The fence we walked between the years
Did balance us serene;
It was a place half in the sky where
In the green of leaf and promising of peach
We’d reach our hands to touch and almost touch the sky,
If we could reach and touch, we said,
‘Twould teach us, not to, never to be dead.

We ached, and almost touched that stuff;
Our reach was never quite enough.
If only we had taller been,
And touched God’s cuff, His hem,
We would not have to go with them
Who’ve gone before,
Who, short as we, stood tall as they could stand
And hoped by stretching tall to keep their land,
Their home, their hearth, their flesh and soul.
But they, like us, were standing in a hole.

O, Thomas, will a Race one day stand really tall
Across the Void, across the Universe and all?
And, measured out with rocket fire,
At last put Adam’s finger forth
As on the Sistine Ceiling,
And God’s hand come down the other way
To measure Man and find him Good,
And Gift him with Forever’s Day?
I work for that.

Short man, Large dream. I send my rockets forth between my ears,
Hoping an inch of Good is worth a pound of years.
Aching to hear a voice cry back along the universal Mall:
We’ve reached Alpha Centauri!
We’re tall, O God, we’re tall!

Ray Bradbury

Mirror Maze

June 12, 2018

Stay away from the maze where winter slept…

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes

A witch

The Witch who might draw skulls and bones in the dust, then sneeze it away…

…so she could feel their souls disinhibit, reinhabit their tremulous nostrils. Each soul, a vast warm fingerprint , felt different, she could roil it in her hand like clay; smelled different, Will could hear her snuffing his life away; tasted different, she savoured them with her raw-gummed mouth, her puff-adder tongue; sounded different, she stuffed their souls in one ear, tissued them out the other!

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes

try my hand at a novel

January 30, 2018

EMILIA DZIUBAK

I was always into horror when I was a kid – the old American International pictures, the big-bug movies, then the Hammer stuff. And of course the books, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, Shirley Jackson’s novels, and the great pulp writers like Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Richard Matheson. I even briefly liked Lovecraft, though I find him utterly unreadable now. When I decided that I wanted to get out of writing for magazines try my hand at a novel, King and Straub and a number of other really fine writers were already well into their stride and I was reading them a lot, and the movies had become a lot edgier and in-your-face, with stuff like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the like, and I thought it was a very exciting period to be writing horror. So it was natural that I gravitate there with my first one, Off Season.

Jack Ketchum
Interview with Rob Hart for Litreactor, 27th April 2012

Understanding time

August 2, 2017

My dear, you never will understand time, will you? You’re always trying to be the person you were instead of the person you are tonight.

Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine

skull-and-hand

The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by deathwatch beetles, and thrive the centuries. They were the men with the leather-ribbon whips who sweated up the Pyramids seasoning it with other people’s salt and other people’s cracked hearts. They coursed Europe on the White Horses of the Plague. They whispered to Caesar that he was mortal, then sold daggers at half-price in the grand March sale. Some must have been lazing clowns, foot props for emperors, princes, and epileptic popes. Then out on the road, Gypsies in time, their populations grew as the world grew, spread, and there was more delicious variety of pain to thrive on. The train put wheels under them and here they run down the log road out of the Gothic and baroque; look at their wagons and coaches, the carving like medieval shrines, all of it stuff once drawn by horses, mules, or, maybe, men.

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes

faceless

These lists (nouns to trigger ideas for stories) were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.

The lists ran something like this:

THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE. THE ATTIC. THE BASEMENT. THE TRAPDOOR. THE BABY. THE CROWD. THE NIGHT TRAIN. THE FOG HORN. THE SCYTHE. THE CARNIVAL. THE CAROUSEL. THE DWARF. THE MIRROR MAZE. THE SKELETON…

I was beginning to see a pattern in the list, in these words that I had simply flung forth on paper, trusting my subconscious to give bread, as it were, to the birds. Glancing over the list, I discovered my old love and fright having to do with circuses and carnivals. I remembered, and then forgot, and then remembered again, how terrified I had been when my mother took me for my first ride on a merry-go-round. With the calliope screaming and the world spinning and the terrible horses leaping, I added my shrieks to the din. I did not go near the carousel again for years. When I really did, decades later, it rode me into the midst of Something Wicked This Way Comes

I began to run through those lists, pick a noun, and then sit down to write a long prose-poem-essay on it.

Somewhere along about the middle of the page, or perhaps on the second page, the prose poem would turn into a story. Which is to say that a character suddenly appeared and said, “That’s me”; or, “That’s an idea I like!” And the character would then finish the tale for me. It began to be obvious that I was learning from my lists of nouns, and that I was further learning that my characters would do my work for me, if I let them alone, if I gave them their heads, which is to say, their fantasies, their frights.

Ray Bradbury
Zen and the art of writing

the smell of pumpkins…

October 19, 2015

onthestairs

Nobody moved.

Everybody sat in the dark cellar, suspended in the suddenly frozen task of this October game; the wind blew outside, banging the house, the smell of pumpkins and apples filled the room with smell of the objects in their fingers while one boy cried, “I’ll go upstairs and look!” and he ran upstairs hopefully and out around the house, four times around the house, calling, “Marion, Marion, Marion!” over and over and at last coming slowly down the stairs into the waiting breathing cellar and saying to the darkness, “I can’t find her.”

Then… some idiot turned on the lights.

Ray Bradbury,
The October Game (from Long After Midnight)

Writing Persistently

August 19, 2015

We got to watch out…

August 17, 2015

fog

“Dad, will they ever come back?”

“No. And yes.” Dad tucked away his harmonica. “No not them. But yes, other people like them. Not in a carnival. God knows what shape they’ll come in next. But sunrise, noon, or at the latest, sunset tomorrow they’ll show. They’re on the road.”

“Oh, no,” said Will.

“Oh, yes, said Dad. “We got to watch out the rest of our lives. The fight’s just begun.”

They moved around the carousel slowly.

“What will they look like? How will we know them?”

“Why,” said Dad, quietly, “maybe they’re already here.”

Both boys looked around swiftly.

But there was only the meadow, the machine, and themselves.

Will looked at Jim, at his father, and then down at his own body and hands. He glanced up at Dad.

Dad nodded, once, gravely, and then nodded at the carousel, and stepped up on it, and touched a brass pole.

Will stepped up beside him. Jim stepped up beside Will.

Jim stroked a horse’s mane. Will patted a horse’s shoulders.

The great machine softly tilted in the tides of night.

Just three times around, ahead, thought Will. Hey.

Just four times around, ahead, thought Jim. Boy.

Just ten times around, back, thought Charles Halloway. Lord.

Each read the thoughts in the other’s eyes.

How easy, thought Will.

Just this once, thought Jim.

But then, thought Charles Halloway, once you start, you’d always come back. One more ride and one more ride. And, after awhile, you’d offer rides to friends, and more friends until finally…

The thought hit them all in the same quiet moment.

…finally you wind up owner of the carousel, keeper of the freaks…

proprietor for some small part of eternity of the traveling dark carnival shows….

Maybe, said their eyes, they’re already here.”

Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes