The Night of the Planets [Repost]

Prompt: Faith
Original Prompt: Awe, June 23, 2016

saturn

Some people think that I dreamed the whole thing, but I know it really happened.

I live in Arizona, U.S.A., in a suburb way south of a city called Scottsdale. Houses in this “community” are small and cheap, and many of them still lie empty, with dead palm trees glued to the soil in front of the door. In the winter, a few more neighbors appear, but not many, and they leave again in spring.

My abode has two small bedrooms and a small wall-enclosed garden. Beyond the low walls are other small gardens belonging to other house dwellers. The project was originally gated; now the gate stands permanently open. I put a splash pool in the middle of the garden, which has no plants, for my dog, Poopy. That is a play on words, of the famous dog, “Snoopy”. My garden gets morning sun, so the water is too warm for Poopy to play in until early afternoon. I bring out a pitcher of ice cubes to help cool it down. Poopy splashes around in it like a toddler. It is strange to watch.

The kitchen has a fancy fridge that makes ice cubes. The fridge came with the house. All I really needed to buy was a TV set, which I got at Walmart, a ninety minute drive south-east. It is a Samsung 30″ flat screen and I mounted it on the wall.

There are no grocery stores, restaurants, or shops of any kind within an hour’s drive. There is a Texaco gas station, though, which stocks Lay’s Potato Chips and Pepsi, if I ever get desperate.

I was born in Wisconsin, so I am technically a “cheesehead”. My father still lives there, at least he used to; I believe he is on the road, looking for me.

Yes, I am a taker of drugs. I have some pain without them. I also enjoy recreational drugs. In the community of empty box houses in the desert south of Scottsdale, there is not much else to do. I take my medication, smoke a little weed, sometimes talk to Facebook friends on the Internet. They are not real friends, since I call myself Jody Marx, which is not my real name, and in Facebook I live in California. But it is fun to talk to other people. It could be that their Facebook feed is false too. Who knows?

I walk Poopy early in the morning and late at night. If I drive to Scottsdale or Walmart, he comes with me in the car. The car has air-conditioning.

Poopy and I decided to drive south and take a few detours, just to see what we would find. I always pack a cooler of water, just in case, and sometimes some beer. I have a cell phone, but no guarantees that I will have reception.

On our exploration drive, we ended up in a place that was so empty it could have been the far side of the moon. Flat and utterly barren in all directions, there was something breathtakingly beautiful about it. I let Poopy loose, and he went a little crazy, running around with his nose to the ground. There was not even a tree or shrub to pee on.

As nightfall approached and it started to cool off, I set up a lawn chair so I could relax and watch the sun set on a perfectly flat horizon. I was hungry, and so was Poopy, so I was going to drive the hour and a half back right after the sun went down.

The stars were out, of course, and there was a winking red light low in the sky that I thought might be Mars. I don’t know much about the planets, just that there are nine of them, and they include Mars, Saturn, and Earth. Sometimes a star fell, and I made a wish. Poopy was curled up beside me on the hard-packed dirt, moody because he hadn’t been fed.

I had to get my jacket out of the trunk of the car, as it gets cold at night sometimes, in the desert.

I must have dozed off just as the sun disappeared. The lawn chair was uncomfortable, but the air was soft and perfectly cool, and the silence was as deep as the silence in the well at my Grandfather’s house, which I fell down when I was nine. That was quiet. This was quiet.

When Poopy barked I opened my eyes and there she was. I don’t know why I call the planet Saturn a “she”. I think actual Saturn might have been a god? And probably male. But “it” was not right and “he” sounded crazy.

She filled the sky with her plump perfect roundness and wide shimmering bands. I thought I was dreaming, sure I did, but I poked Poopy, who was staring too, he stopped barking, and I stood up and walked around a bit, not taking my eyes off the sky, off the beautiful she-planet.

I took my phone out and took a picture. I went to the trunk of the car and got out a beer. I sat in the lawn chair again and stared at her.

The thing with me is, I believe my eyes. I believe I saw the planet in the Western sky, Poopy and I both did. I didn’t have anyone to share this information with, not really, so when we got home, after I fed Poopy, I put the news on. There was no mention of it. I called the local TV station and told them what I saw. They listened carefully and thanked me, but they did not put it in their news broadcast. I posted the picture to my Facebook page without comment. It just looked like a blurry planet. I should have included the lawn chair and Poopy in the photo.

I know there are scientific laws, laws of physics and astronomy. I understand that. I also understand that when you stare at a night sky so immense as the one that hangs over our heads all the time, every second, you have to come to realize that there are things beyond our knowledge, beyond explaining, beyond faith or religion, beyond science, beyond our comprehension.

Some people think I was dreaming, but I know what I saw to be true. I wonder if anyone else sees the unseeable sometimes. Who was dreaming that night, who saw what was real, and who refused to see what was in front of their faces?


 

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Think of the Ways

Prompt: Atmospheric

child poster pollution

Yes, children. Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.

Rejection

Prompt: Ooze

cell phone new message
Language warning

Wendy was busy that night; in fact she actually did have to wash her hair, having had an altercation with a beehive, a subsequent application of ointments to her scalp, and a seven a.m. shift the next morning.

Colin, who had thought it was time to move beyond the random texting, was not well-pleased by her response.

“You cunt,” he texted. “Your too fat anyway. I was only feeling sorry for you.”

Wendy had a long soak in a hot bathtub, pleased to have clean hair, happy to have avoided a date with Colin, tired and relatively content, until she logged into Facebook, from bed, on her laptop.

“I hope your raped and sodomized by a gorilla,” said the post from Colin Gibbons. She hadn’t known his last name until that moment. His grammar and spelling were below par.

“I know where you live, bitch,” he wrote. “I can see you. My friends wanna fuck you too.

Even though your a fat cow.”

Wendy blocked and banned his account, but not before he posted a picture of a woman performing a sexual act on a donkey.

After work the following morning, the red light on the land line phone blinked, indicating there was a message waiting. She decided not to listen to the message, and deleted it.

She looked out the apartment window and saw a man with a camera. Perhaps he was taking pictures of the building for a rental listing, as she knew several units were coming available at month’s end.

Her cousin Amos called her on her cell, and having checked her on Facebook, asked if she was all right. Wendy burst into tears.

“Don’t tell anyone,” she said, “But I am not all right.”

“Don’t tell anyone?”

“If they know how scared I am, how hurt and demoralized and disillusioned and how much I want to crawl into a dark hole and hide… they would be happy, they win.”

“They? This was Colin Something.”

“Add Louis, Carl, Roger A., and a few others I am trying to forget, and you have a picture of my life since February.”

Amos begged her to be safe, then logged off his phone and set it gently on the counter. Seven threats, seven attacks, since February? It seemed unlikely. Was she being too sensitive? Perhaps she should be a little more careful, a little more diplomatic when she turned a guy down?

Wendy considered deleting her Facebook account, once and for all. She considered avoiding nights out with her friends, or any social engagements where she might meet someone. Maybe she would avoid contact for a little bit. But she vowed not to delete her Facebook account. That would mean they won.


When Women Refuse

Seriously

Prompt: Seriousness

frank-zappa-eat-that-question

“Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what’s in it. It’s one of the best kept secrets. And so, if you don’t know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don’t know what’s in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?”

Frank Zappa, 1991.

Problem Solved

Prompt: Tremble

dog-with-butterfly

The only way to find out who had abandoned the dog was to follow it on its quest to return home.

That’s what Maxine was doing. She first tried to stop the creature, a wet, cold, straggly retriever mix that was unceremoniously dumped from a moving car on a remote road, on one of the iciest winter mornings of the year. Maxine, well-fed and healthy, was making her way from her country family to her city family.

The young dog, a male, might once have had a beautiful coat, clear eyes, and a steady gait. Now he was a trembling, weak, and unwanted beast. He immediately started to walk back in the direction in which the black car had disappeared. Maxine sniffed and nudged. She could smell blood and pain. The retriever was so traumatized that he ignored her and blindly plowed through the snow and ice.

It took several hours. Maxine was uncertain how the puppy survived. His pace was slow, and Maxine found her paws grow painfully frigid and her bones ache from the cold.

The black car was parked outside a small bungalow. All the curtains were drawn; the sidewalks uncleared of snow. The dog made its way to the front door, scratched at it, and when there was no response, he curled up into a ball, pressed hard against the traces of warm air leaking from under the door.

It took Maxine a half hour to get to Bernard’s, and he was horrified when he opened the door to a shivering, ice-covered bitch, but Maxine had no time for tender care. Andrew was there too, eating as usual, but at her relentless insistence they both got their coats and got into Bernard’s taxi. Maxine guided them to the bungalow.

“He chews up the carpet and the walls. He shits on the floor.” said the man who answered the doorbell, as he used his knees to prevent the animal from entering the house. “Sure I disciplined him, he doesn’t learn. I have to work, I can’t watch him every fucking minute. Stupid fucking thing could of just fell asleep and died out there, problem solved.” Bernard stared at him. Andrew draped a wool blanket over the puppy. The man said, “Report me? What for? What proof? Fuck off.”

Maxine lunged at the man, teeth bared, grabbing him firmly between the legs. His cry of shock and pain was muffled by the layers of powder snow accumulated on the porch, in the yard, and in the street. Andrew picked up the blanket-wrapped dog in his arms and carried him to the car.

Now the man was curled up into a ball on the threshold to the house.

“My dog? It wasn’t her,” said Bernard through clenched teeth, speaking loudly all the same, in order to be heard over the shouted threats. “Report me? What for? What proof? Fuck off. If you can.”

Andrew started the car, and when the heated air flooded the interior, the dog, exhausted, fell asleep.

 


  • Support your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or an equivalent organization in your area. This allows them to promote animal care education, hire qualified staff, gives them the means to pursue animal cruelty offenders, to pressure authorities to make meaningful laws, and to enforce those laws. 
  • I support the BCSPCA. Please Google to find an agency near you.

Smug Pilots

Prompt: Resist


Hello Wednesday,

The word of the day is resist.

What is there to resist?

 

cartoon-plane-hands-up


cartoon-indian-wall-pilgrims


 

What can you do to resist? If you live in the US, you can make weekly or daily calls to your representatives in government, at all levels; get involved in organizations that reflect your values; participate in protest marches; contribute financially to organizations that resist, or those that are adversely affected by policy changes; support an independent press; and remember to resist peacefully. Outside of the US, there are organizations and marches that you can join to resist global fascism, and you can still contribute financially if you are able to groups in the US like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and to independent American publications that are not afraid to truth-tell. Make your views known to your elected representatives. Resist bigotry and racism on every level, loudly but peacefully.

Sometimes I find the situation in the US so distressing that I have to take a physical break, and this often involves deep breathing and an actual effort to calm down.

Humour helps too.

cartoon-red-state-marriage


Peace!

~~FP

Second Thoughts and Day 8

Prompt: Second Thoughts

second-thoughts-saatchi

“Second Thoughts” by Kat Wright.

It is never too early in a process to have second thoughts. I’m only at Day 8 of NaNoWriMo and I’m already… no, I’m not really having second thoughts about writing a novel in thirty days, no more than I do every November 1 when I sit down at my keyboard and think “What on earth have I committed to?”

second-thoughs-armstrong

“second thoughts” by Alicia Armstrong.

The phrase second thoughts implies regret. Sometimes though, second thoughts allow us leeway to stop and think before jumping into the abyss, or an opportunity to withdraw from a regretful situation before it’s too late, like a hunter coming face to face with a vulnerable prey.

second-thoughts-with-writing

“The Second Thoughts When There’s No Going Back”: by Helen Chapman.

“The second thoughts where there’s no going back”. Also known as regrets. I wish I’d had the wisdom and courage when I was much younger to honestly say to myself, “Will I regret this some day?” I might have been braver, less selfish, more bold, because don’t you find that most of our regrets circle like buzzards around the the little bundle of decisions that reflect not what we have done wrong, but what we wish we’d done when we had the chance?