiting, is there a timeout? OK he threw it back to the batter. Whoa, he swung and I think he hit it. Did anyone catch it? Not sure, but that sounded like a big run. Did the good team win? I’m not sure who won, but Bryce Harper was the fastest swinger.

Dylan: Bryce Harper is such a good swinger. Antonio is watching football. Is it a good game, Antonio?

Antonio: OK Dylan, all the men are getting in a line. Oh, that guy has the football. He just put it on the ground. He kicked the ball really high and far to the bad guy team. He caught it and he is running hard at the guy who kicked it. Oh, he got jumped on and beat. Was that J.J. Watt who beat him down? J.J. Watt is so good at grabbing guys and beating them. One time he beat Tom Brady. Tom Brady is the best thrower ever. But J.J. Watt beat him. J.J. Watt beat him.

Dylan: Whoa, that’s so cool that J.J. Watt can beat anyone down. That’s all for the best sports day ever. We’ll be back next week to see the guys with the sticks on the ice and all the best soccer kickers.

Dadxiety

There once lived a dad who went crazy.
He took 12,000 pics of his baby.
Worried he’d miss a moment
Missed a vital component
Of actually enjoying her maybe.

Another dad had twenty kids
Thought twenty-one could be better instead
So he obsessed for years
‘Til his kids were his peers
Now just one gran would do before dead.

Some dads agonized over names
Like boy one who should’ve been James
Boy two needs new initials
Boy three’s isn’t real special
With boy four we’ll perfect the game

Some dads freaked to miss an event
Leaving kids’ fragile minds with a dent
The dads muttered and moped
Hung their heads like a dope
To the kid it simply came and went.

All these dads so concerned for no reason
Often fearing the change of the season
Can we mutter “Enough”
To ridiculous stuff
Be at odds with what makes us uneven?

Survival Guide to Beating the Heat in Your No A/C Beater

The summer is upon us and there’s no worse time to be without A/C in your car.

It’s not likely you suffer this affliction; most of us will buck up and fix the A/C so that we can remain comfortable.

But comfort is costly, and the frugal among us just aren’t willing to shell out hundreds of dollars to prevent perspiration. Dang it, I was given sweat glands for a reason and I intend to use them.

If you’re like me—without car A/C and distressed about the looming summer—have no fear. I’ve published a little guide here to help you through the heat.

Here’s my Survival Guide to Beating the Heat in Your No A/C Beater.

1. Make Plans to Bake – You know it’s going to be hot as equatorial crap in your car. Don’t be a fool by failing to prepare.

First, always have ice water handy. Of course, this will melt in mere minutes in your Saharan tank of a transport, but if you can get your hands on a Yeti or Yeti-like vessel, you’ll always be just moments from a modicum of refreshment.

Next, you need a towel nearby. Five minutes into your drive you’re gonna be sweating like an Amazon warthog. While the sweat beads do nicely to temporarily cool, they’ll leave your clothes a damp mess. Unless you are indeed off to the gym, this is not a good recipe for people wanting to be around you. A towel nearby will temporarily save you this embarrassment.

2. Get a great parking spot – People with A/C know their car will cool fast, but you don’t have that luxury. And it is a luxury, cooled cars. Much of the world is still confined to bikes, camels and donkeys for their commute, and no freon on the planet can make those suckers comfy.

Of course, premium parking spots are often in the baking sun. Let those rich motorists have them. What you need to do is find the shady spots in the lot, if there are any. Observe trees and the daily movement of the sun. Park your car in a spot with maximum daily shade duration. Be willing a walk a little longer to your destination. If you execute all of this perfectly, you’ll reduce the initial thermal blast of entering your car from a blistering 137 degrees to a balmy 113. It could save you approximately two minutes of sweat. #worthit

3. Think “sauna,” enjoy the heat – Even with shade, you’re still gonna be roasting like a Chinese duck in minutes. So you might as well embrace the warmth on your skin. I, personally, sit in a cool office all day, and the feeling of hot air is temporarily therapeutic. When I get in my car, I close my eyes and envision I’m enjoying the spa at a world-class resort. My skin is happy and seems to tingle with thankfulness.

4. Keep windows up until your breaking point. Oftentimes, A/C-less rookies will put their windows down the moment they start up the car. Big mistake, cheechako. You’ve just wasted an opportunity of profound relief later for fugacious comfort now.

What you need to do is sit there like a tea kettle. Let the sweltering, suffocating cloud of oxygen work its way from the outside in. Feel the sweat beads form on your forehead and neck. Then, when you have the thought “good golly I don’t think I can drive anymore,” release your windows and let the slightly less stuffy outside air rush in and blow over you like an industrial fan.

That car better be moving though. If you release your windows in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’ll wish you weren’t alive.

5. Welcome Others’ Pity – When you arrive at your destination, you’ll literally be a hot mess. It may look like you just took 30 on the treadmill when in fact all you were moving was your lower lip to blow up air onto your face.

When people see you, they’ll feel bad that you obviously been suffering. Take advantage. Accept the cold beverage, position yourself under a fan, and even head straight past the family to the shower. It’s ok. They don’t want to be with you anyway.

Inevitably, upon cooling down and actually hanging out with people, you’ll be asked why you don’t get your A/C fixed. Then you may utter something completely sane like “Because I don’t need it,” at which point everyone will laugh and tacitly reveal their belief that you’re a fool.

And that’s ok, too. Deep down you understand that lacking A/C builds character, and makes you appreciate walking into a cooled building so much more.

If you can hold your head high and remain convinced you don’t need A/C, you can happily drive cars without it for years to come.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

A Skinny Man’s Plight and Grumblings You Have No Sympathy For

Yes, I’m skinny. But hold your applause; evidently this is no cause for celebration.

I’ve found skinniness is only admirable if you were once fat. Or better still, if people knew you were fat.

Did you know I haven’t always been a pasty rail? It’s true; in college I faithfully gained my “freshman 15” and maintained semi-puffy cheeks through the early years of my marriage.

Then I lost weight and everyone asked what the hell happened to me, not like a “hey, bang-up job on losing pounds, dude” but a “who the hell are you to lose some fat?” kinda way.

Because America, of course, has gotten more obese, to the point where adding weight is the norm. I realize our food industry, genetics, and sedentary work life make it hard to stay fit. If you struggle with weight, I understand, and completely support you in your efforts to be healthy. Hear that.

But also hear that it’s a little awkward to be ridiculed for being a damn beanpole. Truly, I deserve no sympathy, and realize I risk sounding like an ass for even broaching the sentiment.

Because it is strange. People tell me in jest that if I turn sideways they can’t see me, or that they hate me for my svelte corpus. I’m so sorry to have disappointed everyone. It’s apparent you preferred I made a few more late night runs to Taco Bell and engorged myself with Gorditas.

Really though, I’m wondering why skinniness is always brought up. Doesn’t part of it have to be that it’s abnormal? I mean, we’re not just pointing people out for wearing a shirt or brushing their hair.

Indeed, skinnies are the new freaks. It’s not everyday you meet one and when you do you’re somewhat perplexed on how to react.

There was a time when skinny—particularly male skinny—was en vogue. Adult men were praised for staying fit and victoriously warring against slowing metabolism.

Not anymore. Being 35 and yet to develop the patriarchal paunch is no longer a feat, but a farce. Like I’m some mutated anomaly, a slender Sasquatch roaming the Earth, unrecognizable to all accustomed to the quintessential Dad bod.

Nowadays, like the olden days, the gut is grand. Dudes used to show off their embonpoint in portraits, for it symbolized good eating and rich, healthy living.

Back then, people would be like, “Behold, the big bastard upon his horse. ‘Tis Lord Blakenship, a rich, happy, and good soul. And over there? That emaciated mule of a man? That’s Old Slim Billy. He’s 90 and still walking. He actually enjoys the act of breathing. So tragic he doesn’t partake in such jollies as a fourth helping of mutton.”

Seriously, people worry about me, like not having a double chin and man boobies is insalubrious to my health. There’s this odd, tacit idea that more fat would help me. Like, maybe it could be useful for my survival, perhaps keep me warm.

But that’s no concern of mine. I don’t reside in northern Manitoba. I’m not an elephant seal in need of blubber. I’m a skinny man living in the Southeast with access to good coats.

What I’m saying is, don’t be a thinist. Yes I’m skinny. But I’m a person. And I want to be an inspiration. I want to be living proof that you don’t need to be fat to be happy, but can find contentment with a diet of celery and yarn.

At the end of the day, I want to be so much more to the world than just some pencil-thin lad who reminds us all we have bones.

Skinny questions?

 

The Traveler’s Prize

The delighted man set off, poised to claim his honor.
For he had lifted his country, leading his people from squalor.
He paced with glee, sang joyfully, his triumph gained with valor.

The path was smooth and straight, no labor in his stroll.
Sheltered by the shady breeze, endless steps would take no toll.
No cares surrounded, thus he gaily bounded, and made way down the quiet knoll.

There a man sat, head down and looking glum.
Our traveler gazed upon him, inquired what had become.
The man was quite lost, now full of exhaust, in need of an ear and a chum.

“Go south for a mile, turn left at the farm.
Stay straight for a while, ’til you come ‘pon the barn.
Cut straight through the wood, and in two minutes you should, reach the village for which you now yearn.”

This cheered the man, he got up and made way.
The traveler beamed at relieving dismay.
He cherished his words, claimed his self-made reward, and merrily moseyed away.

As he did he stepped over a quiver.
‘Twas left by the chum that went thither.
Little notice he paid it, left it where the chum laid it, no concern for no arrows within her.

And so he skipped gaily for hours.
Happening ‘pon a vast field of gold flowers.
There a man with his steed, in a quandary indeed, for a broken machine left him dour.

“I still have an acre to mow.
Yet the ardor has crippled my tow.
I know not what to do, for my tool is wrecked, too, and I haven’t the time to be slow.”

The traveler peered hard at the steel.
And stepped forward with intention to deal.
Measured strength and astutely, notched the pieces resolutely, and beheld the fixed tow rig with zeal.

The farmer expressed his deep thanks.
For the traveler had displaced the angst.
So he kept right along, down the path with a song, assured he’d ascended the ranks.

As he did so he bypassed the field.
Largely charred laid its smoldering yield.
Yet so he skipped on, not happening to dawn, was the thought of what source scorched the deal.

So he hummed with unflappable spirit,
Til he came ‘pon a hill with men near it.
Bedraggled they seemed, so bewildered this team, that he asked ’bout their fate, lest he bear it.

“Nomadic are we in this region.
Displaced from our homes for a season.
Now have no land to work, and our enemy lurks, pray he not buffet us like a legion.”

The kind traveler considered the tale.
Not content to let sadness prevail.
So his map he produced, offered land for their use, so they’d prosper ‘pon trekking the trail.

The men moved along with new hope,
For the traveler had thrown them a rope,
He ascended the mount, while proceeding to count, these fine deeds and gay feelings he evoked.

And he paced ‘pon a ground most indented,
From some sort of tracks that imprinted,
But he gave it no measure, just ahead lay the treasure, no trough could now leave his sights tinted.

Alas he reached his journey’s end, a cave upon a mount
Prepped to meet a new friend, and receive a blessed fount
Yet quickly met, the creature that, he’d rather do without.

A scaly terror sauntered forward, and gazed with fearsomeness
The joyful traveler cowered back, his countenance now depressed
Then felt he ought, to relay his thought, to briefly relieve his distress.

“I’ve come this way, for I was due, a gift for my good deeds.
And on the way, helped man some more, supplied his very need.
Shall not these acts, of filling lack, warrant a prize, indeed?”

As he spoke the monster moved ever closer still.
And sneered at every utterance the traveler chose to spill.
He flicked his tongue, with words he hung, the secret to unveil.

“Good you may have done for man, enough to claim the prize.
In fact you have received it, your reward was in disguise.
Now see your error, behold the terror, you’re deceived by your own eyes.”

“So rapt in self-contentment you were blind to see the signs,
Arrowless packs, a crop ransacked, death’s footprints left behind.
Man’s woe I’ve laid, his sun I shade, spawn chaos ‘pon his mind.”

“But you, I may devour, or perhaps more awful yet,
Complete the curse upon your body that your soul had long beget.
Become like me, observe men flee, your face they’ll ne’r forget.”

The traveler contorted about
Felt a jolt of his inside to out
All his skin became scales, sharp claws replaced nails, now his body made beastly throughout.

As he lay there the other went ‘way
Saying nothing to make fears allay
But abandoned the post, disappeared like a ghost, leaving traveler alone in the gray.

So he made the dark cave his abode
From his perch he watched as men strode
‘Til they came to his dwelling, with vanity swelling, and suffered the prize he bestowed.