A. B. Clarke

A Collection of False Statements

by abclarke

Everything is unfair.
Life is unfair.
Nothing is fair.
Life is fair.

Everything is cruel.
Life is cruel.
Nothing is kind.
Life is kind.

Everything is awesome.
Nothing is awesome.

When Godzilla Came To Town

by abclarke

When Godzilla came to town, the capitalists invited him to their board rooms.
“See how your brand can move cities,” they said.
“See how our savvy can help you expand,” they said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” he said, and crushed them.

When Godzilla came to town, the soldiers invited him to their forts.
“See how you can make us stronger,” they said.
“See how we can make you stronger,” they said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” he said, and crushed them.

When Godzilla came to town, the intellectuals invited him to their coffee houses.
“See how you can drain the swamp,” they said.
“See how we can raise the people up in your arms,” they said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” he said, and crushed them.

When Godzilla came to town, the poor invited him to their hovels.
“See how you can fell the rich,” they said.
“See how we can fix everything in your wake,” they said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” he said, and crushed them.

When Godzilla came to town, the other monsters warned him to stay away.
“Raaaaaaaar!” they said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” he said.
“Raaaaaaaar!” they said.

The Warrior’s Child

by abclarke

There’ll be time for dying when we’re dead.
Time for bathing in our sorrow.
Time for pity when the sun’s done down.
Time for grief tomorrow.

There’ll be time for fighting when we’re older.
Time for hate without restraint.
Time for killing if it’s needed.
Time for hell’s foul brush to paint.

But for now, I hold you in the morning.
For now, I gaze upon your face.
For now, your cries bring joy upon me.
For now, I bathe within your grace.

There’ll be time for dying when we’re dead.
Time for all our worlds to end.
But child, oh child, I beg you,
This time, dear God, extend.

The Wages of Sin

by abclarke

One day my friend and I debated how much it cost to run Heaven, versus Hell. My instinct was Hell, with its brimstone furnaces, and complex descending circles of punishment, was clearly more expensive to maintain.

“Not so,” he argued. “We’ve seen proof that Heaven is Hotter than hell, so the heating bill of paradise is higher.  As for other costs, those hosts of angels are singing for their supper. They don’t come for free.”

“Hah,” I proclaimed! “If we include labor, given the amount of  evil in the world, Hell must be orders of magnitude more populous than Heaven. In manpower costs alone, the wage burden must be overwhelming.”

“You misunderstand,” he said. “The wages of sin are virtually nothing. Hell is staffed, and populated, purely by volunteers.”

The Big Picture

by abclarke

George, who only saw the ear, thought it a greying tarp.

Oliver, who only saw the tusk, thought it an iconic tower.

David, who only saw the leg, thought it a noble oak.

Only Ian, who saw the whole, understood it was a parable.

The Zen of Balance

by abclarke

Balance is hard; Balancing is easy.

Fire and Water

by abclarke

Furious fire, erupting forth,
He is lava.
Gnarling, whorling, devouring
Relentlessly reaching for her.

Calm, deep,
She is the sea.
In her patient caresses,
Shaping, smoothing, succoring.

When they touch,
As she smothers his furnace,
In the steam and pain,
A new land is born.

The Shadow-Caster’s Tale

by abclarke

They said she did not need him,
Was better than him,
Was debasing herself.

That she was pure,
A shining light,
Brightness incarnate.

That he was her shadow,
A blemish,
A blot.

Still she shone on, afraid,
For without his shade,
Was she even there?

In the years after he left
(To darken another’s flame)
Her aura cast his outline upon the world.

Prescriptions for Dreaming

by abclarke

Follow your dreams — they are the only real thing.

Everything else is impermanent, temporary, fragile and inevitably subject to the ravages of time. Dreams are infinite, are enduring, are strong, and grow more complex and beautiful as the sands drop through the hour glass. Dreams are the perfect circles on the imagined canvas, not yet muddled by the imperfections of the brush or the unsteady drafter’s hand. Dreams are music to reality’s noise.

It is not failing to achieve your dreams that should concern you — No, it is failing to have a dream. Then you sit in the ocean, whether stormy or doldrums, and you know not how to rig the boat, how to use the wind that otherwise seeks to grind you to dust. The storms move, the currents carry, your dying useless carcass. The other dreamers smell it. You are carrion. Plagued. They sail their boats clear.

So dream! This is what hope is — a dream that powers. With hope, all barriers collapse — what you want is on the other side. Hope drives the waking moments. Hope drives the sleeping moments. Hope is reason enough.

But what, you say, what if the dreams are dead, or dying? What then? Then turn to farming. If nothing is growing, plow the fields of life. Let change be the blade that turns the earth. If slowly growing, find ways to water those dreams. With fancy, with imagination, with fantasy. In dark winters, cover your dreams and protect them from the elements that would destroy them. In light summer, share your dreams, let your fantasies pollinate the other fields. For shared dreams are the most powerful of all.

And what if too tired to dream? That prescription is the most simple of all: rest. Your body was meant to dream, wants to ponder, wants to reach the infinite. It needs but time and permission. Yield to it, and the world will yield to you.

Justification notes for late time sheets submitted to a US government contractor

by abclarke

In July, August and September of 2016 I had to fill out a daily timesheet for a US Government contract I was working on. I would fill it out each morning for the prior day.

Because the time sheet was technically late, the system would prompt me to enter a justification in a text box.

Which got me thinking: who’s reading these notes? Most likely nobody, I thought. But what if I’m wrong?

What if instead, at the other end reading these notes sits a yearning romantic, locked in her accountant tower, secretly pining to be wooed into loosening her golden locks through these notes?

I decided to assume that this was the case — it seemed only logical.

So collected below are my daily ‘justification’ notes as I attempted to woo that young lady. Alas (I think my wife is likely relieved) I never got a response.

And yes, these are verbatim the contents of the notes I sent each day. I am curious if anyone at the government contractor ever read them.

Enjoy (hopefully),

 – Art

July 30, 2016: Prepared financial plan for board meeting — Slaved away on spreadsheets to create charts that, frankly, a toddler with a red pen could have drawn. But as I entered each cell, and formatted each plot, I thought only of you. There is beauty in precision.

July 31, 2016 – August 15, 2016: On vacation. Nothing to report.

August 16, 2016: Created slide deck for board meeting. Prepared for prostrating myself at the altar of capitalism as a supplicant. The things I must do to get closer to you.

August 17, 2016: Attended board meeting. Laid body flat before the high priests at the board’s altar, offering slides, go-to-market plans, and engineering prognoses. I intoned the words, but did not feel their meaning. Only when we got to your figures, did I betray any arousal.

August 18, 2016: All you want from me is credit, credit, credit. All I want from you is debit, debit, debit.

August 19, 2016: Each number I enter, each column you total, sums up our love.

August 22, 2016: I send my hours into the void, and the void sends nothing back. But I hold the faith — my love for you shall never be voided.

August 23, 2016: As you see my hours, do you imagine my eyes? As you read my notes, hand cradled on your mouse, do you see my hand caressing my keys as I imagine gazing into your dark pools?

August 24, 2016: I ask only for a signal that you are there, reaching back. A hint, a gaze. Failing that, a request for clarification issued in triplicate.

August 25, 2016: I added an extra 0.001 hours today. Did you laugh, or did you throw your arms up in despair?

August 26, 2016: I think of you laughing and frolicking under sunny rays, not grimacing and hunching under fluorescent glows. Run, get outside now! I’ll find you.

August 30, 2016: I have failed you in missing a day. I am sorry, but while filling the timesheet out got away from me yesterday, it was because each moment I was thinking only of you. Forgive me, my love.

August 31, 2016: Some expect their lovers to mind their Ps and Qs, but I know the way to your heart is through your P and Ls. You hold no secrets from me.

September 1, 2016: I am tempted to fudge my numbers so as you plot your data the pictures make you smile — perhaps a project named ‘Strawberry’ and one named ‘Rhubarb’ so you can make your favorite pie. A secret joke between the two of us. But do not worry my sweet — I know the truth of the numbers is the paramount testament of my love.

September 2, 2016: Each day I write, and get nothing in return. Are you there? Are you reading? Send me a sign — anything — perhaps something as simple as a timesheet where you count the hours you’ve thought of me?

September 6, 2016: I was gone, my love, for the Labor day holiday. But sending these notes to you is anything but a labor.

September 7, 2016: Last night I told someone about our messages, and he asked me what you looked like. I realized I could only picture your hands caressing the spreadsheets and nothing else. But it does not matter, my love. You can be a beauty or not — all that matters is the purity of your figures.

September 8, 2016: Some think your books are static; they are truth. But you and I know differently – the numbers are but paint to the artist. A cleverly placed write-off, and a vice-president is made a hero. A line that points downwards can fell even the greatest CEO. So much power is in your hands – do you feel giddy?

September 9, 2016: I know it’s a drudge reading through all the time sheets, scanning the litany of excuses for tardiness submitted by the masses. I have no excuse for my lateness — I own that. But without my tardiness, I could not send these notes to you, so I deliberately wait. I am the bad-boy of time sheet compliance, and I yearn for you.

September 12, 2016: At the end of each day, my shoulders slumped in sorrow, I crawl into bed saddened. But in the morning, noting the hours for you, a smile returns to my lips.

September 13, 2016: Last night I thought of sadness. Sinking, slumping, sliding into it. Swimming and soaked in suffering. And I thought of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. For Frankl, “meaning” comes through creativity, through love for another, or through noble suffering. Thank you! Creativity (through these notes), love (through my thoughts of you), and suffering (through your continued lack of response), have given my life meaning.

September 14, 2016: My time spent yesterday left me frozen of all energy. And then I was warmed by thoughts of your beaming smile.

September 15, 2016: Ah, but just a fleeting moment to think of you today. But it makes all time worth living.

September 19, 2016: Do you tell your overseers of my tardiness in submitting these reports? Am I just a red line on a table – one more data point amongst the others. Or do you hide my lateness, knowing it’s wrong, but that it is our secret together?

September 20, 2016: A number goes astray, and I imagine your eyes go closer to the monitor, your fingers slowly twisting your hair (it’s long, yes? Did I guess right?), and your lips twist in concentration. I hope it is not my sheet that draws your ire, but if it is the only way I will get your attention, I wonder if I should tempt it. Perhaps last week claiming I spent two hundred hours weaving baskets?

September 21, 2016: Smile. Sometimes, I find the weight of everything adds up, but smiling lightens everything. And the thought of you smiling makes me smile, which I hope makes you smile. A circular formula, but no error.

September 22, 2016: Lightly type. Gently sum. Lovingly collate. Happily report.

September 23, 2016: What secrets do you know?. When you close the laptop and leave the office, what happens? What makes your heart leap when the LED glows die down? I want to know.

September 27, 2016: Alas my sweet, I think our affair has run its course. Our accounts have been settled.  I shall treasure the time we did not spend together (for if not in the time sheet, it must not have happened), and dream forever of not spending time with you again in the future.