Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bearded Ballads: That Sinking Feeling

I dreamed about
what I remembered 'bout you
it wasn't good
but I wished you well anyway
you were not yet
the person you'd become
wouldn't recognize you
if you passed me on the street today

I heard your voice
amid all the noise
like a lazy broken record
crackling radio static
a Sunday preacher
bringing me Good News
A-men and hallelujah
finally knew what I meant to ya
how we spent these last few years
and now there's nothing left to lose

Oh, where had
where had our love gone
it was still there
if you looked real wonky and maybe crossed your eyes
things kept floating
nothing better left to do
then wallow in it
instead of setting out for a bigger prize

I heard your voice
amid all the noise
like a harpy out at sea
sings her siren song to me
sounds so lovely
till you're closer to the truth
what on earth are you afraid of?
show 'em what you're made of
circling back around
relying too much on the azimuth

tossed upon the rocks
shipwrecked, abandoned
captain of the the boat I've had a hand in
excuses pouring in like water
she's been that way for years

Thursday, August 7, 2014

...and that is the truth.

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here at The Oracular Beard!

Was feeling frisky just now, so I figured I'd dig through my old Facebook notes and post this instead of a picture.

This is a song directly after a break-up (two months or so) to the point where I was moving on, I think. There're some themes that have traveled to other songs and poems, but I like this. I don't recall writing it.

As an added bonus, there're some Dark Tower references here.


glad to be a part of something bigger
when all I can think of is myself
I would like to stop thinking of her
but I'm accustomed to this hell
flames lapping up about my feet
as she pours on gasoline
how I tied myself so tight to this tree
no wonder I cannot be free

oh how the fire it keeps on burning
oh unto a crispy black
all these things I should be learning
if I could only have her back

all the while I've been plotting
how I can triumph from this test
all these hecklers are a'watching
as I dance the dance of death
throw upon those useless branches
as smoky 'membrances rise higher
there go my bridges with my chances
as my vision's growing tired.

oh how the fire it keeps on burning
oh unto a crispy black
all these things I should be learning
if I could only have her back

calling out across the courtyard
calling out across the square
as my breath escapes me so hard
calling up into the air
someday soon I shall be born again
like a phoenix from the ash
I plead for all the help that you can send
so I can let go of my past

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How the Hummingbird Got His Sound

The glassy red feeder is dry, but I fill it up
with my words, ink drying as quickly as liquid sugar
as it permeates upon this page, sticky,
with the sensation of saccharine and empty calories.

There is a corona about my hands as my characters waltz airlessly
through the story, their auras attaining a rose-colored hue
memories of you and I. Even bad times
shade every sentence.

Hummingbirds, zumming across the porch
to sample its sweetnes, spanning
galaxies, singing space operas
with the force of their dancing wings.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Epic Beards of Review: CMYK

The bright blue cover staring at me two weeks ago in the comic shop did more than just that. It whispered and beckoned to me with its come hither stare. It seduced me with its four-color blocks. 

The fact that it was a Vertigo title made it even sexier.

I hate to admit this, especially this early in the game: sometimes, I’m not the nerd I purport myself to be. The letters CMYK in those four-color blocks taunted me, but I couldn’t remember why.

My nerdy mojo must be off.

For the uninitiated, CMYK (that is to say [C]yan, [M]agenta, [Y]ellow and [B]lack ) are the four colors that make up the basic building blocks of color comics. You can combine these colors to get just about any hue you want. Vertigo (a mature DC Comics imprint) is known for their quarterlies and one-shots in recent years, and this year they’re making an attempt for these colors to serve as a 
base for their writers and artists.
The “blue” theme works well enough here, though it’s not as solid as some previous installments such as Time Warp and Ghosts. Not to say the offerings this quarter weren’t stellar: they just didn’t fit together solidly. Have no fear, there’re buckets of good things happening here.

There are three “price of fame” pieces that resonate deeply for one reason or another. The book opens up with a pretty gritty ditty about a girl the papers who they’re tagging with the moniker of “Banksy of Murder.” Another visits a washed-up has-been pop starlet making way for new blood. In the third, Madame Bluebeard takes a stab at the old folktale pairing a gay male with a woman to make their Hollywood relationship seem passable. This is by far the funniest offering in the issue, with a realization at the end as to who the narrators are.

Just two tales feel incomplete, or perhaps I’m clamoring for more. One such story, Blue Sundae, is about two British ice cream truck drivers. What starts out as a crazed call in the middle of the night turns into heroes battling supernatural forces beyond their understanding. And did I mention they’re British?

These nine stories showcase the intricacies of pacing within six-to-eight pages and the oomph contained therein to tell a tale. Different writers and artists bring about a deeper storytelling that works hand-in-hand to properly get the job done. These six-to-eight-page stories fit the format of the medium well, and the re-readability makes for a well-spent eight dollars. It can be a pretty hefty sum to pay for a comic, but I’ve not been disappointed yet. 

Very much looking forward to next quarter with [M]agenta.

This review originally appeared in the July 3 issue of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette Showcase.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fairy Tales for Unbelievers

lately I've been having trouble sleeping
not because you snore or he needs to feed
aches and pains they come and go to these old bones
still sometimes I'm afraid to face my dreams

like spinning gold from piles of straw
just got to listen to where you're led
fairy tales for unbelievers
found the needle and I'll thread it 'til I'm dead

a month ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find them
they'll slink on in if you don't watch your back
not going gray, I swear, it's silver
biting at your heels they run in packs


these old eyes are sunk like ghosts
they've seen a lot they'd soon forget
but all that came before is how I came to you
and baby this is as good as it gets

I'm taking this journey
never thought that I'd be on
holding your hand and he in my arm
thankful I don't have to walk alone


Monday, July 7, 2014

Road Song

the open road called to him
the only thing that it could've been
didn't feel like just a whim
old 55 at the highest
needs to find what he's all about
he wants to scream and he wants to shout
leave behind all these aches and doubts
try, tryer, tryest

faith seemed to force his hand
riding cross this blasted land
coming back a changed man
what did you expect?
he had to cry, he had to grieve
he's seen things you would not believe
and soon again he'll have to leave
an another won'drous trek

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Family of Ghosts

Much like his father before him, Barry was a boy of the forests.  
                He’d taken to the trees like his old man, though Carl Woodson and his wife died much too young. Mad Cow, Chicken Sick, Hog Cough: one of the many flus that flew hard and fast following the fall. Barry Carlson will say he doesn’t remember any of the day his parents passed, but he has yet to forget that cold, sleepless night spent in the tree house outside his bedroom window. Now, long from his ancestral home, Barry had strayed far from the stands in which he and his family walked.
                Until his tenth year, the three of them ventured side by side, each of them a part of the landscape as the landscape was a part of them. His mother Mary taught him of the plants and animals, and of the webs that were so intimately woven between them all. His father saw what was hidden in each tree, the life that was given, and to what more they could give back. Barry listened, and he stored all these things in his heart.
                Barry, on the other hand, told stories.  He was gifted when it came to the word, and when he wasn’t listening, he was talking. His pappy had told him the old folks’ lore and he’d heard a lotta bit up the bend at Half-Truth. He had a penchant for telling his own tales to his mother and father when they could listen, or to the trees when they couldn’t.
                Sunlit days then, as the three of them held picnic, waiting for travelers to make their way along the Sus’kenna Road. They would stop in to barter, to and fro the inn at Half-Truth, always looking forward to seeing the family. Carl Woodson kept with the pleasant trees, offering up cider, syrup and an assortment of carved wooden items from walking to eating, or eating while you walked. His wife Mary, showcased all manners of fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, flowers and medicines. Barry liked to listen to the tales and talk of the town from Lou and Mr. Matt.
                His father tended to his carvings and his trees and his mother tended to her gardens and her bees.  Barry tended to the rock in the yard, staging elaborate battles with his much sought after collection of Yo Joes action figures. Though the set was meager, it varied greatly from change-bots to men with lasers coming out of their wrists to his prized Clark Kent in mid-change to Superman. It was the only one he had ever seen.
                Darker days, now.  He halted there at the top of the hill, struck still, and that was the beauty of it.  Barry was transfixed as the memories came and enveloped him much like the arms of his parents, feeding the tree from beneath the dirt. They were buried there, he knew. Nothing to mark the spot save the lone stone, nondescript in its permanence. There were no carvings upon the face of it to identify their internment therein.  This was where the simplicity stood out—you just had to know, the way Barry did.  Once you knew, you could never forget.
                Its proximity to a culvert that bordered the Sus’kenna Road lay just beyond the trees that lined the Woodson’s property. Pappy had planted the willow in the spring of his parents’ passing near the base of the rock, and the water fed it well. Shaded, the canopy drooping over the headstone lending cover from much of the harsher elements.None of this was lost on Barry: this rock was here in life as it was in death.  Time stood still for him. Then, as now at this moment, Barry’s heart was fixated with the certainty that this would be his final resting place as well. 
               He shivered, as if a goose walked over his grave. Unless, of course, it was he himself treading past, present and future, all in the same cautious step. 
               It was still early evening, but the homestead could wait until the morrow. It was best to do what scavenging they could in the full light of day. Barry knew the outlying buildings were on the verge of collapse, yet was thankful the main home structure wasn’t the frightening shambles that he purported it to be.  It bothered not that Ogethan continued down the hill as Barry paid his respects—until it was almost too late. 
               Even separated by the expanse of the drive, the house and then the pond opposite, Barry could still make out a little deer family at the wood’s edge. Bespeckled with white, a fawn was escorted by a majestic buck and regal doe. He felt and heard Ogethan’s deep intake of breath as the large man filled his lungs to capacity and his arm pulled back on the bowstring. 
               Barry barely had time to register that there was even a bow in the other man’s hands at all. He lifted his hand, slowly, so as not to startle his friend’s concentration.
Shoulders slumped, Ogethan slowly left his weight off the string. Grumpily, he loosed the arrow, and back into the quiver it went. Barry thought, not for the first time, that if there had been an arrow with a punching glove attached to the tip, Barry himself would be on the receiving end. The bigger of the two bared his teeth.
               “I had a clear shot, and dinner on the table.”
               “Our packs are full, buddy. Gramma Sal packed quite the spread for us.” Barry countered. 
               Ogethan muttered something unintelligible as they both turned to the house.
               They studied it from the drive, looked at it with a sense of humble trepidation. It was getting onto dusk and the bats were beginning to fly recklessly from all about the house. Even from this far, the boys ducked so as not to be assaulted. Their vantage point offered them a glimpse of the front porch, banister spindles missing like broken teeth, porch swing idly swung like a tongue. Eyes at half mast: sleepy, yet watchful. An addition to the house reached out for them.
                Ogethan shuddered.
                “You think it’s haunted, Bar'?”
                Barry just shrugged.
                “Wouldn’t doubt it.”