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March 29 2018

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The Boxer

Fred lived in a box. It was a nice box. Inside were three smaller boxes, one where Fred slept at night. In the box where Fred slept was a smaller box where he washed, used the toilet, and scraped the hair off his face. Also in his box was a light box that showed other boxes.

Fred had a box outside that moved him back and forth to a huge box on the outskirts of town. Twice a day, five days a week, for an hour at a time, Fred sat in his box inching along a giant swath of concrete with thousands of other inching boxes.

When Fred got to the big box on the outskirts of Boxville, he parked his box with the other boxes and went inside the big box. Inside the big box were hundreds of smaller boxes, one with Fred’s name. Fred went inside this box and punched numbers into a smaller box. Fred had a very tiny box in his pocket which he looked at constantly. Sometimes he played a little game on it where he sorted boxes.

One day when Fred got to the big box outside of Boxville, he took a wrong turn inside the big box. In a panic, Fred found himself lost in a maze. He staggered about, frantically looking for his box. But he couldn’t find it, so he punched a hole in a box. He didn’t know what box he had punched a hole in because all he could see were boxes. He imagined he was punching his way out of all the boxes back to his cozy little home box. When Fred was exhausted from smashing boxes, he sat down and took his tiny box out of his pocket. He sorted some boxes.

A couple of boxes came by and put Fred in a bigger box that delivered him into a huge box on the other side of Boxville. There, they took away Fred’s tiny box; they put him in a smaller box like the one he slept in, only this one had a big hole in it.

Outside the hole, there was a tree. In the tree was a bird. The bird was singing.

And Fred wept.

March 24 2018

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The electric rhythm I found in my own robotics became a chanting religion.

I found God through music
In the thrum of nature
In the simple things 
It’s obvious

There is order and beauty in the chaos and madness. I don’t know what it all means exactly. Only that it’s beyond my intelligence. I’m happy there’s a resonant pattern and intelligence greater than me. That I am connected, to you, to this, us. It makes me happy that I can hunt down God and devour her/him/this and they can devour me. We. Wheee! 

This communion is a freedom of being that acts like a kind of window where we can sail free from the jail of our sweet little mind. 

February 23 2018

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When my grandfather came home from World War II he had nightmares. He dreamed he was still fighting the Japanese, but in the trees behind our farmhouse. He was only 17 when he enlisted and had never been out of the county. Six weeks later in was in the middle of the wild blue Pacific on a destroyer in the Battle of Midway. He fought on through Okinawa and the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Years later, my father woke us up screaming. I ran into my parents’ room. My dad was twisted up in the bedsheets, on the floor, sobbing wildly like a lost child. He was gone by breakfast time. Mom said he was sick. That’s when she told us about Vietnam and how dad dreamed, just like his father had, of fighting the enemy in the woods behind our house. I remember walking in those trees later, clutching my BB gun. I eyed the old rusted farm equipment and wondered. We visited dad in the VA until he eventually came back home. Only to awaken us again and again.

I never had to go fight in a war. I went to college, moved to the city and got a decent job. A few years ago dad had a stroke and passed away. Last summer mom broke her hip and we moved her into an assisted living facility. We sold the farm so there was plenty of money to see that mom had her own little apartment and was well taken care of.

Before I left, I went back to the farm and buried my father’s and my grandfather’s guns in the grove. A few were probably worth some real money, but I wanted to put them to rest. I was tired of guns.

Burying them became a strange comforting ritual. There is a rhythm in digging a grave. I dug the hole deep and began to imagine and slipped into a dream. I was planting a new kind of crop for a new kind of world. We’d found an alien machine and used it the wrong way. The technology wasn’t for destruction and killing, but for creation. It was all one big mistake. It was well after midnight when I finally covered the hole and lay on top of it, exhausted. I was overcome as I looked up at the silent giant trees and imagined my father’s and grandfather’s fear and horror. It was so peaceful now. I hoped they’d found peace. And perhaps that something wild and new would grow.

The farm’s new owners cut down most of the trees. They built a giant orange storage facility for people to hoard all their excess junk in.

Last week mom fell again and had to have surgery on her hip. I drove out to the old farm. The house is still there but covered with shitty looking vinyl siding. There are two long rows of storage units. It looks like a factory farm. All but a small bunch of trees in the very back corner had been cut down.

I parked and walked around the back. There was a young mom with her child. She was trying unsuccessfully to squeeze a large cardboard box into her little Toyota while wrangling her 3 yr old. “Here, let me help,” I said and grabbed the box. The child made its escape into the underbrush of leftover trees.

“Jacob!” the mom yelled, chasing after him. I folded the flaps of the box and slid it snugly into the back seat.

“Oh put that down,” the woman said. I turned around. The child emerging from the bush, holding an odd large red flower. It was probably the wind but the petals seemed to flutter like wings and for a second I thought it was a bird trying to fly away.

February 22 2018

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Upstream Melody

After the accident, I started having dreams. I would see a teenage girl glowing a kind of pale red. She never said anything to me. I just saw her sitting alone in a hospital bed holding a telephone to her ear. Then I would hear a rush of air and an insect-like clicking and I’d wake up with the telephone in my hand, holding it tightly to my ear.

“We’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again. We’re sorry, you have reached a number…”

I told a couple of classmates about it. They thought I was making it up, but one of em’s uncle or aunt worked for Bell Telephone. He gave me a code that would automatically redial the number and call you back when the number was in service. I think the code was something like *66.

One day a few months later, the phone rang. I picked it up. The rush of air! The clicking! I dropped the phone, my whole body electric and my hair standing on end. I could see her face! Pale, blue eyes, blond. Her head was wrapped in bandages and blood was trickling into one of her eyes.

I slowly picked up the phone and brought it to my ear. I listened and listened. In the wind and the clicking sounds there seemed to be a pattern. A kind of melody.

After a while, I started talking. To the girl, I imagined. The more I spoke, the better I felt like I’d been holding my breath since my accident and had finally let it out.

Every night I dialed the number and heard the rush of clicking air. I talked and talked. I told her about my accident and how my mother had been killed. And how I missed her and how I blamed myself and how scared and alone I was. I’d never talked to anyone else about this. Just her.

Sometimes, I’d just sit and listen to the whooshing of the wind and the clicking melody. On the eleventh day, I dialed the number and got the old message.

“We’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service…”

I cried myself to sleep that night. I’d never felt more lost and alone.

Several years passed. I was in high school in a new town and lived in a new foster home. I was in a school play and the girl who played the lead was in a very serious accident and the play was postponed. She suffered a skull fracture and had to be airlifted to the city 70 miles away. I didn’t know her that well, she was more of an acquaintance.

After a few weeks, she was released from the hospital and returned to school a few days after that. Play rehearsal resumed. She ran up to me on the first night and hugged me.  “You called me every night,” she said. “I was so scared and alone and you listened to me.”

February 09 2018

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Little notebooks that fit in my back pocket.

February 02 2018

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The Existential Detective

I spent 20 years writing a mystery so mysterious that it disappeared as I wrote it.

I was in front of the hotel across the street, in the car, on a stakeout. The job was to take pictures of the adulterous lovers. I snuck behind the hotel trying to get a better angle but wandered into the forest taking pictures of birds in the light of the full moon.

I’d snapped off most of the roll when heard a woman scream. I ran to where I thought it was coming from, but I couldn’t find her. I couldn’t find anything. All night I ran in circles, deeper and deeper in the woods until I became hopelessly lost.

Eventually, I found a stream and followed it to a river. I followed the river to the desert. Just before the endless expanse of sand, I saw a gas station café. A sign said it was the last place for gas or water for 112 miles. I crawled inside and collapsed in a booth. I ordered a large ice water. The waitress brought me a telephone. My client was on the other end.

“Did you get the pictures?” he asked.

“I did,” I said. “I’m just waiting for them to develop.”

After I hung up the phone, the two lovers walked in. They sat down across from me. They ordered apple pie a la mode and coffee. They giggled and fed each other as they planned their escape. I noticed a feather in the woman’s hat. She turned to me, nodded and smiled.

I sat sipping my water until they left. I hitched back to my car and called my client. He met me later and paid my fee. I gave him the envelope and he flipped through the pictures I’d taken. He turned them upside down, sideways and even looked at the back of them. It was as if he’d never seen a bird in the moonlight.

“Is this some kinda joke?” he asked.

“The conditions weren’t great,” I said, “but I think they’re quite lovely.”

Then I showed him the new shoulder holster I’d gotten for my .45 and he got all weird and left in a hurry.

I gave the money and the pictures to the Audubon society.

February 01 2018

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Let Us Pray

A huge orange monster attacked the capital city. He crashed in right in the center of town and plopped down on the capitol building. The citizens were terrified but the government officials reassured by saying the monster was contained and they could control it. Just remain calm and it’ll go away. Eventually.

Every now and again, the monster would tear open a city bus and shake the innocent commuters into its cavernous mouth. Or it would smash a hospital or library.

Folks out in the country thought this was hilarious. To them, the city was full of corrupt politicians, drug addicts, smug liberals and immigrants. They thought the monster would level the whole place and that would be the end of all that sinning.

Just like Sodom & Gomorrah.

January 27 2018

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January 26 2018

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Illustration from Colour, a handbook of the theory of colour - 1900 - via Internet Archive

We forgot
We lost something somewhere
We ran over it in our endless rush
to get wherever we needed to be

And now we are here
and everything is shit

Did we betray
Did we forget
the one thing we needed

It’s not too late, ya know
It’s never too late
That’s the magic
of life and love

Let it crash into you
Let it drown you
Let it all coast to a stop
in the clang of horns and shouting

Sit in the traffic jam of your endless failure
Weep because you are love

It’s not too late
never is
on this journey
in this life
in this weird struggle
to stop struggling
and live.

January 18 2018

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When I was 11 years old I had to go door to door and witness to my fellow human beings the power and glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My foster family made all their foster kids do this. That is until the Charlie Anders incident.

The residents whose doors I knocked on were generally pretty nice. Or they didn’t answer the door. Younger people usually said they were busy, “Praise the Lord,” and thanked me, and closed the door. A few were weird and suspicious. I liked to pretend they were Satanists or demons. The old folks would invite me in. They’d offer me a soda, or cocoa if it was cold. Then we’d sit and chat about all sorts of old people stuff. The old ladies would pump me for gossip, or prattle on about their terrible kids and grandkids. I’d nod solemnly, tearing my way through a plate of assorted cookies. The old guys would show me some oddity, a moose head or a blood-spattered flag they’d captured in some war. Old guys never had much for snacks. Maybe some hard candy.

All told, it wasn’t a bad racket. After one old gal gave me $5, I realized I could get other old timers to cough up a few bucks too. For the ministry. I liberated a box of small prayer books from our church and would show them the cover that was a picture of Jesus knocking on a door. I’d say,“We are supposed to sell these for a $5 donation, but I want you to have one for being so kind me.” Most of ‘em were good for a few bucks.

One old guy I visited regularly lived all alone in his mother’s giant house. Jerry’s mother had died years ago. He was in his 50’s, wore bib overalls, and combed his gray hair like a little boy. He showed me a framed picture he kept on his dresser of his mother in a casket. I shamelessly studied it, while Jerry sat bolt upright, grinning, wide-eyed, cocking his head quickly side to side like a little bird. Later, he took me out back and showed me his skinning shed. It smelled bad and was full of animal pelts. Muskrat, coon, possum, and one he claimed was a Bigfoot. All their carcasses were hanging in there too. They looked like baby monsters with their faces flayed off and their teeth exposed. The odor reminded me of a really strong cheese, moldy books, and something else. I thought it was awesome.

I went to see Jerry almost every week. I developed my rounds and regularly hit up my favorites. Jerry always gave me a Squirt soda and three Oreo cookies, and I’d read him a passage from scripture. One week I read about how when Jesus died, Mary and the disciples went to see his body but he wasn’t there. He had risen.

Jerry laughed and said,”He wasn’t risen. They ate him.” When I made a face, Jerry said, “What do you think communion is?” With that, he popped the top off an oreo and ate the filling. He laughed.

Jerry sold his animal pelts and he dabbled in other things. In his basement he had a full-blown mad scientist laboratory with jars of weird specimens. He had animal brains and eyeballs, coiled snakes, a two-headed kitten, and almost every animal skull imaginable. He was also trying to teach himself taxidermy. The man seemed perfectly harmless and I was always too excited to feel afraid of him.

That fall I went to stay with another foster family on the other side of town. The kid who replaced me was little Charlie Anders. Charlie was two years younger than me, a shy, pale kid who was always sick. Charlie didn’t do so well in the door-to-door Christ business.

When he went missing, a massive manhunt ensued. They found his body after two weeks. It had been packaged in boxes, stored in Jerry’s house. They also found human bones from several other people never identified.

The strange thing is, after hearing about Charlie I felt sorry for Jerry. I really liked the guy. He was funny and kind. Plus, he’d never even touched me. I never felt weirded out by him.

However, I was overcome at Charlie Anders’ prayer service. His little gold coffin was closed - for good reason. But I wanted to see his body so I hid behind a curtain in the funeral parlor and waited until everyone else left. In the silent altar light, I snuck up to the coffin. I stood in front of it, my heart pounding in my ears. I cracked open the lid, little by little, until I could see the coffin was empty.

January 12 2018

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Artist Joan Cornella


December 29 2017

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Virgil Finlay


December 24 2017

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Happy Holidaze!

I spent a lot of holidays alone when I was younger. I remember walking around alone on Christmas eve, early evening, the world silent with snow. I would look at all the warm lit up houses. The families inside, eating dinner, washing dishes, opening presents. I would be overcome with melancholy and feel sorry for myself through New Years.

It took me a few years to come in from out of the cold and share in the holiday cheer with family and friends. I do remember one Christmas dinner with an ex-girlfriend’s amazingly dysfunctional family. I was washing some dishes just to get away from the madness for a few minutes. The hot water had steamed up the bottom of the cold window. I saw a boy slowly walking on the sidewalk, alone as I had once been on Christmas eve. I motioned to him and he stopped. I mouthed the words and I could see him shrug, uncertain of what I was trying to say. I wanted him to know, so I scrawled my message in the fogged window. I realized I needed to write in in reverse. REDRUM!

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Saturday Night Thoughts While Getting Arrested At A Prayer Service

The truth is, no one gives a damn about you. It’s OK. They don’t give a shit about me either and I’m fucking fabulous. Actually, I used to think I was a big deal, but it turns out, I’m just a mop closet full of light wearing a monkey suit.

I pretend to be too high-brow to watch TV, but the truth is I can’t handle it. I get really upset about sitcoms. I’ll get so embarrassed I have to get up and leave the room. Happens to me in reality too, but I can’t just step out into another dimension. Oh sure, I could, but I’m a sucker for punishment. I must enjoy my own pain. It’s better than nothing, I guess. If only life had commercials breaks…

Maybe it does?! Last night at a party I felt like everyone was trying to pitch me TV shows and phone apps. I wound up hiding under a bed with a cat and a Mexican take-out menu. I ordered the tacos. The cat went bonkers and got the chimichanga. You shoulda seen it. It was bigger than the cat.

December 22 2017

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December 21 2017

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When I was a young punk I was always broke and routinely stole from my places of employment. If it was a convenience store, I’d palm small items, cigarettes, or a few bucks here and there from the till. Once in awhile, I’d get desperate and go for a slightly bigger score. I once stole engineering books from the college bookstore. I gave them to my buddy and he sold em back to the store during the annual buyback. We made a few hundred bucks.

The one place I never stole from was a small specialty grocery store that was mainly a butcher shop. The two guys that started the place were left handed so they hired left handed butchers only. That’s the way the machines were set up. They had five left-handed butchers on the payroll.

One night the cops found a body in a hotel room across the street. The stab wounds clearly indicated a left-handed perpetrator. The case went unsolved. But it made an impression. I never stole a nickel from that joint.

December 19 2017

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Ya know when ya get older and you realize that you’re not as cool as you thought you were, but now you’re too old to do much about it? You’re never gonna be in great shape or get any prettier. You’re not gonna be rich so no one will even pretend for you.

Well, some of you might this sad or something, but it’s really awesome. Cuz now we’re free. No more fantasizing about some weird preprogrammed societal BS. Now we can get ugly and go live in the woods like a coven of electric witches. Talk about last night’s dreams to a murder of crows and run around screaming nude in the woods as fast as we can.

It’s time to get fucking real cuz we can see Death’s house and it’d be nice to make a little racket first. Let’s enjoy our own madness and this carnal form. Hmmm…. is Death flying a red kite?

Reminds me of an Issa poem.

That gorgeous kite
rising above
the beggar’s shack

December 15 2017

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December 08 2017

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Autochrome, Thomas Shields Clarke, ca. 1910

Old Mcdonald had a Farm

The farmers were disappearing. I can’t remember if it was before or after the bees started dying.

The sad, fairly simple chain of events was easy to trace from beginning to end. The farmers were broke. Most were forced into increasingly desperate chemical measures to wring every last cent out of the earth. Every year they would produce a higher yield, but the markets paid them less money. Eventually, they found themselves selling their harvests at a loss. They found themselves in a dark corner and, one by one, they disappeared back into the earth. Victims of a strange famine of greed.

Meanwhile, in town, everyone was moving into 8x8 foot hovels that provided one cot, free wi-fi and 59 cent double cheeseburgers.

At my father’s funeral, I saw the last bee I can remember seeing. My father had taken his monthly dosage of painkillers in one night along with a box of wine. The next morning, when all the snow had melted they found him dead in an oak tree still clinging to a large branch overlooking the back 80-acre field. It had been fallow for over a year, but I like to imagine that with a head full of pills and cheap red wine that my father imagined the corn as eight feet tall and dancing in the wind. The tassels full of bees and the birds singing one last song.

At the cemetery, the priest was droning on with a half-hearted eulogy when suddenly he stopped. There was a bee buzzing around the casket. We’d been told that all the bees within the tri-county area were gone for good. We all watched quietly as the bee landed on the casket and disappeared under the lid.

That night I dreamt my father’s casket was a hive. His body had turned into golden honey, buzzing with new life. I woke up crying, certain that somehow he’d save us. I kept waiting to see a honey bee as if it were a sign, but I never saw one again. Not yet, anyway.

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