And so, alone in the glen, but unaware of the world beyond where he sat, he searched through the rags hoping to find another such as he hiding there in the maze of color and thread. But he found little that appeared to be quite like him. No, you see none such as he could he find in the pile of cloth he had discovered himself to have been born from, if born you could say as there was no one there other than the Ragdoll Man.
No. Nothing else, no mother or father appeared to be. No sister or brother. Although he would not have recognized such as that for, he was not educated in such, you see. And, so the Ragdoll Man stopped searching through the pile and, not knowing what to do, sat quite still for there was nothing to do but just to sit quite still and so that is what he did — he sat very, very still.
And then, as wonders could ever take place, amid his sitting quietly a miracle occurred. Well, I suppose you could say it was a miracle and, maybe it was, if you understand that miracles are such and this certainly seemed to be such — that is — a miracle
Standoff is a book of poetry and short stories. I will be placing posts here as I go. It is published and available at Amazon. You can also buy it directly from me by visiting one of my websites. Questions? I’ll be happy to answer them. Oh, if you buy it from me it is autographed by me to you personally. What a fantastic deal. No extra charge.
A book of poetry, short stories, and insanity.
By Gordon Kuhn
With one exception, this
is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary
and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or
No part of this publication can be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including
photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical method without the
prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied
in critical reviews.
Copyright 2018 Gordon Kuhn, All Rights Reserved
Published in the United States by Poet in the Rain
Cover: Photographer Mr. Derek Stillwagon: A
Mother and Her Son by permission Allison Hart
Dedication Photo of Chuck Van Durme by
Illustration on Page 2 of Mother and Child
from Istock Photo
Helicopter in Flight on Page 51: Charles Van
Van Durme in D.C. Page 56: Ms. Brandy Van Durme
OTHER BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR
Predator Book One “Do You Know How to Fly?”
The Pelman Murders
The Widow’s Cliff and Other Poems
Rabbit in a Box
Dedicated to a personal friend who passed
away June 15, 2015. In this book is his story of a night when his helicopter
was shot down.
“Chuck” Van Durme
Oct 20, 1950 to June 15, 2015
Two tours in Vietnam. He was awarded the
Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with a V, 16 Air Medals, and a Purple
Too soon the story of his life was taken from
us. But we are left with memories of a man that we called a friend.
The Gospel of Micah, AKA the Gospel of Enoch. Micah was a goat herder on a planet known to us as Heaven. He was a simple man but became prominent in the politics of religion when he challenged the idea that the earth was flat. “It’s not,” he spoke up in a class he was taking on Goat Herding that was required of all goat herders. “It is curved, like a woman’s breast, but not soft, hard as concrete.” 6.23.19 Copyright Gordon Kuhn, Poet in the Rain.
With apologies to the Mormons: And it came to pass that Micah was summoned forth to meet the highest council having been through the lower courts to argue that the earth was round. “You still claim the earth is round?” An aged sage sat forward and waved his cane in the goat herders face. But Micah held his ground despite the waving rod thrust up against his nose.”Excuse me, sir, but yes, it is round.” The council sat back and were grave all around. “But don’t you understand that we’ve been teaching humans for centuries that the place is flat? Then you come along and wish it to be known that this place, this Earth is round? I say to my brothers on the council, are we not in motion to send the herder down to the planet in banishment?” Whereupon God’s younger brother Phil entered the central room and to all did astound. “I am here to speak on the goat herder’s behalf.” A murmur did raise among those in the hall and one said, “I thought he had been banished or…..or locked up somewhere.” But Phil stood forth with an askew grin, “No, I have escaped and come to stand before you this day. For surely this herder, this gentleman who tends our sheep and smells like them needs defense from such plotting here.”
There once was an old lady who went church and sat at the very back. She was partially deaf but would shout out her agreement with the preacher at various times. One Sunday the preacher was talking about the sins of mankind and began by shouting out about the use of drink. The woman yelled: AMEN. The minister then began to talk about loose morals and the woman shouted: AMEN. He then drew up in total disgust and started talking about chewing tobacco and from the back of the church the woman yelled: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
Another morning has come to greet the sun
Chasing the night away as coffee brews on the stove
A cup with spoon to swirl the cream in to blend the clouds away
As I sit and think of questions that I cannot even form
I wonder about the woman down the street who lives alone
In a home being foreclosed on even as the year has come full circle
Her son is college stuff and flunking out as he goes to class
Neighborhood children run barefoot laughing as they pass
At my comment of concern for nails and rocks and wiggly worms while
The Church of the Holy Hypodermic will ring its chimes
At dawn, lunch, and dinner time, a mile away as I listen and decide
That the ringing bells are as lonely in their song
As is the old man in the darkened corner house
Alone, staring at a wall, waiting in silence for his time to die. 2/18/2015
As the two stood in the Glen they suddenly noticed they had been passed over by a shadow. In fact the sky above them had shifted from a light blue to a growing and respectfully ominous gray. The sudden increasing darkness caused them to look up, and there they found that the flock of crows that had ascended with Cawkin had turned back earthward after noticing he was missing from their formation.
Searching for their friend from high up among the clouds they quickly spotted him on the ground engaged with what appeared to be a pile of brightly colored rags. Concerned and curious at the same time, they wheeled as one and headed down in mass, their bodies closing upon one another, wings tucked in tightly, blocking out the sunlight causing the sky to turn from light blue to gray to almost a worrying black.
And then, magically it seemed, Cawkin and Nouveau, were suddenly surrounded by a mass of at least 100 crows all of them as tall as Cawkin was at 6 foot. One hopped up close to where the two were standing and said, “Sir, is there a reason you left the formation and may we be of some assistance?”
Cawkin replied, “There is no need for concern, Starter. I spotted my newfound friend standing alone here in the Glen and I decided to speak to him.”
Starter glanced at the oddly constructed ragdoll man next to him. “Do you mean this gentleman?” He nodded in the direction of Nouveau.
“Yes,” a third crow broke in. “Who is this—this creature?”
Cawkin cleared his throat doing his best to remember to be calm and yet he knew the others would not understand. “He is who he is.”
“And that is?” A chorus of voices rose up around the pair. He felt the slow crush of feathers as the group moved closer.
“Nouveau! That is my name,” Nouveau proclaimed proudly.
“He is but a pile or rags,” another said in a complaining voice.
“Yes, Nouveau, that is your name. Do not be afraid, my friend.” And with that Cawkin lowered his head and said into the surrounding blackness of wings, “He is my friend.”
The crowd of crows stepped back and the 2nd crow moved closer. “Cawkin,” her female voice had softened from her first try. “He is a pile of brightly colored rags. Can you not see that?”
“Of course I can see that, Tinder,” did you think that I have gone blind?
“No,” she stepped closer. “He began his life here in this Glen. Gypsies I saw them.” She leaned in closer. “It’s was a young girl, she did magic. I heard them tell her to do the laundry, to wash the rags, but she chose to do magic. I saw her. She dumped the rags out on the ground from her washtub and spoke to them. I saw that Cawkin.”
Starter pushed his way into the conversation. “And yet you said nothing? You said nothing to the rest of us of the Gypsies doing magic in the Glen?”
“I— I— I didn’t think that—”
“That is a problem Tender,” another voice broke in. “You never think.”
12.18.17 Copyright Gordon Kuhn All rights reserved.
The crow stared at his new found acquaintance. He shuffled back a step or two and shook his head. “Why,” he began gently, “I thought everyone knew what dead meant.”
The animated collection of colorful rags that had formed into a shape resembling a man blinked his eyes. But it was clear he was confused.
A moment passed as the crow thought about how to move forward with this strange creature as he watched the ragdoll man for some sign that might help. Then he said gently, pointing to the other’s shirt pocket, “May I see your friend?”
“Oh, most certainly,” the other replied happily. “Let me get him out. I think he’s sleeping,” he said as if confiding something very secretive. The crow watched patiently as the creature carefully extracted the remains of the butterfly. He held them in the palm of his hand and placed it out so the crow could see. “There, you see my sleeping friend?” he asked doing his best to cover his excitement by lowering his voice. “He is my very first friend.”
The crow knew instinctively that the butterfly was dead. But he was not sure how he should tell this newborn to world before him. His eyes drifted from gazing at the ragdoll man before him to the butterfly then back to the man. Finally he tilted his head to the side and, clearing his throat, asked softly, “Do you have a name?”
With that response, Randall the Crow, said, “Never mind.” He stepped forward and with the wave of his wings said, as if crowning a king, “I shall name you. From this point forward your name is Nouveau.”
“Yes, it means new.”
“Yes, it’s French for new.”
“Nouveau. I am Nouveau!”
“Yes, you are Nouveau in many, many ways, my friend,” Randall the Crow said as a tear ran down the Ragdoll Man’s face.
“I am Nouveau.”
But it was all new to him as he was new to it all as well no one ever seeing or being near a real living ragdoll man. And, to them that would later meet him it was a very strange tale that was told with whispers mostly because such things as a living ragdoll man are impossible —- at least in the common speak of the day and was only spoken of when the doors were closed and bolted at night for fear of —– well the fear of —– a fear of something we cannot speak of here as it might come and then what? But he was alive and he was alone and he sorely sought his own kind —- but he had no knowledge of what he was either. Our poor ragdoll man was alone and so he sat and stared at the stars and the moon and he picked up the pile of colored cloth strips lying at his feet and he held them to his face so that he could breathe in their scent.
And there, as he sat and smelled each strip, some having exotic scents and some very bland, he became mesmerized by all that was around him, hypnotized by it all, not understanding, but not afraid, and then, slowly, his eyes closed and he slept. When the dawn came he woke and found himself in the glen with just one other creature present, and that was the butterfly upside down on the grass near his pile of rags. Oh, how joyful he was to see it there, but then he thought to himself, if he could think as we are not sure that he could as far as understanding what he thought about the world around him, that it seemed odd to him for it be lying on its back and not fluttering about as it had the day before. And, so the ragdoll man gently reached out and with just the tippy tip tip of a finger he touched the butterfly that was lying in the grass on its back.
He felt the softness of the butterfly’s body as it lay on the ground beneath his touch. He expected it to rise up from where it was and fly to his nose again where he would once again stare at it cross eyed. But it did not move and so he sat for a very long time staring down at it while tucking in the loose ends of his ragdoll body.
He touched it again after a few moments and he spoke to it, if you can say he spoke as he issued a noise from within not unlike speaking but it was a low hum and no words that we would know were formed. At first he was startled. He brought both rag arms to his chest and stomach area for that is where he thought the noise came from. He sat back and waited for more noises to come while a group of inquisitive Robins flew in to land near him. But nothing happened. No sound.
So, he touched the butterfly’s body again and waited to hear noise coming from within his own body and when nothing was heard he drew himself up and stood looking down at the dead butterfly wondering what to do. Death was nothing he knew about. He knew nothing really about being alive. And then he did a strange thing (something odd to you and to me) he bent over and carefully picked the butterfly up by its wings and lovingly placed it in what suddenly had appeared on his then chest of rags and was much like a pocket.
Not far from where the ragdoll man sat, surrounded by a black wood, with the sun slowly rising and burning off the dew drop mists that covered all like a thin sheet of moist silk, black birds rose from the limbs and the leaves they had slept within and took to the air calling one another as they flew ever higher, challenging those who rose with them to gain speed and altitude while greeting the warmth that slipped down on them from above and to the east. Their purple black heads twisted this way and then up and then down and then to the opposite side and away and back as they searched the air for predator and friend and then one saw the ragdoll man in the field far below. Wheeling in flight, it brought in its wings fully in and dropped like a falling spear towards what had become a target far below, it came with eyes wide open, its dive growing in speed at moment by moment through the clouds it came focused on the multitude of colors it saw on the ground below which moved suddenly causing the bird to wide spread its wings, cupping them, grabbing at the surrounding air——brakes slammed on with his beak mouth wide open emitting a shrill cawww! that slipped past it in the rush of air and rang out to all the others in flight and to those on the ground.
The ragdoll man looked up just in time to see the great bird hurtling towards him shouting, “Get out of the way.” The bird could speak, you see, and as it was incapable of being able to stop or break from the speed of his diving, the creature smashed head-on into the body of the rag doll man that had been the bird’s target not knowing that the pile of cloths was in fact sentient like himself for the bird was quite aware of its place in life, unlike the rag man. The collision sent a large part of the ragman’s colored cloths sailing to become free agents in the light wind that summer’s day in 1943. The crow un-wedged itself from the rag man. It sat back on its tail feathers and stared at the creature before it. “What sort of thing are you?” The bird basically snarled and was most stiff with an air of superiority. “Come now, man, I have never seen such as you before.” He leaned forward as he pulled a pair of glasses from a pocket hidden beneath his feathers and sniffing quite rudely, I might say, looked the rag man up and down. “Can’t speak,” he actually shouted at the pile of cloth strips sitting in front of him. “Come on, now, speak up, eh, what,” he coughed, “I don’t have all day here.” He stood and quite angrily and aggressively brushed off his feathers while waiting for the odd creature in front of him to speak, but the ragman only blinked back.
“Well, of course you don’t,” the ragdoll man said evenly. Then, shock set in. “I spoke!”
“You spoke,” the bird said evenly looking at the ragdoll man who had brought both hands up to his mouth, his eyes growing quite wide. (I should add they were the color of the ocean, his eyes were. No, not just blue, but a blue with depth and with green swept in along with flecks of white scattered there and here like the frothy peaks that come with stress)
“Yes, you bloody well spoke. Am I to put you in for an award of some sort?” He paused and looked down at his feathers. “Just look at me,” he complained with a bit of a whine in his voice, “I am a mess and I was going to a meeting, a breakfast meeting, a very important breakfast meeting and then” he paused and sighed loudly, “you happened about. And this,” he waved his hands down most broadly over the front of his feathered chest, “is the bloody result. You did this.” A wing swept up with its tip pointing directly at ragdoll man.
“I did no such thing,” ragdoll man replied defensively. And again, he brought his hands to cover his mouth. Then began to search himself for the source of the sound.
“Here there, what’s the trouble mate,” the crow came closer. “You’re acting like someone not accustomed to having a voice.”
“I’m not,” replied the ragdoll man. “I mean….”
The crow closed its wings close to its body and twisted its head to look at the ragdoll man. It took several steps one way and then back the other way with its head moving constantly to examine the odd creature standing there before him. “Got a name?” he asked, his beak close to the other’s face.
“Name? What’s a name?”
The crow stepped back. “There, see you spoke again. What do you mean by thinking you can’t speak?”
“Did I say that?”
“In as many words, yes.” The crow said dryly and stepped back a foot or two where he seemed to grow a bit in size. Then, after a long pause where neither moved nor spoke, he said, “My name is Randall. I suppose you can say that I am the leader of the Crows hereabouts.”
“I said my name is….”
“Yes, yes, I heard you but—” he held up his arms made of a collection of brightly colored rags all somehow clinging together. “Who am I? Do you know who I am? Or,” he hesitate, “what I am.”
Randall laughed. “Well,” the crow began, “you can clearly see you are not much else than a collection of brightly colored rags. Yes, rags,” he said, noting the semi shocked look on the other’s face. “Yes, rags. Not much else to tell about.” He sat back on his tail feathers. “Do you have anything on you that can help with finding out about you?”
The ragdoll man thought for a moment and then said expectantly, his eyes growing bright, “Yes. Yes. I have this friend tucked in my pocket. Perhaps he might help.”
Randall stepped closer, his head twisting down and leaning towards the man. “A friend? What sort of friend could you have in your pocket?” He twisted his head more and bobbed it a bit. “Can I see it?”
“Your friend,” Randall’s voice took on a bit of a growl. “Your friend, you said you had a friend in your pocket. I should like to see your friend.”
“Well, he is small and, I think—asleep.”
“Asleep?” The crow stood back rising to his full height. “How do you know he is asleep?”
“Well, he isn’t moving.”
“Not moving? Is he dead?”
“Dead? What is that.”
“What is what?”
“You said my friend might be dead.” He leaned forward and tilted his head quietly asking, “What is this thing you say is——dead?”