2012/03/29 Comments Off on Samuel Snoek-Brown
on the theme of secret life
He started with her eyes by accident, the first thing he imagined about her. They appeared alone just off his patio, steaming in the night air. Irises like ripe olives. The eyes jerked from side to side, as terrified as he was. She must have been in pain, her eyes naked and disembodied like that. They disappeared when he blinked.
He had wanted her since childhood, a lovelorn third-grader searching for her in every girl on the playground while the other boys wrestled in the dirt. Girls on the playground and girls in the dorms and girls in the grocery store and none of them were her except in parts: there were her eyebrows furrowed over a book, here were her knees peeking from under a skirt, over there were her feet in turquoise flip-flops.
He tried to think of the most logical way to begin, but before he could stop himself, her breasts came into the dark like fog, pale and moonlit. He went to them, reached for her left breast, his fingers curled around the back of it where her ribs and her heart should have been.
He began again, and again, for hours. Her thighs like twin pours of buttermilk shimmered in the dark then drifted away; her carnation lips, the bottom one thicker than the top, parted in a silent gasp and were gone. Her shoulders, her lower back, her calves curved like furled wings, everything coming and going by luminescent pieces in the
night. When the parts of her lingered long enough to touch, she was warm and insubstantial as bathwater.
Then, a few hours before dawn, she appeared, whole and naked, draped unconscious over his green plastic deck lounger. Her skin white like feathers, her hair black as pond water.
He took off his own clothes, his prick shrunken in the cold, and he moved her aside on the lounger and stretched out beside her. He lifted her wrist and rested her thin fingers on his thigh. He pushed his nose into her hair, which smelled like wet maple leaves, and he whispered to her that this would do for now.
on the theme of secret life
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
He was wearing this long-sleeve shirt, like a business shirt, but it was unbuttoned over a t-shirt, something with a print but I didn’t see what, and the open shirt flapped around him as he fell so he looked like a newspaper someone had tossed over the railing.
I’m trying to remember what his face looked like. Before he hit, you know. But all I keep thinking about is that shirt. I kept expecting him to fold up into a plane, one of those complicated things we’re supposed to make in physics class and then fly out behind the Ag building to see whose will float the farthest. Wide wings and a short fuselage, hanging in the air forever. I guess he would have failed.
* * *
My back was turned. I was talking to Janice about this boy we’d seen downstairs the night before. He had blond hair—he wasn’t the one who jumped. That guy was, I don’t know, it was hard to tell when we saw him after, but he wasn’t blond.
By the time I turned around, everyone but Latisha and Colton and some kid I don’t know was leaning way over the railing. I leaned way over the railing, too, and saw him down there near the fountain. I thought that maybe his shirt was blood. We were ten floors up, so it was hard to tell anything but the dark shape around him.
I bet he was from a smaller school than ours, just here at the honors symposium because they had to meet their quota. I bet he didn’t fit in anywhere. I bet he crashed every party he ever went to.
* * *
I think that guy is the most selfish bastard I’ve ever known. I mean, I didn’t know him, but if I had, he’d be the most selfish. I’m kind of pissed anyone’s even talking about it. I don’t want to think about him, about why he jumped or why he did it indoors, about how sad his life might have been.
My life is sad sometimes too, but you don’t see me dive-bombing everyone else’s breakfast or ruining everyone else’s school trip.
I hope no one blames his parents or his teachers for not “seeing the signs” or whatever. And I keep thinking about the maids here; they’re going to have to clean up all that blood, they’re going to have nightmares about this for years. I mean, I probably will, too. We all will. And this jerk didn’t think of any of that. Or maybe he did and he figured his problems are more important than ours so he just jumped anyway. I mean, that’s just about the definition of evil, if you ask me.
* * *
I’d seen him at Starbucks before he jumped, ordering some special sugar coffee with extra whipped cream or flavor shots or some shit like that. I think he was queer. No wonder he jumped. If I was queer I’d have jumped, too. But I’m not.
I’d be scared of the long drop, not because I’d be scared of jumping but because if you’re going to do something like that, it ought to be exhilarating, wind rushing through your arms and cars screeching to a halt just before you land. But indoors like this, with maids pushing carts between the rooms and some businessman about to fold his newspaper? I think he just wanted attention. I think he’s somewhere hoping I’m still thinking about him. And I am. And I don’t know what to do with that. It pisses me off so much I want to run away, I want to put my fist in a wall.
* * *
My aunt Gabriela jumped in New York City when I was six years old. She was in the north tower and she called us to tell us she was on the hundred and first floor with no way down. A whole gang of people had thrown desks and chairs through the plate glass windows just to release the smoke and the fumes, just to get some air in there they could all breathe. That’s when she decided to jump. She said she’d been so scared, had been crying and screaming—on the speaker phone with my mom, her voice sounded raspy—but then that rush of cold morning air pushed her hair away from her face and the sky was so clean, so blue, and her lungs felt cold and she had this moment of clarity. Clear like the sky, she told my mom. We were all in the living room, our book bags on the floor. The TV was showing footage but none of us watched it—we were all watching my mom talk into the speaker phone. My mom was screaming and crying, just like my aunt Gabriela had been, but Gabriela kept telling my mom to calm down, that everything was okay. She’d seen the sunrise, she’d felt the wind under her arms, she felt so free, she felt so alive. “This is the way to end it,” she told my mom. “Not down there in the flames and the chaos. It’s hell in here. Out there is heaven.” And then she jumped.
I was the only one in my family who was glad she’d done it. I liked that she’d basically said fuck you to those bastards in the planes. But this kid? I don’t know what his problem was. I mean, how bad could his life have been? What problems did he think he had that were worse than dying in stairwell that felt like a furnace?
* * *
I know that he weighed 175 pounds. Dropping from the tenth-floor balcony, a kid like him—like me, I guess, since he was about my size—would fall at a rate of about sixty feet per second. That’s forty miles per hour. He took just under two seconds to hit the floor. I can’t imagine how he remained intact when he landed. Just bones and meat and blood. I would have expected him to burst.
I’m guessing he figured he would die, and that would be the end of it, and he wouldn’t be around to care whether he was still intact or not. But from what I’ve read, whether it’s science or religion, you linger. Maybe it’s the last electrical impulses shooting from the body into the brain, flashing across synapses. Or maybe it’s whatever spiritual essence is left of you, clinging to the body because it used to give you life. Either way, from what I’ve read, death can take hours.
I wonder how long he lingered down there, apologizing to the guy who threw up his eggs or giving the finger to all the gawkers and weepers. I wonder if he was still around when I walked through the lobby the next day, stepping around the Caution: Wet Floor signs and looking for signs of a blood stain in the tile.
If I had been the one who jumped, and he were the one standing there studying the floor for some sign I’d ever existed, I would have thanked him just for stopping by.
on the theme of razor dance
Everyone is kissing and cuddling and fucking and arguing and bearing children and buying property and splitting up and sharing children and selling property and they have no idea what any of it means. I had childhood blood oaths in the firs, the hush of my feet in fallen needles and the scent of earthworms on my fingers, the blood hot on my palms. When I was in middle school, Ron Lasseter cornered me in the boy’s room, all beef and knuckles, his lips like mating slugs and his teeth too big for his face, and he shoved me against the mirror so hard I came off the ground and ended up sitting in the sink. The seat of my pants was wet from the faucet. My face was wet with his spittle. He turned me loose with a fist in my gut, thought he’d caught me playing with myself—I was trying to get out my pocket knife—and called me a queer. Later I dug the Swiss army from my sock drawer and carved into my thigh, up high where no one would see. Another time, I cut four parallel gashes into my chest; on weekends at the lake, I told people I’d been attacked by a bobcat. At night I put the small folding blade against my tongue, wrapped the edge in wet meat. A nickel in my teeth, a battery on my tongue, silver in my veins rising quick through the skin. In my college job, amid the onions and the cool wet juice of tomatoes, the garlic and spiced sausage, I felt the sting when the meat slicer stuck and then slipped loose before I could move my hand, a thin wheel of blood—a sudden line of red on the tile wall—me rooting in the salami for the tip of my finger.
When my girlfriend Lena first saw the scars, I told her all my stories. But then she clawed my back in sex so hard I bled, I told her all the truth. She slipped out of bed and tiptoed naked into the kitchen, came back with a paring knife. I held out my arm but she turned my palm and pressed the handle into my fingers. Do me, she said. When I cut her I was blinded by a sliver of light, a white arc across my retina, and I had to close my eyes. When she cut me, I
peeled like fruit.
on the theme of silent movie
When they left the theater they were already arguing. Matilda gestured with her handbag and it swung like a wrecking ball; Gerhardt waved his gloved hands violently in the air; Leo jabbed his folded umbrella like a sword with each point he thought he was making. The people they passed on the sidewalk parted around them and glared or shook their heads before closing again on the other side, but the trio argued loudly anyway, oblivious.
Matilda was insisting that when the film had ended on the shot in the woods, the camera angled upward into the trees, the director was indicating hope and happiness. “Look at all that sunlight,” she said. “Coming down in rays like that through the leaves? It was like a vision of heaven.”
“Exactly,” Gerhardt said. “That’s why it represents death. When do you see scenes like that except in graveyards?” He moved his hands over his head to indicate the leaves blowing, the sunlight falling in somber rays. He looked like a madman having a convulsive fit.
“I see it plenty,” Matilda said. “I see it now. Look over there across the street, you just look there in the park.” Her handbag swung on the end of her arm as she pointed, and she swayed with the weight of it. “See those trees? See the sunlight? Show me a graveyard.”
“I think you guys are missing the point,” Leo said. “This whole movie was about questions, about uncertainty. You think it would give all that up to end with something so definite as you’re talking about?”
“Of course!” Gerhardt said. “That’s why it’s an ending. It has to resolve things, it has to answer all those questions.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Matilda said. “There is no answer in death, in graveyards. The sunlight in the trees has to mean hope. It has to mean certainty.”
“You show me one thing, one thing in this life more certain than death.”
“Please, you two, I swear,” Leo said.
“Okay, fine,” Gerhardt said. “What uncertainty do you find in that ending?”
“I find no ending at all, for one thing.”
“Bah, no ending. Look, movies like this, they always have to mean something, and that meaning comes in the ending, and that final meaning is always in the form of a symbol.”
“Exactly,” Matilda said. “The bell in Hunchback of Notre Dame, or that icy river in Way Down East.”
“That wasn’t the final image,” Gerhardt said.
“Regardless, filmmakers work in images and images are symbols. Sunlight is hope.”
“Sunlight in the trees is death.”
“Okay,” Leo said, thrusting his umbrella so that Matilda caught her purse to her chest and Gerhardt stepped instinctively to the side. “Okay, you want a symbol? Why is the sunlight coming through the trees?” He jabbed upward where the sky was clouding over. “If we wanted hope, they would have shown us bright light. If we wanted
death, they would have shown us shadows. Instead, they showed us both. We get both in one image. There is no answer. Or,” and here Leo stabbed toward them with his umbrella again, “or, how about this? The leaves are obscuring the light, the trees are covering up our chance at illumination. So we remain in a state of ignorance, and we get no easy answers.”
Gerhardt and Matilda looked at him a moment, then they turned to each other. They looked back at Leo. Then Gerhardt threw one arm high in the air, pointed his index finger, and waved it in a spiral like an orchestra conductor or a magician.
“A ha!” he announced, then he whirled on Matilda so she clutched her purse tighter. “There, even he agrees! The trees are blocking out the light! Death, you see! Where’s your hope and happiness now?”
Matilda studied him a moment, looked to Leo, then dropped her purse heavily at her side. “You’re the one who’s hopeless,” she said. “And I’m hungry.” They walked on, arguing more quietly now that they were also looking for a small diner or café, and after a block they’d pulled several paces ahead, their argument getting dim as the afternoon light. Leo looked up at the sky wearily as the first few drops of rain started to fall.
on the theme of David Lynch
DRINKING COFFEE WITH DAVID LYNCH
David: Hi there, how’re you doing?
Sam: Good. How are you doing?
David: I’m doing good. Yeah. Yeah, I’m doing good.
Sam: So, what’s going on?
David: Just, you know, working on some stuff.
Sam: Yeah? What’s that— What’s that you’re drinking?
David: Damn good coffee!
Sam: Ha! I always liked that character.
David: What character?
Sam: That cop, Kyle McLachlan, always drinking coffee and eating pie.
David: You’re a cop?
Sam: No. Twin Peaks.
David: Yeah, we’re a couple of mountaintops, the both of us.
Sam: I meant—
David: Coffee grows best in the mountains, you know. And coffee works best on the mind. It’s all connected.
David: I’ll pour you another cup if you want.
Sam: I’m still working on mine.
David: This is my third.
David: Since I got here.
Sam: You must really like the coffee here.
David: I’m not here for the coffee. I just wanted to come here.
Sam: To Winkie’s?
David: This Winkie’s.
Sam: Okay, why this Winkie’s?
David: It’s kind of embarrassing.
Sam: Go ahead.
David: I had a dream about this place.
Sam: Oh, boy.
David: See what I mean?
Sam: Okay, so you had a dream about this place. Tell me.
David: A bunch of my friends were going to a party but when we got to the house it was locked. My friends decided to go in through a window on the second floor, because we’d brought a ladder with us, but when my friend Gerard got up there, the window wouldn’t open. There was a tree not far from the window and Gerard climbed the tree and started to rock it back and forth until he could kick the upstairs window in. But he couldn’t reach the window on his own, so I climbed the ladder to the roof and tossed Gerard a rope and tugged back on it like a slingshot. I was wearing a porcelain jester’s mask, with big eyes and high arched eyebrows and a tiny V-shaped grin. I pulled Gerard back and back and back and then let go, watched him sling back in the branches and shoot back toward the window. It took him three times with the tree whipping back and forth but he broke the window. Everyone cheered and moved the ladder closer to the window. Inside, somebody’s family was having dinner, and Barry and Gerard were there. I sat next to someone I assume was the father, the man of the house—fifties or sixties, spiky gray hair, scowling face—and I glared at him through my mask but he couldn’t tell because the mask just smiled. Barry said “Come here, man, I want to show you something,” and ducked out a side door into the garage. I looked at the scowling man, smiled, and blew pot smoke I’d never inhaled into the dad-man’s face. Gerard looked at me like he was upset that we didn’t invite him. I went out to the garage. Barry was sitting on the ground beside an ice blue 1958 Buick Riviera, rolling a spliff. I sat down and he lit up, and I realized I couldn’t smoke with the mask on. But I grinned under
the mask so my lips would fit the porcelain lips, and then I relaxed. I grinned again, and this time I pursed my lips and looked at my reflection in the Buick’s hubcap. The lips of the mask moved a little. Then some more. I managed to open them a bit. Barry passed what I thought was the smoking spliff but it wasn’t it had changed into a hot, black cup of coffee, a small cup but the steam billowing from it like engine exhaust, somewhere pistons were churning, grease against the steel, and I got the rim of the black cup through the parted lips of the mask and took a long, boiling sip. Barry laughed. I passing the cup back and kept working my lips. The lips of the masked pursed and flexed and moved. They were my lips now, black with coffee and thin. Barry passed me the cup again only now he wasn’t Barry, he was Darla, this waitress I like here, and she winked at me and that’s when I knew where I really needed to be today.
Sam: So you did come here for the coffee.
David: No, I came here because my parents’ neighbor had a 1958 Buick Riviera and he worked in this neighborhood, and I always remembered that his name was Fielding the same as the street this place is one.
Sam: And you wanted coffee.
David: I always want coffee.
Sam: What makes you so obsessed with coffee?
David: It’s the flavor, it’s the temperature, it’s the color, it’s the aroma. But inside all that. That’s just the packaging, the
surface. I look for the essence. Go to the water, go to the grounds. Backward. Go to the beans. In the end, it’s all about the beans.
Sam: What makes the beans so important?
David: The beans extend life. The beans expand consciousness. A product of the beans, a damn fine cup of coffee, see these? See my teeth? Look at my teeth.
Sam: You look like a donkey when you do that.
David: Look at them, look close. They’re stained, you see. I could bleach them but I don’t. It’s a mark. The brew of the beans allows me to be a human computer. The brew of the beans is vital to all my travel. I’m travelling right now. I can travel anywhere without even moving.
Sam: Isn’t that a line from Dune?
David: It’s a line from life, a lifeline from the beans. It all comes back to the beans. That’s why I went back to the beans, got into the roasting, joined the brotherhood and sisterhood, what’s the gender neutral of that? Joined the hood of beans, got into the business but it’s more than a business, it’s a secret society, of which I am a part.
Sam: You own a coffee company?
David: He who controls the beans, controls the universe!
Sam: Okay, that one is definitely a line from Dune.
David: It’s a line from—
Sam: Whatever. Do you roast beans yourself?
David: In a hot air popper or in my oven, sometimes when I just want to experiment, but I only dabble.
Sam: Leave the real work to the experts?
David: We’re all experts in our own minds and I’m involved in all of it, the whole process, but my primary concern is that the coffee comes out tasting great, lots of caffeine, lots of fuel for the brain.
Sam: Whatever it takes to put a cup in front of you, eh?
David: The coffee must flow.
Sam: Is it organic?
David: Yeah yeah yeah, it’s organic!
Sam: Oh. Geez. Can I have some?
David: Yeah yeah yeah, I’m gonna get you some.
Sam: Geez, thanks. I feel dreamy just thinking about it.
David: Speaking of dreams—
Sam: Well, it’s time to say good-bye, David. It’s been so nice drinking coffee with you.
David: Thank you, Sam. I was so excited and nervous. It was sure great to have you to talk to.
Sam: Remember, I’ll be watching for you on the big screen.
David: Okay, Sam. Won’t that be the day?
Sam: Good luck, David. Take care of yourself. And be careful.
David: I will. Thanks again.
Sam: Okay then.
David’s Barbie-doll head, crushed in one fist with her curly blonde hair trapped between his fingers: David, it was so nice meeting you. All the luck in the world.
David: Thank you, Barbie.
Samuel Snoek-Brown was raised in Texas and has lived all over, but home is the Pacific Northwest. Production editor for Jersey Devil Press, his fiction can be found in print and online by visiting his website: snoekbrown.com.
2012/03/29 Comments Off on Michael Juliani
On the theme of David Lynch
Notes for the Script I’d Write for Lynch
“Golden rose, the color of the dream I had…
It’s only a dream
I’d love to tell somebody about this dream…”
I. They say to live as if you’re traveling—
It’s worth sticking around just to see what happens.
II. Toward Dionysus grease hair and worst fear, toward the miracle.
Hitchhiker’s murder. A scalp in the pool. Fast-food car. Same pants every day.
Our splintered protagonist.
Another word: murk (& its confidence).
Cinema returns us to anima:
Motel room sex, vacuum cleaner watching like a dog.
Her skin had the red of the shower water,
the blue cold of pipes and the silver of the screen.
The perfect poet’s luck, like a rattlesnake tamed.
The poets in Los Angeles must
wear boots, their hair like Gogol’s, matted by cheap chlorine, rolling flint with thumbs
to breathe tobacco’s crystals through stiffness.
Notebook aphorisms like:
“Drink from the L.A. River, you grow a tail. The ocean, the intra-uterine salt, no harm there.”
The similes in film stay subconscious, dampening the lens & your heart
in the seats.
I want to make some of them conscious:
“My father is like a dead raven.”
For the film:
“The Poet’s L.A.,” muscle-red & runny:
L.A. of diner eggs and morning beer
L.A. of long hair that doesn’t itch
L.A. of a woman’s breath caught in a handkerchief, waxy cherry
L.A. of stoplights blinking in closed eyes, salsa colors,
trying to sleep with sunspots:
hot breath of the DVD player projecting flashes of Naomi Watts’ psychotic breasts—pulsating the elastic plump
of her panties like a cartoon heart thumping a shirt.
III. At 12 or so Lynch became an Eagle Scout.
I told Mom, “Do you think I have time for that kind of thing right now?”
It’s rare now these days I’m not wired in the jaw,
In yoga they tell me I have rigid ankles.
In yoga I keep my thoughts.
I fist around their salts like I’m breaking a horse.
My plump exhaust-smell “fuck you.”
I’ll leave home someday w/ a palm of wedding rings
to melt down, playground woodchips in my shoes & a water bottle of wine
siphoned from grandpa.
Leave the rooms where the obsidian taste of hairspray stung
the eyes & tongue w/ flush. That L.A. of nude colored bras in suburbs
w/in folds of dove-wing blouses in church, the one-breath high of beauty products
during hugs, the smell of marriage—
Crystalline mothers walking toward me
like sculptures being made. They’d only let me slip away
out of kindness, I suppose.
IV. 21st Century skin: air-conditioned. The wind on the body after the pool.
The buildings decades too old, bondo split open
like eggplant, the color of an angry man’s face.
I drive up Vermont, looking in on storefront iglesia
dug outta the wall by bullhorns, I see cheap pilates
& the Guevara/Hendrix murals “Hate Free Community”—
A little about me: Before I die
I will see Nashville, Austin, N.Y.
& their hieroglyphs, hospitality, foolhardy mania,
thick drainage of every town.
V. Coffee-stained books piled three neat stacks
by the heat vent, your bed dragged & shoved into the closet space,
clothes dipping into the fucking like willows.
“Never heard a man speak like this man before,” you allow to the blender, getting him another warm Blue Moon from the weak fridge.
Your roommate’s cocaine & highball dress slides up her hips when she stands—
“It’s just like a bathing suit, big deal.”
He crosses wind-gray 5 p.m. intersections with the ambulances, hand inside jacket
like warming a pistol w/ his nerves.
VI. Country song I’d write if it rhymed:
“A man came at me with haywire.
I didn’t kill him but I turned him red.
I see him when I press my thumb down on my eyelid in the sun.
The same way a night blacked out is a dream.”
VII. The supermarket parking lot,
hard black lava w/ boot imprints, snags of plastic bags tumbleweeded across the dog city.
Buying meat and malt liquor. A lament, this is, for the unpressed. For the insides of televisions.
For a hungover squint in nighttime
making out the glitter of people. Snake charm for blue souls,
the bruises of miracles waiting—another night, another journal,
another set of meals. Talcum torsos.
Igneous needs, aquiline shame.
For days, “Little Wing” plays for headache’s bent tones
& its piles of grating metal keys.
If this weren’t California we’d have a howling moon, that’s what it’d be called you know,
the moon-tongue freeway, azure deaths.
L.A.’s trapped snow rushing the ears like the speed of light, deafening heaven, brain
in dull white, the sky a crunched ice cube wormed.
A young black woman pulls me close at the party, purple beneath her skirt.
“You’re a good dancer.” I don’t believe her. I’m no dull, dumb snake or sad fag.
You know what I mean. You know how that kind of nighttime feels.
VIII. In another unquenched December night
with the chipping white doors closed
on me in my bedroom,
dead mists of the celluloid swerves
my body’s made from floor to bed half-man
for five years,
sloppy on my winter couch
I watched “Mulholland Dr.” with my boots tied together and slung over the pillow like ice skates.
IX. My favorite colors: red, iron gray, silver, L.A. nighttime smog-black
w/ crackling hue, dark blood sunset orange, sour purple, housing project brick & brown,
My favorite Lynch line: “No I want you to fuck it—Shit yes, pour the fucking beer!”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
I’m thinking maybe a family flick at this point, a family of muses:
The Dad a Frank Booth, the Mom his mother,
the baby the Elephant Man, Lynch smoking
his scentless cigarettes w/ palmade face & I could play
the suburban beatnik eldest son stealing everyone’s pills.
X. Rose City—autistic laughter,
syrupy smiles, big noses, no good bars.
I dedicate this to my future wife—
Bonnet, learned & glistening, the woman
we all want—
Dear, this is my journal,
don’t ask anyone else
about my home.
Try to find something to do with this. All thanks. All apologies.
On the theme of Secret Life
Parking Lot Oil Puddles with Jim Morrison
They talk an alky ramble. Dance
on tables—I’m on my knees,
the patchwork of my jeans grinds
to a bitter white dust in the dirt mix,
Highway taillights to
hamburgers. Green signs, wind, rock
& roll music—Giving lookers the finger. Telling the men
on the corner to fuck their mothers.
“Hey you! Short-shorts! Fuck your mother!”
Orange juice, Goldfish, red candle, the used body
of the blender with pink shredded strawberries.
My fingers cringing your waistband
like a grave’s fingers. My fingers turning to bones
where they’re wrapped. Your pants falling to the floor.
Apartment bedroom doors with codes like safes that beep
when you know them. The black oaks and magnolias sway
from where I sit like people speaking in tongues. Ashen Sister Ruth
giving up her vows to stalk the jungle, chest heaving
in a red dress, red lipstick, red ringlets, looking out of breath
for Mr. Dean, whose balls hang down the hair
coming from his shorts, my grandmother’s age as an actor.
Slime ring of a day-old beer can on the table. Used blue razors
rattling the closet ledge,
syringes jammed with hair. Her hand during sleep
paints my belly red.
Her blood pillows. Her mother’s loose-hanging leopard
thong she shows on the couch. Her ass through the string glowing toward
the bathroom like two pieces of toast.
Empty water bottles. My girlfriends sucking
the metals from their thumbs.
Michael Juliani is a poet/writer from Pasadena, California currently living in South Los Angeles as a journalism student at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He’s a columnist for Neon Tommy. His work has appeared at Thought Catalog and as a guest to The Faster Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at michaeljuliani.wordpress.com.
2012/03/29 Comments Off on Tamara Kelly
On the theme of David Lynch
I Do Love Norma’s Pies
Tamara Kelly is a professional fiber artist, pattern designer, writer, blogger, and amateur photographer. She lives in Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River, and likes it. Her website is www.mooglyblog.com and she takes on all yarny challenges.
2012/03/29 Comments Off on Tammy Stoner
On the theme of David Lynch
Roadkill as Definition
“Gatorade. Fuck, no Gatorade,” Sanford mumbled.
She hopped in the ’78 Malibu and zipped to the 7-11 for red Gatorade, her libation of choice when as high as she clearly was.
God this is good stuff, she thought, then: Damn, I wish I had some porn.
Sanford was wearing sunglasses because it was sunny. She drove by three couples holding hands on the corner. Highschool love.
Fucking a-holes, she thought. Doing nothing but standing there, locking digits to prove co-nnec-tion … boning in ways that don’t even feel good … making claims to territory in some attempt to be someone since you’re with someone.
To be someone you gotta’ own someone, right? You have to be connected to stay afloat, stay high. Passion gives us the high – the dopamine-induced, theater presentation of love – that keeps us going on this fucking wheel. We play the parts we are told because our brains pump it into us to support the whole process so we can breed and spread and claim and own and be.
Passion without love would lead to chaos. Without love we’d be missing the claim and the associated protection. Passion is the prize, the high – but what is love?
Sanford pulled into the 7-11, one spot left.
Who the fuck are all these people at 7-11 in the middle of the god damn day? Nachos and Heavy Metal and underage smokers and some guy who needs shoe polish. Good fucking luck, asshole.
Gatorade and a lighter and a pack – two packs – of Camels. Camel Lights. I don’t need the penny. Yeah, thanks.
And off to the car. Sanford backed out easy because the edge had come on soon. The sound of trains racing.
Easy does it, cowboy. Breathe through and move this boat of a car outta’ here nice and fucking easy.
Sanford pulled her baseball cap down as she drove past the corner of couples and swung the Malibu around the strip mall, to the back streets. The quiet, bright, back streets of suburbia.
Fuck – what the fuck is that!!
Sanford kept her foot pressed on the brake. She could smell the tire smoke from the screech she’d just made. She looked straight ahead and there, in the middle of the street, was a possum who had been hit by a car. Its eyes were glassy and reflective and it looked right at her. It was barely able to move. There was a big patch of blood draining out of its right side.
It was huge. Much bigger than she had a possum would be. Bigger than a small dog even.
Her mind raced: I don’t know what to do… I can’t – it’s dying. It needs to die. It’s like it’s looking at me to be the one to save it… I’m not a farmer.
Sanford pounded the steering wheel while the animal teetered helplessly and stared at her.
With a snort and a hard slam of the gearshift into reverse, she threw her arm over the seat, looked behind her, and backed down the street,.
“Fuck fuck fuck!”
At the end of the street, Sanford turned back to the possum. It hadn’t moved. She slid the gear into drive and, with a grip squeezing her guts, she snorted the slime of coke down the back of her throat and slammed her foot on the gas pedal.
“Oh God, oh God!!” she screamed, her eyes pounding as her ears flooded.
The car gained speed before it crashed into the possum with a dull thud. She felt two muted bumps as the wheels drove over the now-dead animal.
Sanford’s heart ached. She took a deep breath and lit a cigarette.
“That,” she realized, “is love.”
Tammy Lynne Stoner is the Fiction Editor for Gertrude Press. She is the creator/writer of “Dottie’s Magic Pockets,” which has been in a dozen international film festivals and is in 100+ libraries in the US and Canada. Her work has been published most recently in Draft and Society (Pale House). Her website: TammyLynneStoner.com.
2012/03/29 Comments Off on Mark Brunke
On the theme of David Lynch
David Lynch: An Oral History of Las Vegas
“The only true part of this is that when I was fourteen, my mother put me on a Greyhound Bus to get me out of Las Vegas.
We were never meant to live in Ontario. How does driftwood end up anywhere? It all tastes the same, unless you particularly like the Irish Sea. Our mother’s had escaped into the Wasteland between the Clean Cities. There was never any muscle, just thin fibers. When you pressed them, there was little meat on the bones. They had those dry famine teeth you get in the high desert in February.
The first thing that hit you was the constant temperature and humidity. It was solid, unchanging. The landing was soft, but you had to keep moving. Eventually, if you moved steady enough and far enough, you hit solid ground.
The night before I left, we watched Eraserhead. She gave me her copies of On The Road and The Soft Machine. I was on my way. My last memory, the last memory I ever want, is sitting alone in the old bus station off Fremont Street, watching this old man with his arm in a sling playing the slots.
We’d take them when they were near their last breath to the Garbage Waters. The radio station constantly replayed broadcasts from the nervous room where children sent their lost teeth. The waves rolled in and out with the thick litter discarded from the Clean Cities.
As we got mother closer, the gases would begin to make your head float. We never went further. You’d see her eyes becoming translucent; she’d begin talking to the sky of heads out beyond the sea. She’d lie down and the waves gradually would roll her back into the surf. She began to talk, but by then her voice was either drowned out by the sound or becoming one with it, it was too hard to tell.
William S. Burroughs came up to me outside of a bathroom in a donut shop in Barstow. He had his dick in his hand, well, that’s a presumption really, who knows what it was; you could see the old grey wrinkles in his arm skin and imagine how his bony artistic fingers felt; for all I know it was a collapsing beetle. The black dirt covered him. He asked me what kind of writer I was and I said Neither Fiction. We didn’t talk about it, his exposure. Those were different times, you just toughed it out, got back on the bus, and hoped to fucking hell you didn’t have to sit next to an asshole.
She lay back upon a folded blue blanket, looking at the top of the tree line, at the darkening horizon of the East. In front of her she could see the little mirror in the tiny trailer kitchen, reflecting the still cold blue setting to the West.
The biggest problem was I kept stealing comic books from the 7-Eleven off of Charleston and 8th. They always had the same story. Godzilla, looking in a mirror. She set her eyes upon the reflection of sunset as her heartbeat slowed to a close. She tried to be at peace, but there were the tethers, her children, still in the woods. She remembered taking them on the train, and letting them go on the bus.
The old girls would always freeze at the edge of the horizon. You imagined them living somewhere, expanding their skin across the black and white memory, reading the scrawl and snippets they etched with their bodies into the tundra.
They would drift in and out of the Earth, their mouths barely above the ground. They were cresting when the driftwood came across the flat beach. In the earth black sand, you felt the holes breathe with every exhale of the methane clams, their feet pulling ever closer to the sea.
She turned like a corkscrew, her left leg lifted into a high thrust, spinning forward. Her left foot planted on the edge of the dirt mound, pointing straight at the batter’s head. The energy in her body projected through her, to the end of her extended right arm as it sailed around her midsection, fully extended and parallel with the flat earth. In between two heartbeats she snapped her wrist in perfect rhythm, exploding from her body, the baseball left her hand, appearing to rise as it sailed by the batter’s chest before he could blink. A perfect game.
We’d crawl to the other side of the old gravel pile, roll over and sit and watch the orange sky fade; wait for the train to make that evening sound of strawberries drowning. The winter sun was a small sliver, emerging through lights from the violet shades of sky.
I kept thinking about Bill. I had noticed sores from an ingrown hair were getting infected on his forearm. I imagined pressing the rough edges of a bitten fingernail into it, folding that skin back. Seeing bone, talking like a mechanic.
The mothers would raise us as their minds fractured. We would watch them disappear into the Pain. We were okay with the air, but you could see it turning their eyes. There was something about being old enough to gestate. The only cure was finding jars of discarded Famine. One jar and they could make it another year. As you poured it into them, you’d see their pupils turn black, watch as the thinness between their bones and skin inflated with the color of glowing eosin.
They would hold us in-between the train cars as they descended into the psychedelic edges of the Mess. Then, when the train slowed so the Disposal Cars could turn their load sideways and disperse it into the remnants of the old Central Valley, we jumped. That air…that was the last moment you felt the air move.
I’ll never forget your funeral, the color of your made up face. I know it was the makeup, but it’s like your body shifted into it. When we die, we get that grey ash from the cave walls all over us, it’s like yeast or vinegar flies, it’s always there waiting to grow. It’s like you were back in France, ten thousand ago, being eaten by life. Except your cave was a basement in Las Vegas.”
Mark Brunke lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.
2012/03/14 Comments Off on Ed Steele
Ed Steele is a writer, photographer and maker of short films. He works as a music photographer in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. When not photographing rock stars, Ed volunteers with his wife at a feline rescue group.
2012/03/14 Comments Off on Jennifer Tomaloff