Thursday August 25th, 2011

The exercise:

Write something in or about: the ruins.

Found inspiration in a National Geographic article about the search for Cleopatra's tomb I was reading earlier this evening.


Many years ago,
A temple stood here,
Though most wouldn't know.
For the desert,
Patient as Death himself,
Has reclaimed these holy grounds
For itself.

An altar gleamed,
Brighter than the sun...
Or so it seemed.
Behind its shelter
Priests shouted and swayed,
Demanding their fickle flocks
Nod and obey.

Not so long ago,
A temple stood here,
Though only I know.
Now all around
Looks exactly the same;
But in this very spot
They worshipped my name.


Greg said...

Very poignant, and the I like the subtle rhyme scheme in there. It reminds me, and I mean this as a compliment, a little of Shelley's Ozymandias.

The ruins
Here, Cassandra stood,
Wailing to the masses,
Telling them of what the Gods ordained,
Beseeching the King to listen.
But Apollo, lustrous and resplendent,
Still denied her voice
And the masses laughed and jeered.
The stone is cold now,
But when I sit upon it I feel a fever,
A rising fire like volcanic life,
And I know that Cassandra still speaks,
Still protests against the madness,
And begs the men to stop.
And I wonder how the ruins would look
If only she'd been heard.

Maddy said...

OK, I'm going nerdy for this one, but this popped into my head right away. It's referring to a dungeon in the wii game Okami.
P.S. this is not a true story.
"Dang it, dang it! Don't die, don't die, don't die! Ugh!" This was the tenth time I had died that day in the Tsuta ruins. Yet again, I re-spawned and tried to not die.
I had been at this for a week straight with little food or water. As my parents watched, desperately finding a way to intervene, they couldn't help notice a resemblance to the dungeon and my life.

Marc said...

Greg - I'm not sure how I wouldn't take that as a compliment! Thank you :)

Very nicely done, I particularly liked the fever line.

Maddy - nerding out is pretty much always welcome here :)

And it may not be a true story for you, but I suspect that it is for others out there.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Remember that theater thing I started here a long while ago? I've been working on it for a bit, and I wanted to share... it's long, so I've to split it into parts.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
The rest of the afternoon Alsi went between carefully copying floor plans into her notebook, and looking out windows. After painstakingly studying, transferring, and annotating a particular floor plan she'd walk to either the window in her bedroom to look down at the afternoon foot traffic of the street below, or as the afternoon wore on she found herself frequenting the tiny window over the kitchen sink facing the eastern outskirts of the city.

Where the Citadel Theater lay in wait.

Something buzzed in Alsi's mind thinking about it. The others had told her not to bother with the old place, and a tiny something in her head wanted to listen to them and drop the notion entirely.

But there was that buzzing, that overwhelming buzzing. Was it anticipation? Probably, she figured; she always felt a little before checking out a site, but she never experienced anything quite like this before. Nothing about this site was quite like anything she'd known before, come to think of it. Alsi sat down on the couch, looking over her notes again. It all seemed easy enough: the stage door at the back was probably the most discreet way of getting in.

And being discreet, for Alsi, was everything.
* * *
Just as the sun started to retreat behind the Capitol's towers, Alsi had darted out of her building's back door and wound her way {direction}-ward through the side streets of the Capitol. She seldom admitted it, but in cases such as this Alsi was thankful for her small size: she was quick, she knew what to look for and what to avoid, so when she wanted to she could practically disappear if you weren't paying attention. Not that she attracted much attention to herself, anyway.

For all intents and purposes, as she slipped through, she was invisible.

In one of those eternal instants characteristic to excitement, Alsi emerged across the street from the Citadel.

After a quick left-right-left she slipped across the street and into an alley. It opened into a disheveled parking lot, to Alsi's brief dismay, but a quick glance down the side of the building found the stage door. Keeping close to the brick she slid along the wall, taking a quick---though far from refreshing---breather behind a frostbitten, petrified dumpster. Alsi brought her satchel to her front as she prepared to struggle with the presumedly-decrepit door handle, but much to her surprise it yielded quite easily to her hand and the door opened without so much as a creek. As she pushed open the door she seemed to feel a breath of air---of apprehension---pass over her face.


Shaking this off she ducked inside, closing the door quietly behind her, and flicked on a flashlight. The beam passed over the black floors and walls immediately around her, and a rickety set of stairs that probably lead to dressing rooms downstairs. To her right were several old curtains that had once probably been a gorgeous scarlet, and on the wall between the curtain and the stairs perched a small lighting control panel. This would've just controlled a few preset lighting settings: house lights, a couple preprogrammed combinations of stage lights, and a few spotlights. Most of the time Alsi would've passed such a thing over as assuredly broken without batting an eye, but there was something in the air that gave her pause.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

"Well," she muttered aloud with hopeful curiosity, "maybe just the house lights." She reached out and flicked the switch, and as if by magic the lights out over the audience stuttered on.

Down the stage stairs and among the seats, Alsi had to pause a moment to take in the theater itself. If there was a way to capture in a place why she explored these old buildings, this was it: Alsi absolutely loved the grayed elegance of these treasures of ages past condemned to time. She felt something magical---almost religious---in the air of places like this.

She turned suddenly, thinking she heard something, quickly scanning the rows of seats near her before continuing down the aisle from the back of the theater. Though nothing was there, something felt alive in here, very much alive, but Alsi wasn't so sure that it---whatever "it" was---wanted her in there. Maybe it would be best to come back in the daytime, she thought, mounting the steps on the other side of the stage. As she crossed, she paused a moment at the center to survey once more: the old seats, the worn carpet in the aisles, the wonderful---albeit fading---details in the walls and ceiling, the conscious mystery in the place…

Everything plunged into darkness for a moment before coming back into intense light. Alsi shielded her eyes and squinted, but all she could see were the two spots of light from the mezzanine focused on her, and she could feel the spotlight above beating down on her.

"Who's there?" Alsi called to the blackness. No one replied, but she could hear movement up in the mezzanine. Someone moving quickly, first over carpet, then on wood, then seeming to disappear. There was only one---at least, she _hoped_ there was only one---but she didn't see this as any reason to relax.

The steps returned, this time high above her on her left, and on metal.

"Who's there?" she repeated, trying not to sound desperate. The footsteps paused, and a voice came from above.

"'The stranger came early in February,'" it began slowly, more to itself than to Alsi, almost as if it was reading to someone, "'one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.'" The voice paused again, while the footsteps continued again along the fly in a leisurely stroll to the ladder.

Alsi glanced down at her satchel---resting on hip---and flexed her own gloved hand---though hers were probably much thinner than the other stranger's. Must be warmer in February in this part of the world, wherever that was, she figured.

"Nothing like little Welles to set the tone, eh?" the voice asked, starting down a metal ladder. "Shakespeare's a bit more appropriate, given the setting, but something different's kind of nice."

"The quote's impressive, but it still doesn't answer my question," she replied.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

"'True!'" the voice boomed dramatically, skipping the rest of the ladder and landing with a resounding clang on the lower fly. Alsi couldn't help but start a little. She could've sworn she heard the voice snicker a little. Its accompanying footsteps strolled a little more before continuing: "'Nervous--very, very nervous I had been and am'…" There was a little sound of further descent down another metal ladder. The last few rungs were skipped again, but the landing this time was surprisingly light; hardly any dust stirred on the wood floor. "'But why will you say that I am mad?'" the voice finished quietly.

"I never said you were." Though I am starting to wonder…

"Doesn't mean you weren't thinking it." The footsteps took their time getting any closer. They stopped, she guessed, about halfway between the ladder and her position.

"So who are you?" she asked, finally mustering up the courage to turn towards this---interloper of sorts. Though, between the spotlights in her peripheral vision and the dark wing, she couldn't see much of anything.

The voice smirked audibly, both amused and pleased with its performance. The steps diverted a bit, drifting to her right to fiddle with the lights. The spots lowered enough so as not to blind her, and raising the wing lights enough to give the voice and steps at least a shadowy outline. The outline came closer, but it was still, as far as Alsi's curiosity was concerned, aggravatingly under-lit.

"I could ask you," it replied, "the very same question."
- - - - - - - - - -
(and when I say two parts, I meant three... sorry for spamming ><)

r master said...

Marc- I LOVE YOUR POEM!!! i love the bits were you said 'once and There' i think it just set the scene

Marc said...

g2 - that is super awesome. Highly enjoyed that. And no need to apologize for three parts when you get me hooked like that!

R Master - thanks very much :)

Denin said...

This reminds me of a poem I wrote once. But I refrain from my usual laziness, even though the late nights of mindless memorizations and computations have arrived once again.


and bravado in this knowledge runs,
other tribes too hesitant to attack,
while their defenses crumbled like their temples.

Warriors six feet tall,
War paints stark against stoic blades,
brutal crushings of cities not their own,
a prejudice born of pride
in the number one.
One city.
One army.
One ruler.

Able to break the bones of Goliath,
but unable to smite down the tiniest of warriors,
for their doctors were the first to go.
Couldn't cure themselves,
died with shock in their eyes,
the mighty dictators collapsed,
while their city remains
until it bows to the wind.