Friday, October 26, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

I am the blood from the slaughter. I am the glint off the huckster’s gold tooth. I am the sound of time imploding. I am filled with obsessive thoughts that bounce around inside my skull like buckshot. I am relatively strong for a weakling. I am relatively brave for a coward. I am the one that people seek out, and I don’t know why. I have been marked, but I don’t know where the mark is.

I am nailed to a cross of indifference. I’m fucking my life up fine without your interference. I am not a spy. I am not a crook. I have no security clearance. I’ll never be everything you want me to be, even if you give me a fair chance. Apathy and spite make everything right.

I am right. You are wrong. Care to dance?

I am a vessel of hypocrisy. I smell like old clothes. I hate myself, but not as much as I hate the rest of you. It could be worse. There’s that. There’s always that. Things could be worse. I have a shitty car and first world problems, but I don’t have dysentery. Not even a little bit.

I look at the sky and think pretentious things. I say things I think I believe and try to pretend I’m not pretending. I am my own harshest critic, and I cut myself way too much slack. I try to be good at the things that really matter and fuck everything else.

I’m a good dad. There’s that.

I am selfish and churlish and full of shit. I am the all-knowing jackass in the back of the room, throwing paper airplanes and making sarcastic comments. I am flip and arrogant. I know. A nun told me. In tears.

It was quite a day. Hell of an event.

I am too smart for my own good and too stupid to do the smart thing. I am just smart enough to always make the wrong decision, even if it is the right one. I am tired of the first person. I hate writing in it. I’m not fond of living in it. I’d rather live in the second person and talk about your stupid ass.

I’m not blind to my faults. I might be blind to my strengths. I might have more of one than the other, but I’m not saying. I am an explosion of red-winged blackbirds over a sunlit field. I am the bobber riding the gentle waves on the water’s surface. Potential? Stasis? It all depends on how you look at it. Aces.

I’m NOT a racist. There’s that.

I don’t care who you have sex with. Your sex life is none of my business. Do your thing.

I am scared, and I know you are scared. I keep telling myself things will be OK, but I’m not so sure I believe it. I’m afraid to check my mailbox ‘cause it might explode. I don’t know who I’ve pissed off – probably a lot of people. I’m small change. I’m nothing. I don’t even warrant an exploding mailbox.

I’m the guy that wrote all those books you tell yourself you’re going to read and never do. I’m the guy you expect to be really interested in your stupid job. The irony is not lost on me. But I don’t say a word.

Blasphemy.

I am typing these words that don’t even matter. They used to matter to me. I’m not sure anything matters anymore. I’m that guy glued to the news, masochistic chatters.

I don’t want to be a statistic. That would mean I exist and shit.

I want to be the puff of dust from a heron’s feet as it lifts into the warm air, searching for safer places to hunt. I am always aware. I am not so different from myself. You are me and everything else fits neatly on the shelf. Right beside your bowling trophy and your overflowing ashtray. Right where the books would be if you were more like me.

Don’t be like me. It’s not working out the way I thought it would, G.

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...

33 comments:

  1. The first few paragraphs remind me of The Body Electric, by Whitman. I think he might have written this if he were alive today. The dichotomy of wanting to be noticed and not be noticed is strong these days... and I think maybe the solution is to not care about the noticing, but just to be. Now, I've got to go see if I have any new book sales. And when the hell IS your next book coming out, because they DO matter.

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    1. brilliant rant, and touching on the uncomfortable parts inside of us

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    2. Yes. What they all said. Thank you.

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  2. Something was wrong; terribly, extraordinarily, fundamentally wrong. He knew before he opened his eyes. He could feel, in his fingertips, the smoothness of light, and when he moved them, the sharpness of shadow.

    When he squinted his eyes, he saw the tartness of the walls, the sweetness of the curtains, the salt of the photos on his nightstand.

    When the clock radio turned itself on, he could smell the shit and piss they were talking about on the news. And there was a lot of it. He turned it off, before he vomited from the stench.
    He heard the numbers on the clock. It was A flat in the morning. Pleasing chords, simple, mathematical, as morning should be.

    His wife awoke, too. He knew her first words every morning for thirty-four years were “I love you,” but this morning, the words came as Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Powerful, strong notes, played on a cathedral organ.

    He stared at her. She looked sweet as honey, but there was sour around her eyes. She knew something was wrong. The music was discordant now, the notes were all wrong.

    She reached for the phone and dialed 911. “My husband, I think he’s had a stroke.”

    And the music became Mozart. A requiem mass. And the bitter rug did not soften the needles he felt as he collapsed onto the prickly shadows of the floor.

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    1. Chilling description from the inside

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    2. Woah. Agreed. This is an intense and CLOSE piece. I really dig it.

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    3. God, that's beautiful. Chilling and sharp and so visceral.

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  3. (I apologise but this is taken from a work in progress...)

    The hoop was twelve inches across and roughly as thick as a pencil. It felt cold when I touched it, clinging to my fingers as though it didn’t want to be released, and it had a weight to it that seemed surprising. It was disquieting.

    “What happens when you put your hand inside?”

    Thom had put on a pair of gloves and reached across the table, taking it from me. He held it with one hand and eased the other toward the darkness that was all we could see through the hoop. He’d made a fist of his hand at first but then became cautious, offering up only his index finger. The tip of it disappeared exactly as we’d all hoped, the rest of his hand remaining visible. Nothing appeared on the other side of the hoop: it was either the world’s best illusion or it was everything the man had promised us it would be.

    “Can you feel anything?” It was Cameron this time. She was staring open-mouthed at the black disk, Thom’s finger now seemingly missing its last section.

    “I think so – it’s hard to tell though.” Thom pulled his finger out again, flexing it where it had been missing. It seemed unchanged, as far as I could tell.

    “So, what’s next?” That was Donald. He was the oldest of the three of us. He’d been against us buying it unseen at the beginning. But the shopkeeper had refused to even let us open the carton, saying we’d have to buy it on good faith and take his word for its being what he said it was. He didn’t tell us if he’d looked at it himself: he just said that for the price he was asking it was a bargain. And caveat emptor, or something in Greek.

    “I think someone needs to put their whole hand in.” I looked at Thom, although I would have done it myself. I’d been about to do it before he did, though I’d never have thought of the gloves.

    “Surely it’d be best to check his finger first. There could be some damage we’re not aware of.” Donald reached out and took Thom’s hand, grasping his palm and then flipping it back and forth. He unbuttoned the strap which secured the glove and raised his eyebrows, inviting him to remove it. Thom passed the hoop back to me, peeled both his gloves off, then studied his finger closely, bending it and straightening it a few times to see if anything happened. “That’s a nope,” he said. “It looks the same as it ever did. No pain, no nothing. Just a finger.” He took the hoop from me again and plunged his whole hand inside, pulling it out more slowly as though he was trying to see how it worked. It had to be an illusion; it was impossible for it to be real.

    Cameron pulled out her cigarettes, drawing one from the carton. She sparked it into life using her lighter. “It’s a neat trick,” she said, taking a pull and blowing the smoke toward the dark disk. “If it was genuine you’d never need to empty your bins again. You could dispose of a lot of things that way, so long as they were small enough to go through.” She picked up an apple from the bowl on the table and tossed it at the hoop, her lips curving into a smile when it fell into the centre-hole, but not through it. “But there’s gotta be a catch to it, right?”

    “You could use it for a basketball hoop, but you’d not score many points.” Thom had taken hold of it with both hands and was flipping it over, trying to see if there was any difference between the two sides. The rim looked much the same whichever way you turned it – it was like weathered brass, with some sort of engravings – but the hole on the other side had turned grey-white now and was shot through with yellow and green swirls. They’d begun to move, and the grey was brightening and…

    There was a papery crack and an object fell out through the hole, landing with a dull splat beside my purse.

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    Replies
    1. I like it, I like it! Gimme more!

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    2. Never a need to apologize my friend. I agree with Leland, this is super intriguing and I want to read it all. Keep writing!

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  4. Beneath Unseen Stars

    Our parents were lured
    to the Lunar Base Camp with promises
    of the stars. And so we were bred here,
    unseen by the laws.

    We skulk through The Warrens,
    The Hamster Tunnels, deep
    under the surface of the moon.
    We shall never leave this place.

    We fixed their machinery,
    cleaned their rooms.
    We inhaled the pale dust
    of this empty satellite.

    Coughed it out again
    as green bits of our lungs,
    while we trudged back and forth
    through these buried passages.

    The shining ones
    left us behind,
    as they boarded rocket ships,
    without telling us goodbye.

    They left us, and now
    fuel gauges are running low.
    We wear masks over mouths
    to block the thickening moondust,

    but still we breathe in
    the powdered flakes
    of the only home we know.
    And we wait our time to die.

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    1. wow... I love this. Sci fi poetry that's premonition and history all rolled into one. And the shining ones... such a simple name that tells us who they were... really well done!

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    2. Yeah! This is cool! And it makes me want to reread DUNE!

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    3. I love it too. This:

      "but still we breathe in
      the powdered flakes
      of the only home we know."

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  5. Looks like it will all be over soon. Of course you say you want this face-to-face. You’ve set the rules, which is no surprise, since you say you’re the aggrieved one. I’m just the guy all this is killing.

    What is it about you guys that mature discourse is not enough? Why do you have to win it all any all costs? I love how, if you don’t have it your way, under your rules, your field, your ball, you feel you’re the one stabbed in the back, running up against a fixed game, you was robbed?

    Not that I haven’t crawled on my belly before. You guys love to not only see me crawl, but get aroused by placing your foot on my head and grinding it into the mud. And if there’s any broken glass in that mire, it’s a bonus, I’m sure.

    But here’s something you’ll never understand. Once I’ve spoken my actor’s script and you’ve gotten your rocks off upon my debasement to your will, I know you’ll go away with that supercilious smirk on your fat face.

    But I’ll be able to stand upright again and know I did what I had to for me and mine. I can wash off the muck you relished seeing me crawl in. I will have what I needed and you denied me for so long.

    And now I know why you set these face-to-face rules about my crawl of alleged shame. How else could I go eye-to-eye with a snake like you?

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    1. wow... the fighting spirit in this one is strong and beautiful.

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    2. Hell yes! Preach! I love this. That third to last paragraph is a punch to the throat. Brilliant.

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    3. Oh. Just marvelous. Thank you.

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  6. I looked over my shoulder and there were five of us now. Every few steps, we picked up another one, more women joining with us to confront the men. Each one of them began as strangers, their clothes the clothes of the street, each one shrugging them off to reveal their cowls of servility. Another street, and we were fifty, outliers of our forces burgeoning sideways, extending along the cross-streets, attracting yet more women to join with us. Another block, and we were two hundred, the murmurings of our voices gaining confidence as we matched our steps with one another, our feet and our breaths synchronised.

    The buildings began to grow taller, the stone facings of them all grey and austere. We were a force now, a body of women who were united. We surged around their bases like an ocean, reaching out and sweeping more and more followers into our midst, seeing the first few men fleeing from us. They would return, we knew, but we would be ready for them. We began to link our arms, joining together in song, our voices now unafraid. We were women, we were the givers of life, we were the future of the nation. There was nothing we couldn’t do, if we remained strong. But we would be merciful too – unlike those we would face soon – knowing each of the men had been a child once, a babe one of us would have nursed, willingly letting it suckle from our breast.

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    1. This is damn powerful. And you're writing is on point!

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    2. Powerful is exactly the right word... it's like an anthem of hope.

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    3. Very powerful...I want to join them!

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  7. “Been staring into that dark so long now everything’s moving. When’s sunup?” Cleve Bentley said, turning away from the clearing east of Beargrass Creek.

    “S’posed to be a while ago,” said his partner, Israel Keene.

    “Then where’s the sun?” Cleve said

    “Damned if I know, but keep watching that tree line. Shawnee’ll be coming first light.”

    “If there is any. That old hag Ben killed said we’d never see another sunrise. She was just tryin’ to scare us, right?”

    “She was’,” Israel said.

    “Well, Ben sure ain’t gonna see it. I turned around and he was gone.”

    “They probably saw the old lady’s hair on his belt and knew he was the one killed her. I’d’a killed him, too.”

    “Israel, something is happening out there,” Cleve said.

    “Damn, maybe they ain’t waiting.”

    “I see one!”

    “Settle down. I’ll move around and…”

    But Cleve’s rifle flared and spit a slug at the approaching form.

    “I got him,” Cleve shouted. “Gotta make sure he’s dead.”

    ”Wait!” Israel said, but Cleve had already crept away to where he thought he saw someone seconds before.

    “Oh Christ! It’s Ben. I gone and killed…” Cleve said just before arrows pierced his ribs.

    “Cleve?” Israel whispered. Two bodies lay outlined in something like a promise of day as the moon’s shadow began edging away from the sun.

    A Shawnee man also emerged from the new shadows, ensuring his grandmother’s predictions — of an eclipse and the white mens’ fate — with a blow from his warclub.

    Sunrise finally had come.

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    1. This is strong. I love that you let the dialogue tell the story. Makes me want to curl up somewhere and read L'Amour. Or more of this!

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    2. Good storytelling, and a moral lesson, too, but not heavyhanded. I too like the dialogue as the primary way of telling the story. Well done!

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  8. The trip

    It’s the slam and the yell and the scream and the
    Trip and the scourge, and the want of nothing, for
    Nothing remains in the fall; leaves scrawl and I
    Am the shadow in the breeze caught in this ease
    Of light’s passing; we know the catch of it all, this
    Thunder-stricken shade of everything snapped,
    Distancing the entity within, the substance scraped
    Of being. They live in the emotion spent, brewing
    A captive child, and yet this fear, this ache, this
    Sense of nothing will survive them, and crawl inside,
    Between these glass walls we build, these shells of
    Ourselves; and in this belief we are snared, and in
    This box we are caught, for the ever is a mighty
    Long time, and never is as never wished itself to be.

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    Replies
    1. Magical... and the glass walls are a perfect description. Thank you.

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  9. Naked

    Splinter. Forage. Judder. Acknowledge.
    It has been and it will be, it has passed and
    You were last. I am the time ticking, the
    Yellow yolk trickling, and this is the word
    I wish to tell you: take. Choose this, choose
    That, breathe in, breathe out. Jump when
    You could stalk away. Swim when you could
    Dip your toes. Embrace the roar. Sink or
    Drown, will you care? Stand where you are,
    The world will turn on, ignorant of your idle
    Presence, insisting you carry it on alone. I am
    The kick in your butt. Wake up! Smell the fish
    Smoking. The burn won’t wait. Steal it. Wrap it
    In paper and keep it close. These bones will shake,
    Creak and croak. But you won’t know unless you
    Leap.

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    1. Beautiful... a call to action. And that last line hangs there in solitary loveliness. Thank you for this.

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  10. He’d spent most of his life photographing sunrises. Beginnings, not endings, held his attention. When he smoked, it was the first drag of a cigarette that had all the charm, not the butt.

    Yet as he grew older, he came to love sunsets, too. Endings were inevitable, why not enjoy them? He’d known a great many endings. Most of them were not pretty. He knew well the inside of the AIDS wards of the city he lived in in the 1980s. Could still tell you who died where, and where they were buried. He saw the end of more than a few relationships, too, and realized that he was not exactly husband material.

    The sunsets, endings, the sunrises, beginnings, now he knew them all. He took the camera from his bag to capture the glorious dawn in the Rockies, dropped a battery accidentally, and when he turned to pick it up, he saw the moon setting over the mountains behind him. That happens when the moon is full. It sets as the sun rises.

    He gasped, as he realized the truth revealed to him at last. He’d separated life into beginnings and endings, without seeing the connection.

    He never took that photograph of the Colorado sunrise, nor of the Colorado moonset. He walked in a daze back to his truck, where they found him desiccated but smiling the following spring.

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  11. Earl’s eyes were warm and kindly as he poured Forty-four another beer, then busied himself behind the bar, leaving him his privacy. Or as much privacy as he could have with two Secret Service agents guarding the door. He was grateful for their service, thankful for all the people who’d helped him through the years. Toward the end of his second term, Forty-four had grown wistful about returning to civilian life. He and Michelle had made plans. But given the circumstances of the world and the existence of the secret Council, he’d resigned himself to the reality that his life might never again be truly his own.

    Michelle was okay with that as well—to a point. From the tension he plainly saw on her face, they’d reached that point. When he’d told her about the package that had been intercepted, she nodded, said she needed to call the girls, and spent the rest of the afternoon in her garden. He knew better than to bother her there.

    Was it too soon for the Council to meet again? Forty-one said that it “wouldn’t be prudent” to risk a meeting so close to the election, then added, “Remember that Jim Comey fellow and all the trouble he caused.”

    But Forty-four felt a need for their collective wisdom to help unburden his soul. As Thirty-nine once told him, when at a loss for direction a few months after leaving office he’d come down to Georgia to help nail up some drywall, many hands lighten a load. At least the dastardly mailings gave him an excuse to call Forty-two and Forty-three-and-a-half, ask how they were doing. The connection and Bill’s sense of humor did help somewhat. “Keep in touch, Barry,” Madam Secretary said as they wound up their call. “Just don’t expect any emails.”

    He slipped his phone back in his pocket and tried to focus on the basketball game on the TV. It wasn’t working. He tapped a long finger on the bar. “Hey, Earl?”

    He turned, his face brightening. “Something I can get for you, Mr. President?”

    “No, I’m good here. I just want to know...how’s it going for you, for you and your family?”

    Earl shrugged, his hands busy polishing glassware. “Can’t complain much. Wish certain things didn’t cost as much as they did. Wish I had a little more to leave the grandchildren.” He lowered his voice. “Wish that fool who took on after you would go back under that rock he crawled out from”—at this Forty-four nearly spit his beer across the counter—“but time will out, don’t it always?”

    “Amen,” Forty-four said, lifting his glass.

    “I like what you said, on the TV.” Earl nodded toward the set above the bar. “About getting the kids out to vote, not standing for hate and such. Ah, makes me wish we could change that law about you only getting two terms.”

    It wasn’t the first time he’d heard that. Of course he’d heard plenty about how his two terms were two too many.

    “You coulda done so much more good,” the barkeep added, tightening one wizened hand into a fist.

    If you only knew, Forty-four thought. “Thank you, my friend. It’s always good to hear.”

    When he left, he pressed two twenties onto the bar and wouldn’t take no for an answer. After the agents saw him home, he was in some ways pleased that Michelle had already gone to bed. He had some phone calls to make. Yes, he could get behind a microphone and hopefully inspire a few people, but it would be nothing compared to the clarion call they could all make together.

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    Replies
    1. Lord, how I hope something like this is really happening. Excellent storytelling, as always.

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