Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This empty bed is a tomb.

In the five minutes between the alarm clock's initial report and the snooze alarm's follow-up, I journeyed through space and time, and saw the man who kills me. He wears a black double-breasted pea coat, swollen with misgivings and wrong turns, with tufts of grey hair like a defeated crown on his flaking, sun-marred pate. Dark brown leather shoes, dark brown like blood dried on wood, click-clack on bleak pavement: the cadence to my fall. As he approaches me, closes in, I should be able to make out his face, but I cannot. Where a visage ought to be there is instead a swirling abyss, a gaping chasm, an ineffable gulf, the underlying, inevitable nothingness that patiently awaits each and every one of us, swallowing whole all matter intrinsic to me, imprisoning it forever and always in the frozen burial of a tan turtleneck. There calls a hollow howl; a ball of ice thirty thousand miles long hurls through the blackest ink at fifty million light years per second and strikes the full face of the moon: the knell to begin the harvest of darkness. From the burgundy, piss-stained carpet: maggots, spawn of filth, sowers of disease, harbingers of calamity. A hand is raised and a bony finger is pointed at me. Shadows take definitive shape and an emaciated jaw forms around the vast emptiness. The abyss clears its throat; pellets - the surviving remains of ensnared virgins young - rattle in its unfathomable depths. A fetid word is uttered: 'You . . .'; with the ellipsis, tangible and ad infinitum, like smoke from the barrel-end of the yawning void. There is no escaping, now, the destiny that awaits me. Soon I will have to wake up and go to work.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Digressions on a late summer's cloudburst

'Ain't rained like this in years,' the man said as he looked out across the dug-up frontyard, through a fall of rainwater from the roof so steady it held the man and his son's reflection, distorted and quaking. The boy said nothing, just nodded.

'Doubt we'll be able to do any more work this day. Hell, I'll be happy if our efforts so far aren't completely undone by this rather unexpected downpour. God must got a broken heart to be lettin' 'er loose like this, huh? Yep. Looks like it.' Again, the boy nodded, thought of the time he saw a flash flood hit somewhere down south; remembered his mother saying to his father: 'The caskets are floatin' up outta the ground! It's Revelations: the dead are roaming the Earth!'

'Hell, I remember when I was about your age,' the man began as he lighted a cigarette and leaned back in the green metal chair, just out of reach from the jumping splash, 'We got a rain like this, didn't quit for five days.' The boy looked over, incredulously, at his father, seeing only his stolid profile framed by blue smoke hanging heavy in the cool, damp air, the roaring rain came down loudly, pounding, on the white aluminum awning. 'I ain't shittin' ya, bud, it rained cats and dogs and pigs and horses and lizards and sharks for five days, non-stop. Your uncle Ben tried to hold an emergency town council meeting on the fourth night to suggest building an ark, but only Bup showed up. Probably because it was at Ben's house and Bup was over there watchin' the game and drinkin' beers anyway.'

'Whole basement was flooded out; this entire backyard was a pond, complete with swimmin' fish and leapin' frogs - figure they fell with the rain, or maybe they swam over from the river. Now this was back before the Susquehanna was a shitstream; back when you could actually catch some trout in it, and not just old tires and drunk Ledbetters,' - winking at his son - 'So if you figure the river's flooded up over the bridge with several days' hard rain, and 219 is a veritable tribituary that's spilling into each and every estate that lined its . . . banks, then you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that the whole damn town was under water; that Gram damn nearly got bit by a water moccasin when she was swimmin' around in the basement to get some canned tomatoes for supper. She screamed bloody murder, but no one heard her. Bup was sittin' right here, fishin' 219 North, and probably yodelin' (as was his merry wont). God only knows where any of my sisters might've been. Me: I think I was probably swimmin'. Matter of fact, I know what I was doin' now: jumpin' off the roof of the Corny twins' house. When Paul Senior - the grandpa, not the dad; the Corny twins had an older brother, Paul, and he was the third Corny to be given the Pharisee's name. By the way, did I ever tell you how many people in this town are named after me? Dave Gregg's dad - for that matter Dave Gregg, too; Dave Morley (who also named his son David John, but you wouldn't know that, I guess, he died before you were born - cat sat on his face, suffocated 'im; which they say happens pretty often). Anyway, when Paul Corny Sr. - that's the grandpa, now - when he dug the foundation for that house, he measured wrong and dug way too big o'hole. The Corny's are like that: hardworkers, golden-hearted, but - like Bup always said - a little dim. Hell, the Corny twins barely shared a full brain between 'em. They could play ball, though. Jesus could Paul crack a ball outta the field! I remember pitchin' against him when the little league played the pony league - most of us were used to playin' our older brothers, but they were out for blood that day. I'd imagine it was because they all had their babes sittin' on blankets and cheerin' for homeruns,' the man butted his cigarette and reached out his hands into the falling rain. The boy did the same, and splashed the cold water onto his face, rubbing his neck with his icy fingers, too young to actually feel the tension his father felt, but eager to help him carry it. Wiping off his face with a red handkerchief he kept in his back pocket, the man said: 'Or strikeouts, I suppose, respectively.'

'What happened when you pitched against him?'

'What's that, bud?'

'What happened when you pitched against Paul Corny?'

'He cracked it outta the field; damn near went across the railroad tracks and into the Sportsmen Club's property that's back there behind the old park. Jesus those Cornys were athletes! They had a cousin, Christine Corny, lived over in Barnesboro, went to Northern Cambria - real good lookin' broad, fiery redhead with legs that went on for days. I took her to prom my senior year. I remember the twins - boy, they gave me a rash o'shit. Gram came home from work just as I was leavin', covered me with kisses, and gave me a dozen pink roses she probably bought at the last minute from the hospital gift shop to give to Christine; said she didn't want me showin' up lookin' like some heathen tryin' to kidnap Gert and Bill's little girl. (Think Gert might've been a nurse, too). Bup ran out of the garage and fixed my tie and told me he didn't wanna have to kick Paul Jr.'s ass to defend his son's honor; which was his way of telling me to have a good time, but be conscientious, I suppose. Then again, maybe he meant that I should take any and all available liberties. Ol' Bup was full of wisdom, but never cared too much for coming out and givin' it to ya straight. He was a very cryptic man. Which, I suppose, is where I get it from, and I'm sure people will say the same thing about you, too, some day.'

The sun peeked its head over the clouds, and the golden down that scarcely covered the boy's legs fell back against his skin. His father stood up, and with a hand at his brow, regarded the horizon with tentative concern. Into the dissipating fall he said: 'I miss 'em so much sometimes, bud.' The boy looked at his feet, ashamed he might have to witness his father crying again. But the man cleared his throat and broke the silence. 'Looks like we can get back to work after all. Go get me another wheelbarrow full o'shale, would ya, bud?'

Saturday, September 26, 2009


sweet hold on that mic

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fart imitating life

It was just one of those days when you had a big wad in your pocket and a nice heap in the bank too; the day after payday. Our stomachs were empty, our wallets full, so we headed to a corporate burger joint where they serve booze and allyoucaneat fries. We dined al fresco, and neither my friend nor the waitress - a large black woman with an appreciable gap between her teeth and a name that mutilated several of the early romantics - knew what that meant. 'It means outside,' I explained to them as the waitress placed my abominable drink in front of me. I looked at my friend's giant glass of Oktoberfest beer shining like ambrosia, then back again at my frozen raspberry margarita. It tasted of fake sugar and sat, pink and lewd, in a rainbow splotched glass: a severe blow to my already fragile masculinity. I looked at my friend and shook my head, granting him permission to laugh. 'I can't believe you got a margarita!'

But this story isn't about us. Sometime after our drinks had arrived, but before our food came (which, by the way, took a very long time, especially considering they were veggie burgers) a couple showed up. Quite possibly the most tragic I've seen in all my life. To the right of our table - if the story is being seen through my eyes, which, so far, it is - sat a cute little family: cranky mom, impassive dad daydreaming in his nachos, two little siblings fighting over a balloon, and widowed grandma getting toasted on vodka or gin behind her big cataract shades. To the left of the table sat a nondescript couple of forty or so: your runofthemill Polish blobs working on their fifth or ninth basket of fries and still pleading with the waiter to 'cook the fries a bit longer; don't be afraid to burn 'em.'; and a middle-aged, fairly normal woman with a man I'm assuming was her elderly father, who sat with a fixed grimace aimed at his empty beer glass. Also, somewhere in that golden light of the downing sun which only occurs during especially nice and calm weather in certain hours of the day at certain times of the year there sat a group of three high school girls gossiping with pursed lips so as to not cut themselves on their braces, nonplussed by my predatory stares.

These groups might as well have been framed pictures adorning the walls of the patio as commonplace and uninteresting as they were. And with no fodder for the conversational fire, my friend and I were running out of topics, having already exhausted the band, the movie we both just saw, girls, god, and drugs. But just as an interminable silence was beginning to creep towards our table, the tragic couple was led onto the patio by their mildly attractive waitress. I saw the girl first: greasy brown hair pulled into a tight, very tight, headache inducing ponytail (the tail of which was only about three or three and a half inches long, like a limp muskrat pecker hanging from the back of her skull), wireframe glasses resting dirty and smudged on her pale, misshapen face, wearing an ill-fitting black babydoll tee with hearts of various colors and patterns stretched and wracked by her many folds and flaps, and dark metallic blue jeans that fell too far below her hanging spigot-like navel and hung too high above her black and purple Sketchers. One could quickly perceive by her countenance and walk that she hated the light, hated public and absolutely hated herself.

Then out came the dude: her date I proposed to my friend upon seeing them settle down uncomfortably across from one another at the table behind my friend's right shoulder; where I would spend the rest of my meal gazing with indelible curiosity. Her 'blind date, or internet date,' I pronounced more specifically, as I intimated with a quick point, a mere flick of the wrist to any suspecting onlooker. He casually glanced behind him and got a read on the situation. The guy - I should tell you - was totally average, and besides a sharp, lacquered fauxhawk had almost no characteristics worth mentioning. He was of average height, maybe about twenty pounds overweight, but he wore it well thanks to his broad shoulders and outfit of shorts (khaki) and a tee shirt (dark chocolate) of neutralizing and slimming colors. My friend said: 'No way. That's no date. Those two have a standing relationship, I guarantee it.' We had ourselves a bet.

She sat with defeated posture, her forearms resting on the edge of the metal table, her wrists on top of one another, with folded hands like a dead bird lying prostrate in front of her. She glanced around nervously, as if ribaldry lie in waiting from any one of the eating patrons. Her date (or boyfriend if you - at this point - are ready to align yourself with my friend's opinion) sat with clasped hands as if silently praying, and stared at his feet, or his phone, or at the smirking abyss; shading his eyes against the mild sun any time he would look up to acknowledge one of her mumbled comments. My friend was talking to me about something he'd heard about the upcoming G-20 Summit the city was soon hosting when the tragic girl's date excused himself and left her sitting there alone, probably wondering if he'd even return. I interrupted my friend and said: 'He just got up and left!' My friend seemed uninterested, said he probably just went to the bathroom, and continued talking about what he'd heard on the news about the G-20 Summit. A little girl gawked at me with unfledged curiosity through a window all over which she'd left tiny, greasy paw prints. I contrived a hateful glance and tried to get her to look away, but she just giggled and stuck her tongue out. I turned my attention back to my friend, but he was staring pensively out at the river peeking through the line of trees that stood just beyond the patio.

The tragic girl's date returned - a little to my chagrin - wearing sunglasses; and the tragic girl flashed him a half-hearted half-smile. I told my friend: 'Maybe they've known each other for a long time, but there is definitely no romantic past between the two. But I still believe this is, like, a Craigslist date situation.' He shrugged and offered a plaintive whatever. I was growing perturbed with his disinterest when our waitress arrived with our poorly assembled burgers and mushy, pallid steak fries. I told my friend I didn't know the allyoucouldeat fries were steak fries, that I hated steak fries, and he agreed that steak fries were not the best but the fact that you could eat as many of them as you wanted made up for it. 'Just because there's a lot of something,' I told him, holding a limp, ketchup-tipped fry in my hand, 'doesn't mean it's good, or worth it. Take the girl behind you, the tragic one, ' - pointing with the fry now - 'I wouldn't want to eat her.' I laughed unabashedly, and my friend looked at me with furrowed brow. 'Are you drunk off half a margarita?' 'No,' I said, defensively, but had no excuse for actions.

We ate, for the most part, in silence. At several points I brought up things I'd observed the couple do like when they both reached for the ketchup and the tragic girl recoiled quickly and her date shyly gestured 'no, by all means, go ahead', but these observations were dismissed or flat out ignored. My behavior, it seemed, had become priggish and I hate the idea of spoiling someone's meal, so I talked of things I knew my friend was interested in and made no more mention of the tragic girl and her date. The waitress arrived just as my friend was finishing my second basket of fries and asked us how everything was. I replied by asking for the check.

'I just gotta go to the bathroom,' I said, signing the check and throwing a five dollar bill onto the table, 'I'll meet you out at the car.' My friend said okay and got up and left, his pockets bulging with napkin-enveloped fries. I lingered at the table and watched him leave. The moment he was out of sight, I walked over to the table where the tragic girl and her date were sitting, chewing silently on their massive, bloody burgers. 'Excuse me,' I said in my most polite manner, 'I hate to bother your meal, but there's just something I dying to know.' They both looked up at me: the tragic girl still chewing, a look of absolute horror in her eyes, her date gulping down a bite that wasn't quite ready to be gulped down. They said nothing, so I continued: 'You see I'm in grad school for Sociology and I'm currently writing a paper on internet dating. You two didn't happen to meet on the internet, did you?'

My friend was leaning against my car smoking a cigarette when I came out twirling my keys on my finger. 'Well?' he asked. 'You owe me a beer.' 'Sure you wouldn't prefer a margarita?'

We Lack Consciousness As We Now Live In Blackness

In his last moment of life, he looked to the ceiling with utter contempt on his face. The ceiling is not the sky, and his spirit would never exit this room, he thought.

He then watched as the world went black, waiting for the consciousness of an afterlife to set in.

He waited an eternity in darkness, and it did not matter.

The ceremony was filled with bright streams of conscious thoughts, and much laughing and crying. Those subject to it left with little more than they entered with. Only a new need for solace, and a newly impeded sense of impermanence.

There were many tears, and if he were there to witness his funeral, he would have cried to realize how loved he truly was. He would have realized all the reasons for living, and he would've quietly returned the gun, and the pills, and gone on about his day, fighting for some assemblance of happiness in a very dark and frustrating world; knowing that some small shimmer of hope existed, and must transcend beyond his funeral.

However, his realizations were no more. He was dead, and there was no hope of being alive again; unaware even enough to observe his own death. It had happened, and now, merely had to become a thing of the past.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


it’s abject the smile i see over across there

you in your lone bed i want to be in

and me on the floor sprawled in fetal

sifting through quite small thoughts

of love of loss and the in between then and now

wished we were back in the forest

kicking at some vagrant wood

green cool birch lumped down in my jaw

blue silent smoke hanging icy on the air

and we’re walking to see the horses in their pens

when the beaten path ends

and the railcars go scalding by

i climbed this tree i put a red pipe up to get some start

and hung down from the high branch

fell back to the earth and blood spewed forth

matting all the hair on the back of my head

you laughed and i laughed

we shared a bed that night too

Monday, September 21, 2009

Much further from the back porch, up in the woods is where it happened.
He remembered watching her face while she watched the sun go down
She wished he was watching the sun too.
It was like the time we listened to each other or sat
on the tall wall in that city you like.

We are not too sad for your Russian memories,
just fine as much as two might be in these times.

Remember where we went and what we saw.
my tears from your eyes
my blood will come out just fine
your fruit from my loins

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blossom's brother

I put my arms out, wrap fingers ‘round my pillow and pretend I know what I’m reaching for--
like I’m ready for anything at all.
I’m open to contentment but I wouldn’t change for anyone right now.
and I feel like maybe I’m too anxious, too ready to be there.
but you see, I’d just rather be anywhere at all than here.
I’m an escapist from reality until I feel like creating my own,
and that’s a problem, so they tell me, when you’re all but 22.
this way all I have to find is myself in someone else’s form.
but more often, I end as the sculpture,
woe is me.

blossom's brother

I put my arms out, wrap fingers 'round my pillow and pretend I know what I’m reaching for--like I’m ready for anything at all.
I’m open to contentment but I wouldn’t change for anyone right now.
and I feel like maybe I’m too anxious, too ready to be there.
but you see, I’d just rather be anywhere at all than here.
I’m an escapist from reality until I feel like creating my own.
and that’s a problem, so they tell me, when you’re all but 22.
this way all I have to find is myself in someone else’s form.
and more often, I end as the sculpture,
woe is me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ran out of stamps.

Dear Neil D.,

I've already written your letter and I'm pressed for time so I won't transcribe it now. But a response was written just not sent. Don't feel slighted. It's like a night in white satin.

- Wunderbar.

Dear Buck,

It was great seeing you last night and sitting on the couch on your old porch with you. I wish you really were able to hear me when I say my life isn't as good as it used to be since you moved away. I love you.

- The thigh against yours.

Dear Chicago,

I saw New York State in the cave of inertia. It's fucking brilliant. That picture of the pensive Barbadan is my favorite. Though the haughty king looks awfully tired. We should return to that castle soon. First week of being dead would be best for me.

- Naked eye.

Dear Cowgirl,

Sorry my door was closed. I wish I'd left it open. I wish there were more sunrises while the Buddhist Jew crooned and the bagged wine drained and the sexjuices dried to a falling dust, but at least we had that one.

- Mr. Clean (I promise).

Dear Snotrag,

You are so loyal. You are my piece of driftwood in the maelstrom of influenza. Bury me in your loving, stiffening folds.

- Foghorn.

Dear Miss Craft,

I lied. I haven't finished it.

- Stephen D.

Dear God,

I have felt you once again in my life. I'm sorry I forgot about you.

- Me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's All Going to Burn

It’s all going to burn.

It came out more like a bashful yelp from a lone coyote than the rallying battle cry I had envisioned so many times in my head. I remember trying to peel my father’s eyes off the television set, but they wouldn’t move. They were reaching into the television, unable to look away like a car crash. The constant flashing graphics on the cluttered screen even seemed to resemble a car crash in a lot of ways; it was as if it was being served to us on an expensive platter, and there was nothing we could do about it but watch.

Where do we go from here? What do we do now?

But his eyes just remained glued on the television set. I remember running out the backdoor to look for my mother. A loose thread from my sweatshirt got caught on the handle of the screen door that led to my backyard. I spun around, removing the sweatshirt from my shoulders and headed for the garden to find my mother. As I walked down the stone path that led to my mothers garden, as I’ve done a million times before, the stones seemed foreign this time, as if they were swaying like they were placed in a pool of water. Something about the familiar ritual seemed foreign. That same feeling was to become overwhelming seconds later when I realized my mother wasn’t tending to her garden as anticipated.

I had no idea where my mother could have been. Frantically I called for her while wandering the perimeter, that’s when I tripped on the tomato stake and fell into the garden. Then the rain came. I tried picking myself up, but the rain was making the earth damp and slick. I stopped trying to fight it after a short time, and instead allowed the rhythm of the rain against my skin calm my anxious nerves. The flooding thoughts of where to go and what to do didn’t seem so important while the rain was falling.

As it started getting worse, I noticed the dirt was cleaned from my skin and I was beginning to get cold. I needed to get out of the garden.

I remember running back through the house to try and get my father. It was obvious I couldn’t stay anymore. We had to go, I had to leave.

We need to leave! Why are you just sitting there?

But his eyes remained glued at the flashing images and talking heads. Before I left, I watched them for a moment with him; thinking maybe they held the answer that my father couldn’t articulate. But it was in vain, as expected. And I went.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

it is my wish
at the end of my days
all that i be
and there is no more i
just be

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"What would you do with a million dollars?"