Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Drinking With Chiron

The old man says, “Drink this.”
I never questioned him before, when both of us were younger; me in my final sprout of youth and first bud of manhood, he in his pride and his prime. I don’t question him now, but see nothing here to drink, just bare uneven shelves chopped into a wall of unworked stone, even those hardly visible in this dim sourceless light.
His front hoof – he always used the left one first – raps and slides on the rough rock floor.
I curve my hands and fit them together. There is nothing in them, and then they are full. The drink feels neither cool nor warm. I see nothing, just bear its weight. I smell nothing, not water, not tea, not mead, not wine.
He doesn’t have to repeat the order. I raise my hands, fit my lower lip and the tip of my tongue into the vee of the joined heels, and tilt it up. A shallow eddy flows in. I tip my hands away, close my lips and swallow. It tingles like vinegar would, all the way down.
I am not breathing, so taste nothing. Lift the hands again, admit a trickle, swallow. Swallow. Swallow again. Swallow again.
I hold a final trickle in the cup of my tongue until enough collects that it can be swallowed. Licking the creases of your palms for the last of a drink is vulgar. I just lower my hands and open them. Don’t even shake them clean, as one would with any other drink. Run my tongue around the inside of my lips, top and bottom. Swallow.
He says, “Good.” The strongest praise he ever gave.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Truly, I could continue to dither and fiddle for months, but what's the point? The only one who would notice any of the miniscule adjustments I still feel compelled to make is me. My editor, Michael, has heartily approved #1, and I sent proof copies of 2 and 3 to him on Friday. With his okay, and with any final-final adjustments he might suggest, I will kick the baby birds out of the nest at last.

Yes, yes, yes, I really will. Yes, really.

Michael has #4 to edit, so it will be a couple of months before it is ready for the wide world. But in the meantime, there will be .....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Junger On Soldiers and 'Success'

In the wonderful book "War," Sebastian Junger vividly explicates the differences between soldiers who succeed on base and in the Pentagon, and those that succeed in the field. At the most basic, those who fight well and stay alive tend to not give a crap about tidy bootlaces and tucked-in shirttails.

Understand, these soldiers don't succeed because they are untidy, annoying, and contemptuous of authority. They succeed because they are untidy, annoying, contemptuous of authority, ferocious, sarcastic, clear-eyed, fiercely loyal to one another, and totally willing to shoot other people if and when necessary. It's a package thing.