Write Away, Write Here: 1/9/2013 (+MILDLY REMARKABLE L&D UPDATES!)

Whoo, let’s hear it for 2013! Sorry about the delay in proper blog updates, but a combination of offline Christmas merriment and the resurgence of my shrewd nemesis Col-Lege The Educator has slowed my flow of post-worthy activities. However, while the continuing struggle for Love&Darkness: Vol. I‘s full release hinges on when Stuart Marlantes gets some free time and/or I bite the bullet and learn how to use an e-book formatting program, I’m pleased to follow up on a few previous Tweets by reporting that–aside from my apartment and this little hidden pocket in my messenger bag–the book is currently available at the following locations:

Book & Brush – Chehalis, WA
The Aerie Ballroom and Events Facility – Centralia, WA

…Okay, so that’s not much, but it’s a start! Also, availability of copies at the UW Bookstore in Seattle is still pending. If you’re around “The Ave,” Go in and ask for Love&Darkness: Vol. I by Trevor White to see if we can drum up some support!

Anyway, with a return to the University of Washington comes a return to “Write Away!”, and while I was feeling both rushed and rusted in spontenaeity that night, I still managed to produce a prose poem based on a prompt the group leader got off of Reddit: pick a verb, then write about being unable to perform said action “after the acccident.” Twenty minutes later, an only marginally rougher version of the following appeared on my notebook paper:

Limited Mobility [based on the verb “Accelerate”]

The accident was terrific, in the old-fashioned sense
of powder keg explosions and whip-crack lightning,
but slower and so much sadder.

One day, mid-day,
the car was pulling into the parking lot
of Arby’s, and in angling my boot
beneath the brake to rake out an old wrapper
from Subway, my foot got stuck.

My hair got all electrified,
and the steering wheel sweaty.
The yellow brick road bump backing the handicapped spot
was my best bet, before I lost control.

Unstick, foot,
I thrashed gently, kicked lightly, fighting,
until the boot removed itself right
into the side of the gas pedal,
and this being my latest cheap-ass sedan,
the pedal cracked off like a twig
on a black-padded assembly line limb.

I halted to a stop—that handicapped spot—
and dropped out of the car.
Let them check it.
I’ll tell ’em I got limited mobility,
and can’t move since the accident.

Write Away, Write Here — Oct. 17

A Device” [Prompt #1: Describe Something Without Saying What it Is]

The device is a complicated one, but its movement is a simple and fluid work of art to the observer’s eye. Fine belts press around blunted sawblades of greased metal before releasing into a parallel free run across the air, again and again. They power dual circuits of vulcanized rubber, from which slim bars radiate back to their cores like aluminum starfishes. Above the frontmost, a bracing pair of softened apertures extend, equipped with their own additional feedback control via a set of curved extensions which arrest the sawblades and starfishes. In the creation’s middle: a hollow support pipe, its complement below ensuring in tandem that the structure will not collapse.


(It’s a bicycle)


Squirrel Poker” [Prompt #2: Something About My Button of Squirrels Playing Poker From Tau Sigma Honor Society. It was a slow night like that. Also, no editing allowed, but I’ve fixed an incoherent tangent or two here and there]

When the Genetic Manipulation Project for Lesser Mammals (GMPLM) was begun, nobody could’ve foreseen the consequences of its widespread application, outside of the scientific community. Nobody, that is, except for the marketing minds of the nation’s biggest sports networks, which took a previously winning combination—spectator sports + inept combatants—and ran with it in a brand new direction: “Animalympics”. Specifically, squirrel poker.

When the program began, a number of remarkable ideas jumped out at the well-paid and respectably-dressed research team at ESPN: goat horseshoes, for one, or perhaps buffalo ice skiiing had potential. But squirrel poker—squirrels playing cards, in general—was shown to have the most potential in test screenings. For one, the intelligence of the rodents was such that, while capable of understanding basic instructions, the rules of the game, and rudimentary trash talk, their poker faces were lacking—or rather, their poker tails, for the large and bushy tail of the squirrel (who, unlike the chipmunk, preferred the sport naturally to backgammon and cribbage) would swiftly betray their hand when a well-held suit wouldn’t. Additionally, the hands of the squirrel were readily opposable for such a task, and besides, they didn’t even have to engineer a new deck to go along with it; those miniature super-travel-size cards worked just fine.

So within a month, televised Squirrel Poker (the title didn’t need anything else) was a nationwide phenomenon. Eventually, however, with the threat of slumping ratings, measures were taken to ensure vitality and relevance. They started giving one squirrel—a particularly laudable performer—miniature sunglasses and a hoodie; the existence of a possible cheating system was leaked to the news for the sheer sake of controversial publicity; a squirrel with abnormally large feet was marketed as a mascot for Coors Light, whose banners featured prominently on the wide shots of the stump of a prematurely-chopped oak where the squirrels played their rounds for the world to see (Try new acorn-flavored Coors! Squirrel away responsibly). Most importantly, though, they began looking for the program’s inevitable successor, for while network television was caught in its usual cycle of sweeps and seasons, the scientific advancements behind this remarkable turn of events was slowly evolving.

They began looking, and they found it in the Next Big Thing: sloth ping-pong. The possibility of a crossover to ensure favor—sloth vs. squirrel poker—was not left unconsidered, but the logistics on getting the sloths in question (who, since their intellectual broadening, had become notorious for just smoking pot and playing with K’nex sets) into the “Octagon” with the three or four squirrels was deemed an unnecessary expenditure. When all was said and done, the two programs were aired simultaneously, to see which the public preferred.

As it turned out, novelty and morbid curiosity notwithstanding, poker squirrelsstill held strong over their slower counterparts. Meanwhile, the fruits of competing networks—CNN’s ParrotReport and VH1’s 90’s Lemur—were no less of a failure.

“Babies, Lemons, and Paper” [Prompt #3: Group Poem – Babies, Lemon, and Paper. Some video people were laughing about beforehand, I don’t know. Special thanks to Cali Kopczick for compiling the full text this time! Every fourth line is mine.]

Gianna stared down at the blank sheet of paper.

Sunny sweet sour juice

The paper croaked as it stretched itself in two

Single bottomedly keeping the diaper industry, uh, afloat

She was horrible at arts so she knew she was already doomed—but she attempted drawing the baby anyways.

They only tell you it’s a bundle of joy or else it’d be orphaned.

Laced with citric icy invisibility

When life gives you some, throw ‘em back and say “no, you have them!”

It had turned out quite well! Until her mother said, “what a beautiful lemon.”

Write on me fool! Write on me!

Peek. It stared. Boo. It stared. Paper, citrus, stare: they knew.

I beat rock, but we teamed up together to stop scissors.

One with the Earth

So it occured to me that, if I’m posting new “scraps” from Write Away!, I might as well share some of the older ones too. This one is from… November 2011, I think; I generally don’t post in-progress stories for all to see, but I didn’t intend to go any further with this one, on account of I was worried about drifting into self-parody with the whole young guy protagonist + supernatural girl + romantic tension thing. Still, seeing as the gender reversal of said setup has been topping the pop fiction charts for about the last three years, maybe I’ll do something with it again (consider this an opening-page preview if so). Your call, really!

One with the Earth

“You can do it,” Ken said, following me down the sidewalk like a celebrity consultant on the way to a press conference. On any other day it would’ve been annoying, except this time, I’d asked him to come.

“Yeah, I can do it,” I replied resolutely. “How’re my teeth?” I flashed him an over-exaggerated smile.

“Good enough for a toothpaste commercial,” he said.




“Well, it’s a little late to change that, but… I’ve seen uglier.”

“Thanks,” I huffed. There was a lump rising in my throat, but I pushed it back down with little difficulty.

We turned a corner. “So how did you meet this girl, again?” he asked.

“I haven’t—that’s the thing. Online dating, you know.” I noticed the weeds were pretty unkempt around here, and it occurred to me yet again that it had been a good idea to bring a friend when I’d never been to this part of town—and of course, for moral support.

“What’s her name?”

Something Gage,” I said. “Or Gavin. Shows you how well this is gonna go that I can’t remember. She just messaged me about a day after I put up my profile, and then vanished.” I considered the scrawl of an address upon the paper in my fist. “I think… is this…? This is it.”

“Holy what?” Ken said as I looked to confirm my assumption, and my sentiments immediately echoed his. The house we stood in front of was an abstract and blocky mix of stone and wood at least four stories high, like God dropped some of his Jenga bricks. Meanwhile, the lawn was nearly as tall as it was wide, and I could see everything from sunflowers to what looked like a crop of marijuana growing amongst the untamed grass. Through the windows visible, there were either drawn curtains or a meticulous grid of fishbowls and potted plants.

I went to the mailbox, as if hoping there would be a letter sticking out explaining exactly how I was supposed to react to this. Instead, there was just a name painted neatly on the side:

“House of Gaia.”

“What?” Ken said, still mesmerized by the bizarre estate.

“That’s what it says on here.”

“Okay,” he said. “Well, it might look weird if I answer the door with you, so… I’m just gonna hide behind this banana tree and make sure you get in alright.”

I nodded, and began my walk down the dirt path, walls of foliage on either side. I delivered two knocks to the maple door and waited, checking my breath as I did.

A series of scuffing steps increased in volume, there was a metallic click, and the door opened.

“Oh, hi!” The girl said.

Hey,” I replied uncertainly.

Write Away, Write Here — Oct. 10

Alright, so as I’ve no doubt mentioned before, every Wednesday evening is “Write Away!” at the UW, where eager wordsmiths run through a trio or quartet of semi-random prompts for about fifteen minutes apiece, then share the results (no self-criticism beforehand!). I’ve shared the fruits of this group in the past (“Fyrewrit,” for one), but I thought to myself: why not start posting this stuff on a weekly basis? So straight from this last Wednesday, here we go–(mostly) unedited, (generally) uncensored, and (largely) unfinished:

18th Ave NE” [Prompt #1: Write something based on a classified ad]

At first, the alleyway that bisected the brownstone buildings of 18th Ave NE seemed a woeful picture of the effects of gentrification clashing with overblown artistic sensibilities in Seattle. Specifically, it was a rectangular strip of reinforced windows opaque with spray paint and dumpsters in practically neon shades from the same, but at the narrow path’s center was something unlike anywhere else in the city: an apartment in Paris.

This is to say that between 5266 18th Ave NE (Dave’s Pizzeria) and 5270 18th Ave NE (Flannery’s Tavern), there existed a casual spatial anomaly wherein what appeared to be the greater studio of a lavish French condo suddenly grew into existence as one entered the alley’s epicenter. The well-polished floorboards merged with the crooked surrounding bricks like two Lego sets jammed together by a thoughtless child, and a solitary window that should’ve looked into a chrome-filled kitchen instead faced a metropolitan skyline filled in no small part by an outline of the Eiffel Tower, above a modern computer desk and chair. With enough time, the surroundings as a whole would fade and shift into a full loft apartment, with a simple exit (and further defiance of physics) achievable by exiting through the front door and into the pizzeria restroom.

And yet there was a caveat: the sight would only become apparent to those in active need of a new apartment, which was how the phenomenon came to the attention of Laura Chance, fresh off a lease in a higher-priced University District complex and more than a little curious as to the numerous local police reports of inebriated homeless people claiming to have found solace for the evening in a public art exhibit on 52nd…

18th Ave NE, Part II” [Prompt #2: A hypothetical response to said ad, though it was apparently supposed to be for another ad.]

The story behind Laura’s investigation of, introduction to, interest in, payment for, and eventual exhaustion with Seattle’s only Parisian apartment is one that need only be addressed in regards to its final phase: Ms. Chance simply got sick of the place because the window to the outside was a good twelve hours ahead of the time zone in Washington state, she was taking too many credits already to bother learning French to take advantage of the computer, and she was at times paralyzed by the possibility that a garbage truck driver living on his friend’s couch would plow through the lot while she was dusting the varnished redwood bookshelves.

Instead, let us turn our attention to Max Smith, the neurobiology major who encountered a listing which read: “$750-850. UTILITIES and internet included. Available Now.”, accompanied by a short list of contact info and the address. It was this early that Max felt confused, for priding himself on a block-by-block knowledge of the neighboorhood that rivaled that of Google Maps, he knew that there was no actual building at 5268 18th Ave NE, at least not anymore.

If anything, the call to Laura was a matter of correcting her misprint, but the girl’s assurance that she was not mistaken piqued Max’s interest, sleeping as he had been for long enough on the top bunk of a bed in a dorm room with all the square footage of a dwarf’s tornado shelter. That Friday, he went on over…

Anda Mir” [Prompt #3: Inspired by some poem about “The Tarantella”, which reference someone named “Miranda” throughout]

Does anybody really call their daughters Miranda anymore?

Maybe it’s just as well, since it

mostly makes me think of George Miranda,

then Carmen Miranda, and I

get confused and wonder why we named a law

after a woman with bananas in her hat.

That, or Miranda Cosgrove,

who last I heard was playing pop music

as only the Disney brand can manufacture.


And after that, I start thinking of anagrams:

I ran mad, raid man, an ad rim,

and so on, ad nauseum, ’cause it just goes round

and round in circles like a silly shaking head—

Mirandamirandamiran—damn, man, that’s enough

of that.


We need to bring back Crystal,

or Stephanie, if indeed they ever left.

A good name is hard to find,

at least when you always have one in mind.


I am Rand. Mar a din.

Dammit, I’m doing it again.

Hey, does anybody call their daughters Amanda anymore?

I hope so.

It’s an adamant decision, after all.

Newspaper” [Prompt #4: Group Poem – Newspaper. Everybody comes up with some lines on the topic and we read ’em one at a time in a circle. These are my lines.]

Got a dollar? I want to hear what this ink and shredded wood have to say.

If computers rule, one will still blow down the street when the world ends.

Politics are a joke—Garfield is serious business.