Sunday, April 10, 2016

All around me, things have been leaving.

By Erin Michelle Davis

If I ever found something like that again, I would hold on to it. I know that I could.

Long stretches of nothing for days and for nights, and for hours upon hours endless.

The wanton seconds

And empty marshes where the echoes cannot even sink.

no referent to bare cause or witness-

{Q'est-ce que c'est?}

Oh, but don’t you know? You know.

Hmm (Eg: to expel-/to absorb…  to contaminate and render intelligible)

Do you know now? I think you do. You ought to- of its

{Stop it.}

Its slippery contours {Fucking stop it.}

its tale of will and of triumph and our famous “insidious intent”-

the long stretches of nothing

in coldness and in idle and even in negation-

in mirage and displacement and all that is tertiary:

I won’t let it go next time. When there is another time

I’ll tell it so, this thing I have once again found and long searched for,

that only few have touched.

How undiluted and logical it is. I’ll tell it. And make it real with words.

I will breathe into it,

and lose my desire to leave the ragged gnawing

that pervaded its structures.

Then bound them to return.

Monday, September 1, 2014


To give my O so many kisses, then,
when any one of missed potential comes 
to longing mind; so many, then, when 
any morning's mirth earns mention

O --
I tell me it is time
to mock each mocking of the sun
with swell, irreverent stereo hums
and bend, and writhe, and rhyme

and, O, the syntax
of your lips is...
wearing socks in August.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Son I'm Gonna Die Someday

Son I'm Gonna Die Someday I am proud at your stride though stubby like your mother's and how slight your talent at the ebony and ivory, but mine too, don't worry. I am proud of you, by God, and don't you worry. Son of mine, Don't you worry at it. Don't you worry at it nary a none, dear son. I am the knighted-now and the renowned but once -- boy wonder of us elders' yore. But son, I want the better for you than your wiser me has had, want that you work hard that your father's lore be buried never. I have known renown. I have been spun around and about myself and my Lord the biceps on that Fortuna broad! I tell you what, by God, Fortuna does her share of heavy lifting. I hear her wheel outweighs the sun, the moon, the world's sum total with the soul as your unit.   I said, Hell yeah son by God I tell you what. There is no best, no might, no always, no never never, but you never know is what I will tell you, whisper it so, on that day I sleep for good. I hope that good night is of nary a cirrus, of harry a stratus, yet rains me thither into yon, and son I ain't afraid not a smidge to go gentle in it. Gentle when I do. (That's why your Mama wouldn't let me name you Thomas.) Son of mine who's always going somewhere, you will say a sweet take care to the breathing me, you will think that your farewell is for the will-leave. True farewells, my boy, are for the left-already. Son, I'm lookin' forward to all them pastel-colored what dreams may come. I think heaven's probably nice in summer, but I bet God's butt cheeks hell pays rent kickin' butt. Hell yeah son by God I tell you what. By God, son, there ain't nothin' to fear. Before I go gently, I reckon the about-to Is all you'll ever need to hear. I have spent my days, my life entire honing up this soul of mine so shoddy for the moment when the soul escapes the body.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Southern Justice In The Summertime

Southern Justice In The Summertime, etc.
It must have been Benjermin that cracked The Whale's windshield with a rock. He was a neighborhood kid, but never one of us. We three were seven and ten. Luke was the ten and Tim and I the sevens. Luke thought we were lucky, youngest, but I don't know whether it had anything to do with the number 7. It was the summer after their mother, Sandy, died of breast cancer. The fraternal cousins and I decided that Benjermin would be our all-purpose scapegoat - a panacea for we bereft and our blame game. I felt rather astute when Benjermin, Perp Eternal from then on, told me his name for the first time. Haughty, I quipped, "Benjermin? How long?"
"I'm gonna be six next week," he said, "and my Pa's bringin' me a new bike from California and…"
"And you threw the rock too, butthole," Tim added.
"What's your name?" I asked again.
"Benjermin," he said, unsuspecting.
"How long?"
This 'precocious' quip of mine was not. It was stolen. The wit came on the heels of something' I'd seen on the television. A Bengay pain-gel spot. (Been gay? How long, now?) The ad had been caulk between Matlock's senile follies (daughter involved, of course), and the money-shot segment. Every Matlock episode had one of these, and we brother-cousins got our cackles in the campy of it, even at that young age. You see, my mother is quite the ham, and droll. We were well-versed in camp. The Matlock Money Shot goes somethin' like this. The eponymous underdog attorney (following some tenable adversity and a deep sigh), out of nowhere blows the case wide open. We onlookers, predictably, love the ruling that follows and feel great relief that justice has been meted and well. This verdict concludes the climax, or the money-shot. After each verdict, we justice-lovers can thank Matlock's piecing together - folksy and flawless - of a flimsy and murderous conspiracy, typically among family members, or colluding captains of industry.
Cousin Luke's and Cousin Tim's mother died when I was six years-old. We did what all grade school kids do. We learned to play detective and impersonated superheroes. Play, cope. We'd been told that life isn't fair so deal with it. But I believed in God. And if there was a God, then by Him there was fairness in the world. I knew that fairness wins. But then my cousins lost their mother. My mother lost her sister, and my Maw Maw lost her daughter. Now tell me that's fair. Tell me that's fair and say something about God's plan. When Aunt Sandra died, sure we wanted her back. But more than that, I wanted justice in the world. And when The Whale knocked on our door, and we found ourselves a rock as evidence, and we found ourselves a younger lad to play the perfect scapegoat too - maybe then we found our vehicle for southern justice in the summertime. At the very least, being top dogs at the block agency was swell diversion. It was horrible, but there was only one thing we could do.   
And play we did. 
The Whale pounded our front door somethin' awful. She was fat, of course, and mean, and angry that her windshield had been cracked. She wanted answers. That's what I heard, I was at a piano lesson. I reckon she said somethin' like, "Do you have any idea how much this is gonna cost me?!" I've found that's somethin' adults say a lot. I got in trouble at my piano lesson for wearin' a still-dryin' bathin' suit on Sally Carter's nice, black piano bench. Sally Carter, the Suzuki instructor, had milky, spotted digits that smelled of fish, and I reckoned, at the time, that the scent came from years of her hands swimmin' up and down the eighty-eights of black and ivory. Those hands swam the keys so much they started smellin' piscine. The wet of me was, at that point, my only peccadillo in four whole years that had disgusted her. Then, years later, one of my final lessons, age 12, when I keyed out a Dr. Dre sample. She had me in a private lesson, so wasn't no audience at which to make ado of her values. I'd only wanted to demonstrate that hip-hop had become quite harmonic and more inclusive of melody, as the millennium drew to a close. Her reaction was one of typical, white growed-up dismissal. It was somewhat puritanical, a word I'd just learned amid my callow and prepubescent interest in leftist politics. No contest, my sullying of her black beauty bench with trousers dank and chlorinated got me in a heft more trouble than my bringin' the ghetto to her studio. Miss Sally hated rap music, especially G-Funk. But she also hated Mozart.
The only thing Sally Carter hated more than Mozart was G-Funk.
Here I am at age seven. I am plunking out "Claire de Lune [For Half-Wits]," and the damp of my bathers is ruinin' Miss Sally's piano bench. The danker I make it, the more sacred it seems. I know I am in trouble.
And then I got in trouble, almost, just for bein' a kid. But Mama soon realized I'd been busy with a chiding, guilty of playin', chlorine-damp, that dumbed-down Debussy. I'd not time to hurl rocks at sea mammals driving cars like the rest of us. It was an alibi that had to be respected. For no matter how special a kid she thought I was, Mama knew: not even I could be two places at once.
I got home. I was off the hook. Free to learn the facts and find the culprit and to bring the punk to justice. The cousins and I, we needed witnesses. So we flagged down cars a passin' by our street, so long as they were passin' slow-like. The ones that did, they must a slowed down because the folks inside were thinkin' we had us a lemonade stand that was just outta sight. Boy were they wrong. Fabulously wrong. We were men of the law. Protectors of the neighborhood, from scum like Benjermin The Perp Eternal. By God, we were protectors of Lafayette Street motorists, and of their innocent windshields. It did at one point cross my mind, though, that for the annual snow, I'd each year found myself as ringleader in fort-buildin' and in snowball-chuckin'. The cars, of course, were our only targets. 'Oh no!' my heart plumbummed. 'A windshield is a windshield is a windshield and what have I done!' To make things worse, Papa had recently taught me the word hypocrite because back then, when Clinton was president, you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing' the word. I reckon I got sick of not known' what everybody was talkin' about. So I'm a hypocrite, I thought. But as the moral tremors came to me tangible, I conjured some cover-your-ass narrative about turning over a new leaf. We would form a posse of kin, put this Benjermin twerp through the wringer unto confession…and it would all make up for my wayward past as a grade school hooligan, and hypocrite, come winter.
But before I could fully savor the coming redemption, something really shitty happened.
Tim had brought a rock with him, as evidence I reckon, to the interrogation showdown in Benjermin's backyard. I could see the rock had really scared our suspect. And then Benjermin uttered those words you never want to hear as a kid. And you certainly don't want to hear them when the crux of your whole detective-themed summer is that you have a scapegoat you can count on when you need someone to blame.
The words you never want to hear?
"I'm not playing with y'all anymore."
And with these words, the Summer of the Sleuth was over.
We'll never know who really cracked the windshield of The Whale. Not even that whale of a woman herself will ever know. By now The Whale is either dead of preventable disease, or has totally forgotten the incident. Maybe our scapegoat has too. It baffles me that anyone could forget such important goings down. Or worse yet, let them go. My, my: these folks have so much to learn about the virtues of southern justice in the summertime.
Today, some two decades later, it all seems rather fascist of us. At least our scapegoating of poor Benjermin does. Our Perp Eternal, Benjermin, he turned out pretty well despite it. Occasionally - he's Ben now - Ben and I happen to visit our parents at our adjacent childhood homes, at the same time. He's always got somethin' earthy and enlightening to say about the sounds my car makes, or what our fall azalea colors say about the soil underneath, or that my "art-fag jeans must be 'fraid ta fall, 'cause they sure hold on tight." He says this with a shake of the head, and a chortle. This gesture, short of digust; this disarming sign of amusement - these say the Benjermin who's Ben now ain't the victim of crooked cops no more. These say he holds no grudge. Ben knows more than me about more blue-collar, papabear matters; he openly critiques my "gay" fashion. We would use this neighbor kid to fill our nemesis void, I reckon because cancer's a lot harder to chase down the street, cuff, and interrogate all before dinner starts. But with wounds better healed, Ben doesn't make a very good nemesis. To accuse his crass fashion commentary as cruel, or mean spirited to boot, would not be just. If I had to guess based on his narcissism quotient, I'd say Ben's a fella who knows God's the only judge. So even if he don't like skinny jeans, ain't no way he's gonna conflate that with my character. Because Benjermin, now Ben, has not held a grudge. Now the strong, silent type, our neighborhood scapegoat is hands-down the best dressed and least apologetic cowboy I've ever been neighbors with. Like I said, he's doin' pretty well as a free man.
'Well if I can't beat injustice, misfortune,' I imagine a Luke say, astoundingly literate for just 9 or 10 years old, 'and if I can't wail on this death that took my Mama, which was undeserved and too soon, I'll beat. The. Hell out of my little brother.'
And wallop he did, the Top Dog Eternal.
Heber Springs, Arkansas. Where Luke, Tim, and I spent countless summer portions, mostly just beatin' the hell out of each other under monikers we'd found in books, or come up with our very selves. These cousins were brothers who suffered from an age gap most volatile. They were born into a three year difference, which unfortunately for Tim, was a difference in both wit and grit. I on the other hand was born into a seven-year-deep crevasse. To put things in perspective, my "brother" (different dads, but what are you gonna do?) was getting me to memorize G-Funk verses (Tupac was his favorite). I was born into a circumstance of arroyo or perhaps caesura, one of 'em at least lyin' between me and my brother. My cousins were born into a flyweight bout called 'Chaos: The Guarantee.' Inevitable with them were the rasslin's, crushin's, poundin's. Spikes in hubris (winner). Flaccid resentment (loser.) The outcome was always the same. Luke, the more-man. Luke, the Top Dog Eternal.
We moved on. Because fighting fucking hurts. The glory wasn't worth the carpet burns anymore, nor all of Maw Maw's hollerin’. So we shucked the beatin's and gave ourselves promotions.
“From now on we are pranksters and comic book executives!”

In 1997,  e-mail seemed to mean I could say whatever I wanted, and get away with it. This meant getting away with whatever I wanted. My fantasy was to use naughty language anonymously, and consequence-free. In this regard, the internet seemed my grand provider. When I saw my brother do it worry-free, I decided it was my calling to write up some nasty bits of my own, informing people of how faggoty they were. I chose my gym teacher, Christopher Webb. I told cousins Luke and Tim we were going to do something really risky (and therefore a blast and a half!). There was no way one could get in trouble for something like this, I reassured. I picked my target based on my brother's own. "Gym teacher! Perfect, am I right?" So the process began. I convinced them, since it would give us anonymity, to use their screen name. It was TWYBoys. It stood for 'The Wonder Years Boys.' Writing the letter to Mr. Webb, my Physical Education teacher in the fourth grade at Washington Elementary in Fayetteville, Arkansas go wildcats, I wrote using, probably, no name at all. I am reckoning now that it was in fact anonymous until I made a stupid mistake. Now, this comes into play in a very rapey way a tad later. I wrote something like this:
"Chris, I know [my name] as a friend and I know that you are a faggit. You like to touch butts. I know what you do to little boys when no one is watching you when you are with the little boys. You touch each other's butts. I like killing faggits like you."
Hateful, accusatory. I got caught. Mother sat me down with Webb, who was red of face and shakin’ the tremors. I saw angry. Little did I know the ruby shake said afeared.
We found out some years after I had left Washington Elementary that Webb was arrested for serial, sexual molestation of young boys. My mother was sick with news. I wondered why I hadn't seen him for the rapey sod that he was. He’d invited me into the office to eat donuts. Invited me into a safe rape-haven to eat donuts. Into the glazed haven of buttrape to choose which Savage Garden tracks to play for everyone else running laps in the gym.
It turns out my gym teacher was the insult I pulled out of my fourth-grade ass. Christopher Webb touched little boy’s butts. He touched their butts when no one could see them. He took this kid named Peterson to the mall on weekends. Mama Peterson had no rapey-gaydar like Mama o' mine. She told me to stay away, even before she knew.

Today, I’m not the neighborhood gumshoe, nor a freelance hate-mailer, or a comic book executive. Today, while I’m no butt-touching gym teacher, I do specialize in authoring novels of a genre I created, called Junior Erotica.
A morsel from my debut, Changes:
She decoded that a mysterious woody was in store for her. Some Billy Badass, she figured, who was probably on the squad. Billy R. Badass had in fact mustered her deliverance, while he sat like a total stud. Studly, too, was Billy Badass in his graphic pondering of developing breasts, and sore became his hand and part as he passed the time, bored as shit in Social Studies class. Social studies was so god damned boring. When she spotted his protruding mystery, Billy Badass gave it to her right then and there, no questions asked - he gave her the whole story of how Social Studies was soooooo fucking boring today. As he gazed deeply into her eyes (because her breasts were not yet visible), Billy Badass, like a hoss, invited her over to his house after school. His mother had plans to go grocery shopping and his father was a douche, about whom no shits were ever given. Her body filled with excitement as her brain filled with chanted instructions, explicit diagrams - all confusing, all kind of, like, gross -  and in her lewd and callow brain-ish thing, this question lingered: "You can't get pregnant the first time, can you?"
My fraternal cousins, too, have enlisted themselves in the industry, a rapidly expanding one in fact. We work well together, and I attribute our success to the bonding we achieved as we left their Mama at the hospital. I attribute our success to the lesson we learned when we left their her, most of all, to uncertainty.
Papa pulled the Buick up alongside the exit booth. My father had questions. Do we get a parking discount because she died? Or, as I thought, maybe it came down to the classic American problem of 'To what am I entitled?'
No, it was as simple as 'What comes next?'
"She died," Papa told the boothcat, "so I don't know…" which says it all. 
We love someone and they die.
And then, well, we just don’t know. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And Who Kills At The Finish Line?

By Martin Bemberg

The original hipster was called so for posture. He lay drugged somewhere last century and wore sunglasses. “An art form uniquely American,” he’d say of jazz. He’d smoke opium and it was his hip that bore the weight of his eyelids. I ponder her hip because it bears her. Postured here like this, she is the origin of hip.
It’s day two and day worst of her bout with ulcers of the mouth and throat. Hardly able to speak, she is a series of hummed sympathies. She winds like highways among the hills, which we call mountains. She’s a gorgeous slouch - languid, pitiful, and damned pretty but try telling her that. On Saturday, she asks whether The Enlightenment first caught fire in Denmark. I have the map in mind already, but the five-century timeline eludes me. I count backwards from Voltaire. Galileo to Erasmus, Luther, then Gutenberg.
         “Germany,” I reply. “The printing press set the whole thing ablaze.”
         Used to, I didn’t know to be flattered when she assumes I know everything.
         “Everyone in this film is so beautiful,” she says to me.
         She’s right – the Danes are beautiful. I haven’t watched any of the film yet, but the language is a thrill. I hear, probably from someone who heard as well, that they’re the happiest people on earth. If it’s true, I’d wager that the beauty of their mother tongue has something to do with it. If you’re like me, you’ve always wanted to hear English as an alien thing. Danish satisfied my curiosity. If you’re like me, - which I would not recommend - you ponder that we naked apes want to see ourselves as other naked apes do and hope to witness our own funeral. I used to wonder, how does the world behold my talents, my looks, my character. And then I married, and found that these traits are tolerable for at least a lifetime.
After chores and errands, I report back to her with this brief essay, which I penned for her on the backs of receipts I collected while emptying the car. I hoped it might quell her baby fever. For now, at least, we have no children and are each other’s.

What I Have Done Today

I have done some things today. The first thing that I did today was that I woke up. Next, I went to the drug store and to the grocery store. At the drug store I got medicine for my wife and at the grocery store I got food for my wife. I got split pea soup and I got ramen noodles. I got them for my wife because she is sick. I am sad that she is sick. But it is okay because Olive The Pug - cannonball bug, little black cub, bear you can hug - took care of her while I wrote an obituary for a magazine. It was for Owen Prater, who was a really great guy and a really great poet. I miss him a lot. A lot of other people miss him a lot too. I cannot wait to see what he wrote right before he died. After I got medicine and food for my wife, I cleaned the kitchen. It took a long time. Then I set aside all the clothes that we are going to sell. We are going to sell clothes so that we can buy more clothes. I need new clothes because I am getting bigger in my tummy. All in all I have had a really good day. I hope I get to have more days like this because I am happy. I like to be happy.
         I left out the part about swooshing her oral analgesic in my mouth. (I wanted to find out what smoking a cigarette outside a dentist’s office feels like. I was thoroughly underwhelmed.)
         Around 3:30 the Times sends me a breaking news alert e-mail. Two bombs have gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I balk at first, but end up watching the explosion on Russia Today. When I was a child, I venture to say that the notion of someone videoing such an event, and by coincidence, would be called a damned silly notion. How things have changed; if someone told me today, “information super highway,” or “Wash your hands after you touch your penis,” I’m not so sure I’d know what to say to them.
         I wonder whether we’ll look back on this and laugh. Of course, I can’t recite any jokes about September 11th, 2001 or April 20th, 2000. No one jokes about April 19th, 1995 – bombed a fucking daycare, the coward. And hardly anyone can remember December 7th, 1941 anymore. But here goes. ‘I finished the Boston Marathon and all I lost was this lousy leg.’ I don’t pretend to know what the doers deserve, but I personally would like to see a bounty hunter, or a clerk at the DMV, make the asshole run like hell. I hereby sentence you to death by wind sprints. Papa would have gone with ‘death by squats.’
         “Looked like a pretty wimpy explosion to me,” he answers.
         “No, I mean who do you think did it?”
         “Oh, some right-wing kooks,” he says.
         “Me too. It’s tax day.”
         “Taxachusetts, as they say.”
         “Marxachusetts, as they don’t. So far as I know,” I say.  
         I thank him for the money he’s sent us, and he tells me he is proud of me. He especially liked my homophobic, country & western anthem, “Straights Rights.” I borrowed the tune from “Sisters Of Mercy.”

Well the gays and the homos and queers ain’t afraid to be gross.
And the fact that they’re married and proud
Ain’t the only thing their shovin’ down my throat.
And now that they’re married,
My wife and I we’ve got it so tough.
How’re we supposed to make babies
When they’re doin’ their icky butt stuff?

Well, lovin’s just for procreatin’
Ain’t no such thing as lovin’ for fun
And while my wife, she’s got one in the oven,
These queers do something different with their buns
Well my mind’s an open one,
But I won’t close my mouth when they come.
No butts about it, we’ve hit rock bottom,
It’s a bummer, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Well where I come from browntown means
Colored folks are livin’ next door,
And where I come from, takin’ a poundin’
Means you’ve got more touchdowns to score.
But I left for the city, and what do you think that I found?
Huntin’ bears here means somethin’ different
Than it did in the woods outside my hometown.

Well my boy sucks at manly stuff
Sometimes he can’t get ‘er done.
And my boy sucks at a lotta man things,
But another man’s thing ain’t gonna be one.
And this chip off the block,
My pride and joy, pretty boy son –
While he’s one the grass, he can’t catch a pass,
But he sure thinks the locker room’s fun.

While he’s on the grass, he can’t catch a pass,
But at least he thinks the locker room’s fun.

         “All right,” I say.
         “Okay, son. Bye. Love you. Okay. Bye.”
         I’d called him in 2008 when we elected a black president, I have to inform her, and called him when Cairo, of all places, seemed the most hopeful on earth, and I can’t believe I’ve never shared my first memory with her. Max and my father both know that it was the fall of the Soviet Union. Papa told me I’d always remember it. Really, he told me not to forget it. Think what could have happened had he not told me that. My first memory might be of Terry Pendleton’s sixth inning triple - the first time I saw a man hit for three bags, the hitter and I were in the same stadium. Maybe I’d remember snowflakes melting on black construction paper, or lima beans on a red plastic plate, scratched white by forks older than I. Her first memory is the birth of her brother. She remembers nothing of her childhood thereafter, save the Masonic rite she witnessed through a stained glass window. “There were men in dark robes,” she says, “and a child.”
         Hammered, enamored, I demand a child, but I cannot come. Alas, and where’s the beer? It’s in Springdale, because it’s Sunday. For all the jokes about slaughtering chickens and Mexicans – excuse me, despite what people south of the lake say about Mexicans and slaughtering chickens - at least they are savvy enough to accept money seven days a week. To reciprocate for this kindness, Sundays I drink and drive on their roads. Today it’s two tall boys, gone for good by the time I’m home and coaxing her into a picnic.
“Get your sundress, Beebs. We’re getting loaded in the park.”
         We ‘ran into’ one of her children not long after we arrive. In truth, she springs and sprints like Blitzen, the reindeer, in heat. When the little blonde creature - somewhat humanoid in its third year - and its mother appear some twenty yards away, I’ve been a naughty boy, chiefing on a very conspicuous spliff and necking cup after cheap plastic cup of bargain-bin pinot noir. “I’ll see you on Thursday, Nicholas!” she cooed. The mother and child ambled on. To my surprise, she informs me that the ‘running into’ was in fact a close call. I am becoming a liability and so we show the scene our backs. Stumbling, I offer to drive us home.
         I plumbum on out of the passenger’s side and into the house, where a vicious game of keep-away ensues. Papa’s turkey chili, of course, is the kept-away, and I, poor I, the hammered, hungry sap. Her arms may be half the length of mine, and her crown may be a full foot closer to the ground, but today it seems the God-given just won’t take. No motor skills, no recourse is I guess how it goes. We find ourselves sol-sodden on the back porch; whereto I likely have been wormholed by a universe that knows a hungry boy when it sees one. I reckon if we jostle, she and I, we do it like a couple of sissies, as my lunch and manhood are hostages both.
We reaching, tussling fools are nearing the stairs. I am about to discover what I already know – that this is not at all a clever place for the reclamation of snacks by force. Stairs – these at least - are made of wood, which is hard and hurts to fall on. These stairs descend into a yard-shaped, patch of weed and bramble. But who are we not to descend, together, into our yard-shaped patch of weed and bramble? At the bottom of the stairs, I’m already blaming her for pain not yet palpable. Youngest sibling syndrome coming now to the fore, she laughs something so hearty that I can feel the thick of that poor turkey chili. Its bowl, microwavable, is about three shards now, scattered, but in no comforting pattern. There is nothing linear about this trail of dead.
“Damn it, woman! The invincible bowl has been vinced! That piece of plastic was a testament to the fortitude of Chinese industry and now it’s just more shit for bare feet to avoid.” My heavens, the nude sting of a bramble-bed is naught compared to the painful notion that my drunk-by-mid-afternoon snack is nothing more than fodder for the lawn urchins. She lies there laughing with me in the milk thistle and the spiky gumball things, whatever they are. We’re looking for our lungs and our reasoning  atop the childproof gate, which our combined weight, hunger, and cruelty have collapsed onto the ground. The baby slammer, toddler trap, etc., had been a part of our porch longer even than it’s been ours. And yet, we only first question this structure when the (wholly worthless) collection of right angles has been so brutalized by my horrible balance and ardor for lunch.
She stands and helps husband to his feet. He sobers far too rapidly.
With each fresh eyeing of the havoc comes a new wave of giggles.
From the tree house, we take vista of all three downtown steeples. I see her gazing down now at the yard, where playthings are decaying and visible of a sudden. I cannot for the life of me tell you why we’d never noticed them before. And The Lord said let there be swing sets? Nor could I tell you, really, whether these ruins are anachronism, or ruins that foreshadow.
“What was it, slide of yellow plastic, that finally made you crack?” she asked.
“Once-orange basketball, rotting unto vintage pink: how are you really?”
“My dear, dangling fellow,” she wonders finally at the rope, “did you happen to catch the Hogs game last night?”
Atop this backyard fort, we are far enough from ground to be afraid, and yet the pain and the markings say that we are fallen still. But at first clang of twilight, no gashes in arms, nor pending bruises, nor snacks aborted in vain are audible
“Good thing you’re not packing heat.”
I give her belly one pat for each hour past noon, as another and another of the bells says to us that light is leaving. My twenty-dollar nautical watch beeps in weird harmony.
“When the time is right,” she says.
Her hand bloodied covers a smile.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Twin, Chapter 8

Inauguration At The Apocalypse

“So here’s what I’m thinkin’,” Phillip began, eyeing his audience of two. (A certain pedestrian was missing.)
This is not how they had intended to spend the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. But it was good, cold and confined fun. And tenuous, for the tree limb fatalities and collapse of power lines, seemingly occurring everywhere but where the trio were. Massive generator explosions, vanishing electricity, and much chaos elsewise. Deaths, even, as at least they’d heard (somehow radio had survived).
Bruce Dvorak and Jon Daniel Pilgrim sat studying the empty coffee can. They’d heard from somewhere warmer that you could turn one into a space heater.
“Parker Farkus,” Phillip proposed.
“Naw, man,” said Jon Daniel Pilgrim.
Unimpressed. The gang had been playing their version of the name game since before the storm, but the stakes grew higher as names like Kurt Turley, or say, 
“You can do better than that.”
Jondie gave up on the husbandry project and looked to Bruce for approval. Bruce caught these eyes and said,
“Meh. I don’t know, Boodgie. ‘Parker Fucking Farkus’? Pretty good.”
“Naw, guys, we can do better,” Jondie insisted.
“Well you fucking think of one, Boudreaux!” snapped Phillip.
“Game. The fuck. On, baby boy!” Jondie accepted. “Let’s see...” Jondie surveyed the items in the room. He swigged violent at a bottle of red wine, as if to prove something. With his forearm he wiped the drippings clear of him.
He screwed the lid back on.
“Rand. Fucking. Hammer,” he pitched.
“’I’m Rand Fucking Hammer, bitch’?” said Bruce, trying it out. “Naw, I think Parker Fuggin’ Farkus wins that round.” To meditate, he tossed the empty coffee can from one lanky hand to the other. The method had produced some decent monikers.
“But Brody!” Jondie said (to Bruce) as he depicted a small child. He reached, and yanked at one of Bruce’s curly locks, blond and shoulder length. “It’s the fucking hammer!”
“Damn it, Boudreaux,” Phil intervened on the Bruce’s behalf. He knew Dvorak was too kind a lion to swat flies. “Leave ol’ Brody alone. You’re bein’ a god damn Brendan,” he said. The name gave him pause. It gave Bruce pause.
It gave Jon Daniel Pilgrim an idea.
“Hey, what’s Brendan’s last name?” Jondie asked, thinking it might could make for a good round.
“Uh, Bruce?” said Phillip, “You’ve known Mount Saint Big Fella longer than either of us.”
“Turley,” said Bruce, looking up from his lap. His eyes had retreated there at first ‘Brendan.’ He squinted, as if the sun were in his eyes, and fidgeted into a ponytail his golden hair.
With a yank, Phillip revoked Jondie’s bottle priveleges.
He frothed deep and mild, “Way to ruin that snow day, Jondie.”
“What?” Jondie shot back. “It was you who asked him.”
“But you’re the one who actually said his name,” said Phillip sharply. He’d begun to overheat.
“Oh, dude! That was totally you who...”
“Fellas,” Bruce cut in. “Ladbros, gentleguys, come on noooow. It’s not like he’s dead.” He reminded them of this a bit singsongy, as if speaking patiently with a stranger’s errant children. “And even if he were,” Bruce continued, consistent with the pattern of dropping the last word’s pitch before pausing, “we’d still call his name.”
“I mean,” Jon Daniel Pilgrim explained, “all I said was ‘Brendan.’ Actually...” he said, pausing to make sure he was being truthful. “Actually it was Phil who said ‘Brendan.’ And that’s just his brother’s name anyway, not his own.”
“Half brother,” Bruce corrected.
“Oh for reals?” Pilgrim squeaked. “I thought they were full on bros. With a ‘z’.”
“No way, man,” answered Phillip. “Different Dads.”
“Oh, well they look just alike, don’t you think? Brendan and ol’ Junior?”  
“They totally have Paquita’s face,” Phillip agreed. “You know, we might as well laugh about it,” he suggested. “If bestie-since-birth Brody doesn’t mind.”
“Naw, dude. Go for it,” Bruce accepted.
“James!” sang Jon Daniel Pilgrim in his constipated rock n roll voice. “I’m gonna say your name! But you got so many fuckin’ names! Like Mount Saint Big Fella and fuckin’ Junior,” he continued, drumming on his lap and passing the song to Phillip with a nod and goofy face.
“I hope your,” Phillip sang, strumming vigorous on an open E major, “cell has a fuckin’ computer!”
“Oh well,” sang Bruce, “even if you are in jail, won’t you...”
“Protect that tail,” Phillip completed the line for him. It allowed Bruce to join the laughter. “Stay away from the big, black cock!”
“And if’n ya knocked Grace up,” continued Jondie, the gold standard in theatrical, cock-rock voicings, “well I hope that it was worth it for your cock, yeah I...” he trailed off, losing the flow. “Fuck, what rhymes with cock? Cell block? Soap in a sock? No...” he said, stumped.
Phillip was strumming still the most recent chord, waiting though for someone to complete the verse before returning the guitar to a rockin’ volume. He looked to Bruce. Bruce simply turned his palms upward. He said, “I don’t know - hope you enjoyed the walk?”
“To Little Rock!” Jondie and Phillip belted in unison.
“Man, I don’t think I have a chorus in me,” said Pilgrim, reaching under his coat to pull a Parliament from the fresh pack in his dress shirt’s breast pocket. Noticing the despondent gazes that suddenly surrounded him, he put the cigarette in his mouth and removed two more. He opened the two remaining oversized bottles of wine. Jondie placed one in front of Phillip and one in front of Bruce. He handed them also each a cigarette. He tapped his own smoke on the bulging shaft of his giant green bottle, the elegance and spoon-clank imagined; experienced regardless.
Jon Daniel Pilgrim cleared his throat.
“All right, guys,” he said. “I wanna make a toast now, to the man we’re all thinkin’ about. He’s got a tough road ahead of him, a lotta challenges to face. Y’all know who I’m talkin’ ‘bout,” he said, nodding at the others. “’Lotta mountains to climb,” he continued. “Buncha damn mountains. And it ain’t gonna be easy. Cimbin’ ‘em sucker’s is a bitch. So fuck mountains. But you know what?” he asked rhetorically, and taking his eyes off of Bruce and Phillip at last to gaze blankly, as if in a despondent trance of his own - a sudden smile. Punctuating the grin was a short burst of breath from his nose, like a nasal sigh. Gratitude. With both hands he hoisted the bottle into the center of the circle.
 “Aw fuck!” as the lit cigarette fell into his lap.
He attempted to dance himself free.
With both of Jon Daniel Pilgrim’s hands enlisted by the bottle, Bruce plucked with care the cigarette from the toaster’s lap. He returned it in jest and dainty precision to the lips of a persevering Jon Daniel Pilgrim, Pilgrim the undeterred.
Fuck it,” Pilgrim said through the cigarette. “To Barack Hussein Obama. Black is beautiful, y’all.” And he shot up to his feet.
A fricative laugh from Phillip, looking up at Jon Daniel Pilgrim and then into the wine, which he drank as if it were leaving him in the morning. He stood and brushed off the legs of his acid-washed denim.
“That’s the spirit,” said Jondie, mistaking this for ovation. “Come on, Brody.”
“Here, here,” Bruce replied, referring to the book of matches.
Phillip tossed them underhand. Bruce, with labor on his face, began to punish one into flame. Thinking the angry path to ignition doomed to failure, Jon Daniel Pilgrim volunteered his purple Bic. Good will, aloft too late, as Bruce was sighing out a steady stream of smoke through rounded lips. Phillip bent himself at the waist, in a reach for bare toes still damp from their poorly shod walk. Half an hour ago, through the ten inches of snow that had appeared over night, they’d trudged to Washed Out, Washington Street’s shack of a liquor store. Joining the aerobics, Jondie himself stretched one slender arm with the other.
Through recessed filter he asked whether the gang was ready yet to fuck some shit up.
“In honor of Mount Saint Big Fella!”
Phillip blew out another stream of fricative laughter, replied that he’d rather sit some shit up, get himself some fucked up - before moving on to the frigid, slippery dangers out there in Tundratown. Jon Daniel Pilgrim attempted to explain the enormity, the unique nature, and the once in a lifetime-ness of the fun they could be having, romping out there in the frozen grid, which their city had become.
“Still, I’d rather get me some fucked up than mess with the apocalypse goin’ on out there.”
“Ya gotta take care a yerself first,” Bruce explained.
Classic Dvorak - wise as ever, in the face of the apocalypse. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Long And Short Of It, A Newsletter

"Omitting shit periodically. Because we fucking can. Deal with it."

    To The Terse Und Loyal:

    Der Führer himself, our great leader of the Church Of The One True Prose, would like to extend his gratitude to you for your continued support of proper language. Nota bene: dues not received, like, really fucking soon, will be considered late. Exceptions by which your ass may be saved, or covered, or what have you in the realm of butts, will be only made for the most extenuating of circumstances, because, as some of you newbies learned in Doktor Näschen's camp, our annual retreat for new members, for those of you who don't know, all other tardiness shall be counted as unexcused! Insubordinate! Not giving enough of a fuck! Et cetera. Know why?
    Some exciting news, Genosse! We've decided on our new monogram! The C/1TP will be replaced with the much cleaner COOT-P. It sure was exhausting, and some of the members voiced their concerns with aggression, but the CAPS were very rewarding, and despite our differences - it being preferred that deliberations be made in a weak and passive manner - The Council At Park Slope was considered by us to be a great success. CAPS went on ahead [ : P lol - this is the only time you use brackets, by the way] and it was allowed by them that a final decision would be made and that a new hotel was chosen. As it can be recalled by you, the Winter CAPS conference last year was a disaster. Most were able to stay warm in the CAPS. However, many of our comrades had a run-in (not to be confused with a run-on, lulz) with a frozen lake that was not actually frozen. What the fuck, right? This year we'll make sure our members don't end up cold and wet. And it may be thought by you to yourself, hey, brilliant author, why should it be cared about by me? Here's why, you little shit. Maybe when you've gotten older, it will be understood by you that when one of our members gets wet, the entire COOT-P gets wet. Look, butthole, COOT-P is pretty cut and dry, but when it has been gotten deeper into, it will be known by you how heaven gets felt. It gets felt like a place where even Whoremac McCarthy, "Lengthy D. Lucifer," can be read by children and can it be guessed why by you? Because the paradise made just for COOT-P has periods all over the place. Seriously like, just fucking beautiful periods gushing everywhere. COOT-P's mission is to encourage the frequency of periods in all walks of life, so that COOT-P can disrupt even the most flowing sentiments with glorious periods.
    Remember, Comrades von Collocation, that your strictest obedience to COOT-P jurisprudence is as important as fighting the fucking infidels, I shit you not. On this note, consider this your final notice, meine Kamaraden: all loyal members will keep in mind that we are still at war* with the rambling infidels, the fucking assholes. Listen up, man, if we don't put a stop to their "poetic prose" that "actually sounds good if you fucking read it out loud," the world could get so rich and vast that a single sentence thereof could take up a whole page! These buttholes think they can just go on and on with this ethereal bullshit as long as they want, but were going to break these fuckers down into tiny, boring pieces. Their ideas simply must be stopped. Period. Pages upon pages across the homeland might end up with a single, pretentious-ass sentence on them and that's it. The pages The Enemy wants to bully us with, are full of exactly the kind of hypocrisy from which The Enemy gets his shits and giggles, which is to say this: my terse and loyal friends of the one true style, who go by the name of Runners-On.* These ass hats must be stopped before there well-crafted and totally gay sentiments, rich in detail and in stupid commas or what the fuck ever write the next page in history, whose arrogant dick head ideas are too hard for the true-tongued to understand. But how does one understand things that are so long and hard? Loyal comrade, don't be a long and hard member. Stay in COOT-P, and be brief where there are interruptions a plenty, don't stay long, you'll have to cut it short when you see the period coming, but you can come as much as you like.
    Unser Gefallene Kameraden Patron Of The Month, the late Herr Komissar Richard Böll of our most remote outpost, which we think is somewhere in, like, Alabama or something. For Herr Komissar Böll's unabashed and zealous defense of our core-ass values, you know, just in a kind of generally badass way, we have awarded him the honorary, posthumous title of COOT-P's second ever Patron Patriot Magnus Cum Fama.*** There is no doubt among the council of elders that those thinking of defecting to the evil army of the expansive and lyrical wording, ought familiarize themselves with Herr Komissar Böll's most famous speech about respecting the wishes of COOT-P, no matter how hard it may be:
    "You don't want to end up as one of those members we've had to yank from COOT-P. Wanna use commas instead of starting new sentences? This constitutes fucking the shit out of COOT-P, which has regular periods, and not this fancy, "Look at me, I went to college," semicolon bullshit; we recommend dashing away from that marathon of sentiment. If our members don't have what it takes to please COOT-P, don't even bother coming."
    In case you were busy writing your House Of Syntax representative about the Brackets Bill, have yet to subscribe to our Twitter feed (@thefuckingchurchofstyle_bitch) , or were too busy jacking off while reading Faulkner, the fucking dick guy, instead of watching your Führer tweet about the very issue of moles and infidelity, which has now officially replaced making The Reader work a little bit to understand these long, biblical-ass sentences, which have appeared in the works of some of the most acclaimed and buttshit authors, and which we are fucking slaying as we speak.


For those of you who did not see the speech, our Mr. Leader man made a super hilarious joke over the course of, like, seven tweets I think, something like, I don't know, it had to do with moles getting divorced or some shit, but it was fucking hilarious. I think Twitter, like, keeps everything you ever write, so it should be in there somewhere. Dude, I'm telling you, it's totally worth sifting through that bitch. 

*If you can't remember this simple fucking fact, maybe you can re-god-damn-member that unser Führer keeps a fucking whip. So pay your god damned dues and act right, butthole; we're fightin' the fuckin' good fight, you dick.

**A word in Latin, which we're pretty sure is a language, for "total badass" or something. We could have gone with magnus in femina (see: a fucking dictionary) "Total badass" is just a guess, but fucking deal with it, nerds.

The COOT-P Hall Of Do You Know is usually brought to you by a brief message from our loyal, and pretty fucking rad sponsor at Bic Industries, S.S., This week, however, will be the last week of Bic's sponsorship. Fortunately for the terse and loyal, the members of Bic Industries have cut off all creative endeavors, COOP-T's word game contests included. We congratulate you on the inconvenience, and offer you one last prize in brevity that could be won by you if you are passive and awkward enough.

In this week's competitive contest game, a lifetime supply of white-out will be won by someone. Win the prize and correct the shit out of your dumbass friends! For fucking life!

How to enter:
In as few words as possible, describe something that ruined your rhythm. Fucking mail that shit. Spend the rest of your life huffing white-out. Fucking deal with it.

We honor now our brethren in brevity, with some of the unforgettable slogans that have appeared periodically in The Long And Short Of It.

"Bic: maker of pens and the only fucking lighters that work, probably since like, saying "Yolo" became a "thing."

"Bic: the official Führer von Kugelschreibelblitzkriegen of corny dwarf sentences since, like, yesterday come to think of it."

"Bic: holding long distance runners and other gay sentences at ballpoint, since fucking forever, that's how fucking long."

"Don't be a dick. Use a Bic."

And we leave you you with this fun morsel, for you, our COOT-P comrade fellow and lover of all things short, to the point, and boring as all fuck.

Hall Of "Did You Knows?"
No, really, I don't know what "Yolo" means.