Friday, November 26, 2004

A Driving Need For Christmas...

Looking out the window at the melting fade of Wonderland,
The grass coming through the failing purity of the snow,
Fallen on Thanksgiving Eve it was to the heart more like Christmas.

Covered in white and crystal like a delicate soft dream.

In the restaurant yesterday Thanksgiving dinner was rushed,
Pushed and prodded by staff trying to turn over tables,
In a manner which no subtleties reside commercialism gone rampant.

Still I gave thanks in the face of barely restrained greed.

I find my day after thoughts turning to decorating,
Pondering a pile of bills and a pile of cash waiting a turn to grow,
One definitely being higher than the other at the moment.

Can I find reasons white as snow for canceling holiday dinners or do I see tufts of green?

I hear whispers of war and dead upon the land of civilizations' birth,
Angry voices raised everywhere from here to there,
Praying for success at harm to others in the mistaken belief that violence isn't a circular notion.

Shall we pray for death and destruction from a God of love?

What is driving this unspoken need for Christmas everywhere around me,
Is it the result of what's without us or the flames hidden within,
That need some show of love in stores and snow and lights?

Perhaps we should seek those lights in the candles of a church...

..That remembers Christ's birth was meant as an act of love.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/26/2004
Between Dandelion And Snowflake...

The dandelion has dried up in a puffball state,
Seed released upon the wind - drifting.

The snowflake has evaporated from a backyard pond,
Gathered crystal layers in a cold high cloud,
Fallen down upon the wind - drifting.

In a fluke the dandelion seed was carried in an updraft,
Blasted by the jetstream into the far Antarctic,
Laid deep into a glacier for millennia.

In a one in a billion billion chance the snowflake never fell,
Tumbling over Paris in summer or Madrid in winter,
Chaotic twisting air kept it high in the stratosphere for millennia.

In ignorance the last drop of oil was sucked from the ground,
Burned and blown high to trap the sunlight here.

In the new world that then came,

The last crystal of ice on Antarctica melted,
The last snowflake fell upon the South pole,
Each unique in all the universe.

Between the dandelion and the snowflake the world shrank,
Yet the waters rose.

It was a simple result of what was or wasn't carried upon the wind.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/26/2004
Thank You...

Thank You for those who shed light on darkness everywhere,
Who give everything of truth for us to see.

Thank You for the freedom those before left us,
That we have the light given us to see.

Thank You for our needs being met,
In whatever manner that may be.

Thank You for every moment of peace in our lives,
And the many more there will yet be.

Thank You for the gift of snow's pure white,
That replenishes so much life for the coming spring.

Thank You for the love gifted in each moment of kind intent,
The light that we most and truly need.

Thank You,
However we each might know your name.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/25/2004 and given in thanks to public domain.

Dime Store Elves:

The Dime Store Elves are busy,
Pitching pumpkins aside,
A Santa here a Snowman there,
Cranberries planted among snowflakes,
Up go the lights,
Pumpkins and turkeys on the sale table,
Santa's takin' over downtown,
Behind the dime store windows tonight!


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/17/2004

Last Leaves Drifting:

A quiet leaf falls with a whisper,
Backdrop: bare trees, one red yet,
Grasses all gone to waving yellow and brown,
Skies grow grey and overcast,
Promises of Christmas to come,
The last of the corn stubble being plowed under,
Tractor lights in the early night,
Thanksgiving days away; already careworn,
Make it through until Christmas,
Hold on through the darkness,
The lights and snow will be coming,
Something we all need so deeply,
A star in a future night,
A simple name or word...Hope.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/20/2004

Flickers In Silence:

In a quiet small space,
Things that roar in the heart,
Something dream-like and ephemeral,
Still constant and ever-present,
A nuance in the atmosphere like a ghost unseen,
Felt in a word or a glance into the corner,
Lost in staring at the marks on the floor.

Will the world come through allright,
Or are the dreams only smoke,
Rolled up the chimney and blown away?


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/19/2004

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Drumbeat Windows:

The rain falls striking windows,
I can hear it drumming behind me,
The sky is black nighted the color of lightless clouds,
There is nothing in my eyes save a candlelit prayer,
Something held cherished in memory,
I am in constant effort to see,
Anything alive in these drumbeat windows.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/03/2004
Swallowing Lump Coal:

Choking bursting gagging,
Eyes fill and heart breaks,
Coal the lying diamond lies in my throat,
Unmoving uncaring and heartless,
Somehow I must will have to,
Spit it out.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 11/03/2004

Monday, November 01, 2004

AquarianM & the Heart of Winter post 00002:

After class, the four met in the schoolyard, near the Blasted Cherry, as they called it. Transmagic was a long class, as it involved complicated principles and safety techniques for every mode of Spatial translation that was taught, so it was now the end of the school day. This close to the end of the Fall term, there was no homework to do. The four walked out into the quiet of the grounds, into the wooded area in the far distant corner of the estate. There was a small stone canyon there with a small waterfall, one that froze in the Winter. There were deep brown fallen leaves and bare branches everywhere, and the occasionally small clearings with stands of tall swaying tawny grasses from the past Summer. They had long ago concluded that the official color of the American Midwest was “tawny.” There was limestone and trees and shriubs, grasses and cattails and burst milkweeds all in various shades of brown and gold. There were husks of occasional native prairie flowers, and more.

In the canyon, they placed Warn spells at the entrance; they had no intention of any of the more annoying students surprising them in the place. The end of the canyon where the frozen falls were was awash in mejical power, the frozen fall itself shining with the unmistakeable glow of Spiritual energy. This was a sacred place, a place where nature and the divine met. It was here that they had chosen to commit their friendship to a ceremony that was as ancient as the innocence and idealism of youth. They would form a Blood Bond through ritual, cementing their friendship for eternity. Daniel pulled forth from his pocket a small crystal blade with an ornately carved Oakwood handle. Sarah brought forth a beautiful clamshell bowl with a gleaming mother of pearl interior. Beth brought forth four pieces of maple heartwood and bandages of soft unbleached natural cotton. Jamal revealed and lit four candles of beeswax and a single red-tailed hawk feather, a full flight feather.

Jamal placed the candles atop four stones surrounding the blue ice of the falls. As he lit them, golden motes of light began separating from the candle flame. Each tiny point of light flew upward to a point along the canyon, bathing the entire canyon in soft warm golden light. Swarms of motes began spiraling up and down the ice shaft of the frozen falls, giving warm light but no heat. Soon the entire canyon was bathed in a soft light, yet from above it was invisible. To anyone outside the canyon itself, it was dark and cold and empty. Once they were ensconced in their Cathedral of light, Sarah brought out another candle, a small orange pumpkin filled with beeswax and a thin wick. She lit the candle and a small sharp reddish flame rose from the wick. She put a small pewtar wire frame of wrought stars above the pumpkin candle, and set the clamshell upon it. Beth then took a small chip of the pure ice from the base of the falls and set it upon the clamshell, and it began to melt.

At this point, Daniel led with the initial invocation of their ritual chant:

“By the pure sacred water of our homeland, let our bonds be clean and pure, let our blood be joined as family from now and through our lives, by the treasured feather of the hawkwing, let our friendship always soar the clear vision of the heights, and by the blood we share in common bond shall we be as family, now and ever.”

Wthe the last words he nicked his finger and squeezed four droplets of blood into the clamshell bowl, which was now softly steaming rose colored liquid. Each of the remaining friends walked up in turn, nicked a finger, squeezed four drops, and repeated the invocation.

To be continued...
AquarianM and the Heart of Winter post 00001:

It was a chilly December morning, and school was getting out for Christmas tomorrow. Most of the students here were boarding students who lived on the school grounds in the old dormitories. Soft white flakes were falling out of the grey skies and just beginning to cover the grass, which was still a bit green from the last vestiges of Summer. The younger children were playing out in the schoolyard and the older kids were congregated in groups, some small, some large. Anyone looking on from the road might not have noticed much but the gargoyles on the building corners and the old style architecture of the building, unless they just happened to see a snowball curve in mid flight to miss it’s target, or perhaps a passing glance at a child wearing a non-human face for a moment. Magic was generally forbidden outside of school buildings, but sometimes the temptation was just too great to resist, especially for the younger students.

Everyone was hugely excited today, because not only of the holiday tomorrow, but tomorrow was also the day that the graduating students would be told their wizard names. Everyone has a common name given by their parents at birth, or perhaps even a very goofy name, but their whizzyrding name was something else all together. A proper whizzyrding name was not only a mage’s signature in magical circles, but also the key to many of the advanced spells he or she had been taught in the last year. Without a Truename ceremony, most magic users who failed to graduate became not much more than gifted Commons. Oh, they might know parlor tricks and be invulnerable in snowball fights with Commons, but they would almost never manage higher spells. And most that had did so through becoming Singularity mages, or wizards so dark that the very light seemed to vanish anywhere near them.

Four friends were sitting watching the rest of the children from beneath their favorite tree, and old huge cherry that had been hit by lightning many, many years ago. The lightning scar on the tree incredibly looked like a perfect spiral, as if the lightning had swirled as it burned into the tree. The four often referred to their small group as the Spiral Arm Band, a sort of club name one of their number had come up with after studying galactic structures in Astronomy and Advanced Astrology. Sometimes the spiral burn in the wood glowed softly at sunset, but no one now living knew this, and it’s subtle appearance could easily be mistaken as a trick of the light.

“So do you think all of us will be Named tomorrow, Sarah?” asked Daniel Neilsen. Sarah had the habit of knowing things that would be forthcoming, as in Knowing. She was considered by the staff at the school to be the best student in Prescience that had come along in over a hundred years. Her near white blond hair and ice blue eyes gave her a very cold appearance, and she seemed to see through to the core of anyone she looked at with her pale gaze. Sarah VanRossen was tall for her age and very slender, almost willowy, but much stronger than most gave her credit for. The first time they met her, that is. Daniel appeared to come from similar stock, but he had a more earthy appearance relative to Sarah. He was very tall with dark blond hair and steel grey blue eyes, and a keen and quiet intelligence was unmistakable in his gaze. Very seldom did he ever have difficulty with learning anything in his classes, but he was often interested in things far removed from what was happening in his immediate vicinity, which gave him the reputation of being a daydreamer. He had the feeling that if the teachers at the school knew of the theories he ran through the grey matter between his ears, their hair would curl up on their heads, smoke, and shrivel away to nothing. “All I Sight at the moment is white snow swirling, Dan. Every thing I See now is snow and ice everywhere. I do not understand this vision.” A puzzled expression instantly appeared on three faces and troubled glances were fleetingly exchanged. “That’s all right, Sarah, I’m sure we will be, we’ll just have to practice what the Faith teacher taught us this fall.” Dan replied.

Beth Pritchard spoke up. “She’s probably just seeing the blizzard approaching, which will blanket the grounds tomorrow to hide the ceremony. You know they have to hold that under the stars and outdoors, and they call a blizzard every year, and put an Eye of Calm out to hold a clear zone over the school so the stars are out here during the ceremony.” Beth was petite and had coal black hair and eyes, like looking into the night. They absorbed everything they took in and only gave a trace of reflection at the pupils.

Jamar Westhaven laughed and put an arm around Beth in a friendly hug. His dark eyes twinkled with merriment and a keen wit, he was usually the jovial one in the group, and this was no exception “Beth, you have to watch it here, you might turn Sarah into the weather lady on Rockford TV!” He was tall, not quite as tall as Daniel, but close. They both gave the basket ball coach the Hebegevis curse one year at the local Common high school when he saw them playing in mid-air. The effect of the curse was rather funny, because it changed the memory of the person to seem as if everything was actually ordinary and the curse victim had just had a strange waking daydream. The only known side effects were a severe case of goose bumps and spine tingles for several minutes after the spell dissipated.

“Hey, Dan,” said Jamar, “You going to show us any whiz-bang in Technomagic today?” “You being the top student on record an’ all.” Daniel smiled an enigmatic smile and said “You’ll just have to wait and see with the rest of the class, Jamar, but I promise you that you will not be bored at the finals project display.” North American Whizzyrds had a pride in their ability to magic Common technological items and blend the technology with whizzyrding to conserve the use of the world’s magic. It was not uncommon in lower level classes to see things like rulers that would control the actions of pets, or even electronic hand held games that brought their games to seeming life in the middle of the room for all to see. One of the first things that the students learned was to craft items that required the wielder to input just a small flicker of magical energy to the item before it would react by fulfilling it’s intended magical function. This kept any Common who might stumble across it from discovering it’s extra-normal nature.

The Technomagic teacher in Seventh level had learned early to keep close tabs on what Daniel was doing when he had magicked a Common magnifying glass so that it would absorb all the sunlight within the bounds of the horizon one could see. It would then concentrate the light into a beam the size of a pencil lead that would vaporize through any non-magical material that could be found, including diamonds. They had discovered his toy when the sky suddenly went pitch black one afternoon. They had discovered Daniel with a hasty Seek spell. The young whizzyrd had had a look of utter concentration on his face while cutting a diamond, the engagement ring it belonged in, the floor, the ground under the floor, and who knows what else below that in the library. That particular toy was now on display at the North American Whizzyrd College library under the strongest Ensconce spell the Dean could muster. Thirteen additional whizzyrds had also added Ensconce spells as well. It would take a whizzyrd’s dozen to unlock it for use, and if any of them were to die, the key to the Ensconcement would pass out of the world with them. The college was located in an abandoned military base somewhere out in the desert that had a reputation for strange things flying it’s skies, which allowed a greater freedom for the college to experiment undetected. It was the Spiral Arm members agreed upon wish to all attend there after graduating in order to advance their magical skills. Secretly, however, they also hoped to advance the art of Whizzyrdry through their contributions to magical knowledge.

Daniel reached into his jacket and pulled out a package folded in a cloth Tarot card wrap. “I have a present for each of you here.” he announced. All the other three looked at him curiously, in this case even Sarah didn’t know what he had. “What is it, Dan?” asked Jamar. Daniel carefully unwrapped the cloth and uncovered four beautifully carved wooden spirals on leather thongs, gleaming in even the grey wintry sky’s muted light. Each was covered with tiny runes and Celtic knots, forming a spiral that led to a single crystal in its center. Sarah gasped as she saw the crystals. “Those are Witness Tears!” she breathed. Each crystal was the solidified tear of an honest witness of an act of devotion, solidified with a touch of Earth magic and very rare. Whatever magic they were employed in could not be corrupted by any means, magical or non. “Yes, “ said Daniel. “Should any of us ever be in dire peril and need, they can be invoked by the owner and cause all four of us to appear at the Mill Pond raceway. Their secret place had been a small cave near the old Mill Pond in the countryside, just out of the city on highway 81.

You see, the Chandler School of Whizzyrdry was located on the grounds of what had once been an old orphanage in the countryside of Wisconsin, just west of a small town called Beloit. As far as the Commons in the small cities around the area knew, a rich eccentric had bought the old place and remodeled it to appear like an old English country house, and opened a boarding school for gifted students on the property. It was set back off the road a bit and the huge yard was bordered by a rural route and a line of large trees on one side, and a stand of dense trees and brush on the other three. A small creek ran past the back of the property just inside the tree line, and a stout and well maintained limestone wall ran along the road, the old trees growing over it. At night, Weredogs patrolled the property, scaring off any curious youngsters and keeping the school’s true nature quite secure. The school was commonly rumored in Beloit to be so exorbitantly expensive that no local family had attempted to enroll a child. That is, until Daniel Neilsen. He had been born into a Beloit family during the Grand Stellium in Aquarius in February of 1962. His early Astrology master had looked very curiously at his chart, then at the young boy standing in front of him. “Seven planets in Aquarius at birth, and we shall see what we shall se, young Daniel! In the last 250 years of planetary revolution, seven planets in one sign, what I term a Grand Stellium, has occurred only nine times.”
Daniel had of course walked away determined to find out what that meant.

The four were walking inside to attend their final Transmagic class, and passed by an open door. Beth Pritchard heard a brief snatch of conversation waft out into the hall. “…before there is never Winter again, Stanley. Dean Whithers at the NAWC has called an All Whizzyrds official board gathering for three days from now on the subject. It is of the gravest nature, Sir!” Beth heard an unfamiliar voice coming from the school administrative offices, and whoever it was must have been talking to the school principal, Stanley Segrenth. “One moment, let me..” she heard the principal say. Then they all felt the unmistakable small hum in their stomachs and the slight bending of the light called a Serge that accompanied the use of nearby magick. Clearly the Principal had used a Muffle spell to cover the conversation, because even the small background noises from the offices stopped. The other three stopped talking and looked around upon feeling the Serge as well. Beth resolved to tell them what she’d heard immediately after class, but they had to go now before they were late. None of them wanted to jeopardize their chances of getting Named tomorrow!

They arrived in Transmagic just in time, and the door was still open and unwarded. Mr. Sailings was usually quite intent on closing the classroom when the class bell struck. His personal pet peeve was being late for anything, and he considered being tardy every bit as atrocious as being absent, so if a student didn’t arrive precisely on time, they would find the door locked and magically warded from entry. Most students figured this out one of two ways. They either found themselves locked out of what often was a young whizzyrd’s most interesting class, or they found themselves in the Principal’s office facing their last school reprimand before their parents were brought in to the situation. The latter was extremely rare. You see, Transmagic was actually short for Transportation Magic. It was quite the whizzyrd’s equivalent to the Common schools’ Drivers’ Education classes, but it started at a much earlier grade and lasted through several years of schooling. And since Mr. Sailings’ specialty was Transmagic, his reputation had always been hinged on the skill of timely arrival, which made a certain sense of his punctuality peeve. He also had a certain fondness for leather coats, cardigan scarves, slicked back hair, and aviator glasses. One could say that winter was definitely his time of year. He also was quite a favorite of most students, as not only did he teach a subject that granted the students much greater freedom of movement in their lives, he also was quite kindly aside from the punctuality peeve. His choice as favorite teacher was not an exception of the Spiral Arm Band, either.

Jamar smoothly swung into his seat, looking forward to the last day of his favorite class, as were the other students. Daniel and Sarah slid into seats behind him and next to each other, Beth found herself one seat removed and to his right, making it certain she couldn’t pass a note to any of her band mates. For seated directly between Beth and Jamar was the most hideous gossiping popular snoop, Lisa Syzens. Lisa Syzens, with her big red hair, blue eyes, big letterman’s’ sweater, and loud red nails, and wicked rumors. She had once started a rumor that Beth was sweet on one of her teachers, and the whole school had teased her for weeks, asking silly things like if she was hiding apples in various places about her person, and other unmentionable trash. All because she had kindly offered her help when the teacher had asked for volunteers to help clean up the lab. No, she certainly was NOT attempting anything while Miss Megaphone was anywhere within half a mile. Then the usual happened. Lisa turned her big red head towards Beth, and sneered. “It’s so kind of you to consent to join us, Miss Last Minute Betty Preacher.” Beth just gritted her teeth and did her best to act like there was a dust speck occupying the seat next to her. A couple of Loud Lisa’s yes-bunny friends heard and sniggered nastily. She was saved as Mr. Sailings began his end of term speech.

To be continued...

By: Daniel A. Stafford
© 01/2002