John A Brennan


Chewing on a scrap of desiccated monkfish, a frazzled, embittered wordsmith ran to the edge of a deserted village, took a long-tail shovel from a shed at the bottom of an overgrown garden and began to assault the ground beneath a bristle-cone pine. He dug in a frantic, futile attempt to exhume words buried alive long ago, words that always eluded him, words that mocked him, laughed in his face, taunted him and now, to his horror, the interred words, words that told of his hatred of putting down roots and being trapped, were no longer there and his heart sank as another fruitless enterprise, another waste of his valuable time consumed him. He was like the gypsies who forged nails in molds made from negev sand, nails used to crucify the pretender to the throne of David, and who, for their efforts,  were cursed to wander the earth until accountability finally caught up with their roving caravans. He climbed jagged mountains, descended deep into black caverns, sailed vast, desolate oceans and stumbled across empty wastelands seeking the elusive combinations of pure, single letters, but like migrating, flirtatious butterflies and twin-winged, hovering dragonflies, the words flitted and danced as leaves in an autumn forest and always ever just out of his reach, and his growing anger gnawed like a hungry judas wolf, so he fed it and kept searching. He paid the piper years ago, but got only rats and missing children in return, no solace at the gates of dawn for him, no tranquil airs, no positive outcome nor balm for his bruised heart. With his tunes out of key, his thoughts irrational, his coat threadbare and his ego flat as the top of table mountain he sank to his bony knees and beat his bloody fists against the red, barren earth of the painted desert and collapsed in a quivering heap. And still the words eluded him and all around him the winds roared and cracked, the rain whipped his body, the electrical flashes in the air stung his skin, each flash etched in his memory forever and in the cacophany he lost track of the number of times he had counted coup, the gauntlets he had run, the knots he had unraveled, the labyrinths he had navigated and then with his memory jaded and out of sync, right then, in that moment, he finally realized that the ferryman only accepts cash and headless households will always collapse and his life-long search for the right words would continue unabated.

Author JOHN ANTHONY BRENNAN comes from County Armagh, Ireland. He left his beloved, sacred green isle many years ago to explore the world and has been island hopping ever since.  He now resides in New Rochelle. NY.