Saturday, March 11, 2017

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

“Over the mountains, watching the watcher;
            Breaking the darkness, waking the grapevine…”
                                       - Pink Floyd


Looking past her toes to the shattered boulders several hundred feet below, Big-Legged Emma held out her arms as if she would lift off her perch and leap into the canyon.

On the middle, longest talon of the Claw, three rocks crooked over the edge of where the mountain had been cleaved deeply by water determined to go home. She turned her limbs to take in the sun’s rays, luxuriating her caramel skin in the warmth of summer light. Just beyond her, a middle-aged ponderosa pointed towards the falls that spread the mountain open like a wet labia, branches drooping towards the canyon floor as the tree gave itself to gravity.

Gooch watched, wondering where she was in her head, what effect she was feeling after Powerball kicked in and swept her through the dope’s peculiar portal to God knows where. When he’d last seen her, the real her, she had passed him a hit while they both still sat in the shadow of a large boulder that listed skyward, like the bow of a sinking ship. There, silent but for birds hidden in the pines, she passed the piece to him, exhaling her smoke through a burst of her characteristic tic of “Ha!” and her trilled laugh. “I’ll see you on the other side!”

He inhaled, grimacing at the slightly vegetal, dog-shit taste (but with a minty hashish undertone). When he exhaled, what footing he held in the world dislodged and spun off into overlapping folds of the universe, everything around him collapsing into sizzling, bombinating vibrations. The earth moved to envelope his being, his self, roots, rocks, mountains and trees engulfing him with a deep embrace, all of it devolving into a singular darkness that soon revealed lights alive and dancing. The pounding of his heart and the cold sweat trickling down his skin matched the rhythm of the turning of the World.

He swam in a sea of stars, twinkling points in all directions to an infinitude. Lights appeared and disappeared like fireflies, evading him if he approached as though each was sentient, conscious, intentional. Soon after appearing, each playful light created a ripple in space where windows to another side unraveled, spiraled outwards and then faded away, leaving just an evanescent memory of what they’d revealed.

Things inside some windows appeared abstract, incomprehensible, characters from millions of alien languages lacking context or reference or meaning; others showed familiar things, oxygen-breathing, more like the reality he’d left when he’d sparked up the “powerful magic” (as Indian Leo called it), things from terra firma, The World, things like trees, oceans, mountains, farms, people doing things, crossing the street, brushing their hair. In one window, he saw a desert sky at night and there was where he entered. 

He landed feet first in the midst of a courtyard of a classic Spanish villa, a square plaza of outbuildings and apartments fronted by an imposing three-story Grand House. To his right, a fountain stood tiered with marble clam shell bowls that decreased in size as they neared the top, where a Cupid danced and aimed his arrow at the sky. Wings of the estate hemmed everything in and the casitas were fronted by a porch shadowing spaces beneath the wooden-slatted eaves, windows shuttered like the closed eyelids of large owls. The only sound was the clattering echo of the fountain’s falling water and beneath his feet, porcelain tiles were slick with spray, grout lines green with moss. It was humid near the fountain and his skin grew damp, goosebumps appearing as the desert’s night air chilled serein.

Still as his surroundings, he took in the sight, amazed, awed, the clarity of the moment an instance of remarkable beauty. The villa’s stucco skin breathed from the life within. Whorls and ridges filigreed into an intricate network of pavonine patterns, pulsing with lines intersecting and interacting.  Above the walls, ribs of coral-colored tiles rippled under the sky, respiring essence and bits of things that were contained within, an inexorable scrambling of spirits and elementary particles.

The stars were infinite, tiny diamonds strewn across a black scrim, their light softened behind the fulsome glow of an impossibly large moon that loomed behind the Great House. Ancient-looking but well-kept, built in the Spanish gothic style, the house was a palace in the midst of a Krazy Kat landscape. All was dark but for pale light of the night sky and one window on the third floor, a lambent glow where he could see someone standing in the room behind the window. Taking tentative steps toward the house, fearless and curious, he peered upwards through squinted lids. With his approach, it became apparent that there were actually two people standing in the room, one close to the window, a shadow of another gesturing and pacing. Almost directly beneath the window, he heard feminine voices, a collegial conversation, friendly and joyous. Unable to catch what they were saying, He could tell that one of the speakers was elderly but still possessing a firm, forceful voice along with the cool precision of schooled diction. The other voice broke in, much younger, bouncy and ebullient, almost singing it seemed. And then, a blast of a jovial “Ha!”

He erupted with laughter, his eyes clouded with mirth tears, his “Buddha laugh,”  as Emma called it (although he was nothing like the fat little man in Chinese restaurants, begging for a good-luck belly rub with raised arms and palms flattened) a starburst in his gut that rocked his body with its seismic force.

“Who are you talking to, Baby Sister?” he called and was immediately lifted above the villa, spinning and spiraling upwards on a tourbillion of galactic fireworks. A hissing rushed through his ears, increasing in pitch and volume. Vision was reduced to a mix of hues and tones that resulted in a blast of pure light, photons stripped of all spectral definition. In an instant, the speeding, screaming cacophony ceased and he was returned back to the where the trip began.

Just beyond the edge of the forest, Emma stood entranced on the Claw, swaying slightly, singing with the coloratura of the canyon’s winds. As she had done so many times before out on the Claw – arms stretched wide and face tilted back to the sun – she embraced the world, granting open and free access to her soul and her infinite well of love.

Aftershocks still trembling through him, he reclined on pine needles upholstering a slope, just watching Emma, drinking in the fact that they had not gone far from where they had first smoked, musing on where Powerball would take them next.

Adieu, mon ami! Il est temps de volet! It’s time!” Her voice splashed through the pine needles like water shattering on a stone, droplets of her words collecting on his skin like the spray from the villa’s fountain.

He watched her body tilt toward the opposite canyon wall and then fall forward into the chasm and toward the rocks below.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Our Exquisite Corpse

Lids lifted to reveal darkness inside,

bloodless and blank-eyed, a void where
life once illuminated
a world we’ll never know,
now null, flatlined,
fallow, forgotten. Nothing

left but lips opened for an oh of horror,
gaping where a last spasm
shuddered forth and
screamed silently,
exhaled what thin reed
stood against the banks
of an arid rill, a final
stand undermined as sand slid
where roots once held
with a rotted parchment claw.

Colorless and cold as porcelain,
twisted fingers clutched
as though scratching
lichen from stone, nails
filled with filth gathered from
petroglyphs scrawled into

the face of rocks.

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Miss My Ring

Muted peel, forgotten bell;
the broken seal
of a shotgun shell.

Skin unbound, denuded, free;
a bloodless sound
where your ring would be.

Empty pall, a phantom limb,
where leaves that fall
sing a dirge-like hymn.

Though the sting is fresh and new,
I miss my ring

but I don’t miss you.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

3 Doors, Closed

Door #1


When you smash the pots I made for you,
put the shards tip up in the dirt, so they
look like the sails of small boats or
sharks’ teeth in a ravaging maw.
Arrange them in a way that you’ll never
see the pieces as they originally were,
an assembled whole where roots struck
bottom but pushed stems to air and light.

Door #2


If we’re too stiff to dance,
to move without arms
pinioned to priorities
and everyone on our Friends list,
then what the fuck are we doing with what time we have?

Door #3


In the end, you left me with nothing but
          an unsigned card
                     molding in the drawer,

mawkish tropes, doggerel, words you
         scanned and assumed
                      held weight or meaning

(or at least might mean more to me than you).

As days passed, memory decayed in dirt,
         too late for burial,
                     the card's sentiments

an afterthought with a very short shelf-life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mr. Todd's Yard of Charnel Horrors

          We’d buried our Comet in the Square Hole, under rocks, bits of broken concrete and clumps of grass ripped from the surrounding field. We pulled the wheels and Suzie pried off the silver Comet emblem that had managed to survive all the damage we’d done. Billy added a snowglobe to the grave, stashing the others into the sack he’d made from a coat he’d found. Everything else went in the wagon so we could take it all back to our fort. Then we just stood and looked at the mound, silently, as though honoring a fallen comrade. 
           “I wonder if someone will dig that up in a thousand years and ask why it was given a burial? Maybe they’ll think it was some kind of primitive robot that we loved enough to bury in a grave.” I had thought about saying something inspirational, something like what the last person says at the end of those films we watch in school, but all I could think of was how we might be pranking future archaeologists.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lake Trout and Document 5

Lake Trout

A substantial shadow in the shade of the shore,
a cool place
between stones
that give back the alpine sun’s shining,
its dappled back
like the lights that appear in the shoregrass at night,
going nowhere
and showing nothing.

Waiting. Watching. Wondering
if those eyes admit memories,
if my face is clear
beyond the lake’s spirituel lens,
knowing  
my intention to cast a line.

My father brought me here, many times,
a legend passed on to him about a hidden tarn,
tucked beneath the cups of two peaks’ cirques, 
a deep pool
shrouded by dense stands of spruce and juniper;

where an antediluvian intelligence ruled waters
as rarified as regal spirits,
striving only for survival,
while accumulating
what wisdom or ways
will the realm toward
an equilibrium in death’s dissolute diet.

A tailfin, larger than my hand, fans sand and silt,
mica and decay,
moving out
to light, taunting,
laughing at me,  
lolling in a languid drift from the flutter of its fins’
feathered fingers,
a dismissive wave.

Document 5

There is nothing in the pantry for her to make
and everything there is beyond her grasp,
anyway; a cup of milk may as well be
an Arabic anagram or
a ton of spoiled meat.

Hunger. For.

Eating, a broken clock, a reckoning of time
manifest in hunger, a gnawing knowledge
that something is missing and things will
be better somewhere, where? Where,
where there is eating, a broken clock,
a reckoning of time manifest in hunger,
where? Where are the rest? Eating?

A broken clock.

A reckoning of time.

Something
is missing.

In between, everything is missing but that
static quintessence of each second, the is where –
where. Where the is is, is an opaque reflection of
clouds on a cream-white opal, an ephemeral flash
of what was but is not is.
Is missing something.

Hunger. For.

Dreaming, a desperate plea, someone needs to be saved
as there’s no time left, what’s left has left her
out, left out, out left, gone, left, out, dreaming is
and out where, where? Where is is? Where is out?
Out where dreaming is the eating and a
reckoning of time manifest in hunger,
eating is, is dreaming is, is is but where?

A broken clock.

A dream. Eating. A dream.

Something is missing.

Friday, August 19, 2016

These Stones Don’t Sing out Here No More

These stones don’t sing out here no more.

Their dead song’s dead,
songs don’t get sung no more
so there’s just nothin’
but a sound that don’t make no sense.

These stones don’t sing out here no more.

The bear, the poem,
the plastic flowers gone
got wind scattered and
torn from the white cross we planted.

These stones don’t sing out here no more.

A broken bike
that fell off someone’s truck,
someone movin’ to
some better place for speaking their names.

These stones don’t sing out here no more.

And so I sing,
for them and all of us,
bones above and below,
a song about the forgotten.

And I sing, sing,
tears like branding irons,
words explode on the wind,
“Rise! Fix this broken bike and ride!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Two Poems

Aurora

Clouds were scattering west, following the night,
fleeing the scene as if they’d stuck around to see
if anything else might fall and break,
or lay dead in pools
collected along curbs.

Last night, summer skies clashed,
cold and hot air, high pressure and low, everything
exploding, thunder cracking like a lone gunman’s random shots
 ripping through the night, the sky screaming
and, in an instant, bleeding light.

Behind the blinds, it appeared as though
armies battled in the dark, booming guns
pounding enemies hidden without and within,
in the heart of the city,
in the heat of the night,
in the promise of damage and destruction,
in the deaths of things.

Morning emerged, wrapped in a damp towel,
a lambent crimson rim on the horizon
like a gash, a tear where day asserted itself
timorously, taking a tentative step into
where the sky had lashed the land,
where the storm unleashed itself,
where the wind and rain shredded artifice
and laid bare roots to expose corruption,
decay, dirt, things buried beneath the
incremental accumulation of discarded time.

She arose, radiant, chin tilted toward what’s
passed and past, her displeasure betrayed
by the usual ruse of regal indifference.

Dawn shimmers away to fill mirage pools,
leaving the August sun to do the heavy lifting
and hopefully dry things out,
clean up the mess,
carry on with what life remains from before the storm
(if what’s broken can still give grief words),
and believe those scattered clouds will never return.


                                     
White Privilege

Mimicking a hummingbird, its wings bombinate with hovering,
making itself welcome to our hydrangea blossoms.
Out of its innate knack for subterfuge and duplicity,
It has been allowed access to our flowers and their nectar,
even though it was never our intention to invite that family.

“It’s not a bird. It’s a moth.”

“I wondered.

It’s ugly. That awful face and fat body.

All brown and black.”

“Shall I kill it?”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Piss Ants, Part 5

To: G
From: Q

Oh, we’re so stylish. GQ, get it? Cuz someone sure likes to unload their bladder on this real estate. Gawd, this is getting old. What are our options, do we need to move away from this yard? I’m sick as shit of pee. Really, I’m ready to move.

Fix this general. The smell is like 100 times worse this time, as if there’s something in it that is pestilential, almost as bad as lawn mower fuel. Ugh.

To: The Queen
From: The General

I agree, My Liege, that the odor is horrifying. Unfortunately, the story gets worse and whatever was in this last batch of urine has resulted in zombie ants. Allow me to explain.

Following the last assault, we collected dead workers and soldiers from throughout our perimeter. Once the dead began to be consumed, behavioral changes in those eating became almost immediately apparent and they became dangerously psychotic within minutes. Singing, dancing and uncontrollable laughing soon gave way to attacks on one another as well as colony members who had yet to eat. In no time we had a bloody melee on our hands and were forced to kill colony members who had eaten their drowned brethren. At that point, a moratorium was placed on all fresh flesh and so, until we move, we’re a colony of vegetarians at risk of zombie civil war.

In fact, our perimeter is now littered with toxic corpses. The birds refuse to touch the dead, leaving scavenging beetles to run amok after taking a few bites of our fallen. Forward observers have reported that the beetles end up attacking other beetles and, whoever is left after that death match, runs out into the rocks as the sound of hideous beetle screams fade into the distance.

I am thinking that those stones where beetles go to confront their psychic demons could be where we’re safest. Yes, resources are scarcer, we’re more exposed, it’s hotter and the ground is as hard as rock but I see no reason why our pisser would wander out beyond the lawn.

To: General Packer
From: Queen Let’s Go

Start the process, General. I’ve got my girls on getting new workers and soldiers for you to help move the remaining unhatched workers and soldiers. I’m going to miss this place, we were living fat until getting stomped on by a fucking baby. I squeeze out a shit ton of babies and I fucking hate em’. They stink, they’re noisy, and they do stupid shit like this, stomping on people’s homes and then having someone drown them in pee. Trust me, if our colony found a way to plow on without having to rely on making babies, I’d sign right up.
So, let’s bounce, I’m so done with this place. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

15 Best Internet Lists of 2015

I bet you didn’t know there were so many lists on the Internet

This is the time of year when Internet lists get the recognition that has been neglected throughout the rest of the year. Without Internet lists, our connection to the World Wide Web would be like Russia in 2007. Do you remember what happened in Russia back in 2007? Of course you don’t and that’s the point. Internet lists have always been with us (even before the Internet) so, whatever went down in Russia back in 2007 won’t happen, forget it already.

We’ve spent several minutes and scant resources to scour the Internet for lists. Frankly, it wasn’t that difficult: just Google any number more than five followed by any adjective or noun and you’re going to hit gold. The Google has earned every penny you’ve put into it.

Our rules for including lists on this list were simple: If we didn’t like the list, we left it off and if we did like the list, well, that’s why you’re reading this. Oh, and no Buzzfeed lists, those are pointless. Having laid all that out, your 2015 has just been completed with this list and you can safely check off one more accomplishment (that we did for you!) before you die.

15. 15 Reasons to Date a Single Mom

In case you needed a reason to date a single mom, this list has 15 of them. Although we weren’t aware that all single moms had these 15 things in common, this list helped us to realize that single moms are actually better for dating than single non-moms. 

This slot had stiff competition from similar lists such as, 15 Reasons Why Single Moms Are Always Horny, 15 Ways I’m an Improvement Over Your Ex and 15 Tell-tale Signs That My Internet Lists Have Zero Effect on My Social Life

14. 14 Places You are Forbidden From Visiting

Actually, I bet there's more than 14 places since we know there's this enclosure about a mile from here with "Keep Out" and "Danger: High Voltage: signs all over it but when we went there, all we got was a ripped up t-shirt from climbing over the razor wire.

13. 13 Books That You Should Read ASAP

Why the authors of this list think you should read any of these books as soon as possible is never explained in the post, however. From what we could tell, none of the books contain time-sensitive material. Anyway, read them now, there’s 13 of them (we counted), you’re going to need to cancel some things.

12. 12 Unsettling Facts about 'The Metamorphosis'

A list about lists is a bit Kafkaesque, if you think about it.

11. 11 Mistakes Wedding Guests Make

The smart couple planning a wedding would do well to send this list out with their invitations with "FYI" penciled in on the printed copy. 

10. 10 Worst National Anthem Performances Ever

Nothing shows how American you are more than taking off your hat and pretending like you know the words.
9. 9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit

This is an important list because in 2014, there were only eight things that managers did to make good employees quit. Since then, managers have added one more thing they do to set you off out the door. And they probably got a bonus for it.

8. 8 Top Products You Need to Try in 2016

Whoa. This is what happens when you're thinking ahead, planning for the future - you get your list on our list. If this list had been for 2017 and had fewer items on it, this might have placed near the top. Better luck next year.

7. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

As it has been with every year, this one comes in at number seven. Highly effective? The following six lists are laughing at you, pal.

6. 6 Terrible Health Tips from Gwyneth Paltrow

Or, 6 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Be Consulting Gwyneth Paltrow for Medical Advice.

5. 5 Best Big Cities

They're the best, the list says so. 

4. The 4 Types of Introvert: Which Are You?

Distinguished for being the first list to start the headline with "The." Also, introverts want to know.

3. AMAs 2015: 9 Best & 3 Worst Moments

For daring to say 3 when there's actually 4.

2. Best 2-in-1s 2015

This was a tough call. Notice how the list's title really tries to slip this into the #1 slot with "2-in-1s" by implying some kind of relative identity. But there can only be one one...

1. This list, obviously.