To Thine Own Self Be True (Flash Fiction)

That’s the advice the Bard bequeathed to us some 400 years ago, but then, he didn’t have $50K in school debts and nothing but a Theater Arts diploma to draw on.

After graduation, I lived on a shoestring, getting money from community-theater gigs and a part-time job subbing for a middle-school theater arts teacher. If I wanted more of the “root of all evil,” I’d need to find people even more desperate than myself.

I placed an ad on Craigslist: “Professional ‘yes-man.’ Seasoned actor will act as your double-date to the bar, vouch for your far-fetched excuses to your boss, etc.”

Jobs poured in. I was a wing-man, school principal, doctor; you name it. I side-stepped jobs that could cause bodily harm or willful destruction of property. I tried, for the most part, to steer clear of unethical gigs, but let’s face it— I was paid to be a liar.

One night, I sat opposite to Cheryl and Wade Bledsoe at their dining-room table. A routine gig. Cheryl had backed a company vehicle into a parked car while inebriated. She needed a cover story.

“Pretty easy,” I told Cheryl. “I’ll swing by your office and talk to your boss. I’ll say I watched a guy rear-end you, then take off. You were so nervous, you forgot to file a police report. Thankfully, I gave you my number, in case you needed a witness. Got it?”

“Perfect.” Cheryl breathed a sigh of relief. “How much do we owe you?”

There was something peculiar about the way Wade had been eyeing me. He had that faint look of recognition for the last half-hour.

Just as Cheryl was finishing her question, I placed him. He was a previous client of mine, looking to hook-up with a barkeep on the South side. I played his wing-man, and he got the date.

My eyes shot to Wade’s in recognition. The look of trepidation on his face confirmed he remembered who I was, as well.

I decided to capitalize on the opportunity. Chancing it, I charged him double:

“For a job of this magnitude, the going-rate is $1000. Certain factors bring that number down…if you’ve been referred by a client or you’re a recurring customer. But those wouldn’t apply to you guys, would they, Wade?”

“No,” His voice cracked. “They wouldn’t. Who should I make the check out to?”

Somnambulist (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

“Put me to bed!”
the somnambulist said,
“Small wonder, it’s where I belong.”

But he knew as much
to ask- as such,
I wonder, wasn’t he wrong?

Nevertheless,
I acquiesced
and led him back to his chamber.

But the very next night—
the selfsame plight!
I followed to keep him from danger.

My breath short and shallow
through halls lit with tallow,
I shadowed with a strange elation.

Strolling slowly through streets,
(all the time, fast-asleep)
I surveyed his noctambulation.

Over cobblestone paths
we passed, at last
arriving on a star-lit lawn.

The moon garden seemed
in its midnight gleam
to rival Eden at dawn.

Queen Anne’s Lace
spilled over the place,
there in that botany nirvana.

There were snowdrops a light,
candy-tufts, lily-white,
all manner of nocturnal fauna.

But there on the periphery
came quite a mystery:
there were Sylphs rubbing Luna Moth wings.

They kneaded in dust
to give the insects their thrust,
bade them fly as the faerie song rings.

It’s what happened next
that still has me vexed.
In my mind it was vivid and real.

I thought I, the stalker,
and he, the sleepwalker
that I chased through pastoral fields.

But the quarry I followed
through woodlands and hollow
snuck behind me with a slow, noiseless creep.

And he shook me about,
all the time shouting out,
“Come back to your bed, you’re asleep!”

Featured Artist- Nanci Stoeffler

While the purpose of this blog is, in part, to meet up with like-minded artists who follow the teachings of Jesus, it still came as a surprise when I was able to do just that last week: I had the utterly unique and unprecedented experience of meeting up with someone who I met through this website!

The artist in question is Nanci Stoeffler. We first connected up on WordPress due to our affinity for good art that glorifies God. As we continued to chat, we recognized that we lived in the same vicinity, and agreed to grab coffee together to chat about the confluence of art and ministry.

Nanci is an incredibly talented artist who works with a variety of medium, including painting, writing, pendants, and more. While her expressionistic paintings are breathtaking and profound, what really struck me about Nanci is her spirit. 

As I sipped my Flat White at a local coffee shop, I listened to Nanci talk and I was enamored by the scope of her creative vision. Her passion (both for art, and for the Lord) is evident at an instant, and her Spirit-led approach to the artist’s life practically explodes off the canvases she paints.
Her vibrant expressionist paintings utilize a distinct technique. Nanci describes her discovery of this technique as “finding a gusher,” after searching for creative oil her whole life.

The Lord has laid upon Nanci’s heart the desire to help other Christ-following Creatives find their place, both in vocation and in community. In so doing, it’s her desire to proclaim the gospel and advance the Kingdom of God.

Part of this passion wells up from Nanci’s personal experience. The Lord helped her to extinguish two lies from the enemy: 1.) that she is not an artist, and 2.) that art doesn’t matter to God.

I am excited about potentially partnering with Nanci on her mission to share the gospel and further build up a community of artists in the future. Stay tuned for that possibility!

In the meantime, however, Nanci’s art can speak for itself. Please visit her website and social media pages! In viewing her art, I believe you’ll feel her sense of urgency to co-Create with the One who crafted our universe.

https://www.stoefflerartstudio.com/
https://www.facebook.com/StoefflerArtStudio/
https://www.instagram.com/stoefflerartstudio/
https://stoefflerartstudio.wordpress.com/

Parasitic Muse (Poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

You’ve seen them—Calliope and Mneme
seducing mortals with sublime beauty.
You’ve heard their voices; sultry, sonorous
seducing mortals,
inspiring them to create works of art
as voluptuous, as full-figured
as they are.

But just as common is the parasitic muse:
flitting across darkened skies
heavy and bestial.
It stalks its prey with a cleaving knife
looking for a galley-slave:
a host to inhabit;
sometimes burning, sometimes hacking its way out.

‘The Lifter’ – New Single by Taryn K.

As “the regulars” to this blog are well-aware, I am passionate about artistry in any medium that brings glory to God. Spirit-filled work can be found in all varieties of creative pursuits.

Today, I’d like to put a spotlight on a new single by my cousin, Taryn K. “The Lifter” is a worship song from someone with true talent. Please give it a listen, and feel free to check it out on Spotify and Apple Music, as well!

Listen on Spotify