Saturday, September 18, 2010

Richard woke up with the reverberations from the zeppelin crash still moving through his body. His skin was still hot from the fire, some of his hair had been singed. In fact, Richard felt completely scalded, and when he finally opened his eyes he thought for sure the next sight he was due to see was the afterlife. In a way, he was right.

What he saw in front of him was a literal wasteland. It was a desert, to be sure, but not the kind of desert that has had the luxury of existence for thousands of years. There were no cacti, no beautiful hills and no refined sand. There was only dirt, and dirt that looked as though it was man-made, the result of being plowed again and again, overturned and dried up and abandoned. The land stretched on forever like a sort of valley, but it did curve and rise at times, and in places it rose quite severely, Richard noticed. There were still the remnants of strong trees that once grew in probable abundance, just stumps and wisps now, stretching to the sky in desperation. They looked like ghosts; the truest vision of the undead. The valley was full of silence, except for the gasps of Richard as he realized his lungs were full of dirt. He coughed a great amount, while covering his face from the burning sun.

Ah, the sun. It was still there, shrouded in its usual grey haze. It was the same sun, fading and tiny, that Richard had always known, and it was the only way he knew that he must still be on earth. It was then Richard realized: he was in what citizens referred to as The Dust Bowl. A common expression for the plain states from the 1930's, it had become the popular title for the central, government-owned dessert property. Now devoid of any substance once the counties had learned to irrigate its water and oil, it had become the dumping ground of the States and sometimes the world. The Zepps did not even fly over it anymore. Richard gave a start. The Zeppelins did not fly over the Dust Bowl anymore. And he had been left in the Dust Bowl.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

ew gross.

A week later, a traveling family of five spotted what appeared to be a human carcass scraped of most of its flesh. The day after that, a teenage girl, skinny but very much alive, was found. Though it was ascertained that she had been lost for weeks, she would not say how she survived.

i would make a terrible God.

So anyway, the dishwasher is running and the linoleum is peeling and I am taking out the perfectly mixed cat food for my fluffy cat who, at the time, hated everyone but me, and even hated me a little bit because I, at the time, slept at the top of a bunk bed which was much too much trouble for her climb every night. She took out her rage about the situation on me every now and again, but I suppose I didn’t mind because she was declawed in the front paws, and therefore took to taking tiny-cat-slaps to me if ever I made quick motions. If my ankle fell into her sights she would first sideswipe it, then slap it violently with both outstretched paws as though she were both players in an intense game of badminton. I guess that eventually she got her desired effect- the swiping got so annoying that she would be eventually chased down and picked up, which gave her a chance to hug you with her declawed kitty arms and scrape at you with her quite clawed back paws, using one’s human arm as the equivalent of stomping ground for charging bull behavior. Ho hum. I loved her anyway. In this memory I was feeding her, after all. In this memory I turn to her bowl on the floor, bend, and let the little cat treats make that kind of comforting plinking noise that they do when they fall into an empty bowl- you know the sound- and in that bizarre moment I found myself gazing at the backdoor. It was white, and we never used it unless we needed air flow in the stuffy house, and in the middle of the door, strangely, the paint had begun to peel, the kind of peeling that starts with tiny cracks and then, thanks to Texas moisture- for Texas is moist, sometimes, always in some places- pulls apart and reveals the wood beneath. The sound of the packing and rustling in the next room fell away for a moment as I lifted the cat food box from the bowl and gazed, still in a semi-crouching position, at the peeling backdoor. I could smell the summer heat seeping through not only the screen and the windows but the walls, up through the floor at my bare feet. Solemnly, I stared down the half-open, cracked, almost useless backdoor and I knew this strangeness, this memory- for as the half-seconds ticked by it was already becoming a memory- would be frozen to me; solidified, stored in my heart though I had no love for that backdoor, that g-d washing machine, that house. That isolated moment was my belonging, and even if I wanted it gone it says too much about my existence to be discounted, and my choice to set it apart, to freeze it in the first place… well, that says something too.

I do not recall with the vividity that I should my first glimpse of Avi, though that is one thing I feel like he feels like I must remember*. The fact is I never thought too much about Avi or any other guy that I crossed paths with when I was 20. They were no more than flashes in periphery, either existing to make me feel uncomfortable and uninteresting or as a stepping stone to their own tower of self-esteem. I had come to the conclusion through my pointless interactions with “their kind” that I had no desire to be around people who did not make me feel good, whether or not they were attractive. I made the conscious decision and stood by the idea that no “real life” guy was a real man, and aside from the smiley dorks that my over-zealous friends had married off to the only human males suitable to spend time with could be found in the pages of good literature (yes, good literature, no, not paperback trash. And no, not Austen specifically- I have never fetish zed Mr. Darcy in the way that dreamy-eyed American girls seem to, though Mr. Knightley from Emma always seemed patient and rather choice). Real men were only real in print, or in film, or hidden away in old, grainy photographs of nameless friends that strangers used to know.

There is something else, some weird habit or tick I have, usually when I need to calm down. I go into the bathroom, shut the door, and bury my face in the towel hanging from the wrack. It’s usually just taller than me, up on it’s hook on the back of the door or on the second wrung beside the bathtub. Sometimes the envelopment, the textured surrounding makes me cry, but mostly it puts me at ease. The smell is generally either of soap or fabric softener, the texture is usually soft but more alive to me than a sheet or comforter too easily found tossed on one’s bed. When my grandmother died I didn’t cry or really feel sad at all, I didn’t go to the funeral, but I got her towels. One day I went to them for comfort- forgetting their origins- and the smell of grandma’s place, of rust and cookies and cleanliness mingled, oxymoronically, with smoke, seeped through me at the first inhale and all of a sudden I was mourning someone I never thought I knew. When Avi and I were together I didn’t seem to hug towels all that much.



Shortness. It is the curse of man seeking female. I shouldn’t say female anymore, she always remarked something about that. How she wasn’t a bug or something to be categorized and microscoped. She’d always soften up after she’d said it, because she didn’t want to sound like some intense feminist, she said, she just thought female was stupid. I agree. Ha ha ha.

I haven’t had good sleeping habits lately, I mostly watch terrible reality shows on TV (or outside my window- my attractive and very subtle condo which I am about to lose because I am jobless- is funnily enough located across the street from a very basic, very oddball bar called DJ’s. I guess it’s pretty generic except for the fact that bikers have started to like it very much lately, though, like I said, it’s pretty generic and not, I don’t think, seedy enough to be considered a cool place for them. But hey, that is coming from the guy who gets shaken up by their repetitive grand exits at 2 in the AM. I guess it doesn’t matter all that much, considering I don’t sleep very much at all, but it does occasionally make me strangely angry. Sometimes I will go to the sliding glass door, huddle by the fence where I cannot be seen, and start to yell curse words at them. Usually though the words turn to mumbo jumbo as they roll out and the most response I’ve ever gotten is the perking of their ears- more muscular appendages than my calves- after which I usually realize quickly how cold it has gotten and quietly retreat to my kitchen. )

hot air balloons

George and Pattie had lived on the island all of their lives. There is a story there.

Some years ago, George's father and both of Pattie's parents had been missionaries, deciding amongst themselves to bring the gospel to the tiniest island in all of the Oceans. It was so small it didn't even have a name-- not a good name, anyway, just a gumble of numbers and letters that indicated its existence to some mapmaker somewhere. George's father, Richard, reasoned that the Gospel should be brought unto the least of these, and Pattie's parents, John and Cynthia, reasoned that the least of these must inhabit the island. In fact, in order for the island to be populated at all, the inhabitants must be of miniscule proportions! Poor as her logic was, all were in agreement, and her assessment turned out to be surprisingly accurate.

Richard parachuted, small George tied to his back, onto the island (nearly missing it at the twinge of a breeze), and John and Cynthia with baby Pattie were gently lowered to their destination by the tightly held rope belonging to a steam boat. They found each other instantly, then set about to find the natives. When they found them, it could be said that all were fairly disappointed. There were just a pair of human inhabitants-- an elderly couple, enjoying their last years in a hundredth honeymoon of seclusion. Their names were Paul and Jane, but that is not relevant. Jane was a Little Person, as they call them now, except she was different from the types you see today-- even smaller than the smallest, and more proportional. She wore doll clothes and her voice was tiny yet all that she said was well enunciated. Paul was the same, only less so. His voice came out more normal, and his eyes were less vacant. They were both old, and unhappy to see their last holidays interrupted by mission workers. Richard and his friends felt terrible, but they realized that they would have to wait for another boat or plane to come by before they could leave the couple be. Richard offered to share the Gospel with the Paul and Jane regardless, but they had already heard it. George offered to kill the threatening wild life so that Paul and Jane might be safe, but they had nothing to fear. Cynthia offered to help build them a house, but Paul and Jane liked the sky for a ceiling. And baby Pattie cried.

happy birthday to me

i feel like i notice things in him that are so particular, the way i notice things in everyone, except these are the things i could spend the rest of my life smiling at, or realizing the deep humanity and gravity of. a look, a gesture, a comment on something he has noticed and loved. many of these things are preconceived, for he is so self-conscious, and while some of those actions are endearing anyway because the intent behind them is usually so obvious, so readable, it is the candid moment that explodes my heart. my heart does not beat faster because of the unexpected, rather it rages for the excitement of understanding-- candidness is always a reveal, and when you see something real all of a sudden it's like you just found enough change to buy a candybar or found the missing piece to make the gadget work. the big picture gets bigger and bigger and you are more in awe because you are starting to understand what it is to understand, and what it is to understand a human person. a soul.

she, i can tell, sees these things too, and she sees these things in him like i do. this makes me glad, because sometimes i cry with worry about the idea of dying and the world losing track of me-- not me, i don't think i'm all that important, but what i love in people. that love will be invisible when i'm dead, and my loves will eventually be dead, too, and all of those quirks, passions, habits, all of that immensity will be gone. not only will i and those i love wither, the way we care for oneanother will also pass on. this is another reason why people get married; that is one small way for this bond between people/this declaration of love to outlast time.

i am also sad that she sees these things in him. it means i am dispensable. i can no longer say no one will love you the way that i could have.
Lots of relationships don't work out. Ours was no exception.

I think I read somewhere that more than half of the relationships in the world are doomed to fail. In my opinion, those odds are not improved by making that fact common knowledge-- it makes people feel like they have an expiration date. Once you realize that what you have is what you want more than anything, that is when you'll begin to see it slipping through your fingers. To love is to lose.

Mason Funeral Home closed the ninth of December, 2005, and it was not lost due to neglect. Mr. and Mrs. Mason had tried to make it work.
Billy had been out in the sun for far too long. He didn't know exactly what desert he was in, or whether he had been wandering in circles for days or hours, or how much further he could go without a drink or a morsel. He kept his ears on guard for the sound of the sea, any sign that he was near to home, but aside from the rising and falling of dust that had been pried loose from the deserts deeply cut ridges there was only silence. Not even the rattle of a deathsnake. He wondered if they had killed him after all, and if this was hell, or, worse, heaven. Since the attack, the sky was no longer blue in appearance, only a tantalizing greyish orange. There was only haze, and not a welcoming cloud to be seen; no moisture at all.

The days were only measurable by the vanishing of the orange into a darker orange, and the slight relief of cold sand at night. Billy no longer rested during these hours, however, and continued on, his lips silently forming the shapes of human words, phrases, songs.
She takes pictures with her endless supply of exploding flashbulbs and paints her face to match the rest of the parade. Sometimes the kinderen mistake her for a member of the clowns, and she takes delight in that.
Flashbulbs had a short life expectancy in those days. With a certain amount of stress they were known to explode-- to shatter and sometimes burst all over the subject of the picture. Eventually, smart people fixed this with a bit of properly applied enamel to strengthen the cracks in the bulb, and from there all manner of impressive technology was born. Of course, none of this concerned me when I was taking pictures. I was very good at snapping, but remained purposefully, dedicatedly ignorant of the mechanics of photography. At the time I didn't feel as though artists should know or care about those things, that we were more about expressing feelings and ideas all bottled in a single moment. Later, I was reminded that we all have our tools, and at the very least we should know how to manipulate them.

That was the year I had run away to join the circus. They called themselves a Carnival, actually, and traveled mainly Germany. It was my dream to capture the freakish, free-wheeling life from the beaten trail that I suppose everyone longed to live at the time but which the circus proved possible. Not only did the traveling band seem so beautifully free, they were far from the vagabonds that my family was always so quick to compare me to and warn me against-- their palette did not consist of browns and greys and the shabby, dreariness that I was running away from.

pink cigarettes

She had started smoking in a bar in Madrid in a desperate bid to stop herself from drinking to an outrageous extent. In Spain it seemed as though the moment a girl was seen to stop moving she was an easy target, the sitting duck of the bar, especially if she happened to be pretty and saucer-eyed like Patricia. Therefore girls took care to always have a glass in their hand or a cigarette wrapped up in their long fingers. It eased the nervousness and made them seem a little taller, a little older than the wolves on the other side of the room, or at least their match when it came to battle.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


there's an archway between wings of mckay, where the door is. it's about five paces or something. there's a daycare out towards the parking lot, and every other day the kids get taken out on a stroll on the campus. going by mckay is first, so the archway is very exciting. they think it's a tunnel and when they go under it they make as much noise as possible to hear the echo (though there's not really one). so around 10:30 many mornings one hears a group of little voices going "LALALALALA!" it was annoying as hell at first, but I look forward to it now.

oh that man.

One eye was made of a pinwheel. Not a spinning toy that protruded out from his face, of course, but rather a tiny spinning wheel inserted into the eye-shaped socket.


And then her heart exploded, and love went everywhere. It dripped from the ceiling, soaked into the floor, stained the curtains. it ran into the street, richocheted from the buildings, flooded the beaches, enveloped all of them in its permanence; love love love.

him and her and you and me

He did not make use of the dead horse’s remains. He considered them useless, tainted by evil. A beautiful horse, like the other three, he himself had named it, Big Joe, after himself, a kinda joke, but it was dead now and that really didn’t matter. Dad Sir was no longer around to tell him not to waste resources, to tell him what was right, so Joseph vowed to move on instinct. From the moment he saw Dad Sir in a pile, fallen and broken and trampled, he knew things were going to be different. He did not cry, it was not something Dad Sir would have wanted, and Lord knows Ma was doing enough of that for the both of them- for anyone in the whole world.

After seeing after Dad Sir’s burial the only logical thing to do was kill Big Joe. Big, beautiful Joe—he knew what was coming to him. He took it like a condemned prisoner, like one of the men Joseph’d seen hung in town, when they used to live in town.

love in a fishing village

The water seems to sympathize, its soft curves look inviting as they embrace and pass through the boat, every wave that follows seems to be perfectly in time as he hears it hit the side. He will always be a fisherman. The rhythm of the sea lulls him, assures him; he will never go home. His love is too big for harbor village. The waves crash in time with his thoughts, coming together and breaking apart, they seem to be saying the same thing, over and over as the boat is pulled deeper into the dark night.

I love you, I loved you.

funeral home

The three of them sat there, each feeling as though they were sharing a surreal moment, one they would look back on from time to time like a memory one keeps in a shoebox- an object like a marble or a penny or an eraser shaped like a penguin. There was something so timely about their appearance, their togetherness, their almost perfectly symmetric alignment- two plus one people perfectly positioned on a bus stop. Justine didn’t want to look at either of her benching contemporaries, as a matter of fact- she wanted to believe that their expressions matched hers, that they were at that moment indeed the three wise monkeys; partaking in no evil.

the town of fopstein and mr. bailey

He had a dream. One of those odd dreams where you see yourself doing something, but you are also the one doing it? One of those ones. In it, he had created a person, a beautiful Tin Man with round rolly legs and square body- a Tin Man who could move and speak and answer questions.

election virginity

The fall breeze was heavy with the weight of promises whispered on the winds, sent from the pulpits, called down on us from the giant televisions that seemed to be everywhere on campus. Everywhere seemed to be Election Land, but on campus it was positively inescapable. Even with the surprise of rain over Halloween weekend the posters remained, now with a sort of gritty character as their giant letters bled red white and blue and their faces sagged. Bulletins, wrapped in plastic and attached to sticks, were planted in the ground and in every dorm hallway hand written signs clung to the walls, urging all to the TV-clad study rooms to watch the action unfold. The staunch-looking, elderly conservative or the slick, refreshing democrat? Who would the nation choose to lead us now? We college kids had it figured out, for the most part.


Generally speaking, you know what bothers me about puritans? They entice you with promises of non-alcoholic glee, and then once you've joined their cult they tell you what you're going to do-- nothing fun, that's what. They make you go to your hovel and wear grey dresses. Especially if you're a little boy. Nothing says puritanical like little boys in grey dresses. That's what the Oft Quoted Puritan says, anyway.


Peter, or Pete as he was called in his younger years (which seemed so far away now even though it hadn’t been a decade since he was in school), was a very tall man. This was one thing he always had going for him when it came to women, with the high demand of tall gentleman and all. Peter considered this to be an indication of the possibility that women themselves were growing progressively taller, sometimes even before men could catch up. Peter was a believer in evolutionary theory. Anyway, Peter’s height was always something to be thankful for as his looks were otherwise lacking. He had the sort of face that seemed perpetually sad or stupefied by life. Never very expressive or humorous, Peter was often lost in the shuffle of interesting people that so seemed to outshine him most of his life. He didn’t mind it, for the most part. Patiently, Peter waited for his chance to do something really interesting- he knew he wasn’t a grand talent but he believed, earnestly, that everyone had their moment. However, 31 years went by and “that moment” just never seemed to make itself known.

At the age of 32 Peter made the decision to construct a guillotine in his backyard with which he planned to kill himself.

a hot day in california

It was the hottest day in recent memory. Hot days in Southern California are always confusing because you never feel them coming, and once you adjust to them they’re gone. This hot day was probably due to the Santa Ana’s, though Mel didn’t know their pattern or when they were prime to strike, but still, when the weather was like this, the Ana phenomenon seemed to pop up in conversation. Mel hated hot weather, it made her entirely uncomfortable and reminded her of Oklahoma and Arizona and all those places she preferred to forget. It made her more unfocused than usual, her concentration issues became far more extreme and, even with the window open, when she sat down with the promise of finishing the writing project she had been working on all week all she ended up with was falling asleep.

Needful Things

As if his feet were aflame, he dashes past me and up the stairs. I follow him, cautiously; I have seen him like this before. When I find him he is writing furiously with a sharpie marker over the stacks of paper that I keep beside my bed. Rapidly he tears through them, one by one, etching grand words over them and destroying them in one fail swoop. I pick them up to unfold them. "Fetching" reads one, "rollercoasters," reads the other.