Tag Archives: justin blackstock

Shifting Light

the late night clouds
are making faces at me.
I retort
with clouds of my own.

billowing smoke
rising upward
from an open mouth
that is sure
to join them

the stars attempt
to make me smile
yet they
will leave me, too.

the sunrise
will pick up
their task
give up
and burn
my skin.

isn’t it a shame?

with so much
beautiful scenery
all I can do
is stare
at my feet.

at least
the grass
is green
on this side.


Dream Journal Entry I: The Mountain Lion House

All names have been changed and descriptions omitted to protect those involved, and my feelings toward them, in the account relayed hereafter.

I arrived at the conference early. The walkway to the ominous front door was shaded by a canopy of ivy, strategically growing around a wire arrangement. I used the large golden door knocker, making a cannon-like boom resound from within the house. I found, however, that using the knocker was not necessary for its contact against the wood swung the door open. I walked inside to find that I appeared to be the first to arrive.

I had underestimated the gargantuan quality of this house.

I started to walk around and inspect to see if there were any other folks around. After all, I only came because I was invited and I’d have sooner skipped it. Not that I wasn’t flattered for the invitation, but because I had a later engagement with a lady-friend that I still planned on attending. The house resembled that of a mall with household furniture. There were many large windows and the walls were white with indistinguishable artwork hung in numerous places. The ground floor had an abundant array of plant life from tiny palm trees to kudzu. Abruptly, I heard numerous footsteps upstairs. Of course, ‘upstairs’ was quite a vague concept in this house, as I was to find out. There were two sets of black marble staircases with signs detailing which floor they, respectively, led to. I came to find that there were not two, nor three, but seven floors in this monstrous piece of architecture. The stairs on my left were for gaining access to floors 2-4 and on the right were 5-7.

I found the footsteps to be coming from the fourth floor as I wheezed up the stairs. Firmly planting my foot upon the floor, I heard a deep growl followed by a second one to join. To my right was an open double-doorway and within were two great felines. One was perched atop a piano, spotted like a leopard with magical green eyes. The other lay on the floor beneath the piano and was solid tan with eyes black and beady. They both glared at me and opened their jaws wide to let out a terrible roar. I was frightened beyond description. I couldn’t gauge just how quickly the beasts could move but I was assured that it was a great deal quicker than I.

I tried not to make any sudden movements as I slowly backed away from their lair. Keeping my eyes on them, I backed myself into a cold steel wall and felt a sudden sense of hopelessness. I was certain that I would meet my end. Just then, the wall I was leaning on split in two and I fell backwards into a soft and fragrant mess of hair. I scrambled off of the floor to find I was in an elevator with my dear friend Francine. She laughed and asked me why I looked so pale. I pointed a shaky finger toward the, still open, elevator doors at the out of place mountain lions in the adjacent room. Her eyes widened and she frantically pressed the button for the ground floor.

As the elevator doors glided open, we were greeted on the ground floor by the host and owner of the establishment: Lester. He welcomed me and expressed his gratitude for my presence and his appreciation for my writing. I graciously thanked him the best that I could, given my current state of terror. Francine placed her hand on his shoulder and nervously began to speak:

“You know the…um…’mountain lion’ problem you’ve been having? Well…now there are two.”

Lester, nonchalantly, shook his head and mentioned that the initial feline must have found himself a girlfriend. I tilted my head and could not help but be in awe at how well he was taking this news. Eventually, people began filing in: friends and acquaintances from this life and past ones. I made my way to the closest of the three kitchens on the floor and poured myself a drink. I kept, firmly, mentioning to Lester that I could not stay for very long and that the preceding would be best if hurried. Lester kept reassuring me with a “Soon.”

An old band mate and brother of mine, Jacob, caught my eye and we greeted each other with a warm hello. We had not seen each other in quite some time and I was honoured that he would brave the journey to make an appearance at the conference. Sitting on one of the lavish couches, we talked nonsense for a while. During a break in the conversation, I pulled a cell phone from my pocket to check the time. My date was scheduled at seven and it was getting close to five thirty, already. The device in my hand confused me, however. There were no buttons, but merely an LCD screen. Seeing my puzzled look, Jacob pulled out a similar device and removed a magnetic pen from a slot on the side of the phone. He began writing his text message with the pen. I began to understand and searched for the same feature on mine, yet it was absent. Jacob laughed and handed me a number two pencil. I began writing a text message to Helen, the lady I was scheduled to take out in less than an hour and a half, with the intent of letting her know where I was so she could come to my rescue.

I touched the pencil led to the phone and the LCD screen began to crack. As fluid poured from the phone onto my lap, I let out a heavy moan of despair as Jacob began to laugh hysterically. The phone was destroyed and so were my hopes of contacting her. I felt beyond defeated, for this was no ordinary lady that I was to be meeting with. Very few people can exhilarate me with just their presence, but she did. She does and I had, seemingly, missed the opportunity that she was finally willing to give me. I could feel my heart drop and the sadness swell in my chest. A part of me wanted to cry and the rest of me remembered that I had not the ability. So I did my best to stuff down and suppress the emotion as I hurled the phone and took another gulp from my glass, the contents of which I had no idea. Lester strolled into the room and announced that, before the readings would begin, everyone was to be ushered into the food court for dinner. I was absolutely astonished. I remember thinking to myself: “This place has a sodding food court?!?!”

Seated alone in the massive cafeteria setting, too depressed to eat, I picked at my food. I looked at the enormous overhead clock and whimpered. Seven fifteen. My head dropped as if it had been suddenly burdened with the weight assigned to every woe in the world. I looked up and she appeared from, what seemed like, thin air.

Helen was seated a good ten yards in front of me conversing with, what looked like, the captain of a college wrestling team. We caught each others eye and I smiled, as I thought that she had some intention of finding me and taking me away from this place. Helen excused herself from the table and hurried over to mine. The quick manner in which she spoke did nothing to ease my mind as her words would shatter my expectations:

“Just wanted to come over and say hello. So…hello.” she said with a grim and serious face.

Helen had almost turned around and began walking away as the last word of her sentence left her mouth. She returned to her table to sit across from the burly gentleman and her expression immediately changed into a glowing smile. I felt completely alone. I pondered the idea of rushing over to explain myself but decided against it. Helen had made up her mind. Pushing out my chair, I stood up and began my exodus. I didn’t care about the reading, these people, the mountain lions, or this ridiculous mansion. I was leaving. I made my way out of the food court into a quaint little kitchen. I passed through this room into a study with a full bar. The next room was a den with a fireplace and that led to yet another kitchen. My frustration was growing fierce as I began to think that I would never find my way out of this place. Yet, I could only keep walking until I finally found myself in the sitting room where I had broken my phone.

Suddenly, I heard Francine’s voice from behind. She informed me that I was due on stage and asked me what I was doing. I turned only my head and told her I was going home. She shook her head and approached me. She could see that I wasn’t happy, even if she didn’t know why. I didn’t even turn around to face her as she embraced me. I could only stand there, limp. The smell of her hair made me feel better. It reminded me of what people would refer to as love. I had always felt this for her but knew it was a futile sentiment. All the same, I moved my hand on top of hers and grasped it tight. It was then that I heard the purring. The lions were to our left, laying in a loving embrace. I felt the swelling in my chest once more as Francine squeezed tight and assured me that she would always take care of me.

It was then that I awoke.

Song and Dance

just you and I
dancing under
a bare bulb.
we had no radio,
so I sang to you
as we swayed
to the rhythm
of my voice

the lack
of furniture made
for a perfect
dance space.
was never
our thing.

your nose
brushed against
my neck and
you smiled

you never
smile anymore.

my song hummed
against your eardrum
your breath
tickled my senses

I sing
the same song
under the same bulb,
my dance
is with this

you’re out
dancing, too,
with someone
who cannot sing
as well
as I can.


love is
a bird.
it floats
in the
so gracefully.
you want,
so badly,
for it to
perch on your

love is
many birds
soaring and circling
high above your
without a care
they fly,
or so
it would appear
by the look
of their dance.

you will
from time
to time,
will rest
on your

a great many
will perch
upon your
waiting shoulder
with tired wings,
by its comfort,
you make
a sudden move
to gently
stroke its head
and it will
flutter away.

there are a few
who will
make you feel
as though you’ve
nestled with you,
they will coo
tell you
they will
fly away.

it will come
as a sudden
when you feel
the stab
of its beak
through your neck.
it is
your heart
it wants.
not for cherishing,

you must
push it
even when
the thought
of life
without it
but life with it
will kill you

your hand
shoves it
and you
return your gaze
to the sky,
for a bird
that is
a vegetarian.

Born Too Late

What can you do
When you’re born
Too late?

What can you do
When you’ve missed
The ones with something to say?

I take long walks
Down semi-crowded

I can hear
The thumping



Devoid of emotion

Masturbatory limericks
Clouding my head
Making it pound

It eminates
From cars passing
All the same

With a sigh
I drop my chin

What do you do
When you’re born
Too late?

All the beautiful women
Have nothing to say
They just want to
Dance and shake

But the dance has
Lost its art
Its elegance is gone

All that stands now
Is foreplay



Nothing to do
When you’re born
Too late.

When love is an illusion
Wrapped in sweat
And stinking of booze

The dance floor fills
As the alcohol spills
And I am pushed

Pushed into the corner

From here

From here I watch

From here I watch the people

All the men
Who lean across the tables
On their elbows

They fein interest

They’re not listening
It’s a game
They’re not listening
They’re nodding their heads

But they’re not listening

They give all
The right responses
Pre-rehearsed and practiced

But they’re not listening

They can only envision bare flesh
Naked pleasure followed
By adandonment

Yet I am still listening

I know everything
And have nothing

Nothing to do
When you’re born
Too late.

Nothing to do
But sit and wait
For a time to shine

In a room with dim lights

Haiku Hullabaloo

Love is elusive
The definition is lost
We give it away

Motionless blue sky
Hovering above our heads
It’s going to fall

Don’t keep looking down
Sooner than later you crash
Keep your gaze ahead

Don’t let on too much
You are full of misery
Remember it’s yours

Questions choke the air
Truth is such a rarity
Answers have no place

Puzzled heads look up
To see all the falling stars
We have no idea

Inevitability Offers No Guarantee

As his lips found their way to hers, the anticipation inside him grew to an almost uncomfortable level. He felt his hands trembling as they caressed her thighs and their tongues intertwined. She wrapped her legs around his waist and the two bodies began to writhe. With her seated on the stool, he felt as if she were floating in his arms. He knew he was romanticizing the situation entirely too much, but he had been wanting this since he first saw her.

She didn’t know what she wanted and figured she wouldn’t remember it in the morning, anyway.

As it would turn out?

No such luck.

Her hands caressed the back of his head while she buried her face in his. She was used to attention from men but there was something different about him. He understood her. Accepted her. Perhaps even scared her a little. As much as she was losing herself, she retained the idea that this would not bloom into something she couldn’t control. Something she couldn’t understand. Yet, the alcohol thinned her blood and clouded her judgment. She couldn’t stop kissing him.

The music from the shitty stereo filled his eardrums. He found himself lost in her kiss. In his eyes, she was perfect. Stubborn, fun, gorgeous, and uninhibited. Liberated. Free. He longed to know how she saw him and thought he finally had his answer. It’s always so easy to be optimistic when you think you have what you want. What you think you need. He didn’t want to believe that this was just a passing moment, as so many moments before had been. Something resembling passion but always landing on the label of ‘mistake’. Whatever was happening, he wasn’t going to question it at the moment. His right hand slid up the length of her torso to the smooth skin of her face and his fingers began to slide through her auburn hair. He tried not to get too excited. He couldn’t let on how much he was enjoying this.

He had always been a bit of an over thinker and an over feeler. A weakness, he would call it. His heart beat faster. He could feel the rhythm pounding in his temples. He had her. She was in his arms. As much joy as this brought him, his mind could not wander away from the inevitability of losing her. Visions of all the lovers before her flashed before his eyes. The eyes which, were certain, had found everything that was ever missing from them…

…in her.

Yet, there is always some luster lost when acquiring the thing one yearns for the most. A dampening of image. A loss of innocence. Like that of a theory proven false.

A let down.

This fear drove him. He longed to know everything about her that she didn’t share on the surface. He loved finding out and knowing how things worked. To him, humans were a complex equation that he would never solve. He understood this fool’s errand and, yet, still proceeded in his attempt to get as close as he possibly could.

However, it was this fear that drove her away. She made it a habit to distance herself. The mere idea that the picture that she had in her mind could change so drastically made her uneasy. Never get too close. A mantra she had been practicing for over a year now. This night, she threw caution to the wind but not without hanging onto its tether wrapped around her wrist. She could never fully let go.

The headlights from cars passing by flickered against the wall of the dimly lit living room as he carried her to the couch. There are certain signs that a fellow can interpret as positive. Going from vertical to horizontal is one of these signs. The transition was fluid and smooth. She began to get more aggressive. Her lips pressed hard against his, he was finding it more difficult to contain his enthusiasm. She began kissing his neck and, as her mouth reached his earlobe, she whispered with a smirk:

‘This was bound to happen.’

He couldn’t answer. All he could do was immerse himself in her.

She didn’t know why she was escalating the situation. Maybe it was pity or maybe it was something more. Either way, she couldn’t let it continue. Her mind kept telling her to stop before it got out of control.

Her answer came when the mood was suddenly shattered by the thud of a closing bedroom door. A shadowy figure made its way to the kitchen to open the refrigerator. The light from inside the appliance threw itself all over the kitchen, managing to still obscure the person standing in front of it. The girl stayed on top of him and waved to the figure. The figure waved back and closed the fridge. She planted a sweet and tiny kiss on his lips, smiled, and asked ‘Cigarette?’ He nodded and shifted his weight to reach his pack. She got up and, without the warmth of her body, he was immediately affected by the cold chill of the house. Making their way outside, the two lit their cigarettes and sat down next to each other in the empty garage. Following them, the shadowy figure stepped through the door way and took a seat across the room underneath a bare light bulb.

The girl and the figure commenced in small talk as the boy just took slow drags from his cigarette, fading in and out of the conversation. He kept picturing the scene that he just left. Rewinding it and playing it over and over again inside his mind’s eye. Another drag of his cigarette as the other two laughed amongst themselves. The boy’s eyes wandered around the room to the various tools and automotive accessories around the garage. He tried not to stare at her. He’d dare not display his enchantment so openly, lest he seem needy or desperate.

Oh, how he hated playing games.

Another drag.

Finishing her smoke, the girl excused herself to visit the restroom and the boy was left in the gaze of the silhouette across the room. At first, they sat in silence. The figure staring at him as he kept his gaze on the aged oil stain on the concrete floor.
Abruptly, the shadow spoke .

‘So you like her?’

The boy nodded, defeated.

The figure shook its head and stood up. The bare light bulb then illuminated the face of a young girl no older than twenty two. Her dark blue hair shimmered under the bare light bulb. Extending her hand, the figure introduced herself. ‘Destiny.’ she said, ‘My name is Destiny.’ He stood and took her smooth, caramel-skinned hand. Throwing his cigarette butt to the ground, he exhaled his name through the last cloud of smoke. Skipping the pleasantries, Destiny’s voice became stern and urgent. Her sky blue eyes became ablaze in the dim light. ‘I see this kind of thing every week with so many pairs. They strive for the unattainable. You’re different, though. You know you’re wasting your time. If I were you, I’d chalk this up to a fond memory and move on. You’re not supposed to be with her.’ Destiny, eerily, continued speaking his thoughts. Repeating aloud after the voice inside his head. The thoughts that he did not want to pay attention to. The ideas he couldn’t bring himself to believe.

Yet, he did. He knew. The boy closed his eyes, chuckled, and told her not to worry. His hand slid into his jacket pocket and jingled his car keys just as the girl, almost on cue, stepped out into the garage. ‘Time to call it a night, folks.’ she said with a sigh. The boy nodded, smiled, and bid his farewells to the beautiful ladies. Lighting another cigarette, he turned the key in the ignition and began his journey home. The late night scenery seemed grayer than usual for November. His face was starting to lose feeling from the cold wind of the driver side window. Yet, he couldn’t help but smile. Something inside him still clung to the hope that what transpired on this night meant as much to her as it did to him. Too much of him, however, knew better. He was always an emotional one and never skilled at reading people. Especially those of the fairer sex. Turning up the radio, he decided that he would be grateful for the experience and do his best to keep it at that.

The next morning, as expected, he awoke to his ringing cell phone. Before he even answered the phone he knew what was going to be said and he made his peace with it. Just as he’d done every single time before.

The boy’s skin was getting far too tough. He wondered how long it would be until he couldn’t feel or trust anything anymore. He knew he would find out soon enough. With a groggy and heavy sigh, he picked up the handset and accepted the call.

Burning Doors

I’ve come to see that living this life
Comes complete with a revolving door
For folks to come and go as they please.
It’s the ones that linger inside for a while
The ones that we don’t want to see go
They gain a sense of power and influence
The longer they stay.

They stand in the lobby
Browsing through pamphlet literature
To see if they’d like anything about
The establishment.

They build up your hopes
That they may become a permanent fixture
Only to turn their curious smile into a disgusted frown
Wad up everything they know about you
Throw it away
And walk out.

The door keeps spinning after they’re long gone
And there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

For you are just the glass:

Frozen in place and broken far too easily.

Something to Live For

This is a work of complete fiction and a ‘stream of consciousness’ exercise at that.
Thanks, -J

It was a Saturday evening when I decided that going to a bar would be a healthy idea for someone in my situation. I lit a cigarette, turned the ignition, and let out a sigh that would squeeze sympathy from the Devil, himself. As the traffic lights whizzed above my head, colours ceased to exist as everything blurred into white. The daze did not cease as I meandered up to the door of the bar. The knob was sticky, most likely from vomit, blood, or worse. Don’t forget to wash hands, I remember thinking to myself. It’s always funny walking into a crowded establishment. With so many eyes in one place, it’s hard to abolish the thought that none of them are on you. I sipped my whiskey, straight, and drummed my fingers on the bar. Abruptly, I felt a smooth hand graze the back of my neck. One would think that my decision to venture out of my solitude had now taken a turn for the better. Her name was Melody and I could venture a guess that it was because of her voice. Smooth and breathy with such a warm tone. It was as if she was speaking to me with a musical instrument. She approached me as if she were waiting for me. Perhaps she was, in some form or fashion. I wish I could blame my lapse of judgment on the alcohol but, truth be told, I didn’t even finish my first drink. Melody caressed my leg as I drove. The traffic lights and the world around us still but a blur of white. Our lips never touching, we indulged each other. My perpetual daze detached me from reality, but it was hard to tune Melody out. I was thankful for the chance to focus on something beautiful. I sit here now, smiling in the sunshine, as I play with my daughter and I can’t help but think of the second and last time I encountered the maiden with the musical voice. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of her the day she left that fateful and cliched basket on my front porch. It was four years to the day that Melody rang my doorbell. The angel had fallen from grace. Her once porcelain skin had turned to chalk and her luscious strawberry blonde hair was now a used mop in desperate need of being rung out. She had two black eyes and, what appeared to be, a broken nose. My heart sank a little when I saw her. She asked me how ‘she’ was. I smiled, not because I was touched for her concern, but out of amusement that Melody had no way of knowing my daughter’s name. My daughter. I tossed her my last pack of cigarettes and told her that my little girl more than made up for the two hundred bucks she stole from my dresser drawer. I could see her face collide with her cupped hands as the door swung shut. Life is funny. Not funny in a coincidental way but more like a good practical joke. It makes you reveal a part of yourself that you want to keep hidden from the rest of humanity. It makes you regret every step you take until you turn around and look at how every thing has played out. I look at my little girl and she smiles at me. She has Melody’s smile. I’m surprisingly thankful for this. In a way, I’ll always be thankful. The grass my daughter runs on is a vibrant green and the sky above us royal blue. I see colours in a way that I had never thought I could: through the eyes of a child. I ventured out that night to find something to live for and I have that now…

…I named her Harmony.

A Hero’s Chorus

A hero strives for good intent
Yet seems to make things worse.
I am not he, for I am selfish
To believe that it’s bad enough.
Meddling in affairs of those
Who’d sooner have me shot
Than offer any kind of comfort.
I feel so unaccomplished.
Leaving the stubborn to their riches
And vaults full of sins that
They try to lock away;
“Forget you have the key” they say.
Ejected, I wake in a gutter
On a dimly lit street. I’m prodded
To move over and make room,
Then asked to spare some change…
…all in a days work.

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