Thursday, October 30, 2008

WordCatalyst--November Issue

A fresh edition of WordCatalyst has just gone up. Here's a sneak peek at my column, and don't forget all the other fine columns, stories, poetry, and artwork while  you're there.

A Man and His Dog

Jasper Rollins' body lay still, an itinerant gnat flying around his bushy beard and a single bead of sweat dripping down his brow. The cobblestone alley was bumpy, uncomfortable to lie on. But he didn't notice in his inebriated slumber. An earlier rollover had already sent a nearby trash can crashing over on its side, spilling its contents.

Fritz, his pet German Shepherd, finished off those leftovers long ago. Well, "pet" is perhaps a strong term. The dog wasn't Jasper's pet so much as a traveling companion -- two souls who met up in the night, a rainy night, each taking shelter in the same box car. Snuggling together for warmth in the drenching cold air, they didn't so much as introduce themselves to assume instinctual, comfortable common ground dictated by necessity. No introductions necessary.  Read more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Morning Glory

A septet is a seven-line poem with the following number of syllables per line, no rhyme. 3, 5, 7, 9,7, 5, 3.
Morning Glory
Blue satin
openly awaits
morning's misty tears running
in rivulets seeking velvet depths
of miracles translucent
brushed with golden strokes

Copyright 2008 Photo and Poem - JO Janoski

Monday, October 27, 2008

Toby the Grouchy Pumpkin

Toby the Grouchy Pumpkin

Toby, the pumpkin, led a simple life. He was born, or should I say "blossomed" in Farmer John's field on a summer day, nothing more than a tiny green speck at first. But with lots of light and water he grew and grew. Amongst the trees and birds and flowers, he prospered in that good country air, finally reaching a humongous size of 24 inches in diameter, a freak of nature, as it were. 
His mother pumpkin, Emily, felt great distress over her mutant son. She rolled and thrashed in the patch worrying and fretting. Toby was truly the main topic of conversation in the field.
"Have you seen that giant pumpkin?"
"Yeah, man! Let's hope he never breaks loose and starts rolling! He'll smash us all like a steamroller!"
Indeed, bugs and birds and plant life alike stayed clear of humongous Toby. His frightful size made them all scurry out of his way. And the vine that held him struggled under the load of his weight, nearly 40 lbs. One October day, the rain poured and the winds blew, and the stressed out vine gave up.
"Run along, big Toby. I'm setting you free," the vine murmured in breathless gasps.
Toby considered that a good idea. He was all grown up, fully colored a bright orange, and ready to rock and roll, so to speak. In fact, he rolled over a slope and settled in a ravine by a gurgling brook. There was one other odd thing about Toby. All that time of being an outcast had hardened his outer crust and made him tough. And it made him grouchy. Yes, Toby the pumpkin was a major grump. So when he landed in the ravine, he was delighted to be away from the patch and all those neighbors who treated him like a freak. He was alone, and he liked it that way.
He and the creek got along fine, being different life forms and all. They had no foundation to criticize one another. Actually, Toby found the creek to be dumb as a door knob, with little to say but its silly incessant gurgling. So Toby ignored the waters and remained happy in his new home.
Happy until one day a little boy came along and took a shine to him. Not literally, of course, although you could shine a pumpkin if you wanted to. The boy had other plans, and before Toby knew what happened, the youth had picked him up and tossed him in a cart and took off with him. Knocked and bumped from the ride, poor Toby arrived at a farm house dazed and confused.
"I got it!" the boy yelled. "I found a good pumpkin."
"Bring it on into the kitchen!" a woman's voice answered.
The youth carried Toby in and plopped him on a table.
"He's a nice big one!" the woman observed. She approached wielding a knife while an enthusiastic glint sparkled in her eyes. "Very big, indeed!"
Toby was so frightened he wondered if his orange might fade to mere yellow. He saw the knife coming at him and thought for sure his pumpkin body would simply collapse into a Dali-esque orange puddle. The blade of the glinting knife reached his skin and pierced it. It didn't hurt. Rather, it evoked a smooth soothing sensation. The knife went to work, slicing and poking while Toby enjoyed every stroke. The blade eased a rounded lid off the top of his head. Next a spoon went inside him and scooped. The spoon's digging and dragging evoked a giddiness like Toby had never known. He loved it, and the utensil's action left him feeling light and airy, cleansed.
Next the knife went to work again with more slices and zig-zags, gracing Toby with a face--triangle eyes, rounded nose, and a big, snarling, notched mouth, a frightening face, really. Next, the woman placed a candle inside him, the flame flickered and glowed and Toby's new glaring expression lit up. She placed him on the porch, and passersby ooh-ed and ah-ed at his frightfulness. A funny thing happened. Toby no longer wanted to be alone. He liked being on display and the center of attention. And so, as Jack-o-Lantern, grouchy Toby found his place in the world, where he could be a grump and people loved him for it.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Even Angels Have Bad Days

My apologies to the town of Moberly, but I love the sound of  your name. It inspires.

Even Angels Have Bad Days

Those mists of Moberly had a chilling effect on not only one's spine, but the psyche, as well. People pondered where the icy fog got its powers. Did it roll in from the river like a tempestuous snake slivers through damp morning grasses? Or did it fly in like cantankerous angels wishing ill on all in their paths. Even angels have bad days, don't they?

It followed me home that evening, after a day of fishing. I felt its moisture on my skin and its freezing hands wrapped around my torso like a strait jacket. I couldn't breathe in the suffocating mist, or perhaps my pounding heart was giving way, sucking the life out of me. I remember walking, then running in terror down our road with the fog over my shoulder, with me finally taking two steps at a time to reach my doorway. Once I'd gotten in and slammed the bolt, I thought I was safe. What a fool!

In the supposed sanctity of my home, I first heard the voices. 

"Edmund, you can't hide from your conscience."

"What? Who is that?" I turned on my heel and scanned the room, looking for the voice's source.

"You won't see me. I'm in your head."

"You're the mists of Moberly. You followed me home."

An icy draft blew through me, knocking me off balance. "Or so you imagine." The voice wavered with contained emotion.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?" My fear transformed to a fiery rage. I was home. I wanted to have my evening meal. Rushing to the kitchen I slammed a frying pan on the stove. When I tried to light a fire under it, the mists blew out the flame with a blast of icy breath. I persisted, finally succeeding with a sizable flame. Spooning a blob of butter into the skillet, I listened for its satisfying sizzle. Next I reached into my bucket for a slab of freshly cleaned fish and tossed it in the skillet.

"Cook all you want. It won't make me go away."

The mists! I turned around, hoisting my spatula in the air, ready for battle. I was tired. I was hungry. I wanted my dinner, and the mists were getting on my nerves. Ha! Of course, they were. Why wouldn't the mists of Moberly get on a person's nerves? I flipped the fish, determined for normalcy and a hot meal.

"You won't be able to eat with me around."

"Watch me," I replied.

A gurgling chuckle filled the room. The mists were amused.

I flopped my fried fish onto a plate, grabbed my fork and set about to have my supper. Utensil poised, I broke off a flaky chunk, but when I lifted the morsel to my mouth, the mists crowded around my wrist and stopped me.

"Are you really going to eat that fish? You know you went fishing without a license. As your conscience, I cannot let you eat that fish."

The mists were right. Damned conscience! I'd gotten the fish illegally, sporting without paying five bucks for the required license. Slamming my fork down, I stood and emptied the plate in the garbage.  As the mists watched, I next humbly set up a bowl of cereal. With my first crunchy bite, the pesky gray fog swooshed out the kitchen window. Damned mists of Moberly!

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, October 19, 2008

WordCatalyst Prompt Response--Character Exercise

Jeune Fille Vert by Tamara de Lempicka

WordCatalyst Prompt Response--Character Exercise

 She was a lady of distinction, of that a person could be certain. It was the way she could wear a hat, with flair, making it blend with her being to produce a doubly entrancing vision. A nod of her head wearing her favorite white-brimmed topper brought men swooning to her feet. Her tiny, red pursed lips danced a tango with those wide, questioning brown eyes, eyes  that seemed to fret whether a classic dip was the next step coming.
One might think she had no permanence with the frailty of her expression. But her white, high-cuffed gloves exuded an air of being "old money" as opposed to some new trifling thing not to be taken seriously. But then her breasts rebelled from conformity in tight green silk, protruding and screaming to be heard, wanting the world to know she needed noticed.
Such a contrast in statements, the entire woman with all her parts put together sent one's mind into a tailspin. Was she high society or slut? Was she the confident woman of a stylish hat or a child with eyes full of fear for the unknown. Screaming for help or strutting her stuff? Only she knew.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, October 17, 2008

Workshop Prompt and an Announcement

A new workshop prompt is posted at WordCatalyst!

Also, I'm proud to announce I've been appointed Story Editor for WordCatalyst magazine. I'm honored and eager to spread the news!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Cinquains

Just because I'm in the mood...

Autumn Cinquains

leaf ballerinas
twirling scarlet fans
lighting windy gold memories

of Autumn
lurk in corners
hoping to blast summer

royal sky
bowing in blue
with silky respectful nuance

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bar Maid

(Painting by by Edouard Manet--Bar at the Folies-Bergere-1882)

She worked at the Follies Bar and everybody knew her.

The men lusted for the lady. While lined up at the bar, they spied her rounded bottom as she bent over to pick up a dollar flung to the floor by an enterprising fellow. They also enjoyed her bouncing bosom, where she always wore a tiny bouquet pinned to her dress in the middle of the bodice, advertising her ample cleavage. When she hurried to clear glasses from the bar, the flowers and more jiggled with each movement.

The women hated her, and none was more critical than Mrs. Anna May Hopkins who ranted every Tuesday night at the sewing circle. Her husband, Edward, spent most evenings at the Follies, so that didn't help.

"Such a slut! Wearing those plunging necklines, and bending at the waist--in front of a mirror yet! All the men have to do is watch her bottom bouncing around in the glass. And it doesn't even look like they're staring directly at her. How convenient! I think she put that mirror there on purpose. That lady is no strangers to mirrors, I might add...especially in the boudoir, I'll bet. Humph!"

"Anna May, don't be so hard on her. She only works that job because she has a little boy to provide for." Elisabeth Townsend stepped back as soon as she uttered the words. The hateful glare coming from Anna May Hopkins frightened her.

"It's no wonder she has a child to provide for. I'm surprised she doesn't have a dozen bastard children...two dozen!" Anna's face flushed a vibrant red.

"Calm down, honey! I don't know why you're getting so excited. What is she to you anyway?" Lily Pratt handed Anna May a fresh spool of red thread.

"She's nothing to me!" Anna May forced out the words, more a hiss than a sentence.

She's only had a son by Edward. That's all!

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Another Day

A little poem on a topic
fascinating to me...

Another Day
Lumbering giants within view
Thunderous roars smash against sky
Trembling earth in primitive zoo
Dinosaur challenge, live or die
No bars, no locks, animals vie
Instinctually unrestrained
Behemoth falls, demystified
Passionless victory attained.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Two Cinquains

In response to
WordCatalyst Workshop prompt:

Brook Song Cinquain
brook song stirring
ascending chord bubbles
strummed on green grass violin strings

Blessed Snow Cinquain
plush quilts
of velvet snow
draped by white-gowned angels
over needy world's plaintive wails
for peace.

Poems Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, October 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Last Breath

Last Breath
Sunset hums with gold ribbon strands
soaring like birds on moody skies
seeking sturdy limbs to withstand
autumn breezes with wintry eyes.
Amongst quivering brown leaf folds
infusing hymns with golden hues,
Fall time God-wonder to behold
in glowing trees with life renewed.
One last dance before life force goes,
lonely time for leaf dance display
to shimmer golden before snows
at winter's hand bring sultry days.
Last breath of gold in final glows,
soon to tremble as winter blows.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski