The Ghosts of Writings Past

The other night, I pulled down a binder which is full of things I’ve written—mostly from college, but some from high school as well. I was specifically looking to see if—against all odds—I had a printed copy of a short story which was the best thing I ever wrote in college, and which, with a little work, might possibly be something that could make it into print now. (Alas, all that exists of it is the first page.)

Of course, as I was flipping through it, looking for that one story, I had to read stuff along the way. The vast majority of it can be classified as God-awful (and apparently I had a lot of trouble with “it’s” versus “its”—oh the shame!—and my spelling was horrible, even at age 18), but there were a few things in there that might have some future potential.

For instance, I used to be quite fond of humorous poetry. I wrote the following in college, and the story is only slightly fabricated.

Fuzzy

I moved my mug
And gave a cough,
As fuzzy blue dust
Came flying off.

I gave a big sneeze
And dropped my cup.
“Wha…?” Sarah started,
then she snuffed the dust up.

“Gad!” she coughed,
then I started to cuss,
as I began to wheeze
and spit out blue dust.

“Clean up your room!”
“This is a mess!”
I gathered up some clothes
While she picked up the rest.

Then from inside the room,
Came a horrible shrieking.
“Don’t look at me,” I said,
‘cause I knew what she was thinking.

Then from under the bed
Came a flying gray ball,
Who chomped down Sarah,
My clothes and it all.

Then it gnashed its teeth
And turned to me;
A dust bunny from hell
Was all it could be.

The last thing I remember,
Was its dusty, old breath,
As it ate me up too,
And I died a dust bunny death.

And here’s a riddle that I wrote—perhaps for a writing exercise. (Oddly enough, I actually knew what the answer was by the third line.)

Simulated fowl, deep-fried.
6, 9, and 20 served in a rectangular paper product
(paper product yellow in nature, formed a few minutes before service).
Sticky substance—unknown contents
(although bi-product of bees likely a component).

And then I found this poem. It’s certainly in my handwriting, but it doesn’t rhyme, and it’s not funny, and it doesn’t have anything to do with loneliness or unrequited love (my typical poem topics). In fact, it’s quite descriptive and rather, well, poet-like. Not sure where it came from.

A Little Tabasco

We stopped out car near the abandoned oil derrick.
She got out, expensive sunglasses on,
all dressed up for cactus.
I got out, too, peeling flesh from vinyl,
and walked into town.

A wooden cowboy leaned against a pole,
free for the picture-taking.
A teepee was set up on the outskirts,
the Native American man with red feathers to the ground.
(Are there even red birds around here?)

The wooden sidewalks creak
as I window-shop for silver trinkets
and bajas on sale in the summer heat.

She waits patiently, unimpressed.
I know she wants to go.
Her dressy shoes click on the boards–
a stalking anger–
like a cat with its tail twitching.

I enter the saloon—full for lunch—
and head for a table in the corner.
She joins me, perked up a bit by the menu:
a laminated ten-gallon hat.

We order nachos, splitting them
and spilling them,
making a litter-strewn table
with a little Tabasco on top.

This poem still sums up how I feel sometimes—especially when I’m forced to abide by a word count:

It Ain’t Fittin

So much to say,
so little time;
so much emotion
to condense into words.

An elephant into a fruit jar.
Sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

Amongst the college material was some stuff I wrote in high school (16-17 years old), and it’s rather strange, but my handwriting was better in high school than college. But I think that’s because I clearly printed. As time went on, I began to write faster and some of my letters started to join up. Now my handwriting is two parts print and one part cursive.

Not long ago, I mentioned on someone’s blog that I had once invented a word for a poem. Pancaked: an adjective meaning something which is flat, like a pancake. And I happened to find that poem in my binder. (I also seem to have invented the word “forsaked,” but, damnit, it goes so well with “pancaked.”)

Frog Prince

I closed my eyes
and held my breath
and puckered up
to impending death.

I knew not where
my fate would lie;
I cracked a peek,
then shut my eye.

A little peck,
a salty taste;
a little breath
upon my face.

Arms embraced me,
a wanton hug.
I opened my eyes,
looked at his mug.

I was so shocked,
it astounded me!
There a prince,
blesséd be!

“Where’s the frog
I need to kiss?”
“Oh, forget him,
he’ll never be missed.”

He dipped me there–
oh, what a man!—
gave me all the kiss
I could stand.

I married him,
all else forsaked–
even the little frog
beneath his boot, pancaked.

So we lied
to play the game;
told everyone frog
and prince the same.

And here we lie;
we’ve not been caught.
My lesson’s learned,
so my father thought.

“Kiss not the frogs
you think you ought;
princes kiss better
and frogs do not.”

I also found the short story that lead me to write my vampire book. And it bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the book that I’m now proofreading (only 46 more pages!). I used to think of myself as a pretty good writer, but now, more than a decade later, I find myself groaning at most of my old stuff. I wonder what I will think of today’s work a decade from now?

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3 comments on “The Ghosts of Writings Past

  1. ricky peardon says:

    The reason your penmanship (Is that word P.C.?) suffers is because words and ideas flow from your mind faster than the hand can write. That is a good problem to have. I sometimes use a strange short hand and even write ideals for other jokes while trying to complete the original idea. The problem is then deciphering what is what.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Yes, speed definitely has something to do with it. But my letters have also changed over time. Not only are they half-joined up now, but I make the ends of “g”‘s and “y”‘s loop back on themselves. I’d be curious as to what a handwriting analysis would say about me 10 years ago versus me now.

  2. Wallace says:

    I think your poems are rather nice. A few years back I was looking thru some of my old papers and stuff and ran across some of my old stories and poems from High School and College. The stories were for HS class assignment and the poems just for pleasure.

    I have to say the stories were a bit on the florid side with lots of dramatic expressions and far too many exclamation points. The basic ideas were good, even original in some, but very amateurish. They looked and read like they were written by a HS student.

    The poems, tho, held up rather well. I though they were well written in rhyme and meter and they flowed nicely as one read. One of them especially I liked enough that I would have been happy to have written it today. Very abstract with lots of visual imagery that conveyed the essence of the idea without describing it prosaically. I probably should put them on FB or my blog someday, but to do that I’d have to find them again. Not an easy proposition given the state of my house.

    But I’m glad you found your stories and poems. It gives you both a perspective of where you started and how far you’ve come, but also some documentation for scholars when they study your work in the future. The vampire short story might be useful, but I think the frog poem is far more telling about your state of mind and world view.

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