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I’ve always liked the Boy Scout philosophy – be prepared! Perhaps it simply strikes the now-grown child of a military man as an elegantly simple truth that the frequent chaos of life can be made manageable if one only has the proper tools and knows how to use them.

Perhaps in that sense I could view our relationship as shock training. I could say that I’ve managed to drop myself into the middle of a dessert and that I’m trying to work my way out with my bare hands, alone. Do I know how to turn the prickly pears of your compliments into sustenance? Can I take these barren silences and wrap myself up in them -- like turning sand into a blanket and pillow – without drowning in shifting subtleties? Can I track your oasis solely by the guiding scent of buried streams? Or have my senses been addled by the glare of your harsh sense of humor – is there any hope or belief still running beneath the hard scrabble of your disillusionment? Is there any kind of tender oasis within you, at all?

Or perhaps this isn’t fair. Your only real error is in taking up with a crazy lady poet who can make metaphors out of anything. This last bit, for instance, drawn out of a humorous portrait we had taken as we attempted to distract ourselves from a senseless argument we were having in, of all places, a shopping mall. You had suddenly switched from grumbling about your upcoming court date to launching into a tirade about the illegal nature of traffic court based on some fragment of the constitution you would not specify. You know how your tirades, particularly your political ones, tire me and that I always suspect you of trying to pick a fight when you bring up the constitution. I couldn’t decide whether to toss out a quip (“It’s not the constitutions fault you can’t be bothered to look down at your speedometer”) or flee down the nearest emergency exit in order to find some quiet little spot where I could smoke five cigarettes, simultaneously, in relative peace, when I suddenly noticed the friendly sign of a children’s portrait studio. I dragged you in, still grumbling about relative freedoms and the nature of sham democracy particularly as evidenced by the outrageous verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial, all of which very nearly gave the otherwise pleasant-looking man behind the counter a heart attack, when the sight of my putting money on that counter and pointing resolutely steadied everyone’s nerves. You settled into the scenery not just easily but with the contented look of someone who has just been given candy. We both liked the dessert backdrop and the pith helmets which we popped on our heads, immediately, even as we also decided in conjunction that the pick axes were not only anomalous but down-right silly. It was your idea to strike a pose of apoplectic horror – I simply played along by reaching out in an overly-dramatic emotive fashion. I still have no idea what the photographer thought of the couple of lunatics who wandered into his studio, but the picture is priceless. Funniest of all, the fact that you can’t quite tell if my hands are reaching out to rescue you or strangle you.

The truth is, it would be easier to prepare myself if you were a dessert – I’d be better able to see your wisecracks coming if they flew across a barren landscape. Yet, you are not a dessert, you are a shopping mall and the tragedy is absurd. Just because the juxtaposition of your offerings addles me doesn’t mean that there are sensible reasons for my choosing yet more lingering in witty metaphors over the ready availability of emergency exits. There is no excuse, except….

You are not a shopping mall or a dessert. You are the world’s most exotic plant and I am Frieda Kahlo and I just can’t leave well enough alone.

They say that when the only tool you have is a hammer after a while every difficulty you encounter begins to look like a nail in want of a beating. I suppose there is a parallel to that notion, that if one’s only tool is wit every available scenario begins to look like a life lesson in want of unnecessarily complicated metaphors or a picture just waiting to be captured in five dollar words or an unsensed point in want of being driven home with a pithy wisecrack.

We’re not that complicated. You simply aggrandize your distrust of authority figures by fuming over the worrisome actions of the government. It’s not John Ashcroft’s fault your father was a drill sergeant. It’s not the Boy Scouts’ fault you remind me of my father in ways that inspire in me, simultaneously, both these states of absolute love and out-right defiance.

And as the photographer can tell you, there is simply no preparing for either you or I but especially not the both of us in tandem.

"All the darkness in the world
cannot put out the light
of one candle"

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The following comments are for "Prepare"
by hazelfaern

Great work
This is a very great read. Wonderful story telling. Thank you, I very much enjoyed reading this.

( Posted by: everybodyelsesgirl [Member] On: June 29, 2004 )

Sharpest Knife...
You are undoubtedly One of the Sharpest Knifes in the drawer, and you may take that metaphorically as well...

Prepare... Yes, a scout is always prepared, welll, sometimes..........

Maybe even most of the time... Buuuutttt.... Always?

The only small, itzy bitzy, teeny tiny thing is...

Desert... FAR from a dessert... Which will melt in the desert...

But I must admit this dessert will not melt in the desert I live in...

I agree Great write...

( Posted by: daprdan [Member] On: June 30, 2004 )

Epic Flash with Sweet Tooth
You're right that this is a bit lengthy for flash fiction, Pen. I suppose the reason I selected the category is that I realized it's a little right-brained and impression-based for what is typically prose. Could we call it Epic Flash, then? Or maybe think of it as one of those old fashioned daroughotypes (sp?) which took five minutes to capture an image?

And thanks for the subtle nod towards my highly erroneous typo, daprdan. Spellcheck does have that flaw of not being able to pick up on intended meaning. I, of course, have no excuse -- especially when, now that I think of it, I can remember being told that the way you remember the spelling difference between the two words is that you place an extra s in dessert because you want more of it, something which very few of us would honestly say about the desert. I'll be fixing that slip shortly.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: June 30, 2004 )

prose poem/epic flash

This piece is easily publishable, I suspect. You manage to give a poetic feel to the narrative and your word choice and ample vovabulary do you a tremendous service. This reads like literary fiction which is hard for most people, myself included to pull off. Once again, excellent work.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: June 30, 2004 )

not too long, or too bad

If you've got a lot to say, say it.

I'm more interested in the issues you raise. One test of true love is whether or not you're willing to put up with another's pretenses on a daily basis. On the other hand, true love means you resist repeating your excuses; that you hold your fire when someone you love is between you and the target.

Love your line "Can I track your oasis solely by the guiding scent of buried streams?" Reading a heart is more important than reading a mind.

Agree with Bart, it's publishable. As well as desirable: we men need reminders not to be assholes.

Sharp, incisive, and to a critical point.


( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: July 1, 2004 )

your style, that is. I also liked your critique in the Write-Off.
That's why I am asking, at your convenience --could you provide your opinion on my work, The Day Of Jacqueline?
Thank you.
ZeWolf K.

( Posted by: Teflon [Member] On: August 5, 2004 )

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