Tag Archives: imagination

I hear voices

8 Jun

I Hear Voices

By L. Stewart Marsden

I hear voices. They come from out of nowhere like seeds borne by a dark wind, down into my ears and along the canals, edging further into my head where they take root.

That’s the best description I can give when considering how I come to write a poem, or a short story, or play, or argument about something.

Mysterious; elusive; inexplicable.

I hear the conversations between characters, who verbally spar with each other in my stories or plays. I hear the rhythm and rhyme of thoughts that spin into poems about whatever I’m experiencing. I see the stages where the works take place: an ocean, a mountain, a savanna, a city street. I smell the salt air, the pungent sassafras, the dry grass, the wet pavement. I hear the surrounding sounds of the background: a wave gently crashing onto the sand, the kree of a circling hawk, the rustle of the ocean of grasses, a distant ambulance.

Sometimes the voices are therapeutic. They worm into my subconscious and attack my fears and misgivings and self-doubt. They break the grip of things that seem to want to paralyze me and hold me back. And when those things are exposed to the light — as when Mommy bursts in to turn on the light during a nightmare — there are no ogres or monsters or creepy-crawlies under the bed or tucked into my closet.

Just the words. The poems. The stories.

My tinctures and salves are as imaginary as the ailments they address. Just words and thoughts.

Not all hear the voices. It’s both curse and blessing. Curse in the dead of night when they persist to prattle on until I eventually crawl out from my covers to tap them out onto the screen of my iPad. Blessing in when the effort is complete, and awaits the next step. I can fall back into my bed, deeply exhausted, and the voices are quiet.

You might think it’s madness. I suppose to a degree it is. There’s enough to surviving a lifetime than adding to it more things to read, to consider, to mull over.

But the voices don’t care about that. They want their day, whether they are read or not; appreciated or not; understood or not.

Me? For some reason I’m just one of the many vessels through which they choose to flow.

Next time you’re on a plane, or the subway, or walking a crowded street, or lingering in the shade beside a creek — listen.

Do you hear them?

I hope you do.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

24 Aug

Things That Go Bump in the Night

By L. Stewart Marsden

Since a kid I’ve been susceptible to my imagination at night, seeing things or hearing things that weren’t there. The jacket hung on a door hangar, transformed into a ghoulish being by the dark tones of night. The darkest corner of the ceiling, harboring a shapeless “thing” that would suddenly jump out at me. Things skittering about on the periphery of my vision.

I saw “King Kong” down at the beach one summer, and was effected for life. Years later, “The Time Machine,” also at the beach, had me turning my back on the one window in my bedroom, assured that if/when I turned to look, I’d see the red eyes and white-haired blue bodies of the Morlocks staring in on me.

Karloff, Lugosi, Lon Chaney & son, Price, Christopher Lee were the men behind the monsters, and I loved them all. I devoured magazines on horror make-up, anxious to uncover the magic behind Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula and the Wolfman.

Like Cosby’s great schtick on the radio show, “Lights Out,” I loved being scared. Not horrified, mind you (the advent of Nightmare on Elm Street and other blood movies was not to my liking at all), but scared.

Everything was filmed in black and white, even though Technicolor was available.

Yeah. Scare me to death.

The night before I left for prep school I watched a horror film called “Blood of Dracula.” It was about a girls school where one of the faculty had somehow procured the blood of the vampire, and along with a magical pendant, could turn students into creatures of the night. I wondered if one of the faculty members – maybe the science teacher – was likewise preparing for us boys and I would meet my destiny with horror.

At prep school, I was quartered in an old wood frame dorm, House C. I shared one of the second-story rooms with my roommate who was from Savannah. The rooms were spacious. My window looked out onto the delivery court of the Walker Building, a combination dormitory, office, and dining hall structure of brick and antebellum design. Several floodlights illumined the delivery court – a large square with a loading dock along one side. It was the favorite haunt at night of dozens of feral cats, who gathered to fight over garbage and other night-time activities. When late evening fog would roll into the square, and the cats would begin to fight, screeching and growling, it was the perfect soup for my imagination.

After lights out, I would pull out a flashlight, bury myself under my bed sheets, and read from Bram Stoker’s classic horror tale, “Dracula.” The fog, the cats’ yowlings echoing  in the courtyard, were the perfect visual/aural background, and more than elicited my ripe and visceral imaginings.

As I grew older, I outlasted my childish fears. I revisit them for entertainment, as well as escape from the real and far more scary realities of this day – the things that really do go “bump” in the night.



Virtual hope

8 May

Virtual hope

By L. Stewart Marsden

I writhe
in virtual agony
from behind my side
of a protective flat screen

having seen
the faces of
beautiful women far away
on the portal’s other side

who hide
in mystery lives
which I can’t see
or hope to become part —

my heart
ever slowly beats
to think that I
might ever meet just one

at some
small quaint café
to sip and talk
and share the ending day

perhaps say
“Again next week?
or even somewhat sooner?”
and await the smiling answer …

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 8 May, 2015

What would you do?

17 Apr




What would you do?

by L. Stewart Marsden

What would you do,
if you would,
if you could?

Would you build a mighty galleon
and sail the seven seas?
And fight a giant sea dragon
until the monster sneezed?
Would you tip atop an ocean wave
and fly upon a breeze?

What would you do,
if you would,
if you could?

Would you conquer lands both near and far
and rule them as their king?
Would you benefit the weak and strong,
stamp edicts with your ring?
Making sure your people got along
in spite of everything?

What would you do,
if you would,
if you could?

Would you burrow deep into the earth
to find its red-hot core?
Where strange and wondrous animals
we’ve never seen before
are living just beneath us all
in nations, towns, and more?

What would you do,
if you would,
if you could?

Would you ride the back of Pegasus
to stars you’ve never seen?
And bring back diamonds, rubies, too
from where none have ever been?
Make treaties with the other worlds
filled with aliens?

What would you do,
if you would,
if you could.

Why I’d do all the things that you have said,
I’d do them, every one;
and when I’d finished off the list
I’d say, “I’ve just begun
to do the things that I would do,
and those I could do, too!”

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 17 April, 2014


Teeth Cleaning

16 Apr




Teeth Cleaning

or, an old man’s oral fixations

by L. Stewart Marsden

In my mature Mitty-like life
there are those moments that make it worthwhile
like going to the dentist to brighten my smile
and luxuriating in the presence of my hygienist.

She’s a raven-haired beauty of Asian descent
with round brown eyes that peek through her shields
as she wields both scraper and mirror
and says “Open wide” as she bends over nearer.

Rubbing, scraping, she picks tiny flecks of yellowing plaque,
inadvertently touching my sensitive neck,
and says “Turn to me” with a voice most erotic —
and I wonder if she, too, feels the thrill just beneath my bared open teeth
as she dips her drill in that tub of pink paste?

What a waste if she missed the beat of my heart
as she started to floss and rinse out my mouth!
Surely she knows, and would return my emotions
that are plumbed from the depths of my imagined oceans?

See? She stirred in her chair, and moved a bit closer
to ostensibly find a much better angle,
to clean a back molar, but this much I know, sir,
she’s thinking of ways she might possibly wrangle
a new date to see me — and supposedly clean me.

Perhaps in six months? Oh, days may they fly
till my hygienist and I return to each other
when perhaps she will smother me with words of her love
as I stare at her eyes and her hair just above
and she says once again, “Open wide!”


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 16 April, 2014