I stare out, alone, over a vast ethereal landscape. My toes curl over the grains of sand and pebbles at the Edge. In fact, I am “hanging ten”. I close my eyes, face outstretched toward the golden sun. The blue breezes dances through my hair and I lift my arms, fingers outstretched, glorying in the energy around me. Purple clouds fill the air, and roll past the sun. I lower my arms, open my eyes. The friendly winds have moved on, and their charged brothers dance in behind them, twirling and spinning, each more energetic than the last, snatching at the branches and the leaves, carrying loose debris past my feet into the abyss in front of me. I watch the dust, twigs, leaves, and pebbles plummet. I lift my leg, and place my foot on top of a small boulder next to me. Suddenly I am transported away: I am a proud captain surveying the raucous seas at the prow of his magnificent vessel. I become Alexander, atop the Cappadocian Mountains, surveying the lands my armies will conquer.

I stare across my cloud-filled abyss: poking through the near mists, a sharp ridge-line juts into view. Sparsely dotting the stony back of the recumbent giant, the silhouettes of what can only be the hardiest of trees shake in the breathy currents, as if a deep seated snore softly echoes from below the mists. To the left, I spy a small pinnacle that stops abruptly only a few feet taller than the ledge I am perched upon. Of course, it could merely be an illusion in the fogs.

There is something vaguely eternal in the dense pall, billowing inward – drowning the low-lying areas. It’s as if some great Being erased all traces of existence beneath the nimbus mist below and around me. The sounds of nature are muffled; suffocated beneath the heavy grey pillow. All I hear is my own nasal sighs, and the polyphonic winds whisping past the cedars and oaks, and howling around the granite craig. I stand, undaunted and unmoved.

In the distance, the mountains arch out of the haze, defying anything or anyone’s attempt to hide their bold faces as they resolutely join earth and sky in timeless bond. They cut through the fog, refusing to be ignored or smothered. A falcon screams as it plummets into the mist, in search of breakfast.

Above, the nimbus clouds scud across the sky, unconcerned with the defiance and audaciousness of the mountains, bluffs, and ridges their younger brothers attempted to mask. In their own way, some have already won for they soar above the highest mountains, while others never elevate themselves past the point of merely adorning the bold ascents, vaguely resembling an arctic fox boa.

This Operatic drama of clashing titans unfolds before me: The Airs and Winds, Mists and Clouds versus the Boulders and Cliffs, Ridges and Mountains; the Cavalry swooping past the immutable Legions. I resolutely stand perched upon my spire: below the skies, above the lands. My fierce gaze absorbs the battle’s impasse as the cacophony swells, both sides deadlocked in their feverish pitch. My nostrils flare and chest swells with an indomitable and dauntless spirit; an inflammation of victory and power in what can only be called the glory of the sublime.

I stare out, alone, over this vast ethereal landscape. My toes curl over the pebbles at the Edge.



3 thoughts on “Invictus

  1. Good stuff writer….the commenters above are thinking too much and not experiencing the feel of the rush of the vision….keep writing and don’t think at all about it…let it flow man

  2. You asked me to come by and take a look, so I’ll add my few cents in.

    First, I agree with what the above poster said. The consciousness at the center of this piece does not seem to match the title, but rather is an observer.

    Also, I would be sure to set the scene more firmly at the beginning and watch your use of jargon. “Hang ten” is a well known surfing phrase. It took me three times reading that first paragraph to understand what was happening. Rather than using the specialized surging language, which only confuses the piece, describe what it is and give us more detail about the feeling.

    You also seem to be adopting language that is confusing and not typical of current prose styles. Speaking of the wind having brothers in the same paragraph as “hanging ten” creates an anachronistic juxtaposition of language that seems disjointed and confuses.

    Take a sentence like this: “This Operatic drama of clashing titans unfolds before me: The Airs and Winds, Mists and Clouds versus the Boulders and Cliffs, Ridges and Mountains; the Cavalry swooping past the immutable Legions.”

    The first clause is great. I get that, the clashing titans are the clouds and mountains. We’re going places. For the two following clauses, forget the semicolon and just say what you mean: “The Airs and Winds, Mists and Clouds versus the Boulders and Cliffs, Ridges and Mountains are the Cavalry swooping past the immutable legions” or even clearer: “The The Airs and Winds, Mists and Clouds are cavalry swooping past immutable legions of Boulders and Cliffs, Ridges and Mountains.”

    There are some nice sections in here, but they are occluded and obscured (to use more cloud language) by the sentences that use a structure uncommon in the modern vernacular.

    I think the above commenter’s mention of the prose as incoherent is something to take into advisement. If someone is going to be “suddenly transported” to a sea vessel, he’d better damn well stay on the sea vessel. As it stands, he seems to be on some sort of sea vessel briefly, then returns to the original spot without anything telling the reader he is back at the original spot. When I first read this, I thought he was a surfer, then on a boat, then on a cliff, and then a general. Keep things tight. Set the scene, make it clear when he is imagining, don’t be afraid to make a clear simile.

  3. The title is nice and Latin, but the speaker seems to be only observing from a point not embroiled, not “Unconquered.” The speaker is a witness, not beset on all sides. Or is Invictus a reference to Henley, “captain of my soul” and whatnot? If I were to shoehorn meaning in with knowledge of the external Henley, I could talk about Henley’s known place in the Stoic movement and posit that the storm was happening within the speaker and the speaker was absolutely unaffected by any emotional conflict. This doesn’t correspond with the emotions of glory and power, however. Is the speaker remembering the good stories, pretending to be something?

    Or is your work predicated upon knowledge of John Masefield’s “Sea Fever,” as depicted in small white lettering on the base of the manipulated image of Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the sea fog”? That’s a matter of wanderlust and longing, not resisting those who would beset.

    Then there’s the imagery of the mountain and clouds fighting, Air-on-Earth action. Is the mountain unconquered? Does the speaker, whose body is not destroyed by air, likening himself to the stuff of the earth that is unaffected by the dew? Is this deliberately ignoring erosion to speak to the speaker’s folly? This kind of works against the image of the lowland mist as eternal. Or is it the mist of time itself working against man and mountain, obscuring things distant? When these generously employed symbols are used, your tale takes on the baggage of previous uses of the imagery. I can’t tell what you’re trying to say, if indeed communicating something is intentional.

    I take issue with the final sentence of the penultimate paragraph, “My nostrils flare and chest swells with a glorious inflammation of victory and power in what can only be called Glory.” I’m not one to encourage monologophobia, but at least this bit requires some more variety for my tastes.

    All in all, at first glance, I find this purple prose incoherent but grammatically sound.

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