Radio-free Lamp Ray

This frustration of motion
this inept spinning of my tangled web
all the deceptions we weave
all the arrows we sling
at ourselves
when there is no reason
and I am empty without her
as lovers fill the home
and I still spark the sunset
bewildered and alone

I come from a place not known
a high hill tucked far away
behind the sugar plants
and the factories
belching out babies
in bleached Red Radio Flyers
bleached by the sun
bleached by the burn of innocence aged
and I am an astronaut floating untethered
a radio-free lamp ray
looking for a light bulb to suck and swirl

I came upon a disillusion
a fair lady needing to escape
and I have the power at my foot
but I am empty and frayed
for love is a magic trick
something splayed secretly in the shadows
and I have knife points in my heart
slowly choking on the trickle
a scissor slice
an orange wave
salting the wound
and when I am brought down by Paris
will I ever be enough?

Where has my patience gone
where has the image in the mirror dissolved to
and the bottle keeps me warm
as I pace restlessly in a chill
and maybe when I meet God
I’ll just come out and ask her
when is love ever real?

So nothing ever works out as planned you see
winds up being just Gallo and me
my empty need
raining through the moon
sparks dripping off the razor’s edge
and me bleeding helplessly
until she comes to me
but my fate is drowning
so stop being so pained and jealous
but I can’t help the shiver inside
that nervous twitch of wonder
left adopted by the night sweats
so why don’t I just give in
and count all my blessings in disguise?

I am not an iron cross
I am not a thermostat
so what am I?
the unexplainable
the paintable tab in a ghost story
the sexed up frolic
on a smooth hardwood floor
come on
give me a moment
to explain my reckless stance
and I know I feel too much baby
broken clouds weep my name

I don’t understand
maybe I don’t need to understand
this ritual of disturbances
I just want to care

I could tell when I walked in the door
that I was motionless moving
some parade of wrecked divinity
caught off guard
by the sizzle frying my heart
an empty line
an empty space
a tent stake
forced through my handicapped resistance
I don’t want to feel the shock again
of another love left abandoned
just whisper to yourself
it’s all right
it’s just life
it will all end someday soon

So fuck this feeling game
it will never be the same
I’ll always be capsized
my soul is a hurricane
aimed directly at myself
and I am not some Wizard of Oz
with a magic touch and spit
my road isn’t yellow brick
I’m getting sick
in a Denver trash can
you can see how my madness wanes
then comes back again in waves
I’m just crazy about her
sticky needles in the haze
I’m just a camel with no Baghdad
a radio-free lamp ray
electrifying the endless sea.


The King of Genitalia Street (FOUR)

Author’s Note: This story contains mature content.

If I haven’t already told you, the full name placed upon me at birth is Everett Alexander Roane King. I don’t know why I have two middle names, but I think it has something to do with being born into wealth and that air of self-importance that surrounds it. I guess it doesn’t really matter that I have two middle names because I rarely use them, and why would I, unless I was in front of a judge or something.

My mother believes my name is very regal, like I’m a prince or something, which I’m obviously not. Although quite common, “even among the rubbish” as my father says, the family is quite proud of our surname — King. For them it exudes an impression of strength, leadership, advanced education, wealth, and royalty. In essence, it makes them feel okay about standing on the backs of others and wiping their muddy feet because their very name dictates it.

When Frost and I got back to the house with the baby supplies for Maine, Christmas music was softly piping out from some invisible space in the walls, even though it was after New Year’s. My family was standing around the giant marble island in the kitchen and they were sipping on highballs and chatting to each other while poor Eliza was scrambling around to get a simple supper prepared and delivered to the massive dining room table.

My mother lives for the holidays and makes that flavor last for as long as she can. She loves scented candles and now she had about half a dozen lit and scattered about the house. The entire place smelled of apples and cinnamon and the Three Wise Men after a long walk in the desert looking for baby Jesus.

“Oh, good, good, good,” my mother happily exclaimed, and she briskly clapped her hands together when she saw us come in with all the bags from the store. “Now that poor child can be properly cleaned and clothed and fed. Take it all upstairs, but please don’t wake Maine… And Eliza dear, you shall tend to the baby after dinner and dishes. Hmm?”

“I can help her, mother,” Emily interjected.

“Oh, come now, Emily. I’ve decided it’s not your responsibility to help the help,” and she drunkenly laughed. “And besides, that’s what we pay her for… To do things we tell her to do.”

Eliza tried to smile as she scrambled about the kitchen. “Yes mam. It’s fine. I would love to.”

Evelyn smirked at her daughter. “See, all I have to do is snap my fingers. Money makes all your wishes come true… Edward darling, would you make me another drink?”


The table was covered with platters of sliced meats and rare cheeses and artisan breads and bowls of different salads, and all kinds of perfectly cut veggies, condiments, and sauces and what not — a lot of the things I didn’t even know what they were. The Kings could even make sandwiches fancy. I took a seat at one far end of the table, opposite my father. My mother was to my right. Frost and Emily next to each other at my left.

My father took a gulp of his latest highball and cleared his throat. “Frost,” he said. “Would you lead us in prayer… I’d have my son over there do it, but I’m sure he’d screw it up. And God does not take kindly to screw ups.” His drunken eyes drilled into me like I was oil in the ground.

“Edward,” my mother scolded. “Spare the poor boy for one night.” Then for some reason she laughed like she didn’t care either way.

“I’d be honored,” Frost said, and he folded his hands and closed his eyes like a real phony before he started tapping his telegram off to Heaven. “Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us all together this evening to enjoy this bounty of delicious deli meats and fine breads. Bread not unlike your very son and our beloved savior broke with his disciples at the Last Supper down in the snug of Brooklyn, New York. They celebrated your wonders then, just as we do this night.”

I opened my eyes and looked around at all these fools falling for his unholy crap. I just shook my head, reached for a sip of my imported bottle of beer, and yawned before he continued.

“We are forever indebted to your boundless love and mercy. May you protect us, guide us, and wait to welcome us at those heavenly gates where we will cleave to your holy bosom to absorb the full effect of your eternal grace. Amen.”

“Amen,” they said in unison. I chewed on a carrot and for some reason thought about when I was a kid and rode my bike to the arcade in town to play pinball. I was never very good at it, but I loved the lights and the sounds. I don’t know why I remembered that just then. Maybe because I longed to escape the table and those dead souls around it.

My father unfurled his big cloth napkin of virgin white and tucked a corner of it in his shirt collar. “Thank you, Frost,” he said. “That was a fine prayer. A bit unusual, but fine nonetheless,” and he leaned forward with a fork to get himself some mesquite smoked turkey breast.

My mother slapped at his hand. “Ask for the platter to be passed, dear,” she growled. He ignored her command and plunged for the meat.

“It was my pleasure, sir,” the prick Frost replied. “God is very important to me.”

A laugh sloppily slipped from my guts, and everyone beamed at me.

“Was something I said funny?” Frost wanted to know.

I reached for some bread, sliced Black Forest ham, and some rich people mustard. “Not really. I just never took you for the religious type.”

“Is that so, Everett?” He chuckled and looked around the table at everyone as if saying watch what I’m about to do. “I guess you don’t know me as well as you think you do. You shouldn’t even try to figure me out because you may injure your small and struggling mind. But I’ll let you know that I happen to be a very spiritual person, among other things. I have a multi-faceted personality.”

“Frost took a semester of theology,” Emily added. “He feels architecture and religion are very connected. Why, just think of all the wonderful cathedrals in the world. I mean, they’re perfect examples of man and God coming together in the form of art and engineering. Wouldn’t you say, Frost?”

He threw some black olives into his mouth, chewed, annoyingly smiled, and said, “That’s right, honey. But let’s not forget who’s the expert.” He laughed and then bit into his roast beef sandwich. Then he turned and winked at my father.

“Let the man be the man, Emily,” my father said, nodding in Frost’s direction. “You’d be well-minded to follow in step behind this one. I’m assured he will lead you to many, many fine destinations in this world.”

Emily dabbed at her mouth with her napkin. “That’s all and well, daddy, but I do have a mind of my own, you know.”

“Of course, you do, dear,” my father answered, and he pushed himself away from the table and went off to the kitchen to fix himself yet another highball.

“Mother,” Emily said from across the table. “Are you going to let him keep drinking like that? What he said was very hurtful to me.”

My mother just looked at her and grinned. “Oh, Emily. You’re always so dramatic. Let your poor father drink himself into a coma. He does it nearly every night. We all know you are your own person, and we love you for it… Could you pass me the chilled beets?”


Later that evening, I was upstairs in my old room lying on the bed and staring out the window. The usual pastoral view of hills and trees was veiled in darkness. A quarter moon hung on an invisible nail among the stars. Its faint light highlighted the unruly movement of winter clouds.

I couldn’t sleep so I got my clothes back on and crept out into the hall. The house was quiet except for the faint sound of late-night television coming from below me. I went down the stairs. I walked through the half-darkness of the house, the lingering scent of the now snuffed holiday candles lingered in the air. I peered into my father’s den, his study. He was asleep in his favorite chair and aglow in the electric light of the television. I studied him for a moment and realized he looked like some crooked lump of an angel sitting there like that. He was my father and I loved him, of course, but I also hated him, probably because I felt like he hated me. I think that no matter how long he lives, I will never meet his approval. I suppose I have already given up on trying to do that a long time ago.

I suddenly decided I was hungry and went off to the kitchen to find myself a snack. I pulled the double doors of the massive high-tech refrigerator open and peered inside. The bright light hurt my eyes as I scanned the gross abundance of food and drinks. Then I thought I heard a noise coming from somewhere behind me. It was almost like the sound of unwanted animals scurrying around in a place where they shouldn’t be. I quickly closed the refrigerator doors to camouflage myself in a better form of darkness. I heard the noise again. Animals had gotten into the house for sure, I thought.

I moved slowly and quietly toward the four-season porch at the back of the house. It was mostly windows on the outside part of it and a small sliver of moonlight was leaking in. I crept closer to the shuttered inside entrance to the porch — wide French doors with multiple squares of glass to utilize all the natural light during the day. I peered in and saw figures moving in that familiar half-light. I thought at first it was Frost and Emily basking and dancing in the details of their own perfect lives, but as I focused, I realized it was Frost and my mother, and they were having sex.

They were both naked from the waist down and Frost was behind her, and he was roughly pushing himself against her as she was bent over an expensive indoor/outdoor patio chair. He had one hand on her hip and his other hand was tangled in her aging blonde locks and he was pulling on her like he was guiding a temperamental horse with the reins.

I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen and just watched as Frost and my mother went at it. Then my thoughts drifted to my father. Did he know? Did he care? I thought about Emily, too. I was certain she had no idea as she peacefully slumbered somewhere above me now. Then I wondered if this was the first time, but just the way they were going at it, they seemed experienced with each other’s bodies. And when my mother got up and then forcefully rode him as he sat in the chair, I concluded that they knew every intimate crevice and contour of each other. They were in perfect animalistic rhythm. I knew it was animals. The sounds of my mother’s muffled moans worked their way through the doors. I gritted my teeth and clamped my eyes shut. And then I started to feel really sick, and so I turned away and went back up to my room without even getting anything to eat. It took me a long time to get to sleep, and my dreams were corrosive and unrelenting.

TO BE CONTINUED

Read the previous part of this story HERE.


Hello, today I would like to talk to you about my favorite new television show

Adult Swim photo

Hello, like the title indicates, today I would like to talk to you about my favorite new television show. But before I tell you what it is, I just read that after three seasons, it’s been canceled. I am pissed!! Why oh why do they always cancel the good stuff and keep the crap going for like 17 seasons. It’s just like that show on Amazon Prime called Night Sky. You know, the one with Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons and they discovered the portal to another planet in their backyard. It was great. The story was great. The characters were great, and the finale of the first season was totally primed and pumped for a second season… oh, but no. They fucking cancel it – probably to make way for a show about a bunch of annoying surgically altered social media trendsetters who have drunken orgies on a tropical island followed by over dramatic talk sessions concerning their all-important feelings about shallow relationships. I commence puking.

The name of my favorite new television show that is now being canceled is Joe Pera Talks With You. It’s an Adult Swim product but I watch it on HBO Max because for some reason they have more of the episodes. Go figure. The more I watch the show the better it gets. It evolves perfectly and the addition of familiar, quirky characters throughout makes it fun to watch.

Joe Pera is essentially a nerdy, socially awkward, slow and soft-spoken middle school choir teacher (who can’t really sing for some weird reason) who talks about mundane, everyday topics but somehow makes them interesting in a strangely captivating way. In the first episode I watched, he talked about the importance of iron and other minerals found in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan. And that’s another reason I love the show – it takes place in Marquette.

“So,” you may say. Well, I say that Marquette is a pretty special place for me because my wife and I spent part of our honeymoon in the UP and we loved it. If you don’t know anything about Marquette, Michigan, it’s way, way up there, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior. It’s a great little town (Marquette is actually the largest city in the UP, population of about 20,000) and I get really excited when they show places I recognize and have been to.

Let’s enjoy this gallery of photos from our trip:

Ahhh shit! The pictures are on my Mac so I will have to come back to that. Sorry.

But back to the show. I don’t want to spoil too much for you, but you can kind of get a feel for what the show is about just by some of the titles of the episodes. Here’s a few I found in my research:

Joe Pera talks with you about beans

Joe Pera takes you to the grocery store

Joe Pera shows you his second fridge

Joe Pera takes you to breakfast

Joe Pera shows you how to pack a lunch

I’m still only in the first season, but my favorite episode so far is Joe Pera reads you the church announcements. It basically starts off with Joe at church (Catholic church) and he is tasked with going up to the front and reading the announcements. Well, a short while into it he goes off on this little rant about The Who and his favorite “new” song – Baba O’Riley (You know, the teenage wasteland song). It then flashes back to Joe doing dishes and the first time he hears the song on the radio. How has he not ever heard that song!? That’s funny. After that, he keeps requesting the song because he loves it so much and essentially doesn’t sleep for three days because all he’s doing is jamming out to Baba O’Riley, even with the pizza delivery guy and his sorta girlfriend who’s the school band director. It’s great stuff and prompted me to order (on CD, like Joe, so he can play it in his 2001 Buick, but I don’t have a Buick I have a Mazda 3) The Who’s 1971 classic Who’s Next. I actually had my wife order it because she has Amazon Prime and so I basically utilized the love of my life for free and fast shipping. I have a Who CD, but it’s wrapped up in the basement somewhere like a mummy and I don’t want to be bothered looking for it.

The timing of me watching that particular episode couldn’t be more perfect since I had just finished up my serial fiction piece Child of the Cabbage and made mention of Baba O’Riley in the final episode which you can read HERE if you want. (Shameless plug, I know).

So, yeah, even though I haven’t watched all the episodes, I’m pretty bummed the show has been canceled. But isn’t that life, though. The idiots make all the important decisions. It’s frustrating and heart breaking to say the least. Anyways, give yourself a little treat and check out Joe Pera Talks With You. It’s a nice break from the oftentimes shitty world we live in… And in the meantime, let me see if I can find those vacation photos from our honeymoon in Marquette. I know you’re excited about that.


BumBuna O’Brien and the Evolution Oven (End)

They brought the boat aground on the far side of the island where there was a small cove and a cold, soft beach. Pierre hoisted his supplies over his shoulder and BumBuna O’Brien carried the stone head of Saint Pedro. They made their way into the trees along a footpath worn down by Pierre over time as he came and went. BumBuna O’Brien looked up, and the tops of the trees seemed so very far away to him — the light of day could barely break in as the canopy was so thick.

“How far is it?” he asked Pierre.

“Not far. Is the head heavy? Do you need to rest?”

BumBuna O’Brien lied. “No. He’s just being restless in this bag.”

The path wound on and on, into the deepest parts of the island, and then the trees retreated a bit and the ground opened and that is where BumBuna O’Brien saw the crooked little and gray-washed island hovel, crooked and shiny like ice in the mist.

“I know it doesn’t look like much,” Pierre said as he set the sacks on the porch. “But it’s comfortable enough. Quiet and peaceful, too. That’s the way I like it.”

BumBuna O’Brien stepped onto the porch, but Pierre held him back with his large hand.

“I think you should leave the head outside. I don’t feel good about bringing that thing into my house. It might be bad luck.”

“I’m not bad luck,” Saint Pedro said. “But I would like to be out of this sack. It’s itchy.”

“Where should I put it?”

Pierre pointed to a stump at the edge of the clearing.

“Put him there. I suppose he won’t be able to run off.”

BumBuna O’Brien carried him to the stump, set him free from the sack and set him upon the flat surface.

“I don’t like it here,” Saint Pedro said. “Why can’t I come inside?”

“Not now,” BumBuna O’Brien said. “You heard Pierre. He doesn’t like you too much.”

“What about you? Do you like me?”

“I haven’t decided yet. I guess that’s up to you.”

“You know, I could send you to hell if I wanted to,” Saint Pedro said to him, seriously.

BumBuna O’Brien blinked at him, then his head dipped, and he thought about how derailed his life had become. Even in the midst of trying to be good and peaceful and not stir up trouble, trouble always seemed to find him, get attached to him, like glue or magnets.

“I’m already in hell,” he answered, and then he walked away and went into the house, and there he saw a cozy little place, a bit worn down, but Pierre had made it livable.

The man was busy in the kitchen area, filling cupboards with cans and boxes and little bags by the light of a lantern. There was no electricity, only candles and the lanterns, and there was a wood-burning stove that was already beginning to glow, and now the fire crackled, and the place was getting warmer.

“Do you want some coffee?” Pierre asked as he prepared the pot.

“Yes. And I’m hungry.”

“Well, then come in, sit down. Make yourself comfortable.”

BumBuna O’Brien sat down at a round table in the middle of the room.

“Do you have any carrot cake?” he asked.

“No. But I have something better. Just picked it up fresh today. How do you feel about liverwurst sandwiches?”

“What’s liverwurst?”

“It’s liver sausage. You spread it on bread. I like to refer to it as the poor man’s pate. Here, try it.”

Pierre set down two plates at the table. BumBuna O’Brien stared at the bread, then he peeled the sandwich open to peek inside.

“It looks disgusting,” he said. “Like someone had a nasty blowout in there.”

Pierre laughed out loud, took a big bite of his own sandwich and chewed. “Nonsense. It’s delicious.”

BumBuna O’Brien took a small bite. He nibbled carefully. The taste and texture did not sit with him very well. He set it back down on his plate.

“I can’t eat this. Don’t you have anything else?”

Pierre was somewhat offended. He got up to pour himself a cup of the coffee. “You’re welcome to hunt yourself a fish or a squirrel if you want. Otherwise, it’s liverwurst. I’m sorry, but I have limited options. It’s a peaceful life, but not always easy and convenient. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable back where you came from.”

BumBuna O’Brien sensed that he had hurt Pierre’s feelings and so he got up and walked outside. Saint Pedro whistled for him to come over.

“What do you want?” BumBuna O’Brien asked.

“I just wanted to talk. What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m afraid I offended our host by not eating his disgusting sandwich.”

“That wasn’t very nice of you.”

BumBuna O’Brien snapped. “What the hell do you know! You’re just a stone head.”

“I know enough that it’s rude to complain about the food when in someone else’s home. You should apologize.”

BumBuna O’Brien sighed. His stomach grumbled. “I’m just not myself when I’m hungry.”

“I don’t like it here,” Saint Pedro whispered. “I don’t trust him. I say we take his boat in the middle of the night and leave this place.”

“We can’t do that. He’d be marooned.”

“Would you really care? Face it, you’re not the nicest animal in the world.”

“Why did you call me an animal? Do I look like an animal to you?”

“Every man is an animal. You’re savages. Pigs. The world has fallen because of you — you human animals.”

“You used to be human,” BumBuna O’Brien pointed out.

“I rose above it,” Saint Pedro answered. “Wait. Be quiet now. He’s coming.”

They saw Pierre Moose moving toward them. He was walking softly and carrying a big spear.

“What’s going on out here?” he asked.

“We’re just talking,” BumBuna O’Brien said. “What’s the spear for?”

Pierre clicked his teeth and rubbed at his sandpaper face. 

“Self-preservation mostly,” Pierre answered. “But I feel bad about you going hungry — thought I’d try to bag you some fish for supper.”

“You don’t have to do that. I’ll eat the sandwich.”

“I already finished it for you. Besides, I feel like doing a little fishing. Why don’t you get the fire pit going while I’m gone?”

Pierre looked at him differently. His cold eyes were suspicious now.

“I won’t be too long,” Pierre said, and then he went off down the path and soon he vanished.

“I don’t like this,” Saint Pedro said. “I don’t like this at all. He’s up to no good. I can feel it. We need to get out of here.”

“That’s not an option right now. If we went off in the boat at night, who knows where we’d end up. We’d probably drown.”

“I think he’s crazy.”

“Why?”

“What sane man lives alone on an island in the middle of nowhere?”

“Maybe he’s sane and the rest of us are crazy.”

“He’s upset. A lone man who gets upset is never a good thing. You should have eaten that damn sandwich!”

“Pipe down, Pedro. I’m going to do what he says and build the fire.”

“Well, then at least set me over on that log so I can watch you and not have to be alone.”

“Fine,” BumBuna O’Brien said, and he took the stone head of Saint Pedro and set it on the log. “Now just stay here while I get some firewood.”


BumBuna O’Brien went into the trees and gathered sticks and logs and branches. He dragged it all back to the circular fire ring little by little until there was a substantial pile. He went to work breaking down branches and piling the sticks. He put together a bundle of kindling and put it at the base.

“I don’t have any matches,” he said to Saint Pedro.

“Look in the house. He’s got to have matches in there.”

“Right.”

He went into the house, dug around and found an old coffee can stuffed with matchbooks. Then he thought he heard a terrible scream. He ran outside but saw nothing. He lit the fire and soon it was roaring. The day was fading as Pierre emerged in the clearing. He was dragging something large along the ground behind him.

BumBuna O’Brien looked up at the man who had seemed to have grown larger and sterner.

“Come here and help me with this,” Pierre ordered.

BumBuna O’Brien went over, but when he saw what Pierre had, he jumped back.

“What the hell is that!”

“A trespasser,” Pierre grinned.

“You speared him? Why in the world would you do that?”

“I told you, he was a trespasser. This is private property. I have a right to defend my island.”

“So, you just killed a complete stranger? Why didn’t you just tell him to leave for crying out loud?”

“I don’t have to defend my actions to you. My God, I’ve done nothing but help you! I’ve welcomed you here, to my home, and all you ever do is complain. Now, are you going to help me with this or not!?”

“What are you planning on doing with him?”

“He’s going to eat him!” Saint Pedro cried out.

“I am not!” Pierre yelled. “I don’t ever eat them.”

“Them,” BumBuna O’Brien wondered.

There was silence. Pierre looked at them. His eyes were wide with madness. “I don’t ever eat them,” he repeated.

“Then what in the hell do you do?” BumBuna O’Brien demanded to know.

Pierre’s head drooped. “I collect them,” he answered.

“I told you he was crazy!” Pedro yelled out from the log.

“No, it’s nothing like that,” Pierre said. “It’s like a hobby, really. I give dignity to them. I honor their memory by preserving their bodies.”

“I would like to leave,” BumBuna O’Brien requested. “Please take me back. I won’t ever say anything to anyone.”

Pierre slapped a hand to his forehead. “No! You can’t just leave. Not yet. Please. You must understand. It gets very lonely here. Let me just show you, both of you, and then you’ll get it, and then in the morning I’ll row you to wherever you’d like.”

“Don’t listen to him!” Pedro called out. “It’s a lie. He has no intention of ever letting us go.”

Pierre grew angry. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You damn head!”

BumBuna O’Brien tried to soothe the tension. “All right, Pierre. Just settle down. You can show us. I understand.”

Pierre looked at him. “You do?”

“Of course. Loneliness is a terrible thing.”

“What are you doing?” Pedro demanded to know.

“Just give him a chance to show us,” BumBuna O’Brien snapped back. “If you don’t stop making things worse, you’ll go back in the sack.”

They followed him by torchlight as he dragged the body to an outbuilding behind the house. They heard the body hit the ground as he released his grip so he could fumble with the lock. They heard a chain rattle, then slide. A heavy door was moved to one side and the metal material made a loud clanging noise. Pierre disappeared into the darkness.

“Wait here,” he said.

Then one by one, lamps were lit, and an orange glow began to blossom forth from the blackness. And soon the reality of Pierre’s madness came to light as the bodies became visible. There was an entire group of them, nearly two dozen — men, women, children, even dogs — and they were stitched up neatly, clothed, with grotesque upturned smiles and shiny lake stones for eyes. Some were positioned in chairs, others left standing. Some were made to look as if they were engaged in conversation with each other. Some simply stared out into space.

Pierre came back to the entrance and pulled the body up and into the building. He let it drop to the floor near a large table.

“Come in,” he insisted. “Take a look around.”

BumBuna O’Brien stepped over the threshold with Pedro clutched tightly in his hands.

“Well,” Pierre wondered. “What do you think?”

“It’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Saint Pedro said, and BumBuna O’Brien quickly clamped a hand over his cold stone mouth.

“Go on,” Pierre encouraged. “Take a closer look.”

They moved forward, and then the metal door boomed closed behind them.

“I don’t want any wild animals getting in here and destroying my work,” Pierre said.

BumBuna O’Brien looked down at Saint Pedro. The stone head’s eyes were wide with fear. He kept his hand pressed hard over the mouth.

“That’s quite a collection of people you have there,” BumBuna O’Brien said.

“Thank you. Come here. Closer. I want you to meet my best friend in the world. He was the first.”

Pierre guided them to a tall man in the very front. He was dressed in fishing clothes and had a round hat atop his head. The face was full of fear despite the fact Pierre had stitched the corners of the mouth up.

“His name is Rick,” Pierre said proudly. “Go ahead, say hello. Don’t be rude.”

BumBuna O’Brien looked up at the frightening face and tried to smile. “Hello there, Rick. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

There was no reply.

“Ahh, he never says too much,” Pierre said. “He’s the quiet type. Actually, they’re all the quiet type.”

And then he came forth with an insane, seething snicker that sent shivers up and down BumBuna O’Brien’s entire being. Saint Pedro’s head slipped out of his hands and dropped to the floor with a thud.

“You fool!” the  head cried out. “You could have cracked me in half!”

Pierre suddenly reached down and scooped Pedro up. He held him before his face and studied him.

“Put me down you lunatic! Put me down!”

“You know,” Pierre began. “You really, really grind my gears. I don’t like that. You’re starting to upset my friends here as well, and I’m afraid I can’t allow that.”

Pierre quickly walked across the outbuilding to the door. He slid it open, tossed Pedro into the darkness, and slid the door shut again with a bang. Then BumBuna O’Brien thought he heard him pick something up. Then Pierre was walking toward him, slowly, calculating. BumBuna O’Brien was more afraid than he had ever been in his life.

And then it came, a searing pain right in his guts, the inability to breathe, and finally complete darkness.

Pierre sat in a chair in the outbuilding. He was eating a liverwurst sandwich and drinking a glass of milk as he admired the newest member of his clan. It was BumBuna O’Brien’s body, but in place of his own head was the stone head of Saint Pedro. The mouth was completely chiseled away now so that he didn’t have to listen to the incessant talking.

“Oh, my yes,” Pierre said. “You’re much more agreeable to my nerves when you don’t speak, my stone headed friend.”

The mouth didn’t move of course, but the eyes did, and they frantically darted from side to side as if Saint Pedro BumBuna O’Brien was screaming some never-ending scream.

END


Wallflowers of Chemistry

You invented love
like dragons spit fire
the longing when you are gone,
is an immediate reaction
I’m drawn to your eyes
I’m drawn to the night
the full vibrato of darkness
the stars splashed so randomly across the universe
we can touch them if we try

Candles melt away so quickly here
this otherworld, this neverwhere
We are a collision of chemistry
wrapped in coils of electricity
The ache of our day
becomes the joy of our night
empty wine glasses and ghosts
the bluest tears,
the reddest blood

The valve has been wrestled loose
the drips drop incessantly throughout the house
Impenetrable venom
impenetrable malaise
Someone broke the switch on the furnace
and it’s coughing up hot laughing gas
and I choke on my own experiences
Am I sad?
Am I happy?
Am I a supernova,
Or just merely a simple star,
blinking randomly
from within this skull of space?

Am I a colored moon
peacefully napping
with a nightcap perched upon my point
Or am I a black hole,
sucking on everything that exists?
Or am I merely a chemical byproduct
that sits in an empty room,
waiting for night to pass
and day to begin,
when I can talk to you
and feel my heart thunder against the world

But sometimes,
I just want to be a rocking chair,
swaying gently
amidst the dust of a long-gone grandparent’s den,
listening to the easy tick of the clock on the mantle,
watching the footsteps fade deeper into the carpet,
waiting for the sounds and smells
of a childhood lost forever
lost in the woods of autumn,
across the icy bridge of winter,
into the wet grass of spring
and along the thick dreams of summer
on some Midwestern small-town porch

And so,
when do dreams end
and reality begin?
When is night’s finale
and day’s birth?
One fluid sweep of time
and the Earth still tilts
and I still stare at the ceiling,
catching glimpses of you
in my mind’s eye
the baby’s breath in my fist falls,
landing in a blanket of fresh snow,
you pull up into the white gravel
and I can see your smile through the windshield
my heart still rattles
as the sun breaks through the clouds, and your hand clutches me in dreams.

Hairy Pancakes and a Bad Honeymoon

It was a warm morning in late July when I woke up alone on the wrong side of the world. The bathroom mirror greeted me with a reflection of disorientation, mussed hair, and puffy eyes. I tried to shake myself awake, for this morning I was to meet my bride and have breakfast at the downtown café we frequent for our marriage meetings. I had my notes prepared. I was going to lay it on the line. Little did I know what was to come.

I rode the curving roadways for miles. The wind struck like a moist dryer drying towels. The engine hummed like a good motor should. I thought about Detroit. I thought about Japan. I pretty much decided in my own head that I was going to go for the pancakes. With sliced banana. With sweet maple syrup. And a good cup of coffee. My spirits were slightly elevated. I thought about my love. She was waiting there in her car, pulled up to the curb, diagonally. I forgot to bring the bandage like she had asked. My memory is slipping like an old lady on wet winter ice. Damn it. I should have written it down.

We met up. Did the ritualistic kiss thing. I may have palmed her butt a little. It’s okay. I’m allowed. We went in and ordered. I laid out my plan to the clerkie. She took it all down, I guess. We found ourselves a table. A tall college kid came in and said he knew us. He joined us at the table, and we all waited for food. The clerkie brought us silverware wrapped in napkins, but I was missing a fork. I cried out something like, “How am I supposed to eat pancakes without a fork!” The whole place got silent. People were stunned I suppose. My wife and the college kid were embarrassed. Reminded me of when I was in the Kroger the other day and some guy suddenly blurted out to his kids: “Stop fucking around!” And the whole world was in silence and shock because he really did say the F word really loud, right there in the meat department. I thought to myself: What an asshole. Yeah, that really happened.

Anyways… The pancakes came and I was eating them, and they weren’t as good as they usually were, and I was bummed about that and then I found a hair — cooked into the pancake. Yep. My wife was like “Eww.” She said I should take them back, but I was too embarrassed and figured if they were going to give me a fresh plate, they would probably stuff the pancakes down their pants and jiggle around a bit before slapping them on the plate. You know, like in that movie. I just took the loss because I have serious trust issues. My wife let me buy a cinnamon roll. My woman is good about that. Caring and such. She was very sorry that happened. Now we’re going to take a nap together and that’s pretty good stuff.

Earlier we had talked about the Memphis woman who was killed in Fiji on her honeymoon, allegedly by her husband. Um… On your honeymoon? You kill your wife on your honeymoon? Damn. Talk about a bad time. I guess getting a hair cooked into my pancakes isn’t so bad after all.   


Mika Lula Was Like Milk

Mika Lula was like milk left out too long. She hung on me like a superhero cape outside the club as we waited for the biohazard team to finish scrubbing the stains from the dance floor. The heart was cracking like glass left too long on fire. The crowd gathered, then abandoned. She was Asian in features and figure and her teeth were as white as untouched snow when she smiled all lopsided and giddy. She was dressed up like a pink kitten.

There was a golden light birthing forward from the street and a big fancy car pulled up and a woman with a wide white hat and a faux fox fur strung around her neck came walking through the mist like she owned the world, a cigarette huffing off the end of one of those long holders. The guards shoved us out of the way as she walked into the club before us. I complained about her cutting in line and some guy told me to shut up.  

“She’s the most important detective in the world,” the doorman scowled. “And where were you when all this happened?”

“At a quiet table in the corner with a round red candle.”

“Bug off before I talk to the police about you.”

I turned and started to walk off into the night.

“Wait!” Mika Lula called out, and she scuttled toward me, trying to keep her fuzzy pink cat tail under control. “You’re leaving?”

“Yes. I’m done,” I said, ferociously walking toward nothing in particular. She struggled to keep up with me.

“Slow down!”

I stopped, turned, and raised a finger at her. “Don’t do this.”

“Do what?” she wondered, black coffee eyes wide, confused.

“Wrangle me into a relationship neither one of us wants.”

“You don’t like me?”

I sighed, weakened. That’s me. Always pulling punches at the pivotal moment because I’m too nice. Why is it so hard for me to ‘just say no’, like she was drugs or something? But I had to try because she was driving me crazy.

“You’re a fine person… But I’m not. I’m no good for you.”

“Ohhhh,” she said, her head going down, eyes scanning the moist and dirty sidewalk. “It’s you, not me. Right?”

“Something like that.”

She started to cry.

“Don’t do that,” I said. “I’m not worth crying over. We’ve only known each other for…” I brought my wrist up and looked at my watch. “Not even three hours.”

She looked up at me, tears falling out of her black coffee eyes, her jaw tightening. “Fuck you!” she said. Then she turned and walked back toward the club, her fuzzy pink tail flopping around in the neon infused night steam of the city.


When I got back to my lowly apartment, I turned on a box fan and opened a window that looked down upon a street. There were people walking, people stumbling, people chatting and laughing as if I didn’t even exist. Police sirens cried out in the night. I could see the pops of blue and red scattered around the city like a spilled kaleidoscope. Everything was becoming an emergency. Everything was becoming fractured. I didn’t know how to live like this.

I sat down at my desk and powered up a road-weary computer. The light stung my eyes at first. I went to start a Word document like this:

Mika Lula was like milk left out too long. She hung on me like a superhero cape outside the club as we waited for the biohazard team to finish scrubbing the stains from the dance floor.

Then I stopped. My mind clogging up like a messy drain. I sat there staring at the small cluster of words I was able to scratch out. “Shit!” I said in frustration, and I got up from my desk and went to the kitchen in the corner and opened the avocado green refrigerator. I studied the contents inside. It looked like I didn’t even live here. I grabbed a cold can of beer and popped it open. Coors. Who drinks Coors? I thought to myself. I do. What am I doing with my life?

I left the lonely apartment and went down to the street to walk. I stopped at a bodega for a pack of Lucky Strikes and a roll of mint Mentos. I went along slowly, hands in the pockets of my brown chinos. I looked around at the womb of the town and the city, the steaming, vibrating wreck of it all with a few squirts here and there of some decent stuff, but mostly slutty strips of shops, annoying and flickering neon, glass, cement, brick, asphalt, autos, traffic lights, billboards — too much mad rushing and shoving of petty shit in the faces of all the people that live here with me.

I walked through a tempest of make-believe crinkled leaves and ice chips in the Green Head Storm neighborhood and to the bookstore there. It was one of my favorite places to just go and get lost for minutes or hours or days — like taking a long train ride to the sea, a train with no one else on it, and just the clickity clack on the rails and big views of unbroken land through big windows.

It was one of the largest bookstores in the city and it was housed in a very long and old building with creaking floors and steps and the place had the smell of old wood and old time and old paper and burnt coffee and stale perfume all mixed together in an elastic olfactory orgy that made my bones and soul feel good and sick, feel like home, feel like time standing still for once, not like all that constant rushing about to get nowhere but spinning and spilling in big, boring circles, catering to ungrateful souls of chaos.

There was something about being in the bookstore that inspired me to write. Just looking around at all the spines and the words — nerves pulsing through an endless body. All those thoughts, all those tumblers of ink spilled across virgin paper, virgin electricity. It left me wanting to go home and jump on a blank page like one jumps on a wife to initiate a slow, hot screw against a broken window. There was always that desire to shatter glass before sleeping — a need for listless and beautiful dreams instead of trying to run in fear.  

I pulled a book out of its place in the fiction section. It was titled The Ambulance Witch written by someone named Gilead Frost. I looked at the cover. It was weird and intriguing — a dark forest, a winding road, an orange sky. I flipped it over to read about it even though I already knew what it would say. There was a picture of Gilead Frost up in the corner. It was hard to believe I used to look like that. The details of my bio were now all vaporized by a heartless world and my own personal derailments — the only reliable fact being where I was born, but then again, maybe that’s not true either. How could I even know? It’s all hearsay. I shoved the book back in between the other books where it would remain for an eternity, touched only by me when I came to visit.

I browsed around some more and found and bought a copy of Ask The Dust by John Fante. I had owned the book before, but I don’t know where it is now. It somehow got lost in all the moving and reshuffling of my life. The young female clerk behind the counter had no idea what it was when she stuffed it in the fancy little paper bag. I walked out alone.

I went to a 24-hour diner around the corner from the bookstore. It was one of those places where the strung out, bombed out, lovesick street kings and queens would go to when there was nowhere else to go. Every table was reserved for the broken and the lonely, and if you ask me, you could stuff that place to overflowing with people exactly like that. I see them everywhere, all over the streets. I see them in office buildings and hospital hallways, in bars and bookstores, at bodegas and bus stations. I even see them in my dreams and dramarama plays of prayer performed in an empty theater.

I had coffee and a warm biscuit with butter and honey on it. I was taking a sip, eyes cast out over the rim of the cup, when Mika Lula came strutting in still dressed like a pink kitten and she was clinging onto a new man as if she was dangling from a cliff, eons from a fatal fall. I waited to see if she would notice me… Not that I really cared. They took a booth on the opposite side and kind of got lost in the smoke and the voices and the ambience of solitude with strangers. I paid my bill and walked back to my apartment in the big, percolating city of God’s guts.

When I got back home, the box fan was still whirring. The window to the street was still open and its noises and whispers soaked the walls of where I lived. I used the bathroom. I saw an image of Napoleon Dynamite in the floor tile. He looked happy for once. I went out and reluctantly sat down at my desk. I sat there a moment before firing up the computer to try to write again. The end went something like this:

I looked up at the calendar above my desk and realized it was Mick Jagger’s birthday. He was 79. Mick Jagger is almost 80!? I couldn’t believe it. How? Because none of us escapes the unraveling of time. We all transition within the skin, outside the skin. Organs and nerves all wind down like a dying clock. We all meet the same fate. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done in your life. We all come in the door — we all go out the door… It revolves like the pinprick of a planet we are on, around some sun of love like it should be. And I’m always wondering why.

END