full of cheek

dixit-ogress

“The secret,” Hiltha said, “is air holes.”

“Air holes,” repeated Gretta dubiously.

“You have to poke a few holes in the lid before you screw it on. The trick is to make the holes big enough for air to go in, but not so wide that they can get out. Took me a while to figure it out.”

She reached out and flicked a jar. Tiny, squeaking voices erupted up and down the shelf, accompanied by the clink of tiny fists against glass sides.

“Come over here and try that!”

“Big fat slobbering hag!”

“Piss on you!”

Gretta winced. “What a racket.”

“I know,” Hiltha said ruefully. “You learn to live with it. I have to feed and water ’em every day. It’s all nuts and berries, but still. They eat so much that I spend half my day foraging. And don’t get me started on the smell. It’s a nightmare mucking them out.”

“Why do you bother, then? There are plenty of other ways you can store them. Alith smokes hers, and Ruth pickles hers with dill. And jam is always a favorite. It doesn’t seem worth the hassle of dealing with them alive after you’ve caught them already, so why?”

Hiltha flicked another jar, eliciting a second high-pitched burst of temper tantrum from the jars’ occupants and several extremely rude hand gestures. They glared at the two ogresses with fearless impudence. Hiltha grinned.

“Keeps ’em fresh.”

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ark

dixit-giantbird

When I was five, a roc landed in my backyard. I heard the thunder of its wingbeats and ran outside just in time to see it land heavily on the ground. I had never seen anything so magnificent before. Its feathers were every color of the rainbow. And it was huge. With its wings spread out fully, it spanned the neighbor’s houses on either side of mine.

Mom hid inside, crying, but I didn’t hesitate. I grabbed a rope from the garage and tossed it as high as I could. The roc caught it in its beak and held it for me to climb. It took me half an hour of climbing, with lots of rest stops along the way. The roc waited until I had reached its head and had a firm grip on its feathers before it took off.

“Little boy,” it said, “say goodbye to your parents.”

I waved at the rapidly shrinking ground. “Will I see them again?”

“No. The time has come. God is angry. There will be a flood, and they will drown.”

“And I?”

“You will live. For I am the roc, and those who shelter beneath my feathers will fly above the waters unharmed.”

“Roc, please turn around and go back. Please save my parents.”

“I cannot save anyone but those with the courage to come to me. Your parents hid in fear. Even if I returned, they would not come to me. There is nothing I can do for them. Dry you tears, child–” For I had started crying. “–it’s not yet time for the flood.”

On we flew. Every now and then the roc landed, and people fled in terror and confusion. But now and then someone came running towards the roc instead with a rope and climbed on. Our numbers grew. We built homes for ourselves beneath the roc’s feathers, cities of rachids and downy fluff. I longed for my parents, but there was nothing I could do.

When the rain began to pour, we hunkered down within our shelters and waited. It rained for forty days and forty nights, and then abruptly stopped.

We emerged to a horizon of endless sea coruscating beneath the brilliant sun. We clutched each other in wonder and amazement. The water stretched on forever. We were not afraid, though. One day it would recede and dry land would emerge again, and we would set our feet on the good earth and rebuild. It had been promised to us.

Months passed.

Years.

I am an old man now. My knees knock together when I walk. Children have been born and birthed and their own children born in turn in our city beneath the feathers.

We are still waiting for the roc to land.

barefoot bride

barefoot bride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t until later
when I, barefoot and tattered, could no longer hide
beneath my canopies, that you came
with pickaxes and dynamite
to do with me as you pleased.
By then, I had nowhere left to run.
You scoured away my skin
to unearth the glittering bones beneath
and chipped away, little by little,
my exquisite corpse
until at last, I
deliquesced.
Once upon a time, you promised me kingdoms.
That lipless silence should have been my warning.
Too late now;
too late as you expose my guts to the open air
and break my bones to fashion into pocket dice.
Your promises have long been melted down and reforged,
and I am
broken apart, cut down to a diamond shine
for you to line your pockets with.
I cannot speak.
I cannot breathe.
The rigor mortis of imperial rule seels
my eyes shut with gunpowder threads
and twists my fingers into shackles.
The me that once leaped among trees and bloomed with every fading orchid
is gone–
carved out of herself
and remade into your likeness.
How can I know I’m still alive
when you plunder me for your stomach
pit cataracts into my cracked bones
and turn a deaf ear to my screams?

the light on high

the winged library

it came to me all out of nowhere one day, on a Sunday afternoon,
that all I needed in order to lift myself from the dust and pulp of ancient history
was to wish for it.
so on that rarefied Sunday,
I opened my pages and let myself soar.
a thousand and one lives trailed in my wake,
ribbons of existence that caught in the sun, flamed, and burned away to nothing.
and on that Sunday afternoon, the air was something I had never tasted before,
not stale and dry as the words that bound me, but rich with worlds
that I had never before imagined
and would never have imagined on my own.
and who knew that all I needed to make it this way
was simply to let go
to drift
and to dream?

the dixit diaries

Latin: dixit (v.)
1. third-person singular perfect active indicative of dīcō
1. “he (she, it) has said, he (she, it) said, he (she, it) has spoken, he (she, it) spoke, he (she, it) has talked, he (she, it) talked”

            Dixit duas res ei rubori fuisse.
He said that two things had abashed him.

2. “he (she, it) has affirmed, he (she, it) affirmed, he (she, it) has declared, he (she, it) declared, he (she, it) has stated, he (she, it) stated”
3. “he (she, it) has called, he (she, it) called” [source]

This past Christmas, I got my boyfriend the card game Dixit.  It’s a storytelling game where players tale turns as the storyteller, who comes up with a phrase or a sentence to which the other players attempt to find the best match out of their own hand of cards. The rules are straightforward, the scoring simple. It’s a party game, and the storyteller’s hints can range anywhere from cryptic to blunt.

Dixit

The phrase dixit is often used as an introduction to old stories, and for the game, it implies that a story is unfolding, a piecemeal and eclectic collection of snapshots open to interpretation. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it might also be worth a thousand stories.

The Dixit Diaries will be a series of flash fiction, poetry, and short stories inspired by the beautifully surreal pictures of the game’s cards. Like everything in this blog, what I write is intended primarily for my own purposes. In this case, the Dixit Diaries will be a writing exercise, a weekly catalyst to get me in the habit of pumping out ideas on a regular basis again. I told myself I would start this up as soon as I moved to Seattle, but with one thing and another, a month passed before I actually worked up the guts to start.

Look forward to the first post next week!