Thursday, December 15, 2011

Penguin's Favorite Holiday

Ugh! I’m sitting here on the I-00, that’s the highway North Pole for all those out-of-towners, I’m looking at you Rudolph! Little do most people know that Rudolph spends his summers on the islands of the Bahamas doing nothing but sipping from coconut shells and eating lots of gourmet pineapple-glazed hay. You see, every December, it’s nothing but crowds on this ice block, hoards to get to that Santa appearance (the santarazzi is absolutely insane!), lines upon lines of elves playing catch-up for all the procrastination they produced all year long. The Twitter feeds are constantly updated by all the walruses that have no time to do anything besides sit on their lazy tusks, gossiping about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. It gives me a headache.

My life partner and I have had our second egg hatch last week. I had to run to the ocean to digest enough food for us and our family. Talk about internal food storage! I’m just ready to get home and relax. I just barely put up the lights on our nest and the whole cul-de-sac is about to traverse into our annual lets-get-so-close-together-that-one-of-us-is-sure-to-barf fest. I like snuggling and all, but come on, The Wilsons always snuggle a little too close, if you know what I mean.

I’m about home. I smell my favorite, rotten kelp, on my breath. That must mean its supper time. And look at my wife’s beak shine from across the iceberg. Snow’s slowly falling, the lights glowing underneath, she must be floating. And the two newest additions are nuzzled beneath her belly. I guess this holiday isn’t so bad.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Soup

He walked quickly past the corner deli. They were making their Friday soup special, shell noodles with V8 juice. It was his favorite. He didn't know how they got the idea for it but he knew it was quite similar to the soup he ate as a kid. The soup was named "My Favorite Soup". When his friends came over to his house growing up, his mother would make the soup for dinner, serving his friends. He would insist that all his friends called it "My Favorite Soup" despite their actual preference in the hot stuff. He just liked the sound of it. "Hey, do you want some of My Favorite Soup?" I'd ask. "Sure, I'll have some of My Favorite Soup." Or if they hated it, he'd make them reply and they'd say "No! I hate My Favorite Soup!" He got a kick out of that one.

Today was the day he was going to meet himself. What a day! He couldn't wait to talk all about himself! Did he love the shell noodles with V8 juice just as much as he did? Did the smell of the savory combination of tomato, carrot, peppers, and assorted spices bring back the memories of building snow forts and coming home after riding a bicycle all day on dirt hills?

Himself was waiting on the park bench. He was easy to spot with his dark beard and wavy hair. "Just like him." He though. "Uncanny."

Monday, November 21, 2011

six-word novels

Example: New baby shoes purchased. Never used.

You will die after this. Probably.

“You could be injured”. Meaning clear.

Man shot in face. Still alive.

For Sale: Dad’s old liquor bottles

A town full of wooden tables

*Chair finds out it’s not wood.

*Travels world twice. Can’t find home.

Lab report protocol in Bowling Alley

*Vaccination needed to pass. Forgot certification.

Boy searching dumpster for food. “Freegan”

*Super Highway built. Takes side roads.

*Stops on red light. Starts crying.

Book shoved into satchel. Never read.

*Wolf saves boy. Boy cries wolf.

Huge smile on his face, dying.

Butterfly lands in the same place.

American Sandman

The city lights seemed extra bright that night and the shadows extra dark. It's as if hidden glow worms inked themselves out of the crevices of buildings and inched their way towards those incandescent light bulbs, then shriveling up into the filament in which the sparks begin.

Tonight in Upper State New York, the artist was just finishing up his grand masterpiece for his show on West Broadway and 23rd Street. The Times just labeled him as "The Newbie Artist to Look Out For" and he e-mailed the article to at least half his graduating class at Columbia. He was finally going to make it big. No more of those days stomaching 3-day-old salad in a plastic container he found in a local bistro's dumpster, just to get by that week. No more being queezy over student loans and the disapproval of his father. He had it!

After the artist had worked on his masterpiece until 2 in the morning, he decided to call it good. The angles seemed just right and the juxtaposition of the littered cat box and the rising American sandman seemed just ironic enough to allow him some relief. It made sense to him, anyways. He remembers being a young artist and not allowing anyone to see his work. He kept it to himself like a well-guarded secret and when he exposed the work, he couldn't help but expect some reaction from the observer.

Tonight he'll leave it out on the atrium where he needed to build because of the project's size. He thought this would allow him ample space to get over his fear of exposure and allow himself a little breathing room before the big show. People might look at it on their way out in the morning and give him feedback. Just what he was looking for so he wsn't so bombarded by the opinion of the crit.

The owner of the apartment complex couldn't wait until the artist was done with his project. The neighbors have been complaining about endless noises of saws and hammers mixed with loud bass music and the random shouts and swears. A cacophony of what the owner hated about the youth culture. Loud, loud, loud and total disrespect for space. He saw a big heap of crap and sand in the atrium and couldn't wait for it to be gone in the morning for that day was inspection day.

Early morning came and the owner heard a knock on his door. "Hello." he grumbled, opening the door ready as he always was at 7 am. It was the night patrolman just getting off his shift. "Just to let you know, the city office called and will be sending the inspector in half an hour instead of the original noon time scheduled. There was some sort of mix-up and that's the only time available."

The owner walked out frantically and went straight towards the atrium. The artist's project was still there. "Remove this right away!" He screamed at the patrolman.


The artist woke up after a curious dream involving a childhood version of his self being ripped violently away from his father's grasp. An idea for his next piece? He wrote the idea down. He poured himself some coffee and breathed it in. Today was the big day. The day of his show. He tried ensuring himself that he was, indeed, living in the moment. Deep breaths of coffee, sunshine coming through the blinds, an ant crawling out of the pantry. The ant had a tiny morsel of food in its pincers. It looked cold and orange-gray, like the sand he has been using over the past four months. "The Sand!" He thought. He ran outside his room and straight towards the atrium, where he expected to find his newly created masterpiece.

It was gone. He was being ripped further from everything he had envisioned for himself.

The artist ran barefoot to the man he knew would be responsible for its departure. The ground was cold and remnants of sand stuck to his heel. He could feel the clumps of the substance starting to form and they were distracting his stride.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Personal Obit (Draft One)

Brandon Henry Patterson

His pocket had approximately six cents, one nickel and one penny, upon finding his body amongst the base of the aspen tree forest. It smelt like his mom’s hair that day and the ocean tide was at its highest in centuries. Bees were buzzing round his face and the grass was growing tall. Butterflies were clambering about the weeds, landing on his old mud-covered boot.

He once told someone that he was going to be something great. He enjoyed sketching on Sundays and taking generous amounts of pure maple syrup bottles from the super market. He would ship them off to friends he knew in faraway places along with a little hand-written card and a leather-covered journal. He would tell the truth slant and promise things to his step-dad in that same slanted way. He rode his bike many places because he liked the way the earth seemed to slow down. He loved love and loved his family most of all.

Mr. Patterson died at the Age of Aquarius.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zombie Test

"Clear!" Bolts of electricity sprang out of rods of iron and jolted the chest of the body. Nothing...nothing... "This ones a goner." Moments later, a finger began twitching, an eyelid pulsating, the body, claimed as dead just moments ago, began to rise. "BRAAAINNNNSSS" moaned the dead body.

The wind was howling outside the window as the autumn leaves ran upon the ground. The fire was crackling as the pumpkin pie lay freshly baked on the stove top, cooling and releasing its spiced smells of nutmeg and cinnamon. All the while, a young boy acting as a zombie chases his mother around the living room. "Again!" the boy cries as he props down on the floor. "Clear!" Mother shouts as she goes in for the tickling bolts of electricity, her fingers catching his ticklish spot to give him a jolt. The boy lay down as if dead, his chest rising and lowering as he tries his best to close his eyes and lay still. "This time I'll make sure he's really dead. One final test!" She announces.

She leans down and plants a kiss on his forehead. "EEWWWWWW!" The boy shouts. "You don't kiss zombies, Mom!" The boy wipes his mom's kiss away as she says "BRAAIIINNNNNSSS!" and attempts to go in for another big smack of a kiss!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Henry's Shark Bite

I grew up knowing that my Grandpa Henry was once bitten by a shark. He lived on Coeur D’Alene Lake in Idaho and when I’d visit him, he would dramatically expose his wounded leg and tell me the story of the time he beat off a shark with his bare hands. The scar is located on his lower calf. It’s gruesome and skin-graphed and I can practically see the bone if I squint. There is no better way of convincing your grandson that you are, in fact, some sort of Grecian God then by terrorizing him with the story of a clobbering fight with a swimming monster who has a million teeth and yellow-burning eyes the shapes of kites.

I always imagined the shark staring at my grandpa’s leg as I do when I look at a hot sauce-covered buffalo wing. Saliva dripping from the corners of my mouth. Although, sharks don’t really have saliva, do they? I mean, if they did, it would float rather than drip, right, because of buoyancy force. I’m assuming that saliva has less volume density than water, like oil. Yeah…saliva floating from a shark’s mouth as it stared at my grandpa’s leg. That sounds about right. I hope that once he took a bite, that it did indeed satisfy his need for feed, and that the lack of hot sauce didn’t totally disappoint him.

Grandpa enjoyed leaving out the details of the epic battle and made me guess what happened next. He’d say things like “I saw him and he saw me and then…” “WHAT? What happened” I’d reply in anguish. I was such a sucker for stories. He would reply saying with a calm voice, “Well, you know what happened next…“ He ATE your leg!” I would guess in a shout. “Well, that sounds about right” He’d reply. We would go on like this, my imagination going wild until the story became somewhat of a legend in my head. A story perfectly acquainted with warm feelings of protection from my dear old grandpa Henry.

As I grew older, I went to visit my dear Grandpa Henry. He’s older now and moving slower. His breathing is stagnant and sometimes he struggles when he ties his shoes. I see him in his shorts, with his mighty scar exposed. I say enthusiastically, “Shark bite!” He leans down and rubs the wound saying with a laugh “It is just a staph infection from when my Achilles tendon was ripped. I made it up all along.” I sat there confused. “Wait…what?”

The shark from my imagination swam away into the dark waters, the sun shining brightly in its path, saliva floating to the surface.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nickel Bread

*I've started a weekly writing class. I'll update my random written stories here.

One dollar in nickels was all Tommy needed to make nickel bread with his Omma. "A few more nickels is all it'll need" Omma spurted out as she helped him stir the dough, starting to take on the colour of the nickels, making it the perfect mix of silver and dull.

"This looks just like a puddle!" Tommy squeeled as the dough was beginning to take form. In reality, the dough was beginning to look like the vomit of a slot machine.

"This might be the best nickel bread I'll ever eat!" screamed Tommy.

"It'll certainly make you shine, big guy."

"Why can't Oppa help us? Nickels were his favorite, right?"

"Right, old man, you have his coin collection, remember?"

"Of course," Tommy said as if he was always the keeper of his Oppa's possessions.

"And you know what happened to Oppa..."

"He died" Tommy repllied flatly.

Omma took a big piece of dough, rolled it in a ball and popped it in her mouth. "Perfect" She exclaimed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beula Lake

Trees and cool water everywhere.
Sunsets and catepillars crawling up sleevies.
Now and again a fly stuck between weeds growing from swampy land.

Here lies the sleeping place of singing larks and yellow eyes.
A cornecopia of mosquitoes waiting to feast on the flesh.

Buffalo charging vehicles.
Moments with the waterfall.
Breath leaving.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A year ago: Mom's B-day

I wrote this on my mom's birthday last year.
July 19, 2010
Beach about 80 kms north of Nha Trang, Vietnam
"It was the emeralds and turquoise blues that drew me in, that and the honey-colored sand. It's all so vibrant that the colors fight to get my attention. In the distance, a faded mountain, sandy summits with brown-green peaks. Then nothing but a line of sea. littered with boats. The boats seem meticulously placed, as if pin-dropped like the 2-man vessel on the board game, Battleship. A cool summer breeze hits my face along with a hot musty draft, breathing it all in, slowly.
As I sat eating lunch, I realized what drew me in, the colors, the wind, the honey-sand and blue-white waves. My mother was calling me to celebrate her 43rd birthday with her. It sounds almost dumb even while writing it, but part of me likes to believe that somehow, somewhere my mom is able to invite me to experience things. Call to my heart and hope I respond with gratitude. I was thinking about things we'd do for my mom's birthdays. We loved going out to eat as a family. I remember going to Macaroni Grill or Red Robin with her. I loved sitting there with her, watching her converse, always smiling, watching her turquoise-blue eyes flicker with the hanging lights. We'd hum and haw and talk about good times. I absolutely adored my mother and now she's not here anymore. Currently, I find myself wandering on a bicycle, the reason not necessary intentional, but maybe I'm trying to find my way back to someplace that will give it all meaning. Maybe this emerald and turquoise blue sea is just a view, or maybe she's been here all along. Among the humble hosts and selfless gratitude that have lead me safely on this path, or among the breathtaking views and hidden discoveries. And her eyes shine on mine from the sea. Those honey-sand mountains her flesh, the brown of the distant mountains, her hair. Maybe I'm supposed to listen to her more, let her whisper her stories into my ear, like the ones she whispered to me as a child to send me off to sleep, the stories that are becoming my own. Follow her guidance, so I don't get lost. Listen and i will answer the best way I know how. Be patient and I will find a way back to her. I don't have a candle for you or a birthday cake, but I have the sea breeze and the color of your eyes right in front of me. Happy Birthday Mom!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A year ago: Biking in Lao

A year ago, I took a tour of SE Asia. I traveled via bicycle from Saigon, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand.

Crossing the Vietnam/Lao border into Lao

The border crossing was simple. It was bittersweet leaving old Vietnam behind. Many monuments/relics/stations from the war a faint reminder of a soured past.

Lao immediately gave me a welcoming smile. Everyone yelled "Bai Bai" as I journeyed a few meters from the border. I smiled and said hello and they repeated their "Bai bais". It was like I was the conductor of a parade. Kids would run out full-throttle, jumping in the air with big smiles on their faces with hands eagerly waving in the air.

I picked up the Lao greeting "Sa Bai Dee"! The hooting and jumping and hollering of the children made the 40 km go by in a breeze and I could feel the adrenaline surging through my blood. The landscape brought veins of stretched fields of palms and jungle, all leading to rocky-topped mountains filled with roads and needed exploration. A serenity filled the air. A modern Garden of Eden is what it felt like. Houses on stilts, blue roofs brighter than the sky. Streams and rocks, pastures and road-side water buffalo.

It rained and I took cover under what was intended to be a gasoline pumping station, but for now made the perfect shelter. I gave thanks to the man that owned the facility, it seemed connected to his living quarters, and smiled on my way out. A run in with a plastic bottle in the road made me almost biff it as I was waving at a big group of locals at a coffee shop before getting laughed at as I stumbled back to a normal ride. Smiles of the Lao people make it all better, their upper crescent is contagious. My smile could reach the moon.

Sapon to Donghen, Lao

I'm biking in Eden. The butterflies flutter beside me, doing acrobatics right in front of my eyes, four coming together and then dispersing in a mad dash (practical aerial artists!). Three different colored, flying in parallels, like Sleeping Beauty's three fairy godmothers. It's the butterflies that constantly remind me of the journey, staying within the moment, struck by the beauty of the land, the greenness of the grass, the trees, the red of the clay dirt, the blues of the sky; the rooftops, the paint, the pastels of the butterflies, the greys of the distant rock, browns of waterfalls, skin sun kissed, wooden beams, whites of the smiling children. Brightly painted spiritual flowers, road markers, long roads stretching, mirages, tree silhouetted shadows, workers in the fields waving. Amazing.

Biking in Lao from Brandon Patterson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prince of Titan Flowers and the Four Cornered Sun

Clipping branches and spongy dirt chambers stuck to boots. Sweaty palms and bare feet bobbing up and down. Three boys walk hurriedly up to the lime-stone castle carrying the youngest of them. Black spots cover their faces, spots where the sun doesn't shine, shading from the overhead leaves and high-reaching titan flowers. The flowers fight for the attention of the sun, taking it from the stragglers below. But they're beautiful and worth the glory. Right? As the boys walk closer and closer to the steps of the castle, the black spots vanish as a clearing unfolds. The sun in its fullness of gold casts warmth upon their faces. Each young boy taking big drinks as if thirsty for the invisible rays. The one being carried sprawls out his hurting body. His skin lights up and the cells quickly fold and unfold, die and live, in order for the bottom-layered cells to also feel the glory of the sun. The peaks and prairies of the endless flatness that the rays create, the skin taking it all in, a wall of glory pressing. He's let go, falling to the ground.

Red sparkles from his head. A smell of stench from the titan flowers just barely in view, the smell they all despised, like death. The oldest of the boys runs to find the only man he could think of that could make it all okay. The fall was great, yes, but the tree limb seemed like it could hold. And why the youngest of them all? He was light and limber. When they crossed the stream, he could cross the stones without touching the water, practically dancing on the ripples. Was he to blame for this? A mark of shame spread across his brow. Did he corner his brother into such an action? To climb higher than the titan flowers? To be completely covered in rays? No shade. All four corners of light could of been on his little brother. He was beautiful and worth the glory.

No father. No grandfather. No doctor. The only person the oldest brother knew to turn to was the prince. The last chance. Perhaps this man whose castle was almost as high as the titan flowers could make the redness go away. Yelling with panic and hate, the servants quickened their steps and lead the boy to the chamber of the prince. The towering doors sprung open. Inside lay a meaty man, embellished with moss-coloured drapings and a velvet robe, safe inside his corm. "Come hither, prince, my brother lie dying". The prince only stood from his settee and placed one hand out, uncovering a large single petal in his hand. The boy took it and rushed back to his brother, the stench growing in strength. As the stones broke apart the dirt clots on his boots, he looked down at the shining red petal. It seemed worthy of something, beautiful and simple and once alive.

He found his brother, pools of pollen surrounding his head wound. He placed the petal against the crimson clot. It lay there forming an inflorescence of blooming red. The sun giving off its gold again, the brothers lift the youngest high above themselves, a last stretch in search of the four corners of light. The bottom-most cell reaching the kingdom of the titan flowers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cosmos Lurkin'

Great Grandma is ninety-two. Her skin wrinkles and tears...or shall I say 'tars". Language to a ninety-two year old is jumbled and messy and low. Chest pain in the esophagus when and after eating, or shall I say "Acid Reflux". Nothing but tars on the finger, tears in the eyes, cracks on the nose and da acid reflux in the 'gus.

She used to watch game shows with her great grandson. He would jump up and down, up and down, yelling "No Whammies, No Whammies" and she would just luf (laugh) and luf in her puffy chair. And he would luf right alongside her, especially when an animated Whammy would come and pour a ton of feathers all over that contestant lady with the red hair, making her lose her prize money.

Great Grandma would care for her great grandson every afternoon after a rambunctious day at Ponderosa Elementary. He would come running, no more kiss tagging during recess, and make it to her doorstep, panting and panting, just so he'd make it in time for the game shows. His mom, being a single mother and all that jazz, had to work long hours at the bank and was gracious for having such an oliving (loving) grandmother. Mostly everyone olived old great grandma, mostly because she would always carry fudge in her pocket, the great grandson always picking off the nuts on top; "Olive you" she would say as she handed over the fudge, alongside a peck of a kiss, a tag he gratefully accepted.

Nowadays, She kir-eyes (cries) and everyone just stars (stares). She kir-eyes saying “I’m afraid of death. What should I do?” Her relatives star and star, mouths sort of half ajar, waiting for her to stop her kir-eyes, not knowing what to say or how to say it. “I guess she’s lost it” people murmur. Her great grandson wipes away her tears, stars right into her eyes, as if running towards the doorstep of her soul. Here, there is luffing in puffy chairs, tons of feathers, and oliving without the nuts on top. Look close enough and hard enough through the stars and the cosmos will form, he thought, some place where the game shows make sense and the winners get the Whammies.