It’s Not a Question, Just Something I’m Curious About

Is all our time forgotten
are the memories now dust

on the cover of a story
titled Just the Two of Us

pushed in the darkest corner
in the attic, in the hutch

does the journey now mean nothing
since it ended so abrupt

has the hurt choked out the joy
that we shared together once

can we part with wistful smiles
though the heart is nearly crushed

perhaps one day we’ll cherish
the excitement and the rush

of a once forgotten story
about you and me and us.

© 2014 Mike Tannian

The Unlikely Hymn

Jake knocked back a shot of Jameson whiskey. It burned and ignited a bed of coals in his gut that radiated wave after wave of heat, spreading through his limbs, up his spine and surrounding his mind like a soothing balm over the wounded memories.

“You here to forget?”

Jake glanced casually at the girl who had spoken to him. She sat two chairs over, leaning against the bar, holding a margarita like an English cup of tea. She was petite with slight Asian features and an intricate braid cascaded down her back. Continue reading

Cooking Is Like Dressing Yourself

But instead of color coordination, it requires flavor coordination. Anyone can feed themselves. Anyone can dress themselves. The question is, how well do you do it? I can don sweats and a hoody every day of the week, but I won’t be doing myself any favors. I can eat Mickey D’s every day, or microwave a hot pocket, but again, I’m not doing myself any favors. Just like cooking well, dressing well requires quality brands and a knowledge of where and when to get the right brands at the right price. So next time you cook up some Chicken Piccata over a bed of Quinoa with veggies on the side, just remember, you’re closer than you think to piecing together a quality outfit.

Bold Dreams

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Let us not sit idle on the sidewalk, while our life cruises by. Let us dream, hope, and wonder. Let us be starry-eyed, yet realistic. bold, yet respectful. Let us be bold for our passions. Bold for our talents. Bold enough to begin it – that thing that gets put on the shelf after a long day of work, that thing that gets ignored because the TV is on, that thing that we think of as we drift off to sleep. Let us be bold. Boldly us.

An Argument for Fearless Living

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”
~ John 13:3-4, NIV

The other day, I read John’s account of Jesus washing his disciples feet, and it blew my mind. The first couple paragraphs build my argument, so please be patient. Continue reading

I Call Her Fancy

The door swings shut behind her. I first see the black wedges. They click against the tiles, seem to put a punctuation mark on every step. Every click, a comma, until she stops at the counter to order. Then it’s a semi-colon and, finally, the period after she sits down. She’s wearing pantyhose. A black mini skirt hugs her hips and a silver shawl wraps around her shoulders with intricate Japanese designs. I decide to nickname her Fancy.

I’m in Starbucks. It’s 11am.

Fancy’s friend follows behind her the whole while. She’s overweight with jeans and a plain white tee. When they sat down, Fancy happened to sit facing me. She talks like the energizer bunny with eyelids that flutter gracefully and intermittently. Each time I wonder how she opens her eyes back up—they’re so weighed down by umbrella lashes. Whatever’s going on with her eye makeup, it gives her an Egyptian look.

I wonder why Fancy and Plain White are friends. It has nothing to do with their styles, I know that much. In my cynicism, I imagine the worst and feel bad that Fancy feeds off Plain White’s doting attention like an egotistical vampire. I feel bad that Fancy thinks she has to cover up her beautiful, God-given face with a makeup veneer. I feel bad that Plain White just wants to be seen with Fancy and all of Fancy’s false glory, because it makes her feel important, worth more than she feels, more than the world says with its harsh social system.

Then again, that’s just my cynicism talking. Then again, cynicism is a lot like stereotypes. It’s only a thing because there’s truth in it.

The Sneer

            Sunday evening, in route to the movie theater, two college friends had the city bus to themselves. Stan—the more socially astute and independent of the two—crouched in a surfing stance in the center of the aisle, trying to stay balanced as the bus turned and undulated with the wavy road. The bus driver glanced in the mirror, a warning on the tip of her tongue, and then sunk into her seat passively.

            On the seat nearby, Kyle watched with dopey admiration. He tensed up on the tight turns and silently rejoiced as his friend remained balanced. Kyle had a small Filipino face with a perpetual smile and an innocence that his lady friends considered adorable.

            The bus squeaked to a stop, resting with a mighty exhale. Kyle saw Bandito’s bar through the window. This was the last stop before their destination. Two guys strutted like penguins onto the bus. He stared at the big one’s ink, barely discernable against his dark skin. Then a young, curvaceous woman with vertigo-inducing heels clicked her way to a seat. As the bus lurched into motion, Kyle wished that Stan would stop surfing; knew that he wouldn’t. He could see the penguins eyeing Stan critically. Continue reading

Prince of Rabble

Prince of Rabble

Armor forged in flaming stars
Orion his hammer, his anvil is Mars
he traverses the cosmos, cape billowing behind
the moons are his scepter, the suns are his pride
this prince doesn’t skimp his coffers for glory
but skips upon planets in single steps
plucking diamonds from their perches in universal nests
he summons galaxies and holds them in hand
rearranging their order or crushing them like sand
constellations are garlands adorning his frame
garnishing this prince like testaments of praise.

Love he lacked not, nor anything else
yet he stooped to the rabble, guised in its filth.

The laws that govern the realities of earth
hold no sway to his adventure and mirth
he alters their meaning with bright steaming sword
surfing on rainbows, inverting the world,
dancing on rays while creation serenades
this prince doesn’t skimp his coffers for joy
but skips upon clouds in seamless bounds
rides April showers into mountain streams
surges as lightning into the ground
bellows like thunder for the rabble he deems
worthy of thrones on heavenly peaks.

Love he lacked not, nor anything else
Yet he stooped to the rabble, guised in its filth.

This prince doesn’t skimp his coffers for grace
but invaded the world as a newborn babe
from celestial thrones to creaky cribs
from Genesis 1 to drooling on bibs
this imminent king was a suckling kid
short pudgy arms couldn’t swing a sword
or defend against genocide by Herod’s warriors
fat kicking legs couldn’t stand and fight
against the powers of darkness that rage in the night
but this plight was his purpose, the only way
to save the wretched, the good, the rich, the depraved.

Love he lacked not, nor anything else
yet he stooped to the rabble, guised in its filth.

©  2013 Mike Tannian

what could've been

What Could’ve Been

We bumped into each other. In the halls between your classes. We chatted like old times. You wore the perfect skirt and your hair was bunched up perfectly and your nose ring was perfect too.

You’re exceptionally beautiful today, I thought, and I regretted my indecision, my indifference, my decision from before.  In a split second the past year and a half was erased and a new history was written with me and you and the things that could’ve been. I smiled to myself.

“What’s funny?” You asked me, in the middle of our conversation–I didn’t know what the hell we were talking about.

“Nothing,” I said, playing it off cool…so I thought.

And you told me about California and about your holiday, and your ring finger gleamed as you stroked your hair. You looked at me–up and from the corner of your eyes, wondering if I’d notice. I did. I didn’t mention it though.

“Goodbye,” you said. You were late for your next class.

“Goodbye.”

Mrs. Friday Evening

Paige shouted my name from across the street. I almost didn’t hear her; I was so focused on the icy snow and its crunching rhythm beneath my feet. I looked up, smiling, as she waved eagerly with both hands. I shuffled over, hands buried in jean pockets, and said hi. We had met in the fall semester, over an uproarious card game, and had kept in touch over winter break.

“Wanna come on a journey to Wal-Mart?” she asked. Dark hair spilled over her shoulders and eyes brimmed with excitement, like a kitten daring me to play along. “It’s a barbarous place, definitely not for the faint of heart.”

“You found the right guy,” I said, ultra serious. “I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life.”

“Perfect!” She exclaimed, and it was settled.

Paige was a pioneer, and somehow she discovered the fun in Wal-Mart. She climbed in a cart and shouted “Push me!” while throwing her hands in the air. I hesitated, looking around at the other shoppers, and gave in. We zoomed down the aisles, giggling, until some old lady scowled at us.

That’s when I fell for Paige. In those Wal-Mart moments, when we created fun out of nothing. In those moments with friends, when we found each other’s eyes and knew, secretly, that it was just about us—the whole night, maybe even the whole world. I wanted to sweep her off her feet, rescue her from a fire-breathing dragon, a tower at the edge of the world, or a villain’s evil plan. I wanted to carry her in my arms, biceps bulging and glistening in the setting sun, and lay her down safely on the white sandy beach of some secret isle.

Instead, I planned a date night to Roanoke.

“Mike, where are we going?” She asked from the passenger’s seat.

“You’ll see.”

“Come on, please?” She put her hand against my side, threatening to tickle me. “Pretty please?”

“Tickle me if you want,” I said. “I’ll crash this car before I tell you.” She crossed her arms, pretending to be mad. I just laughed at her. Continue reading