copyright © 2012 Lloyd R. Prentice
all rights reserved


“I explore realms where words fail,” the young poet says.

“Yeah?” Carmichael clenches his fist, juts his chin, thumbs peanuts into his mouth one-by-one.

“I mean words— There are vast realms beyond words.”

“Like what?” Carmichael asks.

“I mean like let's say we're down in Marshfield there— Brant Rock. Ever go down to Brant Rock to watch the sunrise— sunset?”

“Sure,” Carmichael says.

“So let's say it's sunrise. We're standing shoulder-to-shoulder watching the sun rise out of the sea. Maybe it's been a long night. Lifted a few. We watch the day unfurl in mauves and reds— seagulls skimming up from the icy rocks down where the cold waters cut the shore.”

“Yeah?” says Carmichael.

“How many poets— novelists— have truly captured the essence of the sea? And how many have failed?”

“How many?”

“Every man jack.”

“Meaning what?”

“Exactly! How many so-called writers have captured the true meaning of sunrise at the beach?”

“Still don't get you, kid—”

“I mean we're standing there shoulder-to-shoulder— you with your thoughts, me with mine. Our minds all a swirl with colors and waves and chill— the shrill cry of waking seagulls— lurking fears, broken dreams, distant memories.

“Our minds are vast aquariums. Little fish, minnows, darting here and there. Predator fish under dark ledges.

“Now I believe that somehow— can't exactly point to pipes and valves here— but somehow subterranean plumbing connects our minds. Currents in your mind ripple through the pipes to mine. Fish dart across my mind— stir water in yours.”

“You know what I'm getting at here?”

“No— Kid, listen to me. Look. All I know is this. You're a nice enough kid. But you're so full of bull it's no wonder you can't hold down a steady job.”


“But nothing. Listen to me now. I've listened to you. I only sit here because it's been one of those days. But now you listen to me.

“I know this— I work for this guy and you owe this guy money and this guy wants his money. You said you'd have this guy's money now, here, today. This money— you got this guy's money?”

“No. I—”

“No nothing. No. Not good enough. No next month— next week— tomorrow. Now! No pay— there's a way these things are done.”


“Nothing personal here, kid. No pay— we walk outside. That's the way these things are done.”

“You know me Carmichael. Please— another week— couple days. I'm really strapped here.”

“So— There we are then. Drink up kid. And don't make a fuss. I've got a long night ahead.”

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The Gospel of Ashes

by Lloyd R. Prentice

Available June 1, 2012