Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Another Orpheus visit to the Other Realm November 27, 2012

Here’s a chunk from today’s NaNoWriMo scribblings.  I confess that I have lost a bit of inspiration about what’s going on in Grace Awakening Destiny, (Book 4) I’ve decided that any novel writing counts, so long as it’s new writing.  I have some holes I want to patch in Grace Awakening Myth, (Book 3)  and here is a patch for your entertainment:

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“ARES! I shouted.  “Get out here, you coward!”  I stomped in a circle around a foggy clearing, trying to force it into something less ethereal.

“Shouting is so immature, Orpheus,” declared a bored feminine voice, manifesting a throne behind her..  “Aren’t you a little old for such theatrics?”  She looked down her elegant nose and then added, “But of course, you’re all about the theatre, aren’t you?”

“Hera.  Isn’t Ares a little old to be sending his mommy out to fight his battles?”

She smiled, but it was a dangerous thing, like the tantalizing blossom of a poisonous plant.  “My son is busy right now.  Unlike you, he has important things to do.”

“Your definition of important and mine are rather different.  What is he doing?  Is he fueling some holy war or training up Middle Eastern terrorists?  Doesn’t the Earthly Realm deserve a break from war?”

“The humans don’t want a break from war, silly boy.  Giving up war would mean giving up their quest for wealth and power.  Humans are all about power.  They all want to be in control.  They get it by buying favour.  They get it by killing little men, so they can crawl on their backs, to attain what the little men don’t even dare to dream about.  Their glory is being trodden upon by those climbing over their pathetic lives.  They’re just ants, Orpheus.  And if Ares wants to play with his magnifying glass, why should anyone stop him?  It’s all humans are good for, after all, entertaining us.”  She shrugged, dismissing the entire human race with the slightest of movements of her shoulder.

“My wife isn’t an ant.  My friends aren’t ants.”  I said.

“Wife?” she laughed.  “Now you imagine that she’s your wife?  I seem to recall that she is the prize of whoever wins this challenge, and victory is very unlikely to be yours.  She is not ever going to be your wife again.”  She stepped closer to me, and stared with eyes of ice.  “My son is a god of war, Orpheus,” she spat.  “He is not one of your pathetic little musician friends.  He is not a dancing girl like those Graces.”  She curled her lips and snarled.  “He is powerful, and you will not defeat him.  Now go!  Return to those pathetic creatures and their pathetic lives.  You are not worthy to be in this realm.”

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NaNoWriMo Day 27 total: 4118  (November total 41,006)

Writing furiously this evening, after a raff of medical appointments today.

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unitards… September 30, 2012

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Grace Awakening Myth,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:54 am
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It’s gratifying to go back through a manuscript completed ages ago, and find yourself giggling at scenes you’d completely forgotten about.  As I’m editing Grace Awakening Myth this evening, I came across this scene, and I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Please note that this is a draft version, I can already see several things to fine tune! 🙂

Ben is backstage, preparing for a band concert.  One of his friends took dance to meet a girl he likes, and he’s about to perform in a quartet dance number as part of the concert.  Ben is narrating.

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I could sense Grace in the audience as we set up the stage for the band concert.  She must have come early with Christie.  The tenuous ribbons of connection between us floated invisibly in the air, but I could feel them.  She had been ignoring me at school, but her mind had been busy thinking about me.  She was opening possibility, and the awareness made my heart soar.

Her presence was calling to the music in me.  Surely, the other players would be captivated by it as well.  The concert was going to be a good one.

Ryan was shivering in a corner.

“What’s wrong?”

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

“It’s just nerves,” I said.  “You’ve played concerts plenty of times.  It’s always fine.”

He stared at me like I was a moron.  “I’m wearing a spandex unitard under this band uniform.”

I laughed, and as the picture seered my brain, I laughed harder.

He sent me a withering look and the tears started.  They stung my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, but I couldn’t stop laughing.

Paul came over.  “What’s so funny?”

“Ryan,” I sputtered.  “Spandex.”

Paul wrinkled his nose.  “Ooh, nasty.  Nothing is worth that, Bro.  What were you thinking?  On the other hand,” he glanced to the wings, “Georgia is looking mighty fine this evening.”

She was.  Her hair tumbled loosely in waves almost to her waist.  She was wearing a beige unitard that disappeared at a distance.  Her curves were magnificent.

Ryan sighed.  “It is sooooo worth it.  Excuse me,” he muttered to us, and went to stand with her.

Her smile lit her face as he came near.  It made my heart warm.

Paul looked around for Tanis, and saw her standing off to the side watching Ryan and Georgia.  “Do you think she’s jealous?”

I shrugged, “Maybe a little.  Don’t let it worry you.  Have you seen J-Roy yet?”

He looked around, “There he is, at the back in black.  Oh my.  Is that the same thing Ryan is wearing?”  He started to snicker.

I sucked back the guffaw that started to explode out of me.  J-Roy was clad in a black unitard.  A hood covered his trademark lion’s mane of tawny hair.  The only skin that showed was on his hands, feet, and face.  J-Roy is athletic.  He stood tall, his body rippled with muscular definition.  He looked fantastic.  “Oh, poor Ryan,” I groaned.

Ryan’s slightly paunchy belly and sloped shoulders were not the optimal build for a unitard.

Paul smirked at me, “Maybe Ryan hopes the black will be slimming?”

I started to shake, pursing my lips tightly.

Misty floated by in a glowing euphoria, with frequent glances over to J-Roy.  “Doesn’t he look like some kind of Greek god?” she murmured to me.

I pondered a lecture on over-generalization, but with another look to J-Roy I had to acknowledge that he did, in fact, bear a strong resemblance to some of my relatives.

 

ballet of Orpheus May 14, 2012

Filed under: Mythology — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:42 am
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And now, for something completely different…

Pas de Deux of Orpheus and Euridike from the much acclaimed ‘timelapse/(Mnemosyne)’ created by choreographer David Dawson for Dutch National Ballet (2011)

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Kharon drops in January 24, 2012

Further to my determination to squeeze out some writing or die trying, I thought I’d share the day’s efforts on Grace Awakening Myth (Book 3 of 4 in the Grace Awakening series).  It’s a first draft, remember.  To be honest, there are already some changes, but you’ll get the idea.  This is 1230 words.  My goal is about 1200 a day, (5 pages) or 6000 words (25 pages) a week.  That was the pace for the first 2 books in the series. 

As I sat down to write, the image in my head was of blackness.  I wrote about that while wondering exactly why it was so black, and then Kharon walked in… 

Truly, I just take dictation.  The story is just floating out there, waiting for me to listen to it.  Ben is narrating.

It’s a black night, Stygian black, as they say. That’s very black. The River Styx drifts, black as crude oil, roiling and burbling with the murmuring sibilance of thousands upon thousands of lost voices. Its thick waters seem to suck the light from the sky, and leave all around it in an inky grey wash. Kharon the boatman floats along on his ferry, pole in hand, pushing it away from the banks, gathering the departing souls and taking them safely to Hades, for the price of a coin, of course. He shows up at the stops to collect what Hermes has dropped off: the confused half-shadows, some still not quite aware that they are ghosts, reclaimed from new graves. The shades dazedly cough up their coin, and they load into the ferry as Hermes waves to them heartily and wishes them luck on the next part of their journey like some jolly tour guide. Hermes can be quite an ass. The vacuous faces hardly stir in response, though. Those without a coin are on their own to get across the Styx. If you’re on your own, you’re not going to make it across. Simple.

I shivered at the memory of that blackness and the descent into the sucking void of the underworld. This was earth though, and not the underworld. This was Grace, not Eurydice. It was a Stygian black night, though, and the oppressive gloom was creeping into my gut.

“Hey, there. Ben is it?” The low voice held a faint glimmer of amusement.

“Hello Kharon.” I nodded courteously, recognising him at once. Had my thoughts summoned him? Or was this dismal atmosphere a result of his presence? “What brings you here? You’re a little far from the river.”
“Not so far. A guy needs a bit of a break from water now and then, after all. The river flows where it needs to. It’s near enough that I can step ashore for a moment.” He looked around with interest. “I thought I’d come have a chat with you.”

“With me?” My heart stopped for a moment. “I’m honoured, of course,” I said with a polite incline of my head, “but…uh…why?”

He smiled. His long nose and slightly blue tinged skin made it a rather eerie expression. Though it was probably meant to be reassuring, it made him look a trifle morose. It didn’t lighten the mood, at any rate.

I waited while he stood ponderously thinking. His thoughts seemed to move like he was punting through them with the stick he used on the ferry. They moved slowly and methodically in one direction. Patiently was the only way to communicate with Kharon. He would not be rushed.

Finally he said, “It’s about the girl.”

I took a deep breath. “Which girl? Grace?”

He shook his head. “No. The other one.”

“Other one?”

“From before. You know. The snake bit her, and you went to Hades to try to get her out? You snuck by the dog with some singing and got everyone down there all in a mush of sentimentality with your music, and they let you take her. But something happened and she had to stay, after all.”

“I looked back.” I whispered, suddenly cold.

“Ah.” Kharon nodded sagely. “Oh right. Looking back can cause a lot of problems for a person, can’t it?”

“Apparently.” I tried to bite back the sarcastic tone in response to his unintentional understatement.

“Yeah. Well. She was at the river bank the other day when I went by, and she asked me to give you a message.”

I swallowed. Then swallowed again. My mouth was the Sahara all of a sudden. I croaked, “She asked you…to give me a message.” She had never tried to communicate with me before. Why did she need to send a message now? What did she know?

He nodded in confirmation at my dazed expression, then after making sure that I was paying attention he looked up, as if trying to recall her exact words. He cleared his throat and intoned, “She said, ‘If you have a chance to see my love, when you’re above. Tell him that the song has many verses, some rich with hate and curses, but that he deserves whatever joy, that girl can give a boy.’”

“She rhymed it?”

He shrugged. “I think she thought it’d help me remember.”

“Oh.”

“I think she misses you,” he added. “She looked sad.”

“She’s been in the underworld for a couple of thousand years. Of course she’s sad.”

Kharon shrugged again. “Not everyone is. They get used to it. Everyone has to be there eventually after all.”

“I suppose.” It hurt to think about Eurydice. It hurt to remember that my failure doomed her to that two thousand years in the underworld. She wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t been inept. My failure. Mine. It wasn’t Kharon’s fault. “Thanks for passing along the message.”

He nodded. “I think she was afraid Hermes wouldn’t deliver it and Iris doesn’t have reception there.”

“Oh yes. Of course not. I appreciate you taking the effort.”

He stood waiting for something, with a studied nonchalance.

“Oh, wait.” I rummaged in my pockets and studied the coins. “I don’t have anything ancient. Will a twonie do?”

He eyed the polar bear on the two dollar coin dubiously. “A little on the cheap side, but whatever. Next time we meet in the Other Realm, you can top it up.” His mouth twitched in something that might have been a good-humoured smirk, but might not.

I chose to interpret it positively. “Thank you, Kharon.”

He started to stroll off with that particular, unsteady gait of sailors walking on land, and then looked back over his shoulder, “You take good care of that new girl, you hear? Don’t let looking back blind you to the possibilities ahead of you. What you’ve done before doesn’t have to bind your future.”

His words hit me like an arrow and I reverberated for a moment from the impact. When I went to answer him, he’d disappeared. With him went to ominous atmosphere of blackness, and I was able to take a deep breath again. The fresh air oxygenated my lungs and cleared my head, but his message sat heavily on my heart.

I thought of Eurydice from time to time, of course. If I was being honest with myself, it was her that made me most anxious about Grace. Eurydice was my first and greatest failure. My first love, my first wife, symbolized such an essential lack in my character that any thought of her ensured my elemental humility, despite the loud accolades about my brilliant talent. Such bone deep awareness of inadequacy is not overcome. Ever.

It is also why I am afraid that I won’t be able to protect Grace this time.

I’ll tell you a secret. I’m pretty sure that it is also why they appointed me her guardian. They don’t expect me to succeed. They think that it will appear they’re giving her a guard, when I’m actually so useless that she is doomed.
I know it.

I know it, and despite being overwhelmed with the awareness of my own inadequacies I am so damned full of pride that I’ll risk it anyway, rather than let Mars or Alexandros have the job. What kind of fool’s paradox is that?

Mine.

 

Yesterday I wrote a love song September 15, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:32 pm
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While Grace Awakening Power (Book two in the series) is out for final edits, I’m working on Grace Awakening Myth, the third book. Grace Awakening Myth is Awakening Dreams told from Ben’s perspective. Poor Ben (aka Orpheus!) is suffering at the moment with his shattered nose.  He’s in pursuit of his beloved Grace, and she is not being cooperative.  He’s suffering so much that it was time for a cathartic poem…

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Yesterday I wrote a love song
Spun in circles
Weaving memory
Reaching past today
Touching yesterday
Touching you
The only way
That’s left.

Yesterday was wrapped in kisses
Spun on cycles
Weaving history
Reaching past today
Touching yesterday
Touching you
The only way
That’s left.

Today you’re gone and how I long
For circles cycles
Memory and history
Reaching past today
Touching yesterday
Touching you
The only way
That’s left

Tomorrow needs to be prolonged
Spin our cycle
To eternity
Reaching through today
Beyond yesterday
Touching you
Every day
That’s best.

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Not sure whether or not that will end up being in the book.  I think it would make an awesome song.  I need a musician to take on that challenge…  

Submitted as part of the Gooseberry Garden poetry picnic.  If you are here for the picnic, please include a link to your own submission if you leave a comment.  Thanks!

 

 
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