“The customary motion of the day had been suspended, and he had the sense of an impending revolution in time, as if a new, more crowded order of events were about to be imposed upon the world.”—N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn
I can barely hear through the din of midday espresso psychobabble. I slide my hand across ribs bruised by desperate sex. I tilt closer and N.L. scoffs: “You should be thankful.” Pause. “You’ll never be so young again.”
“In the morning, I woke up first, freezing cold and with a bitter grinding headache. I finished the wine and felt better, somewhat warmer, and the headache fuzzier.
From there, it all blended in together. I got in a couple of fights, and once I went to a place in New Jersey late at night where the bars opened at five. I threw up in the H & M tubes.
Until one morning I woke up in a great gray metal box. The sides of the box were all incredibly far away. The top of the box kept coming closer and then receding. Other human beings were in the metal box with me, making small and ghastly noises.
I don’t know how long I lay in the box before I realized I was in a room and not a box, nor how much longer before I realized I was in a jail. In the drunk tank.”—Donald E. Westlake, 361
1. I douse H and K in lighter fluid, then reconsider my potential. Maybe I’ll churn out one more thought worth reciting (that’s the most hopeful thing I’ve ever written). I remember fucking her at some unnamed landmark at some unspecified point in time with some unclear motivations in mind. Romantic—K would hate this shit. 2. Most of the text is missing. We know little of “H” and “K”. We can’t afford to rule out schizophrenia. However, let’s not encumber ourselves with this notion. Keep reading: 3. Cars pass in the night like oblong points of light in the vast and spinning vault of heaven I remember. I remember snow falling. I remember. 4. I remember K more clearly than I remember the people I knew. An act of violence as theoretical exposition; that’s all it was. She misunderstood my principles and she suffered as a result. 5. I remember snow falling on an empty cul-de-sac. I remember my childhood and I remember snow falling on parked cars. 6. H interrupts with a pen full of stimulants: “here comes a bestseller.” 7. A movement. A threat. Still pictures in motion—my terror coming back 24 frames per second. “I’m not comfortable with this.” 8. “You’re not comfortable with the truth. You’re not comfortable with your problem. You’re used up at the age of 24, that’s your goddamn problem.” He leers like a ghoul in my chemical confusion. I have no manuscript to speak of; I overdosed on Bukowski in the tunnels of a city I abandoned. I remember K laughing her ass off. 9. I recall slim bodies smoking virgin slims with absolute abandon. I recall abandoning absolutes: my lover and I drying out from the plague like skeletons in their beds. 10. In the manhole, you’ll find human potential stinking in the silhouette of exhaust fumes that leak through the road to corrode poetry in a green stew of sewage and forgotten rough drafts. 11. A memory; a remembering. A conjuring of cathedral bells in the subterranean chambers of junkies and users. A memory remembering; a defence; an omission. The work of private devils rising as smoke in cathedral towers—the spectre hanging over the pews. K kneeling to pray, K bent at the knees in the subterranean jungle of lost continents. K wet behind the ears, turning in her grave. 12. Seventeen drinks and three pills later: I realize K’s here. She’s in the same continent, drinking the same poison. She’s here with me, slipping theory in my ear and fumbling with my fly. 13. All this talk about binary opposition has done nothing but lead me back to the corner booth. Give me three more shots of Bacardi 151 and I’ll be finding text in the bile of acidic afterthoughts. 14. Weakly holding a cigarette between his index and middle finger, H stars to write in a carcinogenic embrace: 15. “I’m like every other self-gratifying refugee storing prose in the subconscious, scrawling narratives on toilet paper while hording the opus for a deathbed moment.” 16. “I’ve always had a thing for men with secrets and large cocks. Secrets are my only weakness.” 17. You’ve made it this far, so you might as well finish. We’re very sorry. 18. I recall 8th street in the midst of howling bus departures. I recall a knife wound like a mouth warning me about the imposition of media and philosophy. 19. The snake uncoils and recoils. K shifts endlessly in her straitjacket. She’s speaking in prose now. She’s chewing her tongue. She answers to no one.
Doom is the mathematical certainty that it will never be early-mornin-rise-n-shine Amerika again Doom is the passengers citing Bush administration melee while stuffing their faces with oversalted snacks and undernourished sex lives Doom is Hoover peeling fingerprints beneath the star-spangled eternity of global absolution Doom is dressed to its best when the fucking thing plummets—87/0009. 1-8, 33-64— Doom is lamplit fragments of JFK nostalgia dripping civil rights into the Cosmos Doom is Benjemeen Googenhym sacrificed by odalisques on the wingtip, spattering the sky with a bacchanalia of body fluid and agonized moans Doom is one dull thump mottled by a feeling so strong: We’ll never reach our destination.
This poem is a response to Moleskin by Tomas Boudreau, which can be read here
“Most of us are content to exist and breed and fight for the right to do both, and the dominant idea, the foredoomed attempt to control one’s destiny, is reserved for the fortunate or unfortunate few.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Offshore Pirate”
1. in an otherwise indifferent and infinitely expansive ocean. He was right to throw out the poets—He was wrong to have stayed in the empire reading Tolstoy or Joyce, etc., etc., etc…] 2. Demagogue hated libraries. Sickened by silence, he wobbled to his feet belching yeast and sweating misogyny. “Nothing will change until every one of you sonofabitches—and I mean every one of you—burns these goddamn artifacts! Torch em! Tear em up! Change is not change, because it is nothing else, and is therefore nothing in itself!” he said. D, opium-sick, mumbled “you’re talking nonsense again. (3.) And furthermore, even if you had a ticket, the plane doesn’t have an engine and has no destination, not even a runway or an ALTITUDE TO FLY AT—NEVER MIND THE PILOT.” [pause] 4. “Medieval cartographers had the uniquely honest prospect of defining the edges of a flat world” D droned on, his noticeable hangover doing erotic justice to the affect of his words. 5. H (raped/killed) the Demagogue’s wife. It wasn’t an act of violence. It was an act of detachment. It was action through inaction. Static penetration; the meaningless comedy of blood-streaked bedding. He recited his favorite Demagogue speech; slapping, thrusting, fading. 6. D was in the parlour while it happened, loading his gun to fulfill the paradigm assigned by cable television portraits of brimmed hat blackness. “She had it coming,” he professed while Demagogue’s Ford pulled into the driveway with the rolling crunch of impending events unnamed. 7. [If H was right, we could have no true access to meaning. We exchange generalities, we fuck, we sleep, eat, piss, shit, and die. And there is no particular order. Life is one extended piss 8. The Demagogue wheezes through phases, consulting his pocketwatch for pressure and his flask for motivation. These confines are a dreamstate; he’s run dry. 9. “Demagogue is the Poet,” He says. “Although his aims are apolitical, the product is decidedly political.” H mopped blood from the hardwood. 10. The moment the smoke grenades went off, H tried to mentally map the scene: pavement, light, howling sound, feet running, fear embodied, fear without body, fear in body. 11. “There is NO FUCKING PLANE. And if there was a plane, you would’ve forgotten your goddamn ticket anyway. So shut the fuck up.” 12. H was puking into the toilet (or so he thought). The toilet lid was closed. He was saying something to the nature of “the poets should remain apolitical”, or, “the poet ceases to be, when”—more puke—“poets should remain apolitical”—“or else the murder takes precedence in the story, when in fact, the murder is anterior to the conditions of possibility”—choking—“that stage the event itself.” 13. He persisted through the continuum of misunderstanding, bad judgment and academic psychobabble. He was the only passenger on Pequod who really knew the truth. Just as you can never kill the whale, you can never pierce the barriers of language. 14. D cursed the position that destined him to do right—destined him to unwrong the very functioning of the times. Things were bad (time is out of joint). D knew this. “To know is to act,” D said to himself with a faded art so typical of a self-hating politician. 15. H listened from a distance of three continents, receptive in ways that Demagogue couldn’t understand. 16. D agreed: “the poets should always remain apolitical,” flashing his piece (a semiautomatic 9mm glock with short-range stabilizer).
“It seemed forever down the length of white, sun-glittering concrete which curled and swooped among the bronze statues and brilliant flower beds shaped like stars and crescents, and forever across the green lawn to the great swollen bulbs of green which were the trees, and forever up into the sky, where the sun poured down billows and surges of heat like crystalline lava to engulf you, for the last breath of spring was gone now and gone for good, the fine, big-breasted girl popping the calico, with the face like peaches and cream and the tiny, dewy drop of perspiration at the edge of the tow head of hair, she was gone for good, too, and everything from now on out was bone and gristle and the hag face like a rusty brush hook, and green scum on the shrunk pool around which the exposed earth cracks and scales like a gray scab.”—Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men
James and Mark walked to the neighbourhood liquor store. They bought the cheapest 26oz bottle of gin they could find. Carrying the bottle in a paper bag, they walked to the park. They spoke very little.
The park was devoid of spectacle, but it was an ideal place to drink. There, they could achieve a level of gutter-mouthed, wet-faced drunkenness without anybody giving them shit. At the park, nobody ever gave them shit.
It was a flat, grassy area with a baseball diamond. There were bleachers behind the diamond, so they had a place to sit. One side of the park was lined with chain link fence. The other side faced a residential road.
They dropped onto the bleachers. It was well past midnight, and quite dark. The baseball diamond’s redness was clear despite the blackness. James commented on this fact. Mark said nothing.
James pulled a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and Mark reached for the gin; after struggling to remove it from the bag, he gave an apologetic smirk.
Mark looked old. His movement connoted impossible heaviness. His arms hung—pathetic, absurd, limp—emblems of strained manhood. His cheeks were caving in; his skull imposed on his expressions. His smiles were shadowed by expiration. He looked shapeless. Disjointed. Fading. His weight was not physical; on the contrary, he had a skeletal build.
“I’m halfway through reading this new book… maybe even less than halfway. Yeah… probably less than halfway. Anyway, I’m not even close to being finished and it has already made me aware of two things: one, the economy is fucked; two, the economy isn’t just the United States. It’s the entire world,” he said, unscrewing the bottle.
Weariness permeated his words. His voice was damaged like his face. He didn’t sound hoarse or haggard—that wasn’t it—there was a distant panic in his words, and that panic was grinding into him. Slowing him down.
James braced two cigarettes in his lips, lit them both. He handed one to Mark.
“The world is fucked?” James said.
“Yeah. Pretty much.”
“You were saying that before you started this book.”
“Okay, maybe. But this book is proof.” He took a hit from the bottle.
the first drink is meaningful / it’s poised / deliberate
“You could mould anything to match your beliefs,” James said.
They looked at each other. James snickered, then took a swig. Cheap bitterness seared his taste buds before rolling down his throat and lingering somewhere in the region of his chest.
He grimaced, then elaborated. “I’m serious. Even if this book had one brief passage about the economy—one miniscule passage—you would shape it into your own doomsday theories.”
Mark laughed. It was a clipped, irritated laugh.
“Okay, well, there is a lot of research in this book. And the evidence points to a reality that you seem unable to acknowledge. Unable, or too fucking stubborn. The reality is—”
“—the world is fucked. Yeah, I got that.”
They both laughed. Mark sucked on his cigarette. He fixed his eyes on the glowing tip, buzzed with nicotine, swallowing smoke like liquid. He took another hit of gin, gulped, spat in the red dirt. James followed suit and drank again.
Sometimes it was better to be silent. For a while, they just drank. The gin sloshed in the bottle. Occasionally they coughed or spat. Otherwise it was silent. It was a rhythmic silence interspersed with damp exhales and strained gulps.
I remember play-fighting in fields like this / I whipped him across the neck with a stick / the cracking sound made me laugh / he didn’t laugh / his skin broke / he was silent for minutes before he started crying / his blood was speckled on the end of the stick
Solitude was broken by ten ounces of gin.
“How’s that bitch? What’s her name… uhhh… Amanda?” James said.
Mark eyed him for a long moment, took a purposeful drag and another hard hit from the bottle. He looked tough at times, despite his shrunken body.
“Alicia. Don’t call her a bitch.”
“Okay, whatever. How’s Alicia?”
“Alicia’s great. She’s… great. She treats me right.”
Mark was incapable of elaborating on girlfriends. They were an assembly line. A ridiculous succession of women united by a vague idyll. They were always “great.” They always “treated him right.” And he never, never said anything about the sex.
“Does she give good head?” James said.
“Seriously man, shut up.”
Mark sounded authoritative, and not in his trademark posture. James obeyed for a few minutes. They swilled more gin, consumed more silence. After a while, James smirked. Mark looked at him and shook his head expectantly.
“Let me ask you something, Mark.”
“I’ve told you I won’t go into private details. It’s disrespectful to Alicia.”
“Yeah, I know, I know. It’s not that. It’s something else.”
James looked at him again. Mark finished his cigarette and dropped the smouldering butt. Then, eyebrows raised, he gestured toward the pack. James gave him another cig, lit it up. Mark dragged, inhaling chemicals with deliberation, sucked down the dregs of gin, wiped his mouth, tilted his head to the side and shouted “what?!” with a tone that resembled violence.
don’t pull that shit on me / you cheap motherfucker / you half-assed imitator / you fucking poser / you actor
“Well, I want to ask you about something that happened.”
“Something that happened before Alicia.”
“You remember that party we went to?”
“The one we went to together in—I don’t know—December. Years ago.”
“The one with all the drugs. You know. It was near downtown.”
“No… I don’t remember it.”
“First year of university. We had just finished our first semester.”
“Okay, yeah, I think I remember it.”
are you mocking me / don’t try that / you don’t want to pull that shit on me
James smoked for a few moments, calculating. He watched Mark’s face, hoping to see recollection. Mark stared back with infuriating vacancy.
“Alright, remember how much shit you snorted?” James said.
Mark smirked. “Yeah, I remember.” “Okay, that’s just one example.”
“Example of what?”
“If you’ll listen, I’ll tell you.”
“Why are you being such a fucking dick, man?”
“Just let me finish. There was this other time you called me up, crying.”
“Do we need to talk about this?”
“Why? Am I making you uncomfortable?”
“No. It’s just… fuck, whatever man.”
“Okay. So, you called me up, crying. You were drunk off your ass, sitting in your room. You had been slobbering on your pillow all day, listening to some post-punk crap, just crying and crying and crying. You remember that? After whatsertits? Uhhh… Jenna?”
“Janine.” His voice was toneless.
“Right, Janine. Yeah, you plugged yourself with all that cheap-ass bourbon. And then after Avalyn dumped you, you spent three months smoking pot, smoking—you know—whatever you could get your hands on.”
“I didn’t smoke anything except for pot.”
“We both know that isn’t true, but, in any case—”
“I didn’t smoke anything except for pot.”
“Yeah, well, your eyes looked like they were going to drip out of your face.”
“What the fuck are you getting at?”
The gin made their skin prickle. James felt his head throb.
not drunk yet
“Do you see a pattern here? Don’t you feel like a hypocrite?”
“A hypocrite? What the fuck are you saying?”
Alcohol began torching James’s senses. His guts churned. Guilt worked into his pattern of thought, but only for a moment. Then he just felt sick and pissed off.
“You start dating Amanda –”
“Right, Alicia. And, you know, you’re back to this act—or whatever this is. Some girl lands in your bed and suddenly the drugs go down the toilet; you wipe your eyes and you man up.”
“She makes me feel better.”
“That’s not it, Mark. I’m trying to get you to see a pattern here.” “Alicia is different.”
“Yes. She makes me feel great.”
“That’s what you said. But, see, this is the thing… Amanda is Janine. And Janine is Avalyn, and on and on and on. There’s no difference. Different hair colors, sure. But that’s about it. That’s what I’m trying to get you to see.”
Mark looked physically wounded. His face was contorted. Smoke gushed from his nostrils. He shook his head. He looked at James, pleading. With effort, he took hold of himself.
“You don’t even know Alicia.”
“Yeah, well, this isn’t about her. She’s impermanent. She’s an idea I’m referring to. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know her.”
Mark looked beaten. “Can’t we just argue about that fucking book or something?”
I don’t give a fuck about your stupid books / they’re all the same
“I think you shouldn’t lie to yourself so much. That’s all.”
Solitude set in again. Drunken solitude, which wasn’t really solitude at all. Mark quickly finished his cigarette, demanded another. He had nothing to say.
“Let’s walk back to your house,” James said.
Mark smoked while they walked. His wounds were visible now. His skin was a mosaic of blotches, his eyes shone. His uniquely permanent turmoil was close to the surface. It seemed like he might start blubbering right there on the sidewalk, dripping tears all over the cement.
clean yourself up
“The sooner you see these things, the better you’re going to feel,” James said, after minutes of silence.
“Whatever, man. Shut the fuck up,” he slurred.
you’re the kid trying liquor for the first time / the one locked in the bathroom / dripping tears and vomit everywhere / the kid who makes me find another bathroom / you can’t go somewhere else to puke and cry / you can’t handle your alcohol / you’re a child
“Just recognize it. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Okay, so then… what do you do? What gives you the right?”
Mark walked unsteadily, thoughts processing all over his contorted face. They intersected each other, formulating and deflating. They glazed his eyes, pried his mouth open and forced it shut again.
“What do you do? When’s the last time you even had a girlfriend?”
“I get all the pussy I want.”
“That’s not what I asked. When’s the last time you had a real girlfriend? Like a… like a… you know, relationship? Something fucking real?”
James hated this breed of gin-soaked self-righteousness.
“I don’t do well in traditional relationships. You know that. I’ve cheated on every girlfriend I’ve ever had. For now, I prefer to sleep around.”
honesty is comfort
“So what makes that right? What makes you so fucking right all the time? What is it? Tell me. I’d love to know. Really.”
“I don’t think I’m right, Mark. I’m just me. That’s all. That’s what makes me different from you.”
“What? I’m not me? Is that what you’re saying?”
He laughed, flung his gin-sticky hands to the heavens. Defiant. Belligerent.
you live in a world without concepts / everything isn’t absolute / everything isn’t tangible
“You’re not the person you think you are,” James said.
“Who do I think I am? Tell me! Please, tell me!”
“For Christ’s sake Mark, listen to me—”
“Go ahead, tell me!”
“You’re not the person you’re trying to convince yourself you are.”
“Convince myself! That’s it! I’m fucking convincing myself! Thank you, James! You always have the fucking answers!”
“Listen to me. You’re lying every time you go to some family barbecue with this girl, wearing one of your fucking button-up shirts. You were lying to me when you said you were going to quit drinking. I think tonight is proof of that. Not that I give a shit. I like it when you drink. But you need to accept the truth: this puritanical shit is a lie. You’re lying.”
While James spoke, he began to walk quickly. He took dramatic strides, made dramatic gestures, his voice raised. He realized then how drunk he really was. He also realized that Mark had fallen behind. He was stooped beside a fence. His hand was rested against it, the rest of his body tilted to the ground. He lurched spasmodically, gagged, then vomited. Puke spattered his tight designer jeans.
“Fuck,” he gurgled, a wet string dangling from his lips.
James walked back and put his hand on Mark’s shoulder.
Mark jolted. “Keep your fucking hands off me.”
He was unsteady on his feet, but James could see the rage he’d extracted.
Mark was crazed by something James had only seen once or twice before. That damp, battered face was channelling something James didn’t want to confront.
“I’m sorry,” James said.
Guilt rose in his throat. It tasted a lot like gin. He swallowed.
Mark said nothing. He spat the remainder of his sickness on the road and continued walking.
Ghostly sensations ice his nerves— every nightmare is characterized by the stench of this lurid brothel: cadaverous wails, tombstone orgasms, the shadow of moans. He pins phantasmal remains between blankets, eyes squeezed shut—
“To be a clown was to be fate’s pawn. The life in the arena was a dumb show consisting of falls, slaps, kicks—an endless shuffling and booting about. And it was by means of this disgraceful rigolade that one found favor with the public. The beloved clown! It was his special privilege to reenact the errors, the follies, the stupidities, all the misunderstandings which plague human kind.”—Henry Miller, The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder
“A man with a hangover should never lay flat on his back looking up at the roof of a warehouse. The wooden girders finally get to you; and the skylights—you can see the chicken wire in the glass skylights—that wire somehow reminds a man of jail. Then there’s the heaviness of the eyes, the longing for just one drink, and then the sound of people moving about, you hear them, you know your hour is up, somehow you have to get on your feet and walk around and fill and pack orders …”—Charles Bukowski, Factotum
That’s no conversation you’re hearing. That’s malignant memory developed in retail photo labs and bedroom walls. That’s no conversation you remember. That’s the sound of a half-closed windpipe; you didn’t hear a thing.
“To the untrue man, the whole universe is false,—it is impalpable,—it shrinks to nothing within his grasp. And he himself, in so far as he shows himself in a false light, becomes a shadow, or, indeed, ceases to exist.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
“The real end came quietly. It came in the small, barred room where the voices had muttered and mingled for so long a time—the man’s voice, the woman’s voice, the child’s. The voices had exploded when triggered into fission, but now, almost miraculously, a fusion took place. So that there was only one voice. And that was right, because there was only one person in the room. There always had been one person and only one.”—Robert Bloch, Psycho
I’ve been traveling with the Undertaker for a week, and I can feel it. Clambering behind him, I confess my fears. He stops, wheels around, his boots spitting gray dust and pebbles.
“Take those fears and drop em. Lay em in the dirt where the vultures can pick at em,” he says.
His voice is parched. We look at each other for a minute. My muscles burn, my eyes are sticky, my throat feels like it has been torn to confetti.
“Can we turn around?” I ask.
“No!” He propels the word with rattling violence. He coughs. A spongy fleck of lung slips between his crumbling lips. He snarls and stamps it into the ground. “I’m not lettin these cocksuckers stop me now. No way.”
“So fuckin be it.”
I see generations of anguish in his face. Burst veins cobweb his mottled cheeks. His skin is sediment. His eyes are flint. Expiration has avoided him. There is no way I can stop this man.
We continue ascending the cliff. I note that the sky is an ominous shade of scarlet, and I remind myself why I chose to accompany the Undertaker in the first place. We are approaching transcendence.
Grotesque transcendence? Maybe. Fatal transcendence? Perhaps. But transcendence nonetheless.
We climb for another hour. I feel as if my limbs are separate entities. My abdomen is a wall of knots. When we arrive at the top, I crumple into the dirt and wheeze. The old man hacks, lights a ragged cigarette.
“You little fuckin sissy.” He sits on a boulder. “Now we wait.”
He surveys the sky. Scarlet becomes crimson. Crimson becomes purple. When purple finally blackens, we can feel our fate. It’s humming in the ground. It’s in the air.
“Oh Jesus fuckin son of man.”
The urgency in his voice reawakens my fear. I realize that I’m still lying on the ground, and I rise to my feet. A glowing thread raises a mound of pebbles, probing like a spectral earthworm.
“That’s it. Holy fuckin Christ.”
I watch as the thread takes form, scattering rocks. This thing is not dead. It is hovering over me, ethereal and radiant. Pain escapes me, replaced by awe.
It descends on the Undertaker. Screams rent the air. Bloodless assault cascades through my senses; the Undertaker precipitates into pink dust.
Paralyzed with realization, I whisper “this is transcendence.”
“Yes. This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It’s for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse’s heart; something that came in all twisted different is now a functioning, adjusted component, a credit to the whole outfit and a marvel to behold. Watch him sliding across the land with a welded grin, fitting into some nice little neighborhood where they’re just now digging trenches along the street to lay pipes for city water. He’s happy with it. He’s adjusted to surroundings finally….”—Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1. First lines always inspired nausea in Q. She wanted to strike out in grace, to end up in the preternatural realm: obscene imagery scrawled in the face of obsidian obelisks. She sang the nightway. 2. Her presence was an idyll; an aspect of M’s nostalgia. She was the furnace kicking in, the scent of a used bookstore, the spot in the linoleum that lost colour from sunlight. M loved her for this sensation. Her persona existed (3.) on twin earth, to the extent that M—a self-righteous alcoholic nobody—could understand twin earth. They fucked in the space of genuine conflict—a dialogue of disaster that played out in used condoms and carpet burns, the delusory act culminating in cursive moans textualizing the endgame. 4. M came home to a fireplace crackling with perspective. Q prodded a sparking mound of literature and stared at him, blue-eyed. They shared the rest of the night in sleepless silence; M tried to retain text in cerebral form, Q braced herself for another breakdown. 5. Dusk reduced her to fits of terpsichorean rage, her screams reaching a hideously beautiful cadence. “I think it’s time you leave,” he said. 6. Q danced against a backdrop of burning house. M filmed her undulating sex flittering before the green screen. 7. First lines always inspired nausea in M. He wanted to drag in the daemon by the genitalia, inching the beast toward grace. In short, M was incommunicado with short-circuit spectres. 8. The train was populated with a demonic afterthought of M’s emotional flaws. Listerine clerics recited governmental paranoia while analyzing danger encoded in dollar bill watermarks. 9. There existed a frequency in the world that cut against the cerebellum of all thinking-beings. 10. Snow fell evenly, encasing the city in a deep-freeze—creating the effect of opening your refrigerator to find post-apocalyptic New York. All metropolitan cities look like New York when it snows, Q thought. 11. New York was her catalyst for unconscious poetry. It was a dream platform, nothing else. M became an element of the environment, as much as frosted windshields and cigarette butts. She examined his apartment complex from the sidewalk, incapable of comprehending the lyrics manifesting behind brick walls. 12. “He could smell his brain burning, cerebral inferno proceeding from behind his eyes,” the narrator said of the antagonist on the screen. M undid his belt, getting comfy in the dime-show seats. 13. This is his favourite scene. The camera pans out to reveal the culmination of cinematic truth: a lye-marinated corpse flowing blood across the silver screen. M dies in the midst of orgasm.
“He was locked to his chair, mind-locked and gravity-trapped, aware of the nature of the state he was in but unable to think himself out. He was bent to the weight of the room, distrustful of everyone and everything here. Paranoid. Now he knew what it meant, this word that was bandied and bruited so easily, and he sensed the connections being made around him, all the objects and shaped silhouettes and levels of knowledge—not knowledge exactly but insidious intent. But not that either—some deeper meaning that existed solely to keep him from knowing what it was.”—Don DeLillo, Underworld
Mark stepped into the bathroom of a Montana bar to take a leak and force movement into his thickset legs. He did not anticipate a fistfight. He did not anticipate death. He did not anticipate a fucking problem.
He read defacement on the bathroom walls with his zipper down. He gathered mucus in the base of his throat, spat in the drain, then walked back into the sawdust blackness of the bar.
Jukebox testosterone rattled his sleepless head, pool ball synchronicity clacking with the raspy cackle of sexual favours exchanged for welfare cheques and ‘80s pornography on VHS. Waitresses dipped their drooping tits in pitchers of warm beer foam while tickling the crotches of truckers with assault charges and receding hairlines.
Mark stabled himself on the jukebox, unaware of the mutton-chopped Antagonist standing nearby sloshing whiskey on a Bob Seger undershirt. “Do we got a fucking problem buddy?” Antagonist asked, pausing to finish his drink. Mark said “No, there’s no problem” but the guy said “let’s take this shit outside and see if we still got a fucking problem.”
They went out to the parking lot where the afternoon sun was bright but the air insisted on bitterness, thickened with gray curtains of sleet. A heavyset man in leather sat in his Chevy waiting for the engine to warm up, spewing exhaust fumes that clouded Antagonist in putrid brown fog.
Mark rolled up his sleeves but Antagonist was already lunging.
Booze-splattered knuckles clouted Mark on the temple, then another fist dove into his kidney. He collapsed in the slush with a tirade of obscenity. The Chevy drove away.
The assault was silent; blunt, abrupt, muffled by the cold. Antagonist dragged Mark to a concrete car stop, exhilarated by the thought of re-enacting his favourite movie scene. “Put your fucking teeth on the curb!” he shouted.
The list does not include EP’s, live records or re-releases. Here it is, in order by personal preference:
01. You Were a Dick by Idaho 02. We’re Fucked by Rivulets 03. Ravedeath, 1972 by Tim Hecker 04. Drawing of Threes by Desertshore 05. Ascension by Jesu 06. Bordeaux by Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd 07. Dynamite Steps by The Twilight Singers 08. The People’s Key by Bright Eyes 09. The North Green Down by Dakota Suite & Emanuele Errante 10. C’mon by Low 11. Watch the Throne by Jay-Z & Kanye West 12. All Will Prosper by Goldmund 13. Demolished Thoughts by Thurston Moore 14. Parallax by Atlas Sound 15. Tunnel Blanket by This Will Destroy You 16. A I A by Grouper 17. Empty Room by Yankee Yankee 18. Common Era by Belong 19. Several Shades of Why by J Mascis 20. Bad As Me by Tom Waits 21. Yuck by Yuck 22. Tomboy by Panda Bear 23. New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges by Colin Stetson 24. Goblin by Tyler, the Creator 25. Era Extraña by Neon Indian 26. Dreams Come True by Cant 27. Native Speaker by Braids 28. James Blake by James Blake 29. The Capital by Sean McCann 30. Lazy Haze by Thoughts on Air 31. Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang by Raekwon 32. Prelusion by Sean McCann 33. Last of the Country Gentlemen by Josh T. Pearson 34. Cults by Cults 35. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five by Pedro Magina 36. The King of Limbs by Radiohead 37. This Could Be the Last Time by M. Geddes Gengras 38. Owl Splinters by Deaf Center 39. Portals of Eternal Sustain by Sindre Bjerga 40. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky 41. Strangers by Tearjerker 42. Bon Iver by Bon Iver 43. Gloss Drop by Battles 44. Sky Full of Holes by Fountains of Wayne 45. Pacific Fog Dreams by Higuma 46. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes 47. Skins by Buffalo Tom 48. III: Arcade Dynamics by Ducktails 49. Underneath the Pine by Toro y Moi 50. Lights of Endangered Species by Matthew Good
…at its peak, tyranny spits frayed wires through ruptured glass in a room full of malformed philosophical bullshit. The narrative begins here, sparking remnants of a postmodern daydream with the propensity of gunfire peppering steel. Shrunken heads populate the dash. The night slides against the windows like darkened film strips. Smoke fills the cab. The Playwright drives an eighteen-wheeler toward a radical break, a penultimate resolution, and finally death (among other things to come). He drinks. He nods to invisible friends. This is about heartbreak—a theme he ties to the narrative like cinder blocks tied to the recently departed. He blinks hard to sway the imposition of streetlights. Needles form a line along his arm like chess pieces. Each move brings him closer to a language barrier. Closer to a revelation. Closer to death. Vipers inject his free-writing motivation with deliberate intent, splattering poison on manuscripts. Cigarette burns pock-mark the desk like bullet holes. The Typist collects himself. 45 years of functioning organs with nothing to show for it. Two weeks ago he woke up in a school at 3am: his nose smashed through, the live-in janitor asking him if he wanted to burn the truck. The school nurse’s office always makes him cringe. The medicine stench reminds him of his grandfather’s basement. He’s gripped by the sensation like he was once gripped by 75 year-old hands made of paper. Dreamspiders rush the story: silken Kalis beat, beat, beat evil in their hearts. The art of the beast is back in its hands. Earnest thoughts collide in the Typist’s head with faded songs and eloquent nightmares. He builds stream of semi-conscious outlines from the wreckage of a scrap metal massacre. Mechanics stumble onstage to bludgeon the title character with wrenches and moral order. The Playwright watches. There is no potential for clarity in a matinee theatre clogged with sexual frustration in double-knit sweaters and equally apologetic half-cocked smiles. The names on his shelf are fragments of a contrived group conscience. The Essential Kierkegaard. Fitzgerald. Derrida. Foucault. Twain. He gags on his own pretence, then prepares to write the latest piece of shit. Traffic accidents rape dialogue with the blunt intrusion of clichés, crippling the Playwright with office chair imprisonment. The Typist withers, squandering his aims within the confines of Act II, Scene III. “Cheers.” The waitress hands him his beer. He drinks for fear of death. He wakes up at 6 every morning for fear of death. He eats organic, shops Co-Op, and reads Derrida for fear of death, motherfucker.
The Typist sobbed himself pure in a tumult of post-rock sentiment and sensual bedroom cortege. He turned to the Medium, spilling quaky clichés through snotty tears. The Medium raised a hand to silence him.
“I once knew a man who sweetened his coffee with the blood of street urchins,” The Medium said. “His hands were perpetually caked in human gristle. He obsessively licked his fingers, but sometimes the shit just wouldn’t come off.
“I was pissing in a urinal when I first met him. He was standing nearby, swishing his hands in a sink full of hot water. He turned to me and asked if I knew what an oral ruttier was. I thought he was propositioning me for dirty bathroom sex, so I showed him my knife. He laughed. He looked like a goddamn bulldog, with his fat face rippling. ‘An oral ruttier,’ he said, ‘is a navigational poem. I’m gonna tell you how to find the core of this place.’ That’s what he said, word for word. He turned back to the sink and swished his hands again, splashing them faster and faster. The water started foaming like steamed milk. His eyes were crazy. ‘You’re in for a fuckin treat, I tell you that much,’ he said. I should have been scared, but I wasn’t.
“The bathroom felt alive suddenly, like it was full of static energy. I had an erection. The walls began to erode. I don’t know how else to describe it. Holes appeared in the plaster, spreading until there was no wall to speak of. Within minutes, we were standing in the sewer. Maybe the sink was some kind of portal. I don’t know. I don’t understand anything anymore. The fat man waddled away, chanting awful street poetry. There was a rancid presence down there, something unseen.
“I was inside metropolitan intestines, sloshing through the entrails of a world that spat me out. The presence exposed itself as everything. Corporate rapists with thin hair and sloppy smiles peered out from corners, their eyes bleeding black sludge. Housewives maimed their screaming infants with curling irons and santoku knives. Academic tyrants hurled tomes soaked in gasoline, glasses splattered with slime and defecation. I manoeuvred through this nightmare for three years, wanting nothing but a clean break. Although I made it out, there was no real escape.”
The Typist waited for the story to continue, but the Medium offered no resolution. “What do you mean?” the Typist pleaded.
“The ghosts still talk to me. They never stop talking.”
The porch overlooks a black city skyline. The old man smokes an ancient cigarette and scratches his ashy beard. Staring ahead, he asks: “Do you know what makes those streets look so clean?”
I say no, I don’t know.
“It’s the shit people carry around on the soles of their shoes —the rubble, sticky soda, dust, bad dreams. Those things dry up over time. Eventually they crumble and scrub the sidewalk. They leave it with a perfect grey sheen.”
I wince. I blink.
“Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I say yes, I understand.
He smiles, but it is a wan, sad smile.
“No you don’t. Do you know how this city is going to end?”
I stare ahead.
“I have bad news for you. There are hydrothermal vents under the pavement. You’re not hallucinating when the sky looks fiery in the morning. Eventually this thing is going to erupt. People are going to scatter, like ants being flicked across a driveway. The volume of the explosion will destroy sound as we know it. All that scrubbing will be smashed to bits, and the city will be filthy again. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?”
“Yes, yes… that is a scary thought. Isn’t it?”
We sit in silence for a while. He finishes his cigarette and mashes it with a hiss. He coughs, sighs, then looks at me for the first time. “Here’s a piece of advice for you: don’t read while you’re walking. You could fall in a hole.”
I love your most recent poem you posted about Virgo and Libra. I love a Libra and the whole situation is a violation, but it nothing ever happens. Aphrodite and Hermes had a son together (Hermaphrodite), but no one knows when they were together, it's a quiet and strange affair (unlike Venus and Mars). Beautifully written!
Cosmic violation is at work. Virgo makes love to Libra under Ursa Major’s glow, reciting verse in dew-speckled grass, effervescent, naked, luminous with sweat. Lyrical summer is smudged by an austere high order: Virgo buries photographs in the snow, losing colour in a bus shelter, rejecting her contrivance even more than she rejected the sight of Libra swaying lifeless, white-faced constriction in a leather belt. She scrapes her finger through frosted glass and writes Virgo makes love to Libra Libra makes love to Virgo
1. L’s mind swelled with dead ideals. His body crumbled from sickness. His hands were stained faint maroon when he ordered his 2am shot. The bartender took one glance and knew what he was facing: moral rigmarole in decade-aged leather, bloodstains inseparable from nicotine stains. T, sitting a few barstools over, kept his motives indistinct (if he had any motives at all). Pestilence was in the works. 2. L spoke with a distinct rhythm. Witnesses—God help them—when questioned, couldn’t discern anything about the physical characteristics of L. However, they remembered his voice, playing on repeat. The methods of extraction are unremarkable, however… 3. The murders were not carried out in corners. They were open, night-long waltzes in the expanse of L’s basement. Gore painted everything. T’s youth was sprayed with callous clarity. Sometimes tissue tore clean like wrapping paper. Sometimes it clung to bone, leaving wet trails as struggle ensued. “This wasn’t about identity. It wasn’t a statement. I guess I’d rather not do it, but that wasn’t the point. Have you never made a mistake?” T asked. 4. T was the butcher: he cut the victims into sections, freezing red lumps like pie filling. L was the surgeon: science was second nature to him. Human anatomy was a canvas for razors and claw hammers. As the months went by, the victims were mutilated with greater extremity. Each body was less recognizable than the last. 5. L recorded, mostly, while T worked. For pious T the videodrome was a sanctuary where the intimate carnality, the imminent life, could be confronted directly. T was a partialist by practise but a killer by virtue. Blood equalized. Pain equalized. Warm liquid flowed from each victim as an act of good faith. All could be captured by L’s dreamreality. Everything was subject to L’s genius. 6. Limbs flurried in a soundless cacophony; L descended with tangential profanity, spewing saliva and nonsense in a face slashed to ribbons. T shuffled along the sidelines, providing additional tools and sinful input where necessary. Cellar revelations were sedated with blood. 7. L’s perversions extended to photographic and cinematic documentation of all the murders. He disseminated his work to the matters via the Internet. The images inspired an epistemic conflict in the majority of viewers—people couldn’t comprehend what they saw by conventional understanding of evil. 8. “Two hours of sleep in the lastdays and reality is cracking before my eyes.” God moved over the water and it was so. God moved over the dark face of the sea and lit the world on fire by the heights. God slipped into the sea like a criminal walks into the act. The lights went out and the ocean froze over. Pious T played with a cigarette and contemplated his day.
“We sat on deck watching the sinking sun. It was one of those Biblical sunsets in which man is completely absent. Nature simply opens her bloody, insatiable maw and swallows everything in sight. Law, order, morality, justice, wisdom, any abstraction seems like a cruel joke perpetrated on a helpless world of idiots. Sunset at sea is for me a dread spectacle: it is hideous, murderous, soulless. The earth may be cruel but the sea is heartless. There is absolutely no place of refuge; there are only the elements and the elements are treacherous.”—Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi
“He thought in bull-fight terms. Sometimes he had a thought and the particular piece of slang would not come into his mind and he could not realize the thought. His instincts and his knowledge worked automatically, and his brain worked slowly and in words. He knew all about bulls. He did not have to think about them. He just did the right thing. His eyes noted things and his body performed the necessary measures without thought. If he thought about it, he would be gone.”—Ernest Hemingway, “The Undefeated”
1. Inhaling is a form of controlled breathing. The Stenographer takes measured breaths toward the ssemblance of resolution. One, two, three… 2. If there is any chance of failure, he chooses to dismiss it. There’s no room for failure. 3. They meet at Indian Point, in the rain. The anxieties of the Stenographer’s past always stay the rain. 4. “So where are we going?” he asks through a mouthful of peyote. His rain-soaked counterpart smiles, carving a scheme in his forearm. “Never question God,” counterpart says. “Evil is on its way.” 5. Call it Jihad. Call it holocaust. Call it Thursday. There are signs. Ammunition – a tightening of the collar,the rolling up of sleeves. 6. Charred sanctity renders the Stenographer motionless. Insidious saturnalia fills the hall with inhuman shrieks and perspired reason. Madness, lust, potential genius. 7. “I want no part of this,” he says. The only response is fiendish laughter; his sanity is peeled away, then discarded along with the Bible, the Quran, etc. 8. The ambivalence of the century will be decided by future civilizations. 9. There exists an essential evil we can’t avoid. The Stenographer’s freedom depends upon the freedom of others. Worldmakers intersect this logic at the bridge. 10. The camera pans out. Falling water unfolds into an infinite precipice to which the viewer is irreparably drawn. Can the shot. Start over: 11. The temple is emblazoned with ancient fictions. The Stenographer gulps piety in a feeble attempt to extinguish the powers beyond his reach. 12. Stepping forward, he notes that plagues are engraved in the wall. “Don’t fuck with me on this one,” he mutters. 13. “Often,” the Doctor begins, “when we examine the psychosis of one criminal, the disorder appears symmetric and fractal. That is, on the macro scale, the larger criminal body is equal to the makeup of the singular event. The criminal trend behaves exactly as the individual delinquent; the crimewave goes through the same birthing ritual and deathrows.” 14. “Cleanse the way between us,” he says, replacing the relic on its stand. Turn away from the night. 15. The praise center crumbles. He runs. 16. How he arrived at this pseudo-cultured temple is beyond comprehension. This isn’t a decision; it’s psychotropic logic. 17. He feels out the contours of the universe like a pawnbroker polishing a myriad of junk. 18. He’s not a spiritual man, but callous proclamations lead him to challenge his beliefs. 19. He succumbs to declarations from nameless statues, dying by way of worship. Flesh melts like wax, painting an immaculate portrait of the apocalypse on walls. Everything is finished.
winterwalled memories tumble torrential through the bedroom like unharnessed dreams of forbidden asylum capsules, her powdered downpour raining upward to speckle the ceiling with carnal misfires; city perimeters deadened by ironic headlines cave under prophetic reapers in hidden ziploc bags as she charts retreat in streetlight halos casting orbs of december christened with aching sensation; she drops so high that death manifests in cursive forming blood pools in cracked lips; And elsewhere, beyond the narrative: a cop orders whiskey straight no chaser attempting to keep the demons away. “winter’s comin; I can feel it,” he announces. barflies tune him out beneath the din of a playoff hockey game slopping dark lager on faded denim growling frustration in permanent stains crushing headaches with headaches. “winter’s comin and it’s scarin the shit outta me.”
1. Clandestine hustlers strike out at night on the tip of a match while undercover whores and do-up dolls trace the alleyways and track marks of street gang vigilantes wanting nothing more than to fuck you up. No one is to be trusted here—a shadow play begins. 2. “Typee or Happar?” I ask, delirious with Melville hallucinations. The surrounding denizens smoke themselves out and banter violence at an impossible volume. I repeatedly question them: “Typee or Happar?” to no response. Gun barrels prod at my ribs, clatter against my molars, impose on my theories. This is no natural wasteland. This is some furious form of urbanism. 3. He shapes a torrid composition along the ridges of her spine, spraying black iniquity on the slope of his windshield. Her wails merge with a timeless melody spattering romantic across the landfill. 4. She remembers laughter and solitude and losing faith and finding it again in the good intentions of others. He remembers solitude and boredom; violent images pour down his skull as the taxi speeds away through torrential downpour. 5. “Dance” she said, draining another gin & tonic. Take strobe lights for gluttons and watch the oscillating light illuminate her every gesticulation. Dancing gestural and performative. The cobwebs in his brain tremble as he feels sex and murder pushing through. 6. These avenues are characters themselves, cluttered with all the lowlife potential of disenfranchisement embodied, the streets bleeding clarity into manholes. This is the location I use for personal gain. 7. I remember a disregard for general cleanliness. I remember stacks of suicide romance in paperback form. I remember her, posed beside a turntable, persuading me to initiate. 8. I remember her bleeding in the rain. Everything washed away in the flood was never meant to be. I fled the scene for tropical weather and room service. HOTEL CABANA. I fled my body, left it imprisoned, to carry out the story a few more lines. 9. My mind is basking in fantasized sunlight while my body undergoes dripping cannibal surgery in some gray-shaped back alley dumpster. Traffic-scarred hands pry at my ribcage. My fingers manipulate a word processor. My eyes have been popped like concord grapes. Nevertheless, I’m able to shape a plot outline. 10. “Nothing so absurd” the Typist agrees. I pry my ribcage free, under her direction, while she types on a word processor: 11. The highwater mark has been steadily increasing. All reports indicate disaster. 12. This is hardnosed detective fiction at its finest. His hat brim darkens his eyes as he scribbles “Covenant” on a rain-wrinkled notepad. “This bitch got fuckin totalled,” he says. Onlookers laugh. There’s a scattering of applause. The investigation begins. 13. The investigation begins in the wrong place: there was no murder this time. Two ghosts haunting their last days again and again, each ghost dreaming the next—dreaming, desiring the death of the other. 14. There was a narrative crawling along her contours, disassembled by the locomotive weight of truth. Standing over shattered beauty, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the fade-out of my favourite Bob Dylan song. 14.5. This is the separation of two participants: a man and woman sweating sincerity and smoking a joint on the night of their respective murders. 15. The flood has arrived but we’re too impervious to metaphor to notice.
“The enormities perpetrated in the South Seas upon some of the inoffensive islanders wellnigh pass belief. These things are seldom proclaimed at home; they happen at the very ends of the earth; they are done in a corner, and there are none to reveal them. But there is, nevertheless, many a petty trader that has navigated the Pacific whose course from island to island might be traced by a series of cold-blooded robberies, kidnappings, and murders, the iniquity of which might be considered almost sufficient to sink her guilty timbers to the bottom of the sea.”—Herman Melville, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life
“How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know who refracted your own light to you? People were more often - he searched for a simile, found one in his work - torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people’s faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?”—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
1. “Show me generational trauma thru poetry; start at the wrong place.” 2. “What plot point?” 3. “Don’t ask me; the map doesn’t plot itself.” 4. The boy-girl-love-beneath-the-shade-of-an-autumnal-elm-story keeps slithering into his typewriter and stunting his knowledge of clichés, stereotypes and sex positions, but he pops six consecutive pills and writes it anyway. 5. She admired his openness—his honesty—but more than that, she loved his vulnerability—she had access that way. 6. “The hardest lesson in life,” he said, undoing his belt and sweating thru his Hanes undershirt, “is that there are lessons that can be learned only in the body”; as he was beating my arms, legs, and back, I was thinking then—or am now, that he is only a culturally contingent phenomenon, the product of Hollywood dayglow seduction and off-camera banter, Brando chattering. 7. Chain gang maniacs marched in effortlessly timed unison, crooning smooth old-time radio melodies that scuttled into two-lane blacktop profanity. 8. January 1st, 1985: the moon shifted trajectory and all of humanity was erased–entropy formed anew. 9. The space on the page is whiter than the scar of a cigarette burn. 10. Catcalls signalled a change in the season—Summer had arrived in six-inch heels and she was drowning in gin. 11. How hysterical: in one or two words, a greeting really, he had written her life story, past her death and into the after in a manuscript typed out in comic sans. 12. “I could write that!” he bellowed at her over a table of rotting produce; she tore the journal to ribbons and spat a gob of truth in his face. 13. Unanswered phone calls. 14. Festering pustules. 15. The fleeting moment. 16. A hybrid necrology. 17.18. The corrections officer takes his vocation seriously; a young man came to him one night looking for a priest or a judge or Christ so he tried his best and resolved not to phone the police. 19. 20. “Whatcha writin there, beautiful?” 21. “Fuck,” she cursed, ashing cigarettes and boarding a point of departure: the man, “yet another one, like all the rest, looking to fuck; looking to be John Wayne.” 21.5. Like all the rest, he wasn’t John Wayne; he was a belt-whipped pussy with hip-hop informed vendettas wreaking havoc on his subconscious, a semi-formed Ego in tight jeans.
1. Who the fuck. An irrelevant question, thinks the Typist. He went to the forest to exist in pure essence, the tangling web of nature violating his being. He disorientated himself on that spot on that day – the day time ceased as his spirit lurched through the filament in an orgasm of such high appeal it didn’t register cosmically, but infinitely and indefinitely—the two tongue-tied for all eternity. 2. He couldn’t have seen her in the forest, but there was a voice. He saw her hair in the trees for one moment, felt the swell of her breasts in the next moment. He paused in a clearing to challenge his assumptions: if he could feel her presence, was she not there? He came to understand the irrelevance of location; her tongue slid through his nerves and tickled his ideas. He tore clumps of grass in a muffled fit, overcome by the familiar sensation of afternoon sex, early ‘60s doowop melodies coursing through his mind. Who the fuck is she. 3. The Typist types “her existence rolls in from the periphery…” He sips something from a bottle and counts time. Seconds glide by like overturned semi-trucks on icy mountain highways. 4. This voyage was devoid of water; he felt sickened by the docked ghost ship rotting sails in gray sunlight. How many discoveries (who the fuck). How many terrains. He traced the ship with fingertips. 5. The project of mankind failed the moment he broke from the wall – the whore of Babylon scaling the rock of ages, water like mana like piss like vitrol or petrol pouring thru her, thru her open mouth, her lungs filling with fluid (she’s choking now). “This is what we came for,” he said, clenching his fists, feeling his body move in space disavowed from consequence. 6. “The aforementioned prostitute is historically categorically even ecologically and epistemologically intrinsic of the text’s fundamental concerns,” declares the nettle-haired professor, raising a knobbed finger. The Typist masturbates underneath his desk, the semblance of a broken romance lingering in the vague pain of his crotch. Her name, her role, her history: none of these concepts are applicable anymore. “‘Who the fuck is she?’ we may ask of the text. Consult the ideological theoretical probabilities in a culturally significant literary context to disrobe the response,” the professor ejaculates prosaically. The Typist dies of ennui before recovering mental process. 7. A chain of thought is broken. A register shift occurs. Ennui rides his patience as coffins are pulled out to sea—an armada in the shadows. 8. There’s something parenthetical about his withdrawal symptoms. He perspires ink until his skin is dim blue, a feminine aura clouding invention. Who the fuck… who the fuck… he types madly, endlessly, sporadically, violently, crazed eyes flitting across pages stacked upon pages stacked upon pages stacked upon pages stacked upon 9. She wanted to exist in the visceral world, her human exchanges constituted by sexual preference; cocks and pussies chosen for their physical qualities and not for who or what they belonged to. The going myth about the vampire is that she feeds on blood to survive in the body, but she feeds on blood not for need, but wanting. Wanting blood, the sustenance of her spiritual survival. 10. She, then, is lacking in the vampiric qualities attributed to her. Mythology has no form in the context of her being. 11. “Forever now I call her by her first name,” the Typist typed with manifold abandon. A falling off. He ended where the sentence ended. Cancerous characters labored themselves to death behind his eyebrows as the redhead challenged him in concert with ships unsailed. 12. “I suggest that we assess the ontological aspect of this excerpt,” the professor continues, scratching at a wiry patch of chest hair. “I suggest we assess mortality,” the Typist says before unloading a handgun into academic flesh. Fluid rains on the floor and outlines sexual assumption. Who the fuck: a vampire without status, without context, without gender. She spent her life sucking language from his Typist marrow, disposing of it in conceptual space. Her finish is his finish, an event as scholarly unfocused as it is incoherent.
“There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing … I am a recording instrument … I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity” … Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function … I am not an entertainer …”—William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
The Typist spent a great deal of time wandering through the catacombs. It may have been two days since he had felt metropolitan daylight on his face, or it may have been two years. In any case, he chose to avoid thinking of time and its pressures. He designated himself to an unspoken form of discovery instead.
He walked down a very ruinous passageway running parallel to a hall he had explored for a number of hours. The area was ill-lit, with torches that lined the walls at intervals. When his eyes adjusted, he was able to discern the shapes of desiccated human bodies. Frightened by the sight, he ascended a tenuous ramp rather hurriedly and found that it led him to a decayed tapestry.
There was an inscription on it which denoted the purpose of the catacombs. Although the inscription specified fundamentally traditional use, the Typist was in search of an alternate explanation. He looked to his feet and saw the vestiges of a man: corroding gray bones littered beside a skull. He turned his attention back to the tapestry and saw that it was gone. In its place was a great aperture, about seven feet in height and five feet in width. Without hesitance or consideration, he proceeded into obscurity–
–twelve years old and he’s already been nearly choked to death, purple-faced clawing at his father’s forearms while whimpering and cursing sputters on kitchen linoleum. He’s resolute when he explodes from the screen door, clattering down the cul-de-sac trailing blood, patriarchal roars hammering his thoughts. He’s nonresponsive to the older kids surrounding him. A hockey stick arcs upward and swoops down to cleave his shin in half. He tightens his lips and retaliates with a smirk. His bone gleams in July sunlight while he limps to the dollar store to buy himself a comic book and candy
twenty years old and he’s scuffling behind a pickup truck with a still-burning cigarette teetering between the cracks of his fingerless glove. Two guys stand beside him, faceless guys who are untrustworthy but unafraid. They hiss insolence, pop mescaline, flick switchblades, slug foamy beer down razor-burned throats. The impostors find them and there’s a lot of bone-on-bone thudding. The familiar sound of punctured skin crunches through the din. Someone spews vomit or blood all over his arm. It extinguishes his cigarette; he can feel it soak through his glove and trickle down his palm
thirty-seven years old and the woman he just fucked is swatting at him with clumsily sweeping motions, screaming feverish nightmare delusions across the motel room. His face is craggy, the muscle in his arms has melted into colorless flab, shapeless folds push through his undershirt. He holds a glass of rye above his head, away from the assault. He waits for her rage to relent while welts rise on his neck and back; he watches her naked collapse before propositioning semi-conscious sex on crusty carpet–
The tapestry was a device like any other, with functions that served the narrative. The Typist descended the ramp very slowly and returned to the catacombs. There was much more of the area that he desired to explore.
1. (3.) The location is decidedly irrelevant. He smudges geography from his notebook and finds a new introduction; a new standpoint.
2. (11.) He would begin with her, since reality ended with her. He felt inspired by a vision of ships; something intoxicating about vast bodies of water, something irreversible.
3. (7.) Conclusively, she was an aspect of his meta-fiction and therefore representative of the manuscript gathering NyQuil drops on his desk. He inhaled nameless substances and attempted to dictate her form or her name.
4. (12.) He knew her name in the imminent past and present future. Transcendent immanence. He didn’t know if that was Deleuze or the MDMA. Horizontal violence, a cerebral counter-attack. Your move.
5. (1.) Gutter-mouthed solicitors torch the canon with butane firepower, cackling gibberish in opium fog. The narrator transcribes semiotic meaning from a safe distance, wiping self-consciousness with a rag he uses to huff gasoline. He finds a stanza in his nosebleed and scribbles it:
6. (8.) Filtered sunlight illuminated the room: overturned bottles and snubbed-out cigarettes in kitsch ash trays. A man stood before the mirror without reflection. She breathed thru incomplete sentences.
7. (5.) Scrambling over terrain etched in neon permanence, he scrapes a layer of skin on industrial rubble. He pauses to document the sensation then spits slick memories aside.
8. (15.) Whoever these spectral fiends are, there’s no way they could have seen her. She was too clean for their hash oil voices, their cracked leather jackets. Narrator:
9. (4.) It happened one day, in an elevator, when he noticed the thirteenth floor was marked “utility” on the panel. If the vague superstitions of innumerable centuries could walk through history and into multinational corporations, what could this mean for
10. (2.) She retraced his steps through eastern Mongolia, through the veil, through the Orient. She retraced his steps and found one night stands and empty mornings. Khan, as they called him, dragged the equalizing rake of violence like an anchor cut from chain, polarizing the floors of silent seas.
11. (13.) An atlas fixation manifested itself in footstep engravings; various climates, various places. If there was any chance of shaping literature, he wasn’t aware of it.
12. (9.) If Mongolia has any presence on the page, he’s incapable of seeing it. What was it he read? The narrator interjects to dismiss the question, appealing to teenage libertarians who smuggle alcohol into classrooms thru banter of beat poets, sexual encounters
13. (16.) Two weeks of driving without direction and we’re not any closer to grand truth. We’re planning to fake her kidnapping and demand money from her parents. I am not proud of it, just hungry, always thirsty.
14. (10.) Stamped-out cigarettes and disregard for basic human decency left handprints smudged on bathroom mirrors. Cliché, throw it out. Read more, write less. Or don’t read at all. Reading will lead you into highway motels smelling of piss and incurable hangovers as you chase the dream.
15. (14.) Disregard what I last said. I’m a liar. Stop reading. The text can’t tell you anything about yourself, who to love, what to believe, what
16. (6.) The population had reached 7 million that day. An impending and undecided end formed as headlines in every major language across the planet. Our fears vibrated, unfelt in the universe. Every major language, but what could be known of the end in Croatan, in the Indian graveyard, and Terra Australis? “Many have killed themselves”, she said, avoiding eye contact.
“It is a law of nature that we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers.”—H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
“There are infinite things on earth; any one of them may be likened to any other. Likening stars to leaves is no less arbitrary than likening them to fish or birds. However, there is no one who has not felt at some time that destiny is clumsy and powerful, that it is innocent and also inhuman.”—Jorge Luis Borges, “Avveroes’ Search”
O1: We’re here to discuss the deaths of Gene Purdy, Alan Bartlett, Dennis King, Louise Ward, and Timothy Stromberg.]
the gas station attendant is startinta piss me off, what wid that smug look on iz fuckin face and iz hands on iz hips like hes the big man, nothing in life comes for free son, he says, and jus keeps right on lookin at me like he doesnt know whats comin and next thing I know Im pointin my magnum at that smug fuckin face tellin im hes got one chance and thats it, of course now he looks scared cuz now he knows I aint foolin, looks like hes probly pissin inniz pants but even though I scared im to shit he still wont pop the fuckin till and Im sweatin liken I never sweated before and Im screamin open the fuckin till or Ill fuckin kill you and then my finger slips (thats the honest truth it jus slips) and the sound is so loud I feel like my earsll never stop ringin and it feels like my wrist is gonna break and it takes me a second before I even notice that half his face is splatted behind im on the back wall, it smells like cooked meat and I see some big pink chunks of skin but mosely jus tricklin blood, whats most strange is theres this red mist in the air and his bloods even all over my face somehow, but I dont waste no time I grab the money and I run like fuck.
O1: I’m going to tell you about the U.S. Constitution, which gives you certain rights as an American citizen. I’m going to tell you what those rights are, so you’re aware of what you can and cannot do. Do you understand? You have the right to have a lawyer present. That lawyer can advise you prior to questioning, or during the course of any questioning. Are we understood? [Officer 2 interjects—inaudible] If you are unable to employ a lawyer, you have the right to have a lawyer appointed to counsel you prior to questioning, or during the course of any questioning. Do you understand those rights? Good. You have the right to remain silent. Any statement you make may be used against you in the court of law. Do you understand that? Good. You have the right to terminate the interview at any time. Do you understand that? Alright. You’ve heard this on television, haven’t you?
HM: Fucking straight.
O2: Alright, this is an audio recording, so we need you to speak up. We couldn’t hear any of that nodding. Do you understand your rights?
HM: Yes sir.]
His second victim wasn’t an accident. Harold Mundy knew that two murder victims were no more incriminating than one murder victim. When he left the gas station with a duffel bag full of wealth, he had a destination in mind. Flecks of skin and skull remnants clung to his denim jacket as he rushed through the parking lot. He used a $20 bill to wipe the blood from his face (he knew he had plenty more to lose).
Alan Bartlett, that motherfucker’s next, he thought, frantically turning the key in the ignition of his 1958 Plymouth.
He sped through residential streets, radiating the stink of a dead man’s remainders. He swilled whiskey from a bottle he kept in the glove compartment and played his favourite country & western station. He sang along occasionally, but his mind was elsewhere. He had plenty more ammo for that magnum, and he intended to use it.
He pulled into Bartlett’s driveway, washed his throat with whiskey and got out of the car.
When Bartlett opened the door, Harold clubbed him on the bridge of the nose. It caved like papier-mâché, spurting blood. Bartlett crumpled into himself and clutched at his dripping face. Harold clubbed him on the crown of the head; a loud crack echoed down the street.
Bartlett was terminated with a bullet to the temple. A scarlet geyser painted his doormat and Mundy strode away.
[O1: Bartlett still lived with his parents?
O2: Is that an affirmative or a negative?
O1: Yes or no?
HM: Oh. Yeh. Yeh, he did. Wasn’t too successful. [Laugh]
O2: How did you know him?
HM: We was kids together.
O1: You knew him from childhood?
HM: Yes sir.
O1: How young were you when you met Alan Bartlett?
HM: I don’t know, sir. Young as five or six, I reckon.
[Movement sounds. Voices inaudible over noise.]
O2: Were you friends?
HM: No sir.]
Mundy sprawls face-down across the lawn; his fate manifests itself through Revelation and soil. He presses his eyes into the earth, a heretic disarmed, seeking another order in manicured grass. He finds himself reflecting on childhood: Catholic sermons on crisp Sunday mornings, blaring television serials and lonely comic book evenings in his bedroom. Digging his fingernails into the fertilizer, he screams himself silent. He has accepted something unspoken by the time the police arrive.
After performing the required ritual, Mark sat at his desk under a lamp’s orange glow. He began to scribble verse that made him tingle, bleeding lines together with dexterous precision. [a reference to the “etymology of death” remains unexplained; critics suspect a lack of technique] Autobiography became prose-poetry under the guise of a lean narrative. Words became kinetic. [critics take umbrage to his candor] Mark sucked a line of white powder into his brain. Energized, he wrote the majority of a potboiler novel full of pagan connotations. [this trans-genre masterpiece owes credit to Wōđanaz more than anything] Germanic superstition pumped through his arm and flowed into his fingertips; feverishly, he sketched the architecture of a tome unlike anything ever written. After some time, paper became insufficient for the forces he channelled. Vitality exploded from his pen and submerged the room in blackness. Whispers flitted through his subconscious. [critics refer to self-indulgence] The whispers were replaced by damp, bestial panting. Despite the darkness, Mark knew what he was facing. [mythology has no place] Manuscripts were crushed under the weight of unseen hoofs. He shrunk away from unseen claws. He understood this event: his deity had grown impatient. Shuddering helplessly, he prepared himself for the end. He realized his work would never be read.