Nowhere Road (from This Can’t Be All There Is)

Nowhere Road

Hey, weary traveler
Come with me tonight,
All you have to do is be a passenger.

You can recline your seat,
Roll down the window,
Maybe even get some sleep.

There won’t be anyone on the roads,
Because this is a direction nobody goes.
It’s a way that very few people seem to know,
And the ones who do know better than to take it.

I’ll take you somewhere the lines have faded
And nothing divides us, places
Go by like faces in a crowd,
Faded and drowned out.
You and I and sounds like
Tearing the sky.

I want to see the way the asphalt stretches toward the bottom of the glass,
And how surrounding towns burn down to ashes as we pass.
Watch the fog fight the defroster,
Turn our music up full blast.
And, for once, relax.

Your hands can ride the wind,
And when I want to scream I don’t have to hold it in.
In the driveway or out on the highway, we can cast aside our sins
And leave our virtues in the back seat with our vices and our whims.

If I drive fast enough,
Maybe you and I will blur together.
Maybe time stands still and lasts forever.
We can outrun our pain and all bad weather,
Catch storms in our eyes like your hair catches light.

Hey, innocent bystander.
Take me with you.
I’ll go anywhere your soul is aching to.

I’ll show you places they don’t put on maps,
Hold your hand across old railroad tracks.
We’ll go out to the edge of your heart and back,
Or over and fall forever, if you want.

Just take me somewhere the stars aren’t falling
The buses and cars stop calling
My heart isn’t walled up and cold,
Tone deaf and old.
Here we are and nothing,
No matter how far,
Can tear us apart.

This Can’t Be All There Is

I’ve been sitting on this one for far too long, and I’m excited to finally put it out there.

This Can’t Be All There Is was originally intended to be both a poetry book and a fully recorded spoken-word album. I’ve dabbled in the idea in the past, but this time, I got close. Every song was demoed, and most of them were completely finished, save for a few touch-ups, and one major aspect: the vocals. I never was able to get my voice to a place I liked or could even stand.

But I’m proud of a lot of these poems, so the book is moving forward. The album might come someday. I still have a lot of work to do before I’ll know for sure.

This Can’t Be All There Is contains 27 poems:

Wilderness
The House You Built for Me
We Were
Someday Will Eventually Come
Still
Storms
Graveyard Shift
All My Favorite Songs
Come Back
Variables
At the End of All Things
Take Me Away
When I Went to Bed
This Can’t Be All There Is
Nowhere Road
Worry
I Live Here
I Need You, Summer
Shapes and Spaces
A Long Night’s Conversation
You Harbor
Worth
KALEIDOSCOPE
Noise
Just Passing Through
Hey Sunburn
My Forever

The book will be available November 15, 2019. Its cover might change before then. I’ll also post a selection of poems on my site before release. (Keen visitors will find that a few of them have already been here for years. I promise I didn’t shoehorn them in; they were always a part of this collection. Like I said, I’ve been sitting on it for too long.)

Pre-order the digital edition here:

AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & NobleiTunes

To start things off, here’s “Nowhere Road”.

Nowhere Road

Hey, weary traveler
Come with me tonight,
All you have to do is be a passenger.

You can recline your seat,
Roll down the window,
Maybe even get some sleep.

There won’t be anyone on the roads,
Because this is a direction nobody goes.
It’s a way that very few people seem to know,
And the ones who do know better than to take it.

I’ll take you somewhere the lines have faded
And nothing divides us, places
Go by like faces in a crowd,
Faded and drowned out.
You and I and sounds like
Tearing the sky.

I want to see the way the asphalt stretches toward the bottom of the glass,
And how surrounding towns burn down to ashes as we pass.
Watch the fog fight the defroster,
Turn our music up full blast.
And, for once, relax.

Your hands can ride the wind,
And when I want to scream I don’t have to hold it in.
In the driveway or out on the highway, we can cast aside our sins
And leave our virtues in the back seat with our vices and our whims.

If I drive fast enough,
Maybe you and I will blur together.
Maybe time stands still and lasts forever.
We can outrun our pain and all bad weather,
Catch storms in our eyes like your hair catches light.

Hey, innocent bystander.
Take me with you.
I’ll go anywhere your soul is aching to.

I’ll show you places they don’t put on maps,
Hold your hand across old railroad tracks.
We’ll go out to the edge of your heart and back,
Or over and fall forever, if you want.

Just take me somewhere the stars aren’t falling
The buses and cars stop calling
My heart isn’t walled up and cold,
Tone deaf and old.
Here we are and nothing,
No matter how far,
Can tear us apart.

The Afterglow

Hey there. I’m back again, and I brought another friend with me.

Everyone knows about the afterglow: When someone dies, their spirit briefly visits the living soul who meant the most to them, before quickly fading from this world.

Jake and Emma were normal teens in high school, until a tragic accident claimed Emma’s life. Jake’s understanding of the world is fractured when Emma’s afterglow appears before him—but somehow doesn’t recognize him at all.

Confused, depressed, and in a daze, Jake turns to Emma’s sister Elise for answers, and instead finds a bond unlike any he’s ever felt before. But Elise knows what Jake doesn’t, and the secrets Elise swore to keep could tear the two of them apart.

The Afterglow is a young adult coming-of-age story about ghosts, railroad tracks, summer, and what it means to connect with each other on a spiritual level.

The Afterglow will be available in print and eBook formats July 26th, 2019. You can pre-order digital editions at the links below, which I’ll update as more editions become available.

AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & NobleiTunes Books ⋅ Google Play Books

The Forever Earth

For the past few years, I’ve been slow to write or publish new fiction. It’s time for that to change. Late last year I was part of a team of talented individuals who published Crypto Bizarro, an illustrated horror story collection for adults. I’m just getting started.

The Forever Earth

I wrote this one a long time ago. Many of my works have touched on science fiction, but few have flown so far as to reach space opera territory. I ended up writing a novel in the genre, and while I felt like it had a large scope and a lot going on, it ended up being one of my shortest novels yet. That story is focused on a small set of characters on a very specific mission, but the world I found them in had a lot of other stories going on. The Forever Earth is one of them.

In the distant future, humanity has reached the apex of space travel, finding themselves alone in a dark and quiet solar system. Then the Navigators appear, a species of aliens capable of bringing mankind into a new frontier via teleportation.

Cody is one of the first settlers to uproot his life and move to a space colony orbiting a habitable planet half a universe away. People from all walks of life make their way to the colonies, hoping to earn a shot at one day living on a new planet’s surface.

But half a universe isn’t far enough to escape humanity’s demons, and Cody and the rest of the colonists soon find themselves cut off from Earth, stranded in the silence of unfamiliar stars. Culture shock, separation anxiety, and lawlessness collide, and Cody’s only hope for peace rests with his dreams of the little blue planet he left behind, and his ability to find his way back.

The Forever Earth will be available on May 10th, 2019, from most eBook retailers. Pre-order links can be found below:

AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & NobleApple iBooks · Google Play (Coming Soon)

 

Crypto Bizarro

It’s been a while, but I haven’t been idle. I have a few projects in the pipeline, hopefully coming soon. In the meantime, my latest is available right now.

Introducing Crypto Bizarro.

Welcome to the world of Crypto Bizarro, where all manner of ghosts and ghouls and things that go “bump” in the night come out to play. This fully-illustrated collection of horror includes short stories, poems, puzzles, cryptograms, secret messages, a choose-your-own-adventure tale, and more. From restless spirits to physical monstrosities, dastardly acts and forbidden rituals, the frights found within ask the reader to question their reality. As the tome comes to life in your hands, you’ll have to search beyond the book itself to unlock all of its mysteries, but take care—when you venture into darkness, the unknown has ways of making itself known.

Crypto Bizarro is a fully-illustrated collection of horror-themed short stories, puzzles, and poems for a mature audience. This collection is the culmination of two and a half years’ worth of work and correspondence between myself and Josh Leichliter, as well as the contributions of our wonderful writing and producing team: Sarah Carswell, Seth Thomas, Nick Brown, Aerys Bates-Leichliter, Andrea Wright, and Ariana Wright.

The book is available in hardcover and eBook formats. You’ll find links at the bottom of this post.

Crypto Bizarro is more than a collection. It’s a brand, a flavor if you will, and this collection is just the start. To keep up on all of our crazy ideas, visit www.cryptobizarro.com and sign up for our mailing list, or follow our page on facebook. Right now you can find a few free samples and a nice little puzzle, with more on the way. This is meant to be a growing, evolving, living (or perhaps undead?) collection, and Josh and I have much more up our sleeves.

Amazon (Hardcover) • Amazon (Kindle) • Google Play (Coming Soon) • iTunesBarnes & Noble (Hardcover) • Barnes & Noble (eBook) • Smashwords • Direct Purchase

April is the cruelest month.

I’ve always said a story can come from anywhere, that there are a million different ways to tell it. What started as a spontaneous afternoon jam session led to a brief discussion, and, eventually, my latest story—and probably the most unique way I’ve ever told one.

A Handful of Dust is an instrumental concept album. The basic idea was to try to tell a story using only music, with recurring themes, sounds, and titles representing various story elements.

It’s as open to interpretation as anything I do. Probably more so. But for those interested in my own thoughts, a series of poems and thought pieces will accompany each song on the album’s pages, and here on my site.

In all honesty, there are still some mistakes on here, a few takes I’m unhappy with, but I’m ready to move on. This was something I did for fun in the first place, and if it stopped being fun, I’d stop doing it. For that reason, I’m not charging anything for the album, it’ll be available to listen to for free. I might even go back and George Lucas some of the errors and inconsistencies out, but for the most part, right now I’m just wrapping up the major loose ends.

A Handful of Dust will be released this Friday, probably on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and maybe this site. A few of the songs are available to listen to right now, and can be found at the links below. More will be added leading up to the full release on Friday.

Here’s the tracklisting:

1. Jump into the Sky
2. The Interloper
3. It Limps Through the Door with its Head on the Floor
4. World of Waste
5. You Will Walk
6. There is No One Else
7. A Glimpse of Kingdom Come
8. A Field of Broken Mirrors
9. Surrounded by Flies, She Carves Out Her Eyes
10. The 8th Day
11. I Can See Forever
12. In the Hollow of a Tree I Contemplate the Hollowness in Me
13. Run Down the Mountain
14. You Made Everything Better
15. Blinded by the Sun, He Loses Everyone
16. Hyacinths

Special thanks to my sister Tatyana for drawing up my band logo. You can find more of her work here: tythenaught.deviantart.com

South for the Winter

I met you when you were a tree. I built my nest high up in your branches.

It started out simple: I’d been flying for hours, and I landed to take a rest. Way at the top, beneath a pillow of leaves, where I’d be hidden from larger birds.

The view was extraordinary. A field to the south, open for miles. To the west rolling hills, lined with houses.

There was a house near you. That worried me. Still, that field would have bugs, and worms when it rained. And every house still had trees in its yard, so I didn’t think you were going anywhere anytime soon.

“What a lovely home,” I thought. And that was that. You were my home.

I spent the summer up there. The field had plenty of food, and your leaves were thick, with tiny branches sprouting off of every larger one. I could spend a lifetime there and not be seen.

But I would be heard. I’d be heard for miles. You were so tall! I could sing my songs, and now and then another bird was loud enough to sing back, but they were always softer, no, always lower.

Winter came on fast and cold. It does that now; all of my senses are off. Maybe the seasons are off. But the air was cold, your leaves were disappearing, and it was time for me to go. I said goodbye and I went south. I hoped I’d find another tree like you there, but I knew I wouldn’t. I found shelter, but not a home. And I was so afraid you wouldn’t be there when I came back. But you were.

One summer I sang my song, and another voice came back, still lower, but stronger than the others. I sang out, and it came back again, playful, this time closer. I sang softer. The voice came back just below me.

Back and forth we sang, until the ladybird tweeted right below me, then right beside me, and back and forth we fluttered and sang so low no one else could hear us. It was like I led her up there, but it was more like you did.

I remember when our eggs hatched. Three littlebirds, squawking and screeching, hungry. We raised them, the ladybird and I and you, our nest and our shelter and our home.

I watched as they learned to fly. I watched them catch their own food. And I watched as, one by one, weeks apart, they would fly away and never return. My heart sang its sorrow song, but I hoped they found a tree half as good as you.

I remember the cat that chased me once, and how it couldn’t make it to even your lowest branches. I remember the young boy who tried to climb you, and I watched him grow alongside my own littlebirds, and his own ladybird he would sit beside, right in your shade, singing their own songs.

And I remember the night it stormed. Thunder crashed, and my heart beat faster, but I nestled closer to my ladybird and tried to sleep it away.

Then lightning struck, and we were falling. I tried to fly, but I didn’t know which way was up. Everything was just black, and wet, and cold, and the last thing I remember is my ladybird taking off into the night, moonlight fighting through the clouds and glinting off of her wings, beautiful.

When you die, part of you stays here, just for a little while, while your soul is fighting its way out of an egg. I stayed right here, where you used to be.

The storm lifted, like all storms do. My heart cried out a song I didn’t know it could, seeing you lying on the ground, your branches broken, your leaves scattered, part of your trunk still standing, jagged and aimed at the sky, a brutal memorial of what used to be.

I watched the humans come, and I knew I was seeing you for the last time. They would sweep it all away, cut down and dig up whatever was left, and you’d be gone like you never existed.

They did sweep you away, and cut down what was left, but they left your roots and stump. And that boy I watched grow beneath you, nearly a man now, placed a bird bath where you used to be, a new memorial, a tribute to what you were, and a promise that you could still be. And I watched my ladybird play in that fountain, I watched the other birds whose songs I’d always heard join together, and my heart sang.

Because you’re still here, in a way. And even as my spirit starts to spread its wings, I know what we shared was here, even though we’re not. And nothing can ever take that away from us.

I sang you one last song, and then my spirit flew south for the winter.

Never to Have Loved at All

It feels like rain. All the time. Not the good kind that lulls you to sleep, drowns out the city and all its noise so you can get some rest; the kind that ruins parades, sends kids inside, the kind you try to read to, but the thunder scares you and you lose your place. The kind that overflows your gutters, leaves puddles in your path and a cascade right outside your door, so you can run to your car but you’ll still get soaked to the bone. The kind that isn’t warm, it’s cold. The kind that keeps you up all night, quoting Tennyson and thinking about the different kinds of rain.

Only Ever

There is a world underneath this one,

Behind it and beyond it and all tangled up and twisted into it, a series of knots that will never come undone.

Sometimes you go there. Sometimes you never do. Usually you come back, but sometimes you stay.

It’s a better place than this one. It’s nothing and everything,

and you’re conscious but you’re asleep and dreaming,

and you’re asleep and not dreaming.

Sometimes people in black line up and they cry for you, but you’re happy, but they can’t know that. Sometimes no one even notices you’re gone.

You’re surrounded by people there, or just one person you’ve never met and never seen, but you’ve known them your whole life, you’re best friends, you’re lovers, they’re a part of you and you’re a part of them.

You go about your daily life, blissfully unaware that things here are out of place or impossible, unaware of the things and the people you left behind. Every color is vivid, some of them are brighter and more beautiful than any color that can exist. Everyone smiles, everyone sees forever, and forever stares back and smiles.

All light is sunshine,

and all darkness is sunshine too. The only secrets are the good ones, the ones you keep because they keep you warm. You love and are loved so profoundly, love stretches between you and the end of everything and back again, wraps you in its arms and asks you if you want to stay forever.

You do. You want it more than you’ve ever wanted anything, in fact you’ve never wanted anything else.

Then,

sometimes,

you notice one of those things that is impossible or out of place. Or you remember one of those things you left behind. Or maybe it’s just that love and forever were pulled so taut that

something had to give,

and everything bleeds away.

Colors fade, faces blur. Hands disappear.

The old world comes back into view, like drawing sunglasses over your eyes, or someone put a King on top of your Ace, yet somehow you lose.

You hold on tight, you claw and scramble to stay. You don’t know where you’re going but you know it won’t be like this other place,

you won’t have that person or that warmth ever again. If you can just hold on

But you can’t.

You wake up. Or snap out of it. Or just open your eyes.

And now sunshine is still sunshine, but not as bright. And darkness is darkness.

Someone might love you, but not like that shy boy and his family did, or not like that skinny girl with messy brown hair who lived across the street from you. Or like that ever-reaching warmth you felt,

and here the warmth is only ever tepid.

Colors are only ever pastel. And you might have a good day, and you might even smile.

But not like you did there, in that other world.

The lucky ones don’t have to come back from it, and the unlucky ones don’t remember they were ever there at all,

Just that they had a good dream they can’t remember anything about,

only that it was the best dream they ever had.

Maybe we hear a whisper of a name, see a face out of the corner of our eyes, catch a hint of a smell or feel a hand brush against our own,

but turn to look and nothing is there.

Well, it is there, sort of. Underneath, behind and beyond and all tangled up,

somewhere,

just out of reach.

At the Intersection

I remember this intersection. Last time I was here, we were crossing it on foot. The lights danced overhead, leading everyone along their roads, telling them where to go, and more importantly when.

Our light turned green and we started crossing. Almost halfway into the intersection we heard the screeching tires, and before we could turn our heads toward the source, we heard the impact. Metal bent in so fast it sent a percussive crunch into the city, glass shattered and spread across the pavement.

Someone took too long to clear the intersection. Someone else didn’t notice that it wasn’t his turn. That’s all it takes to make two lives collide. Maybe more; after all, the two cars hit, what, eight feet to our left? Ten?

It wasn’t a bad wreck. I’ve been hurt worse than that by words, I’ve seen harder crashes in my friends’ hearts. But it was frightening. One of the drivers, the one who wasn’t paying attention, got out to yell at the other. Then he got bored and sat back down in his car and waited for the authorities.

I walked on, because otherwise I was going to be late for work. You waited on the sidewalk in case they needed witnesses for the police report.

That sound has long since stopped echoing off of these buildings, the glass and all it dust have been washed away by a thousand rainstorms. Yet here I still am, sitting at this intersection, like so many others, waiting endlessly for our turn to go.

It’s still frightening. How many of us are in for the next collision? Not the one eight feet to the left, but the one head-on, heart-on, out of nowhere, so fast you don’t see it coming until it’s too late, but you feel the impact, and you’re left wondering if anyone in this world is ever going to be okay, let alone you.