Short Fiction & Poetry by The Gothic Optimist

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It was as if I were in the audience for some grand spectacle. I didn’t remember my arrival and couldn’t fathom how to leave, only that I wanted to stay. Although the lights on the performance were brilliant, illuminating every detail of the act, the crowd around me was in twilight. I sensed grey-black forms in the gloom but all particulars were lost to me. As I tried to approach, they eluded me, twisting and blending together in a way I found acutely disturbing. Although I could feel a multitude around me, it occurred to me that perhaps I was experiencing this alone.

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[A Work-In-Progress…]

Mr. Reynolds was a World-Champion Jackass...

That’s what Daddy told Davey on Saturday morning after Mr. Reynolds limped slowly back to his Cadillac, adjusted his too-big, too-white cowboy hat, and drove off into the heat.

Davey asked Daddy what’s a world-champion jackass and Daddy said it’s a miserable ol’ bastard and Davey said what’s that and Daddy said just don’t tell Mommy and help me clear these dishes.

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1000 Word Challenge awarded me 3rd place for my short story ‘Shuffle’. Hope you enjoy it as much as they did!

In memory and honor of Ryan Cooper

I dream of two cathedrals

Stalwart and silent… [read full poem]

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The Beast in the Glass

One day while I was wandering
The hallways long and deep

I found a prism prisoner
A vicious, glass-bound beast

His eyes were bright and dangerous
His mouth, a hungry beak

And as I pondered this new foe
I saw he pondered me

Oh graceful glass! Oh precious pane!
Oh what relief to be

A space apart from rending jaws
And talons of the beast

I dread to think, I shun to know
What horror I would see

Without that flawless sheet of glass
Between the beast and me

This Is Our Aesthetic

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In time, they say, all things are one
For now, we spread them wide to see
Details on the cutting-room floor

Mornings wet with what’s left of dreaming
Window panes
A rustle of sounds not fully-formed
We do what is required
Fulfilling the most noble of all commitments 
‘Our best’ being as outdated as we feared

Afternoon is frayed and flat-foot
Shoes worn one season too long
Jangle-legged from piers and tailgates
Tic-Toc on the off-beats
Swash-buckle smiles and plaid paneling
Mask and cradle our Punk-Rock hearts
Ticket stubs for memories
Slashed and stabbed and stashed 
For some requisite nostalgia

Later, it’s astral 
Solace in the blue/black of the overnight 
All half-glance and haiku 
Mood only here (check all words at the door, please)

Tomorrow will be lips-drawn-tight and lashes down
Against the gale of expectation
And the victors will sell our story

This is our aesthetic


We Have Forgotten the Words…

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The syllables of an elder earth, brutal and plain
The chants, the cadence 
Of witchdoctors and warrior brides

We discount now the collective power 
That our fathers knew: paid tribute to in ritual and rhetoric 
Write it off as Sanskrit superstition 
Anecdotal at best, dog-eared required reading

Our languages are those of exile
Strangers in so many strange lands
That rose, scraping in dust
When mighty Babel fell

The words now are different words
Too many: reckless and rude
Diluted by ease and lack of consequence

Be hushed
As the scribes of old
And the storymen of older still

Sit on the ledge of life
Listen with pen poised
Prepared to write oh-so-much nothing, if that is required
Seek not to recall (that is impossible)

The words will remember you