Scaring crows

by ivanhope - October 22nd, 2010

Falling Leaf by Rosh
[Falling Leaf, by Rosh, 2009]

I knew a scarecrow once. He was not afraid of crows. Not at all; though they smelled poorly, and hacked away viciously, and infested him with lice and mites. He didn’t mind the violence. He overlooked their sundry ills. For you see they kept him company, as they were not afraid of him.

Within his daily gaze there stood a little puddle of a pond. In the summer it produced frogs in abundance as well as flies for them to eat. In the fall its few fish grew sluggish. By winter it was frozen through within an inch of its shallow bottom. I happen to know the scarecrow cared a great deal for these fish. He would number them around Hallow’s Eve and that number stayed with him through the slow drift of snow and creeping ice that called itself winter.

When the thaw came crawling cross the ground, waking tiny swishing tails to the challenge of a crisping water, the scarecrow’s number would often prove too much. He would let the old tally drift off with the fresh breath of spring. He knew the crows would soon return.

And there were always more crows than he could count.



by ivanhope - April 6th, 2010

[Man at window, Haymarket Theater by Robert James Lucas, 1925]

He stared through the perfectly unstreaked surface. Beyond lay the vacuum of night; between he could see his reflection trapped within one-quarter inch of glass. The blackness made his eyes look hollow, his open mouth capable of swallowing a midnight’s worth of regret. The old scar pulsed fresh. Pink and swollen, it was over his left eye now: the mark of her lipstick. Away from the glass the pale white jag remained on the right side, where her ring had met his face.

He took a sip of both drinks, catching his own empty eye and nodding to his health. On the near side of the glass his lip passed a string of oozing red into the tumbler. He watched himself from the far side and set the neat bourbon down. Looking in he didn’t like what he saw of the hotel room: a borrowed suitcase, half-empty; an unlined, plastic trashcan chocked with takeout; a bruised and weepy face that dared not hold his gaze.

“Here’s to you, lover boy.” One lidless eye winked atop the glass. She was waiting for him downstairs. He straightened his tie; he had a pair of rings in his jacket pocket. He’d had enough of these macabre reflections. She was the one. He knew that as well as he knew himself.

From the hotel room he watched himself snap his fingers, point up in the air and sashay out. He shut off the lamp and the reflection disappeared. The unstreaked midnight sky remained.


The Lady and the Wolf

by ivanhope - November 18th, 2009

Dunham Massey by Christophe Furlong
[Dunham Massey, by Christopher Furlong, 2009]

There was a bug. A lady bug. She was the promise of life. She came in the time of flowers and first figs. She brought with her the dream of smiles and ruffled hair and laughter.

In the winter she was not to be found.

There was a wolf. A rabid wolf. He was the harbinger of death. He came in the coldest, darkest times. He fed upon the fear of each day’s change, and broken things, and words that were spit at the night.

By the coming of spring he had all but eaten himself.

It was a late frost the first and only time they met. Savage and silent, having slunk through the barren trees, he approached her within the long reach of his shadow. The lady was slowed by the cold, and clinging to the first brittle shoot of the season.

“I am hungry,” said the wolf, “and you have broken our arrangement. Why should I not snatch you up and lock you away in my belly?”

The lady was too weak to open her eyes. She nodded instead. “It is your right,” she agreed. “I am in trespass upon your last morn. If you wish to eat me, there is nothing to stop you.”

She clung to the slender blade of grass. He loped closer to her, frosting her back with his heavy breath.

“If I eat you now, this world will not bloom. If I devour your life, no life will remain to be chased in its proper season. This banquet you offer can only bring more hunger in time.”

“What you say is true,” the lady conceded.

“Then you have set me a trap, and I will not fall,” huffed the wolf and receded back into the shadows.

The morning sun rose higher and the night’s chill melted away. The first fruits were soon to take life again. When she had warmed, the lady bug flitted free of the shoot and rode away on the wind.

They never met again, the lady and the wolf. The wolf made sure of that.


An Attempt

by ivanhope - November 14th, 2009

Reaching For Heaven Genesis 11 by Ruth Palmer
[Reaching for Heaven Genesis 11, by Ruth Palmer, 2009]

He tried.

Not once or twice. Not in passing, nor just for the show of the thing. He tried with the quiet, unflinching confidence of internal necessity: with certain fingers reaching after a thing that they must, at any cost, acquire. He tried with all he had.

And still, he failed.

He was made to kneel upon the remains of his broken promise. He had not enough left within him to express any anguish or grief. All such energies had been spent, if in vain. There was no more fuel to stoke a fire, neither for mourning nor for celebration.

And then, he realized.

The ground beneath him would have as willingly held his triumph as his failure. The totality of his resources spent, the result was beyond purchase. His travail, this moment’s attempt, was ended. The point of decision had past.

And so, he stood.

An opportunity had been lost, but that was all. The drive, the necessity, the inspiration: they all remained for him, ready to be assumed in each and every situation that would follow this singular — and so it would remain, no matter how many times it recurred — miss.

He tried again.


Fading Together

by ivanhope - May 1st, 2009

Rust on White by Bruce Gunion
[Rust on White, by Bruce Gunion, 2009]

A splash of rust freckled her long waves of hair. Or maybe that was just the sun winking down at him, reminding of the deep red curls she once wore. Her talc white skin was not smooth, as it had been. Time had blanched her features with the same slow bleed that stole the flash of life from her hair. Only the tight curls and ringlets remained, a memory of vitality now lost within the maze of white and shadow.

She reached her hand out to his: one pattern of wrinkles searching another, crevices and grooves finding comfort as they eased into their familiar hold. He wondered how much of himself remained within her eyes. How much of the man she married was still there to study, and how much needed to be painted in with watercolor from the past. Once upon a time their eyes had been quite different. His an earthen brown, hers a flickering green. Somewhere along the laughing, crying, wonderfully awful march together they’d met at the same worn shade of grey.

It was a good place to meet, he decided. Like a Sunday afternoon spent reading together, or the warm mound of one body they created when making old love new again. A place of life wholly lived and love well used. It was their home, more so than any construct of mailing address or mortar foundation. It was a singularity that only existed between them. The sort of place that took both their looks to see: if either were to ever glance away, it would all just cease to be.

He seized his guts then and coughed out as much of the pain as he could. Through grunting tears he remained focused only on his wife.

“It will be alright,” he lied to her.
“I know it will,” and she really did.


How’d That Get in There…?

by ivanhope - April 5th, 2009

Scott Eaton's Prometheus
[Digital Prometheus, by Scott Eaton, 2006]

They wanted a super-soldier. A thing of muscle and testosterone and unchecked aggression. They stirred him together in a deoxyribose cocktail: Frankenstein’s Prometheus unbound, one nucleus at a time, in a blender.

“Here’s Patton’s pinky toe”, one said. “Don’t forget Sun-Tzu’s wisdom tooth”, said another. They argued over the morality of including a hair from Hitler’s mustache. In the end they went with Dahmer’s incisor instead.

He emerged from the tank, naked and fully formed. His muscles indeed rippled. His testes were suitably gigantic. His face all afrown.

“What have you to say?”

He proceeded to hug them to death.


A Letter from Your Hungry Heart

by ivanhope - March 21st, 2009

Gothic Romance and Greek, by RP Gesus
[Gothic Romance and Greek, by RP Gesus, 2009]

My Dearest Love,

May this letter find you happy, healthy and, most importantly, safe. You must have a thousand worthy questions in the wake of my abrupt departure yesterday evening. First, let me say that you should not be concerned for me. I am all right. However drastic my precautions might seem to you, they are even more warranted. I sincerely wish we had gotten the chance to share that final dance. Such, it would seem, is not our fate.

As for my unexpected shift in temperament, I apologize. It is with abject shame that I recall how poorly I treated your family and friends. I cannot, will not, ask them to forgive me. Even if they were willing, I would remain undeserving. I might just as well ask you to understand what is going on inside of me. But this prison I wear like a morning robe is alive with thoughts and feelings I would wish on no one, least of all those tender thoughts that have for so long proven my salve.

If your curiosity, nay your unfaltering faith in my undeserving character, presses too firmly upon your conscience, it is your uncle Helsing that might offer you some small answer. It was, after all, he that first diagnosed my condition. The doctors have assured me he will recover with time, and be able to speak again. Until then, know that all I have done thus far, however barbaric it might seem in the wash of daylight, has been, within the shadow of the moment, executed for your protection. Even now, this final dreadful decision is made with your ultimate well being my only concern.

We shall not see each other again. Not within formal society, nor private function. Your hand cannot again touch my neck, and my eyes will spend their remaining years seeking your features in vain. This is my binding, unavoidable pledge to you. I could tell you of the hunger within me; the insatiable wounds that draw me to you. The uncontrollable urges that must be locked away. Such confessions could never help you to appreciate the depth of my love for you. Only in severing our ties, in protecting you from this thing that is inside of me, can I hope, one day, to convince you of my true affections. It is in my absence, within my damning exile from your paradise, that I will offer you the highest form of my love.

I have done everything in my power to assure these barriers between us cannot be breached. If I fail, I shudder to even consider the possibility, but if my strength proves unworthy the task, you must promise me one thing. If you see my face again, whether in the blur of a crowd or the focus of an empty room, you must not hesitate. Run from me, my dear. Run from me as fast and hard as I now run from you.

With unchecked devotion,

Your hungry heart


The Merlin Prophecies #0 (Preview)

by ivanhope - February 5th, 2009

Now available for order, for those of you so inclined:

Midtown Comics

Otherwise, if you happen to be in the New York area this weekend, swing by and pick up a copy at the New York convention:

2009 New York Comicon

2009 New York Comicon


A Press Release… with my name in it.

by ivanhope - January 30th, 2009


Ardden Entertainment is proud to announce that comic book industry legend J.M. DeMatteis and writer Derek Ivan Webster are teaming with artist Loren Meyer for THE MERLIN PROPHECIES, a genre-defying modern-day reinvention of the Camelot mythos.

THE MERLIN PROPHECIES is the story of John Myrddin, an emotionally-disturbed shipwreck of a man living in New York City’s East Village. John hears voices, too many voices, invading his dreams, haunting his days. One voice in particular stands out: a woman’s voice. And one night that voice leads him to Central Park. There, in the middle of a lake, John has an encounter with an ethereal woman that changes him, and will change the world, forever. Because John Myrddin now remembers the truth: He is none other than Merlin and the woman is the Lady of the Lake, who has been waiting centuries to reawaken the fabled wizard of Camelot. Now Merlin is on a mission to find, and train, a teenage boy who may one day redeem the world. But an ancient evil is also stalking the boy…and if it finds him first, our world may be forever lost….

DeMatteis, who also works as Ardden Entertainment’s Editor-in-Chief, comments, “This is a fresh spin on the Merlin legend. Although elements of Arthurian myth are woven throughout the story, THE MERLIN PROPHECIES is a very contemporary take: no magic swords. No dragons. No knights in shining armor. It’s city streets and shadows. Secrets hidden behind the veil of the modern world.

“I’m delighted to be collaborating with my friend Derek Ivan Webster, a Los Angeles-based writer and story consultant, whose knowledge of the Arthurian legends is encyclopedic. Loren Myer’s art is pitch perfect for the series: moody, mysterious, emotional, magical. We can’t wait to get to work on the mini-series and continue to explore this endlessly fascinating character.”

Ardden will debut THE MERLIN PROPHECIES #0 at the New York Comic-Con next weekend. The issue will feature an intense, character-driven story that takes place before the events of the mini-series, which will launch later in 2009.

Ardden Entertainment is the publisher of the new critically-acclaimed monthly FLASH GORDON series that has recently seen a complete sell out of issues #1, #2 and #3. Issue #4 hits stores in early February. Ardden is releasing a FLASH GORDON 75th ANNIVERSARY hardcover during the NYCC, featuring an incredible array of famous comic book talents, as well as the spy thriller THE STAND IN #0 by Jim Krueger and Alex Cal. The company—whose business model is to produce contemporized versions of classic licenses and exciting new creator-owned titles—was formed in mid 2007 by former Miramax/Dimension Films executive Brendan Deneen and former Markosia Editor-in-Chief, Richard Emms.


The Writer’s Wheel

by ivanhope - November 15th, 2008

to match the voice as heard in memory
align two minds that share the craft of self
define the moment held ‘tween him and me
the man I am made distant from past wealth
a pauper now with alms held out in shame
scraps of word stretched above an alley fire
bullion based thoughts bubble despite no claim
dead kindling dreams crackle beneath the pyre
hands clutched within my fading wrap of cloth
brittle the bones that once had mastery
shrunken this breath barely retains a cough
if legs gave out I would not trust my knee
and so descends my split self into fear
each time I take the writer’s wheel to steer