Archive for Dark Side

When We Were Boys

When we were little boys , my cousin Eddy Madden and I would imitate our TV heroes. Sadly, my fellow hero passed away five years ago after a long battle with cancer. Ed loved God, his country and his friends, but most of all he loved his family. This country is now missing another hero and this old gunslinger misses him dearly. I republish the following in his honor, because I know he felt the same.

We Used to Have Heroes  

We used to have heroes; they rode horses, wore white hats, fought for what they believed was right, looked out for their neighbors, and ran the bad guys out of town. I wanted to be like them.

a-lone-rangerWhen I was six, I was the Lone Ranger, and at the same time Superman; ever ready to stand against anyone or anything that dared to come against truth, justice, and the American way. When I was eight, I was Paladin–Have Gun Will Travel; a black hat this time, and more rugged, but a hero still, who righted wrongs and would go anywhere to correct injustice and defend the defenseless. When I was ten, I was John Wayne. I learned to walk like him, tried to make my voice deep like his, and hoped I’d grow to be tall, broad shouldered and brave like “The Duke”. But mostly, I wanted to be a good man, a superb man, a combination of all of those heroes who cared little for themselves, but lived for what they could do for others.

 Yes, it was just television and all our heroes were make-believe, but they made us believe and they taught us about right and wrong, and so many other things. But… where have all the heroes gone? Who do we turn to now?  What is truth, or justice? And, what is the American way?  Our heroes stood proud and tall, hands on their hips, ready to fight for a way of life and a country they loved, even though that country was flawed, even then, in so many ways. 

I love my country. But it is a love like one has for a dying loved one, and I watch her now, slumbering in drugged apathy, immorality, indecency, and corruption. I hear the blustering of our confused and corrupted government, the noises they make sounding much like the death rattle of cancer-ridden lungs, and my heart aches, as I realize even should she survive, a mere shadowy skeleton of what she once was is all that will remain.  

And so, I think back on those days of yesteryear–days when this country stood strong and proud–and watch as she slowly succumbs to darkness with no heroes to ride to her rescue, and I silently weep.

Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

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Blood On The Moon ~ the story

This is a short story and poem I wrote when I first started writing. It’s one of my personal favorites. Read it if you have time. I think you’ll find it very interesting.

Marbles In My Pocket ~ The Official Blog of Charles L. Mashburn ~ Poems, Short Stories, and random thoughts from the author of "Be Still... and know that I am God"

001 Blood On the MoonBlood On the Moon was the first short story I wrote when I decided I wanted to try and write. This is the 2015 rewritten version (I hope it’s better than the original). It’s 2170 words long (5 single spaced pages), so print it and read it later if you want. I’ll even email it to you, if you can’t print it off the blog. Click the picture to enlarge and read the poem by the same title.

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Beautiful Exiles

beautiful exiles

Beautiful Exiles

I’m currently reading Meg Waite Clayton’s, Beautiful Exiles, a novel about Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn, also an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.

I’m paraphrasing the following from a passage in the book, simply because it rings so true to me. Especially regarding my autobiography, Just A Boy: When a writer, more so if he’s an amateur like me, lets go of a book, he does so, knowing all the wrong in it will forever be wrong. And even the bits—and it truly seems it’s only bits—that are good and right leave your soul ripped out of your chest and placed on the page to be examined by anyone who cares to read them.

This—to me anyway—rings even more true today than it did in the days of Hemingway and Gellhorn. Thanks mostly to the Internet, which has given license to “perform” to anyone—me included—who dares take their shot at writing, singing, comedy, art, et al. It’s a good thing but also a very bad thing. Good, in the sense we can take our shot, but bad in the sense that so can millions of others, and the odds of being “shot down” are high.

I’m not complaining, or excusing my lack of success, I’m merely trying to convey how this feels—this writing thing. I’ve often said that to write, one must be either very intelligent or somewhat insane. I’ve decided I’m just smart enough… to be fool enough… to write.

Here’s a list of links to my published works:

Just A Boy

Just A Man

Be Still

Juli

Shelter

The Devil’s Dust

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I Can’t Stop the Bleeding

At that moment I was twelve going on twenty. I’d jumped so far forward in life my head was spinning but, in a strange way, it was all starting to make sense. But it was making sense in a way that made no sense at all. As I looked across the table at my mom, her tears dripping onto the Formica-topped kitchen table, I wondered about love, I wondered about God, I wondered what life was all about. And as all these things raced around in my mind, they began to form the new me—the soon-to-be-a-man me. I suddenly realized, and I admit a tinge of fear accompanied the thought, that I had to—somehow—protect my mom, my brothers, and my sister. From my dad.

~~~~~

The above is an excerpt from a book I began writing last November. I abruptly stopped writing the book, due to a very unexpected circumstance. Most of you are aware of what happened but if not, you can read my post, The World Stopped Turning, for the details. But there’s more to it than that. I simply didn’t, and still don’t, know if I can write the rest of this story.

But, a few days ago, I began reading a book, not by but about, Ernest Hemingway. As I read it, I was inspired, not by his talent, or his person, but by his pain. He was a tormented man, and he was not afraid to display his frailty to the world. He said this about writing:clouds and mountains HemingwayI’m certainly no Hemingway, but I bleed, and I cannot stop the bleeding. I’ll let you know when the book is finished.

Just A Boy

 

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Where No One Lives

If you’ve ever driven the small highways of Texas, you’ve seen a house like this; some of them near to falling down. I wrote this poem quite a few years ago after such a drive, and on this cold and wet East Texas day, it seems fitting to post it again. It’s kind of a sad poem, and I think you all know I’m not sad. In fact, I have much to be thankful for. I just wanted to share one of my favorite writings with you.

Where No One Lives

 

Wind shrieks through broken windows

           A house where no one lives

               Rusted wheel cries out an answer

                           From a well that no water gives

The painting is “Forever Yesterday” by Evelyn Peters, and the painting and poem hang side by side on our living room wall. It almost seems the poem was written about the painting, but it wasn’t.

 

Leafless tree that once bore fruit

  Alone in a weed filled yard

    Long since dead and barren

Lifeless limbs are grey and hard

 

Splintered door on rusted hinge

 Sings a mournful song then closes

  By the porch a broken trellis

    Once filled with yellow roses

    

                                    Porch swing sits against the wall

                                       No chains to make it swing

                                            No lovers or children to hold

                                                    When April brings the spring

 

                                                           Broken boards, once a home

                                                              Shelter, it no longer gives

                                                                  Tis but a pile of broken memories

                                                                     This house where no one lives

 

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn

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Don’t Go There

the veil(2)It’s happened several times in the past, but it seems to be happening more frequently as I get on in years. I’ll be sound asleep in the early morning hours when a voice—clear and audible—awakens me with but one word; my name. “Charlie?” Yes, it comes in the form of a question; an almost searching but perhaps curious lilt to it. Sometimes I feel as though the voice is asking for my help, other times it seems to be reaching out to help me; as in, What are you doing, Charlie? Don’t go there.

I’m never quite sure who the voice belongs to, but after I’m fully awake for a few moments I discern the voice to be my mom’s. Always though, I’m never certain.

Afterward, I feel no fear or dread, but it does make me wonder. First, I wonder if there’s something wrong with mom—she lives 400 miles away—and then, sometimes, I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. This morning, for the first time since this began happening, I wondered if this happens when I come to close to “the veil”, as in dying.

I know, it’s a morbid thought, and maybe nonsensical too, but it came to me this morning, so I’m writing it down. What if—for reasons unexplainable—I approach death in my sleep and God uses Mom’s voice to call me back from the edge because, quite simply, it’s not my time to go.

I wonder.

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A Soft Knocking

A Soft Knocking” was originally a rather long short story, which I whittled down to just under 500 words for a contest a few years back. Every time I come across it, I can’t resist toying with it, and on one of those occasions I re-wrote it in poem form. It’s rather long for a poem but give it a read if you’ve got the time. I think you will find it quite entertaining.

A Soft Knocking

In my very bones I could feel the morning dampness

   My dark and dreary world having steeped in slow rain

      Throughout the long and silent night

writer at desk 

The lamp flickering on my desk

   cast a warm glow upon my work

      But did nothing to ease the chill in the room

 

A faint ringing in the distance

   A carriage bell

      Not something I often heard

         Rushed a chill through my veins

 

Then a woman’s scream sliced the cold morning air

 

I moved quickly to my window

   And with trembling hand eased the curtain aside

 

A coffin-like visage approached

   The light snap of a whip sounded

        The steed… paying whip no mind

            Continued at a slow trot then fought the bit with turn of head

                 When the driver pulled back on rein and brake sliding the coach to a stop

 

I turned away

   Knowing with sick dread the carriage had come for me

      Then… wishing not to see, yet knowing I must

         I turned back to the window

 

The driver stared forward

   Face hidden by shadow of brim

      The stallion looked over its shoulder

         Eyes wild and gleaming

            Snorting steam from black nostrils

As…

 

The door swung slowly wide

   And a slender leg clad in white silk stocking

      Appeared at the coach door then fell to the muddy road   

         A river of blood flowed from the severed limb

 

Again, I turned away

   An angry fist squeezing my heart

      And I knew with instant dread

         Never more…

            Would my pen scratch the page

 

I heard the “Yaw” of the driver

   A crack of the knotted whip

      The scream of the beaten steed piercing the damp air

         Like an ice pick

            Through a warm beating heart

And then…

   There came at my door…

      A soft knocking

 

My aged eyes watered as one icy tear trickled

   Slowly… down my rugged cheek

Then…

   Not knowing how I’d arrived there

      I stood looking at the great door

         My mind fighting to stay my hands

             As they moved toward the bolt

 

And … once again… there came…

   A soft knocking

 

Of its own accord

   The door swung slowly open

      And from behind me

         A small hand gently pushed

 

I tumbled into the deep blackness outside my castle door

   Light had fled my world

      Tumbling… tumbling…

         I floated through the darkness

            Lungs burning as I breathed

               The vile substance in which I flew

 

Suddenly…

   I knew with solemn certainty

      It was the taste

         The smell

               The feel…

                  Of ink

 

I knew, too…

   Who it was had come to fetch me

      ‘Twas all those of whom I had written

            In my years at the desk

               Those whose lives I had created

                  Then… taken

                      Oft in brutal fashion

                          In the dark stories I’d told

 

But the cruelest of my acts

   Was the shunning of the one in white silk stockings

      Who wanted naught from the world but my ungiven love

 For this sin

   I will forever hear

      As I tumble through my madness

         … a soft knocking

 

Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

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