Floating Rat

The moment chews on the wires of my mind like an angry rat. It crawls in spaces between flesh and bone. It alters my thoughts, shifts my mood and influences my actions. When suddenly I realize, the dark event lives in me because my breath has stopped. Drawing a long steady breath in through my nose, I pull my shoulders away from my ears. I uncrush the back of my neck like a flattened pop can stretching into its original form. Muscles release toxins, it is carried out in dark blue blood. It is thrown free from my body in the invisible cloud of exhale. My chest cavity pumps out darkness, smooth and steady. The rat dissolves, acknowledged, accepted. Inhale, exhale. Ocean waves massaging the rough sandy shore of my memory. Thoughts roll and fade in and out of my attention. The moment is lost, and my muscles dissolve into a mist that holds no record.


unnamedTrees reached their leafy fingers up through the hot summer air.  Cold mist hung above, swirling in the playful clouds.  They looked like giant ghosts dancing in the endless sky.  A light wind began to caress my face with its cool fingers.  The thunder rumbling in the distance persuaded me to squeeze my wife’s hand, “I think your right, we should bring our rain jackets to the fireworks show.”

• • •

Copyright © 2019 Zachary W. Gilbert

Lazarus Expanse

The humbled whisper of sorrow,

lives not in the hot flame.

Just as,

a tear shed in compassion

for another

is perhaps

 a vast lake, able

to quench

the dry throat

of the repentant.

. . .

A lavender scent filled the air as the rich man slid the new purple fabric over his shoulders.  The horizon was slowly swallowing the last beams of light.  Dinner would be laid out soon and tonight like every other night was going to be a feast.  A servant showed him the guest list.  Scanning the names with his eyes he saw that no one on the list was wealthier than him, “Very good,” he whispered under a smirk, “very good.”

The cool night air sent breezes over the dinner party.  They all sat in a circle around a large fire controlled by ornate stones.  Laughing they gorged themselves past the emptiness of hunger, past the dulled pressure of a full stomach, and into the realm of vomiting onto disheveled plates. “Get me more!” the rich man shouted, “Get me more at once!”

Below the balcony in the darkness was Lazarus.  He pressed his rotten body against the cold stone of the palace.  He was engulfed in pain.  Sores littered his body like wet leaves stuck to his gray flesh.  Weakness prevented him from being able to walk or sleep.  His last night on Earth would be spent groaning in a pile of trash.  All the while he whispered, “Dear God, I am so sorry.  I am so sorry…”

The servants emptied the trash from the dinner party onto the trash heap.  Warm vomit and chewed bread splattered all over the dying beggar.  Far above, the rich man laughed watching his servant take no notice of the beggar in his trash heap.  Dogs heard the clanking commotion of the plates and hurried over to eat the scraps.  They licked Lazarus’s body as he died.

Lazarus felt his soul slip his out of his body, like a weary traveler shedding a tattered and soiled coat.  He pain was instantly forgotten and he fell asleep in his new home of light and peace.  He stood upon a balcony of light overlooking a great void.  He noticed a ball of purple light falling into a distant lake that glowed red with flame.

Death tore the rich man from of his young body like a scab being removed from a wound.  The shock of the moment was over in a flash.  He felt his soul become engulfed in flames as if it were his very own skin.  Pain overwhelmed his senses.  His throat soon became dry from screaming. Seeing Lazarus across the  expanse he began to call out.  “Please! Get me water! Lazarus dip your finger in water and bring it to me!”

“No one can traverse the expanse that separates us,” an old man answered as he walked up and stood next to Lazarus.

“Then, at least send Lazarus to my family!  My brothers, I need to warn them about this awful place!”

“If they haven’t listened to those who were already sent with the message, then they would not listen to someone who has returned from the dead.”

The rich man became angry at the old man and began shouting and cursing.  Soon he began puking purple filth, as searing flames licked all over his burning body.

. . .

Copyright © 2019 Zachary W. Gilbert

Toxic Culture

A virus does care about cells.  Cells are simply a means to carry out a purpose.  In their natural state cells live and function within the environment around them.  When attacked by a virus, a very small and insignificant thing, the cell becomes altered.  Its very core is changed to make more viruses.  It has become corrupted.  The cell is still sort of alive, and is still functioning, in a toxic reprogramed way.  But when its guts becomes nothing but a saturation of viruses it explodes and dies.

Worthless and toxic ideas may land on someones mind.  The idea is tiny, and it only has information that requires a host to thrive.  The information is wrong, but when it enters a brain and corrupts it.  The manufacturing process becomes active.  Producing toxic information that saturates and eventually explodes into toxicity that hurts many other people.

For a virus to attach to a cell, the receptors on the cell wall must allow for it.  For malicious and toxic ideas to get into someones head, they have to be willing to let it in.  Our reasoning for letting it in is often because we want to fit into a culture, perhaps a virus culture.  We allow ourselves to become toxic so that we are viewed as an outsider.  This is an unhealthy practice.  Because once a virus has used up a cell.  The cell dies.  Toxic people will use you until you break.  Then without a single though of remorse, they will move onto their next victim.

* * *

Copyright © 2019 Zachary W. Gilbert