I’M BUILT LIKE A DOG
AND HE’S HUNG LIKE A HORSE
A’COURSE, A’COURSE, A’COURSE…
WELL, I’M ARCHED LIKE A CAT
NOW, HOW ABOUT THAT?
A’COURSE, A’COURSE, A’COURSE…
AND HE’S FLYIN’ RIGHT THROUGH
LIKE SOME BUMBLIN’ BEE
A’COURSE, A’COURSE, A’COURSE…
AND IF IT’S ALL UP TO ME,
THEN I BETTER GET STUNG
A’COURSE, A’COURSE, A’COURSE…
I BETTER GET STUNG…
IF WE’RE FISH
AND WE SWIM
HOW COME I CAN NEVER FIND YOU?
OH, THE SEA CAN’T BE CALMED
WON’T BE CALMED FOR AWHILE
BUT I’LL WAIT
AND I’LL TWIDDLE
AND HAVE THOUGHTS FOR AWHILE…
Even the insects that roamed this bucket of a town were inferior to the ones she had met in The Woods. Perhaps the summer sun, the willing emptying of wine bottles, the complicated entanglements of flesh after dark, and the day-long talks of philosophy made her biased but she couldn’t help but think that what she had seen during her travels was so much better than what she had returned to. In reference to the flies, that were fewer than back in The Woods, had an almost criminal air about them – in that they were scavengers of the city, plump from inactivity and ready to attack the pavement and passerby for scraps. Back in The Woods, an animal was an animal and all lived alongside each other as nature intended. Now, do not misunderstand me for The Woods were full of their own set of problems, as will be discussed further, but the brutality of a beauty so untarnished by the outside world just can not be compared to.
To begin with, as is common with stories of human interest, she had fallen in love. The feeling did not reveal itself right away; it did not instantaneously quicken the heart or flush the cheeks like a schoolgirl crush. Rather, it slowly burrowed inside her insides and gave the impression of being something substantial. Being emotionally detached and more or less of a Salinger-esque recluse for the majority of her admittedly young lifespan, it ravaged the brain. She had never loved any man before, this probably could be attributed to the often used ‘daddy issues’, but I digress. She wondered how she could be so sure of something so uncertain. Was this the feeling that drove people to dive the depths of oceans, to walk miles without nourishment, to sacrifice themselves and others, to kill? Although it appeared a plague, this new feeling, making a defiant person wholly vulnerable, she didn’t want it to go away. It explained to her that she was human after all and that existing in one’s head were volumes to be shared.
However, life had never been easy for our young protagonist and she was aware of the fact that it probably never would be, but she was just beginning to accept the challenges of this life and optimistically-minded, would reap the rewards ahead. The man was a man, older and on the verge of settling down and preparing for future generations. She understood that the man loved a woman and had for a steady amount of time and that the next year or so would become crucial to their relationship; she didn’t want to interfere, following the mantra of loving something and setting it free I suppose, but it hurt not being able to.
Bruised and cut by a mixture of drunken stupor, hard work, and general traversing of natural land, the night belonged to her. She bit the boy’s tongue. He moaned and told her she was crazy. She laughed. They fucked all over the darkroom floor, making it wet beneath them. She was happy, with her contribution towards every release she felt she held some sort of power over him. The next day she could stare at him and he would crumble. Like Wonder Woman fidgeting with new accessories, the girl was just figuring out her strengths.
She didn’t hold all the answers; this much was true. One thing she did know was that her twenties were turning out to be quite the interesting and much needed departure from the dreaded monotony of teenage-hood. Revitalized by new knowledge and fresh air, it seemed as if a cloud had been lifted. Newly optimistic but routinely impatient, she knew she had a future just within an arm’s reach. Things would get better for the family; she would be a contributing catalyst. Her agenda for the next year was fully booked; there were people to see, places to go. She missed him though, she really did.
Miles away, in a city larger and more gray than hers, the man slept beside his tiny other. Together they had traveled to foreign countries, made profound discoveries about life, and had just been very comfortable in the three or four years that they had become a couple. He loved her for she was beautiful and dainty like a doll. As an avid collector of precious gifts from the Orient, it was without question that she had fit well into his apartment and in his life. Tossing and turning, he started to dream.
He stood in the middle of a darkened forest, as if waiting for something. The sky was a violet-black so intense that every star was visible. He waved his hand in front of his face to gather his bearings but couldn’t see it. His ears popped although the altitude didn’t seem abnormal. Without warning, he caught on fire. The instantaneous flame caught him off guard and perplexed and pleasured him, bringing his knees to the earth. He howled in pain but soon realizing he would have to be his own savior, began rolling on the ground in an attempt to put himself out. This only seemed to exaggerate the flames, as they clung to his body. As his flesh began to melt away from him, he looked out into the shadowed distance. The girl approached quietly and cautiously but with no apparent fear. He tried to yell out to her but he burnt his tongue. Finally she reached his writhing figure and calmly laid her hands on him, a shaman and her patient. Her fingers started to blister and scab. She smiled at his worried face. In a panic that consumed him, he watched her eyes darken and woke up.
He gasped for air and roused his partner. She drowsily questioned whether or not he was all right and when reassured fell back to sleep. It was the first time he had ever lied to her and he recognized that it would not be the last. Frightened and overcompensating for it, he slipped his hands around her slender waist, signaling his need for closeness. She begrudgingly awoke and let him use her. He inhaled her familiarity and kissed her neck. In a few hours he would head to the office and forget about the girl and everything would go back to normal.
WE BROKE EACH OTHER’S HEARTS
YOU AND I
WE DON’T LIVE
EXTENDED GLAMOUROUS LIVES
THE ONES WE THOUGHT
WE WERE OWED BY THIS TIME
MY JAW’S BROKEN
AND NOTHING COMES EASILY…
YOU THINK I DON’T
AND I’M COMPLETELY
DON’T EXPECT ME
TO EXPLOIT THOSE VERY FEW
FOR THE SAKE OF ART…
IF I’M NO GOOD,
I’M NO GOOD
I’M GETTING TIRED OF TRYING.
HOW MANY BLOWS TO ONE’S EGO
CAN ONE PERSON TAKE?
HOW MANY REJECTIONS
CAN ONE SOUL RECEIVE?…
START TO WANE?
WE BROKE EACH OTHER’S
YOU AND I…
(Note: I only made 15 copies of these – they were cheaply made, sloppily constructed zines. I drew a couple of images and photocopied them, chopped my text up and rearranged it. Every zine looks different. I made them out of necessity; a way to communicate some things that I wanted someone to know but was unable to actually say them in person. Hastily, I fumbled it all together – I couldn’t waste any time; they had to know.) 2nd edition to come soon…
STUCK IN THE PAST AT 122
3. THE NIGHT I GAVE UP
4. The Performer
Did anyone else notice that?
Did anyone else notice it?
Did anyone else notice the fear in ITS eyes?
I’m not sure if IT’S sure if IT knows
whether or not IT feels like IT’S doing me a disservice
I wonder if the audience cares anymore
I wonder if they know which were the laughing moments
and which were the truths
It’s all in the subtlety of an eyelash
It’s all in the quick exhale and inhale of breath
It’s all in the way IT can’t hold my gaze for very long
Quicker to shed material, than to think of something different –
beyond ITS scope…
To think of potential, to dream of hope…
To misread my wide eyes for innocence
IT shows me how much IT hates me and loves me all at once.
IT lays ITS orifice on another
IT begs me to watch
to see how ugly and awful and thoughtless IT is…
to see how much a heart can break at ITS expense
to see how long I’ll stay, if I’ll stay…
It’s like a test I didn’t prepare for but should’ve known was coming.
IT shoos me away for that’s the only thing IT knows how to do
IT feels odd at the compassion IT was given, IT hadn’t seen that in awhile
IT remembers it as a strange sensation that made IT comfortable once
and IT even longed for IT sometimes, still
but year surpasses year and IT’S getting older
and more self-righteous and more set in ITS ways…
or at least that’s the excuse IT gives to ITSELF.
Love is a concept not accepted by IT anymore…
Passionless lust is all IT knows and can vouch for
and no doe-eyed depressive can change that.
The world is a stage
and not meant for the unglamorous weak
Any seasoned professional can tell you that.
I AM BEAUTIFUL
I AM SOFT
I AM IN CONTROL
I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING
AND EVERYBODY LOVES ME
PEOPLE THROW MONEY AT ME
JUST FOR SHOWING UP
I CREATE “IMPORTANT WORK”
AND EVERYONE “LIKES” MY PICTURES
“LIKES” FILL MY HEART WITH GLEE
MY MAMA’S NOT CRAZY
AND NEITHER AM I
MY DADDY’S NOT DRUNK
AND NEITHER AM I
I CREATE “IMPORTANT WORK”
AND EVERYBODY LOVES ME
PEOPLE THROW MONEY AT ME
JUST FOR SHOWING UP
MY LUST RUNS DEEP
AND IS TANGIBLE
ALL MY LOVES ARE REAL
MY AMBITION FUELS ME
AND NOTHING CAN DISTRACT ME
I CREATE “IMPORTANT WORK”
AND EVERYBODY LOVES ME
BABY, THE WORLD IS MY HOME…
2:35AM / 9/30/2014
THE “I’M SORRY” I SHOULD’VE SAID AND HE SHOULD’VE MEANT (DELAYED REACTION VIA INSOMNIA)
THIS IS THE STUFF THAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT
THIS IS THE POINT
WHERE, EYES RED, YOU’VE FINALLY REALIZED
THAT YOU’VE LOST YOUR BEST FRIEND
REALLY, REALLY LOST THEM
AND THAT DESPITE THE FACT THAT YOU BOTH FEEL A LITTLE LESS CRAZY WITHOUT EACH OTHER
IT’S A TENSION THAT FELT NATURAL
YOU GOT USED TO A KIND OF TOUCH
A KIND OF EAR AND CONVERSATION
THAT OFTEN FLOWED FROM ARGUMENTATIVE
TO ONE OF ABSOLUTE AGREEMENT WITHIN A MATTER OF MINUTES.
I AM NOT MADE OF HIS RIB
BUT WE DID SHARE A HEART, FOR A TIME
A TIME, A TIME NOT TOO LONG AGO
HE CHASED AFTER ME
I RAN AWAY, ONLY TO BEG OF HIM LATER
HIS EYES WERE GLITTERY WHEN I RETURNED FROM ONE MY LOWEST POINTS TO DATE
FOR ONCE, I FELT HE WAS FINALLY FEELING SOMETHING…
FOR ONCE, I ACTUALLY FELT LIKE WE WERE BOTH ON THE SAME PLANET…
I JUST WISHED THESE THINGS HAD PRESENTED THEMSELVES EARLIER ON.
WE ARE BOTH TO BLAME.
10/8/2014: 12: 38 AM
I want to be a living, visual representation of the things I think and feel. I want to free myself from burdens passed down, delivered, ingrown, harvested and collected. Up is down and left is medium. Art continues to make me its bitch. 9/3/2014 11:42PM
Call it A Lively Experiment
Watch me manipulate myself into thinking otherwise…
Being typecast as The Victim is oh so boring
MUST LUST CATS
I had a dream and we were in it. I went downstairs and found you in the kitchen, talking on a house phone, the old wire cord getting wrapped around you. Suddenly you lost your train of thought in the conversation as we made eye contact. I came to you and gave you a hug. You embraced me warmly and wouldn’t let go, the phone still preoccupying your ear.
“Uh, do you want to come upstairs and see my cat?” you asked, keeping the transmitter away from your mouth.
I answered in the affirmative and walked towards the living room, as you tried to wrap things up on the other end of the line. My mother was on the couch and asked me where I was going.
“Upstairs…his uh, cat died. I’m going to see his dead cat,” was all I could muster on short notice.
I proceeded to collect my belongings, collect myself. I went upstairs. You met me there.
OL’ BATS IN THE BELFRY JILLIAN
The old spinster-maid sat me atop the refrigerator and told me, “This is gonna be a while, for I am not a witch but a cat…”
My face contorted awkwardly in confusion due to my misaligned jaw. She waved it off and continued.
“…And that’s most likely the problem! Y’see, my autumn of discontent bears a striking resemblance to wires getting crossed and sparking against each other from time to time and then eventually breaking down the whole motherboard.”
She wasn’t making a lick of sense but I stayed because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I noticed she really didn’t have any thumbs.
“For whatever reason, I had quite the visceral reaction to His leaving. I dry heaved in the bathtub for what seemed like an hour and a half but I didn’t cry none, because that was beneath me – “
I wanted to intercept but she fed me a piece of dry toast to keep my lips from moving.
“A year passed and He came back into town. I wanted to introduce myself but I had lost all the confidence I had momentarily maintained in my early twenties. He spat on me, called me a slut, and walked away!”
I stopped eating the toast and looked up at her. Images and texts were starting to perform an unwieldy dance in my head and I wasn’t sure if they were appropriate for the occasion but were nonetheless entertaining.
“The crazy thing was we had no idea what each other looked like! We were just figments of each other’s imagination!”
I wanted to scream. I wanted to get down. This woman would be the death of me, I was sure of it. Boredom alone could kill all of her hanging plants. I tried to wrap my head around the semantics of what she had just said for a moment but then thought the better of it.
“He went on to marry some redhead with more presentable draping…”
“Collarbones?” I asked.
“Oh sure,” she said looking down at her fat knees, as she cut a potato.
A silence lingered for a bit and thinking that meant an end to her stories, I started to slip down. Startled by its reprisal, I froze.
“All in all, it was good fun I suppose. Responding to ghosts made me think, kept me motivated,” she sighed.
I sighed too. I just wanted another piece of toast.
“But you can’t touch the air between your fingers and you can’t keep it caged like a beast neither, it’d just bite your hand anyway.”
She lifted me off the refrigerator and gently put me down on the floor. I went to bed and tried to forget ever meeting her.
A HISTORY OF LAUGHTER
A co-worker once told me that it took the sickest, dirtiest jokes in order to get me to laugh, to crack a smile. I suppose in a sense she was right. This same co-worker also told me, on an unrelated occasion, that I reminded her of “an old style saloon worker, a Spanish whore” when I had leftover lip stain on my mouth and my hair was pulled up in a high ponytail. This was meant as a compliment; no, truly! I laughed pretty loudly at that, in a sort of nervous but appreciative manner. Unfortunately, I was self-conscious of my red mouth for the rest of the day.
I once knew this girl in middle school that was pretty and popular and always had a gaggle of friends. From where I stood she seemed to have it made. I knew she really didn’t because we both went to the same shitty public school in a dead town. Due to a “70s-open-concept-floor plan” we didn’t have any walls, just partitions and stained floors. Once a teacher failed a student. The student retaliated by throwing her into one of those partitions, collapsing it whole, causing a thundering BANG! This is the same place where one of my fellow classmates beat up our principal outside by the flagpole.
In any case, this adolescent beauty queen wasn’t perfect either and I’d find that out later when I heard her laugh. Her particular laugh was oddly nasally and as she threw her head back in that way that confident girls do, she always seemed to be on the verge of asphyxiation. Nearly choking on her own beads of saliva, she was always gasping for air. I may have been ugly but her laugh was hideous.
One time I was out in The Woods and decided I would enter a lit cabin. It looked approachable from the outside and I was young and curious so no harm, no foul. A man stood before a large painting of snakes, hyenas surrounding him, reading aloud from a long scroll. Distressed by his own words, and a secret code that he and the hyenas had had between them and that I was unaware of at the time, he began to chop his limbs off. Blood splattered unto the floor and the hyenas cackled. I, like an idiot without a following, was frozen and silently wet faced. One of the hyenas glued him back together and made their way outside, bits of him trailing behind them. Someone grabbed a bucket and a mop. Only when my own blood began to shed did I realize that the man was merely wearing a costume, for he was a hyena in his own right, cackling at me.
It was around Valentine’s Day and I was feeling weird. I bought myself a giant teddy bear at the local drugstore. My boyfriend, at the time, sighed (I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY). We got into his car and he started the engine. I made the bear do cute little dances and I gingerly touched its satin bow. I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed… My boyfriend said he was worried about me. I just thought he was being a little bit boring.
Sometimes people expect you to laugh, even need you to, but sometimes what they’ve just said or done doesn’t warrant that. In this case, you can nod, smile and say, “Yeah, that’s funny.” …And sometimes it really is funny but you don’t feel like laughing.
One time I went to check on my mother who was sleeping but not feeling well. I either scared or annoyed the cat sleeping beside her head and she ran across my mother’s face creating large, diagonal cuts on her cheek. I held her as she gasped and as a knee-jerk reaction started laughing uncontrollably. The situation was so odd and I was scared. My mother was confused and so was I. Not long after I cleaned the wounds and bandaged her up. Work at the grocery store the next day was interesting, to say the least.
We laugh when we should be crying. We cry when we should be laughing. We can’t force tears out when we want to and we can’t contain giggles when we need to.
If we ever meet again my first reaction will be to laugh, I think.
This guy was into the whole “Oriental thing” and he totally wanted it. I appreciated his height and the fact that he could probably pick me up and save me from a forest fire with ease but that was about it. Thrice after work I joined him and other co-workers for commiseration and drinks at the local dollar bar, (which were, of course, often one in the same). The conversation was beginning to become stale and wallets were thinning so I got nostalgic and puked in the bathroom. Later, I returned to my tiny apartment alone and manic.
We rarely speak now because I don’t feel like feigning interest, out of respect really. Occasionally I get bored and toss him a laugh for a joke that will go nowhere. For experimental purposes, to differentiate between the xx and xy chromosomes, I gathered a bucket of soapy water and stuck my hand in its warmth. The suds stuck to my hand quite effectively; I didn’t rinse them off. I walked through the hallway, past his cubicle, all the while ignoring him, letting my sudsy hand fall to my side, the other carrying the bucket. Like a waltz that no one was watching, he left his desk, pretending not to follow me, to get a drink at the water cooler. He paused in front of me, slowly sipping the liquid, his head tilted back towards the sky, sighed, and sauntered off. I laughed to myself because I was so much better at this game.
I took my break a few hours later and glued myself upon your pixels and preceded to die a slow and painful death.
Doesn’t your education lust for a refreshing change of pace? Someone, something outside of circles, patterns repeating, (miseducation – a lack of understanding)? Wouldn’t that just be too cute?! Someone, something that has no ties to anything, that has no clout, that has no influence over anyone or anything? Wouldn’t you just breathe at that, baby?
SPHERES OF INFLUENCE
The Ol’ Bat returned in the kitchen, ready to spill. I’m really not quite sure how she got in as I had been locking doors and drawing blinds methodically as of late, just as a precaution. Alarmed, I looked towards the window which had been jerry-rigged open with a bent fork and a large butcher knife. I sighed, I guess productivity will be hit with another major loss today. This was nothing new so per usual I accepted the dry toast, from her coat pocket, that got stuffed in my mouth. I rolled my eyes and waved her on.
“I haven’t the time for false pleasantries! I must tell you of this particular patch of dirt I have just traversed!”
“I caught Him down the side of a mountain, stunned and blind. His eyes were completely cataractal-”
I spat a bit of toast out, clearly I was consuming too many carbs.
“I thought He married Collarbones!” I was exhausted.
“He did, he did…Digression aside,” she continued, annoyed, “He was blind and fumbling around in that autumn foliage, waiting for someone to help him up.”
I asked if she did. She sighed.
“I thought about it for awhile but it turns out that I too was caught in autumn foliage, Dosey-Doein’ in the uprooted earth. I wanted to lick Him, I wanted to kick Him square in His bird mouth! Things started to get a little hazy and I realized my vision was steadily getting worse and worse. All at once, the sky collapsed on top of the trees and broke the damn troposphere. Stars started falling from every level and they burned upon exposed skin…”
Perhaps she was beginning to tell more interesting stories, perhaps I was just too tired to keep her away, but I actually asked her what happened next.
“Oh, I’m really not sure now. We’ll have to wait and see…”
I wanted to die.
Tonight I’ll give up my love for you
To carry around such a thing has become a burden by my bedside
To go on unreciprocated is to die again and again
I can interpret your touch, you see
…And it isn’t one of insatiable need
I will no longer be the only fool in the room
I will no longer meander the streets in search of meaning
I will no longer live in shadows that only I can envision
You’ve made your choice and so have I
I can’t extract fibers from a heart that just isn’t there
Or more likely is hidden from view
My eyes were too wide and too willing to be taken advantage of
So, tonight I’ll just give up my love for you
Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.
OL’ BAT & TEENYBOPPER PLAY POKER (I WATCH)
“I suppose it has been awhile since we last played a good ol’ game ah poker…” said Ol’ Bat, acknowledging the teenybopper in the room.
The teenybopper was obviously distressed and wanted to talk about a ghost prince that would never come but even she could recognize what an old tune that was getting to be. The two of them had tied me to a chair now; I was chomping down on an old sock. Strawberry flavored!
At this point of my life, I had to realize that Ol’ Bat wasn’t so much of an intruder than a habitual eccentric come to kook-ify my otherwise gray existence. The fact that she had an accomplice now only meant that I had another friend. Two, if you’re keeping track! Anyways…
“Urgh, I’m so bored! How do you play? I forget…” whined the teenybopper.
She sighed. We all sighed. We will forever be sighing.
“Pay attention,” Ol’ Bat said with patience, “you take the deck and you spill all the cards onto the table. You cut the deck in half and distribute them evenly between you and your opponent. You smack your opponent in the face as they go to collect their bounty and then steal their half of the deck back. Make sure to finger wag!”
She illustrated the motion.
“You take the deck and throw all the cards into a paper shredder. You get another deck of cards in the meantime. Draw Xs on very particular cards of your choosing, ’bout nine will do it. Then hide them amongst your person. After the old deck is all done being shredded, collect the pieces and throw them on top of the new deck…”
I was taking notes in my head. Maybe we would play one day (?) The teenybopper was looking at me with compassion, I think.
“Do you show your cards or not?!” said the teenybopper, getting impatient too quickly.
Ol’ Bat laughed.
“I say show ‘em! Life is too short and boring without ‘em! They all end up in somebody’s garbage the next day anyway! Besides, you have to fascinate your opponent with glitter…a little razzle dazzle. They’ll look great all lit up! You have to realize that you have more power than your opponent will lead you to believe. We’ve all seen you die again and again, now you must persevere with strength, with or without an audience. Know that you can kill just as well as you can be killed.”
Everything went numb as I felt a sort of togetherness with my captors.
“I don’t really think we’re playing poker…” the teenybopper said, feeling a lesson coming on.
“No, and I suppose we never will.”
“Why must we live so tragically? I mean, what’s the deal?” I asked no one in particular.
I looked at my hands. I made a few phone calls that went unanswered. There was a commotion this morning about a missing feline, I think. The suspect was found napping in a warm blanket. But that wasn’t what was killing me…What happened last night? We were conversing about receiving smoke signals from a phantom world…My memory had been clear rung out to dry! Perhaps I would never know.
I went to a plastic covered window to see if I could make out any detail of light or environment. In the cold December air a large fly had managed its way inside. It buzzed, buzzed, buzzed…
“What are you doing here?!” I screamed at the intruder.
I began to cry. Why is it so easy to forgive others yet so hard to forgive oneself?
A message from the gods rang loudly via my transmitter:
You feel asleep at a table.
Praise be to angels!
“I remember a time when I spent my nights deciphering The Code and declining invitations to tea with wealthy gentlemen…” continued Ol’ Bat.
The sock had been replaced with a shoe because it had melted. This wasn’t very effective and I spat it out but no one really seemed to care. Teenybopper was pacing the floor.
“How did you get out of The Bubble?” Teenybopper asked, cutting to the chase.
“When I realized that my parts were completely capable of Life!”
Teenybopper nodded. This made sense.
“…And when people were swarming the streets I realized that chaos abounds and is continuously cycling. Death travels to your doorstep and its pigments are swept under your very own rug!”
Ol’ Bat spilled some blood and actually made a compassionate gesture towards Teenybopper, caressing her forearm.
“But you have to forgive yourself eventually…it takes time. It’s very easy to get caught up in The Bubble, it’s an attractive space whose depths have unlimited potential. You have to take time to breathe the air outside every once in awhile though and use your powers for good.”
CAMARADERIE IN THE FACE OF THE OPPRESSOR
At approximately 1700 hours, on the date of December 8th, 2014, I was held at knife point by my oppressors and I had reached my breaking point. I was being held captive at a station where money and “points” were being exchanged for goods and nourishment. I, a veteran of such official missions, have been told on many occasion that I can handle anything and that I have “the patience of a saint.” I am overqualified for the things I do and the things I have done but I realize my position in this world – I AM NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. But I hold firm in my experience and gladly accept uniforms of changing colors and rank, my stipend increases with time and incentives. I am the strong and silent type.
That being said, I feel my capacity for towing the line growing exceedingly thin as time goes on. This worries me! Even as my oppressors taunt me and try to steal bags of potatoes, my resolve should always be to travel to The Woods. Every time I dare travel there however, something has changed in my absence – most recently, a small wildfire had crept its way in and is slowly setting flame to everything I care about. I don’t know what’s real anymore.
My platoon consists of both the young and the old. Of the young, I don’t have much to say – they might just make it out of here alive. My older comrades are more sympathetic to my plight, (they’ve only survived here out of pure necessity), and I often rely on their ears. When our oppressors throw cherry bombs at us and flick their tongues at the cost of goods at the general store, I look towards a comrade:
“What are they rebelling against? There are rules in place so it will be beneficial to all! Why bite the hand that feeds? I am but a cog in the machine but I’m not coin-operated! Blood runs through my veins, not oil! When I was in their position, momentarily, I had a choice between literature and nourishment and I always choose literature for that, I felt was my nourishment. It’s all very stupid now, but that’s what I thought! I lived in a tall, gray tower in a cold, gray city, hoping I could accomplish something. But these captors, I speak on behalf of some but not all, are spoiled and have no concept of empathy! They will grow to be the people who put their families in nursing homes and forget all about them as they launch healthy graphic design armies!”
My comrade put a hand on my shoulder. That was all I needed. A resurgence of strength took over and I grabbed the knife held against my throat out of my captor’s hand. My oppressors were scared now as I took a long look at the shiny blade. I threw it in the garbage. The war was over, for now. I removed myself from the station, stepping off of its platform, for a bit – I was laughing, my hands were shaking. I walked it off, because I’m a professional.
I had run out of places to hide in my apartment where Ol’ Bat and Teenybopper wouldn’t find me so I escaped to The Woods in order to find some sort of peace. This would prove a fruitless adventure since they knew me better than I knew myself and could accurately predict my next move before I did.
“We’ve got to call The Specialist!” cried Ol’ Bat as she tied my ankles together.
For an old loon she certainly had stamina and a terrifying upper body strength that was unmatched. She laughed at my feeble attempts to kick her as I lay on the damp earth. Teenybopper, meanwhile, was holding my arms down firmly as per Ol’ Bat’s request. Screaming wasn’t worth anything here, I had traveled so deep into The Woods that I knew no one would hear me so I let my eyes water, salting my face silently. Next to be tied were my wrists. With a heave and a ho, I was dragged further into The Woods and into a part that I hadn’t traversed before. Ol’ Bat seemed to know it well.
We had reached a clearing; sunshine pleasantly kissed my skin. Fallen foliage and pebbled dirt cluttered my hair and twigs had cut my arms and legs. The glorious smoky smell of a bonfire lingered in my nostrils but I had yet to actually see one. I felt His presence before I could even turn my head for visual confirmation.
“My, look at those goosebumps!” bellowed The Specialist.
He made his way towards me, his physician’s coat gleaming bright in the midday sun. He carried a large leather doctor’s bag, a stethoscope peaked just out of the corner. He kneeled down, we met eye to eye, and checked my vitals. As He pulled out different instruments the bag’s bottom had become more obvious and I noticed a yellow patch of something I couldn’t quite identify as it was just out of my line of vision. Ol’ Bat looked on, nodding, as if she knew the score already. Teenybopper was off sitting under a willow tree, reading a textbook with pretty pictures in it.
The Specialist put a gentle hand to my clammy head.
“I want things to become a little clearer for you. You’ve been distressed for too long, and I have too. I want you to know that you are an important and integral part to all of this. You, my dear, are a strange case but one that has revived something within The Code…” He said, trailing off.
I didn’t know what say. I could see His heart beating through his coat, it was the color of deep crimson. I looked to Teenybopper. Stoically she met my gaze and held up a page in her textbook, a color photograph of The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
“Isn’t that a little heavy-handed?” I asked, a little exasperated.
Teenybopper shrugged. She didn’t care. She went back to looking at the pretty pictures.
“Look at me!” demanded The Specialist.
I whipped my head back to face him. He hovered over me, his breath was hot on my neck. In his hand was a banana, (the yellow patch from his bag). He tapped the side of my skull with a rough index finger.
“X marks the spot!” he whispered in my ear.
Just then I felt a searing pain in my temple, it felt like my insides were melting. I could feel a cold breeze go right through me, my vision was hazy. I looked up and found The Specialist on top of me, a bloody banana raised towards the sky. Absolutely breathless, I watched the banana come in for a second landing. Finally Teenybopper was taking some interest as she became fascinated with The Specialist as he thrusted the banana iiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn and ooooooouuuuutttt of my skull.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I accepted my “defeat” with aplomb.
I wanted to repay the favor. Touching my now bandaged temple, I slowly arose from the frondescence beneath me…
“Frondescence?” Teenybopper asked skeptically.
“Frondescence. Yes, frondescence.” I agreed, dizzily.
I looked around me and found no one; my wrists and ankles had become free. Everything or nothing could be at risk if I just got up and left. If I just got up, split myself in two and let my adjacent parts flee in opposite directions. I could almost envision it, safety resided in running further into The Woods while at THE VERY SAME TIME running away from it. It was getting exhausting/interesting to exist in the presence of my ghosts. I blinked, blinked, blinked…and steadied myself upright. I took a few steps further into the brush.
“Where are you going? Why are you leaving?”
The Specialist had lingered around. He was leaning against the scratchy bark of a tree, quite comfortably. My feet guided me closer to Him. I wanted to repay the favor. I wanted to repay the favor so I slithered my tongue into His ear canal, reaching into His sequined brain. He writhed in pain, pleasure, and confusion.
“Why, why me…?!” He panted.
I had no answer for Him. I had no answer for myself. I was busy and it was a gut reaction. An interrupting, gruff voice in the distance asked if I had a boyfriend. I wanted to punch it in the face.
In this past quarter we’ve noticed a spike in washing tables, holding strong at 85%. 10% of the time is spent complaining about it, knowing full well that “ya do what ya gotta do,” “it could be worse,” “you’ve got a roof over your head and food in your belly” and “blindly accepting the status quo could just save your soul from a trip to a mental institution.” Ambition levels, on a separate scale, of course, are through the roof (this is a trend that despite time and life struggle variables seems to never really change, and in some cases, gets stronger). We call this the Hope Factor. This, when polling our focus group, just doesn’t seem to make any sense. Apparently, the pain associated with multiple failures when trying to “succeed” again and again isn’t their cup of tea. In fact they don’t drink tea, carbonated beverages are more their thing anyway. They later forgot about the survey and went out to get some popcorn.
2% of the time is wasted upon viewing flesh-toned-pixels melting and corroding in piles, pretending there’s a personal connection just to get through it. When probed, stimulation is rarely achieved, because our sensors “know too much.” The other 3% is a myriad of intense thoughtfulness, problem solving (on an accurate scale), daydreaming, heartache, the making of new friends and/or acquaintances, and various cat petting.
There is however another trend that is growing at an alarming rate, much to the chagrin of The Man, the creation of content. It’s skyrocketed from a measly 6-7.5% into 72%! We can attribute this to a few things: the reading of and inspiration from other content, a total lack of respect for The Man, a resurgence of power, love/lust, that prefrontal cortex thing everyone talks about, the absolute demand for a better life for one’s family, and the Hope Factor.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this study and perhaps we’ll make eye contact IRL! As always, feel free to click buttons as a sign of your approval, (this data will then be pulled and tucked safely away in storage containers for further analyzation). You guys are the best!
Quality Unified Assuredness Department
BLOOD VISITS & THE FAILURES OF MEN AND OF MEN WHO WANT TO FAIL ME
It’s the holiday season and I’ve been forced to ponder things very deeply and very astutely. It’s an unfortunate occurrence as I think I’m pretty on throughout the year but forgive me for I am about to be blunt. I must address all who dare come out of the woodwork and come to me in both tangible and ghostly scenarios. It’s a cosmic joke that almost feels like you all met beforehand and planned sporadic trips upon my doorstep.
When I was growing up I always thought that I had failed men, when in truth, it was they, who had failed me – again and again. My whole life has been a power struggle with invisible XY chromosomes and for what? I’ve accomplished things in spite of them, and until recently, my version of success was based more in defense tactics rather than in offense. I want to free myself from this. While I acknowledge that this can never completely happen, because the sexes will always battle on some level (this can be seen in nature), my primary focus will be on myself. I will handle weapons instead of shields.
I will win on behalf of my own glory first. If I should win in front of you, putting you out of your misery, this would only be a plus. I’m tired of being a victim, tired of being pushed around. I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut, and saying “…it’s okay.” I’m tired of not being able to love properly, whatever that means. The Woods sprouted foliage from my veins, I own them and you don’t have an invitation to peruse them whenever you like. They’re meant for me and a select few. There’s nothing here for you.
REFLECTIONS IN A MIRROR THAT DOESN’T EXIST
To those who envy my youth, I must apologize for it’s sticking around for just a little bit longer. Perhaps another four, five years at tops though, right? I’m sorry that I exist – even though I haven’t really ever used it (i.e. youth) properly; I know it’s difficult. It’s difficult especially when I don’t (and never will be able to) have crowning glory and/or fading beauty to cling on to. It’s scary to think that I still have life lessons to learn, new experiences to obtain, and skin to shed. It’s absolutely terrifying that I may know things that my elders don’t. It’s sickening to think I know things about myself but haven’t the experience yet to fix them. It’s a drag to acknowledge that I may still have “potential.”
Now, any friend can tell you that my hope is to be a life-long-learner, continuously absorbing things like a sponge with child-like enthusiasm, (and I won’t even have to go to grad school). So yes, youth in this sense, is a state of mind. But lest we forget it’s also hidden in the blood and expressed around the mouth too. Let the generations collapse and buckle, we needn’t fight because frankly, it’s beneath us.
It had been awhile but I decided to wander into the part of The Woods where I had once been kidnapped. I hoped to find The Specialist there, if only for a moment. He looked tired, as if he had been giving medical treatment to large groups of people in haste, he being the sole provider. I wanted to say a bunch of things all at once but none of it really made any sense so I stuck to the basics. Time was of the essence and this was all a fairy tale to begin with so beginning with false pleasantries would have been a waste of time.
“If you’re simply a conglomeration of hopes and dreams, bits and pieces of memories treasured and tattered, and I’m just another victim that needs medical attention, should I just stay out of this place altogether? If I’m just another patient that you can’t take care of or if I’m someone you’ve met before but pushed further and into stranger directions that even you couldn’t predict – Well, it’s sort of like the blind leading the blind, don’t you think?”
He was nervous now. A mutual friend lingered by, eager to capture this still life in paint and ashes.
“I am what you make me,” he sighed and then walked away.
I realized then that my knuckles were bleeding. I patched myself up and walked off into the night while my friend distracted me with tales of woe because the more I knew the less I actually learned.
Your likeness doesn’t belong to you. I like to play around with my own image from time to time, between banging my head against the proverbial wall, in the hopes that I’ll get to know myself a little better. The #selfie is the new form of self-portraiture and its potential goes beyond glamour shots of celebrity ass. Eliminating the gate between public and private, we’re all just consuming each other from afar. We’re all just singing into hairbrushes in front of a vast mirror that doesn’t exist while the occasional audience looks back at us. I suppose this sort of thing is right up my alley as discovering my own identity has always been a challenge.
I’ve never really discussed race as much as I probably should have in my writings, but I feel this has something to do with some of the displacement I’ve felt in my life. I am of that “ambiguously mixed race” where people come up to me speaking in different languages, expecting a response back that I can’t give. If I straighten my hair or if it gets curly and my skin changes tone in the summer heat, I wreck all kinds of assumptions. Some people actually get really upset when they “can’t place (me).” Others enjoy sizing me up, for them it is an intellectual smorgasbord. With an “olive complexion” and wide eyes, I look like everything and nothing all at once. As a child, I walked around with my mother and people would question the authenticity of our relationship, (i.e. the paternal genes won on physicality). This used to really bother me but I’ve come to embrace belonging to the world, even if I haven’t seen that much of yet.
But we all know that the world is getting smaller everyday! Technology connects and distances and no one knows who the fuck they are anymore and so we dream of a pastoral landscape, where freedom will reign in the trees and not in the wires. With our bodies, our pixelated selves, this is perhaps an oversimplification because it’s 2015 and technology will only become more invasive before it somehow devours itself. The hunter-gatherer days are over, but it’s a dream nonetheless.
Who am I? Who are you?
THEATRICALITY IN THE EVERYDAY
When you finally get outside of that little town that you live in and breathe different air, know this, in order to see, you must be seen. I encourage walks down dirty, snow-covered streets, intentionally wearing flip flops in the winter. Wear beautiful garments and forget your name for awhile. With vulnerability comes strength. Make the city cry; let its glitter bleed out into the pavement. Scream at the universe with fury and shaking fists: I EXIST, I EXIST, I PROMISE, I EXIST – I THINK!
If you need a quick break from screaming “I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU, YOU IDIOT” into glass bottles, take a step back and think about what that really means. Look around you and follow whatever path your feet lead you to. Dance like everyone and no one is watching. Stop behaving like a child. It’s going to be okay.
You’ll soon return to your home in that little town that you live in where a party of intellectuals will be flooding the space outside of your door with their innovative conversations. Their voices will muddle together in a strange cacophony and will instantly remind you of your own constantly running inner monologue. With voices piling on top of voices, you might actually catch a bit of truth somewhere. Your life is oh so precious and fleeting, attack it with every last breath.
I built a podium made of sticks and mud. I held a press conference for all of the birds and beasts in the wilderness. The world was getting smaller and I began to speak of sadness, not judgment. Love was the theme. The Specialist was there along with our mutual friends. Ol’ Bat was tapping her foot to a rhythm in her head. Teenybopper was feeding the ducks. A man with a ring and a woman with a chastity belt got tangled up in a booby trap and I was almost curious enough to go see if they were all right but I figured that would come in time. The Woods would probably devour me before my speech was over but it didn’t really matter anymore.
“The thing about me is that I will always believe in fairy tales even as I’m being constantly reminded that they don’t exist. Don’t you know that I’m your little princess, your loyal dog that continues to get beaten? I can love hard and fast and long and come on too strong all in the name of staking claim over something invisible to the untrained eye. When people look upon my youthful countenance, they pinch my cheeks and flatter me with meaningless compliments often reserved for toddlers and the pitied. ‘You’re so cute,’ is a common phrase uttered by those who think I don’t know how the world works.
I am your child bride and I stand for principles that crumble as soon as doors are closed. I am your bitter old woman that trusts very few. I am typical and pure and evil and joyful and a bundle of controlled rage. I live in the mouths of the forgotten and in the minds who own vast amounts of landscape…”
I was beginning to unravel into nothingness.
“Despite it all, I wish never to become so jaded and disconnected from myself and others that I fail to see any light in this life…” I coughed, failing.
I paused, noticing a flash of multicolored light that temporarily blinded me. I put a hand to my face to help shield my eyes and squinted into the distance.
“LOVE IS MOSTLY PAIN!” shouted a blurry figure dressed in black.
“What?!” I shouted back to an unresponsive audience.
I got off the stage and went searching into the darkness.
THE ABSOLUTE HORROR OF A STALEMATE
I got deeper into the darkness, chasing after that multicolored light. I basked myself in its warm and finally tangible embrace. I was safe from the cries of the misconstrued, Ol’ Bat, Teenybopper, The Specialist, and the whole fucking lot of them. I hid under a blanket of roses for awhile and refused to appear despite their calls to come out and play. When I was eventually found, all I could do was listen to what they had to say. The longer I laid under that blanket of roses, the harder it became to move – I knew I was slowly paralyzing myself. I gnawed my way through the increasingly tightening vines, blood dripping from my thorn bitten lips. I stood up.
“Nice to see you again!” they all shouted earnestly.
I was an emotional wreck that was behaving true to form but I silently chided myself because they all were too. They were giggling and puking and talking too much and not talking enough and crying and dying and living and learning and loving and dying…
The Specialist threw me a basketball and apologized for hitting me in the face with it multiple times before.
“You must think I’m the most gullible person here!” I shouted.
He threw himself on the ground and showed me his belly, as a sign of his vulnerability. I sighed. We played War, we played Manhunt, we played Hide-N’-Go-Seek , we played Poker, we played Chess. The Specialist had an arsenal of people and/or props and a tool-kit that dated back before I was even a prayer in my mother’s throat. I had just myself to rely on towards winning these games. Now, naturally it would be assumed that he would win for he had the advantage of premeditation, scholastic connections, and a penchant for hazing the new kid. But call it beginner’s luck because I held my own. When our final game was finished we looked towards the sky for our score cards. We looked back down and slowly met each other’s gaze upon the realization and the absolute horror of a stalemate.
DUCK & BUNNY
The blurry figure in black turned out to be quite the magician. He decided the best way to deal with me was to turn into a mallard duck and turn me into a fuzzy rabbit. With a wave of his hand, we could truly converse in that very strange way that animals do. He flew and I hopped up a short staircase and into a crowded house, in hopes of finding temporary shelter from the onslaught of rain out in The Woods. I stuck my tongue down his throat and knew that we would be friends from here on out.
“I don’t believe in love,” he uttered awkwardly.
I didn’t quite believe him but perhaps that was my own sweet, sweet naiveté. I paused and looked at him for a little too long, then shook my head. We would know more about each other in time.
“This beating, awful thing in our bodies is more than just an appendage! Yours went through a meat grinder and mine went through a paper shredder but these pieces can always be retrieved and taped back together!” I cried, trying hard to believe in my own words.
“Eventually, the process, once repeated, creates too many fragile and microscopic shreds and the tape begins to loose its hold. My mending tricks and healing spells can only work so many times, my magic diminishes as the years pass. I’m not saying this out of depression, really…it’s more of pure exhaustion,” The Magician admitted.
I silently acknowledged his position and the position that most hold at critical times in their lives. It made sense. I was young, but it made sense. I vomited unresolved issues in the corner of a dark room. Outside, tree leaves were glittering with dew. I looked behind me and just like that, he was gone.
SHARED DREAMS IN MULTIPLICITY
I had traveled a great distance without so much as a canteen of water to quench me. I had left The Woods in search of some deep and meaningful solitude. I had left no notes, no smoke signals, said no goodbyes, nor held any shards of glass up towards the sun – I wasn’t sure if I could ever, really, truly return to The Woods. I threw my hands up and embraced clouds that dissipated into nothing. My jaw tensed up and I bit myself forty-seven times. I continued my journey down to a beach where nearby trees grew beautiful and taunted the spring season, as if they were hurrying it along. My feet rummaged through hot sand as I got closer to the water’s edge.
It was an awkward way to say hello but I gave myself a pep talk and made my way over to two women chatting. The waves of the sea cascaded my limbs into an adolescent doggy-paddle and despite their noticeable laughter, I knew I had to be near them. The water was littered with letters in bottles and the current was getting stronger as my body grew weaker. I couldn’t construct a visual picture of their faces, they seemed to be floating further and further away, ever gracefully, submitting themselves to the caress of a nature that could just as easily consume them. Arms stretched out, back down, and with their legs lined up forward, they became the property of the ocean. I feared I would never catch up to them. Feverishly pushing past all the bottles and quickly disintegrating pieces of paper, I kicked my legs while I still had enough momentum. Just as I thought I was making progress, I caught a glimpse of an ornate bottle, covered in precious stones. Distracted by what I thought contained an important letter, I reached for it and drowned.
I opened my eyes to the contrary, surviving. Multiple vanity mirrored faces hovered above my now awoken body. They were people with arms and legs and torsos and genitalia but their faces became contorted reflections of mine. I screamed and backed away as abruptly as I could. I closed my eyes, begging for an eternal slumber where perhaps I could have more control over the situation. Blackness fell before me and the Mirror People all fell down into little bits and pieces, shattering their very existences.
A talkative man who looked a lot like The Magician, dancing with an unidentified woman in a red ballgown, scratched his head and made a copy of himself dancing with a copied unidentified woman in a red ballgown. They danced around in circles to a sort of trinket box kind of music, not particularly filled with glee or malice. The first version kept dancing, even as all my loved ones got stabbed in the face with forks. The second version stumbled in the darkness, stepping on toes and the second woman fell over. I stared from afar with my mouth agape as every single one of my teeth fell out. A man with a smile kept shoving bibs that read ‘Daddy’s Little Multiracial Lustchild’ in front of my face, grunting heavily, as a friend lingered close by. Somewhere in the distance a familiar face was giving birth to another demon baby. An attractive youth with a dry throat blushed every time he walked up to me, even as I continued to regrow teeth only to loose them, creating a faucet-like effect of blood, enamel, dentin, and pulp down my chin. It was all a lot of hullabaloo and I wondered where the actual love was.
I opened my eyes and eased my way up to my feet. The ocean was vast and sparkling. I took a deep breath, feeling muscles where muscles had never been felt before. I turned my back and headed back towards The Woods, I was sure I would die there but not without a fight. Besides, I had a few more lives to spare. I laughed at myself repeatedly.
A RUN FOR OUR LIVES
I drank several glasses of strong tea that were labeled ‘proceed with caution’ – I tapped my fingers and clicked my tongue. I fashioned myself an outfit made from dusty doilies and called it a day. My heart began to expand from the inside, with my chest tightening, I knew it would soon explode. I started snapping at children and felt eager to do it again, the numbness I had held for months was going by the wayside. High octane energy was what I needed – yes, yes, yes! It felt good to be angry for no reason and annoyed at the slightest thing – at least now when I would be awake (!) for hours on end I could say I did so purposely and with style (!) …And in the end, when the exploding of my heart would open up my chest cavity – I would be the one solely responsible – lest suffer a half-assed job done by someone else.
“Ya know,” I said to the air, knowing The Specialist was behind me, without having to turn around.
“Ya know, I could very easily burn The Woods down and build a mall while I have all this pent-up energy, just before my heart gives out…”
“I could just as easily let you and build one as I could whistle Dixie. It would just grow back though and eventually ivy would climb all over the architecture, consuming it whole, making a mockery of any and all man-made creation,” he admitted.
“So what now?”
“We could both light the match…” he began.
We made eye contact.
“…Or we could both run away, straight out of The Woods, promising not to look back at each other – ”
“Running out of here in opposite directions?” I prodded.
“Yes, I’ll take the left and you can take the right…”
“…And we’ll go about our lives in order to have some semblance of sanity in our daily routine – ”
“Because life is difficult enough – ”
” …And if we happen to run into each other on the outside, somewhere in the middle, perhaps we could share a chuckle or casually comment on the weather,” I smiled.
“It could be nice…”
“Yeah, I think it really could be.”
We both sighed, shook hands, took turns slapping each other across the face, smiled, and with our fingers crossed behind our backs, proceeded to run for our lives. It was a start.
Suddenly a wild yellow dog with a determined look in its eye, started nipping at our heels and ended up following me home. A swirling vortex of a black hole appeared out of nowhere, sucking calendars and farm animals into it. By way of no other alternative escape, I jumped in narrowly escaping its paws. I was then drawn into the past, ruining an otherwise poignant and dare I say, positive, ending to this story.
(ALTERNATIVE TO THE ALTERNATIVE ENDING)
The dog managed to take me down and drew blood. I turned into a puppet only functioning with strong emotions.
(ALTERNATIVE TO THE ALTERNATIVE ENDING, ENDING)
My brain grew toned arms that jutted out of my ears. My other miscellaneous and vital organs patched themselves up with duct tape and staples. I bit the dog and everyone else real and/or imagined from the past, present and/or future that ever felt they could take advantage of me. I took a deep breath and journeyed towards something people call ‘inner peace.’
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