The Day the World Went Away – Vol. 16

Some things we plan, we sit and we invent and we plot and cook up / Others are works of inspiration, of poetry … – “(I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World” (video) by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

We read to be moved. To escape. To feel. Every once in a while, when we’re lucky, we read something that takes our breath away, and leaves us numb, dumbfounded; when feeling returns, we tingle, as if our souls–like our feet sometimes–had fallen asleep, but have now reawakened. I call these “ooph” moments–as in that sound you make when you feel as if you’ve been kicked in the stomach and a rush of air escapes your mouth in one rapid “oooooph!”

Most weeks I sit, and I plot and I weave words together. This week began no differently; I started with a plot–an inkling of an idea to celebrate the February 9 return of The Walking Deadsparked initially by a challenge to create the perfect zombie-themed music playlist.

But thanks to one man’s Muse, this volume ended up in a totally different universe–a fantastical universe in which I would like to live full-time. This volume morphed into “a work of inspiration, of poetry,” and I stand trembling with electric excitement as I offer you these vulnerable words and images of heart and soul.

Read this. Read it all, then read it again. Then please share it. Let your faith in humanity–in the written word–be restored. Even in the end of days, when death roams all ’round, love will be here waiting. Still.

In event of the zombie apocalypse, you can have your chainsaws. I’ll take love and music, and words and imagery, to sustain me. And Twinkies, lots and lots of Twinkies. (But no Sno Balls.)

***

“there is a place that still remains
it eats the fear it eats the pain
the sweetest price he’ll have to pay
the day the whole world went away”

~ “The Day the World Went Away” by Nine Inch Nails, from The Fragile (Left)

***

“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” ~ Cormac McCarthyThe Road

***

Journey by Michelle Terry

“And I will go on ahead, free
There’s a light yet to be found
The last pale light in the west”
– “The Last Pale Light in the West” by Ben Nichols
Journey by Michelle Terry 

***

Stranded
by Cayman Thorn

I was watering my lawn when the old days were murdered.

It began as a wail of sirens that blanched out the normal business. Next came the silence, a dark and suffocating blanket of nothingness- as if dredged from the bottom of the ocean. Then came the dead, in crushing waves of absurd horror show that stole my breath away. They moved in a relentless, clumsy blot with countless others plodding along in tangled flanks.

Their movements were mechanically wrought from the stubbornness of muscle memory; a collective of slow, lumbering efforts with lifeless black orbs and mottled, vein pocked skin. Their mouths were clenched in a derelict scowl and their sound was a congenital hum of miscreant notes that sounded very much like sandpaper on violin strings.

I barely made the interstate before I had to quit my wheels thanks to the roam of feasting armies of the dead clogging the six lanes in a Tennyson march. I grabbed my backpack and set off on foot, calibrating my legs in the pursuit of some familiarity. Hours to days to weeks like this, as a stealth scavenger of food and shelter and sanity.

Earthly possessions are relative and succinct from here. As a vagrant, I hold closest to my journal and a Ruger snub-nosed revolver. The journal behaves as a leather bound talisman whose pages are fed with details and quotes and unvarnished thoughts. The Ruger serves a dual purpose; its monstrous effect protects my journey through hell while also serving as arbiter of last rites in the event I reach the lonesome corner of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

What keeps me going is the belief she has made it out alive. That she’s abiding by the agreed upon location from our contingency plans made back when such things were discussed over wine and Jimmy Cliff songs.

The religion we knew from the age of guilt and steam is a truncated ritual in the now. From here she is my deity. I cannot see or touch or feel her from this place but my faith in her existence is strong as mountain rain. My church is the unbothered moments where my feet roam listlessly across the stubble of broken concrete and the gravelly mash of dead grass. I don’t worry on sins and there’s no reason to ask for forgiveness. In my survival come the psalms.

Each place I come upon is littered with artifacts from the age of the living and somber evidence of the dead’s reign, stretched out in an infinite tomb of agonizing sameness. Carcasses as prevalent as graffiti, spent vehicles parked on sidewalks, personal effects lay in tattered ribbons everywhere while the monsters fester and swarm in their deadly work as if honeybees from the nine circles.

Languages have given way to dialects, whose rigid construct of words has been whittled into soldier-like brevity by common folk warriors. We are the tenants of the dead, trading information across the dying cities and towns and neighborhoods with uneasy terms of negotiation. The only agreed upon thing is that no one knows why the world went away but we all want it back again.

I budget the much-needed sustenance of memories, because to borrow too much is a trespass into madness. I sojourn meditatively on the plush of my old chocolate lab, the smell of oranges, the frolicking delight of a bloody steak dressed in mushrooms, the tragic measures of Puccini. Of all the things I think on, it’s her smile that kills me most of all. The not having of it is why I prune my memory banks and subsist on small doses. Her smile, it was the one true thing that moved, inspired and thrilled me back to a time when pretty curls held mystery and days were forever.

I go it alone because the only company I want is hers. To spend time around another living soul seems treasonous. My journey is to her and for her and of her. I want to collapse inside her hair and I want to live until I die inside her kiss. In the interim, I’ll fantasize on the many things I knew and the many other things I never got to know and I’ll love them both in a whole and different tether of rhythmic flame.

When I finally made the beach this morning, I wept.

I claw deliberately to the midriff of shoreline while I recite movie lines as if pledging allegiance. I’ve learned that whatever keeps you sane is what you must stick to doing. The sand is damp; the whir of ripples falling elegantly is the only audible thing. This fact keeps my senses sharp, steeling me against comfort because comfort gets you killed out here. My eyes scan the peripheral like tentacles and I want to reach for the water but I can’t afford such an extravagance.

If I’m blessed enough to render my last breath, I’ll sing a prayer to John Lennon and I’ll curse the damned fates. And then I’ll move the cold piece with its hard payload into my hands and I’ll break an unopened pack of Marlboro Reds. I won’t give the slightest shit that its drag is bitter because to me it will taste like Christmas morning. And then I’ll close my eyes and she’ll be standing in the doorway, giving me that smile while her hair goes crazy across her shoulders.

The world will seem a lovely fire.

***

End of Days by Mary Pierce

“If it’s the beaches
If it’s the beaches’ sands you want
Then you will have them …”
– “If It’s the Beaches” by The Avett Brothers
End of Days by Mary Pierce 

***

Still
by C.K. Hope

The day the world died away,
the plane
banked over ocean
towards an uncertain home

The outbreak below;
lumbering bodies
scattered the tarmac
wheels ground out death
to the dead beneath
My heart raced
as we lifted in air
I pray it hasn’t come
to you
I know it has
I feel it has
and there is no door
or home left
for you to stand in
wait for me

Remember times
of talks and Cliff
And tasting wine from
each other’s lips
All those times we had
conversations of this
in front of fires on
cold nights, laughing
at how we’d survive all
Just you and me
as we watch,
wrapped together,
the earth burn
and then in pen
and paper we
would
rewrite the world
together

I will be there

My hand presses to pane
as ocean swells past,
sobs and screams echoing
through the fuselage
none knowing
what awaits
if anything or
one left
living
among these shuffling dead

But I know.
I know.
You breathe for me still
You will be there

I lay head and palms to pane,
plead and pray,
beg you to hear me,
feel me still
You need to know
I’m coming to you
Do not sing to Lennon
when you get to the sandy shore
I will be there
Do not move the cold
steel from hand to hand,
don’t despair,
Don’t you dare not be there
Wait for me still
I will meet you there

Let the gods rain down
fire and brimstone
and the wrath of all hells
I’ll walk through the flames,
the destruction and pain,
all that used to be
to begin again with you
and we’ll rise from this ash
stronger than before
we will be here,
at the end of all things
we will be, still

I close my eyes to
the death surrounding
and open memories
to the reverie of you
coming up the drive –
smiling that smile
always just for me
the ending days last light
golden around you
within my doorway view
as the sun sets the world
to a lovely fire behind you

Let the world die
You and I,
we will be, still

***

Sunset on Ventura Beach by Marius Gustaitis

The world will seem a lovely fire …
Sunset on Ventura Beach by Marius Gustaitis

***

“When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.”
Cormac McCarthyThe Road

***

Still by Michelle Terry

“I said thank you girl, thank you girl
I’ll love you till the end of the world”
– “(I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Undying by Michelle Terry 

***

“You have to carry the fire.”
I don’t know how to.”
Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real? The fire?”
Yes it is.”
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”
Cormac McCarthyThe Road

***

“When the world ends
You’re gonna come with me
We’re going to be crazy
Like a river bends
We’re going to float
Through the criss cross of the mountains
Watch them fade to nothing
When the world ends
You know that’s what’s happening now
I’m going to be there with you somehow, oh…

We’re gonna dive into the emptiness
We’ll be swimming
I’m going to walk you through the pathless roads
I’m going to take you to the top of the mountain that’s no longer there

I’m going to love you
When the world ends
I’m going to hold you
When the world is over
We’ll just be beginning”

~ “When the World Ends” by Dave Matthews Band, from Everyday

***

The Road Goes Ever On by Michelle Terry

“It can’t be this way always
A train must come, a train must come …
Troubles will be over, all our joys come over
Better days are coming by and by”
– “Better Days Are Coming” by Jimmy Cliff
The Road Goes Ever On by Michelle Terry

“Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.”
Cormac McCarthyThe Road

***

Deepest gratitude to Cayman Thorn of Drinks Well With Others and to our own Jennie– C.K. Hope of Daisies From Dust–for creating breathtaking words expressly for this weekend’s volume.

Gratitude also to Michelle Terry of MamaMickTerry, Mary Pierce of A Wilderness of Words, and Marius Gustaitis of Trudging Through the Fire for graciously providing photographic imagery, some especially for this volume. Thank you for making these words shine, I appreciate you SO much.

And lest we forget what sparked these beautiful words … a playlist challenge issued by none other than Mr. Cayman Thorn. Instead of the zombie gross-out, I opted to follow his lead, so what follows is mine and Jennie’s playlist for the “end of days.” The world may be ending, but we will be here. Still.

“Songs remain. They last…A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams and gone. That’s the power of songs.” 
Neil GaimanAnansi Boys

This week’s End of Days-themed music playlist via YouTube, features music by: Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Ben Howard, Nick Cave and more.

Playlist link:

***

This volume inspired by The Walking Dead on AMC

This volume inspired by The Walking Dead on AMC

***

But because I am never one to back down from a challenge once committed, Cayman, here’s your zombie playlist: …;-)

~~~

35 comments

  1. Wow! So beautiful. That poem by Jennie is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. So romantic. Those lines about with pen and paper we will rewrite this world together are powerful. You two rock!

    Like

    1. Thank you SO much Char. This volume gave me goosebumps. When I got Cayman’s piece (WOW.) everything evolved from there. As I read it, I kept thinking, Jennie HAS to write from “her” perspective. And Jennie, being Jennie (or CK or Diddy..,) worked her magic. I am so thrilled with the outcome!

      Like

  2. I should wait, ponder, read again and comment coherently but I can’t. I will later.
    For now, just know that you nailed it..ALL of it. A dear friend keeps telling me I need to watch The Road and I keep putting him off. The fact that a couple of my pics are below those quotes, tells me it’s a further sign that I can’t put it off any longer.
    Still? WOW! Just Wow! I’m going to quit blathering like a school girl, quit crying like a baby, go work out and then come back when I have my composure again.
    You girls are amazing!

    Like

    1. Didn’t this all come together beautifully? Your photos really tied themes together too–thank you! Especially the tracks to open and close…

      You have mad talent Michelle, and you were born with it. Still can’t believe you haven’t taken photog classes, wow.

      So glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the allowing me the honor of sharing your work. xo, c

      PS–The Road… Very dark and tough to watch at times. But Viggo M and R Duvall are masterful in their roles. Watch a preview trailer first, just to get a taste…

      Like

  3. “The Road” was probably the darkest book I’ve ever read. I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.

    Like

    1. Hey Dan, I just mentioned to Michelle that it was a tough movie to watch at times. It’s bleak and brutal, but worth it for the cinematography. And Robert Duvall has a character bit–so good.

      Cayman’s piece channelled a lot of that bleakness, but his was painted with love and hope too. I’d love to see him continue the story…

      Like

  4. […] Posted in parallel with today’s Words for the Weekend: The Day the World Went Away -Vol.16 […]

    Like

  5. Finally, I had the chance to read again and pour over every detail. Imagine the goosebumps when I realized the tragedy of Jennie’s poem matched to Cayman’s beach arrival. You know what’s next, right? Jennie and Cayman need to continue to write their parallel passages and let us see what happens. I’m in awe…of everyone. Thanks for letting me come along, too.
    On a lighter, note, you’ll be happy to know that my son has the Walking Dead theme as his ringtone. When I showed him your page, he thought I was cool for just a little bit 🙂

    Like

    1. Oh yes, Jennie’s was in direct response to Cayman’s (did I forget to tell you that in our plotting? shame on me! 😉 Remember what I said about surprising people? …) Well you knew my gut reaction to Cayman’s, that magical word, we had to do something to honor the beauty of his writing. I hope they *do* continue the story, figuratively or literally. I like to think their characters have only just begun their journey. The Road Goes Ever On, right? <– click for the brilliant Tolkien poem of the same name.

      Make sure your son checks out the zombie playlist at the very bottom too. He'll probably dig it!

      Like

  6. […] resolutions was to write, or at least attempt, an epic poem. I was immediately inspired by this indescribably incredible post on Words for the Weekend, and I totally “borrowed” the title, at least for now. (I hope […]

    Like

  7. So beautiful, especially CK’s poem. I could read it again and again. And note to self: read The Road.

    Like

    1. Thanks for dropping Nadia! Man, I have read Cayman’s and CK’s pieces over and over again, and each time they’re more beautiful than the last. Electric. Truly some of the most touching writing I’ve been lucky enough to share.

      Note to Nadia: buy Kleenex tissue before you read (or watch) The Road.

      Like

  8. I’m just really at a place beyond grateful, so when I say thank you for letting me have at it with you guys on this Walking Dead Weekend of Words, the thank you seems a minuscule assessment for what I truly feel. What you guys do here is as good as writing gets, and C.K., your answer to the long walk home was the reason I wear contact lenses. . . so’s I can blame them for the tears that run.
    I love the pictures, I love the words and I’m going to be knee deep in the tunes for a little while yet . . . seeing as how I’m still on your first playlist. I haven’t even gotten to the zombie playlist you gathered up in my honor . . damn if this isn’t Christmas morning.
    When I got home yesterday evening, I thought to hop on and check out Words, but then I remembered how very well this place goes with my morning Joe, and being as how my creature has his habits, I waited.
    And one more thing, at the end of the world, I want to round up this posse of peeps. Our first order of business will be Twinkies and books. After that, it’s all gonna be gravy. As in zombie gravy!
    Blessings and peace, and words.
    C

    Like

    1. I hope you know this was all for you, Cayman. Some of us may have even been plotting behind the scenes crafting a setting beautiful enough for your words.

      You’re good. SOOOOO GOOD. And I think you’re on to something good, should you choose to pursue it, and I hope you do. This style, this story, this vibe … Like the Dillard quote I shared:

      Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?

      Thanks for laying it out there, and thank you for doing it for us. It goes without saying, you have an open invitation to share or to experiment over here any time you’d like.

      Keep lighting up the darkness, Soul Man…

      and enjoy that music! Let me know how you like it…
      C-

      Like

      1. You wow me sister- and sisters- and you never stop doing so. I’ve played with fiction before, but having written in the real for so long a time now, I never really stopped to enjoy the idea. But this was beyond cool, and your gestures have left me humbled.
        Those playlists, JeeZus Mother of Hostess Products and Joe! How right on it was. I loved every minute of it. As I loved every minute of this post.
        Muchisimas gracias, hermanas.

        Like

        1. Mother of Hostess Products! I am so stealing that one.

          I think Jennie, Mary and Michelle will all tell you my response to your words, after a very articulate f-bomb, was “Holy Mother of Pearl!”

          Fiction, Cayman. Fiction. That’s where it’s at. The world is at your fingertips..,

          Like

    2. Cayman, that piece you wrote is just … wow! It blew me away, it’s now my favorite story of zombie or any “end days” piece out there. Writing the poem in response to it -everything put into it came out of what you wrote. You’re an amazingly talented writer Cayman.

      Light, love, and twinkies! ~ Jennie

      Like

      1. Jen,

        That poem you wrote in response was so incredibly poignant and beautiful. It literally moved me to tears. I love when that happens, and you did it so very well.
        Thanks for being there, as always.

        And I am SO in the mood for a Twinkie now. Well . . . I have an hour and a half before game time. Twinkie run!

        Peace,
        C

        Like

  9. Reblogged this on Running On Sober and commented:

    “I was watering my lawn when the old days were murdered.” So begins some of the most beautiful work I’ve been honored to share on Words for the Weekend.
    Come by and read Cayman Thorn’s “Stranded” and C.K. Hope’s response “Still.” It’s an epic end-of-days masterpiece crafted for today’s return of The Walking Dead. And the photography and soundtrack ain’t too shabby either.
    Please join us, and please share — it would mean (the end of) the world to me. Bring some Twinkies with you.

    Like

  10. Loving the Nine Inch Nails. Wonderful.. I do love love love love what you do for us here. xxxx

    Like

    1. So grateful for all your support, Mrs D. Means a lot to us! Didn’t know you were a NIN fan–awesome. You are full of surprises. 🙂 xxx

      Like

  11. Christy, this is amazing, truly the best Words ever. I’m in awe of the words and the photos and … all of it is beautiful. Cayman’s piece is so perfect for this space I could cry. Wait I think I did the first ten times I read it! This was truly just, wow. I’m pretty much stuck at “wow” still! ~Jennie

    Like

    1. You know you’re talking to chick who couldn’t stop crying for like 90 hours after she read your poem. That’s the real reason I’ve been in my own world. You and Cayman have had me so misty eyed I can’t see the damn screen.

      This… Aw man, this was magic this week. Thank you for saying yes.

      Wow. Just wow.
      Christy

      Like

  12. Awesome, i love that there is another blogger as into the walking dead as i am

    Like

    1. Hi!! So glad you joined us! Oh yeah, we are everywhere. Welcome to the fray, we’ll talk zombies with you anytime. 🙂

      Like

      1. Great thanks. JUDITH LIVES

        Like

  13. this was amazing.
    i will re-read. and re-read. and probably re-read again. because i can’t get it all.
    haven’t even listened to the music, and i don’t watch the walking dead but, guess i should?
    cayman’s writing, jenny’s response, your curating christy and music choices…..
    collaboration at it’s finest.
    what a lovely adventure!
    and the road…no interest in the movie, but the book is beyond brilliant

    Like

    1. I read it all several times too, Mish, to capture all the feeling and undercurrent, and each time I felt something new as another layer or hidden phrase revealed itself. Such mad talent from both C & J.

      Hmmm Walking Dead… I guess it depends. Some nights, as I’m watching it, I wonder why the hell I am watching it. The zombies are graphic and the acting is lacking sometimes … but the music (OMG) and the chemistry between actors and the storyline and bleakness with rays of sunshine in between, well there’s just something about it. It makes it all feel “real” you know? It’s more than just a zombie show, but you definitely can’t be squeamish.

      The Road and Walking Dead have similar vibes, so if the movie doesn’t appeal, the show may not either. But Viggo M was sooooo good in The Road.

      Like

  14. Cayman and Jennie, as always, do not disappoint.

    I’m just glad I was reading this in a busy office while the sun is up.

    Like

    1. Both Cayman and Jennie blew my socks off. Which isn’t easy to do, since I’ve been wearing those thick plush warm socks since it is so cold outside.

      I read their pieces so many times I think I dreamed about them. Which was both lovely and scary at the same time.

      Have a great week, Guap!

      Like

  15. […] you peek at the sample, spend the rest of your time reading the original post, The Day the World Went Away on Words for the Weekend. Christy and Jennie conjured and composed a masterful collection of classic […]

    Like

  16. muggleinconverse · ·

    These posts are always an experience, a meal to be swallowed bite by bite. Thank you for the hearty nourishment.

    Like

    1. So glad you enjoy them, thank you so much.

      Like

  17. I love this post so much. I can’t even find the words to say exactly how much that is (I love it more . . . ) Cayman’s story just blows me away. Every time I read it, which has been five or six times now. It’s so nuanced and full of love and courage and strength. And the photos with the poems and the lyrics and the quotes all go together so seamlessly. I don’t know how you manage that.

    I can see I’m going to have to read The Road. I love Cormac McCarthy’s way with words, but I purposefully didn’t read that book because I generally hate dystopian, post-apocalyptic stories, because, frankly, they depress me. But, good god, those words are something.

    C.K.’s poem is exquisite. It felt so real, and of course, I read it after Cayman’s story, and then I wanted to go back and scream at Cayman’s hero – don’t do it! And the two of those pieces together broke my heart for a while.

    But isn’t that what reading is supposed to do? Make us feel alive.

    Like

  18. […] will make you believe in love, head over to Words For the Weekend’s post from last weekend, The Day the World Went Away and read Cayman Thorn’s beautifully crafted “Stranded”, my response “Still” and view the […]

    Like

%d bloggers like this: