Filmed poem – The heart slaps along

A filmed version of a poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A friend of mine and I were testing out his new camera rig, playing around with different shots at a park. He took the footage and made the below. What do you think?

The Heart Slaps Along” Written by Marcus Jonathan Chapman. Filmed, edited and read by Patrick Garrett York.

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Decent and good parents

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

On the corner
of Cajon and Vine
      sat at a cafe
a family
walked by

The kid
holding hands
with a woman
      I’ll say his mother
passed a Porsche
and
while swinging
his free arm
said
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

His parents said naught
to which I thought
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

30 years from now
he’ll be
walking
holding his lovers hand
They’ll pass by
a Porsche
and
he’ll say
with one arm swinging
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

And his lover
having had decent
and good parents
will reply,
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Someone is listening

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There is a man
crossing the street
talking to himself
or
he has Bluetooth
or
he is talking
while the Bluetooth
connects
another mind
prepping speech
for tongue
or
someone is hearing
or
someone is listening
or
someone is listening
for the pause
triggering
their own tongue
or
he is talking
to god
or
he is talking to someone
and that someone
is also god
or
he is talking to
another fragment
of god
and
between them
god is talking
to itself
or
god is talking
and
I wrote
these thoughts

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Coffee black

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

coffee
black
like my soul
and other
poorly written
poesy

what is the soul?
nothing

coffee
black
like my lungs

coffee
black
like my humor
like fingernails
like that smoke stain
on the back of my
front tooth

coffee
black
like gunk in the drain
like dog nails
like tires

coffee
black
like letters perched
on invisible wire
chirping of the soul
of nothing

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Cajon and Vine

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

sit
under gray clouds
and burnt sky
under waving patriotism
tattered

sit
next to bubbling youth
and bike racks
under manicured palms
weeping

sit
in the shadow of god’s cage
and tides of cars
like rolling waves
disappearing

sit
on the rounded corner
of
Cajon
and
Vine

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Soul Asylum Radio

Hello fellow readers and writers,

Recently, I had the unique experience of participating in a podcast episode of Soul Asylum, a podcast on Blog Talk Radio. I was asked to share one of my poems, In Eulogy with the Burst.

Thank you CAL, Essama and AP Taylor for having me on. Check it out the 12/18/2020 Soul Asylum Radio episode, my portion begins at minute 20:35, but listen to the entire episode if you enjoy discussing and listening to poetry.

Tune in weekly to their show or catch up on their full catalog of episodes, they are enthusiastic and passionate about poetry.

Thank you, again, to Essama, for asking me to join and share a piece.

Made of stone

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Find yourself a house
made of brick
or cement
cinder block, if you can find it

find yourself a house
made of stone
and sit
sit in the middle

when the sun comes
and there is no wind
and the asphalt ripples with fever
sit in the house
and watch yourself baking
getting soft
sweat slapping at your eyes
sweat clumping your hair
      twisting and curling on your neck
stare at the unit
cut into the stone
don’t touch it
stare and know your body works
you have walls, a roof
and that is convenience

get yourself a house
made of stone
and sit
sit in the middle

when the clouds come
and the trees whistle
and the specter of breath lingers
sit in the house
watch yourself tighten
sealing in the juices
blood oozes and muds
blood sculpting clay
      in the fingers and toes
think of fire
suck down booze
imagine a woman resting against you
but stare
stare at those tight walls
taught as your skin
and know that is comfort

get yourself a house
made of stone
and know what the rib cage
is to the heart

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

The heart slaps along

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The heart slaps along
sticking
to hot asphalt
with each rotation

pulling from gravel and tar
with each bounce

spurting ruby and blue
leaving rust in its dust

green shards from broken Mickey’s
orphaned bougainvillea
plastic straws
French fries
bottle caps
abandoned black rubber
cigarette filters
chewed gum
yesterday’s papers
sand
and
dust
stick to it

The heart slaps in a puddle
swelling
with oil, rain and gasoline
stopped

Send it back
spinning and rolling

Pulling from the road
with each bounce

send it
slapping along
wrapped
in flowers and glass

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

In eulogy with the burst

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And I see
not much more than
string
wet and woven
through bags
pregnant with tea
and bloated
from water and
the bubbles cluster
clinging
to the side of Styrofoam
shaped cylindrical
and the bubbles
bounce
in eulogy with the burst
and I taste their bitter
tears and set down my cup
licking my lips and thinking
not much more than this
and I know
it is everything

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And of the toilet brush

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And of the toilet brush
next to porcelain bulb
resting in its holster
all bristles even with the lip
save one
curling up
from the pubis of the brush’s handle
curling up and away
from the toilet brush’s
downward
destiny
curling up and away
from shit
and piss
and vomit
and gism
and I have never seen
a violence
so complete
as that bristle
curling upward and away

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful thing

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ll see a beautiful thing
and I’ll think
I’ve seen it
I can do ugly

And that beautiful thing
will stay
and then I’ll do ugly
and the ugly thing
will stay

and the more beautiful I see
the more ugly I do
and the more ugly I see
the more beautiful I do

And that ugly thing
will stay
and then I’ll do beautiful
and the beautiful thing
will stay

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

You know

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

When that orange burns through the gaps in the leaves
and you pull your sweater just a little tighter
and the rush hour of thoughts put you in a daze
and your faced with another night sleeping alone
and the dogs are whining for their walk
and you’ve mindlessly opened and closed the fridge
and you glance at the clock 90 times in one minute
and you turn the dryer back on without even checking
you know
you know you’re alone
but that little blue ball
Bukowski’s little blue bird
still hops
in your rib cage
keeps you pacing
you know your spirit
can take it
you know

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

At walls’ full of platitudes

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I saw him
And I used to see him
All in the same place
The coffee shop
Now they sell beer as well

I saw him, first
12 years ago
Drinking and staring
At the young women drinking coffee
He, old but taught
Defiance in his eyes
His stare a rebellion against gravity
Rebellion against time

I saw him, second
In meetings anonymous
Old and bruised
Bewildered and staring
At walls’ full of platitudes
Fear in his eyes
Earthquakes in his wrists
Now gravity rebelled

I saw him, third
The coffee shop
Old and limp and loose
His eyes set in cement
The defiance shaken out
A servant of gravity
I saw him
He didn’t see

I saw him
And I knew my own history
Back again
And I saw my future
With no humbleness
No fight
To bend the knee or
Have it bent for me

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

They pile up

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

They pile up
and you want to stop
and you don’t know where to start
and you can’t stop
so you don’t start
and they pile up
and you lose sight
you start stopping
and you never stop starting
and you start to write
and that doesn’t stop
you write about stopping
and you can’t start
and they pile up

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I don’t want to smoke

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I don’t want to smoke
and I sneak away
to coffee shops
and think about smoking
I drink coffee
read
Listen to people talk
people laugh
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
I close the book
and don’t stare
don’t stare
don’t stare
I finish my coffee
grab my book
head back home
and I read
I think about smoking
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
I stand up
pace outside
get in my car
and go to a coffee shop

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Now I have the time

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Now I have the time
to pay attention to the names
of musicians
both living and dead
      Michael Nyman
      Philip Glass
      Alexander Borodin
      Katie Von Schleicher

and I take pride because
I feel what they create
and now I know their names

Now I have the time
to pay attention to my
backyard
the gophers have gone
I killed all the weeds
the wild parrots, escaped
from the pet store
50 years ago, gather
on the power line above
my easement
the Blue Jay’s cocking heads
and hopping
around the gopher holes
finding grubs
And I take pride because
they are part of my lot
and now I know their names

And now I have the time
to pay attention to the names
the names not belonging to me
or to the other one
I have the time to pay attention
because I have only time

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I know a great writer

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I know a great writer
but you don’t
her greatness is planted
in not knowing, not
thinking she is great
and I know she is
a great writer
but she doesn’t and
she writes anyway
and I write but
I try not to think of
my standing
my standing over
or standing under the
writing of other writers
and I stand up
and I think of the words
and the words I don’t know
but that great writer writes
knowing nothing of her greatness
and I write but
I stand and go outside
taking off my shirt to let the sun
soak in
and I think of her greatness
and not my own
and she doesn’t
think of me

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

lazy day with nothing to say

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

lazy day with
nothing to say

the sun soaks
sludge bilks’ thoughts
mudslides smooth
peaks and valleys
to a single plateau

my mind, the sun, un-seeable
a walnut dazed
windows glazed in
snow buried, re:
whites, grays, haze
Trieved to a
Saint slobbering Bernard

Cocoa steams
streams magma flings
in loosening dreams
through the windows
of the sun, sloths
in heat buildup speed
and spew their sperm
soaked thoughts:

slow swimming sludge
obsidian’s cakes tectonics
quake meridians plates

lazy day with
nothing to say

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Inside my chest there lives a cat

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Inside my chest I found a cat
I called it names to which it spat
‘til desperation made me scream
I know not, love, for what you dream
and then it nuzzled, flicked its tail
a cry of love found holy grail
still at my touch, bared tooth and nail
so I stay hid from love’s impale

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And Paul

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And Paul
I love you
brother

we want to see beauty
and we’re the same
with different words
so I choose carefully

we met in a circle
sharing our pain
and I could see it
and you could see it
thorns

through cigarettes
and ping pong
cups of pills
we saw the things
that broke us
crystalline

love
family
friends
structure
authority
time not ours
bills
regrets
love
being alone

nothing so abstract
nothing faceless

we graduated
from beeping hallways
and single file lines
to check-ins and check-outs
and broken curfew fines

And we finished our time
maybe got perspective
I went back to work
you went back
to the gatehouse

Then you had a kid
and I got married
we spoke on the phone
about all under which
we were buried

You called
now and then
from the road
I called
once and again
from my home

The kid started school
I got divorced
life felt so cruel
you fell out
and stayed at my house

And we laughed at the news
when we started to drink
and we cried in our shoes
when our egos would shrink

And I had to remind you
kitchen knives were for food

and blood
is too close to the surface
in all of us

And I remembered
how I used to be
and we both agreed
that you should leave

And for years
before nights were done
we talked about
beauty
and you said
we’re the same
and I agreed
but I want to see
the beauty

and Paul
there’s no beauty
in the bottle
we’ve both checked

and Paul
beauty is pain
because we feel it

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Until I get to later

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ll die of exhaustion
tired of being alone
maybe head to Austin
forget to bring my phone

Throw on grandpa’s sweater
we had the same frame
drive until I wanna stop
look for something tame

No clinking brick to weigh me down
to wonder if to smile or frown
just stop for gas in dying towns
give knowing nods to wayward clowns

Stop by the road and find a tree
jot down the words, say poetry
throw my pens and pages in the back
drive off and think of what they lack

Distract away
her ringing words
“I’ll call you later”
later
later
later
later
later
later

And I’ll keep driving
until I get to later

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Light’s Fingers

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Light’s fingers touch in darkness stains
Colors froth through milky grains
Yellows yawp barbaric fire
Oranges howl of hell’s empire
though windows through the blackness break
no fingers lunge for lonely’s ache
My Adam’s hands, these gnarled tines
quaking reach to grasp what shines
that curdling plea of palm and nail
yet, no light hushes lonely’s wail

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Please

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Please
Don’t take the pills
Changing chemistries
Raising new ills

Those dark shadows
Swirling

Let them feed
Through words
To paper eaters
Devouring

Let them loose
Through color
To open windowed souls
Cowering

Let them twirl
Not suppress
Give them life
Beyond the chest

Let them powder
Through noise
To wax drums
Quivering

Let them dance
Through monologues
To cymbal-ed monkeys
Chattering

Please
Don’t take the remedies
Blessing new enemies
Depressing heart break

Those dark shadows
Swirling

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And I want to be the king of my castle

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And I want to be the king of my castle
And I feel like a pauper in my home
And I need to be master of my domain
And I believe no man should be alone

And I want to flit about on empty floors
And I feel the scream of doubt that clogs my pores
And I need cold water to wake me up
And I believe no answers are found in a cup

And I want my friends to know I am here
And I feel my family hold on to a tear
And I need a fresh face without a mask
And I believe no answers to questions they ask

And I want to find words that aren’t in a book
And I feel too much pain will allow me to look
and I need a new name to reflect all these changes
And I believe no pen is worthy of these exchanges

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

It was the times

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It was the times
I teased too hard
And
It was the time
After sex
I asked a stupid question
And
It was the time
Before intimacy
I asked a stupid question
And
it was the time
I drove to you
Drunk
And
It was the time
I came over
from the night before
Still stinking of booze
And
It was the times
I went out
“to catch a slice of life”
I said
And
It was the time
At the urgent care parking lot
I shared a cig
With another waiting for his girl
And
It was the times
I couldn’t express
But I wanted to be alone
And
I walked past you
To take out the trash
As if another wall
And
And there is more
And
I write them out
So plainly
Too quickly
And
I feel them
Like paper
cuts

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Youthful Beauty

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Youthful Beaty
nods and smiles
at graying experience
the coolness of
sweaters
Jackets
shirts
Sagging in all the right places
Betrays
The pursuit of success
Cleavage shines and rings
skirts high tail
chandelier leggings
locked eyes
loose legs

Meanwhile

Armies of
Scabbed hands
bruised arms
oxygen tanks
vet hats
social security cheques
keep the boat
Floating

The pianist’s fingers bleed
for the raised voice
recognition
of barfly’s and
passersby

Five claps for the piano man
and I write on torn
sheets of a legal pad
trying to understand what I’m doing

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I tried to bet the ponies

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I tried to bet the ponies
Like Bukowski
But my math is atrocious

I tried drinking
Like Hemingway
But the loneliness was unbearable

I tried writing
Like Joyce, Miller and Burroughs
But my mind is too chaotic

I tried meditating
Like Cheever
But there’s too much fight in my chest

I tried uppers and downers
Like Thompson
But clarity was elusive

I tried
I’ll try

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Forced words

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Forced words
The thing won’t come
The thing won’t happen
Worse
I don’t know what thing is

Forced words
At a casino
Between sweepers
Smokers
Losers
chirps
Winners
Chimes
Losers

Forced words
Because
That fight
in my chest
crawls down
to my hands

it’s shit
the feeling
it’s shit
the forced words

A train not even crashing
No explosion
Just quietly retiring
Off the tracks

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

If you’re lucky enough

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

If you’re lucky enough
You’ll fly to the moon
Through blue flame eyes
Glowing cross the table
And you’ll hear
Louis Armstrong’s growling timbre
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven.

And if you pay attention
Sinatra will croon
between your ears
I thought of quitting, baby
but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
and you’ll float over the moon
aiming for those sapphire eyes
twinkling across the table

And if you’re lucky enough
time will stop
and you’ll realize there is only
what is in front of you
and like melting butter
Irma Thomas will drip
in your ears
Anyone who knows what love is
will understand

And if you let yourself go
you’ll bloom in a shimmering galaxy
of golden hair
and Minnie Riperton’s soft melody
will patter in your ear
Kiss my petals
and weave me through a dream

And if you’re lucky enough
you’ll stand still
tethered by a kiss
in a Stater Brother’s parking lot
while the world spins
your body will buzz and hum
and you’ll hold your own song

And if you hold on to it
you’ll write about it
filling pages
with a universe of words
you’ll run out of ink
you’ll run out of words
but those azure eyes
will forever be empyreal

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And it’s in my chest

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And it’s in my chest
And I think about Blanca
And I think about me
And I think about the dogs
And I never start from the beginning
And the monologue never stops
And I’m trying to fall asleep
And I fall into another line
And I stay awake
And I want to be a better man
And I don’t know what that means
And I keep pushing keys
And my hands grab for tools
And my palms tingle
And every line starts to continue
And I hate it
And I love to hate it
And it’s cliché
And I recognize it is cliché
And I keep pressing down
And I think of a pianist
And I want to make music
And I hate the things my fingers leave
And I make noise
And I clang
And I bang
And I push
And every line starts the same
And I try to scrape the fever
On keys
On paper
On pens
On receipts
On napkins
On envelopes
And it leaves a residue
And I read it
And you read it
And it stains

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

The sky is mottled with pregnant clouds

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The sky is mottled with pregnant clouds
Contractions of wind huff harder and harder
Trees protest throwing down leaves
And still I stay outside

A cricket plays a solo
A neighbor laughs
My hair blows over my eyes
And still I stay outside

The cup of tea has lost its steam
My skin tightens into untouched dunes
My fingers tighten while they tap
And still I stay outside

Bukowski’s liquor breath escapes his jowls
Love is a Dog from Hell flutters and howls
My little dog scurries from door to lap
And still I stay outside

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Tomorrow I leave on a road trip

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Tomorrow I leave on a road trip
With my dad

We’ve been to
North Carolina
New York
Just the two of us

In NC
We saw all the green
From a Mustang convertible
Watched Eddie Murphy on screen
Took a dip in a mountain stream
Dad worked in the next room
I saw porn for the first time
I was still a single digit

In NY
We saw mountains of glass and steel
From taxi cabs and walks
Viewed works of art
Ate well
Dad went to a conference
I crossed the Brooklyn bridge
and smoked
I was in my early 20’s

I’m 35
We know each other’s vices
We’re driving to the deserts of the Midwest
We’ll see strip malls
gas stations
fast food
On our way to beauty

I’ll grab my watch
And
Hold its hands

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Float, Volcano, Marathon

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Astronauts spin holding an orphan rope
All known life bouncing from their visors
Green and blue and white and brown

My fingers burn and quake at glowing letters
An eruption of black spews over white
Invisible specks from that deep black pool

Finger through tar race chariots of fire
One view, two views, three views, four
One like, two likes, then no more

The window checking fever of a lost love
Howling wolves, laughing hyenas, danger
Bricks are laid one by one by one by one

Not fame, not money, not glory, nor expertise
Anxious desire to transcribe thought
To write. Not to be read, but understood

Liberty, Sweep, Inspiration

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

You’re squinting eyes betray your smile
The mask masks little to a familiar shape
Cigarette smoke dances towards beauty
And I can’t look away

You, the conjuring of muses
Baring a bounty of abuses
Betraying only grace
And I can’t look away

Cages open when you smile
Wings espy strength to fly
Bulges form upon my nape
And I can’t look away

The match you burn
Whispers darkness away
The corners lit
And I can’t look away

When sound escapes your peaceful face
No mask can mask that sweet escape
Swirling cosmos, stars and sky
And I can’t look away

Though day is dying in the West
You raise a sun inside my chest
It forms a smile upon my face
And I can’t look away

White, your name best describes
The happy touch and gentle vibes
A hummingbird darting into our lives
And I can’t look away

True, Beat, Receipt

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Glistening notes of piano
Gentle fingers push
Soft pads whisper thuds
Unnoticed but still true

Bow rips
Sheep guts scream
Bow rips
Audience roars

Mane whips
Sweat drips
Baton grips
Beat apocalypse

Ears receive
Hands return
Hearts deceive
Man’s concern

Arthritic perfection
Irony’s complexion
Gnarled perspective
Left defective

Money for blood
Money for beauty
Money for truth
Money for duty

Honey to drums
Aching for more
Watering eyes
The artist’s whore

Deny, Aloof, Fame

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Crickets
No wind
Move your arm
Feel it swim.

Black swiss cheese
Above the trees
Blinking holes
Moving souls

Words betray
I’m okay
Donkey’s bray
I’m okay

Nature moves
Flashing screens
Breathing mouths
Counting beans

Piles of beans
Flash on screens
Breathing mouths
Become routines

Dying slow
Long goodbyes
Reflecting glow
Attracting flies

Nothing loved
Nothing gained
Straining eyes
Entertained

Wearing masks
Hiding flasks
No more smiles
Wandering aisles

Keep in mind
Distance gained
No more hugs
Distance maintained

Hold the phone
Coming home
Fingers itchy
News so kitschy

One more touch
Finger raised
Swiping screen
Red Blue praised

Square root =
44.94441010849
Year of fear
Drinking wine

Crickets
No wind
Move your arm
Feel it swim

Blue pastel
Above the trees
Sending man
To his knees

Condition, Skin, Waiter

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Slip, drip through cracks. Crocodile flesh the desert floor eats all alive sun baking the heat Venus Fly Trap. Death

Circumstances, existence temporary. Ripping veils kicking, screaming, bleeding, kissing, fucking, missing, sleeping…not waking up. Being

Fingers, toes all in a flurry. Skittering, tittering blurry. Frenzy, quaking and shaking. Sun’s point of view, we don’t move. Waiting

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon lathers, shaving, slivering, chiseling, waning. Time

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon is full. Love

Surprise, alive, squeeze, squeal. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon shaves and grows. Love

Dirt, water, air, fire.

falling stars
waterfalls
choking weeds
blooming buds
browning grass
lush jungle
forest fire
toxic sunsets
fresh air
bleeding noses
Eskimo kisses
Love

Bang, Extract, Braid

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Lemuel saw a crowd gathering in a field just a few yards from the dirt path he’d been following. They seemed to grow in numbers, coming from all directions. He stood on his tip toes but couldn’t see past the backs of people huddling. Slowly he made his way over, moving his head side to side as if a slit or crack would appear.

Reaching the crowd, he made his way through a few people to the front. There Lemuel saw two men facing each other. By each of their sides, a woman was crying. He watched as one of the women took out a knife and cut off her long braid, stuffing it into the pocket of the man on the right. The other woman hugged the man on the left.

Each of the men was holding some sort of object made of metal and wood. They pushed a rod into the holes in the metal and tapped it down a few times. A man from the crowd, holding something in his hand that was connected to a chain that ran to one of his pant pockets.

The man raised his hand and the women dispersed back into the crowd, being held by other people. The two men stood back to back, pressing their heels into the heels of the other. They stood this way, all three of them, for what felt like minutes but really only a few seconds had passed.

The man dropped his hand and made a strange sound from his mouth. The two men began taking long, slow steps in opposite directions, putting both feet together after each step. They did this for 20 steps and then stopped. The man with the chain waved his hands to the crowd on either side of the men. The crowd moved to the side so there was no one facing the men in either direction.

Then the man put the object in his pocket, the chain still dangling. He moved back into the crowd opposite Lemuel. The two men had their objects of metal and wood tucked into straps at their sides, their hands hovering over them. One of the men waved his fingers slowly.

There was silence. Lemuel was fixated. His feet felt rooted to the ground. Then he heard a noise from behind him say something, it sounded like “hey, get that kid out of here.” But Lemuel had no clue what they meant or that they were talking to him. He realized quickly, that everyone, including the man with the chain was staring at him. Someone grabbed his shoulder, but he didn’t budge, he wouldn’t move. He wanted to see what was happening.

Then someone grabbed him around the waist and picked him up. They carried him back through the crowd and halfway up to the path. The man who set him down made more noises and thrusted a pointing finger toward the direction of the path. Lemuel stood still, facing the crowd. The man spun him around and gave him a shove toward the path. Now he got the message.

He reached the path and kicked at the dirt, sending up a dust cloud. He started walking in the direction he had originally been heading.

BANG! Lemuel whipped his head around. A scream and a wail went up from the crowd. Then some noise from someone that sounded like “no, no, no, no, god, no.” He tried to find a crack in the crowd so he could see but the crowd had moved even closer to the men.

Lemuel stood on the path and closed his eyes, wrapping crossing his arms and holding each cheek with the opposite hand, the iterations of the Lemonmouth. Something didn’t feel right and so he looked inside for answers.

Die, Mug, Silence

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The waitress eyed his mug like a Black Friday shopper eyeing the father who just grabbed the last Tickle-Me-Elmo. His knuckles white from keeping a tight grip through the handle around the sphere of the terracotta cup. His eyes glancing at the waitress and back at the coffee, half full and still steaming in his hand. The waitresses grip on the coffee pot equally as tight, a white band appearing where her choke hold on the handle, pressed against her wedding band and drained the blood around that finger.

He watched as she delivered a plate of egg whites to an older man two tables away. Then she walked over to his table.

“How is everything?” her question a distraction to her real intention. A rope-a-dope as her coffee pot hand darted forward across the table toward his mug.

“Everything is great, thank you.” He said, taking a sip from his coffee and bringing closer to his being, away from the hovering mother ship of coffee.

“Great, I’ll be back to check on you.” She wavered eyeing the mug, her hand beginning to shake from the extension of the nearly full pot in her hand. The moment passed and she retreated, moving on to the next table, where their mugs were exposed, and she filled to the brim each one with steaming coffee.

His mind was quiet. Eating alone, he’d become accustomed to the silence in his immediate vicinity. The conversations and cacophony of forks, knives and cups clattering spilled over into his space, but that was to be expected.

The waitress stopped at the coffee maker and began reloading her pot. She glanced back at his table; the mug still locked in his hand. She nearly spilled the coffee but there was more than enough in the chamber to cock back and fire more coffee into his cup, no matter how full it may have been.

She walked straight back to his table. “Refill?” The pot hovering inches from his mug-holding hand.

“No thank you,” he replied.

“Are you sure?” She insisted, pushing the pot closer to him until they nearly made a toast.

“Yes, I’m quite satisfied with the amount I have, one cup is enough.”

“Well, refills are free, sir, don’t be shy.” She was on the attack. He still stayed on the polite defense.

“That’s a great policy but I think I’ll have had my fill with just this one cup, thank you.”

“Okay, I’ll be back to make sure.” She fired back. This shot wiped out his front line and civility became the casualty.

“Ma’am, no need to come back. I only want one cup of coffee.” The smile on his face turned a few degrees to a thin line.

“Okay, we’ll I’ll be back in a few minutes to make sure. People change their minds.” She threatened to leave but her smile faded, and she stayed, her arm shaking from holding the full pot out in front of her.

“Do not come back. I have finished my meal and once I finish this very cup of coffee, this single cup of coffee, I will pay my bill and leave. Should you continue insisting, I will be forced to leave only a 10% gratuity.”

“Sir, are you not happy with our service?” Her brow furrowed and the line became a frown. His brow furrowed and the thin line became a frown.

“Your service is excellent, perhaps a bit too much. It could be said that there is too much service. And if there should be too much of something, it is still inadequate.”

“I will refill that mug.” She pushed the pot against his mug, threatening to tilt its spout into his mug.

“You will not.” He pulled the mug away.

“I will provide this service as per our policy.”

“Policy be damned, I would rather die than accept your refill.”

Role, Disturbance, Dine

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It’s not the shoes. It’s the feet. It’s not the feet, it’s the bones, muscles and tissue. It’s not really even those things, it’s the brain. The thing that tells the feet what to do, where to pivot, stop, book it, boot it, jump, slide and plant.

Even when they don’t feel it that day. On any given day the feet come to play, the mind could be a million miles away. Dreaming of that perfect companion with which to dine. Those sorts of things are controlled, some would say, by the heart. So perhaps it’s not the brain, but the heart that when hurt, doesn’t allow the brain to function properly.

Lace up all you wish but the distractions are many and the appetite for play simply isn’t there. Hear the cheers, the boos but if you don’t see that one face in the crowd, the heart just won’t play. Or maybe it will, perhaps it truly can be mind over matters of the heart. Perhaps you can will your feet to connect where they need.

I don’t know. Sports is very one dimensional, usually all or nothing. He gave it his all. She just didn’t want it enough. Is that really the best way to make parallels with our life? Maybe sports are just fun to watch.

Today was a good day for living but not for writing.  

Confusion, Mosque, Slow

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Nothing made sense at the edge of the blue. On land there didn’t seem to be any order, to anything. Nothing was categorized and everyone moved rapidly, never seeming to take a break. Those weren’t even the strangest things. There was nothing in their mouths and they all seemed to be constantly making noises through them.

Lemuel had heard crying or retching or coughing but never the cacophony of sounds he was hearing now. None of it made sense. His eyes darted everywhere for some daubing, some symbols on these strange people to learn something about them.

Opening his arms at everyone coming toward him didn’t seem to be effective, if anything, they walked faster and made an obvious turn to avoid him. There was so much stimulation, Lemuel couldn’t think. He looked for a place that might be quiet so he could gather his thoughts and process what he might do. It wasn’t even that long ago that he had suddenly regained consciousness on shore. He still hadn’t gotten over the shipwreck, seeing all the ropes, sails, wood, and various supplies scattered in the mouth of the bay. All those lemons, bobbing up and down, rolling back and forth with each wave stretching onto the edge of the blue.

Looking up, Lemuel spotted a tall building with round towers poking up above the other tall buildings. Moving toward it, he pushed through people carrying strange objects he’d never seen. Moving creatures in cages, baskets of bright red, round objects, shiny things twisted in dangerous shapes. He had to keep looking up at the towers because at his level, there was only seeing just past the next person.

Finally, he looked up and then down to see the entrance of the building he sought. A giant archway patterned with tiles on each side marked the mouth of what he hoped would be a quiet or at least a quieter place.

Walking slowly towards the entrance, Lemuel noticed shoes just outside the large wooden doors. He took off his sandals and peeked into the door that was slightly ajar. Two men emerged, not noticing him. They carried rolled up rugs and stopped to put on their shoes. Lemuel slipped past and stopped, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness.

As his eyes took in the little light available, they began bouncing off information for Lemuel to see. More giant arches marked a long, vacuous hallway but they were not plain. Every wall, pillar, arch and windowsill was covered with carvings. Images of birds, geometric shapes, slivered moons, suns and stars.

Lemuel looked at his own bare chest, seeing the tattoos that made up who he was. Perhaps they spoke his language. He moved forward through archways, looking up at gigantic hanging objects holding, what looked like, thousands of candles. Ahead of him, he saw more men. They faced down on rugs just fit for them and rocked back and forth from kneeling to touching their heads to the rug. They were also making strange noises from their mouths, but these were not the chaotic sounds from outside, these seemed to sooth him. Lemuel knelt down, mimicking what he saw and began to think. The storm, his grandfather losing his grip on the rigging and disappearing over the side of the ship, screaming, blackness, the beach. Lemuel had found a quiet place but his thoughts were booming.