Poetry Corner: Shadow

no solid self
How frightening –
And so we build something more solid,
cling to it tightly,
But the unconcerned sun
still casts us into shadow

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch


Stories from Refuge – 86 – “We didn’t have any secrets to get tortured out of us.”

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-74, interview with O.L., recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.11.12

I didn’t expect him to be so defensive, that Empath from yesterday. Yeah, I remembered him, and yeah, I was too upset to speak. I was angry that he couldn’t remember me after everything he put me through, all those nightmares he gave me that I still remember, years after the projection should have worn off. It’s probably not surprising that he doesn’t remember me, though. I’m hardly the only one he tortured with nightmares. So that’s not really surprising. What did surprise me was how defensive he got. Although it shouldn’t. We were that defensive.

We used to say it was ironic that we got interrogated – those of who still saw each other afterward and were willing to talk about it. We didn’t even do anything, not really. We didn’t have any secrets to get tortured out of us. We didn’t get involved in any riots, we didn’t write poems and post them around the tunnels, we didn’t sabotage any bots or any computers. We all met each other in school and stayed late to hide out in the empty classrooms and talk about all the things we should do, all the things we wanted to do if we’d been braver or crazier or whatever. We thought we were really doing something just by talking about it, just by getting angry. That’s when we got defensive. We weren’t keeping our heads down trying to get by, we said. We were really outraged. If anyone asked us, we’d tell them just how outraged we were.

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Poetry Corner: Moon and Mesquite

Mesquite tree at the Desert Botanical Garden

I have stood here for some time
stretching branches into the sky –
and every year
when the weather turns cool
you come along and wrap me with these lights,
electric and bristling –
Strange, since you could just look up
and see the light already in the sky

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch


It’s not really like me to get Christmassy, but I needed a poem for this week and I went browsing through some old photos. Here’s one I took a couple of years ago at Las Noches de las Luminarias, the traditional holiday celebration at the Desert Botanical Garden: 8000 candle-lit luminarias and Christmas lights wrapped around any growing thing they could reach. (Careful if you try this with cactus…)

Stories from Refuge – 85 – “I’ll be going crazy any minute now, right?”

(c) Serjio74 | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-73, dialogue between O.L. and Dean 62A, recorded by James 72A
RY 100.11.11

I’m not supposed to start, am I? She’s supposed to start. This is about her, and whatever she came here to accuse me of. But she’s too angry at me to speak. I don’t think she was expecting me to be here. I thought that you brought in proxies, people to represent Government but not the actual people who did the things to the victims. I guess I’m the actual person, though.

It’s not easy to read with this headset on. Wait – the recorder thinks that’s wrong. It just stops us from projecting, right? It must be the sedatives. There’s a pretty narrow window between the sedatives wearing off and the symptoms coming back. I’ll be going crazy any minute now, right?

What? Now all of you are mad at me? You’re the ones who put me in this position, you’re the ones who gave us the cancer treatment – generations back – that turned ten percent of us into Grays Syndrome kids in the first place, messed up our brains and turned us into Empaths, and you decided to take advantage of that and use us to do your dirty work, and then when half of us end up with paramania you shrug your shoulders, lock us up, and put us under sedation for the rest of our lives. We sit there drooling in Section 5 and you turn your noses up at us for drooling.

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Poetry Corner: Tiger

Be confident like the tiger,
the teachers say –
strong, wasting no effort with his elegant steps
Meek – the word Rinpoche used

But he can’t mean that
It was just a translation thing,
one of his odd usages,
hunting the English language
for a word that almost meant what he wanted.
No, I’m the one who’s meek,
too timid to take a confident, tiger-like step,
too afraid of mistakes and their consequences,
resigned to being a wallflower, grumpily

But what if meek really is the right word,
(for me if not for the tiger)
in the manner of all those Zen koans
with their inherent contradictions:
timid and confident together,
expanding to encircle the whole of it,
somehow walking anyway, step after step

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Rinpoche is a title used by certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers – in this case, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who came up with that unusual term meek to describe the traditional Tibetan dignity of the tiger. I was about to take a class on the topic when I wrote this, feeling a little perplexed about what I could possibly get out of the class.

How I Met Your Expectations

I recently finished watching How I Met Your Mother, a show I was only marginally interested in until Netflix told us we had less than a month to finish it before it went away. Since the thought of never finding out who the kids’ mother was triggered my curiosity-killed-the-cat anxiety, my husband and I promptly sat down to binge-watch the last two and half seasons.

By coincidence, as my husband was clicking through YouTube a week or two later, he pulled up a video on the Top 10 Worst TV Finales, and at the top of the list was the finale of How I Met Your Mother. He stopped the video once that dubious distinction was announced to avoid spoilers, but having now watched the finale, I’m pretty sure why it was so badly regarded. And it got me thinking about audience expectations, whether that audience is viewers or readers.

So here’s a writing post, which I haven’t done in a while. And, obviously, spoilers…

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Stories from Refuge – 84 – “You’re trying to make me feel sorry for him so I forgive him.”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-72, dialogue between Y.S. and Dean 62A, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.11.10

Why is he here? Is that even him? Doesn’t look like him. He looks too old. I mean, I know we’re both a lot older than…

This is your play, right? Trying to make me ‘fess up and do the forgiveness act? This is bullshit. Bringing him in here – He’s sedated, right? That’s why he looks like that? He’s got that thing that makes Empaths sick, paramania or whatever it’s called? You’re trying to make me feel sorry for him so I forgive him. Is that it? You with the headset, you’re a different girl this time. The last one didn’t answer my questions. Are you gonna answer my questions? Did you know about this? Do you know why he’s here?

[Recorder’s note: Councilor Booth gives me permission to speak.] I did know about this, because I read the incoming file. I don’t know anything other than what was in the file. According to that, Dean 62A volunteered for this dialogue.

Volunteered! He can’t even sit up straight! Jesus, he’s practically drooling. You can still read stuff with that thing on your head, right? Is he even conscious? Does he even recognize me?

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