The Journey

All eyes gaze upon the journey. All stars from the blue to the red.

The moon tells the sun. When I grow up, I want to be like you.

The sun tells the planets. Gather round so I may guide you.

Leaving home to the outer reaches of space, the universe.

Moving their families along, the planets, the moons and cosmic dust.

Like nomadic tribes who venture towards unknown corners of reality. Comets come visit like curious wild animals scampered off almost as quickly as they came.

Everyone huddled together for the last track into the cold and dark expanses of space.

And as all of reality existence watches the cosmos weeps.

Playing for keeps

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I thought this was supposed to be a game. I didn’t realize I would have been inserted into a wild wild world of chaos. I certainly would not have agreed to the plan. Serves me right for reading the flyers in the comic book store.

It all began with a call to a toll-free number. “Hi. I am interested in what your game is about.”….”Yes. I have been playing table top games for years. I’m well aquatinted with role playing.”…”You’ll advise me when all the players have confirmed? Okay, I guess I’ll wait.”  And then nothing until last night.

My familiar ringtone sounded briefly and then nothing. I didn’t even have time to answer. By the time I rolled over to go back to sleep, one wall of my bed room swirled in a greenish haze. I got closer to check it out and then it was on.

A suit reminiscent of Dune draped over me and a pair of young men were waving me on….”Let’s go”. I didn’t even hesitate. “Right.” I followed them because they seemed to know where they were heading. That impression disappeared quickly when they were swallowed up by what I can only describe as quicksand with teeth. I steered clear.

And I observed a horizon speckled with dozens of groups. Some appeared very organized and others….less so. One wore, a period army uniform, but the men looked more like they were deteriorating…akin to zombies.

Artillery sounded off in the distance, but it seemed to be rolling in from every direction. A small town of dilapidated buildings loomed ahead…and I ran for the cover it would provide. As I ran, I checked myself for weapons, but had nothing. I heard the sounds of gun fire, explosions, and crumbling buildings…amid the cries of pain and fear.

The group of individuals immediately ahead were all firing automatic weapons at shadows the size of houses; the impacting bullets caused the appearance of blood spurts and loud shrilling sounds. The creatures could die, but I did not want to be any where near these scene. I made a hard right and picked up speed crossing the littered terrain.

There were other groups engaging with beasts or opposing groups. The bestial nature of man was quite evident. Through all the chaos I did see one man running around and collecting up young men and women who had obviously entered into “play possum” mode. Some would think that they were useless, but I knew, as did the tall lanky man that a defense mechanism had them holding very still until the danger had passed. I ran in the direction of the cowering souls.

Twenty five meters out, the ad hoc leader turned to me and shouted me off. I maintained my distance, but I didn’t leave. “I belong here.” I reasoned with him as he checked the others for injuries. I counted five,  but the environment was very chaotic.  “Why do you think you do?” He words seemed more cautious than adversary. “Because I’m like all of you. I have figured out this all of this is for real…somehow.” He waved me on.




A Subtle Introduction

The most recent addition to the group set everyone at unease. The roguish, good looking youth was of an undeterminable age. He spoke little and glared from under his dark hood. He was added almost an afterthought because the party was light in the warrior department, and he was armed with a variety of blades and a bow.

Vikram did not care that the group didn’t trust him. In fact, he went out of his way to aggravate their apprehension. He was a natural bully who pressed the matter home every chance he got. The rest of his companions were novice sorcerers and adventuring priests.

He consistently undermined the leader’s authority. The priestess Athlin had formed the band to join her in her quest to destroy malevolent forces where ever she may find them. And she believed that with here heavy armor, magic and healing abilities, she was more than a match for the upstart. However, she didn’t want an open fight in front of the others. A worse scenario was if she sent him away that he would return quietly as an embittered enemy.

A great relief came in the form of a pilgrim hobbit hero. Santy “Slim” Sasquil, believed that his pilgrimage to the sea would be enhanced by helping the novice travelers. He was a kind hearted and noble soul; it didn’t take long before he and Vikram clashed.

The small group had just completed an exhausting trek through Morz Swamp north of Kalyn. Everyone was on edge and a brief argument erupted between Athlin and Vikram over the best use of a small cache of gold retrieved from some bandits who chose the wrong band to plunder. When it seemed that the argument was at a stalemate, Santy interfered and brusquely silenced the malcontented young man. The tension burned all observers. Santy’s victory would soon be forgotten.

When the group paused to camp late that afternoon, Santy predictably volunteered for the first tour of watch. The surprise was when Vikram quickly volunteered for the second shift. Fatigue silenced any objections, and the party settled in for a rest.

Soon enough it was time for his tour, Vikram made himself useful keeping the fire cackling, high and hot, for his teammates’ comfort. When that was done, he began whistling four young and strong tree branches, bark and wood falling into the roaring fire. His fine dagger made shirt work of the thin saplings, and after heating the tips in the fire, soon had some wicked looking punji sticks.

He did not smile as he noiselessly crouched over the sleeping hobbit. All his strength was mustered as he plunged a pair of the sticks into his victim. Death came instantaneously, but the message wasn’t finished…the second pair were thrust into the corpse’s ears. Vikram then lay down for a dreamless sleep.

In the morning, alarm came slowly when the others realized how late they had slept. Horror and disbelief welled within them as Vikram stated that the hobbit had never woken him and suggested that someone from Santy’s past must be the assassin. Nobody tried to stop Vikram when he announced would now travel alone.

A Vision

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Clouds part before her – not much more than a child

A light stirred within her – saw more than with eyes

A world, people in peril – knew not their sad plight

Dark nameless forces  – in strength – had sent forth their call:

To war!


From town and from home was pulled – unhappy

Unknown plains and water before her – lost

A season or two it would take her – past childhood

Still move on she must – doomed she was – to hope



A Son’s Tale

This past Sunday would have been my father’s 75th birthday (or 74th for some people who insist he was born in 1945). The point being that he was always teaching us something. Either a lesson in life, or trying to teach us valuable skills (which we resisted at every turn).

Julio Rafael Castillo, Jr was great at a lot of things. He taught us how to be a good brother, a good father and grandfather. He epitomized the husband and the good friend. He was respected for his firm but fair approach at work…and admired for his discipline and loyalty.

It’s been just over eight years since we lost him, way to early. But his cheesy jokes and long lectures passed right down to me. And every time I hear the girls call me dad or grandpa, I smile. And I think about him.



I Just Have to Ask

Before daybreak, my thoughts begin

There’s so much here, I had to give in

A call, a note to start it all

For far too long your name’s been gone


They run amok, these lofty talks

Or so, I think, if you’ll just let me start

So much is lost and never missed

We never knew just what to ask


Where have you been and with whom?

Why is it dark when you’re not in the room?

Who is it that stands by your side?

Why is there no one by mine?


You know what to do for the masses

You never ask for the same in return

You think you can help, all you know, but you can’t 

What is the name of the knight in your heart?


Life’s a blur all around without

Your sweet breaths’ uttered sounds

One knows he’s had his and 

Knows how he did lose it all

When does the moment arrive –

For your own dear love, and his soulful cries?


How long will you wait and how hard

Will you seek?

A moment has passed by – and now it is two

A plan in your eyes, it is good, 

Come to pass

A dream is that hope without 

Trust, without love



Will today be the day?

Fear abides in the past

You aspire, you hope

Now will you act, and will

You talk, will you walk toward 

Your dream?

And will you share it – maybe- with me?


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I Never Ever Asked for This

(21 July 2011)



What backwards talk you’ve caused in me

To begin this day with goodnight

And to drink my coffee at midnight

Because my eyes are open, dreaming

Who needed love or lust or hope?

To tangle this old cluttered road

So many words are left unspoken

And still I’ve spilled the beans

I will never forgive times cruel trick

That denied our heart from being one

The closest thing I have to your touch

Is the cool kiss of the wind



So tell e why you’ve offered this

This little chase could end in bliss

Which one of us is up for this

I’ve aimed and shot, you’re still a miss

I have to tell…or be remiss

No matter what you’ve given me

I never ever asked for this


A few dirty words sweeten the pot

Quickening our hearts

Nighttime visits surprised us both

A short blink embraced us

But to what end are we heading now

Sharing friendship and this trust

Some kind of comfort is availed

Hard I’ve sought and sought for peace

Always believed I’d know the time –

And with whom to share my heart

You’ve reached a goal; promised no more

Good company from the very start



So tell me why you’ve offered this

This little chase could end in bliss

Which one of us is up for this

I’ve aimed and shot, you’re still a miss

I have to tell…or be remiss

No matter what you’ve given me

I never ever asked for this


Who Knows

Ralph Castillo

c. 1985


We have been here once too often

I am quite sure you had it once

But then, who knows…You lost it


And though there’s little we can do now

I’d do much more, if I knew how


Can you think – maybe dream

What peace on earth might we have seen?


Tell me that you’ll be there for me, 

But for my answer, please don’t wait

Just see:  Joy for us was never meant to be


There’s not much hope in your sad eyes

Please don’t pretend to know our lives

Twelve hateful words condemned one day:

Lonely misery such must be the way


And while I want to say that we should talk,

Please do tell me if we ought…

There’s two completely different worlds that say we ought’n’naught


And if you really didn’t know…This is only me,

I wanted you to really want – and want no one but me

There doesn’t ever pass a day when I don’t think about you

And though it may not mean a lot to you:

I’m always watching


Now everyday’s that one same day

I still can’t sleep without you.

But when I do, be sure it’s true,

My dreams will spin about you.


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Photo by brenoanp on


Dear Past Me

You’re going to worry a lot. And that’s normal. But don’t worry too much. The challenges are going to be huge, bigger than you can imagine…still don’t worry too much. Fear is going to grip you hard, and often. You don’t have to worry too much about this either.

You’re going to have timelines…but don’t impose them on yourself. Careers and jobs are both fine, they define what you do, not who you are. Educate yourself, technical course and University classes are important…because the more you learn the better you can handle certain tasks (in theory), but don’t forget to learn something new every day. Don’t be in a huge hurry to find love. Love will find you. When it’s not forced, it will be special…and hopefully for real. And don’t be in a hurry to grow up.

Believe that it’s normal and healthy to have fun.

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Eternity Asks

Asks: More than you are ever prepared to give. When you begin to think that your beliefs will draw you toward some unseen, satisfaction.

And provide? Sure there are moments in which we do receive. We try to appreciate what mysteriously is provided. We often fail. Who’s to say that we will ever stamp wanting more. We are better off with nothing at all.

And speaks? Of course…thoughts to confuse us. The secret in unlocking what we hear is that it’s just music for the bears. We can listen to it, but we will never dance.

And shows? Everyday. We all walk with blinder’s on. The demonstration is that we are wanton gluttons for punishment. Pain doesn’t deter us, it encourages us.

And guides? We arrived before we knew we wanted to leave. Meandering seems pointless, but it points to us…eternally.

time lapse photo of stars on night
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