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Song of the Silk Road

A string of caravans makes its way ponderously across the Karakum Desert. The weary thuds of the horses’ hooves fall in time with the sleepy nods of the riders. Even the warriors – the ones paid to protect the merchants – are affected by the scorching heat. They are heading to the nearby oasis, hoping to reach it before nightfall.

They will never reach their destination.

The bandit leader is on the top of the sand dune, knowing that the travellers will not look up. Even if they do, it’ll be too late.

He heads back and looks at his band. They are a motley crew, browned by the sun and hardened by their greed. On their necks lie gold chains, taken from previous victims. Clinking together, they weave a battle melody as the bandits prepare themselves. Tonight, more chains will join the song.

Horses thunder out from behind sand dunes. The warriors curse and scrabble for weapons. The merchants moan at their ill fortune. Their wives shrink into corners of their caravans.

The war-cries of the bandits and the pleas of their victims fill the air. But the desert falls silent once more as the sands take in their bloody meal.

The bandit leader strides from caravan to caravan, inspecting the goods. He pays no attention to the corpses sprawled around him. The loot is the only thing that matters.

Upon opening a caravan door, he is surprised when a young girl leaps out at him, brandishing a knife. Unskilled, she is disarmed quickly. The bandit leader surveys her.

The girl cannot be more than nine summers old. Her hands are soft yet her fingertips have calluses, the rewards of playing a string instrument. There is no fear or grief in her eyes, only hatred. The girl is strong.

He decides to keep her.

Slinging her over his shoulder, he does not notice the blows that fall on his back nor the shrill squeals of indignity that break the desert’s silence once more.

 

The bandit leader, along with the screaming girl and his band, soon reach the caves and haul the spoils inside. Even the girl is silenced – temporarily - by the amount of treasure that glitters inside the caves.

There are dates and nuts, taken from the merchants of Persia. Frankincense and myrrh lie on the right, snatched from the traders of Somalia. Logs of sandalwood are piled at the back, plundered from the foreigners of India. And there is the silk, the cause of all these opportunities for fortune. They shimmer in the dim light, beckoning and cooing. Men have lost their lives to obtain these bolts of fabric. The cache hidden in the depths of the dark cave sparkle and purr in harmony, whispering, “Come” and little are the men who can resist their charms.

The bandit leader strides to his quarters and puts the girl down. She ignores him and instead inspects her surroundings. In the corner, a liuqin sits. It is of good quality – obviously ripped from some travelling musician’s hands. The girl picks up the lute. Shifting her hands so that the pear-shaped instrument is balanced, the girl gingerly strikes a note. A pure sound echoes up and down the caves.

Slowly at first, then picking up the pace, the girl lets her fingers fly over the strings, plucking a mournful song – a tune for the dead people who have died today. 

The bandit leader listens to the melody with a slight pang in his heart. He has heard the song before and plays it often – he has lost companions too. The child is exceedingly good. He settles his chin on his hands and immerses himself in the heartbreaking harmony.

 

Every day, the girl plays a different tune for the bandit leader. Some are merry, others forlorn. Some are foreign to his ears, others remind him of his old life.

After she finishes, the bandit leader is subjected to her scrutiny. Every day, she sighs and turns away. When he asks why, she answers, “I wanted to see if you were ready to learn the Song of the Silk Road.”

 

Tonight, the bandit leader leans back against the wall of the cave and gestures for the girl to start.

Her hands in position, she starts to strum a well-known folk song. Her fingers pull and release with practiced ease and send the chords resonating through the caves. Her hands dance up and down the lute and so, too, does the melody. It sails out, a net of happiness, and catches the bandit leader unawares. Yet something pricks the back of his mind, pushing a long-forgotten memory forward. He is sure he knows the tune…

A village woman sits on a crudely fashioned bed, humming gently as she brushes her son’s hair. The boy’s eyes are half-closed, relishing the soft touch…

The boy is running, feet slapping the ground in a fast tempo. Into the fields he flies, stopping only when he sees a muscled man. His father turns and roars in delight. They pad off home, singing boisterously…

In the hut, the woman plays a liuqin, crooning in dulcet tones. The father joins in, a deep bass and their voices soar, twining around each other. The father gestures at his son and the boy lets his voice loose. The music spins around and around the hut, bouncing off the walls, surrounding the family, binding them together in the Song of Love...

It is a long time before the bandit leader realizes that the girl has stopped playing. He touches his face wonderingly and feels the wetness underneath his finger. He looks up at the girl. For the first time, she is smiling.

 

They sit on top of a sand dune. The bandit leader is puzzled as to why the girl insists that he must learn the Song of the Silk Road but tonight he has been reminded of a long-forgotten song and is feeling amicable.

“Close your eyes… listen...”

The girl is already positioned, eyes shut off from the world but with her mind and her ears wide open, ready to receive the Song of the Silk Road.

The bandit leader is cautious as to closing his eyes; it goes against his most primary instincts. But in the end, he forces himself to relax and listen.

Nothing.

He can hear nothing.

Sitting there, he wonders how long they have sat already. Surely it has only been minutes but it feels like several summers. He can feel his mind settling, as if about to enter a deep sleep.

Shhhhhhaaaa…

The wind rustles through the sand.

“Listen…”

The bandit leader hears.

Shhhhhhaaaa…woooooaaaooo…rowrraaaa…

The wind hums. The bird calls. The cat howls. The snake hisses.

Was this the Song of the Silk Road?

“No…”

Shhing. Ahhhhhh!!!!! Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Splaaaa!!! AIEEEEE!!!!

“NO!”

The bandit leader hears, his ears open to the Song of the Silk Road. In his mind, the swords unsheathe. The victims cry. The blades slash. The blood spurts. The bandits roar.

The bandit leader wants to open his eyes, and close his ears. He can do neither. He cannot tear himself away from the bloody images because he knows that he has lived this before.

The music changes suddenly, a river diverted from its true course, flowing from melody to melody.

Come…Touch us…We can give you so much…Come…

The silk croon. The scents tempt. The wood whispers. The silk murmurs again.

Come… sing with us…

The bandit leader forgets the other melody of the Silk Road. He can only hear the silk singing. Treasure. Wealth. Power. The words boom in his head.

“No…”

As if she can sense the shift in his mind, the girl suddenly brings out the liuqin and plays on it a simple, familiar tune. The bandit stiffens.

A woman hums. Two people warble. Three people sing.

The Song of Love… The Song of the Silk Road…

A woman hums. Shhaaaa. Come. Splaaaa!!! Three voices soar. Come.

Come.

The bandit leader’s eyes fly open. He is panting. Again, tears stain his cheeks. He buries his face in his hands. He has learned the Song of the Silk Road, or perhaps, he had learned the Song of the Silk Road long ago but had only just started understanding it. It is a tune so different from the Song of Love. Composed by greed and malice, its lyrics sing of blood and gore. Yet…

Come…

He stands up, not meeting the girl’s eyes. The girl does not say anything. There is nothing to say.

He cannot give up the Song of the Silk Road.

 

A string of caravans makes its way ponderously across the Karakum Desert. A girl no more than ten summers old runs out from behind a sand dune, a liuqin strapped to her back. The caravans stop. The girl boards.

On top of the sand dune, the bandit leader looks down, knowing that the travelers will not look up.

 

Copyrighted 2011

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Existing as a Pessimist

 

i am not in the mood to exist today.

 

there's no rain screaming outside these

 

windows, and there's not even one

 

sickly grey cloud floating in any sad way.

 

but I am just not in the mood to exist today.

 

the grass isn't crying out from the

 

ache of a drought and the sun hasn't even

 

been slapped, hard with a stinging pain

 

from today's dreary thoughts or noises.

 

there is something hiding behind the trees

 

and it sits on its knees but it isn't danger.

 

it's a lone stick of emptiness, trying to

 

find the center of its body, it may come

 

from behind its shadow, it may until then

 

 it'll sway--

 

still, I am not in the mood to exist today.

 

the rock on my chest sits heavy, yes...

 

there is nothing strong enough to lift it.

 

ghosts parade on each sides, I've seen in my eyes.

 

to breathe, or to die in September lies.

 

to eat the dirt from September's floor because

 

it is all I am offered, and nothing more.

 

I may awake, or at silent rest I could stay.

 

though it will vapor and twist away.

 

I am still not in the mood to exist today.

 

I rummage thoughts and pain and fear.

 

I muffle the strained doubts I hear.

 

attacks crawling beneath my feet like

 

scuffs, streaked thin and mean on the tile.

 

i'm sorry I don't mean to consecutively cry.

 

 

 

i'm sorry I don't mean to consecutively die.

i'm sorry I don't mean to eat the letter "y"

and spew out the word "why" afterwards...

but it happens, day after day, because of these

noiseless sounds--

and they play with the strings of my heart

like a harp, so perfectly and majestic.

when has it ever been okay?

they say, and I have no answer.

when? when has it ever been okay?

but my heart keeps skipping, and my body goes numb.

when has it ever been okay?

pessimist, pessimist--

 

 

I can hear them say. 

 

gather the diminished breath lost on the way:

pessimist! I hiss

but i am just NOT in the mood to exist today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow, that's a big brain!

I think it’s kind of genius. I think that it’s so amazing and miraculous and that’s only cause no one knows about it yet. I don’t even know about it yet. It’s going to be gold amongst another dimension (because gold is the only thing I could think of that has monetary value amongst humans). It’s going to sell out and rock out because it exists in secret…and that’s what makes it pure and special. Like, the air is fucking it, and there are outer-worldly phenomenon touching it. Nothing is eating it up and nothing is something. But, this genius, this thing is innocent and it’s never seen a fight break out or a murder. It’s kind of violent but it doesn’t know violence. It’s crazy kind of like Carroll from the drug-drug days. (I hated everything he said but I couldn’t stop reading it.) I bet he was a beautiful man but media portrayed him ugly and otherwise. But Jim Carroll isn’t what’s hiding, it’s just this thing that’s forever and we don’t know about it yet. It’s swimming in us and all around us. It’s a great force. I just feel like once we develop the technology to catch it, we’re going to study it into extinction. It’s genius but it’s not invincible. Our frontal cortex makes us liable to fuck it up, weather it be with attention or syringes. I hope it lasts when it debuts but for now the fairies and the sprites are enjoying it cause we might kill em’ too. 

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Orgasmic Delights

Paper!

Parchments hand cut. Pads and reems of exquisite, delicate paper.

Thin as tissue or sturdy and thick. Roughly torn or cut with precision.

Paper in all colors and sizes. Creamy ivory linen or handmade with flower pulp.

The smell. The feel. The cuts to the fingers.

The way it looks as it is waiting to be written on. Anything can happen in the moments before it becomes decoratively defiled by the pen and ink.

Pens!

Every color. Every weight. Some inexpensive but oh, the exquisitely heavy ones. Jet black ink. Fountain or ball point. Brush tip and calligraphy. The smell. The taste as you touch it's tip to your tongue. The permanence.

And with the union of pen and paper a uniquely desirable creation is brought forth.

the Letter!

Oh! Love Letters to be exact. Written by a fountain pen from which flows ebony ink. Curving into the hand just so, it strokes with the greatest of care the alluring pages of ivory linen.

Tenderly folded and sealed with a scarlet wax. Tied loosely with a ribbon of crimson... a letter set to wait for it's delivery.

But love letters require a recipient and alas, I have to lover to woo into orgasmic delights.

Therefore I delight myself in the pleasures of pen and paper.

 

 

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time capsule - i

listen,

sometimes, your worst days won’t be the ones when you feel sad, depressed, lonely, frustrated or even stressed with all work you need to get done.

your worst days will be the ones you feel numb, emotionless, not alive, still and it will suck. please occupy your mind with things that matter to you, let it pass smoothly or not, just let it pass.

don’t let it get to you, i hope you never feel this way.

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Shrink Wrap Them Before January

To the man who loved you first, so natural in ways you find effortlessly beautiful- hulking brunette wisps and whipped lids blinking over nethermost eyes, luring you,

to him

from me, away.

I barely understand this mans allure, having met him nonchalantly over only hurried hellos. To you his heart plays perhaps piano notes like strings humming into the coded center of your vibrating heart. Chomp, you have bitten, your gravity has itself been altered.

Occasionally I witness you in public and it seems now as though you are happy. Shopping the grocer with him, a quick laughing set of eyes linking, sharing the morning car ride to work; even vinegary winter wind is blowing somewhere nice, is it not?

But first it must pass these windows of which I now stare, blowing so capable, so vigorously on its way, howling.

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The Grey Sweatshirt

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Promises To Keep And Miles To Go Before I Speak, or, Update (27/7/13)

Silence has always bothered me. Not silence in conversation so much, as sometime there is nothing to say; but silence in writing.

 

I have always felt awkward when I haven't written anything in a while. I get that same feeling like when someone hurls an insult at you and you can't think of a witty reply until hours later and you say "That's what I should have said!"

That's how I feel when I'm silent in my writing.

And I'm going to be be silent for a while to come unfortunately. Or, more correctly, silent in this big Happy-Land known as the internet.

 

But just because I am silent here does not mean I am silent everywhere. I am taking some time away from my short stories as I have a novel to complete. I've been working on it for about two years now and I believe it's time to see it done. I'm hoping to have it complete before the year's end (or, at least in some form that's akin to a readable and, dare I say, enjoyable novel).

 

That being said, I do feel as though I have maybe one or two short stories left to tell before I take this internet vow of silence. I promise nothing, only that if I do write them, you can find them here and that they will be worth the read.

 

I'll still be around though, like an evicted tenant who has nowhere else to go, rifling through your bins and scanning your blogs for something to keep me warm.

 

I will still be writing for www.fbiradio.com in case your needing a fix of my amazingly brilliant humour (aka testicle and fart jokes) and once I'm done with the novel, I plan on sharing a chapter or two with you all here.

After all, if it wasn't for the internet, I would never have found the courage to find my writing voice, something which, while you may not find it online, you'll definitely be hearing from again. Soon hopefully than later.

 

And so, I leave you with the sound of silence.

 

Talk soon,
Daniel. 

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Bitter-sweet Chocolate (Revised)

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Who knows?

*

I was typing on my laptop when i could have sworn I saw something that looked like a huge spider, in the peripheral vision of my right eye; but when i whipped my head around, there was nothing there but a blank wall.

Then I returned to my laptop, and again, i could have sworn I saw something that looked like a spider, but when i whipped my head around, there was nothing there but the aforementioned wall. 

It vanished like a mirage; i’m not crazy, i swear….

So i said “F it!”, and i turned and commenced to stare at that wall, and stare…for forty-five straight, boring, frustrating minutes!

Suddenly, in my periheral vision, AGAIN, i see a spider-like shape, this time on my laptop screen, so, without hesitation, i snapped out my left hand, fisting it at the same time and whapped the hell out of the biggest spider you will ever see. 

Knocked the laptop off my desk, prolly wrecked it. Looked down at spider goo on my fist…, oh well…..

But i nailed that fucker, nailed him good. Mirage my ass.  

So i’ll leave you with this tidbit:

If you see something strange out of the corner of your eye, don’t dismiss it as an illusion, trust your peripheral vision. 

It just might only be the biggest spider that ever graced a wall - or it could be nothing, and you could just be crazy . Who knows? 

*

“Nailed that fucker”.  (I just like saying that…)

“Mirage my ass!”.     (That too…) 

I’m ill, right?