Friday, September 28, 2012

Three New Poems

The City in the Valley
Look down from the hills
at the city in the valley
and be glad you are
above the smoke and fog
that smothers the place
in a saturating haze
that prevents one from ever
maintaining one’s bearings
and keeping a clear head.
Unless, of course,
you enjoy getting lost.

Sunset on the Bay
The sky is purple
and the bay is blue,
deep colors almost
too rich to be true.
The tides roll in slow
on the black sand beach.
The horizon seems
almost within reach.

Forest Nymphs in the Stream

The forest nymphs play in mountain streams,
laughing as they dance and wrestle in the water.
One looks to the sky with a smile on her face
as if to say thank you to the gods.

Copyright (C)  2012 by Eric Landuyt

Friday, September 21, 2012

People I Saw

Soldier With The Burned Face
I notice a soldier with a burned face.
He has lost his nose and his left eye.
I wonder if he can still smell or taste
and just how much remains of his sight.
His expression looks permanently pained,
though I imagine he has reason to hurt.
Even healed scars never look quite the same,
and a face like that must wound one’s self-worth.
I wonder how it feels to bear the stares
of normal people with perfect skin.
Perhaps he pretends none of them are there.
Does he even know I’m looking at him?
Hello, Scarecrow
Hello to you, scarecrow,
swaying among the wheat.
Your head is hanging too low;
you’re staring at your feet.
Keep your eyes on the field
and your mind on your duty
to protect your plot’s yield
and this landscape’s beauty.
The Girl in the Doorway 
Low-cut boots and a high-cut skirt
reveal almost every inch of her legs
as she leans against the doorframe.
I trace each delicate contour with my eyes
and imagine the warmth of her smooth skin
on my fingertips, my palms, my lips.
She wears a small, black leather jacket
over a white t-shirt that accentuates
her feminine curves without revealing too much.
I envy that t-shirt and that jacket for
wrapping themselves around her so snugly,
covering her body as I wish I could.
Her dark hair brushes against her cheeks
and makes her smile seem even brighter,
but I know that smile is for someone else.
Legs On A Fire Escape   
Her thin, brown legs dangle casually
over the edge of the faded green fire escape
and stand out against the dark red bricks.
She leisurely kicks the wind with her bare feet
as she lounges in the golden summer sunlight,
and the breeze occasionally teases her back
by ruffling her light purple skirt and
pushing it up ever so slightly.
She does not bother to smooth it down.
I think she knows I’m watching her.

Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt

Cicada-Man: Chapter 1

            David Tolkien wanted to die. Not through suicide by any means, just through an accident. Maybe he could push someone away from a bus or fall asleep on the tracks of the El to its vibrating rhythms. Maybe he’d be blessed with a sudden heart attack after many more of the cheeseburger he now chomped down on.
            Pigeons danced with each treat the wind carried to this cluster of tables and chairs under the interconnecting building passageway labeled Chicago Board of Trade. No cloud crossed the pathway of sunshine pulverizing the eyes of the pedestrians a good distance away from David and his McDonalds. Everything smelt fresh but him.
            Since he could find no Wi-Fi, he stared at the flimsy posters for Omni, PowerLady, and The Ares, all coming soon to theaters. He really didn’t want to job-hunt today. He’d much rather be on the computer doing that, but no one in the family believed that sloth excuse anymore. The hanging weight over his head made it impossible to choose any iPhone music to listen to, music to glide through the day with.
            Wrapper placed in the crumply bag, he felt how ill fitting his shirt was as his flabby legs stood. After a stretch and a rub of his eye, David slumped on down under Chicago Board of Trade away from the noontime crowds. Since there was no more money for food, maybe he could find a bench to waste time on until he returned home with a dejected report. At least he now had the shade of the above railway and the tastes of others’ cigarettes to assure no one would come wandering by to recognize him.
            As he wandered, he wondered where it might have gone wrong. How he emerged from the greatest part of his life to a college flunkout. He knew he was the only honest person he knew anymore, because he was the only one not tossing himself baseless compliments. There was everything to fear these days.
            Headphone-less ears picked up grunts and thuds traveling from an alleyway. Cautiously, David put his back to the dirty store, mindful of the tabloids the wind had brought to the ground, and peered over into it. Two men, in all black shirts and shorts, leaned over a brown lump: one on his knees punching the pile, another kicking it from a safe distance. The lump had boots and texture, and twitched with each blow. Even without the rushing train above to distract, only the faintest of sound could wheeze its way out of the alleyway… David couldn’t explain how he heard it.
            Though he never dreamed he’d have to actually remember this, childhood stranger-danger lights flared in his eyes. The smart choice would be to leave. This would be the only time he ever needed to make that kind of choice, and the only time he’d ever have to.
            But that poor creature on the ground couldn’t have had a 911 call’s worth of time left. Then, a swelling in David’s gut tightened his fists. This would be that chance to prove to everyone, to himself, that he still had some worth left in this world. All that was at risk was his life: if he didn’t make it out with that, he wouldn’t have to prove himself like this again.
            Suddenly, as David stepped into clear view of the alley, the lump flew onto its boots, raising its arms into two magnificent punches that knocked away its attackers. They covered bleeding noses on the ground, as stunned as David was by this man donning dark brown body armor and bright red combat gloves. The boots turned around in one stomp into a fighting mode, and David beheld the brown ski mask concealing the hallowed-faced old man challenging the abusers in the alley. Fiery ski goggles were the eyes of this lean one.
            David had no idea what to do until the kicking man launched an uppercut that the costumed one easily caught with his bulging glove. This gave the second one all the time he needed to grab the old man’s thick pants and yank him to the ground, causing the armored back to sound off a CRACK as it slammed into the ground. Without another thought, David rushed past the dumpster in his way and attempted to grab the standing one’s arms to no avail. That man nearly turned around, but a spraying sound and a shriek of pain later, he writhed on the ground sobbing. The masked man was still clutching the pepper spray as he continued to swat at the attacker on the ground.
            It was no trouble for David to pin the man to the shaded cement. He of the brown ski mask stood, and fiddled with his misshapen pocket belt until his smudged hand emerged with a pair of handcuffs. While latching them on the arms David held in place, he spoke in a booming voice:
            “I now place you under citizen’s arrest for charges of criminal assault and battery. You will now be brought to the nearest police station, where you will reflect on and admit your sins.
            He repeated this verbatim to the other one, who was still crying as handcuffs were placed on his thick wrists. One casual pull from each arm was enough to bring up each captor. Before emerging onto the road, the brown-clad man turned to David.
            “I thank you for your valorous actions,” he demanded. “If you could grace this alley with your presence until I return for the ceremony, that would be most kind.” With that, he marched out, dragging along the two criminals into the street of small shops. He carried no sign of injury with him.
            It took David a while to unfreeze his jaw. Everything was quicker than he could have ever guessed; it was only now that he realized his heart was shrieking wildly. He collapsed and leaned his tired shoulder blades on the rough dumpster, a small cluster of joy emitting from his sigh.
            Nearly everything about that man was a mystery to him. Though a quick check revealed there was still no Wi-Fi to use, he could hazard a guess that he just encountered a real-life superhero, like a movie one. Though the use of the word ‘sin’ intrigued him and kept flashing in bright red lights in his head…
            He peeked behind him, and the masked man already returned down this canyon imprisoned by shadows inside. Upon arriving next to David, he knelt. Though very thin, a surprising amount of tamed muscle lay inside the dirt-smeared red undershirt.
            “I shall not rise,” he stated, “until you have granted me that which I seek: the title of a superhero from a superior to another.”
            Before he could stop himself, David panted out, “But I’m not a superhero.”
            “Your modesty is admirable, yet who else could have aided one such as I on the true genesis of my career through my first victory?”
            “Your… hang on, you haven’t won a fight on your own?”
            “They have all been victories in spirit. Occasionally, the combat last long enough for the noble policeman to stop us both and detain the guilty. More often than not, these superstitious and cowardly criminals flee and disappear before apprehension! So I am truly humbled by your presence, you soft-spoken warrior, for it has lead me to triumph and my own dubbing.”
            His body itched to move away, but David’s gaze remained fascinated. “Ok, you’re a superhero. Rise.”
            The man did not move his bowed head. Some pedestrians were looking down the alley as they moved past, a few trying to contain grins.
            “Sigh… didn’t I do it right?”
            “Well, it is customary for the hero to be granted a name by those he has served! I believe both of us lent a hand to one another in this glorious and terrible combat.”
            “So what would you like to be called?”
            His masked head looked to the sky, and he clasped his hands over his stained knee. “If I were to be so blest to choose my own identity, there could be only one name for me. I wish to be known in the hearts of those who crave hope (and the hearts of those who detest the light) as CICADA-MAN, a guardian of Chicago and an eternal servant of the Lord!”
            “Right, right.” David pulled out his phone and clunked it clumsily on the armored shoulders one by one. “Ummm, having proven your worth this day, mighty hero, I hereby dub thee Cicada-Man. Go forth and, and do your thing.”
            Cicada-Man’s wrinkled lips hung open in silent prayer. If the goggles weren’t there, David would guess he was on the verge of tears.
            “Look, I hope the fact that I’m not a superhero gets in the way of this.”
            Cicada-Man towered over the dumpster when he reached his full height. “It is of little concern, now that we have both shown our courage on the field of battle. I bid thee well, sir…”
            “David Tolkien.”
            “Sir David Tolkien, may the Lord bless you. Now I must depart.” He shook David’s hand, than began a stride towards the smell of burning hot dogs in the street outside.
            “Wait!” cried David, and Cicada-Man turned in an instant. David had promised he would think before he went through with this, but the prospect seemed better and better the longer the new superhero stood in confused pause. This could be the end of all his troubles, both long and short term.
            “…are you hiring?” 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Addict in a Strange House

            Two o’ clock worked for his roommate back home, so he believed it would work here. He surfaced from the given blanket. Somewhere in this house, he would have a drink, seven o’ clock departure time or not, so he could go back between the couch cushions and finally sleep. There was no worse time for him for the pains to salivate and dig in his stomach.
            For all he knew, the constantly scattered, soft slams of his door could be the keeper-upper tonight instead. The all-knowing summer wind planned not to leave until someone thanked It for serving them this hot day. It also turned tonight restless. It made the two doors of this soft room with that long couch click sporadically all night. This house had many windows, but only the one here seemed to have a frame that was about to fall inside the house.
            He stepped as if one step, past the shelves with many books and movies, the TV with many channels. With the knob turned, the door flew into his awaiting hand so he could slide by and close it back, with only a few creaks complaining. His night vision did not fail him tonight, but it was aided by an orange moon rolling in still clouds.
            The kitchen had many cabinets. His shaking hands of sweat opened them all to find only many plates, many silverware, many unopened, unobtainable manufactures that could temper him if he could only open one without leaving a trace. There was no alcohol in the refrigerator either, but there was a pitcher of heavy filtered water he gladly helped himself too.
            As he sipped, he was reminded of other vacations and remembered wincing whenever his host’s family described themselves as ‘country.’ Central New York had countryside, surely, but any ‘country’ home with as much stuff as they had had no claim. It didn’t matter how much they bragged that no one needed to lock doors around here.
            Door click pressure on a creak upstairs. His toes inched up and his heart hid in his throat.  Soon after, he remembered that, all night, this had followed a pattern: wind gust, fool’s terror. Once more, he hoped he could just drink until his rancid blood seeped from his eyes, or at least until another blackout.
            He knew of two TVs residing in this house, one in his room that he couldn’t use without waking up someone… the last thing he wanted was to talk to someone. But his hosts mentioned an old one this evening in the basement. With cell-phone clutched, he dragged tingling feet to the door leading to a stairwell.
            The phone light was terrible, and each step of the stair wailed in agony in contact with pale skin. It moved in an old wooden square down, naked in each plank of wood, each metal pipe. He rushed the last few steps to the light switch and threw it open. Light poured on the cold grey floor. The walls were covered in first grade paintings, but that wasn’t important now; in front of him was another refrigerator.
            His instincts commanded he jump in celebration right into its handle, but the winds kept reminding him people could be watching. So the only jubilant chorus joining him as he crept past dusty Ping-Pong tables and the bare bulbs was the beating heart, bouncing, refusing to sleep even at its master’s expense. His feet glided too fast for the rock-frozen floor to catch up.
            His hand overcame the suction of the fridge, and there it was! Orange cases filled the inside and in the door. Yet nothing was opened, no cardboard carrier molested. Shaking fists slammed the door… as desperate as he was, he could not leave such obvious traces. The drink had taken all but his countenances these past lonely years.
            The moon shone bigger this night than the last. This house had many window-doors, such as the one his iron eyes gazed up at. Grass swayed back and forth, back and forth towards him.
            Another creak accelerated the headache. After navigating many old toys to discover the TV here was broken, he sat to think. But nothing could come to him, and he only had eyes for the window-door that took the slaps of the wind. He creaked back up the stairs, shivering and more awake than ever, fighting the wind so the two doors behind him wouldn’t slam on his way to the couch he flopped on. Pulling the blanket over him, he closed his eyes.
            It did not last long. The wind returned with a new ferocity, whistling like a hitchhiker through the house’s many cracks, rattling each door, turning each creak into the noise of a night prowler. And when he could not sleep, his mind would churn. Every seam in him churned in rhythm, asking for more of what they craved… not for the taste of suds, but for an end.
            He sat up suddenly, idea in mind. His host family had relatives a hill away that he was introduced to. No one here was frightened enough to lock doors, no matter how much they owned. Any drinks would get lost in the shuffle of another party, probably one the next day.
            He had never done anything like this before and would’ve cursed himself had he thought of this another time. The light of his cell phone was dying. Another turn of a knob and wail of a doorway would surely wake up a host, if not one of the kids.  It was bad enough to meet a whole family today, yesterday, in the house by the lake. Any upcoming meeting would be far worse. He could fall asleep on his own, if he wanted to. He had done so unknowingly before.
            But tonight was not a night to take chances. He could have a hangover tomorrow, he could be pragmatically and fearfully mute tomorrow, but tonight he would sleep well again. With renewed legs he found his shoes and outfoxed the creaks of the door back into the hallway, and was soon sliding a scratching screen door out of the house.
            The air was no less dark than when he began staring at it on the couch so long ago. Down into the quivering night he flew, momentum trembling with each step downhill. There was a path in the thin tall plants cut for walks, which he took hand in hand with moonlight and the buggy stench.
            The path led right up to the relative’s summer home. He smiled for remembering that; he couldn’t tell otherwise with the house’s shimmering strong light left on and pointed at him. It glared, unflinching. Careful steps were taken on the bumpy mush ground across the yard of many grassblades.
            In what he assumed was the first time ever, the door was locked. Still undeterred, he cut to the side of the grey wall, hand on its side to help with the sudden darkness surrounding. Its ridges led him to the lakeside door of the screened porch, which was also locked. This didn’t stop a few more pulls in frustration.
             Each crashing wave into the lake rocks below echoed and grew. It was now the wind’s chance to toss and turn, only it now rolled, rolled its path down from the heavens and slamming its own echoing waves into the lakehouse. At a tired walking pace he fled.
            The journey uphill was spent hating all the wasted days his life had already churned out. What was the point of it all if his life just led up to this old misery, times quick and painful, days pleasant and awful? He knew reading never put him to sleep, yet he could see nothing else to do. Even at this low state, he knew he couldn’t bare going up to a stranger’s house. Especially now that he was back to the sprawling white home of hosts that grassblades clung to.
            There was a light on downstairs. Panic breezed past and shoved him into the side of the house. If someone was awake, surely a quick glance had been given to the couch his guest should have been sleeping on. He waited for more noise, thinking about how he took a walk because he couldn’t sleep, that’s the truth in a way, didn’t visit anyone…
            Even the wind seemed to know to quiet during these hour-long minutes. No sounds traveled through the house. Looking at that high, lit window, he deduced that it was the light of the bathroom, the bathroom he had visited several times tonight out of boredom. He only tentatively grew more frustrated at himself as he took a step, then a walk, up to the screen door. He was still cautious when sliding the door and sliding himself back to what he called Living Room Part Trois.
            Once again the pillow resisted the back of his scratchy head, remaining soft yet stubborn. As useless as his large blanket was, he figured that the half-bent open window by him was keeping someone happy, and disturbing that would be the worst thing he’d imagine happening. His eyes were schizophrenic. Elbows stretched and relaxed, demanding switches between the two nearly every half-minute. The worst part was the shaking, the steam hovering over his thoughts, the feverish sweat that denounced his cowardice over what he guessed were only five hours apart from his soma.
            Creak. Thump and the drum of an old door. His upper half sprung up. Now he knew there must be someone in the house that didn’t belong! With the creaking winds, this would be the best night for a break-in. He already could see its foggy face hauling one of the smaller TVs. A few creaks more, and he would be ready to get up and prove once and for all that a burglar arrived in this house at…
            He turned to the TV beside him and involuntarily pushed back with a silent gasp. The clock read eleven o nine. He had been up for nine hours, and it was still the same dark outside his window.
            The wind bull-rushed its way through his room and punched open the door next to his couch, leading his eyes into another bedroom with the door’s gunshot slam. Amongst low-angle posters and shelves surrounding its bed, a child lay, asleep and without clothes, on top of scattered sheets.
            First instinct was to jump up and shut the door quick. Yet when his hand reached the handle and caused the first squeal of sound, his eyes glanced over to the bottle. The bottle preached to an invisible crowd below the dresser it stood upon, poised to join it in enough time. The wind rattled its glass. Its contents were blackened, and he could see no label.
            Glancing back, it was still eleven o ten. His head was still throbbing, yet could reject the foolish idea the substance placed. If he disturbed it, accepted its still unlikely nectar, he would become the only possible culprit in the morning, if there ever was to be once. And if time had somehow turned against him, then what could have happened to the people.
            Yet here he stood, transfixed and fascinated. It might be alcohol, it might not… but there would be one way to settle that. He could reach it without even relaxing his grip on the handle. The chances of that waking someone were essentially nil. For all he knew, he could drink, sleep, and wake up to the family laughing about him discovering, ‘the funny clock.’ It was preferred at this point, this last time. He centered, exhaled, and reached on his tiptoe over the mess of the floor, the fingertip reaching the top of the bottle and only shaking it a little.
            The child’s torso bolted up, causing a noise of cracking fluid, staring at the reacher with closed eyelids. The head followed his hand as he brought it down to his side. The child’s eyelids opened to reveal no eyes at all.
            He slammed the door in a flash and turned, only to find his belongings, the many books, the many movies gone and all windows with a torn slash in the screen.
            Faces swam in the floor: the face of the lean friend and his stunning wife and their dark-haired children, all now with three corners of their mouth stretched half a foot away from each black tooth inside. A knock came from the door his hand had practically merged with: one two, one two, one two.
            The wind blasted in in loudest force, its breath cold and salivating on his clammy skin. Something had absorbed the smell of the room. The faces moved in closer with open mouths. One two. The backside of the room approached with the wide-eyed faces. One two.
            “I’m sorry!” he tried to shout through a cotton throat. “I know what I did! I really meant to talk!”
            As he reached for his cell phone in pocket, the small hand behind him encompassed his neck and pulled him in. There was not even the moonlight left.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How Much, How Many

I'm debating whether this needs a fourth stanza.  Let me know what you think.

How many things did you really want

before you were told to want them?
How many things did you really believe
before you were told to believe them?
What things did you hate and fear
before you were told to fear them?
And what things did you truly love
before you were told to love them?

How many things do you really know
and how many do you think you know?
How many do you say you know
when questioned so you look in the know?
How much do you choose to pretend;
how frequently and for what end?
How much of you is really for real
and much have you had to steal?

How much can you call your own?
How many things have you disowned
and replaced with what's novel or new?
How much of your story is really true?
How much of you is someone else?
How do you identify yourself?
How many times do you look in the mirror
and not recognize what you see there?
Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Campaign: An Epic Verse (Part 3)

But I cannot deny the wails
That He emits when chosens fail
So badly at a simple task;
For we list’ners can see the mask
Put on these traps so they seem hard,
But dangerous words are just bards’
Tools, when Our Lord designs these traps
So His heroes can dodge, in naps,
Their blades. She should not have died here.
With this, Master asked time to clear
His frizzled head and departed
From company. Alone, he said,
“This is why my quests should have more
Involved so it’s not wrecked so. For
Now I must think quick.” He looked a-
Round his compact palace, at the
Rich, flimsy paintings, at figures
Muscled, at books of rules for us,
At mammoth pencils. “What a fuss
It was to get Solus to play!”
He pondered on that plane you may
Enter if your vitality
Drops below needed number. He
Summoned an asking device to
Determine what he now should do.
Its screen did read, “Here are the rules
To act as a ghost player.” Jewels,
Moon-sized, could not express how joyed
He was! Back to game He’s deployed.


This is where my world was born,
everyone’s too. I was too young when it was born to rear it properly, but hid as it jumped and screamed and broke all my simples. We all hated ourselves for it. Beyond the fence few workers continue reassembling the skeleton. The dirty flag was put there. Now, silence stole my friends and I at this end of pilgrimage. Now the atoms were heavy. A skyscraper of patches stood for a conspiracy thinker, a solemn air-shooter, a people. I’m failing to not look at the ground.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Invisible Rhythms

Incoming reception obscured by clouds;
too much distracting refraction contained in
billions of tiny particles in the sky.
Blood stains the ice on the
sides of a southbound train.
The need comes to breathe deep
and search for pictures in the snow.
Adjust the antennas
until the signal becomes clear.

Sight is only the perception of light
reflecting off objects and surfaces.
One can travel quite far without seeing
provided one has a sense of position.
Direction and acceleration take into account
one’s place relative to a given point in space.
All compasses track a constantly moving spot
that we label “True North.”

Both flying and falling
adhere to invisible rhythms.
Who can pretend to know the end
of a beam of light racing through space?
The best one can do is try to keep pace.
We base our current perceptions
on the history of our observations,
yet certain values still remain variable.
Unspokens, unknowns,
things seen and unseen.
We seek definition by trying to
put a frame around the sky.

Reason bears a limited elasticity.
Flexibility is required to grasp
all of the moving parts.
Things can be built and
things can be torn down;
time will continue to pass.
The motion of waves carries a unique rhythm
generated by a far-off source.

Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Campaign: An Epic Verse (Part 2)

Hasim Lamont had planned to give
A quest for treasure so she’d live
A hard, humbling year abroad
And learn to truly love her God.
She was to go to Rockbarrow,
Led by Hasim, but, as you know,
She softly declined his offer.
So He needed new way to lure
Her North, for she had set off west.
Then He sent down eyewing beasts, lest
She’d forever lose His Gold Path.
Fearful Solus escaped the wrath
Of these small flies. She ran away,
Off of her road, into the fray,
Around scratching weed and whipper
Following the old dead river
Through sunbaked trees. The sun did go
To bed once she reached Rockbarrow.
She knocked the gate; there was no sound.
She did observe that from the ground
Up were oaken walls to defend.
She nearly left, but ‘round the bend
Came Hasim, for our Lord forgives
Quickly so that his quests may live
And not become wasted graphite.
By coincidence, on that night
Hasim followed his strange compass
Of rust looking for that abyss
Where it’s rumored that treasure lies.
Hasim arrived with no disguise
But asked only for this small deed:
Help get in town, where compass lead.
She said:


And together they hopped the wall
And saw inside no one at all.
No commoners; no signs of fight.
And now sun left and took the light
With her. They followed the needle
Of rust compass and nearly fell
Inside the trapdoor once arrived.
She hatched a plan:

“I’ll go inside, you stand guard.”

“Happy to serve,” agreed Hasim,
And with no more talk, she hopped in
To a small dungeon with a pit
And nearby ledge to avoid it.
She walked along and then stepped on
The trigger. That caused the wall’s yawn
And with that, blowdart hit Solus.
“Aha,” did think the Lord, “And thus
It will happened again until
She sees the pattern I have willed
Into these moldy walls.” Yet hence
He over-guessed intelligence
Of Solus… she saw no pattern
Walking her path and did get burns
From each trigger and from each dart
That dug her skin. I know thou art
A clever lad, so you would see
Each trap was laid in steps of three,
But Solus spent her time to build
On other skills and thus was killed.
I see the shock that sparked your eyes
At this new turn, so hear my cries
And sit back down, for though I speak
The truth when I say that her cheek
Hit the pit first when poison won,
                                                  Our Lord’s greatest story’s not done.