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May 2015 · 1.2k
Why Fishing Is Important
Cyril Blythe May 2015
Growing up in Northern Alabama means you know that WalMart sells crickets and those crickets are on sale Sunday afternoons. The art of wetting a line was mine to claim from, a young age. Dad and I would spend weekends on various simplistically named bodies of water (Gunterville, Goose Pond, the Elk, the Flint) equipped with an alarming amount of crickets, ZOOM bait, honeywheat bread and cheap ham. Riptide Rush Gatorade and Michelob Ultra were the choice drinks to ensure proper hydration. The days we filled with a simple formula: cast, reel, catch, release. Bass love lake-**** and Crappie muddy banks. Catfish are not worth the effort involved with avoiding their poisonous whiskers when unhooking even though they look like Dinosaurs. After a lunch of sweaty ham and blue-bag doritos a quick swim in the water is absolutely crucial to cool down and finally get rid of the weariness sitting on a rocking boat gives you.  The big fish bite during dusk and dawn. Some only after the sun goes down. Sleep came when the green and white light rods on the boat become too bright for tired eyes. Finding a random small island in the water, tying the boat to an Hardwood Oak, and rolling out the sleeping bags on the red-clay will always provide the best sleep of your life-just don't think about snakes. The stars are always brightest and the cricket and cicada harmony the most melodic on this little Alabamian islands.

With each year the opportunity for these ventures dissipated. The fishing never stopped-the creeks in the neighborhood, pond beside our family home, and lakes on the Robert Trent Jones golf course (the 18th hole on the River Course was the best) provided ample opportunity to cure the itchy thumb syndrome.

I remember in high-school my father would fish alone by the lake with our dog by his side and an Ultra in his cup-holder almost every night. It was his time to unwind and process. I always appreciated his dedication to the art and the mastery of skills he passed on to me, but I never understood why he fished every single evening.

Until now.

I have been in the so called real world for a mere two year since college graduation. I have completed a post-graduate program, dated and broken up with various women, obtained a full time position doing honest and difficult work for those in need, and recently became a Dad to a hound of my own.

There in a river that flows through my city, but it is to far to venture to every night. The rivers surface in most places reflects bright lights. On weekends you will find kayak enthusiasts paddling against the current like wasps in the wind. The river, here, is a place of fast motion and has forgotten the beauty of a restful yellow bobber downing crickets.

Fishing equates opportunity for breathing. I still wet my line most weekends, but at 24 there is not enough time to recapture the dreams only found on red clay riverbanks. The river remembers and the fish still look like dinosaurs to me.
May 2015 · 1.4k
On becoming an adult
Cyril Blythe May 2015
24 is an age of paradox. A type of 'adulthood puberty' full of change, hair in strange places or colors, and a continual battering of unprecedented demands and expectations.

Conversations evolve. Your phone calls with parents and family become more frequent and important than ever before. They also consist of bites "Your mother and I were married at 21" "How are your savings going?" "Taxes are due on Tuesday" Something involving grandchildren rears its head weekly. How you talk to friends changes as well. The college friends no longer talk about hilarious nights at the bars-your conversations center on reminiscing, planning trips to the mountains, and genuine encouragement. Scotch and Gin have replaced well drinks and Evan Williams-thanks be to God. If you are blessed to have good friends from high school and eras prior the conversations are a combination of dreaming about the far future, checking in on aging family, and an underlying theme of ******* about work.

Making new friends is ******* exhausting. You are all lonely, craving to be known deeply. Liz Lemon screams the mantra of 24, "Yes to staying in more! Yes to Netflix and night cheese! Yes to drinking a beer alone!" Even the most extravagant of extroverts start to value solitude. This is not bad. This is a sign of growth. Herein enters the necessity of balance; commit to investing in those around you and to investing in yourself.

Parents told us "You can be the president! Fly to the moon! Cure cancer!" Those time-stamped conversations are over a decade old. We settled for status on campus via greek life, leadership positions, or achieving a 4.0 GPA. Post-grad none of us are president of anything nor have we walked the lunar surface. For most, a 5 digit salary without benefits equates our level of success. Some have babies or marriage bands, some have masters degrees. The awakening of 24 is sharp. After two decades of being promised we will all achieve the best, we walk in a daze of wondering if we have failed. We have not. Yet we feel the weight of failure. There is much ahead.

At 24 we learn that the promise of the "much ahead" is not guaranteed. Death becomes terrifyingly more constant. Friends, grandparents, teachers, even ones younger than us seem to be dying at a more rapid rate. This is new and it is terrifying. It teaches the importance of community, conversations, and creating.

We may not yet, or ever, be president of the USA. But we have lived enough to know what skills we enjoy and what talents we harbor. The importance of using them rings deeper than ever before-it resonates in our bones. The joy of a well prepared dinner, a thirty-minute watercolor creation, or a blog post your three followers may or may not read in its entirety is a joy worth the effort.

At 24, we are in transition. We are beginning to admit certain unalienable truths about this world and ourselves. We are beginning to really become.
Apr 2015 · 987
Methuselah
Cyril Blythe Apr 2015
Cicada shells and sunshine a southern summer brings.
Mason jars intended for storing crops through winter
line a porch filled with tea candles and hemp cords twined up
through the lids to the ceiling of a porch. Birds fly over

a view of the graveyard across the road where May is
buried year round. The grass, green now, is crisp as gin
and sharp as black umbrellas and hushes at a wet grave
he saw through a cracked window. Once pearls and suits were wet

by bubble bath romping, perfume, and drunken wine stains
in the corpse's own home. It happened in November
over a swirl of cream in black coffee-the cracking
of the glass. A sparrow's body on the porch outside

and the fearful pottery shattered on the white floor
around bare feet. Cicada shells were long buried but
night gin was still crisp in the face of new death and old
truths: death and taxes, morning breath and sharp hangovers

            are a part of the unraveling of becoming.
death, loss, south, southern, grave, graveside, green, crisp, mason jars, summer, ***, wine, sparrow, shatter, cicada, becoming, adulthood, goodbye, rip, spilled ink, in memorandum
May 2014 · 497
May
Cyril Blythe May 2014
May
There is a fire in the boughs of oaks
in the parking lot of my office complex tonight
at 10:05pm. I see it outside the window and I laugh
because I know it yields not heat; the flame
is a reflection of street lights and summer rain
left on leaves.

This year I have learned what it means to be aflame
with doubt, love, hope, and fear. Adulthood
is solitude. I have seen the truth of sovereignty
and the truth of friendship and I know it
to be painful and plentiful. A contradiction
seen in false laughs, false light, false love.

To be twenty-three is to be broken and free,
open and deeply constrained. A contradiction
of hope and fear, identity and longing.

"I refuse
to be nothing."
May 2014 · 467
#mcgbcinco
Cyril Blythe May 2014
Cinco de Mayo is a historical celebration with tequila worms, banjos, and dance.
A year ago today my father handed me money for the bar because I graduated college. I bought shots and beer and a velvet blanket of joy to conclude college for my beloved community that night. We danced drunken in the bass and unknown, fearless and strong as marble.
Tonight, one year forth, I have never felt so alone. I am unknown. I am known by some and the some know me deeper than my mother. I love them and tonight I accept that that love is selfless and if I wish it to continue I can expect nothing. They know my sin, my lust, my drubken mistakes, they know my prayers, my hopes, my future aspirations. But on cinco de mayo, no ***** are given. We only talk on Tuesdays.
A walk in the woods, two cigarettes and two hours of spoken silence. Drawing shallow ditches in North Carolina soil, searching for red clay. The ditches are more real than our friendship, today or have I mistaken words for action? Laughable, "brotherhood" today. And you say you know me, I can't believe you think I'm your best friend.
Feliz cinco.
You claim to love me but you put my eulogies in your bathroom trash can? I hope the toothpaste rots my notes fatser than my trust. I am done. I am spent. You have lost.
Cinco de mayo.
Feliz.
I sit in the parking lot of the apartment beside my home. A bud light and camel my only companions. If I even thought to ask for friendship or a bit of your time, commitments to others would come first. Inevitability, you have to do a because b expects c because we have two hours on Tuesday and that equals brotherhood. *******.
But if another asked, you are gloriously free.
**** me for knowing what love is. **** me for knowing my worth.
I am ready for change.
I hope you don't follow my trail-you see my worth and drag me down.
I can not remember the last time you encouraged me out of any reason other than guilt.
**** that and *******.
I am done with sharing marbles, what a ******* stupid metaphor for love.
*******.
I am praying.
Strength, honor, and joy.
I hope you find what you've been seeking with the others.
I am strong enough to stand alone with God.
******* for turning my marbles to your own platform.
Feliz cinco.
Que Dios te bendigo.
Feb 2014 · 552
Peppery, smoke scented love
Cyril Blythe Feb 2014
"It will be like learning to eat without pepper, but slowly. As pepper adds flavor to each dish, so does love to each moment. In marriage, the love will inevitably become a forsaken understood; an uncommon commonality that, through the years, loses it's luster. But, if I cut pepper wholly out of my diet I would notice. Each dish I tasted it in would revel in splendor, no matter the meat or vegetable on which it dances. So, I vow to never cut out love because of the commonality of love that marriage will ensue. I will never give in to taking it, her, for granted. Spontaneous mountain getaway weekends with lots of Merlot and unashamed whiskeys and even the occasional smokes on our porch out our bedroom window, celebrating my wife with little poems and sunny side up eggs on an idle Tuesday morning, dancing and getting drunk in the living room at 2am when the kids are asleep. This is how I will keep love biting, burning, peppered.
Feb 2014 · 1.5k
Vividly Calloused
Cyril Blythe Feb 2014
Around December 14th I realize the worth of a callous because of the shedding that inevitably ensues, starting late November. My feet, less commonly bare or clad in Chacos in the winter months as an adult, shed the opaque layers of time that Alabama red-clay and North Carolina pine needles form. Vivid, is the time needed to create a callous and vivid is the sting of a February pinecone on a bare foot, innocent, though learned, yearning for warmer days.
Cyril Blythe Aug 2013
Dogfish thunderheads whisper in Seagrove skies
after a dinner of Shiraz and shrimp with peppercorn skids
that filled me warm and these clouds echoing
in the water seem dark without the children
and their crab lights searching the shores
the foam crests roar upon day burnt toes
and I sit and I watch and I write
these words in a strained attempt to capture
Dads margarita redness and Moms new haven beauty.

Sister and I observe on this, mayhaps last trip
as a family lacking a bay, but we are full joyed:
we are contented in sandy sheets.
We are one, for this week, whole
and it is good.
Lord, it is good.

On Jordan's stormy banks we stand
Through the love of God our savior all will be well.
Jun 2013 · 2.2k
[anne-NAH-mull-s] Adultery
Cyril Blythe Jun 2013
Grumble

Of pugs. Or old men. Correlates to the grouping
of wrinkles: smile lines (down) whiskers (up). Synonymous to a gaggle of geese. Or women.
A grumbleman steps on the Pug's tail
and a passing girl hears
a crack, yelp, ****. She turns to help
but the grumbleman is gone and the pug
with him. She wonders why her neighbor's car
is still at her Mom's house? Why her Mom
wants to be called Veronica not Mary. One night she dreamed Veronica dancing on their roof
in the rain holding tight to an old red picture whispering to a woman on the lawn dancing
dry in white. She tried to call out to Veronica
she saw her slipping, but when she touched her lips
She felt them sewn shut with coarse, wet thread. Veronica turned and flew to her, to the window, grabbing her hands forcing fingers to feel
the brail graven into her Mother's giggling teeth that read, Don't look, your father will be bleeding soon. She awoke and her window was bound
in greased black leather. The floor ashen. Her lips still sewn
shut.

Anne stood,
picked out her fathers bones
Veronica had sewn into her
pillowcase
and
she
danced.
Jun 2013 · 884
Postgrad June
Cyril Blythe Jun 2013
My drunken whiskey-gin feet are trying to dig toe-knuckles into the wooden bed frame in my room. In my parents house I lay under Cranfield skies of bullfrog croaks. A heron cries.. Dad is gone, Mom asleep, sister aware but silent. This bed frame was Papas. He slept in if for over five decades in Franklin, Tennessee. So why won't my toes curl into the warm wood? They're sweating so why won't they dissolve into this oaken frame? Tomorrow I teach, give a groomsman's speech under the brazen idol of Birmingham, and miss menthol. 2 water bottles and five handfuls if goldfish, I pray and try to sleep.

Tetalasti.
Jun 2013 · 500
American Gothic
Cyril Blythe Jun 2013
In front of a whitewashed house
is a whitewashed man and his white
washed wife. Pristine hands white
knuckles clutch a sharp pitch-fork.
Jun 2013 · 379
Faces
Cyril Blythe Jun 2013
Like an echo, the woman sat.
I saw nine in a row, hands
Smooth and faces distant as
the mountains beyond.
Jun 2013 · 1.1k
NASCAR
Cyril Blythe Jun 2013
Beer bellies in sun,
Green grass in a fast circle
Squaring like trailers.
Cyril Blythe Apr 2013
“El Rabio”

Saturday 6-4
Hello again white pages. I’m writing this on Sunday for Saturday because I came seven hours away from dying yesterday, I was a little busy. I know I need to write this now or I’ll start to forget certain details so, here we go.

I woke up at 5:30 for my 6:00 breakfast. The air in Lima is always wet and sharp in the morning; it is incomparable to any type of Alabama morning mist. The morning mist in Lima is tainted from the 8 billion people who live here and curse it with their waking breath, it curses them back with sharp gray stings of water on their, our, faces as we leave the shelter of the tin roofs and adobe walls. As I walked into the kitchen, Madre Tula scolded me, again, “¡Estás tan flaco como un frijole mi amor! Ven. Ven aqui. ¡Comé!” Which, if you forget your Spanish years from now when you are reading this basically means she thinks I’m too skinny and need more meat on my bones. Madre accomplishes this by feeding me, every single morning, a piece of torta, a bowl of cualquier con fruta, and a ham and quail egg sandwich. It’s always delicious and yesterday was no exception. The NesCafe coffee yesterday burnt my tongue. I gulped it down in a heated hurry because of how tired I was. I gave Madre un besito and left to walk down the street to get the girl interns, Dylan and Lindsay, from their house so we could catch a combi (bus) to Salamanca to work the yard sale for our church with our missionary leaders, Mike and Lauren Ferry.

We made it to the yard sale safe and got straight to work. There was already a huge line of locals waiting to be the first ones in the gates to buy what the American missionaries were selling. After setting up tables and moving hundreds of boxes for about an hour Lauren came sprinting up to me and said, “You got bit by a dog?” I tried to laugh and make a joke about it being just my luck but she interrupted, “This is really serious, Cyril. This is a dang big deal.” I was instantly immersed into a stage of cold adrenaline as she continued, “Cyril, you need to go to the hospital. NOW. People die from this. We’ve had to send interns home for the rest of the summer for scratches from dogs in Salamanca.” She continued to tell me that I needed to catch a combi and find the nearest hospital immediately. The sides of my vision were clouding black and I sat down, I was suddenly very cold.

I think I was in shock and my brain was trying to refuse what it was being forced to process. Rabies. Rabies? Really? That **** dog. It was foaming and all the locals ran from it. I don’t know why I thought if I just stood still it would run past me. I remember the locals screaming Spanish, Quechua, or Aymaraat at me that I was helpless to translate with my two semester of Spanish at Auburn. That **** dog was brown and its lips were foaming. After I kicked it off me and climbed up on a wall of someone’s house I remember wiping the foam off my bloodied legs. Why the hell did I not think, “Oh, that’s probably a bad thing, right?” No. I was just too embarrassed by having made a ****** spectacle of myself in front of the locals to even think about the inherent dangers of rabies.

“Cyril?” I remember looking up from my racing thoughts. Somehow I had ended up sitting on the ground with my head in my hands. I was shaking as I looked up and saw Mike, Lauren’s husband, offering me a hand. He asked me to try and remember exactly what time I got to Salamanca yesterday and when I was attacked. I thought about it and remembered I was running late so I kept checking my watch. It was around 3pm. “****,” Mike said. When you hear a missionary cuss is when you know you’re totally ******. “Stand up, come on.” He helped me to my feet. “Cyril, listen. If you don’t get the first booster shot within 24 hours you die. There is nothing anyone can do. You have about seven hours left. You need to hurry, don’t be scared.” When he said that I remember laughing. Mike gave me a concerned eyebrow furrow as he led me, by the arm, over to one of the other missionaries working the yard sale, Mrs. Sarah. He explained the situation to her and I watched the Peruanos spilling in the gates and milling through the rows of tables and missionaries selling old books and trinkets. One lady that walked in had a monkey with yellow ears on her shoulders. I remember worrying it could be rabid too.

“Cyril?” Mrs. Sarah smiled at me, “You’re going to be okay honey. Lets go.” We left the yard sale. I remember anxiously watching the monkey sitting on the ladies shoulder and as we walked past it, it **** all over her and started to rub it in her hair. I swear it was smiling at me. Mrs. Sarah hailed a combi and we headed for Clinica Anglo-Americana. The taxi driver asked if we were okay and Mrs. Sarah told him about my situation. He fingered the rosary hanging from his rear view mirror and said over and over again, “Dios mio…pobre, pobrecito.” I understood that much Spanish. Even my taxi driver thought I was going to die.

We pulled up to the hospital and told the guard with the AK-47 why we were there and he waved us in past the spiked metal gates. Inside the hospital looked more like a bed and breakfast than the place where I would be given a second chance at life after rabies. The walls were whitewashed and the Untied States, Peruvian, and British flags draped down from three golden flagpoles by the front door. There were beautiful pink and yellow flowers everywhere that scared away the painful Peruvian morning fog that permeated my memory of the rest of that morning. We paid the taxi driver; he patted my hand and drove off.

Inside, I was encouraged to explain why I was there—in Spanish of course— to the friendly nurse waiting in the entrance. I was furious. Time was wasting; it was not the time for me to practice subjuntivo or pluscuamperfecto. I mangled out a few awkward sentences and the nurse’s jaw dropped. Mrs. Sarah erupted into belly bursting alto laughter. The rest of the waiting room was empty. I was so confused, terrified, and angry I didn’t know what else to do except sit. So, I sat on the closest wooden bench and felt a tear peer over one of my eyelids. Mrs. Sarah and the nurse were twittering in rapid Spanish and I kept thinking, “Six hours. I have six hours left to live by now.” Mrs. Sarah walked over, put her arms around me and explained that I had told the nurse the reason I was in the hospital was because I killed a dog in the streets yesterday. I smiled.

“Señor Blythe?” A doctor appeared and frantically motioned for us to come into his room. I walked in and it looked just like any other doctors office except the tray of scalpels, huge needles, tweezers, and vials of purple medicine beside the bed that he motioned for me to lay down on, “Acostarse.” Mrs. Sarah told me to relax. Humorous. The doctor and his two nurses wiped down the bite marks on each of my legs with three pungent and strangely colored gels in quick succession. I swear I hear a sizzling noise. The doctor picked up the scissors and I winced, but he only used them to open up a white packet from which he pulled out a huge thick roll of rough, wet gauze, which he used to wipe my legs clean. It numbed my legs. Then, of course, he grabbed the biggest needle on the table and used it to stab both legs; directly into the bite marks. If he hadn’t already scrubbed them so hard they were scab-less the needle would have cracked the crusted scabs back to flowing red. Rabies vaccines are not fun.

After a few more vials of life were shot into me the doctor wrapped up my legs in weird smelling gauze I was told not to shower and that I had to return to the US within 3 days to receive a “monohemoglobin shot” that they didn’t have in the hospitals in Lima at the time. I sat up on the bed and asked Mrs. Sarah, “So, am I going to live?” She smiled and nodded her head and the nurse answered, *“Si, mi amor, por supuesto.”
Apr 2013 · 1.0k
6666 Blue
Cyril Blythe Apr 2013
I wonder asunder
what a whale would wonder
or whether they wander
through waters of wonder.

Above on board bottles
boast "BAM!" faces mottled
but whether bought or dottled
broken beauties cottle.

The window metal rusts
recoiling at her lust
raptous roilings dost
remedy raw must.

and in frustration
and in anger
and in desperation
and in danger
I break.

Leaving convention losing sight of solid ground
sailing Atlantic and crossing canyons hidden
beneath tons of tons of water
I
amidst tons and tons of air
wonder and I wander
and
bottles boast "BAM!"
while
recoiling at her lust.

For this, Beloved, is a Carinval (kar-knee-VAL)
and Carnival, beloved, is a mummers farce.
Cyril Blythe Apr 2013
There is a wooden window, circular
above a roses-in-ink embroidered couch
that complements and contrasts the curtain
of roses-in-mud that eloquently hugs
the wooden sides of the wooden window.

On this couch I sit in my suit and out I see
through the circular wooden window
waves with stretch marks and salty burps
dancing (for me?) with brave crashing crescendos
and butter melting bass.

This ocean could teach humanity
absolutely everything about ***
its voluptuous waves caressing
the ***** seaweed and *******
it for miles until it's washed (limp) ashore.

The couch back is hard and unused
speaking of the depravity of our angry age
whose ***** wear bare the leather and studs
on the barstools in the club below my library
with its wooden window, circular.

I've yet to see a sunset or sunrise
in a place where I can see no land
but looking at the quiet reflections of rage on
the roiling ocean, on which I'm afloat,
I pray I do- I want to see it all aflame.
Apr 2013 · 1.4k
Nature is symmetry
Cyril Blythe Apr 2013
"236 miles into the Atlantic.." the captain crackles,
I find the foils of snow and sand here,
dust and ridges etched ashore on Andes
mountain tops and the way
the wind seduces the elements to dance only
for her to laugh and slap down.

The escargot and garlic alligator
shift, below in crates. The drunken
feet stumble to the jazz of the
ocean and the timbre of the coconut ***
on their way to the formal dinner promised
in  this passage of escape. They saunter
but the ocean's sighs harmonize with her laughter.

"At night the opal blue sinks beneath black
but," she says, "I still see the jovial mist's blue dance."
So we toast with Shiraz and join the drunken
music with our drunken neighbors, souls drunk
and eyes feasting on oil candles and neon CARNIVAL
shot glasses that aid us, the broke, to run harder
into the night and away from the damnation of land.

I, you all, know that is what this is,
what vacations, rest, water, Advil, sunscreen
all promise and whisper and ****** until
they force your feet to dance so they
can laugh as they slap you down ashore,
awake,  thirsty, throbbing, burnt into the reality
you left for the past five glorious days.

Ah, and glory- you see?
The majesty of the waves and allure
of purple and green fade when compared,
remember? Nature is symmetry and
the depravity of pain pales in comparison
to the glory of salvation. Look to the sea,
see where Christ walked.
Apr 2013 · 330
Jazz
Cyril Blythe Apr 2013
We dance slowly and it’s broken.
Men shudder and women wail
When I dip you and we don’t miss
We don’t kiss.
Feb 2013 · 703
About love
Cyril Blythe Feb 2013
And what is there to say
And what am I to talk of
But the crackers we ate
On the blanket in the park

And lips
Your lips, beloved
Crusted with ******* crumbs and gloss
Touching mine

And then we laugh and things brush
And prickles on my skin rise
RISE RISE
Until
I open my eyes

And I see the spider
In the corner or my room
Across from my bed in the dark
Alone in his web and his poison

And he crawls and he spits
And he claws until he bleeds
At the inevitable and damnable
Future of solitude he is, he is.

Shivers of moon wind
Brush the blinds and I cough
Sending the spider again, up
Hidden in the depth of his silk

And alone I sit
And alone I smile
And alone my teeth are white

I stand naked in the night
And the haunted air licks
Everywhere that it owns
For I am it's and I am Devine

Dry fingers pull up the blinds
And shhhh slowly slide up the window
And the moon above honors me
With a glance and in it's eyes I see hate.

So I laugh and fight the shiver
As hard as I fight the future
And I scream to Black
I am yours, beloved, and you are mine.
Nov 2012 · 7.1k
Digging (Short Story)
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
Janie pushes the metal book cart back into its parking space in the Document Delivery Department of the St. Louis Public Library and hangs the last sticky note for October 30, 2012 on the wall by the head of the department’s closed door. She retightens her brown scarf under her chin, tucking the wispy hairs above her ears back into hiding. Having your hair begin to prematurely gray as a teenager has dramatic effects on a person. Her mother wore scarves around her wrists when Janie was growing up and when Janie begin to wear scarves to conceal her salt-and-pepper hair, her mother just smiled. The clock hanging on the wall above the children’s section reads 11:28pm.
Two more minutes.
She reorganized the pens and books on her desk and set the box reading NOTES onto the right corner or her desk with three blue pens and a stack of note cards. Her coworkers learned fast that Janie does not like to talk. She does not like eye contact. She loves the silence, and never ever to ask her about her hair. Her manager gave her the NOTES box after about a month of horrible miscommunication and everyday it fills with requests for books or tasks that Janie has to complete. She completes the tasks one by one, alone, in her back office in the Reference Department and hangs the completed sticky notes on the wall by her manager’s door. She works the night shift and locks the library up every night. When she’s alone she can talk out loud to herself and those are the only voices she cares to hear.
“Goodnight, books. Good night, rooms.” Janie shut the heavy wooden door to the library, placed the color-coded keys in the front right pocket of her jacket, and began her walk to the bus stop one corner away. She avoids the main road, taking her first right onto a side street that she knows would spit her out right beside the bus stop.
“Goodnight Taco Bell Sign. Goodnight Rite-Aide. Goodnight Westside Apartments. Goodnight Jack-o-Lantern smile.” She stopped in the middle of the alley and peered up at the Jack-o-Lantern grinning down at her from the third story window above. “Mother wouldn’t’ve liked your smirk, Jack. She would’ve slapped that **** right off your face.” Janie, satisfied the pumpkin was put in its rightful place, smiled as she trotted on.
“Mother carved smiles into her arms and that’s why Daddy left, it is, it is.” She kicked at a crushed Mountain Dew can as she remembered that night from years ago.

“Mommy?” Janie pushed opened the door to her mother’s bedroom and saw the moving-boxes torn open and all their contents scattered across the floor. She tiptoed through piles of scarves and silverware and corkscrews until she reached the bathroom in her mom’s room.
“Come to us like rain, oh lord, come and stay and sting a while more, oh lord…” her mother’s voice was slipping off the tiled bathroom walls. Janie pushed open the door and saw the blood for the first time pouring from her mother’s wrist. Her mother was naked and perched on the bathroom sink, singing to a red razor blade.
“Mommy?”
“GET OUT!” Her mother jumped from the counter and perched on all fours on the floor. She began to growl and speak in a voice too deep to be coming from her own throat.
“Mommy! It’s Janie!” She began to cry as her mother, still naked and bleeding, twisted and writhed onto her back and began to crawl towards the door that Janie hid behind.


“Thirty-Three percent, dear. Just a thirty-three percent chance.” She shivered trying to clear the last memory of her mother with the words that all the shrinks had echoed to her over the years. “Schizophrenia is directly related to genetics, little is known about the type of Schizophrenia mother was diagnosed with except that it is definitely passed on genetically. But, there is only a thirty-three percent chance you could have it, dear. Thirty-three percent.” The sound of the bus stop ahead reminds her it is time to be silent again.
“Disorganized Schizophrenia.” She mouthed to herself as she stepped back out onto the busy street from her alleyway. She tightened her scarf and saw the bus pull into the pickup spot. She walked forward to the bus, again immersed in her self-imposed silence.
Stepping out of the February cold, Janie removes her wool scarf as the bus doors close behind her.
“Where to baby?” The driver smiles a sticky smile. Her nametag reads, “Shannon” and has a decaying Hello-Kitty sticker in the bottom left corner.
“The Clinton Street drop.” She hands the driver her $2.50 fare and avoids the woman’s questioning eyes. The night drivers are always more talkative, curious.
“Your ticket hon.” She tears Janie a ticket stub. “Everything is pretty dead this late, I’ll have you there in ten minutes top.”
Janie begins to shuffle towards the seats, ignoring the woman.
“You mind if I crank up the music?” The bus driver asks, purple fingernails scratching in her thick blonde hair. “I need to keep my eyes open and blood flowing and music is my fire of choice you know?”
“Sure.” Janie shrugs her bag onto her shoulder and walks on before the woman can say anything else.
“Route E-2, homebound.” Shannon’s voice crackles over the loudspeaker.
She shuffles down the bus towards her usual seat; second from the back right side.  Shannon starts the bus rolling before she reaches her seat and Janie can hear her singing along to “Summertime” by Janis Joplin. The bus floor, today, is sticky because of the morning rain. Two years of riding public transportation has taught Janie that staring at the floor as she walks to her seat is better than the risk of making eye contact. The bus is usually empty this late but if there ever happens to be anyone else on, it’s better not to converse. Safer that way.
She plops into her seat filling the indention that ghosts of past passengers left. The seat is still warm and Janie squirms around until the stranger heat is forgotten. She tightens her scarf and sighs. The brown pleather seatback in front of her is peeling towards the top. Janie leans forward and idly picks at the scab-like dangles of brown as she watches the sodden city canvas roll past her out the foggy window. As she picks, the hole grows. She twists and digs her unpainted nails into the seat until her hands feel wet, warm. Looking down, they are covered in blood and mud.
“What. The. Actual. ****.” she whispers, wiping her hands on her pants leg. She cautiously picks off another piece of pleather and a trickle of deep red begins to run from the seat back, clumps of mud now falling onto her knees. A puddle of blood and mire splatter down her legs and pool around her feet as she picks at the seat. Her white tights are definitely beyond saving now, so she digs faster until her thumbnail catches on something, bends back, and cracks. She gasps and withdraws her shaking hand, watching her own blood mix with the clotting muck in the seat, half of her thumbnail completely stripped off.
Looking around, all else seems normal. The driver is now muttering along to some banter by Kanye West, completely unaware of Janie’s predicament. She closes her eyes.
This is a dream, this is a dream, wake the **** up.
She opens her eyes to see the pool of filth around her feet trickling towards the front of the bus. Panic sets in with a whisper, They’re going to think it was you, your fault, you’ll be thrown in jail.
“But I didn’t do this.” She lashes out to herself. “I didn’t hurt anyone.”
Next stop, E-2. Shannon blares on the intercom.
“It’s just a dream, get your **** together, Janie.” She laughs at herself, manic.
Prove it! Her subconscious screams.
Convinced to end this moment she has to continue; Janie plunges her hand into the pleather grave one more time. Frantic and confused she laughs as she digs, spittle of muck splashing on her bus window.
Faster, faster, faster.
Deeper, deeper, deeper.
Realer, realer, real.
Wake up, now!
Then, as the bus slows, one last chuck of mud splatters to the floor and Janie sees a pink piece of her thumbnail stabbed into the white of a bone in the bottom of the seatback pit. Her white Ked’s were becoming so red they were almost black. She pulls her knees up to her chest and begins to rock back and forth. Clenching shut her eyes she begins to hum. Janie’s sweet soprano harmonizes with the buses deep droning purr, their wet melody interweaving with the driver’s alto and Lil Wayne’s screech made her feel dizzy as the bus turned right.
She take my money when I'm in need
Yeah she's a trifling friend indeed
Oh she's a gold digger way over town
That dig's on me
The bus slows to a stop and the bass is shaking. Janie is cold. She slowly peeks out of her right eye, expecting to be instantly immersed into the same dismal scene. The seatback is whole again. Releasing her knees, her feet fall back to the floor and her shaking fingers stroke the solid pleather.

“Ma’am? We’re at the Clinton Drop.”
Janie hurriedly picks up her bag and flees down the aisle to the bus doors.
“Everything alright, dear?” The bus driver asks, smiling.
“Fine, just fine.”
“You be safe out there tonight. The night is dark and only ghouls stroll the streets this late.”  Shannon laughed as Janie’s jaw dropped. “Happy Halloween, dear. It’s midnight, today is October 31st.”
The bus doors opened and a cold wind ****** the warm bot-air surrounding Janie into the streets. She begrudgingly followed, her mind spinning as she stepped onto the pavement. The doors slammed behind her and she turned to see Shannon pull out a tube of lipstick and smear it, red, across her cracked lips. Shannon made a duck-face in the mirror and reached down to crank up the music as loud as it would go. The bus exhaled and rolled forward, leaving Janie behind as it splashed through the potholes.
She surveys the surrounding midnight gloom and the street is quiet and dark. Even the stars are hidden behind swirling clouds. She begins to hum, hands in her pocket, and shuffle towards her apartment.
“Goodnight, stars. Goodnight, street.”
As she approaches her single-bedroom apartment, digging through her coat pocket for her keys, her thumb pulsates. She grasps the keys and pulls them out as she steps up to the apartment. Sticking the cold, silver key in the lock she looks down at her thumb and in the shadows of the porch sees half of the nail completely missing. She laughs as she pushes the door open to her bare apartment, light flooding out. Without any hesitation she closes the door behind her, sheds her clothes, and slips onto the mattress in the corner of the room gripping her thumb tight. She reaches out for the glass of milk on the floor beside her bed from the morning and it’s still cold. Nursing the milk, surrounded by blankets and solitude, she reminds herself,  “Only a thirty-three percent chance. A nice, small, round number. Small.”  
She sets down the empty glass and curls into the fetal position under the heavy blankets, pointer finger tracing circles on her thumb. Only when she has heated her blanket cocoon enough to feel safe does she remove her scarf and allow her thick white hair to fall around her face.
“Goodnight, room. Goodnight, mother,”
Nov 2012 · 1.4k
Depth of Darkest Moment
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
Plunge, colder+deeper, illuminosity, shame, boats,
fear, family, disappointment, roots, train,*

Lights,
Camera,
Action:


When you told me, “no”
you called me “******”
and you became the Quarterback
you used to be.

You refused to watch
my musicals because football
“What real men do, boy”
ran in your blood.

So, I swore never to forgive
the blood that named me
your son because you threw
a pass and I didn’t have hands.

Winter was cold and the stage
was warm, unlike pigskin goose bumps
or Gatorade that you tried
to force onto my hands.

Then you finally came
to watch me sing
in Les Miserables and
you wept, warm tears.

“Proud of you, son”
you cried, and we wept
and my cold heart thawed
because of bloods warmth.

**Lights
Camera
Scene.
Nov 2012 · 1.1k
Protestant Dictionary
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
(n) Ebenezer

1. Summer-Fall
The hands on the pews beaded in Summer sweat. The whiskey
whispers fall off the praising tongues of the Presbyterian choir
filling the sanctuary and beating at the stain glass windows
that a bird hit last week leaving a crack and when the congregation
saw it’s blooded feathers we said oh, dear and poor soul and then
climbed into our pickups and minivans and forgot and left to eat
a Sunday feast of Mexican food and rest, Sabbath naps are Biblical.

2. Winter-Spring
The robin rotted by November but the frost killed the ground too
soon for the bird to be laid to rest back beneath the protestant grass
and stones that the pastor claims are as powerful and rich of a blessing
as the stones the Jews of old inscribed with scripts wrought deep with
pleas for rescue and wails for salvation and scripted too with reminders
of trials and tribulations because trials end and Christ will reign so we drive
over the bones of robins and grass, tires kicking up our own Ebenezers.
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
I followed Delvos down the trail until we could see the mouth of the mine. The life and energy of the surrounding birches and sentential pines came to a still and then died as we left the trees shelter behind and walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelled of mold and moths. Delvos stepped into the darkness anyways.
“Well, girl, you coming or aren’t you?”
I could see his yellowed tobacco teeth form into a smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped in its cage.
“This tunnel is just the mouth to over two hundred others exactly like it. Stay close. Last thing I need this month is National Geographic on my *** for losing one of their puppet girls.”
“Delvos, ****. I have two masters degrees.” I pulled my mousey hair up into a tight ponytail. “I’ve experienced far more fatal feats than following a canary in a cave.”
He rolled his eyes. “Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling some Louis Armstrong song.
“I survived alone in the jungles of Bolivia alone for two months chasing an Azara’s Spinetail. I climbed the tallest mountain in Nepal shooting Satyr Tragopans along the cliff faces. In Peru I…” Suddenly I felt the weight of the darkness. I lost track of his lantern completely. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I had done in Peru. The mine was quiet and cold. I wiped my clammy, calloused hands on my trail pants and took a depth breath.

In through the nose. Out through the mouth. This is nothing. I followed a Diurnal Peruvian Pygmy-Owl across the gravel tops of the Andes Mountains, no light but the Southern Cross and waning moon above. I am not scared of darkness. I am not scared of darkness.
I stopped to listen. Behind me I could hear the wind cooing at the mouth of the mine.
Taunting? No. Reminding me to go forward. Into the darkness.
I shifted my Nikon camera off my shoulder and raised the viewfinder to my eyes, sliding the lens cap into my vest pocket. This routine motion, by now, had become as fluid as walking. I stared readily through the dark black square until I saw reflections from the little red light on top that blinked, telling me the flash was charged. I snapped my finger down and white light filled the void in front of me. Then heavy dark returned. I blinked my eyes attempting to rid the memories of the flash etched, red, onto my retina. I clicked my short fingernails through buttons until the photo I took filled the camera screen. I learned early on that having short fingernails meant more precise control with the camera buttons. I zoomed in on the picture and scrolled to get my bearings of exactly what lay ahead in the narrow mine passageway. As I scrolled to the right I saw Delvos’ boot poking around the tunnel that forked to the left.
Gottcha.
I packed up the camera, licked my drying lips, and stepped confidently into the darkness.

When I first got the assignment in Vermont I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Mining canaries? Never had I ever ‘chased’ a more mundane bird. Nonetheless, when Jack Reynolds sends you on a shoot you don’t say no, so I packed up my camera bag and hoped on the next plane out of Washington.
“His name is John Delvos.” Jack had said as he handed me the manila case envelope. He smiled, “You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Yes sir.”
“Don’t look so smug, Lila. This may not be the most exotic bird you’ve shot but the humanity of this piece has the potential to be a cover story. Get the shots, write the story.”
I opened the envelope and read the assignment details in the comfort of my old pajamas back at my apartment later that night.
John Delvos has lived in rural Vermont his entire life. His family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When “the accident” happened the whole town shut down and the mines never reopened. . There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly before Delvos and his father retreated into the Vermont woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He currently ships them to other mining towns across the country. The question of the inhumanity of breeding canaries for the sole purpose of dying in the mines so humans don’t has always been controversial. Find out Delvos’ story and opinions on the matter. Good luck, Lila.
I sighed, accepting my dull assignment and slipped into an apathetic sleep.


After stumbling through the passageway while keeping one hand on the wall to the left, I found the tunnel the picture had revealed Delvos to be luring in. Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me
“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers?” He relit the oily lantern and picked back up the canary cage. “Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.”. He turned his back without another word. I followed deeper into the damp darkness.
“Why were there no canaries in the mine on, you know, that day?” The shadows of the lantern flickered against the iron canary cage chained on his hip and the yellow bird hopped inside.
“I was nine, Ms. Rivers. I didn’t understand much at the time.” We turned right into the next tunnel and our shoes crunched on jagged stones. All the stones were black.
“But surely you understand now?”
The canary chirped.

When I first got to Sheldon and began asking about the location of the Delvos’ cabin you would have thought I was asking where the first gate to hell was located. Mothers would smile and say, “Sorry, Miss, I can’t say,” then hurriedly flock their children in the opposite direction. After two hours of polite refusals I gave up. I spent the rest of the first day photographing the town square. It was quaint; old stone barbershops surrounded by oaks and black squirrels, a western-themed whiskey bar, and a few greasy spoon restaurants. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good night’s sleep and defeat this town’s fear of John Delvos the following day.
My room was a tiny one bed square with no TV. Surprise, surprise. At least I had my camera and computer to entertain myself. I reached into the side of my camera bag, pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC, and stepped out onto the dirt in front of my motel door and lit up. The stars above stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except its sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of Vermont night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the star’s dancing became.
“Ma’am? Everything okay?”
Startled, I dropped my cigarette on the ground and the ember fell off. “I’m sorry, sir. I was just, um, the stars…” I snuffed out the orange glow in the dirt with my boot and extended my hand, “Lila Rivers, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Rivers. Are you new to town?” He traced his fingers over a thick, graying mustache as he stared at me.
“I’m here for work. I’m a bird photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I’m looking for John Delvos but I’m starting to think he’s going to be harder to track than a Magpie Robin.”
Ian smiled awkwardly, shivered, then began to fumble with his thick jacket’s zipper. I looked up at the night sky and watched the stars as they tiptoed their tiny circles in the pregnant silence. Then, they dimmed in the flick of a spark as Ian lit up his wooden pipe. It was a light-colored wood, stained with rich brown tobacco and ash. He passed me his matches, smiling.
“So, Delvos, eh?” He puffed out a cloud of leather smelling smoke toward the stars. “What do you want with that old *******? Don’t tell me National Geographic is interested in the Delvos canaries.”
I lit up another stick and took a drag. “Shocking, right?”
“Actually, it’s about time their story is told.” Benet walked to the wooden bench to our left and patted the seat beside him. I walked over. “The Delvos canaries saved hundreds of Sheldonian lives over the years. But the day a crew went into the mines without one, my father came out of the ground as cold as when we put him back into it in his coffin.”
I sat in silence, unsure what to say. “Mr. Benet, I’m so sorry…”
“Please, just Ian. My father was the last Mr. Benet.”
We sat on the wooden bench, heat leaving our bodies to warm the dead wood beneath our legs. I shivered; the star’s dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Rivers. This whole town indebted to those tiny yellow birds, but nobody cares to remember that anymore.”
“Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Delvos and his, erm, martyrs?” The ember of my second cigarette was close to my pinching fingertips.
“Follow me.” Ian stood up and walked to the edge of the woods in front of us. We crunched the dead pine needles beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed. “See that yellow notch?” he asked. Sure enough, there was a notch cut and dyed yellow at his finger’s end. “If you follow true north from this tree into the woods you’ll find this notch about every fifty yards or so. Follow the yellow and it’ll spit you out onto the Delvos property.”
“Thank you, Ian. I really can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am.
“You don’t have to.” He knocked the ash out of his pipe against the tree. “Just do those birds justice in your article. Remember, martyrs. Tell old Delvos Ian Benet sends his regards.” He turned and walked back to the motel and I stood and watched in silence. It was then I realized I hadn’t heard a single bird since I got to Sheldon. The star’s dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary’s wings and Delvos stopped. “This is a good place to break our fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We had left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky that morning and had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. I was definitely ready to eat. He handed me a gallon Ziploc bag from his backpack filled with raisins, nuts, various dried fruits, and a stiff piece of bread. I attacked the food like a raven.
“I was the reason no canaries entered the mines that day, Ms. Rivers.”
Delvos broke a piece of his bread off and wrapped it around a dried piece of apricot, or maybe apple. I was suddenly aware of my every motion and swallowed, loudly. I crinkled into my Ziploc and crunched on the pecans I dug out, waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“I’m not a parrot, Mr. Delvos, I don’t answer expectedly on command. You’ll tell me if you want.” I stuffed a fistful of dried pears into my mouth.
Delvos chuckled and my nerves eased. “You’ve got steel in you, Ms. Rivers. I’ll give you that much.”
I nodded and continued cramming pears in my mouth.
“I was only nine. The canaries were my pets, all of them. I hated when Dad would send them into the mines to die for men I couldn’t give two ***** about. It was my birthday and I asked for an afternoon of freedom with my pets and Dad obliged. I was in the aviary with pocketfuls of sunflower-seeds. Whenever I threw a handful into the air above me, the air came to life with wings slashing yellow brushes and cawing songs of joy. It was the happiest I have ever been, wholly surrounded and protected by my friends. Around twelve thirty that afternoon the Sheriff pulled up, lights ablaze. The blue and red lights stilled my yellow sky to green again and that’s when I heard the shouting. He cuffed my Dad on the hood of the car and Mom was crying and pushing her fists into the sheriff’s chest. I didn’t understand at all. The Sheriff ended up putting Mom in the car too and they all left me in the aviary. I sat there until around four that afternoon before they sent anyone to come get me.”
Delvos took a small bite of his bread and chewed a moment. “No matter how many handfuls of seeds I threw in the air after that, the birds wouldn’t stir. They wouldn’t even sing. I think they knew what was happening.”
I was at a loss for words so and I blurted, “I didn’t see an aviary at your house…”
Delvos laughed. “Someone burnt down the house I was raised in the next week while we were sleeping. Mom died that night. The whole dark was burning with screams and my yellow canaries were orange and hot against the black sky. That’s the only night I’ve seen black canaries and the only night I’ve heard them scream.”
I swallowed some mixed nuts and they rubbed against my dry throat.
“They never caught the person. A week later Dad took the remainder of the birds and we marched into the woods. We worked for months clearing the land and rebuilding our lives. We spent most of the time in silence, except for the canary cries. When the house was finally built and the bird’s little coops were as well, Dad finally talked. The only thing he could say was “Canaries are not the same as a Phoenix, John. Not the same at all.”
We sat in silence and I found myself watching the canary flit about in its cage, still only visible by the lanterns flame. Not fully yellow, I realized, here in the mines but not fully orange either.

When I first walked onto John Delvos’ property on Thursday morning he was scattering feed into the bird coops in the front of his cabin. Everything was made of wood and still wet with the morning’s dew.
“Mr. Delvos?”
He spun around, startled, and walked up to me a little too fast. “Why are you here? Who are you?”
“My name is Lila Rivers, sir, I am a photographer and journalist for National Geographic Magazine and we are going to run an article on your canaries.”
“Not interested.”
“Please, sir, can I ask you just a few quick questions as take a couple pictures of your, erm, martyrs?”
His eyes narrowed and he walked up to me, studying my face with an intense, glowering gaze. He spit a mouthful of dip onto the ground without breaking eye contact. I shifted my camera bag’s weight to the other shoulder.
“Who told you to call them that?”
“I met Ian Benet last night, he told me how important your birds are to this community, sir. He sends his regards.”
Delvos laughed and motioned for me to follow as he turned his back. “You can take pictures but I have to approve which ones you publish. That’s my rule.”
“Sir, it’s really not up to me, you see, my boss, Jack Reynolds, is one of the editors for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Rivers.” He turned and picked back up the bucket of seed and began to walk back to the birds. “You want to interview me then we do it in the mine. Be back here at four thirty in the morning.”
“Sir…?”
“Get some sleep, Ms. Rivers. You’ll want to be rested for the mine.” He turned, walked up his wooden stairs, and closed the door to his cabin.
I was left alone in the woods and spent the next hour snapping pictures of the canaries in their cages. I took a couple pictures of his house and the surrounding trees, packed up my camera and trekked back to my motel.

“You finished yet?” Delvos stood up. The mine was dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I had sifted through, into my pocket.
Delvos grunted and the canary flapped in its cage as he stood again and, swinging the lantern, rounded another corner. The path we were on began to take a noticeable ***** downward and the moisture on the walls and air multiplied.  
The lantern flickered against the moist, black stones, sleek and piled in the corners we past. The path stopped ahead at a wall of solid black and brown Earth.
The canary chirped twice.
It smelled of clay and mildew and Delvos said, “Go on, touch it.”
I reached my hand out, camera uselessly hanging like a bat over my shoulder. The rock was cold and hard. It felt dead.
The canary was fluttering its wings in the cage now, chirping every few seconds.
“This is the last tunnel they were digging when the gas under our feet broke free from hell and killed those men.”
Delvos hoisted the lantern above our heads, illuminatin
Nov 2012 · 1.9k
HC 3334; Tuition
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
When I arch my back
so my face hovers close
Above the college ruled paper,
I narrow my shoulders
until the green fleece of my jacket
kisses at my red ears.

I move my body weight
to my left side, shifting
and wrapping my right foot
around the cold metal desk leg,
the hiss of the fluorescent
lights above licking a steady whisper.

I hear pens scratching permanent
ink onto dry paper and noses dripping
snot onto cheap Kleenex squares,
a melodic metronome racing
against the preset clock in my mind
I’ve ignored over the past four years.

Will it be worth it?
Thomas sits on my red ears
and whispers, reminding
that I have but one more semester.
Am I Dotstoyevsky?
Can I claim to be Milton?
Am I worth?
Nov 2012 · 935
Elegy for the Self
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
To have two eyes as sharp as your tongue
is a gift. Two whale shaped almonds on
your unbearded canvas that you used to use
to sink ships and freeze rain.

Piercing circles need to be charged
by sleep and colby-jack, not dregs
of java and illuminations of the glowing apple
that you feast on, now.

Raging oceans blue and green
have been lulled by the sticky mucus
dams of sleepy-tears that you built
with your own body while your dreams sang:

                                                          ­                                 Farther, sail, further, boy
                                                             ­                               Look not back for fear is coy
                                                             ­                               Vaster, seek, faster, man
                                                             ­                               You must, oh, must reach the planned.


Pencils and papers and screens and gin
have stilled your eyes and dried
them of all power,
                              Cyril,
In the staring glass you,           search
for an oceans depth
all you find is a hollow skull,
bone dry, running wet only with blood.
Oct 2012 · 947
Syntax of Sex
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
The way your skin prickled -tight- over your hips
and the plunking -wet- noise of water
                   forced out of a cave
are what I remember about that December, lovely, oh, lovely.

Your -blonde- hair rippled and shook loose
with each ramming pulsation and throb -stab-
but your hair -curled- tight was rough. -Unmoving.-
                below,       dripped More, now, more.

Your toenails felt like ice -pink, red, buff- on my calf
they drew dragons between the forests of my -leg- hair
circling around, bumping –bruising- and chanting,
                           Be full, full.

Until –after- we lay limp and glistening in -love- dew
the floors creak and winds scratch -outside- too loud, -empty-
   but,
                     We, -thought- *we are whole.
Oct 2012 · 937
More, Baby, More
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
You never force my hand
to grasp and plunge into
your sweet circular security.

When I take you in
my mouth you melt down
my throat and I shudder.

My dry lips wetten
and I kiss your cold body
sculpted and curved in crystals.

The longer you sit revealed
the faster you melt
spilling onto the summer sheets.

Mother always warned
that it was a sin
to eat ice cream in bed.
Oct 2012 · 1.3k
Chained
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
Another dinner tainted
by moistly cooing feta
and cracking of crutons
in his mouth.

A wrinkle plunges
his forehead into lines
mimicking the knives
meticulously hidden above door frames.

He picks the scab
caught in his leg hair
and it dangles-trapped
as he gets to the screaming tea.

Birds dart out the window
and freeze in the sky
in the picture of Samford Hall
hanging above the white-washed mantle.

Cookie cake icing
reads, “Happy 68 Pops”
and we sing to fogged glasses
as his face quivers.
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
I named my first dog Angel
We would sit, knees and paws, in cold mud
Under the aged wooden porch
In Tennessee.

In Tennessee, my father would build fires
From the fallen leaves in the yard
And the smoke followed us
Under the porch.

Under the porch, Angel and I sat
Looking up at the dancing particles above
Illuminated from the angled sun rays
Seeping between the cracks from the porch.

Seeping between the cracks from the porch
Came the darkness after sunset
Angel and I fled to the fires from father
Embracing the Tennessee smoke.
Oct 2012 · 1.3k
Bus Ride (Flash Fiction)
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
Stepping out of the February cold, Janie removes her wool scarf as the bus door closes behind her.
Route E-2, Westbound.
She shuffles down the bus toward her usual seat; second from the back, left side. The driver starts the bus and from her seat Janie can hear him singing along to “Summertime” by Janis Joplin. The bus is always empty this late and if there ever is anyone else aboard it’s better not to converse. Safer that way.
The brown pleather seat in front of her is peeling towards the top. Janie leans forward and idly picks at the scab-like dangles of brown as she watches out the foggy window. She idly picks and peels until she feels her hands wetted, cold. Looking down, they are covered in blood and mud.
“What. The. Actual. ****.”  She whispers, wiping her hands on her scarf. She continues to peel back the leather and a trickle of deep red begins to run from the seat back, clumps of mud slowly falling too. Then, she sees the white of a bone. The bus turns right.
Oct 2012 · 2.4k
Blondee, babe
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
Tonight my gums ache
Because of the sin of 2:41 am
And the cigarettes I stole from you
After we drank the red wine
Your father exclaimed was royal
And originally drank by Paraguay princes.

I returned home dizzy with fatigue
And empty of joy and sorrow
Apathetic because I am not engaged
So I thumb my phone book to find
Anyone who will talk or kiss
Me numb, tonight.

I can't sleep after because the box fan is purring
And the October air is not
Devoid of Magnolia scent and hope
So I lay in my bed with crumbs
Sticking to my stretch marked hips
Taunting me even beneath the barracks of my sheets.

I saw no sky-moon when you left
So I smoked another Camel Crush
On the back porch watching you leave
Once our lips sanded the sin permanent
Into our raw faces and pulsing fingers
Smacking "joyful joyful-be filled! Filled!"

I barricade pillows against the concrete headrest
That my inherited mattress sleeps on
So the cold has to try harder, tonight
Even though your lips felt dry
and your sighs left ghosts exhaling
In my mind and neck and *****.

This is how I justify sleep tonight:
An attempt to evade sins damnation
And my nature that, by Tuesday,
Will be able to paint over
The deep white lies you tongue
Painted across my prickled body.

Come, rest and restore my soul
To its belief that words are sharp
Though the imprints of your nails
And the burgundy couch fabric
Left on my body and on my soul
Are eulogized by the alarm clock set for 702am.
Oct 2012 · 3.2k
Veronica, Stolen
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
“…the grandfather’s camera with the last pictures of the youngest Colorado theatre shooting victim was stolen and the family’s sorrow has compounded…”*

Veronica, why did you love Anne Hathaway
And why did you not go refill the popcorn,
Veronica? You ate it all during the previews
Though I warned your stomach would hurt.

Sweet Veronica, how did you know to hate Bane
And why did you not go to the bathroom,
My dear. The hand-dryer’s scream is loud
But it dries, unlike your wetting, red screech.

Veronica, why did you insist that you were old enough
For this fate? And how could I have agreed,
Cold Veronica. Pigtails were meant to be springy,
Not limp with blood, Pepsi, and regret.

The Bullets.
The Cape.
The damning shot
Would have slapped
Even Batman
Dead.

Young Veronica, why is the memory of you
And your innocent flesh fading fast,
To red Veronica? Wet too young and too alive
For the four-foot long coffin we buried.

Yesterday.
Cop lights.
My camera with
The last shots of you
“Stolen, sir.”

Wail, Veronica from the camera screen
In the hands of this thief, oh, convince him,
Stab, Veronica, with your pixilated smile
Until the guilt brings your smile home, to my eyes.
Oct 2012 · 1.5k
Cedar
Cyril Blythe Oct 2012
Gnarled cedar ridges match one wrinkle,
Red on my foreheads smooth, pale, taunt skin
Contrasting the deep skies blue, roundness seen,
Through two globular, wet, brown eyes.

Cedar bark can feel jagged outside but,
Like my own tongues tendency to tell truths,
When picked open releases a green scent,
Honestly pungent, stingingly needed.

Cedar roots are buried under mounds of aged Earth–decay,
Gripping tight like family, faith, friends, remaining
As the one force that holds the Cedar up,
And I too reach my hands up in praise.
Cyril Blythe Sep 2012
I followed him down the trail until we got to the mouth of the mines. The life and energy of the surrounding maples and birches seemed to come to a still and then die as we walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelt of mold and moths. Delvos stepped into the darkness anyways.
“Well, girl, you coming or aren’t you?”
I could see his yellowed tobacco teeth form into a slimy smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped.
“This tunnel is just the mouth to over two hundred others exactly like it. Stay close. Last thing I need this month is National Geographic on my *** for losing one of their puppet girls.”
“Delvos, ****. I have two masters degrees.” He rolled his eyes.
“Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling.
“I survived alone in the jungles of Bolivia alone for two months chasing an Azara’s Spinetail. I climbed the tallest mountain in Nepal shooting Satyr Tragopans along the cliff faces. In Peru I…” Suddenly I felt the weight of the darkness. In my blinding anger I lost track of his lantern. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I did in Peru.
I followed a Diurnal Peruvian Pygmy-Owl across the gravel tops of the Andes Mountains, no light but the Southern Cross and waning moon above. I am not scared of darkness. I am not scared of darkness.
I stopped to listen. Somewhere in front of me the canary chirped.

When I first got the job in Vermont I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Mining canaries? Never had I ever ‘chased’ a more mundane bird. Nonetheless, when Jack Reynolds sends you on a shoot you don’t say no, so I packed up my camera bag and hoped on the next plane out of Washington.
“His name is John Delvos.” Jack said. He handed me the manila case envelope. “He’s lived in rural Vermont his entire life. Apparently his family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When the accident happened the whole town basically shut down. There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly after. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He ships them to other mining towns across the country now. We want to run a piece about the inhumanity of breeding animals to die so humans won’t.” I stood in silence in front of his deep mahogany desk, suddenly aware of the lack of make-up on my face. He smiled, “You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Yes sir.”
“Don’t look so smug, Lila. This may not be the most exotic bird you’ve shot but the humanity of this piece has the potential to be a cover story. Get the shots, write the story.”

“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers? Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.” Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me. He relit the oily lantern and turned his back without another word. I reluctantly followed deeper into the damp darkness.
“Why were there no canaries in the mine on, you know, that day?” The shadows of the lantern flickered against the iron canary cage chained on his hip and the yellow bird hopped inside.
“I was nine, Ms. Rivers. I didn’t understand much at the time.” We turned right into the next tunnel and our shoes crunched on jagged stones. All the stones were black.
“But surely you understand now?”
The canary chirped.

When I first got to Sheldon and began asking about the location of the Delvos’ cabin you would have thought I was asking where the first gate to hell was located. Mothers would smile and say, “Sorry, Miss, I can’t say,” and hurriedly flock their children in the opposite direction. After two hours of polite refusals I gave up. I spent the rest of the first day photographing the town square. It was quaint; old stone barbershops surrounded by oaks and black squirrels, a western themed whiskey bar, and a few greasy spoon restaurants interspersed in-between. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good nights sleep and defeat this towns fear of John Delvos tomorrow.
My room was a tiny one bed square with no TV. Surprise, surprise. At least I had my camera and computer to entertain myself. I reached into the side of my camera bag and pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC. I stepped out onto the dirt in front of my door and lit up. I looked up and the stars stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except it’s sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the stars dancing became.
“Ma’am? Everything okay?”
Startled, I dropped my cigarette on the ground and the ember fell off.
“I’m sorry, sir. I was just, um, the stars…” I snuffed out the orange glow in the dirt with my boot and extended my hand, “Lila Waters, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Waters, are you new to town?”
“I’m here for work. I’m a bird photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I’m looking for John Delvos but I’m starting to think he’s going to be harder to track than a Magpie Robin.”
The stars tiptoed in their tiny circles above in the silence. Then, they disappeared with a spark as Ian lit up his wooden pipe. It was a light colored wood, stained with rich brown tobacco and ash. He passed me his matches, smiling.
“What do you want with that old *******? Don’t tell me National Geographic is interested in the Delvos canaries.”
I lit up another stick and took a drag. “Shocking, right?”
“Actually, it’s about time their story is told.” Benet walked to the wooden bench to our left and patted the seat beside him. I walked over. “The Delvos canaries saved hundreds of Sheldonian lives over the years. But the day a crew went into the mines without one, my father came out of the ground as cold as when we put him back into it in his coffin.”
I sat in silence, unsure what to say. “Mr. Benet, I’m so sorry…”
“Please, just Ian. My father was the last Mr. Benet.”
We sat on the wooden bench, heat leaving our bodies to warm the dead wood beneath our legs. I shivered; the stars dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Waters. This whole town indebted to those tiny yellow birds, but nobody cares to remember that anymore.”
“Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Delvos and his, erm, martyrs?” The ember of my second cigarette was close to my pinching fingertips.
“Follow me.” Ian stood up and walked to the edge of the woods in front of us. We crunched the cold dust beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed, “See that yellow notch?” Sure enough, there was a notch cut and dyed yellow at his finger’s end. “If you follow true north from this tree into the woods you’ll find this notch about every fifty yards or so. Follow the yellow and it’ll spit you out onto the Delvos property.”
“Thank you, Ian. I really can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to find out where to find this elusive Mr. Delvos and his canaries.”
“You don’t have to,” he knocked the ash out of his pipe against the tree, “Just do those birds justice in your article. Remember, martyrs. Tell old Delvos Ian Benet sends his regards.” He turned and walked back to the motel and I stood and watched in silence. It was then I realized I hadn’t heard a single bird since I got to Sheldon. The stars dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary chirped and Delvos stopped.
“This is a good place to break out fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky this morning and had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. I was definitely ready to eat. He handed me a gallon Ziploc bag from his backpack filled with raisins, nuts, various dried fruits, and a stiff piece of bread. I attacked the food like a raven.
“I was the reason no canaries entered the mines that day, Ms. Waters.” Delvos broke a piece of his bread off and wrapped it around a dried piece of apricot, or maybe apple. I was suddenly aware of my every motion and swallowed, loudly. I crinkled into my Ziploc and crunched on the pecans I dug out, waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“I’m not a parrot, Mr. Delvos, I don’t answer expectedly on command. You’ll tell me if you want.” I hurriedly stuffed a fistful of dried pears into my mouth.
Delvos chuckled and my nerves eased, “You’ve got steel in you, Ms. Rivers, I’ll give you that much.”
I nodded and continued cramming pears in my mouth.
“I was only nine. The canaries were my pets, all of them. I hated when Dad would send them into the mines to die for men I couldn’t give two ***** about. It was my birthday and I asked for an afternoon of freedom with my pets and Dad obliged. I was in the aviary with pocketfuls of sunflower-seeds. Whenever I threw a handful into the air above me, the air came to life with flickering yellow brushes and songs of joy. It was the happiest I have ever been, wholly surrounded and protected by my friends. Around twelve thirty that afternoon the Sheriff pulled up, lights ablaze. The blue and red lights stilled my yellow sky to green again and that’s when I heard the shouting. He cuffed my Dad on the hood of the car and Mom was crying and pushing her fists into the sheriff’s chest. I didn’t understand at all. The Sheriff ended up putting Mom in the car too and they all left me in the aviary. I sat there until around four that afternoon before they sent anyone to come get me.”
Delvos took a small bite of his bread and chewed a moment. “No matter how many handfuls of seeds I threw in the air after that, the birds wouldn’t stir. They wouldn’t even sing. I think they knew what was happening.”
I was at a loss for words so of course I blurted, “I didn’t see an aviary at your house…”
Delvos laughed. “Someone burnt down the house I was raised in the next week while we were sleeping. Mom died that night. The whole dark was burning with screams and my yellow canaries were orange and hot against the black sky. That’s the only night I’ve seen black canaries and the only night I’ve heard them scream.”
I swallowed some mixed nuts and they rubbed against my dry throat.
“They never caught the person. A week later Dad took the remainder of the birds and we marched into the woods. We worked for months clearing the land and rebuilding our lives. We spent most of the time in silence, except for the canary cries. When the house was finally built and the birds little coops were as well, Dad finally talked. The only thing he could say was ‘Canaries are not the same as a Phoenix, John. Not the same at all.”
The canary chirped, still only visible by the lanterns flame. Not fully yellow, I realized, here in the mines, but not fully orange either.

When I first walked onto John Delvos’ property on Thursday morning he was scattering feed into the bird coops in the front of his cabin. Everything was made of wood and still wet with the morning’s dew.
“Mr. Delvos?” He spun around, startled, and walked up to me a little too fast.
“Why are you here? Who are you?”
“My name is Lila Waters, sir, I am a photographer and journalist for National Geographic Magazine and we are going to run an article on your canaries.”
“Not interested”
“Please, sir, can I ask you just a few quick questions as take a couple pictures of your, erm, martyrs?”
His eyes narrowed and he walked up to me, studying my face with an intense, glowering gaze. He spit a mouthful of dip onto the ground without breaking eye contact. I shifted my camera bag’s weight to the other shoulder.
“Who told you to call them that?”
“I met Ian Benet last night, he told me how important your birds are to this community, sir. He sends his regards.”
Delvos laughed and motioned for me to follow as he turned his back. “You can take pictures but I have to approve which ones you publish. That’s my rule.”
“Sir, it’s really not up to me, you see, my boss, Jack Reynolds, is one of the CEO’s for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Waters.” He turned and picked back up the bucket of seed and began to walk back to the birds. “You want to interview me then we do it in the mine. Be back here at four thirty in the morning.”
“Sir…?”
“Get some sleep, Ms. Waters. You’ll want to be rested for the mine.” He turned, walked up his wooden stairs, and closed the door to his cabin.
I was left alone in the woods and spent the next hour snapping pictures of the little, yellow canaries in their cages. I took a couple pictures of his house and the surrounding trees, packed up my camera and trekked back to my motel.

“You finished yet?” Delvos stood up and the memory of his green and brown wooded homestead fled from my memory as the mine again consumed my consciousness. Dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I sifted through, into my pocket.
Delvos grunted and the canary flapped in its cage as he stood again and, swinging the lantern, rounded another corner. The path we were on began to take a noticeable ***** downward and the moisture on the walls and air multiplied.
The canary chirped.
The lantern flickered against the moist, black stones, sleek and piled in the corners we past. The path stopped ahead at a wall of solid black and brown Earth.
The canary chirped twice.
It smelt of clay and mildew and Delvos said, “Go on, touch it.”
I reached my hand out, camera uselessly hanging like a bat over my shoulder. The rock was cold and hard. It felt dead.
The Canary was flitting its wings in the cage now, chirping every few seconds.
“This is the last tunnel they were digging when the gas under our feet broke free from hell and killed those men.”
Delvos hoisted the lantern above our heads, illuminating the surrounding gloom. All was completely still and even my own vapor seemed to fall out of my mouth and simply die. The canary was dancing a frantic jig, now, similar to the mating dance of the Great Frigate Bird I shot in the Amazon jungle. As I watched the canary and listened to its small wings beat against the cold metal cage I begin to feel dizzy. The bird’s cries had transformed into a scream colder than fire and somehow more fierce.
The ability to fly is what always made me jealous of birds as a child, but as my temple throbbed and the canary danced I realized I was amiss. Screaming, yellow feathers whipped and the entire inside of the cage was instantaneously filled. It was beautiful until the very end. Dizzying, really.
Defeated, the canary sank to the floor, one beaten wing hanging out of the iron bars at a most unnatural angle. Its claws were opening and closing, grasping the tainted cave air, or, perhaps, trying to push it away. Delvos unclipped the cage and sat it on the floor in the space between us, lantern still held swaying above his head. The bird was aflame now, the silent red blood absorbing into the apologetic, yellow feathers. Orange, a living fire. I pulled out my camera as I sat on the ground beside the cage. I took a few shots, the camera’s clicks louder than the feeble chirps sounding out of the canary’s tattered, yellow beak. My head was spinning. Its coal-black eyes reflected the lantern’s flame above. I could see its tiny, red tongue in the bottom of its mouth.
Opening.
Closing.
Opening, wider, too wide, then,
Silence.


I felt dizzy. I remember feeling the darkness surround me; it felt warm.

“I vaguely remember Delvos helping me to my feet, but leaving the mine was a complete haze.” I told the panel back in D.C., “It wasn’t until we had crossed the stream on the way back to the cabin that I began to feel myself again. Even then, I felt like I was living a dream. When we got back to the cabin the sight of the lively yellow canaries in their coops made me cry. Delvos brought me a bottle of water and told me I needed to hit the trail because the sun set early in the winter, so I le
Sep 2012 · 2.1k
The Art of Redemption
Cyril Blythe Sep 2012
Painted stars above whisper about you, Israel
Tired scratches are seen within twitches of the paint.
Efforts of your own accord smear black, oh, Ishmael
My guidance gives grace with no restraint.

Ishmael, your salt pillars can’t weep, yet dissolve,
Through a statue of Dogwood, I my clay mold.
Israel’s sinful dust, wet by his blood is resolved
security eternal forged not by your gold.

Sing with the Seraphim the high melodious song,
or, like Ishmael, hiss, eternal hoarse cries of sulfur.
Shout jubilant psalms of my praise lifelong,
Belting, oh Israel, how I redeemed your culture.

Yet, oh, Israel, crimson blood on modern metal tends to fry,
Wail, oh, Ishmael, without the fading art of Yahweh you die.
Aug 2012 · 2.3k
Old Pine (Flash Fiction)
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
Hot off the press as in I finished this piece about thirty minutes ago, any advice? I love and appreciate all of you beautiful people. -Cyril*

I yelped when the third blister popped and David shouted to me from a few branches above, “if the blood flows you have to make your mark here, Jacob.” Frustrated, I pull out my dulled Wal-Mart knife and notch Old Pine where my blood broke this time. I look around for my notch from last week and spy it a few feet below my right foot.
“You’re getting higher each week! I know you’ll make it to the top next time. I can just feel it, man,” David said. The hope in his voice always kills me.
I’m higher than before but still not high enough. I look up Old Pine and see the circle of deep notches where David stands, dyed red with generations of my family’s blood. I wrap my left arm around the base of Old Pine, skinnier at this height, and I close my eyes. The taste of iron and winter fills my mouth as I gingerly take the corner of the torn callus between my two front teeth and rip the rest of the dead skin clean off. I let the blood pool up until my palm is full and I smear the puddle into my moist notch in the tree. My ***** red blood mixes with the pine’s regal, green blood. I pull my hand away and see the two bloods combine. The smell of blood always makes me dizzy up this high, but I can’t show weakness in front of David. Not at Old Pine.
“I’ll see you at the bottom. I’m done for the day.” I say and before he can reply I leave. I begin the climb back to the ground, dodging empty crow nests and old scared over gashes in Old Pine’s skin, pushed along by cold fists of wind. The blood sneaks through the hole in my palm each time I push it into the spiteful bark along my descent and I try to ignore it.
I dangle from my one good hand on the bottom branch and fall to the dying grass below. My hungry toes feed on solid ground again. I sigh, grabbing a handful of the kudzu that grows on Old Pine’s base to put in my mouth, and I plop to the ground. The breeze here licks my sweaty neck in an apology for its merciless stepbrother who, sixty feet above, whipped and spit across my face. I hear a light thump and feel a breeze behind me and as I turn I see David gracefully landing on two feet.
“You were almost there this time. Just a few more climbs and I’m sure you’ll breech the top.” David’s determination is the only reason I come back with him to this god-forsaken tree. I do it for him, not myself.
I spit the chewed up Kudzu into my palm and mash it into the red holes to help them clot faster. Father taught me about Kudzu’s medicinal uses when we used to hunt together before the fall.
I look up into Old Pine’s green canopy above my head and feel the silence between the three of us. Old Pine is our father now and David thinks it’s his fault. Old Pine is the tallest tree on our farm and the only one infused with generations of our family’s blood. From the very top you can see all of our family land. It’s a view every man in the family has to see when he comes of age. Dad took David up when he was only fourteen. It was on their climb down that he fell. I was nine.
“It’s the view, Jacob. The view is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. Holding onto the rusty-red notch circle and looking out on our land, it’s almost spiritual, man.” I don’t look at him, but I know David is crying.
We looked up to the canvas of green and brown and David asks if I can hear Dad’s whispers, but I all I hear is the creak of old branches.
Aug 2012 · 3.8k
Blood White Villain
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
Soft wooden pews and the white dogwood tree,
Arched ceilings and Mother’s whisper Tetelestai
Making surprise harmonies with the sinner beside me.

Black preaching robes saying Grace is for free,
Now pass the gold plate so the Church can supply,
Soft wooden pews and the white dogwood tree.

Regenerated through love-on this we agree,
Shouting Hymn 22 children’s voices blend high,
Making surprise harmonies with the sinner beside me.

Drunkards and Deacons with Thou and with Thee,
Starched shirts and white pearls all standing by,
Soft wooden pews and the white dogwood tree.

Released from all of our chafe and debris,
With roars of repentance and relief we reply,
Making surprise harmonies with the sinner beside me.

I am whole I am new through His ministry,
I know I can never this truth deny.
Soft wooden pews and the white dogwood tree.
Making surprise harmonies with the sinner beside me.
Aug 2012 · 2.2k
Salmon Shirt
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
First day of class, her nerves are crunching inside while she tries to maintain a cool surface. The nervous foot tapping and magnetically crossed legs I see giver her away. On top she is collected: calm, serene shirt color, long hair tied back in a ponytail and a smile as the teacher talks and jokes. Her pen is tapping out a nervous jig, but why?

Is she eager to impress or is it nerves too anxious to start her first day of class actually ‘specified for her future.’ Is this class the first stepping stone on her “road to success?” Nervous laughter at all of Dr. Sandlin’s corny jokes, sometimes her laugh rings out a trill and true chime and sometimes it is stale.

She has big plans, big dreams, a big hope. Creative Writing 3400 is her first “official” step, from there a journalism job in London perhaps? Her nervous feet are thirsting to walk the streets of history where Shakespeare, Milton, or maybe for her Dostoyevsky have trodden.

Cold determination, a warm smile, she will succeed.
Aug 2012 · 1.4k
Fayetteville
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
Jumping over the dark mahogany railroad ties that my father laid down as a barrier, I entered my favorite place. Bare toes and rough feet of my 9 year old self burrowed with joy into the wood chips that cushioned my kingdom.

The entire area smelt of damp, rich wood, always freshened by the honeysuckles sweet scent from their lazy seats on their wooden fence in the background.

My castle was wooden as well, 6 carefully and lovingly sanded steps up onto the throne where I could watch all I reigned: my dog, the four railroad ties barricading the wood shavings from spilling into the soft green grass, I could see my family inside, my house not but a quick dash away.

As the sun set, down the wooden slid and back onto the damp ground I would return inside. Smelling of bark, honey, and innocence.
Aug 2012 · 1.5k
America the Free
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
A poem for my beloved grandmother, Omi

A beautiful heart brought across on the gliders,
Forced away by Red pride, the awful black spiders.
She cried cross oceans in Grandpa’s camo embrace,
Safely gone from the 30’s, and end to the chase,

“Zese mountains vere safe, Deutschland re-pborn.
Ve vere ‘ere vhen this town bekan, Cyril.”

Omi’s voice pauses, marred by our Western smog,
Christmas we sit at her feet and her eyes again fog.
This story we hear, we’ve heard, but it is not cheap,
Our roots are revealed and we cringe as Omi weeps,

“I vont drive, no and I can not vote,
Pbut this landt is safe, Cyril ve are free!”

As her amber eyes ripple, it’s now time, we know,
This country she loves, yet it’s pain the more so.
The airs tightens thickly as we wait the remark,
The blame she gives freely makes this land so dark,

“Bobby diedt and Monica followedt.
Cyril, I bpuried my childt and ‘ushband here”*

It wasn’t the Cancer or Smoke in their lungs,

This country she blames and it’s pitch-forked tongues.
So we hug to apologize for ‘ol Uncle Sam,
Not ****** but Freedom she says poisons this land.
Aug 2012 · 2.8k
Sexy Popcorn
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
The movie crackles on the screen
My heart jolts as our feet bump
I choke on nerves and Pepsi in the dark.
Nervous hands slip in sweat
As I reach out across the popcorn
To finally intertwine greased fingers.

The movie now a background noise
Our thighs brush as we push closer
I feel your goosebumps against my hair.
Our bodies (your left side on my right) push
And pulsate and beat against each other

The background movie plays on.
Two hours pass and our hands have danced
Our legs have laughed and pushed
And our hearts are now full.

It’s not because of Spielberg
Nor the popcorn and Pepsi
I blame your fingers, feet, and left thigh.
Aug 2012 · 4.4k
i miss my chains
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
Tonight I learned what it means to be mortal. To have a fifteen year dream crushed publicly. To smile and be the man that lies, “it’s ok, God has better plans and I trust that.” Tonight my wings were clipped and I was sentenced to a life of soil and toil, forever forced to watch the eagles in orange soar in the clouds and sky that I know I was created to own. I love this place because it is more of a home than I have ever known. It is pure and navy and orange and majestic. I wanted to serve it and glorify my king and this institution. Alas, no. Not I but the vultures. How is it that carrion dominate? How is it that prestige trumps passion? How is it that title and gold trump heart and integrity? I lost respect for my home. I feel as if a stranger in my own walls. I gave more than sweat and blood and tears yet they were swept under the carpet to rot. Fester and rot. I hope my passion and time as leader was well spent, it was and always was for you, tiger, not me! Always! I sharpened your claws and defended your teeth until they ****** me. Why. This is not how it is supposed to be. I pray this love and three year passion was not for non. Not for me, not for nametags or orange jackets, not for titles or for comfort but for passion and unbridled love of the institution which ****** me have I served. I have yet to work through what I’ve learned through this but tonight I know a chapter has ended and it hurts. It’s not that the chapter ended and a period was placed and the next began, it’s the end of the climactical chapter and the next pages are blank. Existent, yes. But blank. And the white on the page pales in comparison to orange and blue. I hate white and it’s idle uncertainty. I hold the pen but tonight my hand was severed, my limbs they rot, and my heart is numb. I am jello and I am free. And I hate, with every inth of my fibrous being, this freedom. I miss my chains.
Aug 2012 · 1.5k
Omitted
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
“You’re Mr. Grune?”

            “Yes sir, why—“

            “I’m going to need you to come with me. Whatever you do son, do NOT look into that house. Do you hear me?”

            “Excuse me? Officer, I’m confused. I’m just here to pick up my girlfriend Julia, she lives here. Where is she? Why are there so many cops lights? Is she ok? Is everything—“ I stop talking as I heard her voice. I turn from the officer and back towards her house. The officer barks and gruffly grabs my shoulders, pulling my face back away from her house. But not before I saw her. She looked absolutely beautiful. A royal blue dress, the red and blue lights that hit it extenuated her perfectly sculpted body and her angelic face. What my brain refused to believe was the red that poured from her forehead. Blood. Blood. Everywhere. Her hair was stained. Her dress was wet. Her eyes were wet. Tears?

            “Son, I’m going to have to ask you to get into the car. Now.” I am being shoved into a cop car and carted downtown. I am Jello. I am not real.

            A white room with a mirror, table, and two chairs.

            Alone.

What.

The.

Hell.

            They offer me bagels. They are stale. The coffee tastes like dirt. They are dirt. I bite nervous craters into my cheeks until the iron taste of blood fills my mouth. Blood. She was covered. Julia…





            “He is what is known as a serial-murderer. She was his intended victim, you should be thankful she’s alive.” I sat in silence as the badges and moustaches told me how lucky she was to be living and how lucky I was compared to the other boyfriends. They told me the serial-******’s niche was couples. He couldn’t stand happiness so he stole it from others. He had killed two other college girls and both their boyfriends. If she had been killed I would’ve been next. Do I understand how lucky I am? I say no. They tell me they are going to hold me for my own protection because he may have an accomplice. It’s 4 a.m.

I’m wide-awake.



It’s 7 a.m.

The badge with the deep voice comes in and sits beside me, offering me more dirt and staleness. I say no. He begins,

            “She may not recover. He did not ****** her but he did damage her. She was knocked out with a blunt weapon, the blow dented her skull and she’s in a coma. Do you understand?”

            I nod. Jello again. Not human. Not real.

They tell me I can go home now.

             Three weeks pass and she gets worse. None of my friends look at me the same. My family has decided to live in town close to me until I graduate in May. Her parents cry. My parents cry. Then I decide to do it anyways.

            I go to the hospital in a suit, my dad drives. Mom is sniffling in the front seat beside him and their hands are intertwined. We walk into her room and I get on one knee. She doesn’t answer but I slip the ring on her finger anyways. “Forever,” I whisper.
Aug 2012 · 6.4k
7 Jimmy Cats (Short Story)
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
I assured myself again that I was completely alone. Gingerly, I sat on the corner of her popcorn-and-perfume-scented bed and allow my tingling fingers to reach out and open that sacred journal again to page one. I never really understood it but maybe if I read it one more time. “Things I Wish I Never Knew:

1. People are selfish almost always.

2. Shaking hands does matter. ******.

3. Wine hangovers are miserable.

4. Puppies **** behind things ‘cause they feel guilty; you wont find it until it smells.

5. Friends really do come and go.

6. Neti Pots absolutely **** and bring you nosebleeds NOT relief.

7. Attraction and love are different. REMEMBER THIS ABOVE ALL.

8. Joy is clicking add to dictionary in Microsoft word.

9. If you can make it through Taco Bell kisses, morning breath will be a breeze.

10. Be jovial, it’s a choice and a side effect of living in daily adventure.

11. Make sure that your family knows…” I pause because I think I hear footsteps padding up the fourteen red-carpeted steps to her bedroom. I know I can’t move, the old wood floor in this crumbling house will definitely creak and give me away, so I just sit on the edge of the bed at full attention.

        “…No, ma’am, everything’s basically back to normal again, we’re getting the locks changed on Saturday. I’ll tell her you send your love.” The footsteps and voice were at the top of the stairs and I saw a shadow fall across the dusty floor in front of the white wooden door. I know it’s my neighbor Annie because she lives here. We grew up together. “Yes, ma’am, I love you too. I’ll try to make her call you soon. Bye.” Her phone beeped to signal the end of the conversation followed by a loud sigh. I peered from the bed into the hall and saw her sitting on the floor. Annie is a pretty girl. All the girls who live here are. We used to go to school together until my grades got too bad and I started my special school. We used to play in her front yard with her sister, Kelly. One time I kissed Kelly, but we were only seven. She is my only kiss. They both leave for most of the year now to go to college but come home for Christmas break. I will never go to college, but that’s ok.

        I felt my pants vibrating and the theme song to the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire was somehow blaring from somewhere around my crotch. Before I could silence it, the shadow at the door became a tangible whirlwind of brown hair, sharp screams, and clawing grabbing fingers as she tried to wrench the ratty Moleskin journal from my fingers.

        “******, Cyril, I thought I heard someone in here. You give it back and get out of this house. You can’t, like, break into other people houses like this. This is just not what normal people do. Can’t your father control you?” At this point we’re both standing in the middle of the bedroom. I’m confused so I just dangle the journal in the air above her grasp. “It’s not yours and you know that. I know you at least understand that, right? Right, Cyril? What the hell would you do if Kelly had been showering or changing. Oh my god, ew, do NOT answer that.”

        “Ow,” I yelp as she scratches at my forearm to retrieve the precious journal. “Your claws are sharp, Annie, I have more scratches from you than I do Jimmy-cat and Jimmy-cat is mean, mean but fluffy… and he purrs but you don’t purr. Is that because you don’t like me?” I lower my arm and Annie snatches the Moleskine out of my fumbling fingers, avoiding eye contact at all costs. I hate it when people do that. I notice it, but they don’t think I do.

            “Cyril, get out.” Her right hand is now securely around the Moleskine and the other is shaking, pointed towards the doorway. “Now.”

            This is always the worst part. I walk out of Kelly’s forbidden bedroom: head hung as I creak down the fourteen red, carpeted stairs and make my way to the front door. It’s always quiet and I don’t like the quiet so whenever it’s quiet I count. I am good at counting. …Twelve, thirteen, fourteen…silence.

        I turn to her, “Annie, I’m sorry…”

            “Out.” She opens the front door and points me to my apartment, directly across the street. Its autumn now and the leaves and cold rustle down the street and I crouch deeper into my black coat as I step outside.

            “So maybe I’ll come over tomorrow?” I turn as I start down the steps, hopeful to have conjured up a smile from Annie, but all I see is the flash of brunette hair disappearing behind another thick, white wooden door.

            “Get off our property before I call the cops, you creep!”

            That’s what I’ve always been to these pretty girls: a creep. I don’t really understand what the word means, but I’m pretty sure from the way they say it that it’s not nice. Pops always tells me that I’m different because it’s better to be different. I don’t understand why Annie and Kelly don’t think it’s better that I’m different too.

            I decide to walk to Captain D’s and tell Earl hi because it’s Friday and that’s what I do on Fridays. Earl owns Captain D’s and has forever. Earl is my friend. Earl and Jimmy-cat at Captain D’s that I feed my left over fish are my friends. At least I think they are. I named the cat Jimmy-cat because Pops says mom used to listen to a man named Jimmy Buffett before she left us. I don’t remember those days.

            I turn the corner knowing Captain D’s is just 560 steps ahead and that to get back home I go 910 steps back and I’ll be at my front door. Counting is one thing I am good at; even the tests they used to make me take at the doctor’s office said so. I am good at numbers. Seven is my favorite number.

            I walk into Captain D’s and, like normal, its just Earl inside. He makes me two Fish-Filet sandwiches and we go stand outside. We usually don’t talk much, but I like that . I sit on the crunchy curb, put on my hood because the wind and leaves have made my ears sting. I unwrap the greasy paper on my first sandwich and Earl pulls out his red Marbolo’s and sits beside me lighting up his first cigarette.

            “Why do you smoke, Earl?” I ask him every Friday and he always responds the same way.

            “Eh. Why do the fish swim Cyril? Why do the Eagles and Crows fly? You know we don’t know why Women like shoes so much.”

I never really understand what he means but it makes me giggle and before we know it we’re both laughing. I’m pretty sure this is what friendship is. I lick the wrapper to get all the tarter sauce off and start on my second sandwich. Earl starts his second cigarette.

            “Where’s that alley cat you got trained up, boy? Go get ‘em and I’ll cook him his own fish patty.”

            He means Jimmy-cat. I wipe my fingers on my jeans, tear off a piece of the damp fish from my sandwich, and walk towards white picket fence that Earl built around the dumpster where Jimmy-cat lives. Jimmy-cat has a good life; he can eat anything in the green dumpster he wants and he is safe behind the big white fence. I don’t like the smell but maybe cats like eating and smelling the furry tarter sauce that clings on the sides of the dumpster. As I pull the lever to open Jimmy Cat’s home, I think it smells even worse than normal. After jiggling the latch a while, it clicks, and I swing the door open to Jimmy-cat’s house. It definitely smells worse. I step up one step and crunch on leaves and squish cold fries as I circle the dumpster. “Jimmy-Jimmy-Jimmy-cat, where-oh-where-oh-where ya at?” I stop as I enter the back right corner, I see Jimmy-cat but I don’t understand what is happening. I don’t understand what is wrong. He is covered in ketchup, maybe? But if that’s true what are the little white thingssss crawling around his stomach and why are they covered in ketchup and mayonnaise too? He is mewling and I’m scared. I smell fish. Fish and furry tarter sauce, one, two, three, four, my feet are crunching on the cold fries and leaves again, I know I’m at the door without even turning around.

            “Boy, what you doin’ in there?”

            “Earl?” …One…two… “Earl, can you help me? Earl, I, I don’t understand. I don’t like it.” …Three…four…five… “Jimmy-cat needs a bath, Earl, and something is eating his stomach.” …Six…seven…silence. Earl’s hand fells like a dead fish on my shoulder as he walks me back up to Jimmy-cats home.

            “Stay here, Cyril. Just gimme’a sec to see what’s happening.” Earl disappears into the leaves and fries and fur.

            eight…nine…ten

eleven…twelve…

            thi­rteen…

fourteen…

            silence.





            “Boy? Come back here now. C’mon.” Earl’s voice echoed around the green corners and I followed. One…two…three…four…five…six…seven I stand above Earl and I know the ketchup and mayonnaise and Jimmy-cat eating monsters are just on the other side of his crouched over body.

            “Well don’t be shy, come look.” Earl stands and I see his work apron covered in the ketchup and mayonnaise but beyond that in a bed of Fish-filet wrappers is Jimmy-cat and all the stomach eating monsters mewling at his stomach, as I get close I think they look kinda like little Jimmy-cats. I push my hood off my head as I lean over closer and that’s when it hit me, “Kittens! Jimmy-cat had kittens, Earl!”

            “I think Jimmy-cat may be more of a Jasmine-cat or Jennifer-cat.”

            I laid down the piece of fish I brought and Jimmy-Cat looks up into my eyes and I swear he was happy to see me.  I looked up at Earl and he was happy to see me too. I sat down in the mess of wrappers and fries and mold and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Aug 2012 · 4.9k
Maxx Fitness BS
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
I gulp down an Energy-Booster-X,
blue and sour.
Siri turns on Radiohead,
15 Step.

I step up to the pyramid of treadmills,
bouncing and salty.
Surrounded by Greek gods,
Beta, Alpha Gam, Pike.

I motivate myself by my surroundings,
bulging and ****.
Cardio first and then core,
2 miles, 200 crunches.

I connect my sweat in a line down my shirt,
blotchy and stagnant.
Everyone stretches in the end,
Thighs, biceps, pecs aflame.

I will not stop until I am perfection,
beautiful and sculpted.
Alarm set again,
For 6:30am, 7:30pm
Aug 2012 · 1.8k
The Death of Cound Inc.
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
She wore black except the white heels and pearl earrings. Coughing would show weakness. She swigs her water. The subway-car slows to a stop, “STATION A-4” and Blythe glides out into the underground bustle. It’s routine now to be ignored. A laughing blonde on her pink iPhone bumps Blythe and gives a startled yelp. Blythe pierces the Barbie with a glare and starts up the stairs to the office. A clock reads 7:57.

Late.

Again.

She rounds the corner and sees the sign, “Cound Industries- over 100 years of family service.” Pushing in the wooden door and ignoring security she marches to the IV floor. Marketing. No one says hello or acknowledges her presence. She is phantom. Everyone knows its terminal and that she’s the last of the Cound family line. “Three months, max. It’s a very aggressive cancer.” The doctor told her that at Christmas and it’s now Valentine’s Day. She shut herself in her office. Blythe sighs for the first time. She took out her kerchief and coughed. Blood spots. The red blood was not the only red she planned to see this Valentine’s Day. Today, Blythe Cound decided to take her life and make it immortal.

Steeling herself with a ***** shot she tucked the ****** rag back into her coat, which she then removed to reveal a flowing white dress. “Maybe it will be Owen, he has ideas on how to fix this place. No more charity to start with.” The whispers of her “friends and coworkers” filled her mind as she observed herself in the mirror. Ninety pounds, hollow cheeks, and the wedding dress of her grandma baggy and yellowed. She coughed up blood again, this time on her hand. The urgency hit her. Re-dressing in her long coat she left the office for the last time. Ever. Twenty minutes later she entered the soup kitchen. She sat in the back observing the scene. She chose the young boy, maybe in his thirties. She approached him and grabbed his hand. “Come with me son.” Her voice was harsh now. He obeyed. They went left three blocks to the Courthouse. They entered the probate judges office, signed the papers, and “Cound Inc” officially had a new successor. She died two weeks later.

The boy she married was named Cyril. He abused his newfound power and eventually was deemed by those in black ties to be, “mentally insufficient for such a stress-inducing position.” But, Blythe’s plan worked. The news stations ate the story up. You should’ve seen the headlines. They say “Cound Inc” lasted only two more years before declaring bankruptcy. Some blame Blythe. Some blame Cyril. None blame the whispers.
Aug 2012 · 3.6k
Family Pantoum
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
He had a red raised bump from writing too long
Now, I feel a proud resistance from my 36 ‘o clock shadow’s frill
Summer cicadas, on Cranfield Road, always sang their song
and the sun set behind our blue Appalachian foothill

Now, I feel a proud resistance from my 36 ‘o clock shadow’s frill
I got to shoot Dad’s 30/30 rifle when I was fourteen
and the sun set behind our blue Appalachian foothill
No other Bayless has ever seen Peru’s countryside eaten in fire and morphine

I got to shoot Dad’s 30/30 rifle when I was fourteen
but Mom has always been a vegetarian (except for some fish)
No other Bayless has ever seen Peru’s countryside eaten in fire and morphine
Cheese, fruit, and silence is our favorite family dish

But mom has always been a vegetarian (except for some fish)
Mimi and Leiron love cats and Pops and I on ink relied
Cheese, fruit, and silence is our favorite family dish
Mimi’s glasses, shaken by sobs and laughter, fell off when he died

Mimi and Leiron love cats and Pops and I on ink relied
his dead lips were painted a shade too red, inexcusably
Mimi’s glasses, shaken by sobs and laughter, fell off when he died
The trashcan in my room was filled with murdered versions of his eulogy

his dead lips were painted a shade too pink, inexcusably
Summer cicadas, on Cranfield Road, always sang their song
The trashcan in my room was filled with murdered versions of his eulogy
He has a red raised bump from writing too long.
Aug 2012 · 889
Sky, Bar
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
The smoke curls into the music’s soft beat,
Crushed plastic cups amidst broken bottles,
Guitars scratch while lights flash on dancing feet,
Swaying as they sing, fair faces mottled.

Sticky air matches sweaty tabletops,
Grimy shoes crunching to midnight’s raw throb,
The next table neighbors taking more shots,
Smell, puke on the floor from Kelly the slob.


This is nothing like your green mountain trails,
Where air is crisp and stars smile not scream.
***** or pine straw, ash or fresh gale,
Not *****, my dear, but taste the pure stream.
Aug 2012 · 1.0k
The Appeal of Decay
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
Following her or her kin is death,
A promise of satisfaction and power,
Allure in her scent which no man knows not.

A winding trail downwards,
to summit back is a task olympic.
Lies and power she feeds to all men,
Until the breaking point, reached, lies his decision.

A continuance of relations would strip him of his name,
but re-emboss “hers” on top.
With “hers” comes pleasure and failure,
intricately interwoven so failure lies beneath the shine of her promises.

Her trap’s success now laid,
the old magic forces her to reveal the third option:
To chose not hers or his own but the name of creator.
With it comes grace, with it reprimanding, with it fullness.

When choosing this name he sees her facade falter,
Her caresses and lips, retrospectfully viewed reveal carcasses and absinthe.
Turning from the fruit and choosing the blood.
Covered in it, he is king.

He has power,
he has a name,
he has a future,
he is conqueror because of Him.
Aug 2012 · 648
Blue Morning
Cyril Blythe Aug 2012
The rain and wind giggle on my window
Warm, cavernous blankets protect me peace.
Thunder seasons the air with a slow roar
Wistfully yawning, blue morning I greet.
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