Monday, May 31, 2010

Dogmatic Law

And ye, it came to pass that the Fellow became Steward of the palace, that heavenly kingdom so situated above the clouds and with the Divine miracle of Central Air. Humble he was, wearing nothing about the feet so that he could be constantly be in the divine presence of the carpeting, the linoleum, and the holy wood so-laminated that the Fellow would streak across it as did Tom Cruise before him in Risky Business.
And the Lady did say to him, "Guard well my kingdom in my absence, for I fly to realms of heady knowledge to convene with wisdoms great and powerful. I entrust in you the sanctity of this place".
And there was love in his heart that day as she ascended into a yellow carriage of brilliantly illuminated splendor (for the foglights had been installed). And he did lie in the bed, removing his socks to again touch the august glory of the firmament- the carpeting, the linoleum, and the holy wood so-mentioned as laminated.
But lo, a Despoiler was about the lands, slothful and cruel. With cloven paws and an arrogant parasol as a tail, he but basked in the radiance of his own glory, tracing his lineage back to the ancient clan of Shihtzu beasts.
But the Despoiler was in the kingdom, and the Fellow, not wishing to falter in his duties, did offer comfort and fine feasts. For a time, there was peace, but as foretold, that era came to a close some hours later, when the Despoiler befouled the firmament with his essence.
The Fellow, not wanting to re-don his flipflips and kneesocks, rose up in anger, hurling at the Despoiler a litany of abuse. But the Despoiler, above the petty threats of the Fellow, stared blankly on. The Fellow, again, not wishing to be negligent in his tasks, grovelled and mopped as he was want to do. For a time, there was contentment, but again as foretold, such things do not last longer than sitcoms, and there would be untold suffering abound.
A time of great thunder approached, and the Fellow, secure in the sanctity of the place, wavered not as the sky bubbled with anger, roaring at the arrogance to build a tower such as this and not sublet. The Fellow stood his ground, and turned once more to his studies. This was not well with the Despoiler, who instead took to the highest point in the realm that he could reach-- on top of the fellow. Subjugated, humiliated, the Fellow was the Despoiler's pillar as the latter shivered with rage, grimacing and bellowing at the thunder. Neither would relent, and the Fellow, diligent to his burden, muttered again to himself through the night.
Tired of their tirade, the storm left to other parts, and the Fellow, weak and deprived of rest, collapsed gratefully as the Despoiler dismounted for its own rest.
"I beg of you, Despoiler" said the Fellow, "Follow me to the gardens and expend your essence, for it cannot be spilled here, in this place."
But the Despoiler was very proud, and still rather miffed about the whole storm thing. Its cloven paws did not stray from the firmament, and the Fellow wearily resigned himself to the sheets.
It would not be long before the Fellow awoke with the start. The storm had returned to its adversary, the Despoiler, who glared angrily at the Fellow, conscripting him once more to the task of unwilling mount. But the Fellow, frankly less willing to put up with this shit, denied the Despoiler.
The foolishness of the Fellow was as great in magnitude as the fury and wrath of the Despoiler, who turned to the firmament in all his anger. The Fellow awoke once more to find the firmament desecrated beyond belief. The carpet befouled, the linoleum besmattered with filth, and the holy wood stained with vileness.
The Fellow wept, for he had been negligent in his duties. Against the might of the Despoiler, there was little reprieve. A great sadness filled his heart, as he turned from his studies to the comforts of the playwrites and muses of his imagination's theaters. The Fellow became enveloped in these musings, watching as the actors turned about on the stage. As if in a dream, a lofty being did turn his gaze onto the Fellow, and spoke in a harsh but powerful voice-- The Tucker.
"You doss cunt. You have forgotten yourself" said the Tucker, whose frail figure did not diminish his sense of command. "First time I've ever seen a massive poof overpowered by a smaller, more literal poof."
"But my Lord, I am but a servant, entrusted to the safety and protection of this place. I cannot hold against the Despoiler."
"Aye, ye winge-bag, not even the cacophony of your annoying voice would overpower the creature. But be not beholden unto him!" Thundered the Tucker, "For I, the All-Swearing Eye, shall kick so many shades of shit out of you that you'll be a whole new paint palette. Do yourself a bonny favor and discover you, a mere Fellow, has climbed the heady mounts of puberty and has grown a pair."
The Tucker was right, for when the Fellow placed his hands down his humble Jeans, he was met by the warming glow of courage, the overpowering if delightfully scented musk of which spurred him to action. The Fellow awoke with purpose, mustering himself for the task ahead.
Strange elixirs and ingredients were poured with foreign alchemy, implements were gathered from the far ends of the realm to combat the taint of the Despoiler. The Fellow stood, again bare-foot on the firmament, claiming his ground, defending his homeland.
For a time, there was great boistrousness, as the Fellow put himself and his alchemical'd tools to the firmament, renewing again the bounce of the carpet, the shine of the linoleum, and the proud sheen of the holy wood. The Despoiler watched as the Fellow moved with purpose through every cubit of space, marking the hallowed ground with purifying oils and lustrous pastes. Light shone once more through the realm, and for a time, it was good.
The Fellow had put down his tools, and had put himself to rest with a steaming bug of far-away Araby, and in his prosperity, grew blind to the sight of the Despoiler's encroaching presence.
Too late, the Fellow realized that he had erred most greviously, discovering that the Despoiler had befouled again all around them. Driven to his knees, the Fellow uttered a curse to the heavens-
"O most foul of beings! O horrid of sights! You who dumpeth under my place of feasting, within my sanctum of rest, my basket of linens runneth over with thy taint that runneth under and kind of beneath in this your Genenna, your Armageddon."
The Despoiler turned his piteous gaze on the Fellow, and with a silencing snuff, rolled over on his belly for tummy-rubs.
"No more, I say!" cried the Fellow, who turned with zeal to the thrice-tainted firmament. "No more!"
The Despoiler was unimpressed, and broke into a grin, knowing the futility of the Fellow's plight. All hope looked lost, when once again the words of the Tucker flew into the Fellow's heart- "Jaysus Christ, you pull yourself together or else I'll throttle you so hard you'll be talking like Freddy Mercury caught in his zipper."
With purpose, the Fellow rose from his obeisances, and grabbed at the Despoiler with all his might.
"Go and seek the confrontation with the heavens and the skies that you so desire!"
And the Fellow did fling the creature with all his might. The Despoiler did soar, panting with rage, before realizing escape velocity was unlikely without continuing propulsion. Bellowing his last, the Despoiler plunged earthwards to the asphalt with glorious liquidity. Still on the ramparts, the Fellow breathed again, filling his lungs with the Central Air, turning to feast on the grapefruits and microwaveable meals that awaited him, the triumphant man. The voice of the Tucker again filled his ears "Ah, don't get so full of yourself, wee man. Time yet for you to actually start growing hair in places of manhood."
And for a time it was good, and when the Lady returned again, bathed in redolent splendor and heady perfumes, the Fellow embraced her and held her close.
"You have done better than any other, my dear" she said. "My firmament is whole and pristine, as evinced by the brilliant fluff of the carpet, the quiet effervescence of the linoleum, and the shine on the holy wood so mirror-perfect that I can see up your trousers."
They did embrace again, the Fellow grateful to retire to an evening of headboard-damaging wholesomness. The Lady smiled at him, smirking ever so slightly. "And don't look now, but I think there's a bit of a puddle over there."
With horror and dread, the Fellow turned against the Lady's wishes, seeing that the holy wood, beautiful enough to eat off of, was again befouled. A heavy breath, the last he wanted to have, escaped him as his eyes fell upon the culprit. Untouched, unscathed, the Despoiler sat as he always did, lolling his tongue and rolling his eyes with horrible glee. Turning on his back, the Despoiler beckoned as always, ravenous for the comforts of tummy-rubs.
There would always be a firmament, a place to put one's bare feet, a place from which to know the unchanging presence and eternal comfort of its support. So it was the Despoiler, and for a time, for all time, there would be.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


She has a straight-razor tattooed on her forearm, the first thing you notice when she dismounts the bike, despite her sweating, heaving form that would collapse had she not just undone the courier bag strapped around her. A regular at the café, she signals for her regular café only to glare with shark's eyes at the embryo of a barista who at first uncomprehendingly but now with more substantial intimidation buckling his knees, stares helplessly back. Stares at the straight razor tattoo.
The razor itself is open and obtuse, a small but visible rose carved into the handle. Sweat drips and canalizes from the slightest of furrows down its blade as she wipes a sticky black lock from her forehead.
The barista consults with more senior staff who roll their eyes at him and his little squeaks about the bike being in the store, about a patron dampening the upholstery with a certain unhygienic magnitude. Subtlety, while not his strong suit or a factor in the volume of his voice, fails to distract her from the contents of her side-pocket, an obscure tome, there mere cover of which gives less a poverty of fancy so much as a bittersweet richness of fact. It bleeds post-it notes, and she prepares another pad, ripping each into smaller segments arranged along the fingers of the hand that does not turn the book. Unnoticed, she's already laid out exact change on the table, no tip. China rattles as the midnight-black Java is put down beside her, with certain apologies muttered by a barista as inaudibly as his pride would want.
Look at her, rail-thin with exertion, ponytail out of the mess of the rest, a ring around her eyebrow that clinks whenever she pushes up her glasses. Neat nails trimmed to their beds by idle picking, that is by tooth or claw. She rubs her shark's eyes in the pre-caffeine haze, again flashing an ebony straight-razor. Her lips, the type that pour out of a jutting lower jaw, mutter the silent litany of text, pausing only to be flicked at by a page-herding thumb. Half-lidded eyes are wholly on the text, and the rest of her works at an automatic pace.
Stare, be entranced, lick your lips with the sudden burst as she sweats over you from equally occupying tasks, anxious as much for exertion as to keep pace and delay the inevitable. Her head thrown back, her shoulders shuddering. Her stirring in the morning in a bathrobe, her fingers tracing frost in a winter's pane. Her growing old to your left, as you grow old to her right, side by side on a patio nowhere in particular. Nobody else looks that way, nobody ever will. There is a fond little moment, a synchrony, your uniqueness, her uniqueness, coming together in a crescendo of thought and would-be memories. A little ball of yarn for you to bat around your belfry as your feet too work at an automatic pace to bring you home again smelling of coffee.
Years later, you cut yourself shaving, the thin dribble of blood demanding attention and treatment. But you're useless for at least a few moments, cut apart by a straight-razor girl in a café.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cathedrals of knowledge, he snorts. How antithetical a notion. But even he must admit the notion to be relatively true: the roots of literacy in the West were carefully squeezed from the roots of religion. Such a pity it had to be retarded so early on by its fanatical devotion to the backwards foundations.
Still, just looking at the Gothic-inspired walls filled one with a sense of august passion for knowledge, even at the expense of being confused with the Augustine piety of the faith-hungry. There must have been some realization at some point when a learn-èd man of letters came forth and pointed out that building universities in the style of buildings constructed during the Dark Ages was at least moderately problematic.
Nossir, not so much.
He still giggled and goggled at the sight of ancient-era architecture, however it may or may not have once stood for historical precedent in its ivy-wrapped brick-chipped exterior, peppered by air conditioning units, antennae, floodlights, or artsy banners. Amusement came as much from the clash as from the appreciation of the novel thought's flourishing under stodgy clay and mortar(boards).
The Professor could only look back as earnestly into his office. Rather than the uniform backdrop of necessary and authoritative identical hard-bound volumes arranged not by subject but by color; aesthetics and image over argument and attestations. A depressing way to collect knowledge. His own collection was a perhaps-iconoclastic arrangement of paperbacks, a colorful array of diverse bindings arranged meticulously by subject, author, purpose.
Then line-up of student applicants for assistantships paid credence enough to such minor academic irreverence as to have a broad patterning in his own little library. Modesty might lead one to overlook a further flattering feedback from the gamut of students learning under him. Maybe modesty was a unique characteristic among his colleagues, too!
But enough self-adulation. Interviews to conduct, research to be done, and, ah, minds to mould. He brushed back a lock of graying hair, and opened the door to admire the equally admiring assembly of CV-bearing neonates.


The glass of red wine, the smoldering cigarette in the ashtray-- positive ID on any particular poetically inclined individual. A bit of a long shot from the Sartre-era clove cigarettes and vermouth, but still--
Distractions! Her nostrils flare with the anticipation of genuine arousal, genuine work, as her fingers glide across the keyboard without productive pressure. An inspirational glug of the Chianti follows, chasing whatever potential for creativity there is to be swallowed.
The window's open, of course, otherwise Mom would shit a brick at the cigarette smoke in the ashtray. Bad enough that Grandma did the whole Towering Inferno thing by falling asleep with a cigarillo gripped between a thoroughly disgusted pair of teeth on the 19th floor of a shitty apartment building. Moral of the story? Mom will get the nearest belt if she so much as gets a hint of the precious nicotine.
Shit, she thinks, flexing her fingers. So much to write, so little to say. Essays to write, CVs to embellish, and sweet little nothings to send to the over-sexed and over-spent boy-toys that litter the social scene. Boost some egos, make some connections, keep alive the chance that next weekend might be as fruitful as the last. A bunch of little dicks, leaping forward to the vague hint of wetter climates.
Right-- except for one.
She quivers a little at the hips, remembering how he cradled her with one hand beneath her head, and another on her breast, mounting her, riding her, bringing her to the crest. Oh, yes. The ones who genuinely gave a shit were always worth the top dollar beneath the sheets. The Chianti ratifies that statement, giving her a pink flush to compliment the general heat. Legs are rubbed together with a fervor of ostensible wholesomeness. Nipples taut, the rest with a distinct blush, she is still totally lost and without much to say. One nice night out of a hundred-- no, a great night. One to remember.
She clicks through, taking another drag on the cigarette, blowing the rest out the window- There was bigger, there was better, for sure, but there wasn't anything else quite like him.
She sits back, having discovered his email on a post-it that she's decorated with little hearts. Shit. What a blow to her cred. But worthwhile. Yes, he is.
She sits back, blowing imaginary smoke rings from the cigarette that's no longer there, thinking of something to say.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


She sits, for there is little else she has the energy for, as it is enough to keep the thin fingers in place to hide her face from the sun. It still peeks through, too weak to scatter the dust in the folds of a skin thin as tissue paper. Her eyes can still make use of the light, but it seems dimmer every day.
The light has faded many things around her as much as inside her, she feels. Fortunate, perhaps, that the photographs do not fade as quickly as the memories do, the increasingly sepia tone of the black-and-white glossies holding time as it once was, when it was at its happiest and on her side. She rubs at her ring finger, touching sterling silver but not feeling its presence so much as a void. Absent thoughts of a husband now absent before his time (and before hers) bring the wayward hand back to its place over her face. It becomes as difficult to remember him as to realize she's forgetting him more and more each day as the sun fades this too into mere background noise.
Here there's background noise enough-- the scuttles and ruminations of undersexed and underappreciated widows who comprise the home's backgammon clique. Even if she cared to remember their names, she can't bring herself to remember more than the long-ago past that evanesces into the fade with disconcerting haste. Visitations from dwindling relatives offer brief warmth, though it seems too much a sort of mutual humoring, smiles and handshakes held up to still their fear of sharing her fate. So she sits, sleeping and thinking of that end sometimes longed for. Or at the least, a dream that will linger upon waking.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The hand that draws itself

Two weeks. Fuck. Two weeks.
A lifetime of lifetimes, yet to the world at large, it’d only been two weeks.
Two weeks he’d been haemorrhaging caffeine, sweating spinal fluid out of every pore in an attempt to pull his mind into point fine enough to give simple literature a good shiv in the kidneys. Two weeks of filling whole pages with single repeats of expletives, or whatever verbal equivalent of diarrhoea his useless mind could drip out.
There was only so much legally available stimulant; so little that would be genuinely useful in generating anything resembling an original idea. Every waking moment, filled with (mostly) hallucinated blankness.
Paranoia hadn’t so much seeped in by this point so much as it had gushed and spurted obnoxiously-
“I’ve had a stroke, that’s it. My prefrontal cortex is turning into Swiss cheese from some kind of encephalopathy. I have cerebral malaria.”
He saw himself sinking into a depression of idiocy, awaiting a white straightjacket and the terribly un-PC red rubber ‘Retard’ stamp on all his health forms. “I have early-onset Alzheimer’s. Pick’s Dementia. I’m schizophrenic.”
Find something unique to say, stretch it until it’s taffy on the paper.
Write an original sentence.
He paused in a facsimile of concentration, writing that- “Write an original sentence.”. No, not an original sentence. NO- even worse- meta-fiction was the ultimate hackery. Fuck! FUCKING DELETE!
Stick with it, his atrophied writing muscles seemed to moan. Screw it.
Yes- hack writer. All there for him to write about. Yes.
He stretched, cracking his knuckles for the billionth countable time in the past—the past---
“Two weeks-“ he began. “Fuck. Two weeks….”

Sunday, May 9, 2010


As we inch closer and closer to Southland, that delectable place where the pages curl under the constant assault on aridity, it becomes so much plainer, that warped image of the world. Look at the irrepressible verdure, the choking vines that rise dominant above even the highest trees. Here you will find that nature has found herself a kind of venomous attitude to her competitors, who slink back to drums of moonshine and the comfort of splendid rocking-chairs. Fine moss covers even the quick-moving, almost to the point of actively threatening and punishing slowness. The air is so thick with water that spores float from spot to spot in search of a more stable roost, before being overtaken by competitors.

Nature is surely no slouch, for it cannot afford it. It is the men instead who, having been beaten back, lick their wounds in the damp comfort of their homes. They have eked out only that so-desirable resting point that has come at a cost so great that the mere act of venturing outside has become a coming-of-age ritual, upon which presumable plumes of hair erupt from chests, and bosoms become plump with fertile advertisement.

Truly, the air is turbulent, and every house on land is a veritable house on the river, slowly drowning in a torrent of humidity and hazy heat (to say nothing of the creeping ferns and impetuous grasses that fall upon the unwary attempt to organize against the swampy chaos).

Tilt your head (though beware not to have it fill with water), and take in the confident drawl that surrounds you. Breathe in the hops and the salt. Touch the thin layering of sweat that clings to every pore of every surface, be it skin, stone, or wood. Everyone exists in exhaustion from the fight. No wonder, then, of the smooth curves and grins that come as the sun wearily falls in the West, and people tip their hats to the end of the day. They can sleep as the night gives birth to a symphony of discord, setting the stage for the next living skirmish as the sun rises anew and challenges all to beat the heat for hours without rest. Southland lives and breathes and fights, and don’t you forget it.

What changes there are, when the lights go out. What wilts under the sun changes in the cool damp of the night, almost chasing in its search for return to heat. Red lights and blue notes fill the air, itself becoming an expressly proofed libation, which the eager mouths quaff and gasp in with every passing breath. Raucous, raucous, and ruckus bloom noisily as the night trickles in, a constant celebration of life after sunlight. Standing ovations are heard, and not just from the hoisted shirts and taut jeans, or from the constant raindrop-sound of bead necklaces thrown at every bared celebratory organ. Beer taps flow from brass fountains, patrons’ desire to consume in a piston-fury of bobbing throats fighting with the overt demands for the piston performance of other important areas. The night throbs, croons, and stands erect for all to enjoy.