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Members' Choice Nothing like peer recognition! Nominate and vote on the work of fellow members.


Member’s Choice Voting thread, September 16th to December 15th

View Poll Results: Vote for your favourite.
Adult Novelties by Gaines 1 25.00%
Mary's Wings by Waterpoor 1 25.00%
Earth, Sky and Tree by Waterpoor 0 0%
An Artist a Woman and a Matress by Ink 0 0%
Painting the Past by JoeMatt 0 0%
Runner by reggman99 0 0%
The Game by Phyllis Stewart 1 25.00%
IF by Ethan Blake 0 0%
Sunday Morning Mall Car Parking by Nadja 1 25.00%
Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 12-18-2011, 03:23 AM
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Default Member’s Choice Voting thread, September 16th to December 15th


Please vote for your favourite from the selection below. Thank you to all nominees, without whom this would not be possible, and Good Luck to all nominated members.

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Old 12-18-2011, 03:27 AM
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:27 AM
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Default Mary's Wings by Waterpoor

Mary’s Wings

Some strange shit can fill your mind when you’re cornered and there’s no place to run. Scenes were running through my head like a second rate movie full of bad actors. I even checked to see if I was dead and this was my life passing before me. I should be so lucky!

I remember the call was actually a mistake. The only change in my mother’s expression as she listened to the phone was a slight tightening of her lip’s. “Mrs. Pincher, my brother Van fell off the roof and I think he’s hurt real bad.”

Sandy Horvack thought my mother had been a nurse. She wasn’t, but it wouldn’t have made any difference. Van was already dead. Sandy didn’t know that and my father didn’t know when he said to me, “I’d better go see if I can help. Guess you could come along. He’s your friend.”

I was twelve years old and the lingering question has always been the same. Would he have asked me along if he’d know Van was dead, lying in his father's arms? Would he have wanted me to see the flecks of vomit running from Van’s slack lips over his chin to pool like lumpy, yellow pancake batter onto the faded linoleum floor of the Horvack’s kitchen?

Seeing my friend, who had been totally animated the day before, now lying slack jawed and lifeless was an awesome experience. It was so bizarre, I didn’t feel anything, not for me or Van or his sister or father. Not even for my own father who stood beside Mr. Horvack with a hand on his shoulder saying, “Damn Brian, oh damn.”

He should have said something about the death on the way home. He didn’t. We stopped at the barn and threw loose hay to the cows and horses without a word between us.

I was fiddling with that little memory while I was sitting in a hospital gown on a cheap plastic chair in a little room with puke green walls at the Fort Harrison Veterans Hospital waiting for some shrink to appear. The gowns are to make you feel shitty and weak and I didn’t like that and I didn’t like wondering who else’s bare ass had been on the chair.

A dumpy fat guy came in and sat down. He looked at papers on his desk, then at me, then back at the papers. I don’t know if he was looking at me when he spoke.

“Perhaps we can help you solve some of your problems, find your way back into society. You’ll be more comfortable.”

What an asshole. I was polite enough not to point out his premise was all screwed up. The only real problem in my life was that the Park County Sheriff’s deputies picked me up when I went to town for groceries. My kid’s managed to convince some judge that I was a danger to myself. Hell, maybe I walked into my own ambush? I knew I sure didn’t want back into society. I’d already been heaped onto the social reject pile. I just wanted to go back to the Crazy Mountains where I felt safe and the world turned slow enough to make sense.

Mr. Dumpy sat behind a pair of thick framed glasses staring at me like a brain damaged owl. “Do you think we could start by examining some of your combat experiences?”

Yah, right. Do I want to stick my foot in a meat grinder? Hasn’t anyone told this quack that it’s a full time job keeping the ghosts in a box and that I really would be crazy to turn them loose here, in front of a stranger in a red checked bow tie?

I might have answered him before the thing with Mary. With her my life was almost normal and the spooks were at bay. A wife, two kids, a house with mostly paid rent. Not great, but better than a bite on the leg.

I forgot about the fat shrink being there. I was thinking about Mary and I hiking on top of the ridge between Trespass Creek and Campfire Lake. It’s a nice place. High enough to see out across the top of the mountains. We saw what the eagles see when they fly over, their giant wings full of mountain air as they search for juicy marmots hiding in the rocks below.

She wanted to see the old goat trap where the Fish and Game guys captured mountain goat babies and tagged them. It was a steep, tough climb down to the trap along the top of a two hundred foot cliff. On the way I told her about a mule that had gone over the edge with a load of fish destined for Campfire Lake. That didn’t scare her. She laughed and said they must have been flying fish. Her humor was getting to be as macabre as mine.

The dough boy shrink let out a sort of “whuff,” I guess to get my attention. It made me remember that afterwards one night when I was sleeping beside Rock Creek Lake, I woke up smelling a bears bad breath. He must have been sniffing my face to see if I was alive or dead. He was just staring at me like my dog, Tuffy used to. When my mind registered that I was looking at a bear, I thought about the first time Mary and I made love. Weird shit, huh! How were those two things tied together?

Now my head is rolling pictures past, almost faster than I can see them. Six months after I got back from ‘Nam I met Mary. I hadn’t given up on the ranch yet but it was going downhill. My father was dead by then and my desire to accomplish anything was on life support.

Like a fantasy, she came to the ranch one winter day and went with me to feed cattle. The harness on the horses jingled and their breath left little puffs of steam in the cold air. The runners shooshed and squeaked as they slid across fresh snow and Mary’s cheeks were red and her smile was perfect and just then, my life was okay. For the first time the ugly jungle wasn’t following me around. We made love that night and she was real than the war had been.

And then later, that big, foul-breathed bear made me remember those delicious minutes. By then I had become as much a part of the mountains as the damn bear was and he must have made me out as bitter meat because he left me there to shake Mary from my head. I followed the bear. Could you have gone back to sleep? It was a moonlit night and he moved slow, climbing across a big pile of scree, making flat pieces of shale sound like breaking plates. A couple of times he stopped and stood up, warning me not to follow him, hoping I would forget about him stirring memories that were better left alone. Its not like I was going to kick his ass. I just wanted to see where he went after screwing up some one’s night.

My father brought a bear home once on the back of his favorite horse. Not many horses will pack a bear. It was a dark, overcast fall day. Maybe I was nine or ten years old. I was playing out by the haystacks with homemade toys and he came up the road from the creek, the bear slung across the saddle in front of him. I was so excited I was trembling.

I knew my father would tell me a wonderful story about killing that bear; how just in the nick of time he was able to get a shot off and save himself, but all he said was “Hi, son.” Maybe there wasn’t a story.

More weird shit zooming through my mind. I’m thinking It was like that when Packard got killed. He took his squad out, called in an air strike and they dropped napalm on his head. Where’s the story in that? Mary was a story. She was like the beautiful Princess who married the wrong Prince and she didn’t live happily ever after. She was a story when our children were born . I watched and we cried together from sheer joy and both times my tears wanted to keep coming. Mary used to say I had dams of sadness behind my eyes that would burst one day.

We both cried again when we knew the ranch was gone, swallowed by unpaid debt and unpaid karma. Afterward she touched me and said, “It’s okay.”

By then I know that every thing I do makes things worse for somebody. I took a squad out once. Nine guys followed me into an ambush. They were good Marines, tired of war but always ready to do what they were asked. The wet, soupy blackness of a jungle night turned inside out and when the med-evac chopper had finally come and gone it was dawn and I was standing alone, waiting for the sun to turn another day into a steamy oven. I sure made things worse for them.

But Mary, my sweet Mary said in her soft, forgiving voice “We’ll be all right.“ We moved to White Sulfur Springs and I worked at the sawmill. Mary worked in a store and sometimes there was enough money and sometimes there wasn’t.

When Murphy got killed I had enought money to do R and R and I needed to get away from the jungle for a bit. Too much of that stuff and you start getting gungey, you know, a little wierd. I was suppposed to do Singapore and then Lieutenant Edwards had a chance to go to Hawaii to see his wife. He was short of money so I lent him four hundred bucks. I knew he was good for it.

He got back and stood up at the wrong time. Crazy bastard! When you’re pinned down in a rice paddy and the shit is coming down, you don’t ever stand up and say, “Hit the tree line!” Maybe things didn’t go so good with his wife.

I grabbed for his legs and I was holding them when he took four rounds in the chest. It felt like when I tackled Art once during football practice. Art started hopping up and down and almost got away. Maybe Lieutenant Edwards almost got away too but he collapsed in a heap on top of me and I was staring into his eyes when his lights went out.

I started losing it at the sawmill. Seemed like everybody set out just to piss me off. One day, the saws started sounding like screams. I smacked the foreman in the mouth and walked all the way to the top of the Big Belt Mountains.

Mary wasn’t mad when I got home and we moved to Billings. Life was pretty bad and I stood on top of the rim rocks near the airport and tried to make myself jump into oblivian at the bottom and I swear to God, at the very moment I was going to do it, I saw Mary. Not an apparition, but there in the flesh on a street below the cliffs, getting out of her car and walking into a house she was getting paid to clean. I fell in a heap and bawled like a baby.

That crazy Lieutenant used to play poker with us. He was a regular guy, except he didn’t know how to bluff. Once he tried to steal a hundred dollar pot with a pair of sixes. I held three kings and I called him. He actually blushed when he showed that little pair. It was a look like getting caught at something stupid. That’s how he looked when he collapsed on top of me and I’m holding his guts in as he died. His face was right next to mine. He knew he shouldn’t have stood up. Those must have been some sad last thoughts.

“Oops, I shouldn’t have been on the roof. Uh, oh, I shouldn’t have listened to that damn major. Damn! Wish I hadn’t called in this air strike. Oh shit, maybe I shouldn’t have stood up.”

I know the question. What did my Mary think as she was falling through the thin mountain air toward the stones below? “Oops, never travel with a man who’s lost a squad.”

It took me almost an hour to climb down to her. She lay between two boulders, all crumpled and broken like a used up doll. I climbed down off that mountain with her in my arms and not once did I think she was heavy. I thought Murphy was heavy. I carried him and dropped him in the majors lap. The major tried to get me court-martialed.

Poor old Sheriff Bates looked like he might be developing apoplexy staring at Mary when I lay her on his beat up counter. She wasn’t bloody like Murphy, just all bent in places where she shouldn’t have been. Maybe carrying her into the sheriff’s office wasn’t such a good idea. I wish now I’d left her there on the mountain. At the funeral the kids cried a lot. I tried to sit with them but I couldn’t do it. My sister was there, comforting them and I left.

I’m a leaver. I left when they had the stupid memorial service at Camp Carroll too. Bayoneted rifles were standing in the ground with helmets on them. M-14’s, not the new plastic pieces of shit that jammed every other round. I was too worried about how to get one of those good weapons to think about the dead buddies they represented.

Later after Mary’s funeral was over I went to the cemetery. It sits on a hill overlooking the river. The sagebrush is kept outside the perimeter but the grass is still dry and yellow most of the year. Mary was right there among people she didn’t know. She ended up in a yard full of strangers. At least Murphy got shipped home to his mother. Mary was my balm, the salve for my scarred-up soul.

The shrink in front of me got tired of sitting there and cleared his throat with a fat little gag.

“Do you ever have any feelings about hurting yourself or anyone else?” he asked.

It seemed like the first good question to respond to. “You know,” I said to him, “I believe that Van dove off that roof and I think Mary almost flew.”
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:33 AM
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Default Earth, Sky and Tree by Waterpoor

Earth, Sky and Tree

Golden leaves of cottonwood,
tiny parachutes floating
on cool fall breezes, a return to womb
and rest and pungent soil full of rich tomorrows,
promises of life again and sun and rain
and stormy days and flight against an azure bowl
with white and rolling clouds.

Where in is anger, hate and forlorn days
and a broken limb called wrong?
Where is lack and need and hasty tears
of molding anguish? Where is seed not needed,
help not rendered, hope not shared, life not
lifted to thrones of lofty heights against
light and color and flowing bloom?

To dance a dance of fluttering green,
to ride the wind and split the rain,
could there be more than this rich cycle
of dust rising through thicketed burrows
of hidden songs and flighted wing?
Who can see the sky and touch a star
and draw life's blood from forests floor?

To live without the thought of need and want,
without clamor to rise above or hope to stay atop
or worry of tomorrows hidden promise,
to exalt uniqueness, embrace sameness
and swaddle life with quiet gratitude and know
the grace of breath given free and soaring tumults
of life full lived. Is that not the earth, the sky and tree?
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:34 AM
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Default An Artist a Woman and a Matress by Ink

An Artist a Woman and a Matress

Soft graphite kisses canvas
As slender fingers flicker
Whilst twisting on the mattress
She’s showing naked figure

The artist’s hand determined
To capture her every curve
His pencil picture likened
So her image may preserve

The candle mellows shadows
Which whisper across her skin
Sculpting her in lights and darks
Revealing beauty held therein
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:36 AM
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Default Painting the Past by JoeMatt

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Old 12-18-2011, 03:37 AM
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Default Runner by reggman99

Runner


A blanket of grey to smother the sun; a chill wind stripping the air from my lungs, and I felt like freedom. A few feet ahead of me she jogged, a tiny beauty wrapped in a neon green over-shirt, one shoulder fashionably bared, black running shorts, and sneakers. I’d watched her in the beginning, admiring the shape of her, the way she moved, the rhythmic dance of her ponytail. No one would have blamed me, but when she glanced my way, there was hardness in her eyes and the set of her shoulders which skewered my lustful thoughts. My mind settled, focusing once more on the crunch of gravel beneath my shoes and the slow fires building within my muscles and chest.

She led me on, an emerald beacon in the grey gloom, and I followed gratefully. Silent homes came and went, our wavy images reflected in their darkened windows. Every so often I would glance behind us for no reason I can gather. I saw nothing and so I ran on.

After a time we made a sudden right, veering away from the still houses and the road down a hidden dirt path. It felt like dropping out of the world, like slipping inside yourself. The air was sharp there. Sound seemed to carry further, clearer. Bare-limbed trees and sad, twiggy bushes edged the trail, choking it ever narrower. I slowed, fearing I might twist an ankle on some unseen root or crag or pit as around me the grey dullness sank further toward a thick, charcoal twilight.

I wrestled my eyes away from the shadowed ground at the sound of pounding steps. Several feet ahead now and steadily pulling away from me, my guide was racing across overgrown brush littering the path. An unexplainable apprehension surged through me as I watched her recede, goose bumps dotting my skin. Despite my hesitation, I quickened my pace, fearing abandonment much more than injury. My strides longer, it took little for me to cut the distance. Huffing raggedly, I burst from the hidden trail returning to the paved road and the houses.

I saw them then.

They scuttled behind her, shadowy and noiseless. It was impossible to make them out fully. Night had settled in and they seemed to swim in and out of the darkness. Light from the streetlamps made them even harder to see, like coiling mist or half-formed thought.

They followed her, pursued her wildly, hungrily. I heard a strange, sad noise when the closest reached out to her. She never looked back, but by the way she leaned forward, pumping more speed into her stride, I knew she was aware of their presence.

I think it’s important to understand, as nightmarish as this all sounds, I was not afraid. It’s hard to explain, but there was no malice coming from them, just an overwhelming sense of wanting. Drawing as close as possible, I reached out for the nearest shadow, intending to snatch it from the pack and cast it aside. In what I can only describe as fitting for the circumstances, however, my hands slid past its skin, closing on nothing at all. From fingertip to wrist, I felt nothing but bitter cold. It seeped into my skin, my bones, and with a jolt it spread throughout my body. Finally it reached my mind, my thoughts, and I understood.

I drifted. I heard voices; a relentless tide, layered one atop the other. They fought desperately for her attention, screaming, pleading and whispering. Their words were nonsensical, composed of wild desires. Some spoke in the voices of children, incessantly repeating her name over and over again. Others were deeper, older, quietly speaking of things I could not, or was not meant to understand. There were those, deeper into the pack, wrapped in a silence so dense and meaningful I longed to shield her heart as well as my own. And somewhere near the center, something turned to me. It was darker than the rest, true dark, like the black when you close your eyes. It had no desires. It was content merely to saunter along. Whatever it had once coveted, it had already taken long ago.

I stumbled, slipping on loose gravel and once more the neighborhood surrounded me. Catching my balance, I made to continue, to help her somehow when against my neck I felt a frozen touch. More and more settled against my skin. I was immobilized by shock and then a familiar weight I could never begin to explain collapsed upon me. It was not physical, I can say that much. It seemed to sink into my chest, my vision; my very soul. I cried out, fighting and exhausting myself, but whatever strength I needed I had none of it. I closed my eyes and prepared to let go.

“Run.”

When my eyes snapped open again she was there, filling my vision. She reached behind me, grasping at my assailant. I watched her eyes widen, shining oddly beneath the street lamps. She stared into me, filled with heartbreaking empathy. Over her shoulder, her own shadows swarmed. They fell against her and she grimaced, her skin paling. She staggered and I caught her arm and from the deep corners we normally hide from ourselves, I found the strength to rise. Together we stood, surrounded by our dark torments. I stared desperately into her eyes, and she into mine, and then as one we turned and we ran.

We ran hard and we ran fast. We ran for moments which stretched into forever. My lungs spun air to flame. My heart clenched, crushing my chest, and still I ran. Above me, stars burned white hot in the night and I ran to them. Beside me I heard her panting harshly. Between clenched teeth she hissed, “Run!” and I have no idea which one of us it was meant for.

When I feared the fire in my muscles would consume me completely I saw the house where our journey began. Moments later we careened to a stop in the driveway, sucking in lungfuls of air while holding our stitching sides together. I turned to my companion. There were tears in her eyes. She held my gaze for a second or two before lowering her head self consciously. Eventually she turned, looking down the street we had just travelled. I lingered on her briefly before doing the same.

Under a distant streetlight they stood, silently watching. One by one, they turned and slunk back into the night until only the darkest one, the one that had turned to me earlier was left behind. It remained for many more heartbeats, motionless and indistinct. Finally it lifted what I’m sure was an arm and waved a farewell and then it too was gone. I turned back to her, knowing the goodbye had not been for me. She stared, her expression unreadable, and hugged herself against the crisp night wind.

I moved close, wanting to place an arm around her protectively and tell her it was alright. I did neither. She deserved better than the lie. It wasn’t what she needed. Instead we stood together, watching the pool of light where our demons had stood, wondering when we would need to run again; knowing when the time came we would do it together.
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:38 AM
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Default The Game by Phyllis Stewart

The Game

Yesterday was a sunny day,
made for playing on the sands.
With hot dogs bursting on the grill,
Mom yelled, "Wash your hands."

My cousins and I were barefoot
playing volleyball on the shore.
We were hungry but having fun,
wanting just a little more.

The score was close at ten to nine,
as I hit the ball over the net.
"Just a little bit longer," I begged,
"The game isn’t over yet."

Grandma and her sisters sat
with the women in the shade,
laughing loud and talking soft,
drinking pop and lemonade.

Dad and my uncles and Grandpa
played cards beneath a tree.
Holding a can of beer in his hand,
Dad started to motion to me.

But the score had just been tied.
Would he let us finish the set?
"Just a little bit longer," I begged,
"The game isn’t over yet."

All that happened yesterday,
before they grayed and died,
leaving me on the precipice,
next to cross to the other side.

Not now, my score’s only 81.
That can’t be all I get!
"Just a little bit longer," I beg,
"The game isn’t over yet."
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:39 AM
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Default If by Ethan Blake

IF?

If I could wake before I sleep
What wonders of the mind I’d reap
What magic beings there would fly
In daymare dreams before my eye
And in the light of waking hours
What wondrous thoughts would burst in flower
To dare the realms of consciousness
In gardens of forgetfulness
There to live their other life
Where duty’s hold has felt the knife
To frolic rant and play and rave
Before the ever yawning grave
Remember thoughts I never had
That drive one sane before ones mad
Elusive dreams I’d catch and keep
If I could wake before I sleep
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:40 AM
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Default Sunday Morning Mall Car Parking by Nadja

Sunday Morning Mall Car Park

cars crawl
round and round
droning like
sun-drugged flies
near a pot
of honey.
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:47 AM
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A four-way tie?
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Old 12-31-2011, 09:02 AM
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Looks like it, the staff is currently discussing on how to resolve this.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:04 PM
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Icon6 new to the forum.

I was not here to vote since I am new. So a great way to have a tie breaker is ad my vote.

The Game looks good.

The best part is I am not biased since I have no clue who any of the writers are.

Thanks, Neal

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Old 03-18-2012, 02:59 AM
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Um . . . Neal? This poll's been closed for months, and the winners already chosen.

Please refrain from thread necromancy. Thank you!
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