February 2018

Ferndale Clinic
The Ferndale Clinic offers natural, holistic medical solutions that do not in any way include secret government funding. It also serves as a trusted dispensary for the town’s prescriptions which do not include any experimental small-batch military serums.

Sowmole School
Riverblossom citizens will assure you that Sowmole is a magical place, full of wonders to delight the mind but also dark perils to snare the unwary. If you have a school-age child, let Sowmole cast its spell over them in time for the Yule Ball!

The Grape Depression Winery
This charming little boozery is the sherry on top of Riverblossom. Don’t let the middling quality of the grapes crush your spirits, just let out a little wine!

Bring up your shelf esteem with a good book! Fully laden book carts is just how the librarians roll. Just don’t get any late fines, or they’ll throw the book at you.

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Riverblossom Town Hall
Previously Riverblossom Village Hall, this structure was massively upgraded and refitted after the birth of Morton Globbens put Riverblossom over the coveted 1000-person threshold.

Spring Valley Church of the River Blossoms
This sect, unique to Riverblossom Isle, follows an unusual interpretation of the word. They replace every mention of any plant in the scriptures with a river blossom, adamantly insisting that this is closest to the true text. Lily Sunday is a popular favorite, as are the Christmas Lilies available in December.

The Electric Company Art Gallery
Once a mere prosaic substation, this structure is now filled with a different kind of electricity in the form of interpretive dance and poetry slams. Providing Riverblossom with its recommended dose of Vitamin Art, the gallery is always at the bleeding edge of the avant-garde and the teetering edge of financial insolvency.

Carre Park
Named after the landscape architect’s favorite spy novelist, Carre Park is the world’s first park expressly designed for intrigue. Despite being perfectly designed for clandestine rendezvous, dead drops, and other thrilling activities, no known espionage has occurred there.

Petite Puppers Dog Park
Funded by a bequest from wealthy eccentric and animal hoarder Edna Cayness, Petite Puppers caters to pooches from all walks of life. From its fields of well-fertilized grass to its locally famous dog water, Petite Puppers is truly off the chain.

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And yea did the waters of life FLOW from the dumpster behind Stubb’s Coffee #3891. They were commingled into a vast and fertile DELTA on the bluffs overlooking the drainage ditch, and for those for whom coffee was not a TOXIN, it was a period of PLENTY.

While slugs, snails, and mosquitoes were UNABLE to live in the Stubbs Delta, ants, wasps, and bees, who were all resistant to its effects, THRIVED. The bluffs became a warren of hymenopterid life, overrun with social insects possessed of LIMITLESS sugar and ABUNDANT energy. The ants even successfully COLONIZED the far bank of the drainage ditch, which to them was the equivalent of the MOON LANDING.

But then the Great Java Crash hit, and everything CHANGED.

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“I’m surprised you’re not cosplaying as Jabba the Hutt,” said Shreve with a sneer. “You have the body for it.”

“I have no desire to be choked by Carrie Fisher,” Sherwood Greg snapped back. “Once was enough.”

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“My father will hear about this!” said Aldapin.

Don Greene tented his fingers, glittering with jewels. “You haven’t seen him in seventeen years, kiddo,” he said. “The goblin mafia has its own understanding with a few other dragons, too. Even if he did decide to come back, your old man would be outmatched. No, all he ever gave you was a birthday, and we’re not impressed.”

“My farm, then! Take my farm!” Aldapin’s slitted eyes–the only sign of Dad’s heritage that normally showed–grew wide with panic.

The goblin mobster, or gobster, grinned. “Your mom owns that farm and the grasslands besides. She’s not in deep with us. You are. If you want to go tell her as much, be my guest, but I’m thinking this ain’t the first time you’ve done something dumb.”

“What do you want from me, then?”

“You’re a paladin, supposedly, a holy warrior despite your gambling and your deadbeat dragon dad,” said Don Greene. “There’s something you can get for us. Something holy.”

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The Astral echoes with many things, and one of the most resonant is unpleasant feelings and memories. People often leave behind a core of these negative emotions when they pass on, and over time they tend to migrate to the Astral and form clumps. At one point, a great ruler sought to assemble all these crystals, often called “wailings,” into a weapon that could be used to strike at any dimension and at any point. The Wailing Warrens are all that remains of their effort, with legends speaking of the ruler themselves, entombed in their useless construct.

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“Are you real, or not?” I said.

The spirit shrugged. “Does it matter? Perhaps you just needed someone to talk to.”

“That to me says you’re unreal, just a figment of my imagination as I slowly freeze to death.”

“Nonsense,” replied the spirit. “You’re quickly freezing to death. And what is it anyway, to be real? My cousin was never real to our grandmother after he was disowned, but did that make him any less able to punch her lights out?”

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The phat beats echo out defiantly
Across the rain-streaked parking lot
Notes rattling the sides down to the bolts
A glistening white pickup truck
Extended cab, Texas edition
Trafficking in carefully bottled rebellion
If the young man who wrote and rapped
Those beloved roof-rattling thumps
Appeared in the parking lot
You’d call the police
On suspicion
Of burglary

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Eight long years it has been
Since I took up a digital pen
Nearly three thousand posts
Thoughts preserved, virtual ghosts
Some worth saving, expanded upon
Others forgotten, and moved on
I hope these pieces, whole or in part
Touch some facet of your reader’s heart

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My reputation was on the line, and I had 39 minutes to write a poem in order to salvage it.

My poetry teacher had recommended The Grindery to me as a way to overcome my glacier-scale writer’s block. Everyone in the online cohort that the website had matched me up with kicked in $5 and made a vow: one poem a day until there was only one standing who would then collect the sum.

I had been in for a month, as others had dropped out, and only a few of us remained.

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