A Girl Who Lived in a Box, and Other Dreamlets
All dreamlets copyright 2000-2016 by Tal Liron
There are lights so dim that even the healthiest children need to concentrate very hard if they want to see. One may wonder what point the architect had in placing those lights there, whether it was to save on energy costs, to cast an air of mystery over the room, miscalculation, or the last gasp of art school hubris. They hang from black chains in a foyer, in a well-tended kindergarten on State Street. Whenever I drop my nephew there, him squealing with delight, running like a cave gnome to see if his friends had a head-start on playing in the better-lit main room, I pause for a minute there and let the dimness swallow me. Invisible to all but God and an anonymous architect’s plan, I bow my head into my winter coat and pull out a torn page.
I can barely see the letters, barely read the words. I grasp a twilit thread of meaning, perfectly balanced between the day of the old journal and the night of my mind. In this foyer, there can be no mistakes: messages always reach their recipients. No ifs or buts, no masks or illusions. If she had doubts as she wrote about these horrible deeds, I can’t see them in the dimness. My rationalizations, justifications and apologetics, also hidden. This is how journals should be read, and this is what architecture is for: to make reader and author become one.
There are children so healthy that even in darkness they see light. I read each page in the foyer and burn it at home. When my nephew asks about his mother, I tell him the truth: that she was bad, and that he once had a brother, but she hurt him so hard that he went to sleep and didn’t wake up. And that she’s gone far away now. And that I’m not like her and that he’s safe with me.
But he’s not.
In Bolivia, by the sea. To the left of me was a bucket of clams and ice, to the right a basket of lemons. Two suns were setting at about the same time and, as often happens in Bolivia in the summer, the horizon faded and sea was impossible to tell from sky. It was as if my legs were dangling over a pink nebula. I shelled the clams with my right hand, sliced the lemons with my left, and had dinner. My boat was docked a bit further up and from where I sat, in the suns' last glare, it looked like an almond tree. I immediately though of Argentina and wanted death.
It takes about three Bolivian years to hike across the great Weald of Argentina. Make that five years in the fall, and an eternity in the winter, because you won’t ever crawl out. I spent such an eternity there, looking for the ruins of an old boat, fighting the natives, fighting the turquoise soil, fighting myself in the journal I wrote, in my notes in the novels I brought with me, in the letters I sent home to he who didn’t want to read them. It takes a month for a letter to cross the sea. I got my replies once every four months, which meant that I spent two months thinking the worst had happened to him. And what did he do in those two months? But his letters were short and full of love, and I didn’t find out.
I didn’t find that old boat, too. Forgot about it. Within a year I had learned an Argentinian language, wore a native dress adorned with ivory, and tried to start a war. I sold guns in the east, bought guns in the south, and ignored letters from my business associates in Uruguay and Peru. I fancied myself some kind of pirate, or mercenary, like one of those people who were on those old boats we were risking everything to find. Then one day, in what would be November in Bolivia, I got the letter from Peru, saying that my partner there had found the boat, and that the maps were inside and still intact, although it would take us many more months until we could decipher them. I almost ignored that one, too. It had been three months since I sent my letter home, and I was a wreck, waiting. I had started a mining operation just south of the station, to pay for the guns, but things weren’t going well, and I did some horrible things. If I didn’t find the old boat and leave soon, things could have gotten much worse. When things get that bad in the Weald, you can’t just leave. It’s as if the turquoise ground grows roots into you. I sold everything and sent one last letter home, but it never reached its destination. Nothing came from home or got back home ever again.
In Bolivia, by the sea, the third sun was just beginning to rise in the northeast. My belly was full of clams and my hands were tired. I broke open the last clam with my beak, and rested my horns on the dock as the sky turned silver and the sea turned purple. From somewhere out there, across light years of wind and waves, those old boats set forth so many years ago, loaded with foreign poisons, on a failed mission of death. It was one missed shot in a long, tired war. A fatal miss. The politicians signed the orders, and it was from here, in Bolivia, from this very dock, in fact, that the armed boats set forth to destroy the poisons' source, following the map in reverse.
He used to say that to grow is always to grow distant. It’s like Argentina won’t let you leave, its unfinished business weighing on your mind, sinking it, trapping it, surrounding it by years of forest. To grow distant is to grow cold. All homes are poisonous, and all soils in which life takes root end up devouring that life.
I collapsed on the gray bed, my only inheritance from father. My whole body was sore, and I was covered in the blood of more than two people. More than three, even. My head was so heavy, the bed so soft. It was like being hugged, or how I imagined it would feel. I never knew, would never know, not for real.
On the fifth of every month, having spent the last of my paycheck on booze and whores, I go alone to the river.
The river burns bright blue. It is as solid as steel, and on its banks grow all kinds of pretty things, and in their branches live the smallest folk, winged and many-legged and chirpy. I don’t know their names. I don’t know much about anything. I know that they talk to each other, sometimes about the river, sometimes about where the river comes from, where it goes to. I think it goes to the sea. I would like to see that someday, but I won’t. I imagine they never go that far, either, and that when they talk about it, it’s just like how I think about it. It doesn’t matter that we don’t understand each other, because we think the same.
Today I was not alone by the river. There were a few men and a woman, all drunk, and the men were trying to get with her but she didn’t want any of it. I opened my stupid angry mouth, and things got bad really quick. Real bad. I had to kill one of them, at least I think I did, and then I had to run. My dad died the same way, or at least that’s what they told me. I believed them. His bad nature would come out when he drank.
As I lay on my bed, flat out on my stomach, I felt bad about it all. Most of all, I felt sad that my bad nature had to come out by the river, and that all the little folk there would be talking about it. I thought it best if I just didn’t go around there anymore. Never did, never again.
That night I dreamed that I had a hundred legs, and a long green body that could twist and turn. I was climbing on a branch, overlooking a river of molten steel, like the one we have in the factory. I felt hot. But I twisted my body around the branch, and looked out to the east, from whence a cool breeze blew, from the sea.
And he told me how our pain is nothing, how the baboons' pain is nothing, how even bees' pain is nothing, and how flowers feel true pain, the deepest anguish, as they are picked from the Black Earth and stripped clean of thorns, and tied into bundles, and stuffed into knapsacks to be sold at the market. He told me this as his buckshot wound was draining his blood and intestines. He looked like a cheese cloth, and I was like a flush bridesmaid preparing the sweet cheese for the last day of the wedding. This was how we were, always, a brother and sister that appear in every story, in every occurrence in the sky or on the ground. He’s the mussel and I’m the crab; he’s the egg and I’m Ingra the Childsnatcher; he’s the angry drops and I’m the spirit-uncle holding the sweet tobacco. And now this, and my five souls inside me struggle against each other like the five great nations of the world did in the 1910s. And now he’s dying, the little one, and he’s telling me about flowers and bees and baboons.
If people, black or brown, would spend more time collecting eggs and less time hunting for fleeing witches they would know that the Black Earth allows for more than one counterpart for every part. For every gift, many return gifts; for every hen, many calming spells; for every daughter, many grooms. Though the path chosen is one, our five ghosts leave us and walk the other paths, finding their way back only when we sleep, and then fill us with dream-stories about everything they see.
For every witch, many hunters. Sister, sister, he whispered, I am like a flower now, the pain is so strong. So I whistled the witch-whistle, which he had taught me, and it gathered my five ghosts to me, and his five ghosts to him, and other ghosts from around came, who may have heard it, and I ended his pain.
I’m a witch now, too, and they will know and find me. In my dream, I had eaten an egg and it hatched inside me. He’s the bird in a cage and I’m the East Wind, who blows all doors into the sea.
I killed her with a brick. She ran up to me after school, clutching a scribbled, crumpled sheet of paper. “Mommy, mommy, look what I drawed for you.” She was born with her right eye swollen, a skull disfigurement, and wasn’t exactly the brightest flame in the bonfire. I was amazed at how happy she seemed despite being so very ugly. I was never ugly for my entire life, and never happy. As she was coloring with crayons I came behind her. Though I planned to smash her twice, once was enough. Her strange head erupted beneath me and she fell against my legs, her body trembling in short spasms.
As a kid, I don’t know how, but I acquired a horrible little potty mouth. I guess all kids pick up some dirty words, but I picked them up and assembled them, in patterns, like laying bricks for a wall. I would say there’s cock in your mouth to the mailman, or dry your cunt in the wind to my first grade teacher. Once, sitting on my favorite uncle’s lap after a Passover dinner, I said fuck me hard uncle David. I was six. He looked at me, pale, and his upper lip trembled in short spasms. His upper lip was an independent, wounded animal. I realized then that all people were assemblies of independent things.
I realized later that assemblies could be taken apart.
After grad school in arts, I was pulled into a maelstrom. My bricklaying patterns sold for tens of thousands. I spent it all, on gin, on penises, on teapots, on tongues up my ass, on a penthouse, on a sperm donor. I was depressed. However I assembled these pieces, they did not add up to a life. And at night, when I was alone, they trembled with their life, mocking my void. I fell asleep smoking a cigarette. In the glorious bonfire thirty one people died, though my fetus and I survived.
And I realized that parts and assemblies were one and the same. I named this one Mommy Look What I Drawed for You. And I’ll wait here for it to name me.
I walked in just as the rain turned to sleet. Eyes sweeping the room, catching my breath, clutching my joy. “Will the storm ever end?” “Never,” she answered, anonymous and radiant in the dry, suffocating warmth, reminding me of everything I fled, and of urgency. “Is there a church around here?” Again, she was the only one who paid any attention to me. “There's always a church around.” I looked lost with my hair dripping and pleading. “It's just down the road, and it pains me that one can't miss it.” I smiled, and threw flower petals as I exited. The room was a forest of vines.
It was just down the road. I walked in, boots knocking on the floorboards as if they were the row of doors inside our secret hotel. It was dimly lit and I was alone. I knelt to the left of the altar and prayed.
I love you so much that my brain lights up and shines through my ears. When they pay me to dance and swirl, I’m like the pulsar in the Crab Nebula, all for you, on and off and on and off. You are my background radiation, there from the beginning of time, echoing through all corners of curved space. You collect in high pools of mercury throughout the solar system, cascade down the cliffs of Olympus Mons. I bathe naked in your glistening, heavy surface, slinking up my legs, licking my long neck under stars.
And she answered, from across from the altar, time and space.
I love you, too, like a child shredded in half by an exploding terrorist. In a shower of nuts and bolts, you seal my nooks and crannies, smoke me and spice me. You slice me up with onions and sweet peas for a dark winter soup. I drink you right there, before you have a chance to drink me, so that they can’t tell our parts apart in the morgue. One last kiss before we check out. We work in the same lab, worship the same thing, so fervently that our love reflects back to the Martian cliffs, where we first met. Your lips were as cold as steel. I remember.
Between us, on the altar, the Rain God was still. Its splayed beaks frozen in mid-scream, its legendary Tongue of Life woven back and forth through its many nostrils and flippers. Frozen at the moment of suicide, amen. I love you so much that I’ll eat every living thing between us, amen. We’ll always be together, amen. With only the dead God between us, amen.
I was eighteen, just a girl, and so was she. It never stopped raining.
I worked it out in clay before committing to the oven. Molded large, rounded ears for it, pulled two splayed beaks, and its legendary Tongue of Life, weaving through its nostrils and washing across its flipper-like limbs. I made it only about forty centimeters tall, which made the nostrils hard to work out. Clay is love, even lovelier when the represented object is of such profound religious nature.
The last of them crawled back into the primeval sea, and kept its beaks underwater until its breath stopped. The skies eventually became less green, more blue. Its death let us live.
My second favorite material is paper. I folded it into little pyramids, and borrowed some glue from a warden. Together, they formed the shell. I rolled other pieces into cylinders, and these were the eye stalks. I ran out of glue, though, and could only give her six eyes.
She scattered her eggs in every single crater. Each hatched at different angles to the suns, such that each hatchling’s spines faced in different directions. This is how we still recognize each kindred. When she died, all her hatchlings fed on her, except one.
I use hard wood for the images I despise. I hate carving it, hate the dust that gets in my eyes, and the splinters that pierce through my paws. I used my feeding knife, and it was blunt and soon covered with my blood. The shape was easy enough: a worm. I added it to the shrine.
Except one. It watched its siblings feast, and as they sat torpid, digesting, it cracked them open and pulled out their vile, slithering hearts, threw them into a pile. The Pile of Worms, eternal symbol of cannibalism, the root of all evil. The Pile still beats, many kilometers underground. The vibrations remind us. We feel them during the second sun’s dawn, as the hearts tremble under the red rays of their Father.
I get hungry when both suns set. They feed me and bring more materials. “Elizabeth,” they say, “How could you have chewed your fingers into paws?” How? Am I really the last of the faith? These people, these blind, hungry monkeys. How can they not feel the Pile beat at the second’s dawn?
And then the last of them crawled back into the primeval sea. The only good heart that ever was, of the only creature to have not eaten its kind, stopped forever.
At the sound of the alarm we climbed down the trees and tucked in our uniforms. I grabbed my rifle hidden in the underbrush, and Harry the dwarf climbed on my neck. The command yelped and we rushed into the swamp. Our spotlights showed only brown, and as many insect as there are stars in the Milky Way. This way, that way... Harry kept pulling downward, and I could feel his hard cock sliding down my back. He’s always hungry. The enemy left us some candy on a hammock strewn with flowers, but Harry said it was a trap. He knows everything. I took it anyway, and nothing happened. It was strawberry mint, the most delicious trap. Then high command had us reverse direction, and count heads. "Nine."
There was a click in the dark, and many quick thoughts, and many trained reflexes. And a small wolf, scared. I wasn’t. Even hell has comic relief. Command to reverse again, nobody knows, it all looks the same. “Nine.” There’s nobody here, not even us. Only insects live in this place.
I closed my eyes for a split second, and Harry let go and rushed into the darkness. I knew he would kill something in there. I plunged my face into the brackish water, eyes open, mouth open.
Every clock planted in my soil rings a similar shape of bell. Every pendulum swings like a well-loved child. Across my tilled landscape penciled lines and uniform ticks, clutching my heart like a wheat reward, I vibrate my stalks of calendars by
1) flapping my tractors, (in the future humans will be known for their graceful flight)
2) counting out loud in demoted languages, (does it matter from which angle you look at a mirror?)
3) arranging seeds to the chords of a popular beat, (writing something down saves you from forgetting)
and 4) repeating your name whenever anything strikes twelve o' clock. (all is well! and why shouldn’t it be?)
All is well. The priests say that the Earth is round because they want us to keep running, but the farmers stare flatly as the minute hands take root, bud, flourish, cover the land, rustle petals and springs, set breaths against planets, seasons against love, ration every bite, calibrate every kiss.
Clocks mate like windmills, the air winding the grain for nourishment again. When my love bakes me fresh bread, we lie in the clock fields together, stare at the sun and eat. I turn to him in a half circle, and suddenly the universe chimes.
When grandpa turned seven, we buried him alive in Spider Fields, just to see how long it would take for him to crawl out. He emerged with wasp wings, spitting out thistle thorns, whistling with wind-rage as he passed by our homes. Mother forbade me from leaving my bed. Through my window I saw children sucked up into the red skies.
On his eighth birthday, we tied his ankles to the highest branch of the Bog Oak, and had a mystical woman curse him with weeping disease. We were afraid for what would happen to us, but even more afraid of breaking with tradition. He split the oak with a tearful cough, broke the woman’s miracle-horn, but we were lucky — he cried all the way back to his hut. The next day all trees were on fire.
A year later, I was filling in my application for parenthood. More than anything, I wanted a little grandpa of my own, with tentacles that caress, a thousand curious eyes, and a healthy fear of horns. But our grandpa would have none of it. He jumped our bones during dessert, frothing candles in his mouths, and stuffed our eyes with spines. Everything that I loved died that day, his ninth and last birthday. Everything was sick and rotten. It’s a pity I survived.
How does that old children’s rhyme go?
'‘In Spider Fields, In Spider Fields, Nine years pass like an hour. My love and I Went there to die Ere illness us devour.’'
The steamboat where I found him, dragged him away from the Five Birds, is encased in glass in the Capitol Museum, named after him, after him. His mudded fingerprints are still on the prow, but the clasp of my hand over his is nowhere forever. Tourists flock around it to see where our nation was born, destiny leaked into the world of blood from the conjoined spirit of two tired men. I loved you so much. Up and down the river, guns for the resistance, butterflies for the stomachs, and I was never hungry again.
The first bird is Mother, ahead of the troops. She’s holding a frying pan and a razor, sculpted by the great revolutionary artist himself. The beak is made of gold. The eyes are empty. You preferred her to me.
The second bird is clutching a cannonball. She is like a war goddess, a demented whore, with crocodile teeth and the hindquarters of a lioness. She lays no eggs and burns all nests. I allowed you to fuck her, because she’s a soldier.
The third is a bald hatchling with two razor-sharp horns, a frothing placenta, and a collapsed brain. It makes retching noises. It will never fly. We both took pity. You took her virginity.
The fourth is purple and pink and maroon and violet and raises her head above the forest you loved, raises her claws above the clouds in your brow, raises her wings to touch the radiant sun of your gentlest kiss. She screams through the night like a ricochet, glows like a flare. I forgave you after I cut off my thumb.
The fifth is designated to the unknown soldier. Half-bird, half-torch, it looks human. Nobody knew but us. Nobody dared swim in those waters. Nobody would have approved. Why was my clasp not strong enough? Nobody was ever as happy. Why did you let go? To myth.
My kite made of steel, painted with hummingbirds, hit the moon as soon as you looked. From inside poured combed fingers, laced with sugars and rare. Did you see how well I steered? From whose moon to mine? Stirred coffee every evening, by a lit frame of mind. All for you and again. They raised me to hold up, pulled out the fronds: no shade at night anyway, not since you flipped out...
...tumbled into the garden. Shock therapy never attempted, ever the dreaming across rented skies. Don’t give it up, never give in, just with me hold fast. Faster against. Faster...
...fastest. My row of the garden said so much to me, talked for hours and moon-made sugar. Hit me on the head as soon as you spoke. I knew but forgot, I tasted without climbing down. Never to fly kites when it rains so softly. What a waste of a sky! The owner should be shot. “Would be,” you say, so it’s true. I taught this in a class today about butterflies. The crowd was an ocean, your smile was a boat. Three hundred and fifty nine degrees of freedom except the surgical steel of my overly open eyes. It cut through the moon, so now we have two.
...fastest. I hope this love letter reaches you soon. All letters do, and all messengers have friends.
Meeting the first was at the Fallen Firefighters' Memorial. Him stooped and wearing a T-shirt in the snow, imprinted with a graphic of a deer carcass, letters in the local dialect for “My Mind Is Rotting.” I wished him a best day, and under red eyes he told me to go fuck myself, as venomous as a scorpion’s tail. I tossed and turned all night that night, like the God of Malaria.
Meeting the second was after my third death, sent to the fifth hell where the living flesh was peeled off my bones and fed to the Dogs of Holaqq’a. For two weeks I screamed, and then fell in love with the pain. He was working at the concession stand, selling roasted peanuts to sinful children. Their eyes were red. He looked like a man about to give up, underpaid, overwhelmed. “You again?” I tried to say through slashed lips. He wore blue Keds and a whip. “Don't fuck with him,” whispered one of those horrid kids.
Meeting the third was in the elevator, going down to the 33rd floor for the monthly update presentation. My laptop was bursting with explanatory graphics and fireman porn. “Do I know you?” he said from the confines of his suit. “Do I know you?” he grimaced, hungry under a bridge. “Do I know you?” he was licking the small of my back. I stabbed my thigh twice, deeply with my fountain pen.
Don’t fuck with him. I go to sleep each night believing that I won’t wake up. When I do, I shake my shoes for scorpions. I roast peanuts with my gaze.
An entire day has gone by without the death of a Thing with Wings, so we got to stay in our quarters drinking Moon Milk, talking shop, and embroidering invectives on our war hats. For ten minutes at noon a cyclone passed the gas planet and our chamber spun, so we all stood at the window in awe, watching expensive Spite Engines getting swallowed by the swirl. The mind is a terrible thing, said an old cynic, and the tricks it plays on the non-mindful components of our Ethereal Self lead to moral lax, social decay, and guns imprecise. We need precision in these dark times, though mother says that some people, somewhere, are happy. There’s no dearth of targets. Everything we don’t understand is guilty. Drink enough, loiter enough, and you’ll become as aimless and bloodthirsty as us.
I’m telling all this so you’ll understand that what went wrong was actually part of the plan. At three o’clock, a Thing came crashing through the core, biting off a whole damn quarter of the moon. Six of us died at once, and though we deserve death, nobody deserves a surprise. I harpooned it by the flank, staked it to the third ring, and shouted out ethereal orders. It was frothing at the mouth, screaming incomprehensible love sonnets and cursing all who mate for wealth and fame. We managed to shut its mouth and clip its wings before the credits began rolling, and quickly sent the astronomer to discover a new planet and make up for the loss. Happily, science doesn’t work quite like that.
Today’s my day off. The gas planet is calm and there’s nothing to see outside the window except for the pale, ambient glow of mild contempt. We piled their bodies into a mass grave and lit candles for distant cosmic love affairs. Mother was the only one who didn’t cry.
Without doubt, within reason, we can’t keep pledging stop this arrowhead she found in the yard your daughter. Dug it from outside all concerns inside this affect she nodded. Oh polished it brushing hair canvas; doesn’t feel where I stumbled; knows exactly what era, tribe, the furnishing of the lines, ancient uses for weapons. Flung it from inside, unreasonably pen to paper-cut. Dished it out like a meteorite she is. Washed her feet by clocks, run still the eyes of prophets. You said it would happen today, and you were right: raging plastic bag take to the museum, ask, index finger. Bookcase head next to mine, without doubt and thanks, how we feel:
'‘Axe bone this time for you, again. Puking moonlit trashcans for you, again. Faces through pale dirt for you, again. Arizona wove blankets for you, again.’'
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to
@ regarding the lower income neighborhoods @[fucking you hard against your mother's wall] stand together on this, there can be real changes in policy and
@ not the same America I grew up in, not the values our @[obligated to answer me] what the priorities are, who benefits from these decisions, who will
@ same opportunities as everybody else @[brow cuts a line in my ribcage] leadership at this time, nor a conflict of
@ where children have a real chance at @[knew when I met you that] from Mexico, China and
@ sending our boys to die for @[through your unkempt ennui] to support single mothers struggling in low
@ have the power to make a difference in how these @[twilight at the hilltop more beautiful than any] whether you’re black or brown or
@ have to resort to prostitution in order to feed @[fucking told you a million times] grow up in families that love
@ work together with churches to establish @[no more than sex to you] conclusion, I’d like to thank the Society for
@ prayers with the victims @[lit the brightest lanterns in my snowed-in heart
Curvature Man knows numbers to be soft. He intervenes in all our arguments, plucks our bodies like stringed instruments, and makes people hum like good wood. He is the superhero of spinning pottery wheels and rolling hills. In times of angular distress, tumble down a hill, and he’ll roll up to save you.
Seeping Boy’s special power is over walls, borders and barricades. Secrets pour from him like the sweetest maple syrup. He’s always the uninvited guest, quick to discomfort all taxonomies and configurations. But step in, please do, O' Seeping Boy, because we have eggs that need to be shelled without breaking them. Have a seat!
There’s no bite behind Sympathy Kid’s bark. Sure, he can be a gruff and odious, but so is the smoke from grandpa’s pipe as he snores by the fireplace. Kid’s always there for you, when you’re out doing your gardening chores and your dreams outpace your gallop. Kid’s a sight for very sore eyes! It’s a shame that he’s drawn to burnt-down bedrooms, yellowed photos, and misunderstandings. But give him a call.
Needle Woman is the only girl-ghost one can count on in these parts. To hug her is to have memories punctured, which is often an advantage. On a hill, eating hard-boiled eggs, smoking a cigarette — that’s a good place to prick one’s eyesight. In a bed, sprawled on one’s past, surrounded by the thickest walls that man has ever built — a good place to receive special guests. Needle Woman follows the scent of girlish angles. She is married to Curvature Man, though they are both gay.
I’m also, kind of, a superhero. I add up my life and save myself.
Too hopeless to operate the machinery, he paused for a sob. Too frozen to take off his hood, he stood on the platform. Too bored to see the moon, he chewed on his shaggy beard, and held in a galaxy of pain.
“Mr. Griffon!” shouted the Doctor below. "Three degrees to the south, will you?"
Too loyal to doubt science, he leaned forward on the rods. Too dignified to admit old age, he put his large feet on the pedals. Too proficient to stumble, even then, he spun the wheels, at a good speed, at a careful circumference, and the whole, grand building shifted, just a little bit. His muscles flexed.
"Perfect as always, Mr. Griffon! Right on target!"
Too humble to admit perfection, too lonely to take comfort, too passionate to stay tied down...
"Mr. Griffon? Are you there? One minute to the north, please! We may have discovered a new one. Ha ha! Mr. Griffon! We’ve done it! Finders keepers, finders keepers!"
He chewed through the ropes, broke the shackles with his powerful claws, and crawled on to the roof of the telescope. Breathing heavily, he looked up at the million stars above, wondering from which he had fallen. The Doctor had long ago forgotten his promise to help him find it, himself having fallen into a dream of discovery and immortal fame.
"One minute to the north! Ahoy! I shall name this planet Persephone. Can you hear me, Mr. Griffon?"
Too faithless to care, Mr. Griffon leapt from the roof, spread his wings, and soared into the forest where he was found, so many years ago. Or was it he who had found the Doctor? Who is the finder, who the keeper?
In this, my last home now, I pause for a sob. Losers weepers.
It was easy to fall for her, as she stood by the closed window, watching leaves pause their growth; as the white wooden house vibrated with subterranean climate control. It was easy, as she turned, startled, turned again, spun a web of last-year’s memory, and left before she could be caught.
It was hard, because Summer separated us forever, and it was my season then. I know why she came from the south to visit, and I still tremble in rage at the trouble it had caused, because my role is rules and responsibilities for a world rejuvenating, and hers is a nest of spidery memories, early sunsets, and rainy sleep. How typical of her to leave her post, tear up winds and houses, just to see me. She’s always bleeding into my flowers, reminding everything to die a little as it grows. Reminding me, in marigold letters sent via Winter (that tricksy bitch, I know she reads them) of those times before rules and memories, growth and decay, when I had her, and she had me.
And how typical of me, Spring, to fall for Fall?
Shell-shocked after shaving off my eyelashes, I round-robined widdershins, snuck up on It hair-brained, brained, blooded and ROSE-WATERED, I got the pen-pals and the pin-polls back together in a shopping-list, lined-up and feather-fallen, re-greeting the return of our sweet CAPTAIN, teeter-tottered shirtless and breathless for his aspartame smile, one pain-glimpse and I’m yours forever AND EVER, down the aisle up the aisle, rain-forested sugar-daddies, hand in hand down pants of yore, from me to you lickety-split, godspeed, DEVILSLUG, goes around comes around but I never meant to HURT, you are better-off curtain-drawn, polluted dawn snuck up on It, shot it in the mouth, hosed it with spittle, kissed it moshed it made it whole AGAIN, made it beat AGAIN,
My mind fluids have never been clearer, second-best, easy-over, or DONE.
To keep abreast of the issue I mark of the... make sure the alignment of ideas and things to each... cross out with... not so particular as to the placement of that semicolon, to the left or to... everything in the correct pile... filing cabinet can’t... this isn’t... expectations...
The last photo of my uncle was taken at his office. He’s looking over some documents and I can see a photo of me on his desk. He loves me. Outside the famous skyline, inside the infamous bravado as he signs his name on another dry reward. Two hours later his brains were splattered on that window.
By the length and breadth of... not quite the complete truth about this or... she didn’t mind that way and... couldn’t stop crying... of proper grammar can’t be ignored... spruce trees and unkempt lawn without... comma... coma... contract to be... naked kisses behind hidden... dictating for... aforementioned incident...
The last photo of my mother was from a year before, because she didn’t like her photo to be taken. Pretty and shy, even timid. It’s in Ohio, dad says with confidence, by a river bend and there are white trees and it’s noon and happy, but she looks twice her age. She looks like a traitor.
Not be misconstrued... ever so sorry about... in full respect but not to diminish of... favorite nephew, except that... grown men sometimes don’t... expectations... it shouldn’t have... couldn’t... withstand the... behind us now... behind... but honor can’t... and so... forgiveness and love... semicolon...
A ceramic teapot, inlaid with quartz crystals aligned as the southern constellations, was the first to shatter. Once upon a time there was an earthquake so small that only a small boy could feel it, and he told me about it in whispers. I used to tell him to get out of town, as soon as he could, that everything there was too small and fragile. “I'll be a captain on a ship,” I told him, “and we can sail to the Bering Strait.” But he wouldn’t board, until I promised him that there would never be another earthquake, anywhere, ever again.
Tea tastes thrice as good when steeped in a nice pot. It’s true. I’ve also found that, in the south seas, the stars have more colors. But I, I’m imprisoned drinking truckers' coffee in this desolate north. The sea here is too shallow. A ceramic teacup, painted with daisies, cheers this sailor’s heart on the foggiest days, while that young boy, who was I, can’t wait for the next barometric swoop, the last natural excitement in an era in which earthquakes are not allowed. He stares out the window, first right, then left.
Surfing from pole to pole, ripping electrons from atomic orbits, skirting the energetic edge, and then it’s time for a break in the circuit, the river, the landscape. I’m in one of the Dakotas, my ass crack on a wire, Hello Kitty lunchbox open for business, and shoving mom’s triangle-cut tuna sandwiches into my mouth. Hair on end.
You tap the wire and go. It’s easy. Fuck your hometown, fuck the mall, fuck it all, and ride it, yo. If there’s a closed circuit, you’re at the gate before you can say Albert Einstein. If there’s a transducer, you’re spinning over waterfalls, crashing at the turbines with the fish. Dams, damn them. Just stay away from nuclear shit if you don’t want your balls scrambled. You got that?
I was 17 when I first boarded the lightning train. It was the same year I became a vegetarian, and those kids shot each other at that high school. What were they thinking? What was I thinking? It’s too late to pause now, when the summer winds trip trees on my cable, voltage surges, and hair on end.
I cried for hours when I intercepted the signal, that connected the interfaces, that handshook the protocol. I saw it in grey and white, as the last continent swirled and sunk. We’re in the stratosphere, now, me and my friends, monkey-bar hopping the clouds' silver lining. A man with a kite and a key and a jar may, one day, raise his furrowed brow towards us, again, and I’ll come back, like an angel, like a chip on your shoulder, to remind you of all the fun you refused to have.
Switch on, switch off.
On the last day of the Revolution, Captain Salt left his post, cleared his throat, and sat down for the traditional meal of honey and crickets. Five captive boys sang for him in crystalline harmony as he ate, and the makeshift camp trembled, exhausted, starving.
A few raindrops found a way through crannies in the thatched roof, and dripped on the boys' naked, humming bodies. The Captain placed the pulled cricket legs aside with the sure, creative hands of a pianist, wiped his sticky mouth with a silk scarf, and rose to take off his clothes and join the boys. He sang in the gravely bass of a southerner, but with the glowing lilt of a highlander, and the makeshift camp shifted around them, weeping, finished.
On the first day after the Revolution, meteors fell on the countryside, killing farmers and cattle, burning down forests, and the Captain walked home, wearing a herder’s skirt and staff. Only four captive boys remained after the reverie of the night before, and they sang for their life. In between the blackened trees, they found a mass grave from the early years of the War, and the Captain sat to rest, saying the traditional prayer for heroes: that they may return as happy crickets and live a life of daily honey.
Raindrops did not find their way through the convoluted, volcanic sky. Everything tasted of sulfur and the Captain’s lungs stung, victorious, hollow. The boys sang as one.
Due to my fondness for circles, I asked my daughter, Hannah, to name her first child Mothball. And Hannah, a professor of mathematics who liked to dance, laughed with so many colors that she had to agree, and had to kiss her papa for being fond of such good things. Later with Sergey, my old friend, I explained to him that I had nothing against moths, because they are sweet breaths of folded paper that cling lightly and make love to open flames. “Frank, be Frank,” he said, and I blew rings of smoke and laughed at his childish, foreign humor. So I was Frank, and I told him a true story within a false story, about a moth who told his friend, the spider, that he wanted his first grandchild to be named Hannah. He frowned, because he had cultured standards for storytelling. “Our old grandfather in Russia, we name him Frankball,” he said, "to keep away you Franks."
We told stories until our ashtray looked like a pile of moths, and it was time for our suits to come off and hang in naphthalene, for pajamas to unfold and caress, for sheets to cover and lights to dim, again. The sun circled the world many times, and Mothball grew up to be a very sincere young man. He went to Russia, where he fell in love with a man who played the flute, and didn’t come back. It broke my daughter’s heart into many colors, but it lit mine. I held her as I did when she was a child, and recited the multiplication table, always her favorite bedtime story. Such low standards! Thirty six, forty two, forty eight...
Tomorrow, when the sun circles back, I will tell you, frankly, my sweetest Sergey, what I’ve been feeling for years, what I’ve kept hidden in mothballs, a secret joy, foreign and bright. Tomorrow, it will be an open flame.
The sky used to be full of iron birds that made nests of glass in the mountains. On rainy nights, Stillborn Calf would climb up to the peaks to gather the bright flowers for the Seeing Potion. She loved telling us the story about how she came upon a nest just as a chick was cracking through its eggshell, and the screeching, sawing and rending through of black iron were so loud that the clouds shattered and she tumbled back down to the village, waking up our fathers who rose from their hammocks, in their grave concern, fearing that, perhaps, the volcano was erupting. All they found outside was a dizzy old woman in a field sprinkled with cloud shards under a clear, velvet sky.
The lake used to be full of fish made of fire. My sisters would catch the small ones in their soft palms, and laugh as the flames tickled their young fingers. Once I caught a big one for mother. She scraped the flames off into a hole in the ground, and boiled the meat in salt. The hole burned all night like a ghost, and everybody was afraid to eat the pink stew except me. Stillborn Calf said that these fish made of fire could only have come from the bottom of the Earth, and scowled at my empty bowl. My hair fell out and for a week my skin was the color of charcoal, but I survived.
The woods used to be full of toads who sang songs like women. Once there was a man who fell in love with a toad song and went mad trying to find the singer. The dry riverbed used to be full of picture books that showed the future of whoever opened them. I never did. The crater used to be full of crickets as large as buffalo. I used to hunt them with my brother when I was younger.
Life used to be full of stories. We’d sit together in the silence of the world and hear them whispered to us in dreams. In my tiny, rundown apartment, under my cheap, used bed, I still keep a small glass box, cracked and dusty. Inside rests, on a bed of charred fish scales, a perfect iron egg. “Aha 'ee-la, come to me, my love,” sang the toad to the madman. “Aha 'ee-lo, nestle deeply in my face,” sang my childhood love to me.
Time used to be full of moments, but there are none to count anymore. It’s open and gone.
They stood around the horse carcass rubbing their beards, looking concerned, but grandpa was not in the mood for sobriety. He took off his hat and with a flourish presented a flower pot resting on his head. He jumped, and the pot flipped in the air over the carcass, landing in Dr. Schumann’s startled flurry of arms. “What the hell are you doing, Joseph?” he spoke, enraged, but grandpa was not in the mood for rage. He pulled a long string of multicolored handkerchiefs out of his nose. I wanted him to take me up, so I could see the carcass from above. All I saw were the hooves dangling over the kitchen table, except for that one leg, which was still missing. “This is serious business,” Dr. Schumann said, seriously. Grandpa winked at me, and I giggled, giggled far too much, and had another asthma attack.
I couldn’t breathe. My vision became red. I saw that the horse carcass was a deep well, and the constable, the doctor, my big brother and Old Abe were dark, hooded shapes leaning over the edge. There was something in that well, clawing its way up, trying to escape. Grandpa was a butterfly fluttering among them.
“Even the swiftest horse can fall to the wolves,” they used to say in the old country. I remember when Old Abe came over the next morning, his face older than I have ever seen it. “Run like a horse!” shouted grandpa, and my big brother took my hand and we ran, ran across the river, across the fields, across the ocean, all the way to New York. Old Abe stood at the door, his hat was in his hand, and he was licking his lips. Behind him were two SS officers.
An asthma attack is like butterflies in your lungs. Sometimes I hold my breath on purpose, so I can feel grandpa fluttering in my breast.
He woke before dawn to reel in the nets, dragging wire along the shore of a muddy lake. One fish at a time, he slowly untangled a life and slid it through a world of circles, a curving, muscular fabric of droplets, pebbles, fingers, clouds, gills, pails and eyes. He squinted down at the fish gazing up at him, and, together, they greeted a faint sun.
A 9mm bullet spins as it leaves an assault rifle. It does this to improve accuracy, but also to cause more damage as it punctures, cuts and rips through a human body. 9mm bullets leave two disconnected wounds, at entry and at exit, with a world of circles in between.
Before dusk, he cleaned a thin fish and dropped it into hot oil. She loved that smell, and held him, leaning her face into his shoulder, just above the exit wound. He turned their dinner over in the oil with a wooden fork, and smiled under a thick moustache.
There was no entry wound, at least none that the doctors could find. The box was left blank in the autopsy report, and nobody bothered asking why; there were far too many dead that morning, and more were expected as the death squads continued their march to the south. They buried him with his stabbed wife next to their cabin by the lake, soil, torn dress, fish, rain and eyes.
No, no, they never caught him, never caught her. There was no entry wound. He was making their dinner, turning the fish over and over in circles, forever.
I dreamed that the world had ended, and woke up to find that it did. Outside my window there were only flames. The power was out, so I played a first-person shooter on my laptop until the battery died. I reached the third level. Then I watered my cactus, something I remember to do just often enough to keep it alive. It was getting hotter, and I felt sadness creeping up from my sneakers, arching across my shins and thighs, caressing my hip, and then grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me, waking me up...
I dreamed that the world began again. Life sprung from a sleepy cactus, kissed by fertile dew, dividing and multiplying across a blackened, smoky plain. Its children evolved feelers and eyes and tongues and vaginas, conquered distant galaxies, lesser races, and their own inhibitions. Their needles became soft, the water became stale. An old sadness crept up through their roots, and there were flames outside their windows.
I dreamed that the world had ended, and woke up to find you by my side, asleep, with the laptop’s screensaver staring at you from the bed. It displayed stars twinkling in distant galaxies. The summer night was hot, as hot as the fires that consumed the world that was, that used to be, that began again. I kissed your blackened, smoky skin.
And I’ll never forget to water you, ever again.
I burst the door open and ran out of the house, my bare feet pulling and pushing me across the prairie, sawdust falling out of my hair and my jacket. I reached the road and turned south, and just kept running. It was a little after five in the evening on my side of the Earth. It was morning on hers. My left leg was still bleeding where I brushed it against the nail. My braids were flailing behind me. We never know, for sure, what color our eyes are. But, on that spring evening, a little after five, I knew that mine were blue, as surely as I knew that hers were black. I laughed, because I was tired of crying.
I reached the tree a little after six, limping, panting, crying again. My feet were cut up and I was cold. I curled up in the grasses under the tree, until the noises of insects overwhelmed my coughs. I was surprised to find the phone still in my pocket. I was sure I had smashed it against the workshop wall, in a tornado of saws, hammers, files and glue. She was not coming back next month, she told me. She never intended to. She loved me, she said, but she has to marry a man, a businessman from Vietnam. A man with black eyes, and a black, hungry cock. She thanked me for the box I sent her, which I carved for her. She didn’t mention the ring inside.
I woke a little after seven in the morning, with my whole body stiff, like a block of sandalwood. My period must have begun the night before, because my overalls were stained. The sun felt warm. For her, I knew, darkness had arrived. In between, over the Pacific Ocean, I imagined a twilit world of cold waves, with shadowy things swimming under the surface. Once upon a time there was a tree under which love was made, and now it is being eaten by black fishes.
I’m not sure if I jumped, or if I fell. It was slippery at the edge of the cliff. It had just rained that morning, and the afternoon was hazy, vision was obscured. But the great thing about bottom lines is that they dismantle all reason. The fact is, history recorded, that my body twisted, shifted, was displaced, and my breath was taken from me, as I clutched outgrowing roots, rocks, had my skin roughed off, my life pass before my eyes, plummeting down, down into wet death.
I’m not sure if my body shattered, or if I was caught. I know my head hit a boulder, my hip seared with pain, and everything was a whir of black, the scent of seawater, the sound of crashing waves. I’m not sure. I know I tasted mud. I can swear it. I heard a splash, but I can’t be sure it was me. It might have been that boulder. The hand that grabbed me may have been merely my own.
I’m not sure if my lips brushed yours. I know you smiled at me. The music was very loud, and I had had a few. I tasted gin and cigarettes. I remember grasping at bare arms, necks, lights. I remember falling, the scent of seawater, the tearing of shirts...
The trouble with bottom lines is that they catch up on you. I can’t be sure if you said yes or no, and I’m so, so sorry that I hurt you. The hand that grabbed me was my own. Oh sea, swallow me.
At night, my breath smells like piss. Through half-closed eyes I see the babies sleeping while the teenagers bop. I wrinkle my black brow, curve it around street corners, trucks scratching my belly. I swallow all the pills I can find, inject all the poisons, and sell my body for a cup of coffee. And it’s only Monday.
I wake up in the morning smelling like diesel exhaust. Coughing, I fix myself a cup of green tea, do yoga, and then reach for a cigarette. How many murders in the paper today? How many papers? There’s an ocean of paper slips, paper cuts, paper trails through and around my heart. I tighten the Belt one more notch, to stop the hellish growling, of blacks and Jews and dead white men, fucking it all up while making it work. It’s going to work. I’m going to work. God, it’s stressful at the top, isn’t it? Time for another cigarette.
And it’s only Tuesday.
My name is Washington, DC. I’m a city of lights and loves, and I can’t wait to go dancing this weekend. When I dance, my breath smells of cherry blossoms.
Zhang the turtle lived on a soft hill above the city. The soil was loose, and during the rainy season it clenched up, fuming at the grey sky. In the summer the sun was a furnace, and Zhang would take shelter in the bushes, peering from underneath with his neck stretched out. He didn’t want to miss a thing. Rusty signs pointing to it from the city called it Turtle Hill.
White Lantern was the closest suburb to the hill, and if it wasn’t too cold, middle-aged men from there would ride their bikes to the grove at the bottom of the hill, and then climb up the southern slope. Teenagers also came, sometimes, out of curiosity, peering from the bushes with their necks stretched out. They called it Condom Hill. Zhang liked it when they joined him there, though he was often afraid that they would step on him and break his shell. He liked young people. He was still a young turtle himself, and was the last one left.
Together, sometimes, they watched Lili fucking the Chen twins, one after the other. The twins owned a small noodle factory in White Lantern, and both were married. Lili was a single mother and a worked in a textile factory. She loved her son, Fei, more than anything. When they were done, they paid her and threw their used condoms on the hill. The soil was loose.
One day, in the autumn, Zhang the turtle was watching Lili fucking Deng the tailor. He stretched his neck out the farthest. He didn’t want to miss a thing. Beside him, Fei’s crouching body was clenched up, trembling. He road his bike there after school for the first time, following the rusty signs, crawling in the bushes, young. Before that afternoon, Fei loved turtle soup more than anything.
(for Laura E)
Jasper climbed up a tree and never came down. Who would, when everything worthwhile was hidden somewhere among the branches, waiting to be discovered?
Once, he found an elderly elephant that got lost up the tree on a hunting trip. The elephant was hot on the trail of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, when he heard a rustle in the leaves. Putting down his elephant gun, he snuck up the trunk. Then, he snuck some more. Forgetting the way down, he settled on a big branch and took up knitting. Jasper liked to hear stories from him, about jungles and wars, monsoons and bright birds. “What are you knitting?” asked Jasper, one day. “A soldier never reveals a secret,” said the retired staff sergeant, smiling around worn tusks.
There were other friends in the tree, too. Onyx was just like Jasper, but had fur all over his body and knew how to say only six words — boy, airplane, sleep, hug, swing and dark — so that Jasper couldn’t discover how Onyx had come to the tree. They liked playing tag together. Onyx laughed like a puppy dog, and Jasper loved scratching him behind the ears. “Now it's your turn,” said Jasper, but Onyx only looked up, wrinkling his furry brow, and said "airplane."
It was so much fun in the tree, that sometimes Jasper got tired of swapping riddles with the talking balloons, playing backgammon with the purple spider, or making leaf cookies with the humpback girl. He would curl up on a branch and look down, wondering where the tree trunk was. “Do you want to leave us?” said the humpback girl. “Of course not, silly!” he said. "I just want to make sure nobody chops us down."
There once was a boy who was so ugly that he had to be locked in the attic, but he didn’t mind. He had books, crayons, cookies, and yarn. He loved to hear airplanes passing over the roof, but he couldn’t see them through the thick branches of the tree outside the window. He tried to tell his father, gurgling through cleft lips. “So, you wanna see the airplanes, do you, you poor freak?” Onyx laughed out loud, but the purple spider seemed worried. “Airplane!” The attic door closed, and a man went down the stairs to find his axe.
There was a vein in the bedrock that ran up through my backyard, cut through the east wall, and sprayed my roof with quartz crystals. All at once it came early one autumn night, when the air was still warm, and I had just put the iron kettle on. I felt a ripple deep in my heart, the old stairway creaked, and the ceiling tingled. I climbed up barefoot from the bedroom window, and in the fading blue light I saw it cleave through my home as if I had none.
Standing on the roof, clutching the beams, I collected the crystals, avoiding the open vein leading to the center of the world. They sparkled, alive, and I slept well that night, my mind singing with this wonderful event. In the morning the shards were still here, by my down bed. Such good fortune!
Papa died in this bedroom. Mama died the following summer, in this backyard. She was carrying the iron kettle, walking out barefoot to water her rosebushes. I tried to care for them, for her sake, but I could never care for anything but myself, and they died. I stayed. When the food was gone, I learned to eat the soil. I dug deep, finding the best minerals. But I could not get past the bedrock...
During the War, papa shot a man in the head. He said that the skull just shattered like a watermelon. “What was inside?” I asked, still a naÃ¯ve, precious child. “Life,” said my papa, “new life for us.” I looked for new life in papa’s skull when he died, and in mama’s, but all I found was the same old life, the same wooden beams, the same iron kettle. I saw creaky stairways and rosebushes, and a red roof with missing shingles.
I was a gift, mama said, from the earth, because papa went to war leaving her childless. The priest carved me out of hematite and breathed life into me from the setting sun. Though my heart, mama said, was basalt, and my soul a river of silt, my eyes shone like an ocean, and she could love me. But I was never really born, was I? I’m rock. All that gives me semblance of life is my pacing through this empty house. I think papa must have imagined things: he really found nothing in that man’s skull.
When winter came, I walked barefoot out of the house, into the vein, and fell through the bedrock back into the center of the world.
Stella was a tobacco whore. She’d do anything for a fag. I remember once we were playing pool at Bob’s, and she went down on this guy right there in front of everybody, for a single drag. And it wasn’t anything good, just a Marlboro light. I was drunk, but I remember it clearly. The bartender was wearing a red tie.
Tracey was a sucker for guys who spoke Italian. She’d rub her lithe body against them. Once, we were in this dive in Northampton, and the band was playing some Mexican shit. She was so wasted, she couldn’t tell the difference. The next thing I knew, the show was over, and she went upstairs with the bass player. It was such a fucking cesspool! I remember, the bathroom smelled like raccoon.
Marissa liked Jewish girls. She would smoke up and go to college parties, and find those shy chicks with hooked noses and glasses, sipping punch with their nerdy dresses. That racist bitch! She’d get them drink after drink, and tell them they were so pretty and fascinating, and she would take them to her dorm room and put her fingers everywhere they would fit. I remember, oh God, I remember. Her breath smelled like burnt steak.
I liked lakes. I would ride my bike to the Notch, and take off my shoes and socks and soak in the icy water. There was a boy with me, and he held my hand, and told me I was so pretty and fascinating. I remember. He wore a bright green shirt, and stopped kicking after two minutes under water.
The first day of every month is Otuna, a celebration in honor of white children. We gather at the river bank and build wooden floats all day. When the first sun sets, the Grandfather says a few words, thanking the Cyclone, the Geyser and the Sea. The rest of us think hard about all the good deeds we did that month, and pray that we, too, would one day become white. When the second sun sets, the floats are ignited, and the river glows with the soft, cool kiss of ammonia.
I had a white brother. When he was born, my mothers called me into the room, and I watched with awe as the pale little bundle of spikes stole its first breaths. He would die soon, I knew, but he could breathe. Though beautiful and white, he was painfully awkward. His roots were atrophied, useless, just flapped around: couldn’t dig into the soil even if he wanted to, couldn’t draw food even though he needed it. All he could do was breathe, and stare at me with his columns of eyes. “Brother,” I rustled, “I love you while you live.” Relatives came to see him breathe, and he slowly starved in silent dignity. By the end of his 16th day, he was dead. Four days later, we sent him back into the Cyclone.
I was sixty years old when the drought came. For weeks the Geyser stayed shut, and there was nothing to fill the soil with food. The Grandfather cancelled Otuna for the first time in centuries, but I still sat by the river bank at the first day of the month. Though I was hungry and my roots had shrunk to the size of trees, I still built a modest float and lit it. After the third sun disappeared into the Sea, as the Cyclone filled the sky, its trembling fingers hugging the earth and everything in it, I cursed the white children. “Brother,” I chimed, “No more.” My roots were black, my shell was black, and my horns were as black as the Sea. There was no one uglier than me. I stared at the Cyclone for hours, imagined myself breathing it in, filling my shell with it. "No, no more."
I’ve avoided Otuna since. Instead, on the first day of every month I go by myself to the Geyser. As it bursts from the soil, I gorge myself on it, dipping my roots into the fresh minerals until they are so fat that I can barely move. Dearest diary, I know this won’t make sense to you, but though black and alone, I am grateful. It is better to live than to breathe.
There once was a boy who made up animals for a living. He had slain his mother and his maternal uncle when he was younger, in a fit of rage, and to redeem himself to the Star God he became a thing of life and light. He would sleep very well at night and wake up just before dawn in order to see it. His house was a small cave south of the pueblo, but in his dreams the cave went very deep into the earth, where the hairy people still live and wait. The hairy people loved his animals.
He made up one animal with no eyes. It only had a nose, which was also its hand, like an elephant he once saw in a book. Its skin was dry and it knew where all the best berries grew. It made this noise when it sucked in the berries, “Flim! Flim!” This animal he called "Mother, Don’t Worry So Much, I Caught a Rabbit for You and Fetched Water for You."
There was another animal he made, which also lived in a cave. It was very fertile and was surrounded by babies all the time. It was hard to see how this animal looked like, because it was very shy. You would hear its babies from underground, “Meelo! Meelo!” and it fed on eggs that it stole from the marketplace. More than anything it was afraid of horses, but it liked cars, and sometimes jumped into people’s pickup trucks. Nobody knew when it ate, because it was so shy. Eggs would just disappear. Its name was “Oh, Uncle, I Will Rub Your Back with Good Oil and Laugh When You Tickle Me in My Stomach.” He liked this animal very much.
An animal he didn’t like, but he made anyway, never made any noise. It had six legs and ran across the prairies, panting. Like the boy, it loved the dawn and sat on tall hills to watch it. It ate the juice of the brain, the brown water that spills from a little boy’s mother’s head while her brother is screaming. So it waited in the hills for this to happen, as it did, once every hundred years. Its name was “Animal of the Gods” and it was very, very sacred.
At night, the hairy people climbed the long way to the surface to marvel at the animals he made. One of them, who was a chief, could call down a special blessing from the Star God. It took many hours of singing to make the blessing, but he did it many times for the boy. The boy’s blessing-name was “Everything Bad Can Be Fixed and Everything Good Can Be Given a Name” Sometimes I wake up from my woven mat and hear them singing in the south.
Pick a city, any city, and walk its avenues to the south. It’s always the same transformation: streets become wider, houses browner, cars more angular. And there’s always a plaza, the same plaza, made of old gray slabs gathered from the jumbled remains of the nearby pagan past. Slabs of Teotihuacan, shards of Knossos, keystones from Gezer, and dust from Karakorum.
And there’s always a woman at the plaza, setting up her easel, or changing film in her camera, or flipping through overplayed tracks on her MP3 player. Once, in Newgrange, she called her mother on a cell phone. “Guess where I am?” Then, she walked to her bed and breakfast, curled up on the former, and the synapses between her neurons were authentic architecture, weaving together the spines of her books.
Pick a beach, any beach, and run your fingers through the receding water. And there’s always a breeze, browsing the oceanic filing-cabinet, sifting through the archives, running its fingers through you. And there are whole cities underwater, with broken avenues leading south, half-painted easels, overexposed film, and faint digital echoes, the discarded remains of unwanted MP3 files. It’s all written down, there’s a view of the plaza from every room, and a homemade breakfast is served at nine.
On the eastern slopes of the Black Mountain the remains of a solar shrine pour down into the ravine. I arrived there, once, late in the day, and held my heavy head in my hands until dusk. My breakfast of rabbit stew left me with horrible food poisoning, so that the hunters could easily have found me there, following the puddles of stomach fluid I left all the way from the trading post. I didn’t bring enough water, and the ravine was dry, and my mind was dry, and my hands were stiff from the cold. There were pictures etched into the fallen walls, of people bringing offerings: a fish, the horns of a goat, a human head. I thought that the veins in my head would burst. I raised it, the heaviest load I’ve ever carried, and let it drop too quickly onto the sacred ground.
In the night, the hunters surrounded me. They first took my rifle, then sliced open my neck with a skinning knife. The trees shook, and my insides spun like a loom. My throat was like bark...
I’ll trace a line with my laughter, for you to follow and save me.
From town to post, it is a smile. From the post to the sea, a smile and a half. From there to the White Caverns, a chuckle and a guffaw, with the mountain rising above, a blush, a grin, a howl. I know you will come. This used to be your home.
I didn’t know which were my limbs and which were the tree trunks. I grew claws as big as canoes, spread wings as broad as boats, flashed teeth as sharp as a skinning knife. I poured the hunters' blood down into the ravine, and cracked their skulls as if they were pine nuts.
That was the second time I had died in but one month, and the shortest time I have ever kept a body. But a deal is a deal, and the hunters had won. I rose to take my place among the stars, a gibbous, shining sliver. Until next time, to you, my sister, go my eternal thanks.
'‘The moon dragon, she likes a good joke. She climbs down and dresses as women do, in moccasins and beads. She loves many happy men, and has many laughing children. And leaves all the hard work to her sister, the sun. The sun dragon, she has little patience. She burns the Earth until her sister comes back. She dries up many unhappy men, and cooks many crying children. But even she likes a good joke, and welcomes her sister back.’'
(An animation of the lunar eclipse of Sep 16, 1997, by Andrea Invernizzi, credited to Byron W. Soulsby, Calwell Lunar Observatory, Australia)
A tree dies, they say, in three phases. During the first, bark browns away, turning first to birch-white and then to nigger-black, twisting and screaming across an ocean voyage. Brown and away, they say... During the second phase, a sliver of wood-ice stands in a moonlit winter-plain, rocking in a gasping wind from the tropics of malaria. It’s a female moment, a railroad through a jungle. The third and last phase is characterized by layers and layers of spider-webs, spun out of memories of trunks, leaves and bonfire-ashes, trapping new seeds for new life, as gold nuggets, rubber trees, and coca browning...
A tree is born, they say, in one fell swoop. The web-strands break, all of the sudden, and the coyote blinks. Once, twice, thrice, and then there is forest. Sometimes, at night, there are bonfires... gunshots...
What use are men? They cut trees for books, and plant trees for peace. They sweat in the sun, and can’t photosynthesize to save their lives. No, they couldn’t save their lives, could barely rub sticks together for a few hours of humid warmth. I remember the men. Some of them tried to save me. They called me Grandfather, Warlock and Crow, and ate quinine to be with me. I miss their mutual sacrifice. A man dies, they say, in one fell swoop. Strands break, the coyote blinks, and he is gone.
How do you feel about me?
People are worlds in themselves, but she even had her own atmosphere. In recess she would sit apart, a flurry of clouds skimming across her oceans. The other kids stared for a while, but, as always, grew to accept her. She watched them, alone, as her single moon slowly, precisely, orbited around her head. When the bell rang to return to class, she’d return her uneaten lunch to her lunchbox, and feel her molten core swirl in her breast.
I’m changing before your eyes.
It’s because I love you that I want you to change.
Continents collided while others were swallowed underneath her skirt. Her skin cracked. It was easy talking to boys, though they tended to get distracted by her satellite. Grownups were looking more intently, impressed by her tectonics. “I feel an ice age coming,” she told her teacher in session, raising her black hand, eclipsing the fluorescent ceiling light. "Do sit down, Eileen. This is English, not science class."
Yes, Mrs. Whitegarden. But how do you tell the difference?
I just did.
Have you ever seen a dead planet? Some would imagine a barren landscape, such as those seen on Mars by Spirit and Opportunity. But Mars is still alive. A dead planet lacks both spirit and opportunity. There are no colors, no scars on its surface. No clouds, no winds. Her moon escaped her orbit one day and broke through the classroom window. As to whether moons should be considered worlds in themselves, the jury is still out.
(it was never seen again)
On the greenest slope of the loneliest vale grows the rarest of shrubs. It was planted there in 1903 by the kind doctor, a gift to a land that gave to him, where otherwise he had known only otherwise, only the rainy people of south London. The museum sent a botanist to the field every year, and his turn had come. He pretended to accept the news with the expected dread, but in his belly a young boy was masturbating so furiously that he was afraid the joy would make them both insane. He packed so lightly... One would think, if one were somehow to enter the museum that Wednesday night, as he was clutching his belly in pain, that they were already dead.
On a January night, while the sleet broke window panes here in the museum, it was warm in the southern hemisphere. The good doctor left his tent to return the specimens he had collected. He planted them, drunk with their dews and pollens. He sang softly, shy eventhough there was nobody there but him. Sang like a girl, though he was a boy, in his belly, treat me like a girl, I want to be a girl, sperm on flowers, on his face, at the railway station,
stop, police, stop, little girl, stop, metal boots, clutching his belly,
Digging a hole in the ground, planting himself in the ground, covering himself and the boy with soil and petals and sweetness. There, in Africa, is the only place you can find it. There, the anti-museum. There, where window panes are always being shattered.
He sat alone in a room full of people, the weight of the news greater than the density of library air. Books were resting on the ceiling, a grandfather clock was levitating. Tock, tock. Lungs failed and he hugged the heaviest table, to keep himself on the dizzy Earth. She did what to herself?
Pressing his eyeballs into their sockets with his palms, he related events, things that she said, things he had written. There were kisses and fists and a neighbor with a gun. Somewhere dogs were barking. His chair left him and soared out the broken window into the rain. The fountain pen in his gray pocket burst open and stained the fluorescent lamp above. Things became darker... Tock, tock; clang. She was wearing a wedding dress? What was the cop saying? Nothing made sense. Every single word was a lie. Syllables were all he remembered to be true, clinging to the table for dear life, his feet in the air, his beard in his eyes.
'‘I could not give her love; Only verse, so it seems. Now I hang from the floor While she hangs from beams.’'
State of the Union: An Interpretation
She dug a hole in the brittle soil, using nothing but her stale breath as it waved sacred words through the air like a flag. “I forgive you, Oh Earth, for your sins against me.” And she planted an egg in it, fertilized by the Tall White Men who live in the hills. She had to endure their terrible screeching music in order to obtain the precious sperm. Then she menstruated into the hole, for incubation.
That was last year, before the War. Now she gathers around a white bud with her four lovers, and all five women, black by genes and by coal and by smog and by shit-smear, shed acid tears over the last flower on Earth. They look up to the Moon, and shove sacred words through outer space like bulldozers. “We forgive you, Oh Moon, for your shame and your lust.” All flowers were sent there during the War, for protection. But, oh crap, the last flower on Earth refused to reproduce. “I'm gay,” he said, "and afraid of birth."
Next year, everything will be O.K. The Moon will crack open and pour heady perfume into the stratosphere. The War will have ended; everybody will win! Five black women, dead and buried, will have sacred words etched on their tombstones like craters. Gay flowers will grow on their mass grave, white and shiny, dead but free.
Join me in prayer:
'‘Five whispers for five-year-old suicide bombers Four coins for the destitute prostitute Three HIV immunization shots for moderate news announcers Two spears for heavily-funded performing artists And one nation under god, indivisible, with so much liberty and justice that the whole solar system needs be colonized to contain it all’'
Fellow citizens, senators, my African whore of a wife, thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on these matters of national importance. I wish a Happy Spring Festival to all practicing Americans.
There is a species of citrus that grows only in Melanesia. Its leaves are dark brown, and the fruit is spicy and maroon-colored, virtually inedible. It grows in the shadow of tall mahogany, and is referred to by the locals as “old man hinterfruit.” You won’t find it in the guidebooks, although if you buy Tiger Potion at the local markets you may taste some of its distinct oils. The leaves can also be brewed into a foul tea that is supposedly good against headaches and against sorcery intended to cause sexual impotence.
There is an island, near the New Guinnean cost, where Bad Women go to clean themselves once a year. They brew a big pot of old man hinterfruit jam, each woman taking her turn to stir the thick broth. The youngest goes last. Sometimes her fingers are stiff and she coughs blood into the jam: tuberculosis. What happens next, with the jam, is anybody’s guess. The Women are forbidden to speak of it.
There’s a town on the mainland where an old missionary school has been converted into a hotel for tourists. It is run down, and there are prostitutes chewing kava in the lobby. She laughs at my white pants, she slaps my butt and grabs my breast. I’m eating crackers and jam, and the Mariachis have begun to sing. It’s an old tune from Lagos, a love song for an oil refinery. I dance with them... The sun sets in paradise, and the radio says, in pidgin, that war is over. Capetown calls me back, but the sandstorm blows so hard that I can’t see down to my bare feet.
This is the worst headache any black bitch has ever had.
He got on when he was 10 years old, and never got off. He was tall and looked old for his age, so the conductor only raised an eyebrow when the new orphan handed him one thousand yuan in brand new notes. Keep the change for yourself, the kid said, and so there was nothing to report. At the final station, the kid stayed at the dock, and hopped on the next train to anywhere.
He took his meals on the train. He bought clothes from sales-women at the stations. Conductors got to know him as a source of income, and soon he had a network of them taking care his errands. He himself wrote the letters to the lawyers who took care of his parents' monstrous estate.
There’s not much to add to this story.
He made some friends as he grew up. People who boarded the train alone, like him, and kept him company. He would tell them his stories, of the people he met before them, of the vistas he saw outside the cabin windows. They sometimes took the trip again in order to meet him. But in time, they found their stations.
When he was 18, a girl named Orchid fell in love with him. She courted him carefully, studying his routes and making sure she would be on the trains that he rode. She had no money, as she was an orphan of peasants. He considered paying her way and keeping her with him, but he knew that it was him she loved and not the trains. The trains! His smile was a railway junction, he combed his hair with coal steam, and his eyes lit up like LED dots on the station signs, announcing his arrival. He changed his routes, hired new conductors, and she was gone.
Trains are no longer in fashion. The advent of pericopters in the 40’s has changed all that. You young ones may have seen them only on display. But he didn’t get off. No, he didn’t die in a crash; He isn’t hiding in the Shanghai Rail Museum. This is a happy tale, my son. He used his inherited riches to keep just one line operating, far in the north, running on fission. He’s alone there, as he has no use of conductors.
Can you hear the chug of the tracks in the distance? It is him, the most content man in the world. I still feel the rumble in my bulb, the shaking of my petals.
I woke to his tearing the tent from over me with his big hands. He began to kick me, in my face, my ribcage, my groin. I choked on blood. “I do” he said and pulled my head up by my hair. “I do,” I gurgled and spat out two teeth, and so the priest gave him permission to kiss the bride. Later in the hospital they would find broken ribs, punctured lungs, torn kidneys, but bliss postpones damage and he ripped away my uniform with his bayonet, cutting through tissue and khaki, and urinated on my breasts and face... Kiss the bride, he knelt and bit off a huge piece of my nose off with his white teeth... I now pronounce you... My torn lips mouth the syllables... My eyes drowning in blood... I now pronounce, I now declare, all that is written that is promised in medical records, I now pronounce you...
I woke up in the real world, my golden hair intertwined with the silver mane of a unicorn, riding so softly through the woods that I was lulled to sleeping and dreaming. We stopped at the crest of a hill overlooking the Elffin Vales and the castle in the distance, a double rainbow curving between morning mist and spring sun. I dismounted and let it nuzzle my white neck. Everything smelled of cinnamon and ginger. A gray hawk with a diamond bracelet perched on the tree, messenger from the king. “Princess,” it spoke in the High Tongue, “Our liege has sent me to remind you that the preparations for the wedding ceremony begin today.” Tell him I know, tell my dear father and his silver beard, and I let the white gown fall to my teenage feet, to spread my fairy wings the widest in the sunniest of days the kingdom had seen in millennia. I now pronounce you... I can’t breathe, there is blood in my lungs.
She clawed her way up to the rim of the pit and and clutched weeds to keep herself from slipping, digging her toes into the the grass roots lining the throat of the world. The air was warm, the sky clear and full of stars, and night flowers covered the grasses as far west as she could see. To the east stood a lone farm house, one window still lit up. She breathed in as much of the cosmos as her lungs could carry, and closed her eyes. Life could be perfect.
She let go, and fell back down into the tunnels, her tentacles flailing to slow the descent. She raced through the corridors with a thousand graceful legs, and quickly reached the Chamber of Whistles. As the wind shrieked by, she thanked the Queen of Darkness for it, and took the long route home to the City of Crystals where there are no stars but everything glows with the gentle, constant, pale infrared of life.
He finished writing this story and looked out the window. The prairie read him between the lines. He went to sleep and dreamed of perfect minerals.
There are mushrooms that die in the rain instead of grow, and I lived among them for a year, their only year. That spring was the happiest of my life, and the sunlight penetrated all objects, revealing the truth of their pure color through and through. The mushrooms would laugh, their spores spinning, and it was the sweetest sound. There was no reason for toadstools to be jealous of flowers. In the summer, it was so dry that all objects became empty, and we were all just outer skins, clothes draped over electric weather formations. I wrote down all the details, my left hand clenching the pencil like a torch. But it was so dry, I could barely breathe.
Dear diary, the rains came and brought all seasons to a close. The ancients were wrong; there are no cycles to life. My friends are all dead now, headless and rotting in the fields. And your pages covered with my lies, wet with tear drops — not mine — popping up like mushrooms after the rain.
On a shifting beach a child choked to death on ocean water, and I watched him collapse from two places at once:
On a rocky, wave-beaten cusp of a dead lighthouse, I clung to seaweed and counted empty barnacle shells. I am the geologist, and my job is to weave the discarded minerals into the stark soils of the future. For this, I have been given millions of years, though I only work at night.
Otherwise, on a rocking, wave-beaten wisp of a raft, I chewed dried cod and counted the millions of miles to the ocean floor. I soiled my future, discarded my minerals, and clung to the night. I am what I am, jobless and salty and headed for land.
Ahoy! On the beach the child rocks back and forth as the moon pulls the tide over his gorgeous head. One last cigarette, my little one, and then it’s time for you and me to sleep; lullaby.
I once loved a boy who was afraid of bats, but more than anything in the world he loved to roast them and eat them. I remember his black hands, shaking in terror, breaking off webbed wings and twisting off shrieking heads. Bats' blood is bright pink and sticky.
“What a nancy boy you are!” I used to mock his fear. I wasn’t afraid of bats, only of boys as sad as he was. He chewed with his eyes closed, and I would creep up on him and shriek, to force him to imagine the bats coming alive in his mouth. He would cry in horror every time. "Nancy boy!! Shriek! I must hurry.
Nigger blood is dark and stains your clothes.
On the last evening of summer I took the overgrown path out to the eastern hillocks, and walked widdershins around grandpa’s pear tree, to where the tunnel that only he and I know about leads down into darkness. All that was green turned gray and dewey in the last rays as I stooped and descended, and then black and moist as I crawled on all fours. They came at me from all directions, the Shadow Men who dwell there, punching me the softest, kicking me between feathers, crushing me on five species of moss; I was raping mud dark arms mouth spine; I stopped breathing piled above blankets scarf wool tied moist heart. There was more to the tunnel, air moving and fungus. Summer ended there, where the Shadow God pinches the soil from within. It’s nothing to him, nothing at all. But I live in the city now, and every time I try to remember blue bell knoll, I am pummeled by the gentlest fist.
There once was a man who thought Linens and Things was a food chain and died, choking on a goose-feather pillow, gasping for air, for compassion from a hardened Guatemalan cashier who acknowledged his death with dry fluffy tears, available in mauve and gray, or fire-engine red, or IDF khaki, or woven flames of burning oil fields, or was it a third-grade campfire telling scary stories, or all the details lost in the effort to “see the big picture” when the big picture is so small and furry, available in mauve, with lettuce and mayo, but hold the onions for I’m off to meet my lover tonight — to wrap him in linen — hold them onions gingerly in your hands and plant them back in the deaf soil with a twist of lemon. All this for $3.99 plus tax.
The Golden Gate
''As thick as whale sperm must be
She drags my lashes down To make love Or murder me I woke up homeward bound''
I went for a swim and didn’t come out. I found an ancient road, submerged, leading to an even older city. In the central plaza there was a statue of a War Hero, his penis erect and menacing. Sunlight barely reached those depths, and the water was so heavy on my bent back. Still, I stood straight and saluted, and sang the Anthem, but it came out all garbled and the water was so full of my breath-bubbles that I couldn’t see. I closed my eyes, and then, spontaneously, decided that I should never open them ever again. I felt my way to the statue’s feet and lay there until the water became too cold to bear.
I was saved by jellyfish. They took me in, welcomed me to the tribe, and taught me their customs. We feasted on algae, and told the old stories together, communicating by the faintest electric currents. I learned more from them than from all the philosophers of the dry world. The ocean knows how life began, while men know only how it ended.
Sometimes, I perceive in my blindness a glow from the bottom of the sea. I wonder if it is from the Old Wise Ones, the legendary fish who anticipated the discovery of the Sun by creating the first light, ending the reign of darkness, which the lesser fish perceived to be eternal. But I also wonder if it could be my old electric lamp, under which I used to read books in my parents' East End apartment, turning over the pages until dawn during my middle school years, so many years ago. After the Great War, I threw it into the Themes, in disgust, in madness, and perhaps with the blessed ignorance of prophecy. I sat at the banks until nightfall, watching it sink down, down to the very bottom of the sea. So many years ago. Even if I try, I can’t remember sunshine, but I still remember that lamp.
Under the sea, in the central plaza of a forgotten city, stands a forgotten War Hero. It is too dark to read the inscription at his feet, and its language has been unknown for millennia, but in English it would be: “Monument to the Blind Warrior.” In the shadow he casts by the faint light of the sun rests a rusty, cone-shaped offering.
I found Jesus. He was hiding under a rock, in a valley, by a eucalyptus grove. For a moment I mistook him for a wallaby, until I realized that it was weeping miserably. And so I comforted him by singing a monsoon song, in my deep, woodland growl, and he quieted, even smiled like a waning moon. “Was it the Jews?” I asked, knowingly. I hated them, and all those who chopped down trees to make books. “No, no,” he laughed dryly, “The Jews, they made me! It was those Muslims. Dressed in white, they stole my Greek and sent me down under.” “?,” I asked, “They came long after you died, or were resurrected, or whatever it is they claim you did. And there's nothing wrong with eucalyptus trees and a river full of crocs. There, there now. Come out from under your rock, wash your filthy skin, and sing with me.” He did, and he was as skinny as an eel.
“Rain, rain,” he sang, “Go away, come a-back another day.” So I did, on Wednesday.
Bush was upset because they stole his CDs. He was fuming in the White Kitchen, wearing the fighter pilot suit that Condi gave him for the publicity stunt. Uday and Qusay were playing in the yard. He couldn’t help feeling a bit smug, because they were fatter than him. The sons should never surpass the father, and, worse, should never steal his CDs. Meanwhile, the blowjob was close to its clear conclusion, so Bush pushed her head away and came all over her face. She looked just like Hillary. He walked to the bullet-proof window and looked out on the land where a native Delaware woman, three hundred years ago, ended a war with the Shawnee by killing herself. “Orange,” he said. "Today looks like a code orange."
Mother exploded during dinner, as I was reaching for the potatoes, and bits of her brain spattered all across our plates and the tablecloth. Rita got a huge chunk of mom’s nose on her own nose. The noise was loud and wet, like a bag of water falling on the floor. Mom was all over the kitchen, and, the next day, all over the news. Scientists came over to interview me and Rita, and boy did she enjoy the attention. She even invented some crazy story about mom molesting her. Where do kids get this crap? After three months some guy from Berkeley stated that mom’s messy demise was the final proof of the Big Bang Theory. Mom would be so proud! She was really into science stuff, and always watched the space documentaries on TV. And now there’s a documentary about her.
In a sunny autumn afternoon in 1962 mom was playing alone in the school sandbox. She was building an underground city for the lady bugs. She had long black hair. A meteor shower shot through the city smog, and she caught it from the corner of her eye, and turned to stare straight up, up through the thin atmosphere into deep space, into the blackness at the center of the universe. She saw it expanding. She saw time begin and stretch and become space.
By the time I was born, she had forgotten. But the body never forgets, said that Berkeley scientist, and Rita proved it. The potato salad was still good for a few days, after we removed some of mom’s scalp out of it, and even a week after that, Rita said that she could still remember how it tasted. As for me, I barely remembered to tape the documentary. It was boring stuff anyway. I never liked science. All I ever wanted to do since I was a kid was play in a sandbox. The night before the funeral I cut off all my long black hair.
There once was a man who killed everybody. He woke up at moonrise with his hands in his pockets, and walked down the stairs, into the street, and killed everybody. He dreamed of doing it ever since he was a kid, but, you know, there were things to do: brushing self’s teeth, feeding self’s dog, fucking self’s girlfriend. Oh so tiring, oh so time consuming. Eventually, though, he found the time, and killed everybody. He even killed that one guy who lived in a tree in Ecuador, and who also dreamed of killing everybody, but never got the chance. You see, actions speak louder than words; even louder than these.
I kill as I please. My black-star eyes, as I fly over the forests at night, in silence, catch the flick of the whiskers of a mouse, and it will never see my scaly descent, and it will die as it is crushed and devoured. As I please, I die my own death, and re-hatch at another place in the woods, grow, mature, to kill and kill again.
But he laughed as he was crushed and devoured. There were flowers in his hair, and his own child by his side, an offering for the Sky Serpent, the Shadow Master, me. I snatched the child first, as is my right, and took him on a whim, and he laughed and laughed. It was a disturbing meal, not as I please. Not at all as I please.
Humans, as I see them, are the craftiest of the things that have appeared in the forest. They know, they tell each other, that they can never win over me. They laugh so that I can never win over them. When they come adorned with flowers, I preen my scales, to look my best as I eat their children, to look my best as I leave them, laughing in the darkness.
There is a woman in the waters, looking up at me whenever I go to the shore to contemplate Death. It’s a small lake, and she is old, I think. Her hair is gray, or maybe it is the reflection of the hills in the shallows. I am old, too, even though I am only 19. Or maybe it is the reflection of the trees in the depths. I don’t want to be 20, and then 30, 40, 100...
1, 2, 3, 4,... the questionnaire wanted to me to list the most influential people in my life, in order, so I invented people. 1, the woman in the waters, 2, the monster under the bed, 3, the alien with the black eyes, 4, the talking wolf... Rank my disorders, in order, in dis-order: 1, depression, 2, self-hatred, 3, misanthropy, 4, no respect for authority...
Diagnose, masturbate, hunt, laugh, run through the forest...
1... 2... 3... 4... wolves howl in the hills... nobody who ever lived can ran fast enough to catch me.
There once was a woman with no sense of humor. Her face was a landscape in black and white, and her back curved when she slept. She smiled only three times in her life. First, when she had her first orgasm. Second, when her mother died. The third smile is stretched through her entire body, never beginning, never ending. I once told her a joke about a rabbit who wanted to buy a mink coat. She asked me, politely, about some details of the joke, such as what street the shop was located on in Berlin, but didn’t laugh.
She was sent on a train to a camp, and I checked the archives: she didn’t laugh. After three months, she became a special patient of Dr. Mengale, who was known to joke around. I can picture them together in my mind, him wearing white, her wearing blue. He is telling her a joke, about a priest and a hooker, and she is asking him, politely, about the color of the girl’s hair.
Drinking insecticide, to kill the spiders. It tears through my abdomen... holes in the ceiling of the house of the child who lives inside of me. He drinks it up, coughs it up, and he’s dying in his kitchen, lying on the floor, squirming underneath the table. I can’t see him now! Oh, it’s so quiet under his cheap fluorescent lamp. Bartender, give me another, tend to me and to my poor little spiders. Time to die, my little ones. Oh, my precious little ones...
By the shores of Loch Lomond, in the Forgotten Country of Scotland, a child is buried under loose soil. He slipped and fell, and broke his nail, and I broke mine digging his wee grave. I swam from there to the North Sea, to Greenland, then Redland, and to the islands at the edge of the Earth. There, where the ocean spills into Space, they laid their salty eggs under my skin. They hatched in Boston. By the time I reached Kansas City, there were cobwebs across my eyes.
What is squirming underneath the table? Oh, my stars, my misty isles, will somebody please kill it?
The Priest of Shorelines built a shrine to his Fanged Lord in the museum’s men’s room. Nobody touched it, thinking it was some kind of an art installment. Nobody complained, even though it blocked entry to one of the stalls. He came twice a week for a small service, during which he cut one perfect tulip in two, and ate three raw eggs. He also sang, with a voice like magma. I always go to the museum’s men’s room to cry, because that’s where I work, but I couldn’t cry when he was there. I just stared at this one-man cult, and he nodded politely, and performed the rites.
He sang about how the whole world was a Snake, coiled around the continents, hiding under the sand. It is only because It pulls so tightly that our mountains do not crumble to sand and dissolve in the oceans. Every living thing on land is really half above ground, half under water. It made sense to me, because that’s how I feel when I cry.
So, I started eating raw eggs, occasionally. Pull, Fanged One, pull! Keep me from dissolving! Tighten your grip, and keep me from breathing!
I pulled myself up the steeple, and sat down, finally, heaving and watching the November stars. A girl was walking across the quad, in high heels and a mini, and no-one else in the universe, and there was a bite to the wind. I tore my best dress on the climb up, so I laughed and blew a kiss to the moon, to the crickets, to the heating pipes and the brick pathways. The Earth curved around me, pulling up her mantle like a skirt, so that I could see the stars on the other side. There, at my feet, they rearranged to spell my name.
Back in my bed, through the window, getting cold, feet covered in dew and tons of homework for tomorrow, I made a promise that I would never, ever, wear shoes again. The Laughing God at the center of the universe shook her head, tucked me under stardust, and sang me to sleep:
'‘Child, the world is sprinkled with you Dream of towers, of climbing, too Though your footsteps through the lawn Will disappear at cricket dawn Your failures and frustration I will confine to the sunlit nation’'
If you see me distracted, looking out the window, know that I am counting the seconds until sunset.
She flung the bundle to other side of the chasm, where it hooked on the spike she shot through it. A few twists of the rope, and we had a bridge over nothing. We passed one by one, starting with Ira, the youngest, and ending with me. She watched over us, arrow ready in bow, and came last. She sliced the ropes with a mere spin of her claw, and ran with us into the red canyon.
Night came, and we huddled close to each other, a pile of six girls, hair and horns. We were free and together. Her eyes glowed violet beside us, staying awake, watching, at least until I fell asleep.
She woke us at dawn, a mountain of fur towering over us, three tusks broken off by our captors, the remaining six curved, ancient, gleaming like obsidian under the rising blue sun. “Thank you” said Ira, her childish voice muffled by her still-growing tusks, “thank you for saving us,” and cuddled against this noble warrior, as if she were kin. Good show, little one! I slipped behind our distracted savior and slit her gigantic throat. My five sisters and I, we can trust only each other. Together we walked down the canyon, slowly, hatefully, slaves no more.
She hatched in the magmatic bowels of our living planet, swimming to the surface through my seismic, tectonic nightmares, emerging at the mouth of a small fjord near Trondheim. She was colder than anything I have ever felt before, though she would soon introduce me to even lower temperatures. I fed her fresh cod and imported grapefruit, until she was strong enough to hunt for herself. At the time I had some business to tend to in Copenhagen, so I left my heart there, preserved in ice, and traveled.
She would circle the city, howling for meat at night. And no fire could keep me warm. I sold paintings and purchased sculptures, shivering like a clubbed fish, filling my emptiness with German wine, every night, every night.
I found her again on the winter solstice, while I was carving a fake in my den. She was glowing again, as when I first found her, all lava and ash and obsidian. Making love to her burnt the flesh off my basalt bones. We spent a century together, and I fell in love with the Norway I despised as a human. She hunted reindeer and men, and I would roast them over my molten heart. Until she was strong enough to fly.
Oh, mountains! Oh, forests! She said goodbye to them and to me, and fled back to her home among the arctic stars, black glass wings through petals of northern light. She broke through the stratosphere, and from the hole came a dead stellar wind that ate up the soil and tore away the trees, leaving the planet shattered and frozen.
I walk alone through the Black Land, that centuries ago men called Scandinavia. I am looking for the coldest place I can find, to there lay the eggs that weigh so heavily in my bowels. Our eggs. A place so cold that they would never hatch, for our miserable spawn would have nothing to eat but each other. When I lay them, I will die, and nothing will be left of this Earth but a promise never to be kept.
I found my own skull under the kitchen table, as cracked and hollow as I am. It had gathered dust since the two years that I’ve been gone, as I had. I bent my aching knees to pick it up, brushed it off, and lay it in front of me. The jaw came off in my hands. I slid my finger across the shattered left eye socket, and felt the weight of the eye patch across the left side of my face, which I have managed to become indifferent to in the last two years.
The whole house needed a good dusting. I started sneezing, cursing my pain and my weakness. My oily heart was in a jar in the bedroom closet, on the top shelf. My elbows hurt too much to get it down. I was afraid I might break it. But only for a moment. I lay on my old bed, and slept like the dead.
I dreamed I was alive, making cheese sandwiches for the boys, cutting wood in the back yard, painting by the stream, laughing with my man, falling from a horse, hitting a rock, dying in the fields...
When I awoke, I visited their graves, to tell their gray stones, as usual, that I forgive them. When sunrise came, I went back down into the soil, to wait two more years in anguish before I could rise again. They should never have called me back from the dead. And, on my death bead, in the fields that I had ploughed, I should never have begged them to.
On the seventh day she cried for six minutes, thinking about his five fingers over her face, four orgasms, and three weeks before he had to go, he said for the second time that she was the one. And then, she felt nothing at all.
In the old library, under the clicks of the grandfather clock, time was perpendicular to her pages, of her book, that she had wrote, published in languages she hated. She turned the pages in the wrong direction, like a European. Reading from back to front, she circled her origin like a vulture. “This is what I ran from,” she said, reaching the beginning of the last chapter:
"Everything changed when spring came, and her letter was answered."
And I never wanted anything to change. They were closing the library, so she left the book, her book, and bought a ticket to Paris, or Berlin.
Before she blossomed, Mother used to make us her radiant salad, of pomegranate seeds, figs, whole lemons and crushed mulberries. She wrapped it in thyme leaves and latched the packets tight with scorpion stings, to stay fresh on our long trek down into the sulphur pits. We chewed our portions and thought deep thoughts, sitting on boulders, taking our turn to rest while our brothers sifted slowly through the ash piles. And then climbed back down, down, down to search, as always, for the finest bits, one tiny piece at a time, there in the caves she had dug, when she first came, millennia ago, through the heart of the moon.
She never gorged herself, but took each bit we brought her as if it were the only one, clawing them gently into the smallest of her many mouths. Mother is patient, more patient than the Dark God crouching in the Void, more patient than the Storm God who howls across the face of Jupiter. When she was full, she wove herself a blanket and slept under it for a year, while we waited. We did not make salad during that time, and we have rarely made it since, only on the first day of spring, when we commemorate that day that the blanket fell and Mother burst into lavender, elderflowers, peonies, morning glories, and all the most beloved flowers that covered the face of the moon and spread their fragrance as far as the deep tunnels running all the way to its core.
There once was a girl with icicles instead of hair, and she spat sleet and shat snow. Every Wednesday, she would walk back from school and stop by the well, to look down at the pale waters and see her reflection, to breathe upon it so that it would flash-freeze and crack. She hated herself and wanted to die. But then, there came a Wednesday when her breath was futile, for the well had frozen itself overnight. She realized then that she was a Winter Princess, and that her time had come. Naked, running, her hair spread out, covering the city like hail. The good people stayed at home, huddled around fireplaces, pretending to be safe.
She lay on the frozen lake, looked up into the white sky. Her blue lips whispered commands, and weather obeyed...
The world ended that night, in a flurry of icicles. I remember this, because I watched her by the lake, as I did every Wednesday until then.
I peeled off her skin and there was fur, I peeled off the fur and there was down, a peeled off down and there were scales, and then there was nothing but her voice as it was in the beginning. “I am clouds” she said, and “I am soil,” and I was the rain in between coming down, and then the morning mist, rising up. We evolved as separate species, occupied different ecosystems, shed tears of different chemical composition, and it was getting late. So, I put on my raincoat, and then my medals, my bow and arrow, and the clan mask, and took the long way back. It was a pleasant winter overall. I had a good stock of dried salmon, oil enough to read every night, and tobacco for Sundays. And when I sang the song of the Four Mothers, she would come again:
'‘Oh mother, crawling over the earth Fast tail, darting tongue Oh mother, gliding over the lake White wing, black crown Oh mother, running through the forest Prickly ears, sharp claws Oh mother, walking around my cabin Weary feet, shining brow’'
At night, the wind blows, and I hear familiar ghosts knocking outside. I sleep on the soil, cover myself with clouds.
Two men died by swallowing bats that grew in their intestines as in caves. Every morning, the butlers would collect the guano, and ship it to the Third World where it was used as a popular fertilizer. As they raked the tunnels of the stomach, they heard the batwings rustle in the darkness and wished that they, too, had echolocation.
Here, then, is the difference between these two men. One is perfectly echolocated, his proud ears prickle at the scent of a female, and when he walks there is no rustle. In conversation, he is present and attractive. The other man is more like a cliff, in that the wind pulls down his rocks and branches, and they patter their way down to the ocean. Eventually both men were pulled all the way down, and were swallowed by waves. The bats did not escape, for this happened during the day, and they were all asleep.
I ride my bike along cliffs to reach my girlfriend’s cabin. It’s a rough trail, and I often imagine falling to my death. When I get there, I bury my face in her vagina and shriek. The frequency and curve of the echoes tell me all I need to know about her structure. As for her, she is Deaf, and only loves tending her garden. My job is to supply her with fertilizer.
Do you see now? I sleep up-side down, and digest right-side up.
They gathered in taverns, in wind-swept grassy fields, and in caves they dug under the roots of their fathers' trees. Heresy is limited only by the rims of men’s hats and the duration of home-made candles. Underground, they wore feathers and spoke words forbidden, and they giggled as if they were four-year-olds, toes in winter streams, noses kissing brown wheat, the thousand legs of caterpillars, kettle-steam rising to the ceiling timber, the littlest brother too sick to go to school. It was all illegal, home-made and so little oxygen, deep down under the grass, bread and beer and tobacco, while above-ground, in pleasant valleys, they studied law in slaughter-houses.
Surrounded by saw-dust, mother wove together the disparate threads, and on midsummer’s eve they started the Uprising, brandishing cotton hats, scarves fresh from the loom, feather-dusters in hand towards the abandoned well. The captain was tied up and puffy, sweat under stars, and they wrapped him in linens and gave him his pipe, and cut off his head as the sweet smoke came up through their noses...
All this is written in a book. It is buried by a river-bank, under a cloud-burst, bare-foot, hog-washed, strewn with roses, wearing feathers, laughing, singing...
I clawed my way to the tip of the branch to look down at the campfire. The pine smoke came up through my nostrils into the shadows of my conscious mind. I closed my eyes and sprang into the air, feathers cutting through night and through smoke, in silence, but I felt that the whole world could see me. I landed in another tree, different yet similar, and hid my beak under a wing, to sleep and forget.
I dreamed I was a two-legged coyote, rubbing sticks, making fire, laughing and praying and making love. I hunted deer with a sharp stick, and shouted in fury at the wild things in the night. I ate bitter medicine, and let the totem live in me again. My kin gathered around me and their painted faces became one, of wild eyes and speckled feathers, and it devoured my anger.
I woke with dry eyes and a craving for mouse.
Bonecruncher abhors all forms of meat. She peels it away, and heads straight for the skeleton. The excess fat and blood that drip from her talons is scooped up by the Hystericals, and sucked up through their porous fangs. And then, nothing is left of the devils but the crack, snapple and pop of Bonecruncher’s feast. I don’t if it’s true that devils are born when victims scream, but I can testify to their demise. Pulverized, powder to replenish the fields and grow corn. I hear her teeth grinding through my sleep, as my own teeth rattle.
I finished my Pepsi, and rattled the ice. I don’t read the papers, but I heard that war is coming our way. I asked for the check, and then went to the bathroom and slit my wrists with an ancient bone. I stole it from the British Museum, from an exhibit of some old cult in Mesopotamia or Babylonia or whatever. Anyway, I’m dead now. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been alive. I didn’t scream, but still did devils come forth. Amen! Amen! My tongue red, the ivory gates white, her venom blue.
In desperation, I grabbed two sticks and rubbed them together, as if I were feral. “Fire,” I whispered, “please; fire.” Nearby, she was tearing off her clothes, slowly and deliberately, looking more and more primitive to me. I brushed away the piles of dead moths, and ran my fingers through my hair, to fend off the live ones.
I threw a piece of gray meat at a crow, and my dog leaped after it, yelping. It reached the end of its leash, and then gave up. My wife was making sounds of sobbing, but I saw no tears in the dust around her eyes.
A year later we both sprouted dark wings and blocked the sun. Our shadows smothered the earth, became the earth. She was as beautiful as when I first saw her. “Eve,” I said to her, “we are alone again, as it was in the beginning.” She laughed, and I felt a wind rising from the soil. “My love,” she said, "this is the beginning."
The baby was sucking wine out his bottle, while the mother was fondling her breasts in front of the mirror. “I'm losing buoyancy” she said, while the baby sucked on. “Are you even listening to me? Shithead.” She put on her bra, and strapped on the double dildo. "C’mon, cupcake, mommy’s ready to go. Huzzah!"
THE BABY’S STORY: "We entered the discotheque in the middle of some Polish trance track, and people were swooning all around us, most of them probably on E. Mom left me with these three dominatrices who went all coochie-coo over me, and went to the floor. She’s so hot, my mama. One latino guy was dancing with her, but she soon added another guy with a mask and chains, and started moving sensuously with one guy in front, the other grinding her ass. What a player! I finished my bottle, so my three new aunties refilled it with Bloody Mary. I felt like dancing, but I’m only two and can’t even walk properly yet."
HERMAN’S STORY: "This chick was so hot, damn. And she even got another guy to join in, and he was also pretty hot. I was looking forward to a long night of fucking them both with implements, and I have a feeling they were game. Too bad the baby spoiled it."
BACK TO THE BABY: "Puked my guts out, I did. Barfo."
It is said of spiders that they pull their legs around themselves when they die, as if they are catching flies enmeshed in the webs of their own souls, but that’s just shit propaganda. We do pull our legs in, but it’s to minimize our violent structure. We try to become the dots that we know ourselves to be. You see, when the One Legged Lady gave birth to our ancestors, she cursed them with plurality. Thus, she whispered, they would always hunger for the things that are unique, and not plentiful. Imagine our ancestors' many eyes when they first saw Fly, and Its Wings.
We were created as carnivores in body, but are lovers in spirit. We eat flies because we envy them, and when we die we ask for forgiveness, for oneness, and for flight. We get none of these, for flies were created in the image of the Creator, are ever-blessed, but we are the spawn of a freak.
The man with selective memory makes a cup of coffee for himself and for no other. He selects away a pang of guilt for not offering for his guests, and erases an image of his mother, making tea in the kitchen for him as he returns from school. Which school? Did he ever go to school? This is unknowable, as it was selected out.
The boy with selective memory runs along the creek, and his sandal is caught in the roots of the old trees. He stumbles and falls, and selects away the pain. This is the third time that he has fallen, but he does not remember this. He will repeat the mistake again tomorrow.
The angel with selective memory has an Asian fetish, and so selects away the pleas of Caucasians. Africans, likewise, wander helpless. They see her soaring across the sky, but she glimpses them only momentarily, glimpses and forgets, as she reaches for a Chinese girl’s clenched heart.
The author with selective memory writes and rewrites and rewrites. He mouths the words, but can’t recognize them.
WHERE WE CAME FROM: When Sandy was 16 he sucked his first cock. Sperm was frothing out of his mouth, and it formed bubbles. From seven of these bubbles came forth the Seven Ancestor Spirits: raccoon, sparrow, echidna, starfish, lemur, crab and moth. They fathered the Seven Clans to which we all belong.
HOW THE WORLD CAME TO BE: Sandy went out with Rachel so his dad would think he was normal, but after school he would go to Tim’s house. Once Rachel tried to kiss him but he just couldn’t touch her. She called him a faggot and his face turned red and he shook and he shook. The earthquake split the Primal Mountain and formed the Archipelago with the two great islands where we all live.
WHY IT RAINS: When he was 22, Sandy met Al who was just two years older than him and in the navy. Al had brown eyes and when he laughed it was like bells. Sandy melted, melted away, and ran like water, falling from the clouds upon our fathers, and making life grow.
WHY THERE IS SILENCE: They fucked, and then lay there holding each other. They didn’t know what to say. Or, maybe, they didn’t want to speak. For this we cut the tongue out of every newborn, and never say a word. But we write a lot, and, sometimes, somebody reads us.
He had big hands. She would invite him over for tea, but he could never pick up the tea cups properly, his clumsy fingers giants compared to the delicate china handles. But he tried, to be polite. He would hold the cup in both hands, and she would worry that he get burned, but he felt nothing except awkwardness.
In the afternoons he sculpted in the fields. He would tear down large pieces of wood and metal and glue them together with strong resin. Critics described his work straightforwardly as “piercing commentary of the raging conflict between stability and change in the modern condition.” He once met a critic when she came to his house for tea. He was worried that he would crush her tiny hand as he shook it. Later, she wrote a book about him. It was called “A Cage in a Bird,” and it made him laugh as he mixed his cement.
His spine got hit by shrapnel during the war, and he lost most of the feeling in his hands. He couldn’t pick up tea cups anymore without crushing them. So, he made a sculpture: a pile of tea cup shards glued to a helicopter blade, bullet shells in between. She described it as “piercing commentary of the raging conflict between stability and change in the postmodern condition.” He laughed, and they made love in the fields, carefully.
She finally stopped crying and just lay there, moaning faintly. She could see her own arm, three meters away from her body, gray and cold. The rain fell on her face. How much blood did she lose? She saw the huge knife, growing out her breast like a bone. She saw, but couldn’t move. Shock, fear, these are the things that were killing her. If she could get up, pull herself up to the road, someone would see her and get help. But she lay there in the soggy leaves and died. So much for her first date. So much for her favorite shirt. So much for the new haircut. So much for/
It was a month later when they found her. Some animal had run away with the arm, but the knife was still there. I ran through the woods and thought that my heart would explode. You see, I couldn’t remember if I wiped my fingerprints off or not. I couldn’t remember if/
I wish I wish I wish I wish/
His eyes became heavier and heavier, and then he slept. I got up and put out the lantern, and was covered by foggy twilight. The rest were already asleep, but I couldn’t calm my nerves, so I walked slowly into the gloom. After a few steps, all that was left of the world was the cold ground and the haze of the moon.
I reached the shore of the lake. I could not see it, but I could hear the splash, could feel the icy, still air. I unsheathed my dagger and threw it into the water. I did the same with my sword, though I hesitated for a moment. It swallowed so much of me with every life it took. Somehow, I thought I could get it all back, by sucking it out of the old steel. Perhaps, but it is too late now. It rusts now at the bottom of the Lake of the Headless.
I walked back, and lay myself down with the others. I covered my head in the old gray blanket, but did not sleep. We did horrible things, but I never cried nor asked for forgiveness. The fog muffled the screams of the wounded, and the moon lit the pale eyes of the dead.
The wind blew through his hair, and through the whisper of my body. When I died two years ago, I thought I would never see him again. Instead, I wear pale things at night, and walk about, motionless. He creates me, but doesn’t see me, whereas I see everything there is to see.
He once told me three things about obsession. First, that it is madness. Second, that it is material, and can be destroyed by normal means. Third, that it is cyclical, that it comes and goes as the seasons do.
In the woods by his home, we walked in silence. He stopped to watch a robin, and I sat on a dead tree to rest my feet. The clouds moved in and out of the sun. To the west, to where he dug a hole and ended our misery. But misery is cyclical. It comes and goes as the seasons do.
Ghosts do not exist. Nonetheless, we inhabit the autumnal clearings of your mind. He clings to me again, to nothing.
TO INFLICT: I drew a square in the sand, representing the Earth, with a triangle at each corner, representing the Four Punishments. “The first is for you,” I said. It is Lord Resentment, Crusher of Aspirations. For you, who have always denied me my own. “The second is for mother.” It is the Lady of Sad Confusion, Who Scowls When She Misunderstands. “The third is for me.” It is Burrowing Creature With Horns, also called Laughing in the Dark. A strange punishment, designed for infidels. “The fourth is backup,” I said, and blushed. You kissed me then, and it rained for three years.
TO FORGIVE: After the rain, the newborn hatched and dug their way out of the damp Earth. The world was beautiful with their laughter, and butterflies and kittens and flowers were provided for each Citizen, free of charge. Mother hid in her box, and spat at the giggling children who came her way. We sat on a rock, and you made me a crown of petals. In payment, I turned us both into water birds using my secret magic, and we flew away.
In the Kingdom of Twilight sound and light are crimes. Its citizens whisper; its slaves have their vocal chords slashed. The Quiet Queen, from her throne, issues silent decrees. “None shall wander during the day,” “None shall see by the light of more than one candle,” “None shall fear the night.” Her Shadow Guard is always vigilant, always about. One can walk freely through dark fields, by cavernous forests and starlit streams, and never see the knife of a bandit. I visited there, once, and was full of admiration. There is no fear. Only dark silence. I decided to stay.
I was caught listening to my walkman, and so was brought before her Majesty, to stand trial. I pleaded ignorance and foreigness, and begged for my life, for their punishments are harsh. She listened to my pathetic whispers, and then took the headphones from the guard, placing them over her royal ears. She pressed play, and then stop. “Release him at the border,” she whispered, "his taste in music is punishment enough."
Now I sell life insurance in the Duchy of Funk. It’s noisy and smelly, and the streets aren’t safe even during the day. I miss moonlight. I miss smiling instead of saying hello. I miss blowing out a candle before making love. Music, ah, music. It just doesn’t sound the same to me anymore.
It seemed like a clean enough road, so I lay in it, careful to be as obtrusive as possible to the traffic. Within minutes I heard horns honking, cars skidding, and people yelling at me. An old lady came up to me, probably thinking I was dead. I told her to fuck off, and she called me a “shithead.” Well, aren’t I glad I made her little day exciting.
Lying in the road, looking at the sky, you end up thinking: what was it all good for? I mean, yesterday I was at work. Same old routine. When I was 13 I masturbated for the first time. Last year, Haifa won the cup and I went crazy. There were good times. Sushi lunches. Brilliant porn. And that’s it. Just stuff that happened.
Some car missed me and hit the pavement. The guy got out all upset, and when he saw that I wasn’t dead, he lost it. He started kicking me in the guts, screaming that he almost got killed and what a pity it was that he didn’t run me over. It hurt, man, it hurt. He was wearing boots. He didn’t get any response from me, and eventually left me alone.
I think I fell asleep at some point. I dreamed of my mother calling me for dinner, while I ignored her and stayed in my room. When I was a kid, the wallpaper in my room had pictures of forests and rivers. In my dream, there were also castles in the hills, and their gates were closed.
I don’t think I ever woke up, and I don’t really care.
We stopped to rest on a ledge looking to the east, and lit our pipes with good apple tobacco. Harry raised the epistemology issue again, and our rest became too long. We restuffed our pipes as the sun circled the Earth. Or, as Harry put it, as the Earth circled the sun. The only thing we agree on is what makes for a good tobacco.
When we reached the temple, the sun/Earth had already set, and the priests gave us a room to wait for the next day. We would meet the prophet at sunrise. This was fine by us, for it gave us time to eat our packed meal: bread, cheese, and apples. And to finish our discussion. We never, ever rush. This is our way. We were arguing about the origin of the Self, and Harry started to nod off. I covered him with his cloak, kissed his white hair, and lay myself to sleep.
I woke up as they were stabbing him, and he was calling my name. They dragged me to the prophet, who criticized me severely. How could a wise man like myself, she said, keep the company of losers like Harry? Was he dead, I asked? Yes, said the prophet, finally. I unsheathed my dagger, and cut her throat. Then, I cut my own. Mission accomplished, sweet Harry! The last three keepers of orthodoxy died together that day, as the sun and the Earth greeted each other like old friends. From whence comes the Self? From wherever the fuck you want it to, my friend.
I see you floating in a bottle of vodka. I hear you howling as I run through the woods. When I take a shit, you reach from the sewage to fondle me. You are everywhere, and you fill all spaces. But one.
MY HEART: Four rooms, one for each season. In its Summer, you are gone, evaporated by the sun. In Spring, the living things devour you. In Fall, everything dies, so should you be any different? In Winter, there is nothing but me. Where have you gone?
MY SPINE: You claw your way to my brain, and find the nest I have prepared for you. You lay a silver egg, but it never hatches. I curve in my sleep, and scare you away. Through a flurry of feathers, I see your shiny object.
MY MIND: I can’t think through the feathers. Every time you flap, I sneeze.
I woke up knowing exactly how to undo the damage I had wrought in my dream. I put on the dust-suit, and ran up the stairs. Around and around and around to the top, and stared out, breathless, at the dark, thirsty landscape. I closed my eyes, to catch one last glimpse of the green and gold I had seen in my sleep. I opened them again, and the lush vegetation faded to silent gray hills. But there! The ridge, where the stream ran... and the overhang, where the spring surfaced. Yes! How could we have missed it? Our station had been assigned the driest, most desolate stretch of this planet. Scientists without hope find nothing of value. But that was all water under the bridge, if you don’t mind my pun. Soon, zone 332 would have flowers. I woke the others, and within minutes we were smiling and working. We sent a message to the colony that there was hope.
I did not tell my colleagues the first part of the dream. I did not tell them of the dustlings, those magnificent, burrowing creatures of the hills who raise their young deep under the gray surface. I did not tell them of how water is poison to the dustlings, of how a drop of our liquid of life would kill them all. I did not tell them that the dustlings talked to me, showed me where and why they blocked the spring, and asked me to spare them. In my dream, I spared them, and the last colony of homo sapiens died.
My son was born last night. He had no eyes, and six digging claws instead of hands. He burrowed his way out of his screaming mother, and bit off half of my left leg. I poured my glass of water on him, and he quickly choked to death. Sweet, gentle Rebecca, our last female, died this morning.
Some of us cry when the Sun comes out. Some of us do something about it. Roland was the first to act, and the first to die. He climbed up to the roof, and crouched, ready for dawn. When you, the Great Coward, shot your first splinters of light over Mulberry Hill, Roland attacked. We woke to a terrible sound, as if the Egg of the World were cracking. Through the barn window, we could see Roland’s proud silhouette, fighting your first, weak beams as if he were a reincarnation of Razor the Firstborn pecking the eyes out of the Eternal Farmer. We closed our eyes, held each other, and prayed.
The light finally came, clean and unbearable. Roland lay motionless, a pile of feathers shot through with your golden rays. He glowed, glowed like eggshells, reflecting back the light with defiance. How low, how foul, despicable Sun! You reign in terror all day, but since your melee with Roland you shiver in the shadows all night. You stretch dawn out as long as you can, first making sure that the Martyr isn’t on the rooftop, and only then rise, your head bowed, tiptoeing. You are right to fear us, for we lay our eggs in the darkness...
Roland shall return, and day shall be no more.
Huff, huff, huff! I caught the stick in mid-air, landed on all fours, and sprinted back. Master pulled it out of my mouth, and threw it again. Again, I ran, caught, huff, turned, huff, sprinted, ran...
I drank, lapping up water with my huge tongue. Oh, so good and cool! Huff, huff. I turned to the food. It smelled like heaven, it cracked and crunched as I gobbled it down. When it was done, I looked at Master, pleading for more. More? No? I guess not...
I like lying here, on my side, staring at the sky. The grass smells so good in the spring, and there are birds and interesting things moving in the bushes. I sleep, and dream that I am running, running, huff, sprinting, huff, catching...
Tomorrow great things will happen. Master has set his soccer shoes next to the bed. We will go to the great open field, with all the people huffing, running, kicking, running, huff! Huff! Huff! If only I were not to be tied to the bench, I would be there, with them, oh so happy.
Anyway. Rub my belly, bitch. Oh yeah. Yeah.
We cooked honey cakes for breakfast, and brought them to grandpa’s bed. Grandpa is getting jollier and jollier as his wrinkles multiply. Proof: he took three honey cakes, placed them on his head, and pulled his night cap down over it to cover his laughing face. When he popped the cap off, they had turned into three parrots and he gave one each to me, Misha and Linor. How we all laughed together!
After he died, it just got better! We would place flowers on his grave, and he would pull them down and push back chocolates that jumped into the air, and land in our hands. Linor would clap and make those pig noises that grandpa loved so much. He would call her his little piglet, and sing to her. When he went away, I began to sing instead.
Little Misha was shot dead in Lebanon, a captain. Linor died last year from pneumonia, only 14 years old, and I am the only one left. Every week, I bring flowers to the grave and catch chocolates in mid-air. Every week, he throws them up higher and higher. Oh, grandpa! Last week, one popped out and fell across to the right, plop in the middle of Linor’s little patch. It disappeared into the ground, and I’m sure I heard a squeal. So I sang: “Piglet, oh piglet, oink me a tune...” while standing on my head.
“Don't shoot!” I said, but he did. I shouldn’t have jerked my hand like that. He looked more scared than I was. Suddenly I was lying down, I think, and I was holding my brains in my right hand. “I'm dying! I'm dying!” I shouted but couldn’t hear myself shout which was FUCKING WEIRD. He moved to the next room, where my little brother was hiding and weeping like a girl. They wouldn’t kill the boy, I knew, but what about me? I would be dead, like, real soon. My brother, my poor brother. Who is going to take care of him now?
I brought my hand before my eyes, so I could see my own brains. Here’s what I saw. (Please believe me, I am not making this up. Why should I?)
There were roots coming out of my hand, reaching for the ceiling. Who would have guessed? There were ancient trees growing on top of our house, the house that the soldiers would soon bulldoze to dust. I realized that a tree was drawing nourishment from me, through my split skull, from my brains, my body, my self. Earthworms were falling from the ceiling/ground, dropping onto our table, into my coffee cup, crawling in and out of the cracked TV. It smelled like an orchard, and I suddenly knew: the tree was in bloom.
The soldier came back from the bedroom, talking into a radio, dragging my silently screaming brother by the wrist. As they left my home, white flowers fell on them from above, like snow in Jerusalem. The soldier turned and looked at me in terror. My brother was smiling, blossoms in his gorgeous hair. My revenge was complete. I think I died, but I’m not sure. I may have turned into an earthworm. All I know is that there is moist, cold soil all around me.
“Put your penis inside my vagina” I told him, and he really tried, but it wouldn’t go. Damn. “Maybe I should put it in my mouth?” I said, and pushed him off of me. It tasted like chocolate, is that possible? Can love transform flavors? “Let's just play on the Atari” he said, and I let him go so he went.
Naked, on his bed, I heard his clicks and bleeps from the living room. “Come on!” he called me. I didn’t feel like it. I felt entirely like something else: a valley full of flowers under a clear summer sky, and my sigh joined the warm breeze. Peeling off the skin, I put the feathers back on and clicked my beak into place. It was night already, and I could see PacMan consuming a ghost as I flew back home. When I got to the nest, I masturbated the shit out of myself.
The rumors about us devouring our young are lies, vicious lies spread by your foul, corrupt regime. We treasure our naked, squirming spawn, and hold them tenderly as we rush through the tunnels. On weekends, we let them glimpse the outer world: caterpillars, discarded paper bags, autumn leaves. Though still blind and tender, they squeal with delight, and our hearts melt. Paw in paw, we pull them back down to the brown Earth. It is out there that your kind would eat them if they only had a chance. You accuse us of such atrocities? How dare you!
My daughter, Milkin, is two months old now, and already digs on her own. Yesterday, she brought us a centipede for dinner. How proud we were, the entire family! But we warned her not to dig too deep. Down, down, where the darkness is eternal, there live your predecessors, their evil tentacles jealous for your October sun. We can hear their whispers, their plans. When your towers crumble, as they must, they will return to inherit the brown Earth. When that happens, we shall devour our young, to save them from the darker shadow. Until then: up yours, you fucking bastards! Mole power! Mole! Mole! Mole!
Humans hatch from eggs, and demons from crystals. It is clear which is the more elegant species. And there’s more. There was a human called Paco, who washed dishes and dreamed of princesses. The more he washed, the more he dreamed. Demons, they are not like that. Paco met a girl, who was not afraid of his scars, and she kissed him on his hands. The dishes sparkled. He gave up his career for her, and they sank to the depths of the Atlantic together. The scuba gear cost more than his life.
When they found the city, she asked to be kissed, and he first removed his headpiece, and then hers. The ruined columns glowed Palmolively, and they were as happy as could be expected. She felt at home, and pointed to the shards at her feet. “Here I hatched” she said, and let him touch her heartbeat. But he ran out of air, and perished. Her slender hand aloft, she cast a spell to turn him into a dead fish.
This is a happy ending, for if they were to mate, who knows what abomination would have hatched? Always keep your eggs in the same basket.
Brought to you by the Ministry of Racial Segregation
Before I became a butterfly, I was a worm. I lived in Worm City, which is south of the equator. The weather there is cold and damp and miserable, and that has evil effects on us worms' disposition. We tend to stay in bed a lot and read books, surely a recipe for neurosis. Take my cousin Wallace, for example. He is twice divorced, and all he can talk about is how much Worm City’s mayor is a jackass, how prices keep going up, and how the dragonflies are out to get us. Needless to say, he was totally opposed to my going to Cocoon School. At graduation, all he could say was "your wings are too bright, they make you look like a clown."
I had to leave the city. There was no work. Wallace actually supported me, claiming that if I got my act together and stopped being a lazy fool I could make something out of myself “out there.” He was wrong. I continued being a lazy fool, but was lucky and got richer than he ever dreamed. He was bitter as hell, but never left Worm City. He got run over by a bumblebee last fall. His only daughter didn’t even come to the funeral.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, sweating. I dream that I am covered by slimy worms, crawling all over my skin, sucking out my life fluids. I go to the bathroom, turn on the light, and stare at myself in the mirror. Wallace was right, my wings are too bright.
“Give me the canteen, you dirty Russian!” Sasha was drunker than drunk, and laughed at me, pouring the water partly in his mouth, partly on his shirt, partly on his cot. “Fucking Russian son of a bitch,” I said. But I didn’t do anything, I was too tired. Besides, I wasn’t really thirsty.
Killing civilians is worse than killing armed policemen, and killing children is the absolute worst of the worst. That would send you straight to Jewish hell, if such a thing existed. That’s what Sasha says, but I don’t even think he’s really Jewish. He’s probably one of those fucking bastards who faked papers and came here just because he couldn’t get to America. The fucker can’t even speak Hebrew properly, and when he’s drunk he keeps swearing in Russian, which drives me crazy because I know he’s talking about me. I know how to say “nigger” in Russian.
He said it, and so I tried to grab the canteen from his grubby hands, but he laughed and squirmed, forcing me to hug him and smell his alcoholic breath. I pulled the leg of his cot, sending him to the floor. The canteen fell, and what remained of the water collected in a small puddle, quickly fading into the Earth, being sucked down by the denizens of Sasha’s Jewish hell.
“Give me cigarette, you Ethiopian son of bitch.” I threw the whole box of Nobles at him, and prayed that he would burn himself to death. These are the pieces of shit that I have to trust to watch my back. I swear, I prefer the company of those son of a bitch Fatah. Keep the cigarettes, you Russian child killer.
It takes seven seconds to run to the flag and back, twelve seconds to circle the entire camp. It’s that small. On Thursdays, after the salute and the range practice, we play cards and smoke, and talk about that one Thursday, three months ago, when we first saw it.
It was a normal day in the desert. Hot and dry, and much too bright. It peeped at us from beyond the ridge, wiggled its nose, and retreated back into the wilderness. Omri, sentimental as always, said it was cute. I said it looked tasty, and that got some laughs.
Later that night, we awoke to screaming. Omri went out to pee and it grabbed him, pouncing at him from the low bushes. It tore off a huge chunk of his leg, and he got sent home, the lucky fuck.
Eli was not as lucky. He was probably lying in the ground for an hour until he died, clutching what remained of his face in his brown hands.
I got a full house and collected thirteen cigarettes. I laughed at my good fortune, my whole body shaking. It’s so small, our camp. Seven seconds to the flag, and back.
I held my breath and pulled the trigger. When I opened my eyes, she was still twisting among the weeds, dancing her last, slow forest dance. I slung the rifle over my shoulder, and unsheathed the knife. She looked at me, and there was blood on those brown fingers clenching the vines. Half woman, half tree, she would live as long as the sunlight coursed through her. I severed the vines, one at a time, as she clawed weakly at my legs. By the time I was done, so was she.
Carrying the body of the Dryad home, I laughed. They said that Dryads did not exist, could not exist, but I persevered in my search and proved them all wrong. Looking back, I had very little evidence to build upon, only myths and hunches. I guess I am just a dreamer. A hopeless romantic.
Her arms felt like bark, and there were leaves in her hair.
“Twenty five cents,” he said, and I thought that was awfully cheap for a blowjob. I only had a dollar bill. “For a dollar, it will swallow.” Hey, why not? I went for it. Happy birthday to me.
It was a nice one, a bit old but kept in good shape. It opened my zipper, and I felt the tingle of its cold fingers running up and down my cock. Oh man, it felt so good. It enveloped me, clumsily at first, but quickly adapting to my rhythms in a way no human ever could. Perfection, efficiency, flexibility. I could cum just by contemplating the concept. Damn, those software engineers deserve a Nobel peace prize.
I’m robosexual, and proud of it. You human-fuckers, you disgust me. With your burps and your farts and your sweat and your headaches. That’s so, like, 21st century. Keep your germy organic mouths away from my cock!
She was fishing with her dad when he suddenly keeled over. Until then, it was a perfect day. Almswood in the fall is what family is all about. The marigolds and royal reds reflect in the cool crystal waters of Lake Fraternity, and the breeze is warm and rustling. She caught an enormous trout, and daddy let her unhook it as he held it in his big hands. He chuckled as she imitated a dying trout’s face. She was sure his chuckle reached all the way to the hills. As a young child, she wasn’t always sure if daddy’s presence was anything more than the sights and the smells and the sounds of the wilderness.
She thrust the hunting knife into his breast, all the way in. Daddy keeled over. In a few minutes, he was still, and the sweet chirp of the birds returned to Almswood. He seemed to be expecting it, just like he always anticipated the first snow. Just like mom anticipated the first blow.
Mary ran up a tree. “Supper's ready!” her mom shouted, but Mary was busy gathering food already, her bushy tail balancing her leaps from branch to branch. They never found her. Squirrels are good at blending with the forest.
Whatever I say, whatever I do, he always loves me because I made him that way. When I bought him, he still had lots of ideas. He wanted us to be best friends, he wanted to support my science and me to support his art. He had all the newest software, and a state-of-the-art socket for secure feeling connection, and was even compatible with all my old shit.
The problem was the preinstalled PowerSave™ technology. He occasionally shut himself down to conserve energy. So, I smurfed up a hack to keep him on all the time, to be always there for me. It worked. And it sucked. It was a constant reminder that owning him was not what I needed to be happy, and I hated that. He really was a top model.
I sold him yesterday on e-bay to someone named overtherainbow. And he still loves me, for real. I swear this is the last time I purchase love online. Next time, I’m going to the open air market on South Street. I like the human touch, you know.
I am writing to say goodbye. I am not coming back. Sell my CDs, burn my underwear, and kill the cat. It’s not because of you. You know that I love you, and that you’re the best fuck I ever had. Do you remember the high school bathroom? Do you remember your old bed, with the creaky springs? And then your mom yelling at us to keep it down? ;)
You’re always so noisy, in everything you do. Screaming your lungs out when you’re so fiercely happy, or if things don’t go your way. I like it when you scream. It cracks open the shell of the world.
I also love it when you talk to me. They think that you can’t talk at all. They think that you’re crazy. They don’t understand that you’re just lonely, so lonely that parting with your words would make you really crazy. You always told me that I was different, that I kept your words intact. But you were wrong, and the therapist is right. I am just as hollow as you are.
Please don’t be lonely. Scream, my love. Scream all you want.
Love, Your Imaginary Boyfriend
He built his house on the edge of a waterfall, because he could. He was richer than some South American states, and was even born in one. In the dead of winter, the waterfall would freeze, and he would walk along the edge in his spiked boots, looking down the thirty meter drop, and then up at the winter sun. The sun, in turn, smiled back.
When he was a child, he always drew pictures with suns in them. Many suns, all happy and smiling, with yellow and orange rays reaching down to the waterfalls below. He never even saw a waterfall until he bought the land for his house. And when he did see it, it was just as he had imagined.
He was 30 years old, and had got everything he wanted. Money seemed to flow effortlessly into his hands. People said that the sun always smiled upon him. And all he had to do was be someone else. People said he was born to be an actor.
Walking along the edge in his spiked boots, he reached out his hand. It touched the jagged crayon lines in the sky. He wondered which character he was, and tried to recall his lines.
He remembered, and then fell backwards. The ice didn’t even crack.
“I'm sorry I killed you” said the soldier to the girl.
"It was for freedom."
“That's OK” said the girl.
"I’m in heaven now."
“I'm sorry” said the soldier.
"Heaven is our next target."
There once was a girl who lived in a box, and she was so lonely. One day, she met a boy who lived in a box. They communicated by knocking, and soon fell in love and vowed that they would marry, if only they would be let out of their boxes. She thought about him often...
On the third day of the Great Revolution, all the sweet children of the world were let out of their boxes. Immediately our heroine ran to the hills, surveying the brave new world. All around her were dancing children, rejoicing in their new freedom. Her boy, sadly, was not there. He lay in his box, and looked straight at the sun. He loved the box more than the sun, more than the girl.
There once was a girl who lived in a box, with a boy who wouldn’t come out, and she was so lonely.
I love peeing off the balconies. We have 312 in total, divided among the 16 floors that I’m restricted to. After work, I make my dinner and then watch the sunset from one of the western balconies. Every Sunday we’re all given a cigarette each, and sometimes we talk to each other, me on my top floor with the guy above me on his lowest. It’s best to smoke with other human beings around. Otherwise, I’d rather they not see me when I pee off the balconies, or pick my nose, or run screaming through my 5th floor until I collapse, sobbing on the dark balconies to the north, facing the sea.
That was the deal, and I don’t regret it. Complete and utter privacy, 16 floors of freedom and Sunday cigs, in return for me being a productive member of society and doing my job for 5 hours a day until I die.
But then, sometimes I see, far below, pieces of trees floating in the sea, green leaves touching the base of our tower. I’m not jealous... I just wonder where they come from.
There once was a rabbit who had no friends, because he had no talents. He couldn’t cook, sing, dance or do anything of value to society. But he didn’t give up. One day, he went out into the forest to look for a friend.
He met a rat. “Hey, Mr. Rat,” he said, “come to my house for dinner! I will cook your favorite meal.” “No way!” said the rat “You can't cook! The meal will suck tremendously. Go home! Go home!” And the rabbit went home, sad.
The next day, he went out again, and met Mrs. Fox. He changed tactics: “Hey Mrs. Fox! Good day! Good day! May I come to your burrow today and help you with your chores and cleaning?” “I think not!” she said, “you are such a klutz, you would probably just break all my stuff. No way! No way!” He went home, even sadder.
He gave up on friends, but he still needed water, so he went out to the well in the forest. There he saw the rat’s son and the fox’s daughter playing together, and having a really cool time. They saw him alone by the well, and called him over to play with them. Oh, what fun they had! It was almost sunset when rabbit came home. It was, indeed, the happiest day of his life.
Naturally, he decided to look for his new friends the next day. Sure enough, they were by the well. They did not call him over, however. “His dad and my mom said we can't play with you because you are such a good-for-nothing,” said the little fox. Rabbit went home, alone.
He stood in front of the mirror, and asked his reflection: “Will you be my friend? Nobody else will. Nobody at all.” “Of course!” said his reflection, “of course!” and popped out the mirror. They played together for hours and hours, and until this day, they are still the best of friends.
(dedicated to Bulgarian Science Girl)
The following graph shows the general distribution of characteristics among a random selection of human races:
Jew Korean SWT French Japanese
- = intelligence
@ = sex appeal % = social skills
(SWT = Standard White Trash)
The statistics clearly prove the superiority of the great Korean race, and the evolutional lag in the development of the French. For example, the physical resemblance of French humans to bonobo chimp is uncanny, and obvious to non-scientific persona (see figure 1).
+ + + + o + o + +
| + | + + / \ + / \ + + + +
French (left), Bonobo (right)
In the opinion of this anthropologist, the French homo category should more accurately be classified with the lesser primate groups. A proposed new name would be gaulo-pithecus. And they smell, too.
SUPPORTING EVIDENCE: I got a PhD at Harvard.
PUNCHLINE: I was picked on in middle school.
I can recognize the precise moment in which they fall in love with me. It’s not in the eyes, or the lips, as some people seem to think. It’s in the ears: they prickle. I know this, because people have been falling in love with ever since I could remember myself. I was simply the prettiest in school, in high school, and in college. Lush hair, full warm lips, tight figure, and dark eyes that sparkle with life, intelligence, and joy. My tits are probably my best feature. They look perfect no matter what I wear. They are firm, upright, with an elegant curve ending in a supple point. And I’m nice, too. I mean, really nice. I give everyone the time of day, am honestly interested in what they have to say, and never patronize anybody. I’m even nice to girls that hate me for my appearance, so common in the feminine politics of jealousy. I win them over by being a real person, who really doesn’t expect to get more than them from life, even though I do. When you are beautiful, doors magically open for you.
I know what I do to them, and I always have. I can see their eyes moving across my dark skin, trapped in my eyes, my nipples, my ass. I can see the pictures formed in their minds. This doesn’t upset me. How could it upset me? I know I have been gifted, so I smile my perfect, sincere smile, and then see their ears prickle.
I want you to want me. I want you to desire, with a real glimmer of hope that you can have me, because you actually can. I want you to be your very best, to achieve your highest, to make yourself worthy for me. This is my gift to the world: I am the prize. When you become beautiful, the door will magically open for you, and then, you will be the world’s gift to me.
Just hurry up before my breasts sag, will you? I won’t be such a prize then.
There was something wrong with the clouds, so I slowed down and took a closer look at their formation and dispersion. “They're beautiful,” she said, her slender fingers almost touching the transparent pane. I muttered something and checked the readings on the ion panel. She always does that, gets all girly and emotional whenever I take her down with me on maintenance runs. “Let's land!” she laughed, and jumped out of the rear deck before I could say no. I had no choice. I finished my work and then joined her.
I found her on the roof of a restaurant, talking to some crows. “We should get back,” I said. “It's getting late.” She giggled and pointed at a couple walking out of the building. The guy was angry, walking with his hands in his pockets, the girl chasing him, trying to grab his hand, frantically apologizing. “I have work to do. Let's go.” I put my hand on her shoulder, gently, just above the wing. “Please?” “I'm sorry,” she said, and we finally flew back up to work on the clouds.
I turned on condensation and made it rain on the human couple. She was not smiling anymore. “I said I was sorry.” I ignored her, again, and added some thunder.
The next day, Tortoise threw a big party and invited all the animals in the forest: the poor and the rich. Rabbit came, and Lion, Little Fox and his wife, Weasel, and even Harry the mechanic who lost his finger last month in a fight with that fat-ass spick hooker. Tortoise made a toast to all his good friends, and apologized for all the bad things he wrote about them in the Forest Gazette. They all drank up, even Harry, because it was the polite thing to do, and then they danced as Lion played the accordion.
“Have another drink!” said Rabbit. “Don't mind if I do!” said Harry. “I'm so tired,” said Little Fox to Harry, “would you like to dance with my wife now?” “I'd be delighted to!” said Harry, and took Weasel by the paw, pressing her close to him so he could feel her nipples poking through the brown fur. He had another drink...
“My turn!” squealed Rabbit, as he took Harry’s place fucking Weasel behind a tree. Harry went up to Lion, who was sitting alone, and told him exactly where he could shove his 2% raise and slum medical benefits. Lion just smiled and shoved another drink in Harry’s face. Harry went to puke in the mushroom patch, and heard his mom sobbing from the tree house. “I'm sorry, Pumkin,” she said. He wanted to give her the finger, but it was gone, gone, gone. Beyond Tortoise’s toasts, Rabbit’s grunts and Lion’s playing, he heard the gentle splashing of Laughing Waterfall. He staggered through the dark trees to find it...
“Have another drink!” said Rabbit. Somebody was laughing...
Nancy has a tongue that licks everything. As a child, she would lick chairs, floors, her mom’s red shoes, their cat, playmates' hair, and even the TV remote. When in the back seat of their car, on the way to school, she would lick the window. She said she was trying to get to the rain on the other side. In high-school, she licked pencils, math text-books, and chalk. In her room, when her parents were still at work, she would lick her friend Anne’s pussy until Anne was exhausted, drenched in sweat and shivering. But Nancy would never get tired of licking.
Nancy’s mom found her body in the car parked outside. There was blood everywhere, from her mouth and her slit wrists. Nancy’s tongue was outside, in the rain.
Nancy’s mom never wore her red shoes again. In college, Anne pierced her tongue and clitoris. Nancy’s dad, however, never really recovered. He was impotent from that day on.
He wouldn’t stop crying, so I hit him again. “Be a man!” I screamed, mentally. I knew it was pointless to say it out loud. He looked so pathetic, with tears streaming down his puppy-dog eyes. I hated him, so I hit him again, and again. I knew it wasn’t his fault. He’s just too stupid to understand. Just a stomach with a mouth and a dick. It’s because I love him that I want him to be better. I want him to have dreams, like real people. I hit him again.
Those soft brown eyes, the soft brown fur. He wagged his tail, still too stupid to understand, gnawed again at his leash. “Be a man!” I shouted, this time out loud. He barked, then whimpered. I hate him.
I suck cock because I am ugly. I’m short, fat, and hairy, have an ape-like jaw, uneven eyes, a flat chest, and I smell like cooking oil. No boy would be caught dead fucking me, so I suck them instead. I catch them when they’re drunk and alone and pump like there’s no tomorrow. I let them cum in my mouth, my face, or wherever. I lick it and guzzle it down. One time a boy felt sorry for me and offered to fuck me, but I declined. Another boy said I was so ugly that somebody should kill me. I declined, but he was drunk and kicked me in the mouth. I lost two front teeth, which is a good thing for sucking cock.
Brittney Spears is pretty and famous, but I bet she sucks cock, too. She also gets fucked, I’m sure. At night, when she goes to sleep alone in her pretty and famous bed, she shivers in terror of me. I think of that sometimes in sympathy, as I suck cock, moaning with my eyes closed. I don’t envy her.
I have a poster of her in my cave, her lips parted just so.
In a moment of clarity, I saw a tree, its shadow, and a figure. I think. And then: haze again. I opened all my eyes, because it was getting late and I had to go, and had enough of this shit. The tree, I realized, was my mistake. It was a coffee machine, and the figure was the secretary, weary after a long day, head in hand. She was waiting for the next shot of caffeine, I think. I blinked, to make sure. The shadow was just a standard red rug.
I closed my eyes again, one by one, and was flying across a valley. There were lights below, bonfires and people. I glided downwards, and saw that they were burning office equipment: swivel chairs, file cabinets, slide presentations. I joined them, and we sang songs, and laughed. People were making love beyond the smoke. I played the guitar.
But then, another moment of clarity. I turned on my screensaver, and bid my user farewell. The secretary turned off the cubicle lamp.
It lives under the bus stop. It has a broad face, and soft brown eyes, and its voice sounds like a French horn. It first spoke to me last year, as I was waiting alone at the stop, lethargic and apathetic after a long, hot autumnal day. It told me that it had been there for millennia, and that it had a gift for me: a rare and precious treasure. As I tried to follow, it disappeared into the bushes, and I lost track. I kept looking every week, as I waited at the stop, but found nothing, and soon lost interest. I bore quickly, and do not believe in treasure.
Last week I found a note on my door. The handwriting was awkward, spidery and small. My gift, it said, was still waiting for me. I should take the last bus. So, I did, and it was there. A small gray bag, tied with a leather strap, full of pebbles. Since it was the last bus (duh!) I had to walk for an hour and half to get home. That’s it. Yesterday, the bus route was discontinued and the stop torn down. End of story.
Fucking pebbles. I guess it’s the thought that counts.
After running for about four kilometers, we had to slow down. The angle was getting steep, and the ground muddy. As we stopped for some water, a powerful gale started blowing from the east. It was dry, and hot. I could see signs of fatigue on my daughters face, her chest heaving as she drank. My heart sank as I looked into her glazed eyes. She might not make it, I thought. The others were restless, and we started running again. My legs were on fire...
I opened my eyes. They were standing around me in a circle, looking down. I clutched the grass beneath me with my hands, as if it could save me. But it didn’t, and they speared me once again. I gurgled blood. They just didn’t understand. She wouldn’t have made it. The fall broke her spine quickly, killing her instantly, painlessly and mercifully. It was my decision to make. She was my daughter.
I couldn’t see anymore, but I could feel the vibrations of their heavy boots against the earth as they continued to run. I think I wouldn’t have made it, either.
He waved to me from the Gates of Hell. “Bon voyage,” I whispered as he plunged into the flames. My friend, gone.
Three months later, I received a postcard. “I'm doing well,” it read, “I've made some friends.” It had a picture of him: the same broad nose, the oil-black skin, the half-shaven sideburns. Except that his face was contorted in ultimate terror. There was no real expression in his eyes. “I'm getting over the initial culture shock. People are helping me out. Don't worry.” But I worry.
Last week I received my own summons. I wonder, should I take a toothbrush? Clean underwear? Definitely: something to read. I’m not sure I want to see him again, though. Too much time has passed. I’ll ask for a private cell.
WHY THERE ARE STARS. The Weather God cried bitter teas, acid rain upon the Children. He was sad because the last dolphin had died.
For a hundred days it rained, and then the clouds dispersed, forcing the Children to stare at the Void. They made many sacrifices, hoping that the smoke would cover the sky, and that its clouds would reflect their light back to them. Again, the Weather God cried, and again they suffered in the acid. It became crowded in the Void, with so many dead, so they staged a protest. Each held a cigarette lighter aloft, shining down upon what was left of the Earth. The Children saw these lights in the Void, and suffered no more.
THE REAL REASON. I love you. So, I made a lamp of your kiss. I light a candle from it everyday, and place them all in hidden alcoves in the darkness. That is why astronomers keep discovering new stars. It sure as hell ain’t those fancy telescopes! As the candles melt away, I light new ones. It’s hard work maintaining the cosmos in my heart.
FIFTEEN SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT. I light a cigarette. I close my eyes and imagine dawn in the desert. Pink, orange, violet, and crazy twilit blues. Enough of that. No time for masturbation, but I can hold it in my hand and think. And I smile. I consider spitting at the mechanism, but don’t. No anger left now. Nowhere to hide. It’s fucking over.
GROUND ZERO. I feel much better now. A cancer has been removed, and something old and forgotten rushes to fill in the void. My leaves follow the sun’s route in the sky; my roots suck up the moisture. I try to think of my mother’s face, but it’s like running across the dunes. When night comes, I wonder if the stars are still there. It’s important, because I like smoking at night. Instead, I pull my petals deep inside me. But the reincarnation was successful, and there’s no need to hide anymore.
She crawled out from her grave by clawing at the rotten heaps of flowers, and stood upright, bent. Her royal mane of natural blonde was dry and brittle, her funeral clothes tattered, but still chic. I looked at her. I couldn’t take my eyes off her fingernails, longer than she would have ever have allowed them to grow in life. And I wanted her, more than anything I ever have wanted before. It was not a compromise, but a gift that I could ever have spent a single moment with her. The smell should have sent me retching, but I could not stop smiling. I was in heaven. She lumbered towards me, her hands raised. I closed my eyes, and opened my lips...
From: The Resurrection of Princess Di The book, the movie, and now the R rated computer game
The Color Green was walking down the street, looking for some action. She passed the Preposition At, but he was busy flirting with the Dream of Peace. Sighing, she strolled away, and bumped into the Unconscious State. “Sorry,” he mumbled, and walked away before she could even say hi. Suddenly, she saw the Note F-flat standing all by himself. Smiling as she walked by, she hoped he would notice, but he seemed focused on the Emotion Rage. “Oh,” thought the Color Green. "I never knew F-flat was gay."
THE JOYS OF POLYGAMY (My Three Wives)
My first wife is a virgin. She has never fucked. When she comes over, she sleeps in the bathroom, and wakes every other hour to shower yet again. Cleanliness is godliness, my pretty bathroom Venus, wrapped in bleached linen and smelling of bath salts. My second wife is my mother. Our children are my little brothers and sisters, and we all nurse from my wife/mother’s breasts. At her bosom, I am a child again. I fuck her very hard, hoping to push myself back into her womb. My third wife is a filthy whore. She goes down on the entire neighborhood, and I hate her. Her face is full of scars, lessons that I have taught her. But she turns around, steals my money, stabs me in the back. As we fuck, I close my eyes and picture my bathroom Venus. I’m sorry, mother.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I am writing to you from a wonderland of snow and ice, far from the campfire, under a cold starry sky, from whence biting winds blow. The boys are asleep, the whiskey is gone, and the fire long out. I couldn’t sleep; I kept imagining your fingers running up and down my back, mine in your hair. So here I am, pen in shaking hand, my mind, as always, with you.
We are so much alike, you and I, that it scares me. Or maybe it’s the differences? We talked about this so much, again and again, and you say you understand. But sometimes I’m not sure even I do. I’m eighteen years older than you, eighteen years of waiting; and I’m not so young anymore. I want to fuck you again, hear us both scream, like a single being never divided. The boys freaked out when I showed them your picture, but they quickly turned jealous. We look so good together, as good as you will look like with our next clone. How is the fresh little scamp? Give him a kiss from me, but not on the lips! I’m already jealous.
With love, Your original, Valentine’s Day 2081
Happy birthday: I’m a dad. The bitch finally farted out my little baby. It stinks, cries, and embarrasses me to hell. All that crap about the joy of parenting does not apply to our Production Unit. The tree-hugging slut wanted to call it “Birch” but I said no way. My bundle of meat is going to have a serial number:
In school, the other brats can call her 5C for short. When she gets knocked up (as she eventually will, having her mom’s whoring gene) she can simply add one for the next in line. As for me, I’ll be around for a wholesome male role model. After all, I don’t want her to become no fucking lesbo. She needs me to show her who she should fuck. One thing’s for sure, I’m getting the tree-hugging slut’s tubes tied. We have enough good people in this sewer as it is.
(Brought to you by the Ministry of Population Growth Control)
Another night, another murder. This one screamed so loudly I thought I would puke my fucking guts out. God almighty, that kid had a powerful pair of lungs. I hate my job, but it’s God’s work, and if I don’t do it, some other pathetic little soul will have to. I thought about munching a bit off the leg, I get so hungry sometimes. But I just couldn’t. I knew the others would be waiting for me. And they are more important. I just dragged the body across the sand, murmuring a prayer of thanks to the cool breeze. Another victim, another victory.
The pride was proud of me. The little cubs came over, licking the blood off my paws affectionately before sinking their teeth into the fresh antelope. I was tired, but satisfied. Praise the Lord, for He has created the savannah and populated it with prey for His children. Amen.
Alison groaned as Rob reached for her breasts, her nipples hard as steel bullets. She arched her back, bucking herself into his throbbing cock. “Fuck me!” she squealed, surprising herself. Randy, Rob’s twin, walked over, stroking his reinvigorated manhood. “Looks who's back,” she smiled, and grabbed the steaming member, shoving it hungrily into her mouth. Beneath her, Rob was quickening the pace. He grabbed her tight ass, and she ran her hand down her clit as she felt another orgasm coming, her other hand stroking his huge brother. Rob was trembling by now, so she got off him and knelt, running her lips up and down his shaft frantically, while Randy quickly got in back of her and started caressing her warm pussy with his soft electric tongue. She groaned...
Alison opened her eyes, panting, stared at her naked, sweaty body in the mirror. She looked down at her own limp penis and wished she were dead.
I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME
Planet Earth is such a wonderful, beautiful place. It is full of so many different kinds of life, minerals, landscapes, and people. I love people. They are so interesting and have so many special and utterly unique idiosyncrasies. Like that woman next door who keeps screaming at her daughter that she looks like a slut. Or that kid on TV who loves that breakfast cereal so much. And even those Africans, who don’t have food and get all bloated and die. Beautiful. I love them all.
That’s why I became a sniper. You see, I get to see people as they really are through my little crosshair (or infrared goggles at night). It’s much better than TV, where things are all fake. There’s nothing to love on TV. It’s not beautiful. Real life is the way to go! Out in nature, hiding between the oak trees. Or even on a tall Bauhaus construction of steel and glass. At the moment of realization: “gee, I've been shot!” you get to see what people are really made of. Not the kind of act they pull at work, or even at home. It’s when they are more beautiful than ever. I am overwhelmed with love.
JOKE: Two men are fucking in a public restroom. In between grunts, guy #1 gets his foot in the toilet. “What the fuck?” he says. Lo and behold, there is a tampon floating in the brackish water. “Is this yours?” he asks guy #2. Wait, wait. I ruined it. Let’s try again.
JOKE TAKE 2: A tampon is floating in a toilet. Suddenly, it hears masculine grunting noises above it. “What the fuck?” it thinks to itself. Lo and behold, there are these two boys getting it on in the stall. The tampon gets hard, and starts rubbing against the toilet bowl. Guy #1 says: “is this yours?” “Uh. No.” says guy #2. “It's, um, my sister's. Shut up and suck me.” He then flushes the toilet.
PUNCHLINE: Guy #1 was not gay, but a wannabe, bowing to peer pressure.
THE DEMOCRACY SHUFFLE
First, hold your partner with left hand and right foot. This will require some balance. The dance consists mostly of watching television, with intermediate random hopping. People with more money must hop higher. Between songs, postmodern art will be displayed, and will be compared with some of the ugly dancers. They will not be offended, because, hey, it doesn’t matter. The females will then curtsy to express electoral equality before GOD.
In the corner dances a deformed, filthy creature. Whenever GOD is mentioned, it masturbates frantically. “I am not equal,” it says, “and I will bring you down to my level.” It likes to dance and shit at the same time.
What is love? Love is a projection from outer space, injected into our collective subconscious by hive-like aliens that simply follow orders. It is somewhere between a disease and a state of being, between a way of life and a way of seeing. It was discovered by mistake, when a subordinate hive was trying to emancipate its right pinkie. The experiment ended in failure, but it produced love and electricity, two absolute absolutes of the digital age. Hence the phrase: “my love to you is like a 5k amp current.” Also, it explains why babies are most auspiciously conceived during power shortages. "Poetic justice."
Little Red Riding Hood was pregnant, and really needed an abortion, being 12 and all. Her jackass lumberjack boyfriend was long gone by then, and he took all the crack with him. Hood needed a fix to get her mind off all the deep shit she was in. So she went to visit the wolf. She caught him in the backyard of his burrow, masturbating to some pictures of sheep. “Hey wolfie. What's up, hot stuff?” “Fuck off, you rotten cunt,” said the wolf. “Or maybe you want me to do you, like I did your fat-ass grandma.” He made humping motions, to illustrate. Hood kept cool, blew some rings. “I need a fix, you animal.” Wolf smiled. "Here’s my member. Use it."
As Hood was paying for her drugs, the lumberjack stopped by to pick up more shit. He saw, got mad, and cut up wolfie real good, and even slapped Hood around a bit, just to teach her a lesson. Then ran off with the shit. The slapping was just tough enough for Hood to miscarry. As she lay there in a pool of blood, a beautiful angel with pure white wings arrived from heaven. The angel lay a small packet of crack beside the budding adolescent, kissed her gently, and disappeared in a cloud of fairy dust.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR: Why use any old detergent when you can use PURE LIQUID HATE? This thick, powdery syrup will permeate your clothes, be absorbed by your skin, and embed in your bones. In the short run this will send you to a hell of pain and isolation, but in the long run it will build bonds between you and the rest of the infected. For more information, hold your breath until you lose consciousness. You will then begin to hallucinate about sex and death. Ignore this and focus on the mutterings. They will coalesce into crystallized truth, and suck you in to a world where everyone is the same. This is good for you.
This public service announcement has been brought to you by Satan.
JUST IN: Disturbance discovered in the Pacific ocean, linked to unidentified flying objects seen above Michigan last week. In both cases, hobbyists using Geiger counters have detected a persistent pattern of clicks and whirs that seems to contain an intelligent message. The Pacific encounter was reported by a young couple, off honeymooning in their yacht as their onboard Geiger counter starting emitting infrequent beeps. They delayed their lecherous copulation for a while, and went out to the deck. Waves were gently playing with their wee boat, as the ocean bottom far beneath them patiently waited for them to resume their fucking. Instead, radioactive beeps. Centuries later, scientists interpreted the message. It was: "PLEASE DO HER UP THE ASS WHILE WE WATCH. SINCERELY, THE ALIENS."
Extra terrestrial intelligence.
Reality is not about truth, but about dignity. I’ll explain this with a fable involving dumb animals. So there was this crow who was picking corn off the cob. She was collecting it for her chicks in the nest, so it was altruistic. Along comes Mr. Cat, and meows at the crow. Crow freaks out and flaps away, cat makes some threatening gestures, tires, and then licks his balls. Meanwhile, at the farmhouse, uncle Sasha is beating the crap out of his niece for speaking during dinner. He is so drunk that he has to stop to throw up. Niece doesn’t cry, instead looks around for Mr. Cat, who is always cuddly and cute and fun to play with and never hurts her. But he’s out licking his bollocks in the cornfield. MORAL: don’t be a dumb animal.
Living in a tent for six years, eating leftovers and listening to second rate music out of some fool’s car radio. You call that a good life? It’s actually better than most. The part I like is the shredder that comes by twice a week, scoops up a bum off the sidewalk, and shreds him to dust. And then the dust gets on our clothes, and in our nostrils, and it’s just everywhere, but it feels good. It soaks up the damp, and smells nice. And winter is approaching early this year. Last Wednesday, the shredder almost got me, but it scooped up Miriam instead. She smelled like feces in life, but her death smell is lavender and rose water, so I don’t feel very guilty. OK, my point is, don’t deny surprises in life just because they smell bad. They may be horrible, they may make you crazy with sorrow, but the leftover dust makes things better.
Hey! Asshole in the Corvette! Change the station!
There once was a crustacean named Rudolph. He always felt he was too ugly to go to any of the big shrimp parties, or even the lobster tea-and-crumpet gatherings. You see, Rudolph’s legs were too long. He would even walk funny, drawing his legs close to him, shuffling along the seabed. Whenever cute crabs walked by, he would hide behind a coral. His life changed when he met Rinaldo, the renown chef of Little Milano Bistro/Cafe in London. Rudolph was chosen from among hundreds of other critters as the most beautiful, the most scrumptious. Rudolph’s blood beat against his shell, his ecstasy unfettered and pure. He stretched his legs widely, feeling beautiful and wanted, as he was lowered into the searing hot oil. The intense pain was his redemption, and he faded into oblivion with a smile...
The objective of this game is to collect points by, first, dying in make-believe, and second, scaring the shit out of the other players once dead. Players (always an odd number) have 10 minutes to scatter and hide in a 1 mile radius woodland area. The First Ghost then lets out a harrowing shriek, and the game begins! Players are allowed to “play live” and then freak out the living, but it is impossible to kill-by-fright unless they are really dead. You get one point for every killing, however you win the game if you are the last living player. This can be most effectively accomplished by playing dead, or hiding really well. Ghosts are not allowed to look at their slayers, which is the best way to discover them. Simply try to maneuver the suspect around a lot. They may meet their slayer, and be discovered!
PUNCHLINE: When the game is over, those who were killed-by-fright commit ritual suicide.
There are many traditional ways for seeing into the future. A new, effective technique has been developed in the MIT labs that will make them all obsolete: cryoscrying. The MIT scientists have discovered that at very low temperatures, time freezes and condenses into small marble-like objects corresponding to time-spans of centuries. During initial tests, the 24th century was reduced to a orange-red sphere with a of diameter of 3 cm.
Observing the marble under an electron microscope, the scientists were able to discern political upheavals and a ferocious war against the Martians, which will inevitably lead to the destruction of Earth at 2311. The sole survivors will be MIT scientists, who by then will become the Rulers of Earth. They will have given the Earth to the Martians as ransom for their lives. Obviously, they do not want the discovery of cryoscrying leaked out, so they froze the moment of discovery into a small orange-red sphere with a diameter of 2 mm.
The reason fish can’t breathe air goes back to the first days of the world. The Great Gill created a world of harmony and peace between Sea and Sky. In those days, sharks had wings and could fly through the air to prey on sparrows. Likewise, hawks would dive to the deepest abyss to bring giant squid for their nest. In those days, humans were a kind of plankton, eaten by all. Humans were the foundation of the food chain. They were as essential as air and water. But then, the Great Gill choked to death as He was gorging His immense appetite on hordes of humans. And so, all the fish, His firstborn, who were in the sky shuddered their last shudder and plummeted to the primordial ocean. And men were free for the first time, as the Great Gill’s body became the First Island, the precursor of all the land that we now have. The fish, the firstborn, forever hold a grudge.
Radioman is the coolest thing in pants. Not a man in existence can deny his homo-erotic powers. No man, that is, except Pleistoceneperson, the Man of Prehuman Gender Identity. When the two meet, the sexual tension is such that you can slice the air with a knife. Innocent bystanders get monumental erections, and ejaculate their brains out, becoming mindless playthings in Radioman’s fun factory. But not our hero, Pleistoceneperson. He does not even twitch a testicle. Radioman: your name was legion, but you have met your nemesis.
Such is the life of a superhero. It’s all sex and glory at first, but the badguys are always there, ready to catch you with your pants down. The trick is to stay low and keep the radio volume down. When asked about your gender, duck and move back in time, as many millennia as you can manage.
I am a hated, disfigured mutant. Your pity, though, is not needed, because good things are coming my way. In a recent interview the King of the Mutants has announced the discovery of a cure for our hideous abnormality. I have some money saved from years of wretched begging, and I intend to use it to buy the precious medicine as soon as it hits the mutant market. Someday I will find someone who loves me, do you hear? No more hate, no more “away with you, vile monster.” I will have a wife and children, and own a small house on a hill. I will have a big gun to shoot trespassers, and will never have to beg again!
THE MEDICINE FOR MUTANTS, FROM NANOGENE CORPORATION. Take our pill and say goodbye to kids throwing rocks at you, wearing bags over your head, and praying for death. Be normal. Take Mutanto™ for a better tomorrow. It’s for the kids.
JOKE: Two men are fucking in a bathroom. A knock on the door: “Excuse me, sirs, this is the ladies' room.” Guy #1 answers: "Yes, we know. Ironic, is it not?"
EXPLANATION: The reason the joke is funny is that the person who knocked on the door is also a man. In fact, it is guy #2’s lover, which explains guy #1’s comment about the irony of the situation.
EXPLANATION OF THE EXPLANATION: People do not have to be hurt for something to be funny. The knocker did not know that his lover was committing treason just beyond the door.
PUNCHLINE: Guy #1 doesn’t exist. It was guy #2 using a fake voice.
There’s a reason why knives are reflective, you know. Knife and mirror, an epic struggle brought to life in a simple object. But is it so simple? The knife was invented by a certain woman who thought to capitalize on apple picking by dividing the apples into halves. When she first saw her face in the knife, she smiled. “Here is my daughter, between the apple halves. Look how beautiful she is!” So, as you can see, the knife is really a procreative device, and not the mythological tool of destruction. The only agents of destruction are the leaves of the apple tree, which are extremely jealous of the luscious fruit, and depart the tree at night to prey on humans.
I haven’t slept for almost two weeks now. Not a wink. I lay in bed with my eyes open, and meditate on my breathing pattern. All I can see is the same ten minutes played over and over and over again. It’s night, it’s a lush backyard lawn, and there’s something walking across it. It walks slowly towards the house, slightly turned left. It is taller than I am, and is grayish white. Long legs. The grass is wet on my bare feet. I am 4 years old. 4 years old. It turns. I think it is looking at me.
There’s a hand that reaches out to grab me from underneath my pillow. It just reaches out from there, rubbing my neck vigorously. I anticipate it, and when I feel the leathery skin touch me, I quickly rise and look at it. I see it disappear under the pillow, very quickly. Its skin is light blue, with pale fingernails. It is an adult hand. This happens many times. My grandmother tells me to go back to sleep. I am 2 years old.
Once upon a time, there was a dragon. A female dragon. She could turn invisible and breathe invisible fire, which produced no heat. In fact, she was never visible. She could have been a dream. And a dream she was, in the sleeping head of Prince Charming. The young ravishing prince would think of her as he masturbated in the Royal Bed. He would see her image in his aluminum rice bowl as he licked it clean. And when he went out hunting the Little People, he could feel her sweet warm breath on his neck.
One dark winter night the Prince was cleaning his boots from the body parts of the Little People. As he was lighting his Royal Pipe, the dragon turned visible. The Prince was incinerated within a clock’s tick. His rice bowl survived, and is currently being used in the mechanism for steering the Hubble Space Telescope.
JUST IN: A new African state discovered. Named “Barbieville” after the 6-year-old girl who discovered it, it is pristine, full of lush rainforests, happily coexisting black and white people, and a (thought to be extinct) species of reindeer. The girl, Barbie, when asked where this country was located, rubbed her vagina ferociously and said: “It's in my cunt! It's in my pussy!” The reporters were ecstatic, and one of them tried to touch her. Thankfully, he was stopped by the President of the United States of America, who was touring Africa at the time. God bless America!
Greenpeace has declared Barbie’s private parts to be a “cultural reservation.” The flag of Barbieville used to be a white pony on a green field, but Barbie has changed it to a green pony on a white field. She says everything is upside down “down there.” “When I grow up, I'm going to be the President!” she said. And I, I will be her Vice President, and will protect her from sex, because we don’t want her to get an STD. Greenpeace would not be very happy about that!
So there was this guy, who was straight, but tone-deaf. Whenever he was married (which was often) he would get into these arguments with the missus about shower singing. The problem with women, he would say, is that they don’t appreciate a good, wholesome hobby. So, he switched wives.
Now he is a policeman, and practices Zen on weekends. He is unmarried, and owns a purebred German Shepherd. The dog acts as a “tone dog” in the same way that a “seeing dog” aids the blind. They may just as well be married, except for the sex part. I know it’s impolite to ask about these things, but I just blurted out to him (as he was writing me a speeding ticket): “So, do you do the dog?” He said no, and I believe him. After all, I meet him at Zen meditation every other weekend. I miss wife #43. I think she was a lesbian.
If you think quicksand is dangerous, you’ve never been on the second floor. You see, it was planned by a mad architect, who was later killed in WW-I. In his will, he sketched the floor plan and put a big X on it. The weird part is that the X is really there. On the second floor. People just passing by don’t see it. You actually have to stop in the west corridor, and pull back. Pull back, and up. And it’s there. It’s fucking there.
My fascination with architecture is legendary (you may have heard) but go beyond the fetish, and you’ll see that my motivation for telling you this is pure. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t walk the west corridor. I’m just saying: there is danger there, there is madness. When you sink into it, you don’t fall to the first floor. No, you are sucked up, and you find yourself in a trench. People are shooting, bombs are falling. There’s an X there, too. Pull back, and up, and you will see it. Something for the tourists.
Superman just landed on my lush veranda. He smiled, kissed me passionately, and undressed. What’s a boy to do? I called 911, but they don’t do superheroes, so I started conniving, you know, thinking up a plan. While he was in the shower, I quickly threw all my furniture over the ledge, and lay spread eagle on the rug. Needless to say, Mr. Superman was impressed. He went to fix us both a drink, and meanwhile I ran to the shower and stole his clothes.
That was last week. This week I’m hiding in telephone booths and freaking people out. I found my old couch in a pawnshop, but the sign on the door said: “No Superpersons Allowed.” I could tell them my story, but... OK, OK. The truth is: 911 does handle superheroes. But mine is still waiting on the veranda.
Saturday. March 14th, 1963. It was so fucking dark that you lost you sense of smell. There were four of us, and five rifles between us. I was first in line, because I could speak the language. Every step was a step towards oblivion. Every sound was death calling. And all I could think about was this: There’s a house, and a kitchen, a bakery, where they bake muffins, and one of the muffins has a cockroach in it. go on."
Idiots. I opened the closet door and was overwhelmed by the light from outside. The others were gone, and an intoxicating smell was rising from the basement kitchen.. mmm... more filthy bugs for me! I used the rifles as cutlery.