About Style Guides

Use them consistently. It makes your writing more betterer.
Consistency comes in as many flavors as different spellings for the same word and all variations of correctly punctuating the same sentence. Rules is rules. Adhering to them establishes credibility. Breaking them is okay if done consistently and to make a point. We call such consistency in writing style. Excellent writers have a style, call it a voice, identifiable as their own even though that voice follows rules the writer would rather not. Competent editors and publishers see to it. Compromise happens, sometimes. It’s a process. It’s credible and/or creditable. But go with one or the other. Make sure a word means what you want it to mean, and be consistent.

The Fog of Boredom

Boredom is not necessary, neither is it illegal. Resorting to subjects, verbs and objects that are illegal often serves as boredom’s potent antidote. For a while, anyway. Until one becomes bored with whatever illegal activity, hormones will surge, chemicals will churn life into the dull grey soft matter that is the hardware of consciousness. We are children squishing ants on the front porch. Nothing wrong with that, even kind of addictive. And it never gets old until we do.
Let’s turn things up a notch. That bird over there needs a rock thrown at it, we think, and throw one in its direction not intending to hit the target, which it does. The sparrow falls quickly, unaware of how or why or even that it has become acutely inert.
A few years later another juvenile ensemble has assembled, waiting to pounce. That kid with the new bicycle (sweet tufted banana seat, suicide handlebars, nothing but chrome for fenders) sees them staring at him. He innocently leaves it unlocked in front of the drug store. The glass door doesn’t even shut before one of the boys mounts the stingray and flies it to the next neighborhood. Hey, it’s something to do. The dork comes out holding a candy bar he will never eat. Sick with loss, new emptiness where his new bike was a few minutes earlier, safe, solid and real, all his, suited to no one else. How dare anyone ride it but him. He must walk the city block to his home. It’s a joyless hike, the distance compounded as barefooted forced march. The void that is his loss weighs on him brutally. That fine machine, the envy of the other boys, the most significant physical extension of his personal identity, the thing that got him from place to place in style, gone.
The dork rides shotgun as his father steers the Impala through the neighborhood streets. Decades will pass until father and son both relive these moments in dreams they never share with the other. It never occurs to either of them as they reflect on this memory, a horrible experience transformed into a sweet recollection, time together, so long ago. And there it is: the stolen bike, still recognizable under the all the disguise from a hasty black paint job. The thief later becomes a friend.
He remembers the time he returned to check on the carcass of the fallen sparrow a few minutes after he’d killed it, but it was gone.

Babies are Gross

Birth. Our nephew’s daughter entered Earth’s atmosphere in the vicinity of San Antonio. Hardly a moment later photos came as email attachments, precious new yet-to-be-swaddled human, her waxy white and vernix coat softening the blushing red. Other than in emails, this image was spared social media exposure as far as we know. The parents are commended.
The joy of a new family member spread quickly to the other side of the world. Our daughter in Seoul quickly shot back her observation. “Babies are gross.” Such candor attests to her lineage, and the adage: she is her father’s daughter. I’m so proud.
She’s right, you know. She, at birth, was no exception. None of us are. Caesar’s entry into life and exit from his mother, the method of which bears his name, was probably more especially gross. And of course all the accompanying baggage, you know, that cord and a couple of square feet of amniotic membrane, the child’s weight in placenta, have got to go somewhere and aren’t going to dispose of themselves.
Even the immaculately conceived Jesus, vaginally birthed in circumstances so abjectly humble so as to emphasize the glory of his virgin mother’s deliverance, halos all around, angels attending, afterbirth lost somewhere in the hay, not unusual for that kind of place.
Civilization removes the grossness of childbirth. But there’s no escaping the reality. I was born in my father’s absence as was the custom in those days. He was in the waiting room down the hall. One could argue that my mother wasn’t even there. I don’t know if she was anesthetized for the event, also an easy option of the times. As for me? I don’t remember. And no manner of hypnotic regression will change that. What would be the point. My mother tells me she thought I looked like a red rat when she saw me for the first time. And looking at the black-and-white of me as a newborn, I’ve got to agree.
Continue reading Babies are Gross

The Cleaning

Work continues the same everywhere
Beginning again in the early evenings
Into the nights and mornings as quietly
Changed into white clothes we wear
Surface layers of dust that air brings
Are wiped again until the cloth is slightly
Shaded where fingertips polished the hue
From flesh to cloth a mild vinegar scented
Astringent of sorts, the final mortal flavor
Held to thirsty lips, an ancient chiseled statue
Cleanses daily filth from pure and repented
Fixtures that furnish the house of our Savior

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