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Autumn, today, is dying: shuffling belatedly and begrudgingly into winter. The two seasons shift and seethe, jockeying for dominance in a prancing, ill-rehearsed dance like a pair of sparring stags. Autumn of course will lose, but by no means gracelessly. Today she is going down in a positive blaze of theatrical heroism - exiting en pointe, facing the footlights and offering up a soaring valedictory aria in ochre and amber.

Down by the river the air in my lungs is alpine; as unforgiving as envy. I jog west with the sun at my breast and a fudgy patchwork of fallen leaves plashing crisply-crystalline underfoot. Despite the cold there are still skeins of rowers out on the water, slicing their quiet fractals into its olive green skin. Their boats skim by like a fleet of floating ribs, oddly divorced from their Paleocene parent.

Here on the path at my feet is half a squirrel. (The front half, I think, although grubby and tangled as cat-mauled knitting, itís difficult to tell.) Poor little bugger. Nobody ever sings arias for roadkill. But if I were that severed squirrel, Iíd not be ashamed to take this brief, gilded day for my wordless operatic elegy. Soon, after all, there'll be nothing left but a greasy, fur-flecked smear on the scuffed tarmac. And winter, by then, will have its triumph.

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The following comments are for "Squirrel Buddhist"
by MobiusSoul

Could be worse?
Bermudatriangle - brief but (I think?) positive? Well, if so, then thank you! Appreciated.

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: November 24, 2005 )

Rodentary Lamentations

Enjoyed read. As an October child, have always had soft spot for Fall.

Could almost be formed as a poem. Read poetic, for sure.

Happy Tofurky!

( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: November 24, 2005 )

Rodentary celebrations
Bobby Ė indeed, what's this is doing here? Havenít written fiction since school Ė concept gives me the gibbers.
It'll make it into verse eventually - minus the more indulgent rococo flourishes - but all I could manage last weekend was the pre-poem narrative sketch. Liking which, I was reluctant to ruin it by overworking. (Confucius say Never prod at a watercolour.) So: here it is. Much thanks for reading.

And a happy random-festival to you too!

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: November 24, 2005 )

Half fur, or half greasy?


I like this enlightened jogger's tale. (Enlightened jogger? Oxymoron? Just kidding.)

Perhaps my mind tends too much toward literal interpretation, but when I read that it was half a squirrel, I then found it hard to fathom that this person had trouble determining which half. This is a person who spoke earlier of sparring stags and Paleocene ribs; someone with some knowledge of biology.

Of course, the person was running at the time. Maybe that fact could be reinforced: that it wasjust a quick glimpse. Or the remnants could be restated as being some more imprecise quantity.

Also, I found the word greasy to sound somewhat crude for this person's otherwise grand voice. I won't try to suggest another way of saying it, though. Not to you, Madam.

What I like is the "it's a good day to die" realization, even amidst the effort at good health by the runner and her appreciation for the natural beauty she sees.

Fine little story.

~ John

( Posted by: Flonigus [Member] On: November 25, 2005 )

Flonigus - Sage of enlightenment?
What an insightful reading: your summation is better than my own. In fact, the physically-alive, good-health theme, set against the acceptance of death, is something I was barely concious of when writing... but it's exactly the sense of contrast I wanted.

I mutated 'cyclist' to 'jogger' (less cumbersome explanation of wheels, pedals etc.) but maybe the bicycle would better excuse any speeding inaccuracy of observation? (And also, perhaps, account for acuity elsewhere... but must all joggers be unenlightened, shut-eyed I-Pod freaks?) Thanks for picking up that inconsistency, anyway. They usually arise when I try to fictionalise too thoughtlessly: the untampered truth rarely rings untrue!

I think my 'lack of grandeur' in describing the squirrel was intentional - ugly, mundane words to bring the tone sharply back to earth... to say, look, this mushy little thing can't be glamorised... but hey, that OK. Because this is a day to be zen about life'n'death. (And I kinda hope the squirrel feels likewise.)

Hmm... now you've made me aware of all this, I'll go back and see if I can do it better...

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: November 25, 2005 )

Agreeing with Sensei Flonnigus
Mobius ~ There are portions of this which are absolutely breathtaking: the oddly divorced Paleocene ribs, the sparring stags. Your quick "the air in my lungs is alpine: as unforgiving as envy" raised my eyebrows and caught my breath. You had me captivated the whole read through.

You do have some slightly excessive phrases: the en pointe valedictory aria at the close of your opening paragraph is a bit much, to my mind because you're mixing ballet and opera terminology (which crafts strange imagery) but more so because I believe this bit of flash is strongest where it's crisp, clear and uncluttered (and that's a kind of underlying theme, here, isn't it?). Trust your voice. You have the ability to convey powerfully through simplicity.

Do you think it might be easiest to clarify your confusion over the squirrel by mentioning that it doesn't have a head or a tail? Anyone could be disoriented running by a furry stump sans biological landmarks.

I agree with Flonnigus' remarks on your greasy roadkill line in your final paragrahph, though not, strictly, because of it's crudity or lack of grandeur. Crude is fine; crude is irreverantly exposed bone, the thrust of sparring stags, the glimpse of death and decay in everyday tranquility, where "greasy, fur flecked smear on the scuffed tarmac", despite it's fantastic consonant interplay, speaks more to a morbid humour which merely skims the surface of clear insight. I don't know that I've ever wandered past the final remnants of a dead squirrel and thought "hmm, greasy" -- which is why "greasy" bothers me. That one line, significantly that one word, departs sharply from the tactile imagery of the rest of this work. Yet if you could describe more bluntly, more specifically, the final unraveling of this lifeless creature, I think you'll have an even more powerful close than you do right now.

Your final line is brilliant -- almost felt like a breath of alpine wind. Nuff said.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: November 26, 2005 )


The squirrel is half there, not half gone. 'Greasy' works for me r/e roadkill 'smear'.

Do fiction. That which give us the gibbers strengthens us. I couldn't create a character to save my life. That's why I 'borrow' them. I'll catch on eventually.

oh yes I enjoyed this. Thanks

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 27, 2005 )

Haze/drsoos - squirrel-spirited
Sadly, drsoos, all that gibbers is not gold :( The characters - you've put your thumb on it - are what stall me: the sheer hubris of creation, not merely observation...
Your encouragment, though, means a lot... maybe I'll meditate further on optimism, death and the textural qualities of ex-rodents, and see what happens...
(Hey, what happened to the pseudo-Munch? It was the coolest avatar here.)

Hazelfaern - d'you moonlight as an editor? If not, ought to! Though you mught prove a little too kind to be commercially viable...

( Posted by: MobiusSoul [Member] On: November 27, 2005 )


Badger is a temporary avatar to accompany current fiction. Thanks.

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 28, 2005 )

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