Monday, December 29, 2008

"his blood was fused with turnip juice and sunlight"

thomas edward britton wakes up from a coma and stumbles down the stairs, iv's in tow. "what the mother fuck is this?" he says, dragging rusted pipe and tubing behind him. his legs give in in halfway down the spines of the building and he collapses in on himself like an accordion. "where are my keys. where are my goddamn keys." he exclaims, gripping what remains of his left arm. "you mother fuckers." he spits into a cylinder at the base of the steps and waits for the ping sound of saliva on metal to judge just how far up he really is. thomas edward crawls along the floor, shuffling as best he can, hoping to find someone to scream at. "asshole," he says into reflective tiles. a roar comes from the south end of the building. thomas edward spins around, the force of it tearing needle from arm, a dark liquid cascading down the floor. "what is the time? what is the time?" he spews. once. twice. and slips back into a coma.

my neighbor has a son who sleeps in a drawer

i have a car that runs on shredded wheat
and in the morning i fuel with two percent
to get the wheels moving
i have a toadstool to sit on at night
and i sing "coral. the breadwinner." to put it to bed
in a glossy, yellow glow
i have a neighbor down two houses from me
whose son sleeps in a drawer below socks
to keep warm when moonlight travels far
and i have two hands and eight fingers
but i only really use the five
because it's much easier when i make my mother's cupcakes

caroline stevens

my partner in crime, her name was caroline stevens. she lived next door to me. she was nice. she was pretty. in the 3rd grade when we were on spring break we snuck into mr. mccuphrey's backyard. he didn't know we were there. we just wanted to climb the giant tree in his backyard. we always wished one of us had a tree like that of our own. we wanted to build a treehouse. scott tanner had a treehouse and we were jealous. but he was a dumb kid anyway.

i remember when we went to the drive in theater one month. we stayed in the back of my moms car. she pulled up in reverse so we could lay back and watch the movie and eat snacks. i remember one of the people there got into a fight with another because his car was too big and his kids couldn't see the movie. it was kind of scary. caroline was worried but it turned out okay.

caroline and i, we were good friends, but then one day she went to another school and i didn't hear from her as much. but then we started talking again, but it wasn't the same. i remember that pretty well.

Friday, December 26, 2008

daydream deposit boxes

10:15 - I think my tooth is falling out. I think it’s been falling out for a while. I can feel it in there. Wiggling. Writhing. Forcing its way out. It’s separating from the gum. I can feel it every time I smile. Every time I bite down on a carrot or a piece of meat. This isn’t good. I like steak. I like apples. It’s chipped. That’s a start. Shit. I really don’t want to lose another tooth.

10:57 – Ginger came in. I think she’s on speed. She’s definitely on something. I don’t think her daughters realize their mothers’ problem. They run around the lobby. Ginger talks far too loudly. The other people look around. Look at her. I don’t think she knows what she’s saying.

1:21 – I’m tired. Just flat out drained. I don’t know why. Haven’t slept well. Not in a while but that’s really no surprise. Had a cup of coffee this morning. Need another one. Drink too much coffee now. Never really liked it before but now I can’t operate without it. I need another cup.

1:54 – That’s about five people in a row that have said “Merry Christmas”. It’s nice. Pleasant and depressing at the same time. How many of those people will be this considerate, this caring come January? How much more difficult is it for people to be this happy, this forgiving more than once a year? Yeah, we’ve all heard it before. It’s an unfortunate thing.

2:31 – She breaks down. Shit. Just like that. “Is everything okay?” “I’m so sorry. I’m- I’m sorry.” For what? She mouths. “My husband died.” Oh, man. She cries. That’s why she’s taking all her money out. Heartbreaking. And days before Christmas. Stop apologizing. “I’m sorry.” Don’t be. “Is there anything I can do for you?” “No, no I’m sorry.”Dammit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the tale of jack

jack lives a good life. he does. honest. his parents had him early on in their lives. so early that instead of drinking champagne at their wedding they drank apple cider. on jack's first birthday, one year after they said they didn't want anything to do with him, jack's grandparents threw him a luau, a spectacular party with hula dancers and drums and a roast pig, and all the family came over and enjoyed themselves and jack parents were grateful for the help.

and on christmas jack's parents bought him a ghostbusters proton pack and ghost trap and jack was the happiest boy in the world. they celebrated and played super mario in his grandma's living room where jack and his family lived for the first few years until jack's parents had another child. jack got a brother.

and so jack and his brother grew up and jack became more of a ham, year after year, trying more and more to stand out from his newborn brother. he loved attention. and he loved ninja turtles.

and a few years passed. jack grew up and so did his brother and the whole family moved to a new house and jack started school and although he was quite outgoing he was, by far, the shyest in the class.

but he grew up. and then one day jack's mom and dad brought him and his brother into their room and told them that things weren't working out. jack was confused and angry and upset and frustrated and jack lashed out and had a hard time. but then things worked out. they always seem to work out for jack.

and then jack jumped forward in time and saw himself growing up and getting hair in places he never had hair and noticing girls when he never noticed girls. but he was still jack.

frankly speaking, jack lives a normal life. the cory matthews life. and it doesn't suffice for jack anymore. jack drinks too often and curses too frequent and smokes on occasion to balance out the buzz. jack hides his secrets like a dog hides his shame and waits and wishes for someone to notice, never revealing outright and getting off on the prospect of everyone knowing. jack is an asshole and a heartbreaker who decided to give up on getting close because the inevitable outcome it too much to handle any more. jack is cold and jealous and loses a little more of himself each time he sees something similar to himself on the television or in a book and jack realizes that his identity, who he truly is, is nothing more than an emulation of some last encounter.

and jack daydreams more and more. he falls into an alternate dimension where actions have no consequence, where he lives out the fantasy of being immune, of a future where it all plays out like some movie script. he has it down. like the part where he plans to leave for a year, plans out everything he'll do before hand: the telling off of some secret nemesis, the confession of affection to some unrequited secret love, the "never look back moment". and then the hour or so in the movie where jack "finds himself" through a series of adventures and spiritual moments. and then the big finale when jack returns home after a year or so and is welcomed warmly ends up getting the girl and everyone lives happily ever after. he's seen it a million times. knows it line for line. plays out in his alternate dimension.

but some things are better left to the dreamers. and, after all, jack really does have a good life.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"effectively speaking on behalf of no one..."

past the pharmacy, past the signs, past the ill-lit dive bars, drunks, and bastards swimming in the gin and neon, semi-coated pink and green, past stretch 313 and the abandoned sullivan house with the cracks and the smells and the cats who chase mice through the stench of a basement buried beneath wrecked lamps and picture frames, into the darkness of the wood where poor peter carson lays upon driftwood singing so quietly, "johnny boy, a will-to-do, oh johnny boy, oh johnny boy. dear johnny boy, oh what-to-do, come creeping through the moonshine," like a hollow, sterile man beneath wretched memories.

"do you see me in the morning as i'm waking up the world? with a pitchfork and a shovel and a heavy shoulder or two."

the writings have stalled, a little more each day, spilling slowly out of a once full head. put a pen to paper and wait for the ink to bleed. put a finger to key and listen for the taps of fresh ideas. but the blood doesn't pump. the mind sits in a stale, sluggish state, with a predilection towards mediocrity.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"My Close Call"

The events herein take place three summers ago on a gorgeous, serene day in July in a lake under a waterfall just outside of Kapa'a, Hawaii. It is wholly factual, down to the fibers, and reprocessed for the first time since its occurrence. It goes as such:

We drove for an hour or so down the only main street on the island. Poipu's beach was as beautiful as any other but we were looking for a new adventure. Something like from a movie. So we drove. Farther and longer until we saw the sign. "Wailua Falls".

"Let's go," she said with excitement. I obliged. After all, how do you turn down a waterfall? Especially if you've never seen one before.

So we turned and drove down the street that would lead us to the falls. We drove for twenty minutes before finally reaching Wailua Falls. Nothing I'd ever witnessed before had come close to being so magical, so peaceful and fierce, all at the same time.

"It's amazing," she said.


I parked the 1992 Toyota truck my grandfather had let us borrow earlier in the day at the lookout point to the falls. We were at least 100 yards away over looking the raging water poor 80 feet into the lake below us.

"There are people down there," she said, a hint of curiosity slipping through the syllables.

"How do you think they got down there? There's no boats or anything," I replied, just as interested.

Below us were about 15 people, all swimming and lounging around the lakeside, taking in the beauty of the falls.

"You want to go down there?" A woman said to us. Why wouldn't we? So she led us away from the lookout point, along a fence line, directly to an opening in the fence.

"Go down there," she said, pointing to the man-made trail that seemed to drop off like the end of the world.

So we did. I mean, it was vacation. Plus there were ropes so what could go wrong.

We navigated our way down the damp, muddy trail like amateur explorers, slipping of a branch or slope ever ten seconds. Rope held in place by branches and makeshift weights kept us from falling of the edge. The sound of rushing water grew with every misstep until we finally reached the base of the trail.

Wailua Falls.

I stood there at the lakeside for a moment, soaking in the size, the sheer magnificence of it all. Something that you never forget. People played near the edges. We could see a few people swimming out in the distance, making a run for the waterfall.

"Let's go," I said, pointing to the waterfall across the lake. It was a good 80 yards or so across the water.

"Okay," she replied without hesitation.

So we did. We took of our clothes, save for the swimsuits we already had on and our shoes because of the rocks, and dove in to the cool, refreshing water.

I recall thinking how awesome it all was. The lake, the waterfall, the island in general. It was all so surreal.

We swam nearly three-fourths of the way to the falls when it happened. I remember feeling scared. Worried, but not yet aware of what was actually happening. So I kept swimming. At least I tried to. I moved my arms, front to back, kicking my legs with every stroke, yet I went no where.

"Katie," I slurred, "Katie, help."

She turned. I remember her turning, coming back, seeing me fight to stay up.

"Kevin," she yelled, panic suffocating her voice. "Kevin."

And I sank. Like dead weight. Like a marble in a cup. I sank. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how badly I struggled, I just kept sinking. She did her best to keep me up, to keep my head above water. She tried so hard. But I kept going under.

I had never been so terrified in my entire life.

Lifetimes past before I felt an arm come under and around my chest. I don't remember it clearly. A man and his son noticed us from the shore. They swam out to help. I remember sitting for a long time afterward, throwing up water, head spinning, trying to comprehend what had just happened, and thanking the two men for being there.

The rest of the day came and went. We went home, returned the truck to my grandfather, and had dinner with the entire family like we'd done every night before.

"Do anything exciting today, CK?" my grandfather asked.

"Not really," I said sheepishly, "just went to the beach."

Monday, December 8, 2008

I speak slower now, to seem more like an old soul

We spent the majority of our weekends hiking the paths along the riverside in Northern California, the frisk autumn weather refreshing us with every new trail. Massive redwood trees rose towards the azure ceiling, lining the tranquil stream, reaching for the nebulas above. The waters effervescence collected where rock met dirt, splashing softly, glistening in the morning sun. Magnificent earthy colors enveloped us as we strode along through Mother Nature’s beauty.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

process and archive for later disposal

Monday, September 29, 2008

admission: take one

we were far too short
in the timing
in the feeling
in the sense
that i'm far too
to release

Thursday, September 25, 2008

sunrise. sunrise.

in the meadows,
in the wind,
in the colorless. caption. below.

bottomless sounds.

souls. souls in the ether. e p h e m e r a l
sweet and silent.

in the sun. in the sun. in the moon.
in the glow
and the gloom
and the white and blue.
in the

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"no, i'd rather have that one..."

we hadn't the slightest idea of what to say. no one did. no one ever does.

no. no, i see. i understand completely. the fact of the matter is that it's over. plain and simple. fun while it lasted. not in the cards. pin a cliche to it. however you want. but it's over.

i met him one night, in the thickets and the shrubs near the riverbed just outside Portland, the darkness illuminated by the passing headlights. he offered his support among other things. those things being the pathways to a higher or, as he said, "transcended plane". i thought for a moment while moss grew in slow motion on the logs beneath the water. i saw in there, in the light, suppressed by crashing ferns. my secrets buried me there in the drink.

i'm not the humanoid you thought i was.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

cyclical and sterile and credulous, all the same

i gutted fish in kathmandu, drinking wine and sunlight, listening to the wind make love to the ocean. higher than the stepchild of everest and k2, slipping between the past and present and future and everything between. yes, even between that. lights never more brilliant. sounds never more lucid. dreams never more real. i tell you it was something feral. that's for certain.

beggars find themselves drooling at the sight of oncoming traffic, listening for the sound of music or mouths pouring through a cracked window, staring blank, clean and empty as a new chalkboard, towards that opening which serves no further purpose beyound false hope for those who've slept where most have spewed, for those who weep while others wine, for those who dream greater than the lot of us all.

a squid. there was a squid and i remember kicking and splashing and yelling but i couldn't yell because of the water and i just remember seeing it in the back of my head. i saw it swimming fast and the tentacles reaching for me and the suckers grabbing my legs and i was scared. i was terrified. but i wasn't yelling. i couldn't yell. i don't know why i thought of it or what it really meant. i mean, people usually don't think of squid when they're about to die.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ephemeral, but not quite so. This is the product of the incomprehensible.

Your father found you on the boulevard three nights ago, lying in a pool of your own madness. You drifted not too far from home after your sister caught you sleeping in the attic. "You can't be here," she said, her voice stern and solid like a drill instructor. "He'll find you in the middle of the night. He'll kick you to the curb and take what's left of you." So you woke up from the dream, the one where you are flying through the star lines and you make your stumbled way towards the ladder. "Don't come back," she says, turning away before even finishing the sentence, leaving you to climb back down the way you came in.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Aqua(velva)phobia and how you dream in supply and demand

i dreamed this once. i remember it now. we spent five days on the southern tip, dipping ourselves now and again into the drink. sunlight met the shore, met the air, met the pore. in and then back and then in again. managing not the time of day but the time it'd take to ruin it. either me or her. i would bet her, secretly in my head, on the outcome. because even though there were no winners in the end of it all i still wanted to feel like maybe it were me. i almost died there. in the drink. the bubbles. the glassy abyss. swimming out to meet the falling waters. only made it half way. i think now that it felt like what being apart of the mob must feel like, only when you've screwed the mob and they encase your feet in cement and tell you your "swimmin' with the fishes tonight, saul." only my name's not saul. and i know nothing about the mob. but i know something of almost dying. of drowning. of struggling to breath. air: never a more precious commodity so terrifyingly scarce. sweating under water. yeah, it's possible. but i couldn't tell you how it ended. last thing i thought about was the bet. and then the dream ended.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In Memory

My grandfather died one month ago. June 8th, 2008. He was 66 years old. His name was Esteban Raleigh Largusa. To us, me and the younger generation, the grandkids, we called him "papa". He lived in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, for the last few years. He was born in Kilauea, near the north shore.

For the last few weeks I've wanted to write something to him. Something that would express my feelings of him. My thoughts about him. My love for him. But I've found it to be more difficult that I could have imagined.

I can't express how much I miss him, how much I wish he were still here, and how upset and angry it makes me that he's not.

I went golfing a couple weeks ago. I never golf. But I went to the driving range with a friend and we bought some balls and hit the turf.

My grandfather was an avid golfer. He spent the better part of his time golfing. Always going to the club, to the driving range, meeting with friends, getting in that 18 hole round of golf before it got too hot (although, let me say, the heat would never stop him). He loved to golf. He took me and my brother and my cousin one time, years ago, to the driving range with him. I remember watching him drive the ball hundreds of yards every time. He'd say to us, "Choke down on the club," and, "Eye on the ball, and keep that arm straight." The only thing I could remember thinking was, "What is the appeal?"

But then there I was, two weeks ago, standing under a wooden awning at a driving range in Riverside hoping somehow that would bring us closer. That maybe, just maybe, if I could hit the ball hard enough my grandfather would, by some mythical act, reappear and tell me how great of a drive that was and then proceed to do it a thousand times better. How many times I looked toward the entrance hoping, wishing, praying, fooling myself that he would be there.

I saw him for the last time in February. We were having a Superbowl party at the house. Food and friends and talk of hockey filled the rooms. I remember standing behind our leather sofa near the table eating chips and salsa when he walked into the room. His smile, his charm, his charisma shone and radiated throughout. I remember thinking, "What the hell are you doing here?" and then actually saying it to him as we embraced. I hadn't expected to see him that day. He made his rounds, greeted everybody, and settled into his home away from home away from the golf course: the kitchen.

My grandfather loved to cook. I couldn't help but smile when, 5 minutes after he showed up, he was already helping my mom with cleaning or cooking the salmon she had bought the day before. He was a fantastic cook. If I had to pick his specialty it would be Pork Adobo, a Filipino dish. But that day it was salmon.

Today is July 6th. One month ago my grandfather passed away. One month ago I was sitting at the table, talking with family, about how, in Hawaii at the Marine Wildlife Observatory, he would pull the Opihi shells of the sides of the walls in the tanks and eat them right there. One month ago we were watching the Food Network as chef Sam Choy would win the Luau Cookout Challenge from Hawaii. One month ago I was among friends, at our hockey game, resting on a bench in Riverside, thinking about how I should call him and catch him up on things. One month ago, when we finally found out what had happened, I remember grieving in a chair by the door, trying to rationalize all the things that had happened that day, trying to comprehend why it all happened that day, and trying to understand why things like these do happen.

Here's to you, Papa.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nothing special ever happened

Nothing special ever happened. There was never a specific event or family trauma that occurred to me when I was younger. Nothing that affected me in any unique way to shape the way I am or how I write. I can't say that my father died rescuing fellow soldiers in the Vietnam War or that my mother drank her weight in red wine and, on occasion, found herself in the thralls of a neighborhood man or that my siblings boasted a variety of narcotics that they took and shared and made me ingest against my will. My family was the quintessential cookie cutter household. My mother served the church. My father paid the bills. My grandparents lived normal, God loving lives, surviving the Great Depression, President Nixon, and the hippie movement. They served their country, obeyed the law, and loved their children. Nothing special ever happened.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sailors And Cavemen(Revised)

Sailors And Cavemen

A silver flask sits at the edge of a nightstand in a stylish, high-end hotel near the east side of Orlando. Gideon Nebuls slumps in a brown chair on his balcony. Lean arms drape over the leather armrests. His room is on the 4th floor. It’s late afternoon, and the sun has just begun its nighttime routine while the rain continues to fall from the mottled sky. Gideon listens to droplets beat away at the balcony overhang as he watches the people below move about like ants in a farm.
He tries to relax.
The phone rings from across the room. Gideon, legs full of anxiety, forces himself out of his chair to answer it. It rings two more times before he finally picks up the receiver.
“Good evening, Mr. Nebuls,” says the concierge at the 1st floor front-desk, his tone placid. “I hope you are enjoying your stay.”
“I am, yes. Thank you,” Gideon replies. His voice is low and coarse.
“Very good, sir. I just wanted to check in. There is a Mr. Conners on the line. Shall I put him through?”
Gideon thinks for a moment. Mr. Conners? He can’t recall the name. He’s never been one to take the call of someone whose name or number he doesn’t recognize and, yet, at the same time he always hates when people leave voice messages. But what does it matter? It is, after all, his last night on Earth.
“Go ahead. Put him through,” he tells the concierge.
“Very good, sir. Have a good night.” There is a brief pause while the lines switch between the front desk and Mr. Conners. Gideon loosens his vocal chords with a melodious series of grunts and coughs. Mr. Conners? He tries one last time to place the name in his memory before speaking into the receiver.

The back yard of the Nebuls residence was busy with celebration. Picnic tables were set up in rows toward the far end of the yard. There was a barbeque, coolers full of beer, and a table with an assortment of chips and dips near the patio. Sunlight blanketed the guests as they talked and drank and took turns congratulating the new Commander of the space shuttle Discovery.
“Gideon, come here a moment. I want you to meet someone.”
Gideon sprang up from his seat at the far end of the picnic table and made his way to his father’s side at the opposite end of the bench. His father was sitting with a man roughly the same build as him, strong and sturdy and sharp in the face. Together, they were like a superhero and his sidekick.
“Hey, champ. I want you to meet John Douglas,” Walter began, “John is going to be going up in the shuttle with me.”

Gideon sat down across from the man. His eyes lit up underneath his charcoal hair. “Really?” he asked.
“Yep,” John started. “We’re going up to the space station to fix some panels. Ever seen the space station?”
“Yeah. Dad showed me some pictures from the last time he went up there.”
John swirled his drink in his hand, “Pretty neat, huh?”
“John has been a friend of your father’s since I started in the program,” Walter said. “We’re finally getting a mission in together.”
John laughed, “Yeah. After how long? Better late than never, huh?”
“That’s true,” Walter replied. His face was red in the sunlight. “Gideon,” he began, “Go get your pop another drink, will you?”
Gideon pulled his gaze away from the two men and rushed to get Walter another beer. He reached the cooler, sunk his hand into the icy waters, and pulled out a fresh brew. He moved through the little pockets of people talking and found his father sitting in the same spot as when he left.
“Thanks, champ,” Walter said, giving him a wink as he opened the beer.
Gideon stayed next to his father and listened to the two men talk about past missions. They went on about how fun it was going to be and how excited they were. Gideon’s eyes remained fixed on his father. He sat there and listened to every word until John got up and left.
“Pleasure to meet you, son,” he said. “And don’t worry, I’ll make sure your pop doesn’t screw anything up over there.” John pointed toward the sky and then left.
* * *
“Hello?” Gideon asks again.
“Mr. Nebuls?” says a man, his voice deep and quick.
“Who is this?” Gideon responds, tone shifting from tired to curious.
“Mr. Nebuls, this is Captain Gregory Connors. How are you doing this evening?”
Gideon is still caught off guard. “I’m well. Yourself?”
“I’m well, Mr. Nebuls. Thank you. I understand you will be apart of the Omega mission tomorrow morning?”
“Yes, sir. That’s correct.”
“I recognized your name in the papers. The first manned mission to Mars. That’s no easy feat, son. Quite the challenge.”
Gideon tenses upon hearing this. It is no easy feat. The mission will take years. He knows that. They all do. But how can he pass up this opportunity. How can anyone? Beads of sweat begin forming on Gideon’s brow.
“Gideon, are you there, son?”
Gideon speaks. “Yes, sir. Sorry, I was a million miles away.”
“Don’t worry,” Mr. Connors begins, “You’ll get there soon enough. I’m calling because I worked for NASA some years ago. I knew your father.”
“You did, sir?” Gideon’s voice grows curious.
“I did. Fine man, he was. We went on a few missions together, into orbit, fixing or installing satellites. We never made it to the moon. Buzz and Neil, they beat us to the punch. Your father and me would have gotten there but well, you know. Things happen.” There is a brief pause. “Top class astronaut. One of a kind.”
“Thank you, sir,” Gideon says, trying to relax. The splattering of rain fills a brief pause across the line.
“Was there something I could help you with, sir?” Gideon says.
“No, no. Nothing too pressing. I understand you must be under a significant amount of stress. This is your first flight, is it not?”
“It is, sir.”
“I suppose I just wanted to tell you ‘Good Luck’. Like I said, your father was a class act. I knew him well and it’s good to know his son is following in his footsteps.”
“Well thank you, sir.” Gideon breathes deeply. “If you don’t mind, sir, I do have a big day tomorrow and I think it’s best I get some rest now.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you for taking my call, son. Good luck tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll make your father proud.”
Gideon hesitates. “Thank you, sir. Good night.”
He hangs up the phone. The words of the Captain echo in his head. He feels tired and weak and upset all at the same time. Gideon walks over to the nightstand and picks up the silver flask. He shakes it once or twice. Walking towards the balcony, he twists the cap off the flask and takes a quick drink. His body warms as he pours himself into the chair beneath the balcony cover. Rain splashes at his feet as cars pass in dimming light below.
He tries to relax.

“Gideon. Gideon. Wake up. You’re going to be late for school.”
Gideon sat up straight in his bed on the morning after his father’s party. Sunlight had seeped in through the window on the opposite side of his room, cascading onto the posters and bookshelves that lined the walls. Gideon pushed his hair from away from his forehead, rubbing the last remnants of sleep from his eyes. He stretched, reaching for the stars.
“Hey, champ. Time to get up. Big day, huh?” His father stood at the foot of his bed. “So, do I wear my uniform or not?”
Gideon tried not to let his yawn interfere with his answer. “Yeah. Wear it,” he responded. Sunlight had finally reached his eyes.
“Alright. Well, get up then. Big day.”
Gideon smiled as his father left the bedroom, a scent of last night’s festivities following close behind. He kicked the covers to the edge of the bed and swung his feet around to rest on the floor. “Big day,” he said.

“Okay, class,” Ms. Pumphrey said to her 2nd grade class, erasing the chalkboard. “Up next we’ve got Gideon Nebuls.” She looked towards the back of the room. Gideon was already getting out of his desk. “All right, well I guess you’re ready,” she said. Ms. Pumphrey moved to her desk at the side of the classroom and sat down. “The floor is yours, Gideon.”
Gideon made his way to the front of the class. “Hi, everyone,” he began. “Today I brought my dad to class.” He pointed to the back of the classroom where his father stood. The man smiled and waived to the students.
“Dad, come up here,” Gideon instructed.
His father carefully navigated the rows of desks – using several for support at some moments – and met his son at the front of the class.
“My dad is an astronaut. He flies the space shuttles you see on TV up into space, and works on the space station and does experiments and stuff.” Gideon took a moment to compose himself. “He gets to go into space and fix things and he even gets to float out in space. Right, Dad?”
His father chuckled. “That’s right, Gideon.”
The students were in awe.
Ms. Pumphrey added from her desk, “Gideon, maybe you could have your father talk to the class about being an astronaut.”
“Yeah, okay,” he said. Gideon looked up at his dad, giving him the floor.
“Alright, well. Hello, class. My name is Walter Nebuls. I’m the Commander of the space shuttle Discovery. I’ve been an astronaut for about 15 years. I love doing what I do and, actually, I’ll be going up into space in a couple of weeks here.” Walter paused. The students sat quietly, hanging on every word. “Does anyone have any questions?”
Gideon looked at his friends, then back to his father. His big smile caught the eye of his father, who reached out and tousled the boys’ hair. The class was silent for a moment more. One boy finally raised his hand.
“Yes,” Walter said, pointing to the child. “What can I answer for you?”
A stout, round boy lowered his arm to his desk. His face was small and his head was too tiny for his body. “Why did you become an astronaut?” he asked.
“Well,” Walter started, “since I was your age it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I dreamed about going into space, seeing other planets and stars, floating in space. I thought, ‘What a cool job to have’. I never found anything I wanted to do more.”
Ms. Pumphrey stood up in her place. “Very good, Charlie. Gideon, is there anything you want to add before we say goodbye to Mr. Nebuls?”
He looked up at his father. “Just that my dad has the best job in the world and someday I want to be just like him.” Walter smiled. He gave Gideon a subtle wink.
“Very good. Okay, class, say goodbye to Mr. Nebuls.” The students said goodbye to Walter in unison. He waved to the class and said goodbye as he walked to the door with Gideon.
“Thanks, Dad,” Gideon said.
“No problem, champ,” he responded. “Have a good rest of the day. I’ll see you at home.” Walter waved goodbye and turned to leave the room.
“Love you, dad.”

There is no rain. There is no sound. There is no light and for a brief moment Gideon loses himself in the surrealism of it all. He lies on the bed facing the ceiling in the high-end hotel and thinks about tomorrow, sliver flask at his right side. Is this the way to spend your last night, he wonders. The red planet waits for his answer.
On a clear day in Florida Gideon drives with the top down. The southern wind rips through his jet-black hair as he speeds down the 405 towards the space center. The sun shines bright and greets awakening wildlife. Banana Creek glistens as it catches rays. Gideon thinks to himself as he races towards the space center, this is the day. This is the big day.
* * *
“So, are you pretty excited?” asked Officer Hillman, looking onto the shuttle.
“Yeah,” Gideon responded, eyes fixed on the massive rocket boosters.
Mission control was making final preparations for the launch of space shuttle Discovery. Walter had arranged for Gideon to watch the launch from inside, under the supervision of Officer Hillman. He had never gotten to see one of his father’s launches. He had been too young before, but this time Gideon couldn’t stop talking about it so Walter surprised him with a spot inside mission control.
“Now, don’t get in the way,” he had said. “Okay? And make sure you listen to Officer Hillman. Otherwise I’m going to shoot you into space myself. Without the suit!” He grabbed Gideon under his arm and messed his hair. Gideon gave him a big hug.
“Love you, Dad.”
“Love you, too. I’ll see you soon.”
Walter was now on the space shuttle. Men buzzed about, flipping switches, talking into headsets to unknown people in unknown places. Gideon gazed over the giant electronic screen that served as an all-seeing eye for the control crew. Everything from shuttle status to up-to-the minute weather reports was displayed on the big screen. Gideon was amazed.
“Gideon,” Officer Hillman said, “Stand here. We don’t want anyone tripping over you.” He moved the both of them against the back wall. Gideon made himself flat. “I think they’re about to begin the countdown.”
A man’s voice came across the intercom in mission control. “Alright we are clear for ‘go’ by weather, booster, eagle. ACO, GCO, and station flight tells me we are still at a ‘go,’ so that puts us in a good config. Let’s roll then with auto sequence start.”
Lights flash on the big screen. Gideon watched at the countdown begins.
“25,” said the man at the desk.
“Pretty exciting, huh?” said Officer Hillman.
“Yeah,” Gideon exclaimed.
Sharp static comes over the intercom. Gideon’s eyes flash about the big screen.
Gideon put his hands in his pockets to try and combat his growing restlessness.
“10. We are ‘go’ for main engine start.”
“This is it,” said Hillman.
Gideon remained fix on the big screen.
“5.” Men of various sizes and sweat marks glared at their respective screens.
“4.” Gideon’s hands picked at the lint in his jean pockets.
“3. 2. 1. We have liftoff,” the man on the intercom said. Light applauses followed the success. Gideon watched the screen as Discover shot into the azure; it’s thick, red tail scarring the sky.
“There it is, Gideon. What do you think?” asked Hillman.
“That was awesome. Can they hear my dad on their headsets?” he asked.
“Yeah. They’re connected the entire time the shuttle is in space.”
“Do you think they would let me say hi to him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe once he gets into space. I’m sure they would.”
Gideon beamed with excitement. “Cool.”
The shuttle rose higher and higher into the sky. He turned briefly to look for Officer Hillman. Then he heard someone say, “Dear God, no.”
Gideon spun back around and faced the big screen once more. His eyes grew big and began to glisten beneath a raining inferno. “Dad. Dad!” he cried. Gideon rushed toward the big screen. His legs were heavy and strained and his chest heaved as if someone just pulled him from the deep end of the swimming pool. Officer Hillman snatched the boy before he could make it to the front of the room. Gideon looked up through glossy eyes and watched as pieces of fuselage and paneling fell down to Earth. He heard people repeating the words ‘God’ and ‘no’ in various configurations, sprinkled occasionally with curse words. Part of the main rocket broke up under the pressure and split into smaller pieces that plummeted like meteors under the intense sun. Officer Hillman carried Gideon from the room. He wept and screamed while fire plunged to the ground.

“Gideon, this is it, brother,” says Jamison, and English man strapped into the seat next to Gideon. “Blast off. Up to the stars we go, aye mate?”
“Up to the stars we go,” Gideon says, vocal chords seizing under the nervousness.
“20.” The countdown clocks ticks downs to liftoff.
Gideon begins to sweat. “My father died on a spaceship, you know. Exploded in liftoff when I was seven,” Gideon says, working loose the sound from his throat.
“Dear God, brother. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“15.” The rocket engines roar to power.
Gideon adjusts the volume of his voice. “It’s okay,” he says. “I think it’s finally okay.”
“Oi,” the man begins, “You ever wondered if there’s life on Mars?”
“Only when I listen to Bowie,” Gideon shoots back.
The man snickers. “Aye, saw that one coming a mile away.”
Gideon thinks for a moment as the rockets roar to deafening volumes. The countdown clock ticks away.
“Here we go, brother,” the English man screams.
“Here we go.” The clock hits “1”. Gideon relaxes.

“Gideon, would you like to share what you wrote?” Mrs. Wilson asked.
“Okay,” Gideon said. He stood up at the board in his 4th grade class and began.
"I want to be an astronaut. I want to go into space for a year and live on the space station up there with the other astronauts. We would do experiments like seeing if fungus can grow in outer space or if plants could survive or things like that. I don't really know yet. I would sleep right side up in a beanbag like you see them do in the movies. And after a year was over, I would come back down to earth and tell all of my friends about what it was like living in outer space and they would all be amazed by it. And maybe after I got settled back in I could go and give speeches to school children about being an astronaut and how fun it is. Maybe I would marry an astronaut woman and maybe we could get married in space. But that would probably be impossible to get married in space. And then when I got even older I could go back into space one more time. Not for a year like before but maybe just to see the earth again from above. It could be like my, my swan something."
"You mean 'swan song'?" Ms. Wilson asked.
"Yeah. My swan song. That’s what it could be like," Gideon said.
"Where did you hear that?"
"I don't know. I think my dad said it once when I was younger. Back when he was still around. Does it make sense, the way I used it?"
"Yes,” Ms. Wilson sighed. “I suppose it does."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Jack

“Jackie Davis is a son-of-a-bitch!” Patrick held a golden beer, fresh from the tap, in his one bear claw and sucked heavily from a cigarette in the other. He drew his beer to his mouth and inhaled the frosty brew. “Says to show up at 2:30, won’t get here ‘til God knows when. Arrogant bastard.” He took another deep gulp from the mug and slouched back down to rest his elbows on the bar.
David chuckled. “What do you expect? It’s Jack. Guy’s never been on time in his life. What do they say? ‘He’ll be late to his own funeral.’” They looked at each other in agreement and shared another drink.
The bar they were meeting at was called, “Al’s Corner”. It sat at the corner of 5th and Pontiac, sandwiched on all sides by never-ending urban sprawl, sitting out like a transient at a banquet. The outside of it was worn, painted over and again every few years. Little flakes of paint shown at the corners and along the bottom of the building waiting to be pulled.
The inside of the bar was rather nice in comparison to its outer shell. Half of the room was dominated by the bar area. Semi-rectangular and dimly lit, lined on all sides by leather-clad stools, the bar area is where the regulars resided. Behind the bar was an assortment of different kinds of alcohol, neatly arranged by sizes of bottles, not potency.
The other half of the room was filled booths and pool tables, the kind of things you would expect to see in a bar. Neon signs hung along the walls: Budweiser, Coors, Miller. Typical things.
Patrick and David sat under the dim light of an O’Douls lamp. Queen had just come on the jukebox – “Another One Bites The Dust”.
“One more round.” Patrick said to the bartender, just finishing off the last of his first. He looked toward the door. Still no Jack.
“You know, this asshole really has some nerve. He’s lucky we’re friends or I’d beat the crap out of him.”
Dave glanced at his watch. 2:42. He ran his hand through his long, black hair and sighed. “I told you, man. What did you expect? He never shows up on time. I mean, remember when his brother was getting married. Jack slept ‘til 2 that day, right on through the ceremony. He showed up to the reception, like, 30 minutes late. Steve was pissed, remember? Probably the reason he didn’t ask Jack to be his best man. Knew he’d be late to the whole thing.”
Patrick took a drag of his cigarette and laughed, “I remember hearing about that. Could only imagine the look on Steve’s face. Parents, too.” He took another sip from his beer and looked around at the other patrons. “You know, this place really isn’t that bad, at least not as bad as you’d think it’d be judging from the outside.”
“I was thinking the same thing. I drive by this place all the time and just think how crappy it probably is. And then I think about all the people that live around here and how crappy they think it looks. But then it was here first, you know? These houses, they just popped up around it. So what’s the point of complaining about something you could have easily avoided, right?”
“Who says they’re complaining?”
David thought for a moment. “I don’t know. I just assumed they do. I probably would.”
The bartender came around from the other side of the bar. “You boys good?” she asked.
“Yeah, we’re good for now.” David responded.
“Actually,” Patrick said, “Can I get one more, for now?”
“Sure thing, darlin’.” The bartender left the men for a moment to retrieve Patrick’s beer.
“Hey man,” David began, “we’ve only been here, like, 20 minutes or so. Jack’s not even here yet. Think about slowing down, huh?”
Patrick shifted his gaze from the bartender to David. “Don’t worry, man. It’s cool.” He reassured, and then reverted his eyes to the bartender. She returned with his beer, not noticing Patrick’s stare, and placed it on a napkin in front of him. “Enjoy,” she says, and left once more.
David looked at his watch again. Light from the door caught his eye and he jerked his head to the source. “Where is this guy?” he asked to no one in particular. He followed the person who had just come through the door, a tall man in jeans in a shirt wearing a baseball cap. He walked around the bar towards a booth in the far corner and took a seat. “Hey,” he said to Patrick, “Let’s shoot some pool.”
Patrick snickered, “Seriously? You do know you’re going to get your ass handed to you, right?”
David paused. “Probably, but it’s better than sitting here waiting for Jack and watching you drink your ass to oblivion.”
“Touché. Let’s do this”
The two men picked up their drinks and got up from their stools. There were three pool tables arranged in a row. Hanging ‘Miller’ lights illuminated the individual tables. Two construction workers already occupied the far table. “Let’s use this one,” David said, motioning to the table on the opposite side. “Where the hell are the balls?”
“You gotta go ask for a set from the bartender,” one of the construction workers said.
“I’ll get ‘em,” Patrick offered.
“Yeah, don’t take too long, eh? Try and keep it in your pants.” David placed his beer on the shelf near the wall and walks over to the jukebox. Jimi Hendrix – “Castles Made of Sand”.
Patrick returned to the table, pool balls in one hand, fresh brew in the other. “Let’s go, prick,” he yelled across the bar.
David moved between patrons and pool tables back to the shelf and grabbed his beer. “Damn, must not have been feeling it, eh? It’s okay man, you can’t win them all.”
“Screw you, man. She’s gay.”
“Ah, yeah, that’ll do it. Did you get another beer?”
“Yeah. I had to. Otherwise she would have thought I was creepy for going over there and not getting a beer just to talk to her.”
“But you got the balls.”
“Huh. Yeah, I did. Well, I can’t take it back now.”
“Jesus, man.”
The two men shared a laugh for a moment and then Patrick racked up the balls. “Break?” he asked David.
“No thanks, man. I scratch that shit every time. You do it.”
“Pussy.” Patrick lined up his cue ball with the racked balls at the other end of the table. He took careful aim at the balls, drew back his pool stick, and let out a thunderous break.
“Wow. That was pretty shitty.” David said, looking at the table. No balls in the hole.
“At least I didn’t scratch, ass.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Hey, maybe next time try breaking without four beers in you. Who knows, you may just get one of those striped ones in.”
The two went back and forth, exchanging shots and scratches. David had a good string of shots and was down to one ball but Patrick fought back. Both were on the last ball.
“Alright, loser buys next round.” Patrick said
“How about loser calls Jack and asks him where the hell he is?”
“And buys the next round?”
David lined up his shot. The eight ball was along the far wall and his cue ball sat between the side and far pocket on the opposite side. He steadied his hand, pulled back his stick, and tapped the cue ball towards the eight. It struck the eight ball and wall simultaneously and sent the eight ball towards the far corner pocket. “Money,” David said with confidence. The ball rolled toward the pocket, hit the corner, then the other, and ricocheted out towards the middle of the table. “Dammit!”
Laughter bellowed from Patrick. “Man, that sucks. Hey while I’m winning this game you can call Jack and get me another beer, all right? Thanks.” Patrick made the shot with ease and returned to the shelf to wait for his beer.
“I’ll be right back,” David said to him. He set down his pool stick and headed for the door.
“Don’t forget my beer!”
David made it to the entrance and went outside to call Jack. Fresh air and sunlight met him there. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and hit the ‘4’ button. Speed dial – Jack. The phone rang four times before going to voicemail. “Hey Jack, where the hell are you? It’s past 3 already. Patrick and I have been waiting a while now. Call us. Or better yet just get your ass down here.” David hung up the phone and went back inside.
His eyes had to adjust for a moment. He walked over to the bar and called to the bartender. “Can I get another round, please?”
“Sure,” she said, “and you can tell your friend over there to stop looking at me. I already told him I’m not into him.” She turned to get their beers. David looked over to Patrick who was practicing bank shots with a few balls.
“Oh, yeah he had said that because you were, you know…” David shifted his mouth and made a motion with his eyes, hinting at what Patrick had told him earlier.
“’You know’ what?”
“Um, like, not into men, period.”
The bartender narrowed her eyes and looked toward Patrick. “You mean gay.”
“Listen, tell your dickhead friend if he looks over here one more time I’m gonna walk over there and shove that cue ball up his ass.” She dropped the beers on the counter and walked away.
David returned to the pool table and set the beers on the shelf. “Gay, huh?”
“She’s not gay, dummy. And she said if you keep eyeing her she’s going to come over here and give you a colonic with the cue ball.”
Patrick chuckled. “Whatever, man.”
“No, seriously. That’s what you get for trying to be a bad-ass.”
“Blow me.” Patrick picked up his beer and took a drink. “What’d Jackie say?” He asked.
“Nothing. Couldn’t get him. I had to leave a message.”
Patrick threw his stick on the table. “What the fuck, man! It’s been almost an hour. I got shit to do today, man.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“So what the hell are we still doing here then?”
“Jack wanted to meet us here. Said it was important.”
“Yeah? You know what else is important? My fucking time. Watching the game. Not sitting in this bar all day. Who the hell does he think he is? Call him again.”
“I’m not calling him again. I left a message. You call him.”
“Screw that, man. He’s pissing me off big time.”
David took a sip from his brew and thought for a moment. He offered an idea. “All right. Let’s play another game. If he’s not here by the end of it then we’ll leave. We’ll tell him we had other shit to do today and we couldn’t wait around forever.”
“Screw that. Let’s just leave now. I’m sick of always waiting around for that guy. I mean, I love him to death but sometimes he’s such a prick. An inconsiderate prick.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m his friend too. But let’s just play one more and then we’ll go from there.”
“Fine, but I’m going to beat the shit out of you just so we can end this thing and leave.”
“Whatever. Just break.”
They began their second game. The Who – “Happy Jack” came across the speakers.
“Hey, didn’t Jackie’s parents name him after this song?” Patrick asked before sinking his third ball in a row.
“I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think I’ve even heard this song before.”
“It’s kind of screwed up when you think about the lyrics. I always thought it kind of fit him, though.”
“Like how?”
“Well it’s just about this guy who gets fucked with and stuff like that but he doesn’t care. Hence the ‘Happy’ part of it.”
“Yeah, I guess it does fit. Remember the swing thing back in 4th grade?”
“Aw shit, man. That was pretty brutal. I remember him just taking it from those kids.”
“Yeah, but then he just got back on the next day. Smile from ear to ear”
“Well, it probably wasn’t half as bad as being at home all day. God, his parents were so screwed up.”
“Yeah they were. I remember sleeping over at his house once. We were playing Nintendo in his room when we heard his dad come home and start yelling about God knows what and smashing things. I don’t even remember where his mom was at the time but I remember thinking how insane it was.”
They paused for a minute and took a drink. “It’s surprising Jack didn’t turn out all messed up like some of the kids you see,” David said, finishing off the last of his beer.
“Seriously…but that prick still can’t show up on time to save his life! Eight ball side pocket.” Patrick sunk the shot with defiance. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Patrick downed the last of his beer and the two headed for the door. “Guys,” a voice said from behind them. They turned to see Jack sitting at the bar. He stood up to greet them. “There you are.”
Patrick looked him up and down. “Where the fuck have you been?” he scowled, “And what the fuck happened to your arm?”
“Shit, I’m really sorry, guys. I got held up with an appointment. I tried to get here as soon as I could.”
“Yeah, well we’ve been here over an hour already, Jackie, so you’ll have to excuse of if we’re not sympathetic.”
“I know. I know. I’m sorry. Let me buy you guys a drink.”
David motioned to stop him. “No, thanks man,” he said, “We’ve already had a few. Some more than others.”
“Screw you,” Patrick rebutted, picking up on the hint.
“Look, Jack, what’s going on man? We’ve got things to do, too, so let’s just get on with it.”
Jack looked at the two. He scratched at the bandage on his arm. His forehead scrunched as he tried to begin. “Okay. Okay.” He looked for the right words. Patrick and David were getting restless.
“Get on with it, Jackie boy.” Patrick demanded.
“All right.” Jack took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly. “Here it is. I’ve never done this before so I don’t really know how to say this,” he paused for a moment, “I was late because I was at the doctor’s getting some blood taken.”
“For what? To test your gayness?” Patrick said, amusing only himself.
“Jesus, man,” David scoffed, “don’t be an ass. Jack, what the hell is going on?” A mixture of worry and curiosity filled David’s face.
Jack inhaled, “I’ve got cancer. Leukemia, actually.”
“Fuck you.” Patrick exclaimed. “No fucking way. You’re a real dick, man.” Patrick spun around and headed for the door.
“I’m serious, Pat. This isn’t a fucking joke.”
David looked at Jack. Shock replaced the curiosity.
“No, it is a fucking joke, Jackie. That’s exactly what it is. You stroll in here all late and tell us you’ve got cancer. Who the fuck does that?”
“I do, I guess.”
“No, man, you don’t. You’re full of shit.”
Jack shifted his stare to David. “Dave, what’s up man?”
David tried to shake himself awake. “I don’t even know what to say.”
“I do,” Patrick interrupted, “let’s get the hell out of here. That’s what I say.”
“Patrick, God dammit, shut the hell up! I am not fucking with you. I have leukemia. This is not a joke. You’re my friend God dammit! What the fuck did you want me to do, not tell you? And then when my hair starts falling out and I look like the guy from ‘Powder’ then what? Tell you it’s an early Halloween costume? Or write it in a Hallmark card so that you feel good about the fact that I’ve got cancer? What the fuck, man.” Jack caught his breath. He looked over to David who was still standing in the same spot. “Dave, it’s going to be all right, man.”
David glanced over to Patrick who had taken a seat at the bar and just ordered a drink. He looked back up at Jack. “I’m so sorry, Jack. I don’t even know what to say.”
Jack moved closer to David and put his arms around him. “Dave, don’t worry. It’s going to be all right. It always is.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

This is this. And that is that.

"This is a hat. It goes on your head, see? And this is a pencil. You use it to write or to draw. This is paper. You use the paper to write on with your pencil. See? This here, this is crayon. It’s like a pencil but with color. Only there are already things like that. They called ’colored pencils’. Crayons are thicker. You can use them to draw, too, or to color in books or on your drawings. See? Try and stay in the lines when you color. Or not. Haha. I guess you can do that, too. Okay, this here, this is a watch. It goes on your wrist. Like this, see? Use this to tell time. This hand, this one tells you the hour. And this one here, it tells you the minutes. So right now it’s 3:42. You’ll learn more about this stuff later on. But just be careful. You don’t want to break it or anything. Well, what else? Oh! This thing is a necklace. You probably won’t want to wear this or anything but maybe you will. It’s pretty amazing. It was your mother’s. She wanted you to have it. This is sapphire in the middle, like your eyes. And hers. Right here. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? She was something else."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"where is your fiber, man?"

"where is your mind? detached at the synapse, not even the words to speak, to write, to will. where is your passion? purged from you like viral cures though not for the benefit of, not this time ’round. a clean slate. a blank chalkboard. a fresh canvas. but the oils aren’t staying. no, not this time. drip and disappear like falling stars. mate, where is your empathy? closed off road map. take to detour. that caved-in cave. what are you feeling, man, if anything at all? even now these are forced fragments that haven’t the mind/manner/fury/love/loss/longing to drive themselves. forced out, man. cold in the snow. in space. walk in the craters of old men and monsters. automated shutdown sequence: initiated. huh, mate? tell me: where is the love?"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

and no direction, too...

Driving down through the desiccated coast I feel the heat rising off the sunburned ground through the tiny fibers in the indigo canopy. My mind been a wanderin' as I'm passin' this scene like some ephemeratic picture on a moving screen, telling me to keep on movin', they don't stop for no one. Why should you? Beggars and thieves, through and through, mind you. They stop for no one. Why should you? I'm a God-fearin' man, like the lot of these mates, who sit here and sit there and talk of these things and those, and make sense of what's not to make sense of. Reasonable, God-fearin' men, through and through. Comin' through the pass, mountain escort to the end of the road, keepin' myself awake on the Lord's golden brew, a slap in the face here and there, and an assortment of pills that'd make the Easter Bunny cream. Where's your voice, man? Whaddya say 'bout that? Makin' no sense's what you're doin', been fixin' to do, all these days. It's always the same thing. Outta your mind, you've conjured yourself, in the worst possible way. just keep talkin', brotha'. you'll be there soon enough, so says i.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

indefinite definition

Space –

1. The blankets and sheets where stars collide, where life begins and ends, liquid white hot, deep, dark cold; time of all time; where lonesome, lonely lights flicker in and out

2. The place I lose myself in when disillusioned/disinterested/despaired and searching for a hook on the dark side of the moon.

3. The miles between us at the dinner table, looking at each other, at the food, back at eachother, when we’ve run our course and the conversation has lost its life; terrible routine

4. A nook, secret club location, hiding under the bed like soldiers in a battle, children being children, waiting to be found and loving every minute of it.

5. Containing infinite hope and possibility.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

a correlated graph of constellations

he leans up against the wall and surveys the surroundings. people pass in unconscious stream of thought and they don't even know where they're headed. he looks around the square and waits for someone to share a fleeting glance with but it never comes. back at the hotel room he pours himself into a chair by the bedside and sips from his reserve of nostalgic feeling. warmed and inept at picking himself up out of his distress he flips on the television and changes the channel to bars and tone and, in the same way an olympic diver leaps headfirst into the deep, he entrenches himself in his latest identity crisis.

two days from now a young boy will walk into a general store in the midwest. he will ask for a pack of gummy bears and a bottle of pop. the man at the register tells the boy that it will be three seventy-five. the boy offers up four one dollar bills and receives his quarter change just like every other day. outside of the general store a man and a woman argue over directions. they don't know where they're headed. the sun offers no help.

back in the past, before the boy and the commotion, major williams wants to push further into the heart of enemy territory. his soldiers are tired and hungry and the weather has had them wrapped around its finger for days now. but the major insists. thirty minutes later an explosion to the east sounds out like a chorus of elephants. push ahead, cries the major, push ahead.

i write by flylight in deep woods past the river and bridge and the hanging, hollow trees while the wind wonders where the moon hid on this night.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Olympus Mons is located on the planet Mars. It is the largest mountain and volcano in our solar system, standing around 16.7 miles high with a base nearly 342 miles in width. The Valles Marineris is the largest known canyon in the solar system, stretching more than 3,000 miles wide and dropping 4 miles deep. Mars average climate is similar to Earth’s although the temperature variation is drastic with lows in the -220 degrees to highs in the 60’s. There is currently no human occupying the planet.

We spent that summer there, like we always did. We always stayed at the Red Rock Resort and Spa because it sits right at the base of the mountain. That summer was something special though. I was shipping off to the outer system at the end of the year and so it would be the last time we could all get together like that. I remember the look on their faces when I told them I’d be leaving for two years. Shock. Sadness. Curiosity. And excitement for the annual trip.

I remember one day in particular when we went for a hike up and along the mountainside. If you’ve ever seen Mons then you know how massive and daunting it is. Imagine Everest times three. Red and looming like the Rockies on steroids. Red dust collected under our feet and on our and gear and on everything it touched the way smoke sticks to clothing. But we had wanted to get to a spot we were told was perfect for viewing the Valles Marineris. So we continued while the giant watched over us. We moved along the outer rim, watching our footing, battling the wind as it kicked scents of day old pastries and fresh soil into our faces. We were careful not to slip.

One of our friends had asked us if we were nearing the end. We were getting close. He had never been with us on one of our trips so it was special for him to. As we approached our destination giant boulders stood on both sides to let us know we were close. Humongous red basalt formations, like the kind in Yellowstone only bigger, led the way to the plateau we sought. Red dust plumed with ever step, tasting like talcum powder and cornstarch. As we navigated the stones we could see the valley ahead. Our pace grew at the excitement. We quickly found a clearing and set our things down. The valley stretched for days. It was beyond terrific. Imagine a valley so wide that one side knows day while the other welcomes the night. The stinging chill of the cold wouldn’t shake us from the beauty of it all and we had time to spare.

Monday, January 21, 2008

expletive deleted

down by the river where the sun stays out and the moon waits by the window a black haired man washes his face. knees bent at the shore he looks into the water and sees what he used to be. "where were you when she walked away?" the man in the water asks him. "where were you then?" and he thinks to himself like he does every day at dawn and tries to find the answer to the question. "i don't have the answer to that. not today." he responds. and a breeze picks up, kicking rocks at his self. the water ripples and the man disappears and the black haired one thinks to himself like he does every day at dawn. another voice from the distance, riding the winds like a paper airplane. "where are you going with that heart of yours so dangerously exposed like that?" he says. the man turns and looks for the source but fails to locate it. and he thinks to himself like he does every day at dawn that maybe he thinks too much.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Sea Dog"

Colin Beckwith wrote this in a dream in the winter of '89. It goes:

Dear Anne-Marie,

It seems like forever since I last wrote to you. What was it that you always used to say when things got like this? Anyways, I supposed it's irrelevant now.

My mind has been fading, it seems, or drifting but never returning in the same state that it left. Moreso than before. I think the move has had the opposite effect than what I had hoped. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know.

I went outside the other day. I took a walk down to the river. It was frozen but it wasn't as cold outside as you think it'd be. I walked a path along the side of the river. I didn't have my camera. I don't know why. I always have my camera and there were so many beautiful shots I could have taken. But I didn't. I saw deer. Two of them. They were under a tree, just enjoying themselves. I turned around and headed back home.

Do you know what I saw the other night? I'll tell you. I was sitting outside on the porch and I saw a shooting star. But it didn't stop, you know? It didn't dissipate half way across the sky. It kept going. I think it may have landed somewhere. Well, not landed so much as maybe just crashed into something. I want to find it. I think it may have crashed a few miles outside of Halifax on the southern side.

Did you know that Cap'n Crunch had a pet? His name was "Sea Dog".

I don't know why I'm still here, Anne-Marie. What I'm looking for. What I'm expecting to find. I don't seem to know much of anything these days. I can't shake that feeling. I'm thinking of coming home, Anne-Marie. I know enough time hasn't passed but I think I may go insane if I stay here alone for much longer. "No man is an island." That's what you would always say! I knew I'd remember.

I should be wrapping this up now. I have to make it into town before dusk. I'll need some supplies if I'm going to track down that star. I think I can find it. I'll make sure to bring my camera to take a picture of it and I'll show it to you when I come back.

Can't wait to see you, Anne-Marie. Until then…

Colin Beckwith
January 13th, 1989

Thursday, January 10, 2008

eye enn vee eye ess eye bee ell eee ell eye gee aych tee enn eye enn gee

the lunar eclipse sent him back in time. back and forth. traveler. space/distance. a mass particle. accelerate the beats of the heart, i say, a heart-attack manufacturer. import and export. wrap up your trip. he settled it. settled down at the semi-circle base of the arctic chill zone, nestled in a cottage outside of northern Halifax. couldn't decide. fire made sheep's skin sweat like rain. mind like a puzzle, too hard to solve. haven't the patience to quite yet see the solution. i say, this is quite the sight. front door agape. tell me this is not the sight! what'll you have, today? hmm? lion, snake, lamb, owl, coyote, giraffe. you tell me! is this not the sight to see? king of the day make your choice. they are all quite nice, no? traveler. traveler! pull yourself t.o.g.e.t.h.e.r. madman and men alike no not the struggle, do they? my boy! p-p-p-u-u-u-l-l-l-l-l-l-l on the main lever. ignition. count down from 6. 5. 5.4. 4.3. 3.7. abort? not in this hemisphere. drop the lever and take out the moon! light bulbs flash on and off and on again at the base of an oak tree. is it the snake? no, not again.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"he can’t read people anymore...maybe he never could."

lights shift from green to red, bouncing off one another within minute droplets of water. a sign points "this way" while the crowd goes the other. amongst the madness a young girl finds herself lost, separated from her mother. the mother battles a falling hydro-arsenal from above as she frantically tries to locate her daughter. more particles of light move between here and there surrounding those that have and those that have not the will to continue. freezing now, the girl pushes a path between never-ending legs to an open spot where she hopes to see her mother. a brief let up in the weather is all it takes for the mother to spy the girl towards the back of the chaos. they say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but what do they care?

"you look too hard," she said, "you always have. always trying to find something to save you. always looking for that one thing that'll give you back what you had. you look too hard."

upon hearing her accusation he knew it to be true. but like all stubborn people he would not immediately admit to it.

"you don't know what you say," he responded, defensively. "i don't look too hard. it's just, i don't know. i just don't look too hard." he tried to gather his thoughts. it wasn't his best come-back, but then again he was never one for confrontation.

"you know what i think?" she asked, not expecting an answer. "i think you get your hopes up too easily and every time you do there always ends up being something to disappoint you." she knew she was right by the look that he gave her. "why don't you just stop looking?"