Clarion Call #14: Marco!…

This week for our musical meditation I’m shamelessly trotting out an old favorite of mine that intriguingly blends a couple of ethnic flavors.  Go on a trip with Loreena McKennit’s Marco Polo, and let us know where it takes you.

I’m running low on personal favorites, though, so if readers have any imagination-fertilizing instrumental pieces they’d like to share with me, please do so!  Email blog@the(x) –with (x) replaced by the name of your favorite writer’s workshop–and let me know which songs make the most interesting pictures in your head.

There are only two rules for Clarion Calls:

  1. If you choose to try the assignment, do not read the comments section before you post yours.
  2. This is a critique-free zone, and that includes critique of your own offering.  Save your analytical skills for Mondays with Linda.

With that in mind, I invite all of you to give it a try.  At the end of the year, I have a special honor in mind for the person who most often posts an answer to our weekly Call.  So have fun, and stay inspired!


7 thoughts on “Clarion Call #14: Marco!…

  1. The smoke sluiced its way through the air in hazy wisps of white and gray, stark contrast to the oranges and yellows of the garishly opulent room. Antique brass gawah pots and shisha pipes adorned the tables in anachronistic cultural inaccuracy. Barely clad dancers flit from table to table like Bedouins fleeing the sun, always on the move and seemingly with purpose, but in the end, destined to perpetuate the path eternal.

    The city was a melting pot of culture and time, here you’d see men floating in on the latest levbords only to pretend to be in some hedonistic den of 13th century overindulgence. Half of the rich businessmen here had no inkling of even a quarter of the history here. There, on one wall hung a ceremonial kilij that had belonged to Meḥmed-i s̠ānī. He should know, he himself had presented it to the Sultan after the fall of Constantinople. How it survived to now, he had no idea. At least it survived better than the once glorious history of the city.

    This bar was an even more heady mix of culture than the rest of the city. As it served only the richest clientèle, it could better keep up the pretense of historicity than other, shadier, areas of pleasure. It was ironic he thought to himself, centuries ago, the same lords and ladies these fops tried to imitate would have lived in relative squalor when compared to the luxuries enjoyed by even the modestly earning middle-class family of today. Yet, these millionaires attempted to emulate them. Truth and fact be damned, the allure of the beautiful lie was always preferable to the denuding eyes of reality.

    Yet, who was he to complain? He too sat here, listening to music that was vaguely reminiscent of past odes, sipping coffee that had no real coffee beans in it, and watching belly-dancers that had no inkling as to what real belly-dancing looked like. Still, it was a pleasant enough distraction from the task at hand. He was rather sure that his next client would surely propose a game of chess or some other nonsense before getting to business. It was dreary work, but it had to be done sooner or later. He’d have preferred later, but needs must.

    Taking a last sip of the coffee, he set the brass cup down. He enjoyed watching the reflections in the highly polished metal, perhaps he might even take a set back with him once he was through here. But to work.

    He stood and walked over to a portly old gentleman at a table with a young lady on his knee. These people, he’d never understand their obsession with the pleasures the flesh had to offer while simultaneously deriding any concerns over keeping said flesh healthy enough to continue with those pleasures. It was a mystery, but it was something he’d ponder another day. He introduced himself, while asking if the man knew who he was.

    The man answered with a resigned sigh that he did. They chatted for a while longer before a quick game of checkers. It wasn’t traditional, but he wouldn’t hold that against the man. Besides, there was no need to hold to the past when the entire future was open to him. It was a comforting thought. They ordered another cup of coffee each, and left the bar together. The fat man wasn’t seen there again, and when pressed as to his location, the other man would simply smile and answer each asker that they too would find out in time.

    In time…


    I’m not quite happy with the ending of this, but at 1 in the morning, I really doubt it I’d be at my literary best, hehe.

    1. That’s got to be the fastest response yet! I wish I could write that fluently at 1 in the morning…

      And remember, no self-critique! As I said before, and as any zombie can tell you, free-range brains are the tastiest brains.

      1. Hehe, I do tend to be awake at around this hour, sometimes up to 2 in the morning. I find that my brain tends to wander off to strange places the longer I’m up. I get brilliant ideas, but by the time I get those ideas, I’m usually too groggy to actually put those ideas to good use. But hey, ideas and inspiration are always good in my book, no matter how groggy I may be when I get them, hehe. Often, I’ll go back to what I’ve scribbled in the wee hours of the morning and pick out some of the more interesting pieces to develop them into more well-written and complete pieces. But that’s me, and I tend to have strange writing habits 🙂

      2. And speaking of fast replies, I just realized that I am writing to you, from the future! *cough* Well, technically not, but on my side of the world (GMT + 8) it’s the 10th, many hours ahead of your time.

        The more I think about it, the more amazing it is that modern technology allows people from all over the globe to talk to each other in seconds, when just a decade ago the same would have been unimaginable.

        That actually sounds like an interesting premise for a science fiction story, hmm… But I’m rambling, and I should get to sleep 🙂

  2. Markus Aurelius lounged on his backless couch. Fires lined the stone room, simulating the seaside warmth of his Roman villa. Here, in the heathen northland, damp chills pervaded the keep year-round. Markus stirred through the bowl of dried fruit. Northern winters precluded the availability of fresh fruit most of the year. The Roman lord wished yet again to be recalled home.

    “My lord, we have captured a rare prize.” Theosius, his centurion, stopped inside the door, clapping hand to his chest. The frost of the northern spring touched his cheeks with a rosy glow.

    “What this time, Theosius? A green plant growing through the snow? A magical twig that grants wishes? A letter from the Emperor recalling me? Now, that would be a rare prize indeed.” Markus signaled for his slave to add more incense to the braziers. “What I would not give for the scents and warmth of Rome. Or the baths.”

    Theosius ignored Markus’ posturing. He pulled aside the heavy drapes concealing the doorway. “My lord, we have captured a northern sorceress.”

    His soldiers escorted a slender figure into the room. A floor length cloak and hood of gray wool concealed the face of the captive. Markus gestured, curiosity piqued despite his languid airs. The soldier hesitated, fear in his eyes as he turned to the figure.

    The cloak parted. Two hands, white and delicate as water lily blossoms, lowered the hood. Markus caught his breath at the woman’s wild beauty. Blue dye covered her forehead and cheekbones. Feathers floated from braids in her long, reddish hair. Her eyes, green as the spring moss, captured him.

    “Markus Aurelius, conqueror of Rome.” Her accent turned his name into something exotic. “You shall pay for your arrogance.”

    Blue fire erupted from her hands, filling the room with smoke heavy with the scent of burning heather. Markus coughed. The thick smoke filled his lungs, drowning him in the woman’s magic spell.

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